Sunday, March 26, 2006

Third-Rate, Half-Bright and All Wrong 


Good versus evil isn't a strategy
Bush's worldview fails to see that in the Middle East, power politics is the key.

By Madeleine Albright, March 24, 2006

THE BUSH administration's newly unveiled National Security Strategy might well be subtitled "The Irony of Iran." [Cute.] Three years after the invasion of Iraq and the invention of the phrase "axis of evil," the administration now highlights the threat posed by Iran--whose radical government has been vastly strengthened by the invasion of Iraq. [No, it was vastly strengthened when Jimmy Carter let them get away with invading our embassy.] This is more tragedy than strategy, and it reflects the Manichean approach this administration has taken to the world. [Better a Manichean approach than the Munich-ian approach to the world taken by your administration.]

It is sometimes convenient, for purposes of rhetorical effect, for national leaders to talk of a globe neatly divided into good and bad. [Q: Who said "I have always believed that Saddam Hussein is part of a major evil aspect in the world."?] It is quite another, however, to base the policies of the world's most powerful nation upon that fiction. [The fictions called "The United Nations", "International Law" and "Global Warming" are perfectly acceptable, however.] The administration's penchant for painting its perceived adversaries with the same sweeping brush has led to a series of unintended consequences. ["Perceived"?--Ah; the Cheryl Crow school of Foreign Policy: 'The best way to solve problems is to not perceive adversaries.' Deep. ]

For years, the president has acted as if Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein's followers and Iran's mullahs were parts of the same problem. [They are. Just as Japanese Imperialists, Italian Fascists, German Nazis and Vichy French were part of the same problem in 1943. And for years your team acted as if there were no problem at all.] Yet, in the 1980s, Hussein's Iraq and Iran fought a brutal war. In the 1990s, Al Qaeda's allies murdered a group of Iranian diplomats. For years, Osama bin Laden ridiculed Hussein, who persecuted Sunni and Shiite religious leaders alike. When Al Qaeda struck the U.S. on 9/11, Iran condemned the attacks and later participated constructively in talks on Afghanistan. [Bullshiite.] The top leaders in the new Iraq--chosen in elections that George W. Bush called "a magic moment in the history of liberty"--are friends of Iran. [And so is Bill Clinton, who called the Iranians "the guys I identify with". And why is it you guys only like elections when Jimmy Carter certifies some Commie as the winner?] When the U.S. invaded Iraq, Bush may have thought he was striking a blow for good over evil, but the forces unleashed were considerably more complex. [Dividing countries into two camps is childish and simplistic--but dividing them into four is the heighth of sophistication?]

The administration is now divided between those who understand this complexity and those who do not. On one side, there are ideologues, such as the vice president, who apparently see Iraq as a useful precedent for Iran. Meanwhile, officials on the front lines in Iraq know they cannot succeed in assembling a workable government in that country without the tacit blessing of Iran; hence, last week's long-overdue announcement of plans for a U.S.-Iranian dialogue on Iraq--a dialogue that if properly executed might also lead to progress on other issues. [So your advice is that Bush should do something he already did a week ago? Thanks--we'll take it under advisement.]

Although this is not an administration known for taking advice [No, it is Democrats who are not known for offering any real advice--"Surrender Now!" and "Bush Sucks!" don't count.], I offer three suggestions. The first is to understand that although we all want to "end tyranny in this world," that is a fantasy unless we begin to solve hard problems.[Your administration spent eight years ducking every hard problem it could. And speaking of fantasy, it is a childish fantasy to think that any tyranny will be "ended" without willing the means to accomplish that end.] Iraq is increasingly a gang war that can be solved in one of two ways: by one side imposing its will or by all the legitimate players having a piece of the power. [Which is exactly what the administration has been doing--again, you're late.] The U.S. is no longer able to control events in Iraq, but it can be useful as a referee. [This is Liberalese for "We've already lost--but if we haven't, let's become a U.N. peace-keeping force under Kofi Annan and lose for sure."]

Second, the Bush administration should disavow any plan for regime change in Iran--not because the regime should not be changed but because U.S. endorsement of that goal only makes it less likely. [Actually, if we really decide to do it, it becomes an inevitability.] In today's warped political environment [of which this article is a both a cause and a symptom], nothing strengthens a radical government more than Washington's overt antagonism. [Again, no; nothing strengthens a radical government more than weakness and appeasement, which were the hallmarks of your tenure at State.] It also is common sense to presume that Iran will be less willing to cooperate in Iraq and to compromise on nuclear issues if it is being threatened with destruction. [That depends on who is making the threat--you or George W. Bush.]As for Iran's choleric and anti-Semitic new president, he will be swallowed up by internal rivals if he is not unwittingly propped up by external foes. [who would also be just as crazy--and have the Bomb, if we listen to you.]

