Saturday, September 30, 2006


I’m feeling a bit snake-bit of late. The latest glitch in life: my CD/DVD drive will not recognize blank discs, therefore I’m unable to burn CDs/DVDs. The drive wouldn’t recognize any discs, at all, until I did a system restore to a “known good point,” which I arbitrarily selected as the day before I got my last automated “update” from Bill Gates and Co., which, more often than not, appears to completely hose my system. So…I can now “read” CDs and DVDs, but I still cannot record. And all this after aborted on-line troubleshooting with Gateway. I say “aborted” because I made three attempts, only to have my wonderful semi-reliable network connection go belly-up in mid conversation with Gateway. THREE frickin’ times! As I said, snake-bit.

And why does this matter? Because I was going to mail SN3 a CD with all the Flat Stanley pics I took during Stan’s week-long visit. But I cannot. Thank God for the web, because there’s always the blog with the small versions of the pics I took…but only half of the pics. {Sigh}

As Roseanne Roseannadanna said: “It’s always sump’thin!”

No news, no politics. There’s more than enough frustration in life today without adding to it. So I’ll spare you my rants and raves…about politics, anyway.

That said, here’s a cute comment on some Moonbat blog I read yesterday:

richard mcenroe @ 9/28/2006 08:12:55 PM:

The FDA definition:

"Reality-based": less than 10% actual reality by volume...

LOL! Gotta remember that one! I left the link intact on the comment, in case you want to see what I was reading. The post is typical of the “reality-based” community and the comments are, too.

Goes without sayin’, but I’ll say it: It’s Saturday, so it’s football. All other issues, problems, and frustrations are put on hold for the day.

Today’s Pic: The flag poles at the entrance to Cannon AFB and an F-100 on a stick. Taken Thursday, 9/28/2006. There’s just something that stirs my blood about seeing the National, New Mexico, and Air Force flags waving proudly in the breeze.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Late Start, Again

Wow. So much going on and I just got up. Dubya has apparently ripped up or otherwise desecrated the constitution with the help of those nasty Rethug congresscritters and a few turncoat Democrats. Lefties all over America are being hospitalized with severe, life threatening cases of The Vapors and I haven’t even poured my first cup of coffee.

Ah. The coffee is done. I really didn’t want to post without the minimum prescribed caffeine content. That’s dangerous and, quite frankly, stupid.

Ya know that project I said I had to work on yesterday? I finished it at oh-dark-thirty this morning. You can see it here, if you’re so inclined.

Today’s Pic: An F-86 at the Cannon AFB Air Park, taken yesterday. The F-86 is arguably the prettiest jet fighter in the world, and I’m of an age such that I remember seeing them on the ramp and in the air, in front-line service with the USAF. I was on active duty with the USAF and saw Sabres in front-line service with the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force and The Republic of China Air Force.

Also of note: See the flags in the pic? They’re not waving in the breeze. And that’s a rarity around here, believe me! I’ll be back later on…

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Good News, Bad News, and a Little In Between

Good news and bad news out of Iraq... recently conducted an opinion poll in Iraq, the results of which are here (PDF). Before I get into this too deep, here’s what’s said about the “who and how” aspects of this poll:

In the context of these dynamics, has undertaken a second poll of the Iraqi (ed: the first poll was conducted in January, 2006) people to determine their attitudes about these various developments occurring around them, and also to differentiate the views of the ethnic subgroups—Arab Sunnis, Shia and Kurds.

The poll was fielded by KA Research Limited/D3 Systems, Inc. Polling was conducted September 1-4 with a nationwide sample of 1,150, which included an oversample of Arab Sunnis. Respondents from all of Iraq’s 18 governorates were interviewed for the sample.

Here are the findings that struck me as significant:

  1. Seven in ten Iraqis want US-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year. An overwhelming majority believes that the US military presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it is preventing. More broadly, most feel the US is having a predominantly negative influence in Iraq and have little or no confidence in the US military. If the US made a commitment to withdraw, a majority believes that this would strengthen the Iraqi government.
  2. Support for attacks on US-led forces has grown to a majority position—now six in ten. Support appears to be related to widespread perception, held by all ethnic groups, that the US government plans to have permanent military bases in Iraq and would not withdraw its forces from Iraq even if the Iraqi government asked it to. If the US were to commit to withdraw, more than half of those who approve of attacks on US troops say that their support for attacks would diminish

3. Growing approval for attacks on US-led forces has not been accompanied by any significant support for al Qaeda. Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden are rejected by overwhelming majorities of Shias and Kurds and large majorities of Sunnis. (And later: Overall 94 percent have an unfavorable view of al Qaeda, with 82 percent expressing a very unfavorable view. Of all organizations and individuals assessed in this poll, it received the most negative ratings.)

  1. Prime Minister Maliki is viewed favorably by Kurds as well as Shias, but not at all by Sunnis. Grand Ayatollah Sistani and Muqtada al Sadr are quite divisive figures: overwhelmingly endorsed by Shias and overwhelmingly rejected by both Kurds and Sunnis.

These are the opinions of the sample population, and I’ll not quibble over whether the results are reliable, or not. The subject and the results are interesting, but in the end, this is just a poll. I’m not all that trusting in polls, in general. That said, the term “oversample of Arab Sunnis” raises my eyebrows a bit. Perhaps I missed it, but I found no definition of what this term means.

I do find the grouping of the responses, and the survey population in general, to be somewhat strange. The polling organization describes the objective as to determine the opinions of “the ethnic subgroups—Arab Sunnis, Shia and Kurds.” Just sayin’ here, but is this a reasonable way to slice and dice the Iraqi population? Would we consider the results of a poll of Americans categorized into “ethnic sub-groups” of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews accurate, or even relevant?

The pollsters differentiated between Arab Sunnis and Kurds, who are also Sunnis, but isn’t the distribution of these two groups of people based more upon geography, rather than religion? And speaking of geography, just where was the poll taken? What is the geographic distribution of the polled subjects? We’re not told. I would think the results just might be significantly different if the poll participants were predominantly in Baghdad, as opposed to being equally distributed between Iraq’s major cities. Half the Iraqi population may live in Baghdad, true, but the other half live elsewhere…and this is particularly true of the Kurds.

Finally, we know not the political affiliation of those polled, the income levels, the education levels, and other demographic identifiers that may or may not skew the results. Iraq isn’t America, nor is it even remotely comparable to any other mature democracy, regardless of location. But I submit Iraqi bureaucrats, taxi drivers, college professors, and/or shop keepers just might have different views and opinions, even if they were all Shias. Same thing for the Sunni Arabs and Kurds.

So much for my issues with methodology, and you gotta take my comments with a block of salt. I know about as much about polling methods and procedures as I do about astrophysics, which is to say: very little.

