Thursday, June 30, 2005

This Indian is Hip Deep in Buffalo Dip

Trey Jackson has links to video and audio of Ward Churchill, phony Indian, fraudulent scholar, and hero to Left-wingers everywhere, uttering these words:

"For those of you who do, as a matter of principle, oppose war in any form, the idea of supporting a conscientious objector who's already been inducted in his combat service in Iraq might have a certain appeal. But let me ask you this: Would you render the same level of support to someone who hadn't conscientiously objected, but rather instead rolled a grenade under their line officer in order to neutralize the combat capacity of their unit?"

"...Conscientious objection removes a given piece of cannon fodder from the fray. Fragging an officer has a much more impactful effect." - Ward Churchill, Portland, Oregon- 6/23/05

Churchill denies any malevolent intent, of course, but its hard to interpret him in any fashion other than endorsing the murder of American officers. Here is an excerpt from the Denver Post story:

Reached at his home in Boulder County on Wednesday night, Churchill said the comments were made merely to spark discussion and not to take a position on fragging, which is the killing or injuring of an officer in combat by a subordinate. He said that his remarks were being taken out of context and sensationalized in an effort to drive him from his job as a CU professor.

"I neither advocated nor suggested to anyone, anything," Churchill said. "I asked them to think about where they stood on things." According to the tape, Churchill, while speaking about being a conscientious objector, asked his audience:

"Would you render the same support to someone who hadn't conscientiously objected, but rather instead rolled a grenade under their line officer in order to neutralize the combat capacity of their unit?"

When one of the forum's attendees said that the impact such a fragging might have on the officer's family should be considered, Churchill replied, "How do you feel about Adolf Eichmann's family?"

Churchill has been accused of plagiarism, academic fraud and misrepresenting his Native American heritage. He is under investigation by the school's Standing Committee on Research Misconduct.

Now the man is advocating murder. How long will he continue to draw a paycheck from the University of Colorado and the taxpayers who help fund it?

The Evil Men Do

If ever you've been inclined to think that no one deserves to be executed by the state or you have ever wondered whether evil really exists or is just an outdated religious concept, you should watch this.

Watch both parts and see if you can honestly say to yourself that this man does not deserve to die.

Fact-Finding at Gitmo

Buried on page A15 of the New York Times is this little tidbit:

WASHINGTON, June 27 - Senators from both sides of the aisle competed on Monday to extol the humane treatment of detainees whom they said they saw on a weekend trip to the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. All said they opposed closing the center. "I feel very good" about the detainees' treatment, Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said. That feeling was also expressed by another Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

On Monday, Senator Jim Bunning, Republican of Kentucky, said he learned while visiting Guantanamo that some detainees "even have air-conditioning and semiprivate showers." Another Republican, Senator Michael D. Crapo of Idaho, said soldiers and sailors at the camp "get more abuse from the detainees than they give to the detainees."

In the last month, several senators, including some Republicans, have suggested that Congress should investigate reports of abuses at the detention center or that the military should close it to remove a blot on the country's image. One senator, Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, has come under criticism and apologized repeatedly for comparing reported abuses at the camps to treatment in Soviet gulags or Nazi concentration camps.

Mr. Wyden and Mr. Nelson were in Cuba primarily to discuss new agricultural trade and visited Guantanamo on Sunday. They ran into Mr. Bunning, Mr. Crapo and Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican of Georgia, who traveled to Guantanamo for the day on Sunday "to see for ourselves what all the so-called fuss is about down there," as Mr. Bunning put it.

After the trip, Mr. Wyden argued that Congress should establish treatment standards for detainees like those at Guantanamo who are neither uniformed members of foreign military forces under the Geneva Conventions nor citizens under the United States justice system. In contrast, Mr. Crapo praised the current military procedures, calling for a new international standard to cover terrorism suspects and other nonmilitary prisoners.

An official of Amnesty International, Jumana Musa, dismissed the visits as "this little Congressional show and tell." Ms. Musa said the statements did not address what she called the inadequate investigation of reported abuses. "Whether or not people are being fed orange chicken," Ms. Musa said, "does not get at the heart of the issue."

Of course, it doesn't. The heart of the issue for Amnesty International is that Gitmo is part of a Republican initiated war on terror which the United States is fighting to win. If Bill Clinton were still president AI would be off searching for Israeli atrocities in Gaza or somewhere.

The heart of the issue, in our opinion, is why this story wasn't front page news in the NYT. After the firestorm Sen. Durbin created during last week's calumnies of the American military one would think that some contrary facts would be significant news. Evidently, though, the Times didn't think its readers would be too interested in the truth of the matter.

Speaking of Sen. Durbin, why wasn't he along on the trip to learn a little bit, ex post facto as it were, about what he was pontificating upon in his Gitmo speech. Indeed, we're surprised he didn't head up the mission. After all, it's better to be late in having facts in hand if you're going to libel your country, than to never know them at all.

Thanks for the tip to Instapundit.

The Amazing Randi, Etc.

It's hard to imagine, but apparently some Darwinians have been lying about their philosophical opponents, and the California Academy of Science admits it. You can read the particulars here.

For another fine illustration of the Darwinians' passionate commitment to free and open inquiry and the search for truth see here.

Meanwhile, someone, a magician we think, who calls himself The Amazing Randi was so concerned that the Smithsonian Institute was going to show the new video The Privileged Planet earlier this month that he offered them $20,000 not to do it. The Privileged Planet, based on a book of the same name, presents what's commonly known as the anthropic principle, the idea that the physical properties of both the cosmos and the earth seem astonishingly fine-tuned for life. Fearful that such information may incline impressionable viewers toward the conclusion that the universe is not just all an accident, Mr. Randi is willing to pay "hush money" to the Smithsonian to suppress these subversive ideas.

What a great argument for materialism! Why hasn't someone come up with this before: The universe is not designed because I've got more money than you do! It's bound to convince somebody, probably.

Anyway, David Berlinski, inspired by Mr. Randi's clever strategy for persuading people of the intellectual superiority of materialism, has decided to capitalize, as it were. He writes The Amazing Mr. Randi the following letter:

Dear Amazing Randi:

I just read your widely publicized letter to the Smithsonian about its decision to air The Privileged Planet, Discovery Institute's film on intelligent design. You find it "impossible to comprehend" why the Smithsonian has chosen to screen such a film. And, I see that you are willing to pay the Smithsonian Institute $20,000 so that they don't do it.

I want you to know, you're doing the right thing. I figure the American people are dumb as posts. Who knows what ideas a film like that could put into their heads? You haven't seen the film either, am I right? See no evil, see no evil is what I always say.

But here's the thing, Randi. I was sort of planning to screen the film right here in my apartment in Paris. I've got a little screening room I call The Smithsonian right between the bathroom and the kitchen, I sort of figured I'd invite some friends over, open a couple cans of suds, sort of kick back and enjoy. Now you fork over $20,000 to the Smithsonian not to show the film and right away I'm showing the film here in Paris - that's just not going to work for you, if you catch my drift.

But hey, what are friends for? I mean for $20,000, I can make my screening of the The Privileged Planet go away too. An extra $10,000 and we spend the evening reading aloud from Daniel Dennett's autobiography. I hear it's a real snoozer, no chance at all that anyone's going to walk away from an evening like that with poor thoughts about the cosmos or anything like that. You handle the refreshments - nothing much, some cocktail franks maybe, a few kegs of French beer - and I knock ten percent off the price. What do you say?

Now I know what you're thinking, Randi, because to tell you the truth, I've been thinking the same thing. You're thinking, hey, I'm out forty thousand seminolas to can this film in Washington DC and Paris, and right away, some yutz is going to figure it's show time in Oklahoma or Nebraska or even in New York, and what do I do then? I'm way ahead of you on this one. I've talked with my buddies at the Discovery Institute and for the right kind of donation, we poleax the film completely. That's right. It disappears itself, if you catch my drift. You get to keep the negatives, we keep the director's cut in our safe for insurance. Is this some sort of deal, or what?

Now I know what you're thinking because I've been there myself. You're thinking, the Discovery Institute? Bunch of right-wing weirdoes, am I right? Hey, it's not like that at all, Randi, I got to tell you. We here at the Discovery Institute, we're businessmen, if you catch my drift. We want to do the right thing and we want to do it at the right price. Look at it this way. The right kind of donation gets you total peace of mind. You really can't buy that kind of protection, only in this case you can.

So give me a ring, or send me a note. I'd like to tell you we take checks, but you're a businessmen, too, am I right? It's got to be cash. More than you've got lying around? Not a problem. Just give George Soros a call. Tell him it's for a friend. Do it now. You'll sleep better at night.

Your admirer,

David Berlinski

PS: I write a lot of stuff for Commentary, too. For the right price, I don't have to write anything at all. Think it over. Let me know.

All this has got us to thinking. We wonder how much The Amazing Mr. Randi would pay us not to post anymore pieces on Viewpoint on the topic of Intelligent Design. Not that we can be bought or anything.

