Sunday, September 30, 2007

Good News, Bad News, Not News?

AFP (Agence Française de Presse) has reported that U.S. Military deaths in Iraq have fallen to the lowest point in fourteen months:

"US military losses in Iraq for September stood at 70 on Sunday, the lowest monthly figure since July last year, according to an AFP tally based on Pentagon figures."

In a follow-up story several hours later, AFP had this:

"In Anbar, there had been roughly 90 incidents during each of the first two weeks of the Muslim holy month this year compared to 415 during one week alone in 2006."

Here's the thing. Searching Google News for over six hours, I'm not seeing where AP or Reuters have that story. Searching Gooogle News for "iraq military deaths lowest" what came up hours after the first AFP story was an indication of fifteen stories. When I clicked the "show all", oddly enough only two came up and both were the same AFP story.

Somehow I think that if a major news agency reported "U.S. Military suffers highest death rate in Iraq in fourteen months", Google News would have a list of about fifteen hundred hits in something like two hours, and people would be getting trampled to death by Democrats careening towards micro-phones.

Hat tip Powerline.

The Assault on National Reason

Since the Vietnam War era and continuing through the current war in Iraq, we've had a longstanding national discussion about how appeals to emotion can undermine the national will during periods when success or failure in conflict is significantly dependent upon that will. I would suggest that in the same manner that we speak of a 'national will' in a strategic sense, we should also do so regarding a 'national reason'. There has been little or no discussion about how a continuous assault on national reason, intentional or otherwise, can undermine national will.

Reason and Will

Jean Porter,
Professor of Theology at Notre Dame has written:

"...will and reason do not operate in isolation from one another...reason and will are always in a process of dynamic interaction...reason presents the will with possible objects for pursuit, and suggests courses of action directed towards these goods..."

In a democratic nation, if national reason significantly gives way to the irrational in a large enough portion of the body politic, that national reason can fall below the threshold to where it can by consensus suggest or identify the action that the national will must pursue or persevere in to attain to the good?

I believe there has been a growing validating and dignifying (even if unintentional) of unreasonable conspiracy theory and the thought processes (or lack of same) that are the growth media of what is in effect an assault on national reason. This has come about due primarily to two factors. One, the media, driven by business decisions and the pursuit of revenue, has sought to foster conflict and continuation of a storyline based on the "unanswered questions" or "questions remain" theme. That has provided a media outlet for ideas and speculations that at one time would not have been dignified by such exposure. Two, politicians, primarily on the Democratic left, in the pursuit of politicall gain have fostered an environment where reflexive leaps to even the most absurd conspiracy theories is increasingly becoming an
accepted norm.

Further, enemies of ours, both foreign and domestic, who may not have conspired to bring about this assault on national reason have none-the-less recognized a weakness of ours that they believe they can exploit. Notable among those seeking to use conspiracy theory as an opening to undermine our national reason and thereby our national
will is the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I do not think Ahmadinejad will have much personal success in that in our country beyond such as the Daily Kos' self described "Jewish lesbian" with a "little crush" on the Iranian President and like folks on the fringe end of the fringe. However, I do believe it is worth noting that Ahmadinejad and others most surely believe an exploitable weakness exists, and with that proposition I agree.

Almost a year and a half ago at The American Thinker, Rick Moran
pointed out President Ahmadinejad's hat tipping to the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, aka the 'Truthers', in his letter to President Bush. Ahmadinejad asked how the 9/11 attacks could have been:

"...planned and executed without coordination with intelligence and security services...?"

That portion of the letter was largely ignored by the media. Ahmadinejad is something like the highest ranking poster boy on the planet for conspiracy theory. He has been spouting about Zionist conspiracy for years. He has charged that conspiracy with everything from the publishing of the
Mohammed cartoons to preventing him from attending the World Cup Games in Germany to the Zionist cabal oppressing America and Europe, including by control of the media. He uses conspiracy theory as a political tool in Iran, and seeks to use it as a weapon of division against us and our national will.

Divide and Conquer

In Scott Pelley's
interview of Ahmadinejad that aired shortly before his speech at the U.N., the Iranian President spoke on a theme that he has invoked before, the division of beliefs in the American body politic. When Pelly pointed out that the Iranian President must have known that a visit by Ahmadinejad to Ground Zero would infuriate Americans, Ahmadinejad shot back "How can you speak for the whole of the American nation?". He followed that with "The American nation is made up of 300 million people. There are different points of view over there...".

In his later
talk at Columbia University, Ahmadinejad said:

"First, the wrongdoers reveal only a part of the reality...and conceal the rest...they deceive people by...creating nonexistent enemies...and an insecure control all in the name of combating insecurity and order to justify their warmongering acts in different parts of the world...If the root causes of 9/11 are examined properly --why it was happened, what caused it, what were the conditions that led to it, who truly was involved, who was really involved..."

Ahmadinejad is targeting a segment of the American public he knows exists and hopes to provide with support and even growth.

On this last September 11th, Zogby released the results of a
poll about the 9/11 attacks showing that by their methodology 42.6% of Democrats, 30.5% of Independents and 19.2% of Republicans believe that the Bush administration either let 9/11 happen (had advance knowledge) or made it happen. Those results appear on page 8 of this pdf. If those results are even remotely to be believed, this is a frightening testament to the state of reason in our country and reveals the weakness that Ahmadinejad knows exists and is seeking to exploit.

The poll was commissioned by the '9/11 Truth' organization and
Press TV, an Iranian state media outlet. One easily understands why the Truthers at '9/11 Truth' would commission such a poll. One can also understand why the Iranians would do so, with details released shortly before Ahmadinejad arrived in New York, by connecting those two events. I believe that Ahmadinejad was hoping that a visit to Ground Zero would have given him a platform to connect to that audience.

Conspiracy happens. Years ago Wm. F. Buckley humorously offered up the quadrennial Democratic National Convention as clear and compelling evidence of that fact. There are of course various types of criminal, political, corporate and intelligence conspiracies. Conspiracies survive on secrecy and keeping the machinations of that conspiracy in the dark. As any mafia capo will tell you, assuming you could get him to talk, the fewer people who know of a conspiracy, the greater the chance of "keeping it quiet" and therefore pulling it off. Vice versa, the more people in the know the longer the odds of keeping the secret - a secret.

Grand Conspiracies

I will call conspiracies that can, do or could possibly succeed because there are a limited number of operatives involved a 'petite' conspiracy. Then there are I what I will call 'grand' conspiracies, of the type that many conspiracy theorists cling to and spread. They necessarily involve dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people "in the know" who will keep the secret under all circumstances, well past the point of reasonableness. Grand conspiracies, by their nature, are an assault on reason.

Like the poor, grand conspiracy theory adherents have and will always be with us. There will always be that portion of the population that is susceptible to and even eager to believe such. Some years ago, I had cause on numerous trying and tiring occasions to contend with an assortment of grand conspiracy theorists, including the neo-Nazi types. I concur with Rick Moran who
pointed out:

"The problem with debunking conspiracy one of time. It takes an enormous amount of time and effort to lay out the facts to refute these theories on a point by point basis..."

And also to my experience, Moran continues that even with a point by point debunking:

"...this is inadequate to the tidal wave of conspiracy spittle flowing from the corners of nutjob mouths."

I had spent hundreds of hours in point by point debunking for the sake of the observers of the debate, and not the person I was arguing with. I came to realize very early that overall ardent conspiracy theorists
cannot be reasoned with.

Patterns and Characteristics

I have followed more recent discussions, including with Truthers, engaged in by others. The 'unreasonable' and impossible to 'reason with' patterns of behavior and characteristics that I've seen demonstrated by grand conspiracy adherents inevitably manifest themselves. The logic, or illogic, of the person holding to the theory is simplistically linear while hiding behind an avalance of supposed facts , in the order of 'the rooster crowed, the sun rose, and therefore the rooster made the sun rise.' Only those 'facts' that provide linearity for the desired conspiracy conclusion have weight, and all others, whether mitigating or countering, are deemed irrelevant or simply ignored. The standard set by the conspiracy theorist is that the conspiratorial accusations have to be disproved beyond any shadow of a doubt or they stand. The conspiracy theorist pictures himself or herself in heroic terms, challenging power at considerable personal risk. Attempt to disprove the grand conspiracy theory is itself evidence of a conspiracy cover-up by the presumed conspirators and/or their lackeys, and demonstrates that the theory adherent has the conspirators unnerved. Persistent attacks on the veracity of the grand conspiracy theory is taken by the purveyor of the theory as persecution and attempts to enforce silence by the powerful forces of the conspiracy.

More importantly though are the characteristics the grand conspiracy theorist credits to those believed to be the conspirators. The presumed conspirators are inherently evil, totally without moral scruples. Nothing immoral is beyond them. The conspirators are invariably immensely powerful and able to accomplish extraordinary things as a matter of course. For example, they can pull off a plot that involves many dozens or hundreds or even thousands of co-conspirators with not one member of the conspiracy breaking ranks and divulging the secret for years or decades or more.

