"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out." - William Tecumseh Sherman

Name: The General
Location: Sacramento, California, United States


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-> Cox and Forkum - Civil Obedience

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-> The Greatest Threat to Representative Government?

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-> Filibusters and Defections

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11/21/2004 - 11/28/2004

11/28/2004 - 12/05/2004

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12/26/2004 - 01/02/2005

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03/06/2005 - 03/13/2005

03/13/2005 - 03/20/2005

03/20/2005 - 03/27/2005

03/27/2005 - 04/03/2005

04/03/2005 - 04/10/2005

04/10/2005 - 04/17/2005

04/17/2005 - 04/24/2005

07/03/2005 - 07/10/2005

Saturday, October 02, 2004
  Jay Nordlinger's Take on the Debate
Jay Nordlinger from National Review Online wrote a wonderful piece full of examples emphasizing Bush's utter failure to capitalize on the debate. There's lots of juicy details here, and it is truly shameful that we have a president who is such an ignoramus. While I'm not fond of either candidate, Nordlinger truly loves Bush, and so I applaud his honesty and courage to call Bush's performance a dismal failure. So many on the right (especially Sean Hannity, Karen Hughes and Rush Limbaugh) are trying to spin this debate any way they can to make Bush come out on top. Nordlinger puts them to shame - as my mother used to tell me, tell the truth and shame the devil. If Kerry gets elected President in November, I will laugh for hours. Bush could have ended him last night, if he had had the intelligence, the knowledge or the ability to form a complete thought (let alone a complete sentence). Here's a great little soundbyte from the article:
I thought Kerry did very, very well; and I thought Bush did poorly — much worse than he is capable of doing. Listen: If I were just a normal guy — not Joe Political Junkie — I would vote for Kerry. On the basis of that debate, I would. If I were just a normal, fairly conservative, war-supporting guy: I would vote for Kerry. On the basis of that debate.

And I promise you that no one wants this president reelected more than I. I think that he may want it less.

Let me phrase one more time what I wish to say: If I didn't know anything — were a political naïf, being introduced to the two candidates for the first time — I would vote for Kerry. Based on that infernal debate.

Bush was weary — harmfully weary, I think. He let a million opportunities go by. You can't exploit them all, no. We all kick ourselves, after some public performance. But Kerry, it seemed to me, let not one opportunity go by. And he perceived some that I hadn't caught.

Yeah, he screwed up a couple of times: got the "break it, buy it" line wrong; said "Treblinka" instead of "Lubyanka." But that was small beer.
Friday, October 01, 2004
  US Forces Attack Samara
From Reuters:
U.S.-led forces stormed Samarra Friday and said nearly 100 guerrillas were killed in air strikes and street-to-street combat during a major new American offensive to wrest control of the Iraqi town.

Hopefully this offensive will retake Samara. Though I've been critical of Bush, if he were to reverse his cowardly position in Iraq, it would definitely bring into question my support for Kerry. If he wins here and moves on to Fallujah, we might just win the peace in Iraq.
  Communism Works!
The Chicago Tribune reports on the current energy "shortage" in communist Cuba. Like its predecessors, Cuba has not brought prosperity, but instead made the people destitute.
  Bush v. Kerry: Round One
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by last nights debate. I was certain that Kerry would lose the debate, and Bush would appear confident and steadfast. For whatever reason, it was exactly the opposite. Kerry appeared magnanimous, confident and certain of his positions and their validity. Bush by contrast looked tired, irritated and out of it. There seemed to be a great deal of unconfidence on the part of the President, as if he himself didn't believe in his policies.

Every time Kerry would fire off a criticism, Bush would respond hastily, as if he trying to convince himself that Kerry was wrong. Kerry by contrast handled each criticism by the president with a sense of ease, as if he found the cringing creature across from him amusing and of no threat. I couldn't believe it. Furthermore, Bush spoke ineloquently and unintelligibly. He repeated the same old slogans several times, as if he didn't have the intellect to do anything other than mouth lines written for him. Kerry by contrast repeatedly reformulated the same points, highlighting his own speaking abilities.

What makes the whole spectacle so amusing (and so revealing of our President's own ineptitude) was that Kerry won in spite of his own platform. Bush had several opportune moments to criticize the Senator's remarks; but instead of exuding confidence and charging, Bush dug in and looked desperate to defend himself against the attacks of John Kerry. Most polls that have come out have labeled Kerry the winner.

