That which we call a rose, part II

Because the Left is so exquisitely attuned to pejorative words, a Florida Democrat wants to ban the State government’s use of the phrase “illegal alien,” preferring the oh so much more polite and non-judgmental “undocumented immigrant.” Please pass me the barf bag. This attempt to dress up illegal conduct in pretty words is making me sick. But it’s also giving me ideas. No more “murderers.” Instead, we’ll have “life relievers.” Forget “robbers.” We’ll have “unauthorized property attainers.” “Rapists” no more. I”m going to call them “non-consensual penetrators.” Hey, this is fun! Join me in the comments section.

UPDATE:  In a similar vein, see this story out of England.  While I’ll agree that the defendant behaved heinously, and undoubtedly broke existing laws about threatening behavior, the “racist” tag again is one for the language police.

Hat tip: Drudge

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A love letter to the Marines

We finally got around to watching something TV captured for us last week: a PBS program profiling the Marines. What was amazing about the show, considering the source, was how laudatory both Mr. Bookworm and I thought it was. It could not emphasize enough the rigors of training, the camaraderie, the bravery, the history and the honesty and morality of the Marines. I truly enjoyed the show, especially because it dovetailed so perfectly with my understanding of the men who fought at Tripoli, who captured Iwo Jima and who cleaned out Fallujah.

What was really interesting was Mr. Bookworm’s reaction. As readers new to my blog don’t know, while I crossed the Rubicon from liberal to conservative (or, I prefer to think, as the parties’ ethos shifted, the parties rejiggered themselves around me), Mr. Bookworm remained a die-hard liberal. Just to give you an idea, the Times is his browser’s home page! Mr. Bookworm hated the show. While he is fascinated by things military, he thought it was just awful to have a show treating the Marines with such respect, and not dishing out any dirt. After going on for a while about the show’s failings (“it’s just a recruiting film”), his final statement was “and on public television, of all places.” I had to laugh.

It did occur to me this morning, though, that Mr. Bookworm’s reaction may just have been because the show was, in fact, somewhat saccharine. He’s very attuned to movie scores, and the music they chose was this soaring, “inspiring” music tht just went on and on. That kind of thing is always irritating, especially if you pay attention to the music. What I did realize is that, if you’re a die-hard anti-War, anti-military nut, the show would probably please you too, because of the emphasis on the Marines’ warrior culture. After all, if you’re anti-War, the mere fact that a warrior culture exists would drive you crazy, wouldn’t it?

UPDATE: On the radio this morning, I heard an NPR story that probably comports a lot more with the “progressive” view of Marines than does the TV show, since it focuses on a Marine who is on trial for killing an Iraqi civilian (and mentions a few other ongoing military trials in the same vein).

Incidentally, am I the only one who finds it impressive that there are so few of these types of stories about military abuse of power? Considering the military’s demographics — young, male, armed, stressed — it’ s testament to our military that these stories are rare enough to be “man bites dog” headline grabbers, rather than “dog bites man” ho-hum stories.

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That which we call a rose….

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. –William Shakespeare

Have you ever noticed that, while conservative publications refer to the “Left” and the “Right,” and to “Liberals” and “Conservatives,” liberal publications never do? They refer to the “Right,” but not the “Left,” and to “Conservatives,” but not to “Liberals.” In other words, they never apply a label to themselves. This NYT’s article, describing a negative documentary that liberals made about Michael Moore, perfectly demonstrates this verbal dance (emphasis mine):

MICHAEL MOORE, who carries around controversy the way Paul Bunyan toted an ax, has won legions of fans for being a ball-cap-wearing fly in the ointment of Republican politics. For tweaking the documentary form. Even for making millions of dollars in the traditionally poverty-stricken genre of nonfiction film.

Many despise him for the same reasons.

The Toronto-based documentary filmmakers Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk started out in the first camp. But during the course of making an unauthorized film about Mr. Moore they wound up somewhere in between. In the process, their experience has added a twist to the long-running story of an abrasive social critic who has frequently been criticized from the right, but far less often, as is the case with Ms. Melnyk and Mr. Caine, from his own end of the political spectrum.

“What he’s done for documentaries is amazing,” said Ms. Melnyk, 48, a native of Toronto and a freelance TV producer, who even now expounds on the good he says Mr. Moore has done. “People go to see documentaries now and, as documentary makers, we’re grateful.”

