When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

August 31, 2005

Katrina

Bravo Romeo Delta

Out of curiosity, I mooked around to see what global reaction has been to the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

Interestingly, the same Germany that produced the noxious commentary of a Minister indicating that the US basically had it coming given our turndown of Kyoto, is also the home of Der Spiegel which had some interesting links.  First, was a set of letters to Der Speigel remarking on German commentary about the Hurricane.  Similarly, Der Spiegel also ran a bit about the same remarks by the German government official who shot his mouth off - in this article they didn't seem to either condone or condemn the statement, but simply related his defense of his argument.

The other interesting articles are these: Disaster 101: Why Europe Hasn't Jumped to Help Katrina's Victims which has a few interesting bits:

"Yet, in Europe, the Web sites of major aid organizations -- including international branches of the Red Cross in Germany, France, England etc. -- don't even mention its existence. Instead, they continue to highlight such worthy causes as hunger in Niger, ongoing aid for victims of December's South Asian tsunami and, in the French case, an airline crash in Venezuela. But the US Gulf Coast is nowhere to be found. It begs the question: Don't the desperate people of Louisiana and Mississippi need the world's help and attention?"

The article does hem and haw about the question, but the fact that it was raised is interesting in and of itself.  But the more warming bit was the article linked at bottom which had links to sites taking donations for Hurricane victims.

At any rate, I got curious and decided to do a quick survey of how folks are mobilizing (if at all) to support Hurricane victims.

First Batch - National Red Cross Organizations:

Folks Who Get Credit:

The British Red Cross mentions the Hurricane on their main page as a feature item.  Likewise, the Germans do a creditable job (but you might miss it if your German is rusty - just look for Wirbelsturm Katrina).  Props to the denizens of the Great White North, as the Canadian Red Cross has a Katrina appeal up. Likewise, the Swedish and Dutch Red Cross Organizations also mention the Hurricane on their home pages.  They don't seem to have made it a marquee item, but then again the water's still rising, so failure to publicize a whole lot isn't really indicative of much of anything.

Folks Who Get Some Credit:

The Danish Red Cross does have an article on its site about Katrina, but nothing is visible on the main page (as far as I can tell), and one has to search the site to find hurricane information.

Folks Who Don't:
Norway, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Ireland.

Somewhat disappointingly, Japan's Red Cross doesn't seem to have anything up - but I wonder if that's not a function of some other problem, as it appears that their frequent news updates halted some months ago - they haven't posted anything about the Niger famine, so I suspect this may not be an omission so much as a fail to keep the site current.

For what it's worth, Poland, Indonesia, and Latvian Red Cross sites don't seem to have anything, but then again, they also don't seem to be constantly updated, highly dynamic sites, so it might not mean much.  I also poked around some of the Southeast Asian Red Cross sites to see if reciprocity would be forthcoming, and I didn't see any evidence of that, but on the other hand asking Tsunami devastated Indonesia to turn around and send emergency relief aid to the US is a bit much.

Second Batch: 19 Organizations Listed on Tsunamis.com as organizations to contribute to for Tsunami Victims.

 Folks Who Get Credit:
AmericaCares and the American Red Cross both have a big section up - their American outfits, but it's still nice to see.  Another group that has stepped up is the American Friends Service Committee a very Quaker outfit - has a good hurricane section.  Similarly, the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee makes a strong showing and has already started a $2M campaign.  Food for the Hungry places Katrina at the top of it's Crisis update section - not at all flashy, but I find it impressive for an organization who's website is still labeled as "Asia Tsunami World Relief".  World Vision, Habitat for Humanity, MAP International and the World Emergency Relief folks all get props for their Katrina efforts.

Folks Who Get Some Credit:
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency - ADRA (the humanitarian agency of the Seventh-day Adventist church) does have a line item on their main page for the Hurricane, but seems to still be very heavily engaged in it's projects in Niger.  Direct Relief International does have an mention in passing, but doesn't appear to be on the ball quite yet.  Likewise the Church World Service has a slim offering - but then again doesn't seem to be a website built around big flashy front-end marketing, so this may not mean much.  Save the Children seems content to note that, in fact, sponsored children are safe following the hurricane.

Folks Who Don't:
The Christian Children's Fund has nada up front.  The International Rescue Committee (a group focused on refugees) doesn't have squat.  According to their tagline, their focus is on refugees from persecution and war, but if that's why they aren't involved in Katrina, I would like to know exactly what kind of war the Tsunami was that got them involved.  Likewise, Doctors Without Borders evidently doesn't seem to be under the impression that their assistance will be needed - maybe that will change once the Cholera starts to set in.