Also interesting, I watched a few progams post-debate, and was struck by Bush's supporters. They all declared that Bush was completely victorious in the debate. At best, they admitted that Kerry looked good. But they all stressed that Kerry kept flip-flopping, and seemed extremely agitated. I'm no fan of Kerry, who certainly has made ambiguous statements in the media. But last night Kerry was polished, poised and completely confident in his assertions. The democratic commentators, by contrast, appeared serene and bemused by their counterparts. For them, it was enough to point to the angry, irritated and unconfident Bush, and contrast him with Kerry.

All in all, I think this is a terrible blow for Bush; he had the chance to end John Kerry last night and instead at best tied his contender. And this was on Bush's strongest turf. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next three debates. Vice President Cheney will probably defeat Senator Edwards, but the next two presidential debates are up in the air. If Bush doesn't come out in force, he risks losing the presidency. The undecided voters are the decisive factor here.

As a postscript, I thought that Andrew Sullivan's blog gave an excellent study of the debate. Here's a brief segment from it:
KERRY'S MANNER: It was, as I hoped, an enlightening debate. No, it didn't include any real logical breakthrough and on the issues, I found myself agreeing more with Bush than Kerry. But from the very beginning, Kerry achieved something important. In tone and bearing, he seemed calm, authoritative, and, yes, presidential. I watched the C-SPAN version on a split screen, and in that context, it was particularly striking. In stark contrast to the Bush-Gore debates, it was Bush who was grimacing, furrowing his brow, almost rolling his eyes and at the very beginning, looking snippy and peevish. He seemed defensive throughout and because his record was front and center - and Kerry's long record in the Senate almost unmentioned - he was actually on the defense. He seemed physically smaller and more mobile than Kerry - and more emotionally alive. Their voices were contrasts too. I can see now for the first time why Kerry has a good reputation as a debater. It wasn't, I think, because he debated well. In fact, he debated poorly. He failed time and again to go in for obvious kills, failed to do what he really should have done, which is skewer Bush's conduct of the war, not his decision to launch it in the first place. But his tone was strong, clear, unwavering. And in some ways, this was critical to undermining Bush's constant assertion that Kerry is weak, vague and inconstant. In fact, Kerry didn't have to prove logically that this was the case (which would be hard to do); he undermined it merely by his tone and manner. For many people, who have only heard of Kerry from Bush ads or sound-bites or from droning campaign speeches, it will be the first time that Kerry seems strong. In the simple, symbolic man-versus-man contrast, Kerry often seemed bigger. That strikes me as a big deal.
  Gay Marriage Amendment Struck Down
The AP reports that House bill designed to amend the constitution against gay marriage has failed to gain the required 2/3 votes. Thank goodness. This would have been another brick in the wall of religious tyranny that the Christians are steadily trying to build.
  Great Quote on "Decline"
I've started reading Edward Gibbon's magnum opus The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It's a wonderful read so far, and I thought I'd throw out a quote that expresses my own disheartened feelings regarding the intellectual atmosphere of today's youth. We've fallen quite far from where our founding fathers left off, a fact that lament every day. The anti-intellectuality of many young people is especially frightening - what will become of this country? Are we currently in the throes of our own "Decline and Fall". I have to conclude yes on the whole, things seem to get worse every year. Hopefully we can turn the tide, and rise back up to the heights we have known. Here's the quote:
The sublime Longinus, who in somewhat a later period, and in the court of a Syrian queen, preserved the spirit of ancient Athens, observes and laments this degeneracy of his contemporaries, which debased their sentiments, enervated their courage, and depressed their talents. "In the same manner," says he, "as some children always remain pygmies, whose infant limbs have been too closely confined; thus our tender minds, fettered by the prejudices and habits of a just servitude, are unable to expand themselves, or to attain that well-proportioned greatness which we admire in the ancients; who living under a popular government, wrote with the same freedom as they acted." This diminutive stature of mankind, if we pursue the metaphor, was daily sinking below the old standard, and the Roman world was indeed peopled by a race of pygmies; when the fierce giants of the north broke in, and mended the puny breed. They restored a manly spirit of freedom; and after the revolution of ten centuries, freedom became the happy parent of taste and science.

