Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Gonzalez Replies

Guillermo Gonzalez responds in the Iowa State Daily to calls on campus for his professional emasculation. He also replies in the Des Moines Register to its article criticizing him for breaching the bounds of science in his book Privileged Planet. Gonzalez is a proponent of cosmic ID and for that offense against secular morality he must be punished. We discussed the matter here a week ago. Here is Gonzalez's letter to the Des Moines Register:

In her Aug. 24 commentary, "Stick to Science, ISU," Rekha Basu writes about an anti-intelligent design petition led by Hector Avalos, an associate professor of religious studies at Iowa State University and faculty adviser to the ISU Atheist and Agnostic Society.

Basu noted that I'm a national leader in the ID movement who "has said publicly he wants to find a graduate student to pursue that line of study," based on an August-edition Geotimes report on comments made at a Smithsonian presentation. In answer to a question about progress in ID, I said that I hoped graduate students would take up some of the suggested research presented in the book I co-authored. I didn't say I was going to have a graduate student working on ID. In any case, I don't have funding to do so.

I am often misrepresented by the press and certain ideologues at ISU.

First, I am not a fundamentalist. I don't believe the Earth is only a few thousand years old or that a global deluge created most of the geology we see today. I am convinced that most of the mainstream theories in geology, physics and cosmology are a pretty good representation of reality.

Second, ID is not scientific creationism (or just creationism). Creationists seek evidence to prove a particular interpretation of the book of Genesis in the Bible. They start with a specific set of prior religious commitments and seek evidence that conforms to those commitments. ID theorists start with the evidence of nature and remain open to possible evidence of design. This approach is no different from the approach taken by many of the founders of modern science.

Third, scientific theories can and do have metaphysical implications, but those are distinct from the theories themselves. Richard Dawkins once said that Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. That implication doesn't invalidate Darwin's scientific idea. Similarly, ID research can have positive religious implications. Perhaps that explains some of the animosity toward ID.

Finally, "The Privileged Planet," which I co-authored with Dr. Jay Richards of the Discovery Institute, presents an original argument for design based on evidence drawn from the physical sciences. We do not discuss biological evolution in the book or in the documentary video based on it. Our argument is testable and should be challenged on the evidence.

The inquisition Hector Avalos is attempting to engineer isn't science. It's an attack on academic freedom.

-Guillermo Gonzalez, assistant professor of astronomy, Iowa State University, Ames.

It's important to reiterate that Gonzalez does not challenge Darwinian orthodoxy in his book. His argument is that the incredible fine-tuning of the structure of the cosmos makes it in dozens, perhaps hundreds, of ways extremely well-suited for the emergence of higher life forms such as man. Were the values and properties of the forces, constants, and constituents of the universe not almost exactly what they are, life could not have arisen. None of this has anything to do with evolution nor is it denied by anyone in science, but Gonzalez thinks that such precision is more than just a flukish coincidence, he thinks it is an indication of purposefulness.

This belief, which is a philosophical inference drawn from the scientific facts and not itself a scientific matter, is held in contempt by atheistic materialists on the faculty who fear that such telic talk has about it the odor of Christian fundamentalism and who see it as a challenge to their own philosophical suppositions. Thus, lest others be persuaded by Gonzalez's arguments, they feel the need to stifle and gag him.

As Gonzalez says in his letter, this controversy is not about science, it's about religious philosophy, and there's no one so intolerant, so hostile to the free exchange of ideas, as an academic who sees his cherished anti-theistic philosophical convictions, to which he has devoted his entire professional life, come under withering assault. Gonzalez, like Richard Sternberg and others before him, is getting a taste of their despotic fury.

Sounds of Silence

Time for a rock concert or two to raise money for disaster relief in the Gulf, or do the rockers and beautiful people only raise money for relief in Africa? How much assistance will we be receiving from the rest of the world, especially the oil-besotted Arab world? Will the mucky-mucks at the U.N. be calling those who don't help relieve the human misery along the Gulf coast "stingy"? Just asking.

Here's a list of the countries which have promised economic aid in the wake of this catastrophe so far:

No doubt the list will be longer by tomorrow.

The Great Raid

Hugh Hewitt commends to us what he avers is an outstanding movie. I haven't seen it myself, but I've heard so many good things about it that I intend to do something I rarely do - go see the movie in the theater. Here's what Hewitt says:

It is time to rescue The Great Raid.

The Great Raid is in theaters now, though it may not be for long unless movie-going America quickly realizes that there is a wonderful and inspiring film in its midst, one that celebrates courage, sacrifice and endurance, and which unabashedly proclaims that hope (plus superior firepower and tactical surprise) can conquer all. It is a movie which deserves a vast and appreciative audience.

It is 1945, and Douglas MacArthur has returned to the Philippines. More than 500 American survivors of the Bataan Death March languish at the Cabanatuan prison camp, and the Japanese plan to exterminate them, rather than allow them to survive and bear witness to Japanese war crimes. The men of America's untested 6th Army Ranger Battalion set out to save these prisoners. This exceptional movie tells the stories of the warriors who went to save the captives, the prisoners who endured unspeakable cruelty, and the Filipino resistance that came to the aid of both.

As with Saving Private Ryan, audiences have been lingering at the end of the film. There is spontaneous applause. And there are tears. The generation that fought to liberate the Philippines is passing away, but those who survive and the best of their children and grandchildren are appreciating the movie.

The Great Raid has received favorable reviews from esteemed and honest critics such as Michael Medved and Roger Ebert. But the bulk of the high-brow reviewers have rejected the movie. The New York Times's Stephen Holden represented the caucus of the dismissive when he wrote that "it is not the actors' fault that their characters fail to establish any emotional connection; they aren't given the words for the task." Holden damned the film as "a tedious World War II epic that slogs across the screen like a forced march in quicksand," and slammed it for "its scenes of torture and murder [which] unapologetically revive the uncomfortable stereotype of the Japanese soldier as a sadistic, slant-eyed fiend."

Holden isn't reviewing a movie; he's defending his own politics, as he's done before. In an October 2003 review of the documentary Fog of War about former Kennedy/Johnson administration Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Holden rebuked McNamara for serving during World War II under Gen. Curtis LeMay, thus being "part of the team that made the decision to firebomb 67 Japanese cities, killing large numbers of civilians. In Tokyo alone, more than 100,000 civilians died one night in March 1945." It is not difficult to conclude that any war movie that celebrates American resolve while neglecting to savage American hubris and American cruelty is going to fare very poorly at Mr. Holden's hands. This is the political agenda that The Great Raid is up against, and it is not limited to the New York Times and Stephen Holden. To praise The Great Raid is to praise America, and that's too much to ask of many film critics, especially in this era of the global war against terror.

Director John Dahl's dad served in the Philippines, and he told me that as he came to understand the story of The Great Raid, he also came to realize--again--the incredible modesty of the generation that beat back Hitler and Tojo. So modest are they that they have refused to proclaim their stories. We are lucky that directors such as Spielberg and Dahl have come along to do it for them.

The West is once again under siege, as it has been in the past and will be again in the future. Brave men have always risen up to defend the West--even when the odds were long--and to take the necessary but often harsh measures required to preserve civilization. Wars to preserve freedom can require terrible, but just, measures. Enemies of freedom can be the worst sort of human beings, and their defeat may indeed require devastating blows.

Now in the middle of another such struggle a movie has arrived which celebrates the very virtues that allow free men to survive, and many in the chattering class have dismissed it as crude and "disconnected" from their emotions.

"The secret to happiness is freedom," wrote Thucydides. "And the secret to freedom is courage." Courage is on display in The Great Raid.

Celebrate courage and thus freedom. Take everyone you know to see The Great Raid.

If any of our readers have seen this film please let us know your opinion of it via our feedback forum.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

LAT to Dems: Become Hawks

The LA Times strikes a hawkish chord:

Beyond stopping the cut-and-run strategy brewing in the House, Democratic leaders must define a meaningful victory as 1) a unified, stable Iraq with 2) a non-theocratic democracy that protects minority and women's rights and 3) a functioning economy. If the constitutional process crumbles and these goals prove impossible, the U.S. will need enough troops to stop a partition from becoming a bloodbath and jihadists and radical clerics from grabbing power. The key, then, remains security.

Democratic Sens. Joseph Biden of Delaware and John Kerry of Massachusetts have offered proposals such as deploying Iraq's militias and introducing NATO troops. But militias are neither loyal nor answerable to government authorities. And Germany would never agree to send NATO troops with general elections scheduled for this year.

While Democrats admonish Bush to come clean about the task ahead, they have not shown the political courage to do what is necessary: call for more American troops. Although 135,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Iraq, at most only 60,000 American and coalition troops, along with a much smaller number of Iraqi soldiers, are available for combat. Democrats should urge the U.S. to increase combat forces by up to 20,000 troops for the period necessary to elect and secure a permanent government. This would approximate the force during successful interim elections in January. More troops can stop jihadists from infiltrating Iraq and prevent enemy fighters from retaking territory, as in Fallouja.