As to the results…the best thing is the fact the Iraqis apparently reject al Qaeda, completely. The supporting detail narrative in the report shows this to be true across all three ethnic sub-groups. The worst thing in the report is that six out of ten Iraqis support attacks on coalition forces. This is NOT good, not at all. And there’s a lot in between the best and the worst. At best, I think we’re receiving a group of mixed messages here. The poll is interesting, but it certainly isn’t the basis upon which policy should be made or changed. Draw your own conclusions.

Judith Apter Klinghoffer, writing at History News Network, has comment on this poll, as does Wretchard at The Belmont Club. Wretchard’s piece is particularly good, as are the views of his commenters.

Today’s Pic: One of the entrances to the Murrah Building Memorial, Oklahoma City, OK. One hopes the World Trade Center memorial, once it eventually arrives, will be this dignified. I visited the Murrah Memorial in the spring of 2000 and was profoundly touched and impressed, in every sense of the words.

Light blogging today, as I have a project I absolutely must complete. I’ve been procrastinating, as is my wont, and the deadline is NOW.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It's ALWAYS Something...

Remember I said a coalition of bloggers was invited to the White House to witness the signing of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act yesterday? And the fact I was curious as to just who on the Left was invited and would actually go? Well, that’s still sort of a mystery. Glenn Reynolds, Mary Katherine Ham, Tim Chapman, Ace, and NZ Bear were all there. Robert Bluey was there, too and provides a group photo. It looks like only the Right Side of the ‘sphere (I sure wanted to write “the Correct Side”) is represented. That’s the best I could find. The only acknowledgement of anyone on the Left comes from Bill Frist’s blog:

Without the hard work of men and women like Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, Mark Tapscott of the Examiner Editorial Board, Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters, NZ Bear of Truth Laid Bear, Robert Bluey on Human Events, Liz Mair of GOP Progress, and Paul Kiel of TPM Muckraker (to name but a few), this legislation would likely never have received the President's signature. And, with their continued efforts, I'm confident that the database created today will help keep Washington's addiction to wasteful spending in check.

Two possibilities: (1) The Lefties did attend, but kept to themselves, or, (2) They weren’t there. Any bets?

An immediate grasp of the obvious… That would be Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, quoted in The Globe and Mail (Canada):

"I war-gamed the United States as an adversary," the Pakistani leader wrote in his martially titled memoirs In the Line of Fire, published yesterday. It apparently didn't take the general, then an international pariah for having staged a coup to toppled (sic) his country's democratic government, very long to conclude that Pakistan would lose.

"The answer was a resounding no," he wrote, having concluded that the world's most powerful military would wipe out his forces, destroy his nuclear weapons, wreak havoc on Pakistan's threadbare infrastructure, help India seize disputed Kashmir and then turn to his archrival in New Delhi for the support and bases it needed to topple Afghanistan's Taliban regime.

That was probably one of the shortest war games ever.

In “Islamic Fascism 101,” Victor Davis Hanson offers five reasons why the term Islamic fascism is both accurate and appropriate.

Make no apologies for the use of “Islamic fascism.” It is the perfect nomenclature for the agenda of radical Islam, for a variety of historical and scholarly reasons. That such usage also causes extreme embarrassment to both the Islamists themselves and their leftist “anti-fascist” appeasers in the West is just too bad.


Because fascism is born out of insecurity and the sense of failure, hatred for Jews is de rigueur. To read al Qaeda’s texts is to reenter the world of Mein Kampf (naturally now known as jihadi in the Arab world). The crackpot minister of its ideology, Dr. Zawahiri, is simply a Dr. Alfred Rosenberg come alive — a similar quarter-educated buffoon, who has just enough of a vocabulary to dress up fascist venom in a potpourri of historical misreadings and pseudo-learning.

Envy and false grievance, as in the past with Italian, German, or Japanese whining, are always imprinted deeply within the fascist mind. After all, it can never quite figure out why the morally pure, the politically zealous, the ever more obedient are losing out to corrupt and decadent democracies — where “mixing,” either in the racial or religious sense, should instead have enervated the people.

The “will” of the German people, like the “Banzai” spirit of the Japanese, should always trump the cowardly and debased material superiority of decadent Western democracies. So al Qaeda boasts that in Somalia and Afghanistan the unshakeable creed of Islam overcame the richer and better equipped Americans and Russians. To read bin Laden’s communiqués is to be reminded of old Admiral Yamamato assuring his creepy peers that his years in the United States in the 1920s taught him that Roaring Twenties America, despite its fancy cars and skyscrapers, simply could not match the courage of the chosen Japanese.

Most Americans intuitively understand the truth in the term Islamic fascism, and the great majority of us have absolutely NO problem applying that label to our enemy. To my mind, it’s only the touchy-feely “let’s not offend anyone” PC multi-culti crowd that objects. But, like Mom said: “If the shoe fits…” And this shoe fits like a bespoke Jermyn Street masterpiece.

Just briefly… I watched Presidents Bush and Karzai take questions from the press yesterday following their White House meeting. I was most impressed with President Karzai, and his response to a question from the AP’s Jennifer Loven. President Bush responded first, and at length, to Ms. Loven, but it was President Karzai’s response that was magnificent. Her question, and President Karzai’s response:

Q Thank you, sir. Even after hearing that one of the major conclusions of the National Intelligence Estimate in April was that the Iraq war has fueled terror growth around the world, why have you continued to say that the Iraq war has made this country safer?

And to President Karzai, if I might, what do you think of President Musharraf's comments that you need to get to know your own country better when you're talking about where terror threats and the Taliban threat is coming from?

[President Bush responds, and then…]

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Ma'am, before I go to remarks by my brother, President Musharraf, terrorism was hurting us way before Iraq or September 11th. The President mentioned some examples of it. These extremist forces were killing people in Afghanistan and around for years, closing schools, burning mosques, killing children, uprooting vineyards, with vine trees, grapes hanging on them, forcing populations to poverty and misery.

They came to America on September 11th, but they were attacking you before September 11th in other parts of the world. We are a witness in Afghanistan to what they are and how they can hurt. You are a witness in New York. Do you forget people jumping off the 80th floor or 70th floor when the planes hit them? Can you imagine what it will be for a man or a woman to jump off that high? Who did that? And where are they now? And how do we fight them, how do we get rid of them, other than going after them? Should we wait for them to come and kill us again? That's why we need more action around the world, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, to get them defeated -- extremism, their allies, terrorists and the like.

The emphasis is mine, but the message President Karzai delivered was right on point. The entire transcript of the joint address and brief Q&A is here. President Bush’s remarks on the NIE flap are interesting, if you’re following that story.

Powerline has more on the NIE, and coincidentally, Ms. Loven’s take on the declassified NIE summary:

The administration declassified and released the three-page "key judgments" of the National Intelligence Estimate; we linked to it earlier today. The document, taken as a whole, shows that the leaks given to the New York Times and Washington Post were so incomplete and unrepresentative as to be wildly misleading, as were the stories those papers wrote based on the leaks.

