Archive for June, 2006
30 Jun 2006

The Same Mistake Discussed Again

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Jules Crittenden in the Boston Herald identifies exactly the same mistake, which folly goes back to Lyndon Johnson and before him to Harry Truman: half-measures and the failure to mobilize the whole of the nation in the war effort, in a democracy like ours, will result in a continual erosion of public support, if victory is not achieved over a very short interval of time.

Prosecution of any war will always be opposed by a radical and pacifist fringe, who will quickly attract the support of the community of fashion, which is always in search of a cause. Once that alliance is organized and in operation, the general public will be subjected to an endless barrage of whingeing and anti-war propaganda, which in the end will demoralize the general public. Normal people will insist the war be abandoned, in the end, simply because they are so terribly, terribly sick of listening to the Left.

Five years on, some people remain unaware that this is war; that we are facing an enemy that will do anything in its power to destroy us.

The fact that on any given day we are free to fly around the world, drive our cars without restriction and buy as much food as we like in rich variety seems to have confused them.

The lack of U-boats attacking the shipping lanes has lulled some people into thinking this is not actually a war. Not a real war, certainly not a good war, not like World War II. They mock the very notion that it is a war, having fun with the name “Global War on Terror.” They put forward the notion that, like almost everything else in our American lives, this thing that has been called a war is a choice. A bad choice.

Who can blame them? Even fighting in this war, unlike most of the great wars our that threatened our existence in the past, is a choice made by a small percentage of Americans who have joined the Armed Forces.

George Bush, while announcing that we were at war five years ago, made a decision to encourage Americans to go about their business as usual. Rather than mobilizing the country for war, he decided he could fight this unconventional war by unconventional means, and with the forces already at hand. Normalcy had its uses as a weapon. It showed that our enemy could not hobble us.

In other respects, it was a mistake…

Bush chose not to treat this as total war, insisting it could be done with some finetuning of the resources at hand. His domestic opposition has taken that idea several steps farther, insisting Islamic terrorism is a police problem that does not require military force and certainly not the suspension of some legal niceties. After all, they do not consider it an actual war of the sort faced by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt when they destroyed cities and imprisoned anyone who threatened the security of the nation.

Ironically, Bush has been so effective with his approach, that there has not been an attack on the mainland United States since 9-11. That has allowed his opposition to maintain that all the unpleasant things Bush has had to do domestically and abroad are unnecessary, or the very least excessive. They’ve had the freedom to nitpick at the execution of the war, expressing indignation at every misstep, while ignoring major accomplishments, which they see after all as the accomplishments of an unnecessary war based on global intelligence failures that, in hindsight, they cast as lies.

30 Jun 2006

What Bush Did Wrong

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Randy Barnett correctly identifies two of the current administration’s most serious mistakes:

It has long seemed clear to me and many others who are otherwise sympathetic to its policies that the Bush administration made two colossal errors in prosecuting the general war on terror.

First: Not seeking quick explicit congressional authorization for such policies as incarceration, military tribunals, etc. The Hamdan case was just one result of this failure. Now, such involvement is much more difficult to accomplish; then it would have been relatively easy. Just not as easy as going it alone, which has proved to be the harder course in the long run.

Second: Not involving the American public directly in supporting the war. Tax increases or a military draft were not needed for this. But bond drives, resource collection, and other assistance-to-the-military programs — even better, some form of volunteer genuine militia service — in the wake of 9/11 would have given the public some ownership of the resulting policies. Many called for these sorts of initiatives at the time. They were waiting to be asked to pitch in and help. Instead the administration adopted a Vietnam-type strategy of “We’ll handle things; you all go about your business.” Which leads to bad reactions when “things” do not go as smoothly as expected.

The administration essentially opted for a one-branch war, and the country is now paying the price for that decision. While the failure to involve Congress is merely hard to rectify at this point, the failure adequately to involve the public may now be impossible to remedy.

