Thursday, December 30

The Blame Game: Media & Citizens Must Share Blame With Government

When I spoke out in defense of the soldier who asked the question of Sec'y Rumsfeld and remarked that many of our troops are and have been badly equipped during this war I came under strong criticism by my conservative friends who accused me of everything from not knowing what I was talking about to maliciously defaming the Secretary. Neither is true and I was pretty delighted to find this piece by Mark Shields. It stokes vague impressions into flames of actual memories.

In the three years immediately after Pearl Harbor, the United States, a nation of 132 million people with a gross domestic product of less than $100 billion, produced the following to win World War II:
296,429 aircraft,
102,351 tanks,
87,620 warships,
372,431 artillery pieces and
2,455,694 trucks.

Compare those heroic achievements to the current, dismal supply record as the U.S. war in Iraq is fast approaching its third year and the United States, now a nation of nearly 300 million with defense spending in excess of half a trillion dollars:

Only 5,910 of the 19,584 Humvees U.S. troops in Iraq today depend upon are protected with factory-installed armor;

8,002 of the 9,128 medium and heavyweight trucks transporting soldiers and supplies in that war zone are without armor.

Because of the incompetence or indifference of this nation's civilian leadership of the war, Americans in Iraq are tonight living with an increased risk of death in Iraq.

All the official transcripts of White House signing ceremonies for every defense spending bill, all the presidential proclamations for Veterans Day and every prepared statement by the secretary of defense before a congressional committee include the same stock phrase.

U.S. troops are invariably referred to as "the best trained, best equipped" ever. Best equipped? To call today's American troops Iraq "best equipped" is more than a counterfeit exaggeration, it is bilge, baloney.

An America coming out of the Great Depression somehow found the leadership and the will to build and to deploy around the globe 2.5 million tanks in the same period of time that the incumbent American government has failed to get 30,000 fully armored vehicles to Iraq.

The Bush administration has appropriated $34.3 billion on a theoretical missile defense system -- which proved again this week to be an expensive dud in its first test in two years, when the "kill vehicle" never got off the ground to intercept the target missile carrying a " mock" bomb -- but has been able up to now, according to congressional budget authorities, to spend just $2 billion to armor the vehicles of Americans under fire.

Nobody has been more persistent in holding the Pentagon and the White House accountable than maverick Mississippi Democrat Rep. Gene Taylor, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

"When I visit Iraq," says Taylor, "I ride around in an armored vehicle, and I am sure the secretary (of defense) does, as well. That should be the single standard: If it is good enough for the big-shots, it is good enough for every American soldier."

The armor is truly a matter of life and death, as the Mississippi congressman explains: "Half of all our casualties, half of all our deaths and half of all our wounded are the direct result of improvised explosive devices [IEDs, or homemade bombs]." But when Washington officials visit Iraq, their traveling security includes not only heavily armored vehicles, but also radio-signal jammers, which can disable the IEDs.

What makes Taylor authentically angry is the inexcusable failure of the U.S. brass -- Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, he names -- to provide radio jammers (which cost $10,000 each) to the fewer than 30,000 U.S. military vehicles in Iraq.

Okay. Let's hold up a minute. I remember those early days of WWII. There are similarities today: The President is saying just about the same things. The Secretary of Defense and the Defense Department are doing just about the same things. And the armed services are doing just as good a job -- even better, actually.

Now let's look at the differences. Maybe here is where we should look for the Blame Game: the press in WWII was immensely supportive. Newspapers initiated scrap drives and various community activities to support not only our troops but "The War Effort." The government came out with savings stamps and "war bonds" to raise money for defense and women went to work in plants to build war materials. Hollywood made movies romanticizing support for the war and everyone put their collective shoulders to the wheel to "get the job done."

The media didn't report troop movements. Talk about the logistics of war was discouraged. "Loose lips sink ships" was one of the many phrases that reminded us not to talk about things soldiers might have written home about. But those wouldn't have gotten through the military censors, anyway.

Yes, there were military censors who read mail going to and from the troops and deleted sentences that seemed inappropriate. And NO ONE WHINED ABOUT FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS BEING SUBJUGATED!

Shields' column continues:
How many U.S. vehicles are now equipped with jammers? The Pentagon insists the figure is classified. According to Taylor, the number is " miniscule." But because he is offended by visiting corporate CEOs and deputy assistant secretaries of weights and measures getting better protection than Marine lance corporals and Army privates, Taylor would not appreciate that funds for the jammers have probably already been dedicated to underwriting the next failed missile defense test.

"A jammer costs about $10,000, and it probably costs about $10,000 to bury a dead GI. I believe Americans would rather the spend the $10,000 to prevent the GI's funeral being held."

Gene Taylor is right. Every American has a moral obligation to make certain that the nation's troops are truly the world's " best equipped."

More than that, every American has a moral obligation to put political differences aside (and that includes Hollywood) to support this war in every possible way. That means save the criticism until a year before the next election. That means for government to begin a national war effort. That means for all of us to look for ways we can help -- from working with the Red Cross and USO to refraining from protesting and, instead, working to help get the war over.

We should be putting pressure on Congress to rev up the civilian war machine. Otherwise it's going to take four times longer and be twice the fight because we have to fight activists as well as terrorists.

The McGovern syndrome: A surrender is not a peace David Horowitz

On Christmas Day, former U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern wrote a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times (and
probably many other papers) calling for an American surrender in Iraq. George McGovern has not been in the headlines for three decades, and his name consequently may be unfamiliar to many. But no one has had a greater or more baleful impact on the Democratic Party and its electoral fortunes than this progressive product of the South Dakota plains.

The leftward slide of the Democratic Party, which has made it an uncertain trumpet in matters of war and peace, may be said to have begun with the McGovern presidential campaign of 1972, whose slogan was "American come home" - as though America was the problem and not the aggression of the Communist bloc. The McGovern campaign drew in the rank and file of the anti-Vietnam Left, much like the anti-Cold War Henry Wallace Progressive Party campaign of 1948 and the Howard Dean anti-Iraq campaign of 2004.
McGovern himself was a veteran of the Wallace campaign and, virtually all the leaders of the anti-Iraq movement, including most of the Democratic Party leaders who supported it, are veterans of the anti-Vietnam campaign.

I have lived this history as both spectator and actor. My parents were Communists, and my first political march was a Communist Party May Day parade in 1948 supporting the presidential campaign of Henry Wallace and the Progressive Party against the Cold War - which meant against America's effort to contain Communism and prevent Stalin's regime from expanding its empire into Western Europe. Our chant was this: "One, two, three, four, we don't want another war/Five, six, seven, eight, win with Wallace in '48."

This campaign was the seed of the antiwar movement of Vietnam, and thus of the political Left's influence over the post-Vietnam foreign policy of the Democratic Party. The Wallace campaign marked an exodus of the anti-American Left from the Democratic Party; the movement that opposed America's war in Vietnam marked its return.

As a post-graduate student at Berkeley in the early Sixties, I was one of the organizers of the first demonstration against the war in Vietnam. It was 1962, and the organizers of this demonstration as of all the major anti-Vietnam demonstrations (and those against the Iraq war as well) were a Marxist and a leftist, respectively. The organizers of the movement against the war in Vietnam were activists who thought the Communists were liberating Vietnam in the same way Michael Moore thinks Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is liberating Iraq.

In 1968, Tom Hayden and the antiwar Left incited a riot at the Democratic Party convention which effectively ended the presidential hopes of the Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey. (Humphrey, who was Lyndon Johnson's vice president, was a supporter of the war.) This paved the way for George McGovern's failed presidential run against the war in 1972.

The following year, President Nixon signed a truce in Vietnam and withdrew American troops. His goal was "peace with honor," which meant denying a Communist victory in South Vietnam. The truce was an uneasy one depending on a credible American threat to resume hostilities if the Communists violated the truce.

Three years earlier, Nixon had signaled an end to the draft, and the massive national antiwar demonstrations had drawn to a halt. But a vanguard of activists continued the war against America's support for the anti-Communist war effort in Vietnam. Among them were John Kerry, Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden. They held a war crimes tribunal, condemning America's role in Vietnam, and conducted a campaign to persuade the Democrats in Congress to cut all aid to South Vietnam and Cambodia, thus opening the door for a Communist conquest. When Nixon was forced to resign after Watergate, the
Democratic congress cut the aid as their first legislative act. They did this in January 1975. In April, the Cambodian and South Vietnamese regimes fell.

The events that followed this retreat in Indochina have been all but forgotten by the Left, which has never learned the lessons of Vietnam, but instead has invoked the retreat itself as an inspiration and guide for its political opposition to the war in Iraq. Along with leading Democrats like Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe, George McGovern called for an American retreat from Iraq even before a government could be established to assure the country will not fall prey to the Saddamist remnants and Islamic terrorists: "I did not want any Americans to risk their lives in Iraq. We should bring home those who are there." Explained McGovern: "Once we left
Vietnam and quit bombing its people they became friends and trading partners."[1]

Actually, that is not what happened. Four months after the Democrats cut off aid to Cambodia and Vietnam in January 1975, both regimes fell to the Communist armies. Within three years the Communist victors had slaughtered two-and-a-half million peasants in the Indochinese peninsula, paving the way for their socialist paradise. The blood of those victims is on the hands of the Americans who forced this withdrawal: John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, and George McGovern - and antiwar activists like myself.

