Tuesday, November 29, 2005
And the player's union in this league is worthless. Where's my bennies?
Oh. They don't come until the contract is signed? Well, rats.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Whether the Lebanese government likes it or not, Lebanon will remain in a state of war with Israel as long as Syria says that it has to, and as long as Syria and Iran continue supporting Hezbollah's "resistance" and control of the border.Read the whole thing.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
The history of the Thanksgiving holiday is facinating; the tradition of declaring days of Thanksgiving goes back to colonial days, but did not become an annual holiday until 1863, in the middle of the Civil War. Lincoln in his own words:
Since then, Thanksgiving has been observed every year in the United States.
"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, 3 October 1863."
And as complaining and contrary as I can be from time to time, I have much for which to be thankful
I have my parents and sister, whom I love dearly, and for some reason love me. I have all the rest of my family, who have all been much better to me than I have ever deserved. I have my good and noble friends, who I consider an honor to know, and a gift indeed to call "friend."
I have my faith and my freedom. Many good and honorable men, too many, have sacrificed and died to bring me both of those. My mind is beggared for words to express my gratitude.
How do you thank the many who have served you, the many who have given of their substance or themselves to you, many without knowing it? How do you thank them?
How do you thank a brother, who willingly took your sins upon Him, to spare you an eternity in sorrow?
How do you thank a Heavenly Father, who gave you all that you have, even sacrificing His Only Begotten Son, so you might be able to see Him and bear His presence again?
All I can do is say thanks. Thank You. And now I promise to do all I can to live a life worthy of your gifts.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. And thank you.
Andrew McCarthy, writing in The Corner today:
Ed Epstein has stayed on the case and has done the 9/11 Commission one better: he has actually conducted something resembling an investigation into whether the top hijacker met with in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence agent five months before 9/11. Ed’s report on what he found out, after traveling to the Czech Republic and meeting with the BIS (i.e., Czech Intelligence) officials who were personally involved in the matter is featured in the Wall Street Journal this morning (registration required).
His article will not be good news for the Richard Clarkes of Clinton revision-world, who maintain that the previous administration so intimidated Saddam after the attempted murder of the first President Bush in 1993 that the Iraqi dictator foreswore collaboration with terrorists against the U.S. – a claim that has never made any sense given that top Clinton officials (including the former president himself) continue to defend their Augugst 1998 bombing of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan on the ground that it was a joint Iraq/Qaeda/Sudan effort to develop weapons of mass destruction.
The bottom line, as Ed puts it, is that the Atta/Prague connection remains “consigned to a murky limbo” – largely thanks to American officials leaking the possibility while the Czechs were still trying to investigate it.
But this much is known – notwithstanding the energetic effort to suppress it by some former Clinton officials, Democrat partisans, and members of the intelligence community invested in the delusion that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and terrorism. In 1998, Saddam began trying to blow up an American target, Radio Free Europe in Prague, by having Jabir Salim, his consul to the Czech Republic (but in reality, his top intelligence agent there), attempt to recruit terrorists to carry out the mission. This intelligence became known when Salim defected, and Clinton administration was so concerned about it that it took several steps to protect the facility.
Salim was replaced by Ahmad al-Ani, whom the BIS was obviously interested in – interest that only intensified when the BIS learned he was trying to access explosives and make contacts with “foreign Arabs.” It came to a head on or about April 9, 2001, when al-Ani was observed getting into a car with an unknown Arab male who was later identified as Atta – an identification that has never been disproved, despite Herculean efforts to knock it down. The Atta identification did not happen until after 9/11 (when Atta’s photo was splashed across the international press), but the Czechs were so worried about whomever al-Ani had met with back in April that they decided to take no chances: al-Ani was expelled due to suspicion of terrorism – four months before 9/11.
In the end, the FBI cannot account for where Atta was between April 4 and April 11, 2001, or how he spent the $8000 cash he abruptly withdrew on April 4 before he disappeared for a week. (They’ve pointed to use of his cellphone in the U.S. during that timeframe, but that, of course, does not mean Atta was the one using the cellphone.) Nor can the FBI explain why Atta stopped in Prague in June 2000 right before flying to the U.S. to begin the 9/11 preparations. The Czechs, meanwhile, regard as “pure nonsense” al-Ani’s protestations that he was nowhere near Prague the day he was seen meeting the man a witness has identified as Atta.