Third Batch - International Care

 Folks Who Get Credit

 Folks Who Get Some Credit

 Folks Who Don't:
Care Australia is apparently occupied with the notion that 'Adventure that leaves a good impression' and is cycling through Southeast Asia.  Likewise, Care Canada doesn't seem to be following the lead of their pals in the Canadian Red Cross.  Screw this - a quick check of all the international care sites accessible from Care International shows that there has been no hurricane at all, whatsoever.

Oxfam is also right up there following CARE's lead in blowing off Katrina.  Muslim Hands, a self-described 'truly world-wide charity' is under the impression that Hurricane Katrina happened on Mars, and is therefore, not part of their brief.  The British Disasters Emergency Committee - an 'Umbrella organisation which launches and coordinates responses to major disasters overseas' - seems to be taking the lead of Muslim Hands and has consigned New Orleans to Mars.

Summary, Conclusion, and I'm Done With This Post

Well, first off, there appears to be no particularly strong broad-based correlation on Tsunami efforts and Hurricane efforts.  As it turns out, most religious charities that participated in one have done so in the other.  Secular organizations have a much spottier record.  Secular groups in the US (or with strong apparent ties to the US - such as the Red Cross) are generally pretty helpful.  Their more international groups are pretty much a no-show.  Which is no surprise.

Of the folks who have lent a hand and those who haven't among the foreign Red Cross groups, I find it more than a bit interesting that of two of the more sympathetic folks, the UK and Germany, one is helping out in Iraq while the other isn't.  Conversely, of the Red Cross outfits that aren't helping, some, like France didn't send anyone, some like Italy did, and others, like Spain, did but changed their minds about it.  I'm not sure exactly what this means, other than not much.

Oh yeah, by the way, a quick perusal of Islamic Charities (with websites and whatnot) showed that they were about as likely as Christian Charities to help with the hurricane - in other words, they actually do make an effort practice that which is preached.

(Cross posted to Demosophia, Anticipatory Retaliation, and the Jawa Digest)

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 09:25 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0) | Missile Tracks
Naked Villainy Retaliates with: Hurricane Relief
The Glittering Eye Retaliates with: Eye on Katrina

August 19, 2005

Newt in Iowa and Liberalism 3.x

Demosophist

I just heard Newt on CSPAN giving a speech that sounded to me like a dry run of his Presidential campaign. He was asked, on a scale of 0 to 10, what the odds are that he'll run for President. He responded that it was somewhere between 1 and 10, which got a laugh. But... it's not zero! To my practiced political ear that sounds like something closer to 10 than 1.

He expressed his thoughts on a number of critical topics, from health care to the "Long War Against Irreconcilable Islam." To me, this sounds like the much awaited Liberalism 3.x. In this view Iraq is just a "campaign," although a clearly important one to us and to the Jihad. I'd also say that if Iowans are getting the idea that we're losing in Iraq that's understandable if their source of information is Mainstream Media. But the odds that Mainstream Media has it right this time are demonstrably zero. I'm not exaggerating when I say that they're not even in the ballpark. That doesn't mean we're winning "The Long War," though. In fact, I don't think we are. We're essentially attempting to fight Totalitarianism 3.x with the institutions and attitudes typical of Liberalism 2.x. [I'm using the term "liberalism" in its classic sense, not as a synonym for socialism or social democracy.] But our military is rapidly making the transition to Liberalism 3.x, and if Newt gets his say the rest of the country may soon follow. I'd vote for him. I thought his presentation was excellent, and I think he has an answer for those discouraged about Iraq, immigration, the economy, etc..

A friend of mine who is a farmer in Iowa and teaches at a small college there has been observing Newt's frequent appearances in the state over the summer, and has some thoughts. I'll post his comments as is, but hasten to add that they aren't my insights or opinions. If credit or blame is due, give it to him not me. So without further ado here's what the "Wise Farmer" has to say about Newt in Iowa:

Newt Gingrich has been in Iowa almost two weeks now, and furthermore, it is State Fair time. Yikes! That means he wants to run for President. I have been to one of his events, and have been following his little Iowa trip closely, making notes of the positions he mentions. In general, he's making inroads with Republicans and Independents, and is seen as doing "OK" but it varies quite a bit by issue. I thought maybe you might be interested in one observer's (me!) quick and dirty laundry list of how Newt's positions are playing to the Iowa audience

Playing well to Iowans:

1. Better control of, or close the borders

2. We're in a "50-70 year war against the irreconcilable wing of Islam"

3. Immigrants to speak English and adopt American culture

4. More science and math education

5. Music idols and sports stars as Dopers and Losers

6. Must reverse Court rulings that remove God from public life

7. His generally positive attitude about future and "we can fix problems"

8. He comes off as a thinker, and in command of many complicated issues

Playing poorly with Iowans:

