Saturday, September 30, 2006

Live Free or Die!

Many people recoil at the measures the Bush administration has taken and proposes to take to protect the country from terrorist attacks. They regard the administration’s efforts at increased national security as “abusive to freedom,” and the less graceful among us make comparisons to “Hitler” and complain of “police state” tactics, as if those things are real.

They feel threatened by their government. They believe they are losing their freedoms. They strongly disagree with the premise that in times of serious threats to our well-being the government should react and intervene to preempt attacks, and that in doing so if the government believes it needs to monitor overseas phone calls and to check up on people accessing information on how to make a chemical or biological weapon, and other such things, it should be allowed to do so.

They believe that these invasions of privacy are not warranted, and that it means absolutely that those freedoms are forever lost.


Let’s roll back intelligence operations to pre-2001 levels. Let’s stop monitoring overseas phone calls to and from suspected terrorists. Let’s repeal The USA PATRIOT Act. Let’s be nice to all the of the captured al-Qaeda and other Muslims combatants in Guantanamo Bay and other facilities, or maybe release them and deport them back home. Let’s stop the silly measures at airports that are such a pain.

Let’s stop all this freedom-robbing activity that upsets so many people and inconveniences so many more, and just take our chances with terrorists. We’re all going to die sometime, right? And a bolt of lightening, an errant beer truck, a car wreck, a mugger, or any number of other threats can always kill us at any moment. Is a terrorist attack really any worse than any of the other things that can kill and harm us? Besides, there are no guarantees that these freedom-robbing measures are going to stop an attack anyway. And the chances of another attack of the proportion of 9-11 are really remote.

This is America, the land of the free. Lot’s of brave men and women gave their lives so that we could be the freest people on Earth, and we have an obligation to protect that freedom. Life is just not worth living if we aren’t 100 percent free. So forget all this national security crap, go out there and eat, drink and be merry.

Don’t worry; be happy!

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Is Hillary the Devil?

More manufactured outrage from the Left, this time aimed at Reverend Jerry Falwell, who once again is on the Left’s bad side for supposedly comparing Democrat Senator Hillary Clinton to the devil.

The Los Angeles Times published Falwell’s comments: "I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate," Falwell said, according to a recording the Times cited. "She has $300 million so far. But I hope she's the candidate. Because nothing will energize my [constituency] like Hillary Clinton." Falwell continued: "If Lucifer ran, he wouldn't."

Okay, folks, that’s the signal to start the hysteria: "He was calling Hillary Clinton a demonic figure and openly arguing that God is a Republican," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Good grief! Are people really that intellectually deprived? Can they really not discern the meaning of words arranged in a particular order? Or, are they just cocked and ready to jump to a conclusion that will, hopefully, produce a political advantage. The answer is the latter. Falwell did not compare Hillary Clinton to the devil, or call her a demonic figure or say God is a Republican.

You wonder if these same people imagine they’ve seen an alien spacecraft each time they see a meteorite streaking through the sky. But the Left, devoid of ideas, goes immediately for the lowest common denominator, because when you don’t have better ideas, or any ideas, the best you can do is appeal to the emotions.

Much ado about nothing.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

An Un-hypersensitive Muslim Who Also Has a Sense of Humor?

With all the anger from some Muslims every time someone offends their over-active sensitivities, The Religious Policeman is a breath of fresh air.

The last post on this site was in June of this year, so it is entirely possible that the intolerant boobs that comprise the fanatical element became so offended that The Religious Policeman was tortured and killed.

I certainly hope not.

My blogger friend Nuri, who told me a bout The Religious Policeman, said he's taken time out to write a book. Thanks, Nuri.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chavez Buffoonery Masks Failures

Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, is busting his buttons today after a series of Bush-Bashing events over the last few days. What can make a Marxist thug prouder than to successfully distract the world from his own shortcomings by unleashing a tirade of venom against the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth, and to do so on that nation’s own soil? Wow! What a man!

But not everyone is enamored of Senor Chavez’ comments, and not everyone is distracted by them. Yours truly belongs to both groups. I have already condemned his comments as the low-class drivel that they were, so now let’s take a look at what he doesn’t want to talk about and hopes no one will notice.

Venezuela is a very troubled country. It’s mildly democratic character has been weakened over the last two decades, and sources familiar with the conditions in the country report that political polarization, a politicized military, drug-related violence along the Colombian border, increasing internal drug consumption, overdependence on the petroleum industry with its price fluctuations, and irresponsible mining operations that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples are all subjects of concern.

The country also has substantial health and sanitization problems. The United Nations reports that 32 percent of the population is without adequate sanitation, and that a majority of people in many rural areas lack this basic commodity. There are approximately 5 million of Venezuela’s 25.7 million people living without access to safe drinking water, resulting in Venezuela ranking among the poorest nations in South America.

Visitors are advised to obtain vaccinations for a variety of diseases including typhoid, yellow fever, cholera, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis D before going to Venezuela, and are advised to drink only bottled water, due to the prevalence of cross contamination of drinking water with untreated sewage.

In 1999 it was estimated that 110,000 people in Venezuela were living with HIV/AIDS, and the country recorded an estimated 4,100 HIV/AIDS deaths in 2003.

The economy has shown similar difficulties. Venezuela continues to be highly dependent on the petroleum sector, accounting for roughly one-third of GDP, around 80% of export earnings, and over half of government operating revenues. Government revenue also has been bolstered by increased tax collection, which has surpassed its 2005 collection goal by almost 50%. Tax revenue is the primary source of non-oil revenue, which accounts for 53% of the 2006 budget. Heavy taxation and a volatile major industry do not for economic security make.