At this morning's press conference, the AP's Jennifer Loven, one of the most partisan reporters in that highly partisan stable, asked a tendentious question about the NIE, in response to which President Bush announced that he had ordered the report's conclusions declassified so that the American people can read it for themselves and draw their own conclusions.


The Associated Press is apparently relying on the assumption that hardly anyone will read the report's conclusions. Here are a few significant items that, with just one exception, Loven and her colleague didn't see fit to mention…

Again, the emphasis is mine. John Hinderaker goes on to disassemble Ms. Loven’s reporting. I’m both shocked and amazed at the duplicity and transparent bias contained in the AP’s reporting. Our “news” media is in a sad, sad state. But we knew that, right?

It’s always something…and this week’s “something” is the fact my microwave died last evening as I was putting dinner together. This wouldn’t be a big deal if I lived a normal existence. But my microwave is small and fits in a custom space above the range. Replacing it will require extensive shopping for something that will fit the available space. Damn, I just hate it when something like this happens.

Today’s Pic: Bright Lights, Big Small City. The Virginian Casino in Reno, NV. May, 2000.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Via Lex…two very cool naval aviation vids. Here and here.


Tuesday Titillation

More cultural observations… Watching football exposes me to “new” advertisements, stuff I don’t normally see on The History Channel, The WX Channel, and so on. The following are a couple of ads for shows on ABC that set my teeth on edge.

Trailer: Desperate Housewives.
The scene: Middle-aged woman in bed with a male who is just off camera.
Dialog: (Woman) “I don’t do that! I’m a Republican!”

Don’t do what? What the Hell is that supposed to mean? This might reinforce the stereotype of the stuffy, uptight Repug amongst the Liberal Lefties, but is pretty damned far from the truth in my experience. Just sayin’.

Trailer: Some new show starring Ted Danson as a shrink.
The Scene: Group therapy; scene changes to man in underwear getting into one side of bed with woman, who immediately shrieks and jumps out of the bed, along with another man who is on the other side of the bed.
Dialog: (Danson, voice-over) “I once had a patient who was so frustrated he got into bed with his ex-wife…”

Yeah, like that would happen. You can’t get that unbalanced. It’s not possible. I know, it’s a sitcom…but still and even, credulity should be maintained in at least a small part.

And finally, I picked up this bit of wisdom from an ad for “Mystery!” on PBS…

(Woman speaking to man) “Sex is quite simple, really. In the end it all comes down to money. In one way or another.”

So that’s my problem! Truth, revealed.

Speaking of football… I normally don’t watch pro ball, but I did watch the Saints beat Atlanta last evening. The whole game was a “feel good” moment for N’Awlins. And the Saints are now three and oh, which equals their total number of wins for the entire season last year. Well done!

SWWNBN Update… From an on-line conversation hosted by the WaPo yesterday:

Annandale, Va.: Do you believe George Bush is a greater threat to America than terrorism?

(SWWNBN): Oh, absolutely. I believe that he has damaged our credibility in the world; he has increased, as I said earlier, the amount of jihadism in the world; he has made my children and my grandchildren more vulnerable -- not only physically but economically -- and our country used to be respected. Now we have no moral standing to tell other countries how they should behave.

On Sept. 11, almost 3,000 of our citizens were tragically killed. Now over that amount of our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have been killed and tens of thousands of innocent people.

Oh, spare me. And shut up, for God’s Sake. Your 15 minutes were up a long time ago.

This is interesting… From the Washington Times:

President Bush has invited bloggers to join him today as he signs into law a bill creating a database of federal spending -- a recognition of their role in forcing the bill through Congress over the objections of senior senators and an indication of how much bloggers are changing the political process.

A coalition of bloggers from the left and the right last month did what the Senate's Republican leadership could not: smoke out obstructing senators, bring public pressure to break their hold and move the bill to the Senate floor, where it passed by a voice vote.

The article didn’t identify the members of “the coalition of bloggers.” Glenn Reynolds got a mention in the piece, but the article didn’t specifically identify the Instapundit as a participant. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine any of the Left-Wing bloggers I read accepting an invitation from Bush to witness him doing anything, unless it was jumping off a bridge. The proprietors of the Big Dog Lefty blogs are all poster children for BDS. Every single one. I wanna know just who on the Left will be there, so I can go comment on their “sell-out” later today or tomorrow… (That last statement is facetious, btw.)

That Odious Olbermann… From Inside Cable News:

Tonight on Countdown, Keith Olbermann called FNC’s Chris Wallace “a monkey posing as a newscaster” for his question that got Bill Clinton all riled up. This is beyond patently ridiculous. It’s offensive. Wallace asked a perfectly legitimate question. It doesn’t matter that nobody else bothered to ask the question. That’s their problem to answer for. Clinton was hardly sanbagged. He agreed in advance that part of the interview would be about any subject and part would be about the Clinton Initiative.


Ever since Olbermann’s first, and I would argue necessary and proper, finger wagging commentary at Donald Rumsfeld, his successive criticisms on the Bush administration in recent weeks have gotten shriller and shriller. It appears to me like it’s almost as if he feels he has to top himself with each new commentary. Be more outlandish…more daring…more critical. At some point he was bound to go too far. And tonight he did just that. Olbermann should apologize to Wallace.

Allahpundit, who directed me to Inside Cable News, is more to the point:

Watching this douche clumsily trying to channel his paranoid rage into lofty rhetoric has been one of the true joys of blogging these past few weeks. There’s nothing so pathetic, or entertaining, as someone stupid trying to sound smart; the fact that it’s happening on national TV every night makes it almost too good to be true. And the best part is, the nutroots keep egging him on. Each time he gets a little angrier and the prose gets a little purpler and nastier, and the nutroots fist pumps get a little faster and more intense. We’re building to something here; Olby might not know it yet but he’s fast running out of room to run. Soon he’ll reach the point where there are no more accusations to level at Bush and he’ll have to cross the final frontier. He’s not there yet, but give him time: he’s been scrupulous about referring to the UK terror plot as the “purported plot,” a qualifier that for some reason doesn’t manifest itself when the subject turns to, say, Haditha. He’s inching his way towards the big one. Soon enough.

I haven’t commented on Bubba’s outburst. I didn’t watch Fox News Sunday; I rarely watch the Sunday talking head shows coz Sunday’s my day off from politics. Add the fact that I really don’t care what Bubba sez or thinks, he’s irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. But Olbermann’s another story. As a very minor opinion-maker, he counts, sorta. Allahpundit is right: watching this boob self-destruct has to be amusing. I’m getting my kicks second-hand, because I cannot stand the smug, sarcastic SOB.

