News, Commentary And Speculation

While events in Iraq have been going against the “Al Qaeda in Iraq” forces and their allies, Afghanistan is not viewed optimistically by all observers. The Taleban intend to take the country back, and some say the fanatics are gaining ground. We begin, therefore, with a summaryof events in that unfortunate nation — and note parenthetically that the major news media, most of which are eager to report the hopelessness and futility of Western efforts to extract Islamofascism’s fangs, once again have let events go under-reported. The big news organizations may be biased and inaccurate, but at least they are slow and clumsy.

 

Now to Iraq. Before bestowing credibility on Pelosi and Reid, you should consider a recent, rational evaluation of how Al Qaeda is doing in Iraq. (Hint: poorly, and getting worse.) Maybe bin Laden’s boys keep up their morale because they read only the NY Times?

 

The surge: is it working? This from the “Willing Suspension of Disbelief” department:

If you’re looking for one measure of the impact of last year’s troop surge in Iraq, look at Gen. David Petraeus as he walks through a Baghdad neighborhood, with no body armor, and no helmet.

Read the whole post, Hilly.

 

Sadr City was mentioned prominently in a recent PenPo; as predicted, events there are heating up. The increase in military, legal, and political pressure is causing rifts within the Mahdi Army and Sadrist movement leadership. The outcome of the struggle in Sadr City is crucial to the evolution of a stable Iraqi state. This post summarizes events, and includes a lot of nice links to other sources.

 

Who killed Muganiyeh? If his assassination interests you, there is informed speculation — but no firm answers, obviously — to be found in Wretchard The Cat’s weblog, and in The Long War Journal. Quote from the latter:

The Jerusalem Post’s report of a well-placed car bomb seems to be confirmed by Al Jazeera reporter Abdul Hamid Tawfiq, who is reporting from Damascus. “When taking a close look at the car, we noticed that it was not burnt or blackened, but the driver’s and passengers’ seats were damaged,” Tawfiq said. He believed that a bomb had been planted under the driver’s seat.

This description matched the assassination Izz El-Deen Sheikh Khalil, a key Hamas operative in Damascus, who was killed by Israeli intelligence in September 2004.

See also this.

 

Back to basics: leftist Norm Geras returns yet again to the reason why the USA is in Iraq in the first place, and objects to attempts to “re-write history.” Hmmmm.

 

Whoa! Yet more chuckles and grins are to be had from the folks whose then News Chief Eason Jordan made an offhand remark revealing the mindset and assumptions of his crew, namely, that the US military was targeting and murdering journalists in Iraq. Right: that’s the outfit whose concept of journalistic integrity allowed them to promise Saddam they would not report on his torture chambers and murder squads. Jordan is gone, but the malady lingers on, as yet another bloodthirsty dictator gets the VIP treatment from a powerful “news” outlet.

Will they ever put their house in order?? Probably not. There are too many reasons why the bias exists, and they begin with an educational system that has deep roots in nineteenth-century European anti-bourgeois sentiment. As long as post-modernism and books like Said’sOrientalism remain influential in the academy, there is not much hope. The fascination with Marx’s over-simple explanation of history still plays a role, as well. The trendy “progressive” takes that antiquated twaddle, mixes cynical conspiracism with an irrational fear of Liberty, adds a pungent splash of modern Jew-hatred, and…knows everything.

 

Naughty, naughty: some words are just too nasty to be uttered. Ah, political correctness, Al-Reuters is thy name! An excerpt:

Reuters, remember, was the news service that, following the bombings of September 11, cashiered the word “terrorist” because, Steven Jukes, Reuter’s global head of news, wrote “We all know that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Do we really?

 

Whenever the subject turns to bias in the media, one can’t forget the doyenne of distortion, the BBC. Too right — after all, this tax-supported propaganda machine has been warping public opinion for decades. These are the folks who practically invented “anti-Americanism”! Or at least they absorbed the Oxbridge Axis’s bigotry and popularized it. A quote will show how sophisticated Auntie Beeb is these days:

One of the challenges facing journalists in recent years has been how to report incidents of terrorism without mentioning the word “Islam” or “Muslim”. … The BBC, more anxious than most of our news media to avoid the M-word, has even resorted to “men”.