It is true that Vietnam eventually became a trading partner ("friend" is another matter). But this was not true that it occurred "once we left and quit bombing its people." Before that took place, a Republican president confronted the Soviet Union in Europe and Afghanistan and forced the collapse of the Soviet empire. It was only then, after the Cold War enemy and support of the Vietnamese Communists had been defeated, that they accommodated themselves to co-existence with the United States.

The "blame America first" mentality so manifest in this McGovern statement is endemic to the appeasement mentality that the "progressive" senator so typifies: "Iraq has been nestled along the Tigris and Euphrates for 6,000 years. It will be there 6,000 more whether we stay or leave, as earlier conquerors learned." In McGovern's Alice-in-Wonderland universe, Iraq did not invade two countries; use chemical weapons on its Kurdish population; attempt to assassinate a U.S. president; spend tens of billions of dollars on banned weapons programs; aid and abet Islamic terrorists bent on destroying the West; and defy 17 UN resolutions to disarm itself, open its borders to UN inspectors, and adhere to the terms of the UN truce it had signed when its aggression in Kuwait was thwarted.

During the battle over Vietnam policy thirty years ago, Nixon and supporters of the war effort had warned the antiwar Left of the consequences that would follow if their campaign was successful. If the United States were to
retreat from the field of battle, the Communists would engineer a 'bloodbath' of revenge and complete their revolutionary design. When confronted by these warnings, George McGovern, John Kerry, and other anti-Vietnam activists dismissed them out of hand. This was just an attempt to justify an imperialist aggression, they assured the public. Time proved the antiwar activists to be tragically, catastrophically wrong, although they have never had the decency to admit it.

If the United States were to leave the battlefield in Iraq now, before the peace is secured (and thus repeat the earlier retreat), there would be a bloodbath along the Tigris and Euphrates. The jihadists will slaughter our friends, our allies, and all of the Iraqis who are struggling for freedom. Given the nature of the terrorist war we are in, this bloodbath would also flow into the streets of Washington and New York and potentially every American city. The jihadists have sworn to kill us all. People who think America is invulnerable, that America can just leave the field of this
battle and there will be peace, do not begin to understand the world we confront.

Or if they understand it, they have tilted their allegiance to the other side. McGovern's phrase "as earlier conquerors learned," speaks volumes about the perverse moral calculus of the progressive Left. To McGovern we are conquerors, which makes the al-Zarqawi terrorists "liberators," or as Michael Moore would prefer, "patriots." The Left that wants America to throw in the towel in Iraq is hypersensitive to questions about its loyalties but at the same time can casually refer to our presence in Iraq as an "invasion and occupation." It wants to use the language of morality, but it only wants the standard to apply in one direction. There is no one-dimensional
standard, and a politics of surrender is not a politics of peace.

[1] Los Angeles Times, December 25, 2004.

Tuesday, December 28

It Seems a World Away, But Is It?

Immense devastation in the Indian Ocean with tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of people dead, severe illness probable, economic devastation in the region accomplished -- it all seems far away to us here in the US.

We're happy to send all the relief we dare afford (we are, after all, in an expensive and necessary war) along with our prayers and relief workers. Do we, though, expect this tsunami tragedy to affect our lives? More important, will it? If so, how?

In his article titled Tsunamis: The Geopolitical Aftermath, Alan Adkisson puts the incident into perspective. First he points out
this tragedy pales in comparison to the cumulative impact of catastrophes that are happening all the time, in the same region. Regular flooding in India and Bangladesh, for example, affects millions of people every year. Thousands die every year. Some people live in the tops of trees for months at a time. Early this year, two-thirds of Bangladesh was under water.

One difference in this case, however, is that this disaster will have a tremendous economic impact on the region. The entire tourist industry of southeast Asia has gone, quite literally, down the drain. It will be years before those resorts can rebuild and possibly even more years before tourists will return, especially those thousands who managed to survive.

Adkisson writes, "In southern Thailand, that income served as an economic buffer between the Thai government in the north, and the Islamic insurgency in the south. Without that buffer, tensions are likely to grow (despite the recent "peace airdrop" of origami cranes), and regional rebels are likely to exploit that fact. Expect tough times for Thailand."

The geopolitical affect on the world will be immense. First, there's the massive relief effort involving the entire world. The BBC reports that relief workers call the devastation "beyond imagination." This will be the largest ever appeal for funding and relief aid. A UN donor and aid appeal summit is planned for the New Year, although individual nations are already sending their own donations.

These recovery efforts are also likely to pull India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand closer together in economic cooperation. Although they will need a lot of help from the rest of the world, there's strength in numbers and if they work together to build a future, the region may come into its own economically some day.

There will, undoubtedly, be an effort to put the area on a tsunami warning system as part of the recovery effort. Human nature being as it is, the resort hotels and homes will rise again on the beaches and the countries will repopulate. If there is a next time, surely there will be a warning system in place.

Adkisson believes the Chinese will take advantage of the situation to increase its presence in the region. If that should happen, the political repercussions should be interesting.

"Here is a scary but inescapable thought that absolutely must be reckoned with," he wrotes. "As awful and unprecedented as they were, the giant waves in SE Asia will likely be overshadowed by far greater disasters, natural and technological, as the world system continues to grow more crowded, fragile, and vulnerable in the coming years. The world may be filled with brilliant flares of innovation, but it is also filled with disasters waiting to happen -- and some of them undoubtedly will."

The argument for world overcrowding seems to be more fragile and vulnerable than the possibility when you consider that at this writing there are 60,000+ people dead as a result of the tsunami and the number is expected to double when disease takes hold in the region. Add deaths due to wars and various other causes and overcrowding doesn't seem to be a problem for the immediate future -- immediate in the sense of a generation or two.

Adkisson is worried about climate change disasters, as well, and seems to think we can do something about that. Although he doesn't say so, the implication I take from his statements is that he attributes global warming to fossil fuel emissions. Too many responsible scientists say that isn't so and even common sense makes heavy argument against it. The earth has been cooling and warming from the beginning of time and the latest warming has been going on in increments since the last Ice Age. Automobiles and hair spray had nothing to do with it then and likely have nothing to do with it now.

So what we can all do is pray for the souls of the dead and for health and comfort for the living. It is truly a massive tragedy that has befallen our southeast Asian brethren and our hearts, funds and prayers go out to them.

Thursday, December 23

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Christmas Address, December 24, 1944

It is not easy to say "Merry Christmas" to you, my fellow Americans, in this time of destructive war.

Nor can I say "Merry Christmas" lightly tonight to our armed forces at their battle stations all over the world -- or to our allies who fight by their side. Here, at home, we will celebrate this Christmas Day in our traditional American way- because of its deep spiritual meaning to us; because the teachings of Christ are fundamental in our lives; and because we want our youngest generation to grow up knowing the significance of this tradition and the story of the coming of the immortal Prince of Peace and Good Will.

But, in perhaps every home in the United States, sad and anxious thoughts will be continually with the millions of our loved ones who are suffering hardships and misery, and who are risking their very lives to preserve for us and for all mankind the fruits of His teachings and the foundations of civilization itself. The Christmas spirit lives tonight in the bitter cold of the front lines in Europe and in the heat of the jungles and swamps of Burma and the Pacific islands. Even the roar of our bombers and fighters in the air and the guns of our ships at sea will not drown out the messages of Christmas which come to the hearts of our fighting men.
The thoughts of these men tonight will turn to us here at home around our Christmas trees, surrounded by our children and grandchildren and their Christmas stockings and gifts -- just as our own thoughts go out to them, tonight and every night, in their distant places.

We all know how anxious they are to be home with us, and they know how anxious we are to have them -- and how determined every one of us is to make their day of home-coming as early as possible. And -- above all -- they know the determination of all right-thinking people and Nations, that Christmases such as those that we have known in these years of world tragedy shall not come again to beset the souls of the children of God.

This generation has passed through many recent years of deep darkness, watching the spread of the poison of Hitlerism and Fascism in Europe-the growth of imperialism and militarism in Japan- and the final clash of war all over the world. Then came the dark days of the fall of France, and the ruthless bombing of England, and the desperate battle of the Atlantic, and of Pearl Harbor and Corregidor and Singapore.
Since then the prayers of good men and women and children the world over have been answered.

The tide of battle has turned, slowly but inexorably, against those who sought to destroy civilization.

On this Christmas day, we cannot yet say when our victory will come.Our enemies still fight fanatically.They still have reserves of men and military power.
But, they themselves know that they and their evil works are doomed.We may hasten the day of their doom if we here at home continue to do our full share.And we pray that that day may come soon.

We pray that until then, God will protect our gallant men and women in the uniforms of the United Nations- that He will receive into His infinite grace those who make their supreme sacrifice in the cause of righteousness, in the cause of love of Him and His teachings.