This is Able Danger all over again. The "Atta in Prague" possibility never fit the 9/11 Commission’s narrative, so it was buried with a shoddy, slap-dash investigation -- the same treatment Able Danger got; the same treatment the Clinton Justice Department's dramatic heightening of "the wall" between criminal investigators and intelligence agents got; the same treatment the internal assessment of the Clinton administration's performance in the run-up to the Millennium bombing plot got, and so on.
Meanwhile, in 1998 alone, we have $300K going from Iraq to Zawahiri (al Qaeda’s number 2); bin Laden’s famous February fatwa calling for the murder of all Americans and prominently featuring, as part of the justification, U.S. actions against Iraq; meetings in Iraq between Qaeda members and Iraqi officials in March; meetings in Afghanistan between Iraqi officials and al Qaeda leaders in July; the embassy bombings in August, after which, of all potential targets, the Clinton administration chose to retaliate against al Shifa, believed to be an Iraq/Qaeda joint weapons venture; an Iraqi member of al Qaeda (now held in Guantanamo Bay) traveling with Iraqi Intelligence to Pakistan to plot chemical mortar attacks on the American and British embassies there; and Iraq seeking to recruit Arab terrorists to blow up Radio Free Europe. Oh, and in February 1999, Richard Clarke objected to a suggestion that U-2 flights be used to try to find bin Laden because, if bin Laden learned the walls were closing in, Clarke wrote to Sandy Berger that “old wiley Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad.”
But the anti-war left is probably right. There was no connection between Iraq and terrorism. None at all. I don’t know why the right-wing nuts keep insisting there was.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The United States is highly vulnerable to attack from electronic pulses caused by a nuclear blast in space, according to a new book on threats to U.S. security.Only need one nuke, and a ballistic missile...
A single nuclear weapon carried by a ballistic missile and detonated a few hundred miles over the United States would cause "catastrophe for the nation" by damaging electricity-based networks and infrastructure, including computers and telecommunications, according to "War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World."
An electromagnetic-pulse (EMP) attack uses X-rays and gamma rays produced in a nuclear blast in three separate waves of pulses, each with more damaging effects, and would take months or years to repair, the book states. The damage to unshielded electronics would be irreversible.Those rogue states have also been pursuing ballistic missile technology. Anybody remember that missile North Korea fired over Japan a couple of years ago?
The EMP danger was highlighted recently by a special congressional commission that has received little public attention and is considered a unique way for rogue states such as North Korea and Iran, or other enemies such as al Qaeda, to use nuclear weapons in the future.
But remember what our celebrities tell us: We're the bad guys. Just listen to Chris Matthews.
[P.S.: An aside - it would be nice if Mr. Matthews had the guts to say this in the United States, rather than in Canada where he assumes no one in his American audience can hear. But he lacks in that department, apparently.]
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Rep. Murtha wants us to pull out of Iraq. (Although his statement is hardly new, you wouldn't know that from the news. Hat tip to The Corner.)
What is it, Congressman? The sand people aren't worth our blood and treasure? They're too inferior to grasp the complexities of democracy?
Just leave them alone, and let them kill one another. If we don't bother them, they won't bother us, right? Right?
(And there's plenty more examples where these came from.)
Isolationism will not work. We can hide all we want. Eventually these terror groups will find some excuse to hate us and hit us again.
In Iraq, we are trying to effect a change. Trying to drain one of the fever swamps, and thus demonstrate to other peoples that they can too. Difficult? You bet. Will it work? Only God knows. But isn't it worth trying?
We have invested much in Afghanistan and especially Iraq in terms of blood and treasure. But The Iraqis have expended much more blood. If you really want to turn this into Vietnam, then yes, let's leave now. Let's abandon the Iraqis. If they don't tear themselves apart, Iran or Syria will move in, or we'll have Afghanistan 2.0, only this time flatter and with oil wells.
And we'll be rightfully damned for the cowards we are.
If you have a better idea, let's hear it. All I'm hearing is whining.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
"There is mercy which is weakness, and even treason against the common good."Once again, Senator McCain (R-Media) and the Senate are pushing a bill that looks good to the media but doesn't accomplish a blasted thing.
