Such is the fear that the heavily armed militants held over Fallujah that many of the residents who emerged from the ruins welcomed the US marines, despite the massive destruction their firepower had inflicted on their city.
A man in his sixties, half-naked and his underwear stained with blood from shrapnel wounds from a US munition, cursed the insurgents as he greeted the advancing marines on Saturday night.
"I wish the Americans had come here the very first day and not waited eight months," he said, trembling. Nearby, a mosque courtyard had been used as a weapons store by the militants. . . .
The same story of arbitrary executions was told by another resident, found by US troops cowering in his home with his brother and his family. "They would wear black masks, carry rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikovs, and search streets and alleys," said Iyad Assam, 24. "I would hear stories, about how they executed five men one day and seven another for collaborating with the Americans. They made checkpoints on the roads. They put announcements on walls banning music and telling women to wear the veil from head to toe." It was not just pedlars of alcohol or Western videos and women deemed improperly dressed who faced the militants' wrath. Even residents who regard themselves as observant Muslims lived in fear because they did not share the puritan brand of Sunni Islam that the insurgents enforced.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
The Fallujah campaign has been a success on a number of levels. 2500 enemy combatants have been put out of action or killed, their intent for all of Iraq should they succeed has been laid bare with the opening of torture and killing rooms, a vast quantity of their weapons have been destroyed, and weapons supply lines from Syria to Baghdad have been interdicted. Ordinary Iraqis can take heart the the Iraqi and American governments mean business and mean to clean out pockets of terrorist defiance.
Fallujah was the "insurgency's" most important base, where most of their activities in Baghdad and elsewhere were headquartered. The remaining pockets, including Mosul, will not be nearly as difficult to deal with.
In the same taped address, Zarqawi said, "This war is very long, and always think of this as the beginning, and always make the enemy think that yesterday was better than today."
Unfortunately, too many people in the West are willing to buy into that propaganda gambit. The meme is often repeated that war against terrorism will only produce more terrorists, even in the face of evidence that this is false.
Members of the mainstream media point to activity in the Sunni triangle as evidence that things are only getting worse. Meanwhile, there have been no successful attacks against the US homeland for over three years, activity in Europe is at a very low level, activity in Israel has steadily declined, and even most of Iraq is at peace. Khaddafi in Libya has thrown in the towel, none of the Arab states in the Middle East have the moxie to permit terrorists a base of operations behind their borders, and some countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have active anti-terrorism programs. Efforts by Al Qaeda to establish bases in Northern Africa have been snuffed out by multilateral anti-terrorism programs that include French and American elements. Islamofascists the world over have been put on the defensive and have become increasingly ineffective. Even the liberal Dutch have had enough of radical Muslims.
The War on Terror is proving to be successful, but members of the mainstream media and the liberal elite in America and Europe are never going to admit that, nor will they ever stop cheerleading for our terrorist enemies.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
“I am a Democrat—it’s no secret. I am a museum-quality Democrat,” Keillor said. “Last night I spent my time crouched in a fetal position, rolling around and moaning in the dark.”
Not one to shy away from speaking his mind, Keillor proposed a solution to what he deemed a fundamental problem with U.S. elections. “I’m trying to organize support for a constitutional amendment to deny voting rights to born-again Christians,” Keillor smirked. “I feel if your citizenship is in Heaven—like a born again Christian’s is—you should give up your citizenship. Sorry, but this is my new cause. If born again Christians are allowed to vote in this country, then why not Canadians?”
Monday, November 15, 2004
They didn't get upset about this when it happened before, 10 years ago, under Clinton:
Senior managers of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of
Intelligence (DI) -- the arm of the Agency responsible for analysis -- held an unusual emergency meeting with their analysts on the afternoon of 1 July, just before the start of a long holiday weekend. The purpose of the meeting was to announce plans for a complete reorganization of the Central Intelligence Agency.
[...]By April 1994, Administration displeasure with CIA had turned into indignation. Faced with a growing number of foreign policy debacles, Clinton officials -- notably several on the staff of the White House and National Security Council -- grew increasingly furious at CIA intelligence assessments which suggested that Administration policy in North Korea, Somalia, Bosnia, China, and Russia was in trouble. Administration officials started to argue that CIA was not providing them with "the proper support." Some officials implied
that if CIA had done a better job analyzing the world, Mr. Clinton’s foreign policy would not be in trouble. [...]
In private meetings with other senior DI officials, MacEachin -- who is said to have claimed that he is acting on behalf of Director Woolsey -- laid down the real objectives of his reorganization plan:
Consolidating and institutionalizing changes already made.