But according to Mr. Caine, 46, an Ohio-born journalist and cameraman, the freewheeling persona cultivated by Mr. Moore, and the free-thinking rhetoric expounded by his friends and associates were not quite what they encountered when they decided to examine his work. “As investigative documentarists we always thought we could look at anything we wanted,” Mr. Caine said. “But when we turned the cameras on one of the leading figures in our own industry, the people we wanted to talk to were like: ‘What are you doing? Why are you throwing stones at the parade leader?’ ”

Ms. Melnyk added, “We were very lonely.”

***

That link contains a refutation of a number of complaints taken up by conservatives regarding “Fahrenheit 9/11,” but the Melnyk-Caine movie isn’t really about that. “We didn’t want to refute anything,” Ms. Melnyk said. “We just wanted to take a look at Michael Moore and his films. It was only by talking to people that we found out this other stuff.”

This is just one article, but I’ve been aware of it time after time when I read the Times or The New Yorker, or listen to an NPR story. Always, conservatives get labeled; always, the author or speaker, gracefully or awkwardly, works to avoid applying a political label to those who are not conservative.

Please tell me if you think I’m imagining this, or if you’ve seen the same pattern. If I’m right, I have my guesses as to why this is so, but I’d love to hear your guesses first.

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Black is not white

When you’re dealing with people in an alternate universe, they’ll often try to convince you that the evidence of your own eyes is wrong and that black is actually white or vice versa. This is happening on the far Left side of the blogosphere where the new meme, apparently, is that LGF is anti-Semitic. The reasoning is that, by highlighting Muslim atrocities, LGF is trying to foment hatred against the Jews who are forcing the Muslims to commit these atrocities. (I’m not kidding. Check it out here.)

Because we’ve all learned that you need to defend yourself against even the most stupid attacks — and that it’s nice if your friends help out — let me just say, as a Jew who likes being Jewish, that LGF is just about the most rational, pro-Jewish site there is. Please note the use of the word “rational.” In other words, LGF’s positive attitude towards Jews is not the mirror image of the irrational anti-Semitism that exists on so many sites. It’s a manifestation of an intelligent brain that has examined the world stituation and concluded, rightly, that Jews are not the enemies.

UPDATE: Welcome, LGF readers! Thank you for dropping by. Needless to say, I’d be delighted if you took a minute to look around. If you’re a conservative thinker, you might like what you see.

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But does he have a plan?

Two personal anecdotes and then I’ll get to my point.

1. When my first Little Bookworm was born, I went into a fairly deep funk. She was a lousy sleeper, and I’m generally not very good at handling change in my life. Between fatigue and my own personal inflexibility, all I could do — very vocally –was mourn the passing of my easy, well-ordered life before a baby came along. Mr. Bookworm put up with my whining quite patiently for a long time, but he finally had it. On night, he turned to me and said words that completely rejiggered my thinking about motherhood: “This is your life now. Get used to it.” In other words, you can mourn the past as much as you want, but you live in the present. I operate with that philosophy on a regular basis now.

2. I can walk into a room and instantly tell you what’s wrong with it: the colors are ugly, the furniture doesn’t fit the room, the paintings are poor quality. Whatever. Just don’t ask me to fix it. My decorating talents are purely destructive, not constructive. I don’t have the slightest ability to make a room look good (which is why I turn to my mother, who is very talented in that direction).

Those are the anecdotes. This is my point: The press is making much of the fact that Barack Obama is one of the candidates who can boast to the base that he voted against never supported the war. That’s all well and good, but it ignores the fact that, while he may have opposed it, we’re now in the midst of one. Anti-war people can mourn the 2003 votes as much as possible, wishing that they had gone otherwise, but the present is war.

Which gets me to my second point. Even if we assume for the sake of argument that Obama was right and the war is wrong, he hasn’t given any indication whatsoever that he has the ability to deal with the present reality. Like me with a room, it’s easy to point out errors, and much, much harder to provide solutions. Until Obama gives a sign that he’s functioning in the present and not trying to rewrite 2003, and until he shows that he can do more than complain about the situation, I continue to be unimpressed with him as a viable wartime candidate.

