Saturday, May 13, 2006

Anchoress is off on politics for a while

The Anchoress blogged I’ve decided that if I’m going to keep blogging, I’m going to have to leave off writing or reading about politics for a little while, because it’s all making me sick.

But as I put the subject away, I just have to ask all of you people - on every side - who have decided that immigration is one man’s burden, and that every good thing President Bush has done is to be negated because he hasn’t snapped his fingers and done what YOU think is the solution to the immigration problem…what did Clinton do about immigration, what did Bush 41 do? What did St. Reagan do? What did Carter do? What has any president, congressperson or senator done about immigration for the last 30 years, except kick the issue down the road for someone else to deal with?

Reagan, if you remember, was the amnesty president. Clinton was the “borders? What’s borders, everyone is our pal” president.

Lots of bills that were ignored by past presidents, particularly during our “vacation from history” have come due on Dubya’s watch. The whole world seems to be coming due on his watch, and damn him for not handling everything perfectly. What a loser, eh? And it’s easy to kick a guy when he’s down, isn’t it? AJ is getting weary of it, too.

Energy. We were promised back in the 1970’s by President Carter that we would cease to be dependant on Middle East for our energy. How’s that been working out, all these years, all these presidents, later? Oh…Bush DID try to get a comprehensive energy bill passed in congress. No go. Congress kicked it down the road for someone else to deal with. Whatever happened to expanding and strengthening the grid? What will we say this summer when the blackouts and brownouts occur? That bastard Bush…he didn’t fix this. No mention that congress kicked and kicked that ball away.

Social Security. We’ve been told it’s the “most important issue” - or at least we hear it every election year…but everyone knows it’s going to hell. Oh…Bush DID try to get a comprehensive reform of Social Security passed in congress. No go. Congress kicked it down the road for someone else to deal with. Social Security is a joke, but it’s a joke with a lockbox, and the key’s long throw-away.

Terrorism. We’ve essentially been at war with Islamofascism since our countrymen were held hostage for 444 days, since our soldiers were slaughtered in their barracks. Since Saddam tried to kill a former president. “This will not stand,” yeah, yeah, yeah…we heard it all. What did Carter do about it? What did Reagan? What did Bush 41? What did Clinton do - particularly when AlQ began to attack American interests, holdings and naval vessels on an average of every 20 months? What? Are those crickets I hear chirping?

Finally after 3,000 of our countrymen died action was taken, and the action continues…and Bush has worked very hard to keep us safe and to destroy the infrastructure, funding and communications of Al Qaeda and their ilk, but…you know…it’s a bad thing for us to monitor the calling habits of AlQ and their co-horts. That would be an awful abuse of power, wouldn’t it? Right up there with accessing FBI files on political opponants and other Nixonian tactics, right? Better to completely mischaracterize what he’s doing and call a hero a tyrant and a traitor a hero…because…because…well, because the truth is Bush is doing the job on terrorism too damn well, and we can’t bring ourselves to report that.

And now, immigration…one man is to blame, one man is at fault, one man must find the Solomonic solution. And if he doesn’t, he’s a bum no matter what else he’s done. Meanwhile, the press can’t get over the president who smiled and cried his way through two terms, and they still work on his legacy. Can you ever recall a time in history where 6 years after an administration ends, the ex-president is still breathlessly being polled-on, still being given (on most days) as much press as the current president? I can’t.

When Clinton was being waylaid, his party closed ranks. Now Bush - a good man despite his flaws, (and what president is not flawed) is being attacked on all sides, and his party just jumps in with both feet and kicks away. It just doesn’t seem right to me. And I know, I KNOW…he’s been a job to defend for all these years against unprecedented attacks - I’m tired, too. But I cannot go along with the “get Bush” mentality from the right. The question I keep asking myself is…right now, at this moment in time, who is BETTER than him? Giuliani? The religious right will never go for him. Allen? Mush-mouthed bore, the religious right will love him, and the rest will turn the page, and neither of them will be elected in this atmosphere - and if they could be, it won’t be for two more years. Bush is what we’ve got, the best we’ve got…but you know, maybe he’s too punch drunk, after 6 years of abuse, and a feckless party that squanders its majority again and again…one year ago, on May 10, he was dancing with free Georgians…but none of that counts, anymore, right? We forget the good stuff pretty easily, it seems to me.

It’s not just about the president, though. There is a terrible toxicity to our political and social exchanges - there is little real thought and lots of shrieking going on, lots of noise, little real discourse and precious little honesty. There is no way to debate because - no matter which side tries to get serious - a well-thought-out discourse is immediately shot down by the other side with a one-line-sneer, usually a specious one, that distorts or misdirects and never allows a thought to go forward. The disrespect between “sides” is staggering, and completely unproductive. But non-productivity seems to be what people like. It’s “safe.” If you don’t do anything, you can’t get blamed, right? More kicking things down the road. Let the guy who actually wants to take some action bear the brunt of your fear, your insecurity, your anger, your scorn, your impotence. If he doesn’t do it all perfectly, he’s a bum. Prof. Bainbridge and Ed Morrissey report that “conservatives are abandoning Bush.”

Ah, well…I never did think of myself as a conservative, anyway…more like a classical liberal without a home…

I wonder who all those principled conservatives are going to vote for in ‘08. We did this “he’s not conservative enough for me, I’ll vote principles or stay home” thing once before, in 1992, didn’t we? How’d that work out for you?

There are games within games, and strategies within strategies, and in the end, I wonder if anyone - anyone at all - is really looking out for America beyond their own interests. I think the president is. I think ccertain exceptional blogs and a few - very few - professional folks in the press are. But there is a great deal of stuff out there that is all about taking the easy route - cynicism is easy, sneering is easy, rabble-rousing is easy - in order to promote oneself or one’s cause…and it’s beginning to drown out the rest.

The roiling hate that is the driving force behind the MSM and some parts of the blogosphere and so much more cannot produce anything good. All of these negatives cannot create a positive. I can’t be the only one who is feeling increasingly ill - not ill-at-ease, but physically ill - when looking at it. I have to think that there are folks on both sides, GOP and Dem, Liberal and Conservative who are looking at all of this and thinking…I’m not walking into that insanity. I wonder how many GOOD people, on either side of political spectrum, are NOT considering running for office because of the atmosphere.

Seems to me both sides are completely infected with a blood-poisoning that could take down the nation. And I have no help to offer, because when I try to read about politics, lately - any story, be it a Kennedy car crash, or an imploding CIA, I want to puke. I physically want to vomit.

I agree with you completely, and hope you will return to political blogging soon. You are a voice I hate to see stilled.

I suspect he is going to push for something closer to amnesty than I would not like to see until we have a fence across the entire border AND we have the military doing training exercises on the border, helping the Border Patrol, and at the same time learning how to close the borders in Iraq and Afganistan.

I also wish he would start vetoing some of these obscene spending bills

But he is still orders of magnitude better than anything the Democrats could come up with.


Life for an Israeli Arab

Michael J. Totten blogged about meeting an Israeli Arab named Samir. He noted as long as you aren’t dealing with Hezbollah psychopaths, Semtex-strapped “martyrs,” or Al Qaeda head-choppers, Arabs really are the most pleasant people you can find anywhere.

I believe that he is right. The Arabs that remained in Israel in 1948 are better off than most of the Arabs living in the elsewhere in the middle east, not just the "Palestinians", but Egyptians, Jordanians, etc, and it is because the government in those other areas are so bad. And of the three I just mentioned, the Palestinians have it worse than the Egyptians and the Jordanians, because they have the most corrupt government. I wonder why they want their own state. If they could just get rid of the extremists leading them, they would profit much better living under Israeli occupation. And if they got rid of the extremists and showed they really wanted to live in peace with Israel, the Israelis would be pushing them to begin choosing leaders who would govern them democratically, and forming their own state.
There’s nothing quite like going to a place where you can regularly and reliably pull up a chair (or a space on a carpet) with total strangers and share coffee, tea, cigarettes, and conversation while basking in the glow of instant warm friendship. Arab hospitality alone is reason enough to visit the Middle East instead of Europe on your next holiday....

“What’s it like for you as an Israeli Arab when Israelis and Palestinians are killing each other?” I said. “We don’t get involved,” he said. He then placed the tips of his index fingers on his cheekbones just below his eyes. “We watch.” “When there is, eventually, a two-state solution, do you want to live on the Israeli side or the Palestinian side?” “The Israeli side!” he said instantly and emphatically as if there were no other possible answer. “None of us want anything to do with the Palestinian Authority. They are corrupt. They are impossible. They are not straight. No one can deal with those people.” “Are the Israelis straight?” I said. “No!” he said. “But they are better. Which side would you rather live on?” he asked rhetorically. “Should I prefer Arafat and Hamas just because I’m an Arab?”
he makes a very good point. He prefers the Israeli side because their government is not as corrupt as any that the Palestinians have.