Third, the administration must stop playing solitaire while Middle East and Persian Gulf leaders play poker. Bush's "march of freedom" is not the big story in the Muslim world [Quite right; it's the Only Story], where Shiite Muslims suddenly have more power than they have had in 1,000 years; it is not the big story in Lebanon, where Iran is filling the vacuum left by Syria [where Warren Christopher allowed himself to be kept waiting for hours in the anterooms of Daddy Assad, as if he were some bellboy or valet.]; it is not the story among Palestinians, who voted--in Western eyes--freely, and wrongly [They had a choice between the Crips and the Bloods and they chose the Bloods--but at least we're not pretending anymore that both parties aren't gangsters. And unlike the "We created bin Laden!" and "We propped up Hussein!" memes, we actually helped force Palestinians into this position. When Arafat and his agent Sirhan killed Bobby Kennedy and our Sudanese diplomats, we failed to put a bullet between his beady little eyes. Instead, we said "Hmm...maybe he has a point!" and put him on the payroll. Thus we consigned Palestinians to the care of the UN and to the tender mercies of that perverted thug. You'll recall him, Madame; he was the "world leader" who spent more time at the Clinton White House than any other.]; it is not even the big story in Iraq, where the top three factions in the recent elections were all supported by decidedly undemocratic militias. [In our recent elections, Democrats were supported by armies of decidedly undemocratic deceased voters, registered housepets and enfranchised imaginary friends--so what?]

In the long term, the future of the Middle East may well be determined by those in the region dedicated to the hard work of building democracy. I certainly hope so. But hope is not a policy. [But appeasement is--it's just the wrong one.] In the short term, we must recognize that the region will be shaped primarily by fairly ruthless power politics in which the clash between good and evil will be swamped by differences between Sunni and Shiite, Arab and Persian, Arab and Kurd, Kurd and Turk, Hashemite and Saudi, secular and religious and, of course, Arab and Jew. [and the greatest clash of all--the clash between the Liberal Media and the Truth, the battleground on which this war will be won or lost.] This is the world, the president pledges in his National Security Strategy, that "America must continue to lead." Actually, it is the world he must begin to address--before it is too late. [You've never liked America's leadership role, have you? That's why you've said things like 'when we're no longer the strongest country on the block'--you seem to long for such a day.

And "too late"? For you, yes. This entire article is written as if you were some innocent bystander. But you had your chance. You did it your way for years. And what did you accomplish? Making North Korea the largest recipient of foreign aid in the Asian Pacific while they finished their nuke program? You went from failure to failure to failure. Lady, please; take what's left of your tattered rags of reputation and realpolitik and peddle them elsewhere.]

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, secretary of State from 1997 to 2001, is the author of "The Mighty and the Almighty -- Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs," to be published by Harper Collins in May.

Now just wait a damned minute; this is really too much. In a book entitled "The Mighty and the Almighty--Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs", Albright is going to tell us that good and evil is a "fiction"?

What is it about the Liberal Mind that allows them to bash others for following policies which they themselves once espoused-or at least mouthed the words? Even to the nation's detriment? Any stick in a fight, eh?

It is a low, low, mean and desperate thing.

And this American will not soon forget.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Tale of Two Brits 

Tony Blair:

..."The easiest line for any politician seeking office in the West today is to attack American policy. A couple of weeks ago as I was addressing young Slovak students, one got up, denouncing US/UK policy in Iraq, fully bought in to the demonisation of the US, utterly oblivious to the fact that without the US and the liberation of his country, he would have been unable to ask such a question, let alone get an answer to it." ...

"Which brings me to the fundamental point. "We" is not the West. "We" are as much Muslim as Christian or Jew or Hindu. "We" are those who believe in religious tolerance, openness to others, to democracy, liberty and human rights administered by secular courts."

"This is not a clash between civilisations. It is a clash about civilisation. It is the age-old battle between progress and reaction, between those who embrace and see opportunity in the modern world and those who reject its existence; between optimism and hope on the one hand; and pessimism and fear on the other. And in the era of globalisation where nations depend on each other and where our security is held in common or not at all, the outcome of this clash between extremism and progress is utterly determinative of our future here in Britain. We can no more opt out of this struggle than we can opt out of the climate changing around us. Inaction, pushing the responsibility on to America, deluding ourselves that this terrorism is an isolated series of individual incidents rather than a global movement and would go away if only we were more sensitive to its pretensions; this too is a policy. It is just that; it is a policy that is profoundly, fundamentally wrong."

Christopher Hitchens:

..."Here's what should have happened. The other member states of the United Nations should have said: Mr. President, in principle you are correct. The list of flouted U.N. resolutions is disgracefully long. Law has been broken, genocide has been committed, other member-states have been invaded, and our own weapons inspectors insulted and coerced and cheated. Let us all collectively decide how to move long-suffering Iraq into the post-Saddam era. We shall need to consider how much to set aside to rebuild the Iraqi economy, how to sponsor free elections, how to recuperate the devastated areas of the marshes and Kurdistan, how to try the war criminals, and how many multinational forces to ready for this task. In the meantime—this is of special importance—all governments will make it unmistakably plain to Saddam Hussein that he can count on nobody to save him. All Iraqi diplomats outside the country, and all officers and officials within it, will receive the single message that it is time for them to switch sides or face the consequences. Then, when we are ready, we shall issue a unanimous ultimatum backed by the threat of overwhelming force. We call on all democratic forces in all countries to prepare to lend a hand to the Iraqi people and assist them in recovering from more than three decades of fascism and war."