Venezuela’s public debt runs about 32 percent of GDP, and a two-month national oil strike in late 2002 and early 2003 temporarily halted economic activity. The economy dropped 8.9 percent in 2002 and remained in depression in 2003, dropping by 9.2 percent. Senor Chavez and Venezuela have benefited from the hike in oil prices and strong consumption growth in 2004-2005, and the recent price hikes, but both inflation and unemployment remain fundamental problems. Approximately 12% of the population was unemployed in 2005, and nearly half (47%) of the population is below poverty line, according to a 1998 estimate.

Venezuela is a small-scale illicit producer of opium and coca for the processing of opiates and coca derivatives. However, large quantities of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana transit the country from Colombia bound for US and Europe and significant narcotics-related money-laundering activity, especially along the border with Colombia and on Margarita Island exist, and there are increasing signs of drug-related activities by Colombian insurgents on the border.

Ecologically, sewage, oil and urban industrial pollution, deforestation and soil degradation, and a threat to the rainforest ecosystem from irresponsible mining operations are all on the long list of things that make Senor Chavez prefer the comfortable confines of New York City to the nation he heads.

Senor Chavez is considered a big, brave man by leaders of the other failed naions in the United Nations for his graceless remarks, and is considered a champion of the poor by those who would rather blame someone than do something. Clearly, Senor Chavez has plenty of poor people suffering under his misleadership to keep him busy. But he is too busy admiring himself in the mirror and doing hat tricks at the U.N. to notice. Maybe he will be the Time Person of the Year.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Blog Change

In the right column are links to sites I visit. The top one, formerly "A Bit O' Pampering," has undergone some changes. J.L. Pagano who publishes "A Bit O' Pampering" has decided to combine that site and two others into a new one, hence the change in the name at the top of the list to "All Smoke and Mirrors.

Drop in on J.L. and say "hello."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

How Stupid Are We?

It’s bad enough that miscreants like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez have to set foot in the United States in order to appear at the United Nations, but what in the world were we thinking when we allowed the tin horn Marxist Hugo Chavez to roam around New York City bribing the locals with shallow sentiments and appealing goodies?

Not only that, but during one public appearance Senor Chavez slipped in the subtle comment that he had been told that he might be killed because of his juvenile rant against George Bush before the General Assembly.

Appearing Thursday at a Harlem Church for an oil-for-poor event, Senor Chavez repeated his reference to President Bush as “the devil” originally made during a speech at the U. N. and told the audience packed into the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Harlem, "They told me that I should be careful after I called him the devil — and I think he is the devil — because he might kill me,” as if W. was going to come after him with a gun. Senor Chavez was introduced at the podium by that great American Danny Glover, the actor-turned-traitor who was visiting the church as part of ceremonies to announce the sale of discounted home heating oil to qualified low-income families. "But, I place myself in the hands of God," the tin horn said. Somehow, I doubt that Senor Chavez will be headed in that direction when he gets his just desserts.

What a perfect jackass.

Yeah, I know nobody’s perfect, but Chavez is close. A perfect ass, that is, but he’s not too smart. Yeah, I know, he’s smarter than the doofus that allowed him free reign in NYC, but that’s still not very smart.

No doubt he feels really special because the nincompoops in the General Assembly laughed at his inanities and applauded his insults of the President of the United States. But Senor Chavez didn’t think this through in advance, and he probably still hasn’t figured out that he has revealed himself to be a second- or third-rate dope before the whole world.

You can tell that someone has really screwed the pooch when prominent Democrats object to criticisms of George Bush. "I just want to make it abundantly clear to Hugo Chavez or any other president - don't come to the United States and think because we have problems with our president that any foreigner can come to our country and … offend our Chief of State," Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) said. “George Bush is the president of the United States and represents the entire country,” declared Mr. Rangel. “Any demeaning or public attacks against him are viewed by Republicans, Democrats, and all Americans as an attack on all of us.” Good on you, Charlie!

Even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D- Cal.), a constant critic of Mr. Bush, criticized Senor Chavez. "The manner in which he characterized the president demeaned himself and demeaned Venezuela. He fancies himself a modern day Simone Bolivar [the Venezuelan statesman known as "the Liberator" for leading his country’s revolt against Spain in the early 19th century] ... But he is an everyday thug," said Ms. Pelosi. Calling a spade, a spade.

Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa also called Chavez's statements "incendiary and unworthy of a nation’s leader."


Having established that Hugo Chavez is a third-rate tinhorn ass, the question then arises whether the United Nations ought to be allowed to remain headquartered on U.S. soil. An agency so feckless, so incompetent, so corrupt, so clawless, so clueless does the United States a disservice by its very presence within our borders. But perhaps it’s better to have the U.N. here, where we can keep an eye on it, than somewhere else, like Venezuela or Iran, for example.