Iran Sought Advice in Pakistan on Attack

Yahoo! News reported Pakistan's former army chief says Iranian officials came to him for advice on heading off an attack on their nuclear facilities, and he in effect advised them to take a hostage — Israel. Retired Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg said he suggested their government "make it clear that if anything happens to Iran, if anyone attacks it — it doesn't matter who it is or how it is attacked — that Iran's answer will be to hit Israel; the only target will be Israel."

That is the stupidest idea that anyone ever had. Remember 1967? Egypt, Jordan, and Syria foolishly attacked Israel, and six days later Israel had gained control of the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. And they did not have to use a single nuclear weapon.
Blue Crab Boulevard blogged So, there are helpful people all over just now, aren't there? This is real simple - all the helpful people who think only of short term political gain are virtually guaranteeing that there will be a nuclear war.

Hot Air blogged Can we trust Beg? According to the AP, their interview with him was conducted several weeks ago. Among other things, he claimed that the Iranians had been to see him recently and asked what they should do to deter an American attack. He suggested announcing that Iran would respond to any attack with a counterattack on Israel. Here’s what Iran ended up doing. Uh oh.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Aaron hacked

Aaron got hacked by Jihadi computer geeks. He's not fully back up yet, but he's got a little dancing Mohammad which I am sure they will love.


Poll: Most Americans Support NSA's Efforts

WaPo reported A majority of Americans initially support a controversial National Security Agency program to collect information on telephone calls made in the United States in an effort to identify and investigate potential terrorist threats, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Wonderful. The American people are still smarter than the MSM.
The new survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they found the NSA program to be an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, including 44 percent who strongly endorsed the effort. Another 35 percent said the program was unacceptable, which included 24 percent who strongly objected to it.... The survey results reflect initial public reaction to the NSA program. Those views that could change or deepen as more details about the effort become known over the next few days.
i.e. the MSM is going to try its best to mislead the American people so that they will turn against this perfectly legal program.


Ahmadinejad letter to President Bush was invitation to Islam

Islamic Republic News Agency Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said here Thursday that his letter to President George W. Bush did not concern the nuclear dossier, but rather was an invitation to Islam and the prophets culture.

Robert Spencer blogged the letter was indeed the call to Islam that must precede any attack, in accord with Muhammad's words (in Sahih Muslim 4294) about inviting the unbelievers to accept Islam or dhimmitude and fighting him only if he refuses both. We shall see.

Jeff Goldstein blogged whether or not Ahmadinejad (and the mullahs) are pragmatists playing chess, or else crazed religious fanatics poised to unleash some sort of devestating weapon on the world, what is unquestionable is that Ahmadinejad has positioned his pieces so as to appear ready to go to war.

Which, for those who have observed our poisoned partisan atmosphere, means that Iran has forced us to consider our options—many of which will be politicized, delayed, demonized, or used opportunistically by politicians trying to take the electoral pulse (Seymour Hersh’s story about the US being prepared to nuke the Persians a shining example)—all of which works in Iran’s favor if their aim is to buy time to complete their nuclear program.

Of course, it is also possible (and far more frightening) to think that our intelligence has once again failed (remember, Israel believes Iran to be much closer to completing the program than does our infallible intelligence apparatus), and that Ahmadinejad’s letter augurs something far more disastrous and, dare I say it?—imminent.

And that is why we simply must be prepared to react with dispassionate resoluteness to any aggression by Iran; better, of course, would be were we to act to prevent that aggression in the first place—even if that means nothing more than letting Iran know that, given their President’s unprecedented letter, any near-term attacks with WMD will be laid at their doorstep, and that we have a policy for responding to such attacks—but one wonders if our diplomats (and an increasingly rogue element in the CIA) wouldn’t fight that strategy tooth and nail.

Vinnie blogged All I can think to do right now is to alert as many people as I can to the possibility that we are on the brink of a full-scale, all out war with Iran. In contrast with the small-scale, low-intensity war we've been in with Iran since 1979.

QM blogged Ahmadinejad’s da’wa - da’wa: the request for the non-Muslim to accept Allah and true mono-theism prior to demanding Jizya (tax)(dhimmi) or killing the unbeliever. While others were celebrating Ahmadinejad’s letter to President Bush as an olive branch I have been feariing it was something else. A surrender demand. This is similar to to the letters The Prophet Mohammad sent to the rulers of Byzantium and Turkey in 620 AD. While it may be easy to explain away this letter as a Cindy Sheehan inspired plea to Bush, the language is extremely close to that of many leftist, anti-war groups, the truth is in several select paragraphs. Ahmadinejad repeatedly speaks of the poor in America and how the rich are prospering at the expense of the poor (paging Dr. Dean!), which are phrases explicitly targeting America’s left wing.

Yet within his letter we see constant oblique referrals to the anti-semetic tales of old: Media, Banks and Special interest groups. It all becomes clear when Ahmadinejad begins to talk, at the last third of the letter, about the messengers of God. The rest of the letter is nothing but thinnly disquised attempts to relate Islam with Christianity and urge Bush to get right with Allah. Ahmadinejad tries to place Christianity as a lost wing of Islam and urges Bush to follow the Islamic path, the consequences of not doing so are clear:

‘Will you not accept this invitation? That is, a genuine return to the teachings of the Prophets, to monotheism and justice, to preserve human dignity and obedience to the Almighty and his Prophets.
Finally, Ahmadinejad ends his letter with this “Vasalam Ala Man Ataba’al hoda” which when roughly translated means “Peace only unto those who follow the true path.” which is almost exactly what Mohammad said in his letter to Turkey and the Byzantine kingdom before declaring War. Next will come the demand to become Dhimmi
A subjected people ruled by Islam
and pay the Jizya _or_ be declared an enemy of God and subject to slaughter.

Hot Air blogged tudents in Indonesia — the “moderate” Muslim state — are in raptures over Ahmadinejad. “”There’s not a leader in the world like him. I am so proud.”

I believe it is clear that Ahmadinejad sees himself as the one to initiate End Time Battles. The Muslims believe this will mean the return of the 12th Imam. Christians believe that it will herald the return of Jesus Christ. But in any event, it is going to be the true war to end all wars.


Why Won't U.S., Iran Hash Out Differences?

Yahoo! News reported As the United States toughens its stance on
Iran's nuclear program, and bitterness toward America hardens on the streets of Tehran, many people can't help but wonder: Why don't the two countries hold face-to-face talks to ease the crisis?

We could invite him over to the US Embassy. Oh, yes, Iranian students took it over in 1979 and held its occupants hostage for 444 days. And we think Ahmadinejad was one of those students.
.... Shahin Gobadi, spokesman for the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, an exile group, said a Bush-Ahmadinejad summit is implausible because Tehran "has not been willing to accept the norms and rules of conduct of the 21st century."
It is difficult for 21st century and 8th century people to talk. Maybe we should have another Crusade.
"This regime is built on the concept of medieval religious tyranny. It's not compatible with dialogue," he told The Associated Press. If Ahmadinejad's 18-page menu of grievances sums up Iran's position, then "there is no prospect of negotiation," said Steve Hoadley, associate professor of political studies at New Zealand's Auckland University. "The countries are ideologically, politically, strategically quite different," he said. "They are on a collision course because Iran has ambitions to regional leadership. Nuclear weapons are part of that equation."


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Don't defund troops for pork

Washington Times reported Need proof of how pork-addicted Congress has become? Consider this: Some in the Senate are looking for ways to shift funds from the troops in Iraq to some of their favorite pet projects. At risk is the $94.4 supplemental spending bill President Bush requested from Congress to provide $92 billion for hurricane relief and the troops in Iraq, and $2.4 billion for avian flu response. Despite his warning that anything more would be vetoed, several senators abused the legislation's must-pass status to add $14 billion in wasteful pork-barrel goodies for influential constituents, labor unions and corporations.

This is absolutely outrageous. If they cannot be removed, Bush must veto the legislation even though it is for the troops.
Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, introduced several amendments to strip these earmarks, but despite some close votes, all but one lost.


Dear Senator Frist

Spook's Musings posted this letter from David J. Stoddard, U.S. Border Patrol (RET), Hereford, Arizona

There is a huge amount of propaganda and myths circulating about illegal aliens, particularly illegal Mexican, Salvadorian, Guatemalan and Honduran aliens. ..

