Saturday, June 30, 2007

We didn't start the fire.....

The Next Phase of the War in the West: The Car Bomb...

Glasgow Airport, Scotland:
This thing, obviously, isn't going away. Wake up calls continue to happen. This attack has been tied to the London 2-car bomb attempt yesterday.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Weekend Reading...

Some links to articles on what's hot...

Too Hot... Too Cool?
Global Cooling Costs Too Much by Jonah Goldberg

Iraq War... the direction (a good read):
Understanding General Petraeus's Strategy - Testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
by Frederick W. Kagan

The War Front in Britain:
Brown's Early Test by Nile Gardiner

Immigration... On Letting Go:
How We Become American by Peggy Noonan

Who Killed Palestine?... a failure with a thousand fathers
by Bret Stephens

Church Music and the Faith:
Praise Music Flunks by Lawrence Henry

National Health Care... diagnosis:
Who's Really 'Sicko' by David Gratzer

Friday, June 22, 2007

Articles for weekend reading...

Expand your horizons!

On the Scooter Libby Case:
A Tale of Two Prosecutors by Dorothy Rabinowitz
Libby: Light at the End of the Tunnel? by Clarice Feldman

Latest on the War in Iraq:
Surrender or Die by Michael Yon (embedded reporter)
Iraq: Military Gains; Government Mess by Amir Taheri

Global Warming Primer:
Read The Sunspots by R. Timothy Patterson
Global warming: truth or propaganda? by Vaclav Klaus

Anti-Semitism on the rise in Britain:
The Fruits of Multiculturalism by Hal G.P. Colebatch

Stock Market Analysis 101:
A Record Setting Stock Market (but not the kind of record you think) by Alan M. Newman

Christianity, Christ, and the World:
Ministers Who Preach Not Themselves, But Christ by Michael S. Horton

** A Debate of sorts **
... the lecture:
Where is God in ‘The War on Terror’? by N. T. Wright
... the response:
Wrong From Wright by Gilbert Meilaender

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hamas versus Fatah in Gaza...

The one thing that unites Iran and the Arab countries, regardless of their differences and mutual mistrust, is their common desire to end the state of Israel. There will be bloody skirmishes between partisan terrorist factions along the way, as is happening in Gaza (and other spots) with Hamas and Fatah. But the common goal to eradicate Israel from the Middle East supercedes any temporary damage resulting from in-fighting. One sees Sunnis, Shia, Arabs, Persians, Syria, Iran, Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, and al Quaeda... despite many differences, united when it comes to destroying Israel, as well as opposing The U.S. in Iraq.

From the perspective of the democratic west, the ascendancy of the Iran backed Hamas in Gaza should be one more stark reminder that the radicalized jihadist wave is growing and eventually will have to be confronted. Hamas and Fatah are vying for the title of the "strong horse" upon which the Arab Middle East can ride to realize their goal of Israel's end. Hamas looks to win .

Israel should be fully supported by the U.S. and Europe, as it is not only in the gun site of those setting the Arab/Muslim agenda, but it is a liberal democracy and the natural ally of the west.

Update: Mike Pence, R-Ind., said he is drafting legislation that would restrict money from being given to the Palestinians so long as Hamas has control of Gaza. Pence wants to offer the measure as an amendment to a $34.2 billion bill that funds the State Department and foreign assistance programs.

Pence said his concern is that Bush's decision to resume aid will "open the flood gates of support for authorities within the Fatah government that could ultimately be used against Israel," he said in an interview Wednesday.

"Right now we're at a time when Hamas is sitting behind the desk of government buildings in Gaza City wearing ski masks and holding AK-47s," he added. "It's hard for me to see where we can provide any funds directly or indirectly to supplement or support what is an emerging terrorist Palestinian state."

Mid-East Conflict: Fact vs. Fiction

Fiction: Palestine's 1948 war ended with the Zionists stealing Palestine and expelling its people to establish Israel and to this day Israel blocks Palestinian national aspirations.

Fact: In 1948 there was no Arab state in the Middle East called Palestine (nor was there ever) for Israel to occupy and steal. For almost 370 years prior to 1922 the region had been ruled by the Turks under the Ottoman Empire. There was no Syria, no Jordan, no Iraq. They were created by the European powers after the end of Turkish rule. At that same time the British created the Palestine Mandate (where Palestinian Jews had been living continuously for almost 3700 years) for the establishment of a Jewish homeland. Jordan, bordering the Palestine Mandate, was where the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs were, and still are, living.