Johhny Dollar has more, of course:

How many times have we heard America's most dangerous demagogue rail at Tony Snow, or "Mister" Bush, or Rumsfeld, or any of them for being critical of reporters, or raising their voices to them, or looking cross-eyed at them. Do we not recall KO intoning about our "deep national shame" because someone in government dares to take exception with "those loyal Americans who disagree with his policies—or even question their effectiveness or execution"? All of a sudden, when it's B.J.'s policies that are the subject, Olby does a double-flip, full-reverse half-somersault and it's time to demonize dissent! Don't try to make sense out of it. It's OlbyLogic.

This was Reverend Olby at his most sanctimonious. As each "special comment" tries to top the previous one, they become increasingly preposterous and frenzied. This latest embarrassment, chock full of unsubstantiated drivel, citing nonexistent statements, never documented, is so farcical it could seal Herr Olbermann's fate once and for all.

“Truer words…” and all that.

Today’s Pic: The old Fort Andross Mill (now a mini-mall) on the Androscoggin River, Brunswick, Maine. June, 2005.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Day Begins with a Downer

There are times in life when I wish I would have taken typing in the way-back, or otherwise learned how to touch-type. My “three-finger plus thumbs” method of typing just isn’t fast enough to capture thought in certain situations, nor can I take notes or otherwise write fast enough to get things down as they happen. This morning was just such an occasion.

She Who Will Not Be Named (SWWNBN)* was promoting her new book (Peace Mom) on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this morning for about 45 minutes. I took notes for this post, but my notes aren’t near where as comprehensive or as useful as I’d like them to be. So take the following with a grain of salt.

I’ll deliver the de rigueur sympathy statement right up front. The woman lost her son, and regardless of one’s political persuasion, one has to acknowledge that loss and her right to grieve. I sympathize with SWWNBN’s loss and thank God I am not in her place.

It’s a well-known fact SWWNBN and her husband are now divorced. That subject came up during this morning’s interview and the reason offered for the divorce was Mr. Sheehan wanted to keep their grief private, SWWNBN wanted, and subsequently did, take the grief public. Divorce was the result. SWWNBN then made the claim that 75% of all couples who bury a child divorce. I find that a little hard to swallow, but I can’t factually dispute it. Peter, the C-SPAN interviewer, later asked if she still had friends back in Vacaville from her “old life.” “One” was the response. SWWNBN claimed “the entire town of Vacaville” turned on her when she became a peace activist because the town is “very conservative.” Interestingly, SWWNBN also abandoned her religion. She stated she was no longer a Catholic but didn’t amplify on the statement. SWWNBN remains close with her surviving children and communicates with her ex-husband through the kids.

So much loss…son, marriage, friends, religion. From a disinterested outsider’s perspective, one wonders just how an individual copes with loss of that magnitude. One also wonders why SWWNBN doesn’t question why all those people who used to be prominent in her life are no longer on her side and are (apparently) no longer supportive of her or her cause. Personally, I think her new friends—the Code Pink “ladies” and the like—are using her…but that’s just my opinion.

SWWNBN doesn’t come off as all that smart, even though she characterizes herself as a “history major.” Rather, she comes off as a well-meaning but misguided pacifist, with all the “why can’t we be friends?” baggage people with pacifist views carry. She made several statements to the effect that “I’m against all wars,” “war is not a solution to problems,” “the military-industrial complex,” “President Bush’s terror war,” “we have to fight hate with love” (my personal favorite), and “we have to evolve beyond war.” In other words, SWWNBN is well-versed in all the platitudes of the pacifist Left. SWWNBN also repeatedly brought up the erroneous “fact” the US has targeted and killed many thousands of innocent civilians in both Iraq and Afghanistan. She is also against the Afghanistan war, claiming we shouldn’t have “invaded,” but rather should have launched a “Special Forces type” of operation. Just how a Special Forces operation differs from an invasion is completely lost on me.

Other observations:

Peter: There are a lot of four-letter words in your book. Why?
SWWNBN: I use four-letter words. They come from my heart.

Peter: You have a lot of friends in Congress. Who are some of your heroes in the Congress?
SWWNBN: Dennis Kuchinich, John Conyers, Maxine Waters, Russ Feingold. (There were more; I couldn’t write fast enough. All left-wing, all anti-war, all predictable.)

I’ve exhausted my notes. As you can probably surmise, there was more, much more. Generally speaking, the call-ins were respectful and subdued, even from those who disagreed with her. SWWNBN noted that fact and expressed a small amount of surprise, claiming she’s been “abused” by “right-wingers.” One hundred per cent of the callers on the “Democrats” line were supportive, bordering on fawning.

My bottom line: SWWNBN is the classic useful idiot. I feel sorry for the woman.

* I think it was Lex who coined this term.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

About that National Intelligence Estimate…

AJ Strata has some pertinent comment on the leak of that NIE:

But what is really troubling is we still have a revolt in our intelligence community which is trying to use the news media to influence our elections. The second greatest threat to our democracy is the intelligence community using intel against their political opponents. The whole FISA-NSA debate is about someone using intelligence assets to undermine a political foe. The thrust of this debate has been the President using these powers to undermine our country. But a battle takes two sides and what we have seen is the abuse of power and responsibility in the IC leaks to the NY Times, which regularly spins the information fed to them.

Exact-a-mundo. There hasn’t been one single leak out of the intelligence community that could even remotely be called “favorable” to the administration. While the timing of the current leak could have been better to affect the outcome of this year’s elections (say mid- to late-October), one cannot deny the leakers’ intent.

(BTW, be sure to follow the link to Macsmind in AJ’s post... or click on it here, no matter. Good stuff, too.)

It's Fall

Yesterday was football, to the exclusion of everything else. It’s good to have a diversion, no? There were no big surprises or upsets yesterday (unless you count #20 Boston College losing to unranked NC State), but at least two Top 25 teams survived scares from unranked opponents. Most notably, #9 Georgia managed a 14-13 win over unranked Colorado, and as noted in last night’s post, #12 Notre Dame vanquished Michigan State in a mad fourth quarter. The Notre Dame game is the headline story on ESPN’s web site this morning.

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Forget flag plantings. Forget game trophies. And forget alleged summertime guarantees.

None of that fodder mattered Saturday night.

In fact, all of it paled in comparison to the improbable, unbelievable (you-pick-the-adjective) game that unfolded in Spartan Stadium.

It was billed as the 40th anniversary of the 1966 "Game of the Century" -- a tie that eventually helped Notre Dame win the national championship -- but truth be told, the 2006 version deserves its own special one-of-a-kind billing.

The Fighting Irish, left for dead entering the final quarter, somehow erased a 16-point deficit and turned it into a 40-37 win that saved their season just before it went hurtling off the tracks and into the surrounding Michigan farmland.

I won’t say yesterday’s game was the best I’ve ever seen (this year’s Rose Bowl still is my pick for “best ever”), but it is definitely in the Top Five.

So. Back to business as usual. Speaking of “business as usual,” the NYT is busy disclosing more classified documents, this time cherry-picking quotes from a National Intelligence Estimate completed this past April. Actually, the article doesn’t contain quotes from the NIE. Rather, it contains quotes from “more than a dozen (anonymous) US government officials and outside sources,” said sources speaking “only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified intelligence document.” And the central point of the Times article? The lead paragraph:

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.