1. Illegal aliens generally do NOT want U.S. citizenship. Americans are very vain thinking that everybody in the world wants to be a U.S. citizen. Mexicans, and other nationalities want to remain citizens of their home countries while obtaining the benefits offered by the United States such as employment, medical care, in-state tuition, government subsidized housing and free education for their offspring. Their main attraction is employment and their loyalty usually remains at home. They want benefits earned and subsidized by middle class Americans. What illegal aliens want are benefits of American residence without paying the price.

This is why Democrats want to make them citizens and votes, because what they want is a free lunch; they want the advantages of citizenship without having to pay the taxes, etc.
2. There are no jobs that Americans won't do. Illegal aliens are doing jobs that Americans can't take and still support their families. Illegal aliens take low wage jobs, live dozens in a single residence home, share expenses and send money to their home country. There are no jobs that Americans won't do for a decent wage.
Whether employeers are willing to pay a decent wage is a separate issue.
3. Every person who illegally entered this nation left a home. They are NOT homeless and they are NOT Americans. Some left jobs in their home countries. They come to send money to their real home as evidenced by the more than 20 billion dollars sent out of the country each year by illegal aliens. These illegal aliens knowingly and willfully entered this nation in violation of the law and therefore assumed the risk of detection and deportation. Those who brought their alien children assumed the responsibility and risk on behalf of their children. ..

4. Illegal aliens are NOT critical to the economy. Illegal aliens constitute less than 5% of the workforce. However, they reduce wages and benefits for lawful U.S. residents. ..

5. This is NOT an immigrant nation. There are 280 million native born Americans. While it is true that this nation was settled and founded by immigrants (legal immigrants), it is also true that there is not a nation on this planet that was not settled by immigrants at one time or another. ..

6. The United States is welcoming to legal immigrants. Illegal aliens are not immigrants by definition. The U.S. accepts more lawful immigrants every year than the rest of the world combined. ..

7. There is no such thing as the "Hispanic vote". Hispanics are white, brown, black and every shade in between. Hispanics are Republicans, Democrats, Anarchists, Communists, Marxists and Independents. The so-called "Hispanic vote" is a myth.. Pandering to illegal aliens to get the Hispanic vote is a dead end. ..

8. Mexico is NOT a friend of the United States. Since 1848 Mexicans have resented the United States. During World War I Mexico allowed German Spies to operate freely in Mexico to spy on the U.S. During World War II Mexico allowed the Axis powers to spy on the U.S. from Mexico. During the Cold War Mexico allowed spies hostile to the U.S. to operate freely. The attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 was cheered and applauded all across Mexico. Today Mexican school children are taught that the U.S.stole California, Arizona, new Mexico and Texas. If you don't believe it, check out some Mexican textbooks written for their school children. ..

9. Although some illegal aliens enter this country for a better life, there are 6 billion people on this planet. At least 1 billion of those live on less than one dollar a day. If wanting a better life is a valid excuse to break the law and sneak into America, then let's allow those one billion to come to America and we'll turn the USA into a Third World nation overnight. Besides, there are 280 million native born Americans who want a better life. I'll bet Bill Gates and Donald Trump want a better life. When will the USA lifeboat be full? Since when is wanting a better life a good reason to trash another nation? ..

10. "There is a labor shortage in this country" This is a lie. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American housewives, senior citizens, students, unemployed and underemployed who would gladly take jobs at a decent wage. ..

11. "It is racist to want secure borders" What is racist about wanting secure borders and a secure America? What is racist about not wanting people to sneak into America and steal benefits we have set aside for legal aliens, senior citizens, children and other legal residents? What is it about race that entitles people to violate our laws, steal identities, and take the American Dream without paying the price? ..

For about four decades American politicians have refused to secure our borders and look after the welfare of middle class Americans. These politicians have been of both parties. A huge debt to American society has resulted. This debt will be satisfied and the interest will be high. There has already been riots in the streets by illegal aliens and their supporters. There will be more. You, as a politician, have a choice to offend the illegal aliens who have stolen into this country and demanded the rights afforded to U.S. citizens or to offend those of us who are stakeholders in this country. The interest will be steep either way. There will be civil unrest. There will be a reckoning. ..

Do you have the courage to do what is right for America? Or, will you bow to the wants and needs of those who don't even have the right to remain here? ..

There will be a reckoning. It will come in November of this year, again in 2008 and yet again in 2010. We will not allow America to be stolen by third world agitators and thieves. ..


NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls

USATODAY reported The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

I am very happy that they are maintaining this database. If the Terrorist Surveillance Program of listening into international calls from known AlQaeda reveals an AlQaeda cell in the US, this will enable us to see who else they have been calling, and perhaps get domestic wiretap warents to listen in to those calls.
The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

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Free Advice for President Bush

Power Line blogged The President hasn't asked for my advice, but here it is anyway. You know how the Democrats are always after you to admit that you made a mistake? You've wisely ignored them; they don't have your interests at heart, and the policies they're talking about weren't mistakes. The time has come, though, to go on national television and say you were wrong, and you've changed your mind. About immigration.

I second the motion.
Give a major speech in prime time. Say that you still think that a long-term solution to the immigration issue should include a guest worker program. Acknowledge, however, that many Americans disagree and there is currently no consensus on a long-range policy. Say that, more fundamentally, you're now convinced that our first priority has to be getting control over our borders. Until we control our borders, and know who is coming and going, any immigration policy we may announce will be meaningless anyway.
That is absolutely true. If he would close the border, build a fence, and put the military on the border, both to help close it, and learn how to close borders (which would help in Iraq and Afganistan) I would be happy to support a guest worker program.
So, discussion about long-term approaches to immigration will continue. But in the meantime, your priority will be securing the borders and enforcing the laws currently on the books. Which means that the crackdown on employers of illegals will be expanded. Announce some specific measures to begin securing the Mexican border, preferably including some kind of fence.
A fence AND putting the military on the border.
This simple act will cause your approval ratings to begin rebounding, re-energize Republicans, and assure that the party keeps its Congressional majorities in November. If you really want to get the conservative base back in your corner, go and meet with the Minutemen--on camera--and tell them you appreciate what they're doing.
And tell the border patrol if they ever report where the Minutemen will be they will be fired.
That's step one. Here's step two. It was announced this morning that Republicans in the House and Senate have agreed to extend the capital gains cut for another two years. You think this is sound public policy because it will be good for the economy. You're right, but no one cares. The economy has been terrific for years; how much good has it done you or the Republican Party? That's right. Little or none. You need to couple this tax cut with spending cuts.
Abslolutely. Veto a couple of big spending bills, and demand a constitutional ammendment to allow line item vetos.
Tax cuts unaccompanied by spending restraint are rightly viewed with cynicism by both conservatives and liberals. Focus on earmarks; even the liberals don't try to defend them. Threaten to veto any spending bill that contains a single earmark. Then do it. If that creates a temporary problem with the appropriations process, talk about the need for a line-item veto. Not only will an all-out attack on earmarks warm the hearts of the Republican faithful, it will be broadly supported across the political spectrum.

If you do these two things, you will reinvogorate your administration. You will demonstrate that as President, you are still the nation's most powerful political figure. You will regain the trust and enthusiastic support of the Republican Party. And you will assure that, with continuing Republican control of Congress, the remainder of your administration will be devoted to productive work on behalf of the American people, not defending yourself against politically-motivated "investigations" and impeachment proceedings.


Christianists Fight Back

Andrew Sullivan blogged Two leading Christianists

What the heck is a "Christianists". Is he trying to imply that Christians are as extreme as the Islamists? How many Christians have beheaded anyone? How many have burned down an embassy because of a cartoon? How many have killed someone because of a movie like the Da Vinci Code?
have just fought back against my recent essay in Time magazine. Ramesh Ponnuru and Hugh Hewitt are two of the most articulate advocates for fusing Republicanism with religious fundamentalism.
What is wrong with Republicans being religious fundamentalists.
I can see why they would dissent. But Hewitt surely goes overboard in describing my essay as "hate-speech."

