Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
November 16, 2006 - November 9, 2006

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Saving Mecca

You see that teeny tiny white dot just to the left of the big square thing in the
middle? That's Hugh Hewitt throwing himself into the fray as a human shield.

THE SMART ONES. There's much to respond to in Hugh Hewitt's latest blast at Tom Tancredo. Most of what he argues isn't too hard to understand and can be responded to forthrightly. The bitterly emotional tone is more of a mystery, and so I'll save that for last.
Hugh is apparently outraged and offended that Tom Tancredo would dare to defend his remarks in print:

Congressman Tom Tancredo takes to the pages of the Denver Post today in an effort to resurrect his reputation. He fails because he doubles down on his absurd insistence that "bombing Mecca" ought to be "on the table." No serious politician in the country has come to Tancredo's defense, and indeed I have not seen any credible authority on war or religion endorse this foolishness. No serious Christian theologian can endorse what is obviously an immoral threat against another faith.

Hugh has a tendency to conflate governments with peoples, which will become more evident as we go. This causes him to be baffled by phenomena that are really quite easy to comprehend. Here he seems to be trying to position himself as either a "serious politician" or "serious Christian theologian." Perhaps he considers himself both. Still, he misses what should be obvious. Those who agree with Tancredo's attempt to expand the debate know very well that politicians are far too cautious and politically correct to agree publicly with anything he said. And no one expects a professional theologian to endorse a gritty tactic of warfare. It's their job to say, "no, no, we must be peaceful," even if they're speaking from behind the cover of a tank.

Tancredo is drawing encouragment from the small percentage of Americans who have fallen into the erroneous belief that all of Islam is arrayed against the West.

That's right. How small that percentage is and how erroneous that belief is are still open for debate.

Point number one. Tancredo's ego is really astonishing, attributing the widespread comment on and embarassment at his remarks to the veiw that they: "served to start a national dialogue about what options we have to deter al-Qaeda and other would-be Islamic terrorists."

Speaking of astonishing egos, one wonders whether Hugh is actually more astonished by the fact that something of a debate has been occurring -- at least here in his precious blogosphere -- despite his own blatant demand that no such debate be permitted. His words: "I want to be very clear on this. No responsible American can endorse the idea that the U.S. is in a war with Islam. That is repugnant and wrong, and bloggers and writers and would-be bloggers and writers have to chose [sic] sides on this, especially if you are a center-right blogger. The idea that all of Islam is the problem is a fringe opinion.  It cannot be welcomed into mainstream thought because it is factually wrong. If Tancredo's blunder does not offend you, then you do not understand the GWOT."

Uh, sorry, Hugh. We have been debating it. So Tancredo is merely reporting here.

Twice in the column Tancredo makes absurd leaps of logic in an effort to obscure the central issues of the morality or utility of a threat on Muslim holy sites. Here's the first: "[I]n this battle against fundamentalist Islam, I am hardly preoccupied with political correctness, or who may or may not be offended. Indeed, al-Qaeda cares little if the Western world is "offended" by televised images of hostages beheaded in Iraq, subway bombings in London, train attacks in Madrid, or Americans jumping to their death from the Twin Towers as they collapsed."

In fact Tancredo is preoccupied with attention-getting statements that play to the frustrated edge of the conservative camp that sees any denunciation of "political correctness" as an endorsement of their desire for blunt talk against media elites.

But not threatening Islamic countries and populations with the destruction of the places they devoutly esteem is not p.c.-generated double-talk. It is sensible respect for a vast group of Muslims abroad and a few million Muslims who are our fellow citizens from whom we must ask cooperation and to whom we must pledge a non-bigoted appreciation for their religious choices.

The jump Tancredo makes from Americans disgusted with his foolishness to al Qaeda's reactions to American outrage is incoherent. Really, incoherent.

Oh? It might be incoherent if mainstream moderate muslims had been as vocal about condemning al qaida as Hugh Hewitt has been about condemning Tom Tancredo. But they haven't been. And while we're on the subject of incoherence, Hugh's second paragraph in this passage certainly verges on it, and the next sentence, with its "not... is... not" construction serves to remind us which of the two is speaking more directly and clearly about the matter at hand.

In fact, Tancredo's logic is coherent; it's just not lawyerly. He's saying, look, people of their faith have assaulted major symbols of American life and they are reluctant to condemn the perpetrators. Meanwhile, we seem to be more respectful of their religious sensitivities than we are of domestic Christianity. Doesn't this make us look like saps in a time of war? Mightn't it give them an attitude adjustment if we started talking the way they talk? Two and two still do add up to four. The problem is, Hugh is working like hell to make two and two add up to three. Just because he thinks it's more prudent and helpful to make nice with muslims, he tries to declare any other kind of arithmetic indefensible. But there are other kinds of arithmetic. That's why it's good to talk about these things openly, not default to the position that we should be quiet and leave it all up to the smart people who know better.

The next incoherence follows quickly: "People have accused me of creating more terrorism by making these statements. Indeed, we often hear that Western governments bring these attacks on themselves." Tancredo's foolishness will no doubt be used, as was Dick Durbin's outrageous comparison of the American military to Nazis and Khmer Rouge, by propagandists for Islamist extremists. But Tancredo's attemp to hide himself under the wings of John Howard and other eloquent spokesmen who reject the dangeorus idea that the West is generating the attacks on itself overlooks Howard's --and Blair's and Bush's-- refusal to be drawn into Islam bashing or incediary rhetoric like Tancredo's.

On Thursday, Howard bluntly stated, again: "[T]his is about the perverted use of the principles of a great world religion, that at its root preaches peace and cooperation, and I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder."

Serious leaders in the West refuse to indulge the hatred for a different religion that is implicit in Tancredo's frothings. No doubt Tancredo and his supporters deem Howard, Blair, and Bush "soft" on terrorism.

Practically everything a westerner says will be used by al jazeera in its propaganda. (Note that InstaPunk was more concerned by what Durbin's remarks said about him and his liberal apologists than about the propaganda impact.) If the words aren't inflammatory enough, they'll be twisted into something that is. Tancredo is covered by the Blair/Howard defense. He didn't start the war on terror. He hasn't killed any defenseless civilians. He is exercising his freedom of speech, and he is -- we must keep returning to this -- voicing the thoughts of many Americans who, right or wrong, would benefit from hearing their ideas considered in the market of public opinion. The fate of an unexpressed idea is that it grows ill and malignant in the dark. Of all people, Hugh Hewitt should know this and accept that speech in a free country can be untidy indeed. It is the role of sunlight not censors to burn away the dross.

I also object to the imputation of "hatred" to Tancredo and his supporters. His remarks bespeak a mentality more Roman than crusader. The Romans didn't hate the constituencies -- religious or political -- that threatened the safety of Roman citizens. They were rather matter-of-fact in squashing the infant powers which undermined order before a rabble could become an army. They understood the potency of striking at symbols too. One can argue whether or not the U.S. should adopt a more Roman strategy to protect its citizenry, but to dismiss it a priori as hatred is a deceitful bit of cunning.

I doubt, too, whether Tancredo's most avid supporters think Bush, Blair, and Howard are soft on terrorism. They understand the politics that accompany the "religion of peace" rhetoric. What's different about them is that they're not afraid to ask whether or not this coldly calculated and executed policy is working. The questions we don't ask ourselves are the ones whose answers can prove most disastrous, because those answers come in the form of real consequences, not theoretical ones.

Tancredo then quotes a couple of extremist Islamists and/or apologists for such extremist Islamists before finishing with this flourish --a libel on every Muslim who has indeed condemned terror and especially on the between 5,000 and 10,000 Muslims serving in the American military: "In many respects, the decision of "moderate" Muslims to acquiesce to these actions and even provide tacit justification for them is just as damaging to global safety and security as the attacks themselves. Until "mainstream" Islam can bring itself to stop rationalizing terrorist attacks and start repudiating and purging people like Ali and Hajjar from its ranks who do, this war will continue. As long as this war goes on, being "offended" should be the least of anyone's worries."

This insult to every Muslim who has courageously stood up to Islamist terror should not be allowed to pass uncondemned by supporters of the GWOT. There needs to be more and more and louder and louder condemnation of Islamist terror from within Islam. There needs to be more and more cooperation from among Muslims in the identification of Islamist threats at home and abroad. But Tancredo's absurd hypotheticals injure that prospect. The Congressman needs to review the record, finding the good --not just the evil-- and praising it. He might want to start with the fact the Muslim community in upstate New York helped DOJ uncover and halt the operation of a cell there. 

If you were a Muslim, would Tancredo's outrageous speculations make you more or less likely to assist in the GWOT? Obviously the latter. After braving Islamist threats to help the authorities break a cell, you open the paper and find that your holy places will be "on the table" if terror takes another huge toll in the United States.

Not so fast, Mr. Hewitt. The answer to your question is not "obviously the latter." If members of my faith were responsible for murdering innocent civilians all over the world in the way that al qaida and its affiliates have been doing, I would not be surprised if the peoples of the victimized nations began grumbling about nuking the Vatican or Robert Schuler's Crystal Cathedral. And even if I had been fighting hard in my personal life to defeat the terrorists, I would still be aware of the lack if my clergy had been dragging their heels and hemming and hawing about condemning the crimes of  "renegade" parishioners. And if a significant percentage of my clergy had been guilty of fomenting the terror acts, I would feel compelled to begin fighting for access to a microphone so that I could rally others of my faith in a joint act of condemnation.

If you don't believe me, look at the response of lay Catholics to the pedophilia scandal. When the church evaded its responsibility, Catholics came forward as ordinary citizens to demand accountability and justice. As devout Catholics, they knew that the reputation of their faith was in grave jeopardy and that they had a greater responsibility than non-Catholics to rectify the wrongs.

Even you concede that there hasn't been nearly enough of this kind of action. The fact of a resistance doesn't excuse all those who stand aside and go with the flow. Was there a French resistance in WWII? Yes. Was France still a collaborator nation in the Nazi assault on Europe? Yes. Is it painful to point this out? Perhaps. But however painful it is to lance a boil, it's sometimes necessary to relieve the pressure and allow healing to begin.

"Being 'offended'" is not my worry.

Having progress in the GWOT compromised handicapped by a publicity-seeking Congressman is my worry. Handing propaganda to Islamists is my worry. Encouraging the wrong-headed belief that the world cannot be made safe until Islam is destropyed is my worry.

Here are some basic facts for Tancredo fans to ponder: "Islam is the second-largest religion in the world, counting more than 1.3 billion believers. Americans have the misconception that all Muslims are Arabs and that all Arabs are Muslims. In fact, less than 20 percent of the Muslims in the world are Arab, and all Arab countries have populations that believe in other religions. The nation with the world's largest Islamic population is Indonesia -- 88 percent of its 280 million people are Muslims. In the United States, Islam is the fastest growing religion, a trend fueled mostly by immigration. There are 5 million to 7 million Muslims in the United States. They make up between 10,000 and 20,000 members of the American military. Army Chaplain (Capt.) Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad is a Muslim Imam stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. In his chaplaincy, he ministers to all faiths."

Uh, there are a lot of muslims? We knew that. Not all muslims are Arabs? We knew that too. We also know that muslim nations, including non-Arab ones, have shown a distressing tendency to kill innocent civilians  in campaigns the U.N. really hates to classify as genocide -- notably in the Sudan and in Indonesia (East Timor ring a bell?). Al qaida and its minions have also committed acts of terror and, obviously, found cover in many other nations with muslim majority and minority populations.

I'm also not terribly moved by the citation of muslims in the military. They are American citizens and they've made their choice. In WWII, plenty of German-Americans and Italian-Americans went to war against the Axis. I knew a German-American who went to war against the Kaiser in WWI. Except for his accent, he was as German as they come, and to the end of his life he made free with such locutions as "Huns" and "Krauts." He knew who the enemy was because they tried hard to kill him. And if it's the religious angle you're primarily concerned with, American Catholics may have resisted the notion of bombing the Montecassino Abbey during the Anzio invasion, but bomb it we did to save American lives. War is not chess. It is, as the generals remind us, "killing people and breaking things."

The United State is locked in a deadly war with Islamists who would indeed use nukes against American cities if they could, or any other WMD for that matter. There are some states that support these Islamists, including the governments of Iran and Syria, and some of the elites in Saudi Arabia.

But there are also governments like those in Eygpt, Jordan, and Pakistan that are providing us enormously valuable assistance in the war, governements which come under huge pressure from their fundamentalist Muslim populations to stop assisting the "crusaders."

Tancredo made all of their jobs more difficult, and ours as well, by sounding exactly like a Christian jihadist would sound, even though it is clearly contrary to Christian teachings to threaten retaliation against non-combatants even in a just war.

This is where Hugh conveniently plays both ends against the middle by erasing the lines between nations and governments. Members of the Bush administration's policy team have to be punctilious about referring to governments as if they were fully representative of their people, but the rest of us ordinary citizens don't have to be. If we want to, we can feel and express the conviction that Musharaf of Pakistan is helping us in the war on terror only because he has to, and we can recognize that Pakistan as a whole is a hotbed of muslim extremism that contributes as much (or more) to terror as its government does to the war against terror. We can harbor similar feelings about Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc, because there's a lot of truth to the rumor that even the most supposedly friendly governments have subsidized Islamofascist propaganda to deflect criticisms of their own despotism into anti-American, anti-western, and anti-Christian feeling. If they are now being burned by their own bad decisions, it doesn't mean the fire they started among their peoples has been extinguished. Hugh acknowledges this when he concedes that such "governments.. come under huge pressure from their fundamentalist Muslim populations to stop assisting the 'crusaders.'"

Think about this. We're 'crusaders' because we want your crazies to stop killing our women and children? So, just who is it, Hugh, who's going to be moved and converted by your profound deference for their religion of peace?

I have repeatedly invited Congressman Tancredo on my show over the past week. He has declined every opportunity, and Tancredo fans have repeatedly asked me to "drop it." Well, Tancredo doubled down today, and his attempt to camouflage his inanity in a variety of ways does nothing but highlight again and again why he doesn't deserve invitations to GOP events or leadership positions in Washington.

By Golly, Tancredo has been summoned to appear before the Office of the Holy Inquisition, and he has refused to obey. Damn. Is this where all the heat is coming from? Think about it, Hugh. You've been more polite to the America-hating muslims than you've been to a Congressman who disagrees with your politics. Why should he subject himself to the inherently unfair format of a radio talk show hosted by someone who slanders him repeatedly? Why? Because you're somehow in charge of the all-important blogosphere? I don't think so.

"Supporting" Congressman Tancredo on this issue identifies you as an American interested in comforting noise rather than progress in the GWOT.

Now, for good measure, he wants to be clear that he's also slandering all of us. Thank you, sir.

I am sure I will hear --again-- from all the "realists" who want to quote the Koran to me and instruct me on how blind I am to the threat of Islam. Look, feel free to write me, but try and find at least one quote from a serious conservative on the American or world stage to back you up. Dick Cheney's pretty solid, right? So is Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, right? O.K., then, send me some citations to their Tancredo-like remarks. There's a reason they are leading and Tancredo is simply milking rage and anger for personal benefit. They are interested in the national security and victory in the GWOT. Congressman Tancredo is interested in, well, Congressman Tancredo.

Here we go again. We're only permitted to disagree with Mr. Hewitt if we can "find at least one quote from a serious conservative on the American or world stage to back (us) up." Sorry, Hugh. We're not the one who is pretending to be some kind of shadow government spokesperson. We're just citizens who happen to disagree with you and retain the luxury -- unlike all the "official" leaders such as, ahem, yourself -- of speaking our minds about matters that really do affect us. I am sure that even our soft-spoken conservative leaders would privately allow that we do have that right. Otherwise, they wouldn't be conservatives any more. They'd be autocrats.

A few final thoughts. I don't believe Mr. Tancredo has ever suggested that "putting Mecca on the table" was tantamount to waiting for Mecca to fill up with civilians before bombing it. In fact, I have a hunch his idea includes delivering a clear warning about how much time people have to evacuate the place. Bombing Mecca is in the category of "breaking things," not "killing people." Mr. Hewitt's repeated characterization of Tancredo's remarks as slaughtering innocent civilians is disingenuous if not dishonest.

Which leads to the question I posed at the start: why all the emotional bitterness? I hate to say it, but I think Mr. Hewitt may have contracted Blogger's Disease. He thinks he's in charge of something, something that Tancredo and his supporters have somehow violated by having and expressing an unacceptable opinion.

Well, Mr. Hewitt, you're in charge of your blog and your radio show. That's all. You're not in charge of us, and you're not entited to control what we say and think. It' still America, and we're pretty determined to keep it that way.

And just to be clear, I personally still stand by what I said yesterday.

UPDATE. More on Hewitt and Tancredo from Lump on a Blog, who seems to have survived his recent excommunication in good shape. Thanks for the link.
INCIDENTALLY. Here's an interesting link I received from RattlerGator. It may relate to this discussion only tangentially, but it's interesting in its own right. Thanks for the email, RG.

POSTSCRIPT: After reading Mr. Hewitt's outburst, I thought of this nasty old politically incorrect opus by that old imperialistic bastard Kipling. So I just had to share it with all of you. Without apologies.

OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, 
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat; 
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, 
When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Unreality Trap

A BILLION. Ace columnist Mark Steyn begins his latest with the tale of a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee who met twice with Mohammed Atta to consider his request to get $650,000 in government funds to help finance the 9/11 attacks. Atta used a different name each time and explicitly referenced the possibility of attacking Washington, DC. She thought he was just an eccentric example of multiculturalism. Confident that he's got us us all rolling in the aisles with this anecdote, Steyn proceeds to extrapolate:

For four years, much of the western world behaved like Bryant. Bomb us, and we agonise over the "root causes" (that is, what we did wrong). Decapitate us, and our politicians rush to the nearest mosque to declare that "Islam is a religion of peace". Issue bloodcurdling calls at Friday prayers to kill all the Jews and infidels, and we fret that it may cause a backlash against Muslims. Behead sodomites and mutilate female genitalia, and gay groups and feminist groups can't wait to march alongside you denouncing Bush, Blair and Howard. Murder a schoolful of children, and our scholars explain that to the "vast majority" of Muslims "jihad" is a harmless concept meaning "decaf latte with skimmed milk and cinnamon sprinkles".

The piece is published in the Australian and might be aimed more at them than the western world in general, but Steyn appears to be making two points -- one, that the London bombings are having an effect on the ostrich left and, two, that multiculturalism is a kind of labyrinthine denial mechanism that makes it difficult to locate common sense on any level.

Steyn is always brilliant, but I think there's another point that needs to be made. Reading the paragraph I quoted above, I couldn't help musing on the Internet contretemps about Tancredo's comments and the odd fact that mainstream conservatives have been taking positions of the sort Steyn is mocking in his second and third sentences. Captain Ed and Hugh Hewitt aren't multicultural dupes, so why have they joined this very nonexclusive club?

I think I know why, and I mean no disrespect to Hugh and Ed in returning yet again to this peculiar controversy, because there's a lesson here for almost everyone.

I've seen the same phenomenon at work in corporate organizations. I call it the Unreality Trap. Imagine a bad situation that probably can't be fixed. Imagine you're in the Coca Cola marketing department on the eve of the launch of "New Coke." You suspect that you are involved in a business catastrophe -- a company conspiring to kill its own flagship product, perhaps the most successful single brand name product in the history of the food industry. What do you do? All the alternatives suck. If the campaign proceeds as planned, the company will lose millions and become the laughingstock of the world. If you could somehow halt the campaign, the company would still be a laughingstock and many careers would come to an end. There's no solution to the problem that isn't almost unbearably costly and difficult. What do you do?

In the corporate world, the response to these kinds of situations is to pretend that reality is different from what it obviously is to otherwise intelligent observers. You follow the most intelligent course you can think of given that the situation itself is out of control. For example, you decide to waste a little less money wherever you have some control of spending on promoting the turkey called "New Coke." It's sensible and defensible. After the catastrophe, you'll look comparatively smarter, and at least you didn't fling gasoline on the bonfire. You may even succeed in convincing yourself that this course of action is shrewder and better advised than running around corporate headquarters screaming about the need to stop the launch of "New Coke."

That's what's going on with Hugh and Captain Ed and all the other conservatives who got so stuffily self righteous about Tancredo's remarks.  The truth is, there isn't an easy or automatically right solution to the problem of Islamofascism. It's true that every attempt to defeat them, kill them, or stop their murderous plans will create more terrorists. That's the real bitch of fighting an irrational enemy. Deep down, Hugh and Captain Ed know as well as we do that Islam itself is a major part of the problem, no matter how condescendingly they respond to those of us who are willing to say it out loud. Otherwise, why would they be so frightened that one politican's remarks are going to seriously increase the threat against all of us? They wouldn't. If some congressman suggested that the best way to deal with the corruption of the U.N. would be the nuking of Paris, everyone of sound mind would just laugh.

So what's up with Hugh and Captain Ed? They don't want to think about just how awful the problem is, and they can't see any way out of the situation we're in that doesn't involve bloodshed and sacrifice on a massive scale. And so they choose to remake reality in more comforting terms. Our enemy is only a few million malcontents. Therefore, we can navigate our way through the gauntlet by selecting some judicious set of military, diplomatic, and economic measures.

The only problem with that strategy is that it's wrong. The world economy can't afford the United States to take a gigantic blow that erases the confidence of ordinary people in going about their daily business. The Islamofascists know that, and it is their ovverriding purpose to deal just such a blow. When they succeed, their numbers will increase immeasurably beyond what they are now. The proof that crippling America is actually possible will be a more potent recruiting tool than anything any politician can say on his most insane day.

But there's another problem of denial that must be confronted by those who are willing to stand up to Hugh and Captain Ed. Defeating and controlling the considerable population of muslims who are cheering on the terrorists will not be achieved simply by killing a bunch of them or eliminating their holiest places. Yes, PC games are worse than accepting the facts as they most probably exist, but what then? What strategy can be successful for those who see with unblinkered eyes?

Because they won't all lay down their arms and put their hands up the day after Mecca starts glowing like the dial of an alarm clock. What do you propose to do to win the war on terror? It's an important question, much more pertinent in the scheme of things than how best to respond to the silly denials of the self-deluding. What will it take to win this thing?

Forget all the ordinary assumptions about what Congress will fund, what any U.S. president will have the guts to do. Those assumptions will be the biggest casualty of the first real assault on America. Start thinking now about how we will have to fight the nightmare war that begins the day after that attack. And by fighting, I mean fighting to win.

HINT: The right answer isn't going to be a paragraph or two in the Comments section. It's got to be far more than a few bellicose declarations of spleen and will.

Hugh and Ed need to end their fit of denial. And so do the rest of us. We really are in a war for civilization. And we really do have nearly a billion opponents. Think about it.

UPDATE:  I see that the Pope has issued another infallible encyclical on the Tancredo matter. I'll have more to say about this later. He's starting to become positively obnoxious.

UPDATE:  This is a continuation of the discussion started HERE with continuing analysis HERE.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Hockey!


Hockey -- which is an excellent way . . .
We did it! We now play the hockey in the fall. I can not believe. Off my bike. On to the ices.

My father called me last night. My banker called me this morning. All were very happy at the time for me. Even the guys at InstaPunk seemed really really happy though they don't seem to like the hockey all the times.

Now you have to watch. Comcast is looking to give us T.V. deal and you can get the anyshell Center Ice from DirecTV satellite company. Get it right now that you think of it. I don't know why but they only show 40 games a week but at least you can see some of the hockey with it.

And, no more of the poker on ESPN. You have to know by now that the Lebbannese Australian Chiropractor guy won the World Series of Poker and the $7.5mm prizes. You can read all about it HERE. You can even see all the 231 hands played in the final tables HERE. Sorry, ESPN, now nobody watch they already know the winners. Now they watch the hockey.

Here is his picture with all the monies.


Here I go to the rink. Maybe I write in the season but it is very busy times but I will see.

Puck Punk covers the NHL for --
   here are his previous posts
7/13/2005 -- World Series of Poker
4/14/2005 -- Terry Schiavo and Pope John Paul II
2/23/2005 -- No Mini Season
2/1/2005 -- Money Problems; Looking for more $
1/6/2005 -- Christmas and a trip to the bank
12/13/2004 -- The NHL can learn from NASCAR
12/2/2004 -- President Bush gets involved
11/15/2004 -- The Bender
10/21/2004 -- World Series, big deal
10/12/2004 -- Lockout, not Strike
10/5/2004 -- First Post

Congratulations to the anyshell (we just had to) players, coaches, owners, sponsors, play-by-play announcers, color analysts, and -- oh yeah -- the fans -- from all of us at

A Can of Worms, Briefly Opened

There is a middle ground.

. Dangerous waters here, perhaps the most dangerous in the whole wide world of the intelligentsia. It's called the Evolution Debate, and it's being fought tooth-and-nail by meticulously educated scientists on the one hand and harebrained religious Luddites on the other. Or so the most illustrious reporters of the conflict would have us believe. They are also the primary source for telling us the available sides of the debate -- that one must choose starkly between the Theory of Evolution as propounded by generations of biologists or the fantasy called Creationism defended by zealots who are armed with nothing but a tattered copy of the Bible. This would seem to make it an easy choice, which is why we get regular little reminders from the intellectual elite about the impossibility of challenging the biologists. A current example of this occurs in a column by Frederick Turner at TechCentralStation. I am moved to write on this explosive subject because the column does a beautiful job of explaining what is at stake and what constitutes the real power of the scientific establishment. I am persuaded that it provides a means of demurring on a few points in a format nearly as brief. Let's see if this is also a fantasy. Turner's piece is a followup to a previous essay that upset both sides, and he recapitulates his own beliefs thus:

In the essay I did state flatly that the theory of evolution had been proved. I wanted it to be clear where I stood. Much of the mail I received protested about that statement. I hold to it, and hold to it not as my own opinion, but as a fact, like the existence of Australia, which is not my opinion but a fact. But I do know that there are many who sincerely, and given their range of knowledge, rationally, do not believe in the theory of evolution.

Like the existence of Australia. Mark that. Turner also does what few others do when manning these particular battlements: he offers us a concise definition of what he believes to be fact:

By the theory of evolution I mean the origination of new species from common ancestral forms by an iterated process of genetic mutation, natural selection, and hereditary transmission, whereby the frequencies of newly altered, repeated, and old genes and introns in a given lineage can cross ecological, structural, and behavioral thresholds that radically separate one species from another. In one sense, this can be summed up in a syllogism, which must be true if we make the basic and essential act of faith that logic itself is true: survivors survive.

Further to his credit, Turner is economical but comprehensive in his assessment of the stakes:

For biology is not the only field for which the theory of evolution is an essential foundation. Geology, physical anthropology, agricultural science, environmental science, much of chemistry, some areas of physics (e.g. protein folding) and even disciplines such as climatology and oceanography (which rely on the evolutionary history of the planet in its calculations about the composition of the atmosphere and oceans), are at least partially founded on evolution.

In other words, the Theory of Evolution really does underlie the whole story we are telling ourselves about who we are and where we came from. The Creationists' dog in this hunt is easy to spot. The biologists tend to be cagier about their agenda, but Turner conveys it clearly:

The angry evolutionists were especially interesting, as they often wound up admitting implicitly that their real agenda was atheism -- while denying that there was any social policy message in that agenda.

It's actually rare for a member of the scientific establishment to come so close to admitting that this has become as much a religious war as a scientific debate: devout theists vs devout atheists. It's no surprise that Turner finishes by handicapping the opponents. The measure he uses, though, is more instructive about the contemporary scientific mindset than it is accurate:

 The work of the biological teams is required to be backed up by exhaustive experiment and observation, together with exact statistical analysis of the results. There is a continuous process of search through all these articles by trained reviewers looking for discrepancies among them and demanding new experimental work to resolve them. Since every one of these articles relies on the consistency and truth of the theory of evolution, every one of them adds implicitly to the veracity of the theory. By my calculation, then, opponents of evolution must find a way of matching and disproving, experiment by experiment, observation by observation, and calculation by calculation, at least two million pages of closely reasoned scientific text, representing roughly two million man-years of expert research and perhaps trillions of dollars of training, salaries, equipment, and infrastructure.

This sounds a formidable obstacle, and it would be if the logical error Turner commits earlier in the piece were not an error, but it is. Remember this passage, quoted above, which I have stripped of its obfuscating flourishes: "By the theory of evolution I mean the origination of new species from common ancestral forms by an iterated process of genetic mutation, natural selection, and hereditary transmission... which must be true if we make the basic and essential act of faith that logic itself is true: survivors survive." [emphasis mine].

I would suggest that the fact Turner believes to be as incontrovertible as the existence of Australia is actually "the origination of new species from common ancestral forms," not the precise mechanism by which changes occur. I further suggest that the "genetic mutation, natural selection, and hereditary transmission" part of the evolutionary puzzle is responsible for the religious component of the scientific perspective. Yes, they have a lot invested in their description of the process by which changes occur, but that does not mean that science has actually solved all problems about process. Do not forget that there is still no satisfactory explanation by science about the origin of life on earth in the first place. Nobel prize winner Sir Francis Crick found this riddle so impossible of resolution that he proposed the concept of panspermia -- introduction of life from an extraterrestrial source -- to account for the astonishing complexity and similarity of DNA across species. it would seem there are still some sizable holes on the process side of evolution.

I'll clarify the point I'm making by explaining that I believe the Creationists are dead wrong in their whole approach to the problem, and I believe the evolutionists are substantially wrong about process. And if I'm right, I do not have to disprove each and every experiment performed by biologists since Darwin first stated his theory. What I have to do is discover an additional agency which resolves the logical paradox employed by all evolutionists in their descriptions of adaptive response.

What am I talking about? You can see examples on every nature show broadcast on television. We are shown an example of an attribute some species has developed to better its chances for survival. I saw one last night on the National Geographic Channel in a program titled "Hornets from Hell." The hornets are Japanese, extra large and deadly to humans, smaller hornets, and honey bees. In particular, European honey bees imported to boost honey production are helpless against the super hornets. Thirty hornets can slaughter a hive of 30,000 European honey bees in about three hours. Interestingly, though, the less honey-productive Japanese honey bees have an amazing defense against the hornets, which must send a scout to mark the target hive with a pheromone so that the hornet death squad can find it. The Japanese honey bees detect the scout's arrival and lure it into the hive. When she attempts to leave, the honey bees swarm the invader. Hundreds of bees surround the scout and become a squirming pulsing entity. Are they stinging the invader to death? No. Unlike hornets, honey bees die after they sting. Instead, the honey bees are vibrating their abdomens, increasing the body heat of the mass to precisely 117 degrees. A honey bee can survive temperatures of 118 degrees; a hornet, only 115 degrees. The scout hornet dies, the hive is safe from attack, and no honey bees have perished.

Now when an evolutionist describes this or some other trait or physical characteristic which serves as a defense mechanism, he speaks in terms of purpose. This trait or feature was developed in order to increase the chances of survival against some predator or environmental condition. This makes it easier for us lay people to understand. When we have understood the value of the change, the biologist retraces the steps of his argument and subtracts the purpose from the process altogether, because it must be -- according to current theory -- a blundering series of genetic accidents and a slow cumulative sequence of minor and meaningless changes that eventually add up to a feature which works so well that it has the appearance of design.

This is a bait-and-switch use of logic. Purpose is employed to appeal to native common sense. Then purpose is removed and, along with it, the persuasiveness of the process description.

With respect to our honey bee example, it's important to remember that each bee brain consists of only a few hundred neurons. Actual learning is not a  capability of such primitive brains. The behavioral change acquired by Japanese bees to deal with the super hornet must be hardwired into those few neurons. How did that happen?

Scientists love to haul out Occam's razor -- the simplest idea is probably right. I'll haul it out here. It's far easier to explain the process by which Japanese bees acquired this defense mechanism through the inference that some kind of intelligence exists within the species as a whole which does explicitly recognize the hornet threat and responds appropriately by reprogramming the brains of Japanese honey bees.

This kind of intelligence does not have to be God. But the evolutionists resist it because the appearance of any kind of intelligence within their materialistic system opens the door to the possibility that intelligence, and therefore consciousness, and therefore possibly some supreme consciousness, is an intrinsic attribute of the universe. This is unacceptable not for scientific reasons but for religious reasons. The atheists can't stomach it.

It's important to remember that evolution is one of the earliest examples of systems theory -- that is, how minute changes in input change the output of the entire system. Another simpler example is mechanical systems theory, such as the description of how changes in input to a manufacturing system affect changes in output. In the mechanical world, the relationship is linear: increase input by a unit and output increases by a unit. This is the core of the incrementalism which drives the evolutionists' process description of one genetic mutation, one improved unit of survivability, one more generation of improved survivability, and so on.

But now we live in the age of systems theory as it has been changed by computer technology. Our new models, which probably relate better to organic life, demonstrate that tiny changes in system input can result in huge changes in system output. The power of this theory is that it has led to computer simulations of artificial life and artificial intelligence, in which the system begins to write and rewrite its own rules. This has led to new speculations, including one called complexity theory, which proposes that systems are driven to the "edge of chaos," where some kind of capability to receive new information from outside the system is created. This is not a discipline in which the evolutionary biologists have much interest, though, because no matter how independently an artificial system evolves through time, all such computer systems begin with a programmer who writes the initial set of rules and sets the process in motion. Danger, danger, danger.

Note, too, that the basic Darwinian theory is also much older than the field of quantum physics, which is also flummoxed to the point of despair over the seeming evidence that consciousness directly affects outcomes at the particle level.

I am not proposing an answer here. I am proposing that the Creationist vs Scientist debate has been oversimplified to the point of nonsense for the purpose of preventing any reopening of the antique assumptions underlying "state-of-the-art" evolutionary theory. The chief mechanism of oversimplification is an obviously duplicitous bit of illogic which falsely equates the given that "survivors survive" with the still theoretical working explanation offered by science about how survivors get better at surviving.

I'll close with a quick explanation of the graphics at the top of the page, which represent another realm of trickery by evolutionary biologists. They're fond of explaining speciation and adaptive response by using the example of dog breeds, whose stunningly varied attributes reflect changes made through breeding to improve capabilities in certain specific areas. This kind of example is supposed to help us understand the process by which nature makes changes in species, although biologists are always careful to remind us that the difference between dog breeding and nature is that man breeds dogs deliberately and nature breeds species by accident. As if this were a completely trivial difference.

One thing the biologists never talk about is where the vast realm of potential changes in dogs might come from. Oddly enough, members of individual breeds when released to the wild almost immediately revert to a completely standard dog design -- same size, same conformation the world over. So why and how is it the case that it is possible to develop extraordinary capabilities -- of sight, of smell, of fleetness, of intelligence, of strength, of size, of appearance -- if that potential were not already part of the basic dog gene pool? It really does seem as if that gene pool were in existence for the purpose of being invoked in response to the demands of environment and other factors, as if it were a system equipped with all the latent potentials that might be called upon by a conscious reprogramming effort. Cambrian Explosion anyone?

Of course, in a final bit of irony, all dogs are still part of the same species, theoretically still capable of breeding with one another, size discrepancies notwithstanding. Does this make anyone nervous about the scientific definition of what a species is? Why is it that lions and tigers can mate and produce offspring? Are they not different species? Or are all the big cats somehow merely breeds of the same super-species, like Boston terriers and Borzois? And if this might be the case, can we not glimpse the possibility that what the evolutionists call macro-evolution, which is the weakest and most unproven of their theory's components, is really nothing but a radical version of the micro-evolution science has indeed proven to exist?

If there were some middle ground between the two poles of thought on evolution, wouldn't we all benefit from the process of studying it seriously? We might evolve to a better theory that doesn't require such contortions of logic to explain.

POSTSCRIPT: I'll predict that if any evolutionists read this piece, they'll attack me in one or more of three ways. 1) They'll get personal immediately, calling me an idiot, a moron, a religious nut, etc. 2) They'll deny my right to discuss the subject at all because I don't have a degree in evolutionary biology, as if freedom of speech were now subject in the scientific world to a kind of poll tax. 3) They'll find one or several errors, or anything that might be interpreted as an error, to argue that this makes the whole discussion invalid. But it isn't. They can patronize and condescend to me all they want, but not one of them can persuasively explain the process by which wild plants became useful domestic crops. I'll keep my powder dry on that one till later.

UPDATE. Another briefer response to Turner's column can be found at Rand Simberg's site (HT InstaPundit). There's also a considerable body of comments which are amusingly similar to what you'd expect.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Hugh Hewitt

PSAYINGS.5Q.46. Hubris is a sin. You can get away with a little of it, but there's a line you can't cross without experiencing consequences. Lumpy, author of the Lump on a Blog website posted a heretical challenge to the orthodoxy of the Center Right Blogosphere on July 19 at 3:52 pm. The whole post was dangerously disrespectful, but here's the most serious blasphemy:

Civilization is a thin veneer that separates us from the hardships of raw survival. While Western civilization has provided us with the opportunity to enjoy the more heady pursuits, our love affair with our own minds often precludes us from taking concrete steps to ensure our continued survival, and often blinds us to the obvious.

Nowhere is this thinking more prevalent than in the consciousness of the liberal. But it is also present in the consciousness of those who choose to deny the evident. Whatever its intention, such a mind provides an avenue for our enemies to ensure restraint in our response, transforming the goal of success into certain failure. It is the unsharpened mind of complacency. In times of peace, such a mind may have much to offer, but in a time of war it is a hindrance to victory.

In the struggle for life and death - when civilization itself is at stake - there exists no greater potential for failure than worshipping an idea which aids the enemy in his quest for our destruction. All that I ask of the detractors of Rep. Tom Tancredo is that they take a moment and think on what I have written. Hugh Hewitt’s admonishment of those who disagree with his position is clearly reactionary and does not contribute to a reasonable debate on the issue. I hold Hugh in the highest regard and he is a man who has earned the respect of bloggers everywhere. He is one reason that I started blogging. The few times that I have found his posts to be reactionary are far outnumbered by my own amateurish oversights. From Hugh’s post:

I want to be very clear on this. No responsible American can endorse the idea that the U.S. is in a war with Islam. That is repugnant and wrong, and bloggers and writers and would-be bloggers and writers have to choose sides on this, especially if you are a center-right blogger. The idea that all of Islam is the problem is a fringe opinion. It cannot be welcomed into mainstream thought because it is factually wrong.

Mr. Hewitt, at the risk of ending my blogging career prematurely, I challenge your assertion that my belief is factually wrong. This is not a war on terror to me – it is a war of civilizations. Convince me that I am wrong.

You say my belief is “on the fringe”, but you fail to note that this has no bearing on its truth. Perhaps you are right, but I have yet to see any real data which settles this dispute one way or the other.

You claim a majority opinion, but how informed is this majority opinion? Put this question to a poll but first ask yourself how many of the respondents could claim any knowledge of Islamic history, the current war on terror, contemporary Islamic society, the proclamations of the Koran, and the current strength or weakness of the fascist movement within Islam?

That's going too far, Mr. Lumpy. You were willing to risk ending your blogging career prematurely? Consider it done. At 12 noon, Pacific Daylight Time, Hugh Hewitt formally excommunicated you from the Internet. From this moment forward, you are banned from blogging. You may not sign onto the Internet under any user name whatsoever on any computer. For the rest of your life. In a release issued to the press by the Office of Center-Right Blogosphere Orthodoxy, Mr. Hewitt said:

"It pains us to be compelled to take such an irrevocable decision, but we have made it clear in our encyclicals that we are not to be disputed or questioned on these matters. We have therefore had no alternative to imposing punishment."

Let this be a warning to all who dare to disagree with the pronouncements of the CRB, which was officially organized a few days ago. Its authority is absolute, and it brooks no dissent among the faithful.

Lumpy. Requiescat in pace.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Defending Tancredo

Couldn't happen. Couldn't happen. Sure it could.

CONSUMING DESIRES. I hate to disagree with Hugh Hewitt two days in a row, but that's the way the cards fall sometimes. Congressman Tom Tancredo has apparently suggested that if America experiences a truly major attack, we should respond by bombing Mecca. Hugh Hewitt condemned the remarks immediately and then added the following after several other bloggers had weighed in:

The remarks he made are a positive disservice to the United States, for all the reasons Durbin's were.  He has to retract them. And he ought to apologize to every Muslim soldier, sailor, airman and Marine for suggesting that the way to respond to an attack on America is to attack their faith.

I have been hearing from people who urge that Tancredo is just voicing the updated version of the MAD doctrine which kept the USSR at bay through the long years of the Cold War. That's silly. Destroying Mecca wouldn't destroy Islam.  It would enrage and unify Islam across every country in the world where Muslims lived.

Let me be blunt: There is no strategic value to bombing Mecca even after a devastating attack on the U.S.  In fact, such an action would be a strategic blunder without historical parallel, except perhaps Hitler's attack on Stalin.  Anyone defending Tancredo's remarks has got to make a case for why such a bombing would be effective.

I want to be very clear on this. No responsible American can endorse the idea that the U.S. is in a war with Islam. That is repugnant and wrong, and bloggers and writers and would-be bloggers and writers have to chose sides on this, especially if you are a center-right blogger. The idea that all of Islam is the problem is a fringe opinion.  It cannot be welcomed into mainstream thought because it is factually wrong. If Tancredo's blunder does not offend you, then you do not understand the GWOT.

Fortunately for me, Mr. Hewitt is not alone in his dudgeon. Captain Ed Morrissey -- and I'm sure dozens of others -- have expressed similar views. Here's an excerpt from Captain Ed:

I think the "ultimate response" to Tancredo's apolcalyptic fantasy is that we don't bomb civilians in response to terrorist attacks, no matter how seductive such a response might seem. The idea that the US would retaliate in such a manner should be repulsive to any rational person, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum. The war on terror targets the terrorists and the governments which fund and/or shelter them, not the civilians who happen to live there.

Besides, who is Tom Tancredo to make these threats anyway? He doesn't have anything to do with the military chain of command or the national security systems that would make those kinds of recommendations. He certainly doesn't speak for the President, who has to make the final determination in loosing those weapons on any target. Tancredo does, however, lend a false sense of credibility to such threats in international circles, thanks to his position as an elected Republican official.

In response to some criticism, Captain Ed also elaborated on his first entry:

I have no problem with unleashing the awesome power of the American military, but I don't want to be stupid about it. Destroying Mecca automatically gets us one billion overt enemies, where now we face around 20,000 active and a couple of million covert at best. Even threatening to do that puts us at a disadvantage when arguing that we are not attempting an existential war against Islam. How can any intelligent Muslim believe that while we threaten Mecca, which has no military value whatsoever and sits in the middle of a country with which we are not at war?...

Here's what we should make clear will happen if we suffer another major attack in the US, especially one that uses WMD or causes significant losses:

1. Take out the air forces of the two nations we know to support terrorists -- Syria and Iran.

2. Destroy all nuclear facilities in Iran, to the best of our intelligence.

3. Bomb all known militarily-related manufacturing facilities.

That response not only provides a significant deterrent, but actually addresses the threats arrayed against the West. Without any air defenses and with their production capabilities reduced to rubble, we will leave them in a position where we can easily pick them off at our leisure. It also will give them something to do with their money other than handing it to terrorists for the next decade or so.

I'm going to respond to a few specific statements of both these gentlemen.

HEWITT: Anyone defending Tancredo's remarks has got to make a case for why such a bombing would be effective.

MORRISSEY: Besides, who is Tom Tancredo to make these threats anyway? He doesn't have anything to do with the military chain of command or the national security systems that would make those kinds of recommendations.

Mr. Hewitt is wrong because Mr. Morrissey's question undermines both their arguments. Tancredo is not going to be making military policy, and so one can defend his remarks without having to defend their strategic military value. The question then becomes: what harm is really done by saying what a hell of a lot of people are thinking? I'll get back to this later.

HEWITT: The idea that all of Islam is the problem is a fringe opinion.  It cannot be welcomed into mainstream thought because it is factually wrong. If Tancredo's blunder does not offend you, then you do not understand the GWOT.

MORRISSEY: Destroying Mecca automatically gets us one billion overt enemies, where now we face around 20,000 active and a couple of million covert at best.

Mr. Hewitt does have the occasional difficulty differentiating the facts as he counts them up from reality. Mr. Morrissey is having problems with counting period. Let me correct Mr. Hewitt this way: All of Islam is not the problem, but it is a problem and a mighty big one. That is not a fringe opinion. It is a very widespread and deeply held opinion, simmering under the surface while many angry Americans abide, in the name of reasonableness and prudence, the many statements offered by our president in praise and exculpation of the muslim faith as a whole.

What so many of us fringe idiots perceive -- and cannot overlook -- is the continuing absence from the so-called  mainstream muslim community here and abroad of an unequivocal, untemporized, undiluted denunciation of Islamofascism and the terrorism it spawns. The reality is that Islam, the Koran, and the words and deeds of Mohammed are uniquely, shall we say vulnerable(?), to being used as the justification for barbarous acts against those outside the faith. This vulnerability is unique among the world's religions. (And don't try to peddle thet Evil Christians vs Enlightened Saracens meme about the Crusades here; that's a PC rewriting of history that won't wash and shouldn't be employed by conservatives of any stripe.)

So permit me to correct Mr. Morrissey's figures as well by adding in the hordes of innocent civilians who cheered in the streets on 9/11, the double-dealing Saudi princes and their subjects who smile as they take American petro-dollars and send their tithes to the madrassas, the millions of young muslim men made militant by the fact they will never find wives because the muslim antipathy to women results in a permanent scarcity of female births, the prosperous American muslims who drive their BMWs to the TV studio so they can dodge questions about the terrorist status of Hamas and Hezbollah and utter their giant "BUT" after delivering the standard rote pseudo-condemnation of Wahabi murders, the sullen millions in Egypt and other "friendly" Arab states who watch al jazeera and believe every word of libel about America and every rehashed lie about Jews feasting on blood in accordance with the fraudulent protocols of the elders of Zion, the moderate mainstream peaceful God-fearing muslims throughout the Arab world who dream of the day they can finish what Hitler started and slaughter the very last evil rat of a Jew. By my count, the new number adds up to just shy of a billion. Maybe they're not suicide bombers, and maybe they're not really evil, but how many of them don't have a secret place in their hearts where they cheer for Osama bin Laden as a kind of Arab Robin Hood? And how many wouldn't leap into the streets in joy if somehow American power were annihilated, and the muslim nations survived alone on top of the heaps of rubble that used to be a world civilization?

And Mr. Hewitt, do not tell all the people who count as I do that they do not understand the war on terrorism. It appears they understand it better than you do. What they understand is that it's impolitic to demand that Islam confront its own virulent strain of original sin, that part of their sometimes pacific faith which compels them to seek out infidels and cut their heads off without mercy, guilt, or apology. They DO understand the measured response you gentlemen propose:

HEWITT: I have been hearing from people who urge that Tancredo is just voicing the updated version of the MAD doctrine which kept the USSR at bay through the long years of the Cold War. That's silly. Destroying Mecca wouldn't destroy Islam.  It would enrage and unify Islam across every country in the world where Muslims lived.

MORRISSEY: Here's what we should make clear will happen if we suffer another major attack in the US, especially one that uses WMD or causes significant losses:

1. Take out the air forces of the two nations we know to support terrorists -- Syria and Iran.

2. Destroy all nuclear facilities in Iran, to the best of our intelligence.

3. Bomb all known militarily-related manufacturing facilities.

That response not only provides a significant deterrent, but actually addresses the threats arrayed against the West. Without any air defenses and with their production capabilities reduced to rubble, we will leave them in a position where we can easily pick them off at our leisure.

The problem is that Mr. Morrissey's response would fail for the same reason that defeating Saddam's army in the field didn't end the violence and terrorism in Iraq. Fanatics are not reasonable people by definition. Those who advocate restraint on the basis of retaining the so-called support of so-called moderate muslims lack the imagination to foresee that those who are currently sitting uneasily on the fence may well jump to the other side of the fence if the West can be forced into a massive depression by a sufficiently devastating attack. It's hard for western capitalists to believe that there are others in the world who don't mind an increase in their own suffering if the wealthy can be made to suffer more. What is unthinkable to us is far more thinkable to even the average moderate muslim than you'd like to believe.

That's a serious weakness of approaching every situation from a completely reasonable standpoint. Case in point: the sudden hysteria afoot about even mentioning the word 'Nazi' in the contemporary context. There are still things we can learn from that experience. Does anyone remember the long-ago debate about whether Hitler was an aberration or a natural outgrowth of German culture? Probably not. In our reasonableness, we have excused the Germans for starting two world wars in the space of 25 years, and we have forgotten that Hitler's philosophy was inspired by a long German tradition of anti-semitism and delusions of racial and cultural superiority. Germans who loathed Hitler cheered when he conquered Europe. The number of Islamic enemies of the United States will increase not with every American victory or display of power, but with every American humiliation and defeat. Barbarians do not respond to forebearance but to strength. Fear they understand. Tact they ignore or contemn.

O but they are not barbarians. Let's sing it one, two more times. O but they are not barbarians. O but they are not barbarians. We cannot treat them that way. Why? Surely, the onus is now on all the moderate mainstream peace-loving muslims to stand up, now that they command the world stage, and convince the civilized that they are not barbarians. They could do it in words, loudly and clearly spoken from a thousand minarets, they could do it in deeds, by abstaining from the stoning and imprisonment of their women, by ceasing to hate and condone the murder of Jews, by participating in the relentless hunt for those who cut off heads on TV and butcher children in schools and baby carriages.

These things they haven't done. How might they respond to the decimation of the air forces and bomb factories of their despotic governments? With their usual rage. Would Syrian national military vulnerability stem the flow of young braindead barbarians to the madrassas and terror schools of those who would further humiliate the Great Satan? No.

The measured response would embolden the terrorist mind. If a nuclear attack is successful in America, the measured response you propose would serve only to "enrage and unify" the hundred million or so Americans who have thus far remained patient with moderate responses. It would do absolutely nothing else to defeat terrorism.

Imagine. Imagine not 2200 American dead and the wave of grief and anger that inspired. Imagine 100,000 Americans dead or horribly mangled and stricken by radiation. Islam's militant minority has openly targeted our highest cultural symbols. At what point do we fight fire with fire and seek victory over an implacable enemy? Have you really thought about the question?

Instead, you are icily superior about the words of one minor politician who has spoken what many think. Yet his words are a kind of safety valve for the endlessly patient supporters of the war on terror. It may enable them to go one more month, one more year of watching grinning two-faced mullahs stand on podiums accepting the praise of American politicians while they laugh up their sleeves and go back to another meeting of their cell.

But it will horrify and distance the good muslims? Maybe. It might also frighten them just a little. Is it so very unthinkable that the fence-sitting muslims of the world should begin to appreciate that there is an American volcano after all, one that will erupt in a fury every bit as implacable and much better armed than theirs if they carry their wishful thinking too far?

As Mr. Morrissey points out, Tancredo is not in the military chain of command. He is not making real strategy. But he is mentioning possibilities that could become very real on the day that 100,000 American mothers have to place flowers outside the contaminated square mile where the obliterated bodies of their children swirl in the radioactive breeze.

On that day it WILL be Mecca, and Medina, and every other spot on the globe where terrorists may be lurking or plotting new atrocities. I am not proposing such a strategy, I am predicting its inevitability. And I suggest that it does more good than harm if the muslim world gets a hint of this possibility -- even from a lowly congressman -- before their errors of judgment and faith lead them to a final catastrophe.

Remember that there is legitimate anger. And it will increase.


UPDATE:  Thanks to Michelle Malkin -- welcome to visitors. Feel free to take a look around.

Also, La Shawn Barber's Corner took note -- thanks.

And thanks for the nod from Donald Sensing.


UPDATE:  Continued analysis HERE and HERE.

It's a Boy!

Another judge who hasn't written or said anything determinative about abortion.

THE ABORTION THING. Everybody thought George Bush the Elder was so shrewd for nominating David Souter because he had practiced law for many years without leaving any record of it but a few doodled napkins. He was the "stealth candidate."

Stealth means undetectable. Or is that indecipherable?
Or indefensible. Something. But it really blows things up, don't it?

That didn't prevent the Dems from getting alarmed, but when the dust cleared the Supreme Court had one more liberal weenie mediocrity on the bench. Just like George planned!?

Now it's a bunch of years later, and George The Younger has an absolutely golden -- no, make that platinum -- opportunity to do what his father and even Ronald Reagan couldn't. He has a solid majority in the senate, a half bushel of ancient judges to replace on his watch, and so what does he do? He reaches into the old trick bag and pulls out another name with a barely visible record, the only shock being that the candidate doesn't wear a skirt (He's supposed to replace the nonentity in a skirt nominated by Reagan, the one who turned out to be yet another liberal weenie mediocrity.)

Nominee John Roberts sounds wired in to the DC establishment, though, according to the Post:

In his years as a lawyer, Roberts, 50, proved himself an affable and measured member of the Washington legal establishment. But his short tenure on the bench has meant fewer written opinions that can be parsed for his philosophy.

"He is a Washington lawyer, a conservative, not an ideologue," said Stuart H. Newberger, a lawyer and self-described liberal Democrat who has argued cases against Roberts.

He put in his time advising the Bush legal team in Florida during the battle over the 2000 presidential election and has often argued conservative positions before the court -- but they can be attributed to clients, not necessarily to him.

That includes a brief he wrote for President George H.W. Bush's administration in a 1991 abortion case, in which he observed that "we continue to believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overruled.

Roberts won the case -- Rust v. Sullivan -- in which the Supreme Court agreed with the administration that the government could require doctors and clinics receiving federal funds to avoid talking to patients about abortion.

When the D.C. Circuit refused to reconsider a three-judge panel's ruling protecting a rare California toad under the Endangered Species Act, Roberts dissented -- gently.

"To be fair," he wrote, the panel "faithfully applied" the circuit court's precedent, but a rehearing would "afford the opportunity to consider alternative grounds for sustaining application of the Act that may be more consistent with Supreme Court precedent."

That's about all we have to go on for now. Few written opinions, an engaging manner, liked by liberals, tactful to excess (if verbiage counts), and no footprints leading to anything as damning as a philosophy. Does the word "stealth" still seem ominously relevant? Oh. And did we mention he went to Harvard and Harvard?

Pardon us for being cynical. We really should have listened to Neal Boortz for once, who told us that Roe v. Wade would never be overturned because the abortion issue is boring, or old hat, or not cool, or doesn't have big tits, or whatever it is that turns Neal on these days besides semiliterate summer interns. How did he put it?

Many "conservatives" are already taking shots at any potential Bush nominees whom they think might not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.  Well .. here's a hint for you.  You can yell, scream, write, march, protest and threaten all you want to.  You can hold your breath until you turn blue and stomp your feet.  Hunger strikes?  Go for it!  Chose [sic] your favorite form of protest and social activism, and while you're doing all of that you can go to the bank on this:  Abortion is never going to become illegal in this country again...  You can destroy appointees who might vote to stem the ever-widening powers of the federal government ... but you will never succeed in making abortion illegal in this country;  unless, that is, you somehow manage somewhere down the line to get the dictatorial theocracy that so many of you so earnestly desire. 

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but our country faces far more important legal and constitutional issues far more crucial and important than giving government the ultimate power to exercise that kind of control over a woman's ovaries.  Come on, folks.  Don't you think that you can figure out a way to turn your obsession over controlling your women-folk into something a bit more constructive?

Let's read the beginning of that last paragraph again. Our country faces far more important legal and constitutional issues far more crucial and important than giving government the ultimate power to exercise that kind of control over a woman's ovaries. [Ever hear of editing, Neal?]

Important. He says it twice, so he must be thinking of something, well, important. Important? Since abortion was found to be a constitutionally granted right in the United States by a 7-2 Supreme Court decision on January 22, 1973, more than 45,000,000 U.S. citizens have been eliminated. For those of short attention span, that toll is up by 600,000 since January of this year.

It took awhile before Americans began to consider these numbers seriously. After all, it's a very difficult quantity to comprehend, a population of the dead unborn so large as to be almost unimaginable in a country that storms and shrieks and weeps for weeks over the fate of one missing teenager. Lack of imagination is probably the most charitable explanation for Neal's attempt to portray abortion opponents as archaic crackpots -- as loony as the flat earthers and UFO abductees. He can only blink his eyes unseeingly at a number that's too big for his mind to process and proceeds instead to imply that those who purport to care about it are men who like to control women. Which seems a mite disrespectful to all the women in the pro-life movement. Or don't they count, Neal? What with being women and all? No good for anything but skimpy tanktops and summer jobs at the radio station?

Well, here's the reality of abortion rendered in terms that even the math-challenged might appreciate.  Americans killed by cash-only OB/GYNs in 32 years outnumber all the war dead of the United States since 1776 -- by a factor of about 40 (that means 40 times as many, Neal.). More Americans are killed every single day that Roe v. Wade remains in force than were killed in the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001. The total number of aborted babies exceeds the population of California, including however many illegal aliens are wandering around there today. The oldest of them would be over 30 by now, having children of their own, and in the economic terms that seem so key to attracting everyone's interest, they'd be adding to the GDP, reducing the budget deficit, buying stuff, and contributing valuable goods and services. On a more personal note, if we had them all here with us, alive, and some terrorist wiped them out in a catastrophic attack, when would the tears ever end?

But they are silent because they never were, and the only tears that are shed are the secret, shamed ones of the women who discover too late that for them a fetus really is a baby and no clinical or activist vocabulary can erase the fact of what
was done. But they cry into their pillows, not the TV cameras, and so what do we hear instead? We hear the yawping of the hateful hardass feminists who can suck up to Bill Clinton but can't stoop to speak honestly about the fate of unborn children. We hear the cackling of bombastic oafs like Boortz who will launch a vendetta to persecute smokers but can't stomach the expression of anyone else's moral principles. And we hear the sing-song women's rights mantra of the mainstream media, who have apparently hypnotized almost everyone into visualizing the issue of abortion as a half-deflated political football to be kicked around every time a Supreme Court starter goes on the disabled list.

Well, there are still a lot of people out in the wide empty wastes of the America between the coasts who hear the phantom heartbeats that will be silenced tomorrow and the day after, and they worked hard to elect a president who would finally nominate some judges smart enough to recognize the "right to life" articulated in the document that gave this country birth.

We hope, on the occasion of this nomination, that George Bush heard the voices of the people who voted for him -- if not those of the people they're trying to protect. We hope that if it comes to a fight, some hardy volunteer will stick a sock in Neal Boortz's mouth before he begins braying like an ass again. Patricia Ireland and Eleanor Smeal were bad enough. But those who call themselves libertarians should realize that only the rule of law separates libertarianism from anarchy as a philosophy, and a law that cannot remember its primary founding principle cannot preserve any liberty in the long run. And those who call themselves conservatives or Republicans should remember that there's no point in governing if winning the next election is more important than fighting for an unchanging principle that's gone out of style.

Who are you, John Roberts? Tell us how you feel about the number. You know the one. 45 million.

UPDATE. Nealz Nuze is already trying to trivalize the abortion aspect of the Roberts nomination. See here and here. It might not hurt to let him know how you feel by email. Mind you watch your spelling and grammar better than he does, though, because he likes reproducing the letters he can ridicule and pretending that all of his critics are rednecks.

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