That’s a subject for another day.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Worth Thinking About

“I don’t know how you can explain five years of no attacks, five years of successful disruption of attacks, five years of defeating the efforts of al-Qa’ida to come back and kill more Americans. You’ve got to give some credence to the notion that maybe somebody did something right.”
—Vice President Dick Cheney

“The biggest story since 9/11 is that there hasn’t been an other 9/11. According to our hysterical media culture, everything’s always going wrong. The truth is that we’ve gotten the big things right... Does that mean everything’s perfect? Of course not... [S]ome terrorists will manage to hit us again. But if attempt No. 500 succeeds, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth stopping the other 499. Yet, after the next attack, we’ll hear no end of trash-talk about how the War on Terror ‘failed.’”
—Ralph Peters

“Islamic protests against the slightest Western criticism of or doubt about the religion of Mohammed ring hollow... [S]o long as their religion is noted for its willingness to persecute and employ violence around the globe, they have little credibility to complain of offenses by others.”
—Doug Bandow

“If 9/11 had really changed us, there’d be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead there’s a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors. The Empire State Building took 18 months to build. During the Depression. We could do that again, but we don’t. And we don’t seem interested in asking why.”
—James Lileks

“A Western civilization that will not recognize the essential role that Judaism and Christianity played in its development and will not defend its faith in these religions and the right of other faiths to exist unthreatened, will fall victim to the irrationality and violence of Islam, and the light of reason will be turned off.”
—Alan Caruba

Stolen from Patriot Post.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Paying tribute to ignorance

By Wesley Pruden
The Washington Times
Published September 19, 2006

If hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, political correctness is the tribute intelligence must pay to ignorance.

That's the moral in the controversy between Benedict XVI and radical Muslims, which cooler heads are working to prevent becoming a war between the Vatican and the "religion of peace."

The chronology of this dispute is a ride through the fun house: The pope, in a theological lecture to scholars at a Roman Catholic university in a small town in Germany, cites a long-dead emperor's rebuke of the long-dead prophet of the Muslims for instructing his followers to kill infidels in the name of peace. And what happens? Muslims eager to demonstrate what a canard it is to accuse them of violence slay a Catholic nun and firebomb a half-dozen Protestant churches. (Who wouldn't be "deeply sorry" about that?) You can't talk about some things because ignorant people might misunderstand, so it's safer to keep the conversation low and dumb. A peaceful believer might cut off your head.

But logical or not, you can't blame the Muslims for thinking they're on to something. They've got a lot of the civilized world looking for a hole to hide and hunker. Muslim holy men, alas, often look and sound a lot more robust than ours.

The radicals may be outnumbered by their moderate co-religionists but they're never out-shouted or out-rioted, always making it abundantly clear on these occasions that they expect Jews, Christians and other infidels not merely to tolerate their religion, but to pay it the same servile tribute they do. Islam for the radicals is less a religious faith than a political ideology, to be enforced with dour Stalinist resolve.

The argument at hand is about what the pope said, but the underlying issue is whether the civilized West will accept the proposition that Islam must be "respected" as the radical Muslims and the terrified and cowed moderate Muslims insist, that everyone hold it above not only criticism but above nothing less than mindless obeisance.

Benedict reminds his hysterical critics that he merely quoted the Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Palaeologus, much as he might have cited Hitler, Stalin or even Godzilla: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and then you shall find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith that he preached." He did not say, as some of the Muslim hysterics are saying he said, that Mohammed was evil. Even the emperor, however much he might have thought it, did not say that. It was the spreading of the faith by the sword that is evil. Who but a crazed jihadist would argue with that? "Faith" by the sword is an oxymoron, anyway, since faith, like love, is embraced only willingly and held as private and precious in the secret places of the heart. This is the essential difference between the heartfelt Christianity of the Bible and the cold, severe Islam of the Koran.

The pope's point, clear enough to everyone but people who riot for a living, is that reason and truth are under siege, and he wants to rescue them and put them once more to work in the public arena where reasonable truth-seekers can argue, debate, dispute and contend, and depart with their scimitars sheathed.

Certain old women among us, terrified of unsheathed scimitars, naturally counsel retreat, apology and escape. The danger, writes author Karen Armstrong in London's Guardian, the chief repository of British media squishiness, is that Islamic violence is merely a myth fed by papal indulgence: "We may even be strengthening [the myth] by falling back into our old habits of projection." The West, in this reading, bears the responsibility for Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon.

There's a shrinking market for squishiness like this. The Australian minister for multiculturalism called his country's Muslim leaders in for tea on Sunday and -- speaking of rioting -- read them the act: "We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith," said Andrew Robb, the minister. "And because it is your faith being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem. You can't wish it away, or ignore it, just because it has been caused by others."

Unless the Muslims themselves do something about it, big trouble lies ahead for everyone. You don't have to be a prophet to see trouble coming.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Message to Islam

The recent Muslim idiocy in reaction to Pope Benedict’s comments shows just how primed for violence some Islamists are. If Christians burned buildings, called for executions, and held angry demonstrations burning flags and Mohhamed in effigy every time someone said something nasty about Jesus or Christianity, the world would be in flames, and Muslims, who regularly disparage Christianity, would have been eliminated long ago.

The message to these militant extremists is: Wake up and smell reality. You and Islam aren’t special. You don’t get to decide what the rest of the world thinks, what it says, how it worships, if it worships, or anything else. The non-Muslim world, which is nearly three times larger than the Muslim world, thinks for itself. We have diverse views on things like religion, freedom and politics, we believe in the free exchange of ideas—and that includes ideas about Mohammed and Islam—and we aren’t about to take instruction from a bunch unemployed, uneducated, brainwashed ne’er-do-wells with a chip on their shoulders. Deal with it like everyone else does.

And if you keep reacting violently to words and ideas you don’t like, you are going to let loose a backlash that you seriously won’t like. People are not going to stand by and just watch every time someone hurts your delicate feelings about Islam and go on a violent, petulant rampage of destruction and murder. At some point, people will begin to believe that they must take out Muslims preemptively to protect themselves from your lunacy. That’s where your extremist behavior is headed, and if moderate Islam—if it exists—doesn’t take control pretty soon, it may not be long before we see the backlash begin.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Breaking the Enemy

We’ve got to get a grip on the issue of how to get the most valid information from captured enemy combatants. We do not want to routinely torture enemies, but we must recognize that our enemies are most likely not going to automatically spill their guts when they are captured. Our policy must allow interrogators to coerce, motivate, incentivize the enemy to tell us what we need to know to protect Americans.