The administration argues that newly trained Iraqis should fill this role. But only a fraction of the 107 Iraqi battalions being trained can operate independent of American support. We cannot afford to wait. Rumsfeld announced last week that he will boost troop strength temporarily to about 160,000, mostly by juggling troop rotations. But those levels will fall again after Iraqi elections in December - too soon to secure the new government.

Opponents claim that a larger U.S. presence would fuel anti-Americanism. Yet higher troop levels late last year did not spark an anti-U.S. backlash. Also, most new troops would deploy along sparsely populated borders.

Bush has said he will send more troops if U.S. military authorities ask. Widespread press reports confirm that ground commanders privately say they need more. Yet no Democratic leader currently supports increasing troops. Like the president, Democrats fear that increasing troop levels could be politically costly, even though an August CBS poll found Americans divided on the issue.

Democrats have a tremendous opportunity - as FDR and JFK did - to appeal to service and sacrifice to help the nation achieve long-term security. Democrats must stop following the polls and start assuming leadership on national security. Sixty percent of Democrats think that the Iraq war has increased the threat of terrorism against the United States, according to the CBS poll. They may be right, but losing the war will definitely hurt our security.

Unless Democrats demonstrate the political courage and resolution to win a war, rather than just criticize it, they will remain a minority party no matter what the polls show.

There is much good advice here, but it's doubtful that the Democrats will follow it since to do so would be to hand a boon to George Bush. The president is at present reluctant to do what it would take to win more quickly in Iraq because, quite simply, what it would take is more troops, and that might entail some sort of draft, and that's politically undoable as long as the Democrats are yelping and sniping at his ankles.

If the Dems, however, suddenly exhibited the same ferocity toward the insurgents in Iraq that they have shown toward Mr. Bush's judicial and U.N. appointments, then the president would have a green light to increase the size of the military with political impunity and be able to prosecute the war with much more alacrity. The Democrats, of course, find the idea of a Bush success in Iraq insufferable, and it would be made even more so by the fact that they would receive zero credit for it.

The only way the Democrats would take the advice of the Times on this one is if there were a Democrat president in the White House, and that won't happen, if it happens at all, for another three years.

Walter Reed Protests

A blog called Conservative Propaganda has an interesting report on the Walter Reed protest and counter-protest complete with photos. The Code Pink anti-war protestors are apparently completely out-matched by their antagonists in terms of numbers, wit, and knowledge about what's going on in the world.

Among the most interesting things about the report are the anecdotes about the reactions of the soldier/patients. The Code Pink group claims to be supporting the troops, but the patients want nothing to do with them and have bluntly expressed this sentiment in the universal sign language of disdain. On the other hand, several of them stopped to thank the counter-protestors.

The guys who have paid a heavy price know who's really on their side and who's merely trying to use them as a prop to promote their agenda.

A Strategy, Not a Sound Bite

One of the criticisms of the administration's approach to the current war has been that it seems to lack a grand strategy beyond training Iraqis to take over the burden of fighting it. Andrew Krepinevich, a retired West Pointer, is contemptuous of the calls to withdraw and finds the administration's "stay the course" rhetoric something less than a plan. He presses for an alternative known as the oil spot strategy. In an article in Foreign Affairs that is being widely heralded in the blogosphere he writes:

Instead of a timetable for withdrawal, the United States needs a real strategy built around the principles of counterinsurgency warfare. To date, U.S. forces in Iraq have largely concentrated their efforts on hunting down and killing insurgents. The idea of such operations is to erode the enemy's strength by killing fighters more quickly than replacements can be recruited. Although it is too early to tell for sure whether this approach will ultimately bring success, its current record is not good: even when an attack manages to inflict serious insurgent casualties, there is little or no enduring improvement in security once U.S. forces withdraw from the area.

Instead, U.S. and Iraqi forces should adopt an "oil-spot strategy" in Iraq, which is essentially the opposite approach. Rather than focusing on killing insurgents, they should concentrate on providing security and opportunity to the Iraqi people, thereby denying insurgents the popular support they need. Since the U.S. and Iraqi armies cannot guarantee security to all of Iraq simultaneously, they should start by focusing on certain key areas and then, over time, broadening the effort -- hence the image of an expanding oil spot. Such a strategy would have a good chance of success. But it would require a protracted commitment of U.S. resources, a willingness to risk more casualties in the short term, and an enduring U.S. presence in Iraq, albeit at far lower force levels than are engaged at present. If U.S. policymakers and the American public are unwilling to make such a commitment, they should be prepared to scale down their goals in Iraq significantly.

It sounds like a good concept to this untrained observer, but it also seems that it's not much different than cleaning out a rat's nest and leaving trained Iraqi troops in the nest to make sure the rats don't come back. I'm sure I was mistaken, but I had thought that this is what we had been doing as competent Iraqi forces became available.

Anyway, there's much more to Krepinevich's argument at the link.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Inquisition is in Session

Guillermo Gonzalez is an astronomer on the faculty at Iowa State University. He also has co-authored a book entitled Privileged Planet which points out the amazing fitness of our universe for the existence of higher life forms. The book is strongly teleological and for this Gonzalez is being hounded by a group of self-appointed inquisitors of the Church of Naturalism to give an account of his heresies.

The book, as far as I know, addresses only the cosmic argument for design and makes no disparaging mention of biological evolution. Yet, when the Darwinian Torquemadas are determined to commit a victim to the flames, anything remotely close to unorthodox opinions will suffice as a justification.

Even the DesMoines Register has waded blithely into the midst of the fray with an article by Rekha Basu who evidently occupies the Karl Popper chair for the philosophy of science at the Register and who suggests that ISU "issue its definition of what constitutes science, and make sure faculty uphold it."

Great idea. Perhaps Ms Basu has a definition in mind because philosophers of science sure don't. One can picture the science faculty at ISU rushing to clasp their hands metaphorically over Ms Basu's mouth to shut her up, knowing that any definition the university comes up with will either include almost everything or exclude somebody's pet discipline. Science, someone should whisper to Ms Basu, is whatever scientists do. There is no definition for science so clear-cut and universally accepted that the university could force their faculty to "uphold it".

Mike Gene at Telic Thoughts composes an amusing and condign skewering of Ms Basu and Professor Gonzalez's other adversaries at ISU. His chief antagonist, it turns out, is an atheistic Bible scholar and professor of religion named Hector Avalos. One wonders where a Bible scholar gets the expertise to criticize an astronomer. That aside, you'll have to read Gene's essay to apprehend the dogmatic intolerance fueling Professor Avalos' crusade against Gonzalez and to appreciate the full measure of his inanity.

Dispel the Myths

Jonah Cohen is not a supporter of Intelligent Design, but he does think it ought to be taught in public schools. He argues that there is so much confusion about what ID is that it should be taught just to dispel the misunderstandings, if for no other reason. In an essay in the American Thinker he sets out four "myths" about ID and proceeds to explain why those myths are, in his opinion, wrong.

The myths, he claims, are these:

1. The theory of intelligent design is a modern version of Creationism.

2. The theory of intelligent design claims that the designer is the God described in the Bible.

3. Conservatives and Christians necessarily accept the intelligent design argument.

4. The theory of evolution and monotheism are logically at odds or, at least, inimical.

You can read Cohen's response to each of these at the link.

Parenthetically, I'd like to call special attention to one of his concluding paragraphs:

The dispute between intelligent design versus a randomly ordered cosmos is age-old and fascinating and still unresolved. That smart and honest writers are now busy promulgating sheer fictions about this debate suggests that we are indeed in need of education on this topic. And that is a sufficient reason, in my opinion, for it to be taught in our schools, perhaps not in biology classes, but at least in mandatory philosophy classes, something our school systems do not demand to our national shame.

As one who taught a full year philosophy course in a public high school for almost twenty five years, the last two phrases were pleasant to read. I don't know that philosophy should be mandatory, but it should certainly be offered as an elective to secondary students. The benefits of studying philosophy are substantial, and it is indeed a shame that more high school students are denied the opportunity to share in those benefits.

How to Play Offense

On Saturday Viewpoint urged the White House go on offense in making its case for its policy in Iraq. Today we direct you to a marvelous example of precisely what they should be doing. If the White House needs advice on how to make the case for seeing the Iraqi project through to its conclusion they could hardly do better than to read this essay by Christopher Hitchens in The Weekly Standard.

Well, maybe they could do better if they hired Hitchens as a speech writer.

His column is must reading for anyone who has an opinion on the war in Iraq, whether pro or con. Indeed, anyone who opposes the war should be refused a hearing unless they first agree to read it.