The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

I have no doubts the Iraq war provides great fodder for sermons delivered by radical imams when they’re not busy ranting about Israel. But as for spawning a new generation of Islamic radicalism? I doubt it. The radicals were already radicalized long before the invasion of Iraq began. Has the war helped recruit more jihadis? Most likely yes. Are these new recruits a direct threat to the US? How can one know this, for sure? The Times seems to know, or at least it’s able to arrive at this conclusion when talking to unnamed “government officials.”

Well, ya gotta take the Times’ word on that, right? And given their track record of agenda-free, scrupulously fair reporting on the Iraq war and the President’s foreign policy in general, I guess we should believe what the Times says. In a pig’s eye. It’s just another hit piece that is impossible to verify.

This story is also a front page item in today’s WaPo.

Mark Steyn is on a roll today. His “UN show’s why it’s incapable of reform” in the Sunday Chicago Sun-Times is yet another of Steyn’s perceptive and witty commentaries. Excerpts:

Iran's president was a huge hit at the U.N. Short of bringing out some burqa-clad Rockettes and doing a couple of choruses of "This Is the Dawning of the Age of a Scary Us," he couldn't have been a bigger smash. I said a year or two back, apropos the U.N., that it's a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice cream and blend it with a quart of dog poop the result will taste more like the latter than the former. And last week's performances at the General Assembly were a fine illustration of that. Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez were the star finalists of "UnAmerican Idol," and, just when you need Simon Cowell, the only Brit in sight was the oleaginous Mark Malloch Brown, Kofi Annan's deputy, fawning over every crazy in town. The rest of the bigwigs reacted like Paula Abdul, able to discern good points even in fellows who boast about not having any. That's the reality the Dershowitzes refuse to confront: that structurally the U.N. enables thugs to punch above their weight.


Chavez was an even bigger hit, in part because he eschewed the Holocaust denying, doesn't see himself as the warm-up act for the Twelfth Imam, and stuck closer to the American left's talking points: It's all the Bushitler's fault. He denounced Bush as an "imperialist, fascist, assassin, genocidal" and also "the devil," he held up a copy of some unreadable Noam Chomsky book, gave it a big plug and subsequently regretted that he couldn't meet with the late Professor Chomsky. Chomsky isn't late, he's alive and well. Granted, it's easy to get the impression he's been dead for 30 years, since he hasn't had a new idea since the early '70s.

Steyn agrees with Chavez on one key point, however: the UN should be relocated to Venezuela. I’ll add my “me, too!” The sooner, the better. Without US funding.

Speaking of Chomsky

Ever since Mr. Chávez held up a copy of a 301-page book by Noam Chomsky, the linguist and left-wing political commentator, during a speech at the United Nations on Wednesday, sales of the book have climbed best-seller lists at and, the online site for the book retailer Barnes & Noble, and booksellers around the country have noted a spike in sales.

The paperback edition of “Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance,” a detailed critique of American foreign policy that Mr. Chomsky published two years ago, hit No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list yesterday, and the hardcover edition, published in 2003, climbed as high as No. 6. At both Borders Group and Barnes & Noble, sales of the title jumped tenfold in the last two days.

Blatant self-promotion: Did I call it, or what? Here’s the type of person running out to buy the book:

Julia Versau, 50, a real estate writer in Valparaiso, Ind., said she saw Mr. Chávez holding up the book during a newscast on CNN. Although she had read Mr. Chomsky’s work on propaganda at least a decade ago, she said, Mr. Chávez’s speech reminded her to try the book.

“I saw the title and I went darn, I haven’t read that one,” Ms. Versau said in a telephone interview. “If he’s reading that I better go check it out.” She said that she had previously found Mr. Chomsky’s work “a little dense,” but said that “our democracy could use more people telling the truth and more people taking the time to read and get themselves educated.”

Alan Dershowitz, on the other hand, claims that most, if not all, of the current purchases will go unread:

“I don’t know anybody who’s ever read a Chomsky book,” said Mr. Dershowitz, who said he first met Mr. Chomsky in 1948 at a Hebrew-speaking Zionist camp in the Pocono Mountains where Mr. Dershowitz was a camper and Mr. Chomsky was a counselor.

“You buy them, you put them in your pockets, you put them out on your coffee table,” said Mr. Dershowitz, a longtime critic of Mr. Chomsky. The people who are buying “Hegemony” now, he added, “I promise you they are not going to get to the end of the book.”

“Hegemony:” The perfect coffee-table accessory for moonbats.

So, is he dead, or not? According to CNN, US, French, and Pakistani sources all agree: probably not. The general consensus is “wait and see.” The same sources all tend to agree OBL may be, and probably is, seriously ill from a water-borne disease, otherwise known as typhoid. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Today’s Pic: Yesterday was the first day of Autumn. So, in celebration, I offer you autumn leaves. Just in passing, I truly miss Fall colors, one of the virtues of living in a climate that has four distinct seasons. I sure as Hell do not miss the snow that follows, however.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cheer! Cheer for Old Notre Dame!

Yes! Nineteen points in the fourth quarter, capped by a freak interception with 12 seconds left in the game and Notre Dame pulls it out, 40-37. To say the Spartans are stunned is the understatement of the day—month—season! I’m glad I stayed with this game until the end, and believe me, I was sorely tempted to turn it off at the beginning of the fourth quarter. It looked for all the world like a re-run of last week’s thrashing, what with ND turnovers, bad penalties, weak offense…the whole nine yards. But they came back.

Play(ed) like a champion today!

Michigan Ain't Lookin' Too Good

So. I fell asleep on the couch not long after posting Barbra’s Bits last evening. And since I went to couch relatively early I woke up in the middle of the flippin’ night and stayed awake until just past 0500 this morning. You can fill in the rest.

Watching Michigan – Wisconsin as I type and the game is tied at the beginning of the third quarter. This doesn’t look like the same Michigan team that kicked Notre Dame’s butt up and down the field in South Bend last week (understatement!). But then again, that happens in college ball a lot. Big win, emotional let-down the following week. I’m sure Michigan will get it together in the second half. My Big Game, of course, is later on… ND – Michigan State. No predictions, just hope.

Today’s Pic: A rather lonely Green Hornet parked in downtown (?) Portales at 0350 hrs, July 27, 2005.

More later if the spirit moves me.

Update 9/23/2006 1224 hrs: Michigan just's 17 - 10, Michigan.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dirty Old Man? You Decide...