Ain’t political correctness fun??

 

Meanwhile, back in the USA…is Slick singing his swan song? Some have speculated that he tried to sabotage his wife’s campaign because he did not want to be upstaged by a war president. Others wonder whether his ego will ever be under control. Quote from the snotty post linked to in this item:

The problem is not the “Clinton haters” (most of whom were merely pointing out the reality), but the far too many people who have loved him, far beyond reason, for decades. That was the source of his power.

(Slick and The Little Woman) have never cared about the Democrat Party, other than as a convenient vehicle for the conveyance of their unlimited and insatiable ambition and lust for power, and they’ve been a disaster for it ever since they hit the national scene.

This opinion is not plausible. The Democrats crowed loudly when Willy was in charge — back when the economy was booming and Osama bin Laden had yet to get our attention. That brief period was a disaster? Yes, in retrospect folks might fault the Clinton White House for both pestering the military (with that incredibly stupid fuss about homosexuals) and neglecting it, as well as being duped by Yasser Arafat and not getting serious about Osama bin Laden. But at other times Slick was amazingly popular, which made Democrats ecstatic. The Clintons have not been a continuing disaster for their party, just an occasionally intense embarrassment that is only now becoming an irrelevancy. Or does memory not serve?

 

OK, they are mobile, but they are not telephones — they are radio transceivers, and they are not good for you. There is a bit more proof of that now. If you have kids, make them use ear buds and microphones so they don’t have to hold those infernal devices next to their faces.

 

Here’s yet another (quasi-) technological plague that is not good for you, but is just about everywhere. Oh, well.

 

Have a look at Thailand’s new prime minister. Democracy has triumphed (or so the Thais claim, but there’s a lot more to democracy than free elections!), and now this guy is in charge. Video illuminating his career is also available; it’s a bit herky-jerky, but there are links to other video clips on the web page.

 

More on immigration: the costs of coping with illegal migrants who commit crimes in the USA are staggering.

By the way, Senator McCain, Mexico is where the overwhelming majority of these repeat offenders comes from.

Here’s a summary of a weblog post that drew its information from a government study:

Government Accounting office March 2006 report on illegal aliens, cost thereof, says….

We estimate the federal cost of incarcerating criminal aliens totaled about $5.8 billion from 2001 through 2004, with direct federal costs of $4.2 billion and federal reimbursements to state and local governments of $1.6 billion. In mid-2004, most of the foreign-born inmates for the 5 state prison systems with the most criminal aliens were born in Mexico (60 percent). We estimate that 4 of these 5 states spent a total of $1.6 billion in fiscal years 2002 and 2003 to incarcerate SCAAP criminal aliens and were reimbursed about $233 million through SCAAP (State Criminal Alien Assistance Program…Feds help states pay for jailing illegals).

Fiscal year 2002-SCAAP reimbursed 752 local jurisdictions for incarcerating about 138,000 criminal aliens. Fiscal year 2003-SCAAP reimbursed 698 local jurisdictions for about 147,000 criminal aliens. 5 municipal and county jails incarcerated about 30 percent of these criminal aliens in fiscal year 2003-Los Angeles County, California; New York City, New York; Orange County, California; Harris County, Texas; Maricopa County, Arizona.

We estimate that 4 of these 5 local jails spent a total of $390 million in fiscal years 2002 and 2003 to incarcerate SCAAP criminal aliens and were reimbursed about $73 million through SCAAP.

Oh.

That said, it is interesting to note that the federal government has tacitly accepted some responsibility for the financial burden borne by the states. This onus exists because of the failure of the federal government to do its job, and that, too, is a point tacitly admitted by the very existence of the SCAAP program. How might the federal supreme court view a hypothetical State of California vs. Meyers lawsuit (Meyers is the head of the immigration enforcement agency)? “Become competent, or indemnify us in full for the damage your negligence has caused us”? Now there’s a radical notion!