Hitchens opens with this:

Let me begin with a simple sentence that, even as I write it, appears less than Swiftian in the modesty of its proposal: "Prison conditions at Abu Ghraib have improved markedly and dramatically since the arrival of Coalition troops in Baghdad." I could undertake to defend that statement against any member of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, and I know in advance that none of them could challenge it, let alone negate it. Before March 2003, Abu Ghraib was an abattoir, a torture chamber, and a concentration camp. Now, and not without reason, it is an international byword for Yankee imperialism and sadism. Yet the improvement is still, unarguably, the difference between night and day. How is it possible that the advocates of a post-Saddam Iraq have been placed on the defensive in this manner? And where should one begin?

After a page or two of journalistic virtuosity Hitchens concludes his article with this paragraph:

The great point about Blair's 1999 speech was that it asserted the obvious. Coexistence with aggressive regimes or expansionist, theocratic, and totalitarian ideologies is not in fact possible. One should welcome this conclusion for the additional reason that such coexistence is not desirable, either. If the great effort to remake Iraq as a demilitarized federal and secular democracy should fail or be defeated, I shall lose sleep for the rest of my life in reproaching myself for doing too little. But at least I shall have the comfort of not having offered, so far as I can recall, any word or deed that contributed to a defeat.

In between those two passages is perhaps one of the most compelling defenses of what America is trying to accomplish in Iraq that has been written in the past twelve months. Give it a read.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Basic Principle of Political Philosophy

My friend Byron Borger passes along a link to an article that will be of interest to anyone who has done any reading in political philosophy. The essay is written by David Koyzis, and in it he considers four main approaches to politics in the contemporary west, pointing out the weaknesses of each.

He concludes with what he believes must be the essential elements of any political philosophy that seeks to maximize human welfare. His crucial sentences are the ones he closes with. He says this:

Finally, a solid political theory - one that adequately accounts for reality and bears fruit as it is practiced - must recognize that ultimate authority belongs not to the state or any mere human institution, but to God who has called the state to its task of doing justice in the midst of societal pluriformity. In the words of an ancient, political authority, "The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all" (Psalm 103:19) (Italics his).

Koyzis is certainly correct about this. Almost everyone would agree that the task of the state is to do justice, but why do we think that? And how do we know what justice is anyway? Where does our modern notion of justice come from if not from a transcendent lawgiver?

Let us suppose there is no such Being. If such were the case the word "ought" would be emptied of any moral meaning. There would be no content to the assertion that the state "ought" to be just. Why should it? Nor is there any basis for grounding the concept of justice in our notion of equality. If there is no God then Thrasymachus was right when Plato has him declaim in The Republic that justice is merely "the interest of the stronger."

Marx was incensed that the state catered to the interest of the bourgoisie, but as an atheist Marx couldn't rationally say that this was morally wrong (although he tried). He couldn't protest that it was unjust or unfair, he could only resent it because it offended his own subjective predilections. Much of the bloodshed and oppression of the twentieth century, sadly enough, arose ultimately out of Marx's personal pique.

Where do we get our notion of justice from, and from whence do we derive the idea that we are obligated to do it if not ultimately from God mediated through both special revelation and the natural law? Again, if there is no god then our ideas about justice are at most products of our evolutionary past. As such they can be seen as vestiges of a blind process that suited us for life in the stone age, but there is no reason why we should feel compelled to heed them today. They have no moral value or heft. We do not offend heaven if we disregard them. We might offend our fellow man if we discard the popular notions of justice, but so what? To maintain that the state in a godless world has an obligation to provide justice for its citizens is as nonsensical as maintaining that the wolf has an obligation to provide justice for the sheep.

The history of the political philosophy of the last two hundred years is littered with the corpses of attempts to build a just society on an atheistic premise. Such philosophies always have and always will revert, sooner or later, to a might makes right ethic where justice is whatever the ruling power says it is. And, inevitably, the ruling authority will decide that justice is whatever promotes its own self-interest, its own survival, its own hold on power. This was Machiavelli's view, it was Nietzsche's view, it was the view of the heirs of Marx, and it was the view of the Nazis. It will invariably be the view of any state that denies the existence and sovereignty of God.

It is one of the ironies of modernity that a logically rigorous embrace of atheism, which seems to so many to be so philosophically and morally seductive, leads individuals and states ineluctably to nihilism. Modern man can't live without God and won't live with Him. Therein lies the tragic source of most of his troubles.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Premature Celebrations

The Daily Kos had John Thune already autopsied and embalmed on Tuesday. It was a foregone conclusion that the man who staked his political career on saving Ellsworth AFB from being mothballed was a dead man walking. Unfortunately for Kos his judgment on Thune's demise was as dependable as his judgment on just about everything else:

Daschle would've likely saved Ellisworth (like he had done in the past), just like ND's two Dems did their part to protect their local economy (whether BRAC is truly justified or not). But Thune argued in 2004 that he would be best positioned to save Ellsworth as a Republican in a GOP-trifecta-led D.C.

Now, he's been made a fool by his own president, has proven his impotence to the SD voters, and has likely lost 6,000 mostly GOP-leaning jobs in western South Dakota. Not bad for a first-year Senator.

As it all turns out, Ellsworth was given a reprieve, Thune is walking tall in South Dakota, and Kos and the lefties who were gleefully salivating at the pending burial of the man who did Tom Daschle in are now grinding their teeth in frustration. They must feel like Wile E. Coyote trying to catch the road runner.

Read the comments at Kos' site. They're a hoot.

Time For the White House to Play Offense

Tony Blankley says what a lot of the president's supporters are thinking:

In a major USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll from three weeks ago, 32 percent of the public said we can't win the war in Iraq. Another 43 percent predict victory, while -- critically -- 21 percent say "the United States could win the war, but they don't think it will."

If one adds that "could win, but don't think we will win" 21 percent to the 43 percent who predict victory -- one has a very solid 64 percent supporting the war. But if that 21 percent become convinced that our government has given up trying to win, then they could form a 53 percent defeatist majority in the public. It is worth noting that despite the doubts expressed by the public in that Gallup Poll 53 percent of those surveyed still said it was not a mistake to send U.S. troops to Iraq.

But although President Bush suffers from a biased, defeatist mainstream media, he still holds his (and our nation's) fate largely in his own hands. The president and his advisors should puzzle long and hard over what is in the minds of that critical 21 percent of the public who think we can -- but won't -- win the war in Iraq. Let me hazard a guess. Many of the strongest supporters of the president's Iraq war aims are coming to suspect that the president has placed a limit on troop strength in Iraq for reasons extraneous to calculations of victory.

It is hard to argue that the war is going optimally, and the administration argument that more troops wouldn't help is, at the least, counterintuitive. The president says he is sending as many troops as the generals ask for -- which is true. But recently, retired generals, and others, are saying that they are afraid to ask for more. If that is true, it is rather unheroic of the generals not to give the president the unvarnished truth of what is needed. Moreover, it is the president's job not just to listen to the generals but to fire those generals who do not deliver credible plans for victory -- as Lincoln and FDR routinely did.

That aside, Sec. Rumsfeld argues that more troops would merely be a larger footprint, creating more targets for the enemy. But by that analysis any troop level above zero would only increase the targets. Surely there must be an optimum level of fighting troops -- irrespective of how many total troops it takes to support the actual fighters. I have been told that there aren't enough highways in Iraq to support higher useful levels of troops. But that is an argument for the Corp of Engineers to build more temporary roads. As the president rightly says, we must bring the battle to the enemy. After all, on D-Day at Normandy, a shortage of docking facilities led us to invent and bring with us our own manmade docks.

Surely we could use an extra Army division to secure the Syrian and Iranian border, across which the administration asserts enemy terrorists are regularly crossing. A recent hard-fought assault "in force" by our troops in the Sunni triangle that took several casualties was a mere thousand troops -- a mere battalion-level strength -- not even a brigade. If, as many presidential supporters suspect, the president is making do with current in-country troop levels because we don't have enough troops worldwide at our current force levels to properly fight the war in Iraq and also fulfill all our other responsibilities, the president should say so.

We are country of 300 million citizens with an annual GDP of $12 trillion and the lead in virtually all human technologies. Within a couple of years we can marshal whatever level of resources -- men and material -- that are needed to win on this front of the war. The president rightly says that Iraq is currently the central front on the war on terror. We don't need to win this month or this year. We can hold on at current levels until more resources are brought on line.

But what we need -- and what the president's potential and actual war supporters need -- is not only his call for victory (which is gratifying), but a persuasive explanation for why we are doing everything necessary for victory. That will win over the doubting (and growing) 21 percent. Defeat being unacceptable, victory must be seen as inevitable.

Why the president will not lay out in convincing terms his rationale for the way in which the insurgency in Iraq is being fought, why he will not explain, for example, why terrorists are allowed safe havens in Syria and Iran, if, indeed, they are, and why he won't address the nation more frequently without merely repeating a bunch of talking points, is hard to understand. If support for the war continues to erode, the reason for it is not that people are tired of the sacrifice our young soldiers and Marines are making in a far off land, it will be because they no longer see the point of it. As long as the defeatism of the MSM is left uncountered by the White House, doubts and misgivings are going to fester, even among the president's supporters.