1. "Real change requires real change" --- Just needs to ditch the line

2. Extraordinary danger of terrorism and dirty bombs daily -- seems a bit overblown out here

3. Any privatization or tinkering with Social Security (definitely still a Third Rail of Politics out here)

4. Any mention of the war in Iraq (other than "we support the troops") -- I don't think he knows what to say about this, sometimes he has appeared stumped when trying to offer realistic policy options without offending Pres. Bush's people. Even half of Iowa Republicans think we should phase out our involvement sooner rather than later, so he's in a tough spot on this one. Among all Iowa voters, only 35% support Bush's handling of the war. This is kind of a Republican's Achilles Heel in Iowa, I think. [Note: My thoughts on the possible meaning of this "disapproval." Not everyone thinks the President is too aggressive. Some think he's not aggressive enough.]

5. Criticizing Bill Clinton; many see this as kind of irrelevant to todays problems, though the radio talk show clowns keep criticizing him and many people like that. But from what Newt has said the past couple days, it looks like he has stopped mentioning Clinton at all, it didn't get him any traction.

6. CAFTA, he has stopped mentioning this after finding out that it was very unpopular with average people, other than with the big corporate-dominated commodity lobbying groups in DC

7. He has also stopped mentioning anything about gay marriage, it is a losing issue for him in Iowa either way

I can't tell:

1. Competitive threat from China and India, military threat from China

2. Lower taxes ( Iowans are not clamoring for lower taxes, since this year, our state government, 3 state universities, and many local governments all went broke, with some very real, visible, local consequences, so the tax-cutting issue is pretty dormant or quiescent now)

3. Farm subsidies; he is having a little difficult time because farm subsidies are immensely popular here, particularly with large corporate producers who are mostly Republican, yet Newt's own economics thinking seems to be anti-subsidy, so he is moving around on this and hasn't landed on a position that I can detect

4. Reduce regulations on business (it doesn't seem to whip 'em up like it did in the '80s and '90s)

It is clear to me that these guys use Iowa as a sounding board to see how things work oratorically and politically. It has been interesting to watch Newt, who is most certainly a sharp fellow, craft his statements out here.

Any thoughts? Keep watching Iowa...

After some consideration, he goes on to clarify:

I am just trying to call them as I see them. The President has not been in Iowa in over a year, and his popularity is running in the 35% to 45% range, depending on the issue. So in part, the key economic and foreign policy issues of Pres. Bush are not real hot for either Bush or Newt right now. I think Newt is figuring that out.

But an interesting flip side is that ALL of the culture-wars kinds of things Newt pushes, which are almost all in line with Pres. Bush (illegal immigrants an exception) are playing very well here.

Another way to look at it is, Newt is pretty smart and focused; he's not terribly worried about votes of Bush Republicans; he figures he'll get them (I know they could defect, but they usually don't in Iowa). He's trying to craft positions that will get the next 10% -15% on top of those Bush Republicans.

Maybe.

My intuition says that he'll get a lot of resistance from both the Moonbat Left and the Reactionary Conservatives, but that he ought to be able to overcome that by connecting directly with "the people." And it's entirely possible that his brief appearances with Hillary have helped him, more than her.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to )

Rusty's Blogger Military Service Survey

Demosophist

Regarding Rusty's military service survey of the blogosphere, a commenter objects:

Its disgusting that you legitimize this fraudulent meme of the Left, Rusty.

The meme SPQR is talking about is the often-repeated phrase "chickenhawk" tossed at war supporters who haven't served in the military, or (since G.W. Bush is a veteran, and therefore passes the test) haven't served in combat. Yes, it is a meme, but Rusty isn't legitimizing it. In fact, quite the opposite.

I'm certainly willing to stipulate that anyone who has been in combat has more "moral authority" than I to comment on the war, and I imagine Rusty is as well. But that's only one kind of authority, and it doesn't beatify any single veteran, which is apparently what the Left believes. Though Max Cleland has more moral authority than I, I have more intellectual authority. And to the extent that my intellect is consistent with what is right, and what has the greatest chance of saving the most lives and preserving civilization, I also have more moral clarity than Max does. That ought to count for something. Heck, it ought to count for quite a lot.

But the "chickenhawk" concept is fraudulent because it presumes:

1. That everyone who hasn't been in combat is assumed to be a coward; and

2. That, therefore, only those who have been in combat can legitimately support the war.

Which, of course, doesn't mean that assumed cowards can't oppose the war. According to the meme this is entirely consistent and morally non-problematic. What they can't do is support it; because, well... that'd be hypocritical. By such logic it's hypocritical to support criminal convictions and sentencing if you're not willing to apprehend the criminals yourself. And only those who are demonstrably willing to serve as policemen can cast a jury vote with any validity, or far that matter deserve protection from crime. So the options for an "assumed coward" (anyone who hasn't been in combat) are either to oppose the war, or shut the heck up.

