Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Even better the second time

Hugh Hewitt started it, and Marvin Olasky over at Worldmagblog has continued the trend by asking which books their readers consider good enough to re-read.

The consensus is that just about anything by the Inklings is automatic; I agree that most of the books on my re-read list are by Tolkien and Lewis, but I'll add a few more…Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, Nine Stories and Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, Charles Frasier's Cold Mountain, Dumas's Count of Monte Cristo, and Michael Crichton's The Great Train Robbery all come to mind.

Not all of those are 20th Century works (as Hewitt and Olasky put forth in their guidelines). However, I'll be interested to hear which reads keep you all coming back.

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UH-60 Crash

A Blackhawk from the Fourth Infantry Division's 2-4 AVN crashed early yesterday morning. It apparently hit guide wires in heavy fog northeast of Fort Hood, and all seven on board were killed. I won't post the names, because next of kin notifications may not be complete, but please keep the families in your prayers, especially one NCO who works here whose ex-husband was killed.

Update: apparently NOK notifications are complete; this article has the names.

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A prophetic voice

At Townhall, Chuck Colson writes on CS Lewis's 106 th birthday:

Why was Lewis so uncannily prophetic? At first glance he seems an unlikely candidate. He was not a theologian; he was an English professor. What was it that made him such a keen observer of cultural and intellectual trends?

The answer may be somewhat discomfiting to modern evangelicals: One reason is precisely that Lewis was not an evangelical. He was a professor in the academy, with a specialty in medieval literature, which gave him a mental framework shaped by the whole scope of intellectual history and Christian thought. As a result, he was liberated from the narrow confines of the religious views of the day—which meant he was able to analyze and critique them.

Colson makes a quick note that deserves further attention when he likens Lewis's views on the dangers of naturalism to the current biotech debate. I highly recommend Lewis's Space Trilogy; it offers a scarily realistic glimpse of where embryo harvesting, cloning, and other life-destroying scientific practices will lead if left unchecked.

You should probably purchase Space Trilogy in hardback, because you'll be reading them more than once. I finished them for the third time recently, and I've probably just scratched the surface of the wisdom Lewis offers, as ever in his lucid, everyman style.

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Monday, November 29, 2004

The other Jordan

Powerline links to an interesting article from the Fayetteville Observer on CSM James Jordan, Michael's older brother. He's approaching 30 years in the Army, and is delaying retirement to deploy to Iraq.

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We'll be here for awhile

Frank Devine writes on the 'real reason' for the invasion of Iraq in the Australian:

The invasion and speedy subjugation of Afghanistan staggered the jihadists. But the US, having succeeded only in dispersing al-Qa'ida and the Taliban, rather than eliminating them, believed it needed to strike another heavy blow.

By then it had identified the jihadist campaign as "a Saudi problem". Most of the September 11 suicide attackers had been Saudis. Bin Laden was a Saudi. Saudi money trails were everywhere. An invasion of Saudi Arabia presented the tactical problem of waging war against a country of vast area and the strategic one of disrupting the world's oil supplies.

The Americans had established and then strengthened a military presence in countries surrounding Saudi Arabia - Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. Invasion of Iraq would complete the encirclement.

"From a purely military view," Friedman adds, "Iraq is the most strategic single country in the Middle East, [bordering] six other countries: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Iran."

I'll be interested to read Friedman's book for the rest of the scoop, but this theory makes a lot of sense to me. It also means that troop levels in Iraq won't be decreasing by too much anytime soon.

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Saturday, November 27, 2004

Left coast moves yet further left

Reuters reports on the most ridiculous case of political correctness I've seen yet:

A California teacher has been barred by his school from giving students documents from American history that refer to God -- including the Declaration of Independence.

"It's a fact of American history that our founders were religious men, and to hide this fact from young fifth-graders in the name of political correctness is outrageous and shameful," said Williams' attorney, Terry Thompson.

"Williams wants to teach his students the true history of our country," he said. "There is nothing in the Establishment Clause (of the U.S. Constitution) that prohibits a teacher from showing students the Declaration of Independence."

I feel sure that the principal doesn't allow the pledge of allegiance or the exchange of US currency on school grounds either.

This case officially pushes the establishment clause debate past the point of rational thought.

While secularists claim that Bush & Co. are trying to create a theocracy like Iran, I believe their efforts to expunge God from every aspect of government would leave our country like China, officially atheist.

People cannot compartmentalize their lives (by leaving their religious beliefs behind when they go to work) and maintain intellectual integrity.

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What scandal?

Over at Powerline, Hindrocket makes a great point:

Remember the al Qaqaa story? Ten days before the election, it was of vital importance that we find out what happened to a "missing" one-tenth of one percent of the munitions in Iraq. Since the election? Who cares?

Or how about the draft? Remember how just before the election, the Democrats were feverishly trying to convince college students and others that, should President Bush be re-elected, there was a secret plan to reinstate the draft? Well, now that President Bush has indeed won re-election, shouldn't the left be gearing up to resist this very real danger? Um, no. Forget about it. The draft rumor has served its purpose (or, rather, failed to serve its purpose). The left has Moved On.

Do you suppose, two years or four years from now, when the Democrats are again spinning fables, anyone will remember how quickly they abandoned some of the principal themes of this year's campaign?

It's not about truth or substance for these people. Their purpose in politics is to get in power and reinvent themselves as much as it takes to stay there.

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Maybe the US media isn't so bad...

Just to give you an idea of propaganda the Islamofacist media here in the Middle East churns out on a daily basis, take a look at this from Khilafa:

A leading lawmaker from Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Thursday accused the United States of committing "genocide" in Fallujah.

