Monday, November 21, 2005

Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey

Gary Glitter, the impressario of Rock and Roll, Part Two, a favorite theme at high school and college football games and other sporting events, is facing a possible sentence of death by firing squad in Vietnam, believe it or not. If you're interested you can get the details here.

Simple-Minded Solutions

How many ways can the Democrats demonstrate that they have no responsible or intelligent alternative to the President's policy in Iraq? This article in the L.A. Times by Ron Brownstein summarizes some of the Democrats' recent proposals. They're stunning in their shallowness:

Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.), a possible 2008 presidential contender, ... adopted the most aggressive position among elected officials: Feingold has urged Bush to withdraw all American troops from Iraq by the end of 2006, although he has softened his demand somewhat by describing that as a "target date."

In the House, war opponents have rallied behind a resolution from Reps. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) and Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii). That plan - which has about 60 co-sponsors, almost all of them Democrats - would require Bush to formulate a plan by the end of this year for removing American troops from Iraq and to begin that withdrawal no later than Oct. 1, 2006.

The foolishness of this is hard to overstate. If these plans were adopted the insurgents would know that if they could just cling to life for another year Iraq would fall into their laps. The Iraqi people and even much of their military would have little more to do with the Americans and intelligence on terrorists would dry up. No one would want to be seen as helping the Americans if they knew that in a year the insurgents would be exacting their revenge.

If the Iraqi military is not yet fully ready to control the country by next October when the Americans withdrew their support, literally all hell would break loose. Civil war between Shia and Sunni would almost certainly ensue. Iran would then move into the Shia south, Syria would move into the Sunni triangle, and Turkey might well invade the Kurdish north. The oil and other wealth of Iraq would be up for grabs. Al Qaeda would romp through the country lopping off the heads of anyone who had had dealings with the United States. No one in the region would have cause to fear an American return so small states like Kuwait which sit on vast wealth would be gobbled up by predatory neighbors. Terrorists would train openly without having to fear American arms, and would operate with impunity throughout the region. The whole world would sit by, unable and unwilling to do anything to prevent the region from crumbling into war, famine, and chaos.

John Murtha created a huge fuss in the House with his plan to begin pulling out now and to complete the withdrawal within six months. He envisions an over the horizon quick reaction force of Marines to be reinserted if any trouble flairs up. With all due respect to Rep. Murtha, his idea is just stupid. Why pull the Marines out at all if you think you may have to reinsert them later? Sending them in after having surrendered the Iraqis to the tender mercies of the insurgents would be lunacy.

Even if this country would stand for their reentry into Iraq, which they surely wouldn't, where would they go? They'd have to rebuild their bases and supply lines and, most improbable of all, their relationships with the same Iraqi people they had recently deserted. They'd get no help from resentful, embittered Iraqis and the maelstrom that would ensue in Iraq after an American withdrawal would make anything short of a total re-invasion of the country a suicide mission.

Last month, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the party's 2004 presidential nominee who is considering another run in 2008, offered a competing plan. Kerry proposed a phased withdrawal "linked to specific, responsible benchmarks" of progress with Iraq. As a first step, he said, the U.S. should withdraw 20,000 troops if December's Iraqi election goes well; this approach, he said, could allow the U.S. "to withdraw the bulk of American combat forces by the end of next year."

In other words, Kerry is saying that we should do pretty much what the administration has said we will do. Question for Sen. Kerry: What should we do if the election doesn't go well? Pull out anyway? Stay until the country is politically stable? If the latter, how is that in any way different from what the President is already doing?

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, has proposed the inverse approach. Levin says the U.S. should pressure the contending Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish forces in the Iraqi government to resolve their differences by threatening to accelerate the withdrawal of American troops if they don't.

Now there's a bright idea. Many Shiites and Sunnis would relish getting at each other's throats. What better incentive can we give them to tear into each other than to tell them that if they don't behave we'll just have to get out of their way?

It boggles the mind to think that these ideas come from the minds of United States Senators. Little wonder that the American people fear to turn over the reins of national security to the Democrats.

At one point in his piece Brownstein says this:

Many Democratic political strategists and foreign policy analysts have long believed the party can benefit more from criticizing Bush's handling of the war than from specifying an alternative.

Precisely. It's always easier to criticize others for not doing what you think they should be doing than to offer a coherent plan for doing it yourself. Especially when you have no idea at all of what you're talking about.

Krauthammer's Cluelessness

The normally astute Charles Krauthammer demonstrates that he's not infallible and that on the matter of the philosophy of science he's in fact quite clueless:

Let's be clear. Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological "theory" whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, evolution -- they are to be filled by God. It is a "theory" that admits that evolution and natural selection explain such things as the development of drug resistance in bacteria and other such evolutionary changes within species but also says that every once in a while God steps into this world of constant and accumulating change and says, "I think I'll make me a lemur today." A "theory" that violates the most basic requirement of anything pretending to be science -- that it be empirically disprovable. How does one empirically disprove the proposition that God was behind the lemur, or evolution -- or behind the motion of the tides or the "strong force" that holds the atom together?

Well, "clear" is what he's not being. For the umpteenth time we reiterate. ID is:

1. not incompatible with evolution even if some of its advocates remain skeptical of many aspects of evolution.

2. not a contest between evolution and God. No ID advocate, qua scientist/philosopher, claims that God is the designer. The most ID can claim is that God could be the designer.

3. not a "god of the gaps" theory. It's not a theory that reacts to things we don't know by positing a god. It's a theory that bases its conclusions upon what we do know. Most relevantly, what we do know is that information, everywhere we see it being generated, is the product of intelligence, and there's no sufficient reason to think that things would have been otherwise in the generation of the information contained in biological machines, cells, and processes.