Media Bias: An Anecdote

President Bush gives an important speech on the War on Terrorism and our local paper runs this headline over its front page story last night:

Dems: Bush Milks False Sept. 11 Link

For the editors at the York Dispatch the knee-jerkingly negative Democratic reaction is the most important aspect of the President's address. It's the key element of the story. Why not choose a headline like: Bush Vows to Stay the Course or Bush Stands Firm? Could it be they didn't run something like these because that would have made the president seem strong and resolved and, well, that's just not the image of GWB that our local paper wishes to project.

Indeed, the AP report that followed the headline was more about the Democrats' reaction to the speech than about the speech itself. It's another example of why people are just about at the end of their patience with the way the traditional news outlets package their product.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Left-Wing Moonbat Watch

Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues and other highly acclaimed theatrical works is very much opposed to the Iraq War. She helped form the group New Yorkers Say No to War, joined the artists network of Refuse and Resist! a Maoist group, and lent her name to the Not in Our Name antiwar coalition, also organized by Maoists. In one interview, Ensler's hysterical response went like this:

"I believe that the war has been one of the great failures of American foreign policy; Al-Qaeda has multiplied from 400 to 18,000; we have killed thousands of Iraqi women and children, not to mention American soldiers. We have completely uprooted a country so that women are completely unsafe. We have also completely desecrated the countryside and the land itself. There are bombsites all over; uranium is loose. We have napalmed children....I am now trying to figure out what we are doing there. Why, and how this war has made anything better. Sure we removed Saddam Hussein, but that removal has not left anything in its wake but chaos. We have no idea why we have done this and so from my point of view as a feminist, as a woman who spends her life devoted to ending violence; I cannot imagine what on earth this government was thinking. Not to mention the complete desecration of women's rights, whether it is the ending of women's reproductive freedoms, the complete cessation of funds that go to stopping violence against women, or the lie that the women of Afghanistan are better off. I can go on and on."

No doubt she could. When one is not bound by the constraints imposed by reality one can expatiate indefinitely about anything. Where, we wonder, does this woman get her information about the comparative status of women under the Taliban and now? Were Afghan women better off when they could be beaten or killed for wearing cosmetics or going out in public without a male relative as an escort? Were they better off when they were considered to be their husband's property and had no political rights at all?

What makes Ms. Ensler think that women are worse off in Iraq now with the rape rooms gone, economic opportunities for women burgeoning, and political freedom and the vote available to women for the first time in their lives, than they were under Saddam when they had no protection from the depravity of Hussein's henchmen?

I wonder if Ms Ensler has taken a poll among Afghan or Iraqi women and asked them whether they thought they were better or worse off now than before 2002. I very much doubt it because I very much doubt that she's really interested in finding out the truth. It wouldn't fit with what she already knows.

A Dialogue on Gitmo

A friend and former student is among those who is deeply troubled by what he sees as human rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay. He forwarded me a series of articles from which he draws the conclusion that Gitmo is comparable in its treatment of detainees to the Soviet Gulag. I suggested to him that he read Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago. He replied with an excerpt from Gulag that recounts some of the psychological methods employed by Soviet interrogators in the Lubyanka and Lefortovo prisons under Stalin and argued that their similarity to what went on in Gitmo puts them on the same moral plane.

Here is my reply to that followed by my friend's rejoinder:


Thanks for the article you recommended (, but I'm afraid I don't see how the excerpt from the Gulag Archipelago supports the point you wish to make which is that American detention camps are comparable to the Soviet Gulag of the thirties and forties.

In the excerpt, Solzenhitsyn details methods that interrogators employed against Soviet prisoners. They are evil, to be sure, but their heinousness lies (for the most part) not in what was done but rather in to whom it was done and why it was done. The victims of these interrogations were innocent clergy, ordinary believers, dissidents, and anyone else that Stalin deemed insufficiently eager to embrace his regime. Everyone, including the interrogators, knew these people were innocent of any real crime. They were subjected to being "cursed at" etc. because the interrogators were required to get "confessions" out of them to save appearances and therefore had to break their will to resist. What was done to them was wicked primarily insofar as the victims were innocent and the rationale was so unjust.

The detainees at Gitmo, on the other hand, were believed to have information that could prevent acts of murder of innocent people. It's hard to overstate the moral difference this makes. To the extent that the detainees had females "invade their space" or were deprived of sleep in order to get them to divulge this information, these treatments were of a different moral level altogether than similar tactics used at Lefortovo and Lubyanka. In Moscow these tactics were employed against simple peasants. At Gitmo these tactics were employed against mass murderers.

Have there been times at Gitmo when interrogations crossed the line? Possibly, but every allegation of such behavior is investigated and when appropriate the offenders are disciplined. How often do you think that happened in the Gulag of Solzhenitsyn's experience? Even if there have been some incidents of abuse, there are no doubt similar incidences in every prison in the United States. Is the entire American prison system comparable to the Soviet Gulag?

Remember, in the real Gulag prisoners subsisted on a daily diet of one piece of moldy bread and a bowl of watery gruel. The bread often had maggots and beetles in it for which the prisoners gave thanks since the bugs enabled them to get a few more traces of protein into their system. There were scarcely enough calories in this diet to keep people alive and so millions died horrible deaths from starvation and disease. Millions more were permanently damaged, physically and psychologically by their suffering. The survivors emerged from their hell emaciated wrecks.

In the real Gulag the prisoners worked every day digging at frozen soil with nothing on their bodies to defend against the cold except for a few tattered rags. Frostbite and gangrene were common. They couldn't sleep because they couldn't get warm on the freezing cement floors of their cells. They lived in squalor and constant numbness and hunger. If they hesitated or staggered under their load of pain and suffering they were often beaten by their guards for sport.

In Gitmo, by contrast, the prisoners eat better and live more comfortably than do our soldiers in the field. They have menus that include glazed chicken and rice pilaf. The diet is tailored to Islamic requirements. The average detainee has gained 10 to 15 lbs. since his internment.

The prisoners are clothed and shod. Laundry is done for them. They're called to prayer five times a day. Religious accoutrements like prayer rugs, beads, and Korans are provided by American taxpayers and delivered with gloved hands in deference to the Muslims' belief that their captors are "unclean."

Doctors are on hand to address medical complaints and they receive hospital care when they need it. No detainees have died at Gitmo.

To compare Gitmo to the Soviet Gulag is not only factually grotesque and a slander on American troops, but perhaps worst of all, it trivializes the horrific deaths and suffering of millions of kulaks who would have regarded Gitmo as a paradise and would have counted themselves blessed by God had they been transferred into such a place.

I'm sure that that's the last thing you want to do, R, but it is nevertheless implicit in your claim that Gitmo is in any significant way comparable to the chain of Siberian labor camps run by Stalin.


Mr. C,

You write:

"In the excerpt, Solzenhitsyn details methods that interrogators employed against Soviet prisoners. They are evil, to be sure, but their heinousness lies (for the most part) not in what was done but rather in to whom it was done and why it was done."

I think this position is very morally problematic. The destruction of a man's mind is no passing matter, no matter whom it is done to or why. The question of who the victim is seems to me to be utterly irrelevant--it is no less immoral to rape a rapist for sport than it is to rape an innocent for sport. God loves all His children equally. Motivation, of course, does have moral weight, but if the action is truly brutal in nature, as is the destruction of the mind of a man and the robbing of his dignity, then I think the old saying that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" must be taken seriously. We are not justified in doing anything we please to mens' minds merely because our intentions are good--there lies the road to lynchings.

"The victims of these interrogations were innocent clergy, ordinary believers, dissidents, and anyone else that Stalin deemed insufficiently eager to embrace his regime."

A principle of humane law is that suspects are innocent until proven guilty. Not a shred of evidence has been offered for the guilt of a single person detained as an unlawful combatant by the United States military. Furthermore, large numbers of detainees have been released without charge after years of detention and brutal interrogation. What right do interrogators have to brutalize these men? Why do we assume that the ones still in detention are guilty given the large number of admitted mistakes?

"Everyone, including the interrogators, knew these people were innocent of any real crime. They were subjected to being "cursed at" etc. because the interrogators were required to get "confessions" out of them to save appearances and therefore had to break their will to resist. What was done to them was wicked primarily insofar as the victims were innocent and the rationale was so unjust."

Do you think that Stalin employed no communist true-believers who thought priests and dissidents were a threat to the true and the good? Scores of documents suggest that detainees give false confessions to end their brutalizations. What, precisely, other than subjective judgments about the interrogators' mindsets, is the moral difference between the Soviet and American gulags?

"The detainees at Gitmo, on the other hand, were believed to have information that could prevent acts of murder of innocent people. It's hard to overstate the moral difference this makes. To the extent that the detainees had females "invade their space" or were deprived of sleep in order to get them to divulge this information, these treatments were of a different moral level altogether than similar tactics used at Lefortovo and Lubyanka."