Speaking before an extraordinary session of his commission, called to discuss the situation in Iraq, the deputy wondered whether US forces had not "used the atom bomb" there. "They may have used this weapon," he said, "because we are told that hundreds of thousands of people have died in Iraq."

Strange that an atomic bomb apparently went off about 60 kilometers from here and I didn't notice. It's all becoming obvious to me now though - the satellite photos we've seen of Fallujah are simply imperialist propaganda, since the city is now a sheet of glass.

Another article extols Al Jazeera and their 'feminist' programming:

What with embedded journalists giving us asinine reports on all other stations, using marine-corps terms as though there were no others ever taught them, and with Tony Blair forbidding anyone to parody Bush, al-Jazeera has become more necessary than ever, simply because it lets Arabs speak their minds freely, with eye-witness reports of the most uncensored and unpackaged sort.

The fighting feminism on its For Women Only programme puts institutionalized western feminism to shame. All that manufactured outrage over the burka, which rose to a climax precisely as bombs fell on Afghanistan; where are the cries of outrage now, when Iraqi women are being incarcerated and raped in US dungeons, where tens of thousands of their menfolk are also being held; when they are being starved, denied drinking-water, bombed, buried alive in the rubble of their homes, maimed and killed?

It will prove to be America's dirtiest war by far, and the one that destroys forever its sense of purpose and pride. All Iraqis watch as their homes and mosques are desecrated by soldiers who shoot injured men in the stomach in pre-emptive lunacy that mirrors that of their leader.

They and a billion Muslims watched as Americans forbade families from burying their dead, and allowed stray dogs to gnaw the corpses of pregnant women and toddlers on the mean streets of what was once Fallujah, during Eidul Fitr. No one is taken in by the lies and arrogance and greed of this racist war.

'News' stories like these seem ridiculous to us, even though we are used to a certain amount of slant and fictitious stories from the NYTimes, CBS, and the like. However, these destructive lies spew incessantly from minarets and television sets here, and their sway on the population is powerful.

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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Latest from Fallujah

The Marines are still working to clear Fallujah in order to return the city to civilian control. The AP reports on a cache found recently:

"The amount of weapons was in no way just to protect a city," said Maj. Jim West, a Marine intelligence officer. "There was enough to mount an insurgency across the country."

A huge store of weapons and explosives was discovered at the mosque of Abdullah al-Janabi, a Muslim cleric and insurgent leader, according to a report on The New York Times' Web site. Al-Janabi is thought to have fled the city.

Military officers told the Times there were no arms in al-Janabi's nearby house, but they said they discovered files on people who had been tortured and executed for cooperating with U.S. authorities and their allies.

West noted that insurgents stashed arms in mosques. "Even gravesides were used to bury weapons," he said.

West said U.S. forces turned up a "cook book" with instructions on using mercury nitrate and silver nitrate and descriptions of nerve agents. He didn't elaborate.

These people don't mess around. They are intent on killing us, and it's obvious that they'll use our Western sensibilities about their 'holy sites' to their greatest advantage.

If we were as serious about this war as they are, it would already be over.

It seems to me that the tide is slowly turning against the insurgency, but I don't think we can overestimate the importance of the upcoming elections.

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Dr Laura and the SECDEF

I just read over a transcript of Laura Ingraham's interview with Sec. Rumsfeld, and I enjoyed this bit:

Q: Now, Mr. Secretary, before we let you go, there’s all this rumors about people leaving the cabinet. We don’t want you to leave the Defense Department. We want you to stay as long as possible. But if you ever happen to leave the Defense Department before March, there is going to be an opening at CBS, you know.

SEC. RUMSFELD: [Laughs]

Dan Rather [Audio Clip]: Asking tough questions and investigating reports.

Q: I mean, can you ever see that happening?

SEC. RUMSFELD: [Laughs]

Q: I mean, that’s a big chair to fill, I know, but…

SEC. RUMSFELD: [Laughs] Oh, Laura, you are a sketch. That’s something that’s never crossed my mind.

Q: No. I mean, they’re trying to reach out to different segments of society and now the old media is going away. I mean, there’s just all sorts of opportunities out there. I just think you shouldn’t rule anything out at this point.

Her statement that "old media is going away" is very optimistic, but I think she may be right.
Leave a comment if you're interested in reading the whole interview and I'll send it to you; nothing groundbreaking, just the usual talking points.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

More on the religion of peace

David Frum writes a piece on the notice of libel that the Canadian branch of CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) served him. The list of terrorist ties to CAIR that he highlights is disturbing, but even more so is the intimidation by which CAIR has tried to suppress this information.

Any organization whose founding chairman makes a declaration like this: "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran . . . should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth" is obviously not about spreading tolerance via the "religion of peace."

Frum has written extensively on Islamofacism, and his article "Blowing up their own Civilization" does a good job of explaining how violence begets violence, and how jihadists will not settle for the elimination of Isreal, or of the USA, or of all Western culture. They will keep fighting until only they remain.

Here's a sample:

These anti-Shiite radicals are not acting on their own. They are, Doran argues, putting into effect the teachings of some of the most revered leaders of mainstream Islam.

He gives this example: "A recent fatwa by Abd al-Rahman al-Barrak, a respected professor at the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University (which trains official clerics), is a case in point. Asked whether it was permissible for Sunnis to launch a jihad against Shiites, al-Barrak answered that if the Shiites in a Sunni-dominated country insisted on practising their religion openly, then yes, the Sunni state had no choice but to wage war on them."