We pray that with victory will come a new day of peace on earth in which all the Nations of the earth will join together for all time. That is the spirit of Christmas, the holy day.

May that spirit live and grow throughout the world in all the years to come.

Tuesday, December 21

Step Between the Back and the President

When I first checked out the "Turn Your Back On Bush" website, I thought "and these are the people who accuse Republicans of being divisive." My second thought was that it's typical of Democrat/liberals, who are the first to turn tail and run rather than listen to something that they think they don't want to hear.

The website calls for members of the crowds at the inauguration to perform an act of intense rudeness, an act that is recognized in many cultures as a supreme insult.

What is this action? The following appears on the second page of their website.
Turn Your Back on Bush is a new kind of event in an old tradition: direct nonviolent action. In the past four years, Bush has made it clear that dissent is unwelcome in his America, and his policies have created an atmosphere where demonstrators are corralled and their messages marginalized. Polls show that the majority of Americans disagree with Bush on numerous issues, but by refusing to talk to anyone but the most subservient press outlets and appearing only in highly staged events, he has cut himself off from all but his most ardent supporters.

We want our audience with our President.

On inauguration day, we will gather as citizens for the public events of the day and join the rest of the crowd. At a given signal, we will turn our backs. Until the moment we turn around, there will be nothing to distinguish us. By leaving our signs and buttons at home, we will avoid all of the obstacles that Bush and his supporters have used to keep anyone who disagrees with him out of sight.

One of the things that makes Turn Your Back on Bush a unique action is that we won't know who is participating until the moment it begins. This is a nonviolent, silent, and non-responsive action. We expect that our actions will cause some supporters of President Bush to confront us. In order to make this action as effective as possible, we will publish action guidelines and expect those people participating in the action to remain silent, refrain from escalating, and above all, keep this protest non-violent.

Of course their facts are wrong -- the President has listened to dissenters; he just chose not to agree. He has talked to the media; they have twisted the facts and stood by the twists. It is the President who should turn his back on the 48% but he's above that kind of rudeness and, besides, he has 51% on his side.

Note the sentence above "We want an audience with ourPresident." They claim him as "our" President, yet seem to believe that treating him with disrespect at an important moment in his life will, somehow, get them that audience.

Might I suggest that the way to be heard by your President is exactly the same way his supporters are? Write to him, write to your congressmen and women and write letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines. You, after all, tell us you are the intellectuals of our society. Then act like intellectuals -- write. And might I add that tacky four-letter curse words accompanied by no punctuation and no capital letters doesn't add to the impression that you are intelligent?

Did your Mothers never tell you that being rude isn't how you get your way? Have you never learned that sugar attracts more flies than vinegar?

President Bush knows that 48% of Americans voted Democratic. He has said he wants to hear you and to reach out to you. But should he if you are rude and disrespectful? Would YOU if you were in his place? I doubt it.

Donna Cassata, AP writer, says more will be going on and that the back-turning will happen when the President's limo passes down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capital. She writes, "organizers are urging demonstrators to leave political buttons and placards at home, join other parade-goers on the afternoon of the inauguration and then, as Bush's motorcade passes, show the president their backs."

I have a suggestion. If you're going to the Inauguration, simply watch those around you. If someone turns his/her back, quickly step between him and the President so that the President can't see him. If you do it quickly and don't touch him, he won't even know you're there. He can go home happily thinking he insulted the President and you can go home knowing he didn't. That, I think, would be a great feeling!

That's a way to tell the protestors that you don't agree. If you take no action, they'll think they were right.

After all, they plan other events that day. Cassata writes in ,"Quiet Protest Planned for Inauguration, "Among planned events are an anti-war rally and three-mile march to the White House, a massive bike ride similar to those that disrupted traffic in New York City before the Republican National Convention, and a "die-in" to remind the nation of more than 1,200 U.S. dead in Iraq."

That's enough to make the point. Rudeness goes beyond the pale.

Monday, December 20

Amendment to Constitution Supported by Both Parties

Last week on Good Morning America, when someone mentioned that there's a proposal before Congress to amend the Constitution so that foreign-born citizens can run for President of the USA, Charlie Gibson chuckled, "Oh, they'll never get the Democrats to go for that."

Guess what, Charlie. The Democrats already have ...and do.

Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, first proposed that amendment on July 24, 2000 as H.J.Res. 88, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO ALLOW FOREIGN-BORN CITIZENS TO BE PRESIDENT.

The house Judiciary Committee, subcommittee on the Constitution had met in February to hear a number of experts discuss the pros and cons of such an amendment. The discussion was lively and ranged from the reasons the founding fathers restricted nominees for the office to "native-born" Americans to a discussion of whether that same restriction promotes second-class citizenry.

The writers of the Constitution didn't discuss Article II, Section I very much but Alexander Hamilton wrote of the "desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?"

Charles Pinckney, a constitutional delegate from South Carolina, warned that what had happened in Poland fifteen years before -- Poland was carved up after Austria, Prussia, and Russia planted a puppet in its election -- might happen in America. Then John Jay said that it might be "wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Commander in chief of the army shall not be given to, nor devolve on, any but a natural born citizen."

It's interesting to me that Frank's proposal came before Arnold Swartzenegger's California governorship candidacy, and yet one of the gentlemen who testified, Forrest McDonald, Historian and Professor of History at the University of Alabama, said he could "give what I consider the definitive argument against the proposed amendment in two words: Arnold Schwarzenegger." Frank's amendment didn't get up for a vote, but Schwartzenegger did.

Considering the closeness, politically and socially, of Barnie Franks to Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy family it looks to me like Prof. McDonald saw through this from the beginning.

Meanwhile, back in the Senate, S. J. Res. 15, A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to make eligible for the Office of President a person who has been a United States citizen for 20 years, was introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on July 10, 2003.

So the next time the same amendment came before the House it was proposed by a Republican, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher(R-CA) an early supporter of Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial bid, introduced the same constitutional amendment before the House on September 15, 2004.

Okay, look who we have supporting this. Contrary to Charlie Gibson's first impression, we have the Kennedy machine initiating the idea. Their big argument turns out to be the second-class citizen one. Because they can't run for President of the United States, the citizenship of naturalized citizens feels, somehow, not as good as the natural-born citizen.

That argument might have some legitimacy if they couldn't buy a house or go to school unless they were native-born, but not two in a generation would run for President, anyway! The "second-class citizen" is a buzz phrase, appealing to emotionalism, like "racism" and "segregationism," all terms that have been used so far in the debate by the Democrats.

Perhaps Charlie Gibson was thinking of the left's argument "Let's not change the Constitution for light and transient reasons." That's the critics of the marriage amendment speaking. But the "Arnold amendment" satisfies their search for constitutional gravity.

Journalists who reject the marriage amendment as election-year hackery are listening respectfully to the creators of, a website where you can learn about the need to amend the Constitution "for Arnold" as well as "join Arnold's team" and "get Arnold stuff."

The idea is showing up in more and more articles in print and on the internet. On December 14 the Tulsa World reported, "The Constitution bars foreign-born citizens from becoming president, which also rules out two governors of large states: Jennifer Granholm, a Michigan Democrat who was born in Canada, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, a California Republican born in Austria. Now, because of Schwarzenegger's political rock-star status, a campaign to amend the Constitution to make naturalized citizens eligible for the presidency is gaining attention, although not necessarily support."

A Gallup Poll released last week showed that only 31 percent favored the constitutional amendment. Support grew slightly when Schwarzenegger was mentioned.

We need to be aware of this and keep an eye on it. To some it may make sense to elect Arnold President because, they say, Reagan was a movie star and he did a good job of it. But Reagan wasn't an Austrian body builder turned movie actor turned politician. Reagan was American clean, clear through.

That's what we need in the office of President -- Americans, born and bred with the innate sense of independence and liberty that seems to be inbred in us.

In the testimony before the Congressional Committee of the Judiciary, subcommittee on the Constitution, immigrant Balint Vazsonyi, director of the Center for the American Founding, testified,
I am here to tell you, after 41 years of making the most strenuous efforts of becoming American, not just legally but in every sense of the word, and having spent 40 of those 41 years living with a native-born American, that I still have not been able to even approach the temperament, the natural tolerance, the unfailing good will toward the world that Americans are famous for.

Foreigners come here and have to learn it. It is a miracle that within one generation they can do so.
The constitutional provisions are not there to serve this week or next week. They have served this country for over 200 years, and I hope and we all hope that they will continue to do so.
Article II of the U.S. Constitution requires the President to ''take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.'' Mr. Chairman, it is an incontrovertible fact that the inhabitants of most countries are not only unfamiliar with what we call the Rule of Law, but find the concept virtually incomprehensible.

Mr. Vazsonyi's points are not likely to be considered by the native American voter but they are valid and worth serious pondering. We don't think of ourselves as special, but maybe we are. Certainly no other armies in the world conquered and then rebuilt the nations they defeated. No other nation has prided itself on welcoming the "tired ... poor ... huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

The nationality of birth restriction in Article II, Section I was placed only on the offices of President and Vice President because the President alone heads the Executive Branch and, of course, the Vice President is just a heartbeat away. The Judicial Branch has 9 judges at the head, the Legislative Branch has over 500 members leading it.