Are we to believe that none of those detained at Lefortovo and Lubyanka were actually suspected of plotting violence to depose state socialism? (Terorists hate our freedoms...dissidents hated their equality, no?)

"In Moscow these tactics were employed against simple peasants. At Gitmo these tactics were employed against mass murderers."

Can you provide a shred of evidence that a single person detained as an enemy combatant by the U.S. government is guilty of murder? Why do the hundreds released without charge not count as 'simple peasants'?

"Have there been times at Gitmo when interrogations crossed the line? Possibly, but every allegation of such behavior is investigated and when appropriate the offenders are disciplined. How often do you think that happened in the Gulag of Solzhenitsyn's experience? Even if there have been some incidents of abuse, there are no doubt similar incidences in every prison in the United States. Is the entire American prison system comparable to the Soviet Gulag?"

The vast majority of the tactics Solzhenitsyn describes are explicitly allowed by U.S. policy and used with impunity. Regardless of those that are counted as "crossing lines," the fact remains that even the approved tactics are capable of the utter destruction of the human mind. That is a great evil.

Furthermore, prisoners accused of a crime have recourse to the courts to dispute their reason for detention and their treatment while detained. Enemy combatants, especially those held in secret or kidnapped, have no such rights. They are entirely subject to the cruelty and sadism of their interrogators.

As long as the United States government continues to sanction 1) the holding of prisoners indefinitely without charge, 2) the holding of prisoners in secret without access to lawyers or courts, 3) mental torture which breaks the spirit, and 4) kidnapping, it remains the operator of a Gulag. When it stops sanctioning those war crimes, I will consider the Gulag closed.

"Remember, in the real Gulag prisoners subsisted on a daily diet of one piece of moldy bread and a bowl of watery gruel. The bread often had maggots and beetles in it for which the prisoners gave thanks since the bugs enabled them to get a few more traces of protein into their system. There were scarcely enough calories in this diet to keep people alive and so millions died horrible deaths from starvation and disease. Millions more were permanently damaged, physically and psychologically by their suffering. The survivors emerged from their hell emaciated wrecks."

If your point is merely that the United States government is not known to sanction forced starvation, I will agree. However, the United States has indeed condemned thousands of persons to physical and psychological agony for the remainder of their lives. An Afghan detainee was kicked several thousand times in the course of a few weeks, another was boiled alive. An Iraqi had lit cigarettes placed in his ears. And thousands undergo the daily mental torture, with full sanction, that Solzhenitsyn described as breaking mens' souls. Maher Arar will never fully recover from the horrors of his treatment at the behest of the United States.

"In the real Gulag the prisoners worked every day digging at frozen soil with nothing on their bodies to defend against the cold except for a few tattered rags. Frostbite and gangrene were common. They couldn't sleep because they couldn't get warm on the freezing cement floors of their cells. They lived in squalor and constant numbness and hunger. If they hesitated or staggered under their load of pain and suffering they were often beaten by their guards for sport."

Numerous detainees in Iraq have died of exposure. We routinely deny detainees the ability to sleep for periods of over a week. The intervention teams at Gitmo are described in the FBI memos as routinely beating detainees for sport.

"In Gitmo, by contrast, the prisoners eat better and live more comfortably than do our soldiers in the field. They have menus that include glazed chicken and rice pilaf. The diet is tailored to Islamic requirements. The average detainee has gained 10 to 15 lbs. since his internment."

Glazed chicken is an MRE option, eaten routinely by soldiers in the field. And being fed, even force fed, is little comfort when one faces daily physical and psychological torture which includes the denial of sleep, near drowning experiences, being chained to the ceiling by one's wrists, and being beaten for hours on end.

"The prisoners are clothed and shod. Laundry is done for them. They're called to prayer five times a day. Religious accoutrements like prayer rugs, beads, and Korans are provided by American taxpayers and delivered with gloved hands in deference to the Muslims' belief that their captors are 'unclean.' "

Routinely detainees lose the privilege of time to pray if they do not cooperate with their interrogations. If they do cooperate, of course, they are given food, sex, time to pray, whatever they please. Doesn't that smack of forced confessions to you?

"Doctors are on hand to address medical complaints and they receive hospital care when they need it. No detainees have died at Gitmo."

Over one hundred have died in deaths ruled homicide by military coroners in other detention facilities around the world.

"To compare Gitmo to the Soviet Gulag is not only factually grotesque and a slander on American troops"

How does facing up to the criminal conduct of the U.S. government, the CIA, and certain elements of military intelligence slander American troops? Whom does it slander? Those who are perpetrating criminal conduct and wish to plea-bargain down their offenses?

"but perhaps worst of all, it trivializes the horrific deaths and suffering of millions of kulaks who would have regarded Gitmo as a paradise and would have counted themselves blessed by God had they been transferred into such a place."

As Solzhenitsyn describes, prisoners often felt the same way about being transferred from one Gulag prison to another. That does not mean that those prisons in which the horrors were less totalizing were not an element of the same moral evil.

"I'm sure that that's the last thing you want to do, R, but it is nevertheless implicit in your claim that Gitmo is in any significant way comparable to the chain of Siberian labor camps run by Stalin."

My claim is based explicitly on the four elements of similarity noted above. Any system of prisons which collects kidnapped persons and holds them indefinitely without trial or charge while destroying their minds for the purposes of the captors is a Gulag.


There'll be more to come, I'm sure.

More Good News From Iraq

Lest in watching the evening news you succumb to the doom and gloom about Iraq that is being purveyed there Arthur Chrenkoff has posted his 30th edition of Good News from Iraq. The picture coming out of that country from people who are actually there is completely different than what you hear from the senate Democrats and others who get their information from the New York Times and Washington Post.

Here's just one minor example of the way the MSM distorts the news from Iraq: Spec. Matthew Rosebaugh of the 82nd Airborne recalls a story wherein the media reported that only 40 percent of homes in a particular region have running water, giving the impression that the United States is doing little to undo the damage caused by the war. He points out, however, that before the war the figure was only 20 percent.

Why not report that the availability of water has doubled since OIF?

The Iraqi Police

Strategy Page offers interesting insight into the difficulties with, and progress of, the development of an effective Iraqi police force. The courage of these men is truly astonishing:

The coalition has spent two years trying to build a new police force. Kurds and Shia Arabs were not allowed into the secret police units, or the higher ranks of the regular police, when Saddam ruled. Thus there were few loyal Iraqis available to staff the new police force. Over the last two years, men who were willing to undergo months of training, and dangerous duty commanding newly formed police units, have grown into a new leadership for the police force. Some of these men are experienced police commanders from Saddam's time. Many of these men were hired, despite the risk that many were corrupt (despite promises that they had changed their ways), or were still loyal to Saddam. The corrupt, and the Saddam loyalists, have been dismissed in large numbers, leaving some experienced, effective, and largely loyal and corruption free, commanders.

In Kurdish and Shia Arab areas, there are now effective police forces. The big problems remain in central Iraq, in Sunni Arab, or mixed Shia-Sunni Arab areas. But the police have become effective and reliable enough that the enemy has not, since last fall, been able to attack and take a police station. The enemy still tries. In the last week, there was a major attack on a police station. Over a hundred men took part in the attack, which was defeated by the police and army alone. At least ten of the attackers were killed, and 40 were captured. Many of the enemy wounded got away. Thus over half the attacking force was killed, wounded or captured. The anti-government forces are desperate to show they are more powerful than the police, and nothing does that better than taking, and pillaging, a police station. This latest defeat makes the enemy appear weaker, and encourages more Iraqis to actively side with the police. During the recent attack, the police received 55 calls from civilians around the police station, to report the attack and demand reinforcements. Some Iraqi civilians were seen firing, from their homes, at the men attacking the police stations.

Unable to take a police station, the Sunni Arab and al Qaeda gangs have concentrated on assassinations against police. Al Qaeda does this by sending suicide bombers into police stations, or as close as possible. The Sunni Arab gangs assassinate individual policemen, threaten others with the same treatment if they don't quit, or become a spy for the gangs. Groups of off duty police are attacked, or kidnapped and later killed. Out of a national police force of some 140,000, over 200 a week are being killed. So far, the anti-police violence has only encouraged more people to join the police. Many Kurdish and Shia Arab police volunteer to serve in Sunni Arab areas, where there are not enough local men willing to be police. While this kind of service is dangerous, it gives these men a chance to fight back, after decades of oppression by Sunni Arabs. This is the civil war pundits warn is just around the corner. The civil war has been going in Iraq for a long time, and is now playing out in the battles between Kurdish and Shia Arab cops, and Sunni Arab gangs.