Ponnuru's argument is that the Christian/Muslim vs Christianist/Islamist parallels don't work very well. He has a point. Islam begins with far lesser appreciation for individual liberty than Christianity. But history shows that Christianity, when pressed, will murder and burn and torture countless people to enforce orthodoxy.
Some bad things may have happened in the past, but most of them were no worse, and often much better, than what the Islamists at the time did, and certainly today Christians do not do anything like what the Islamoterrorists are doing.
We live in kinder, gentler times, and Christianity experienced a Reformation, a Counter-Reformation and even the Second Vatican Council in ways that Islam sadly has not. And so regular Muslims are far closer to Islamists than many Christians are to Christianists.
Certainly Moderate Muslims need to speak out and urge Islam to change to join the 21st Century.
Moreover, the Christianists keep moving the goalposts so far to the right that the distinction between Christians and Christianists is far more persuasive now than in even the recent past.   Read More

Leading theocon Robert P. George, for example, believes not just that all abortion, including that caused by rape and incest, should be illegal; he believes that a microscopic zygote is morally indistinguishable from a fully-grown adult.
I.E. he believes that life begins at conception.
Many Christianists therefore now believe that many forms of contraception are the moral equivalent of abortion; and many leading Christianists are moving fast toward banning contraception altogether.
I don't happen to agree with them (on conception, although I do agree that life begins at conception), but I respect their right to believe as they do. I don't think there are enough that believe that way, that there will be any restrictions placed on contraception.
(For an important glimpse into the growing radicalism of Christianism on the question of contraception, check out this essay in the New York Times Magazine). Rick Santorum supports laws that would allow the cops to enter a gay couple's bedroom and arrest them for private, adult, consensual sex; Robert George has no problem in theory with making non-procreative sex illegal (his sole problem is that it would be hard to police such a law). Other Christianists are opposing an HPV vaccine that could prevent 90 percent of cervical cancer in women, because it might lower the risks of extra-marital sex. They seek not merely to oppose marriage rights for gay couples - but to strip gay couples of all rights in the federal constitution.
Opposing granting gays special rights is not the same as stripping them of all constitutional rights.
In Virginia, Christianists have made even private legal contracts between two members of the same gender illegal.
All contracts? Can they not even sell a car? Or is it a contract to do something specific?
They support keeping people in persistent vegetative states alive indefinitely through feeding tubes - for decades, if necessary - even if the individual herself has a living will begging to be allowed to die in peace.
I have never heard of any opposition to following a living will.
They have contempt for federalism, believing that the federal government should over-ride state laws and even families in enforcing religious dogma. Remember Terri Schiavo?
Yes and I did not agree with what they did with Terri Schiavo, but I did feel that what St Lukes was doing to Andrea Clarke was wrong.
In all of this, the Christianists do not represent most Christians, although they have made great strides in the Vatican and in the fundamentalist leadership. I should stress: these people have every right to their views. They certainly have developed an arsenal of arguments and a body of thought to back them up. But this agenda, whatever else it is, cannot be described as mainstream Christianity. Its extremism, its enmeshment with partisan political power, its contempt for individual liberty, its certainty and arrogance and intolerance, demand that some other name be given to it. They have gotten away with too much for too long. It's time for mainstream Christians, in both parties, to fight back. And we are.

Ramesh Ponnuru blogged Andrew Sullivan is just addicted to bogus drama, isn't he? Now I'm a "leading Christianist" who has "fought back" against Sullivan's essay. Oh please. This isn't some epic conflict. I've just criticized some of his writings for their inanity and inconsistency. I'm also supposedly an "advocate[] for fusing Republicanism with religious fundamentalism." He provides not a scrap of evidence for this charge, and it isn't true. I'm not a religious fundamentalist—unless, again, all you have to do to qualify for the phrase is to take public-policy positions of which Sullivan does not approve.
For a Left Wing Democrat, disagreeing with them is just not acceptable.
His latest post exhibits most of the bad rhetorical habits I mentioned earlier today. Sullivan continues to treat positions he once took himself as beyond the pale—note that dismissive reference to "microscopic zygotes"—without even acknowledging that he once held them. Second, having piously claimed that the label "Christianist" is not intended to associate religious conservatives with violence and terrorism, he insinuates exactly such an association in his latest post. I cannot be too offended when Sullivan misrepresents my views, given his evident difficulty in keeping track of his own.

Sullivan concludes by positing himself as a spokesman for "mainstream Christians."
Rather than an extreme left wing Christian.
It's a poisonous claim—as bad as the worst rhetoric that sometimes comes from religious conservatives. It's also absurd. Same-sex marriage may or may not be a good idea, but the notion that it represents mainstream Christianity is pretty far-fetched.
Extreme Left Wingers like Andrew Sullivan believe that their position is mainstream, and that anything they disagree with is wrong.


Reining in Charter Schools

NYT reported The charter school movement began with the tantalizing promise that independently operated schools would outperform their traditional counterparts — if they could only be exempted from state regulations while receiving public money. It hasn't quite worked out that way. With charter laws now on the books in about 40 states and thousands of schools up and running, the problem has turned out to be too little state oversight, not too much.

The NYT is in the Teacher's Union pocket.
Even states with disastrously low-performing charter systems can point to a handful of outstanding schools.
So at least some kids are getting a better education than they would at public schools.
But several studies have shown that on the whole, charter schools perform no better than other public schools.
But if they are not performing worse, then we should stick with them, because they should be easier to improve.
Beyond that, some states have opened so many charter programs so quickly that they can barely count them,
Maybe the people doing the counting should have attended Charter Schools rather than Public Schools; they might have learned more math.
let alone monitor student performance. Where charters have clearly failed, the states often lack the political will — or even a process — for closing them down.


House Panel Supports Bilingual Voting

BREITBART What was to have been a simple renewal of the historic Voting Rights Act has become snarled in the heated debate involving immigration issues. Conservative House members tried Wednesday to end a requirement in the 1965 law that bilingual ballots and interpreters be provided in states and counties where large numbers of citizens speak limited English.

They should have removed it. It is a stupid requirement.
The House Judiciary Committee rejected the effort. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said voting in English should pose no problem for any U.S. citizen. "If you are born in America, you should know English," he said. "If you are a naturalized citizen, you should have passed an English proficiency test."
I agree with Rep. Smith.


Bush, GOP Congress Losing Core Supporters

WaPo reported Disaffection over spending and immigration have caused conservatives to take flight from President Bush and the Republican Congress at a rapid pace in recent weeks, sending Bush's approval ratings to record lows and presenting a new threat to the GOP's 12-year reign on Capitol Hill, according to White House officials, lawmakers and new polling data.

I still support Bush, but I will admit that I am very disappointed in the administrations response to illegal immigration, and failure to veto extreme spending bills. A couple of vetoes would shake the Republicans in Congress up, and restore my faith in Bush, and he could certainly get the guest worker program he wants and still provide control of our border, if he would just change his approach.
Bush and Congress have suffered a decline in support from almost every part of the conservative coalition over the past year, a trend that has accelerated with alarming implications for Bush's governing strategy.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Education in Massachusetts

Jay Tea blogged on Wizbang A few years ago, in a rare act of sanity, Massachusetts enacted an educational reform that actually seemed it would help students succeed. They instituted the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, a series of standardized tests that students would have to pass to graduate from the 5th, 8th, and 12th grades respectively. There was, naturally, a bit of controversy over it, but overall it's been pretty successful. Students who failed the test had to re-take it or repeat a grade until they proved they had learned enough of what was expected of them.

Sounds reasonable. When I went to school, we had to pass tests or we did not graduate.
This week, the New Bedford, Massachusetts school committee decided that "mandatory" didn't really mean that. They announced that students who met all the other graduation requirements but failed the MCAS would be awarded "general diplomas" and sent forth from their high schools as graduates. Governor Romney was not amused.He immediately called upon state education officials to hit the New Bedford School Committee where it hurts -- in the wallet. Apparently the district gets about $100 million a year (a staggering amount, to my mind), and Romney says that some or all of that should be withheld if they don't actually OBEY THE LAW.
Three cheers for Governor Romney
The Boston Globe has a bit more sympathetic version of the story, with extensive quotes from backers of the plan. (Big surprise there; as I recall, the Glob was a staunch opponent of MCAS in the first place.) One quote from New Bedford's mayor, Scott Lang, leaped out at me:
''Cutting off our funding will only exacerbate the problem," he said. ''I am not looking for a confrontation, I am looking for a solution from them."
What about teaching the kids to read, write, and do arithmetic.
One person has a solution: Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral (D-New Bedford) has filed a bill to allow communities to award diplomas to those who fail MCAS. In other words, he wants to make MCAS optional. I think that's a stupid idea, but it is at least more principled than simply ignoring the law.
I agree that it is better to change the law, rather than just ignoring it, but maybe a better idea would be to teach the kids how to read and write, and maybe they could pass the test.
Here's a suggestion, Mr. Mayor: you've got the problem, you work on a solution. Either change the law (like Representative Cabral is proposing, or live with it.