Today over one million Arabs live in Israel as citizens with full rights... more rights than any Arab has in any Arab nation in the Middle East. Whereas Jews are persona non grata in every Arab country.

The Middle East conflict is not about land. It is not about Palestinian refugees. It is not about self-determination. By means of three wars and decades of terror beginning in 1948 when Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan attacked Israel declaring their policy as "No Jewish state"... up through today with the rise of Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestinian Authority, the goal of Israel's enemies has been no secret. It is the eradication of the Jewish nation in the Middle East.. This goal has been pursued by the Arabs at the expense of establishing a Palestinian state. There is no serious intention of creating a Palestinian nation by the Arabs (having rejected a Palestinian state in 1948 and 2000)... as long as there exists a Jewish state in the Middle East.

I am linking to a video, "What Really Happened in the Middle East," produced by David Horowitz's Freedom Center, that dramatically separates truth from falsehoods concerning the underlying issues and origins of the Middle East conflict in which Israel is at the center. Too many myths have gained currency in today's media and throughout much of the west when it comes to the history of that region and concerning the real intentions of those setting the agenda on the Arab side. If you are interested in a brief historical overview regarding the state of war that exists between the Arab states and Israel then watch.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ruth Graham 1920-2007

Ruth Graham, Rev. Billy Graham's wife has died. Here is a link at the Billy Graham website that honors her life, recounts memories of her by those who knew her, and where anyone that wishes may leave their thoughts.

An ill wind bloweth...

A fascinating interview with Mark Steyn over at PajamasMedia. As much as anyone, Mark understands the problem of the gathering wind of radicalized Islamicism facing the west. His is one of the few, but growing, voices articulating the enormity of this very real threat.

Steyn is having the conversation, in his book America Alone and in his articles, that should be going on in households and governments throughout the west. It is both pathetic and scary, in light of 9/11 and the escalation of jihadism worldwide, that the comfortable affluence of our society and the insipid cynicism of our culture has produced a response barely above apathy in the media and most people to this reality.

In the words of the Buffalo Springfield song of the sixties... "Stop, children, what's that sound / Everybody look what's going down." I fear what it might take for the west to wake itself from its self-induced state of sleepwalking.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ideas matter…

As we start easing (or in some cases, rushing) into the political season of presidential campaigning, we're going to hear a lot of rhetoric, mostly wind but not all. There’s going to be promises made, finger pointing, moral preening, and fail-proof solutions offered up to remedy the many problems facing this country. It's therefore vital to listen for the ideas that animate and give direction to each of the candidates. Those ideas, if implemented, will lead this nation in one direction or another, which in turn, will further us down a path resulting in different destinations.

Ideas matter. Intentions are easy to come by and easy to espouse. Listen for the underlying beliefs and ideas. They are not always obvious. Criticism and cynicism, posing as wisdom, pass too often as the staple of ideas in today’s political discourse. And we have been, and will be, getting bucket loads of both.

Ideas are valuable only when they are based in what’s true, not simply on what’s desired. The idea of right and wrong makes sense only when there is the accompanying truth that certain things really are right and certain things really are wrong… moral truth that rises above our own calculations, if you would. When you veer from that principle, too often you end up with the approach to policy of “the ends justifying the means.” Most agree that isn't a philosophy to embrace, yet too often that is, in effect, the course advocated by many.

The men and women that founded this nation had a world view in which there were certain bedrock truths regarding man, his nature, and how he was created to live (yes,by in large, they believed in a Creator). And from those truths flowed certain ideas regarding the inalienable rights of human beings. Any form of government hoping to succeed had to respect those ideas that flowed from those absolute truths. For it is based upon those truths and ideas that governments confer rights to its citizens. Drifting away from that understanding is like having the "bright" idea to navigate a ship at sea without the aid of accurate charts, knowledge of ocean currents, and the North Star. The voyage might start out well enough, but the chances of your ship reaching its desired destination would be almost nil. You'd end up on a shore no one (or at least most) would have desired.