If the government were prudent, some of those hundreds of millions of dollars spent on incarceration would go instead to the border patrol and to immigration enforcement. There are two chances of that happening: fat and slim. Yet spending a thousand dollars apprehending and turning back an illegal migrant would be wise, since locking a felon up for even a few months costs a great deal more.

For decades, the USA’s immigration policies have been insane. There will be no rational reform if Sen. McCain (R, Mexico) is elected to the presidency.

On The Right To Privacy

Part One: The Evolution of the Concept of the Origin of Rights

It’s perfectly clear in the declaration of independence: we are given our rights by God, and everyone has the same rights. Yet this is absolutely not the view taken by the federal constitution, which became the supreme law of the land eleven years and three months after the declaration was published.

The divergence of the constitution from the principles that underlay the revolt against British rule is due to the background from which each document emerged. The declaration argued that rulers have no effect on human rights; despots can prevent the exercise of Liberty, but they can never deprive men of the right to it. This automatically justifies revolution against tyrants. It confirms the existence of an absolute standard, a kind of heavenly but immanent truth, and asks us to fight to enable its operation in our lives.

Note that if man does not have inalienable rights, he can never have any authority to overthrow dictatorships and cast off his chains. The denial of the exercise of rights would be tantamount to the eradication of rights. The implication of contingent, conditional rights is horrifying, for it tells us that man’s quest for ethical governance resembles one of Thomas Hobbes’s nightmares, or the history of India.

The concept of eternal, perfect qualities that can be glimpsed and understood by the righteous is a powerful propaganda tool. It is the Platonic spark that ignites rebellion. The dual purpose of the declaration of independence was to encourage an uprising and to explain to the world that heaven’s ineradicable gift informed and inflamed the rebels.

But do human rights exist, whether we realize they do or not? Are they facts that we can validate? Are they phenomena we can discover, examine, and describe? Or do we define them — actually create them — as we go, inventing things that seem important to us?

By the time the constitution went into effect, the violence had passed and former rebels were concerned about proper governance. Subtly, almost imperceptibly, the discussion turned from God’s gift of rights to man, and became a matter of practical explication. A list was drawn up, enumerating rights in negative terms: the new federal government was prohibited from doing certain things that seemed improper to the founders. Specifics are few, as the details were to be left to the courts and legislative bodies — punishment must not be cruel or unusual, for example, but those terms were not defined in the slightest.

The leap from an assertion of the existence of supernatural qualities (or entities?) to a do-it-yourself development of decent laws was hardly noticed. Yet it was fundamental. Most folks don’t think Jefferson’s incendiary prose clashes with the guidelines found in the constitution, but that is simply because the schools are not doing a proper job.

Jefferson knew what rights men have, and that they were eternal, unalterable, and sacrosanct; the founding fathers created a national foundation that allowed for modification as times changed. The declaration makes no distinctions between men; the 1788 constitution assumes women shall not vote, slaves shall be owned, and the federal senate shall not be democratically elected.

The imperfect, incomplete constitution was wisely drafted. Its ability to adapt and serve future generations is admirable, while Jefferson’s “Theology for Dummies” is stentorian babble, glorious but nonsensical. We can no more know whether God created any particular right than we can know whether green unicorns living in a far corner of the universe enjoy eating cherry-flavored midgets.

We can only decide which acts we want our government to punish.

To be continued….

Oh, Canada! Why Have You Chosen A Path Back To The Fourteenth Century?

If you are concerned about what someone might learn about you as you go about your daily routine — if, in other words, you consider privacy relatively important — how would you react to a governmental agency that demands to know the state of your mind, and is prepared to punish you for it?

Eric A. Blair, better known by his nom de plume George Orwell, did not invent the “thought crime,” but he gave us the iconic term. Then some fourteen years later, Hannah Arendt coined the memorable phrase, “the banality of evil.”