It’s hard to understand why some Americans are more concerned that people who are trying to kill us are treated well than they are with trying to stop them from killing us or getting information from them about their plans to kill us. Even though the enemy is content to murder innocents, to behead their enemies, to cut off their fingers and toes, to gouge out their eyes, and to torture them to death, we must not stoop to their level. “We must maintain the moral high ground,” is one rationale. “We must follow the dictates of the Geneva Conventions,” is another.

Enemy combatants are almost always not U.S. citizens, and are not entitled to the protections of our Constitution. If they are citizens and have taken up arms against their country, they do not deserve Constitutional protections; they deserve to be treated the same as other enemies.

Enemy combatants these days are not members of the military of nations that were signatories to the Geneva Conventions, and are thus not entitled to those protections, either.

And if you or a loved one are killed in a terrorist attack that occurred because the government could not use every possible means to detect the threat and stop it, you aren’t going to care much whether you occupy the moral high ground or not.

In addition to their failure to recognize the importance of being able to extract vital information from our captured enemies, many Americans are also confused about what constitutes torture and what doesn’t.

Let’s imagine that we capture Akbar Bakr, an Arab Muslim, who is among a group of Muslim men planning an attack on an American city. The men resist and all but Akbar are killed. From materials found at the site it is learned that there are other members of the group who are in the process of planting a bomb somewhere in the city. Akbar has information we need. What do we do with Akbar?

The “treat ‘em with respect” faction would probably approve of the following scenario: Akbar is cuffed at the wrists and ankles and taken to a clean, modern facility for questioning. He is informed of his rights, by his interrogator—a man, since Muslims are insulted if they are placed in a position subservient to a woman—he is told that Americans do not torture captured enemy combatants. He is told that we do not approve of people trying to bomb our cities and kill innocent people. Akbar responds by spitting in the face of his interrogator, and screaming “Death to America” repeatedly. The interrogator asks Akbar if he can get him anything: an Arab language newspaper, a copy of the Quran, maybe some milk and cookies? Akbar spits and yells again. The interrogator asks Akbar what he and his now dead comrades were planning. More spitting and screaming. Akbar isn’t talking, but he gets a comfortable room, three squares a day and the opportunity to pray to Allah. The bomb goes off. Americans die.

The upshot of all of this is that when you are dealing with people who want to kill you, and have beheaded and tortured people to prove it, and don’t mind dying in the process, playing nice isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Scenario two: Akbar is bound at the wrists and ankles and taken to a facility for questioning. We ask him for information. When he spits at the guards and yells “Death to America,” he is slapped across his face and handled roughly by the guards. After another unsuccessful attempt, he is stripped naked, shoved into a metal chair and bound to it. He is told he will get food, water and sleep when the interrogators feel he has earned it. Akbar screams an obscenity. This time he gets a clinched fist to the nose. Akbar is told that we want to know what he knows. He doesn’t say anything. The interrogators leave. The temperature in the room drops to 32 degrees, and sounds of Yoko Ono singing and Cindy Sheehan shrieking are piped into the room at abnormally high decibel levels.

A little later the interrogators return and resume questioning. An occasional attitude adjustment is used to help loosen Akbar’s tongue. The interrogator takes a .45 automatic from his holster and puts it to Akbar’s head. Akbar is asked if he wants to live or die. “I will die in the service of Allah,” he says. The interrogator cocks the weapon, pauses, then says, “That’s too easy, Akbar. The first shot will be to your right hand; the second shot will be to your left knee; the third shot will be to your genitals; the rest of the shots will be to other non-lethal places on your body. Don’t worry; we won’t let you die. Is there anything you want to tell us?” Akbar grumbles. “You think about that for a few minutes.” The interrogator leaves, the temperature rises to 120 degrees, bright lights shine on Akbar, rap “music” with vulgar lyrics is played at ear-splitting levels for Akbar’s enjoyment.

The interrogator returns, asks Akbar if he wants to end his discomfort. He doesn’t, so the interrogator shoots Akbar in his right hand. Akbar screams in pain. He is told that when he gives us good information on the bomb and we find it before it goes off, he’ll get relief and medical treatment. If he doesn’t, or if he gives us bad information, the process will continue. He is asked again if he wants to talk. He doesn’t. The process continues. Akbar probably will talk. Probably before his manhood is blown off. But either way, he is going to be one miserable dude for a while. And we will at least have earnestly tried to get him to tell us what he knows through a process of progressively more coercive techniques, starting easy and ending mean.

It’s all about personal comfort, folks. As long as people are in their comfort zone, they can be uncooperative if they want to. But there is a point of discomfort for most of us that we want to avoid. Put us there and we’ll spill our guts. Some are trained to resist discomfort, and the threshold is higher for them. But if America isn’t willing to put the enemy in his discomfort zone to get critical information to save lives, we may as well wave the white flag and convert to Islam. Of course, we’ll still have the moral high ground.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Iraq and Terrorism

“Iraq isn’t going well.” That’s the conventional wisdom. “It’s the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time,” is another tired and popular refrain. “Bush lied about Iraq to justify a war that is all about oil,” is yet another one.