As long as the sacrifice our military people are making is left unexplained, a sizable portion of the population of this nation will forget, if they ever knew, why we're fighting. We need constant reminding of what's at stake. We need to be educated about the goals and progress of the war, and that's not happening because the task is being left to an inept and tendentious media. In a sense, the administration is letting our military down by allowing support for their effort to be worn away by the steady, unanswered drip of anti-war negativism and defeatism that we read every morning in the papers and hear every night on the evening news.

We need more relentlessness on offense from the White House and a lot less rope-a-dope.

Silver Lining

The silver lining of Pat Robertson's unfortunate call to assassinate Hugo Chavez is that it gives Christians opportunity to write wonderful pieces like this one by Marvin Olasky highlighting the beauty of Christian belief:

With liberal reporters since 9/11 frequently equating conservative Christians with Quran-thumping Muslims, WORLD has tried to delineate the real differences (see "Osama bin Ashcroft," April 27, 2002). For example, Islam initially expanded through the slaughter of opponents, but Christianity grew through the martyrdom of believers. Muslim extremists issued fatwas against their enemies, but the apostle Paul taught Christians in Rome, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink."

Pat Robertson last week, on his long-running TV show The 700 Club, seemed more Muslim than Christian when he suggested that U.S. operatives assassinate Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez: "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability....I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but...I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it." Two days later he apologized, stating, "Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration ...."

It's good that Mr. Robertson recognized his fault, but the original ad lib already had provided ammunition for enemies of Christ such as Venezuelan VP Jose Vicente Rangel, who sarcastically said that assassination advocacy was "very Christian" and went on to argue that "religious fundamentalism is one of the great problems facing humanity." National and international journalists had also played up the story, often treating Mr. Robertson as if he were the Protestant pope.

Mr. Robertson's comments also had made the day of some Islamic groups. Under the press release heading "PAT ROBERTSON'S FATWA," the Muslim American Society went on offense, screaming that "someone should remind the darling of the Christian Right about the Ten Commandments. About the one that says 'thou shall not kill.' If that had been a Muslim cleric talking about killing a head of state, you would have never heard the end of it."

(Muslim clerics, of course, have done more than talk about killing lots of people, with fatwa followers murdering intellectuals such as Faraj Foda, Hussein Muruwwa, Mahmoud Taha, and Al-Sadeq Al-Nayhoum-and most Americans have never heard their names.)

None of these prudential concerns would matter much if Pat Robertson had been biblically correct in calling for assassination-but it's hard to see either general or specific biblical warrant for his original fatwa. In general, as Paul wrote to Timothy, Christians are to pray "for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions." Hugo Chavez is an evil tyrant but so were many Roman emperors. Paul told Romans to "bless those who persecute you....Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all." Last time I looked, "assassin" was not on the general list of honorable callings. Wartime is different, but last time I looked we weren't at war with Venezuela.

Applying Old Testament history to current politics is sometimes exegetically tricky, but the assassinations of those who fought Israel in Judges 3 and 4-Jael hammering a tent peg into Sisera's brain, Ehud the left-handed man thrusting his sword into the fat belly of the king of Moab-also do not provide warrant for taking out Hugo Chavez. Nor do any of Christ's words or deeds suggest a WWJA-Who Would Jesus Assassinate?-list.

The people most affected by last week's tempest, of course, are Venezuelans, one of whom wrote on WORLD's blog site of Mr. Chavez's demagoguery and election-rigging but noted that "after decades of corruption and ignoring the needs of the poor, our country may deserve a leader like Chavez. The fact is that Venezuela needs revival; a way of life there. All potential leaders are corrupt, and we could end up with someone worse than Chavez. Pray for my people!" Yes, and pray also for missionaries who now face greater danger.

God is the God of history. He raises up leaders and strikes them down. The Christian goal is to follow biblical principles, including "just war" ones, and not to invent our own. If we are careless, we bring dishonor to God's name by making many believe there is no difference between the preeminent religion of peace and the many religions of violence.

Such columns are a lovely witness to a post-Christian society whose understanding of what Christians believe is often based upon caricature and misinformation. It almost makes one thankful that Robertson said what he said.

Weakened Bush Bad For Hillary?

Mickey Kaus at Kausfiles argues that Bush's sagging poll numbers actually hurt Hillary. Here's why:

The same press drumbeat of defeatism about Iraq that has helped bring down Bush's numbers has also emboldened the party's mainstream left base (i.e., not just MoveOn or the DailyKos crowd). They hardly care whether Hillary is a member of the DLC. But they do not want to support someone who voted for the war, as Hillary did. Worse, they want a Democrat who is willing to break from the respectable Beltway Tough-It-Out Consensus now, publicly, in a way Hillary has been unable to do. They're so desperate for a champion they're even temporarily captivated by Sen. Hagel's mere mention of "Vietnam." Hagel/Dean for America! Or maybe Hagel/Gingrich.

The anti-war left may well tear the Democratic party apart, just as it did in 1968, if it can't get its way on the next presidential nominee. This would not necessarily be good for conservatives, though it should be. The reason it might not is that if the left succeeds in nominating a Gene McCarthy or George McGovern, it will tend to draw the Republicans leftward to compete for independent moderates. A Rudy Guiliani might, under such circumstances, look very attractive to the GOP, but his social liberalism would be anathema to conservatives.

If the left does not get its way, and causes a fracture in the party, an impotent Democratic opposition could induce complacency in the Republicans and lead them to nominate someone who lacks the principles to be a wise and good leader. This, some would say, is precisely what happened when Richard Nixon won the nomination and presidency in 1968.

Of course, the other possibility is that the left will lead the Democratic party, one way or the other, over the cliff, and the Republicans will by default establish a political hegemony that'll last for a generation. We'll see.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Savagery in Seattle

Michelle Malkin has a lot of information and links on the Seattle soldier beatings here. With due respect to Sean Hannity, it's pretty silly to jump to the conclusion, as he does, that this brutality was perpetrated by anti-war protestors taking out their anger on soldiers just home from Iraq. The whole thing sounds much more like an example of just plain thuggery carried out by imbecilic savages who couldn't even spell Iraq.

Parenthetically, reading the material at Michelle's blog one gets the impression that there is no police force in the United States more incompetent and more gutless than that which patrols the streets of Seattle. It'll be a long time before this family goes back there.

Optimistic About Iraq's Constitution

The New York Times' David Brooks finds cause for optimism in the new Iraqi constitution:

President Bush doesn't lack for critics when it comes to his Iraq policies, but the smartest and most devastating of these is Peter W. Galbraith, a former United States ambassador to Croatia.

Yesterday, after reading gloomy press accounts about the proposed Iraqi constitution, I thought it might be interesting to hear what Galbraith himself had to say. I finally tracked him down in Baghdad (at God knows what hour there) and found that far from lambasting Bush, Galbraith was more complimentary about what the administration has just achieved than anybody else I spoke to all day.

"The Bush administration finally did something right in brokering this constitution," Galbraith exclaimed, then added: "This is the only possible deal that can bring stability. ... I do believe it might save the country."

Read the rest of Brooks' article here.

Who's Shaping Conservatism?

Gideon Strauss wonders who's keeping the fires burning in contemporary conservativism. Who, he asks, is producing the ideas that infuse energy and vigor into conservative political philosophy.

Strauss suggests a few answers. Here are three more: The conservative blogosphere, the neo-con Weekly Standard and, surprisingly, perhaps, the Discovery Institute.

Pat Stephanopolous

Well, well. Look who else has endorsed assassination as a political tool:

Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson prompted a firestorm of media outrage on Tuesday after he suggested that the Bush administration should assassinate a foreign leader who posed a threat to the U.S. - in this case, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. But when senior Clinton advisor George Stephanopoulos publicly argued for the same kind of assassination policy in 1997, the press voiced no objection at all.

Fresh from his influential White House post, Stephanopoulos devoted an entire column in Newsweek to the topic of whether the U.S. should take out Saddam Hussein. His headline? "Why We Should Kill Saddam."

"Assassination may be Clinton's best option," the future "This Week" host urged. "If we can kill Saddam, we should." Though Iraq war critics now argue that by 1997, the Iraqi dictator was "in a box" and posed no threat whatsoever to the U.S., Stephanopoulos contended that Saddam deserved swift and lethal justice.

"We've exhausted other efforts to stop him, and killing him certainly seems more proportionate to his crimes and discriminate in its effect than massive bombing raids that will inevitably kill innocent civilians," the diminutive former aide contended.

Stephanopoulos even offered a way to get around the presidential ban on foreign assassinations: "If Clinton decides we can and should assassinate Saddam, he could call in national-security adviser Sandy Berger and sign a secret National Security Decision Directive authorizing it."