A diploma must be earned

Optimistic Patriot blogged More silly theories in education from CA:

In California, Judge Robert Freedman of Superior Court in Alameda County said in a preliminary ruling on Monday that the exams, standardized math and English tests that high school seniors have to pass to graduate, discriminated against impoverished students and students learning English.
Judge Freedman is absolutely correct. These standardize tests “discriminate” by design. They “discriminate” against people lacking the basic math and English skills needed to function in society. A diploma is not a right. It is an earned distinction. It certifies your achievements and abilities.
And with respect to this particular test, they have five chances to pass it, and only need to score 50% to pass. Anyone who cannot pass does not deserve a certificate they would not be able to read anyway.
The judge blames poverty if children do not learn, but somewhere along the line, education was badly sidetracked. Teaching the “right” things became far more important than teaching writing. Nobody was concerned that Johnny could not construct an English sentence, but they were thankful he could put a condom on a banana. Additionally, education became an exercise in building self-esteem that lead to silly experiments with New Math and Ebonics because there are no “wrong” answers.
Except when they get out into the real world, where they run smack into the need to have the education they never got.
There is no doubt millions of children deal with a lot of outside influences that make obtaining an education challenging. Nobody denies this fact; however; it is the knowledge gained in school and not the piece of paper that raises children out of poverty. Judge Freedman is not leveling the field by granting everyone a piece of paper without the underlying education.
What he is doing is devaluing the piece of paper. If one can get it without earning it, then everyone that earned it will have something that now has no value to another school or a prospective employeer.
If anything, by lowering the bar, he is insuring they stay poor because no court can give these kids the knowledge they lack even if their piece of paper says they have it. Is that fair?


Letter from Ahmadinejad to Bush

Yahoo! News reported Ahmadinejad, whose Islamic government is suspected by the West of pursuing nuclear weapons, questions whether Christ and other religious prophets would have approved of U.S. policies and actions in the Middle East. "I have been told that Your Excellency follows the teachings of Jesus (Peace be upon him) and believes in the divine promise of the rule of the righteous on Earth," Ahmadinejad wrote Bush, who has said that Christ is his favorite philosopher. "If Prophet Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishamel, Joseph, or Jesus Christ (Peace Be Upon Him) were with us today, how would they have judged such behavior?" he wrote.

I suspect that all of them, knowing how Saddam treated his neighbors (Iran and Kuwait) and his own people (the Kurds in the North, and the Shia in the South), needed to be removed, and they would have approved of what we did. How do you think they would have approved of your developing nuclear weapons so that you could wipe Israel off the map?

Muhammed (pbuh) might have approved if he just focused on the narrow idea of removing Israel, but if he realized that the response would likely remove not just all of Iran, but much of the rest of Muslim countries, and bring the return of Jesus Christ and not the 12 imam, and that rather than a global caliphate Christ would rule for 1000 years, I doubt if even he would approve.

Michael Slackman wrote in NYT Locked in a conflict with the West over its nuclear program, the Iranian, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, made the observations in a letter on Monday that the Iranian government said "raised new ways of solving problems."

And I am sure you like the idea of atomic weapons, but there is no way you would hold off using them once you got them, and the response would destroy you.
The 18-page letter, whose text was made available to The New York Times by United Nations diplomats on Tuesday, did not offer any concrete proposals for dealing with the crisis, but suggested that the United States give up its liberal, democratic, secular system and turn more toward religion.
I actually agree with him, if everyone was completely free to choose his own religion, but not if one religion wanted to take over by force, and that if anyone wanted to leave that religion if they would be killed.
"Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems," Mr. Ahmadinejad wrote.
Are you hearing voices, in addition to those imagined sounds?
State Department officials said there was nothing in the letter relevant to current talks with Iran about its nuclear programs.
Of course not, because he has no intention of stopping.
.... The letter was framed entirely in religious terms but also laid out a populist manifesto of anti-Americanism, offering illustrations of what has won the Iranian a following among many ordinary people throughout the Middle East. He presented himself as the defender not only of Muslims but of all oppressed people, including those in Africa and Latin America.
He envisions being the next Caliph.
.... "My basic question is this: Is there no better way to interact with the rest of the world? Today there are hundreds of millions of Christians, hundreds of millions of Muslims, and millions of people who follow the teachings of Moses. All divine religions share and respect one word, and that is monotheism, or belief in a single God and no other in the world."
And if you would like to focus your efforts at reforming Islam, and bringing it into the 21st century, respecting equally all three of those faiths, rather than focusing on getting 21st century weapons to use in an eighth century desire for world domination, then I would be more interested in what you have to say.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Different Sort of Radical Muslim

Joel C. Rosenberg wrote in National Review Online As Osama bin Laden and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continue to breathe their murderous threats against Christians and Jews, and attempt to incite Muslims around the world to annihilate the U.S. and Israel, another Muslim leader made the rounds in Washington last week offering a radically different vision. Topping his agenda were under-the-radar peace talks with Israel, religious classes to teach Imams the history and virtues of the West, and dramatic new initiatives to build ties to Rabbis and evangelical Christians.

This sounds like someone with ideas that should be encouraged.
Were Dr. Ahmed Abaddi merely a soft-spoken, gentle-mannered professor of comparative religion in his native Morocco, his views would certainly be welcome, but not particularly newsworthy. However, Abaddi is actually in a position of some influence. As Morocco’s Director of Islamic Affairs and senior advisor to King Mohammed VI, he is responsible for overseeing his country’s 33,000 mosques. And he’s not just talking about a new approach to Muslim relations with the West. At the direction, and with the blessing, of his King, Abaddi has already taken a number of concrete—and controversial—steps.

Abaddi recounted to House and Senate leaders, Bush administration officials, journalists, and business leaders the changes he and his colleagues have brought about in recent years: They embarked upon a campaign of interviews, speeches, and sermons that condemn al Qaeda’s teachings and violence. This accelerated after 9/11 and a series of suicide bombings that ripped through Morocco’s Muslim- and Jewish-owned restaurants, as well as a bombing at a Jewish community center on May 16, 2003, that left some 45 dead and more than 100 wounded.
They helped mobilize more than one million Moroccans to take to the streets of Casablanca in May 2003 to denounce radical Islamic terrorism—a march in which 1,000 Moroccan Jews openly participated and were warmly embraced by the Muslim community.

They launched a theological training program for Imams to teach them how to promote moderation within Islam, to teach them more about Western history and the importance of Christianity and Judaism to Western social and political development, and to help them identify and oppose extremist forces and trends within Islam. Participants take 32 hours of instruction per week for a full year. The first class of 210 just graduated, and included 55 women.
That is much better than having Saudi Arabia sending radical Wahabbists to run the mosques.
They helped organize the “World Congress of Rabbis and Imams for Peace” in Brussels (January 2005) and Seville (March 2006) where some 150 Muslim and Jewish leaders “sit beard to beard” to explore common ground, denounce extremists, and “write declarations of peace.”
They launched an initiative to build a “bridge of friendship” to evangelical Christians in the U.S., including on-going dialogues with Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals, Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council, and Josh McDowell of Campus Crusade for Christ, among others. Abaddi and his colleagues have also invited pastors and evangelical business leaders to Morocco for conferences and high-level inter-faith talks, and have even helped organize a series of concerts in Marrakesh where Christian and Muslim rock bands perform together for thousands of Moroccan young people.
They published a book about the importance of encouraging religious freedom within Islam and even suggested that “Muslims have the right to change their religion” if they so desire.
Abaddi also confirmed rumors swirling about in the Arab press that his government is quietly laying the groundwork with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to hold a new round of high-level peace talks in the Kingdom in the near future. He noted that King Hassan II—the late-father of the current monarch—opened secret talks with the Israelis as far back as the early 1970s and that Morocco was the first Arab government after Egypt to welcome an Israeli Prime Minister for a public visit (Shimon Peres in July 1986).

“We need our people to know the real West…to understand that the West ain’t no angel, but it ain’t no demon either,” Abaddi said, attempting a Western accent, at a private dinner in a Washington, D.C., suburb last week. “[This effort] is not a luxury. We are not being pressured to do it. We are trying to train responsible people to live in dangerous times.”

“Our world is threatening to destroy itself,” he noted, citing apocalyptic rhetoric coming out of Tehran, Iran’s nuclear program, radical Islamic terrorism, AIDS, and severe global poverty.
Bringing Islam into the 21st century is certainly preferable to taking it back to the Middle Ages.
“Morocco can help bring about peace. I think the Moroccan model is practical and helpful. It communicates an entirely different concept of Islam to the rest of the world….I personally can’t sit back and do nothing. After all, there is an Arab proverb that says, ‘Don’t be a mute Satan.’ I feel compelled to do everything I can to make a better world.”