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Means v. Ends

My long-ago post about the Marin County NIMBYs who were upset that Habitat for Humanity was coming to their neck of the woods, sparked quite a debate. The very first comment, which I understand was tongue in cheek, struck me strongly, though. Because I agreed with the NIMBYs, who feel you can’t just go around dumping poor people in affluent communities in the hope of social engineer, Helen jokingly concluded that I must not like poor people, with the further implication that I don’t care what becomes of them.

Helen’s is an interesting point because I think it’s consistent with the liberal belief system that conservatives hate the poor and downtrodden, thereby explaining why conservatives keep shooting down all liberal legislation aimed at aiding the poor and downtrodden. I believe that conclusion is profoundly in error.

As far as I can tell, conservatives — including ex-liberals like me — would love to see the poverty problem resolved, making it a goal we share with the liberals. However, where we differ, is that we do not believe liberal means, which amount to government intervention in the marketplace and to wealth reallocation, will achieve this goal. And to give conservatives their due, this belief isn’t just grounded in theory, it arises from watching the myriad failures of 40 years of Great Society experimentation.

So, it seems to me that one of the great divides between liberals and conservatives is the liberals’ belief that, if you don’t buy into their economic means, you must be rejecting their economic ends. If you don’t want wealth reallocation, you must hate the poor. If you don’t believe in unlimited welfare, you must hate the poor. If you believe corporations should be taxed within an inch of the corporate lives, you must hate the poor.

All of this swirled to the fore of my brain when I began reading Thomas Edsall’s Building Red America : The New Conservative Colation and the Drive for Permanent Power, a very well-written book that attempts to understand conservative successes over the last 40 years, and to come up with ideas about how Democrats can again grab political power. By well-written, I mean factually accurate, well-organized, with a lot of manifestly correct analyses. It’s also a profoundly wrong-headed book, to my way of thinking, in that it assumes that Republicans have done well, not because their ideas are better and more appealing, but because they’ve sold a false bill of goods to the American people. That is, in the author’s mind, only manipulation could get the American people to turn their back on high taxes, wealth reallocation, and government intervention in economics. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that the American people might have concluded have 40 years that these heavy-handed government based systems don’t work.

It turns out that I’m not the only one who has noticed that, on the Left, there are certain core beliefs that exist regardless of practical experience or hard evidence. Robert Godwin, writing at the blog One Cosmos, has done a lengthy post regarding the academic Left’s rigid adherence to theory over fact. (Hat tip: American Thinker.) I think you should read the whole post, but I’m quoting one section of it here to emphasize my point about flawed erroneous premises:

Why is it that the the smartest people are often the most unintelligent? Why is academia full of presumably bright people with such foolish or shallow ideas? And why do so many of them think the same way? Why are they so predictable? (And please, I am speaking of generalities here; I am well aware of the exceptions.)

Academia seems to be a culture, like the MSM, that is simply so permeated with the leftist worldview — and all of its many hidden assumptions — that it is utterly blind to those assumptions. And because academics mostly associate with their own psychoclass, they come to regard their worldview as normative instead of an aberration — even an illness of the soul. Thus, they may not be so much arrogant as clueless. And the more elite the university, the more predictable they are. For example, professors at so-called “elite” universities are much more likely to be irreligious than those from junior colleges and state universities. It’s like a Darwinian process of natural selction, in which the dark academic environment selects only the metaphysically blind, who are somehow able to “see” there, like those fish at the bottom of the sea.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a relative by marriage who is a renowned historian. I remember once having a conversation with him in which I brought up the obvious innate differences between male and female nature. Not only did he disagree with me, but he insisted that I show him the data that I relied upon to arrive at this conclusion. There seems to be a sort of mental disability that can afflict the overly-educated person, so that he can no longer understand certain things that have always been known — and in a way, cannot not be known. Something interferes with the “naturally supernatural” process of direct “internal” knowing, and must be replaced from the outside with “data” or an empirical study. I suppose it’s analogous to someone who only ate processed food. Eventually they would lose their taste for natural foods. Compared to a fried academic Snickers bar, an intuitive apple just won’t do.

The whole means versus ends thinking also appears in connection with dictators and other murderous government types around the world. At Contentions, the excellent new Commentary Magazine blog, one of my favorite writers, Joshua Murvachik, wrote a post about a dark horse Democratic candidate, General Wesley Clark. It’s not a general post, but a very specific one, focusing on Clark’s cozy chit chat with General Ratko Mladic, one of the Serbian mass murderers. The post got me thinking about the fact that liberals have, for decades, had a truly distasteful habit of cozying up with the worst of the worst. Chamberlain, in 1938, was convinced that Hitler was a friend and Truman, who learned from his mistake, believed that Joe Stalin was a good guy. (In Truman’s defense, Stalin was certainly a necessary, although unsavory, ally once Hitler turned on the Russians.)