"Not a huge amount to ask, when you think about it. But what did the president get instead? The threat of unilateral veto from Paris, Moscow, and Beijing. Private assurances to Saddam Hussein from members of the U.N. Security Council. Pharisaic fatuities from the United Nations' secretary-general, who had never had a single problem wheeling and dealing with Baghdad. The refusal to reappoint Rolf Ekeus—the only serious man in the U.N. inspectorate—to the job of invigilation. A tirade of opprobrium, accusing Bush of everything from an oil grab to a vendetta on behalf of his father to a secret subordination to a Jewish cabal. Platforms set up in major cities so that crowds could be harangued by hardened supporters of Milosevic and Saddam, some of them paid out of the oil-for-food bordello."

"Well, if everyone else is allowed to rewind the tape and replay it, so can I. We could have been living in a different world, and so could the people of Iraq, and I shall go on keeping score about this until the last phony pacifist has been strangled with the entrails of the last suicide-murderer."

Right as rain.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The War on Truancy 


Dawn. com reports:

"JALALABAD, March 16: Afghan police said they arrested on Thursday two suspected Taliban insurgents carrying letters from the movement's fugitive leader and Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The Afghan nationals were arrested separately close to the border with Pakistan in eastern Nangarhar province, border security forces provincial deputy chief Mohammad Ibrar said.

"One of them was carrying letters from (the Taliban's) Mullah Omar and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mr Ibrar said." [...]

This is troubling.

What were those boisterous young lads thinking, skipping classes at Yale like that? Don't they know the value of an Ivy League education?

I'll bet those Afghani police used profiling. And worse, this was probably a warrantless search, too!

Great; now Sen. Feingold and I will be up all night, losing sleep worrying about this blatant violation of these underprivileged youths' Constitutional Rights.

If by "Feingold and I", we mean "Feingold".

Saturday, March 18, 2006



Russ, whaddaya say we censure bin Laden, too?

Maybe we could get Sen. Feingold to back interception of terrorist communications by calling it "political speech"--then we could at least ban it 60 days before a primary and 30 days before a general election!

Aside from the fact that this is his announcement that he will challenge HILLARY!(tm) for the nomination, Feingold claims that President Bush broke the law. Really?

In response to a similar claim made by the NYTimes, John Hindraker methodically disposes of such balderdash in one of the best-written NSA posts in the Blogosphere; "Spies and Lying Editorialists":

..."So monitoring calls between al Qaeda operatives overseas and their American contacts is a good thing. The Times just wants the administration to use FISA orders all the time, as opposed to the vast majority of the time. What's more, the Times assures its readers that there is no obstacle to obtaining such orders, nor is there any perceptible inconvenience in doing so. [...]

...the Times purports to be making a technical legal argument. Its point is that following an easy, foolproof procedure will make the necessary surveillance legal instead of illegal.

As a lawyer, I can relate to technical legal arguments. But, if you're going to rely on a legal argument, isn't it necessary to actually...make a legal argument? One would think so, but the Times can't be bothered. Instead, it simply denounces the administration's program because it "violates the law as currently written." But does it?

When lawyers make technical legal arguments, we generally cite case law. Like, for example, United States v. Clay, 430 F.2d 165 (5th Cir. 1970), in which the court held that federal statutes prohibiting wiretapping do not "[forbid] he President, or his representative, from ordering wiretap surveillance to obtain foreign intelligence in the national interest." That seems obviously pertinent; what does the Times have to say about the Clay case? Nothing. It doesn't mention it.

Another relevant case is United States v. Butenko, 494 F.2d 593 (3rd Cir. 1974), where the court held that no judicial warrant was necessary where "surveillances ... were 'conducted and maintained solely for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence information.'Butenko blows a giant hole in the Times' legal theory. What does the Times have to say about the Butenko case? Nothing. It doesn't mention it.

Then there's United States v. Truong, 629 F.2d 908 (4th Cir. 1980), where the court sustained the federal government's position, which it summarized as follows:

"In the area of foreign intelligence, the government contends, the President may authorize surveillance without seeking a judicial warrant because of his constitutional prerogatives in the area of foreign affairs[...]For several reasons, the needs of the executive are so compelling in the area of foreign intelligence, unlike the area of domestic security, that a uniform warrant requirement would, following [United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972)], “unduly frustrate” the President in carrying out his foreign affairs responsibilities. First of all, attempts to counter foreign threats to the national security require the utmost stealth, speed and secrecy. A warrant requirement would add a procedural hurdle that would reduce the flexibility of executive foreign intelligence activities, in some cases delay executive response to foreign intelligence threats, and increase the chance of leaks regarding sensitive executive operations."