For those interested in perusing this book, there is a good version available online here.
Thursday, September 30, 2004
  Cannibals at the Gates
USA Today is reporting an alarming story. Apparently several states are pushing for the power to confiscate private property and redistribute in a way that generates more revenue for the government. In English, they want to steal peoples houses because they can make more money from them if they're converted into businesses.
The Supreme Court said Tuesday that it will decide whether cities can seize a person's property and transfer it to private developers whose projects could boost an ailing local economy.

The appeal from seven property owners in New London, Conn., who are trying to keep their homes in the face of an economic revitalization effort along the Thames River, was one of eight cases the court added for the annual term that begins Monday. The justices have 49 cases scheduled for arguments and will add about 30 more as the term unfolds over the next nine months.

The New London dispute touches on a controversial issue that has been simmering in several states, as local governments have sought new sources of tax revenue. Traditionally, governments have used their eminent-domain powers to condemn - and then improve - blighted areas. But governments increasingly have sought to take property that is not in a slum, but that nonetheless could be used in a private redevelopment plan.

This is collectivism without all the varnish. The government is asking, in perfectly logical fashion, "If it's ok for us to steal land that people abandoned and fix it up to benefit society, is it ok to steal the property of a few people in order to benefit many more?"

According to the same article:
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that New London had a valid public use to justify eminent domain, based on the thousands of jobs and significant revenue that officials project would be generated by the redevelopment on a 90-acre parcel. New London's plan would include a waterfront hotel and conference center, office space and 80 residential properties. It is intended to take advantage of a decision by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to build a research facility nearby.

When I first heard of this article, I immediately thought of Ayn Rand's great hero in Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden. Faced with his own immolation at the hands of a corrupted society, Rearden delivers a passionate defense of his right to exist:
I could say to you that you do not serve the public good-that nobody's good can be achieved at the price of human sacrifices-that when you violate the rights of one man, you have violated the rights of all, and a public of rightless creatures is doomed to destruction. I could say to you that will and can achieve nothing but universal devastation-as any looter must, when he runs out of victims. I could say it, but I won't. It is not your particular policy that I challenge, but your moral premise. If it were true that men could achieve their good by means of turning some men into sacrificial animals, and I were asked to immolate myself for the sake of creatures who wanted to survive at the price of my blood, if I were asked to serve the interests of society apart from, above and against my own-I would refuse, I would reject it as the most contemptible evil, I would fight it with ever power I possess, I would fight the whole of mankind, if one minute were all I could last before I were murdered, I would fight in the full confidence of the justice of my battle and of a living being's right to exist. Let there be no misunderstanding about me. If it is now the belief of my fellow men, who call themselves the public, that their good requires victims, then I say: The public good be damned, I will have no part of it!
  O'Reilly Interviews Bush (Part 3 of 3)
I had hoped to have some substance to chew on from the final portion of the interview, but it ended with a whistle rather than a bang. The only question I was interested in was when O'Reilly asked Bush why he thought people got so worked up about Bush's faith. Bush replied that he didn't know. What interests me here is the following: Bush is literally the male equivalent of Jessica Simpson - he's either as dopey as they come, or he is extremely shrewd and calculating. In both cases I tend to favor the former evaluation, especially in Bush's case.

Overall I felt that the interview didn't live up to what it could have potentially been. O'Reilly did ask some good questions, but Bush quietly ducked them. I fear that this is a precursor to the presidential debates, which look to have all the charm of a grade school play (the primary difference being that the children are much better actors). It's really quite sad, and seems to mean that Bush will probably win the election. We'll see what happens.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
  God I Hate Conservatives
Note - this posting qualifies as "ranting" and "raving". While there will be valid arguments sprinkled throughout, their will be liberal use of invective and insults. The reader is forewarned.

I just finished reading an article from the AP noting that the Justice department will appeal the ruling by a judge which struck down the partial-birth abortion ban. Leaving aside the whole argument, the judge rejected the bill in part because it did not allow exceptions when the woman's health is in jeopardy. Project the hatred of someone who would deny the woman life-saving treatment when the fetus would die anyways. This is unspeakably disgusting, and the diametric opposite of pro-life. Incidentally, a good website for a rational discussion of abortion can be found here.

But continuing my tangent, I hate conservatives. I hate people who would simply believe that a fetus has a soul, for no reason. Faith is ultimately the most destructive force in human life - it is the blanking out of knowledge and of thought, and it is responsible for all the atrocities that have been committed in history. It was faith in Nazism (helped with generous doses of alcohol) that allowed German soldiers to slaughter innocent children. They saw the young babies, they heard their cries, but they simply blocked all that data out, on faith. Similarly, Christians see the women whose lives will be wrecked by a pregnancy, they can even see the women (and their offspring) whose lives have been ruined without an abortion; yet they throw all this out, and cling irrationally to the idea that a clump of tissue has a "soul".

For me, this is one of the most visceral issues there is. A person who has no regard for the life or happiness of human beings is a monster - but the person who would elevate a clump of tissue or a fetus above that person belongs on a still lower rung of hell.

Getting Bush out of office is imperative in this regard. If we have any Supreme Court appointments in the next four years, Bush will vote in a Christian zealot, and Roe v. Wade will most likely be overruled.
  O'Reilly Interviews Bush (Part 2 of 3)
This won't be as long of a post as the previous one; while I disagree with much of what Bush said in this segment, many of the arguments are economic and much more technical. Besides, the war on terror and Bush's theocratic beliefs are the fundamental issues in this campaign. I hope to one day see a presidential election where the main choice is between which side "really" supports free trade or will "really" raise taxes. Alas, we live in a much more precarious age.
BILL O'REILLY: HOST: How will the federal government ever pay off the federal deficit, in your opinion?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: By being fiscally wise and growing our economy.

O'REILLY: Do you think it can be paid off in our lifetime, though?

BUSH:: The deficit, yeah. You mean, for,— have the revenues exceed the expenses in the budget?

O'REILLY: See, we have a big deficit here…

BUSH: You're talking about the debt or the deficit?

O'REILLY: The deficit.

BUSH:: Yeah.

O'REILLY: Well people are saying that because we have to fight this war on terror, because of the tax cuts, oh and you know how the propaganda, it’s all over the place…

BUSH: No, I think we can — of course I think we can balance the budget — as a matter of fact, I put out a hand, a budget that says we’ll cut it in half in five years, now, that's going to mean that the Congress has got to be fiscally wise, with our money.

O'REILLY: Has that ever happened?

BUSH: Yeah, it’s happening. Seriously. One other, you know, I get accused for not having vetoed any budgets. One reason why is because I’ve worked with Speaker Hastert and Leader Frist, and formerly worked with Leader Lott, to develop a budget that trunked discretionary spending, that was reasonable about the growth in discretionary spending. It’s now, — non-defense, non-homeland, discretionary spending — is less than one percent in our budget. And that was growing at one, less that one percent, when I became President, it was growing at fifteen percent. So we’ve made some progress. The reason I believe tax cuts were necessary is because we were in a recession and we needed to grow this economy.

Just a few things here. The Bush deficit is somewhere around $400 billion. Now true, some will say we've been fighting a war; problem is, I don't see any tangible results coming of our efforts. The other problem is that congress cannot be fiscally wise; there is no fuse that will blow when congress goes over-budget. Unlike a corporation, which becomes insolvent and goes bankrupt, the government just keeps on spending. We pay the bills through our future tax dollars and through the depreciation of our purchasing power via inflation. For those who'd like a good example of how purchasing power has been sucked away from us via inflation, consider the following: GI's returning from WW II were able to purchase a new home for about $5,000; today, if you live in California, you can pay anywhere from $200,000 to $900,000 for used homes!

Bush's stands on privatizing health care sound good, but reflect on the fact that this Republican passed the disastrous expansion of Medicare, a bill that Clinton would have salivated over.

I have a distinct feeling that Bush is probably going to win this election, which somewhat depresses me. Kerry has been an abyssmal failure on the campaign trail. We'll see what happens with the final part of the interview tomorrow and with the debate on Thursday. The pundits are already billing Bush as the winner - hopefully Kerry will get his act together.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
  Cox and Forkum - Fahrenhype 9/11
  O'Reilly Interviews Bush (Part 1 of 3)
I've been watching Bill O'Reilly for about three years now, ever since 9/11, and I've generally found him to be a good news correspondent. He has definite philosophical contradictions (especially his "traditional" values), but all this is overrun by his commitment to the truth. Granted, he doesn't always get it, but on numerous issues he doesn't give a damn about anything other than the truth. He's notorious for calling his guests out any time they try to side step an issue rather than give him a straight answer. I respect that about him, and I think that is a big part of his success among both left and right wing Americans.

Tonight he started part one of his three part interview with President Bush. So of course, I figured I'd see how it went, given his track record to ask tough questions. I must say I was pretty impressed. While he didn't press President Bush as firmly as he would other guests, I think that was in part because he was addressing the President and wanted to grant him respect (which is appropriate to the office even if Bush himself is a disgraceful holder of it). What follows are portions of the transcript, with my comments inserted:
O’REILLY:Um, the first one is, according to a poll taken by the Coalition Authority last spring, only five percent of the Iraqi people see the United States as liberators. Are you surprised they don’t appreciate the American sacrifice more?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I, I think they're beginning to, appreciate the sacrifice, because the country is getting better. It’s tougher than heck right now, because Zarqawi and some of these former Baathists are killing innocent Iraqis and killing our soldiers in order to try to get us to leave. Um, I also saw a poll where it said by far the vast majority of the Iraqis believe the world is getting better. And that's positive. In other words, people are beginning to see progress. Electricity is better, schools are opening, hospitals are running. Um, I think when it’s all said and done, the Iraqis are going to look back and say thank God for America.

O’REILLY: How long is it going to take before that happens, do you think?

PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, it’s uh, as soon as possible. Now, I think the elections are going to have uh, uh you know, a very positive effect, and they take place in January, and, but the people want to vote.

O’REILLY: But can they vote when people are being blown up,


O’REILLY: And these guys are threatening them, then they vote,

PRESIDENT BUSH: That's when you're supposed to vote. You’ve got to stand tough with these terrorists. You cannot allow the terrorists to dictate whether or not a society can be free or not. Do you remember what happened in Afghanistan when the Taliban pulled the four women off the bus and killed them because they had voter registration cards? I think there had been about three million Afghan citizens who had registered at this point in time. A lot of people said, well, the elections look like they’ve got to be over in Afghanistan, because the Taliban is, too violent to allow the elections to go forward. Today ten million citizens, [OVERLAPPING VOICES] in that country have registered to vote, forty percent of whom are women, which is a powerful statistic.

O’REILLY: The South Vietnamese didn't fight for their freedom, which is why they don’t have it today.


O’REILLY: Do you think the Iraqis are going to fight for their freedom?


O’REILLY: You do.

PRESIDENT BUSH: No question in my mind, they will, you bet. I was with Prime Minister Allawi yesterday, he is a tough guy. He is a strong leader. He believes the future of Iraq is the future of freedom, and he tells me that, you know that these places where they go bomb the recruits, the people trying to sign up to serve in the army or the police, the next day, more recruits come.


PRESIDENT BUSH: Because people want to defend their country. I believe that. You know why I believe that, and this is really important, uh, uh, it’s because, I believe everybody yearns to be free. I believe Muslims yearn to be free. And I, and this is tough, look, no question it’s tough times. But if we send mixed signals, if we waver, the times will be tougher. That's what the terrorists are watching, they're watching us like hawks.

Bush really seems to believe that somehow elections will put an end to the insurgency or somehow legitimate everything that has happened in Iraq up to now. Why does he think elections will fix the mess that is obviously Iraq? Because people "yearn to be free" (even Muslims). Unfortunately, yearning alone will never guarantee freedom. All of history is proof of that. Even granted that many or even the majority of Iraqi's will vote in this "election", I am highly skeptical of the results. But I think elections will be interrupted or at least influenced by terrorist attacks. As I've noted previously, Allawi himself has basically told the country that an Islamic state is OK, as long as the people vote for it. This is what the militants want and have been clamoring for. They want to reinstate the Muslim caliphate. How long will any secularist (which is the prerequisite of freedom) last in this environment, where holy warriors have free reign to go blowing up whomever they choose? I think most likely we will see a government formed with a large majority of Muslim theocrats who will help to form an Islamic state. I don't think that it's too controversial to say that such a development would be much worse than Saddam in power. And if the government were to become mostly Shiite, who knows what kind of hegemonic relationship would develop with the Iranians. For as much as the Iraqi's hate the Iranians, Sunni's and Shiites hate each other all the more.

I think the most likely result of this election, if it takes place, will be to lay the foundation for a civil war, with possible alliances made with Iran and Turkey by various factions. It will be bloody and savage, and our security in the world will falter all the more. But continuing on:
O’REILLY: What happened to Saddam’s chemical arsenal, do you know?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No. I don’t. We thought we’d have stockpiles, uh, we do know he had the capability of making weapons. And that capability could have been passed on to terrorists, and that was a risk, after 9/11, we could not afford to take.

O’REILLY: No I understand that. But you, to this day, don’t know what happened to his chemical weapons. He didn't tell us, and, and,


O’REILLY: He hasn’t given us much, has he?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, he, well he doesn’t have anything, you know, doesn’t have anything to, to gain by giving us much, I mean, he’s, he’s going to go on trial, and the Iraqis will lay out a case, and, you know, I mean, why would he, why would he tell the truth?

O’REILLY: “The Wall Street Journal” says, and that's a conservative paper, that uh, the Defense Department and the Pentagon wasn’t aggressive enough in getting al-Sadr and then crushing Fallujah.


O’REILLY: Is the “Journal” wrong?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I, I think this uh, I think that the, government of Iraq, Allawi, did a good job in Najaf with Sadr. In other words, they now control the shrines, and they did so in a way that he, Allawi, thought would be best for the political process. In other words, there's a dual track here. There's a political process going forward, and a security operation going forward. And the two must be parallel, and uh, Allawi made the decision that the best operation in Najaf uh would be to, the way we handled it, and uh, if they're saying that maybe last fall we should have moved on Sadr, it’s a judgment call that you know, history will have to look back on.

O’REILLY: Fallujah? Should we have crushed it when we could have?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, there again, there was a dual track with uh, a political process going forward, a lot of people on the ground there thought that if we’d have gone into Fallujah at the time, the uh, interim government would not have been established, and if the government would not have been established, we wouldn't have been able to transfer sovereignty. I happen to think the transfer of sovereignty is a key moment in this, history of a free Iraq. The reason I believe that is that the Iraq people are going to follow uh Iraqi leadership, not U.S. leadership. And uh, Prime Minister Allawi’s been there for about two and a half months, nearly three months, he’s getting his feet on the ground, he’s establishing a government, they're training police, they're training army, they're beginning to move out in, in places like Sumaria and Najaf in order to make the place a more peaceful, peaceful country.

On weapons of mass destruction, Bush was weak. Saddam Hussein was a weapon of mass destruction. Bush came across on video as unconfident and even embarrassed. More importantly though, he tried to sidestep the question on Fallujah (and to O'Reilly's credit, he asked the question again). Although the Democrats are given hell for saying it, they are right - Bush can never admit to a mistake, which is a huge weakness on his part. In fact, his rationalizations on the war on terror are rife in this segment. He really seems to believe that life is getting better in Iraq and that with elections on the way "Democracy" is just over the horizon.

Bush seems to know at some level that he made a mistake in Fallujah, as his comment about history judging it indicates. And his notion, which has been central to his campaign in Iraq, that Iraqi's will only follow Iraqi leadership is bogus. The Iraqi's will follow strength. If our goal is to establish a bastion of freedom in Iraq, we will only do it by appealing to those who value freedom and killing those who oppose it. If Iraq is overwhelmingly against freedom, then we should leave and bomb those who vocally oppose freedom. But if we can salvage it, we must fight these insurgents to the death, just as we did the Nazi's. We didn't just defeat the Nazi command - we destroyed everything Nazi, right down to their corrupt textbooks. This is what must be done in Iraq, if we're to salvage it at all.
Moving on:
O’REILLY: This is really a tough one.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Okay. [chuckles]

O’REILLY: Iran. Uh, said yesterday, hey, we’re going to develop this nuclear stuff, we don’t care what you think. You ready to use military force against Iran if they continue to defy the world on nuclear?

PRESIDENT BUSH: My hope is that we can solve this diplomatically.

O’REILLY: But if you can’t.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, let me try to solve it diplomatically first. All options are on the table, of course, in any situation. But diplomacy is the first option.

O’REILLY: Would you allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon?

PRESIDENT BUSH: We, we are working our hearts out so that they don’t develop a nuclear weapon, and the best way to do so is to continue to keep international pressure on them.

O’REILLY: Is it conceivable that you would allow them to develop a nuclear weapon?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Uh, no, we’ve made it clear, our position is that they won’t have a nuclear weapon.

O’REILLY: Period.


While it certainly seems like Bush is saying he will do something to stop the Iranians from acquiring a nuclear weapon, he sounds just like John Kerry here. John Kerry hasn't said military options are off the table, only that diplomacy should be tried first. But this just shows Bush to be a hypocrite. His argument for invading Iraq was that diplomacy failed; what in hell makes him think that the UN will solve the Iranian (or North Korean) problem now? Is he really stupid enough to believe that weapons inspections didn't work in Iraq, but they'll work in Iran? The UN doesn't want the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon, but they are unwilling to apply the only means necessary to prevent such an acquisition: a pre-emptive military strike, if not all out war. Bush seems to have fallen into this disreputable camp. Look how far he has fallen since his "axis of evil" speech. All the more I have seen how Bush's rhetoric rarely reflects the reality of his policies. Bush's failure to act now will give the Iranians the time they need to develop a nuclear weapon. My only hope is that Israel will have both the intelligence (literal and military) and will to prevent this from happening.

Tune in tomorrow for part two of my three part analysis of this insightful interview.
Monday, September 27, 2004
  Asia and the War on Terror
The AFP reports that many Asian leaders have a new revelation to share on the War on Terror:
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, current chair of the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference, warned that the war on terror was being tainted by anti-Muslim bigotry.

"There is an urgent need to stop tarnishing the Muslim world by unfair stereotypes," Abdullah said. "Most damaging of all is the increasing tendency to attribute linkages between international terrorism and Islam."

Condemning the "prejudices and bigotry" triggered by the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Abdullah said Islam was all too often being associated with violence.

"We need to clear the confusion of linking the problems faced by some Muslim countries with Islam the religion," he said.

Abdullah's remarks echoed those last week of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, a key US ally in the war on terror, who warned the UN General Assembly of an "iron curtain" falling between the Islamic world and the West, with Muslims feeling unjustly treated in international disputes.
And further on:
"Our faith remains firm that the war on terror can be won," said Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirjuda.

"But the global coalition to defeat terrorism ... must address the root causes of terrorism: the grievances and the poignant sense of injustice that drive human beings to such depths of despair, they would carry out the most heinous acts of mass murder and destruction," he said.

Wirjuda also staked Indonesia's claim as the world's most populous Muslim nation to a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council.

Proposing a "new kind of peace" for "a new kind of war" being waged by terrorists, Philippines Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo pushed for a global alliance to remove poverty as a "breeding ground" for resentment and conflict.

"Conflicts should be addressed before terrorism can begin to define or exploit the conflict," Romulo said.

China, one of the five permanent UN Security Council members, similarly called for a "new security concept" in tackling both regional disputes and the threat of terrorism.

"Only when the root cause of terrorism is eradicated can people live in peace and tranquility again," said Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.

The United States has branded at least 10 high-profile groups in the Asian region international terrorist organizations, but is wary of listing others that are seen as having a localised separatist agenda with no global ideological ambitions.

Meanwhile, Stalinist North Korea on Monday devoted its moment in the General Assembly spotlight to blaming US policies for pushing the Korean peninsula towards armed conflict.

"The danger of war is snowballing, owing to extreme US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK (North Korea) and threats of preemptive strikes against it," Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon said.

Choe argued that Pyongyang had "no other option" but to possess a nuclear deterrent in the face of what he called US attempts to eliminate North Korea by force and designating it as part of an "axis of evil."

I'll have more to say on this later tonight...
Sunday, September 26, 2004
  A Lesson in Fallujah
From the same WaPo article of the previous post:
In effect, U.S. and Iraqi officials say, a race is underway to see whether Iraqi forces can stabilize volatile areas after U.S. troops clean out insurgents -- and whether Iraqis will embrace the U.S.-designed transition plan -- both in just four months.

The danger, warn Iraq experts, is counting on Iraqi security forces. When a similar approach was tried on a smaller scale last spring, Iraqi security forces broke under the strain and a large percentage melted away, with some even turning on U.S. troops. The Marines ended up exiting Fallujah only after creating a new brigade of Iraqi fighters to take control of the city. When that unit began shooting at Americans, a Marine commander called the outcome a "fiasco."

As I've said previously, I think Fallujah is an excellent metaphor for the war in Iraq and the war on terror. I say this because the dismal failure of our efforts in Fallujah is a foreshadowing of our failure in Iraq, if Bush doesn't radically change his policies. Why did the "Fallujah Brigade" melt apart so quickly and so easily? If Iraqis truly value freedom as the President has said, why aren't they fighting for it? More importantly, why aren't those we trained and we supported fighting, but instead joining the very enemies they were commissioned to fight.

Unfortunately, I don't have a definitive answer; only time will tell, when we see what really becomes of Iraq. But my guess is that many of them sympathize and even agree with the insurgents. I think the clincher here is Bush's cowardice and vacillation against the insurgents; his unwillingness to exterminate them only strengthens the fear of everyday Iraqi's; it's one thing to oppose the bad guys when the good guys will mercilessly kill them - it's another when they'll leave them alive to kill you another day. This has been aptly borne out in Fallujah; pretty much anyone who does have the courage to stand up to the insurgents has been smitten. Public officials, a.k.a. collaborators, have had their children kidnapped and threatened with death unless they recant and relinquish their position. Meanwhile the US fires a few shots outside of town and drops a few bombs, and carefully at that.

For many Iraqis there is no security; their future is totally uncertain right now. Think of that brave and courageous Iraqi boy, Steve O, who turned his father in to US soldiers. What was his fate? When the insurgents found out he had "collaborated" with the Americans, they killed his mother. Unless those Iraqis who actually want freedom can feel secure to support it, Iraq will eventually collapse into another dictatorship.
  The Quagmire
I've certainly been gloomy in my outlook for the future of Iraq lately. But after reading the following from the Washington Post, I've given up hoping for anything good in Iraq. Maybe I'll be proven wrong, I hope so. From WaPo:
To balance the military options, Allawi is also involved in discussions with tribal and other leaders from the Sunni triangle to persuade them not to aid the various insurgents, including remnants from Saddam Hussein's government, foreign fighters and Islamic extremists loyal to Abu Musab Zarqawi.

"I say to them, if you want to be part and you want to run this country, then we have the elections. If you really represent the people of Iraq, January is coming and you can be elected by the people, and then you can decide what you want -- whether you want the multinational force or whether you want to make Iraq an Islamic state, whether you want to elect [Osama] bin Laden, it's up to you," Allawi said. "[But] you can't force issues on us; that's what Saddam did."

I was discouraged by Interim PM Allawi previously for his acquiescence before Al Sadr, but after this I think he is useless. To try to appeal to thugs and theocrats with the temptation of "you can enslave Iraq, but only if the people say yes first" is the final gasp of a free Iraq. That was the posture taken before Hitler; his government was democratically elected circa 1933. That was also the foolish posture taken during the Vietnam war; we were fighting, not for an American system in Vietnam, but for the south's freedom to "choose" their form of government, even Communism. This is disgusting, and it makes me hate Bush and his god damned "hawks" all the more.

How can you people declare your love of America and support of our troops when you will sacrifice their lives so casually to support a group of primitive people voting themselves into another dictatorship? What is the point of kicking Saddam out, if we're only going to vote his cousin back in? Or vote in a Mullah, which would be infinitely worse than the largely beaten, secular thug who was there before we invaded? What disgusts me most about Bush and his "hawks" is their cowardice; they have no courage and no moral clarity, and it is complete hypocrisy for them to apply those terms to themselves.

Moral clarity would require the resolve to install a secular government based on individual rights. Moral clarity would require some regard for American sovereignty and the paramount value of the lives of our soldiers, above and beyond any Iraqi's. Courage would require Bush to kill the insurgents, not pooh-pooh them. Bush gives courage and self-defense a bad name. This is one of the principal reasons that I have decided to vote for John Kerry(the other is that Bush wants to lay the foundation for Christian theocracy); if the US is going to behave cowardly, I'd prefer we admit to it up front rather than talk like we have some courage and self-respect before prostrating ourselves. Hopefully Bush will lose in 2004, and then Kerry's cowardice will stir up the Republican party to generate a real candidate, one who will defend America and her values, both domestically and internationally.
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