The Stephanopoulos plan: "First, we could offer to provide money and materiel to Iraqi exiles willing to lead an effort to overthrow Saddam. . . . The second option is a targeted airstrike against the homes or bunkers where Saddam is most likely to be hiding."

The one-time top Clinton aide said that, far from violating international principles, assassinating Saddam would be the moral thing to do, arguing, "What's unlawful - and unpopular with the allies - is not necessarily immoral."

Stephanopoulos also noted that killing Saddam could pay big political dividends at home, saying the mission would make Clinton "a huge winner if it succeeded."

Watch for the media feeding frenzy over Pat Robertson's remarks to suddenly evaporate once it comes to be widely known that Stephanopolis had advocated pretty much the same thing as Robertson has. The media cares more about using Robertson's words as a cudgel with which to pound a prominent conservative than they do about the actual suggestion itself. If it becomes widely bruited that a high status liberal held similar views to those of Robertson, they'll reluctantly lay aside that weapon rather than have to club Stephanopolous with it as well.

POST SCRIPT: As it happens, I agree with Stephanopolis and disagree with Robertson, but the differences in their positions require the sort of analysis that does not lend itself to sound-bite journalism. It also would sound very much like special pleading were the liberal media to try to justify Stephanopolous' advice after roundly condemning Robertson. It's more likely that they'll just drop it rather than put themselves in that position.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

More From Cindy Sheehan

Of all the absurd things Cindy Sheehan has said in the last couple of months this is perhaps the most ridiculous:

"You know Iraq was no threat to the United States of America until we invaded. I mean they're not even a threat to the United States of America. Iraq was not involved in 9-11, Iraq was not a terrorist state. But now that we have decimated the country, the borders are open, freedom fighters from other countries are going in, and they [American troops] have created more terrorism by going to an Islamic country, devastating the country and killing innocent people in that country. The terrorism is growing and people who never thought of being car bombers or suicide bombers are now doing it because they want the United States of America out of their country."

As Ms Sheehan herself suggests, the jihadis are not trying to get Americans out of their country. Many, if not most of them, are not Iraqis. They're trying to get Americans out of Iraq because our presence there is a knife pointed at the heart of Islamo-fascist aspirations of a world-wide caliphate and the destruction of Israel.

Nor have Americans either "decimated" the country or "devastated" it. The claim of decimation is so astonishingly ludicrous that one can only conclude that Ms Sheehan is either ignorant of the word's meaning or that she is a fantasist. Deaths of civilians due to American action in Iraq comes nowhere close to .1% of the population let alone the 10% that Ms Sheehan claims.

The claim of devastation can only be made by someone completely oblivious to what is really happening in Iraq. That country today has more and better infrastructure than before the invasion. They have more schools, better hospitals, more newspapers, more freedom, more rights than they ever dreamed of under Saddam. The Iraqi people would be enjoying even greater benefits of American beneficence were it not for Ms Sheehan's freedom fighters who keep sabotaging electrical grids and oil pipelines.

Nor are the insurgents fighting for freedom as she implies; rather precisely the opposite. They're fighting to return Iraqis to a Baathist tyranny or a Talibanic slavery such as prevailed in Afghanistan before George Bush liberated that country from the despots who crushed those poor people under their perverse vision of Islamic law. To suggest that the terrorists are fighting for the freedom of Iraqis, even as they repeatedly blow Iraqi women and children to smithereens, is absolute nonsense and naivete.

The kind thing would be for someone to take this poor woman by the elbow and gently lead her off the public stage. To let her go on making an utter fool of herself is shameful. To use her as she is no doubt being used by the anti-war left is cruel. To publicize her pronouncements in order to score political points against Bush, as the media is doing, is disgusting.

To claim, moreover, that she should be above criticism because of the loss of her son, as Paul Begala asserts, is ludicrous. It's like pleading that a boxer should allow his opponent to pummel him because the opponent has suffered personal tragedy. The compassionate thing would be to ignore her, but since neither she nor the liberal media will allow us to do that then she must be responded to and her invective and fatuities need to be clearly identified as being what they are.

American Heroes

Readers interested in the details of combat in Iraq will not want to miss the latest posting from Michael Yon, a writer who travels with Deuce Four in Mosul. Yon has the gripping account of the combat heroics of LTC Erik Kurilla and CSM Robert Prosser. Amazing stuff.

Genuine Feminist Legislation

I have long wondered why legislation such as this was not adopted years ago:

North Carolina lawmakers have approved a measure that would require courts to give battered spouses something extra when they seek a restraining order - information on how to apply for a concealed weapon.

However, victim's advocates who support efforts to curb domestic violence said the measure could end up causing more problems by bringing guns into already volatile relationships.

"In my experience, if you've got a fire out there, I don't think you put it out by throwing gas on it," said Bart Rick, a Seattle-area sheriff who chairs the National Sheriffs' Association domestic violence committee. "When I read this ... I went 'Whoa.'"

The president of the gun-rights group that pushed for the measure said it's more about helping victims of domestic violence help themselves. "We're not interested in them shooting their abusers," said Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina. "We're interested in delivering a message: When police can't protect these people, they are capable of protecting themselves."

The measure becomes law Oct. 1 unless Gov. Mike Easley decides to veto it. His office declined Wednesday to comment on his plans. The bill, which passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the legislature, would also add protective orders to the evidence a sheriff can consider when determining whether to issue an emergency permit to carry a concealed weapon. Normally, an applicant must wait 90 days for such a permit.

A woman seeking protection from an abuser should not only be given information on how to apply for a carry permit, she should, if desired, be given instruction in how to use a weapon and have a suitable firearm donated to her temporarily out of the vast stock of weaponry police confiscate every year.

Too many women have been killed by spouses and boyfriends against whom restraining orders have been issued. Pieces of paper don't deter everybody. A gun may not deter an angry man either, but it can certainly protect the woman better than a court order can. A woman should be able to feel safe in her own home. Kudos to the North Carolina legislature for passing legislation that genuinely benefits women and children.

Allah Be Praised

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has an Al Jazeera interview with a female suicide bomber (before her "mission") and members of her family. One feels sorry for these people who have been indoctrinated with such perverse and abominable values. The girl who blew herself up followed her brother on the road to martyrdom.

Hanadi Jaradat: "By the power of Allah, I have decided to become the sixth female martyrdom-seeker, who will turn her body into shrapnel, which will reach the heart of every Zionist colonialist in my country, and every settler or Zionist who has tried to sow death in my country. We are not the only ones who must sow and reap..."

Amjad Al-'Ubeidi, commander of the Islamic Jihad in Jenin: "From the Haifa operation in which Hanadi was martyred until my capture, I did not see her family at all. What can I possibly say to console them? They deserve to be consoled, but words are not enough. They lost [a son before Hanadi]. Nothing is more precious than a son. They lost a son. Losing a son affects the soul many times more than losing a daughter in our society. Losing even 10 daughters is not as bad as losing one son. That's how it is in our society. A son is more dear to the parents than a daughter. Since his role in life is greater, the pain is heavier."

Samar, failed suicide bomber: "I was very, very happy, happy on the inside....[that] I was going to become a martyr."

Interviewer: "Happy? Someone about to end his life is happy?"

Samar: "But there is life after death. There is life after death....Every person who dies will be resurrected and held accountable. I will die and be resurrected."

Hanadi Jaradat's mother: "If I had known, would I have let my daughter die? I had already sacrificed one child, would I sacrifice another? Would anyone say this to his parents? There is nothing more precious than a child. Even if they offered you all of Palestine, you would rather give it all up than lose your son. If you have a child, nothing is more precious. That is how Allah wanted it. Allah be praised."

Interviewer: "If you had known, what would you have said to her?"

Hanadi's mother: "I would not have let her go. I would have tied her up. I would have locked her in her room, and stayed with her for an entire year."

No thought here that what these young people are doing in blowing themselves to bits is comitting murder. Apparently, killing Israeli children is a wonderful opportunity, bestowed upon them by Allah, to earn their way into Paradise and to send the infidel children to hell. Why should there be any feelings of guilt or remorse?

We have a question: If Allah rewards male martyrs with 72 virgins, what reward does he offer females who blow their bodies apart for his glory? Maybe Paradise for women is not having to live any longer with abusive men who treat them like property.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Put Down the Shovel, Pat

Pat Robertson just keeps digging himself deeper. Having clearly called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, Robertson now denies that he did any such thing. We now have a minister of the Gospel not only urging our government to commit an illegal act of murder but also lying about having done so.

This is what Robertson said on Monday night's 700 Club: "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we are trying to assassinate him, we should go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot easier than starting a war, and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

By today he was backpedalling away from the clear meaning of his words: "I didn't say 'assassination," Robertson clarified during a broadcast of his "The 700 Club" Wednesday morning. "I said our special forces should go 'take him out,' and 'take him out' could be a number of things, including kidnapping."

He blamed The Associated Press for making him seem to advocate the assassination of a foreign leader. "There are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him," Robertson said. "I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time."