Nor are Shiites the only targets of religious warfare. Kashmiri women who will not wear the veil, anti-Taliban Afghans, Algerians who refused to join the Islamic insurrection of the mid-1990s, Iranians who defied the authority of the ruling mullahs--over the past 25 years, perhaps as many as a million Muslims have been massacred in the name of Allah.

It's often observed that the Arab and Islamic world has responded to the war on terror with a broad "Yes--but." In the end, the "but" invalidates the "yes"--and Muslims who want to condone only some terrorism end up giving aid and comfort to all of it. Anti-Jewish terrorism legitimates anti-Shiite terror, which in turn legitimates terror against insufficiently orthodox Sunnis--until in the end all restraint is thrown away and the greater Middle East becomes a vast killing zone.

CAIR states their mission as: to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Based on the definition of libel - a false publication, as in writing, print, signs, or pictures, that damages a person's reputation - I find it difficult to see how CAIR's actions are inline with their tenet of "encouraging dialogue," especially considering that Frum's assertions are actually true.

Find out more about CAIR's real agenda here.

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Fun with google

If you have a couple minutes to trade for a laugh, go to Google, type in "weapons of mass destruction" and hit the 'I'm feeling lucky' key...if you get an error page, read it carefully...

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Good news from Iran

Scrappleface reports on Condoleezza Rice's Iran policy:

Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice today urged a "wait and see approach" in the wake of news that Iran may be secretly continuing its uranium enrichment program and developing missiles to carry nuclear warheads.

"They're probably not going to use these nuclear weapons that we're not absolutely sure they're developing anyway," said Miss Rice, who is still the National Security Advisor and the president's exercise buddy. "If they do use the nuclear weapons there's a fair chance that it won't be against us, our allies or our troops overseas. It's a big world and there are lots of other places they could bomb."

Miss Rice reminded reporters that America's number one foreign policy consideration at all times is multilateral cooperation.

"Let's wait and see what our allies in thoroughly-modern Europe do," she said. "We need not leap to conclusions about Iran's intentions simply because it's an Islamic fundamentalist totalitarian state renowned for having held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Even if they build a nuclear missile and launch it at us or Israel, it's conceivable that it would fail to detonate and would fall harmlessly into the sea."

Also the response of the EU:

Iran today said it had suspended uranium enrichment as part of a deal negotiated with several European Union countries which, for their part, have agreed to suspend disbelief.

In addition to freezing uranium enrichment, Iran also announced it would destroy its stockpiles of sand.

Thank goodness that situation is under control, because I really don't feel like spending a year in Iran.

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Some encouraging news

From the AP:

On Iraq, the gathering of 20 world powers and regional countries, including many opposed to the U.S.-led invasion, represented an acknowledgment of the need for international cooperation to deal with the consequences of the war.
While sharp differences remain on how to proceed, the participating nations and world bodies have committed to supporting the U.S.-backed Iraqi interim government and finalized a draft statement, obtained by The Associated Press.
In it, they gave strong backing to the Iraqi government's war against insurgents but did not set a deadline for withdrawing U.S.-led forces from Iraq, despite a push by France and some Arab countries.
The draft communique for the two-day conference, which ends Tuesday, also says the interim Iraqi government should meet with its opponents to try to persuade them to take part in the general elections scheduled for Jan. 30.
The meeting brought together Iraq's six neighbors - Iran, Syria, Turkey, Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia - as well as Egypt and several other Arab countries, China and regional bodies such as the Group of Eight, the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Syria's foreign minister, Farouk al-Sharaa, had tried to seek support for setting a deadline for the withdrawal of foreign forces in Iraq. But the draft communique allows the Iraqi government to decide when the U.S.-led troops should depart. It does remind them that their mandate is "not open-ended."
For all its bloodshed, the insurgency enjoys a certain support in the Arab world, where many regard the U.S. and other troops as occupiers.
The draft communique says the participants condemn "all acts of terrorism in Iraq" and call for "the immediate cessation of all such acts in order to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people."

Though I'm not sure anything of substance can or will come from a 20-nation conference, this news is somewhat encouraging.
I don't think the bit about "a certain support in the Arab world" is meant to be ironical, but it amuses me.
Earlier in the article the reporter references the late Mr. Arafat; "Israel and the United States had refused to talk to Arafat, branding him an unacceptable negotiating partner because of what they said was his support of terror."
I found it difficult to take the article too seriously after that. As always, consider the source.

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JOTD

Since I wasn't blogging on November 3rd, I missed the chance to gloat a little bit...

One sunny day in 2005, an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he'd been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the Marine standing guard and said, "I would like to go in and meet with President Kerry."
The Marine replied, "Sir, Mr. Kerry is not President and doesn't reside here." The old man said, "Okay," and walked away.
The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, "I would like to go in and meet with President Kerry." The Marine again told the man, "Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Kerry is not President and doesn't reside here."
The man thanked him and again walked away. The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same Marine, saying "I would like to go in and meet with President Kerry." The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, "Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Kerry. I've told you already that Mr. Kerry is not the President and doesn't reside here. Don't you understand?"
The old man answered, "Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it." The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, "See you tomorrow."

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Monday, November 22, 2004

Here we go again.

Are you all ready for a good gun-control debate? If not, you'd better get that way before you read this story:

A dispute among deer hunters over a tree stand in northwestern Wisconsin erupted Sunday in a series of shootings that left five people dead and three others injured, officials said.

The suspect was "sniping'' at the victims with a SKS assault-style rifle, Zeigle said. He was "chasing after them and killing them,'' he said.