Andrew McCarthy today, writing in National Review Online:
Terrorists do not just flout the laws of war. They turn them into an offensive weapon. When they are not killing civilians, they are hiding among them. When they are not blowing up civilian infrastructure whether hotels, office buildings, or houses of worship they are using them as weapons depots, meeting halls, and war rooms.But here is the kicker:
...We don't know who they are or from which way they come. This is not a traditional foe. We can't conquer his territory. He doesn't have one. He's a nomad who trains in secret then sets up shop among innocents only long enough to kill. We can only desperately seek him out. We can only hope to kill or capture him before he uses the honor of true soldiers against them before he converts to his advantage their moment's hesitation, borne of dedication to a code that war is to be fought between warriors, not by opening fire on non-combatants.
Superior force and discipline are not enough against this adversary. We need intelligence. Intelligence is the single asset that stands between the terrorist and scores if not more of slaughtered civilians. Between the terrorist and murdered American military personnel. In the war on terror, as in no war before it, intelligence will be the difference between victory and defeat.
And if Senator John McCain has his way, the most urgently needed intelligence will be lost.
The grandstanding elements are plain enough. First, the whole exercise is a melodramatic condemnation of torture capitalizing on the Abu Ghraib scandal and isolated instances of prisoner abuse which, while deplorable, are not only infrequent by historical standards but compare favorably to the civilian detention system.Read the whole thing.
None of it is necessary. Torture is already against the law. It is, moreover, the intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain which is to say, much of the prisoner abuse that has prompted the current controversy has not been torture at all. Unpleasant? Yes. Sometimes sadistic and inexplicable? Undoubtedly. But not torture. And where it has been either torture or unjustifiable cruelty, it is being investigated, prosecuted, and severely punished.
Second, the McCain Amendment affects a high-minded prohibition against "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment." This, too, is a meaningless gesture Â except to the extent it will be perceived by McCain's breathless following in the mainstream media as a political slapdown of the president, the secretary of Defense, and the military brass.
That's because the provision does not change existing law a wit. In 1994, the United States ratified the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment (UNCAT).
But wait a minute, you say. Haven't commentators (like yours truly) noted that the Senate approved the treaty with a heavy caveat? Indeed it did. The Senate provided that the treaty was limited by the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Although those amendments call for due process and bar both coerced confessions and cruel and unusual punishments, they have largely been limited to judicial proceedings involving criminal defendants. Thus, they are essentially irrelevant to wartime detentions of alien enemy combatants.
So does the McCain Amendment change that? No. It contains exactly the same reservation. In fact, it expressly reiterates the UNCAT caveat and explicitly cites to it, lest there be any confusion. On this, again, it is all show and no substance.
So what's different? That question brings us to the suicide part. McCain wants to turn every enemy combatant into an honorable prisoner of war Â at least to the extent that such prisoners are protected under the Geneva Conventions against any type of coercive interrogation.
"All show and no substance." From the Senate. Gee, there's a surprise.
Here's the deal. I don't want to tie our hands. We did that in the 1970s, as a result of Senator Frank Church and his commission. He may have been great for the environment (I'm not convinced) but he was terribly destructive to our national security. Our intelligence establishment has still not recovered, over twenty years and one disastrous bolt from the blue later.
Now we want to do it again. No. Not this time.
First, we need to have faith in our people, that they will only use extreme force when they deem it absolutely necessary. And I want them to have the leeway to do so. I would choose to torture one man to save a city. And I don't like the idea of torture - it harkens back to the Inquisition.
Second, what's torture? I think it's putting some guy on the rack and seeing how much longer his arms can get. But the ACLU thinks putting a guy in a cold room or messing with his sleep patterns is torture. I disagree with the ACLU, and will continue to do so until they get their Iranian chapter up and running. I just can't make the leap in logic comparing turning the thermostat down to chopping people's heads off that the ACLU can.
Third, I want the bad guys to know it's no-holds-barred. Our enemies know no bounds. Prisoners are tortured and executed. They deliberately target civilians, as last week's bombings in Jordan should have proved to everyone's satisfaction. Indeed, they make no distinction between civilians and soldiers. Everyone is an equally valid target - "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" in gory application.
So why do such sub-human animals merit the full protections of civilized society? They shun our conventions and seek to overturn our ways of life. Tolerance, equality, and liberty are not in their lingo. And they are not citizens of our countries, either - they are foreigners, seeking to do us harm.
We very well may have been too merciful already. The wars against piracy are to my mind a good example civilized civlized society could handle murderous outlaws. When suspected pirates were captured, they received a military tribunal. The innocent were held until they could be dropped off at the next port. The guilty were immediately hung from the yardarm - no appeal. Harsh justice - but so were their crimes.
Al-Qaeda and their affiliated groups have made the civilized world their enemy, and they will not go away. They were targeting us before Iraq, and they will continue to target us regardless of what we do there.
Let's fight to win.
Monday, November 14, 2005
From the Associated Press:
Eight Sydney men arrested on terrorism charges may have been planning a bomb attack against the city's nuclear reactor, police said on Monday.And the perpetrators were home-grown fanatics.
Their Islamic spiritual leader, also charged with terrorism offences, told the men if they wanted to die for jihad they should inflict "maximum damage," according to a 21-page police court document.
The document outlines how the men, arrested last week in the nation's biggest security swoop, bought chemicals used in the London July 7 bombs, had bomb-making instructions in Arabic and videos entitled "Sheikh Osama's Training Course" and "Are you ready to die?"
Under the heading "Targets," police said three of the men were stopped near Sydney's Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in December 2004. A security gate lock had recently been cut.
Australia, a staunch U.S. ally with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has never suffered a major peacetime attack on home soil. The country has been on medium security alert since shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
I wonder what the risks of an attack by home-grown Muslim whackos is here in the U.S.? Probably much higher than I want to think about...
The age of everything back there is amazing. Yes, I know they're young compared to Europe. But when you realize that Salem was founded as a town 220 years before anyonee settled in Utah...
Well, it's an interesting perspective.
I was able to see the USS Constitution, Fenway Park, Lexington and Concord, and make it up to York, Maine.
More to follow.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Monday, November 07, 2005
Glenn Reynolds, writing at Instapundit, had this to say:
"CHIRAC VOWS ORDER AS FRENCH RIOTS SPREAD:" I was wondering if the blogosphere was making too much of this, but now I'm pretty sure the answer is no. Note the reference to other European nations being "unnerved." (Maybe they should offer to send troops. It's supposed to be the European Union, right?)He offers a link-rich roundup of posts here, and includes some links to some interesting analysis pieces. So, is this a European intifada - or the collapse of French urban policy? Who knows? While many are eager to turn this into a racial issue rather than a religious one, what pictures I've been able to find don't show a lot of blacks rioting - rather, the rioters are of Arab descent. Not being up on French demographics, I could be wrong; but I think there is more to this than readily meets the eye. The French government's utter inability to deal with this says something else about its weakened state.
A good round-up of last night's events can be found at Outside The Beltway here and here.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Shots fired as French riots escalateTake note of the identity of the rioters. Not easy to find, is it? Also note they are "North African," not Muslim. But Islam does appear to be an issue, since some of the happenings have occurred around mosques.
By Paul Carrel
BOBIGNY, France (Reuters) - Rioters shot at police and fire fighter crews in the worst night of a week of violence in poor suburbs that ring Paris, as France's conservative government struggled to quell the unrest.
Youths who rampaged on Wednesday night left a trail of burnt cars, buses and shops in nine suburbs north and east of Paris, home to North African and black African minorities frustrated at their failure to get jobs or recognition in French society.
"It's a dramatic situation. It is very serious and we fear that the events could even get worse tonight," said Francis Masanet, secretary general of the UNSA police trade union.
Rioters torched 177 vehicles and attacked a primary school and shopping centre, local officials said. Four police officers and two firefighters were hurt, including one with facial burns from a Molotov cocktail.
Prefect Jean-Francois Cordet, the government's top official in the Seine-Saint-Denis region, confirmed shots had been fired at police and fire crews in three separate incidents.
"Four live bullets were fired. Two shots were fired at La Courneuve against police. One shot was fired at Noisy-le-Sec against fire crews, and one shot was fired against a fire crew in Saint-Denis," he told a news conference.
Cordet did not say what sort of weapons had been fired but media said local police recovered shotgun cartridges from the scene at La Courneuve. No one was reported wounded.
Twenty-three people were in custody, he added.
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, accused by opponents of enflaming passions with his outspoken attacks on the "scum" behind the violence, maintained a conspicuously low profile.
He met Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin for a working lunch but neither man, rivals to lead the right in 2007 presidential elections, spoke out publicly over the escalation in the violence.
BAD FOR BUSINESS
At a supermarket in Bobigny's shopping centre, staff swept up broken glass and worried about the future.
"If this continues, I'll have to close. Clients are afraid. There's normally lots of people here at this time of the day," said a local cobbler who did not want to be named.
"It's because of the police that this is going on," said one black youth who did not want to be identified. "They are too violent. That's not what their job is."
Governments across Europe have been confronted with violence in deprived inner city areas, and the unrest in France comes despite Sarkozy's anti-crime drive led in the wake of President Jacques Chirac re-election in 2002, won on law and order issues.
Villepin has struggled to end squabbling within his cabinet over how to handle the disturbances that forced him to cancel a Canada trip.
The ruling Union for a Popular Majority is split between a pro-Sarkozy camp and rivals who support Chirac and Villepin, handing the opposition Socialists a rare chance to beat the conservatives over their much-vaunted record on crime.
"When you see what's gone on over the past three years, when neighbourhood police have been dismantled ... I think there's another failure to be noted," Socialist leader Francois Hollande said on French radio.
Sarkozy has scoffed at Socialist attacks, noting crime rose 15 percent during its last 5-year rule. He has sent 2,000 extra police to the areas to help enforce his "zero tolerance" on rioters.
Some leftwing police trade unions have criticised his policies and called for a return of neighbourhood police. One police union official described the unrest as a "civil war" and urged Sarkozy to impose a curfew in the affected areas.
The unrest erupted first in the Clichy-sous-Bois after two teenagers were electrocuted while apparently fleeing police during a local disturbance.
Local prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters police had not been chasing the pair when they clambered into an EDF substation, but he had opened an official probe to further investigate the matter.
(Additional reporting by Kerstin Gehmlich and Jon Boyle)
© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.
I'm not sure I agree that a lack of jobs is solely behind this violence. This is a clash of cultures as much as anything. I could be wrong, though. One of the biggest problems is that this is a very underreported story, at least in the American press.
The riots are in their eighth straight night right now, and seem to be worsening. What is going on, and why cannot the French restore order?
Update: Perhaps the riots are simply another symptom of cultural rot. See this article by Theodore Dalrymple for a more thorough look.
"Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand."
- St. Augustine
"American's solemn duty is to constantly renew its covenant with humanity to complete the grand work of human freedom that began two hundred years ago. This work, in its grandness and nobility, is not unlike the building of a magnificent cathedral. In the beginning, progress is slow and painstaking. The laying of the foundations and the raising of the walls is measured in decades rather than years. But as the arches and spires begin to emerge in the air, others join in, adding their faith and dedication and love, to speed the work to its completion. My friends, the world is that cathedral. And our children, if not we ourselves, will see the completed work -- the worldwide triumph of human freedom, the triumph of human freedom under God."
Ronald Reagan, 1991
"Remember this: When we come to the edge of our known world, we're standing on the shores of the infinite. Dip your hand in that limitless sea; you're touching the mystery of God's universe. Set sail across its waters and you embark on the boldest, most noble adventure of all. Out beyond our present horizons lie whole new continents of possibility, new worlds of hope waiting to be discovered. We've traveled far, but we've only begun our journey. There are hungry to feed, sicknesses to cure, and new worlds to explore. And this is no time for small plans or shrinking ambitions. We stand on the threshold of an epic age, an age of technological splendor and an explosion of human potential, an age for heroes.”
"Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!"
All around us are skeptics. Not a bad thing, entirely - it is good for someone to have a sober eye. Some take their "realism" to the edge of depression; nothing will work, it's hopeless, we're doomed.
I don't share that melancholy. We weren't placed here to fail.
That may sound overly religious to you, and my faith does indeed inform that belief.
I have no assurance that good will win, except in the end. And that comes only from my faith. If I could only trust in man, I'd have no assurance that good would prevail at all.
But. But what is the point of being here, if not to try. We weren't placed here to surrender. We have to try. We have too much yet to do.