In recent years, the liberal/murderer friendships have come thick and fast. Carter leads the pack, of course, holding hands and making kissy faces at anyone who is evil. But you can run out of fingers (and toes), counting the famous liberals who have made nice with today’s bad guys. Every liberal loves Castro and the Che chic on the Left is an embarrassment, lauding as it does one of Castro’s mass murderers. Gore and Kerry fly around the world, to the most repressive regimes, where they denounce America. (And, if Kerry is to be believed, he conducted private peace talks with the lovable East Asian Communists during the Vietnam War.) Cindy Sheehan, of course, has regular love-fests with Venezuela’s despicable Hugo Chavez and, just recently, the LA Times denounced the United States for picking on the beleaguered Iran and their innocent (and, to the LA Times, unproven) nuclear program. This mind view exists even when we stop talking about nations and start talking about individuals. It doesn’t take a very long memory to recall liberal horror that the State of California was going to execute Stanley “Tookie” Williams, a Crips founder, who was convicted of murdering four people, and who doubtless killed dozens more during LA gang wars.

It would be easy to say that liberals love dictators and killers, but I think that’s unfair. Decent liberals (and I think most are) hate dictators and murderers every bit as much as every other right thinking person. Thus, both liberals and conservatives envision the same end, which is the cessation of the bad acts that these dictators (and murderers) commit. The difference is the way in which liberals and conservatives think these bad people should be treated. Conservatives believe them to be inherently evil and think that they should be removed from power, whether the power to rule a nation (Ahmadinijad, for example) or the power to control a gang (Tookie or Che). Liberals, however, simply think that these evil-doers are misunderstood, and that if we could just figure out what they really want, they’d stop doing such bad things. In liberal land, it’s inconceivable that what these bad guys might really want is, in fact, unlimited power, and the ability to kill and torture people both at home and abroad.

Nor do liberals change their minds in the face of evidence contradicting their premise. In 1938, Chamberlain gave Hitler what he wanted. World War II resulted. Since 1994, with Carter’s connivance, America has repeatedly given N. Korea what she demands, with the result that N. Korea continuously escalated its nuclear program to the point where it can no longer be stopped. The same holds true for the naive West’s dealings with Iran and the Palestinian. Every time, we think that we’re stopping their need for blood by satisfying some deep psychological urge (an urge that, coincidentally, usually requires money, arms, and room to use them), only to be surprised that, instead of getting better, they get worse.

Putting aside poverty and war, I suspect one can come up with dozens of examples in which, contrary to the liberal view, liberals and conservatives do in fact seek the same goal (quality education comes to mind), but they pursue very different ends to achieve those goals. And having myself achieved a comfortable middle age, and having seen the means put forward by both liberals and conservatives to achieve those goals, I’ll come down on the side of the conservatives every time. Contrary to Thomas Edsall’s view that conservative achievements are just luck, and that their stated principles are nothing more than canards meant to deceive the American people, I think that conservative achievements result from a hard-headed pragmatism that desires positive ends, but that recognizes that all people have some vices, and that some people are all vice, and that then works with those human foibles, rather than pretending they don’t exist.

UPDATE:  Here’s Hans Blix pretty much making my point about the Left’s habit of using therapy to deal with bad guys.

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An honest bar mitzvah invitation

My Jewish readers may enjoy this one, which I got from a friend:

In keeping up with the Levy’s and the Zimmerman’s,

It is with great stress, emotional and physical fatigue and incredible financial sacrifice beyond comprehension, that we invite you to join us as our wonderful son

Jonathan Samuel

is called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah.

Saturday, May 12th -
(yes we realize its Mother’s Day Weekend)

Temple Beth Israel
14 XXXXXXXX Road
XXXXX, XXXXXXXXX

at the ungodly hour of 9 am even though you don’t really need to be there until 10:20am to catch the real action.

If you make it through the 3 hour service, please skip the kiddush (its just cookies and cake) and join us instead for an overly large and ostentatious Kosher (my husband’s idea) evening meal, which starts at 7 PM, (not 8 PM.. or you will miss out on the 2000 canapes).