OK…It’s Friday evening and I’ve had a couple of beers, which may or may not have affected my judgment. But I got a laugh out of these photos and just had to share them. Here’s the copy from the Daily Mail (UK):
You would think that by the age of 64, most women would be self-conscious enough to ensure their choice of evening wear does not expose parts of the body which have...well dropped below standards.
But no one seems to have shared this with legendary entertainer Barbra Streisand as she stepped out in this rather unflattering black dress at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.
Streisand seemed to forget what a photographer's flash can do to a black dress as she unwittingly revealed she had left the black bra tucked up in her drawer at home.
But this was not the first time Streisand has been left emmbarrased by the camera.
Last month she was snapped outside her LA home looking like she had given her make-up artist and hairdresser the day off.
Perhaps “I got a laugh” isn’t spot-on. Actually, since I’m “of a certain age” I find the black dress photo mildly titillating. And then the Mail had to go and spoil the effect by publishing one of the most unflattering photos of La Streisand that I’ve ever seen. Period. But I like that black dress photo.
Just sayin’. And…it goes without saying: all politics aside.

TGIF, Baby!

Sayonara, F-14. From USA Today:

Navy retires F-14, the coolest of cold warriors

VIRGINIA BEACH — Today the Navy holsters the F-14 Tomcat, the top gun in its Cold War arsenal and one of the most recognizable warplanes in history.


"There's something about the way an F-14 looks, something about the way it carries itself," says Adm. Michael Mullen, chief of naval operations, the Navy's top officer. "It screams toughness. Look down on a carrier flight deck and see one of them sitting there, and you just know, there's a fighter plane. I really believe the Tomcat will be remembered in much the same way as other legendary aircraft, like the Corsair, the Mustang and the Spitfire."


A monument at Oceana Naval Air Station will be dedicated to the 69 Tomcat crewmembers killed while flying the jet, says retired rear admiral Fred Lewis, chairman of the Tomcat Sunset Committee, a non-profit group established to organize farewell ceremonies for the F-14.

"That's the risk we all accepted when we flew the plane," Lewis says.


The only other country flying F-14s after today will be Iran, Pike says. Starved for spare parts, the Iranians struggle to keep the jets in flight.

Smuggled parts will be even harder to come by after the Navy retires the Tomcat.

"Nobody will be sorrier to see them go than the ayatollahs," Pike says.

The F-14 was pretty cool, definitely. It’s very strange that Iran now becomes the sole nation operating the aircraft, but, as noted above, they probably won’t operate them for long. And that’s a good thing.

Yesterday’s big news was the compromise reached between the White House and Republican “Mavericks” on detainee interrogations, etc. The usual suspects are hyperventilating about the deal, as are The Highly Principled Lefty Blogs. There is some calm and reasoned comment available, however. Ronald Cass, Dean Emeritus of Boston University Law School, in his essay “Law and War: Competing Visions,” clearly delineates the competing arguments and the critical distinctions between President Bush’s positions and those of his critics. Quotes:

Our national debate over treatment of terrorists and terror suspects captured abroad, playing daily now in Congress and in the press, is fundamentally a clash between two different visions of law.

On one side of the debate is President Bush, who as Commander in Chief is charged with protecting the lives of American citizens. The other side, in addition to the usual array of Democrats, has included three Senators from the President’s own party, John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsay Graham.


Domestic law is, by its very nature, coercive. Individuals can, by the power of the state, be forced to obey the law at risk of loss of liberty, property, or both. The sacrifice of personal autonomy that allows this is justified by the fidelity of those who make and enforce the rules to principles of limited power, legitimacy in law-creation, predictable and impartial enforcement, and respect for liberty. That is the essence of the rule of law.

International law, in contrast, typically lacks any true enforcement mechanism. That fact changes both its meaning and its purpose.

Because it is not backed by coercive authority, government officials can, on behalf of their nations, sign agreements they have no intention of living up to. Look at the list of humanitarian agreements signed by Stalin’s Soviet Union or Idi Amin’s Uganda, or the non-aggression pact between Stalin and Hitler – the list of examples is endless. These agreements are political, not legal in the usual sense of the term.

The current debate over treatment of al-Qaeda partisans captured abroad reveals two different visions of the law. The first group (led by President Bush) sees the law as subordinate to a conflict between good and evil. It can set limits to what we’ll do to combat evil, but those limits must reflect our own interests. The second group (opposing the President), seeing law in more universal terms, wants to treat the terrorists essentially like citizens charged with crimes – giving them similar protections against government over-reaching, similar presumptions of innocence and fair play.

The opposing position is that America should play by the rules of international law, as set forth in the Geneva Conventions. We should behave as if the law is clear and binding, and we should set standards that we want applied to our soldiers by our enemies. This approach has attracted an odd coalition of those concerned about treatment of captured American soldiers, civil libertarians worried about weakening rights for Americans accused of crime, and hug-a-terrorist liberals who think that playing nice brings out the best in everyone.

Dr. Cass concludes that we shouldn’t make self-destructive choices. One would think that common sense would prevail in cases like this, but unfortunately common sense just isn’t all that common. Especially these days, and especially in the Congress.


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two of President Bush's staunchest domestic critics leapt to his defense Thursday, a day after one of his fiercest foreign foes called him "the devil" in a scorching speech before the United Nations.

"You don't come into my country; you don't come into my congressional district and you don't condemn my president," Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York, scolded Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, was blunt in her criticism of the Venezuelan leader. "He is an everyday thug," she said.

It’s nice to see the Dems haven’t completely lost their bearings, at least for a brief moment in time. Good on ‘em.

Wanna see a few good military “videos?” Then go here. Lotsa good plane pr0n! I put videos in quotes because the presentations are more Powerpoint like…they’re not true videos. (h/t: Lex)

Today’s Pic: I posted a shot of the VLA antenna farm the other day. You may or may not realize just how big those antennae really are. Well, now you know. That’s me by the antenna, just for scale. And the amazing thing? Those antennae are shuttled about on rails to change the configuration of the array. Amazing stuff.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Little Culcha and the Usual Rants...

Time for a lil culture commentary in the form of “commercials I hate.” The last ad I ranted about was that supremely irritating “Head On” ad, with its obnoxious, thrice-repeated female voice over. But…it’s only irritating. This ad from Ford, however, hits me where I live and goes beyond irritating into the realm of cultural impact. Have you seen it?

I’m not the only one that’s upset. The Family Scholars Blog has this to say:

‘Course the whole thing is “good divorce” fantasy. Mom and dad split up but still take the kids to the beach and the farmer’s stand. The only note from the child’s point of view is the telling (and surprisingly accurate) look of apprehension on the son’s face right before they drop off dad. I wonder, is Ford trying to reach divorced moms with this ad? Perhaps. But I think the viewers even more susceptible to it might be moms who imagine themselves unhappily married and fantasize that a “good divorce” will make it all better. And Ford understands!

Well, that and the “mainstreaming” of divorce. It’s acceptable these days…Hell, it might even be better than staying married, ya know? That woman driving doesn’t look all that unhappy, and Dad? Well, he’s just grateful Mom “invited him this weekend.” So, damn the impact on the kids. Damn the impact on either Mom or Dad, whichever one didn’t want the divorce, and I submit that most divorces involve one party that is less than thrilled at the thought of the emotional and/or financial devastation divorce brings.