30 Jun 2006

Anti-New York Times Poster of the Day

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30 Jun 2006

Silent Enim Leges Inter Arma

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Cicero in response to Hamdan v. Rumsfeld:

IV. atqui, si tempus est ullum iure hominis necandi, quae multa sunt, certe illud est non modo iustum verum etiam necessarium, cum vi vis inlata defenditur… insidiatori vero et latroni quae potest inferri iniusta nex?

quid comitatus nostri, quid gladii volunt? quos habere certe non liceret, si uti illis nullo pacto liceret. est igitur haec, iudices, non scripta, sed nata lex, quam non didicimus, accepimus, legimus, verum ex natura ipsa adripuimus, hausimus, expressimus, ad quam non docti sed facti, non instituti sed imbuti sumus, ut, si vita nostra in aliquas insidias, si in vim et in tela aut latronum aut inimicorum incidisset, omnis honesta ratio esset expediendae salutis. silent enim leges inter arma nec se exspectari iubent, cum ei qui exspectare velit ante iniusta poena luenda sit quam iusta repetenda.

etsi persapienter et quodam modo tacite dat ipsa lex potestatem defendendi, quae non hominem occidi, sed esse cum telo hominis occidendi causa vetat, ut, cum causa, non telum quaereretur, qui sui defendendi causa telo esset usus, non hominis occidendi causa habuisse telum iudicaretur. quapropter hoc maneat in causa, iudices; non enim dubito quin probaturus sim vobis defensionem meam, si id memineritis quod oblivisci non potestis insidiatorem interfici iure posse.

(Translation, JDZ:)

IV. But if there is any occasion on which it is proper to slay a man, and there are many, surely that occasion is not only just, but even necessary, when violence is offered, and must be repelled by violence… And what death can be unjust when inflicted on a secret plotter and outlaw?

Why do we have an army, why do we own swords? Surely it would not be justifiable for us to have them at all, if it were never justifiable to use them. There is, therefore, a law, O judges, not written, but born with us, which we have not learnt, nor received by tradition, nor read, but which we have taken in and imbibed from Nature herself; a law which we were never taught, but for which we were made, which we were never trained in, but which is ingrained in ourselves: namely, that if our life is in danger from plots, or from open violence, or from the weapons of brigands or enemies, every means of securing our safety is honorable. For the laws are silent in the midst of the clash of arms, and do not expect themselves to be waited upon, when he who waited would be obliged to bear an unjust injury rather than exact a just punishment.

The law very wisely, and tacitly, gives a man the right to defend himself, and it does not merely prohibit homicide, but forbids anyone carrying a weapon for the purpose of murder. It is the intended purpose, not the carrying of the weapon, which constitutes the offense. The man who used a weapon to defend himself would not be deemed to have armed himself with the intention of committing murder. Let this principle then be remembered by you in this trial, O judges; for I do not doubt that I shall make good my defense before you, if you only remember, that which it is impossible to forget: that a plotter against oneself may be lawfully slain.

-Marcus Tullius Cicero, PRO T. ANNIO MILONE ORATIO, [In Defense of Titus Annius Milo], X:IV.

30 Jun 2006

But Did They Contain Gas?

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Depkafile reports that, yes, Virginia, at least three Palestinian missiles were fired (presumably by al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades) into Israel from Gaza.

So, tell us aready, did any of the three feature the chemical warhead, Palestinian sources said they had launched yesterday?

An unexploded Palestinian missile armed with two engines to extend its range was found in Ashkelon cemetery Friday.

It was the first to land inside the town and one of three missiles fired at Ashkelon from northern Gaza Thursday night. Two exploded in the Ashkelon industrial zone, another near the big power station. Israel’s air force went into action and for the second time in a week blasted Gaza’s transformer station, outing electricity in many parts of the Gaza Strip. Two more Qassam missiles blew up Friday outside Kibbutz Gevim and Sderot.

In leaflets distributed in Gaza on Sunday, reported in the Jerusalem Post, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades were claiming to have “developed” 20 different types of chemical and biological weapons.

It is hardly likely that the simple and uneducated street fellahin making up the membership of Palestinian “Martyrs Brigades” have any such scientific capabilities, but the close ties between Hamas and Syria are only too well known.

Right now, the leadership of Hamas is hiding in Syria, while directing kidnappings, murders, and rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza.

There is a good deal of reason to believe that a very large portion of Saddam Husssein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction were hastily evacuated to Syria at the time of the US Invasion in 2003. It is consequently not very difficult to connect the dots, if WMDs of any form really are established to have appeared in Palestinian hands in Gaza.

29 Jun 2006

Gone to Live on a Farm

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Members of the Trans-Atlantic intelligentsia today live unprecedently comfortable and domesticated lives, and enjoy such affluence and personal security that instead of worrying about the basics of survival (like people in the past) they are apt to seek the perfection of their selves. They take care to obtain the finest educations, they select and pursue the most prestigious and gratifying careers, they exercise and jog, and they contemplate with great care all questions of ethics. Even ordinary and banal matters, like cooking lobsters, to them commonly rise to levels of grave and serious concern.

So exquisite and precieux have become the souls of our contemporary elites that they simply cannot bear to contemplate the idea of themselves (or anyone else) inflicting suffering on human or animal, crustacean or terrorist.

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When I was a little boy, I once had a dog I loved very much, but who was unfortunately a very bad dog. You couldn’t walk him on a leash: he was strong, willful, and could pull even an adult off his feet.

My dog would obey no one. He terrorized the neighborhood, and frequently treed one neighbor’s cat. One day, he escaped from our backyard, and proceeded to the unimaginable atrocity of attacking a neighbor’s freshly washed sheets drying outdoors on a clothes-line. He tore most of them to shreds, and soiled the rest. My father had to face a female neighbor’s righteous wrath, and he had to make expensive restitution.

I woke up one morning shortly afterward to find my beloved dog missing.

I was heartbroken, but my parents explained that, though he was a wonderful dog, he had not really been happy living in a town (where he would get into trouble playing with people’s bed sheets). So they decided it would be best for him to go and live on a farm in the country, a place where dogs could run free.

The farm was a wonderful place, and a dog could have fun all day doing all the things he liked to do. The farmer was delighted to own such a wonderful dog, and this was the best possible arrangement for everyone. I missed my dog, of course, but I was happy to think of him happy, safe, and enjoying himself.

Many years later, when I was an adult, my father admitted to me that he took that dog up on the mountain, fired both barrels of his 12 gauge shotgun into him, and walked away.

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In a lot of ways, our intelligentsia today are like children. They have no first hand experience commonly of the harsh and difficult choices adults have to make. And, like children, they are naive and sentimental, and do not understand evil.

What the rest of us need to do for Justice Stevens, Andrew Sullivan, and the Trans-Atlantic chattering classes generally is just explain that those Islamic terrorists weren’t happy in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Guantanamo Bay. They were only getting into trouble. So we had to let them all go off and live on the farm, where they could run free, set off all the bombs they like, and do all those other fun Islamic things they like to do. The farmer had never seen such wonderful terrorists, he said. He used to raise terrorists, he said. He loved terrorists, and he was delighted to adopt these.

29 Jun 2006

Doom for Sysops

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Shotgunning the processes

Dennis Chao proposes using DOOM as the user interface for System Administration.

What a great idea!

29 Jun 2006

Jim Baen, Sci Fi Publisher, Passed Away Yesterday

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Author David Drake penned a fine tribute.

H/T to Glenn Reynolds.

29 Jun 2006

Breaking News: Supreme Court Rules in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

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The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Bush did not have authority to set up the war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and found the “military commissions” illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva convention.

Fox News & AP

Andrew McCarthy wrote an earlier post-mortem predicting the Court would rule wrongly, but it appears that the decision will be worse than expected.

If the Supreme Court of the United States really takes it upon itself to extend Geneva Convention Rights to terrorists and illegal combatants, George W. Bush ought to take Andrew Jackson’s position, and tell Justice Stevens to go enforce his own ruling.

29 Jun 2006

Palestinians Claim to Have Fired WMD into Israel

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Reuters reported yesterday:

A spokesman for gunmen in the Gaza Strip said they had fired a rocket tipped with a chemical warhead at Israel early on Thursday.

The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the claim by the spokesman from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement.

The group had recently claimed to possess about 20 biological warheads for the makeshift rockets commonly fired from Gaza at Israeli towns. This was the first time the group had claimed firing such a rocket.

“The al-Aqsa Brigades have fired one rocket with a chemical warhead” at southern Israel, Abu Qusai, a spokesman for the group, said in Gaza.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army had not detected that any such rocket was fired, nor was there any report of such a weapon hitting Israel.

28 Jun 2006

Anti-New York Times Poster of the Day

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A Never Yet Melted original, featuring words of wisdom from the Sage of Walden Pond.

28 Jun 2006

Harvard Pays a Price For Bolshevism

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Those faculty no-confidence votes intended to punish Harvard President Larry Summers for failure to tow the political correctness party-line did result in Summers’ resignation, but all the Harvard faculty’s PC fun is going to have a cost: $100,000,000 dollars.

Oracle’s Larry Ellison had been plannng a very large donation, but he had signed no papers; and, absent Summers, Ellison is striking Harvard off his Xmas list.

Following the resignation of Harvard president Larry Summers, Oracle boss Larry Ellison has decided not to donate over $100m to the university after all.

Ellison’s cash was to fund research into the quality of worldwide government healthcare problems, and according to Oracle’s spokespeople, Ellison viewed Summers’ participation as critical to the study.

“In light of Summers’ resignation, Larry Ellison has decided to reconsider his decision,” a spokesman told Reuters. “There was never a formal agreement but it had been talked about.”

28 Jun 2006

What Will International Left Say About All This?

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The Russian News and Information Agency Novosti reports that Vladimir Putin has put out a hit order on the insurgent killers of the four Russian diplomats slain in Iraq.

President Vladimir Putin Wednesday ordered Russia’s special services to do everything necessary to find and eliminate the killers of four Russian diplomats in Iraq, the Kremlin press service said….

Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Federal Security Service, told journalists that his service had received the instructions. “We will work to ensure so that not one of the terrorists who committed the crime escapes just punishment,” he said.

It is credibly rumored that when several Russian diplomatic personnel, including the KGB rezident, were kidnaped by Hezbollah in Lebanon back in the 1980s, Russian specialists were dispatched to Beirut, who proceeded to kidnap near relatives of Hezbollah’s leadership. The male apparatus of those captured relations was delivered to Hezbollah bosses, along with a promise that the Russian security forces would be collecting theirs as well, if the Russian diplomats were not released immediately unharmed. The Russians were released.

The effectiveness of Russian measures contrasted with useless American pleas for the release of Beirut CIA station chief William Buckley, whose death by torture was videotaped and tauntingly released to the Press.

Whatever will the Council of Europe, the New York Times editorial page, and Andrew Sullivan have to say, do you suppose, about the soon-to-occur treatment of the insurgent kidnappers by avenging Russian security forces?

Will accusations of denial of due process and Geneva Convention Rights make the front page of the Post and the Times? Will Seymour Hersch expose Russsian brutality in the New Yorker? Will the lachrymose chorus of blogging bed-wetters spill another few trillion electrons condemning Russian coercive interrogation?

Frankly, I doubt it.

28 Jun 2006

Some Interesting Comparisons

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Fellow old-time Movement Conservatives will be amused to read Josh Trevino‘s comparison of the impotent and unhappy state of today’s Left with that of post-New Deal American Conservativism, viewing Kos (Markos Moulitsas Zúniga) as those poor lefties’ Robert Welch.

There was once a movement, born of desperation and a sense of embattlement at being on the losing side of historical forces. This movement saw itself as the inheritor and the guarantor of true American tradition and identity, and it sought to restore those things to their rightful primacy in national life. But because the movement did feel embattled, and because it did view itself as the victim of powerful forces, it chose to not merely fight its foes, but emulate them. It saw the prime virtue of its enemies as their ability to win, and if they could just crack the code — if it could grasp the very methodology of victory — then they would turn the tables, and victory would be theirs.

The American left today is not quite in the position of the American right circa 1960. But it is suffering nonetheless, having been in slow decline for the past quarter-century. Even when it wins the Presidency, it loses the Congress: and even when the President is the inept, uncommunicative George W. Bush, it still cannot make a dent in the ascendancy of its enemies. The end result of this is a group of Americans, identifying as members of the left, that is strikingly similar to the conservative movement of a generation past: inchoate, angry, and prone to “irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.”..

Consider the average member of this group. He (or she) remembers the era of leftist dominance of American politics — and he remembers the beginning of its end, on election day 1980. He is around 50 years old. He is professional living in a coastal enclave, mostly on the Pacific coast or the northeast. His political consciousness was formed by the McGovern and Carter campaigns — and of course the American retreat from Vietnam. He may have grown up in Iowa, or Texas, or Missouri, or Utah — but he went to college elsewhere, and fell in love with the people in California, or New York, or Boston, who were so much more progressive and intellectual than the hayseeds back home. His initial concept of conservatives, which he’s never really abandoned, was formed by Nixonian malfeasance: they’re all crooks and corrupt, in his mind. The ascent of Reagan in 1980, and later the 1994 revolution, came as a profound shock — how could America forget so soon? He is well-off: and the bulk of his working career — and hence the font of his personal prosperity — was spent in the boom markets of the 1980s and 1990s, under Republican national governance in one form or another. He doesn’t think about the implications of that much.

But for all his generally good circumstances, he’s been on the political and cultural losing side all his adult life. He’s tired of it. And he’s found a website which, at last, makes him feel empowered. He is, in short, the typical member of the so-called netroots: the left-wing movement, organized around blogs, that seeks to “take back” this country from its usurpers. The netroots is a movement born of desperation and a sense of embattlement at being on the losing side of historical forces. It sees itself as the inheritor and the guarantor of true American tradition and identity, and it seeks to restore those things to their rightful primacy in national life. Critically, it choose to not merely fight its foes, but emulate them. It sees the prime virtue of its enemies as their ability to win, and if they can just crack the code — if it can grasp the very methodology of victory — then they will turn the tables, and victory will be theirs.

Sound familiar? It is — to us. To the left, it’s all very exciting, and all very new. And so we see the self-proclaimed netroots go through a trajectory very much like what the Birchers went through, albeit in highly compressed time. The elements are all there: the resentment, the conspiracy-mindedness, and especially the leaders with stupefyingly poor judgment married to Napoleon complexes. I’ve noted before that they are “frank proponents of outright mimicry of the mechanisms of GOP ascendacy.” Add to this the horrifying, alienating statements ranging from the mockery of dead Americans at war to the derision of political opponents’ personal sorrows. Add to this the demonization of the very people who should, in a sane world, be their friends — The New Republic chief among them — and the formula is complete. Messianism and paranoia marry to make this.

There’s already some evidence of pushback. The journalistic establishment won’t take the abuse forever. The purported agents of the Communist — sorry, the vast right-wing conspiracy won’t endure the smears indefinitely. And the left’s political establishment won’t kowtow endlessly — and certainly not so long as the netroots keep losing. For the sake of American civic life, one hopes this is true.

But for the sake of the enemy — we conservatives of all stripes — we need merely note that whereas they have a pint-sized Welch, they have no Buckley.

And, more importantly, no Rand.

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