If the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals was right, then the New York Times is wrong. So, surely the Times must have some persuasive rebuttal to the Truong decision in support of its technical legal argument? No. The Times never refers to Truong.

United States v. Duggan, 743 F.2d 59 (2nd Cir. 1984), was a terrorism case in which the court, among other rulings, upheld the constitutionality of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The court wrote:

"Prior to the enactment of FISA, virtually every court that had addressed the issue had concluded that the President had the inherent power to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance to collect foreign intelligence information, and that such surveillances constituted an exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment."

A damning summary. Surely the Times has a rejoinder to the court's statement that the universal weight of authority is against the paper's position? Nope.

Those cases are pre-FISA, of course, and the Times says that FISA is the statute the administration "violated." So maybe the Times would argue that the pre-FISA cases don't apply. Such a claim would be unpersuasive on its face, since Congress cannot by statute or otherwise strip the executive branch of its constitutional powers. But there is, in fact, a post-FISA case that specifically addresses the question whether the passage of that statute could have changed the pre-existing principle that the President has constitutional power to order warrantless surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes. Since that case is directly on point, surely the Times discussed it. Right? Wrong. The Times never mentions Sealed Case No. 02-001, decided in 2002 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, the very court which is responsible for interpreting and applying FISA.

It's not hard to figure out why the Times editorialists pretend that Sealed Case No 02-001 doesn't exist. It conclusively refutes their legal position:

"The Truong court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information, [when it said] 'We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power.'"

So the only federal appellate court that has ruled on the issue says that the New York Times is wrong about the law. The Times, ostrich-like, pretends that the federal courts don't exist.

...The problem is, you can't base a technical legal argument on what you think the law ought to be. You can only base a technical legal argument on what the law actually is. And the current state of the law, as uniformly articulated by the federal courts, is that the NSA's international surveillance program is a legal implementation of the President's constitutional powers."[...]

Well said, Mr. Hindraker.

A few points:

1.) If warrantless wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes was Constitutional before FISA was enacted, it is still Constitutional afterwards. A mere statute cannot strip the Executive of his Constitutional powers and duties. That would require an Amendment.

2.) Mr. Truong and his American co-defendants were spies for North Vietnam. Despite his selective memory at Mrs. King's funeral, Jimmy Carter wiretapped them without a warrant. Does he owe Mr. Truong an apology?

3.) President Clinton authorized warrantless searches as well. Nor has Clinton apologized to traitor Aldrich Ames for the warrantless search of his home.

4.) Were crimes committed? Sure. By the Times and the leakers:

"Title 18, Part I, Chapter 37 § 798. Disclosure of classified information

(a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information— (3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government... Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both."

5. There hasn’t been a successful domestic terrorist attack since Sept. 11, 2001. Thanks to the Times, we now know why. AND SO DO THE TERRORISTS--also thanks to the Times. And a handful of malcontents who violated their oaths. Censure them--not the man who is doing his duty:

George W. Bush.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Canada's Back! 

"...and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back."--Ronald Reagan, Pointe du Hoc

via Quotulatiousness, this from FarFromCanadahar:

Q: "What is being done to ensure your safety?"

A: "Before I answer that question, I must make it clear that what we will be doing there is not what you expect. This is not a peacekeeping tour. We have a very clear mission in Afghanistan, and it will almost certainly involve combat - not occasional, desultory, ‘odd angry shot’ kind of fighting, but the real thing. It is very likely that many Canadian soldiers will be injured or killed. Although the organization of which I am a part -a small part of the complete Canadian force - has a peaceful-sounding title,you must remember that the enemy does not recognize such distinctions, or rather recognizes them enough to pick the easy target. A big part of my job will be to coordinate security. You may rest assured that if I see the enemy, then I or my soldiers will capture him, or we will kill him. We are not playing games.

My comrades and I are well trained; we are equipped, at the soldier level, as well as money can buy and certainly better than any other modern military; we have been given the legal authority to use the tools at our disposal; and we are, for the moment at least, backed by a population that supports us.

My only fear is that once we start to suffer casualties - and, again, we will suffer casualties - that support will begin to erode, and well-meaning but nevertheless terribly misguided Canadians will start to demand our return home. I am making no comment whatsoever on governmental decisions that may or may not be made in the future - but make no mistake, a public that does not support the fight does not support the troops. Period. And this war will have to be prosecuted over a generation for our sacrifices to mean anything at all.

But, as I said, we have the training, the tools, and for the moment the support necessary to do what we need to do. Strategically, therefore, the best thing to ensure our safety is to support our fight. Tactically, the best thing to ensure our safety has already been done. It is to make us responsible for our own safety. Nobody is more concerned about it than we are ourselves - or better at securing it."...

Ironically, this is being done to ensure the safety of the questioner.

The normally soft-spoken David Warren:

"I am so damn proud of our Canadian guys, in Afghanistan. They have taken over a dangerous mission, and they are up to it. Our Kandahar detachment does not consist of "peacekeepers". A person must have his brains scrambled for breakfast to think it does. For the peace is being imposed. Our guys are not “honest, impartial middlemen” between the Taliban savages and the elected government of Afghanistan. We are there to serve the latter by eliminating the former. It is a kill or be killed proposition. We are there to protect the common people; and therefore to kill the common enemy."