People are frustrated because the war seems to have bogged down. They seem to believe that war can be planned out to the last detail into a flawless, perfectly executed plan not unlike building a house. You have your blueprint, a list of supplies and quantities, contractors and sub-contractors who can and will perform perfectly, and after three blissful months with no problems you move into your lovely home and live happily ever after. Easy, huh? But have you ever built a house? I’ve seen marriages succumb to the effort. Building a house is not a smooth process. Ever. War is less so. Always.

Can you plan a war then fight it with no mistakes, no unforeseen circumstances, no casualties, and a few weeks or months later the troops go home and the world is bright and happy with no residual problems? Of course not. Horrendous mistakes occur in every war. Horrible errors in judgment cost lives and time. To evaluate a war from the perspective that it should have gone smoothly is pure idiocy. That said, an objective review of the actual war to remove Saddam Hussein went about as well as it could have, so it’s hard to complain about that. What people are really upset about is the follow-up to the war: the creation of a democratic Iraq.

But what follows war is also often chaotic; putting together a democratic government in a nation just escaping a decades-long brutal dictatorship is like building a house. Anyone familiar with the trials and tribulations of the early days of the USA knows that. If you don’t know that, study the history of the post-Revolutionary war through the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, and while you are doing that, put a sock in it on the criticism of what is happening in Iraq. You will find great dissatisfaction among the states and the citizenry with the Articles of Confederation. You find large states lining up against small states, even threatening to form a country without them. You find soldiers frustrated because the new government couldn’t or wouldn’t pay them, and talking about demanding Congress pay them at the point of a bayonet. The Revolutionary War was costly in lives and dollars, but the period after the war was chaotic and costly, too, and it took many years to straighten things out. To expect less in Iraq is absurd.

We don’t get the whole story from our crack news media, the bunch that can’t shoot straight. The media are supposed to tell us what we need to know, the good, bad and the ugly. Our media tell us what they want us to know, and what they want us to know isn’t all there is to know, and it isn’t all we need to know. They make things up—remember the Dan Rather fiasco—and they leave things out (See below). They only report the bad and the ugly; the good doesn’t warrant dissemination. Consequently, what Americans are fed and what most of the public consumes is a grotesque distortion of reality, a lie.

You may not like the Iraq war. You may have fallen victim to the media distortion of why we went there. Even if you know the truth and accept the reasons for going into Iraq you may not agree with it. Fair enough. But don’t allow that to blind you to the realities of war and what follows war, or to judge too harshly the performance of our leaders and our military. And please have the grace to refrain from gleefully reciting the mistakes you perceive were made and are still being made, and especially doing so from the safety and comfort of your living room with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight.

You may believe that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, as the media has repeatedly told us. As an example, a former chief of the CIA's Europe division made a sensational charge that Mr. Bush and the White House ignored intelligence before the invasion of Iraq indicating that Saddam Hussein had no had weapons of mass destruction. This, the media trumpeted loudly and often. However, a Senate committee report refuted the claim that Mr. Bush did not want to hear the truth about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and confirmed that the intelligence indicated that Iraq did indeed have WMD programs. Have you heard that from ABC/NBC/CBS/CNN or The New York Times, The Washington Post or the Associated Press? Where politics is concerned, the mainstream media simply has little credibility.

You may also believe that the Iraq war has nothing to do with fighting terrorism. It does. My view is that anywhere that terrorists are killed is a good place, and all of those places that aren’t in the U.S. are the best places. I believe that the situation in Iraq in 2001 – 2002 was conducive to terrorist activities, and further that some activities directly supportive of terrorism were taking place, and there is strong evidence of that. Another topic the media has omitted and/or distorted.

Terrorism is a worldwide problem, and while other nations have had terrorist attacks on their soil, the US hasn’t. You may not accept the argument that fighting terrorists in Iraq prevents them from coming to the US, but you cannot deny that we have had no domestic attacks in five years. Is there a connection? Perhaps we can’t prove conclusively that there is. But we also can’t prove conclusively that there isn’t.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Spirit of Harbor Town Trip to Savannah

We arrived at the Spirit of Harbor Town dock about 9:25 for our ride to Savannah, paid our money and climbed aboard. A short time later, we cast off and headed into Callabogie Sound. Having been two of the later arrivals, we ended up at the back of the boat over the engines. It was loud enough to make talking difficult. That didn’t stop one guy nearby, who felt the need to try to entertain his companions, which could only be accomplished by shouting. What is there about us that we seem to attract loud people?

The Captain pointed out interesting landmarks along the way, and an hour and 15 minutes later we docked in Savannah. It was about 11:00 and we had just less than four hours to enjoy Savannah, an old, beautiful, and historic city.

Diane and I watch a show on Food TV featuring Paula Dean, and Paula and her sons have a restaurant in Savannah called “The Lady and Sons.” If you want to have lunch there you can’t call ahead for reservations, like you can in most places; no, you have to show up at the restaurant at 11:00 a.m. and put your name on a list. It took us until 11:20 to find the place and by that time enough people had gotten there ahead of us so that we couldn’t get in for lunch until 2:15. Since the boat back to Hilton Head was to leave at 2:45, The Lady and Sons wouldn’t get any of our money, and we wouldn’t get any of its food. Oh, well. When you have weird rules like that, a lot of people are going to be opted out of visiting your establishment. I guess ol’ Paula might say, “Sorry, y’all didn’t get in. But I got a full house anyway!”

We started exploring the area and came across a really good little café called The Express Café & Bakery. They had great sandwiches on homemade bread. Paula’s place might have been better, but I doubt it. After lunch, we visited a couple of stores and then boarded one of the tour buses to visit the historic district, which is rich in tradition and deep in American history. The 90-minute tour left us with some time, so we headed into the Boar’s Head Grille and Tavern on River Street near the dock for an afternoon libation in a 200 year-old building that has been a tavern for all those years, and has been owned by the same family since 1959. A neat place.