A lot of rhetoric will be offered up by these candidates. Most of it will have the short term goal of saying what people want to hear. But what are the ideas supporting that rhetoric? What are the logical implications and long term directions for this country of the things they're each advocating? What North Star and guiding principles inform their ideas?

Ideas matters.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

And the wall came tumbling down...

For those of you too young to have seen Ronald Reagan's "Tear down that wall" speech given 20 years ago at the Brandenburg Gate, it was something to behold, even if only via television. It was a great speech given by man of great ideas and courage.

Two years later, the Wall started coming down, as the hope of millions for liberty broke forth into reality. If you would like to view that moment when he challenged Mr. Gorbachev to "tear down that wall," then go over to RedState and relive a high historical moment.

Friday, June 8, 2007

New song up...

Last year's war between Israel and Hezbollah brought home again the heartache, not only of the horrible loss of life that is taking place in that region of the world, but of the intractable nature of events there. Putting aside the politics, the historical and religious context, and the strategic concerns... it is such a dismal situation that at times I can only shake my head. Any way, thinking on this led to my writing and recording the song Keep On Running. The song art is a painting by Guido Reni (1611) called the Massacre of the Innocents. It is his depiction of the slaughter of male infants by King Herod. One line from the song... "And mothers keep on praying for a place yet to be found."

You can listen to the song, if you'd like, by clicking on the audio player below the song art over on the right side bar. Craig Bakay of Canada helps me out on the vocals and Neil Porter of Australia provides the bass and drums.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

My two centavos on Immigration Bill

A good discussion thread started by Kerrie Rushton of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives going on over at RedState. Here are a few things I threw into the mix over there:

If there is no "tamper proof" form of documentation (there isn't) for everyone who is legally in this country, how do we know who is here, whether they have gone through the Z visa process assuming it is sound (which in my view it is not)? And what if many or most illegal aliens would just rather stay "in the shadows" so as to continue as they are now. I certainly think there's a probability that any terrorists would rather remain below the radar. The legislation seems to assume that its good intentions will compel everyone to move in the right direction... but people will do what they want to do.

But most of all, this whole debate over bureaucratic process and hoops prospective legal immigrants must jump through is really just an empty one. The southern border will remain open with a big welcome mat as the bill has no serious enforcement measures to control the influx of illegal immigrants.

Take the necessary steps to control the border, stemming the flow of illegals... Once that is effectively done then let's talk about paths to citizenship and all that. And over time allow assimilation to take place for those here, legal or not. I don't see the "crisis" to pass legislation to in effect give amnesty and legalization to the 12 to 20 million illegals here. They're here now and have been here for a while, and according to the pro-bill people, doing jobs "Americans won't." So let that situation exist for a few years more while the border thing gets dealt with, then let's make a deal.

This bill is worse than the status-quo.

Update (6-8-07): The Senate vote for cloture on the bill failed to garner enough votes to end debate and allow a vote on the legislation, effectively killing the bill... if not for good, at least for the time being. It will be difficult, though, for advocates of this bill to get the steam up again to bring it forward for another Senate consideration.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Libby Case Email Feedback...

A reader emails:
"Sorry, I must at this time disagree with your conclusion on a Libby pardon. Think both compassion and politics.
"I feel certain Dubya has already assured Scooter and his family that he will not serve even one day in jail. In the meantime, while unlikely to happen, Scooter may obtain an appeal. If not, Dubya still has plenty of time to issue a pardon .... while at the same time the Jefferson bribery case continues.
"I personally feel that Fitzgerald has been totally wrong in pursuing this case against Libby and should, himself, be removed from office. He is just about capable of being a D.A. in Durham, N.C."

My response:
You have more confidence in Bush on this matter than I do. When the campaign finance (McCain-Feingold) was being written in the Senate, Bush said he would veto it because it was unconstitutional. When it passed and he signed it, his reasoning was... it was unconstitutional and (passing the buck) that the Supreme Court would strike it down. Well the Supreme Court didn't and now we have a bad law, one that has infringed on free speech.