Grand conspiracy theories are nothing new in our history, but I cannot recall or find a situation where widespread acceptance of the theory could undermine our national will while we were faced with a threat. In battle, it is rarely necessary to completely annihilate the enemy force. It is much more possible and even desireable to inflict enough damage and casualties that the enemy no longer has the capacity to win and quits the fight. It is not dissimilar in the kind of struggle we are now in as it involves the national reason and therefore national will. Inflict enough damage on that national reason, and we may no longer have sufficient national will to prevail. That is what Ahmadinejad (and others) are working towards. That a large and possibly growing portion of the American body politic has allowed reason to give way to unreasonable grand conspiracy theory is a danger to us and our resolve.

The Pearl Harbor Conspiracy

The closest historical parallel to the 9/11 grand conspiracy theories of today is the Pearl Harbor conspiracy theory. Even so, where they are disimilar is noteworthy. As recounted in Ronald Lewin's 'The American Magic: Codes, Ciphers and the Defeat of Japan', during the election season of 1944, Republican Thomas Dewey was challenging FDR. Dewey and other Republicans in Congress had found out that the U.S. military had broken the Japanese diplomatic code (not Naval or military) prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. That led to questions somewhat familiar to our post 9/11 experience. Was the attack known about beforehand, could it have been prevented and did the FDR administration "drop the ball" as we would now say. Dewey and his advisors were considering whether they should bring the matter up in the campaign as an issue, and demand answers.

General George C. Marshall, the Chief of Staff of the Army, got wind of the consideration given by Dewey to going public on the matter. Marshall sent a letter to Dewey, asking that Dewey not make the matter public, for national security reasons. According to Marshall, that code was still being used by the Japanese attache in Berlin, and valuable intelligence was being picked up that was saving American lives. If the Japanese knew the code was broken, they would change it. Dewey acquiesced and did not bring up the issue in the campaign.

The conspiracy theory that FDR and the government knew about the attack beforehand but failed to prevent or prepare for it didn't get started in earnest until 1945, the year the war ended. It quickly evolved to the more sinister claim that Roosevelt goaded the Japanese into the attack and intentionally let Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Fleet suffer that attack in order to garner public support for the war with Germany that FDR wanted. This tale is often called the "Mother of All Conspiracies".

Contrast that to our post 9/11 situation. With the FDR conspiracy, the claim that a President allowed or even facilitated an attack so as to enter a war that he was eager to engage in came when the war had basically ended. A political attack on that President during an election was not engaged in out of patriotism during a time when our troops were in harm's way. While this conspiracy theory is still debated and supported by some today, it was not used or encouraged for partisan advantage against FDR and it never hurt the war effort.

A Politicl Liability or Tool?

In our time, politicians have found, or believe they have found the acceptance of conspiracy theories, petite and even absurdly grand, to be of benefit to them, and the potential cost to the nation is not even taken into consideration. While some Republicans, particularly during the Clinton administration, have explicitly or implicitly endorsed conspiracy theories, particularly about President Bill Clinton, it is the Democratic Party that for some years has been progressively granting dignity and validation to grand conspiracy theories and the thought processes that keep them alive and growing. If the Zogby poll is anything like accurate, Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to accept some kind of U.S. administration 9/11 conspiracy.

In the mid 1960s, the extremist and conspiracy theory laden John Birch Society, led by Robert Welch, was seen by many as the face of conservative-right politics in America. To Birchers like Welch, President Dwight David Eisenhower was a communist stooge. A group of young conservatives at National Review, including Wm. F. Buckley, William A. Rusher and Frank Meyer, publicly took on the Birchers, challenged their "paranoid and unpatriotic drivel" and drove them and other extremists out of the conservative right. That allowed the conservative movement to come to dominate the Republican Party and elect Ronald Reagan in 1980.

On the Democratic side, nothing like that has happened or is on the horizon. The current Democratic leadership has been both courting and encouraging the conspiracy theory extremists.


Watergate and the disgrace and resignation of a Republican President remains a great political triumph in Democrat folklore. In the wake of the Watergate scandal, the Democrats picked up three Senate and forty-nine House seats in the 1974 election, and the Presidency in 1976. There was indeed Watergate conspiracy, as there were also cracks as parties privy to the machinations broke silence. Yet most of what falls under the heading of Watergate was tawdry, banal, inept and at times indeed criminal, but criminal in ways that were far from unusual for either party at the time.

During the 1964 Johnson-Goldwater election, President Johnson had used both the FBI and CIA as political instruments against his opponent, including having agents bug Goldwater's campaign plane. Attorney General Robert Kennedy authorized the wiretaps of Martin Luther King, with the result that President Johnson could listen in on King's sexual encounters so as to presumably protect national security. But the Watergate mythos created by the Democrats and assisted by their media auxiliaries was that the Democrats had saved America from the tyrant and his slavish horde who would "shred the Constitution" and turn our freedoms to ash.

The back to back Reagan landslides and the election of Bush Sr. flummoxed the Democrats, who had been riding high post-Watergate. Desperate for a winning approach, Democrats began presenting elections in terms of good (them) vs evil (Republicans), and every election the possible harbinger of Armageddon should the Democrats lose. This presentation has also increasingly fit the conspiracy theorist's predisposition to believe that ones opponents are pure evil and totally without moral scruples.

Much has been said of the decline of even basic civility in our political discourse. It is quite true that the vituperation has increased, but it has not been noted that this is largely because the grounds for that has shifted.

Disagreement Becomes Evil

In broad generalization of earlier vituperation, Carter was a self righteous and pompous incompetent, Reagan was an intellectual lightweight with a dangerous "cowboy" attitude, Bush Sr. was an out of touch corporate lackey, and Clinton was a slick salesman and corrupt schemer. After a brief but ultimately failed trial run in 1992 and 1993 against Reagan, the tag of "evil" had to wait until George Bush Jr.

The October Surprise

In 1992, the Democratic led Congress investigated the charged October Surprise conspiracy of the 1980 election, followed by a Democrat led Senate investigation in 1993. The charge was that during that 1980 race, the Reagan camp was concerned about an October Surprise that would give Carter the election. By that October 1980, Iranian militants had been holding fifty-two American hostages since the previous November. The Republicans supposedly feared that if Carter managed to obtain the release of the hostages before the election, Carter would win. Reaganites supposedly made a deal with the Iranians that they would not release the hostages until after the election, thereby aiding Reagan and hurting Carter. The charge was blatantly moronic and the investigations a shameful exercise in "seeking political gain". The public was supposed to accept that if the week before the vote the hostages were released, a mass of voters would disregard the Carter double-digit trifecta of inflation, unemployment and interest rates, the first and only invasion by Soviet forces of a country beyond the Iron Curtain (Afghanistan) since the end of WWII and the previous three hundred and fifty odd days the hostages were held to proclaim "Great job, Jimmy!". Reagan's ten point plurality and forty-four to six state victory would supposedly have vanished.

Of course, the conspiracy theory assumed that Reagan and other top Republicans were evil enough to arrange for the continued holding of American citizens by a hostile power. That didn't sell with any but the then fringe true conspiracy believers.

The Democrats claimed they had to investigate because of the logical fallacy of "the seriousness of the charges". That was self serving political nonsense. I could make the charge that the masked man beheading Nick Berg in the video released by the terrorists in Iraq was none other than Democratic Congressman Barney Frank. That would be a most serious charge, but no one would take it seriously because there are no reasonable grounds to assume the charge holds any merit, no matter how serious the charge may be.

The Democrats dignified a scurrilous conspiracy theory that still holds water for the nutroots at Daily Kos. Incidentally, the most prominent proponent of the theory was former National Security Council member and now Professor at Columbia University, Dr. Gary Sick, author of the 1991 "October Surprise: America's Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan". Only days ago at American Thinker, editor Thomas Lifson linked to a commentary that alleges that Dr. Sick was instrumental in arranging for Ahmadinejad's speaking engagement at Columbia.

A Petite Lull

With the Democratic capture of the White House for the eight years of the Clinton administration (Jan. 1993 - Jan. 2001), the desperation driven appeal to conspiracy theory laid fairly dormant, but not totally.

In 1998, when the Monica Lewisnsky scandal was breaking, First Lady Hillary Clinton claimed the existence of a "vast right-wing conspiracy that had been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president." She went on to claim, with some justification, that the various Clinton scandals (Lewinsky, Whitewater, the White House Travel Office firings, the Arkansas State Troopers, Paula Jones, campaign financing, etc.) were being used by Republicans for political gain. However, the flood of scandals were not mere fabrications and were in large part indications of less than wholesome behavior by Clinton and those around him. At the time that Hillary said that, at least publicly she believed her husband's denial of the Lewinsky affair. And as the current Hsu affair shows, the kindest thing that can be said about the Clintons is that they never developed or exercised a finely tuned moral olfactory sense so as to avoid that which fails the smell test.

Even so, the numerous charges against Bill Clinton were overwhelmingly not built and maintained on the idea that President Clinton and his administration were inherently and thoroughly evil, intent on destroying the nation, its laws and Constitution, and eliminating freedom to usher in something like a police state. There was nothing as fantastic as the 1980 October Surprise conspiracy or equal to a charge that he lied and mislead the country into an unnecessary war that led to thousands of American dead. That degree of conspiracy theorizing took off in 2003 when Bush was President, and increased dramatically during and after his successful run for re-election in 2004.

The Wilson-Plame Affair

In the summer of 2003, not long after the invasion of Iraq, we had the Wilson-Plame affair. Plamegate was nothing other than an absurd conspiracy theory at its inception. The theme immediately latched onto by Democrats and their media auxiliaries was that members of the Bush administration had outed covert agent Valerie Plame to reporter Robert Novak, to punish her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, for an op-ed piece published in the NY Times. Wilson claimed that he had been sent to Niger by the CIA at the request of the Vice President's office to investigate possible purchases of nuclear material by Iraq, and that he had debunked any such idea. He further claimed that President Bush had lied in his SOTU speech when Bush said the "sixteen words". Several paragraphs down in a column published a week after Wilson's op-ed piece, Novak revealed almost offhandedly that it was confirmed to him by two administration officials that Wilson's wife was a CIA operative and that she was the person who recommended Wilson for the trip to Niger. That Wilson was sent by the CIA at the urging of his wife was both true, and by that time an essential but until then missing part of the story as the WSJ later pointed out. For a week, virtually the entire mass media until Novak's column had gotten the story wrong. Wilson intentionally mislead the media, and they and the lockstep left followed compliantly, down the path of presenting Wilson as something like the administration's "hand-picked" go-to-guy on investigating a WMD story. That was exactly how print, radio and television news presented the story and what gave the story "legs" until the Novak article. Novak asked what should be the good reporter's questions of "Who, How and Why" whereas the rest of the media just went where Wilson pointed. Years later, even the very same left blogger and Hillary campaign supporter who had touted the "hand-picked" story the day after Wilson's op-ed piece was apoplectically insisting that no one was so mislead by Wilson!

There was no attempt to explain why with the existence of myriad political critics of the Bush administration, Wilson-Plame had been singled out for punishment. It was never shown that Plame was even a covert agent or ever explained how the revelation 'punished' Wilson or Plame, who continued to work at the CIA for the next two years. No evidence of this conspiracy was ever uncovered after years of investigation by a Special Prosecutor. Wilson was indeed deserving of punishment, but not by the administration for criticizing it. He should have been punished in the press by the press for intentionally misleading them. However, two things prevented the press from doing so. One was that if they did, they would have to admit that they had been snookered, and probably willingly so. Second, exposing Wilson could conceivably help Bush, and that could not be allowed to happen.

So for many, the Wilson-Plame conspiracy stands, against all reason, and it fits the conspiracy theory mindset. Wilson falsely enlarged his own stature as the chosen investigator, so he would not be seen as what he was: a non-WMD-expert former State Department functionary with a disagreement with the administration. When countered by actual fact, he ran to conspiracy theory paranoia and the powerful forces seeking his punishment for speaking truth, and the Democratic left and the media ran with him. A reporter doing as reporters should do and not taking someone's story at face value but checking the facts was twisted to be a grand conspiracy. The result of it all was that the media gave a conspiracy theory fabricated pass to the man who more than any other led the charge that Bush lied about Hussein's WMDs, when the month before the invasion of Iraq the same man was arguing against the war on the grounds that Hussein most certainly had WMDs and would use them on our troops:

"There is now no incentive for Hussein to comply with the inspectors or to refrain from using weapons of mass destruction to defend himself if the United States comes after him. And he will use them; we should be under no illusion about that."

Misleading Us Into War

The Wilson-Plame affair opened the floodgates for the truly grand conspiracy that the Bush administration had mislead the nation into war by cherry picking, falsifying, corrupting and otherwise manipulating intelligence on Iraqi WMDs. "Bush lied - people died" became a mantra for the left. For that conspiracy to have worked, the Bush administration had to have had powers so diabolical and indeed magical that they managed to corrupt not only the product of our intelligence agencies, but also those of many other nations. Further, they had to have manipulated that intelligence even before they took office so as to mislead numerous Democrats in the years preceding their taking office. Even more, they had to have mislead Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector prior to the war to be concerned that Iraq might have been holding 1,000 tons of chemical agents that were unaccounted for.

The charge that Bush had mislead the country into war became a set piece of the Kerry campaign in 2004 and in his speeches since:

"There is no greater breach of the public trust than knowingly misleading the country into war."

Media Diversion Conspiracies

Speaking to Mort Kondracke and others, former Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright speculatively asked "Do you suppose that the Bush administration has Osama bin Laden hidden away somewhere and will bring him out before the election?' "

After the capture of Saddam Hussein, in a conspiracy mindset common to the comments section of Daily Kos whenever news that favors Bush is reported, Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott stated that the U.S. military could have captured Hussein:

"...a long time ago if they wanted. . . . Yeah. Oh, yeah. There's too much by happenstance for it to be just a coincidental thing. . . . It's funny, when they're having all this trouble, suddenly they have to roll out something."

Fahrenheit 911

During the summer of 2004 Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 911' was released. It was a scurrilous conspiracy fantasy masquerading as a documentary. The Democratic 'establishment' went to great lengths to grant credibilty to the absurdist claims in the film. At the Democratic convention later that summer, Americans got to see Moore sitting in former President Jimmy Carter's box. A Who's Who of Democratic Party leaders were shown on television attending a screening of the film, including then Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, Montana Sen. Max Baucus, South Carolina Sen. Ernest Hollings, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, New York Rep. Charles Rangel, Washington Rep. Jim McDermott, and DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe. Sen. Harkin was quoted by AP as saying that all Americans should see the film. DNC chairman McAuliffe was asked about the film's implication that we went to war in Afghanistan to allow Unocal to build a gas pipeline across the country to Dick Cheney's financial benefit. He answered "I believe it after seeing that." McAuliffe also answered in the affirmative when asked if the film was essentially fair and factually based.

As DNC chairman, McAuliffe traveled in a social and professional circle that included Democratic leaders of the Senate and House, and some of those sat on the various intelligence and defence committees. For McAuliffe, with those connections, to claim that he came to believe we went to war in Afghanistan over a gas pipeline and for private profit because he just saw it in a movie was a leading Democrat making appeal to and encouraging the basest grand conspiracy unreasoning lunatics in our society.

Stolen Elections

No matter which way it turned out, the 2000 election was going to leave bitterness in its wake. It was tremendously close, and the outcome was seen by many to have been determined by a judicial as opposed to an electorate decision. It was the Gore campaign, however, that first took the issue before the courts, and hoped it would end at the Florida and not Federal Supreme Court. The 2004 election was not so close, and the vote tally itself was decisive without recounts. Yet Democrats have persisted in feeding the idea of a conspiracy that stole the 2004 election. During the incident earlier this month at the University of Florida where student Andrew Meyer was tasered by campus police during a question and answer session with John Kerry, the taser story and Meyer's screams drowned out Kerry' remarks about that election. Meyer questioned why Kerry had not challenged the outcome of the election, citing the book 'Armed Madhouse' by Greg Palast. Palast's book claims to prove that the election was stolen. Kerry said he had "already read it" and said that his reason for not contesting the election was that "We just couldn't do it in good conscience because we didn't have that evidence." Kerry gave credibility and legitimacy to the absurd conspiracy theory. If Kerry were a man of principle and one who cared for our democratic system, he would have flatly stated the truth that he didn't contest the election simply because Bush had won and he had lost.

NSA Wiretaps

Shortly after the NY Times revealed details of the NSA intercept program, Democrats and the left went wild charging the administration with "spying on Americans", "invading our homes", "trampling our freedom", a "violation of constitutional rights and liberties" and engaging in "conduct right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors", the last from Senator Russ Feingold. From Sen. Pat Leahy we got "We need to know what our government is doing to spy upon Americans". Senator Jay Rockefeller had been briefed on the program as the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committe prior to the NY Times disclosure. He wrote the infamous CYA letter admitting that without the aid of others parties with whom he could not discuss the issue due to security, he was absolutely clueless as to what the program was about. The complexity was beyond him, and Rockefeller has never been accused of being the sharpest knife in the pile of discarded old knives. If he were a principled man, he would have asked to be replaced as ranking member by someone who could understand, acknowledging that of course the Intelligence Committee leadership would have to be privy to national security items they could not divulge to others. That would be sacificing the personal for the national good, and as such, it never happened. But the Rockefeller letter and subsequent events have indicated that the program was and is more complex than the Democrats realized (or cared about) when they were railing against the administration. In the last year, the issue quietly died down, with increased understanding and some fine tuning to sooth the Congress. However, the Democrats have never retracted the shrill and absurd charges made, leaving them permanently interwoven with the conspiracy theories about the Bush administration.

The Conspiracy Norm

Conspiracy theory, including the grand variety, is now commonplace. The unremarkable (by Democratic Party standards) dismissal of seven federal prosecutors whose four year terms had expired becomes a "coup d'etat" and "a secretive attempt to expand executive power" and the White House and Justice Department's "scheming is tainted with a nasty whiff of authoritarianism." Former VP Gore speaks of a conspiracy of polluters. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker were part of a conspiracy to cook the books on the Iraq war and Democratic members of the Senate and House went along with the theme if not the same words.

Add that and more up, and we have an administration so evil that it misleads a country into a war that costs many thousands of lives and does such things to financially reward its members and friends, violates our Constitution and laws with impunity, plots to put the families of political opponents in danger, spies on the average citizen, corrupts law enforcement, steals elections repeatedly, manipulates the intelligence product of our own and foreign agencies so as to further manipulate members of Congress even across space and time...

...and at what point are the '9/11 Truthers' that unreasonably far from the Democratic mainstream?

Reasonable people can have serious disagreements - reasonably. If those who are polluting our national reason continue down this road, we become more and more open to failure to counter threat to our survival as a society, from abroad, or from within, because we will not be able to reasonably arrive at a national consensus.

If the left and the media doing this cannot see the strategic danger to the nation, then they should at least see the danger to themselves and their positions. They should read the comments at Daily Kos, DU and the Huffington Post. They should notice something that should chill them to their bones. Every time the Democrats fail to counter something seen as Bushite, and every time the media reports a story seeming to help the Bushites - the Democrats and media are seen by a growing number as part of the 'evil conspiracy'.

Ahmadinejad and other foreigners will most certainly seek to attack our national reason and therefore national will to weaken us. But even if they fail, how long before the irrational horde the left and the media are busily creating turns and devours its creators?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

WSI: Missing Testifiers and/or Stories & Charges

Members of IVAW who have told of atrocities, war crimes or bad behavior by US forces who either did not testify at Winter Solider or whose testimony did not square with previous statements or reports:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Muslim on Muslim 'Hate Crimes'

If a Muslim citizen or resident was the victim of a crime for which the perpetrator was demonstrably motivated by hostility to that Muslim’s religious beliefs or practices, that crime would seem a clear cut violation of our federal and state hate crimes legislation. Would that be so, and importantly, should that be so, if the perpetrator is self described as a Muslim?

While I share some of the principled objections to the the ideas behind (thought crime) and flawed implementation of hate crimes legislation, they now exist at the federal level and in all but a handful of states. Right or wrong, they are effectively the law of the land. In accepting that, it is worth noting that some of the argument for such legislation was not without merit. Further, in the light of present or impending circumstances that were not considered when such laws were enacted, such circumstances may well be and well need to be addressed by those laws.

Hate crime legislation establishs a harsher penalty for one crime as compared to a similar one, based on a conclusion that the crime was motivated by bias, including a bias towards the victim’s race or religious beliefs and practices. During the politically driven tempest in a teapot about the Bush administrations "firing" of several federal prosecutors, a little sanity poked through as some pointed out that personnel decisions about such are a legitimate prioritizing function of the executive branch. Prosecutors, federal and local, cannot and do not prosecute every crime. There are simply not enough resources to ever do so. As such, any administration, federal or local, will decide which crimes deserve more focus, and staff accordingly as to who will best and even more energetically pursue such prosecutions. A federal or local prosecutor’s office may be directed to give greater priority to cases ranging from civil rights to organized crime to white collar or election fraud, and on and on, depending upon what is presumed to be the priority. It is of course hoped that such prioritizing is based on the good of the society.

Hate crime legisltation was and is in part a form of prioritizing for what is presumed to be the society’s good. There is a recognition that for many decades and even longer, bias that resulted in violence against members of identifiable groups was organized and even institutionalized, as with, for example, the Ku Klux Klan and brutal enforcement of Jim Crow laws. In effect, hate crime legislation is the society going on record as saying, firmy, "No more!" and backing that up with severe punitive action. While there was certainly intent on the part of supporters of such legislation that "hate groups", e.g., the Klan type, would be targets, it has not worked out that way. The overwhelming majority of "valid" (as opposed to "hyped") prosecutions have been against individuals ranging from unthinking adolosecents to one or a few demonstrable bigots. On the other hand, it can be claimed that such legislation has precisely scared off the organized type of bias driven violence by harsh treatment of individual acts.

Regardless, the concept of a society stating firmly that "this is not permitted" and backing that with puntive action is not without merit. In our present circumstances, we should be utilizing those laws for the good of society and all its members, to prosecute crimes that target Muslims as Muslims, even if the crimes are committed by those claiming to be Muslim. Whatever validity there is to hate crime legislation that is meant to address violence against African Americans based on their race, it has to be admitted that such laws came very, very late. In the present case, we may be able to get ahead of the curve, or perhaps catch up to it and use those laws more proactively, for the good of all society.

Intimidation, including by violence, of moderate Muslims by radical Muslims is a well developed topic, but has largely focused on other parts of the world, and not here at home. That has to change.

Last March the Canadian Broadcasting Company, on its show "The National", aired this two part series "Moderate Muslims Intimidated In Canada".

Also last year, an immigrant Muslim living in Tulsa named Jamal Miftah wrote a letter to the editor of the Tulsa World newspaper criticizing violent and radical Muslims like Ayman al-Zawahiri (Al Qaeda’s second in command). Not long afterwards Miftah was told to leave his Mosque because of the letter: He was surrounded by an intimidating crowd of perhaps fifteen men as leaders of the Mosque called him, and remember this, "anti-Islamic", "anti-Muslim" and "traitor".

At the University of Texas at San Antonio, the Muslim Students Association had made and posted videos on the Net, wherein young Muslim women are harassed and intimidated by other another Muslim because they are not wearing the hajib.

There is more in the same vein, but even so that all may be the tip of the iceberg. In these kinds of acts of intimidation, there is a decided whiff of "takfirism", the ideology that drives Al Qaeda and other radical and dangerous groups.

Takfir is the Arabic words used in some parts of the Islamic world for an apostate, someone who may claim to be a Muslim but in belief and/or practice is concluded by the practitioners of takfirism to have abandoned Islam. As such, the takfir or apostate is legitimately subject to punishment, up to and including death. Writing in the Weekly Standard, Frederick Kagan reports that anti-Al Qaeda Iraqis refer to AQI as "takfiri". Takfirism claims to seek a "purified" Islam, and the means used to achive that is more often than not violence against other Muslims, whether in Afghanistan under the Taleban or Iraq where AQI holds sway, or anywhere else that the takfiris believe they can get away with it.

When a Muslim in America like Mr. Miftah is called by his immam and Mosque leaders "anti Islamic" and "anti Musim", if takfirism takes root or has taken root, Mr. Miftah is under sentence of death.

This is a civil rights issue, and in this case, America need not wait many decades or more to wake up and protect the rights of those decent Muslim citizens and residents living in our society, and only after untold harm has been done to them. If an ultimate goal of hate crime legislation is to obstruct organizational and institutional attack on people because of their religion, any ideology or organization that targets Muslims because they are Muslims should rightfully come under hate crime scrutiny, regardless of who the perpetrators may be. This is also a strategic issue. Like the Nazi Brown Shirts of the 1930s and the Klan of many decades, takfirism will attract and recruit the bully boys, the sociopaths and the psycopaths who can claim to have found a compelling and legitimate reason for their bestiality toward their fellow man. It is the perverse violence of the takfiris in Anbar province that more than anything else led to the Anbar Awakening and the turning of the Sunnis against AQI. We cannot allow takfirism to take root here, as the racial supremiscist ideology of such as the Klan was able to take root. The consequences of that are not only a danger to the decent Muslims in our midst, but in a time when there is global terrorism driven by takfirist ideology, it is a danger to us all. We are in this together.

Civil rights organizations, and importantly Muslim civil rights organizations should strongly support a move toward seeking out and addressing firmly hate crimes committed against Muslims, because they are Muslims, by other presumed Muslims. C.A.I.R., the Council on American-Islamic Relations identifies itself as a civil rights organization. If they are sincere about protecting the civil rights of Muslim in this country, a recognition of the danger to those rights from radical and takfirists Muslims should be a concern to them, publicly addressed. The primary victims of takfirist ideology and organizations throughout the world have been Muslims. Not taking action to prevent intimidation and threats of violence or actual violence against Muslims will create a breeding ground for takfirism here. Hate crimes legislation, whatever its pros or cons, is on the books.

It’s time, or past time, for our society make the statement, and back it up with severe punitive action. In making it known that hate crime prosecution will be vigorously pursued against those who target Muslims for a presumed "impure" practice of Islam, we offer a powerful weapon of self defence to the targeted Muslim, the law enforcement power of the federal and state governments.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI Ain't Misbehavin'!

The lede of a TIME report from a few weeks ago on Pope Benedict XVI’s annual trip to Bavaria was "Will The Pope Behave in Austria?" Of course, that implies that previously the Pope misbehaved. Here is what the TIME authors present as that misbehavior:

"We now know, of course, that his Sept. 12, 2006, visit to... the University of Regensberg, would become the stage for the most significant moment of Benedict's papacy thus far. The provocative lecture about faith and reason, and the violence in Islam, set off riots in some corners of the Muslim world...Flinging the mild-mannered Benedict into the fire of breaking-news notoriety — with both his keen intelligence and striking lack of political acumen on fine display..."

Yes, those riots, as well as the unmentioned killing of Sister Leonella or calls by an Islamic cleric for Pope Benedict's death in responce to his earlier misbehavior are obviously the result of the Pope's "striking lack of political acumen"! In any event, the TIME authors have their answer. He’s misbehaving again! From the Daily Mail:

"The Pope has again risked provoking the wrath of the Islamic world, by criticising its treatment of Christians. Benedict XVI attacked Muslim nations where Christians are either persecuted or given the status of second-class citizens under the Shariah Islamic law. He also defended the rights of Muslims to convert to Christianity, an act which warrants the death penalty in many Islamic countries... the 80-year-old pontiff made a speech in ‘defence of religious liberty’, which, he said ‘is a fundamental, irrepressible, inalienable and inviolable right’...In a clear reference to Islam, he said: ‘The exercise of this freedom also includes the right to change religion...’... he added: ‘Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God's name and harbour an inexcusable contempt for human life.’"

"Political acumen" is what one supposes kept TIME from publishing the Mohammed cartoons, so readers might have known what the fuss was all about. TIME, after all, knows how to behave. Good TIME, good boy! Heel!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Queer Eye for the Fascist Guy the Daily Kos. No comment needed.

Hat tip to Gateway Pundit.

The Israeli Raid on Syria

The raid, for all that has been "confirmed" about it, remains "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma". The two things that stand out about it are:

One, that the customary voices that would either shout condemnation at Israel or those anonymous "officials" that would divulge everything about anything to the press - are largely silent! That is an indirect confirmation of very bad ju-ju and extreme upper government level discomfort.

Two, that North Korea was so amazingly fast out of the gate in public criticism. When Israel does anything that upsets so much of the world, NK would be way down the line in getting its protest noticed. Not this time.

Jack Kelly, writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has some interesting perspective.

Award Winning (Or Should Be) Blog Post Title

From Doug Ross@Journal:

Hillary in Deep Hsit

Rage Boy Advisory Issued

It has been two days since it was reported that Pope Benedict XVI delivered remarks said to have been critical of some practices in Muslim countries.

Due to this event and the expected aftermath, a Rage Boy Advisory is being issued today, September 23. While it is expected that it will take some time for the inevitable storm to form, this advisory is issued to let people prepare ahead of events.

It is expected that by Thursday, a Rage Boy Watch will be issued indicating that Rage Boy sightings are imminent.

It is also expected that by Friday, as Muslims worldwide attend their local Mosques, a Rage Boy Warning will be issued, indicating that Rage Boy can be expected to publicy display rage.

Rage Boy Spotters are asked to contact Snapped Shot with details of Rage Boy sightings.

U.N. Secretary General suspends disbelief....

From American Thinker:

"U.N. Secretary General Suspends Disbelief"

Read more.

MoveOn is running a full page ad in tomorrow's NY Times with the heading:

"Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon or Secretary-General Bushie Loon?"

MoveOn paid $18.63 for the fullpage ad, which a Times rep said is the standard rate for a second full page ad in a 30 day period.

Yes, Virginia, that last is satire.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Like a poetry reading but like not really...

Now this is new for me. A blog comment of mine (Democrats, MoveOn and the Monkey Trap) published at The American Thinker was read over the air at radio station WSKY in lovely Asheville, NC. The show was the WSKY Drive Time Happy Hour at 5:00 pm, hosted by Chip and Mr. PC. The piece was read with good ole Southern exhuberance!

Thanks to Chip and Mr. PC.

Update: Chip and Mr. PC (the Radio Gypsies) broadcast from Gainesville, Fla., not Asheville.

As Clarice Feldman writes at...

...The American Thinker, the inestimable blogger Beldar (a trial lawyer - but don't hold that against him!) "is head and shoulders above all other commentators" on the Rather suit against CBS.

Jonah Goldberg on Dan Rather

...and reading this while drinking a beverage can cause damage to your keyboard! Caution advised!

IVAW Members: Quotes, Posts, Articles

Posts and Articles on IVAW Member Statements and Actions
* Denotes that there is indication that IVAW member will testify at WSI

The Marines, the Bard and Plain Speaking

I have to give a warning to anyone reading this that I am going to allude to a word that some will find offensive. I don’t use or in this way allude to that word or others of its kind in postings and articles, but in this case, it is necessary. Please do not continue reading if allusion to the four letter "f" word will offend your sensibilities.

Op-For, a millblog site, quotes a statement reportedly made by Marine Corps Major General James Mattis, as recorded in Thomas E. Ricks’ "Fiasco". Gen. Mattis was speaking to some Iraqi tribal leaders when he is reported to have said:

"I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f**k with me, I'll kill you all."

To John at Op-For, that qualified as "Language so sweet it makes me want to light up a smoke and cuddle." One understands that sentiment, coming from the somewhat rough hewn community of the millbloggers. The quote is Pattonesque, as John points out.

The Marines, in particular, seem almost to consider off-color and vulgar language part and parcel of their war fighting equipment and even ordnance, to be used when appropriate and nothing else will quite do. That statement is also something more.

Second son has been Army SF these last several years, and would recognize the quote as something like standard military issue. Third son, however, has been studying acting those same several years, since he was fifteen. That was how old he was when I rented Kenneth Branagh’s film version of Shakespeare’s "Henry V". When the St. Crispin’s Day speech was almost at hand, I summoned the reluctant teen and made him watch and listen. Branagh’s King Harry finished with the words:

"And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day."

And the teenager was positively blown away. In moments he had me showing him the written words from our copy of ‘The Collected Works of…". I think he had the speech memorized by the next morning. Many times since as an acting student, when he has been asked to do something extemporaneous, he has launched into that speech. Only months ago, he got to play the Stanley Kowalski role in "Streetcar Named Desire", complete with the anguished cry of "Stella!", but much of his heart remains with the magic of the Bard’s wordsmithing.

When I came across Mattis’ quote, I showed it to him, and asked what he thought. We agreed. It was contemporary Shakespearian.

Early on in "Henry V" and well before the St.Crispin’s Day speech on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt, Henry’s forces are besieging the walls of the town of Harfleur. The defender’s have managed to hold off the English attacks, when King Harry rides to the walls and chillingly addresses the leaders of the town with an appeal to either surrender or face the consequences:

"The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters;
Your fathers taken by the silver beards,
And their most reverend heads dashed to the walls;
Your naked infants spitted upon pikes,
Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused
Do break the clouds…. What say you?
Will you yield, and this avoid?
Or, guilty in defense, be thus destroyed?"

As Harfleur surrenders and throws open it gates to Harry’s forces, Harry turns to Exeter and says:

"Use mercy to them all."

While we understand that the bland language of diplomatic communiqués often simply hides the more blunt actual communications/negotiations that were engaged in, I also cannot imagine dialogue as direct as that of Gen. Mattis is anything but extremely rare. Likewise, I can visualize some negotiator who has studied such negotiation for or at the State Department speaking to the same tribal leaders saying something like:

"We want you to understand and accept that it is not our position that we are or need to be adversaries. Rather, we feel that by working together we can develop a range of opportunities for cooperation to our mutual benefit. We do not wish to exert any kind of undue pressure on you to comply with our wishes nor with anything that would not be in your long term interest. However, we must also be frank in stating that there may be, however unfortunate, actions taken by you or those over whom you have influence that may harm our interests. If that happens, we would have to evaluate the consequences of those actions to determine whether a response from us is required and at what level…"

In such a scenario, I can imagine a tribal leader feigning attention while his thoughts drift. Should he okay that plan his nephew Achmed came up with, about bombing the "suit" and his entourage when they head back to the Green Zone? Achmed is convinced it will work and will turn the Americans into something in the order of a fine reddish mist.

Mattis, on the other hand, hit three critical points in his brief statement. One, that he wanted a peaceful relationship. Even an Iraqi tribal leader would know that Marine Corps Generals are not the blubbering types, and that Mattis’ ‘tears in my eyes’ plea was a form of self abasing earnestness. Two, Mattis left "f**k with" undefined. That leaves the burden of determining or rather worrying what comes up to the level of "f**k with" where it belongs. That is also a self-preservation driven opening for the tribal leaders to pursue further dialog. Three, Mattis is unequivocal about the consequences of "f**k with". He will unleash his Marines.

General Colin Powell retired from a distinguished career in the military and became Secretary of State, our highest diplomatic post. One surely hopes that when it comes time for General Mattis to retire from active duty, our government will find a place for him and his Marine Corps cum Shakespearian negotiating skills. Perhaps as our lead negotiator with Iran or North Korea.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Al Qaeda's Cry for Help

From The American Thinker:

"Apparently despairing of any other kind of workable offensive, Al Qaeda is busily engaged in a media one. Now there's another tape.

Any moment now some Democrat will announce that this is an obvious indication that we are losing the fight, and that even if we should manage to bomb and destroy their Camcorder, another will just replace it! This is interesting because of what the tape said, and what it didn't say. I'll attempt to fill in a few blanks."

Continue reading...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Contact For Reporters & Bloggers

Tuesday, the 18th.

I can't get Rush Limbaugh on the radio here or on my PC at work. Did listen to him whenever I could a few years back, though, and enjoyed him immensely. Found out today that his EIB staff posts a daily 'Rush'sTotal Pile of Stuff', containing links to material found by or given to Rush that day for show prep. Today, September 18th, 2007, in Rush's "pile", was yesterday's American Thinker blog post by yours truly. That's kewl in itself, but, I have no idea if he even mentioned it! I guess I'll just always wonder....

Nah! Like the 'About Me' says - I forget stuff.

OTOH, the good folks at Done With Mirrors have let it be known that the Watchers Council from the Watchers of Weasels has declared a post of mine at American Thinker on Brian DePalma's comments about his new film an 'out of council winner' for the week of Sept. 13. Give 'em a visit. Impressive membership in the Council, as well as an outstanding alumni list!

The nutroot side of the web is at a loss as to how to handle the tasering of Florida University student Andrew Meyer by campus security during a question and answer session with John Kerry. There are several videos up of the event, including at YouTube.

Meyer was not, as many claim, just asking a question or questions. Whether what he did in toto was or wasn’t sufficient cause for the campus cops to do as they did, and I admit I can't see how it was, Meyers was engaging in the type of ‘questioning’ generally reserved to Senators and Representatives at hearings with cameras running. He began with faux graciousness, and then launched into a monlogue about Kerry actually having won in 2004 but for some reason Kerry didn’t contest the outcome. He loudly pointed out that both Bush and Kerry were members of the Skull and Bones as college students, and wondered why Kerry hadn’t done more to impeach Bush. There were ‘questions’ there, but they were there the way we saw with various Democrats last week when General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker were testifying. You run on and on with innuendo, insinuation and insinuendo in a flurry and then after several minutes of this ask something like ‘So whatchya got to say?’.

The incident doesn’t easily fit a recognizable template for the leftosphere’s customary rage, but not for lack of trying on their part. If you haven’t guessed this yet, for some it was, of course, Bush’s fault. As one left blogger has it:

“Another out-of-control Bushist police incident
In BushAmerica, don't criticize Bush.

In fact, don't even criticize Bush's opponents for not doing enough about Bush. Because look what happened at the University of Florida when John Kerry came to speak there.
According to one report, John Kerry acknowledged the fairness of the questions, and there's no justification to blame Kerry if the police can't control their own Bushism... That type of dissent against the Bush order is not tolerated.”

The author doesn’t seem to realize (or care) that Mr. Meyer was directing considerable hostility and accusation at Kerry. It's gotta be all Bush, all the time.

Emil Steiner has a blog at and is a sometimes reporter for the paper. He sees this, not to be taken as an indication of a reporter who will see what he wants to see in spite of facts:

“Florida Student Is Shocked at Kerry Forum

In the latest sign of the risks of asking questions of politicians, police tasered a University of Florida student yesterday in Gainesville at a town hall meeting run amok.”

The comments at DailyKos are all over the place. There are some defending Kerry and claiming Meyer was way out of bounds for not simply obeying the campus security officers when they told him to leave after the mike was shut off when his tirade ran over the one minute allowed for all questioners. Others are calling Kerry a wimp for just “droning on” while Meyer was being roughly handled.

Many of the comments are simply up to snuff for the tinfoilers. It is just another clear sign of the police state the poor folks are living in:

“Incidents like this are what makes me fear my government. In fact, I am more afraid of my own police than I am of any supposed terrorist threat. It's really a sad state of affairs.”


“I think much of our devolution into an authoritarian police state has to do with the transition of local police to paramilitary organizations.”


“Of course you should never question police action in a police state, and police can haul you away for no reason at all. That's what America has come to.”

This is campus security police here. Not the FBI, Treasury Agents, BATF, Federal Marshalls, or even State Troopers, County Sheriffs or a Municipal Police force. Campus cops, agents of the police state. Pretty soon it’s a spying alliance of the NSA and Walmart greeters.

Selwyn Duke has a must read up at American Thinker on
why hypocrisy is a good thing.

LGF provides another piece of evidence that there are those who believe that if, oh, it was reported that a man of Middle Eastern origin was caught in a public park carrying an AK-47 and wearing camo paint shortly before the anniversary of 9/11, it would just lead to hordes of borderline psychotic Americans running on a rampage slaughtering anyone swarthy enough to be presumed a Muslim. Ace of Spades weighs in.

Democrats, MoveOn and the Monkey Trap

From The American Thinker:

There are varieties of the monkey trap used in Africa, South America and Asia. Some are pottery jugs, some are wooden boxes, but all work on the same principle. The trap is secured to something, perhaps tied to a tree. There is an opening in the trap large enough for the target monkey to reach his hand inside. Bait, usually nuts, is placed in the trap. The monkey reaches in, grasps a fistful of nuts, and finds that when his hand is clenched around the bait, he can’t remove it from the trap.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Harry Reid, Gen. Petraeus, and cooking data

From The American Thinker:

Harry Reid, Gen. Petraeus, and cooking data

In an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal, Srnate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed a million Iraqis have been killed since the beginning of the invasion. How did Reid arrive at that figure? He probably got it from this poll. I know of no non-poll study suggesting anything like such a high number.

Continue reading...

The Left’s Bin Laden Mystique

I’ll assume that it was indeed a currently breathing OBL on the recent tape, although the transcript’s content could have come from a run of the mill Daily Kos diary or commentary but for the overtly religious parts. OBL’s last purported tape was from October 2004, just before the election, and that one could have been a partial copy/paste from a ad.
In those three years, so little that is deemed ‘newsworthy’ has surfaced about this man that a media-and Democrat made mystique has filled the vacuum, to Bin Laden’s and Al Qaeda’s benefit.
With OBL as the leader of Al Qaeda and the man behind the 911 attacks, and Bush as the leader of the United States, a
mano a mano perception naturally arose, and therein the rub. Antipathy towards Bush had grown so great in so many quarters, that by the election season of 2004 and since, in order for Bush to decrease, OBL had to naturally increase! Our OBL mystique took form not because it was reality based, but because it served to hurt Bush, who, by the standards of some was and is still the real enemy. Some have identified that attitude with good cause as BDS, or Bush Derangement Syndrome.
In January 2000, pre-911 and at a time when government and media focus on this man Bin Laden was growing, writing in the New Yorker, Mary Anne Weaver wrote the following in ‘The Real Bin Laden’:

“As bin Laden’s international image and stature increase—along with his support, both ideological and financial…And each time the Clinton Administration raises the stakes, and further enhances bin Laden’s prominence, more and more disaffected Saudis flock to join the kingdom’s militant Islamist underground…”

Note those concepts of image, stature and prominence, and those being enhanced by an American administration, and the result of this being a growing recruitment and support for Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
The manufactured OBL mystique is now inextricably centered on a Tora Bora narrative that has obscured critical thinking and serious speculation and inquiry. In April of 2002, only four months after we ousted the Taliban in a surprisingly fast few months, the Washington Post reported about the battle at Tora Bora the previous December in ‘Failure to Send Troops in Pursuit Termed Major Error’:

The theme was that we blew the chance to get Bin Laden by not sending in our own troops when it was a certainty that OBL was there. According to the WaPo, by relying on untrustworthy Afghan allies, we all but let OBL escape. The report was flawed, confusing hindsight with foresight. After action reports and interviews with captured detainees after the Tora Bora battle was over about OBL’s presence there are used to confirm that our military knew for a certainty that Bin Laden was at Tora Bora before and during the battle! A Tora Bora narritive unfavorable to the administration that had just overseen a remarkable victory in Afghanistan didn’t gain much traction at the time.
However, during the 2004 election, John Kerry made the charge that Bush had let Bin Laden get away, a customary campaign inspired and opportunistic reversal of a previously held Kerry position of support for how the military handled the Tora Bora campaign at the time:
Kerry lost the election, but forever ‘seared, seared’ the idea that Bush let OBL get away into Democratic-left-MSM folklore and talking points. By 2005, writing for the New York Times on the fourth anniversary of 911, Mary Ann Weaver gave us ‘Lost at Tora Bora’:
Given Weaver’s realization in 2000 about even unintended grants of prominence and stature to OBL causing enhancement of his image which serves as a recruiting device, this article is frankly stunning. Had OBL hired an ad agency to promote his image he could not have done better than what the NY Times and Weaver served up.
When Weaver writes of Bin Laden and his minions, we are given things like:

“…members of [Bin Laden’s] elite international 055 Brigade…bin Laden munched on olives and sipped sugary mint tea…dressed in his signature camouflage jacket, and a Kalashnikov rested by his side…one thing distinguished Osama bin Laden...was the fact that [he] appeared to be supremely confident…inside the caves were an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 well-trained, well-armed men.”

There is a profound difference when Weaver writes of what can be called – our side. Our SF troops at Tora Bora are not described as “elite” or “well armed”; they are described as the “only” troops we “finally” put in the fight. The Afghans we worked with are descibed as schemers, bullies, unrefined, illiterates, drug smugglers, ruthless, greedy, corrupt - as opposed to
“sipping sugary mint tea like” Osama Bin Laden, who could have reasonably been described as a religious fanatic and cold blooded mass murderer!

Americans were described as passing around
“suitcases full of cash” as contrasted to Weaver on OBL:

“Osama...moved through the banquet hall dispensing white envelopes... Lesser chieftains...received the equivalent of $300...leaders of larger clans, up to $10,000. Bin Laden really didn't have to buy the loyalty of the Pashtun tribal chiefs; they were already devoted to him.”

The article ends with something that reads as though it came from a Hollywood screen play in which OBL is the hero. I can imagine it may have been read three years ago by a young fabulist in waiting, Scott Thomas Beauchamp, who then said to himself “Gosh, I can do that!”:

“On or about Dec. 16, 2001…bin Laden left Tora Bora…bin Laden and his men are believed to have journeyed on horseback...toward Pakistan, crossing through...the same little-known smugglers' trails through which the C.I.A.'s convoys passed during the jihad years. And all along the route, in the dozens of villages and towns...the Pashtun tribes would have lighted campfires along the way to guide the horsemen as they slowly continued through the snow...”

In the screen version, it is night and OBL is astride his trusty steed, weaving through a mountain pass, while off in the distance are flashes, followed seconds later by the sounds of far off explosions. This lets us know that the clueless Americans and their untrustworthy allies are trying to get him miles away from where he actually is. As OBL passes one of those campfires set by his loyal supporters among the little people, he smiles a bit, the wily fox who has outwitted the hounds.
When watching such a scene from a Hollywood production, it is only the boor like myself who might inquire if it makes sense to light campfires as a guide when enemy aircraft, Special Forces and local tribals are all looking to kill or capture you, you don’t know where they may be and couldn’t they also see the fires?
Then too, why would such guiding campfires be needed by OBL and company for those smuggler’s trails that the CIA used years before when earlier in the article Weaver, seeming to channel James Fennimore Cooper’s fiction about Natty Bumppo, called Hawkeye, wrote:

“[Bin Laden] knew every ridge and mountain pass, every C.I.A. trail. For this was the area where bin Laden had spent more than a decade of his life.”

That fabulist Tora Bora narrative never made sense, but was grasped at because it fit BDS thinking, and became a diversion. It has possibly caused us to miss that OBL may have gone stark raving mad or something very much like it, quite some time ago, even though evidence of that was already present and increasing. That would explain why he has been kept under wraps by the probable real leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri. OBL’s image is a recruitment draw and a symbol that unifies the diverse bands of murderers who make up theAQ affiliates.
If OBL was indeed at Tora Bora, what was his view from the cave, and how would it have effected him? We know quite a bit about OBL’s thinking from his pre-911 fatwas, interviews and messages.
The narrative tells us that those Afghans going up against OBL and his forces at Tora Bora were a bad choice for us. They were, of course, unreliable, corrupt, feckless, schemers, drug smugglers and on and on. They were, though, from OBL’s point of view, also something else.
They were the same Afghan tribal folks, and often the very same persons, who made up the Mujahideen warriors that had defeated the Soviet Union, and now those folks, allied with American Special Forces on the ground and US air support in the sky, were coming up that mountain to kill and capture OBL and his men! It seems to have escaped notice in the narrative that OBL, the man who so often calls for others to die the death of a martyr in battle, fled his chance to do so, as did hundreds of his followers, yet somehow he has been spared even a minimal amount of scorn for that as opposed to what has been heaped on Bush and the US military about Tora Bora.
In his August 1996 fatwa OBL wrote:

“Who ever been guided by Allah will not be misled, and who ever has been misled, he will never be guided.”

On a meter’s scale with hustler at one end and true believer at the other, the evidence of many years leading up to Tora Bora indicates clearly that OBL red lined at the true believer end. What combination of profound shock to his fanatical worldview coupled with something like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or plain old terror gripped OBL in December of 2001, and perhaps continues?
Just before the fighting began in earnest at Tora Bora, Time Magazine published “Hunting Osama”:

“... the famously impregnable...cave complex called Tora Bora...Russian troops tried three times to take it and failed. The caves are cut into the jagged, 13,000-ft. Peaks...a vast honeycomb of tunnels...the bunker is virtually invisible from the sky and untouchable from the ground...Saif Rakhman...fought the Soviets at Tora Bora. He couldn't stop from laughing when a reporter asked to visit there. ‘If you want to sacrifice yourself,’ he said.”

Since 2004 it has been all but ignored that our alliance of tribals, a few dozen SF on the ground and US air support killed, captured or drove out the defenders and captured the place in a matter of days, with not one US or coalition casualty!
How much of a shock would that have been to OBL’s thinking? From his own writings and interviews we know what he believed of the experience of the Soviets years before, and how the Muslim ‘holy warriors’ had defeated a superpower. He believed he could target that ‘holy warrior’ force and defeat the next superpower, yet here was an alliance of such Muslim warriors and the superpower closing in on him at Tora Bora.
In ‘The Looming Tower – Al-Qaeda and the Road to 911’, Lawrence Wright goes to great lengths to detail how much, or better, how little effect OBL’s Arab fighters had in the Afghan war against the Soviets, and in a ‘New Statesman’ review of that book, Roger Hardy provides an excellent summary:

“Wright shows convincingly...that Bin Laden's military...activities in Afghanistan were negligible and sometimes comically inept. The more experienced Afghan fighters viewed the Arab volunteers as tourists at best and a dangerous nuisance at the start, Bin Laden suffered from what one fellow Arab describes as ‘fear of bodily participation’...a degree of funk that often made him physically ill on the eve of battle...the alleged victories of Bin Laden's international brigade...owe more to the fighters' myth-making abilities than to actual military achievement.”

In that 1996 fatwa OBL also wrote of the fear of the west, called by him the “crusaders movement under the leadership of the USA” that such as OBL and the likes of the Blind Sheik Rahman (who was behind the WTC bombing in 1993) will ‘instigate the Ummah of Islam against its' enemies’, that Ummah being something in the order of the collective society of Muslim believers. OBL’s view from the cave in December 2001 would have been that the possibly most capable fighters in that Ummah had joined forces with the Crusaders to come after him.
Almost every report about Tora Bora claimed that OBL had between 1200 and 2000 fighters with him. Almost every report also says that perhaps 600 to 800 escaped being killed or captured, and those numbers possibly and even probably included non-combatant family members. That means half or considerably more of his entire force was killed or captured, and the rest fled for their lives from their impregnable positions at Tora Bora.
Bin Laden has called for years for others to embrace martyrdom and sacrifice themselves for jihad. He has claimed that he and his followers will win because they love death more than the west loves life, as in his November 2002 ‘Letter to America’ in which he wrote:

“The Nation of Martyrdom; the Nation that desires death more than you desire life...”

When he and his “elite” followers had the opportunity to provide their own martyrdoms as example, they chose to flee and hide and he still hides.
How many other blows have been delivered to OBL’s fanatical worldview since Tora Bora that could either drive him to accept that he was not so
“guided by Allah” and therefore “will not be misled” and possibly drive him to a breakdown.
His main goal in the 911 attacks was to force the corrupting ‘Crusaders’ to withdraw from the lands of the Ummah, the Middle East and wider Islamic areas. What he got was a vastly increased American and western presence in those lands.

  1. He saw Afghanistan as the birthplace of the holy jihad that would restore the worldwide caliphate and the example, where the holy warriors had defeated the superpower and Sharia law reigned. What he got was the Taliban removed from power in weeks and millions of Muslim Afghans engaging in and even embracing democracy, idolatry in his takfirist understanding.
  2. He would cite Somalia as an example that the west would run when they suffered even minimal casualties, and so 911 would cause the west to run in fear. That backfired. Like the firefighters of 911, the west rushed in, not out.
  3. He expected and said that the 911 attacks would deliver a catastrophic blow to and cause the collapse of the American economy. It didn’t happen by a long shot.
  4. No matter how much we now call the remote regions of the Afghan-Pakistani border a ‘safe haven’ for Al Qaeda, it falls far short of what he lost when the Taliban fell. He and AQ had state protection, could travel freely in and out of the country to anywhere without visas or passports, and AQ even had a passport office at the Kandahar airport “where likely some passports of the 911 hijackers were doctored” (911 Commission Report). Their training camps were visible and above ground and the flow of money, arms and volunteers uninterrupted and unimpeded.
  5. No ‘state’ would again offer OBL and AQ the type of safe haven they had in Taliban, Afghanistan. The most likely such replacements were Iraq and Iran, and the 911 Commission Report detailed pre-911 contacts between Iraq and AQ about safe haven in Iraq. Within a year and a half of 911, Hussein Iraq was gone and Iran was bracketed by “Crusader” forces on both the east and west.
  6. In that Nov 2002 letter to America OBL wrote of his intent to “free the Ummah, to make the Shariah the supreme law”. Much of the Ummah that has been freed is supporting “idolatrous” democracy and rejecting the AQ/Taliban/AQI notions of Shariah Law. In Iraq, Sunni tribes are gunning for AQI, having become fed up with the brutality inherent in AQI’s implementation of Sharia as AQI sees it.
  7. In six years, OBL and AQ have not been able to pull off any attack or even series of attacks remotely near the devastation of 911. Plot after plot has been foiled, cell after cell arrested, leader after leader killed or captured.
There have also been numerous indications for years that things were not right on OBL’s head, and also that from AQ’s perspective, Tora Bora was a PR problem, not the implied victory the western media and Democrat left granted to them.
Just before the invasion of Iraq, OBL issued a message to the Iraqi people that was so incredibly strange that the western media for the most part just reported it, made puzzled faces or comments, and then let it go. He advised the Iraqi people that they could be victorious over the coalition forces preparing to invade by building trenches. In doing so he recounted an incredible version of the battle at Tora Bora. He claimed that he and his force of about 300 holy warriors had built trenches with disguising metal roofs on them, and by doing so withstood the bombings by the cowardly Crusaders who did not have the courage to face them in direct combat. He claimed that about 6%, or under twenty of his Mujahideen had been killed, while the US allied Afghan tribals and the US Special Forces were forced out of Tora Bora, “carrying their dead”.
There is nothing about him and his men fleeing and escaping, and certainly nothing about fleeing being some kind of victory, as the western press later presented it. After all, fleeing does not square with martyrdom.
I think I know what explains the incredible leap to trench warfare. OBL was a believer in strongly constructed defences like caves. In that dark place that the mind of Osama had become, I think he was second guessing himself about how this could have happened, and what might have prevented the disastrous debacle he and his fighters experienced at Tora Bora. Cave defenses didn’t work when a guided smart bomb would come flying past the shoulder of the guard at the entrance to explode inside, turning the holy wariors therein into something akin to fine particulates. Perhaps if they had stayed out of the caves, and hid in disguised trenches, it could have been different. That letter revealed the mind of someone grasping at less than straws, and trying to explain away an image problem and what he could not himself understand.
In his October 2004 anti-Bush capaign ad tape, one for which he didn’t have to register as a 501(c)3 like others doing about the same, OBL claimed to be “bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy”.
While there could be reasonable grounds to argue whether war spending in Afghanistan and Iraq might be less than the best prioritization of funding and might be better used elsewhere, the idea that this was bankrupting the US was delusional. In previous wars the US had spent far greater percentages of the nation’s GDP and revenue than we were then and since, without collapse.
In a report updated last July by the Congressional Research Service entitled ‘The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11’, the report claims appropriations for all military actions related to Iraq and Afghanistan since 911 (2001-2007) have totaled about $610 billion.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that in 2006, Americans spent $120 billion that year alone on hunting, fishing, camping, hiking or observing wildlife, and that amount was about equal to what was also spent that year alone on all spectator sports, casinos, motion pictures, golf courses and country clubs, amusement parks and arcades. That is not a nation on the brink of economic ruin because of war spending.
However, OBL got a pass on that delusion for the simple reason that it dovetailed too closely with what some Democrats were also claiming during that election season. An enemy could get away with absurd propaganda as long as countering that propaganda might hurt the left.
In ‘The Looming Tower’, Wright relates the story (p115-118) of a camp called the Lion’s Den where OBL used heavy equipment and his construction experience to build impressive defensive works. When a Soviet attack was nearing the place, OBL became erratic, shouting at his men, and ordered the camp destroyed and his men to withdraw. The Soviets stopped short of the Lion’s Den, and withdrew. In a panic, OBL had destroyed what he his men had spent months building. As he and his men straggled back to the camp, OBL was, according to Wright:

“Chastened and unwilling to assert his authority, he let his Egyptian military commander...take charge. The sight of the needless destruction of his camp at his own hand must have been unbearable.”

The appearance is one of a man who does not takes set-backs well. Writing in "The Man Behind Bin Laden" in September 16, 2002 for the The New Yorker, Wright said this about Ayman al-Zawahiri, something he later repeated in ‘The Looming Tower’:

“One of the members of Zawahiri's cell was a daring tank commander named Isam al-Qamari...’Qamari saw that something was missing in Ayman’...‘He told Ayman, 'No matter what group you belong to, you cannot be its leader.' "

Wright also wrote in The Looming Tower about indications even before 911 of al-Zawahiri’s Egyptians seeming to try to form a cocoon around OBL, limiting and controlling access to him by those outside their and al-Zawahiri’s tight circle.
I suggest that for quite some time, OBL has been severely damaged goods, and that he is being preserved and protected as an image only that serves Al Qaeda as a recruiting tool and provides some kind of unity for the disparate AQ affiliates. In 2004, the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi pledged bayat, or loyalty to OBL.
That was at a time when al-Zarqawi’s image was dangerously eclipsing even OBL’s. After all, OBL was still in hiding, but al-Zarqawi was in the fight, slaughtering Shias, blowing up Americans and even reputedly personally sawing off the heads of hostages. We also know from intercepted messages that al-Zarqawi’s contacts with AQ went through al-Zawahiri.
Al-Zawahiri is able to issue several communiques and videos every year. He travels around, as our failed attempt to kill him in Pakistan in 2006 showed:
Even with the very few tapes and messages from OBL over the last six years, there is strong evidence that he is something like the ‘weird’ uncle, who may seem normal in converstaion with others until he makes a comment so strange that everyone’s ‘lunacy’receptors start flashing. That puts AQ and al-Zawahiri in a difficult position. Kill him and make up a story about his wondrous martyrdom, and risk losing any semblance of unity. Wright has also said that without OBL, and I would say without the image of OBL, AQ potentially evolves into something like criminal gangs.
I would suggest that competition for succession would be a ‘divide and conquer’ opportunity for us.
Many in the west has freely granted OBL and AQ an image bonanza, when on the evidence available we could have been reasonably chipping away at something that fuels AQ recruitment.
Ironically, this may change. I would expect that if a Democrat like Sen. Clinton wins the Presidency in 2008, shortly after she takes the oath of office in 2009, there will be a reversal of media and Democrat ‘attitude’ about OBL. He will be taken apart, beginning with the theme of the man who calls others to martyrdom while he flees and hides. In order for Clinton or any Democrat President to increase, OBL must decrease. He will be ridiculed and scorned as someone who is delusional, out of touch with reality. When the inevitable questions arise as to how he had managed to maintain this beneficial cachet for years, we know the explanation will be that this was Bush’s fault, and that his administration had built OBL’s image up. I’d expect that it will be the NY Times that first puts that together.
In that 2002 WaPo piece that first claimed that we had somehow ‘lost’ OBL at Tora Bora, Bush was quoted as saying:

"Terror is bigger than one person...[Bin Laden’s] a person that's now been marginalized...[he]may even be dead...I truly am not that concerned about him."

Bush was given a lot of heat about that by the media and Democrats. It was not Bush building up OBL’s image. Just last June, writing in Newsweek, under the lede of “Bin Laden, Still Haunting Bush”, Eleanor Clift wrote:

“Asked at a recent Rose Garden press conference why bin Laden hasn’t been found more than five years after he pledged to take him ‘dead or alive,’ Bush replied with an edge of sarcasm, ‘Because he’s hiding.’..The fact that bin Laden has survived more than 2,000 days after 9/11 creates a mystique that Bush with all his taunts has not penetrated.”

It is people like Clift and the Democrats and left media that have granted to a madman this favorable mystique and AQ recruiting propaganda based on nothing more than that he has been able to hide while encouraging others to martyr themselves! The evidence has been there that it has not been Bush that has been ‘haunted’.
In WWII, a Democrat President pursued a strategy of targeting the lion’s share of our resources toward defeating Nazi Germany, after which defeat we would turn to finish off Japan. Even though it was Japan that had attacked us at Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt perceived Nazi Germany to be the more dangerous and immediate threat. I think the BDS afflicted Democrats and the left are doing something remotely similar. It is necessary to first defeat Bush and the Republicans, the greater threat, and then we may turn on OBL and AQ.
Now let's go and digest OBL's current interest in the Kyoto accords.