..."purging the culture of the 1980s" at the CIA. ...
Assuring that CIA briefings coincide with Administration policy and cannot lead policy makers to accuse the Agency of "disloyalty." MacEachin was quoted as having actually said in a recent meeting with senior CIA officials: "Analysts must recognize that if they give a briefing which deviates too much from official policy, they may be accused by Clinton Administration officials of being disloyal."...
Even while John Kerry was making blunder after blunder during his campaign and making a mess out of its management the meme was being propagated in the mainstream press that he was too smart for most people to properly understand. That he didn't poll well and eventually lost the election was, to them, just more evidence of the stupidity of ordinary Americans.
From George Will:
It is passing strange. As the American public has become more educated, American intellectuals have become more disparaging of the public's intellectual incapacities and moral shortcomings. In 1940, more than half of the U.S. population had only an eighth-grade education, or less. Now that 85 percent are high-school graduates, 53 percent have some college education and 27 percent are college graduates, it is an article of faith among the progressive intelligentsia that the public is becoming increasingly obtuse, bigoted and superstitious.
There was a time—say, from the early 1930s to the mid-1960s, the period of the Democratic Party's ascendancy—when progressives thought their job was to increase the material well-being of ordinary Americans. It is not mere coincidence that the Democratic Party's strength has waned as its intellectuals' disapproval of ordinary Americans has waxed.
Sunday, November 14, 2004
1. I am deeply skeptical of the government's ability to do most of the things that real liberals want it to do.
...like eliminate poverty, or educate the young, or manage the economy, or you name it.
2. I am against liberal attacks on our religious and moral traditions.
...not that I actually ascribe to them myself, or even follow a lot of them, but I disapprove of liberal efforts to do things like redefine marriage and define deviancy down.
I'm especially hostile to liberals who style themselves as atheists or "secularists", because those people are just creepy and misguided, having morphed their political persuasion into a quasi-religion. This gives rise to all kinds of nonsense having to do with the narcissistic desire to define whatever warped disposition in which a person finds himself or herself as being normal regardless of how obviously maladaptive that disposition is.
3. I think it ought to be obvious even to the brain dead academics that haunt our institutions that centralized economies and economies that don't uphold property rights and a more or less free market have been abysmal failures. We've kicked that old, dead, rotten rodent around the yard quite enough. Time to move on.
4. I'm absolutely in agreement with the idea that one hundred people chosen at random out of a phone book would do much better at running things that a million of the bureaucrats who style themselves as the educated elite experts would ever do and have ever, obviously, done.
1. I'm against the death penalty.
...for one principle reason, and that's that the legal system of America is a horrible mess of mistakes, a huge comidy of errors, a horrible mess of human affairs, a series of blunders. It doesn't deserve the power of life and death over a mad dog, much less a fellow human being.
2. I'm pro-choice
...not because I like the idea of killing babies, but because I think a baby is better off dead than being raised by someone who didn't want him or her in the first place. If a woman is selfish and self-centered enough to want to kill her own child then the child is better off not coming into the world to be raised by a person like that.
As I have mentioned before, I think there is an element of eugenics here, the sort that Margaret Sanger originally had in mind, that is at work, and I'm not at all sure that's such a bad thing.
3. I'm in favor of affirmative action.
...because you and I both know that there are people in positions that matter that would take advantage of the situation if AA were not in force. Not many, not the majority, but enough to matter to the public.
4. I'm in favor of socialized medicine.
...because the kind we have now is not working for too many people. Yes, I know that we'd get the kind of medical care that nobody would prefer, with waiting lists, and rationing, and long lines and restrictions of medicines and procedures and so forth. But we can't go on rationing care in accord with who has the money, which is what we are doing now.
5. I'm in favor of certain other kinds of big government programs as well.
...In short, the one's that can be proven to work. That's not that many, of course, but it's not nothing, either.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
She wasn't serious, of course, because she knows I don't gamble. (When I have the urge to lose money on a bet I use the stock market.) But, going along with the gag, I said, "Sure, put $100 down on Peterson to be guilty, first degree," which was the line with the best odds.
Too bad she didn't really place the bet, because I would have made $400 on it.
The people outside of the trial following it the most closely were the news people, and most of them seemed to be convinced that Peterson was guilty. That was based on all the circumstancial evidence regarding things Peterson did leading up to and following the murder, which made him look like a creep, a cad, and guilty man.
But the jury deliberated for 6 days without a verdict. Clearly, they didn't see it that way, not the jury as it was originally composed, anyway. And everyone knew it hinged on the lack of physical evidence linking Peterson to the crime. The prosecution's strategy was to paint Peterson as a person who deserved to die even if they couldn't produce evidence proving he actually did the crime.
