Friday, March 30, 2007

Debasing Political Discourse

Sean Penn lowers the bar of political rhetoric right down to the bottom of the cesspool in this unedifying letter to the president which you can listen to here if you have the stomach.

I know. It's gross, sleazy and insulting. And yes, his logic is abysmal and his self-congratulation is grating. He obviously gets a frisson of psychic satisfaction from making himself sound more important and more knowledgable about things in the Middle East than either Bush, Cheney, or Rice.

But he's a Hollywood celebrity, and he's sincere.

Speaking of cesspools of political rhetoric these folk here and here place themselves in nomination for the award for most contemptible political commentators of the year. If you go to the second of these sites be sure to follow the links. It really is sad how low some people will sink just to express a political disagreement.


NRO: Show Him the Door

National Review says Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez should leave, but we have mixed feelings about the matter here.

Set aside for a moment his inept handling of the firing of the U.S. Attorneys and the evident deceit with which he justified it. As we stated in an earlier post on this matter, his refusal to enforce our immigration laws and his prosecution of border agents who are languishing in prison on the testimony of known felons, is unconscionable, and, by itself, justifies his relieving him of his duties.

Whether he should have been appointed or not, he is no longer, if he ever was, an asset to this administration, and his departure will upset us only to the extent that it gives a victory to those who would seek to destroy him even were he the best AG in U.S. history.

He should go, but not because he fired the eight U.S. Attorneys. He should go because of his lack of enthusiasm for securing our borders and for misleading congress about the degree of his involvement in the firings of the U.S. Attorneys.


Round One

The British Independent explores the question why the 15 British sailors and Marines allowed themselves to be taken by the Iranians. Apparently, their rules of engagement are somewhat different than ours:

In a dramatic illustration of the different postures adopted by British and US forces working together in Iraq, Lt-Cdr Erik Horner - who has been working alongside the task force to which the 15 captured Britons belonged - said he was "surprised" the British marines and sailors had not been more aggressive.

Asked by The Independent whether the men under his command would have fired on the Iranians, he said: "Agreed. Yes. I don't want to second-guess the British after the fact but our rules of engagement allow a little more latitude. Our boarding team's training is a little bit more towards self-preservation."

The executive officer - second-in-command on USS Underwood, the frigate working in the British-controlled task force with HMS Cornwall - said: " The unique US Navy rules of engagement say we not only have a right to self-defence but also an obligation to self-defence. They [the British] had every right in my mind and every justification to defend themselves rather than allow themselves to be taken. Our reaction was, 'Why didn't your guys defend themselves?'"

Vastly outnumbered and out-gunned, the Royal Navy team from HMS Cornwall were seized on Friday after completing a UN-authorised inspection of a merchant dhow in what they insist were clearly Iraqi waters. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy appeared in half a dozen attack speedboats mounted with machine guns.

However, the warship that dispatched the British personnel was within sight. It could have pursued the Iranians, albeit into Iranian waters, to effect a rescue.

Yesterday, the former First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Alan West, said British rules of engagement were "very much de-escalatory, because we don't want wars starting ... Rather than roaring into action and sinking everything in sight we try to step back and that, of course, is why our chaps were, in effect, able to be captured and taken away."

Quite so. Give that round to the Iranians.