To pass a constitutional amendment takes 2/3 of both Houses to propose (or the application of 2/3 of the Legislatures of 2/3 of the States). Then, to ratify, it must be approved by Legislatures or Conventions of 3/4 of the States. That, obviously, is why this began in 2000.

But Charlie Gibson, there's no problem getting both Democrats and Republicans to get behind this one. They already have begun.

Thursday, December 16

Peace on Earth?

. . . or another disappointment just waiting to happen?

Ever since President Clinton's calamitous meddling in Middle Eastern affairs escalated the Palestinian/Israeli disputes into terrorist bombings, the world has considered the situation there utterly hopeless.

But now Paul Martin in The Washington Times reports this morning that Mahmoud Abbas, who is expected to take Yasser Arafat's place as President of the Palestinian Authority, has called for an end to "the use of deadly weapons" against Israel. His reasoning is that doing so will create a more suitable climate for peace negotiations.

WOW! Can he pull that off? That remains to be seen.

He's not calling off the intifada. In fact, he says it should continue, but that it should return to tactics used from 1987 to 1993. Lest we get our hopes up too much, we have to remember that between September 1993 and September 2000, 256 Israeli civilians and soldiers, as well as hundreds more Palestinians were killed in political violence. We must also remember that when they signed the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993, the Palestinian and Israeli authorities committed themselves to curbing violence.

When the Palestinian economy collapsed with a 30% drop in the standard of living and a 50% unemployment rate following the 1993 agreement, Palestinians blamed the collapse on the Oslo agreement. Israelis continued to settle and develop the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and with the subsequent uncompensated enlargement of "buffer zones" around the settlements, and Palestinians began to see the arrangement as a cover up for Israel to illegally seize additional land for settlements. In 2002 the Palestinians launched a series of suicide bombings, one of which was the Passover Massacre in which 30 Israeli civilians were killed at a hotel in April. The Israelis responded with a military attack and the situation has escalated ever since.

Mr. Abbas has said that the use of arms against Israelis has hurt Palestinian interests and it must stop. "We, at this stage," he said, "are against the militarization of the intifada because we want to negotiate. And because we want to negotiate, the atmosphere should be calm in preparation for political action."

It seems at the moment like Mr. Abbas is the voice crying in the wilderness since the Palestinian Authority's official media recently came out with strong praise for an armed attack on an Israeli border post on the Gaza Strip this past Sunday. Five Israeli soldiers were killed by subterranean bombs.

And, more important, the Israelis haven't yet reacted to his comments.

Cynics point out that Abbas is walking a tightrope. To ensure a smooth election, he has tried to cool violence from Hamas and other radicals as well as hard-liners from his own Fatah movement. On the other hand, being seen as an appeaser to Israeli and American concerns is sure to loose Palestinian votes.

Recently, however, a Palestinian opinion poll showed that popular support for suicide bombings has dropped below 50 percent for the first time in years. Combine that with the fact that his main rival in the election withdrew last week and you can see why Mr. Abbas now feels it safe to speak out.

It won't take long to discover whether or not Mr. Abbas has enough power to restrain the militants. Meanwhile, in the season of peace and goodwill to all, the world holds its breath and prays for Abbas's success.

Tuesday, December 14

Merry Christmas Anyway!

By Debbie Daniel
(printed by permission)

I'm Offended That You're Offended - Merry Christmas Anyway!

I'm on a "Merry Christmas" mission and I'm in full throttle. My little yellow VW Beetle has turned into a Christmas billboard with Merry Christmas written across the back window. Yes, I've decided to trek off to work everyday on the public highways with a message that seems to offend people.

At stop lights, I even turn my music up a little louder, and to top it off, I sing along with it. Don't I know that stopping at a red light to roll my windows down only to share the joy of Christmas carols on public streets is a No-No? Don't I fear the Christmas Gestapo and those who would have me remove the written message from my car?

I'm sorry folks, but the only person I'm concerned about "offending" during this Christmas season is the Lord himself. LEAVE THAT MANGER ALONE! We've allowed the Baby Jesus to be kicked out of His lowly manger, and those offended by Christmas are still not happy.

I refuse to let this happen. I'm going to do my part to make sure "Merry Christmas" doesn't become extinct. Because like it or not, if the believers in Christmas don't take a stand now, it's gone forever.

Listen folks, the Christian community has been underestimated before; we will have to show ourselves again.

I walked into a Wendy's Restaurant the other day and was rather exuberant with my "Merry Christmas" greeting to the manager. He didn't have much of a response and I said, "Where's your Christmas spirit?" He said, "We're not allowed to use the words "Merry Christmas" when greeting customers. We can only say "Happy Holiday."

This morning I grabbed a quick breakfast at a Whataburger Restaurant. I noticed there wasn't a single decoration in the store. I asked the manager why they weren't decorated for Christmas. He told me the corporate headquarters decided not to send any decorations to any of their stores, and he didn't know why.

After I heard about all the Macy's and Federated Stores taking down their Merry Christmas signs, the Target stores not allowing the Salvation Army to "Ring the Christmas bells," and the many incidents of children, choirs, and bands not allowed to play or sing Christmas carols, I realized it was happening right here in my own little Texas town.

How can this be? Not Texas!

We do, however, have a store, Hobby Lobby, that plays nothing but Christmas carols during the season. On Christmas Day they run a full page ad in our local newspaper. That ad is not to promote the store, but uses the entire page to tell the story of Jesus' birth. Now that's taking a stand. We need to thank them.

When I saw a news report the other evening of children being taught new words to a song we've sung for years - "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" - I was saddened to hear "We Wish You a Splendid Holiday."

I know now that it's just a matter of time that the "Merry Christmas" greetings will be gone. Look around your town. Notice the "Holiday" greetings and not "Christmas." It's happening right before our very eyes.

Start singing the songs; go down the streets of America singing to your heart's content. Get some of those wash-off markers that these kids use to write on their car windows when they're rooting for their hometown football team. It's easy to do, and if a torrential rain washes it off, write it on there again.

We've got to get this message out. "Go Tell It On the Mountain . . . that Jesus Christ is Born." Sing it, speak it, be a billboard for our Lord.

The story of this "Baby Jesus" alone has brought about more goodwill at this time of year than any other day we celebrate. How can we sit back and allow Him to be snuffed out of our lives?

Is it Jesus, or is it His followers that the "offended" don't like? What kind of revulsion galvanizes one to campaign so vehemently against the mere mention of His name, the mere singing of a carol, or the mere visual of a sign that says "Merry Christmas?"

I can listen to my own boss at work use some of the vilest words and follow up with, "Excuse my French." I may cringe inside at his damning of God's name, but I tolerate it. So if you don't like me wishing you a "Merry Christmas," I'll say, "Excuse my joy." You may cringe that I celebrate the birth of Jesus, but just tolerate it.

I cannot be concerned that "Merry Christmas" offends you. If I'm not careful, the day will come when saying I'm a Christian will offend you.

I'm offended that you're offended. How about that?

When we get to a point that we can no longer take part in a tradition we hold dear, we have no choice; we either defend that tradition or we give it up to those who say NO. That's it . . . period. So, which will it be?

I'm not giving up my "Merry Christmas" joy to anyone. If I know of someone that celebrates another holiday during this time of year, I will be glad to wish them whatever holiday they want. Just tell me what it is and I'll shout it to the world and wish you a grand celebration.

Just give me Christmas. To you merchants: Stop being so hypocritical and "filling your tills" on the back of Jesus! Who do you think is the symbol of giving at this time of year? It was the wise men bringing gifts to the newborn Christ-child.

You want your coffers full, but have ordered your employees to take down all the Merry Christmas signs. If that's the case, I'll buy gifts at a place that understands my joy.

If you're worried about offending someone, you just did. The most recent Newsweek survey shows that 82% of Americans believe that Jesus is the Son of God. So, in trying not to offend a few, you've offended many.

It's okay to jump into the "Merry Christmas" spirit when it fills your cash register, but let's call it something else . . . and don't stop giving . . . and don't stop buying. . . we'll just change the name and you'll never know the difference.

I know the difference and I'm feeling it greatly. It's hard not to be aware that townships across our country have actually banned the singing of Christmas carols because it might offend someone. And it's not just the religious songs; it's the secular ones too. No more "Jingle Bells" or "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" because they're associated with Christmas. Boy, aren't we getting sensitive?

If we're not celebrating Christmas for the hope it gives with the birth of our Savior . . . there is no hope!

I noticed a few years ago that we changed the name of Abraham Lincoln's and George Washington's birthday so as to be all inclusive regarding the Presidents. Hark, if we should recognize anyone as exceptional. Now it's called Presidents' Day.

Well, if we're going to be so all inclusive, next month I'll have to refer to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as Civil Rights Leaders' Day. We don't want to exclude great Americans like Rosa Parks or Cesar Chavez, do we? And to think that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton might be left out.

We might need to change Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Grandparents' Day to All Parents' Day. Just lump them all together.

It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? So what's the difference?