The circumstances around the trial suggested a conspiracy toward a certain verdict. The jurors holding out for a not guilty verdict, the lawyer/doctor who saw the problem with the evidence, perhaps, the woman smart enough to want to do her own research, were thrown out on vague pretexts, and the jury willing to render the proper verdict was finally seated. And with that jury it only took a few hours more to get the right outcome.
It never really mattered whether Peterson actually did it or not. He was still guilty of failing to protect his wife and unborn child. He was still guilty of failing to grieve their loss with the proper verve. He was still guilty of being a cad. Only one verdict was possible.
I'd be willing to bet that with this jury he gets the death penalty, but I don't think I could get anyone to cover that bet.
Friday, November 12, 2004
What do the scientific studies of artic ice show?
Johannessen et al. (1999) used surface-based measurements to derive variations in area-averaged Arctic sea-ice thickness from 1978 to 1991. They, too, detected a downward trend in this parameter. All of the drop occurred rather abruptly over a single period of not more than three years (1987/88-1990/91) .
Winsor (2001) based on a more extensive analysis concluded that "mean ice thickness has remained on a near-constant level around the North Pole from 1986 to 1997."
Holloway and Sou (2002) On the basis of a number of different data-fed model runs, they found that for the last half of the past century there had been no downward trend in artic ice thickness. They noted that year to year variablity of ice thickness can be large.
Polyakov et al. (2002) and Polyakov et al. (2003), reported that the available fast-ice records "do not show a significant trend."
Laxon et al. (2003) Using radar techniques over the largest areas surveyed up to now they saw high year to year variablity in artic ice mass not supportive of current ideas of global warming induced change.
Pfirman et al. (2004) analyzed Arctic sea-ice drift dynamics from 1979-1997, showed that ice was being pushed out of the artic into seas further south by higher winds in certain years, a phenomenon which probably best explains the high annual variablity of the artic ice mass. The life of sea ice in the artic can be as short as 3 years as ice pushed out is constantly being replaced. Thus, the whole system is highly dynamic and subject to variablity from a number of factors, including the winds and ocean currents during certain years.
It's the old story. High degrees of natural variablity in certain measurements are filtered through global warming groupthink to become evidence of impending doom, and anecdotes of eskimos falling through thin ice are made to trump carefully done scientific studies.
The untold story from last week's Republican victory was the ineffectiveness of the left's attacks on right-wing reform. Democrats surprisingly did not launch a national campaign against partial privatization of Social Security. They did unlimber heavy artillery against radical changes in federal taxation but ended up shooting duds.
This failure was dramatized by Senate elections in the very red states of Oklahoma and South Carolina. Right up to Election Day, serious Democratic strategists saw an excellent chance to win in both states because the Republican candidates were uncompromising reformers and, therefore, stigmatized as loony rightists. Instead, former Rep. Tom Coburn in Oklahoma and Rep. Jim DeMint in South Carolina won easily.
1965-1969 - Several terrorist attacks against infrastructure targets in Israel. First attacks against airliners, including a multiple simultaneous hijacking, using Jordan as a base.
Sept. 1971 - Arafat driven from Jordan by Jordanian forces after giving the government there no end of grief.
Sept. 1972 - Arafat moves his base to Lebanon. Israeli olympic team murdered in Munich by the Black September wing of Fatah.
Oct. 1972 - Lufthansa jet airliner hijacked.
March 1973 - Black September group took American hostages in the Saudi consolate in the Sudan demanding the release of Sirhan Sirhan, Bobby Kennedy's killer.
April 1974 - PLO slaughtered eighteen residents of Kiryat Shmona in their apartment building.
May 1974 - Palestinian terrorists attacked a school in Ma'alot, murdering 26 Israelis, including several children.
June 1974 - the PLO endorsed what it called a "phased plan" to obliterate Israel.
November 1974 - PLO awarded observer status in the UN.
1980 - Arafat recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians by the EEC.
1982 - Arafat driven from Lebanon by the IDF.
1985 - a PLO cell identifying itself as the Palestine Liberation Front, led by Mohammed Abu al-Abbas, hijacked the Italian cruise ship, Achille Lauro. As his horrified wife looked on, the terrorists viciously shot a 69-year-old, wheelchair-bound Jew named Leon Klinghoffer, then tossed him overboard to die in the sea.
1987 - First intifada breaks out in Gaza. Arafat's group kills 3000 Israelis and even more of his own people were killed in political purges.
1988 - PLO granted right to particpate in UN General Assembly sessions.
1993 - Oslo accords.
1994 - Arafat wins Nobel Peace Prize.
1996 - Arafat, speaking to an Arab audience, said, "We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion.... We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem."
2000 - Under intense U.S. pressure driven by Clinton's need for a legacy, Israel offered Arafat the creation of a Palestinian state over 90 percent of the West Bank and all of Gaza, with its capital to be in East Jerusalem. Arafat rejected this offer.
2000 - The Second Intifada began with the collapse of the Oslo accords.
2001 - Following one of his typically belligerant addresses to the Palestinians in December, 2001, the administration of President George W. Bush let it be known that Arafat would no longer be dealt with. Bush asserts the doctine of global anti-terrorism and war subsequent to Sept 11, and Arafat's effectiveness is curtailed and he is gradually marginalized and reduced to pariah status.
2002 to the Present - Arafat is trapped in his compound in Palestine. Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist leaders are picked off one by one by the Israeli anti-terrorist forces.
Which one issue mattered most in considering your vote for president?
A. Education, 4 percent.
B. Taxes, 5 percent.
C. Health Care, 8 percent.
D. Iraq, 15 percent.
E. Terrorism, 19 percent.
F. Economy and Jobs, 20 percent.
G. Moral Values, 22 percent.
Because "moral values' includes so many issues, such as gay marriage, crime, abortion, and even character, it polled slightly higher than the others, which were all more narrowly defined. Group the other issues into broad categories such as "the war" or "domestic issues" and they easily out-polled "moral values."
Nevertheless, another leftist canard was born with that survey, which was the idea that Kerry was defeated by bigoted Christian rednecks. Maureen Dowd in the New York Times said it with the most verve, cursing the Republicans for pandering to "isolationism, nativism, chauvinism, puritanism and religious fanaticism" in their unfailing drive to "summon our nasty devils."
An analysis of the polls conducted after the election contradicts this idea. Bush received no more of the vote in states that had anti-gay marriage proposals on the ballot than he did in 2000, for example, and the moral values issues came up as being no more imporant than usual in other polls. The proportion of the electorate claiming to be fundamentalist Christian did not change, either.
But it can never be that the Democrat's message was simply rejected. It's never that they've gone wrong. The liberal elite must find a way to deligitimize the Republican victory and assuage their moral vanity, and this was going to be the theme this time, much like "Angry White Men" had been the theme in an earlier election.
So it is that, while standing on the smoldering ruins of yet another Democratic defeat, they angrily, absurdly claim moral superiority.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Every time I went to Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iraq on humanitarian missions the people begged me to assure them that Bush would be elected. These weren't a few people, as I'd first hoped (as a committed left winger,) but hundreds, thousands. They saw their struggle as I saw Cuba, Angola or Kosovo. I'm now forced, albeit with some personal reservations and resistance, to see their point. The people in these countries even begged me to tell the Americans to bomb their neighborhoods to kill the 'Taliban' that live there. Heartbreaking--but a heartbreaking admission of how sick they are of living under totalitarianism. They see America as freedom.
While watching the elections in Afghanistan I never saw such joy. Such hope. The people would come and shake my hand, hug me, just because of my nationality. What a success, I had to admit.
Even we on the left have to start coming to grips with the world, and that means coming to grips with the fact that unlike us liberal/left, a lot of people in the world admire, even love, George Bush, their 'liberator.' I hear even more passion for Bush in Iraq, worse (or better, depending on your point of view) from the people than even the soldiers, and the military are at least 5 to 1 for Bush...this would make the indigenous population maybe 9-1 for our current administration.
I was coming back from the Middle East when Bush was elected and saw the Iranians with the 'V' for victory claiming the streets in the thousands, the hundreds of thousands celebrating the Bush election.
We're going to have to rethink a lot of issues, positions, prejudices and fears, folks...it's a sad fact for some of us, but the future of the Islamic world seems to be in democracy. And we're more loved than our media and politicans are telling us--even Bush! Weird, maybe. True, unfortunately. Honest, indubitably.
US forces have suspected that nerve gas might be used in the defense of Fallujah and have had gas masks available during the attack.
I think what bemused me most when reading your missive, Mr. Barlow, was your description of the young man who was probably popular and on the football team and supported Bush, while you the nerdy outsider supported Kerry, and you saw the whole thing through some sort of 50s-vs.-60s lens. Nothing could show me just how insular so many on the left have become than that. Few of the war supporters I know fit such stereotypes at all. "Think for yourself, question authority" is something a lot of us sucked in with our mothers' milk--and by the way, you know we kids who were born in the 1960s are now in our 30s and 40s and parents ourselves, right? A lot of us grew up being told to question authority, and a lot of that authority we now question is the left-wing orthodoxy of your generation, an orthodoxy many of us bought into as it was taught to us in school, in the books we read, and especially in the universities, not to mention in a lot of what we see out of Hollywood today.