And it isn't lost on these folks that combat veterans are vastly outnumbered by assumed cowards in our society, which guarantees the result they seek.

BUT if moral authority is a valid concept, and I think it is, even though I'm not willing to stipulate that it's everything, then only the votes of combat veterans carry significant weight one way or the other in that personal moral dimension. Robert Heinlein's SciFi classic Starship Troopers exemplifies this concept, by differentiating between "civilians," who haven't volunteered to serve in combat, and "citizens" who have.

So, the bottom line is that Rusty's project has merit, because intuitively its premise is that veterans have more moral weight in the debate, reflecting greater moral authority. And if that's the criterion, then our side almost certainly wins.

The thing that's fraudulent about the "chickenhawk" concept, is that it disenfranchises only the opposition, based not on some uniform criterion, but on their prospective vote.

Which, of course, is not only dumb but immoral.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia)

Chuck Hagel's Fretful Vision

Demosophist

My frickin' satellite TV is out, so I'm relying an a backup that has only CNN. Today, on the Wolfe Blitzer Show (or whatever it's called) Chuck Hagel was allowed, or encouraged, to pontificate in an especially headstrong manner. I'm going to have to paraphrase his remarks, because I just don't have access to the transcript yet, but essentially he responded to a question about crafting an "informed opinion" on Iraq with something like:

"Well, all I can do is rely on the same information available to the public, all of which seems to suggest that we're losing, rather than winning, in Iraq." [There were some references suggesting that electricity production is down, etc..]

Well, I beg to differ "Chuck" but you're a Senator who, presumabaly, has access to a great deal more information than we have as a private citizens. Plus you're pulling down the big bucks for your level of authority and responsibility. So just where do you get off making a statement claiming that you're just one of the crowd who sees Cindy Sheehan as credible?

Admittedly the statement is a paraphrase, but the gist of it is accurate. Daily Kos quotes Chuck as saying "Iraq could be worse than Vietnam." And Time Magazine quotes him as saying: "Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality," Hagel tells U.S. News. "It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq."

Really? Well, what I'd like to know is whether you've determined that nearly all of the milbloggers posting on the internet, as well as other on-the-ground "citizen journalists" like Michael Yon, are misinformed? Because, almost to a man, they're pretty clear that not only are we winning, but that as a factual matter we can't lose, unless we defeat ourselves. And if that's the case, then how can one characterize what you're saying as anything other than spectacularly stupid, or a tantalizing peek at schadenfreude?

Hagel is a conservative Republican, so it's not clear what interest he has in schadenfreude, unless he's in that paleo hot tub with Pat Buchanan. Now, I guess I can understand the idea that "sunny" depictions of the war are unrealistic and irritating, but I just don't see anyone who falls into the category of providing only sunny predictions. Granted, Cheney was off the reservation when he said that the insurgency is "in its last throes," but that could be the case for all we know. However, most people who know something seem to be saying, as one might expect, that Terror is a formidable enemy and that things are likely to get worse before they get better. Yes, they might well get worse. But that simply isn't the same as saying that we're "losing." The Battle of the Bulge in Europe, and Okinawa in the Pacific were both worse than anything that came before. Yet no one with the benefit of hindsight would say we were losing at that point, nor did anyone with sense say that at the time. The only doubts any of us ought to have about the ultimate outcome in Iraq are those resting uncomfortably on the assessments of folks like Chuck Hagel, who, in spite of having better access to information than the rest of us, seems to reap less actual understanding.

For what it's worth I think we're paying a higher price for winning than we ought to be, and part of that responsibility rests with the Bush administration, but I'm certainly not going to support someone whose first impulse is to whine that we're losing.

By the way, this might be a good time to check out Al Qaeda's Easy Seven Stage Master Plan; as long as you recognize that the further they wander from the present the greater the real uncertainty. "Chuck" apparently advocates just handing them Phase II without a fight. (h/t: Protein Wisdom)

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia)

August 18, 2005

Sounding Brass and Tinkling Cymbals

Demosophist

Phase II of the three-way war has begun in earnest. As Wretchard observes, the media are currently engaged in a discussion about how to dramatically portray the Iraq War with a sense of realism without signalling their hidden agenda. But, of course, they call that deliberation something else:

"It seems to me that if we make an overt political statement in 'Over There' about the war ... then immediately the debate becomes not only about policy, but it becomes about our politics, Chris' and mine, as opposed to a discussion or a provocation about the human consequences of war," Bochco said. "The moment we become overtly political, half the audience dismisses us and doesn't pay attention to us because they disagree with our politics. And the other half discuss us ... in the context of our political leanings. And that's just not what my goal is with this show."