My freedom to celebrate Christmas in the tradition of the Christian religion is as much my right as it is your right to be offended by it. So what are we going to do? Did anyone hear me . . . what are we going to do?

Do we defend a person's right to go forward with a time tested tradition (how about 2000 years?), or do we defend a person's right to end it all because they're offended? As long as we live in this great land and have the freedom to express ourselves and what we believe in, we will always offend someone.

If we try to make everything right for everyone, we won't have anything for anyone.

May you always have Christmas in your heart!

Copyright 2004 D. Daniel

Monday, December 13


An editorial in a Tampa newspaper:

"I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Americans. However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the 'politically correct!' crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others.

I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to America. Our population is almost entirely made up of descendants of immigrants. However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of America being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Americans, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.

We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!

'In God We Trust' is our national motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan.. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.

If Stars and Stripes offend you, or you don't like Uncle Sam, then you
should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don't care how you did things where you came from. This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle. Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express his opinion and we will allow you every opportunity! to do so. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our flag, our pledge, our national motto, or our way of life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great American freedom,

Wednesday, December 8

A Gift For You Who Grieve

If you face this Christmas lost in an overwhelming, relentless pool of grief, this is my gift to ease your heart. Please take this poem in the spirit of the season and read it as a prayer meant just for you.


My aching heart sends forth its faith and, quavering,
The old beloved carol sounds here, beside your grave.
I kneel to brush aside crystal, tear-crusted snow
As my soft song heralds, once again, our Savior's birth.

For Christmas is not a children's time as most believe.
The deepest meanings of this season's joy
Are lost to those who have not felt
The gratitude and praise that soothes this Mother's heart.

The heart of one who knows that Christ was there
When all that earth could do for you had come to naught,
To take you in His arms
And keep you safe among the angels until the Promised Day.

Oh now your Joy!
And Oh, our thanks to Him.

Welcoming a certain sadness because we miss you so,
We sing the carols, trim the tree and, lighting candles,
Celebrate the coming of the One who, through His love,
Binds you to happy memory and keeps you close.

Sunnye Tiedemann

Tuesday, December 7

Understanding Terror Networks

by Marc Sageman of the Foreign Policy Research Institute

Marc Sageman, a newly appointed FPRI Senior Fellow,was a CIA case officer in Afghanistan between 1987 - 1989 and is now a forensic psychiatrist. This essay is based on his FPRI BookTalk on October 6, 2004, which doubled as one of our regular Situation Reports on the War on Terrorism, held every two months. His book, Understanding Terror Networks, was published by the University of Pennsylvania
Press earlier this year.

After leaving the CIA, I was happy in my naive belief that I had left all that behind me. But after 9/11, like everyone, I wanted to do something. What people were saying about the perpetrators shortly after the attacks was simply not consistent with my own experience. I began to apply the principles of evidence-based medicine to terrorism research, because there really was no data on the perpetrators. There
were theories, opinions, and anecdotal evidence, but there was no systematic gathering of data.

I started gathering terrorist biographies from various sources, mostly from the records of trials. The trial that took place in New York in 2001 in connection with the 1998 embassy bombing, for instance, was 72 days long and had a wealth of information, 9,000 pages of it. I wanted to collect this information to test the
conventional wisdom about terrorism. With some 400 biographies, all in a matrix, I began social-network analysis of this group.


We all know that Al Qaeda is a violent, Islamist, revivalist social movement, held together by a common vision of a Salafi state. Al Qaeda proper is just a small organization within this larger social movement. We often mistake the social movement for Al Qaeda and vice versa because for about five years, Al Qaeda had more or less control of the social movement.

The segment that poses a threat to the United States came out of Egypt. Most of the leadership and the whole ideology of Al Qaeda derives from Egyptian writer Sayyid Qutb (1906–66) and his progeny, who killed Anwar Sadat and were arrested in October 1981. President Mubarak generously allowed them to be released in 1984.

Many of the released men, harassed by the Egyptian police, migrated to Afghanistan. With the end of the Soviet-Afghan War, they continued on to jihad. These Arab outsiders actually did not fight in the Soviet-Afghan War except for one small battle at Jaji/Ali Kheyl, which was really defensive: the Arabs had put their camp on the main logistic supply line, and in the spring of 1987 the Soviets tried to
destroy it. So they were really more the recipient of a Soviet offensive, but they really did not fight in that war and thus the U.S. had absolutely no contact with them. I heard about the battle of Jaji at the time, and it never dawned on me to ask the Afghans I debriefed who the Arabs were. They turned out to be bin Laden and his
men at the Al-Masada (Lion's Den) camp.

After the war, a lot of these foreigners returned to their countries. Those who could not return because they were terrorists remained in Afghanistan. In 1991, Algeria and Egypt complained to Pakistan that it was harboring terrorists, so Pakistan expelled them. Thus the most militant of these terrorists made their way to Khartoum, where they were invited by Hassan al-Turabi of the National Islamic Front in Khartoum.

The Khartoum period is critical, because what these violent Salafists basically want to do is to create a Salafi state in a core Arab country. Salafi (from Salaf, "ancient ones" or "predecessors" in Arabic) is an emulation, an imitation of the mythical Muslim community that existed at the time of Mohammed and his companion, which Salafists believe was the only fair and just society that ever
existed. A very small subset of Salafis, the disciples of Qutb, believe they cannot create this state peacefully through the ballot-box but have to use violence. The utopia they strive for is similar to most utopias in European thought of the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries, such as the communist classless society.

In Khartoum, the Salafists theorized that the reason they had been unable to overthrow their own government (the "near enemy") was because it was propped up by the "far enemy"— the United States. So they decided to redirect their efforts and, instead of going after their own government, to attack the "far-enemy." In 1996, for many reasons, Hassan al- Bashir, the President of Sudan, had to expel Al Qaeda afterthe imposition of international sanctions, because the Sudanese Government was implicated in the attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Mubarak in Addis Ababa in 1995. In August 1996, within two months of returning to Afghanistan, bin Laden issued a fatwa declaring war on the United States.

The fatwa clearly articulated the new goals of this movement, which were to get the U.S. out of the Middle East so they would be free to overthrow the Saudi monarchy or the Egyptian regime and establish a Salafi state. This remains their goal and is why 9-11 happened. This is why the embassy bombing happened. It's really not so much to
destroy the United States, something they know they cannot do right now. This is all why I put the start of the threat against us at 1996.

The Data

The 400 terrorists on whom I've collected data were the ones who actually targeted the "far enemy," the U.S., as opposed to their own governments. I wanted to limit myself for analytical purity to that group, to see if I could identify anything different from other terrorist movements, which were far more nationalistic.

Most people think that terrorism comes from poverty, broken families, ignorance, immaturity, lack of family or occupational responsibilities, weak minds susceptible to brainwashing - the sociopath, the criminals, the religious fanatic, or, in this country, some believe they're just plain evil.

Taking these perceived root causes in turn, three quarters of my sample came from the upper or middle class. The vast majority—90 percent—came from caring, intact families. Sixty-three percent had gone to college, as compared with the 5-6 percent that's usual for the third world. These are the best and brightest of their societies in many ways.

Al Qaeda's members are not the Palestinian fourteen-year- olds we see on the news, but join the jihad at the average age of 26. Three-quarters were professionals or semi- professionals. They are engineers, architects, and civil engineers, mostly scientists. Very few humanities are represented, and quite surprisingly very few had
any background in religion. The natural sciences predominate. Bin Laden himself is a civil engineer, Zawahiri is a physician, Mohammed Atta was, of course, an architect; and a few members are military, such as Mohammed Ibrahim Makawi, who is supposedly the head of the military committee.

Far from having no family or job responsibilities, 73 percent were married and the vast majority had children. Those who were not married were usually too young to be married. Only 13 percent were madrassa-trained and most of them come from what I call the Southeast Asian sample, the Jemaah Islamiyya (JI). They had gone to schools
headed by Sungkar and Bashir. Sungkar was the head of JI; he died in 1999. His successor, Bashir, is the cleric who is being tried for the Jakarta Marriott bombing of August 2003; he is also suspected of planning the October 2002 Bali bombing.

As a psychiatrist, originally I was looking for any characteristic common to these men. But only four of the 400 men had any hint of a disorder. This is below the worldwide base rate for thought disorders. So they are as healthy as the general population. I didn't find many personality disorders, which makes sense in that people who are antisocial usually don't cooperate well enough with others to join groups. This is a well-organized type of terrorism: these men are not like Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, loners off planning in the woods. Loners are weeded out early on. Of the nineteen 9-11 terrorists, none had a criminal record. You could almost say that
those least likely to cause harm individually are most likely to do so collectively.

At the time they joined jihad, the terrorists were not very religious. They only became religious once they joined the jihad. Seventy percent of my sample joined the jihad while they were living in another country from where they grew up. So someone from country A is living in country B and going after country C—the United States.
This is very different from the usual terrorist of the past, someone from country A, living in country A, going after country A's government. I want to remind that I'm addressing my sample of those who attacked the U.S., not Palestinians, Chechens, Kashmiris, etc.

