Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

I don’t do this every year, but this year I’m feeling extra thanks-y. For what am I thankful?

I am thankful that the war in Iraq has become something that the newspapers rarely put on the front page. The military and political situation has improved so dramatically over the last year that it is almost unbelievable. Here’s to Iraq and her future; I hope that it is bright, free, and friendly.

I am thankful for the 18 women who turned themselves in after being convinced that suicide bombings are not acceptable expressions of Islamic faith. I am thankful for the lives that have been spared and i hope we see more follow their example.

I am thankful for my darling girl who is patient and kind and wonderful. Even if she does try to bully me into snuggling with her while I’m busy writing my Thanksgiving day post.

I am thankful to be gainfully employed in a difficult economy. And I hope I stay that way.

I am thankful for the fact that I live in America where I have always had opportunities that throughout much of the rest of the world I would never have enjoyed. We are, in large part, a spoiled, pampered, and materially wealthy people--and, in large part, we have earned the wealth that keeps us fat and happy. Hopefully we won’t forget the work, the spirit, and the sacrifice that went into building our national riches and helped create our opportunities.

I am thankful, in the extreme, for my friends and their understanding of my quirks and my frequent silence.

I am thankful for the men and women who serve in our military with honor and dignity and for their families who often sacrifice more than anyone should ever be asked. What they do for the rest of us (and it is hard to explain just how important the term “serve” is to the grand majority of folks that I’ve known in the military--it isn’t just a word, it’s a philosophy of being that accepts that the highest calling is in service to something greater than one’s self) is nothing short of heroic.

I am thankful for the handful of people who still drop by to read this site.

I am thankful that I missed Rosie Live--and I’ll be more thankful still if her new show fails in a dramatic and newsworthy way. Which might be violating the spirit of Thanksgiving, but still…

I am thankful for good music. Of particular note this year are the Gutter Twin’s brilliant little EP, Adorata, Lizz Wright’s gorgeous album, The Orchard, and Wovenhand’s latest gospel gothic masterpiece, Ten Stones.

And, of course, I’m thankful for the extra two days off, the good food, and the extra football. Which almost goes without saying.

Update: I’m also thankful that someone wrote this post. Nicely done.

And more anti-Rosie sentiment hits a hight note for me, too.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where in the World is Osama bin Laden: The Ten Point Review

  1. I fell for it. The trailers made it look funny, I thought it might contain insight. I imagined it might reign in the preaching in favor of a balanced view of the Middle East, America, terrorists, and war in Afghanistan and Iraq. I fell for it.
  2. What it is turns out to be a shallow, rushed look at problems far too complex for any 93-minute movie much less one helmed by the likes of Mr. Spurlock, who disdains nuance in favor of glib and useless statements.
  3. It does have a lot of pretty pictures, though.
  4. And, in spite of itself, it’s interesting at moments--moments that are chopped too short by the rush to get to the next segment. Beware: when it starts to pique your interest it is seconds away from a jump cut and a cutesy graphic that will leave you wondering what the hell else his interview subject had to say.
  5. In fact, the bits where Spurlock focuses on himself and his life are the least interesting parts of the movie. If he let his subjects--an amazing array of people from all walks of life in Afghanistan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and more--take center stage more often, allowing viewers to form opinions instead of making intrusive pronouncements about how Muslims are people just like us, well the movie might have been better. As it is, he is so intrusive that the movie feels overshadowed by his Michael Moore-sized ego.
  6. And does anyone think that the Israel-Palestine problem can really be resolved by fifteen minutes and a journalist telling us that the answer is really as simple as magically creating two states living side by side in peace? An answer that ignores all of the complicating factors in favor of something that sounds so nice?
  7. That’s not insight. That’s dumb.
  8. The Soul Calibur-esque fight between Spurlock and Bin Laden was pretty funny, though, with special moves like “mustache ride!” and “turban power!”
  9. Perhaps if it had been cut down to a twelve-minute segment on Celebrity Deathmatch it would have been a better film.
  10. From Wesley Morris comes a good summary.