Sorry, Pat, but this is pretty lame. We'd like to stand with you, but as we wrote here, your position is simply indefensible. You know it, too, or else you wouldn't be claiming to having been misquoted.

Of course, the MSM is all over this story, but when liberals suggest that George Bush or other prominent Republicans ought to be killed the only way you find out about it is to read the blogs. Whenever anyone is actually called to task for such ugly and despicable talk they shrug it off as just a joke. The media evidently thinks that a minor figure in the Republican party advocating murder of a foreign president is big news, but that similar figures in the Democratic party advocating the murder of an American president is a yawner.

Casey Sheehan

Blackfive has a lot of background on the kind of young man Casey Sheehan was and the circumstances surrounding his death. America is blessed to have young men like him serving in our armed forces.

The Democrats' Predicament

The Democrats are in a pickle and their inability to build any kind of political capital while George Bush's poll numbers sag is evidence of their predicament. The problem is the true believers on the far left of the party, which is, of course, a sizable segment of the Democratic population.

These folk - the Michael Moore, Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, and George Soros types - are indispensible to the Democrats because they have money and the ability to turn out the party's base, i.e. the uneducated urban poor and the rich, effete narcissists in the media and entertainment industries. If the party ignores these radicals to the point where they feel they've been thrown overboard, the party is doomed.

On the other hand the left's vitriolic, anti-Bush, show-no-quarter rhetoric, and their extremist positions on almost every issue are distasteful and unpopular with much of the electorate. The port-side of the Democratic party comes across as strongly anti-American and resolutely anti-common sense. Such positions are sure-fire winners only in Berkeley and Hollywood and the salons of Manhatten and Georgetown.

Thus if the party caters to the left it dooms itself as well. Thus what moderates there are among Democrats seem to be trying to navigate between Charybdis and Scylla. They can't afford to dismiss the left and they can't afford to appease them either.

Hillary is no moderate, but she's trying hard to walk this tightrope. The left believes that she's really one of them and that gives her some wiggle room to say things that sound moderate because the lefties know she doesn't really believe what she's saying. Other Democrats will be doing the same thing as the elections approach. Look for Democrats to take a firm stand against illegal aliens and to sound hawkish on Iraq while at the same time vaguely endorsing imminent withdrawal.

These politicos, by affecting a Kerryesque slipperiness, will succeed only in alienating voters fed up with candidates who have no strong principles they're unwilling to compromise upon. They really have little alternative, however, given the ideological dynamics of their party.

Michael Graham, PC Victim

Talk radio host Michael Graham who had been suspended for making the following statement on his radio show at WMAL 630 has now been fired by ABC, the parent company. Here's the offending statement:

I take no pleasure in saying it. It pains me to think it. I could very well lose my job in talk radio over admitting it. But it is the plain truth: Islam is a terror organization.

For years, I've been trying to give the world's Muslim community the benefit of the doubt, along with the benefit of my typical-American's complete disinterest in their faith. Before 9/11, I knew nothing about Islam except the greeting "asalaam alaikum," taught to me by a Pakistani friend in Chicago.

Immediately after 9/11, I nodded in ignorant agreement as President Bush assured me that "Islam is a religion of peace." But nearly four years later, nobody can defend that statement. And I mean "nobody." Certainly not the group of "moderate" Muslim clerics and imams who gathered in London last week to issue a statement on terrorism and their faith.

When asked the question "Are suicide bombings always a violation of Islam," they could not answer "Yes. Always." Instead, these "moderate British Muslims" had to answer "It depends."

This was too much free speech for the Jeffersonians at CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) an organization which seeks to inhibit any negative publicity about Islam in the United States. CAIR insisted that Graham be fired, and the pusillanimous weenies at ABC bowed low and granted their wish. After his firing Graham released this statement:

The First Amendment and I have been evicted from ABC Radio in Washington, DC. On July 25th, the Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded that I be "punished" for my on-air statements regarding Islam and its tragic connections to terrorism. Three days later, 630 WMAL and ABC Radio suspended me without pay for comments deemed "hate radio" by CAIR.

CAIR immediately announced that my punishment was insufficient and demanded I be fired. ABC Radio and 630 WMAL have now complied. I have now been fired for making the specific comments CAIR deemed "offensive," and for refusing to retract those statements in a management-mandated, on-air apology.

ABC Radio further demanded that I agree to perform what they described as "additional outreach efforts" to those people or groups who felt offended. I refused. And for that refusal, I have been fired.

It appears that ABC Radio has caved to an organization that condemns talk radio hosts like me, but has never condemned Hamas, Hezbollah, and one that wouldn't specifically condemn Al Qaeda for three months after 9/11.

As a fan of talk radio, I find it absolutely outrageous that pressure from a special interest group like CAIR can result in the abandonment of free speech and open discourse on a talk radio show. As a conservative talk host whose job is to have an open, honest conversation each day with my listeners, I believe caving to this pressure is a disaster.

I for one cannnot apologize for the truth and I cannot agree to some community-service style "outreach effort" to appease the opponents of free speech. If I had made a racist or bigoted comment -- which my regular listeners know goes against everything I believe in -- I would apologize immediately, and without coercion. When I have made inadvertent fact errors in the past, I apologized promptly and without hesitation.

But we have now gone far beyond that, with demands that I apologize for the ideas my listeners and I believe in. It is not a coincidence that, after my suspension on July 28th, WMAL received more than 15,000 phone calls and emails protesting my removal from the airwaves.

Why such a huge response? It wasn't about me; The listeners I spoke to said they felt betrayed by my suspension because the vast majority of them agree with me on the subject of Islam. By labeling my statements as unacceptable, these listeners felt that WMAL management was insulting them, too.

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I care about the listeners of 630 WMAL. I respect them and I appreciate the amazing support they have given me. I could not dishonor their principled support for free speech by giving into these demands. I cannot join ABC Radio in bowing to CAIR's wishes. And I will not apologize for my opinions or retract the truth.

The whole point of the Michael Graham Show is what my listeners and I call the "natural truth," those obvious facts about modern life that the p.c. police and mainstream media believe should never be discussed. That includes the tragic, but undeniable relationship between terrorism and Islam as it is constituted today.

The conversations my listeners and I had on this subject were not offensive or bigoted in the least. In fact, Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR (who has appeared on my show several times) credited "criticism from talk radio" in part for the recent fatwa against terrorism issued by a group of US Muslim scholars. Ironically, it was issued the day before I was suspended.

That's the real tragedy here. The people who most need free speech and open dialogue on the issues facing Islam today are America's moderate Muslims. These are people of good will who have the difficult job ahead of reforming and rescuing their religion. They need all the help they can get.

The decision to give CAIR what it wants-a group with well-publicized ties to terrorists and terror-related organizations--will make it harder for the reformers to successfully face Islam's challenges. Still worse, silencing people like me will make it easier for Islamist extremists to dismiss all sincere calls for reform as mere "bigotry."

When CAIR is able to quell dissent and label every critic a "bigot," the chilling effect is felt far beyond ABC Radio and 630 WMAL. If anyone is owed an apology, it is the moderate, Muslim community who have been failed once again by the mainstream media.

Thanks to Brian Maloney at Radio Equalizer for the information. Maloney has more details at his site.

UPDATE: Matt Drudge has a flash that Graham has just been hired by a station in LA that "still believes in free speech." It'll be interesting to see what CAIR has to say about that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

NYT on ID (Pt. II)

The New York Times has published the second part of a two part series on the Intelligent Design debate. The writer of part II, Kenneth Chang, does a good job of presenting an even-handed view of the controversy.

Not surprisingly the dyspeptic P.Z. Myers and his acolytes don't agree. They think Chang gives too much credibility to the yahoo IDiots.

You can read Part I of the NYT feature, which was also quite fair, in my opinion, here. Read both articles and decide for yourself whether the Times was fair and balanced or too fair and therefore unacceptable to the Darwinian mullahs.

Consider This

Chris Powell of the Gold Anti-Trust Action or GATA has just recently released this interesting piece regarding a letter from the US Treasury Department.

From the link:

Further, there is no requirement in the law that the targets of the government's interference must have some connection to the declared enemies of the United States, nor even some connection to foreign ownership. Anything that can be construed as a financial instrument, no matter how innocently it has been used, is subject to seizure under the Trading With the Enemy Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Having just gone through a controversy about a Supreme Court decision about government's power of eminent domain, most Americans may be surprised to learn that the Trading With the Enemy Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act could expropriate them instantly and far more broadly without any of the due process extended to parties in eminent domain cases. All that is needed is a presidential proclamation of an emergency of some kind -- and of course Americans lately have been living in a state of perpetual emergency.

And this:

The government's authority to interfere with the ownership of gold, silver, and mining shares arises, Thornton wrote, from the Trading With the Enemy Act, which became law in 1917 during World War I and applies during declared wars, and from 1977's International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which can be applied without declared wars.

