Thursday, March 30, 2006

Heroes of OEF #2: Michael Teague 

March 31 will mark two years since Americans were shocked by the true savagery of the Iraqi people. The story behind the story is the loss of a brave warrior who had served his nation on the battlefields of Afghanistan before performing private-sector (but every bit as deadly) security work in Iraq.

The day's events started with a food convoy passing through the streets of restive Fallujah. With media gathered around the convoy, Iraqis opened fire into one of the vans, bursting the vehicle in flames. Inside were four Blackwater Security guards: Michael Teague, Scott Helvenston, Jerry Zovko, and Wesley Batalona.

The ambush did not end with the murder of the four guards. The Iraqi savages scooped up the four charred bodies and dragged them through the streets. Two were strung up from a bridge, while the other two met with further desecration. One Iraqi stomped on a charred skull and taunted President Bush. An Iraqi child started to gnaw a charred arm.

When I express my pessimism about Iraqi democracy, I point to the Fallujah atrocities as proof that Iraqis are not mature enough for life without dictatorship. The men are wicked, the women are wicked, and even the children are wicked. When the Marines swept through in November 2004, the savages of Fallujah learned that payback was a bitch.

At the same time, we must always remember the sacrifices of brave men like Michael Teague, who believed that their mission was to protect Iraqi civilians and bring them humanitarian aid (in spite of my personal animosities towards the Iraqis.) Whether in or out of uniform, Michael Teague and his compatriots understood the call to service and believed that their sacrifices would make a difference in healing a war-torn world.

More on Michael Teague
PBS Frontline, on the Fallujah Atrocities
Michael Yon: Scott Helvenston Memorial Scholarship
FOX News on the four guards

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

All Carrot, No Stick 

That's the way I feel about the immigration bill being considered by the full Senate. While we need to reward immigrants who follow our immigration laws, we should also punish the illegals who break them. Unfortunately, the Senate has caved into the staggering immigrant protests and the tidal wave of political correctness.

Part of the "Homeland Security" concept is knowing who is in your country, and properly screening all people who choose to enter the country. Illegal immigration circumvents this entire process and creates a channel for terrorist and criminal infiltration of the United States. For those legal immigrants who have gone through our immigration and naturalization process, I reserve for them a great admiration for the sacrifices they have made to aid this country and eventually become Americans.

But for those who have avoided the nets of justice and law, we should not show any mercy. Illegal immigrants are felons, period. They should not receive any leniency. If an illegal immigrant wants to become a citizen, he or she should be forced to admit wrongdoing and pay a fine. American businesses that knowingly hire illegal migrants should be shut down, and their owners put in jail. The US must send the message that illegal immigration will not be tolerated.

Congress is too afraid to really penalize illegal immigrants and their employers. They are afraid to deputize citizens who want to enforce our borders. They know the economic impact of sending immigrants back home and trying to fill many demeaning jobs with Americans who think they are too good for that type of work. They are afraid that they will be viewed as anti-Hispanic if they support attempts to control our porous southern border.

Perhaps we can take some solace in the fact that expanded guest worker programs will make it easier for people to enter this country legally. And it will be neat to see unmanned aerial vehicles scanning our borders. Still, I do not expect much change in the unregulated stream of immigrants across our borders. Nor do I expect a change in the president's approval ratings on the immigration issue. The extreme right will still be clamoring for an impractical border fence, while the extreme left will be pushing for expanded rights for illegals, like drivers' licenses. It's a no-win situation, and the average American is the big loser in the current immigration debate.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Lying for Jihad 

One core belief of the jihadists is that lying to infidels is perfectly acceptable, so long as it advances their cause of spreading militant Islam. Over the past two days, we've had to absorb too many jihadist lies.

Yesterday, there was a gunbattle in the Sadr (aka Saddam) City slum of Baghdad. Moqtada al Sadr and his allies in the Iraqi Interior Ministry were quick to claim that American soldiers stormed a Shiite mosque and killed 30 worshippers. Some time thereafter, US Central Command denied the story and reported that Iraqi Special Forces, operating under US supervision, had killed 18 insurgents and seized enemy weapons caches, while entering no mosques. Which version is correct? The US account is more plausible, upon viewing the past hesitance we have shown in conducting military operation against mosques (even when al Sadr has been holed up in a holy shrine.) Al Sadr has used his newspaper over the past two and a half years to convince Shiites that the US, and not Sunni extremists, were responsible for bombings against Shiite civilians. Which account is true, which is a lie meant to advance the cause of jihad? What is going to be believed in the west (except for the America-haters,) and what will be believed in the streets of Beirut and Baghdad after seeing the reports on al Jazeera?

Today, would-be kamikazee Zacharias Moussaoui dropped a bombshell in court: that he and Richard Reid had planned on hijacking a fifth plane on 9/11 and crashing into the White House. He lied to investigators to prevent them from unravelling the larger 9/11 plot.

If Moussaoui is to be believed, then he too lied to advance the cause of Jihad. If his current confession is a lie (indicating that he was intended not for the 9/11 attacks, but for a second wave of hijackings after the 9/11 attacks,) then it serves the purpose of "winning" the death penalty and serving the cause of martyrdom.

The US is doing a poor job of waging the information war. It needs to get inside the enemy's propaganda loop and make press releases, in both Arabic and Western outlets, before the enemy can. It has to use facts and photographs to create overwhelming evidence in the face of enemy lies. It must also avoid making jihadists into martyrs; Moqtada al Sadr should be discredited at all costs; Zacharias Moussaoui should spend the rest of his life in a place away from public view where his cornhole will be pounded into oblivion on a daily basis.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Leaving Afghanistan 

This week, Afghanistan has been laid bare as the country it really is rather than the fantasy that our leaders want to believe in. It is still a warlord-dominated wasteland where the strictest interpretation of Islam is both the law of the land and the will of the people. It is a place where neither America's military might nor its nation-building abilities can change the wicked hearts of the people. It is time for America to leave Afghanistan.

Of course, Osama bin Laden and his ilk will view American departure as a major victory, and an opportunity to increase the training of global jihadists from the reclaimed Afghan lands. At the same time, its disputable whether bin Laden ever really "lost" Afghanistan. While he was denied access to Afghan territory for training his followers in the schools of irregualr warfare and terrorism, his philosophies remained alive in the hearts of the Afghans. A democracy can be imposed by America, but it will always reflect the values of the host society instead of the American goals.

The fight against al Qaeda in Pakistan will remain important, and Pervez Musharraf must be placated for any further success to be seen. At the same time, Afghanistan must be contained before bin Laden can re-exert his influence. America must maintain Afghan allies who can report the wherabouts and activities of terror leaders, and should vigorously promote cash prizes for the killings of leaders like bin Laden.

America should also maintain its own striking arm from the island of Diego Garcia and the countries around Afghanistan. If we learn of new terror camps in Afghanistan, send the B-52's in to perform area bombing. If leadership targets can be found, hit them with precision B-1 strikes.

All American soldiers and Marines should be home from Afghanistan by October 1, 2006. Throw them a ticker-tape parade in New York City to celebrate their accomplishments. March the parade past ground zero, so that the jihadists can reflect on the fact that payback in Afghanistan for 9/11 was a bitch. NATO forces will be withdrawn according to the wishes of the combined NATO membership, but this should occur shortly after the American withdrawal. Give Afghan president Hamid Karzai our public blessing, with secret knowledge that he has little power to civilize the untamable Afghan nation.

America will gain nothing from futile attempts at nation-building in Afghanistan. The answer is frequent, punitive military strikes against Afghanistan to prevent the massing of jihadists in their old stomping grounds.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Love Thy Enemy? 

Another hostage crisis ends in Iraq, as "Christian Peacekeepers" have been rescued from their Muslim captors by "Illegal Occupiers"--American and British soldiers.

The national organization Christian Peacekeeper Teams is still unapologetic, blaming the US for all of the violence in Iraq and whining about detained insurgent suspects who haven't seen their day in court (there's a war going on, and these weenies are worried about rights for illegal combatants. Sheesh.) That's a novel idea--it's America's fault that the Iraqis choose to act like savages after we took out their dictator. Whatever happened to Christian doctrine regarding free will?

Excluding these naive pacifists, mainstream Christians must examine what it means to "love thy enemy" and how far they must go in doing so. Christians should certainly pray for their enemies. Christians should forgive those enemies who can express mutual forgiveness. But it is illogical, naive, and suicidal for Christians to love an enemy who believes in the virtues of killing Christians and destroying everything that Christians stand for.

At night, I pray that all Muslims will see the true nature of our loving God who wants us to bring His love into His kingdom. I pray that the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan can discover peaceful coexistance between warring factions, and estabish governments that respect human dignity. I pray that all Muslims will, in time, reject the teachings of the false prophet and realize that the only real happiness can be found through walking in the ways of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Republican Suicides 

Just when I thought the Illinois Republican Party had a shot of getting its act together and claiming a statewide seat with any prominence, the party has found a way to implode yet again. Yesterday, Illinois voters made Judy Baar Topinka its candidate to face Governor Rod Blagojevich in this November's general election.

At one point in time, Republicans controlled all major positions in Illinois's executive branch. That all changed when the corruption of George Ryan (who had been secretary of state during most of the 90's) were exposed during his term as governor. The party fragmented; Judy Baar Topinka, as party chairperson, did not distance the party from the corrupt governor during his lackluster four years in office. Republicans were trounced in the 2002 general election. The last of the prominent Republicans, US Senator Peter Fitzgerald, decided he was done with politics and did not seek re-election in 2004.

It was the 2004 Senate race that further eroded the IL Republicans and exposed the ineptitude of Judy Baar Topinka. Republican candidate Jack Ryan was accused of taking his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, to Paris sex clubs. If anything, Ryan could have benefitted from the "Clinton Factor," as voters would have wanted to make a pimp-daddy like Ryan their Senator. Instead, Topinka used the scandal as an excuse to dump Ryan, who was sagging in the polls. Ryan's replacement was Alan Keyes, a right-wing extremist who was steamrolled by the wildly popular (and wildly liberal) Barack Obama.

The point of inflection has not been reached yet, but it's coming soon. I'm certain that Republicans smell victory, with Rod Blagojevich saddled with his own scandals. But I'd rather vote for "Rowdy Roddy" Blagojevich than the woman who has destroyed the "Party of Lincoln" in the Land of Lincoln. Perhaps Judy Baar Topinka needs a first-hand taste of defeat to realize that her rudderless leadership is no longer welcome in the Illinois Republican Party.

After Topinka is trounced this November, Illinois Republicans need to regroup around the last Republican from that state to win a high-profile office: Peter Fitzgerald. He's an independent-minded legislator whose best ideological ally was John McCain. Hopefully Fitzgerald can lure other disaffected Republicans like Jim Edgar and Jack Ryan back into the fray. In 2008, Democratic Senator Dick "The US is worse than Pol Pot" Durbin comes up for his third election. It would be a shame if Republican electoral incompetence gave him another six years.

So why are we in Afghanistan? 

I've been sent over the edge after finding out that Afghanistan is putting a Christian on trial because he converted from Islam. The US government and the president have said they are troubled by this development. I think that's the understatement of the century.

It appears that Afghan prosecutors are going to cop out of this trial by finding Abdul Rahman not guilty by reason of insanity (although he doesn't seem crazy to me.) While Rahman will avoid death if this comes to pass, it doesn't solve Afghanistan's problems with religious intolarance. The Afghans should look no further than the Christians, Jews, and other non-Muslims who freed that country from the Taliban to understand why.

Afghanistan's Sharia-based government is only a marginal improvement over the Taliban. While the brutality is diminished, the oppressive laws are the same. My America should have no part in a country that oppresses Christianity.

We must give the Afghans an ultimatum. We will not stand for their intolerant and oppressive form of government. If they do not show any meaningful reform, then the US and NATO will withdraw from Afghanistan by October 1, 2006, and leave the country in the hands of the Taliban and other Islamist warlords.

Such a move may seem like America is cutting off its nose to spite its face. Yes, we leave ourselves vulnberable to a regrouped al Qaeda if we leave Afghanistan. The spectre of nuclear deterrence must be invoked again, as it was during the Cold War, to contain the Jihadists to their theocratic dictatorships and ward off attacks against the United States.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Dream Team 

Although the next presidential election is over two years away, that hasn't stopped the pollsters from predicting who the next president will be. When the dust settles in November 2008, I want to see John McCain as the president-elect and Rudolph Giuliani as vice president-elect. When put together, they are a team stronger than the '85 Chicago Bears, the '92 Olympic Dream Team, and Batman & Robin combined.

McCain and Giuliani agree on most of the important issues, and compliment each other on the less-important issues. McCain and Giuliani are both decisive leaders (an important trait in a presidential candidate, especially after the Hurricane Katrina debacle.) They advocate a strong defense and a proactive fight against worldwide jihad. Both are strong fiscal conservatives, with McCain earning a reputation for fighting pork while serving in the US Senate.

On social issues, McCain and Giuliani combine to take a moderate stance. McCain is very conservative on abortion issues, while Giuliani's stance is pretty liberal by Republican standards. Some hardcore right-wingers have a problem not only with Giuliani's social positions, but his life choices (like moving in with his girlfriend before his divorce was finalized.) McCain also ruffled a lot of right-wing feathers by putting the breaks on the president's petty amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

In spite of some opposition from more extreme elements of the Republican party, I think McCain or Giuliani could easily wrap up the primaries. FOX's poll showed that 80% of Republicans would still vote for McCain in a general election (while only 70% of Democrats would vote for front-runner Hillary Clinton.) And Giuliani, despite being more liberal on certain issues, is still the favorite amongst Republicans in the FOX poll.

Besides McCain or Giuliani, who else can the Republicans run? Bill Frist has had an undistinguished run as Senate majority leader, save his brinksmanship regarding judicial nominations. Newt Gingrich may try for a politcal comeback, but he's a dark horse with a lot of catching up to do. And George Allen? Who the hell is George Allen?

The only question is whether it should be McCain or Giuliani running as president. I would favor McCain, because he has experience legislating on a national level (whereas a big-city mayor has never become president without national-level experience.) I'd also go with McCain because he's more conservative on abortion issues. But there's nothing that would make Rudy unqualified to be president.

So my vote for the 2008 elections is settled. John McCain, the man who should have been president in 2001, will be my president. Rudy Giuliani, who was "America's Mayor" in 2001, will be my vice-president. If only we had these choices back in 2000, imagine how much better we would be (as a nation) today. Nevertheless, it's not too late to make these great leaders president during the next election.

Monday, March 20, 2006

So this is liberation... 

In Afghanistan, a man faces execution for abandoning Islam to adopt Christianity. It's enough to convince me that Afghan "democracy" is a farce. The basic freedoms we take for granted in America mean nothing in Afghanistan, or in any country that embraces the Sharia.

I get burned up thinking of the sacrificies we have made to overthrow autocrats in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to see the people of those countries turn to new autocrats. The story illustrates one of Michael Scheuer's points in Imperial Hubris: the Afghans are fanatics who will ultimately turn to Islamist strongmen and Sharia courts for governance.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Good Riddance to Bad Slogans 

"Bush lied, people died." It's a favorite mantra of the president's critics and anti-war activists. But the truth is actually setting the Bush administration free. While the extreme left will never quit their chanting, the mainstream is beginning to see the persuasiveness of Saddam's deceptions and understand why the US Government came to the conclusions it did.

The release of documents captured in Iraq and Afghanistan, foolishly delayed by the White House and the National Intelligence Directorate for too long, has immediately payed off. America now knows that Saddam was lied to by his scientists (afraid that they would be killed for their failures, but eager to earn more research money for perceived successes) about the status of WMD research efforts.

We also know that Saddam lied to the generals who were entrusted with Iraq's defense. Imagine being an Iraqi general and sitting on years' worth of war plans for hitting the infidels with Mustard Gas and Sarin when they get within 20 miles of Baghdad. Then, just three months before the infidels are supposed to strike, your president tells you that there is no mustard gas or Sarin to be had. All of the Iraqi defense strategies had been built on a lie. Saddam wanted to deter aggression with claims of WMD's, while trying to gain international acceptance by claiming that all WMD's had been destroyed.

Saddam's scizophrenic strategy grew from the hubris that destroyed him. He was too proud to ask for international protection from Israel, Iran or the US; he couldn't admit to the world that he was defenseless; and yet, he was willing to let his people suffer in spite of disarming in accordance with UN resolutions, just because he wanted to maintain the ruse. In the end, Saddam was disarmed and defeated, while his people bore the brunt of it. He lost an idiot's gambit.

The Democrats who had shut down the Senate to demand an investigation of manipulated intelligence have been quiet as of late. Saddam's ruse isn't "something a seven-year old could have figured out," as Michael Moore once shouted, but a convincing charade that fooled Iraq's military leadership (including Uday Hussein,) the leaders of the major Western powers, the leaders of Israel and Arab governments, and three US presidents. It worked all too well, as Saddam is now in prison instead of the palace where he would be if he had come clean years ago.

Petrodollars and the future of Iraq 

What is the key to stability and peace in the middle east? It can be summed up in one word: petrodollars.

The most peaceful and stable of middle eastern nations have many similarities: an abundance of oil wealth, a welfare state to spread that wealth to its people, and economies that rely on Indian, Pakistani, Filipino, and other third-country nationals for labor. Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates all fit that bill. Even Saudi Arabia falls into this category, despite fears about the long-term prospects for the Saudi welfare state.

The most unstable nations in the region are also the ones without the oil-based welfare states. Yemen, Jordan, and the Palestinians fall in this category. The Jordanian economy was based on oil smuggling from Iraq during the era of sanctions. Perhaps the Palestinians wouldn't be so willing to fight the Israelis if they weren't dirt-poor.

Stability in Iraq will hinge on rebuilding Iraq's oil industry and on sharing the oil profits equitably amongst all Iraqis. One of the motivations behind the Sunni insurgency is that the oil wealth is concentrated in the Kurdish and Shiite areas of the country, and the Sunnis have no faith that, as a minority in the new government, they will see any of the prosperity that oil can bring.

The outlook for Iraq's oil industry is not rosy at present. Saddam Hussein invested little in his country's infrastructure during the 80's, when all of his nation's resources were devoted to fighting the Iranians. The oil infrastructure deteriorated even further after the sanctions that accompanied the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. While French and Russian firms inked contracts to rebuild Iraq's oil industry, no work was actually done due to continued sanctions through 2003.

While Saddam Hussein is no longer an obstacle to Iraq's oil industry, the insurgency he left behind is an ever-growing threat. The insurgents are no fools, and they know how important oil is to stability in Iraq. Their attacks have diminished Iraqi oil production to levels lower than those seen under the Oil-For-Food program. It doesn't help that American planners had no idea how badly deteriorated Iraq's oil infrastructure was until American forces had taken the country.

The wisest use of American reconstruction dollars and firepower would be the protection and expansion of Iraqi oil infrastructure. If there is one truism in the middle east, it's that the people don't care what kind of government they have, as long as there are plenty of petrodollars to go around.

Biting the Hand that Feeds 

I caught Ahmed Chalabi on CNN this morning when Wolf Blitzer asked him, "Who do you think is responsible for messing up post war Iraq? I want you to name names." It seemed like a loaded question, but Chalabi's answer was even more audacious.

"Since he wrote a book, I would have to say Jerry Bremer."

Bremer will probably go down in the history books primarily for his decision to disband the Iraqi army. While it has proven to be short-sighted, the decision was made for logical reasons, especially towards winning the trust of Kurds and Shiites. But it must be noted that when the Iraqi army was disbanded, Ahmed Chalabi supported that decision. He wanted to fully be-Baathify the country and start from a clean slate. The remnants of the Baath party and Iraqi army have not gone softly into the night.

Chalabi attacked Bremer for other decisions, such as focusing on Moqtada al Sadr. While I think Bremer set a bad precedent by ordering the shutdown of al Sadr's newspaper (and sparking the Sadr City revolts,) it must be recognized that al Sadr was always an opportunistic egomaniac who wanted to become the leader of the Anti-American movement in Iraq. Chalabi has made nice with al Sadr and views Moqtada as his meal ticket for future political gains.

By now, Ahmed Chalabi should have zero credibility amongst the American public. He is not a "hero in error," as he once put it. He's a heartless bastard who would sacrifice American soldiers and Marines to fulfil his fantasy of being the "George Washington of Iraq." Even if he is blameless in the "Curveball" debacle, his organization fed us an unending stream of liars (like Khidir Hamza) to make the case for weapons of mass destruction and make his war a reality. While Chalabi played the US Government like a harp in the past, it's time for Chalabi to face the music.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Operation Iraqi Dictatorship 

Nearly three years after Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched, American pundits are trying to analyze how Iraq has changed and whether the Iraqis are better off. Being an American who is primarily interested in how America benefits from Iraq's metamorphosis, I must conclude that America is worse off for replacing a dictatorship with anarchy and naively trying to bring democracy to a land that embraces few, if any, democratic principles.

As a person of intellectual honesty, I will never try to downplay the threat that Saddam Hussein posed to the US, whether it be through his conventional military forces, his support for Jihadists of all stripes (particularly Palestinians and North Africans,) and his hibernating WMD programs. What I will say is that the prospects for a stable Iraq after Saddam were never good to begin with, and the security benefits of a Saddam-free world are far outweighed by the hornet's nest of terrorism that Iraq has become.

Insurgencies are wars of intelligence. To conduct proper counterinsurgency operations, counterinsurgent forces must know who the bad guys are, know when they will strike, and act before they can strike. The US cannot infiltrate Iraqi society to gather this actionable intelligence due to obvious ethnic and cultural divisions. This task must fall on the Iraqis. They have the choice of either providing the Americans and Iraqi Army with actionable intelligence, or they can form a secret police force (ala Saddam's secret police) to spy on the citizens and acquire this information. Up until now, they have effectively done neither.

The Iraqis have shown themselves to be timid and downright spineless when they have needed to be brave. A society not willing to take governance and security into its own hands (instead of expecting them to come from an outside military force) is not able to sustain a democratic republic. The answer, in the short term, is for Iraq to become an authoritarian police state to crush the insurgency. Only when stability is achieved can the vestiges of democracy evolve.

There are two methods to achieve stability in Iraq. The first is to consolidate the Prime Minister's power and re-establish a police state that is a democracy in name only. The other is a military coup against Iraq's ineffectual parliament by its growing Army.

The strengthening of the Prime Ministership does not look viable at this time. Iraq certainly had the potential for strong leadership under the secular Iyad Allawi. Current President Jalal Talibani also appears to be forceful and proactive. However, current Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari has been anything but decisive. His weakness has not made an impact on the insurgency, and worse, he has turned a blind eye to the growth of Shiite militias that are infiltrating the government and creating the grounds for civil war. For these reasons, destabilizing figures like Moqtada al Sadr have done their part to retain al Jafaari as leader.

At the same time, the Iraqi Army has been trained by the US and its allies; it has not been infiltrated by militias to the degree that the Iraqi police and the Interior Ministry have been infiltrated. The biggest downfall of the Iraqi Army is their low experience levels and their poor motivation. While the Army can gain experience fighting insurgents (at the expense of US advisors taking casualties,) it can't shake the fact that its biggest motivation is money rather than nationalism.

Wisely, the administration has framed the US role in Iraq as training its Army and buying the fledgling government time until the Iraqi Army is ready to protect it. But an added benefit is that new leaders for Iraq may arise out of its new Army. If the government proves to be ineffectual, a military junta may be a necessary evil to restore a degree of stability to an unstable country and region.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Smartest "Snub" of All 

Jessica Simpson reconsidered her previous decision to attend a Republican fundraiser and meet with the president. Does this count as a "snub," as the media is calling it? Is it harmful to the president? The Republicans? The pop star?

In actuality, turning the fundraiser down is probably the smartest thing Jessica Simpson has done in a long time (certainly smarter than the "buffalo wings" confusion.) She has done a very classy and very commercially-safe thing by avoiding a Republican fundraiser. It's well-known that Jessica Simpson is a Bush supporter; yet she does not use her art (and I use the term "art" loosely) to promote the president or Republican causes. She plays it safe and keeps politics out of her public persona, avoiding the problems that haunt the Warren Beattys, Barbara Streisands, and Martin Sheens of Hollywood.

This is especially important when Jessica Simpson is speaking on behalf of her charity, which promotes reconstructive surgery for needy children. Meeting the president mano-a-mano to discuss the charity is constructive; linking the charity to partisan fundraising is destructive.

At the same time, Republicans should downplay Jessica Simpson's relationship with the party. Republicans suffer from the perception they are less intellectual than Democrats; the involvement of Jessican Simpson will only make things worse.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Death or Life? 

I'm really undecided about the Zacharias Moussaoui sentencing trial and what punishment the would-be hijacker should receive.

Part of me wants to see Moussaoui locked up with all the common criminals. While the people in prison may have done very bad things, most of them will see Moussaoui as the enemy. They will bash his face in and rape him on a daily basis. My guiding principle in punishing Islamic militants is to treat them in a way offensive to their values. Nothing is more offensive to a Muslim than repeated acts of sodomy.

At the same time, I fear that Moussaoui is a bigger threat behind bars. The Wahhabists have infiltrated the prison chaplains, and Islamic chaplains are recruiting the future jihadists of America in our nation's prisons (case in point: Jose Padilla.) Moussaoui will only rally the jihadists if he is allowed to mingle with the common prisoners.

I see no point in tasting taxpayer dollars keeping Moussaoui alive in a maximum security prison if he's not being beaten and raped. It's either a normal prison or death for Moussaoui. There should be no middle ground.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Scientology is a Succubus 

After nearly nine years of voicing "Chef" on South Park, Isaac Hayes is quitting the role due to the show's depiction of religion--specifically, the Scientology practiced by Hayes and other celebrities.

Show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone had to see this one coming when they made the infamous "Trapped in the Closet" episode, which savaged Scientology in general and Tom Cruise in particular. At the same time, Chef had been playing a diminishing role in the series up to that point.

South Park has routinely had fun at the expense of religion. The 1999 episodes "Do the Handicapped Go To Hell?" and its sequel "Probably," 2002's "Red Hot Catholic Love," and 2003's "All About Mormons" have all had fun at the expense of various religions. The only time I feel that the show crossed a line was 2002's "Red Sleigh Down," when the Iraqis killed Jesus as he attempted to rescue Santa from their clutches.

The business about Issac Hayes quitting reminds me of an early episode where Chef marries a woman who is secretly a succubus, insidiously changing Chef into a person he is not. "What's a succubus?" the children ask. The response they get: "A woman sent from Hell to suck the life out of a man." Scientology has truly sucked the humor out of Issac Hayes (and the sanity out of Tom Cruise.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Blinded By The Left 

The New York Times has a fascinating article about Saddam Hussein's prewar planning that left Iraq ill-prepared for the American onslaught. I'm most intrigued by the belief, shared by Saddam and his top military leaders, that the US would seize Iraq's southern oil fields and then halt. After we took the oil fields, then what? The international community would not stand for that (then again, they weren't too pleased with anything we have done in Iraq.) We couldn't annex or occupy southern Iraq, and we couldn't cede it to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. My only thought is that Saddam was "blinded by the left" in America, who claimed that we came to Iraq predominantly so Halliburton could steal its oil.

If we really wanted the oil that badly, why continue with the sanctions which restricted oil sales and prevented American companies from doing business with the Iraqi Oil Ministry? We could have taken the weasel (Franco-Russian) way out, and struck reconstruction contracts with the Iraqi Oil Ministry in exchange for opposing the sanctions.

At this juncture in Iraqi history, jump-starting Iraq's oil industry is vital for an eventual US exit from Iraq. That will be a subject for a future post.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Back in January, I expressed my belief that the kidnapped "Christian Peacekeeper Team" in Iraq was a setup designed to gain support for the insurgents' demands. I was wrong. Tom Fox was killed by his captors.

The humane reaction would be to express sympathy for Mr. Fox. However, I can be a sadistic son-of-a-bitch, and today I feel like being sadistic. I have no respect for Mr. Fox or his "Christian Peacemaker" compatriots because they have defamed the men and women of our armed forces with unfounded accusations of torture and illegal detention. Talk to our soldiers and Marines and find out what kind of people they are. They serve because they have honor and a sense of duty. While in Iraq, they understand the value of "winning hearts and minds" and want to see Iraqis living in peace with each other. Torture is not the policy of the United States, and its armed forces overwhelmingly condemn it.

Tom Fox's execution underscores the real abuse of the Geneva Conventions and human rights: unlawful combatants (terrorists) are abducting nonconbatants, subjecting them to public humiliation, detaining them without trial, and executing them. Fox and his compatriots supported the insurgent cause of "liberating" Iraq from "the great white Satan." Tom Fox has received an appeaser's reward from a lawless ally.

Scorched-Sand Warfare 

In the fallout of the UAE ports defeat, we are left to wonder how the Emirates will react. They are undoubtedly angry over the justified rejection of Dubai Ports World; it remains to be seen whether that anger will escalate into a trade war. It's already rumored that the Emirates will drop orders for Boeing planes and buy from rival AIrbus instead. It's easy to see things escalating far beyond that.

Should the Boeing buy be dropped, the US can strike back. The F-16 fighter jets and AH-64 attack helicopters that the Emirates want so badly can be embargoed. Oil, the economic lifeblood of the UAE, can be embargoed, though not without economic damage to the US. The OPEC cartel ensures that a single nation's oil trade cannot be embargoed.

Does the UAE need the US more than the US needs the UAE? I am inclined to believe that the UAE is in the weaker position, although the US cannot escape this relationship without incurring devastating economic damage. Back-channel diplomacy (and lucrative trade offers in other sectors) is the only way to terminate the ports debacle without spreading the ill-will to the rest of the US-UAE relationship.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

George Bush's Land of Confusion 

The band Genesis had a hit twenty years ago with Land of Confusion. Equally noteworthy is the music video for the song, which used a multitude of deformed puppets to lampoon President Reagan and other political figures from his era. Looking back, Genesis's criticisms of President Reagan were not borne out. Yet if the video for Land of Confusion were filmed in 2006 using a George W. Bush puppet, it would seem even more relevant than the real video from 1986.

Back in the 80's, the left tore into Reagan and accused him of being the cause for the impending World War III. Yet Reagan stood firm and relied on a "strategery" that was too advanced for his critics to understand. He took a hard-line against Soviet hardliners like Brezhnev and Andropov. He adopted a much softer stance when a softie (Gorbachev) took the reins of power. Reagan viewed Communism as a dying ideology, and hastened it by driving the Soviet Union into bankruptcy. Bogged down by a war in Afghanistan and having to match US capabilities in defense and space, the Soviet economy could stand no more. The Berlin Wall would fall just three years after the music video was aired.

It would now appear that Osama bin Laden is taking strategy advice from Reagan and fiscally bleeding the US to death. Our standing in Iraq is not dissimilar to the Soviet position in Afghanistan, and there is a very real possibility that history will repeat itself. The world seems closer to worldwide conflict and even a nuclear exchange (involving Pakistan, Iran or North Korea) than it ever did during the Reagan era.

The allusion to the failed "Superman" in the song is an apt description of the current president. While he tries to be the cartoon do-gooder who brings freedom to the Iraqis, reality is much harsher. He certainly appeared to be Superman in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, but within four years he appeared feeble and powerless as hurricanes devastated the nation. Six months later, his abilities are even more in doubt. He can't even get America to accept a Dubai-based company running six American ports. The president has met his kryptonite. While the Democrats continue to offer us "Bizarro" leaders, America cries out for a real hero to save the day.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Why we need Gitmo 

Time.com has gone into more detail than most people would care to know, by publishing the raw interrogation log of Mohammed al-Qahtani, the 20th hijacker who was turned away in August 2001, only to be picked up in Afghanistan. The document details the techniques used by the prisoner (hunger strikes, pleading ignorance, violence against interrogators, asking for prayer time, and even crying) to resist his interrogators.

At the same time, the interrogators follow a methodical but restrained process to break his resistance down. At no time do the interrogators descend into what a reasonable person can call abuse. A doctor is constantly present to monitor the prisoner's vital signs. While the US has come under fire for intravenously force-feeding prisoners (as occurs in this instance,) there is no concensus on whether it is more cruel to force-feed a prisoner on a hunger strike or to allow that person to die.

Due in large part to the guilt by association from Abu Ghuraib (plus the erroneous reporting of Michael Isikoff, and the Gitmo propaganda being spread by Fidel Castro,) the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has a bad reputation that does nor represent what actually goes on there. On this front, the US is losing the public relations war. Perhaps a shot of transparency, such as the report obtained by Time Magazine, can help turn the tide.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Get A-CLU 

The founder of Domino's Pizza wants to create a Catholic utopia (please, no references to Thomas More...)

Frankly, I can't see why anybody would want to live in a porn-free society. Still, you'll have some people who could go for that kind of thing.

Nonetheless, groups like the ACLU are already protesting. I guess that everybody should be free from the "corrupting" influence of Catholic/Christian virtue. Perhaps the ACLU should realize that choice is an American civil liberty; they selectively feel that abortion should be a choice, but they don't think people should have the choice of living in a planned community that reflects their values.

If the ACLU is going to selectively choose which freedoms are worth fighting for (in particular, the freedoms that run against traditional American values,) how can they be trusted to fight for all freedoms? It would seem that the ACLU doesn't want a truly libertarian society; they just want a left-wing version of Big Brother.

In that sense, the ACLU is worse than the "oppressive" Domino's founder. At least the founder of Domino's isn't forcing anybody to live by his rules. Nonetheless, I would not be surprised if he falls victim to a smear campaign.


A news story can arise from the suppression of an earlier news story. In particular, CBS News made more news by squashing a lead story about Improvised Explosive Devices in Iraq. The retraction came at the Pentagon's request. Predictably, there was a slew of fingers being pointed by the left, accusing the Pentagon of censorship.

Is the Pentagon guilty of censoring stories about IED's? Definitely. Is the Pentagon wrong to censor these stories? Absolutely not.

If the media wanted to, it could try to report every gristly detail of every IED attack: the means of concealing the bomb, the type of detonator used, the type of explosives used, the shrapnel contained in the bomb, and the type of damage it caused when it exploded. This level of detail in the reporting is rarely seen, even though the military knows all of it from its after-action reports.

Disclosure of this information tells the enemy many things. It tells them what effects their weapons are having, what they can do to improve their effectiveness, and what we Americans are doing to defeat their advances. When we reveal too much about IED's, American boys and girls come home in body bags. Journalists who fail to draw the line here are letting their profession get ahead of their basic ethics and morals.

There has only been one instance where a positive effect could have come from talking about IED's: the armor-piercing IED's that are allegedly being build with Iranian aid. If Iran wanted to aid the insurgency and supply "Jihad Joe" with the deadliest IED's seen in Iraq, it would want to keep it a secret to maintain plausible deniability. By publicly insinuating Iranian involvement, the US and UK are warning Iran to knock it off. Have we seen less armor-piercing IED's in Iraq since the August accusations were made? Again, the Pentagon is being mum on the subject; but I would not be surprised if we've seen a reduction in these types of bombs.

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