So, they make a covert political statement instead, and couch it as artistic professionalism. This is a game that the "news" branch of media have been playing since the first APC rolled across the Kuwait border, couching the news as objective and balanced while determining the conclusion as surely as any Pravda article. And the heavy hand of propaganda has now made its way into the overtly "fictional" branch of media, who have apparently decided that the reportrayal of Iraq as a dessicated Vietnam will just have to do.

But, of course, the problem is that now, when they strike this bell, what emerges is much less like a ringing peal than a shallow tinkle, and the reverberations barely violate the boundaries of their echo chamber. For the first time the strategically opaque dramaturge of the entertainment industry is met by the naively transparent counterbalance of authoritative witnesses from the field, posting their contemporaneous experiences of the war in real time. The discourse is losing its constraints, and the memes no longer live forever.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia and The Jawa Report)

August 16, 2005

"Ventriloquizing the Dead"

Demosophist

James Joyner points to a critical article about the Sheehan phenomenon by Christopher Hitchens. In the article he coins an astonishingly powerful concept describing what Sheehan and others on the Left (and some on the Right) are attempting to do: "ventrilquizing the dead." I slightly disagree with The Hitch's point that Cindy has no more moral authority than anyone else, however. I don't think it outrageous to claim that Cindy Sheehan does have some moral authority that I, for instance, lack. But it seems to me that if there's such a thing as "moral standing" to comment on a war, it resides a great deal more with those who are actually serving, and especially those soldiers who have also lost friends and comrades in the fight. And it does make sense that those who pay the costs have greater moral authority that those of us who are shielded from sacrifice (by an administration that for some inexplicable reason refuses to ask very much of its citizenry). Let's be realistic.

But Cindy's moral authority hardly cancels that of everyone else, especially those with similar or greater authority, who disagree with her. Nor does it constitute "expertise," as many on the Left insist. Her expertise is singularly, even spectacularly, unimpressive. In that sense The Hitch has vastly greater authority than Cindy. And someone like Michael Yon has both moral and expert authority, as well as that special form of "expert" authority that comes directly from being on the scene: experiencial. Neither of which means that you can't disagree, but you do have a steeper hill to climb, let's face it.

Finally, there is a sense in which we probably should eschew the opinions of mothers, especially those who would almost certainly feel compelled to prevent their children from maturing into adulthood if they could manage to arrest their development. Ancient societies recognized, in ritual and institution, this wise limitation on motherhood when they separated boys from mothers as they entered puberty, and compelled them to undergo an intense initiation into manhood. Young men who failed to make this transition were simply not trusted around children.

It is extremely misguided, especially for a society at war, to institutionalize the extension of childhood beyond puberty, and even to seek to instill childish sentiments in its responsible and authoritative adults. This is the primary problem I have with Cindy Sheehan, and those who exploit her.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia)

August 12, 2005

About Those Approval Polls

Demosophist

Rob on Say Anything makes some valid points about the AP poll that the anti-war movement always cites when they want to make the case that they're now the majority. The party affiliation numbers suggests it's not very representative of either the total or the voting population. He might be going a little too far, however, when he states:

The bottom line is, I’m not sure I’m going to be trusting any more of these polls touted by the media. It just doesn’t seem like any of them are really all that representative of the true opinions and feelings of the people.

Well, it's going to be tough knowing the public attitude and values if we stop conducting polls. And you could tell pretty easily that this AP poll wasn't representative... which suggests that one needn't necessarily be skeptical of all polls. Let's try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I've helped design a number of academic surveys using reputable firms (like Angus Reid Group) and don't think it's wise to paint with such a broad brush. The cell phone problem is real, but there are countermeasures. And refusals that might bias the results have been around for a long time, so the same corrective measures would work with "don't call" lists. (Legitimate political surveys aren't included in the national "don't call" list anyway.)

By the way, to point out a problem that Rob didn't discuss: one thing that I rarely see mentioned in MSM coverage concerning polls that identify approval or disapproval of Bush's handling of the war is any attempt to distinguish between those who feel we're not sufficiently invested and those who feel we're too invested. Believe it or not there are quite a few folks who think Bush is "too liberal," and that we ought to be not only pressing the war against Syria and Iran, but that we also ought to engage against perfidious Arab media. MSM and the anti-war Left always assume that disapproval signifies "too conservative" (warmongering), which is simply not the case.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia, Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

Instapundit Having Second Thoughts About "Gay" Marrage?