All of this is particularly interesting given that the current chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan wrote here

"This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists' tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the "hidden" confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists' antagonism toward the gold standard."

Today, an individual with an IQ slightly above a sea cucumber can realize that once people "rise" to the level of "public servant", they readily lose all grasp of the concept of serving the citizens that elected them.

I've worked for a state government as a contract software engineer for several years. During that time in that capacity, I have adopted a peculiar philosophy. There is the "trough" and the "barrel". And I have to say, I'm not alone in this discovery as other contract personnel I work with agree.

The "trough" is the government largess that is available to those who want to get a piece of it (at the taxpayers expense of course). They do so through all of the government programs designed to redistribute wealth i.e. tax dollars, from those that have it to those that don't. The perpetrators aren't just the welfare seekers but also include the government employees who just show up but do little or nothing to collect their check.

I can relate a personal experience where a project that cost the tax payers half a million dollars (funded by the CDC) and is overwhelmingly successful beyond all expectations is in jeopardy simply because a low-level state government paper pusher doesn't like the results but perhaps I'll leave that for another post.

The barrel, i.e. "pork barrel", on the other hand, is a higher level of largess. The barrel is closely guarded and controlled by our elected officials and, of course, financed by you, the tax payer. Those who grovel at the "trough" dare not aspire to gain access to the "barrel" because the "barrel" is mostly for corporations.

Our lofty, elected, public servants hold tight reign over the "barrel" and only through lobbyists does one gain access to the "barrel".

Note that the concept of lobbyists is guaranteed in the first amendment of the constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I would think that "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" applied only to U.S. citizens as did those who formed the amendment in 1791.

So why is it that entities outside of the U.S. can hire lobbyists to petition our government for their interests? I'll leave it to those interested to research the numerous examples but, truth be told, our congressmen are inundated by lobbyists paid to articulate and promote the interests of foreign entities. My question is: what right do they have to "petition the government for redress of grievances"?

Raping For Allah

MEMRI has the transcript of an interrogation of terrorist captured in Mosul. This is a small portion of the exchange:

Interrogator: "Did you kidnap women?"

Abed: "Yes."

Interrogator: "There were operations of kidnapping and rape, carried out by the squad you belong to?"

Abed: "Yes."

Interrogator: "Tell me how many rape and kidnapping operations were carried out. My information says that the kidnapped women were university students or daughters of famous people. You raped them and got money for it, and if they were not slaughtered afterwards.... Did this really happen?"

Abed: "Yes, it did."

Interrogator: "Who would carry out these operations?"

Abed: "Abu Sajjad."

Interrogator: "Your superior?"

Abed: "Yes."

Interrogator: "Is this Jihad - raping women? Is this Jihad?"

Abed: "It is because they collaborated with the Americans."

Interrogator: "That's why they were raped?"

Abed: "Yes."

Interrogator: "A student who is simply going to her university is kidnapped, raped, and then slaughtered?! This was an American collaborator?!"

Abed: "Mullah Al-Raikan would give the names to the squad commander."

Interrogator: "My information says that they were kidnapped and brought to Mullah Al-Raikan's headquarters. True or false?"

Abed: "He would interrogate them."

Interrogator: "Were they raped after the interrogation?"

Abed: "Yes. He would give them to the squad, and they would kill them. Some would rape them."

Interrogator: "You bastards. This is Jihad? You call this Jihad?"

Interrogator 2: "What was your role in these operations?"

Abed: "I would stand at the entrance to the headquarters. It was a house, and they would bring them there."

Interrogator 2: "Did you participate in the rape and murder?"

Abed: "No. Just one who worked for the PUK. She was a Kurd."

Interrogator: "In the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan?"

Abed: "Yes. We brought her too."

Interrogator: "And you raped her?"

Abed: "Yes."

Jihadis are devout, despite appearances, and do have religious scruples. Abed and his "insurgent" brothers, being pious Muslims, wouldn't dream of raping and murdering just any woman. Allah would frown on that, perhaps, but if the unfortunate victim is somehow associated with the Americans then Allah evidently approves.

Abed typifies the brand of Islam that the Cindy Sheehans of the world insist we stop fighting. George Bush is a "terrorist" in their eyes because he is trying to extinguish this kind of horror in the Middle East, among other reasons, so that it doesn't spread to our own shores. She and her retinue of groupies and media enablers suffer from a serious form of myopia that prevents them from seeing any consequences to their demands beyond those most immediate. Getting out of Iraq now would end American deaths in the short term and for those, like Ms Sheehan, whose strategic vision is 20/200, that's all that matters.

Bad News, Good News

The bad news is that Arthur Chrenkoff has taken a new job and is no longer able to continue the Good News From Iraq feature on his site. The good news is that another blog called All Things Conservative has taken the baton and is continuing the work.

You can find All Things Conservative's third installment of good news from Iraq here.

Giving Christianity a Black Eye

This is the sort of thing that gives Christians a bad name:

PAT ROBERTSON (On the August 22nd 700 Club): There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

The Monroe Doctrine, Pat? Doesn't that only apply to outside interference in our hemisphere? Assassination, Pat? Is that something a minister of the Gospel should be advocating? Shouldn't assassination be a measure of last resort reserved for a Hitler, a Stalin, or a Saddam, if used at all? What better way for the United States to lose all moral standing in the Americas than to go around knocking off duly elected presidents when those leaders are not as yet a clear and present danger to the United States or guilty, as far as we know, of severe human rights abuses. Just the suspicion that we were involved in the Chilean overthrow and killing of Salvador Allende did us much harm. The assassination of Chavez would open a diplomatic Pandora's Box that we should refuse to touch unless it became an urgent moral necessity.

The only thing that'll be more strange than hearing an Evangelical preacher call for the murder of a world leader will be the inevitable and sanctimonious moral condemnations of Robertson from atheists who have absolutely no grounds for moral judgments of any kind. They will be quick to point out the conflict between Robertson's advice and his Christian commitment, accuse him of hypocrisy, and condemn his moral character. All of this will give Christianity a black eye, but the atheist has no business making those charges since if his atheism is true, there is no morality, no right or wrong, and nothing more reprehensible about hypocrisy than there is about sincerity and honesty.

Nevertheless, though non-theists have no standing to criticize Robertson on moral grounds, he is, in this instance at least, a considerable embarrassment to those who call themselves followers of Christ.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Religion of Peace

The American Thinker has a review of Robert Spencer's book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). Spencer, as the title implies, does not shrink from portraying Islam as it is, and the picture is not pretty. Consider a few examples:

On Dhimmitude: Dhimma or dhimmi one of the results of the jihad or holy war. Connected with the notion of jihad is the distinction between dar al-harb (territory or "house" of war) and dar al-islam (house of Islam). The latter includes all territories subject to Moslem authority. It is in a state of perpetual war with the dar al-harb. The inhabitants of the dar al-harb are harbis, who are not answerable to the Islamic authority and whose persons and goods are mubah, that is, at the mercy of Believers. However, when Moslems are in a subordinate state, they can negotiate a truce with the Harbis lasting no more than ten years, which they are obliged to revoke unilaterally as soon as they regain the upper hand, following the example of the Prophet after Hudaibiyya...

Even today, the study of the jihad is part of the curriculum of all the Islamic institutes. In the universities of Al-Azhar, Nagaf (Najaf), and Zaitoune, students are still taught that the holy war [jihad] is a binding prescriptive decree, pronounced against the Infidels, which will only be revoked with the end of the world... If he [the dhimmi] is tolerated, it is for reasons of a spiritual nature, since there is always the hope that he might be converted; or of a material nature, since he bears almost the whole tax burden. He has his place in society, but he is constantly reminded of his inferiority...In no way is the dhimmi the equal of the Muslim. He is marked out for social inequality and belongs to a despised caste; unequal in regard to individual rights; unequal in the Law Courts as his evidence is not admitted by any Muslim tribunal and for the same crime his punishment is greater than that imposed on Muslims...No social relationship, no fellowship is possible between Muslims and dhimmis...

On Muhammad vs. Jesus (quoted in ch. 6, "Islamic Law", p. 85): "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!', shall be liable to the hell of fire." Jesus (Matthew 5:21-22) ; "Therefore, when ye meet the unbelievers in fight, smite at their necks: at length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly on them; thereafter is the time for either generosity or ransom, until the war lays down its burdens....But those who are slain in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost." Qur'an 47:4

On Islam and Peace: [The PC myth is that] Islam is a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists. (from ch.3, "Islam: Religion of War", pp. 41-42): Aptly termed by Spencer, "...the mother of all PC [politically correct] myths about Islam", the author explains that the persistence of this canard transcends even the prevailing multicultural ethos, or cynical mendacity about Islam's unsavory aspects. Citing the brilliant 20th century Muslim scholar and ideologue, Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), Spencer observes that this unabashed proponent of aggressive jihad war, "...taught (without a trace of irony) that Islam is a religion of peace. However, he [Qutb] had a very specific kind of peace in mind: [citing Qutb] 'When Islam strives for peace, its objective is not that superficial peace which requires only that part of the earth where the followers of Islam are residing remain secure.