I understand reality. I understand 50% of American marriages end in divorce. I understand “when love goes missing,” and I know not every marriage can be saved. I don’t understand why a frickin’ car company would use an all-too-common modern-day tragedy to flog their products. I can’t imagine the focus group that nodded appreciatively when shown this ad, and I can’t imagine any executive with just the normal amount of common sense approving the ad for broadcast. If this ad, with its “sensitive” depiction of a divorced couple, tips just one family into divorce court then Ford has done the country a major disservice.

“See you next week, Dad.” Damn.

Good News out of Iraq Muslims & Christians In Iraq Join to Renounce Violence! Hopeful, indeed. The Anchoress takes issue with one line in the news release:

I’m troubled by this line, though: What is needed now is an international agreement to punish all who insult God’s religions.

A troubling line because it suggests that all religions need to take on a warrior mindset, that religions need to “band together” to punish unbelievers. I don’t like that. It is not the job of religion to punish.

I would say what we need now is an understanding by all of God’s religions that God is big enough to take an insult and can deal with insults quite justly without our bloody intercessions.

Still, overall, this statement is a step in the right direction - it’s a damn sight better than much of the rhetoric we have been hearing from Islamists.

Both posts are worth the read.

In a comment to one of yesterday’s posts, Laurie mentioned she had heard Glenn Beck discussing Ahmadinejad’s speech to the UN on Beck’s radio show. Beck mentioned he didn’t really want to talk about it, but he had to because no one else was. Well, Confederate Yankee had thoughts in the same vein, but arrives at an interesting conclusion.

A striking bit of journalistic malpractice seems to have affected the mainstream media web sites this morning, as news site after news site failed to provide their readers with the transcript of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speech last night to the United Nations.

As of noon at ABC News, it is as if Ahmadinejad never spoke, as their was no reference to his address in front of the United Nations on their Web site’s front page, and is notably absent from the headlines of their political section as well. I had to search Google News to find this report on their site, which did not link to the transcript, nor provide Ahmadinejad's closing remarks.

Likewise, Ahmadinejad’s speech was not easily found on the CBS News site, and when an article was found buried below the fold of their International news section, their story, as well, did not provide a transcript nor a summation of his closing remarks.


I submit that if the media covered Ahmadinejad's full remarks including the religious references that they clearly and cleverly omitted, then they would have to confront the scope of the clear and present danger that the Iranian regime presents to the rest of the world. Admitting this danger goes against the carefully crafted narrative that they have led themselves to believe, a narrative that they have passed along to their readers and viewers that the United States and Israel are the root causes of problems in the Middle East.

I don’t believe there’s an international media conspiracy at work in this case, but I DO believe there’s such a thing as media “groupthink” and that phenomenon influences what is considered “news” and how that news is reported. CY has a valid point, in that the media—personified by the AP, the NYT, the Beeb, Reuters, and so on—considers the US to be the problem, not Iran. There are none so blind as those that will not see. Troubling times, these.

Sign o’ the times? SN1 bought not one, but two new cars yesterday… a Chevy Cobalt for granddaughter Natasha and a Chevy Avalanche pickup for hisownself. Natasha’s Neon was on its last legs and had previously undetected damage from an accident (not her fault) last year, so replacement was a matter of safety. SN1 traded off his 300+ hp Silverado pickup for something that gets better mileage, i.e., the Avalanche. The recent surge in gas prices meant SN1 was dropping around $300.00 per month on fuel, and that’s a bunch. I wonder how many others are in the same boat?

Just as a side-note… SN1 buys American, and I’m proud of that fact. The whole family gets the GM employee discount due to the fact I’m a retired EDS’er, formerly a GM company and now a GM supplier. The discount isn’t anything to sniff at, but SN1 is the only one in the family using it, and use it he does: at least four times in the past two years! I haven’t used the discount since I left EDS, but then again, I’m a “buy and hold” kinda guy when it comes to cars. The Green Hornet will be six years old next month…

Today’s Pic: My favorite car purchased using that aforementioned GM discount, pictured outside a 30s-era Art Deco Chevy dealership in Rochester, NY. That beautiful building was being torn down to make way for condos. What a shame. July, 1999.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bring Back the '50s and '60s...

…or at least one small item from that era: CIA targeted assassinations. Hugo Chavez is but one of many that need a small caliber bullet to the back of the head… and he should be first on the list. I watched that blithering idiot (literally!) give his UN speech this morning and couldn’t believe my eyes. Or my ears. It simply boggles the mind that a man so obviously deranged could lead anyone or anything, let alone a nation sitting on vast oil reserves right here in our own hemisphere. And this guy just loves Imadinnerjacket. And Cindy Sheehan just loves Hugo. So, why mention SWWNBN? Because she’s a moonbat. And other moonbats are out in force over at the Democratic Underground, singing the praises of Hugo. Ace has some fine quotes from that cesspool…I’m just not gonna go there.

One final note. Hugo The Strange gives Noam Chomsky a plug by holding up one of the Chomsker’s books during his speech. Moonbat sales are sure to explode.

Others with great comment: The Political Pitbull, The Anchoress, and Lorie Byrd at Wizbang.

I Caught the Early Bus This Morning...

In “Bring Them Freedom, or They Will Destroy Us,” Bernard Lewis—one of the West’s leading Islamic historians—writes one of the best essays on the subject of Islam, liberty, democracy, and the confrontation between Islam and the West I’ve seen of late. Long (yet concise) on historical content, Lewis’s essay presents essential background information on why Islamic cultures act the way they do and discusses three historical trends (Modernization and Nazi and Soviet influence; Wahhabism and Oil; and the Iranian Revolution and al Qaeda) that shaped Islam’s culture and body politic as we know it today. Mr. Lewis concludes with his assessment of the current situation, which I’ll quote at length:

As Osama bin Laden puts it: "In this final phase of the ongoing struggle, the world of the infidels was divided between two superpowers--the United States and the Soviet Union. Now we have defeated and destroyed the more difficult and the more dangerous of the two. Dealing with the pampered and effeminate Americans will be easy." And then followed what has become the familiar description of the Americans and the usual litany and recitation of American defeats and retreats: Vietnam, Beirut, Somalia, one after another. The general theme was: They can't take it. Hit them and they'll run. All you have to do is hit harder. This seemed to receive final confirmation during the 1990s when one attack after another on embassies, warships, and barracks brought no response beyond angry words and expensive missiles misdirected to remote and uninhabited places, and in some places--as in Beirut and Somalia--prompt retreats.