Demosophist

This story has apparently inspired at least a few second thoughts about same-sex marriage from libertarian-minded Megan McArdle, posting for Glenn on Instapundit:

Seriously, I find it difficult to phrase an objection to this that does not basically hew to the anti-gay-marriage line: i.e. marriage in the west has traditionally been between two people who want to have sex with each other. The objection to this argument is the same one that pro-gay-marriage forces employed against those who claimed that marriage was for child-rearing: we allow all sorts of people who cannot have sex with each other (certain classes of parapalegics, for example) to wed, so how can you exclude these people on this grounds? I think it's funny, but if this sort of practice becomes more than a stunt, it seems very likely to me to weaken an already ailing institution.

Well that's the point. Now consider the unspoken consequences of that ailing institution: more family disruption leading to greater social upheaval, crime, and perhaps most importantly an IQ deficit created by poor early childhood parenting. Yes same-sex marriage isn't the whole problem, but it can't help. And it could hurt, quite a bit. (See Institute for Marriage and Public Policy)

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia, Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

Firey Coals

Demosophist

A commenter (Chris Hanson) on Confederate Yankee asks of the supporters of Cindy Sheehan:

"...what happened to your moral compass?"

This is becoming depressing for me. It was fine, for awhile, just to be on the "right side of history," but as these events have progressed and the original issues about the war have receded-- the stakes in Iraq becoming clearer and more obvious with each passing day--the manner in which the Left has chosen to destroy itself for what a friend of mine appropriately calls a "lust for peace" has surpassed any conception of foolishness that I might have thought possible. The spectacle of this mother placing her grief at the feet of such a self-destructive and destructively inclined movement isn't really resolved by any sort of anger I can manage to whip up against her. It's just plain sad, and sad in a way that transcends the sadness anyone must feel about the death of any individual (including a loved one). It's the sadness of discovering that good intentions not only don't equate to good judgment, but can easily transform into very very bad, even vicious, intentions. Why are we pulling apart, instead of together?

I read the other day about James Wolcott complaining that people like Roger L. Simon have "betrayed the Left" in their support for the war, but to me it seems precisely the opposite. For whatever moral legitimacy I had once ceded to the Left for the sake of its intention to support the misfortunate, or to serve as a brake on unfairness and selfishness, has been replaced by moral and political skepticism. And I don't imagine I'm alone. How could any movement that claims to take such ideals seriously, so seriously and wilfully betray them? How could any movement willing not just to argue for, but to insist on, the moral equivalence between Camp X-Ray and Auschwitz, or who reserves any esteem for our own generation's "Lord Haw Haw", or any one of a dozen or so similar travesties I could recall were I so inclined, ever again be entrusted with the public good? As Marc "Armed Liberal" Danziger asked recently: Why do you so hate the poor? This is a cataclysm. If you don't see that, you're not paying attention.

And just to put the final touch on what has to be yet another disillusioned flower child's naked lunch, it seems to me that George Bush's response to this crowd surging to press Mrs. Sheehan's grief in his face like a cream pie (while her own family recoils in shame) has simply and unambiguously canceled a wave of hatred... with generosity, tolerance and understanding. Which, frankly, makes me feel a little more optimistic about the long term.

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND

As a youth I left home and family behind
And joined up with a warrior clan
A rite of passage to becoming a man
The bridge between youth and adult I sought to span
Tempting fate through the rigors of a war's deadly grind

Sojurned across the sea with a band of hardy fellows
Strangers we were in a strange and deadly land
Delivered there by fate's uncompromising hand
Customs and tongues of the country an alien brand
Firey coals of deception fanned by a war's great bellows

A cultural clash putting us in a bind
Who was the foe
Was ever hard to know
Mistrust in our hearts did grow
No clear cut lines left us flying blind

Strangers we were in a strange land
Amidst a culture where life had little value
Where e'en the children were sacrificed on cue
Hatred within the mind was stirred like simmering stew
A culture so alien I couldn't understand

But I did my duty, served my tour
Then hung around for a little more
Not seeing the changes taking place at the core
Tripped on the threshold falling flat on my face upon the floor
Thence came the day I was ushered out the door

Returning home I found the land had changed
'Twas not the simple land of my father's but one of chaos
Strident voices and harsh words honed a keen sense of loss
Nerves now raw, trust was a coin toss
With former friends I was now estranged

Yea though I was home, the homeland was gone
All around I heard the littany of criticism and reprimand
The chanting crowds, their phrases canned
A firey wrath in my soul was fanned
Still a stranger in a strange and unfamiliar land
In my mind, for the homeland, I travel ever on

Roger D. (Hoagie) Hogan
4-28-2000

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia, Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

August 09, 2005

Suicide Bombers Wore What?