The dead included four males, including a teenage boy, and a woman, Zeigle said. The man who radioed for help was not fatally wounded. Some of the victims were shot more than once.

Besides the poorly written story, this incident is tragic, but the question at hand is whether gun control laws, and specifically a ban on assault rifles is the way to prevent such tragedies.

First of all, I believe that 'assault rifle' defines a weapon that can either be fired one round at a time or in multiple round bursts. The SKS is semi-automatic, meaning that it does not have the capability to fire more than one round at a time.

Therefore, an SKS is not actually an assault rifle. Read more about it here and here.

Now check the photo below and see if it fits your mental image of 'assault rifle.' When I hear 'assault rifle' I think of an uzi, not a pre-WWII era semi-auto.

SKS "assault rifle"


The point being that a ban on assault rifles would not even outlaw the SKS, and thus this incident would have still occurred, ban or no.

To ban the SKS, one would have to ban semi-automatic weapons, which would include virtually every handgun on the market and many sporting weapons as well.

Once we get our definitions straight, we are still left with the question of whether we should ban assault rifles. I haven't completely made up my mind.

As I discussed this question with my insightful roommate Dan, he asked me if I thought a citizen should be allowed to own a tank. Though I am sympathetic to the libertarian cause at time, I don't think I can support the right to keep and bear M1A2s.

I am fairly certain then, that somewhere between a hunting rifle and an Abrams tank there must be a reasonable place to draw the line.

Apache Attack helicopter gunship - No. (why you'd want one when you could fly a Blackhawk is beyond me though)

155mm Howitzer - No.

M19 fully automatic grenade launcher - No.

M60 crew-served machine gun - No.

M16A2 assault rifle - ???

I can't think of a reason why a law-abiding citizen would want an assault rifle, except to take it to the range for fun. However, I am extremely reluctant to take away their rights to purchase one, since undoubtedly criminals will still have access (albeit more difficult) to them.

How about this: anyone with a conviction of any violent crime (gun related or not) is banned for life from possessing an assault rifle. Thoughts?

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Saturday, November 20, 2004

meerkat

meerkat
I call this one "repose."
Congratulations to this Australian Meerkat for being the star of the first photo successfully posted here at beef.
More photos to come...

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No War for Oil

I just came across an interview Radek Sikorski had with Paul Wolfowitz; here's part of his response to a question about the 'American empire:'

The premise of your question is that we're out to run an empire, but there is no American empire. Look at Japan and Korea. They were part of this so-called empire in the cold war. After the Second World War and the Korean war, we invested heavily in the defense and economic systems of countries like Japan and Korea - hardly an imperial undertaking. I would submit that we have benefited enormously from their strength and their ability to stand on their own feet. They're now contributing to the rest of the world. We're so much better off with a Japan as a strong trading partner than a Japan as a basket case. If people want to redefine the word "empire" to mean this as an empire, then it's just semantics. We are not trying to control these countries so we can exploit their resources. We're trying to enable these countries to stand on their own feet and our experience says that when they do so, we're better off. It's back to the absurdity of saying we're trying to impose our ideas on other people when we want to help them become democracies.

But it's a funny empire that relies on releasing basic human desires to be free and prosperous and live in peace.

Iraq has far greater natural resources than Japan or Korea, and though we'll never convince the no-war-for-oil crowd of this, we don't want to commandeer them. It is much more beneficial for our national interest if Iraqis are free to run their own country.

Americans do not want an empire. We want first of all to live free, and secondly to live in peace (which means sometimes going to war).

Belmont Club has a good analysis on this piece, contrasting Wolfowitz's position with that of Jacques Chirac. Here's the gist of his observations:

History may remember Jacques Chirac as one of the most prolific institution builders of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The European Union and the United Nations are but some of the multilateral projects he sought to strengthen in the belief they would serve as a prototype for the future ordering of the world. Wolfowitz's vision seems altogether more complex. He seems unwilling to speak of institutions outside the context of empowerment, as if to speak of instruments of governance without freedoms was tantamount to prescribing tyranny. Their difference of opinion may be rooted, not so much in an argument over bureaucratic arrangements, but in their view of the nature of man himself.

Our Nation was founded on the premise that man should live free, and our leaders are right to stand up for freedom around the world, no matter response of the Chiracs of the world.

We seek the empowerment of the individual, not the institution.

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Better than a peg leg

All of you burgeoning dolphin trainers will be interested in this one; a Japanese dolphin named Fiji has been the recipient of the world's first artificial fin. Fiji lives at an aquarium in Okinawa, and a disease forced the amputation of 75% of her tail.

The tire maker Bridgestone developed the fin, and they donated it to the aquarium (at a cost of $95,000).

Here's a thought: 60 years ago Japan was a war-ravaged nation, and today they are a strong ally (with troops here in Iraq) and the third largest economy in the world. Who would have guessed that? Probably not the NYTimes or any American academics. Maybe in 60 years we'll see Iraqi dolphins with prosthetic tails.

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Friday, November 19, 2004

Milestone

Just a couple more things before I sign off for the evening...

Dan posted some excellent photos over at BlueDogTroop ...if you've never been privileged to meet my beautiful wife you may want to check them out.

One of those photos reminded me that both Jennyjo and I entered photos in the photo contest over at Moosejaw. If one of us wins we get $500 worth of schweet outdoor gear, so please go vote (follow the democrat's election day mantra: vote early, vote often!)

And finally, we're nearing 100 hits!! You could be the lucky 100th visitor to Beef always wins. Though that's not a bad 4 day total, I want to peg that counter out...tell your friends to get over here and read this great blog!