Abaddi’s refreshing vision notwithstanding, Morocco still has a way to go to insure religious liberty for all of its citizens. “The Government places certain restrictions on Christian religious materials and proselytizing,” noted the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report 2005. “The Government permits the display and sale of Bibles in French, English, and Spanish,
At least that is better than Saudia Arabis.
but it confiscates Arabic-language Bibles and refuses licenses for their importation and sale despite the absence of any law banning such books.” What’s more, in March 2005, “authorities expelled a South African pastor of a Protestant church in Marrakech for not having lucrative employment, although authorities had renewed his temporary residence permit annually for five years…The deportation followed a series of news and opinion articles in the local press concerning the presence of foreign Christian missionaries in the country [and] the Government’s invitation to American Christian leaders to visit and meet with political and religious officials.”

Still, the efforts by King Mohammed VI and advisors such as Abaddi are impressive, and should be encouraged by the administration and congressional leaders, as well as by Jewish and Christian leaders in the U.S., Israel, and elsewhere. Better still, the Moroccan model is being mirrored by Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who has consistently denounced sectarian violence, delivered the keynote address at the evangelical-organized National Prayer Breakfast in Washington in February, and just held the Iraqi Islamic Reconciliation Summit in Amman on April 22 to “call for an end to bloodshed and religious tension in Iraq” and “promote moderation and harmony among Muslims.” The world needs more people who dream “God-sized dreams,” said Abaddi—dreams of peace and reconciliation, not just bigger houses and another Lexus. To that we should all say a hearty “Amen.”


U.S. tipping Mexico to Minuteman patrols

DailyBulletin reported While Minuteman civilian patrols are keeping an eye out for illegal border crossers, the U.S. Border Patrol is keeping an eye out for Minutemen -- and telling the Mexican government where they are.

We should find out who is doing this, and they should be prosecuted for treason.
According to three documents on the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Web site, the U.S. Border Patrol is to notify the Mexican government as to the location of Minutemen and other civilian border patrol groups when they participate in apprehending illegal immigrants -- and if and when violence is used against border crossers.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman confirmed the notification process, describing it as a standard procedure meant to reassure the Mexican government that migrants' rights are being observed.
Arrest the S.O.B.
"It's not a secret where the Minuteman volunteers are going to be," Mario Martinez said Monday.

"This ... simply makes two basic statements -- that we will not allow any lawlessness of any type,
Does that include Mexicans crossing the border without the proper paperwork?
and that if an alien is encountered by a Minuteman or arrested by the Minuteman, then we will allow that government to interview the person."
Fine, but since that is not happening, why are you telling them where they are?


Iranian President's Letter to Bush Emerges

NYT reported In his letter to President Bush, Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared that Western-style democracy had failed and that the use of secret prisons in Europe and aspects of the war in Iraq could not be reconciled with Mr. Bush's Christian values

What does he know about Christian values?
.... Mr. Ahmadinejad, who has said that Israel should be wiped off the map, again questioned the Holocaust and the basis upon which Israel was created, asking whether support for such a "regime" by the United States government was in line with Christian teachings.
Christ was a Jew, and he certainly never said anything bad about Judiasm.
"Again let us assume that these events are true," he wrote about the Holocaust. "Does that logically translate into the establishment of the state of Israel in the Middle East or support for such a state?"
Yes, Europe was embarrased they had not done something earlier to stop the Holocaust, and they felt Israel deserved a homeland in the area promised by God.
"A regime has been established which does not show mercy even to kids, destroys houses while the occupants are still in them, announces beforehand its list and plans to assassinate Palestinian figures and keeps thousands of Palestinians in prison," the letter says.
Children are killed in Israeli retalliations because the terrorists surround themselves with women and children hoping to hide, Israel always gives the homeowner an opportunity to leave a house before it tears it down, and it would not be tearing it down if a resident had not attacked Israel. And targeted retaliation against Palestinian terrorists are certainly better than homicide bombers killing everyone in a restaurant.
Mr. Ahmadinejad also calls the 9/11 attacks a "horrendous incident" in which the killing of innocent people was "deplorable." But he asks: "Why have the various aspects of the attacks been kept secret? Why are we not told who botched their responsibilities? And, why aren't those responsible and the guilty parties identified and put on trial?"
I dont know of anything about the 9/11 attacks that are still secret, and while some perhaps should have been fired, we dont put people on trial for just doing a bad job.
The letter provides at times a striking insight into the Iranian president's vision of double standards in American foreign policy, criticizing what he portrays as a lack of support for elected Palestinian and Latin American governments.
Does Iran support all governments equally, regardless of whether it agrees with them or not?
Mr. Ahmadinejad also portrays himself as having his finger on the pulse of the Middle East region. "As you are well aware," Mr. Ahmadinejad says, directly addressing President Bush, "I live amongst the people and am in constant contact with them — many people from around the Middle East manage to contact me as well.
If Iran did not control information flow in its country so severly, more people, including his own citizens, might be contacting him asking for changes.
They do not have faith in these dubious policies either."


Gays are brain damaged

USAToday Homosexuals' brains respond differently from those of straight men and women when exposed to sex hormones, but researchers now say the difference is less pronounced in lesbians than in gay men. Lesbians' brains reacted somewhat, though not completely, like those of heterosexual men, a team of Swedish researchers said in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A year ago, the same group reported findings for gay men that showed their brain response to hormones was similar to that of heterosexual women.

Do they have any recommendations on how to cure the brain abnormalities?


Iranian Leader Says Democracy Has Failed

Yahoo! News Iran's president declared in a letter to President Bush that democracy had failed worldwide

By failed he means that Islamic countries are considering it, rather than violent Islam and Sharia Law, and he is very worried that the Iranian people might ge the same idea.
and lamented "an ever-increasing global hatred" of the U.S. government. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice swiftly rejected the letter, saying it didn't resolve questions about Tehran's suspect nuclear program.


Palestinian Says Ban Could Lead to Chaos

WaPo reported The Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, warned Monday on the eve of a key international donors meeting that the Palestinian Authority, cut off from most foreign aid since his Hamas movement took office five weeks ago, could founder unless new money arrives. "If the siege continues, the whole authority will be facing collapse,"

That is the general idea.
Haniyeh said in an interview in his office here. "And if there is a collapse, there will be chaos in the region."

There is chaos in the region right now. And Hamas is responsible for most of it.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Bush's Appointees Not As Diverse as Clinton's

WaPo reported President Bush's crop of political appointees includes fewer women and minorities than did President Bill Clinton's at comparable points in their presidencies, according to a new report by House Democrats.... What the report does not mention, however, is that Bush has established a record of diversity in his Cabinet. Bush's Cabinet, which includes the vice president and the heads of 15 executive departments, currently has two Hispanics, two African Americans and two Asian Americans. Three departments -- State, Education and Labor -- are headed by women, and a fourth, Interior, has an acting secretary who is a woman.

Before Bush took office, no minority had occupied any of the four highest-profile Cabinet positions -- attorney general and the secretaries of the Defense, State and Treasury departments. Now, Alberto R. Gonzales, a Hispanic, is attorney general. Condoleezza Rice is the first African American woman to be secretary of state; her predecessor, Colin L. Powell, was the first African American named to that post.

So Clinton had more women (probably to service him) and minorities in low level, unimportant, positions, and Bush named many more to top cabinet positions.

This corresponds to the way the parties treat people. Democrats pretend to care, but certainly dont want minorities to succeed, because they might cease to vote Democratic, and Republicans give everyone a chance to succeed, regardless of race or gender.

Michelle Malkin blogged In other words, Bush is an enemy of progress and civil rights because he has appointed too many minorities and women to top Cabinet positions--and not enough to lower, less important jobs! Snort.

Betsy Newmark blogged The quota of politics, in their view, only counts when it favors the Democrats. We need to get beyond this labeling. They can't argue that Bush has been antagonistic to women and minorities in appointments, so they have to resort to arguments by pie graphs.

John M. Martin blogged If anything, House Democrats should be incensed at the Clinton Administration for doling out appointments to minorities and women only at lower level, lower paying positions and totally ignoring them at the Cabinet level. Hasn't the claim of a "glass ceiling" been the diversity knock on Corporate America for a number of years? If so, the same criticism should hold in the government sector under the Clinton Administration.

During the Bush Administration, the glass ceiling has been broken. Nevertheless, House Democrats are sifting through the shards to find evidence that this White House is less diverse than its predecessor, only to be cut to pieces in the process.

The Unalienable Right blogged This silly report says nothing about President Bush’s commitment to equal opportunity for all Americans; it says much about the obsession of the Democrats with judging people first by the color of their skin, or their sex, not by the content of their character. Of course all that is par for the course for the party of Jim Crow.