They are risking everything because they trust that we won't abandon them. Thank God that the president at this moment in history is someone determined to stick by these brave men and help them save their country and their people from the savagery of the radical jihadis. Thank God the person making the decisions about our policy in Iraq is not one of those calling for withdrawal timetables or precipitous pullouts. Thank God he's not one of those prattling about "quagmires" and "chaotic conditions" and "no end in sight." Such is the rhetoric of timid men and nations who history either forgets or looks upon as losers. Thank God the president is a man who is doing what he believes is right and not what he thinks is politically expedient. It is such men who, despite their flaws, history esteems.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Shrinking the Deficit

According to the Treasury department, the U.S. government took in a single-day record $61 billion in tax receipts on June 15. This surpassed the previous single-day high of $56 billion set on December 15, 2000. The recent surge in tax revenues is not just a one-day event. Fiscal year to date, total government receipts are up 15.5 percent, the fastest rate of increase on a comparable FYTD basis since 1981. The difference between the growth rate of tax revenues and the growth rate of government spending has widened to 8.4-percentage points, the largest since late 2000 when the budget was in surplus.

Economist Michael Darda argues that the Bush tax cuts are the reason.

Real Justice

This would be so sweet if it comes to pass:


For release Monday, June 27 to New Hampshire media. For release Tuesday, June 28 to all other media.

Weare, New Hampshire (PRWEB) Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Caf�" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

"This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."

Clements' plan is to raise investment capital from wealthy pro-liberty investors and draw up architectural plans. These plans would then be used to raise investment capital for the project. Clements hopes that regular customers of the hotel might include supporters of the Institute For Justice and participants in the Free State Project among others.

Logan Darrow Clements, Freestar Media, LLC

Phone 310-593-4843;;

Justice for the little guy. What an extraordinary concept. We should all e-mail our support to Mr. Clements.

Constitutional Free-Fall

After Kelo we thought the Supreme Court couldn't look any more ridiculous than they did in that decision, but they proved us wrong yesterday when they ruled that the Ten Commandments could be displayed outside the state capitol of Texas but not inside the courthouses of Kentucky.

Read Justice Scalia's dissent here. On almost every case in which he is in the minority his opinions make the majority look like intellectual dwarves.

George Will says that the Supreme Court would look a lot less foolish if in cases like the two decided yesterday they only had the wit to say simply, "Because the display on public grounds does not do what the establishment clause was written to prevent -- does not impose a state-sponsored creed or significantly advantage or disadvantage one sect or sects -- the display is constitutional."

Unfortunately, this sensible approach will almost certainly escape the fumbling grasp of the jurists who dominate today's Court. Thank goodness they are now in recess and can't do any more harm until October.

Syrian Complicity

This article from the Washington Post gives a good picture of the role of Syria in the transit of jihadis into Iraq. Some interesting insight here:

Worried that it would be Washington's next target, Syria opposed the military coalition invading its neighbor. State media issued impassioned calls for "resistance." The nation's senior Sunni cleric, Grand Mufti Ahmad Kaftaro, undid his reputation for moderation by issuing a fatwa endorsing suicide attacks.

In Aleppo, Abu Ibrahim went door to door encouraging young men to cross the border. Volunteers boarded buses that Syrian border guards waved through wide-open gates, witnesses recalled. Saddam Hussein's government embraced the volunteers, handing them weapons and calling them Arab Saddam Fedayeen. But ordinary Iraqis were often less welcoming, pleading with them to go home; some Syrians were shot or handed over to the invading Americans.

At the request of his Iraqi counterparts, Abu Ibrahim stopped ferrying fighters for a time. "They said there were Shiites everywhere, Americans, and they couldn't do anything." By the summer of 2003, however, the insurgency began to organize itself, and the call went out for volunteers. Safe houses were established. Weapons were positioned. In the vast desert that forms the border with Iraq, passages through the dunes long used to smuggle goods now were employed to funnel fighters.

"We had specific meeting places for Iraqi smugglers," Abu Ibrahim said. "They wouldn't do the trip if we had fewer than 15 fighters. We would drive across the border and then into villages on the Iraqi side. And from there the Iraqi contacts would take the mujaheddin to training camps." Because Syrian men already had served two years of compulsory military service, most of them skipped the training. "It's mostly the Saudis who need the training," Abu Ibrahim said.

Afterward, the fighters were sent to join small cells usually led by Iraqis. They planted booby traps for U.S. convoys and laid ambushes. "Once the Americans bombed a bus crossing to Syria. We made a big fuss and said it was full of merchants," Abu Ibrahim said. "But actually, they were fighters."

In the summer of 2004, Abu Ibrahim got to go to Iraq. He crossed the dunes with 50 other volunteers, dodging U.S. patrols on the Iraqi side. In Iraqi society he moved without drawing attention. He would not discuss much of what transpired during the subsequent months. But when he returned to Syria after the massive U.S. offensive in Fallujah, only three people were alive from the original 50, he said. One was a suicide bomber.

"Young men are fighting with zeal and passion," Abu Ibrahim said. "There are Saudi officers, Syrians, Iraqis. But not those who fought for Saddam. The man who is leading it for the most part is Zarqawi."

As American operations become more frequent in the west of Iraq, Syria is going to either have to clamp down hard on people like Abu Ibrahim or risk having American troops visit on a regular basis the Syrian towns and cities close to the Iraqi border. One way or another the infiltration of men and material into Iraq through Syria is going to have to stop.

Amnesty International, Where Are You?

For those like Senator Dick Durbin who need a lesson on the nature of prisoner abuse we recommend this account from The Independent:

Ngawang Sangdrol was just 13 when she was first imprisoned by China in Tibet. She was so small her prison guards found it easy to pick her up by the legs and drop her, head first, on to the stone floor of her cell.

They beat her with iron rods, placed electric shock batons in her mouth and left her standing in the baking heat until she collapsed of exhaustion. They called her the "ballerina", because when the pain became too much for her, she would stand on the tips of her toes like a dancer. "The more we cried out in pain," she said, "the more they laughed."

"They would put a rope around your neck, tie both your hands and hang you down from the ceiling. They used iron bars to beat you systematically," she says. "And once you are imprisoned there is no difference between a child and an adult and an elderly person, or between a man and a woman. All punishments and torture methods are equal for everyone."

Ngawang Sangrol, now 28, is a Tibetan nun who spent more than a decade in prison. Released shortly before a visit by the then Chinese President Jiang Zemin to George Bush's Texan ranch, she was made to sign papers promising she would never speak of her experiences in the notorious Drapchi prison.

She was critically ill after years of abuse and doctors believed she would not live long. But she has survived to tell her gruesome tale, to the acute discomfort of the Chinese authorities.

The nun was arrested in 1990 for joining a peaceful demonstration calling for independence for Tibet. She was freed after nine months, and rearrested in 1992. In an interview with The Independent, she said: "I was imprisoned for saying just two things. 'Long live the Dalai Lama' and 'Free Tibet'. For these I was imprisoned and tortured. The sufferings our people went through after the invasion are well documented: everyone seems to know about them. But people seem to think that these days our problems are over, and this is not true. I have experienced persecution at the hands of the Chinese, and I can see it continuing."

There are an estimated 200 political prisoners in Tibet, almost all monks and nuns whose only crime is to have pledged support to the Dalai Lama, the head of the Buddhist faith, who leads a government in exile in India but whom Beijing regards as a separatist threat.

The London-based human rights group Free Tibet, says torture "forms a part of these prisoners' everyday lives". Human Rights Watch reports document the "mistreatment in detention" of religious figures and activists, citing Tibet as one of the two regions in China where torture is most rife. Beijing denies this, but none of the numerous claims of torture has been investigated by the Chinese authorities.

Life outside the prison walls is also tough, say rights activists. Since direct rule was imposed by Beijing in 1950, the authorities have denied charges of restricting basic freedoms. Ngawang Sandrol, now living in the US, is in London to urge the UK to use its forthcoming EU presidency to appoint a special EU rapporteur for Tibet and to promote negotiations between Beijing and the exiled Tibetan government.

We're trying to remember whether Amnesty International has issued a call to have Chinese officials arrested and tried for their crimes. Since they urged foreign nations to arrest Bush administration officials we're sure they must have done the same for the thugs and sadists who run China, but we just can't recall it.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Burning the Flag

I tried hard to work up enthusiasm for the flag-burning amendment passed last week by the House of Representatives on the theory that if the Left is against it, it must be a good thing. Nevertheless, I just can't get too excited about it. I tend instead to agree with Peter Schramm at No Left Turns who tells us:

My grandfather got 10 years at hard labor for having a small American flag in his house. The first thing he wanted to see when they let hime out was that flag. He thought the imprisonment was worth it. When I was monitoring the first free elections in Bulgaria soon after the fall of Communism in a dusty village near the Black Sea I noticed that there were many small American flags here and there, especially on cars. I walked up to an old woman and asked her why there were all these American flags about. She looked at me as if I were an idiot and said, "Freedom. It represents freedom." Enough said. Those who burn Old Glory make a political statement. I like to know where people stand.