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Aren't Israelis just terrorists too?

For a succinct and convincing explanation of why Israel is one of our most important allies check out Joey Tartakovsky's latest.
It'll blow your hair back.
Here's a quick shot, but read the whole thing (unless you'd rather just take your college professor's word for it):

America supports Israel because Israel resembles America. They share common strategic interests, common democratic principles and common jihadist enemies. Some identify the U.S.-Israel alliance as the product of a “Jewish lobby,” a view popular in Cairo and Riyadh and Paris. But do these types really find it strange that Americans are less than enamored of the Palestinians after Americans watched the West Bank erupt in celebration on 9/11? How do they think Americans should respond as they watch Palestinians deploy the same barbaric method of suicide bombing practiced on them by bin Laden? Does our government share intelligence with Iran, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority—or with Israel? Why? In the new war, medieval Islamic aggressors seek to humiliate and bloody the United States, and it is clear where the allegiances lie in the Middle East. It resembles the alignments in the Fascist-Democratic and Communist-Democratic wars. Between the U.S. and al-Qaeda there is no peace process, only a war process, which ends when one side is defeated and demoralized. So it is with Israel and Fatah and Hamas.

Later, he puts Israel's accomplishments in perspective:

If it puffs Syrian or Egyptian pride vis-à-vis Israel to do at the UN what they could not do on the battlefield—win—then let them posture. It does not change the fact that Israelis are rich and powerful and free, and Syrians and Egyptians are poor and illiterate and weak. Does anyone doubt that grudge and envy do not fire their anger against Israel, a country of six million? Israel’s neighbors have fallen so far behind the rest of the world in the globalizing era that their literacy rates lag behind those of sub-Saharan Africa. Spain translates more books in a year than the entire Arab Middle East has in the last thousand years. (collective frustration?)

Meanwhile, Israel has transformed a resource-poor land the size of New Jersey into a proud and unapologetic democracy that wins wars. Self-investment, openness and unbound inquiry have catapulted Israel to world leader in medical, military and internet technology, developers of everything from the agricultural equipment used in the valleys of California and AOL Instant Messenger to our ballistic missile defense system. A commitment to economic liberty and the rule of law have grown Israel’s economy larger than those of South Africa and Argentina, whose populations number 42 million and 39 million, respectively. Critics whine that Israelis possess tanks while Palestinians wield only rocks. It does not seem to register with them that Israel has tanks because Israel invented tanks. (It’s called the Merkava, from the Biblical word for “chariot.”) Out of twelve Nobel prizes awarded this year, Israelis received two. These are the earned fruits of a free society.

Read it all.

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Nothing new under the sun

As the WWII generation ages, fewer and fewer people know just how alarmed to be after reading a piece such as Joseph D'Hippolito's Comparing the Rhetoric of Jihadism and Nazism.

D'Hippolito extensively uses quotations from Muslim leaders, some presented at and even published by universities on our own left coast.

Here is his lede:

In the twentieth century, genocidal, imperialist totalitarians wore swastika armbands, herded members of supposedly inferior races into concentration camps and shouted, "Heil Hitler!" In the twenty-first century, they wear black coveralls and hoods, decapitate civilian contractors, shoot children in the back, plow hijacked airplanes into buildings and shout, "Allahu Akbar!"

Jihadism is this century's equivalent of Nazism in more than just barbarity. The Osama bin Ladens and Abu Musab al-Zarqawis are the violent face of a coherent, ruthless ideology that imitates the Nazi method of winning popular support. Jihadists—whether terrorists, imams or intellectuals—exploit collective frustration by converting it into a pervasive sense of victimization, then offer the solution: embrace an inherent superiority, seize entitled power and destroy all opponents.

The "collective frustration" he mentions is key for westerners to try to understand. Arabic culture is so far removed from our own that it may be impossible for us to fully grasp, and realizing that fact is vitally necessary for us as we try to defeat the threat of militant Islam.

What we are undertaking here in Iraq and in Afghanistan is attacking the root of the problem. Oppressive regimes, no matter their leaders or official policies, create collective frustration. That frustration grows into desperation, because humans need to have hope in something.

Militant Islam is not attractive to Americans (even American Muslims) because (quite simply) we have better things to do with our lives.

Not the case with a 20 something year-old Iraqi man under Saddam's rule. Even though Saddam was not a militant (I believe he was completely self-absorbed - no need for religion) what other choices did the young men not privileged enough to get a state job have under him? Not many.

Joining the jihad gave him brotherhood, superiority (at least over women), and hope for some eternal reward, plus, what was he really missing out on by blowing himself up? Another 40 years of trying to stay on Saddam's good side with little hope of bettering himself or his family? No thanks - I'll take the 72 virgins.

Stopping militant Islam before it picks up any more steam in the Middle East, or even reaches the oppressed masses of North Korea and China is essential. We need to fight this war right now, and by the way, as Victor Davis Hanson said, it isn't a war on terrorism. That's like calling WWII the war on panzer tanks. We don't declare war on a method, we declare a war on a group of people.

It's the war on islamofacism.

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Congratulations - well done.

Dan successfully solved the 'Rubik's Revenge' 4x4 cube this afternoon. Quite an achievment, and one that I cannot truthfully claim.
At least for the time being, Dan is Cube Champ. In addition to the 4x4, he currently holds the Camp Victory record time for solving a 3x3 cube in 1 minute 58 seconds. My best time is a full 6 seconds slower.

Congratulations, but don't get too comfy.