    purlock interviews regular Egyptians and Moroccans and Palestinians and Saudis. A group of Hassids curse and shove him. He inexplicably dons traditional Arabic garments and walks around a mall in Riyadh asking whether anybody has seen you-know-who. Spurlock and his team of collaborators never find the movie amid all their material. If he’s a questionable journalist and a poor detective, he’s an even more woeful filmmaker.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Harry Reid (And Then Some)

Immune to successes, unfazed by improvements, and strangely devoid of holiday cheer, Harry Reid continues the fight for failure.

Sen. Reid: Anti-Churchill

If it weren’t about something that is actually important, I might find myself admiring Reid’s single-minded devotion to failing in Iraq regardless of costs. As it is, it’s mostly just a little funny.

Kind of like Ron Paul talking about the Trilateral Commission, everybody talking about Dennis Kucinich’s ridiculously pretty wife, and Mike Huckabee insisting that he’s a fiscal conservative.

Now, about Elizabeth Kucinich is a post unto herself. She’d get extra hubbas if I could get past the “huh?” But my throat just seems to get stuck there every time.

By the by, two really interesting things are happening in this election, neither of which makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. The first is that a man who is, in essence, a third party candidate (Ron Paul) is raising more money than his big name opponents. Obviously, a committed and passionate core of people is doing everything that they can to keep him in the fight. But it isn’t really translating into that many votes. While he’s continued to creep up in the polls, he isn’t really threatening the top tier candidates.

Which leads to the second thing. A candidate who isn’t doing such a hot job at fundraising looks to be moving into the top tier of the vote. Huckabee is gaining ground fast even though his fundraising consistently falls short of quite a few others (like Romney and Guiliani, for instance).

I don’t believe that either of these guys will get the nomination, but it is a little uncomfortable to watch the stealth libertarian raking in the money while the XXXL government Republican is raking in the promised votes. I’d be happier if some (many, in fact) of Ron Paul’s ideas started seeping into the GOP without being coupled to what I consider to be an immature foreign policy. But Huckabee’s record on taxes and spending doesn’t fill me with hope that he would act as a good faith steward for our economy.

I had hoped that President Bush would tackle Social Security reform and privatization and leave an opportunity for the next president to follow him with other entitlement reforms that would help secure the long term economic interests of this country. Didn’t happen--although, as failures go, it would be impossible to pin that one solely on Bush. The left wouldn’t even begin to talk about the subject, the silver hair brigades fortified their positions in opposition to scary talk, and his own party mostly muttered, idly kicked their feet in the dirt, and couldn’t even muster up the support for the beginnings of an effort to change the system.

My biggest regret from the Bush years will be this: the GOP failed to deliver on any of the high-minded ideals of limited government and fiscal responsibility even though, for a good chunk of those years, the Republicans held the presidency, both houses, the majority of governorships, and a reasonably supportive public.

What an opportunity wasted.

And, at this moment in history, the Republican party would be even a few steps closer to hopeless in the upcoming elections if it weren’t for their politically incompetent opposition. Typically I would offer up a prayer of thanks for the inept left, but that would be wrong. Politics benefits from strong competition of ideas just as much as business and technology does. The best thing about Ron Paul’s campaign should be in an effective tug of the GOP toward smaller government and individual liberty; not only does he ruin the effect by talking about the Trilateral Commission and the NAFTA highway, but a good chunk of the GOP is gravitating toward someone likely to continue some of the worst of the current president’s economic ideas. In the immortal words of Jayne Cobb, “Where’s that get fun?”

So, the libertarians have yet to offer me someone that I could vote for, the GOP sends a horde who, at best, get my tepid support, and the left isn’t even playing the same game. I mean, I would vote Ron Paul before I voted Edwards, Kucinich, or Obama. If the vote magically came down to Huckabee and Ron Paul, I might just stay home for the night drinking heavily.

This country seems to be suffering from a deficit of serious, adult leadership.

Jeez, apparently (Mostly) Apolitical Sunday just got me cranky…

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Harry Reid’s Amazing Devotion to Failure (Updated)

Sen. Reid: Anti-Churchill

Thank you, Senator Reid. Your devotion to losing is something that we all marvel at.

“Every place you go you hear about no progress being made in Iraq,” said Senate Democratic majority leader Harry Reid.

“The government is stalemated today, as it was six months ago, as it was two years ago,” Reid told reporters, warning US soldiers were caught in the middle of a civil war.

“It is not getting better, it is getting worse,” he said.

Read the rest from one of our country’s most important leaders.

Nope. No improvement. Not a word about improving situations. Everything seems to be getting worse. Without your will to succumb to our enemies, Senator Reid, I might have mistakenly gotten the impression that a little stiffening of the backbone might be in order. So, yeah, let’s get to losing.

Thank God that Senator Reid is here to show us the way to a proper defeat.

Update: No. Nothing good to see here. Move along.

The nightmare is ending. Al Qaeda is being crushed. The Sunni tribes are awakening all across Iraq and foreswearing violence for negotiation. Many of the Shia are ready to stop the fighting that undermines their ability to forge and manage a new government. This is a complex and still delicate denouement, and the war may not be over yet. But the Muslims are saying it’s time to come home. And the Christians are saying it’s time to come home. They are weary, and there is much work to be done.”

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Lose by Any Means Possible

I think that we are seeing demonstrable, often positive changes in Iraq--changes that came from Iraqis weary of war and the excesses of thuggish “insurgents”, the creative leadership of General Petraeus, more troops, the the aggressive tactics of the surge. Iraq isn’t won, but these changes do seem to be creating an environment where the political victory can incubate. A real victory seems more possible now than it did less than a year ago; nothing is guaranteed, I realize, but if we continue to let the military do its job we can give the diplomats and politicians the time to do theirs.

Which is why I am surprised by this from Nancy Pelosi--a move that seems calculated to toss some red meat to the Kossacks and progressives, but which might just confound the general public.

“This is not a blank check for the president,” she said at a Capitol Hill news conference. “This is providing funding for the troops limited to a particular purpose, for a short time frame.”

The bill would set the requirement that troop withdrawals begin immediately and that soldiers and Marines spend as much time at home as they do in combat.

The measure also sets a goal that combat end by December 2008. After that, troops left behind should be restricted to a narrow sets of missions, namely counterterrorism, training Iraqi security forces and protecting U.S. assets.

I’ll be curious to see what support she gets from the Democrat candidates for the presidency--obviously Kucinich will like the legislation, but what will Edwards, Clinton, and Obama say publicly? This does seem to confirm that ensuring defeat is the policy of at least some of the Democrats’ leadership. Announcing to the world that we are no longer willing to support our troops or our mission will send a message of abandonment to our friends and encouragement to our enemies. Brilliant.

And, no, I’m not an absolutist. There is a time when a nation must face up to defeat and failure. You can’t fight a war forever. It’s just better to make that choice when you’re actually losing.

Read the story.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The New Republic Needs New Employees

Or at least, The New Republic should need new employees. There is much in these transcripts concerning Scott Beauchamp that calls TNR’s leadership into question. They are a political magazine, so the leftward slant is understandable. What is discouraging is the dishonesty (insisting that the military was keeping Beauchamp away from the media while discouraging him from giving interviews that he had already scheduled) and slimy (using a note from his wife to try to keep the soldier from recanting).

Politically, I’m about as far away from TNR as I have ever been, but I had stayed away from much of this controversy because I felt that TNR’s leadership was misguided instead of acting in bad faith. An error is not a lie. The transcripts show something worse than I had imagined--and Scoblic doesn’t come across well at all.

I won’t be thinking of TNR as a serious publication until they find a way to address the issue. I haven’t subscribed in some years, so I realize that my disapproval is hardly a huge issue for them. I’m guessing that I’m representative of a lot of moderate conservatives right now, though. This isn’t just me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

From Der Spiegel to Instapundit to the World. Hopefully.

It isn’t all puppies and lollipops, but this article from Der Spiegel seems well balanced.

Ramadi is an irritating contradiction of almost everything the world thinks it knows about Iraq—it is proof that the US military is more successful than the world wants to believe. Ramadi demonstrates that large parts of Iraq—not just Anbar Province, but also many other rural areas along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers—are essentially pacified today. This is news the world doesn’t hear: Ramadi, long a hotbed of unrest, a city that once formed the southwestern tip of the notorious “Sunni Triangle,” is now telling a different story, a story of Americans who came here as liberators, became hated occupiers and are now the protectors of Iraqi reconstruction.

As the title--"Hope and Despair in Iraq"--indicates, the job is hardly finished and not all has gone well, but there is hope. Fully realizing that I’ve been a supporter of the effort from the beginning, I’m sure that y’all will find yourself a grain of salt when I say that reading the article did leave me with hope and a sense that those who have recently switched sides on this particular debate might have abandoned the ship too soon. The question for me isn’t whether the military can win a reasonable peace--I believe that they’ve shown the initiative and adaptability to do so. The question is whether the citizens of the US will have the strength of will to carry us through more difficulties.

Our troops have been in Iraq for what feels like an awfully long time, and many families have suffered horrible losses where husbands, children, wives, and parents won’t be coming home. From where I sit, Iraq still matters in a larger sense than some people seem to understand; if it was worth doing, it is still worth completing.

There have been a number of times where I let my enthusiasm lead me to believe that we were closer to that complete victory than we turned out to be; but the gradual change that has come from putting General Patreus in charge, clarifying the mission, and changing strategies seems much more solid than those previous moments of exuberance. I still have great hope for a relatively liberal, representative government in Iraq and for a lasting, close relationship between Iraq and the United States that benefits our friends as much as it does us.

Whatever your views on the subject--and chances are they differ from mine significantly--you’ll find the Spiegel article to be a good, long read. It’s worth the time and it’s hard to come up with anything other than respect for so many of the men and women serving in Iraq. These are people I would be proud to call friends, co-workers, and neighbors.

H/T Instapundit.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Pardon the Language (Updated)

Pardon my language, but Scott Thomas Beauchamp fucked The New Republic. Although it would be easy to argue that TNR put themselves in this situation by failing to properly vet stories that were going to attract a whole lot of skepticism. It’s a good argument, and it carries some truth, but it doesn’t change the fact that Beauchamp fucked TNR.

See, they trusted him when they ran the stories (because, yes, it made good copy and it reinforced their beliefs about the war in Iraq), and they supported him when he came under scrutiny, and they issued statements supporting the details of his writing while he continued to ensure them that, yes, it was all the truth. Pretty much. Then Beauchamp (which, is that pronounced “Beechum"--and does anyone else know why I’m asking that question?) turned around and stabbed them in their literary heart by admitting to having falsified the stories.

Has anyone found the first story claiming that he was forced or that his newly sworn statement was coerced in some way? This whole tale is just begging for a conspiracy theory ending.

You know who else Beauchamp fucked? His fellow soldiers, all the soldiers who have served with honor, and all the people who believed his BS.

Now, here’s where I vent. Beauchamp pisses me off like you wouldn’t believe. This is on the same level of dishonor as false accusations of rape, child abuse, and racism. There is enough bad in the world that you shouldn’t have to make up horrors in hopes of aggrandizing yourself or building a new writing career. And when you throw fellow troops under the bus --inventing stories that make them look like bloodthirsty assholes--to make a few bucks, you’re screwing a group of people that has already managed to shoulder more than their share of bad PR, poor pay, and shitty working conditions. Not, of course, to mention the grave potential of extreme bodily harm, the family sacrifices that our troops make, and those damned glasses they issue in basic training.

So, if all this talk of recanting pretty much the totality of those stories turns out to be true, here’s hoping that Beauchamp pays a steep price for his lies.

As Cadilac Tight points out, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t more of a price to pay, too.

I don’t see how this wouldn’t be a disastrous amount of egg (a resignation worthy amount, actually) for Franklin Foer, either. And my god, what a blow for TNR’s credibility. First Stephen Glass, now Scott Thomas Beauchamp.

And, lastly, Jeff G has thoughts on the subject along with a lot of great links. And Michelle Malkin has great graphics. Baldilocks has a ton of responses to this news. And she’s kind enough to clean up my language for me a bit. Or a lot.

Sorry about that.

Update: Doc Melissa Clouthier has a response, too.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Fairy Tale and War Story?

One begins with “Once upon a time” and the other usually starts with “This ain’t no bullshit...”

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Appeal for Courage

For anyone opposing retreat, defunding, or otherwise giving up on Iraq, click here.

Friday, July 21, 2006

God Bless the Cheerleaders

I think that pretty much says it all.

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Sense of Humor About the Big Things

I’ve always tried to keep a sense of humor about myself and about the big things that happen in life. While I can’t claim to be constantly successful--divorce, death, and the mean things people say about Mark Lanegan test me severely--I can tell you that I’ve been able to make people laugh about my upcoming unemployment, made really lame jokes from a hospital bed before emergency knee surgery, and even made the limo driver laugh after my grandfather’s funeral.

Which is my way of keeping life’s tougher bits in perspective.

And that brings me to Shawn, and, perhaps, one of the reasons that I continue to enjoy his writing.

It isn’t as if American soldiers are expecting sissy embedded journalists to be warrior souls, but one still imagines most fearless (okay, scared witless) correspondents must strive to acquit themselves with a bit more aplomb than I was able to muster on my first night raid of a suspected terrorist hideout last week in the heart of Sunni Mosul.

As we closed in on the target the call to disembark from the Stryker armored personnel carrier came a bit too suddenly for me. In my haste I first got caught on the vehicle’s fire extinguisher, tearing a mile wide hole in the back of my pants. I immediately followed this up by cracking my helmet festooned head into the steel lip of the Stryker’s door, like some giant stumbling around a McDonald’s play area.

After you let the smile play on your face and read the article, though, you realize that he’s seeing things that are effecting him deeply.

So, yeah, read the rest.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Iraqi Security Forces

I’ve been a little negligent in linking Macomber’s articles since he’s been in Iraq. That comes from a little bit of bad timing, not from a lack of good articles on his part. His TAS article today is a good place to catch back up.

If only those so eager to disparage Iraqi Security Forces as a sham could see these brave, war grizzled men head out on patrol, packed nine or ten in the back of a Toyota pick-up truck that has been spray-painted camouflage, traveling the same roads American soldiers get killed on riding in up-armored Humvees. They go without complaint, armed with old Kalashnikovs and what look like massive Cold War-era Soviet machine guns jury-rigged to their vehicles.

For anyone who supported the effort in Iraq, this kind of courage to fight in support of a fledgling government is heartening. For all that I respect and support our troops--for all that I admire their willingness to put themselves in danger for what are, in truth, abstract ideas like freedom--I can’t help but be at least as impressed with those Iraqis who have stood up and helped build a nation.

They are targeted more often, outfitted poorly, and not equipped with the kind of national identity that Americans have; yet they fight, they struggle, and put themselves in harm’s way because they believe that they are building a better country for themselves and their families.

And don’t forget to check out Shawn’s other articles. You can find them linked on his own blog, Return of the Primitive, where you can also donate to support his reporting and tell him what you think of his articles. (And, yes, “Operation Desert Shawn” still cracks me up.)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

So, What He Meant to Say…

Howard Dean is taking his own advice: making a tactical retreat away from a difficult situation. This time, though, the difficult situation was caused by his own big mouth.

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said Thursday his assertion that the United States cannot win the war in Iraq was reported “a little out of context,” saying Democrats believe a new U.S. strategy is needed to succeed there.

Seeking to clarify a statement in a Texas radio interview that Republicans harshly assailed and some Democrats questioned, Dean said, “They kind of cherry-picked that one the same way the president cherry-picked the intelligence going into Iraq.”

So, if I understand correctly, what Dean is actually saying, when he said (and I’m cherry picking here) “the idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong,” is that the United States can win the war in Iraq. By retreating all the way to victory.

Abandonment is a novel approach to reconstruction, I have to admit.

If you want the context, download the complete interview from The Political Teen. Quite specifically, Dean said precisely what he said: that the situation in Iraq is very similar to the war in Vietnam, that the United States lost 25,000 troops because no one was willing to admit that we were losing in Vietnam, and that the United States cannot win in Iraq. In fact, he explained, specifically, that he believed that we had made precisely the same mistake in Iraq that we had made in Vietnam.

Whatever you want to take away from his words--whether you agree with him or not--it is pretty tough to take his words as anything other than a declaration of defeat. He wasn’t saying that we need to find a way to win, he was saying that we need to “get the targets off” our soldiers’ backs (and his pointed refusal to use the word withdrawal is nothing less than a humorous attempt to avoid saying what he is undeniably saying) and leave Iraq to the Iraqis.

His words: “What we want to do is have a strategy to protect American troops.”

That is a noble goal, but it needs to be in conjunction with an intelligent solution to reconstruction in Iraq. He wasn’t talking about finding a way to win; he was talking about declaring it a loss and making an orderly exit as soon as possible.

Really, there is no way to make reconcile Dean’s statements today with his statements a few days ago, but it’s nice to see that he’s recognized the idiocy of what he was advocating at the beginning of the week.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Operation Desert Shawn

Operation Desert Shawn
Everyone who reads ResurrectionSong regularly will know of the respect that I have for Shawn Macomber, so I will be supporting his latest efforts both with my money and my encouragement that other people lend a few dollars, too.

Shawn is going to Kuwait, even without financial backing, to spend time covering the war first hand. I have to admit that I’m jealous--it’s a trip that I wish I could take--and I’m also hopeful that he stays safe. I look forward to reading about his experiences. This kind of a trip, without someone acting as a financial backer, would be tremendously expensive (a fact that I’m becoming more aware of as I continue to plan my own trip through some of Africa’s emerging nations).

If you have a little to spare, I’m sure that he would be greatful.

Give to Operation Desert Shawn.

Dean’s Misdirection

Much will be made, rightly, of Howard Dean’s defeatist statement declaring that the United States can’t and won’t win in Iraq. What I find to be worst of his statements, though, is buried in a little sentence inside the story--a little sentence that might give people with short memories the wrong impression on the choices that the United States had before deciding to go to war with Saddam Hussein.

President Bush got rid of Saddam Hussein and that was a great thing, but that could have been done in a very different way.

While that first bit is merely ass covering. It takes away the possible finger-pointing retort of, “What, you would prefer that Saddam Hussein were still in power?” But Dean, demonstrably, does not mean that it was a great thing that Saddam Hussein was removed.

Read the Rest...

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Talking Iraq, You Know, Like Adults

Fareed Zakaria has a good article on the current situation in Iraq. He’s never been a pacifist, shrinking from the idea of using military power when necessary, but he has been a sharp and consistent critic of the administration (and one who has been willing to admit that his judgment might be less than perfect--a rare and refreshing trait in politicians, journalists, and bloggers). This recent article is worth the time to read for its insight and its candor.

Why and how we got into this war are important questions. And the administration’s hands are not clean. But the paramount question right now should not be “What did we do about Iraq three years ago?” It should be “What should we do about Iraq today?” And on this topic, the administration has finally been providing some smart answers. Condoleezza Rice, who is now in control of Iraq policy in a way no one has been, has spearheaded a political-military strategy for Iraq that is sophisticated and workable.

Many Democrats are understandably enraged by an administration that has acted in an unethical, highly partisan and largely incompetent fashion in Iraq. But in responding in equally partisan fashion they could well precipitate a tragedy. Just as our Iraq policy has been getting on a firmer footing, the political dynamic in Washington could move toward a panicked withdrawal.
If Washington’s strategy is more aggressively pursued, it could actually be compatible with some American troop withdrawals. For obvious political reasons, it would be far better if the “hold” part of the policy was done by Iraqi forces. And, in fact, this has been happening. Najaf and Mosul are now patrolled entirely by Iraqi Army forces. Even Kirkuk, which is politically sensitive, has fewer American troops in it than it did six months ago. This trend could accelerate, which would mean that three or four brigades could be withdrawn in the next year.

Thoughtful stuff. Combined with Senator Lieberman’s WSJ article, it seems that there is still a core of people willing to talk about Iraq like adults. That is, without either blindly and uncritically trusting the administration or blindly and hypercritically hoping to tear apart the administration. (And, before I go on, the subheading to Lieberman’s article--"America can’t abandon 27 million Iraqis to 10,000 terrorists"--is a powerful moral statement about the United States’ obligations in Iraq.) His words resonate deeply with me even while stirring up the anti-Bush left.

It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern. The terrorists are intent on stopping this by instigating a civil war to produce the chaos that will allow Iraq to replace Afghanistan as the base for their fanatical war-making. We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority.

See, the first thing we all need to agree on is that supporting American (and, by extension, Iraqi) success in Iraq does not mean giving the administration a pass on its mistakes and misjudgments. It simply recognizes that for our own security, for progress in the Middle East, and for the people of Iraq, it would be far better if we can find a path to helping them establish a representative government that respects individual rights. It means acknowledging that Iraq can be better off without Saddam Hussein.

Anyone who reads Resurrection Song with anything other than partisan blinders will realize two things: I like George Bush and I’m disappointed by his mistakes. I don’t hide either of those facts and I don’t use one to obscure the other--I remain free to criticize when he screws up and praise when he makes choices that I like. In supporting the US in Iraq, I believe that I am supporting that most important of American goals: ensuring that we are safe, secure, and prosperous so that we can continue to debate Social Security reform (for), gay marriage (for), the death penalty (against) and the relative merits of hybrid cars (undecided).

So, if I may echo Mr. Zakaria: now is no time time to panic. Now is no time to turn the good that we have done (and the good that we can still do) into ashes and surrender.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Ramsey Clark: Still Nutty

In August of last year, I wrote this about Ramsey Clark:

Not only is Clark an unsavory fellow, but his choice in compatriots leaves little doubt as to where his sympathies lie, and those sympathies are far from the interests of America.

Today, Ramsey Clark is back in the spotlight. It’s almost comforting to know that some things never change, and it will be interesting to see if any of the anti-war left will rush to ally themselves with the old Attorney General.

To mistake Clark for a sane, rational American would be making the same mistake as to mistake former Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Paul Hellyer of being something less than delusional.

“The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning,” says Hellyer.

Blame it all on the Bush administration, which Hellyer says has “finally agreed to build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them if they so decide.”

Clark and Hellyer should get together and go bowling. The insane duo would be utterly hysterical if there weren’t drooling idiots out there willing to take them seriously.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Political Theater

The House non-binding resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq failed in dramatic fashion. Of course, Democrats, realizing that they couldn’t possibly win, played the roles of martyrs; they cried foul and called names and pointed fingers, which is only funny because of all the noise they’ve been making about the war.

It was a stunt in the sense that the resolution never had a chance to pass. It was political theater in the sense that Republicans were making a grand statement about recent behavior from the opposition. It was also Republicans giving Democrats an opportunity to show a little backbone and vote for precisely what some of them have been calling for: the removal of American troops from Iraqi soil.