Schramm's right. Allowing flag-burning serves a noble public purpose. It helps us to identify the morons in our midst and gives us ample justification for labeling them as such. Schramm links to a Mark Steyn column on the matter which eloquently expands upon the point. Steyn writes:

The House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment on flag burning last week, in the course of which Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (Republican of California) made the following argument: "Ask the men and women who stood on top of the Trade Center. Ask them and they will tell you: Pass this amendment."

Unlike Congressman Cunningham, I wouldn't presume to speak for those who died atop the World Trade Center. For one thing, citizens of more than 50 foreign countries, from Argentina to Zimbabwe, were killed on 9/11. Of the remainder, maybe some would be in favor of a flag-burning amendment; and maybe some would think that criminalizing disrespect for national symbols is unworthy of a free society. And maybe others would roll their eyes and say that, granted it's been clear since about October 2001 that the federal legislature has nothing useful to contribute to the war on terror, and its hacks and poseurs prefer to busy themselves with a lot of irrelevant grandstanding with a side order of fries, but they could at least quit dragging us into it.

And maybe a few would feel as many of my correspondents did last week about the ridiculous complaints of "desecration" of the Quran by U.S. guards at Guantanamo -- that, in the words of one reader, "it's not possible to 'torture' an inanimate object."

That alone is a perfectly good reason to object to a law forbidding the "desecration" of the flag. For my own part, I believe that, if someone wishes to burn a flag, he should be free to do so. In the same way, if Democrat senators want to make speeches comparing the U.S. military to Nazis and the Khmer Rouge, they should be free to do so. It's always useful to know what people really believe.

For example, two years ago, a young American lady, Rachel Corrie, was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza. Her death immediately made her a martyr for the Palestinian cause, and her family and friends worked assiduously to promote the image of her as a youthful idealist passionately moved by despair and injustice. "My Name Is Rachel Corrie," a play about her, was a huge hit in London. Well, OK, it wasn't so much a play as a piece of sentimental agitprop so in thrall to its subject's golden innocence that the picture of Rachel on the cover of the Playbill shows her playing in the backyard, age 7 or so, wind in her hair, in a cute, pink T-shirt.

There's another photograph of Rachel Corrie: at a Palestinian protest, headscarved, her face contorted with hate and rage, torching the Stars and Stripes. Which is the real Rachel Corrie? The "schoolgirl idealist" caught up in the cycle of violence? Or the grown woman burning the flag of her own country? Well, that's your call. But because that second photograph exists, we at least have a choice.

Have you seen that Rachel Corrie flag-burning photo? If you follow Charles Johnson's invaluable Little Green Footballs Web site and a few other Internet outposts, you will have. But you'll look for it in vain in the innumerable cooing profiles of the "passionate activist" that have appeared in the world's newspapers.

One of the big lessons of these last four years is that many, many beneficiaries of Western civilization loathe that civilization -- and the media are generally inclined to blur the extent of that loathing. At last year's Democratic Convention, when the Oscar-winning crockumentarian Michael Moore was given the seat of honor in the presidential box next to Jimmy Carter, I wonder how many TV viewers knew that the terrorist "insurgents" -- the guys who kidnap and murder aid workers, hack the heads off foreigners, load Down's syndrome youths up with explosives and send them off to detonate in shopping markets -- are regarded by Moore as Iraq's Minutemen. I wonder how many viewers knew that on Sept. 11 itself Moore's only gripe was that the terrorists had targeted New York and Washington instead of Texas or Mississippi: "They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, D.C. and the plane's destination of California -- these were places that voted AGAINST Bush!"

In other words, if the objection to flag desecration is that it's distasteful, tough. Like those apocryphal Victorian matrons who discreetly covered the curved legs of their pianos, the culture already goes to astonishing lengths to veil the excesses of those who are admirably straightforward in their hostility.

If people feel that way, why protect them with a law that will make it harder for the rest of us to see them as they are? One thing I've learned in the last four years is that it's very difficult to talk honestly about the issues that confront us. A brave and outspoken journalist, Oriana Fallaci, is currently being prosecuted for "vilification of religion," which is a crime in Italy; a Christian pastor has been ordered by an Australian court to apologize for his comments on Islam. In the European Union, "xenophobia" is against the law. A flag-burning amendment is the American equivalent of the rest of the West's ever more coercive constraints on free expression. The problem is not that some people burn flags; the problem is that the world view of which flag-burning is a mere ritual is so entrenched at the highest levels of Western culture.

Banning flag desecration flatters the desecrators and suggests that the flag of this great republic is a wee delicate bloom that has to be protected. It's not. It gets burned because it's strong. I'm a Canadian and one day, during the Kosovo war, I switched on the TV and there were some fellows jumping up and down in Belgrade burning the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack. Big deal, seen it a million times. But then to my astonishment, some of those excitable Serbs produced a Maple Leaf from somewhere and started torching that. Don't ask me why -- we had a small contribution to the Kosovo bombing campaign but evidently it was enough to arouse the ire of Slobo's boys. I've never been so proud to be Canadian in years. I turned the sound up to see if they were yelling "Death to the Little Satan!" But you can't have everything.

That's the point: A flag has to be worth torching. When a flag gets burned, that's not a sign of its weakness but of its strength. If you can't stand the heat of your burning flag, get out of the superpower business. It's the left that believes the state can regulate everyone into thought-compliance. The right should understand that the battle of ideas is won out in the open.

In short, the more opportunities we give the Left to vent their true sympathies, like Michael Moore did on 9/11, the more repulsive they appear to most Americans. That's a positive step for truth, one in whose way we shouldn't want to stand.


Liberals and Democrats everywhere must have been grinding their molars into dust during the second half of Meet the Press yesterday. Tim Russert was interviewing Bono who several times praised President Bush for what he's done in Africa to help rescue that continent from its misery. At one point he said that because of what Bush has done in the fight against AIDs 125,000 Africans are now on HIV medication. These people, Bono said, owed their lives to America and George Bush.

This, of course, does not mesh smoothly with the Leftist meme that Bush equals Hitler. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are reported to be meeting at this very moment to discuss how they can re-educate Mr. Bono on current political exigencies and assist him in avoiding such unacceptable lapses of judgment in the future.

Poor People's Party of Hope

Which political party today is doing the most to deny hope to poor people around the world? Which political ideology, liberalism or conservatism, is resisting efforts to raise poor people out of their misery? Hint: It's not the party that claims to care about the poor.

Charles Krauthammer writes that the Democrats have become the party of liberal reactionaries. Devoid of ideas, their only talent, like the guy in the Capital One commercials on tv, is to come up with ever more novel ways of saying "no" to change. This is especially ironic and pathetic, as Krauthammer explains, when it comes to aiding the poor in Central America:

What has happened to the Democrats over the past few decades is best captured by the phrase (coined by Kevin Phillips) "reactionary liberalism." Spent of new ideas, they have but one remaining idea: to hang on to the status quo at all costs.

This is true across the board. On Social Security, which is facing an impending demographic and fiscal crisis, they have put absolutely nothing on the table. On presidential appointments -- first, judges and now ambassador to the United Nations -- they resort to the classic weapon of southern obstructionism: the filibuster. And on foreign policy, they have nothing to say on the war on terrorism, the war in Iraq or the burgeoning Arab Spring (except the refrain: "Guantanamo").

A quarter-century ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan noted how it was the Republicans who had become a party of ideas, while the Democrats' philosophical foundation was "deeply eroded." But even Moynihan would be surprised by the bankruptcy in the Democrats' current intellectual account.

Take trade and Central America. The status quo there is widespread poverty. The Bush administration has proposed doing something about it -- a free-trade agreement encompassing five Central American countries plus the Dominican Republic.

It's a no-brainer. If we have learned anything from the past 25 years in China, India, Chile and other centers of amazing economic growth, it is that open markets and free trade are the keys to pulling millions, indeed hundreds of millions, of people out of poverty. The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is a chance to do the same for desperately poor near-neighbors.

You would think this treaty would be a natural for Democrats, who have always portrayed themselves as the party with real sympathy for the poor -- in contradistinction to Republicans, who have hearts of stone if they have any at all. The Democratic Party has always seen itself as the tribune of the oppressed of the Third World and as deeply distressed by the fact that "the United States by far is the stingiest nation in the world for development assistance or foreign aid," to quote Jimmy Carter, former Democratic president, current Democratic saint.

You would think, therefore, that Democrats would be for CAFTA. Not so. CAFTA is in great jeopardy because Democrats have turned against it. Whereas a decade ago under President Bill Clinton, 102 House Democrats supported the North American Free Trade Agreement, that number for CAFTA is down to 10 or less. In a closed-door meeting this month, reports Jonathan Weisman of The Post, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put heavy-handed pressure on all congressional Democrats to observe party discipline in killing the treaty.

Arguing free trade is particularly tiresome because it is the only proposition in politics that is mathematically provable. It was proved by British economist David Ricardo in 1817 that even if one country is more efficient in producing two items, trade between two countries based on the relative efficiency of production is always beneficial to both countries.