The Longshoreman 


"Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity."
--Eric Hoffer, 'The True Believer'

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Katrina's Arena 


Mike at Cold Fury has a good post up on Katrina.

He notes that the voters of New Orleans bear much responsibility for their plight and how the President has been treated unfairly in the press--the recent uptick in interest spurred by a dishonest AP report. It is true that New Orleanians built the Hurricane Party instead of the Hurricane Levee. Those are all valid points, and I've made them myself.

But I have a confession to make;

I'm over the politics of this whole thing.

I 'm going to leave all that to the AP, the Alphabet Media and the Libs who've tried to hyper-politicize this disaster from the beginning.

Further, I will hereby stipulate to all the Left's "facts":

That George Bush personally caused the hurricane with his 15 Mega-watt coal-fired barbecue grill, shoplifted for him from Target by Claude Allen. That Don Rumsfeld took all the Humvee armor from the troops in Iraq and put it on those schoolbuses so they wouldn't float. That weatherman Max Mayfield tried to warn the nation of all the specific levee failures, so Cheney shot him in the face and had him replaced with body-double Katherine Harris. That the levee failures were precipitated not by lawsuits from Enviro-whackjobs or corrupt Levee Boards, but by an evil scheme first concocted by Prescott Bush and Albert Speer at the Wolf's Lair in 1943. Proven, unassailable, undeniable, unquestionable facts all.

Here's a clip from the Prez's talk on Friday:

"Governor Blanco has put together a citizens group of distinguished people, good, honorable people, who are working closely with the group that Mayor Nagin put together, to develop a plan that will take CDBG money, and money I've requested in the supplemental, to basically have money that goes directly to the home owner. I like that idea better than the government moving in and becoming the bank, as opposed to the government providing money for individual home owners to make decisions.

And the rules and the zoning laws attributable to that money are now being developed. But it's a very good concept, in my judgment. It's very important for Congress to make sure that the $4.2 billion, I think it was, request in the supplemental go to Louisiana, as I said down in New Orleans the other day.

Step one in the recovery in New Orleans has got to be to make sure that the levees are strong enough -- equal to or better than pre-Katrina -- in order for there to be confidence -- confidence for the market, confidence for the home owner to be able to rebuild in certain parts of New Orleans.

Secondly, it's important that as the levees are rebuilt and people gain confidence, that there be a rational development plan in place. I think a lot of taxpayers really don't want to pay money for people to rebuild in an area that's likely to be flooded again. And the people of New Orleans understand that, and the people of Louisiana understand that. That issue is being addressed.

Thirdly, it's very important that the federal government rebuild the infrastructure that we're obligated to rebuild in a timely fashion. Incredibly enough, the Slidell bridge, as I understand it, because of proper incentives was built in record time, under budget. That may be a contradiction in terms when you hear a federal official saying "under budget, on time," but nevertheless, I believe that's what the Governor told me.

And so there is a comprehensive strategy in place that I'm comfortable with. Details need to be worked out, more details about dealing with the flood plain issue, and how high the houses have to be rebuilt if people choose to rebuild there. I like the idea of funding people, of letting them make the decision.

By the way, Mississippi -- and I don't know if we've got any folks from Mississippi here -- but if you've ever been to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi since the storm, you'll know what I'm saying, it looked like a bomb blast. It just leveled, absolutely wiped out a lot of -- a lot of homes and property and some lives along there. And they developed a plan, too -- their own plan. Louisiana is different from Mississippi. They came up with a Mississippi plan that has been funded. And they are now in the process of saying to homeowners, we're helping you rebuild your lives. I went to a home where the guy building -- rebuilding it on the beach. I forgot how high he's got it up, but it's high enough to meet new standards, new building standards.

Debris removal in both locations is -- you just can't imagine how much debris was there. As you know, I'm not too poetic to begin with, so I'll probably not be able to describe it properly. Let me just say, it's a lot. (Laughter.) I mean, a whole lot. And Mississippi has moved a lot of it off private and public land -- I'm probably telling you more than you want to know.

I'll just give you an interesting public policy dilemma. When we first got down there, the government will remove debris off public property, but not private -- will pay to remove debris off public property, but not private property. The simplest way to explain why not is you start moving debris off private property, and the guy shows up and says, where's my million-dollar necklace? And so therefore, there needs to be kind of a held harmless statute, or held harmless agreement with local authorities. And so we've devised a perfectly legal way of saying that if you declare a health and safety hazard for particular blocks, then government money will pay to clean up the land. A lot of Mississippi has been cleaned up because a lot of the local folks decided to take that tack.

Now, the problem in Louisiana, as far as debris clean up, is that -- like in the lower Ninth, a lot of people haven't come back to their homes yet to see the devastation. They've been displaced around the country. And until people are able to come home, and until people are clear about what the rules will be and the funding mechanism will be, it's going to be -- the debris removal will be slow. We've done a pretty effective job of cleaning debris off the public right of ways, public lands, but not off the private lands. And so that's yet another deterrent to economic development.