In the Libby case, the presiding Judge Walton refused yesterday to hear arguments for Libby remaining free while the appeal process goes forward. Which means he will likely go to jail in 30 to 60 days. So, Bush really doesn't have plenty of time. A pardon following the completion of the appeals process, after spending 18 months in jail (come post election November 2008) is scant relief To Mr. Libby. If he deserves a pardon, then do it now. Indeed, Bush should have pardoned him right after the trial. Heck, it was the Bush Administration's passing of the buck to a special prosecutor that was the first lapse of judgment and responsibility in this political storm that has been parading as a criminal investigation. Compassion really isn't the issue in my mind. That is simply how Bush's press office framed their response ("the President feels sad for Mr. Libby and his family"). I was merely playing off of that in my post of yesterday.

In my mind a pardon would serve both justice (which IS the issue) and politics (help shore up his base which has been deserting him over immigration and ineptitude at the Justice Dept.)... that is, if he does it now. By waiting until he is leaving office to pardon Mr. Libby, President Bush shows lack of strength, courage, loyalty, justice... and, oh yeah, compassion.

I hope I am wrong and Bush issues a full pardon ASAP.

Update (6-7-07): William Otis, former Special Counselor to President George H.W. Bush (dad), has another approach to how President George W. Bush should handle the Libby issue of pardoning him or not. His recommendation is partial commutation of the sentence.

Update (6-8-07):
Over at The Wall Street Journal Fouad Ajami of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins lends support to my views above.

Update (6-10-07): William Kristol addressed the President regarding a Libby pardon over at The Weekly Standard in an article entitled Don't Feel Terrible, Mr. President.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Question, Mr. President!

Mr. President, you are saying that you are sad for Mr. Libby's family... Are you sad for Mr. Libby, that he has been found guilty and has been sentenced to 30 months?

No comment?! No comment as to any compassion for this man's predicament? As the Chief Executive of this government, no bowels of compassion for a loyal servant of your administration... a man virtually everyone in your party believes was unjustly indicted and convicted over a policy dispute?

You say it would be interjecting yourself into the process?!

Ah... such respect for justice you seem to have. I am beginning to see now that it may be, in fact, too much to think you would act with your pardon power to correct the wrong that has been done.

Oh, you are waiting for the legal process to play itself out?

Convenient... waiting to decide on a pardon until the end of the appeals process, a period of time which Mr. Libby may very well spend in jail... Does the phrase "passing the buck" seem relevant here?

You have answered my question, Mr. President. No compassion and no pardon for Mr. Libby.

Sadly, your true intentions are all too clear. And I have to conclude... you are no stand up kind of guy. And justice in this nation has taken a hit.

National Review Online has an Archive of numerous articles and opinion pieces that chronicles the entire Valerie Plame "Leak" affair. Go there if you want to understand what this whole sordid business has been about. If one hasn't been exposed to some of the analysis in these and other articles in various publications as diverse as the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, then it is unlikely that the context and significance of Mr. Libby's trial has been grasped.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The More Things Change...

Climate change is all the rage this week at the G-8 Summit in Europe. So let me throw some fuel on the fire and heat things up a little.

In about ten years or so, people will be reminiscing with wonderment about the massive wave of hysteria that swept through the years 1990 to 2010 concerning global warming. For soon we are to arrive at the point where every change that occurs in the world will be attributable to global warming. Here is a list of well over 400 things that are trumpeted as being caused by the evil of global warming which in turn is claimed to be caused by man. Each item is a link to the original claim source.

Yes, there is some warming of the planet over the last 100 years (most of which was prior to 1950). No, it is not primarily the result of human activity. Yes, the temperature increase is within the norm of historical cycles. No, consensus does not equate infallibility. One need only go back to the 1970's to understand. George Will does just that in this excerpt of his:

Back in the 1970s we were being… “told to be worried, very worried, about global cooling. Science magazine (Dec. 10, 1976) warned of "extensive Northern Hemisphere glaciation." Science Digest (February 1973) reported that "the world's climatologists are agreed" that we must "prepare for the next ice age." The Christian Science Monitor ("Warning: Earth's Climate is Changing Faster Than Even Experts Expect," Aug. 27, 1974) reported that glaciers "have begun to advance," "growing seasons in England and Scandinavia are getting shorter" and "the North Atlantic is cooling down about as fast as an ocean can cool." Newsweek agreed ("The Cooling World," April 28, 1975) that meteorologists "are almost unanimous" that catastrophic famines might result from the global cooling that the New York Times (Sept. 14, 1975) said "may mark the return to another ice age." The Times (May 21, 1975) also said "a major cooling of the climate is widely considered inevitable" now that it is "well established" that the Northern Hemisphere's climate "has been getting cooler since about 1950."
In fact, the Earth is always experiencing either warming or cooling. But suppose the scientists and their journalistic conduits, who today say they were so spectacularly wrong so recently, are now correct. Suppose the Earth is warming and suppose the warming is caused by human activity. Are we sure there will be proportionate benefits from whatever climate change can be purchased at the cost of slowing economic growth and spending trillions? Are we sure the consequences of climate change -- remember, a thick sheet of ice once covered the Midwest -- must be bad? Or has the science-journalism complex decided that debate about these questions, too, is "over"?” - George Will

It's all part of what I've been calling the west's corporate guilt/messiah complex coupled with the dilemma of ego-centric man believing he is the master of his own destiny, but having an inward dread that he is not. I know... for another day.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

How thick the fog?

Andrew C. McCarthy posts an article today on NRO that is must reading, entitled "Killing America... Twice."

My thoughts: Too many in the democracies of the west are in a fog and do not or will not recognize that we have a determined enemy who is animated by a radical and ruthless ideology tied to Islam. And that enemy isn't going away on its own. The recent JFK bombing plot involving a Muslim U.S. citizen is a stark reminder of this and should be a reality slap in the face. Yet the thick gray mist lingers. My question is what will it take for us to emerge from this fog? I don't think the answer is necessarily another horrific bombing in this country. That may (and probably will) happen. This fog is classic self-denial of reality. It's much less threatening to imagine that this whole thing is overblown and mostly about an agenda born of corrupt politics. Or, that if only the "legitimate grievances" of jihadists were properly addressed all would be well. "Something is going on here and you don't know what it is," to again quote Dylan. The biggest threat is remaining in the fog and not recognizing what really is going on.

This is Andrew C. McCarthy's bio from Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He "is a former federal prosecutor and a Contributor at National Review Online. From 1993 through 1996, while an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, he led the prosecution against the jihad organization of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, in which a dozen Islamic militants were convicted of conducting a war of urban terrorism against the United States that included the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a plot to bomb New York City landmarks. Mr. McCarthy also made major contributions to the prosecutions of the bombers of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the Millennium plot attack Los Angeles International Airport.

Following the September 11 attacks, Mr. McCarthy supervised the U.S. Attorney's Anti-Terrorism Command Post in New York City, coordinating investigative and preventive efforts with numerous federal and state law enforcement and intelligence agencies. From 1999 through 2003, he was the Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District's satellite office, responsible for federal law enforcement in six counties north of New York City."

His article can be found HERE.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Good Humor Has Basis in Truth...

A funny conservative humor website called IMAO has some great material on a number of current topics. To end out the week on a lighter note, here is one of their installments on the White House response to critics of the current immigration bill winding its way through Congress. Be sure to visit IMAO if you are in the mood for some topical, political, or issue oriented humor.

This is part of their entry from a few days ago:

"Due to my numerous contacts, I've received the FAQ the White House is going to soon put out to answer people's concerns about the immigration bill. It was written with help from the editorial staff at the Wall Street Journal. Here it is:


Q. I'm concerned that the immigration bill focuses more on giving illegal immigrants amnesty than border protection. Does the President share these concerns?
A. The President doesn't hate brown people.

Q. This isn't a racial issue. Many people think this bill will only encourage more illegal immigration and leave our borders open and dangerous. What are the answer to these charges?
A. To answer your underlying question, I'm afraid the the President is against your proposal to commit genocide against Hispanics.

Q. This isn't about Hispanics! This is about our laws being respected and our national security!
A. Unfortunately, America has had a long history of closed-minded bigots like you who hate all immigrants and want to keep the nation white and pure. To answer what we can only assume will be your next question, no, jackboots aren't tax deductible, but have fun in your neo-Nazi march anyway."

There's more on their site but to understand the context for the above get a more serious take regarding the damaging way President Bush and his pro-immigration bill allies are responding to critics in their own camp in an article today by Peggy Noonan on WJS Opinion Journal entitled Too Bad.

Have good weekend!