A couple of stores later we lined up to get on the Spirit for the return trip. We got in line early so as to find a seat away from the engines’ roar. And away from “the entertainer.”

The water was a little rough, with seas at two feet, and sometimes at four feet. The Spirit is a pretty big boat, 74’ long and about 18’ wide, so a little rough water didn’t phase it or us. That boat has pair of powerful diesels that moved it along at about 25 knots, creating a 4-foot wake.

We wasted a little time in the Harbor area, had a glass of wine on the patio of The Quarterdeck, and then headed to the upstairs dining room about 6 p.m. It is surrounded by windows overlooking the harbor, the yacht basin and the 18th of Harbor Town links, one of the truly most beautiful golf holes in the U.S. I played that course several ago when I was playing golf (badly). It’s a great course.

Nice menu, good wine list, decent service. And another group of loud, unruly kids with inconsiderate parents. This time we had the added feature of a foursome of golfers who had had too much to drink and needed to share their exploits on the links with everyone in the large dining room.

This situation with the loud kids is becoming an epidemic, or perhaps is already an epidemic. Most of the people here are on vacation. Most of the people here have already prepared their kids for adulthood and either sent them off to college or to the workaday world. Most of the people here came here not to listen to screaming children, which is why they don’t spend their time at day care centers, playgrounds and other places where you might rightly expect to find small children. They just want an enjoyable time in a pleasant environment. Parents ought to be considerate enough to, first, rear their children to behave in public, and second, not go to nice restaurants with kids who are too young to understand that screaming at the top of your lungs is simply not acceptable.

Yes, parents have the right to good meals, too, but they don’t have the right to make the rest of a restaurant’s clientele suffer through their parental crises. Heck, some of them seem oblivious to how much of a disturbance their kids are causing, or perhaps they just don’t care. So, parents, take your kids to McDonalds or Wendy’s or Taco Bell or Chuckie Cheese, and when they are old enough to behave, or when you can get someone to take care of them while you dine out, then you can go to nice restaurants. Otherwise, stay away. That’s one of the prices of being a parent.

A couple of stops later we get back to the room. It was, on the whole, a nice day.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Return to Blogging

I am currently sitting on the balcony of the timeshare we ended up in at Hilton Head Island, SC, by virtue of having won a week here in a fundraising silent auction for a local college. A week in Hilton Head can be expensive, but we got this vacation for a pretty good price, although I don’t remember exactly how much/little. With my Macanudo and Glenfiddich and my laptop, I’m ready to resume blogging, which I had temporarily suspended in order to not interfere with the 9-11 tribute for Jim Greenleaf, a victim of the Twin Towers attack, that I posted last week.

My blogging experience has been an interesting one. Initially, I used the site as a way to continue writing political commentary after my stint as a newspaper editor ended in August of 2001, and I got fed up with bulletin boards. This blog has been going for two years, and I had another one for a short time prior to this one.

Mostly I have written political columns here, and when I had other types of things I wanted to publish I used other blogs for that. I have one that is titled “Reflections” for things of a personal nature, and I have one that is titled “A Little Levity” where I post humorous things. Jokes, mostly. I have just about decided that it really doesn’t make much sense to have three when two will do.

Hilton Head is a great place, although it’s hotter than the hinges of the gates of Hell in the hard summer. These days, it is very tolerable, with temps in the low 80s and not too much humidity. We picked this particular time of year because of the milder temperatures, because both our kids are now in college, and because everyone else’s kids are in school, too. Well, almost everyone else’s. Some minor-to-moderate inconvenience at the pool yesterday (Sunday) caused by kids whose parents weren’t paying attention broke the otherwise-pleasant atmosphere. But dinner tonight was a pure pain.

We chose a place called King’s Wharf because it looked like a good place, had a nice selection of food, and it was close. We chose to sit outside on the deck overlooking what the proprietor chose to call a “lagoon” with the Wharf’s very own 4-foot alligator swimming around. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the lady who seated us put us next to a table with two families that had a total of four children, all under the age of six years. I have nothing against kids, mind you, as I have raised four of them, ages 36, 33, 20 and 18. I know something about kids, young and old. Wife #1 and I, and my better half, Diane, and I, have always been sensitive to how our children behaved in public. If only our neighbors on the deck had been as considerate.

Or even aware.

They screamed when one of the dads tried to keep them from climbing on the railing above the alligator; they cried when they popped their balloon animal; they wailed when mom went to the bathroom without them. The moms and dads went merrily on talking, stuffing their faces, answering nature’s call with nary a care for the mayhem their progeny were causing. You got the feeling that screaming and crying were normal parts of their day. I wonder what those parents were thinking about. I wonder what kind of parents they had. I wonder what those kids are going to be like as adults.

I asked the waitress if we had to pay extra for the pleasure of sitting next to those obnoxious, screaming kids; she said that we didn’t. We paid our bill, and split.

When we got back to the condo, we encountered more confused people. When the security people aren’t manning the gate, you have to enter a code in a computerized terminal to open the gates (the kind you find at a railroad crossing). The people in the car sitting at the gate when we arrived seemed not to realize that the gate would not recognize them and open automatically. They had stopped not near the terminal, but in the middle of the lane. We were trapped out on the main road, blocking traffic waiting for the first car to move. We waited. They sat there. We waited some more. They sat there some more. People behind us were tooting their horns. Apparently the folks in that car at the gate thought some divine power would recognize their dilemma and help them. It didn’t. Finally, a large lady exited the passenger side, slowly ambled around the front of the car. We thought: “At last, she’s going to enter the code and open the gate.” She didn’t. She stood there looking at the terminal as if she had never seen such a sight before. She kept gesturing as if she just couldn’t understand what was wrong. That is particularly curious, because when you check in, they explain all of this to you.