Blair pointed out that the heritage of the Inquisition may well return — that people may be interrogated and imprisoned for their thoughts and feelings. Arendt was impressed with the normal appearance of Nazi mass-murderer Adolf Eichmann; he looked like a banker, or anything other than the bloody-handed sociopath that he was. His clear conscience gave him a bland, courteous manner that suited the well-educated bureaucrat.

Both of these horrors — banal evil and thought crimes — have arrived in Canada, and they are ravenous.

The story unfolds in a number of locations on the internet — follow some of the links to get it all. Be sure to listen to Ezra Levant’s interview, available at the audio link found on this site; look to the right on the screen for a small window that enables you to open broadcast number 117. Here’s a bit of what you will hear:

(An officer of the Human Rights Commission) can come into my office at any reasonable hour — her definition of reasonable — and take any document for photocopying, copy anything off my computer hard drive, and take it away with her. Without a search warrant. And she can even come into my house and do this — she has to get the court’s permission, but it can be an ex parte hearing, that is, I’m not even told about it.

For some powerful, highly-rated videos of the clash between an individual and a self-righteous juggernaut, click on this link and then use the search feature with the terms “ezra levant.” That will give you a list from which to choose.

The targeting and persecution of Levant is the eventual consequence of political correctness. In this perversion of justice, an affable civil servant calmly commits outrageous offenses against an individual without suffering the slightest pangs of conscience. This is the banality of evil in our time.

For another example of the Canadian government’s frost-bitten mentality, see the case of Mark Steyn.

Department Of Guilty Pleasures, France-Bashing Division

Al-Reuters reports that

…publication of a new poll that suggested Sarkozy’s public romancing of supermodel-turned-singer Carla Bruni was the factor that had hurt his national image most. … Sarkozy and Bruni married secretly earlier this month but his critics saw the highly-publicized affair as a distraction too early in office.

The OpinionWay poll, conducted on the Internet for le Figaro and news channel LCI, found 82 percent of respondents believed Sarkozy’s private life fell short of that of a head of state.

Eighty-two percent! Sacre Bleu! And what, pray tell, did the French think of Slick Willy Clinton’s antics with Monica at the time?

Well, according to the New York Times:

…acres of coverage in newspapers and magazines that combined a delectation for juicy details with disdain for Americans for making such a fuss about them.

CNN reported:

WASHINGTON (Aug. 27, [1998]) — A new Gallup Poll shows most people in Great Britain, Canada, France and Germany approve of how Bill Clinton is handling his job as president and do not believe the Monica Lewinsky controversy has hurt his ability to represent America in its dealings with their country or the rest of the world.

Most of the public in each of the countries also thinks the personal life of a national leader is not relevant to how his or her performance in office should be judged, the poll found. … Two-thirds of those surveyed in France say their country would have paid less attention than the U.S. if a French leader had been involved with a woman in the same way that Clinton was involved with Lewinsky.

(On the CNN web page: Gallup Poll results — Clinton does good job representing US to world. France, 85%; Germany, 78%; Canada, 72%; UK, 67%.)

Salon was unambiguous:

The French seem infinitely more curious about the American public’s fascination with the Clinton scandal and the surrounding media feast than with the actual events that started the whole hullabaloo.

Every Parisian interviewed essentially said that they didn’t understand and/or didn’t care about all the fuss.

In general, the French seem to be sympathetic to Clinton and the humiliation of his predicament, while they regard the whole scandal as ridiculous. … For the French, of course, presidential sexual behavior ranks considerably lower on the list of priorities. Former French President Francois Mitterrand’s illegitimate daughter merely raised eyebrows.

None dare call it hypocrisy…. On second thought, could it be that the French don’t have a double standard — and that Slick, uniquely privileged scoundrel that he is, always gets a pass? Perhaps we should check with Gloria Steinem.

Corrigenda

In Number Three of the PenPo, the second paragraph under the introductory line, “Harris also refutes Pape’s model generally:” contains “…– and our airways have been filled with apologists for Islam making his claim — ….” That should read, “…making this claim — ….”

Also, the reference for the quote should be to pages 32-3, not just to page 32.

Mea culpa.