So all this is coming together. My point -- the funding is coming together; the levees are coming together; the rules about reconstruction are coming -- or rebuilding are coming together; and the debris removal, albeit slow at this point in time, waiting for people to inspect their houses, will probably accelerate when people realize there's a way forward -- long answer to a complicated problem.

We've got $100 billion that has been allocated for the region, which is going to create some interesting opportunities and further problems. One is going to be labor. People are going to be rebuilding down there a long time. If you're interested in making a living, go down there and there will be a job. And we want the first people hired, of course, to be Mississippi people and Louisiana people. It's a great opportunity, by the way, for small business development. I'm a believer -- as you can tell, I'm an optimistic person. I believe that out of this terrible harm and grief is going to come a vibrant part, a vibrant economy.
You know, sales taxes receipts are I think almost equal to what they were last year in Mississippi. It's amazing, isn't it? There's great resiliency to the American people."

It sounds like the President is focused on fixing the problem. It seems to me that if Bush, Blanco and Nagin can put politics aside to help the people, then so can I. So from now, I'm going to focus on what is being done to make things better.

For example, here's a story about 10,000 college kids heading to the Gulf Coast on Spring Break to lend a hand, everybody from the Salvation Army to Habitat...even MTV! (Pull up those pants, son; this is Mississippi.) Now that's good news whether you're Democrat, Republican or a Mugwump.

Yes, the government is sending a lot of our money. But you know how the government is. And they can't do it alone, anyway; that's one of the lessons of this whole thing. And we probably couldn't stand it if they could. So here are some groups who are helping--this one is my favorite. Help if you can.

There will be plenty of time for politics. We're all hopeful some attitudes will change. But there are plenty of people still hurting. People that could just as easily be you or me, standing on the side of the road, having lost it all. Maybe I'm just getting in touch with my Inner Liberal--don't worry--if he hangs around, I'll kick his little Leninist ass. But here's my bottom line:

Yes, there are some slackers. But there are plenty of good people down there, too. This is still my country and those are still my countrymen and I want to see my fellow citizens helped and the Gulf Coast rebuilt. Period.

Politics be damned.

(UPDATE: Mostly Cajun has some good news on Hurricane Rita recovery in Cameron Parish: "Cameron people aren't the type to sit around and wait for everybody else to do something.")

Friday, March 10, 2006

Principle...or Polling? 


That's what Bill "It's All About Me" Clinton did. He followed polls in his quest to build a Legacy to Himself, paradoxically ensuring that he would be nothing more than a footnote in the history books.

Pres. Bush:

"People say to me, my buddies in Texas, how do you handle all this stuff? After a while, you get used to it. (Laughter.) But you have to believe in what you're doing, see. You have to believe in certain principles and beliefs. And you can't let the public opinion polls and focus groups, one, cause you to abandon what you believe and become the reason for making decisions.

My job is a job where I make a lot of decisions. And I decide big things and little things. And there are certain principles to decision making. You make decisions -- you know, you have to make a lot of decisions. And you don't put your finger in the air to figure out how to make a decision. And neither should the President of the United States. And you have to know what you believe.

Good decision making rests on certain basic principles. I believe in the universality of freedom. I believe democracies lead to peace. I believe people ought to worship freely. I do believe there's an Almighty God that has spread freedom -- making freedom available for everybody. I believe in private enterprise. I believe in free enterprise. I believe in high standards in education. These are basic beliefs that I'm not going to change.

And I know some would like me to change, but you can't be a good decision maker if you're trying to please people. You've got to stand on what you believe. That's what you've got to do, if you're going to make decisions that are solid and sound. And I understand some of the things I've done are unpopular. But that's what comes with the territory.

If you're afraid to make decisions, and you only worry about whether or not people in the classroom are going to say nice things about you, you're not leading. And I think we've got to lead. We've got to lead to spread the peace, we've got to lead to protect this country, and we've got to lead to make sure we're the preeminent economic power, so our people can benefit."

God and Taliban At Yale 


Via Low Earth Orbit:

"Dear Mr. Levin,

My name is Debbie Bookstaber (Yale `00 BA/MA). I’ve volunteered as an ASC Interviewer every year since graduation.

Over the years, I’ve seen so many qualified students denied admission to Yale. While I was saddened to see these heartbroken students rejected, I understood that Yale just didn’t have enough spots for all the amazing valedictorians with excellent SATs, impressive extracurriculars and an admirable history of community service.

You can imagine my shock when I read in the Wall Street Journal that Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is now studying at Yale on a U.S. student visa. He has a “fourth-grade education and a high-school equivalency degree,” but Yale was impressed that he “pulled down a 3.33 grade-point average” in a special students program. Judging from all the students I’ve seen rejected by Yale, a perfect 4.0 average isn’t impressive enough to guarantee admission or even a wait-list spot, yet Yale was convinced that a 3.33 (a B+) was an adequate demonstration of academic talent? Since when has a B+ been considered impressive according to Yale’s admissions standards?