Incidentally, when 90%+ of black voters choose to be Democrats, are they going to be likely to apply for positions in a Republican administration? We’re sure the Democrats took that sort of thing into account when they did their ridiculous “study”, right?


What's Wrong with a Military Man as head of the CIA?

Betsy Newmark blogged Both Republicans and Democrats are all upset at the idea of a military man, Michael Hayden, being put in charge of the CIA. I just don't get what the big deal is. When we're at war, is it so bad to have a military man in charge of intelligence gathering at the CIA? What was okay about having him be in charge of the NSA, but now is suddenly a problem at the CIA?

And why was it ok to have him second in command of all of the intelligence agencies, but not in charge of one of them.
Isn't it a good thing to have a man with such extensive experience in charge there?

John Ham of the John Locke Foundation wonders if any of those in Congress or in the media grumbling about Hayden's military background have ever heard of Admiral Stansfield Turner.
The effect of airbrushing Turner out of the story is to give credence to the argument that appointing a man with a military background as CIA director is the first step on the slippery slope to tyranny, that there’s a James Mattoon Scott in the Pentagon just waiting to take over the government.
Really what the senate is ticked about it is that they were working on a bill that would have required civilian leadership of the CIA, and just because they never got around to passing it, they still think it should be considered as if it had passed both houses and been signed by the President. Senators are idiots.
There is one glaring difference between the Turner appointment and the Hayden choice, however. Hayden actually knows something about intelligence.
That is a good reason for the Senate to oppose him.
As Edward Jay Espstein wrote in a commentary in 1985:
Although Turner had had little previous experience in intelligence, he viewed it simply as a problem of assessing data, or, as he described it to his son, nothing more than "bean' counting."
By all accounts, Hayden is an acknowledged expert on intelligence. As the Associated Press wrote on Sunday: “Hayden is widely respected in both parties for his long experience with intelligence, and many lawmakers said he could be a good candidate for some other job.”
The Democrats are licking their chops at the idea of pressing Hayden on the NSA surveillance program. I'm looking forward to hearing, and having the nation hear, Hayden's defense of that program.
I agree. The Democrats are going to make such fools of themselves opposing a Terrorist Surveilance Program that the general public supports, and there is no one better to explain it than Hayden.


Sarcasm and Da Vinci

Jay Tea sarcastically wrote on Wizbang As the release date of the filmed version of The Da Vinci Code draws nearer, a lot of Catholic officials are getting more and more disturbed. In fact, one Cardinal is urging that Catholics around the world not only boycott the film, but take legal action against the film's creators, distributors, and theatres. Once again, the Catholic Church is showing just how out of date and behind the times it is.

After all, we have seen how Muslims respond when a few cartoons are published; just think what they would have done if someone had written a book that said the entire basis for its faith was wrong.
If they REALLY wanted to garner the respect of the world and silence its detractors, here are some of the things they should have done first:

1) Issue a death sentence against Dan Brown, the book's author.
A death sentence would just take care of this world. Why not excommunicate him so he will go to Hell in the next world.
2) Hold massive riots against the book and movie.

3) Issue death threats against Tom Hanks and everyone else involved in the film.

4) Kill several people, such as book store employees who sold the novel, by beheading or some other gruesome manner.

5) Burn down book stores that stock the book.

Once they have created a suitable climate of fear around their wrath, THEN you have the authority to issue demands like those in these lawsuits. But those Catholics are just too dumb or too stubborn to recognize that Islam has proven the one true, sure-fire method for a religion to gain enough respect (or fear) to get its way around the world.

I suppose I should be glad the Catholics are as clueless as they are. After all, Dan Brown is a fellow New Hampshirite, and as a co-citizen of his, I could easily be lynched in his place.


Jimmy Carter is an idiot

Jimmy Carter wrote in International Herald Tribune Innocent Palestinian people are being treated like animals,

Who is treating them like animals? The Hamas that they foolishly voted for? Call PETA to see what they think.
with the presumption that they are guilty of some crime. Because they voted for candidates who are members of Hamas, the United States government has become the driving force behind an apparently effective scheme of depriving the general public of income, access to the outside world and the necessities of life.
All we have done is stopped paying the Palestinian government. But why should we be paying them anyway. That is the job of the weathly Islamic Governments, and we see that their clerics agree
Overwhelmingly, these are school teachers, nurses, social workers, police officers, farm families, shopkeepers, and their employees and families who are just hoping for a better life. Public opinion polls conducted after the January parliamentary election show that 80 percent of Palestinians still want a peace agreement with Israel based on the international road map premises.
Then they should not have voted for a terrorist organization that is totally uninterested in anything but killing Israelis.
Although Fatah party members refused to join Hamas in a coalition government, nearly 70 percent of Palestinians continue to support Fatah's leader, Mahmoud Abbas, as their president.
Hamas certainly doesn't. They want to kill him
It is almost a miracle that the Palestinians have been able to orchestrate three elections during the past 10 years, all of which have been honest, fair, strongly contested, without violence and with the results accepted by winners and losers. Among the 62 elections that have been monitored by us at the Carter Center, these are among the best in portraying the will of the people. One clear reason for the surprising Hamas victory for legislative seats was that the voters were in despair about prospects for peace.
And so they elected a terrorist group that does not want peace, and have turned their backs on a President that does want peace.
With American acquiescence, the Israelis had avoided any substantive peace talks for more than five years, regardless of who had been chosen to represent the Palestinian side as interlocutor.

The day after his party lost the election, Abbas told me that his own struggling government could not sustain itself financially with their daily lives and economy so severely disrupted, and access from Palestine to Israel and the outside world almost totally restricted. They were already $900 million in debt and had no way to meet the payroll for the following month.
That is the real reason they abandoned Fatah. It had stolen most of the money the US and the EU had been sending to the Palestinian Authority.
The additional restraints imposed on the new government are a planned and deliberate catastrophe for the citizens of the occupied territories, in hopes that Hamas will yield to the economic pressure.

With all their faults, Hamas leaders have continued to honor a temporary cease-fire, or hudna, during the past 18 months, and their spokesman told me that this "can be extended for two, 10 or even 50 years if the Israelis will reciprocate."
Why just a "temporary cease-fire? Why not enter into peace talks? Could it be because Hamas does not want peace?
Although Hamas leaders have refused to recognize the state of Israel while their territory is being occupied, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has expressed approval for peace talks between Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel.
But even if they come up with something, Hamas will not honor it because they dont support Abbas.
He added that if these negotiations result in an agreement that can be accepted by Palestinians, then the Hamas position regarding Israel would be changed.
The only thing Hamas would accept is destruction of the state of Israel.
Regardless of these intricate and long-term political interrelationships, it is unconscionable for Israel, the United States and others under their influence to continue punishing the innocent and already persecuted people of Palestine. The Israelis are withholding approximately $55 million a month in taxes and customs duties that, without dispute, belong to the Palestinians. Although some Arab nations have allocated funds for humanitarian purposes to alleviate human suffering, the U.S. government is threatening the financial existence of any Jordanian or other bank that dares to transfer this assistance into Palestine.

There is no way to predict what will happen in Palestine, but it would be a tragedy for the international community to abandon the hope that a peaceful coexistence of two states in the Holy Land is possible. Like Egypt and all other Arab nations before the Camp David Accords of 1978, and the Palestine Liberation Organization before the Oslo peace agreement of 1993, Hamas has so far refused to recognize the sovereign state of Israel as legitimate, with a right to live in peace. This is a matter of great concern to all of us, and the international community needs to probe for an acceptable way out of this quagmire. There is no doubt that Israelis and Palestinians both want a durable two-state solution, but depriving the people of Palestine of their basic human rights just to punish their elected leaders is not a path to peace.
I see absolutely no evidence that the Palestinians want that.
Kim Priestap at Wizbang blogged First, the international community hasn't abandoned hope that peace can happen between Israel and the PA. The Palestinians essentially did with its selection of Hamas. Second, why is it the "way out of this quagmire" rests only on the shoulders of the international community and not on the shoulders of the Palestinians?

The Palestinian people chose the terrorists of Hamas as their leaders. Hamas uses assassination and suicide bombings to eliminate their political and religious opponents* instead of compromise and diplomacy to work with them as the rest of the civilized world does. If this is what the Palestinian people want for their government, fine; the US government will respect their choice. It just won't fund it.


Andrea Clarke Has Died

Freedom Watch reported Melanie Childers sent me this email regarding her sister Andrea Clarke who passed yesterday at approximately 3:00 P.M.(CST). I know no further details surrounding Andrea's passing at this time other than what Melanie wrote, which better sumarizes the agony Andrea and her family suffered at the hands of the Texas medical community.