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QOTD

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made so and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

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Blogging 101

After my first few days of blogging, it occurs to me that many of my readers (I know you're out there, even if you don't leave comments!) may be looking at a blog for the first time.

If you're new to the blogosphere I'll try to help you out; if you've been on the scene for awhile please drop me a comment with your favorite blogs so I can check them out and link to them.

The concept is pretty simple - bloggers see something newsworthy or stories being mishandled by the mainstream media (MSM), they link to it and comment on it, and anyone can post their own comments to further the discussion or clarify the facts.

Posting your comments is simple. Just click the 'comments' link at the bottom of the post, enter your email address and screen name (or just use anonymous) and type whatever is on your mind.

If you've never explored other blogs, let me suggest some of my favorites:

Worldmagblog - the blog that drew me into the blogosphere; I've been reading it since it launched about a year ago. World Magazine runs it, and most of their writers post there. News and comment on just about any topic from a Christian worldview. They also have a fairly comprehensive blogroll, which lists blogs by topic.

Powerline - News and insightful political commentary from three super-smart Minnesota guys. Daily reading.

Captain's Quarters - Excellent political blog, and Ed is a Marine stationed here at Camp Victory.

Drudge Report - Not really a blog, but a news site often referenced by bloggers. Matt Drudge keeps a huge blogroll, and also links to some other good news sites.

That should get you started. If it's not enough, check out the other links on the right side of this page.
Let me know what you think of those sites, and post the addresses of other good ones I should link to.

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Uncle Sam wants you (again)

US Army Human Resources Command (formerly PERSCOM) has initiated a "Retiree recall to active duty program."
As of now, the program is voluntary. Officers and Warrant Officers who retired no earlier than 1997 are eligible, and they will retain the rank at which they retired.
I'm not sure exactly what they're trying to do with this one, as I know of no shortage of Lieutenant Colonels or Colonels, and we certainly don't need any more Generals.

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Porn equals heroin?

The AP runs an article reporting on a group of researchers calling on Congress to fund studies (presumably by those same researchers) on how addictive pornography is.

I'm not sure why porn's addictiveness isn't obvious to these folks. I guess it's possible that they are just porn fiends looking to get paid to do "research."

Anyway, they are calling for government action:

Mary Anne Layden, co-director of a sexual trauma program at the University of Pennsylvania, said pornography's effect on the brain mirrors addiction to heroin or crack cocaine. She told of one patient, a business executive, who arrived at his office at 9 a.m. each day, logged onto Internet porn sites, and didn't log off until 5 p.m.

Layden called for billboards and bus ads warning people to avoid pornography, strip clubs and prostitutes.

Is this type of thing really the government's business?

After eight years in the Army (where porn habits are near universal) I've seen how porn causes men to become so focused on their own gratification that they not only become narcissistic and view women as sub-human, but they destroy their own lives because of the poison in their minds, so you don't have to convince me on that count.

Though the federal government spends vast sums on programs much less worthy than this one, it will still take lots of convincing to get me to back anti-porn bus ads.

This problem needs a personal approach. I have no problem with local governments deciding to take some sort of action, but it should be more in line with self-help groups (like Alcoholics Anonymous) than billboards.

I'm still not sure where the FCC fits into this debate, but I have no doubt that television contributes to the porn problem, if only being the foot-in-the-door.

I've got some libertarian blood in me, so I haven't quite figured out my position on how or if broadcast companies should be regulated on content, but I'm pretty sure the founding fathers weren't thinking about protecting the rights of pornographers when they penned the Bill of Rights.

Regulating conventional broadcast companies is really inconsequential anyway. I have a feeling that even cable TV will be a dinosaur in 10 years, when we're watching everything via stream on the web.

One last thought, I think someone ought to send a warning memo over to the NEA just incase these porn studies effect anyone on their payroll.

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Phantom 6 Sends

For anyone unfamiliar with Army terminology, "Phantom 6" is a call sign for the Commanding General of III Corps (nicknamed Phantom Corps from their reputation for showing up where they were least expected during WWII). Phantom 6 Sends is a weekly article by Lieutenant General Tom Metz (currently commander of the Multi-National Corps Iraq), and though you won't find anything too ground breaking or controversial in his pieces, they often contain some insight into our current situation from a military perspective.
This week's article focuses (not surprisingly) on Fallujah, and Metz makes an excellent point about the fundamental differences between our Soldiers and the terrorists.

These thugs fit the leadership mold of Osama Bin Laden; they incite rabid hatred in their disciples and then inspire them onward to suicide missions with promises of glorious martyrdom and rewards in paradise. While their followers are blowing themselves up or staging a hopeless defense, these “leaders” slip away into the civilian population, unwilling to risk their own lives for the cause they so publicly espouse.

The contrast between these power hungry thugs and the leaders of the United States Armed Forces could not be any more pronounced.
Our leaders are ingrained with values such as duty, loyalty and selfless service. They do not hold their lives more valuable than those of their men, nor do they ever ask their troops to go where they will not.


I recommend you read the entire article.

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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Eye on Iraq

I'm on quite a few email disto lists, and I get an official distro from our Public Affairs Office called Eye on Iraq. It is one page highlighting good news stories, and it usually has some great photos. Once I get my photoblogger up and running I'll start posting them, but I'll be glad to forward the emails to anyone interested. Just leave your email address in the comments and I'll hook you up.

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Here come the bloggers...