My husband (David Bookstaber, Yale `99 and Captain, USAF) went to Yale on a ROTC scholarship. As an ROTC cadet, he had to commute over an hour to UCONN because Yale would not allow ROTC on campus. This was reportedly due to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy the military uses to exclude homosexuals from serving openly. Even efforts to allow the military to recruit on campus in order to comply with the Solomon Amendment were met by fevered protests by many Yale students/professors as being inconsistent with Yale’s standards of tolerance.

The last time I checked, the US military doesn’t kill anyone for being a homosexual. Nor would any soldier-on-soldier hate crime ever be tolerated. On the other hand, the Taliban advocated murdering any homosexual and anyone else they felt violated their version of Islam. So ROTC isn’t acceptable because it offends Yale’s standards, but a Taliban leader who condones the Taliban’s policy of brutally killing homosexuals and stoning women for not wearing a burka should be recruited lest Harvard win his matriculation?

Apparently when you combine a sub-par 4th grade education, a B+ college average in a special program, and a job history as a spokesperson for a regime that hates America, destroys priceless Buddhas, oppresses women, stones homosexuals, and enforces brutal sharia law in violation of UN Human Rights agreements, you have the magic formula for admission to Yale. Next time I get a phone call from a high school senior in tears over Yale’s rejection, I’ll tell them to visit a local museum and blow up some sacred Buddhas, stone a homosexual or threaten to beat his/her mother to death if she refuses to wear a burka.

Thank you very much for helping me understand Yale Admissions.

Yours sincerely,

Debbie Bookstaber (Yale `00)"

Let's see; a backwards, strangely-attired guy with a funny accent and a sub-par 4th grade education...Congratulations, Jethro Bodine--you're going to Yale!

This son-of-a-bitch should have been given a scholarship, alright--to Gitmo U.

If any foreign student should be given a preference on the tax-payer's dime, it should be one of this bastard's victims, who could then return to help rebuild the country this assh*le ruined. And of all the good people in the world who wish to study here, how did State come to give this clown a student visa? Hell, let's send him to flight school while we're at it.

I can't help but think this is some twisted personal jab at Pres. Bush, who graduated from Yale--"Well, if it wasn't for Bush, Ambassador Hashemi would still be employed."

Maybe we should give Mr. Levin's job to this terrorist--at least this little creep believes in something. Feh.

(And then there is this letter, eloquent in its own way.)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sharp Knife Presents Our 'Irving G. Thalidomide' Lifetime Self-Congratulation Awards 


Well, that special evening is upon us--like Aunt Mimi's toy poodle on a seer-sucker pant-leg.

The evening when all Americans gather 'round their television sets to salute those who so bravely salute themselves: the selfless young men and women who have courageously volunteered to serve in that strange and foreign land we call "Hollywood".

And by "all Americans", I mean of course, "all Gay-Americans". And Maureen Dowd, who is convinced Michael Douglas is sending her messages from the audience. The rest of us have pressing issues to attend to, such as trimming our toenails or polishing our bowling balls--"Brunswick"--not "Brunsback".

But still, it provides some small measure of comfort to know that, even if we won't be there to honor these heroes of Hollywood, they will nevertheless heap honors upon themselves for their many and varied sacrifices.

It has indeed been a bumper year in Hollywood for left-wing agit-prop...I mean, thoughtful, progressive films.

And fist on the list is the Gay Cowboy movie, "Humpback Mountain", the first major motion picture in history designed to send audiences screaming for the "Exit Only" doors.

This Love Story For the Ages is meant to educate those of us in the Neanderthal-American Community to the obvious and self-evident moral fact that homosexuality is not a mental, emotional and moral disorder as had been previously thought, but a perfectly normal, healthy and perhaps even superior lifestyle. Well, we stand corrected.

And we're still not going to see it.

In droves.

The director of "Backdoor Mountain", Mr. Ang Lee, is reportedly upset over charges of cruelty to sheep. But, hey; you'd be angry too if you were a Chinese man named 'Ang Lee'.

But we shouldn't be fudgemental. Shirley John Wayne would enjoy this movie and approve of it whole-heartedly. If, by "John Wayne", we mean "John Wayne Gacy".

I, for one, welcome our new ethical Overlords, the Moral Majority of Malibu. After all, if we can't turn to Hollywood for good, sound, moral guidance on themes of bi-sexuality, adultery and promiscuity, where can we turn, really?

Other nominees include "The Constant Gardner", in which the Evil Big Pharmaceutical Companies conduct mad experiments on poor Africans. Of course, in real life, drug companies donate millions and millions in life-saving drugs and foregone royalties to keep poor Africans alive--but let's not let that get in the way of a good smear.

There are however Big "Soylent Green" Bio-tech companies who are hell-bent on a dangerous, reckless and anti-human course of cloning and farming human embryos for spare parts...but they'll no doubt get the hero treatment when Hollywood gets around to telling that story.