XXXXXXXX Country Club
25 Smith Drive
Westport, CT 06880

(which we had to join just for this event and you would not believe the initiation fees)

You will be in the presence of lots of boisterous and expensive entertainment and 60 to 70 unruly pre-teens wearing expensive dresses, funny hats, fake bling and brand new white ankle socks … as well as 80-100 middle aged+ adults, some balding, some with bad toupees, most will be professionally coiffed, designer attire galore, lots of REAL bling, and most “tootsed” to the nines. At least 1/3 will be hormonally challenged and some will act stupid while under the influence. Some will not even know where or who they are. Some will complain about the food. Blah Blah Blah.

Please have the courtesy of showing up if you RSVP that you are attending, or you will be billed for $210.00 a plate if you are a no-show. Please RSVP as soon as you get this and not a day before the cut-off date. I can’t take the stress.

Hope you can make it! Judy and David Gold
Dress: Black Tie optional
Theme: Star Wars

BYO Kippot. I don’t have the strength.

It made me laugh

Light blogging continues as I re-immerse myself into the news world.  Last night, thanks to the miracle that is TiVo, we caught up on all the Jay Leno shows that we missed.  It was a weak week’s worth of shows, but I enjoyed a moment when Mitch Fatel, one of Leno’s funnier contributors, visited to the NBA All-Stars Game (or whatever it was called).  He was interviewing Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, when he suddenly asked “Since you’re French, do you ever just want to surrender in the middle of a game?”  Parker was not amused, but Mr. Bookworm and I were.

Butterflies

I’m back — and have been so busy unpacking and tidying, that I haven’t even read the headlines.  I did, however, want to tell you that, if you find yourself near Goleta, California (north of Santa Barbara) in winter, you absolutely must visit the Coronado Butterfly Preserve.  Tens of thousands of monarch butterflies spend the winter there, and it is one of nature’s more amazing sights.  We didn’t get to see too many butterflies this time, both because it’s a bit late in the season and because so many died several years ago during a bad storm, but it’s still impressive.  At any given moment, hundreds flutter about in the air, and those clusters of orange leaves you see on the eucalyptus trees aren’t leaves at all, but thousands of butterflies.  It’s both peaceful and exhilarating.

War as diplomacy by other means

Except in the rare circumstance when genocide is the goal, war is never an end in itself. It is always a means to the end of a better negotiating position. Someone in one of these threads mentioned the old saying that war is diplomacy by other means. With this in mind, consider Judyrose’s question, asked twice now but not answered, of what we could offer to the jihadists at the negotiating table. If we take the approach of the liberals, who would withdraw from Iraq and, essentially, abandon war and the threat of war as negotiating tools, we would have nothing to offer.

The plain truth is the jihadists want to destroy us, our society, our freedoms, our religion, our way of life. They’ve said so over and over again. They have proven over and over again that they are deadly serious. Assuming we are not willing to surrender those things, we really do have nothing to offer that they would be interested in. The only other alternative I see is to “persuade” them to abandon those goals. I’m absolutely certain that talking nicely to them won’t do that. They aren’t interested in the usual bribe-like financial incentives. They don’t want to join our modern-day materialistic society; they want to destroy it.

The only way we can persuade them to give up their goals is by persuading them that (a) they cannot possibly achieve those goals, and (b) we will make it so painful for them to even try that they should abandon the effort. Obviously, we can do this only by displaying a commitment to war and a ruthlessness that we have thus far utterly failed to show. We have the power to really “shock and awe” but we have never unleashed it or even threatened serious to do so. Until we do so, the jihadist threat will grow. Attempting to appease or persuade them with anything short of the use, or serious threat of use, of all of our power will surely fail.

This leads to a serious question, though. The American public has shown conclusively that they are not nearly ruthless enough. They will not even support the limited effort we are making in Iraq. They are not about to support the kind of military effort it would take to have any deterrent effect on the jihadists.

So, two questions: (1) are there any other alternatives to serious warfare which will result in the johadists giving up? (2) If not, how do we persuade the American people (and the rest of the non-Muslim world, for that matter) that such a serious, grim and ruthless effort is necessary?