France happened to generate a lot of my sample, fourth behind Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco. Eighty percent were, in some way, totally excluded from the society they lived in. Sixty-eight percent either had preexisting friendships with people already in the jihad or were part of a group of friends who collectively joined the jihad together: this is typical of the Hamburg group that did 9- 11, the Montreal group that included Ahmed Ressam, the millennial bomber. Another 20 percent had close family bonds to the jihad. The Khadr family from Toronto is typical: the father, Ahmed Saeed Khadr, who had a computer engineering degree from Ottawa and was killed in Pakistan in October 2003, got his five sons involved: all of them trained in al Qaeda camps and one has been held for killing a U.S. medic. Their mother is involved in financing the group.

So between the two, you have 88 percent with friendship/family bonds to the jihad; the rest are usually disciples of Bashir and Sungkar. But that's not the whole story. They also seem to have clustered around ten mosques worldwide that generated about 50 percent of my sample. If you add the two institutions in Indonesia, twelve
institutions generated 60 percent of my sample. So, you're talking about a very select, small group of people. This is not as widespread as people think.

So what's in common? There's really no profile, just similar trajectories to joining the jihad and that most of these men were upwardly and geographically mobile. Because they were the best and brightest, they were sent abroad to study. They came from moderately religious, caring, middle-class families. They're skilled in computer technology. They spoke three, four, five, six languages. Most Americans don't know Arabic; these men know two or three Western languages: German, French, English.

When they became homesick, they did what anyone would and tried to congregate with people like themselves, whom they would find at mosques. So they drifted towards the mosque, not because they were religious, but because they were seeking friends. They moved in together in apartments, in order to share the rent and also to eat together - they were mostly halal, those who observed the Muslim dietary laws, similar in some respects to the kosher laws of Judaism. Some argue that such laws help to bind a group together since observing them is something very difficult and more easily done in a group. A micro-culture develops that strengthens and absorbs the participants as a unit. This is a halal theory of terrorism, if you

These cliques, often in the vicinity of mosques that had a militant script advocating violence to overthrow the corrupt regimes, transformed alienated young Muslims into terrorists. It's all really group dynamics. You cannot understand the 9/11 type of terrorism from individual characteristics. The suicide bombers in Spain are another perfect example. Seven terrorists sharing an apartment and one saying "Tonight we're all going to go, guys." You can't betray your friends, and so you go along. Individually, they probably would not have done it.

There are potentially a lot of groups of guys around the world, who want to do something but just don't know how to do it. After 9-11, the whole network changed completely. There is no recruitment, really. In my sample, I have found no case of a recruiter. They're all volunteers. Before 9-11, a group like the Lackawanna Six would go to Afghanistan to fight a jihad. When they got to Afghanistan, they heard all this propaganda against the United States. They realized they were in the wrong place, got scared, and wanted to get out -- they had no intention of becoming terrorists afterwards. Even the prosecution never suggested that they would have become terrorists.

They had broken the law by going to a terrorist organization, so they pled guilty to aiding and abetting a terrorist organization, but there was no hint that they would have become terrorists.

Indeed, there are not that many terrorists in America. There have never been any sleeper cells. All the terrorists are fairly obvious. The FBI cases we see in the press tend to unravel. The Detroit group has been exonerated, and the prosecutor is now being prosecuted for malfeasance on the planted evidence. He allegedly knew exculpatory facts that he did not present to the defense. The only sleeper America has ever had in a century was Soviet Col. Rudolf Abel, who was arrested in the late 1950s and exchanged for Gary Powers, the U2 pilot. Eastern European countries did send sleepers to this country, men fully trained who "go to sleep" -- lead normal lives -- and then are activated to become fully operational. But they all became Americans.

In order to really sustain your motivation to do terrorism, you need the reinforcement of group dynamics. You need reinforcement from your family, your friends. This social movement was dependent on volunteers, and there are huge gaps worldwide on those volunteers.

One of the gaps is the United States. This is one of two reasons we have not had a major terrorist operation in the United States since 9/11. The other is that we are far more vigilant. We have actually made coming to the U.S. far more difficult for potential terrorists since 2001.

Until late 2001, the terror network was the project of al- Turabi, who in the early 1990s had invited all the Muslim terrorists to Khartoum. That's how Al Qaeda learned about truck bombing from Hezbollah. Then when they were expelled from Khartoum, bin Laden had a deal with Mullah Omar where he actually had a monopoly of sanctuaries in Afghanistan — the training camp, housing, funding. Instead of raising their own money, it was much easier to go to bin Laden for it. And so, by his control of training camps, sanctuaries, and funding for five years, bin Laden was able to dominate this movement

But after 2001, when the U.S. destroyed the camps and housing and turned off the funding, bin Laden was left with little control. The movement has now degenerated into something like the internet. Spontaneous groups of friends, as in Madrid and Casablanca, who have few links to any central leadership, are generating sometimes very dangerous terrorist operations, notwithstanding their frequent errors and poor training. What tipped the Madrid group to operation was probably the arrest of some of their friends after the Casablanca bombing. Most of them were Moroccans and the Moroccan government asked the Spaniards to arrest several militants. So the group was activated, wanting to do something.

Their inspiration -- the document "Jihad al-Iraq" -- probably was found on the Web. Six of its 42 pages argued that if there were bombings right before Spanish election, it could effect a change of government and the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq, the expulsion of the "far enemy" from a core Arab state. From conception to execution, the operation took about five weeks.

We hear that Al Qaeda plans its attacks for years and years. It may have before 9-11, but not anymore. Operatives in caves simply cannot communicate with people in the field. The network has been fairly well broken by our intelligence services. The network is now self-organized from the bottom up, and is very decentralized. With local initiative and flexibility, it's very robust. True, two-thirds to three-quarters of the old leaders have been taken out, but that doesn't mean that we're home free. The network grows organically, like the Internet. We couldn't have identified the Madrid culprits, because we wouldn't have known of them until the first bomb exploded.

So in 2004, Al Qaeda has new leadership. In a way today's operatives are far more aggressive and senseless than the earlier leaders. The whole network is held together by the vision of creating the Salafi state. A fuzzy, idea-based network really requires an idea-based solution. The war of ideas is very important and this is one we haven't really started to engage yet.

Monday, December 6

. . . with his own petard

In a post-election column Molly Ivins suggested that John Kerry should have forcefully confronted his Swift Boat critics to bolster his campaign. I guess Molly was so obsessed with trashing Bush & Co. that she never noticed what a hole Kerry had dug for himself. His quandary was trying to play war hero while not daring to open his service records to discussion.

His career is marked by a checkered trail of highly questionable actions: A controversial mini-tour of action in the Viet Nam war, publicly defaming his Vietnam comrades in arms, scandalous consorting with Hanoi Jane in the 1970's, and continuing on into the 1980's with support for Latin American communist rebels (while in the U.S. Senate) was bad enough, but there was an even more significant problem. Kerry held clandestine wartime (1970 & 1971) meetings with North Vietnamese agents in Paris, a violation of his duty as a Naval Reserve office with top secret clearance.

When the Navy found out about the meetings in 1971 they stripped Kerry of his security clearance and placed him on their "not to be trusted" list. He might have been charged at that time under the 14th amendment proscription against giving aid and comfort to the enemy, but a request to prosecute was quashed by President Nixon, who didn't want an additional, and prominent, complication to his mounting Vietnam war difficulties.

In the early 1980's Kerry turned to Massachusetts politics -- law enforcement, Governor, U. S. Senator, and Democratic nominee for President. Kerry's well-covered anti-war activism had been widely cussed and discussed since the '70's, but his role as a self-appointed negotiator between the U. S. and the Vietnamese had received relatively little notice. Viewed by his critics as being in concert with the Communist North Vietnamese party line, it surfaced with increasing vigor toward the end of the presidential campaign, following disclosure of Viet Cong documents captured in 1971 that cite assistance and guidance from the Viet Cong to the U. S. antiwar movements.

Publicly challenging the Swift Boaters would have brought this conflict out in the open. Kerry's solution was to sequester his military records, avoid discussion of such serious issues, and coast through the campaign on the free ride afforded him by the friendly liberal media.

Given the election result, the issue is moot. However, a recent development will be interesting to follow. The Federalist Patriot organizationhas submitted a petition to the government to prosecute John Kerry for " 'giving aid and comfort to the enemy' and to disqualify him for national office," based on the activities discussed above.

Isn't it ironic how the "sins of one's youth" come back to haunt us? No, Molly, Kerry could not have publicly argued with his Swift Boat comrades without having to face the charge of traitor, and this country is not ready to elect a man who commits treason, regardless of any other considerations that might obtain.

Kerry's collusion with the Vietnamese was a self-planted land mine set to blow him out of contention, and it may well do it yet. We can only watch the proceedings like the bemused Hamlet, who, anticipating revenge on the uncle who had murdered his father, said ". . . t'is the sport to have the engineer hoist with his own petard."

Federalist Patriots:
Petition to Charge Kerry:

Friday, December 3

A New Form of Entertainment

Lately I've been entertaining myself by checking out blogs by Democrats. What an education! And what a relief that those people aren't leading this nation.