I blogged earlier May 3 and Apr 29 and Apr 28 and Apr 25

We don't know at this time whether St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital is responsible for her death, or whether what they did contributed to it, or whether God just decided it was time to call her Home, but certainly she is in a better place than St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston


Jacksonville man fatally shoots robber

AP Wire reported A father fatally shot a man who tried to rob his family as they waited early Saturday in their sport utility vehicle for a summer camp enrollment to open, authorities said. the alleged robber approached the driver's window, pointed a gun at the father and demanded money, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokesman Ken Jefferson told The Florida Times-Union. He then ordered the family of five to unlock one of the SUV's doors, Jefferson said. "The father, sensing something was wrong,

How did he "sense somethng was wrong"? Did it have anything to do with having a gun pointed at him?
decided to defend his family ... pulled out a gun and he shot and killed the suspect on the scene," Jefferson said. It was not clear if the father was licensed to carry a gun, Jefferson said.
Was the robber he shot licensed to carry a gun?
The father's 10-year-old son was somehow wounded during the shooting. Brevon Ricks remained hospitalized in critical condition late Saturday, officials said. The names of the other family members and the alleged robber were not released.
Must protect the "alleged" robber's privacy.
The family had been parked at the entrance of McGirts Creek Park, waiting to enroll their children in a summer camp, authorities said. Under a Florida law that took effect in October, people don't have to retreat before responding to an attack, and can use deadly force as long as they're in a place they legally have a right to be. It also gives immunity from criminal or civil charges to a shooter as long as the person shot is not a police officer.

Danny Carlton blogged Will the bullet riddled bodies of criminals prove a deterrent to crime? Liberals think not, but then again I think that's the whole problem—Liberals think not.
That is a very good point. Liberals think not. I believe they are so filled with hatred at not being in control that they are incapable of thought.


Allah Takes Over Church

The Brussels Journal reported The Belgian Bishops have opened their churches to illegal immigrants in order to pressurize the Belgian authorities to allow the immigrants to stay in the country. Most of the immigrant squatters in the churches are Muslims. They display banners in the church showing the name of Allah (picture taken in the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Brussels). The Belgian Bishops are so ignorant that they do not see what is going on: their churches are being turned into mosques before their very eyes.

What will these stupid bishops think when the Muslim squatters kick them out and install their own Muslim clerics and start insisting on Sharia law.
The Muslim squatters hold Islamic prayer services in the church. The altar has been moved and the statue of Our Lady covered by a cloth to hide her from the eyes of the Muslim believers.


Rove Is Using Threat of Loss to Stir G.O.P.

NYT To anyone who doubts the stakes for the White House in this year's midterm Congressional elections, consider that Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the Democrat who would become chairman of the Judiciary Committee if his party recaptured the House, has called for an inquiry into the possible impeachment of President Bush over the war in Iraq. Or listen to Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, who would run the Senate Judiciary Committee if the Democrats took the Senate. Mr. Leahy vowed in a recent interview to subpoena top administration officials, if he got the chance, to answer more questions about their secret eavesdropping program and what he considers faulty prewar intelligence. The prospect of the administration spending its last two years being grilled by angry Democrats under the heat of partisan spotlights has added urgency to the efforts by Karl Rove and Mr. Bush's political team to hang on to the Republican majorities in Congress.

Democrats, who don't have any plan except to attack the President, are trying to stir their base with promises of endless investigations. Where is the difference?


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Hamas armed force readies for action

Jerusalem Post Hamas's new security force is expected to start operating in the Gaza Strip next week, sources in the Palestinian Authority Interior Ministry said on Saturday. Meanwhile, Hamas leaders warned over the weekend of a new intifada and said they would "chop off" the head of anyone who works to bring down their cabinet.

Does that include campaigning against or voting against Hamas in the next election?


Israel foils plot to kill Palestinian president

Sunday Times A Hamas plot to assassinate Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has been thwarted after he was tipped off by Israeli intelligence.

Obviously this will tick Hamas off even more, but I wonder whether it will make Abbas more willing to work with Israel.
Hamas’s military wing, the Izza Din Al-Qassem, had planned to kill Abbas at his office in Gaza, intelligence sources said. Abbas, who became president of the Palestinian Authority last year after the death of Yasser Arafat, was formally warned of the danger by the Israelis and cancelled a planned visit to the territory. The murder plan is the clearest sign yet of the tensions inside the Palestinian Authority between Hamas, which swept to power after elections in January, and Abbas’s Fatah movement.


The murder of Atwar Bahjat

Sunday Times reported Even by the stupefying standards of Iraq’s unspeakable violence, the murder of Atwar Bahjat, one of the country’s top television journalists, was an act of exceptional cruelty. Nobody but her killers knew just how much she had suffered until a film showing her death on February 22 at the hands of two musclebound men in military uniforms emerged last week. Her family’s worst fears of what might have happened have been far exceeded by the reality.

Bahjat was abducted after making three live broadcasts from the edge of her native city of Samarra on the day its golden-domed Shi’ite mosque was blown up, allegedly by Sunni terrorists. Roadblocks prevented her from entering the city and her anxiety was obvious to everyone who saw her final report. Night was falling and tensions were high. Two men drove up in a pick-up truck, asking for her. She appealed to a small crowd that had gathered around her crew but nobody was willing to help her. It was reported at the time that she had been shot dead with her cameraman and sound man. We now know that it was not that swift for Bahjat. First she was stripped to the waist, a humiliation for any woman but particularly so for a pious Muslim who concealed her hair, arms and legs from men other than her father and brother.

It sounds like she was a good Muslim. I wonder if the men who killed her ever read Surat an-Nisa,093 (Quran 4.93) which says "If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (For ever): And the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him."
Then her arms were bound behind her back. A golden locket in the shape of Iraq that became her glittering trademark in front of the television cameras must have been removed at some point — it is nowhere to be seen in the grainy film, which was made by someone who pointed a mobile phone at her as she lay on a patch of earth in mortal terror. By the time filming begins, the condemned woman has been blindfolded with a white bandage.

It is stained with blood that trickles from a wound on the left side of her head. She is moaning, although whether from the pain of what has already been done to her or from the fear of what is about to be inflicted is unclear. Just as Bahjat bore witness to countless atrocities that she covered for her television station, Al-Arabiya, during Iraq’s descent into sectarian conflict, so the recording of her execution embodies the depths of the country’s depravity after three years of war.

A large man dressed in military fatigues, boots and cap approaches from behind and covers her mouth with his left hand. In his right hand, he clutches a large knife with a black handle and an 8in blade. He proceeds to cut her throat from the middle, slicing from side to side. Her cries — “Ah, ah, ah” — can be heard above the “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) intoned by the holder of the mobile phone.
Do they think that by saying “Allahu akbar” they will avoid the penalty called for by Quran 4.93?
Even then, there is no quick release for Bahjat. Her executioner suddenly stands up, his job only half done. A second man in a dark T-shirt and camouflage trousers places his right khaki boot on her abdomen and pushes down hard eight times, forcing a rush of blood from her wounds as she moves her head from right to left. Only now does the executioner return to finish the task. He hacks off her head and drops it to the ground, then picks it up again and perches it on her bare chest so that it faces the film-maker in a grotesque parody of one of her pieces to camera. The voice of one of the Arab world’s most highly regarded and outspoken journalists has been silenced. She was 30.

Robert Spencer blogged Anyone who thinks that God's greatness is established by such acts of barbaric cruelty must be resisted at all costs. Yet those who hold to the same ideology, and who think that God Himself will grant Paradise to those who "kill and are killed" for Him (Qur'an 9:111), are streaming into Western countries, by the design and forethought of Western leaders, with no attempt whatsoever made to determine whether or not they approve of such slaughters and the ideology that motivates them. This is insane.

Greyhawk blogged Regardless of which side in the conflict killed her (and I have my own thoughts on that - in the eyes of her killers her greatest crime was most likely being a woman outside of a kitchen) the London Times reporter can't resist a mild apology for their act:
Just as Bahjat bore witness to countless atrocities that she covered for her television station, Al-Arabiya, during Iraq’s descent into sectarian conflict, so the recording of her execution embodies the depths of the country’s depravity after three years of war.
In truth, it represents a depth of depravity achieved over centuries. From the description, her killers hadn't just conceived or improvised their method execution on the spot - they seem to have been well practiced. But such is the nature of the enemy in this war, and perhaps this is their most sacred and well honed knowledge: if a brutality can be inflicted that exceeds all human ability to comprehend, the humans will find a way to deny it. Or excuse it. Or simply look the other way.

Michelle Malkin blogged Insanely evil.