Mathematics does not change, but calculations of political expediency do. After all, it was the Democrats who, when Central America was aflame in the 1980s, argued strenuously against Ronald Reagan's muscular approach of supporting the government of El Salvador and the anti-communist revolutionaries in Nicaragua. Democrats voted time and again against Reagan's policy because, they claimed, it ignored the root causes of the widespread discontent in Central America, namely poverty and hunger.

Their alternative? Economic help, not guns. In 1983, when Reagan made a speech asking for support for El Salvador's embattled government, Sen. Chris Dodd delivered a nationally televised response on behalf of the Democratic Party in which he called Reagan's policy a failure and demanded instead that we deal with the underlying economic and social conditions: "We must restore America's role as a source of hope and a force for progress in Central America. . . . We must hear the cry for bread, and schools, work and opportunity that comes from campesinos everywhere in this hemisphere."

There is no better way to bring bread, work and opportunity to the campesinos of Central America than with markets and free trade. To his credit, Dodd supports CAFTA, which represents precisely the kind of deployment of soft power that he advocated on behalf of his party 22 years ago. Today, however, his party has overwhelmingly abandoned his -- and its own professed -- ideals.

Eighty percent of goods from these countries are already entering the United States duty-free, so CAFTA would have a minimal impact on the United States. It would, however, have a dramatic impact on these six neighbor countries -- countries that Democrats used to care about. Or so they said.

Pelosi-type Democrats only care about the poor, it seems, when their "concern" can be employed to political advantage. When it comes to actually doing something to help the destitute when it's not to their political benefit to do so, they're evidently unwilling to elevate people's needs above politics. They yearn so achingly for Bush's presidency to fail that they'll gladly sacrifice Central America's poverty stricken masses to the cause.

They're not only a party bankrupt of ideas, they're a party bankrupt of virtue.

<i>Raich</i> and <i>Kelo</i>

Dispatches From the Culture Wars says this about the Supreme Court's egregious Kelo decision:

The notion of limited government took another enormous body blow today with the Supreme Court's astonishingly wrongheaded decision in the Kelo case. It was 5-4, with the 4 most conservative justices - Rehnquist, Scalia, O'Connor and Thomas - dissenting. There is grand irony here. Despite the common perception that liberals are for the "little guy" and conservatives are for "big business", the liberal judges on the court just upheld the government's power to take away someone's property and give it to private development companies solely because the private developers will use it in ways that will boost the tax base, while the conservatives on the court offered a blistering and absolutely accurate dissent. What this means, essentially, is that you don't really own your home and property. You only own it until someone else can convince the government that they can put it to better use, at which point they can take it from you and give it to someone else. It's difficult to imagine a more flagrant violation of our founding principles than that.

Is it overstating it to say that the entire experiment in limited government that we began 216 years ago with the passage of the Constitution may well have come to an end in the last few weeks with the double whammy of the Raich and Kelo decisions? If "interstate commerce" can be abstracted to give the government authority over activities that are neither interstate nor commerce, and if "public use" can be abstracted to cover private use, I dare say we have passed through Alice's mirror into a Wonderland where words can mean whatever the Queen wants them to mean at any given time.

Our Constitution is being progressively dismantled by the highest court in the land. The only realistic hope to salvage it is to get a couple or three more jurists on the court who believe that their mission is to discern what the framers intended when they wrote that document and rule accordingly.

We've had forty years of Justices who simply fly by the seat of their judicial pants, and they must now be put into the minority. Creating a conservative court is the main domestic reason many people voted for George Bush over Al Gore and John Kerry, and if the Republican party fails in this task, it will take at least a generation to recover from the disaffection it'll provoke among its rank and file.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Dangerous Dependence

In past posts Viewpoint has highlighted the catastrophic damage one nuclear air-burst could wreak on this nation just from the electro-magnetic pulse that it would produce (See here, for example). Now comes a report that discusses the calamity that would ensue from even a minor disruption in the flow of oil and how easily such a disruption could occur. It'd all be pretty depressing if you allowed yourself to dwell on it:

WASHINGTON - Former CIA Director Robert Gates sighs deeply as he pores over reports of growing unrest in Nigeria. Many Americans can't find the African nation on a map, but Gates knows that it's America's fifth-largest oil supplier and one that provides the light, sweet crude that U.S. refiners prefer. It's 11 days before Christmas 2005, and the turmoil is preventing about 600,000 barrels of oil per day from reaching the world oil market, which was already drum-tight. Gates, functioning as the top national security adviser to the president, convenes the Cabinet to discuss the implications of Nigeria's spreading religious and ethnic unrest for America's economy.

Should U.S. troops be sent to restore order? Should America draw down its strategic oil reserves to stabilize soaring gasoline prices? Cabinet officials agree that drawing down the reserves might signal weakness. They recommend that the president simply announce his willingness to do so if necessary.

The economic effects of unrest in faraway Nigeria are immediate. Crude oil prices soar above $80 a barrel. June's then-record $60 a barrel is a distant memory. A gallon of unleaded gas now costs $3.31. Americans shell out $75 to fill a mid-sized SUV. If all this sounds like a Hollywood drama, it's not. These scenarios unfolded in a simulated oil shock wave held Thursday in Washington. Two former CIA directors and several other former top policy-makers participated to draw attention to America's need to reduce its dependence on oil, especially foreign oil.

Fast-forward to Jan. 19, 2006. A blast rips through Saudi Arabia's Haradh natural-gas plant. Simultaneously, al Qaida terrorists seize a tanker at Alaska's Port of Valdez and crash it, igniting a massive fire that sweeps across oil terminals. Crude oil spikes to $120 a barrel, and the U.S. economy reels. Gasoline prices hit $4.74 a gallon.

Gates convenes the Cabinet again. Members still disagree on whether America should draw down its strategic oil reserves. Homeland Security chief James Woolsey, who ran the CIA from 1993 to 1995, argues that a special energy czar is needed with broad powers to bypass the bureaucracy and impose offshore oil drilling and construction of refineries.

That won't help now, though, or resolve any short-term issues, counters Gene Sperling, who was President Clinton's national economic adviser. The energy secretary suggests that relaxing clean-air standards could help refiners squeeze out every last drop of gas. That makes the interior secretary, former Clinton Environmental Protection Agency chief Carol Browner, bristle. She blames Detroit for the mess because automakers failed to develop hybrids and other fuel-efficient cars. The Cabinet can't agree on even the simplest short-term solutions. There aren't many options beyond encouraging car pools and lowering thermostats. There's no infrastructure in place to deliver alternative fuels such as ethanol or diesel made from soybeans or waste products.

Fast-forward again, to June 23, 2006. Emboldened Saudi insurgents attack foreign oil workers, killing hundreds. A mass evacuation follows from the world's pivotal oil producer, the one country that could be counted on to boost production during shortages in global supplies.

A take-charge guy with a Texas accent who led the CIA from 1991 to 1993, Gates calls yet another war-room meeting. Global recession looms. The world economy turns on cheap oil. Without foreign oil workers, how will Saudi Arabia meet its production targets and quench the oil thirst of America, China and India? Oil prices have reached an unthinkable $150 a barrel. In Philadelphia, Miami and Kansas City, Mo., gas prices reach $5.74 a gallon. Now it takes $121 to fill that mid-sized SUV.

You get the picture. The scenario is intended to show how vulnerable the U.S. and world economies are because of dependence on oil from places where political instability threatens orderly production and distribution.

This year the world is consuming about 84 million barrels of oil a day. America alone guzzles about 20.8 million barrels a day. Experts think oil-producing nations have only 1.5 million barrels a day or less of unused production capacity right now. A disruption anywhere could cause market panic and spiking prices. That's largely why oil and gasoline prices are so high right now.

Saudi Arabia and other countries are trying to increase production, but that won't help much before next year at the earliest. Meanwhile, any hiccup in production, delivery or refining could cause disaster. "A million or a million and a half barrels of oil a day off the market is a very realistic kind of scenario. You can think of a dozen different countries around the world ... where you can see that happening. Or even a natural disaster could do that," Gates said in an interview.

Former CIA chief Woolsey described as "relatively mild" the scenarios that the National Commission on Energy Policy and the advocacy group Securing America's Future Energy simulated. Both groups are pushing for reduced dependence on conventional oil. "It was striking that by taking such small amounts off the market, you could have such dramatic impact" on world oil prices, said Robbie Diamond, the president of Securing America's Future Energy.

Richard Haass was a top adviser to former Secretary of State Colin Powell until 2003. The simulation taught him how little influence policy-makers would have in reversing an oil shock wave. "I think where most of the work has to happen now, both intellectually and politically, is on demand" reduction, Haass said.