Hugh Hewitt opened the floodgates when he blogged on Target's refusal to allow Salvation Army bell-ringers outside their stores. The Boston Globe broke the story, and after Hugh brought the issue to the attention of the blogosphere Target was in trouble - they've been bombarded with emails from shoppers who promise to take their business elsewhere (reminds me of Miracle on 34 th Street).
I respect the company's right to ban the ringers from the premises if they wish, but it sure seems like a Scrooge move to me. By the way, the Globe reports that Best Buy bans ringers too - not sure why Hugh didn't bring the pain on them too.
I'm not a fan of chain stores (or restaurants), and Target is no exception. I'll stick with mom&pop whenever I can.

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God in our genes?

Time Magazine's October 25 issue (we get them kinda late over here) has an interesting cover article called The God Gene (by subscription only).
The author, Jeffrey Kluger, poses the question, "Is religion a product of evolution," and the article focuses on the research of molecular biologist Dean Hamer. Dr. Hamer claims that human spirituality is an adaptive trait and that he has discovered one of the genes responsible.
I was skeptical as I started reading the article, and an early quote from Dr. Hamer was a further turn off;

"I think we follow the basic laws of nature, which is that we're a bunch of chemical reactions running around in a bag."

Kluger writes from a completely secular point of view, and portrays the religious leaders he quotes in the typical manner of big media - closed minded and illogical.

"God is not something that can be demonstrated logically or rigorously," says Neil Gillman, a professor of Jewish philosophy, "[The idea of a God gene] goes against all my personal theological convictions."

When I read that bit I immediately thought of C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest thinkers and writers of the 20 th century, and wondered if Mr. Kluger has ever read Mere Christianity (or even heard of Lewis for that matter.)
As I read on I began thinking of how the possibility of a God gene meshes with the doctrine of predestination - interesting possibilities there. Would God place a certain gene is his elect? I always thought individuals would seek God because of a yearning in the soul and not because of some element of our physical make-up (which I still think is more likely), but I haven't put much thought into the subject.
My main beef with the article (other than the usual disdain for religion) is the lack of serious consideration that humans might be eternal and unique beings, and the way Kluger associates spirituality with feelings.
Spirituality is a feeling in the same way love is a feeling. Those who are spiritual or loving only when they 'get the feeling' do not know the true meaning of either.

(hat tip to Dan)

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News from Down Under

Since Jennyjo and I just returned from a trip to one our country's strongest allies, I was especially disturbed to see that the assault on assigning any personal responsibility that has been rampant in our culture is migrating. A ranch owner in New South Wales was fined $72,000 after one of his cowboys was trampled to death while mustering bulls. The owner's offence? Allowing his hands to wear cowboy hats instead of equestrian helmets. Never mind that no law requiring helmets was in place at the time, and no ranches had any similar requirements (of course they do now!)
In other Aussie news, a train derailed en route to Cairns, resulting in 120 injuries but no fatalities, and off the coast a New Zealand woman is breastfeeding her Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy.

"I wanted to raise it (the pup) with my baby," she said. "I wanted to bring it up with a baby. It will protect her as they grow up," said Tumanako, who lives in Hastings in New Zealand's North Island.
"He drinks more than the baby. It doesn't hurt, but it's a little bit ticklish."

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Eye on Iraq

I'm on quite a few email disto lists, and I get an official distro from our Public Affairs Office called Eye on Iraq. It is one page highlighting good news stories, and it usually has some great photos. Once I get my photoblogger up and running I'll start posting them, but I'll be glad to forward the emails to anyone interested. Just leave your email address in the comments and I'll hook you up.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Good Source

If you haven't checked out Belmont Club for the latest Fallujah updates you should. He's got an indepth post on the Geneva Convention that is worth your time. (warning: it describes war in brutal detail, so proceed with caution)

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If it sounds too good to be true…

Dick Armey and Andrew Sullivan both write on the merits of a flat tax. I'm normally an optimist, but such a thing as a flat tax rate seems too good to be true. It makes too much sense to survive for long in DC. Aside from all the special interest groups whose survival depends on stopping such a measure, there must be some downsides to a flat tax that I'm too young or naïve to understand; can anyone enlighten me? Any CPAs out there?

(hat tip to RealClearPolitics)

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Oh no, anything but UN sanctions!

Scrappleface is always good to check out if the 'real news' is starting to get you down...

Just a day after news that Saddam Hussein bilked the United Nations out of more than $21.3 billion during the 13 years Iraq languished under U.N. sanctions, the chief Iranian nuclear negotiator pleaded with the Security Council to "slap us with sanctions like Saddam's."

"In light of the massive siphoning of funds in Iraq, which likely benefitted some U.N. staffers as well, this time I alone will supervise the disbursements," said Mr. Annan. "If there is profit to be made through sanctions and humanitarian aid to dangerous, totalitarian regimes, I will know it personally and take action that I deem appropriate and beneficial."

Check the rest if you have time...they're closer to the truth than they should be.

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Slpeling inst eevn ipmorantt

Some of you may have seen this in an email I sent out, but I like it so much I decided to post it here (hat tip to Dan over at BlueDogTroop):

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The pweor of the hmuan mnid is phaonmneal. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer inwaht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt!

The human brain is truly amazing. Another sign of intelligent design.


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What is a picture really worth?

I don't have any more details than you do on the video of a Marine shooting a wounded terrorist in Fallujah. The story doesn't seem to be blowing up like Abu Ghrab did though. The reactions of the locals interviewed in this AP story highlight some cultural differences and show how important Information Operations are.

"Look at this old man who was slain by them," said Ahmed Khalil, 40, as he watched the video in his Baghdad shop. "Was he a fighter? Was anybody who was killed inside this mosque a fighter? Where are their weapons? I don't know what to say."