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I’m a “warmonger”

I was told yesterday that I am a “warmonger.”  I opposed the invasion of Iraq.  But I’m a warmonger.  I believe that war should be used only as a last resort.  But I am a warmonger.  Why?  Well, because I refuse to denounce all war as evil.  Because I believe that when someone declares war on me, my nation, my culture, my way of life, self defense is a valid, moral response.  Because I self-identify as a conservative.  I am a warmonger.

Modern day leftists devalue the language with meaning-twisting, Alice in Wonderland word play.   The same person tells me I’m a racist because I committed the sin of being born with white skin and I can only hope, if I completely denounce my whiteness, to aspire to the title of recovering racist.  Yet those who actively and openly discriminate are not racists; as long as they discriminate against white folks, they’re just engaged in “affirmative action.”  If a women causes the foetus in her womb to be removed, she’s merely exercising a “right to choose” as if the choice, not the act, is all that matters . . . as if thieves are merely exercising their right to choose to steal,  murderers are merely exercising their right to kill, dishonest businessmen are merely exercising their right to make money.

If we are going to communicate with each other we have to speak a common language.  Perhaps we can start by giving words their proper and common meaning instead of twisting them into meaninglessness.  Let’s talk.  But let’s speak English, okay? 

Are you proud?

Are you proud to be an American (or a German, or a Brazilian, or whatever nationality your are)? Why, or why not? I’ll share my answer with you tomorrow. I look forward to reading yours.

My Answer: I am proud to be an American, but sad as well.

I’m proud that America created the best form of government yet invented by mankind, with America’s constitution being copied by dozens of countries. I’m sad that instead of improving this system, we’ve spent 200 years tearing it down.

I’m proud that Americans were (and still may be) the freest people on earth. I’m sad that we have given away so much of that freedom to those on the left who would control our public activities and to those on the right who would control our private activities.

I’m proud that America created the most dynamic, successful, economic system ever created. I’m sad that system is now being destroyed by people who believe that corporations are evil and profit is a dirty word.

I’m proud that Americans are the most decent, loving, caring people on earth. I’m sad that we’ve done such a poor job of demonstrating this to the rest of the world that so many in the world do not know about the fundamental decency of the average American.

I’m proud that Americans try so hard to improve themselves, constantly questioning themselves and testing their values in the marketplace of ideas. I’m sad that political correctness signals the death of the freedom of speech that I hold so dear.

I’m proud that Americans have historically believe in rewarding hard work and success, in personal responsibility. I’m sad that so many Americans today have lost that belief.

I’m proud that America, with all its faults is still the country millions of people are trying to get into, not out of. These people know America is still the land of opportunity. I’m sad we’ve so thoroughly failed to find a way to accommodate this influx and incorporate the latest newcomers into American society and American values.

For all it’s faults, the United States of America is by far the finest nation in the history of the world. I’m very lucky to have been born in this fine nation. I’m sad so many other Americans feel pride. I’m sad so many are embarrassed or ashamed to say they are Americans. But, as for me, I’m proud to be an American.

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Please continue

Rather than start a new thread, I’m going to let the one from yesterday run another day.  The conversation is the most important one we could possibly have here, and it appears to just be gaining momentum.  I invite everyone reading this to read the comments to that post and add your own fresh ideas.   Goodness know, the Republicans have not succeeded and the Democrat leadership seems to have no idea at all what to do.  It’s time for all of us to talk seriously about what American should be doing to deal with those who would destroy her.  Thanks in advance for your contributions to the discussion.

So, what do we do now?

At your command, BigAl. In fact, my first post will feature you. A couple weeks ago I asked for everyone, but especially liberal readers of this blog for their positive ideas on what America should do now to counter the jihad that is being waged against us. After a false start, and to his great credit, BigAl was the only one to come through with a concrete suggestion. Here, to get the discussion started, it is:

Don,

I’m back with the positive ideas you requested. I’ve said these things in a previous post and no one commented. I really don’t know enough about effective war tactics to say that my ideas are perfect…but I think a sincere listener knows what I’m saying (especially compared to the current strategy).

I just know that Sun Tzu said that the biggest key to victory in any war is the use of spies.

I hate any and all wars, but if I were a war mongerer, and truly believed the Iranians are going to kill us all if we don’t stop them..I would do the following:

1) Remove the US military from the population centers (cities and towns) of Iraq to military bases in sparsely populated areas and on the borders. This will allow us to maintain a serious military presence and be ready to guard against interference from Iran, