Friday, May 26, 2006

The Friday Furo Questus - Remember

Questus Furore - Remember
"Go tell the Spartans, thou that passeth by here,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie."
- inscription at Thermopylae

All we have of freedom, all we use or know -
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.
~Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue, 1899
Next Monday is Memorial Day. Between the barbeques, picnics, and boat trips, take a moment to remember.

Remember those that serve, those that served, and those "still on patrol." Ultimately, they did it for you and me.

They chose to serve something greater than themselves.

The Friday Furo Questus can be found, in its entirety, every Friday at The Wasatch Front.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Froth and Foam

It appears that the leftist faction of the Democratic Party is revealing itself, and the fact that all they really have to offer is emotion - no thought, no ideas, and no plans on how to truly engage the threat posed to our nation by radical Islam.

It St. Louis, a Democratic Congressman gives a venomous anti-Bush and anti-war speech.

In New York, Senator John McCain spoke to an unwelcoming crowd at the New School at . (In the course of which, McCain proves that he is a class act and the students at the New School proved that they are a bunch of... well, they proved themselves undeserving of his time.)

And in Connecticut, radicals are moving to upset one of the few prominent centrist Democrats, Senator Lieberman.

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent editorial on this today; here are a few of the choicer paragraphs:
Two events last Friday speak volumes about the direction of modern liberal politics, and it's not an encouraging trend, especially if you're a Democrat who wants to take back the White House.

The first is that antiwar candidate Ned Lamont captured a third of the delegates at Connecticut's Democratic Party convention, thus winning the right to challenge Senator Joe Lieberman in an August primary. The second is the nasty treatment of Senator John McCain by faculty and students during his commencement address at the New School in New York...

...The left's larger goal is to turn the Democratic Party solidly against the war on terror, and especially against its Iraq and Iran fronts. Mr. Lamont's performance will be noticed by Democratic Presidential hopefuls, some of whom (Al Gore, John Kerry) are already maneuvering to get to Hillary Rodham Clinton's antiwar left. Well before 2008, this passion will also drive sentiment among Democrats on Capitol Hill. If they recapture either the House or the Senate this fall, a legislative drive to withdraw from Iraq cannot be ruled out.

We doubt all of this will help Democrats with the larger electorate, which whatever its doubts about Iraq does not want a precipitous surrender. Americans haven't trusted a liberal Democrat with the White House during wartime since Vietnam, which is when the seeds of the current antiwar rage were planted. The great mistake that leading Democrats and anti-Communist liberals made during Vietnam was not speaking up against a left that was demanding retreat and sneering at our war heroes. Will any Democrat speak up now?

It's been a common refrain among liberal mouthpieces that the Republican Party have been "hijacked" by radical right-wingers and "Christian theocrats."

It strikes me that rather, it is the Democrats that are being hijacked - by parties that cannot accept that the world has radically changed in the last ten years, and those changes pose a real threat to the American people, if not the very idea of the republic.

Even now, prominent Democrats are planning invesigations and impeachment inquiries. (See James Robbins today at NRO.) They crow about pulling out of Iraq immediately. If this general mood is followed, they intend to roll back the Bush Presidency.

And then what?

We don't know, becuase neither do they. The plan is to turn the clock back to September 10th, 2001, and start over, pretending bin Laden never existed.

And then we get to do it all over again. And pay the price, all over again.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Rising Tide

Jihadism, the virulent and violent strain of Islam that has sent so many to their deaths, is only growing. In Turkey this week, a judge of considerable repute was murdered in the courtroom by a fanatic.

Such an act could happen here.
It has already been tried. From Andrew McCarthy in The Corner:
The Continuing Jihad After Apprehension
Others associated with al Qaeda have exhibited an unparalleled contempt for the criminal justice system, even after their apprehension and detention. For example, as noted in prior filings with Judge Sand and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, on June 22, 1999, the defendants [Wadi] el Hage [a key personal aide of bin Laden's] and [Mohammed Daoud] al-‘Owhali [who bombed the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, killing over 200 people] coordinated an attack in the courtroom. During the June 22nd court proceeding, el Hage demanded that Judge Sand read verbatim a letter el Hage wrote in which he blamed the U.S. Government (naming U.S. law enforcement officials) for the embassy bombings. Judge Sand refused to read the entire letter, instead providing a summary of the letter’s contents. Later during that proceeding, el Hage leaped out of the jury box (where all the defendants had been placed due to a lack of table space) and dashed toward the front of the courtroom, toward Judge Sand. El Hage was tackled by a Deputy U.S. Marshal on the steps leading to the bench, a few feet past the exit door and several feet from Judge Sand. [FOOTNOTE: After el Hage jumped from his seat in the jury box, al-‘Owhali interfered with one of the Deputy U.S. Marshals who attempted to pursue el Hage.]

This attack was followed by the vicious attack on Corrections Officer Louis Pepe on November 1, 2000. On that day, fellow officers and personnel in the Metropolitan Corrections Center in Manhattan responded to a body alarm, evidently triggered when Officer Pepe fell horizontally. What the rescue crew discovered when they approached a cell shared by Mamdouh Salim [another key bin Laden confidante] and Khalfan Khamis Mohammed [who had helped build the bomb detonated at the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam] ... was Officer Pepe lying on the ground with a “shank” stuck into his eye.[FOOTNOTE: Salim and Khalfan Mohammed, along with their co-defendants, had been paired up in a cell after complaints had been raised by a co-defendant about the allegedly deleterious effects of solitary confinement. After the attack, ... solitary confinement was re-instituted.] A later examination of Officer Pepe revealed that the shank had been rammed through his eye socket and over two inches into his brain. To this day, Officer Pepe is unable to care for himself and continues to suffer severe medical complications from the assault. A subsequent search of the prison cell in which Officer Pepe was stabbed uncovered several notes that indicated that Officer Pepe was brutally attacked as part of a broader plot to take hostages (including defense counsel) and escape from prison...
These post-apprehension efforts are unsurprising given the explicit instructions al Qaeda has provided to its members/associates. In April 2000, British law enforcement officials discovered a training manual in the Manchester residence of a known al Qaeda member. This manual, entitled “Declaration of Jihad Against the Country’s Tyrants – Military Series,” is a veritable how-to guide on al Qaeda terrorist activities. There is an entire section on the use of “secret writing” (invisible ink) and the use of ciphers and codes. Within this section, there is the instruction to use “an innocent-looking letter (family-personal greeting)” to pass on coded or secret messages. There is also a detailed description of several cipher systems that al Qaeda trains its members/associates, such as Moussaoui, to use. … Of even greater significance is the express instructions al Qaeda provides to its followers regarding continuing the jihad from prison. In this “Lesson,” al Qaeda tells its members/associates to “complain [to the court] of mistreatment while in prison.” The manual also instructs al Qaeda detainees to “[t]ake advantage of visits to communicate with brothers outside prison and exchange information that may be helpful to them in their work outside prison [according to what occurred during the investigations]. The importance of mastering the art of hiding messages is self evident here.”

That's the real world folks. That's what we're up against. Now we return you to our regular programming ... about whether President Bush should be impeached for trying to stop these nice people from killing us.
Such is the lay of the land nearly five years after 9/11. In that time, we have continued to refuse to acknowledge that our enemy knows us very well, and we know next to nothing about them.

They can and do game us. They use our laws against us, even as they seek to pull them down.

Some of that is to be expected; we cannot give up our freedoms. But nowhere does that enter into our thoughts. Where are our ideas on how to back them into a corner? To use their beliefs against them? To try to gain some initiative?

To watch the news, you'd think the terrorists have quit and disappeared. That Iraq is just a pointless sideshow, and Afghanistan a bitter memory. The Democrats still don't have a plan (it's only been five years) - do they have a clue? Do Republicans?

America's drifting back to a September tenth mindset. And if that happens, greater disaster will result.

The jihadists will not fade away.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Footnotes From The War On Terror

Mark Steyn:
Last week, apropos the Moussaoui case, I remarked on the absurdity of victims of the London Blitz demanding the German perpetrators be brought before a British court. Melanie Phillips, a columnist with the Daily Mail in London and author of the alarming new book Londonistan, responded dryly, "Ah, but if we were fighting World War Two now, we'd lose."

And an interview with James Lileks by Hugh Hewitt:
HH: Speaking of hardwired for nonsense, listen to this:

Patrick Leahy: Are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al Qaeda? If that's the case, we've really failed in any kind of a war on terror.

JL: Yeah.

HH: He goes on to say of course not...

JL: I know. I heard it. Exactly, because we all know that on 9/12, what President Bush said, I want you to collect as much useless information as you can and devote all of our resources to just looking at it. And then, putting out the little naughty bits that may be scintillating later, because that's what we're really all about. This is nonsense again, because what they're telling you, essentially, is that the Democratic platform is not to do any data mining, any sort of pattern matching. They want us to connect the dots, but they do not want us to collect the dots. The dots should apparently just walk up and volunteer, here I am. I'm a dot. And that's the extent of the War On Terror.
And then back to Mark Steyn:
It's certainly hard to imagine Pat Leahy as FDR or Harry Truman or any other warmongering Democrat of yore. To be sure, most of Pat's Vermont voters would say there is no war; it's just a lot of fearmongering got up by Bush and Cheney to distract from the chads they stole in Florida or whatever. And they're right -- if, by "war," you mean tank battles in the North African desert and air forces bombing English cities night after night. But today no country in the world can fight that kind of war with America. If that's all "war" is, then (once more by definition) there can be no war. If you seek to weaken, demoralize and bleed to death the United States and its allies, you can only do it asymmetrically -- by killing thousands of people and then demanding a criminal trial, by liaising with terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan and then demanding the government cease inspecting your phone records.

I yield to no one in my antipathy to government, but not everyone who's on the federal payroll is a boob, a time-server, a politically motivated malcontent or principal leak supplier to the New York Times. Suppose you're a savvy mid-level guy in Washington, you've just noticed a pattern, you think there might be something in it. But it requires enormous will to talk your bosses into agreeing to investigate further, and everyone up the chain is thinking, gee, if this gets out, will Pat Leahy haul me before the Senate and kill my promotion prospects? There was a lot of that before 9/11, and thousands died.

And five years on?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Persian Missive

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sent a letter to President Bush. While the press has tripped all over itself praising this apparent thaw in the crisis, that is only because they haven't read all eighteen pages. That, and they can't read Persian.

Fortunately, a translation (
available in its entirety here) has become available:
Dear Infidel Crusader Zionist sock-puppet Saudi-lackey depoiler of Mesopotamia woman-touching pigdog fiendish
(293 words excised)
Shah-licking son of a toad’s offal: I trust this finds you well. I have much on my mind, and have taken the pen to unburden my breast. I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope should you wish to reply.
. . . and if you had the problem I have with razors you would know why my beard seems so tentative at times; if I may speak with you man to anointed hastener of the Apocalypse, how do you get such a smooth shave? A hot towel? Perhaps the Five-Blade Razor of which we have heard muttered rumors? Personally, I use an exfoliating agent which

(8343 words excised)

. . . and Jack Bauer will not be able to save you this time, my friend. If there is an attack on our country we will double our aid to the Iraqi patriots, double our funding to Hezbollah and its female auxiliary wing Sisboombah, and double again our attempts to secrete through your borders weapons both chemical and biological.
I'm thinking dialogue isn't going to work, here.

actual translation is available here.)

[Crossposted to
The Wasatch Front.]

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

May 10, 1869

What was it the Engines said,
Pilots touching,—head to head
Facing on the single track,
Half a world behind each back?

Bret Harte

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

By Popular Demand

Politics has a math of its own. Whereas a scientifically minded person might see things this way: One person who says 2+2=5 is an idiot; two people who think 2+2=5 are two idiots; and a million people who think 2+2=5 are a whole lot of idiots—political math works differently. Let’s work backwards: if a million people think 2+2=5, then they are not a million idiots, but a “constituency.” If they are growing in number, they are also a “movement.” And, if you were not only the first person to proclaim 2+2=5, but you were the first to persuade others, then you, my friend, are not an idiot, but a visionary.
And that's just the first paragraph.

Jonah Goldberg has written
another great G-File. It's long - and it's good.

Populism is one of those stange political forces that everyone acknowledges but then try to ignore. Politicians don't like telling people they are wrong - it costs them votes.

Goldberg's article particularly piques my interest because of a new movement to eliminate the electoral college, which I consider patently wrongheaded. The topic may sound familiar to you -
Jamo has written about it before. This movement claims that the electoral college does not reflect the "will of the people."

That it fails to represent or honor the law is immaterial. As Goldberg writes,
[Populism] does not pretend to privilege objective truth or the best arguments or even justice—if by justice you mean an objective system of judgment which might rule against “the people.” For populists, “justice” is defined by the giant baby getting its bottle.
The electoral college was not created on a whim. Rather, it is the last defense against mobocracy. It is an arbiter of sectional and regional interests, balancing regional needs and popular whimsy.

It would be nice if those so eager to change or bypass the Constitution understood it first. But popular movements often depend on ignorance - as Huey P. Long proved.

To Be Continued...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Back From Reno

And I didn't even lose my shirt. Of course, it helps not to bet in the first place.

Got a lot of reading done on this trip. I finished Bernard Cornwell's Vagabond, and I was able to get into Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep.

I think Chandler is going to become a favorite of mine. He has a gift for prose, one that is fun to read as he takes you through the tawdry side of 1930s Los Angeles.

But that's another post for another day.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Heading Out To Reno

Photo from Declan McCullagh Photography.

Heading out to Reno on business. (Yeah, I've been travelling a lot lately, haven't I?) Hopefully I can get a little trainwatching in too - Sparks yard is right by the airport, and Donner Pass is just a little ways away. (No snowplow action this time of year, though.)

week, although I will try to stop in and get a discussion going on that
alternative fuels article.

If I'm not back Friday afternoon, you can assume one of three things:
(1) I missed my flight;
(2) I'm in
Folsom Prison;
(3) I hit the jackpot and am on my way to my new mansion in Tahiti.

In other words - I'll be back Friday.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Ashes of May Day

In all the fuss and bother of the supposed immigrant strike of yesterday, I failed to make note of something more important.

In the not-so-glorious days of Soviet Russia, May 1st was a big deal. The Soviets celebrated the little people, the workers, the proletariat, for a whole day. Speeches, dances, and parades of nuclear weapons (to kill the American workers) were paraded sbout. Leftists worldwide would sigh together in near-orgiastic bliss, waiting for the day when the Soviets would liberate them fom this strict and crass capitalistic society based on free will, leaving them to instead live Commie-style, with all the wonderful shortages, secret arrests, and miseries that entailed.

I never said those leftists were logical.

Now, I'll refer you to
Jonathan Wilde at Catallarchy. Remember Communism's victims - and remebember that while that ideology has faded, it has not disappeared. There are far too many who still believe it to be a wonderful idea applied badly. (But that's another post for another day.)

Monday, May 01, 2006

United 93

I saw United 93 Friday night.

It is said that art is a mirror; your view of the subject informs your opinion of the art. Surveying the critical reaction to the film, the saying is true.

One of the criticisms I heard is that the movie doesn't describe the characters. Actually, I think that was the movie's point.

The movie starts out, after its initial introduction, with standard airport scenes. A lot of travellers in an airport waiting area, the pilots doing their walkaround, the stewardesses arriving and preparing the plane. Air traffic controllers are managing a typical morning travel rush. The Air National Guard is preparing to run an exercise.

In other words, it was an ordinary, typical late summer day. Just like September 11th, 2001 was.

And the movie is about ordinary people, who find themselves thrust into an unimaginable nightmare. It is the story of their response, as the air traffic control tries to figure out what is happening and the military tries to respond, despite poor communications and bad information, and the precedents that were shattered.

One thing I was reminded of was just how shocking it was that a hijacked plane was used as a weapon. In all previous American hijackings, the target was the passengers, and the plan was to ransom them. On September 11th, the planes were the targets, and the hijackers intended to use them as weapons. It was a dramatic change, one we simply were not ready for - and the resultant shock enabled the hijackers to successfully complete their suicide missions.

Except in the case of United 93. That flight had been delayed, and the hijackers had waited; by the time they had turned back over Pennsylvania, the passengers had figured out what was happening and did something about it.

And they were just ordinary people. People like you and me. It could just have easily been us - which begs the question: Could I have done that?

In the end, your view of the movie will depend on what baggage you bring with you into the theater.

I do recommend you see it, if for nothing more than to remember that day and the heroism of some ordinary Americans.