Demosophist

The Counterterrorism Blog notes that experts are concerned about mall attacks in the US, and suggest we study the Israeli model of profiling and interdiction:

Security guards need more training on that model, and mall customers need to recognize potential terrorists in their midst. Steve especially noted that one of the 7/7 London suicide bombers bought and wore perfume, apparently in preparation to meet his "72 virgins" as promised by jihadist propaganda.

These guys have been watching way too much Queer Eye if you ask me. After all, these 72 virgins are supposed to be a lock, right? I mean, it's not like you've got to win them over. So why wouldn't you just go with your everyday sweaty male musk, mixed with the telltale aphrodisiac of cordite? Perfume? What? Evening in Paris do you think? Or Obsession? (OK, so I don't know squat about perfume. I smell vaguely like Budweiser most of the time.)

Keep your noses peeled. It's your civic duty.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia, Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

August 06, 2005

Phase II of the War Against Liberalism?

Demosophist

Gosh, there are all kinds of new concepts suggesting themselves to me lately, from The First Counterwar to Totalitarianism 3.0. But juxtaposing Jeff Goldstein's observations about the use of the Western Left's rhetoric by the jihadists with the "Perfidious George's" poetic use of jihadist rhetoric (together with his prototypical neo-fascist smirk at the funny way Sharon says "terrorrrrrrize") to incite the "Arab Street," suggests that all three strains of Counter-enlightenment illiberalism (Marxism, Nazism and Islamism) have finally begun to merge. If the rhetoric has become one, will not actions soon follow?

[Note to people who still use the term "liberalism" to refer to the Left, or socialism: Get over it. The US together with the Scots invented liberalism in the 17th and 18th centuries, and it's about time we became its standard-bearers again. It's time we put a stop to the corruption of the term.]

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia, Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

August 05, 2005

Galloway Watch Update

Demosophist

See the video of George Galloway's descent into treason here. Note that at one point he mocks Sharon's Hebrew accent in one of the most blatant and mindless appeals to overt racism that I've ever seen outside the news footage of Neo Nazi retreats. If Blair is serious about expelling people who incite acts of terror it's time to either expel or jail this deranged fool. If the Brits fail to act this sort of thing will become entrenched, and ultimately nearly impossible to dislodge. (h/t: Totten)

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia, Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

The Galloway Syndrome: What Am I Missing?

Demosophist

George Galloway, as quoted byMEMRI:

"The real question is, after the evidence of Sykes-Picot 1, are you ready to accept Sykes-Picot 2? What does Sykes-Picot mean to the Arab world? Nothing except division, disunity, weakness, and failure. Two of your beautiful daughters are in the hands of foreigners - Jerusalem and Baghdad. The foreigners are doing to your daughters as they will. The daughters are crying for help, and the Arab world is silent. And some of them are collaborating with the rape of these two beautiful Arab daughters. Why? Because they are too weak and too corrupt to do anything about it. So this is what Sykes-Picot will do to the Arabs. Are you ready to have another hundred years like the hundred years you just had?"

Not only is this jaw-droppingly stupid, but there was a time when incitement against your own country, especially during a war, would have gotten you drawn and quartered. Not that a return to such barbarity is warranted, but there was a reason for it. Thomas Hobbes saw that the primal fear was the fear of violent death at the hands of one's fellow man, and that it is this fear which is the source of the "enlightened self interest" that motivates us to bond together to create and maintain civil order and to defend against external enemies. It is this that made treason the most heinous of all crimes. And he also rightly reasoned that the further we stray from a coherent connection to that primal fear, the more corrupt and vain we may become, and therefore the less likely to maintain those bonds that ensure security from the "state of nature." If Galloway and others are able to easily avoid the consequences of such "speech" (and if it's not seditious, I don't know what is) it will become an entrenched tradition among the disconnected and self-annihilating wishful thinkers of the West. But it still strikes us as more a matter of pathetic mental illness than corruption, because for most of us the assets of civilization are still more tangible than our fantasies.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia, Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

August 04, 2005

The Cole Twins and the First Counterwar

Demosophist

It actually took me awhile to figure out that Juan Cole wasn't just the hispanicized identity of John Cole. (There are actually some authors who interchangeably use both forms.) Juan Cole is a highly educated and esteemed idiotarian who has more in common with George Galloway than with his namesake, while John Cole is a pro-war blogger with occasional misgivings about the "how." But they both seem to agree about one thing: our leaders are a little schizophrenic about whether we're at war, and with whom. Read the comments to Michael J. Totten's Fisking Juan Cole and you'll soon see that there isn't even agreement within the Right about who or what we're fighting, so it's not at all surprising that consensus and conviction about the "how" are frequently unimpressive. Are we at war with Islamism? Well, what about the popularly elected Islamist government of Turkey? They're certainly a troublesome ally, but in spite of their frequent obstinacy Turkey continues to have a robust trade and defense relationship with Israel. We aren't at war with them, are we? And the Ba'ath remnants that our media insists on calling "insurgents" in Iraq aren't Islamists, are they? It can get confusing.