What happened on 9/11 was seen by its perpetrators and sponsors as the culmination of the previous phase and the inauguration of the next phase--taking the war into the enemy camp to achieve final victory. The response to 9/11 came as a nasty surprise. They were expecting more of the same--bleating and apologies--instead of which they got a vigorous reaction, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. And as they used to say in Moscow: It is no accident, comrades, that there has been no successful attack in the United States since then. But if one follows the discourse, one can see that the debate in this country since then has caused many of the perpetrators and sponsors to return to their previous diagnosis. Because remember, they have no experience, and therefore no understanding, of the free debate of an open society. What we see as free debate, they see as weakness, fear and division. Thus they prepare for the final victory, the final triumph and the final Jihad.


Don't be misled by what you read in the media about Iraq. The situation is certainly not good, but there are redeeming features in it. The battle isn't over. It's still very difficult. There are still many major problems to overcome. There is a bitter anti-Western feeling which derives partly and increasingly from our support for what they see as tyrannies ruling over them. It's interesting that pro-American feeling is strongest in countries with anti-American governments. I've been told repeatedly by Iranians that there is no country in the world where pro-American feeling is stronger, deeper and more widespread than Iran. I've heard this from so many different Iranians--including some still living in Iran--that I believe it. When the American planes were flying over Afghanistan, the story was that many Iranians put signs on their roofs in English reading, "This way, please."

So there is a good deal of pro-Western and even specifically pro-American feeling. But the anti-American feeling is strongest in those countries that are ruled by what we are pleased to call "friendly governments." And it is those, of course, that are the most tyrannical and the most resented by their own people. The outlook at the moment is, I would say, very mixed. I think that the cause of developing free institutions--along their lines, not ours--is possible. One can see signs of its beginning in some countries. At the same time, the forces working against it are very powerful and well entrenched. And one of the greatest dangers is that on their side, they are firm and convinced and resolute. Whereas on our side, we are weak and undecided and irresolute. And in such a combat, it is not difficult to see which side will prevail.

Lewis makes one or two humorous observations in his essay, also. My favorite is this, in discussing Western attitudes about democracy:

The French cherish the curious illusion that they invented democracy, but since the great revolution of 1789, they have had two monarchies, two empires, two dictatorships, and at the last count, five republics. And I'm not sure that they've got it right yet.

Well, I’m sure Mr. Lewis has it right. Recommended. Highly recommended.

Lou posted a superb link on her blog yesterday to a milblog written by an Army sergeant on the ground in Baghdad. American Citizen Soldier provides us with a lengthy analysis of the state of the Baghdad pacification program, from the point of view of a guy who’s doing the heavy lifting. I’m gonna share that link. Win, Lose, or Drawdown” is a lengthy post but is chock FULL of pointed and seemingly accurate commentary on what the Coalition Forces are doing right and what we’re doing wrong. Thanks for that, Lou.

The Times (UK) reports Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, defends the Pope’s “extraordinarily effective and lucid” speech on Islam:

THE former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton has issued his own challenge to “violent” Islam in a lecture in which he defends the Pope’s “extraordinarily effective and lucid” speech.

Lord Carey said that Muslims must address “with great urgency” their religion’s association with violence. He made it clear that he believed the “clash of civilisations” endangering the world was not between Islamist extremists and the West, but with Islam as a whole.

“We are living in dangerous and potentially cataclysmic times,” he said. “There will be no significant material and economic progress [in Muslim communities] until the Muslim mind is allowed to challenge the status quo of Muslim conventions and even their most cherished shibboleths.”

Lord Carey isn’t the first Western religious leader to publicly support the Pope, he’s just the latest. Cardinal George Pell, the conservative leader of Australia's 5.1 million Roman Catholics, said:

…the violent reaction to the Pontiff's comments on Islam in many parts of the Islamic world "justified one of Pope Benedict's main fears".


"The violent reaction in many parts of the Islamic world justified one of Pope Benedict's main fears," Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, said in a statement on Web sites of the Catholic Church of Australia.

"They showed the link for many Islamists between religion and violence, their refusal to respond to criticism with rational arguments, but only with demonstrations, threats and actual violence,"

Wretchard, writing at The Belmont Club, observes:

How has it happened that the most unlikely persons are speaking on what is apparently the most volatile of subjects? It is doubly surprising because there is a powerful reluctance within the organizational culture of Christian churches to voice any criticism of another religion. The statements by Pope Benedict XVI, Lord Carey and Cardinal Pell are really near-despairing expedients to fill the aching void left by Western cultural and political leaders -- a vacuum which has emboldened militant Islamic preachers to cross boundaries they would have respected until recently. This erasure of cultural borders caused by the near total desertion of the frontier by the so-called opinion-leaders has invited the most reckless elements of Islam across and raised the risk of real clash of civilizations. As Lord Carey put it: "We are living in dangerous and potentially cataclysmic times". It is a time made perilous not only by the absence of moderate voices within Islam but by the even more conspicuous absence of any leadership among Western politicians. It is a failure which will sooner or later lead to what military historians call a "meeting engagement" in which two forces, each possessed of its own momentum, blunder into each other with catastrophic results. A false kind of tolerance has abolished the fence between the piggery and mosque, the adult video store and the cathedral, the flaming match and the stick of dynamite and called it progress. It is no such thing. It is called stupidity.

What he said.

Victor Davis Hanson, writing at PajamasMedia:

In the most recent post, I praised some brave writers, military personnel, the President and a very few others. But, of course, there are millions of Americans that have no tolerance for appeasement. Each day just as candidly they speak out, write, or blog in defense of our old customs and values—in between long hours on the job keeping this country and much of the world running.

I shouldn’t have slighted them by not making explicit reference to their critical role, because in truth I try to read their thoughts in the letters sections of the papers, comments on the web (including every posting in response to this column that prompted this acknowledgment of the error of omission of my part), and emails.

There is an American Street that is a far more powerful, and a more responsible force than any such populace in the Arab world. Like many of you, I tire of hearing “Death to America” from the mobs in Teheran or Jericho, and am sick of the usual coffee-house Middle Eastern hack intellectual that CNN drags out from London, who, during the past 5 years, in his condescension and pompous diction, and in the safety of a host Western humane society, starts listing various perceived grievances against the West, and then issues warnings (!) about the furor of the temperamental “Arab Street.”

I respect and fear the American version far more, because its anger is fueled by reason and is slow and steady and furious when released. The world should not worry when the half-educated, fueled by zealotry and nursed on conspiracy theory, starts chanting; but it should when a rational and patient American slowly fumes and decides he has had it with the Iranian “President”, Hezbollah’s fascism, the various thugs on the West Bank, the Sunni Triangle’s murderers, the primordial of the Hindu Kush, or some subsidized dictator in Pakistan or Egypt lecturing us.

He’s right, you know. Slow to anger, but once aroused: Look out! Historically, this anger is most famously illustrated in a quote Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto allegedly made following Pearl Harbor: "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

Today’s Pic: Part of the Very Large Array at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory “On the Plains of San Augustin,” New Mexico. April, 2004. If you saw the movie “Contact,” you’ve seen the VLA. A most impressive sight!