4. not asserting that God was behind the lemur. ID asserts that the mechanisms which produced lemurs and everything else in the biosphere include among them intelligence. The claim that intelligence is at least in part responsible for life is no less scientific than the claim that natural selection and genetic mutation and other blind, purposeless mechanisms are the exclusive cause of the evolution of life.

Krauthammer adds:

How ridiculous to make evolution the enemy of God. What could be more elegant, more simple, more brilliant, more economical, more creative, indeed more divine than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet interactive, all ultimately derived from accumulated variations in a single double-stranded molecule, pliable and fecund enough to give us mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein?

In an amusing example of sawing off the branch upon which one is sitting, Krauthammer argues that the earth shows forth elegance, simplicity, brilliance, economy, creativity, and implies that these are the marks of divine intelligence. But if so, intelligence, whether divine or otherwise, is empirically detectable, since Krauthammwer has detected it, and he nicely refutes his own position stated above.

He goes on to ridicule those who criticize the Darwinian claim that evolution is an "unguided process." Finding fault with this definition, he writes,:

[I]s as ridiculous as indicting Newtonian mechanics for positing an "unguided process" by which Earth is pulled around the sun every year without discernible purpose. What is chemistry if not an "unguided process" of molecular interactions without "purpose"? Or are we to teach children that God is behind every hydrogen atom in electrolysis? He may be, of course. But that discussion is the province of religion, not science.

In fact, physics and chemistry never use these terms for precisely this reason. To assert that the processes of physics and chemistry are unguided and purposeless would be to remove them from the province of science and deposit them in the arena of metaphysics, which is exactly where all such claims belong, including those of the Neo-Darwinists. You cannot test the claim that any physical force is purposeless, and so the claim is not made in science, except in biology, and it is as out of place there as, say, a political journalist, even a good one, holding forth amongst controversies in the philosophy of science.

Troubling Trend Line

South Africa seems to be drifting the way of many another black African nation toward an accomodation with tyranny and corruption. The people of Africa must feel cursed. Why, they must wonder, can't they ever seem to get relatively competent, honest, and humane leadership that has some staying power?

Brian Maloney writes about South African president Thabo Mbeki's coziness with Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe at Michelle Malkin's blog:

Apparently, it isn't bad enough that Zimbabwean tyrant Robert Mugabe first destroyed his country's economy by forcibly removing white farmers from their land. Then, after successfully chasing away every hard currency generation means Zimbabwe had ever known, Mugabe turned against the poor. Demolishing the modest shanties and businesses of hundreds of thousands of black city dwellers, he left innocent people with nothing and nowhere to go.

For what rational reason did all of this happen? Nobody knows. American liberals have remained virtually silent on these daily atrocities, partly because they still see Mugabe as a "freedom fighter" who battled white minority rule three decades ago. And the American media largely looks the other way, as well.

In Britain, however, the crisis regularly makes headlines. It BEGS to become top news here in America. How can we possibly continue to ignore it? Another reason it's blown off: Zimbabwe's not important for the left because there's no known way to blame the mess on Bush and the GOP.

Tonight, the story gets worse: rather than provide a strong voice for freedom and democracy in the region, increasingly suspect South African President Thabo Mbeki has pledged to HELP Mugabe torture dissidents and maintain one of the world's worst human rights records. No joke, Mbeki has actually signed a new agreement to cooperate on intelligence and security matters, the BBC reports. It's truly a deal with the devil:

"The two neighbours undertook to share security information and to co-operate in enforcing immigration laws. After the signing, South Africa's intelligence minister scolded a journalist who raised questions about Zimbabwe's record on human rights.

"Details of the deal were not released but Zimbabwe's secret police is accused of torturing opposition activists. South Africa is a key player in attempts to negotiate an end to Zimbabwe's political crisis. President Thabo Mbeki has been criticised at home and abroad for not putting more pressure on President Robert Mugabe's government to end abuses.

'This week's historic meeting further consolidates a long-standing socio-political and economic relationship between our two countries,' South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils said at the signing of the agreement in Cape Town on Thursday. After the signing, a journalist asked Mr Kasrils how South Africa, with a 'good human rights track record', could sign agreements with Zimbabwe, which had a 'poor human rights record'.

Mr Kasrils apologised to his Zimbabwean counterpart, Didymus Mutasa, for the question. 'We have very strong ties with our neighbour and we are indebted to our neighbour for achieving freedom and liberty,' Mr Kasrils said. Mr Mutasa suggested praying for the journalist. 'Lord forgive him for he does not know what he is saying,' Mr Mutasa said.

Numerous activists from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change have said they have been detained and assaulted by Zimbabwe's secret police - the Central Intelligence Organisation."

Next up for South Africa: deals with North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Iran?

At this point, I defy anyone to tell me how Mbeki's policies are ANY better than what existed under Apartheid? In both cases, Africans are needlessly suffering and dying, all to protect corrupt rulers. Is it time to recall diplomats from South Africa? Or reimpose sanctions? More? Possibly.

First, we need to get the Bush Administration and Republicans to take a hard line against both countries. Yes, the American media will pound away at any tough proposals, but so what? South Africa has today shown itself to be an enemy of humanity and freedom and it's time to stop mincing words here in America. I hope Bush is alarmed tonight. Under Apartheid, South Africa was a pariah state and remains that way under Mbeki's sleazy rule.

Well, that last paragraph may be a little premature, but the trend lines for South Africa surely aren't comforting. Nor is it comforting to reflect that the MSM is snoozing through this story. You can bet that had South Africa still been under white rule and there were signs of oppression brewing reveille would've sounded in the journalists' barracks a long time ago.