By and large Americans are a pretty reasonable people. We believe in and fight for our freedoms and we're especially jealous of our freedom of speech. But look what happens to our freedom of speech if we disagree with our "liberal and educated" friends. I posted a point-by-point refutation of the blog "You All Deserve What You Get". I simply stated the facts as they exist, with no ad hominem attacks and no crude language. My post, as you can see on the website, was removed and I received a truly abusive email from Rhonda, the blogger. She told me to stay away from her website so I will.

So I continued this new intriguing new form of amusement by reading some articles by "intellectual liberals" about their recent loss. I found the same language: abusive, insulting, arrogant, pseudo-intellectual, in most articles I read. This one by Ben Trippis especially representative of the typical Democrat's post about the outcome of the election.

What amazes me is that he doesn't seem to realize that he answers his own question. Who wants to try to get along with someone who calls him or her a "mincing pack of rabiators" and "intolerant," "driven by hate, fear, and a headful of helium?" That doesn't inspire me to reach across the great divide and be friends.

Furthermore, "The American voter, the Average Joe, is a poltroon. This wretched specimen has the wit of a condolence card, the courage of a shaved rabbit, the morals of a schoolyard dope peddler, the integrity of a counterfeit nickel, and the gall of a second-hand coffin salesman ... My fellow citizens are colder-blooded than serpents and stupider than a sack of toenails. How dare you vote against other Americans? That's all 'morals' is, these days: a code word for hate. How many millions of puffed-up poisonous psalm-singing sons-of-Birchers voted, not for Bush, but against queers? Against black people and Northerners and single women and poor children? What is the matter with you, that you want nothing more in this life than to stick a jackboot into the ribs of the downtrodden? There is no common good any more. Jesus Christ Himself would barf all over his anointed feet to see you venal, venomous vermin vituperate via votes." Thus saith Mr. Tripp.

And to beat all, the title of that spurious spew of vituperation is "Why Can't We All Get Along?"

Amazing! It's been a long time since the psych courses I took in college but I do remember that the way NOT to get along with people is to insult them. Tripp and his ilk accuse "conservatives" of divisiveness while rendering the blade of derision as hard as they can.

The other amazing thing is the blatant (and often totally wrong) assumptions these people make. They sound like third graders on the playground who weren't picked for the kickball team. "You're dumb." "I don't LIKE you anymore." I've seen third graders, though, who had enough sense to pick up their toys, go home and be quiet.

An interesting point of observation: the assumptions they're making are ones they get from the media. They assume all Republicans are opposed to homosexuals making committments to each other. It ain't necessarily so. They assume that all people who voted for President Bush oppose stem cell research. Again, ain't necessarily so. They assume all "Red" voters are pro guns and are uneducated, forgetting that Kerry rushed to be photographed as a hunter and Bush graduated higher in his class at Yale than Kerry did in his. And most of us would pit our IQs against any Democrat's.

And why is this entertaining, you ask? Because it's fun to see Democrats having a massive temper tantrum; kicking and screaming and sucking their collective thumbs. It proves that they are not the intellectuals they claim to be. All of this cursing and reviling their opposition shows they really don't have the mental/educational resources to conduct an appropriate debate. Blithering and blaming means they don't know why they lost and as long as they are content to cast insults blindly about, they're not going to figure it out. That amuses me immensely.

Do they think their insults hurt? They must or else why go to so much trouble and be so loud about it? But people who throw mud at others often miss and always are splashed with it themselves. Censorship of any kind hurts everyone except the person being censored. Foul language reflects on the speaker, not the person who is being insulted.

In my experience, the so-called "liberals" are the ones who won't listen and who are the first to walk out if a meeting doesn't go their way. Those two facts had a lot to do with my becoming a Republican in the first place.

And that's why they're losers. But don't tell them -- or, come to think of it, do tell them. They wouldn't listen anyway.

Thursday, December 2

The Real Humanists by Victor David Hanson

THE REAL HUMANISTS: Revolution from Afghanistan to Iraq.
by Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

In September and early October 2002 we were warned that an invasion
of Afghanistan was impossible -- peaks too high, winter and Ramadan on
the way, weak and perfidious allies as bad as the Islamists -- and
thus that the invasion would result in tens of thousands killed and
millions of refugees. Where have all these subversive ankle-biters
gone? Apparently into thin air --or to the same refuge of silence as
all the Reagan-haters of the 1980s who swore that a nuclear freeze
was the only humane policy of dealing with Soviet expansionism.

After the seven-week defeat of the Taliban, these deer-in-the-
headlights critics paused, and then declared the victory hollow. They
said the country had descended into rule by warlords, and called the
very idea of scheduled voting a laughable notion. We endured them for
almost two years. Yet after the recent and mostly smooth elections,
Afghanistan has slowly disappeared from the maelstrom of domestic
politics, as all those who felt our efforts were not merely
impossible but absurd retreated to the shadows to gnash their teeth
that Kabul is not yet Carmel. Western feminists, homosexual-rights
advocates, and liberal reformists have never in any definitive way
expressed appreciation for the Afghan revolution now ongoing in the
lives of 26 million formerly captive people. They never will.
Instead, Westerners simply now assume that there was never any
controversy, but rather a general consensus that Afghanistan is
a "good thing" -- as if the Taliban went into voluntarily exile due to
occasional censure from The New York Review of Books.

The more ambitious effort to achieve similar results in Iraq is
following the same script, despite even more daunting challenges.
Fascistic neighbors rightly see elections in Iraq as near fatal to
their own bankrupt regimes. Some have oil; others have terrorists;
still more, like Iran and Saudi Arabia, have both. Unlike
Afghanistan, there is no neutral India or Russia nearby to keep
Islamists wary, only the provinces of the ancient caliphate to supply
plenty of jihadists to continue the work of September 11. Our
mistakes in the reconstruction of Iraq were never properly critiqued
as naïve and too magnanimous, but rather they were decried by the
Left as cruel and punitive -- as if being too lax was proof of being

Yet, thanks to the brilliance of the U.S. military and despite the
rocky reconstruction and our own election hysteria, there is a good
chance that the January elections can begin a cycle similar to what
we see in Afghanistan. And at that point things should get very, very

Just as the breakdown of a few Communist Eastern European states led
to a general collapse of Marxism in the east, or the military
humiliation in colonial Africa and the Falklands led to democratic
renaissance in Iberia and Argentina, or American military efforts in
Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama City brought consensual government
to Central America, a reformed Afghanistan and Iraq may prompt what
decades of billions of dollars in wasted aid to Egypt, Jordan, and
the Palestinians, the 1991 Gulf War, and 60 years of appeasement of
Gulf petrol-sheiks could not: the end of the old sick calculus of
Middle East tyrannies blackmailing the United States through past
intrigue with the Soviet Union, then threats of oil embargos and
rigged prices, and, most recently, both overt and stealthy support
for fundamentalist killers.

The similar effort to isolate Arafat, encourage the withdrawal from
Gaza, and allow the Israelis to proceed with the fence have brought
more opportunity to the Middle East than all of Dennis Ross's
shuttles put together, noble and well-meant though his futile efforts
were. The onus is on the Palestinians now either to turn Gaza into
their own republic or give birth to another Lebanon -- their call
before a globalized audience. They can hold elections and shame the
Arab League by being the embryo of consensual government in the
Middle East, or coronate yet another thug and terrorist in hopes that
again the United States will play a Chamberlain to their once-elected

If someone wonders about the enormous task at hand in democratizing
the Middle East, he could do no worse than ponder the last days of
Yasser Arafat: the tawdry fight over his stolen millions; the charade
of the First Lady of Palestine barking from a Paris salon; the
unwillingness to disclose what really killed the "Tiger" of Ramallah;
the gauche snub of obsequious Europeans hovering in the skies over
Cairo, preening to pay homage to the late prince of peace; and, of
course, the usual street theater of machine guns spraying the air and
thousands of males crushing each other to touch the bier of the man
who robbed them blind. Try bringing a constitution and open and fair
elections to a mess like that.

But that is precisely what the United States was trying to do by
removing the Taliban, putting Saddam Hussein on trial, and
marginalizing Arafat. Such idealism has been caricatured with every
type of slur -- from both the radical Left and the paleo-Right,
ranging from alleged Likud conspiracies and neo-con pipe dreams to
secret pipeline deals and plans for a new American imperium in the
Middle East shepherded in by the Bush dynasts. In fact, the effort
not just to strike back after September 11, but to alter the very
landscape in which our enemies operated was the only choice we had if
we wished to end the cruise-missile/bomb-'em-for-a-day cycle of the
past 20 years, the ultimate logic of which had led to the crater at
the World Trade Center.

Oddly, our enemies understand the long-term strategic efforts of the
United States far better than do our own dissidents. They know that
oil is not under U.S. control but priced at all-time highs, and that
America is not propping up despotism anymore, but is now the general
foe of both theocracies and dictatorships -- and the thorn in the side
of "moderate" autocracies. An America that is a force for democratic
change is a very dangerous foe indeed. Most despots long for the old
days of Jimmy Carter's pious homilies, appeasement of awful
dictatorships gussied up as "concern" for "human rights," and the
lure of a Noble Prize to ensure nights in the Lincoln bedroom or
hours waiting on a dictator's tarmac.