One thing this analysis doesn't seem to take into account is that were there to be such a crisis this nation would probably be placed under martial law or some other emergency governance. Political disagreements among cabinet secretaries would probably not be the impediments to dealing with the problem that this simulation suggests. Even so, the effects of an oil shortage on our economy and social fabric, not to mention world peace, would be extremely ugly. Sleep tight.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Donating toThieves

Americans are a kind and generous people who want very much to help those who suffer deprivation and oppression. On the other hand, no one wants to see his contributions toward world hunger and poverty going to line the pockets of corrupt officials. There has to be accountability for the money that Americans donate, there have to be strings attached, and there has to be American oversight. There also has to be the threat of dire consequences for those who would steal the money that Americans wish to channel to those in greatest need.

This disheartening article describes a theft of staggering proportions in Nigeria and makes it clear that without the safeguards just mentioned, we may as well be flushing our charity down the commode. The report comes at an inauspicious moment, just as Bob Geldof's Live 8 concerts to raise aid for African people languishing in abject poverty under corrupt regimes draw close (July 2nd):

The scale of the task facing Tony Blair in his drive to help Africa was laid bare yesterday when it emerged that Nigeria's past rulers stole or misused £220 billion. That is as much as all the western aid given to Africa in almost four decades. The looting of Africa's most populous country amounted to a sum equivalent to 300 years of British aid for the continent. The figures, compiled by Nigeria's anti-corruption commission, provide dramatic evidence of the problems facing next month's summit in Gleneagles of the G8 group of wealthy countries which are under pressure to approve a programme of debt relief for Africa.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, has spoken of a new Marshall Plan for Africa. But Nigeria's rulers have already pocketed the equivalent of six Marshall Plans. After that mass theft, two thirds of the country's 130 million people - one in seven of the total African population - live in abject poverty, a third is illiterate and 40 per cent have no safe water supply.

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, set up three years ago, said that £220 billion was "squandered" between independence from Britain in 1960 and the return of civilian rule in 1999.

The stolen fortune tallies almost exactly with the £220 billion of western aid given to Africa between 1960 and 1997. That amounted to six times the American help given to post-war Europe under the Marshall Plan. British aid for Africa totalled £720 million last year. If that sum was spent annually for the next three centuries, it would cover the cost of Nigeria's looting.

Corruption on such a scale was made possible by the country's possession of 35 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. That allowed a succession of military rulers to line their pockets and deposit their gains mainly in western banks. Gen Sani Abacha, the late military dictator, stole between £1 billion and £3 billion during his five-year rule.

"We are only now beginning to come to grips with some of what he did," Mr Nwajah said. Nigeria has scoured the world for Abacha's assets but has recovered only about £500 million.

Olusegun Obasanjo, the current president, founded the commission and launched a crackdown on corruption to try to end the country's reputation as Africa's most venal. The figures all apply to the period before he came to power.

Mr Obasanjo will travel to the G8 summit to press the case for debt relief. Nigeria is Africa's biggest debtor, with loans of almost £20 billion, because previous rulers not only looted the country but also borrowed heavily against future oil revenues. The G8 has refused to cancel Nigeria's loans, despite writing off the debts of 14 other African countries this month. Prof Pat Utomi, of Lagos Business School, said that was the right decision. "Who is to say you won't see the same behaviour again if it is all written off?" he said.

Indeed. After having stolen £220 billion they want their £20 billion debt to be forgiven?

The United States must henceforth insist that the donors of our foreign aid be permitted to oversee its distribution to the people who need it or the aid will simply not be forthcoming. It must no longer be left up to a bunch of corrupt government officials to decide how our charity will be disbursed. Until we have such assurances the Bush/Blair initiative to rescue Africa from poverty should be put on hold.

The Appeal of Paganism

Dennis Prager argues that Judeo-Christian religion is antithetical to nature worship but that secularism often leads to it. The core of his argument is this:

[In a] magisterial commentary on Genesis ... written by the late Italian Jewish scholar Umberto Cassuto, professor of Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Cassuto states: "Relative to the ideas prevailing among the peoples of the ancient East, we are confronted here with a basically new conception and a spiritual revolution . . . The basically new conception consists in the completely transcendental view of the Godhead . . . the God of Israel is outside and above nature, and the whole of nature, the sun, and the moon, and all the hosts of heaven, and the earth beneath, and the sea that is under the earth, and all that is in them -- they are all His creatures which He created according to His will."

This was extremely difficult for men to assimilate then. And as society drifts from Judeo-Christian values, it is becoming difficult to assimilate again today. Major elements in secular Western society are returning to a form of nature worship. Animals are elevated to equality with people, and the natural environment is increasingly regarded as sacred. The most extreme expressions of nature worship actually view human beings as essentially blights on nature.

Even among some who consider themselves religious, and especially among those who consider themselves "spiritual" rather than religious, nature is regarded as divine, and God is deemed as dwelling within it. It is quite understandable that people who rely on feelings more than reason to form their spiritual beliefs would deify nature. It is easier -- indeed more natural -- to worship natural beauty than an invisible and morally demanding God.

When man ceases to believe in a transcendent God he doesn't believe in no god at all, as Chesterton reminds us, he embraces all manner of substitutes. Man's innate religiosity drives him to find something beyond himself toward which to direct his life. In the twentieth century the dominant substitutes were socialisms (communism and nazism), evolutionary science, consumerism, and humanism. By devoting one's life to one of these, or a combination thereof, some people were able to mask the meaninglessness of a life which inevitably ends in death. These ersatz religions were spiritual anodynes that deadened the pain of life's utter emptiness and pointlessness.

Since all these gods have ultimately failed to provide fulfillment to the average man the twenty first century might well see, as Prager's column suggests, a return to paganism and nature worship. If so, the history of western civilization will have come full circle.

The archive of Prager's columns on Judeo-Christian values can be found here.

Bits and Pieces From Iraq

Here are a few highlights from the last few days of postings at Strategy Page:

In the six weeks since the new Iraqi government was formed, nearly a thousand Iraqis have been killed by terrorist attacks. Interestingly, some of these deaths have been the result of Sunni Arab terrorists fighting foreign Arab (al Qaeda) terrorists. American Marines have actually witnessed some of these battles in western Iraq.

While many Iraqis still rail against American troops for "not protecting them" from these terrorist attacks, they also realize that it's Arabs carrying out these attacks. Many Iraqis also realize that the Americans are not magicians, and cannot protect Iraqis from their own unwillingness to cooperate in the fight against terrorists. While there are more tips coming in from Iraqis, too many are still willing to look the other way. This is a major difference between Iraq and, say, the United States, Israel and Egypt. These nations have populations that turned against the Islamic terrorists, and largely eliminated terrorism within their borders. The Iraqis are slowly becoming aware that this is how it works.

The terrorists continue their self-destructive ways, launching suicide attacks against the police and civilians. Day by day the strength and effectiveness of the police and army increases. American training experts believe that it will be two years before Iraq has enough police and troops to deal with terrorism. Iraqis believe the problem will be solved more quickly than that, but by being more brutal with those Sunni Arabs and foreigners who persist in their murderous ways. The United States wants to avoid this, as they will get blamed, in the world media, for the brutality of Iraqis trying to deal with their terrorist problem.

At least half of the terrorists encountered in western Iraq are foreigners. The Iraqi terrorists have been on the run as areas they set up housekeeping in are detected and raided. While the terrorists can scare Iraqis into not resisting with weapons, they cannot prevent them from tipping off police about where the bomb factories and weapons caches are. The terrorists torture and murder locals suspected of being informants, or who are kin to informants. The current American operations are meant to crush the terrorist groups that are too large for the locals to handle. Smaller groups of terrorists would be outnumbered by police, or groups of armed locals.

In Mosul, American troops captured Muhammad Khalaf Shakar, an al Qaeda leaders and close associate of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Shakar was betrayed by an informer, and increasingly common problem terrorists are facing. The informants, and few captured terrorists, indicate that most of the car bombs and roadside bombs are coming out these western Iraqi locations.

Operation Lightning, which began on May 22nd, continues in and around Baghdad. The 40,000 Iraqi police and troops have rounded up over a thousand terrorists suspects, and brought peace to many neighborhoods. It only takes a dozen or so armed men to terrorize a neighborhood, and make it hospitable for anti-government forces. When the local bad guys are rounded up, or chased into the western desert, the police can patrol the neighborhood, and establish relationships with the locals. This makes it more difficult for the terrorists to come back, as the police will immediately find out, and go after the terrorists before they can establish any control.

The government is broadcasting the pictures and videos captured from the terrorists, showing how Iraqis are tortured or killed (often by beheading) for resisting. The fact that many of the terrorists are foreigners, especially Saudis, makes many Iraqis angry. These self-righteous foreigners preach how they are in Iraq to "liberate" Iraq from foreigners. Yet the terrorists are never seen doing any good works, like the Americans, only killing and torturing Iraqis. This is turning Iraq into the most anti-al Qaeda country in the Middle East. That, in turn, is resonating in other Moslem countries, where Islamic terrorism is becoming less popular, as more of it is directed against Iraqis.