"The troops not only violated our mosques with their sins and their boots but they stepped on our brothers' blood," said Khalil, the shop owner. "They are criminals and mercenaries. I feel guilty standing here and not doing anything."


Never mind that terrorists used every mosque in Fallujah as a weapons cache and a fighting position, that these thugs are known for booby trapping bodies (knowing that American forces help the wounded whenever possible), and that the Marine had just seen one of his friends die from one of these booby traps, while being injured in the face himself.
Tactics and even the rules of war must change when you fight an enemy who places no value on his own life.
A video clip gives no context, but context is only important if you are a logical thinker. Arab culture is steeped in propaganda and emotion (just look at the mourning throngs around Arafat's coffin) and American culture is moving that way with the help of TV News.
The first case that really showed the destructiveness of video out of context that I can remember was Rodney King. The American public, egged on by the media (that was raking in the cash), was outraged and didn't really care to see the first half of the video (the part that wasn't played ad nauseum on the 6 o'clock news).
American reliance on 'experts' to tell us what to think and an unquestioning reverence for the talking heads bears strong resemblance to the rabble-rousing clerics and information ministers of these Middle Eastern states.
The blogosphere has given me some hope though. It's ok to question bloggers, and most of them actually admit and correct their mistakes--what a concept!

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NAA(L)CP Update

President Bush has wasted no time in the reorganization of his administration; the CIA is undergoing some major changes and Condoleezza Rice will replace Colin Powell as SECSTATE. When I saw that appointment I figured the NAACP would have something to say about the first black female Secretary of State—apparently they don't. Their website doesn’t mention it, though it links to two articles on voter intimidation and vote suppression and one on how the IRS has tried to "silence the voices of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization."An email I sent to their HQ (washingtonbureau@naacpnet.org) hasn't been answered yet.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Nice work fellas.

From the Christian Science Monitor (may only work from .mil):

The battle for Fallujah will go down in history as a textbook example of urban warfare. The US military used the most advanced technology and the best street-fighting tactics to hunt down the entrenched insurgents while keeping civilian casualties to a minimum.
But the message of Fallujah isn't the prowess of the United States but its tenacity.
Having failed last April to retake that small Sunni city, the US could not again afford to appear weak to the would-be voters of Iraq. With elections planned for late January, Iraqis had to be shown that the US military, along with the fledgling Iraqi Army, will keep eliminating safe sanctuaries for hostage-taking terrorists and bombmaking insurgents.
At the height of the battle, President Bush predicted more insurgent violence ahead. Indeed, even though more than a thousand of them were killed in the battle, many insurgents - including top leaders like Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - had already fled. But as long as the US and its allies keep them on the run, and more important, separate them from civilian supporters, the US has a chance to convince Iraqis that such battles will be won and that it's worth standing up against the insurgents and for democracy.

A General Officer recently made a good point that the response of the clerics to last week's assault was nothing like the fatwahs they tossed around last April (you may remember a punk named al-Sadr who gained a following then; we haven't heard from him in quite a while).As for the reason, maybe the clerics see that we're a bit more determined this time; maybe they want to make sure to be on the right side come election time; maybe they see Iraqis joining the security forces and those security forces effectively clear mosques of weapons caches (which were found in every mosque in Fallujah). Who knows.

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What are you doing this weekend?

The WSJ runs an interesting article (may only work from .mil addresses) on the congressional debate over a military pay increase. The Bush administration is pushing for a 3.5% raise for the military, but certain members of congress (especially those with DC area constituencies) won't go for it without a corresponding increase for federal civilian workers.
While a pay raise won't do it for everyone (more on that one later), it will surely encourage some to stick it out instead of going the GS route, where you stand a good chance of living at home more than every other year.

If members of Congress are as concerned about soldiers as they say they are, the message to Ms. Kelley and her ilk must be that, as important as some of the work done by civilian employees is, their work is not as indispensable as that done by the soldiers keeping our country free.

Federal workers also get the day off with pay on 11 federal holidays, more paid time off than most private-sector jobs provide. And, of course, American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan don't get any holidays from being in harm's way.

Besides, in wartime, federal civilian workers should understand why the military should get priority in pay raises. As Ramona Fortanbary, editor of Veterans' Vision, writes, "These patriotic men and women, who after all did choose government service over more lucrative private employment, can and will understand that . . . at times of great demand upon the military services . . . the troops need the money more."


Good point on the holidays. You can't truly appreciate a day off until you go six months without one. I can't imagine what to do with an entire weekend!

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Where would we be without the UN?

The NYTimes is occasionally worth checking out, at least when William Safire (free registration required) has something to say:

Annan's obstruction of outside investigations has strong support within the U.N. members whose citizens are most likely to be embarrassed by revelations of payoffs: Russia, France and China lead all the rest. He has dutifully continued to align himself with their interests by declaring the overthrow of Saddam "illegal" and recently denouncing our attack on the insurgents in Falluja. Perhaps he thinks that this confluence of national interest in cover-up - along with the unwillingness of most media to dig into a complicated story - will let his stonewalling succeed. He reckons not with an insulted Congress.

I'm no diplomat (don't think I have the necessary skill set for that line of work) but it's past time to flex a little muscle with those professional bureaucrats. As a tax payer (well, maybe not this year) I'm not a big fan of my country paying the lion's share of all the ineffective programs those self-styled global planners dream up, not to mention lining the pockets of Saddam, Arafat, Annan's kids, etc. Also, someone is going to have to admit that it takes more than 'peace-keepers' in nifty blue helmets and a pile of resolutions to intimidate a thug government--maybe it's time for a more agressive foreign policy...

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