We came to reject a lot of that orthodoxy as we got older and learned to think better for ourselves--not because we "embraced the establishment," but because we were questioning the establishment.
There's lots more. It's worth it to read the whole thing.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
So much for the power of the mainstream media.
So much for the idea that undecided voters always go for the challenger.
So much for the Democrat's belief that the popular vote should decide the Presidential election.
So much for the idea that a big turnout always favors the Democrats.
So much for Tom Daschle.
So much for the youth vote.
So much for the winds of change.
So much for Zogby.
So much for Michael Moore's efforts.
So much for the Washington Redskin's last home game going the way of the incumbent in the election.
So much for Hollywood's clout.
So much for George Soros.
The efforts of Christian fundamentalists to include creationism in the public school biology curriculum is often cited as archtypical of the conflict between the forces of rationality and science and those of fundamentalist religious superstition.
An event often cited as an example of this conflict is the Scopes Monkey Trial. The trial in 1925 pitted populist William Jennings Bryan and his friends against defense lawyer Clarence Darrow and his client John Scopes, who was accused of violating a state law against teaching Darwinism in a public school.
Recently, this episode of American history has been revisited by several pundits, and liberals often cite the trial to frame their opposition to the conservative political agenda in terms similar to those used to characterize the Scopes Trial, i.e., the battle of the rational, scientific and informed against the superstitious and ignorant.
However, in delving into the history of the Scopes Trial one finds that things were not as they are often portrayed in the popular media (or in the news media of the day, for that matter.) For example, the idea that William Jennings Bryan objected to the teaching of evolution only because he thought it undermined the Christian religion is a myth. It wasn't just the right to teach the theory of evolution as a theory of biology that was being defended in the trial.
The textbook from which Mr. Scopes was accused of teaching was A Civic Biology Presented in Problems by George William Hunter. In this text the theory of evolution was not primarily what was being taught, certainly not in a proper biological sense. There was not much in it about Darwin's evidence, nothing about how the theory was developed, no biological examples, nothing that put the idea in a biological context. In fact, the main trust of the book was eugenics, which in the 1920's was considered to be the logical, scientific and rational extension of the theory of evolution into civic life. Civic Biology went into what the author thought were the logical conclusions that could be derived from the theory of evolution in justification of eugenics, such as the idea of white supremacy, the "scientific" justification of the inferiority of certain other races, the necessity of racial purity, and so forth.
Eugenics was what passed for a progressive and rational idea of that day. It was the backward, irrational, religious fanatics like Bryan, who insisted that all men are equal in God's eyes, that objected to the advocacy of eugenics. Bryan, informed by his religious beliefs, strongly upheld the ideals of human rights and equality. These were the same religious ideas and beliefs that had been used to advocate for the abolition of slavery 60 years before.
Looking back on this from our present position in history, having seen where these racist ideas lead, it is difficult for us to understand the thinking process behind the trial. Both Bryan and Darrow looked upon all of the racist ideas advocated in Civic Biology as being a corollary of Darwinism. There was no attempt to seperate Darwinism, which as a theory of biology stood up well even then, from derivative ideas like racism and eugenics. It was all part of a piece. Darwinism was eugenics and eugenics was Darwinism.
In the trial, Darrow made no bones about his approval of eugenics as a scientific and rational idea. The first witness for the defense was Maynard M. Metcalf, a member of the American Eugenics Society. The judge ruled such testimony immaterial and for that was ridiculed by the press for refusing to consider the scientific evidence.
Bryan, who was often called "the great common man" because of his advocacy of equality and social justice, saw where the whole idea of Darwinism/eugenics was leading. The fact that Darwinism appeared to contradict Christian teaching was to him just one part of the evidence that the whole thing was wrong. Bryan didn't object to a theory that made men the relatives of monkeys so much as he objected to a theory that justified treating people like animals. Of Darwinism, he wrote that "Its only program for man is scientific breeding, a system under which a few supposedly superior intellects, self-appointed, would direct the mating and the movements of the mass of mankind -- an impossible system!"
Whenever people advocating a secular and progressive agenda get frustrated with the objections of religious people they should stop and consider what it was their counterparts were defending in the Scopes Monkey Trial. That's not to advocate for the ascendency of religion over science and rationality in public policy, but, at the very least, to say that that religion and traditional values have a necessary role.