These last few sentences are worth special attention. Isn't it the conventional wisdom that we are creating more sympathy for al Qaida by our presence in Iraq? Haven't we been repeatedly told by anti-war folk that the war has only increased support for the jihadis across the Arab world?

Of course, conventional wisdom is formed in conversations over coffee and donuts in the air conditioned newsrooms of the major media and over beer and brie in the salons of Georgetown. Out on the hot, dry frontiers of Iraq where few journalists have dared to venture the people that know what's going on are apparently seeing a rather different picture.

Proof Spoof

Burning Panda spoofs twenty eight arguments against Intelligent Design and in support of Darwinian evolution which he has gleaned from the media over the past several months. The material apparently is no longer on his site, which seems to have been dropped. This is too bad because some of the arguments are apparently persuasive enough to have convinced some journalists:

After surveying the literature over the past few months, I've compiled the best arguments against Intelligent Design and in favor of neo-Darwinism.

1) The Monty Python Proof: 1. Michael Behe is an intelligent design theorist who was seen at a church 2. But only creationist's go to church 3. Michael Behe's a creationist! Burn him! 4. Therefore Evolution is true.

2) The argument from really, really, really big bones: 1. Some scientists found a bone 2. It was a really big bone 3. Manatees are really big, but manatees don't have this bone 4. The bone must have belonged to an older form of manatee that has now evolved. 5. Therefore evolution is true.

3) The argument from icky things: 1. There's moles on some people. 2. No designer would ever design moles. 3. Therefore evolution is true.

4) The argument from age of the earth: 1. Earth is 4.5 billion years old 2. Therefore evolution is true.

5) The either/or argument: 1. If evolution is true then creationism is false. 2. creationism is false because evolution is true. 3. therefore evolution is true.

6) The argument from scientists: 1. Scientists are perfect and never, ever lie. 2. Scientists believe that evolution can explain everything. 3. Therefore evolution is true.

7) The argument from truth as determined by peer review: 1. There has never been anything published in peer-reviewed journals by ID theorists (Meyer, Dembski, Behe, Schaeffer, Thaxton, etc) 2. If it's never been published then ID is false 3. Therefore evolution is true.

8) The argument from falsifiability: 1. ID isn't real science because it isn't falsifiable. 2. Evolution is true and has falsified design. 3. Therefore evolution is true.

9) The Scotsman Fallacy of Antony Flew: 1. No scientist believes there is an Intelligent Designer. 2. Well, some do. 3. No REAL scientist believes in an intelligent designer. 4. Therefore evolution is true.

10) The argument from a hissing feminist: 1. Intelligent Design presupposes a patriarchal womanizer! 2. Well, as a feminist I can't tolerate that! 3. Feminist response- "Hiiiiiiiiissssssssssssssssssss!" 4. Therefore evolution is true.

11) The argument from computer programs: 1. A programmer wrote a program that he installed on a computer. 2. The code took written words and randomly placed them together, under certain programmed rules, to form complete sentences. 3. See? Random processes CAN create information. 4. Therefore evolution is true.

12) The Choo Choo Train proof: 1. A long time ago trains were fueled by wood. 2. Then they evolved and were fueled by steam 3. Now trains are powered by electricity 4. So trains have evolved by completely random processes! 5. Therefore evolution is true.

13) The 'It's our only Hope' proof: 1. If intelligent design is true then everything will return to a theocracy. 2. Seriously, there will be witch hunts. 3. Children will be raised to believe in purpose! (oh dear...) 4. We can never let that happen! Help me evolution you're my only hope. 5. Therefore evolution is true.

14) The Evolutionary Modal Ontological Argument: 1. There is a possible world where evolution can explain everything necessarily. 2. So evolution is necessary then? 3. Therefore evolution is true.

15) The Argument from Eyes: 1. If dolphins have eyes and birds have eyes then evolution is true. 2. Dolphins have eyes and birds have eyes. 3. Therefore evolution is true.

16) The argument from ignorance: 1. Intelligent Design theorists are ignorant. 2. I mean come on, how could anyone seriously believe that? 3. No really, how? 4. Therefore evolution is true.

17) The argument against fancy words: 1. Intelligent Design Theorists use really big words. 2. If they are using big words, then they are just trying to sound smart. 3. But if they are trying to sound smart, they really aren't smart. 4. Therefore evolution is true.

18) The argument from the Crusades: 1. Christians fought in the crusades and committed horrible atrocities. 2. Christians are creationists. 3. Intelligent Design is Creationism in a cheap tuxedo. 4. So Intelligent Design theorist's are responsible for the horrible atrocities of the crusades. 5. Therefore evolution is true.

19) The argument of mistaken vocational identity: 1. An Intelligent Design Theorist mistakenly called a biochemist a chemist once. 2. How can the ID theorist be so retarded? 3. Therefore evolution is true.

20) The argument from mystery: 1. Intelligent Design takes the mystery from science. 2. Therefore evolution is true.

21) The 'That's just the way it is' argument: 1. I wish there was purpose to life, but there isn't. 2. I'm really sorry. 3. Therefore evolution is true.

22) The argument from Children's Imagination: 1. Only children believe in Santa Claus 2. Belief in God is kind of like belief in Santa Claus 3. Therefore evolution is true.

23) The argument from lunacy: 1. A guy on a lot of drugs once claimed to feel God 2. But he was on drugs. 3. Therefore evolution is true.

24) The argument from David Silverman: 1. David Silverman debated Norman Geisler once. 2. David Silverman can talk louder, faster, and over Geisler. 3. Geisler could barely get a word in! 4. Boy, if Silverman can talk faster than Geisler, then he must have won the debate. 5. Therefore evolution is true.

25) The Gold Star argument: 1. An atheist quit going to Sunday school because he didn't get the gold star one week. 2. He's been an atheist ever since. 3. Therefore evolution is true.

26)The argument from shared molecular structures 1. Amoeba's have proteins 2. Humans have proteins. 3. Therefore evolution is true.

27) The flat earth association argument: 1. There were some creationists who used to believe the earth was flat a long, long time ago. 2. But the earth is a sphere 3. Therefore evolution is true.

28) The appeal to Richard Dawkins: 1. Richard Dawkins is an evolutionist 2. Richard Dawkins is also smart 3. Therefore evolution is true.

As if they wanted to deliberately ad their own contribution to the media's shameful record of ignorance of what Intelligent Design entails, both scientifically and philosophically, our local newspaper ran this editorial Friday night. It complains about debate in the state House of Representatives over a bill which would ensure that teaching ID was permitted in Pennsylvania's public schools and takes several risible swipes at ID along the way.

The editorial states, for instance that, ID is "a sideshow of creationism in which the fossil record and scientific evidence of millions of years gets tossed in favor of scripture," and refers to ID as "religious zealotry."

It's pretty clear from this column that whoever wrote it has either never read the ID literature or has chosen to willfully to misrepresent it. The writer is, in other words, either ignorant of what he writes about or he is dishonest.

Thanks for the Burning Pandas post to Telic Thoughts.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Odd Polling Data

This is interesting. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press has come up with the following numbers:

Americans who consider the U.S. a Christian nation: 71% Americans who considered the U.S. a Christian nation in 1996: 60%

Americans who say both creationism and evolution should be taught in public schools: 57% Americans who say only creationism should be taught in public schools: 33%

Americans who have a favorable impression of the conservative Christian movement: 41% Americans who have a favorable impression of Muslims: 45%

Although we're heartened by the numbers in the first two categories we have to wonder how it could be that Muslims have a better image in what 71% of Americans say is a "Christian nation" than conservative Christians do. The incongruity of this datum makes us reluctant to be too encouraged by the rest of Pew's results.

We've Won?

Karl Zinsmeister, editor-in-chief of The American Enterprise, concludes that the war in Iraq is essentially over and we've won.

Wretchard at Belmont Club explains why Zinsmeister, although perhaps not very prudent in making what many might see as an irresponsibly hasty claim at this juncture, is nevertheless correct.

It's good reading for those who follow developments in that theater closely.

Democrat Dudgeon

In the wake of the firestorm over Dick Durbin's dunderheaded remarks comparing Club Gitmo to Auschwitz, Stalin's gulag, and Pol Pot's Killing Fields, the desperate Dems have tried to deflect the flak from Durbin by attacking Karl Rove's perfectly correct claim that in the wake of 9/11 conservatives prepared for war and liberals pleaded that we treat the attack as a police matter. His exact words were:

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in 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."

Liberals are now in profound dudgeon at Rove's impertinent truth-telling. They're demanding apologies. They're deeply offended that Mr. Rove has called their patriotism into question (Imagine!). Well, Ken Mehlman, Chairman of the RNC, has now released a statement that thoroughly documents Rove's assertion. Hugh Hewitt has the Mehlman documentation here.

Presumably, the libs will now be beside themselves with outrage that Republicans would resort to the tawdriest tactic in the playbook of dirty politics -- the use of FACTS. This is exactly what people mean when they say that Republicans are divisive, mean-spirited, and don't play fair.