The person in the car behind us decided to go around us and pull up near the terminal and save those poor souls from themselves. That’s what we should have done. But even that didn’t work. When the gate opened the large lady was stunned and just stood there, blocking the path of the person who had entered the code, and who obviously was anxious to go inside. Code entered a second time; both cars go through; lady stunned again. The lady finally moves through the gate, and is nearly hit by it when it closes. She seemed … stunned.

We finally got through the gate and into the condo, and now out onto the balcony to enjoy a truly delightful evening. A good Scotch and a good cigar can cure an enormous amount of frustration. Tomorrow, we take a boat trip to Savannah for the day. That sounds like a great time. I pray no children are on the boat. Or in Savannah.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The 2996 Tribute Project: Remembering the Victims of 9-11

2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11. Each person will pay tribute to a single victim.

We will honor them by remembering their lives, and not by remembering their murderers.

So reads the introductory material on the 2996 Web page. I was assigned James Arthur Greenleaf, Jr. I was the 1357th blogger to sign up for the 2,996 Tribute project.

The name of each 9-11 victim has been assigned to a blogger. I urge each of you to explore more tributes of the innocent victims of September 11, 2001 by going to the 2996 Web site and following the links beside each victim’s name. (The original plan was to post the memorials on September 11, but that was changed today. Some tributes may not be posted until Monday.)

This project was a very moving one for me. In searching for information on Jim Greenleaf’s life, I was deeply touched by who this young man was.

James Arthur Greenleaf, Jr., age 32, native of Waterford, Conn. Mr. Greenleaf was a foreign exchange trader at Carr Futures and died at the World Trade Center. He was a resident of New York, N.Y. Mr. Greenleaf was a 1991 graduate of Connecticut College, he was the son of Mr. And Mrs. James Greenleaf, Sr., and the former husband of Susan Cascio, a 1992 graduate of Connecticut College.

The following was posted by Mr. Greenleaf’s mother on

April 6, 2002

My Dearest Jim,

Almost 7 months have passed and not a day goes by that I don't think about you. Some days I pretend that I just haven't seen you in long time and that you will be visiting soon. I know that it will be a long time till we see each other again, but it does help on the bad days.

Just this week Dad and I received 2 letters from old friends of yours recalling some great times that they spent with you and they wanted us to know what an impact you had on their lives. One letter we received said that she had children of her own and just hoped that some day they might grow up to be the kind of person that she remembers you as being. What a
wonderful tribute to the fine man that you were. You touched so many people and I'm sure that you had no idea of how others thought of you.

I know that I kissed you and told you how much I loved you every time I had the opportunity to, but I wanted to say it to you today again.

I love you so much,


Peter, Bryn and I talk about you all the time and remember all the wonderful times we spent together.
(Patricia Greenleaf, Waterford, CT)

Quilt graphic thanks to Kim at United in Memory

The James A. Greenleaf, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established to honor and remember a dear family member and friend who lost his life as a result of the catastrophe which occurred in New York City in 2001. The fund will be used to provide financial assistance to students attending St. Bernard High School.

Dave McBride also hopes to help others by honoring the memory of his long-time friend with the 5th Annual 5K River Run For The Fund. The race, which takes place this Saturday, May 13th at Ocean Beach Park in New London, is part of the Greenleaf Memorial Foundation, which also incorporates an annual Golf Tournament and a Memorial Dinner. McBride and James Greenleaf were best friends since high school, graduating from St. Bernard in 1987.

Sadly, Greenleaf lost his life because of the terrorist acts that occurred as he was working in New York City on the morning of September 11th, 2001. In a tribute to Greenleaf, his family and friends created the James A. Greenleaf, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, Inc., with proceeds used to award full book scholarships for 8th grade students to attend St. Bernard High School. The organization received approximately 30-40 scholarship applications annually, which require a formal essay and teacher recommendations that are reviewed by the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The fund also hopes to increase its scholarship offerings either to St Bernard students or other local students who will be attending college.

Leave a message in honor of James Arthur Greenleaf Jr.

From: Lisa LaGalia Date: 11/19/2004 Message: I babe it me. still not better without you. cant you take me there where you are. we should be together

From: Maureen Griffin Balsbaugh Date: 08/29/2005 Message: At every one of your events we know you are there in spirit....laughing.

Jim Greenleaf, rest in peace.

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Demon of the Month

Where would the American Left be without someone to demonize? Answer: Nowhere.

When the Left first tried to demonize Republicans over the results of the 2000 election, arguments that the Presidency was stolen gained acceptance by only the True Believers. The temporary support it gained from other Americans quickly wore off when people started to realize that our system of government worked exactly as it was supposed to in resolving a close and highly contested election, and that Al Gore simply lost according to the dictates of the Constitution.

Then, September 11 came along and wiped the remnants of the Left’s lame election complaints off the front page. What to do? What to do?

Left-leaners resorted to demonizing George Bush, first calling him too stupid to draw breath. That lasted a while, until the truth leaked through the media wall that Mr. Bush, who is not the smoothest off-the-cuff speaker in America, is anything but dumb, and the Left was once again without a demon.

Mr. Bush has been the Demon of the Month pretty consistently since he was elected, but nothing much made any sense and didn’t gain traction among the citizenry. Then came the war in Iraq. “Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time” was the battle cry. Echoes of that one are still around.