Next up, "Munich", in which we learn that Olympic terrorists are the moral equals of those who hunt Olympic terrorists--a revelation that would no doubt surprise the agents who hunted down Eric Rudolph.

Mr. Speilberg, who seems to have spent more quality time with Fidel Castro than Natan Sharansky, assures us that he is willing to "die for Israel". As long as it doesn't involve leaving Bel Air. Or actual, you know, death.

Then there is the man known to one and all as "Brave Artist". And how do we know this? Because he keeps telling us so! I refer to George "the Lion-Hearted" Clooney. At this point, I'll defer to noted German-basher, Charles Krauthammer:

"But until you see "Syriana," nominated for best screenplay (and George Clooney, for best supporting actor) you have no idea how self-flagellation and self-loathing pass for complexity and moral seriousness in Hollywood." [...]

"The political hero is the Arab prince who wants to end corruption, inequality and oppression in his country. As he tells his tribal elders, he intends to modernize his country by bringing the rule of law, market efficiency, women's rights and democracy."

"What do you think happens to him? He, his beautiful wife and beautiful children are murdered, incinerated, by a remote-controlled missile, fired from CIA headquarters in Langley..."

"Who in the greater Middle East is closest to the modernizing, democratizing paragon of "Syriana"? Without a doubt, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, a man of exemplary -- and quite nonfictional -- personal integrity, physical courage and democratic temperament. Hundreds of brave American (and allied NATO) soldiers have died protecting him and the democratic system they established to allow him to govern. On the very night the Oscars will be honoring "Syriana," American soldiers will be fighting, some perhaps dying, in defense of precisely the kind of tolerant, modernizing Muslim leader that "Syriana" shows America slaughtering."

"It gets worse. The most pernicious element in the movie is the character at the moral heart of the film: the beautiful, modest, caring, generous Pakistani who becomes a beautiful, modest, caring, generous...suicide bomber. In his final act, the Pure One, dressed in the purest white robes, takes his explosives-laden little motorboat headfirst into his target. It is a replay of the real-life boat that plunged into the USS Cole in 2000, killing 17 American sailors..."

The explosion... constitutes the moral high point of the movie, the moment of climactic cleansing, as the Pure One clad in white merges with the great white mass of the huge [gas] terminal wall, at which point the screen goes pure white. And reverently silent."

"In my naivete, I used to think that Hollywood had achieved its nadir with Oliver Stone's "JFK," a film that taught a generation of Americans that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA and the FBI in collaboration with Lyndon Johnson. But at least it was for domestic consumption, an internal affair of only marginal interest to other countries [except Cuba--Ed.]. "Syriana," however, is meant for export, carrying the most vicious and pernicious mendacities about America to a receptive world."

"Most liberalism is angst- and guilt-ridden, seeing moral equivalence everywhere."Syriana" is of a different species entirely--a pathological variety that burns with the certainty of its malign anti-Americanism. Osama bin Laden could not have scripted this film with more conviction."

This film was based loosely--very loosely--on former CIA agent Max Baer's book, "See No Evil". Baer did indeed take some shots at the oil companies. But the gist of the book was his search to find the real killers of our Marines in Lebanon in the '80's, despite the ostrich-like disinterest of much of Official Washington (hence the title).

And he found them; the Government of Iran. Which is still killing our troops with IEDs today. I wonder if that made it into the film. No--not really, I don't.

And let's not forget Mr. Clooney's other contribution; "Good Night and Good Luck", the story of reporter Edward R. Murrow.

Maybe Murrow was the best national security reporter since Keith "Letterman's Used Suits" Olbermann and David "Hairspray" Gregory...yet he was unable to ferret out the fact that his best friend was a Communist agent, who comitted suicide upon being discovered.

This is a cartoonish attempt to compare the ""Red Scare"" of the 40's & 50's to the alleged "Terror Scare" of today. Works perfectly...except for Commie agents such as FDR's right-hand man Harry Hopkins, State's Alger Hiss, Los Alamos' Robert Oppenheimer and about half of Hollywood in the 40's.

There is one other difference. Stalin placed a bounty on John Wayne's head when Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Bill Holden, Jimmy Stewart and others stood up to the Commies in Hollywood. But today's murdering dictators would prefer Mr. Clooney--Peace be upon Him--right where he is.

If they noticed him at all.

This film could have been called "Bush=McCarthy!", but that would have been to childish, too petulant, too obvious...and too honest.

McCarthy never achieved his goal of a perfectly unified America against Communism. And Bush certainly hasn't been able to unify us.

But Hollywood has achieved what they could not; an almost perfectly united community, myopic in its world-view, smugness dripping from its moral certitudes and eager to propagandize us all.

Why, you'd almost think they were Republicans or something.

p.s. Still not going to see "He Wore a Yellow Ribbon on Bendover Mountain" or whatever it's called. Now get along, little Missy.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Before Chrichton, 


"In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the old Oolitic Silurian period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their sidewalks and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."-- Mark Twain, "Life on the Mississippi"

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