In the struggle in Fallujah hinges not just the fate of the Sunni
Triangle, or even Iraq, but rather of the entire Middle East -- and it
will be decided on the bravery and skill of mostly 20-something
American soldiers. If they are successful in crushing and humiliating
the fascists there and extending the victory to other spots then the
radical Islamists and their fascistic sponsors will erode away. But
if they fail or are called off, then we will see Days of Sorrow that
make September 11 look like child's play.

We are living in historic times, as all the landmarks of the past
half-century are in the midst of passing away. The old left-wing
critique is in shambles -- as the United States is proving to be the
most radical engine for world democratic change and liberalization of
the age. A reactionary Old Europe, in concert with the ossified
American leftist elite, unleashed everything within its ample
cultural arsenal: novels, plays, and op-ed columns calling for the
assassination of President Bush; propaganda documentaries reminiscent
of the oeuvre of Pravda or Leni Riefenstahl; and transparent bias
passed off as front-page news and lead-ins on the evening network

Germany and France threw away their historic special relationships
with America, while billions in Eastern Europe, India, Russia, China,
and Japan either approved of our efforts or at least kept silent. Who
would have believed 60 years ago that the great critics of democracy
in the Middle East would now be American novelists and European
utopians, while Indians, Poles, and Japanese were supporting those
who just wanted the chance to vote? Who would have thought that a
young Marine from the suburbs of Topeka battling the Dark Ages in
Fallujah -- the real humanist -- was doing more to aid the planet than
all the billions of the U.N.?

Those on the left who are ignorant of history lectured the Bush
administration that democracy has never come as a result of the
threat of conflict or outright war -- apparently the creation of a
democratic United States, Germany, Japan, Italy, Israel, El Salvador,
Nicaragua, Panama, Serbia, and Afghanistan was proof of the power of
mere talk. In contrast, the old realist Right warned that strongmen
are our best bet to ensure stability -- as if Saudi Arabia and Egypt
have been loyal allies with content and stable pro-American
citizenries. In truth, George Bush's radical efforts to cleanse the
world of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, bring democracy to the heart
of the Arab world, and isolate Yasser Arafat were the most risky and
humane developments in the Middle East in a century — old-fashioned
idealism backed with force in a postmodern age of abject cynicism and

Quite literally, we are living in the strangest, most perilous, and
unbelievable decade in modern memory.

Wednesday, December 1

Take That, ACLU

The following is from -- Mike Gallagher's response to America's Scrooge, the ACLU. The words are Mike's, the sentiments are mine.

"'Tis the season: The Christmas lights are up, the malls are playing carols, and somewhere in America, the ACLU is filing another lawsuit over someone having the nerve to try and celebrate Christ's birth.

The American Civil Liberties Union seems to delight in this relentless onslaught of litigation and persecution every Christmas season. And this year, it's worse than ever. Some town puts up a nativity scene, the ACLU files suit. Some hapless Santa attempts to explain the meaning of Christmas to a grade school student, the ACLU demands his termination.

Heck, even a Christmas tree causes these people to break out in a rash. The ACLU isn't allergic to pine needles, just the simple, beautiful public expression of celebrating Christmas the way this country has done for generations.

Just like clockwork, I read about the ACLU's latest anti-Christmas gripe and my blood boils. This year, I've decided to do something about it. I've asked my radio audience to help me send a message to the ACLU, a message that might not get them to change their position, but one that could strike a chord with Americans who are as fed up with their tactics as I am. You can help, too.

I've launched the "Merry Christmas, ACLU" project. I'm collecting hundreds and hundreds of Christmas cards from people all over the country. The ground rules for the cards are simple: be certain they have a Christmas theme, not some secular, watered-down one; write a personal message to the ACLU so you can let them know how you feel; and send the cards to me so that I can personally deliver them to their national headquarters in New York City sometime early next year.

I'm hoping for a "Miracle on 34th Street" type of response. Remember at the end of that Christmas classic how bags and bags of mail to Santa Claus were dumped on the judge's desk? In just two days, I've already received over 1,000 cards. We're off to a great start.

Oh, and I think I've figured out a way to force the pinheads at the ACLU to open each one: I'm told that a few listeners might enclose a check to "donate" to the ACLU's pitiful causes. Never one to miss an opportunity to collect money, I'm certain that the very possibility might be enough to make them open them all. Now, I clearly cannot promise that those few checks will ever clear the bank, but hey, one never knows ...

If you agree with me that it's time to stand up to the ACLU, feel free to send me as many Christmas cards as you can. Some listeners have sent me 25 or 50 at a time. Remember, make sure each one is hand-written by you and contains a message to the ACLU. Send your Christmas cards to:

Mike Gallagher's "Merry Christmas, ACLU!"
c/o The Mike Gallagher Show
6400 N. Beltline Rd.
Irving, Texas 75063

Again, I'll be sure to take all the cards we collect and drop them off at the ACLU's national headquarters. While this effort might not change their tactics, trust me, it feels great to be able to get off our chests how we feel about these folks, and even better to think of some sour-pussed ACLU employees sitting in a room opening card after card, hoping for a donation that might be mixed into all those wonderful Christmas messages from America's heartland.

Think of this as a type of silent yet powerful protest against the way the ACLU continues to try and hijack the spirit of the Christmas season each and every year.

Good things are happening in America: The economy is bouncing back, the war on terror continues to be an effective one, and Howard Dean is the best thing the Democrats have to offer. Take a minute this holiday season and let me show the ACLU how you feel about them.

Oh, and Merry Christmas (so sue me)!"

And that goes double for me. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and celebrate Christmas.

What I think I'll do is send the ACLU notes and cards and letters throughout this Christmas season. If you're interested in doing the same, their office addresses are:
New York:
American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004

American Civil Liberties Union
915 15 th Street, NW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20005

Seems to me that a little real Christmas cheer is just what Scrooge needs; even the Grinch eventually came around!

The West Wing

First I have to admit that I've been as addicted to The West Wing this past year as I was to Saturday movies when I was a child. I think I've seen every episode at least three or four times since I found the reruns on Bravo during a recent illness. I've developed quite an attachment to several of the characters, especially CJ, because she's tall like I am and because she reacts exactly the way I would in any given situation. Then there's Donnatella Moss, who reminds me of my oldest and dearest friend. Of course I love Charlie, Margaret, Josh, Toby and Leo, too.

Because of the issues they're involved with I've come to realize how little Democrats understand Republicans. Although they give lip service to the other side, they really don't "get it" and their alternate-stand arguments rarely touch real points.

I laugh at their mistakes (their reseachers make some serious goofs sometimes -- like having Air Force One fly out of Nashville instead of Knoxville after the "President" visits Oak Ridge). Dumb mistakes like that just add to my enjoyment -- as did the "President's" argument against homosexuality in another episode. I guess their main problem is that they can't tolerate Republicans enough to have one on their research staff. But never mind -- it's a great show and it's amusing on multiple levels.

But listen to what their producer recently said: "I don't see any way to write 'The West Wing' for current Bush voters. I couldn't possibly write a heroic president who goes to war for an announced reason that turns out to be false and changes his story about how he went to war. There's nothing in the Bush presidency that holds up for a 'West Wing'-style presidency, which is a fundamentally honest and honorable administration." --Lawrence O'Donnell advertising his need for a check on reality

Now let's get this straight. President Bush went to war in Iraq on mistaken intelligence that was so invasive that many other nations including the UN had the same reports. Also, he hasn't changed the reason he went to war; he has simply said it looks like we had bad intelligence.

On the other hand, the President in "The West Wing" intentionally deceived his staff and the electorate (he excused it by saying he didn't know he was going to win) about a serious illness (multiple sclerosis) and went through almost an entire year of episodes trying to clear that mess up. The situation became even more complicated when the staff discovered that the Chief of Staff was not only a recovered alcoholic but had been involved in drug therapy. That was not exactly above board and honest, was it?

Besides, The West Wing has never been written for Bush voters. That's part of its appeal to this conservative. The issues have always been liberal ones and the writers take obvious glee in shouting down what they conceive as conservative issues as in the tirade the President lets loose on a "conservative" reporter on the homosexuality issue mentioned above.

But the idea that the President portrayed by Martin Scheen is somehow more "honest" and "honorable" than President Bush is a HUGE laugh. Scheen's president curses God in one episode and keeps the press at bay while he invades a country in another. He deceives his wife and his staff when he decides to run for a second term. You'd think dealing with situations like that, fiction though they are, would make the writers, producers and actors more sensitive to the problems of a sitting President. Perhaps, though, the fact that O'Donnell and crew can make their situations come out the way they want makes them immune to reality.

And besides, that whine can give O'Donnell an excuse to quit. The show is, after all, six or seven years old. I'm loving CJ as Chief of Staff and see a romance coming between Leo and his nurse but what the heck, it's all for fun isn't it? Well, isn't it?