When efforts to demonize Mr. Bush fell on deaf ears, or when the American people got tired hearing the same old bellyaching from the Left, another demon was needed. Enter Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Rumsfeld was blamed for operating torture chambers for captured terrorists, for failing to listen to the generals and admirals, and most seriously of all, working at a desk designed for someone standing, not sitting. Inaccurate and dumb? Yes, but it worked. For a while.

Today, complaints about Mr. Rumsfeld have once again been brought forth, with Congressional Democrats threatening censure and calling for him to resign or be fired. As if any of that has any bearing whatsoever on Mr. Rumsfeld’s future. It’s all just a lot of sour grapes whining and wasted hot air from the Left.

The Left believes it has a winning issue in the Iraq war, so it is moving full speed ahead criticizing everything associated with the war, including our brave men and women in uniform. Their strategy is working; many Americans are not happy about the war. With the invaluable assistance with a Left-leaning media, the news about war is bleaker than the reality of the war. People believe what the media report, right or wrong.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s great sin is that he hasn’t run the war to suit the armchair generals, who snipe and whine from the safety of their comfortable offices on Capital Hill and in the halls of main stream media headquarters in Washington and New York. Most of the armchair generals reside in the Democratic Party and the media, but there are even a few in the Republican Party. Armchair generals are easy to find.

Being generals you might expect them to actually understand what war is all about. But because they don’t fight at all, but analyze what they don’t understand from the comfort of their offices, they really don’t have a clue. This war is unlike any other. For the first time in our history, we aren’t fighting a national armed force. So there aren’t any rules, there aren’t any tried and true tactics, we’re writing them as we go. Imagine armchair explorers nit-picking the voyages of Columbus, or the exploits of Lewis and Clark. It’s easy to do that when you weren’t there, and with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight.

So the substance of their sniping and whining is, well, without substantive. Translated from nebulous, foggy thoughts to words, their message is: “We don’t know what the hell to do, we have no clue how to do this better, but by golly that’s not going to stop sneering contempt.” The Left’s desperation is palpable.

That begs the question, “Where is the American Left with someone to demonize?” Answer: Nowhere.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sending a 'scandal' off to bed

Wesley Pruden
The Washington Times
September 5, 2006

Where do you put a one-time undercover CIA agent when she's no longer under the covers with anyone important?

If you're Valerie Plame, you'll soon be relegated to the back pages of the newspapers, and then out. The next time she can count on making the papers will be a nice obituary in the Washington and New York newspapers and a few lines of a telegraph dispatch on a page with the truss ads in Topeka.

The 15 minutes of fame for our gal Val, which she had to share with her husband Joe, is just about over. The newspapers that promoted "the biggest scandal since Watergate" are trying to wrap up -- e.g., justify -- their over-the-top coverage of the biggest nonstory since all the world's computers didn't crash with the beginning of the new millennium.

The mainstream media, for the millions of readers who haven't been following the story, reported with anonymous innuendo and confirmed with rumor and speculation that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Miss Beasley the White House dog conspired to "out" Valerie, the queen of the clipping scissors and pastepots at the CIA. This put her at risk of life and limb just to punish her husband for going to Niger to investigate yellowcake rumors, and returning with only scorn and calumny for the war in Iraq. "Outing" an undercover agent is against the law, but under closely circumscribed circumstances. If the law can't find someone who deliberately did the deed, there's no crime. But the pundits and correspond-ents on the left breathed a lot of hot air into the credulous claims by the husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, and now the mainstream newspapers have to tug their fanciful yarn about Val and Joe IV back to earth.

Only last Saturday the New York Times, whose editors have chapped lips from reviving this story with endless mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, reported gamely that the collapse of the investigation "has become the subject of rich debate on editorial pages and in legal and political circles." But what's frankly rich is that the New York Times, having midwifed this scandal about something that never actually happened, is now the subject of the rich debate.

The underlying scandal has been the success of Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, in keeping rouge on the corpse. He has spent upwards of $20 million of the government's money over three years, he's still in search of a crime, and he still hasn't indicted the ham sandwich. If he can't find a crime, he might make it into law-school literature as an object lesson into how to milk a client. This is the most important lesson law students learn, how to extract the maximum number of billable hours with a dead dog of a case. Lawyers can usually count on judges to cooperate in the game of delay, dally, loiter and linger. "The law is a ass," as Mr. Dickens reminded us. Sometimes the lawyers are, too.

What did Mr. Fitzgerald know, and when did he know it? As it now turns out, from his very first day on the job. Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's deputy at the State Department, confessed years ago that it was he who first divulged Valerie Plame's name to columnist Robert Novak. Messrs. Armitage and Powell could have stopped the investigation then, saving the president and the nation they were sworn to serve a lot of grief. Only they know why they didn't. (The rest of us can speculate.)

The disclosure might have been inadvertent, since by his own admission Mr. Armitage gossips like an old woman. Mr. Fitzgerald knew this before he put Judith Miller in jail. Before he indicted Scooter Libby. Before he called Karl Rove to the grand jury, knowing that Mr. Rove couldn't have been the leaker but also knowing that every time he was called to testify, running a gauntlet of newspaper and television cameras, the impression was planted that Mr. Rove was a crook with something to hide. But the prosecutor told Mr. Armitage to keep his mouth shut, lest he give the game away.

Prosecutors are sworn to protect the innocent as well as to prosecute the guilty, so what are we to make of a prosecutor who knows that his investigation is a fraud but proceeds with it, anyway?

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