Predictably, politicians presented with an opportunity to show fortitude rarely rise to the challenge (and that goes for Republicans, too--how many opportunities have been lost to trim budgets and advance a sane fiscal policy over the last five years? (and how’s that for a freakin’ non sequitur?). The vote failed 403-3 with Democrats vowing to not vote their collective conscience, rendering their own votes slightly less than honest.

Democrats said it was a political stunt and quickly decided to vote against it in an attempt to drain it of significance.

“A disgrace,” declared House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “The rankest of politics and the absence of any sense of shame,” added Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat.

To Pelosi, it’s a disgrace for the Republicans to call a vote that they couldn’t lose. Not the word that I would choose, but fine. What is it, though, when politicians vow publicly to vote against their own beliefs simply out of a childish fit of pique?

In fact, I have a much greater respect for the idiots who voted for the measure--Jose Serrano from New York, Robert Wexler from Florida, and Cynthia McKinney from Georgia--than I do for those Reps who wouldn’t even stand up for their own beliefs. Even the six “present” votes were more of a statement than a hollow “nay” from people who, given the choice, would happily cut and run.

Update: More from Wizbang. And the comment thread over here is pretty freakin’ fun, too.

Update 2: Linked by Alphabet City, which has a series of connected thoughts and great links.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Deepak Chopra: People Actually Listen to This Guy?

Deepak Chopra is a jerk. I’ve always thought that his spiritual self-help was a bunch of simplistic, self-righteous hooey (“The soul level is a very strange place because it gives rise to all activity without being active itself. Think about that carefully.”). But his political commentary is even more useless.

If you hate Bush as Bush hates Islam, try a change of awareness. Take any cause or individual you feel deep fear, anger, or hatred toward, and instead of nurturing your antagonism, try applying even one of the above points, if just internally. In fact, applying them internally is the most important step, since the war in your own awareness is the root of all external conflict.

The bald accusation against the President has no merit at all--the statement is both amazingly wrong-headed and overly bold. Far from hating Islam, Bush has been very careful to ensure that his actions aren’t construed as making war on Islam. Militant Islamic terrorists and the states that sponsor them, on the other hand, are completely fair game.

It would be like accusing me of hating Christians just because I want to see people like the abortion clinic bomber fry for their misdeeds. That doesn’t mean that I hate Christians, it means that I hate criminals and terrorists. It’s surprising that Chopra can’t manage to wrap his head around the distinction.

Beyond that, Chopra’s suggests acts that can roughly be summed up as: Gosh, if we were just nicer and took the time to understand each other there wouldn’t be a problem. More rational minds would thank him to grow up (even if they don’t support the action in Iraq).

The terrorists understand us all too well, and that fuels their hatred. They understand that we believe (in a very broad sense) in rule of secular law over the rule of religious dictate. They understand that we believe in women’s rights and gay rights and eating pork-fried rice. They understand that we like booze and porn and loud music. They understand that we’re pretty much okay with people who worship in ways that don’t look much like our own--we may make some unseemly jokes about them, but we don’t want them thrown in jail or stoned in the streets. Unless stoning is an act of intoxication instead of an act of violence--another one of those wedge issues between us and the terrorists.

Our understanding of them may not be quite so complete, but we do know that people who go around blowing things up for fun seem to make us a little itchy on the trigger finger. “...[The] war in your own awareness is the root of all external conflict” is pretty much meaningless when the other guy has improvised explosive devices and a charming willingness to blow us all up no matter where we are or what we’re doing. Our immediate conflict seems to have its roots in people who fly fully loaded planes into office buildings in the hopes of dealing an economic deathblow to the Great Satan.

Once we can persuade them that this isn’t the most useful tactic, then perhaps we can go more toward Chopra’s peace, love, and understanding stuff. Of course, if persuasion proves difficult, then it seems only proper that we minimize the risk by killing them off by the bucket load.


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