It might be more accurate to say that we're at war with "fascism," but so far we aren't even at war with other fascist regimes in the Middle East, including the Syrians. So, although Totten pictorially makes mincemeat of Juan Cole's preposterous claim that we're not really at war, the reality is that we're somewhere between war and a criminal justice enterprise.

And what Juan Cole and the other ivory-towered moonbats don't realize is that the only reason we haven't graduated to full-on war is that we've managed to fragment the enemy where they had coalesced, and to prevent them from coalescing where time was on their side, not ours. The pervasive mindset that we sometimes see erupting in the "Muslim Street" is not so much a consequence of US "aggression" as evidence of a tsunami set in motion some sixty years ago that we've caused to break before its time by deliberately launching a counter-wave. And yes, to that extent it's a lot closer to war than criminal justice, but it still has elements of the latter. It might be best to see this as the first full-scale counter-war. After all, the fact that crime involves the use of force doesn't mean that all force is criminal or there'd be no law-abiding behavior. And if the greatest evil is total war then lesser conflicts undertaken to forestall or control total war (and the Islamofascist war on civilians is, by definition, total war) are are properly viewed as analogous to anti-crime efforts.

For the first time in history we're intervening in those subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle social and cultural movements that would otherwise run their course to all-out total war. Mistakes in such a first-time enterprise ought to be expected, though because of the consequences they deserve low tolerance. There is a role, therefore, for people like John Cole and others who don't blindly accept every rationalization or justification for our actions. Even some of those who have unconditionally supported the Bush administration's strategy in the past now recognize that we're at a turning point. (See Wretchard and Michael Yon.)

It seems to me that what really motivates the idiotarians has a lot less to do with rational analysis than with this observation by Alexander Hamilton: "Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike." But it's still possible to get on board and participate in the enterprise, so there's ultimately nothing honorable about such opposition. It's a purely emotional and self-destructive impulse.

The area of disagreement among those who support the "counter-war" extends to disagreement about whether Islam, itself, is the real enemy. Well, it obviously could be Islam itself, if the jihadists are allowed to define it as they see fit. And those who believe this can hardly be blamed when there's so little principled or vocal opposition to jihadism from within the Ummah. So, if we're too late to prevent Islam's Civil War, as Victor Davis Hanson suggests (actively sought now by the jihadists largely because they're devoid of any better ideas) then at least that would clarify for us, and for the Ummah, exactly who it is we're at war with.

I think the nature of the turning point that some have sensed will be the decisive split within the Islamic world over the choice between Totalitarianism and Liberalism [1].

[1] Obviously I mean Liberalism in the classical rather than the partisan sense. The Liberalism of Jefferson, Adams, Madison and Washington.

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia, Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)

August 03, 2005

Steven Vincent, Blog Warrior/Correspondent, Murdered in Basra

Demosophist

Wretchard at The Belmont Club has a short piece on the murder of Steven Vincent in Basra, including some links to other information and stories. Fellow reporter Michael Yon has a short note pointing out that he had just communicated with Vincent and that the translator apparently survived. The National Review Online has Mr. Vincent's final article, dispatched just hours before his death: On Again, Off Again: A Power Problem in Basra.

A Test and a Recommendation

Demosophist

This is the first test of a piece of software that may allow me to publish posts to multiple blogs at the same time, greatly simplifying my life. (In case anyone is interested, the software is called "w.bloggar.")

And just so it's not a complete waste of electrons, watch out for Michael Yon's four-part series The Battle of Mosul, in which he will attempt to provide an unbiased and accurate picture of the struggle, and its potential for success. The first installment begins with Prelude.

Update: Just to update on the results of the test, it seems to work pretty well. You can only post simultaneously to multiple blogs if they're on the same server (account), but it's fairly easy to save the post and then reload it for posting to each account. I also sometimes get a message to the effect that posting has failed, when it hasn't, resulting in double posts.

I'm probably going to drop the reference to crossposting at the bottom from now on, because there are just too many of them. I'm currently posting to four blogs, including my own. Slightly dysfunctional, I know. But I'm waiting for my Pajamas Media offer (as is Jeff Goldstein, apparently).

(Cross-posted by Demosophist to Demosophia, Anticipatory Retaliation and The Jawa Report)


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