The peace which Islam desires is that the religion (i.e., the law of the society) be purified for God, that the obedience of all people be for God alone, and that some people should not be lords over others. After the period of the Prophet-peace be upon him-only the final stages of the movement of Jihaad [Jihad] are to be followed; the initial or middle stages are not applicable'. And Spencer elucidates the meaning of Qutb's words: "Islam is a religion of peace that will come when everyone is a Muslim or at least subject to the Islamic state. And to establish that peace, Muslims must wage war."

The review closes with this:

Robert Spencer's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) is a very readable, highly informed critique of living Islamic institutions and historical practices incompatible with modern constructs of human rights, and peaceful international relations. One hopes his trenchant observations will motivate the public to cajole media and policymaking elites into initiating a candid discussion of Islam - a discussion these elites have thus far scrupulously avoided.

It sounds like a book everyone in the West should read in order to understand more clearly the nature of the contemporary threat to the lives and well-being of our children, and the urgency of continuing the good fight against bloodthirsty orcs wherever they may be found.

Brits "Deter" a Gas Attack

The Brits dodge a big bullet thanks to a high level informer (referred to below as a "supergrass"):

Scotland Yard believes it has thwarted an Al-Qaeda gas attack aimed at ministers and MPs in parliament. The plot, hatched last year, is understood to have been discovered in coded e-mails on computers seized from terror suspects in Britain and Pakistan. Police and MI5 then identified an Al-Qaeda cell that had carried out extensive research and video-recorded reconnaissance missions in preparation for the attack.

The encrypted e-mails are said to have been decoded with the help of an Al-Qaeda "supergrass". By revealing the terrorists' code he was also able to help MI5 and GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping centre at Cheltenham, to crack several more plots.

The operation to deter the sarin gas attack is referred to in an internal police document obtained by The Sunday Times. It is a minute of a meeting of senior police officers held last month at Specialist Operations 17 (SO17), the unit responsible for protecting parliament, and reveals that the team were waiting to be briefed on the plot.

This weekend a senior officer disclosed that the thwarted plot mentioned in the document involved a gas or chemical "dirty bomb" attack against parliament. "The House of Commons was one of their targets as well as the Tube," he said. "They were planning to use chemicals, a dirty bomb and sarin gas. They looked at all sorts of ways of delivering it."

One wonders how the Brits "deterred" the attack. Will there be charges filed against the plotters? Are there any plotters left against whom to file charges? If the answer is "no" are there any Brits upset by the implications?

What's the Attraction?

Strategy Page has some interesting thoughts on the situation in Iraq. Here are some highlights. Follow the link for more details:

August 19, 2005: Suicide bombings have become less common, and arrests of terrorists have risen sharply in the past month. Actually, incarcerations have been climbing since last Fall, as more terrorists and gangsters are caught red-handed. Before that, many of the 50,000 arrests made by American troops resulted in a brief interrogation, and release of the suspect. But now more bad people are being identified and kept incarcerated. Many of these are career criminals who had been freed by Saddam in 2002, or escaped in the confusion of the 2003 invasion. While the Iraqi police, and prisons, get the criminals, those that drifted into terrorism usually remain in American custody.

The crime wave these thugs have generated in the past two years is coming to an end. The rampant criminality is the one thing all Iraqis are united in opposition to. More tribal vigilantes are being formed, and either killing gangsters, or pointing them out to police or coalition troops.

August 17, 2005: There is a horrific murder campaign going on in Baghdad, with more people being killed by gunfire, knives and blunt instruments, than by terrorist bomb attacks. Over a thousand people a month are being killed in Baghdad, which is a death rate of 200 per 100,000 population. This is nearly twice what the rate was in Colombia, at the height of the drug and political violence in that country.

What is going on in Baghdad is a war of terror and revenge. The terrorists are trying to intimidate people for political, religious or economic reasons. But most of the deaths appear to be revenge killings, with Kurds and Shia Arabs hunting down and killing Sunni Arabs who worked, and killed, for Saddam. These attacks have been going on since Saddam's government fell, and have been increasing as Sunni Arab gangs lose, to the growing police force, control of their neighborhoods. This is the Sunni Arab nightmare, the a major reason (besides money) for Sunni Arabs supporting anti-government terrorism.

The Iraqis did not deliver their new constitution by the August 15th deadline, and the legislature allowed another week to complete the task. The Sunni Arab leadership are trying to get safeguards in the constitution that would limit the revenge the Kurds and Shia Arabs will take on the Sunni Arab community for atrocities committed during the decades of Saddam's rule.

Religion is an issue because Islamic conservatives in the Sunni and Shia community want the law of the land to reflect conservative Islam. Most Iraqis, especially the women, do not want this, but they do want honest government (which is very rare in the Moslem world), and also note that Islamic rule in neighboring Iran has not produced honest government, and has imposed unpleasant rules on the citizens.

It's of interest that Islam seems unable to produce honest government. A religion so concerned with whether a man is ritually purified and whether he bows to Mecca five times a day seems ineffective in inculcating genuine virtue in its leaders. Indeed, one wonders what it is about Islam that has proven so attractive to people that millions around the world willingly embrace it. It's a religion of violence, punishment, brutality and oppression and lacks any real basis for love, peace, the celebration of beauty, or human progress. How and why people, especially women, find this satisfying and fulfilling is a mystery.

But, to each his, or her, own.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Senator Frist Endorses ID

Senator Bill Frist weighs in in favor of teaching the controversy. Evidently a candidate's stance on the ID/Darwinism controversy is shaping up to be a major issue in the 2006 and 2008 elections. We're anxious to hear Hillary explain her position:

Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, spoke to a Rotary Club meeting Friday and told reporters afterward that students need to be exposed to different ideas, including intelligent design. "I think today a pluralistic society should have access to a broad range of fact, of science, including faith," Frist said.

My friend Ryan Miller at The Buckingham Inquirer argues that such suggestions as Sen. Frist's are impractical. Teaching all sides of this issue, he believes, would be exceedingly time-consuming since there are so many possible alternatives that one couldn't possibly discuss them all and still cover the rest of the curriculum.

Ryan and I disagree on this. There are really only two points of view on the matter of creation that are contending for serious consideration: One claims that everything is ultimately explicable in terms of purely natural processes and forces, and the other is the denial of that proposition. Do the universe and life show evidence of being purposefully designed or do they not? Those are the two major options, and the myriad of other creation myths, legends, and hypotheses all gather on one side of that question or the other.

The assertion that ID should be "taught" in public school science classrooms suffers, however, from a lack of precision. When one asks specifically what it is that should be taught the answer is not always clear. Indeed, what should be taught are the empirical facts of science, but the philosophical assumptions that underlie those facts and which are employed to interpret those facts should be discussed as well, and that's where ID fits in.

In other words, there is little formal content specific to ID that needs to be taught in science classrooms apart from a discussion, perhaps, of how human beings infer design. What teachers could do when they discuss, for instance, the structure of bio-molecules like proteins, bio-machines like the flagellum, or bio-processes like the blood-clotting cascade; or when they explain the exquisite fine-tuning of cosmic forces and parameters, or the incredible coincidences that we find in the astonishing fit between atomic structure, the properties of elements like carbon and oxygen, and the properties of carbon dioxide and water with the physiological requirements of living things -- when these things are presented it could be mentioned to students that there are essentially two ways to think about it all. One way is to see these marvelous facts of the natural world as a grand coincidence, highly improbable and wondrously fortuitous, and the other is to see them as the result of intention, purpose and intelligence. The teacher need not feel obliged to say anything more than that, but if her students ask questions about it neither should she feel she is transgressing some boundary if she seeks to answer those questions as honestly as she can.

Teachers should teach the facts of science and not shy away from discussing the philosophical implications of those facts. That's one way to make science classes exciting.

The objection that philosophy has no place in the science classroom is absurd. Not only has good science instruction always been replete with philosophical assumptions and concepts, it is also, if it is quality instruction, richly spiced with allusions to the historical context in which science has developed. History is not science, of course, but no one suggests it should be purged from our classrooms.

Not only the history of science, but bioethical issues (such as stem cell research and cloning) as well as social and political issues associated with science (e.g. nuclear power and other environmental issues) are all discussed daily in science classes in every school in the nation. Why should one controversy in the philosophy of science be disallowed when so many other philosophical, historical, political, and economic controversies are admitted?

Moreover, for the past thirty years teachers have been frequently reminded that the best learning occurs when students see relationships between different subjects. Nothing should be taught in isolation, the theory goes, but rather instruction should tie together each field in the curriculum. We think that's true and we wonder why all of a sudden there's been a stark change of mind just because one of the disciplines vying for inclusion, the philosophy of science, raises a challenge to the sacred Darwinian orthodoxy.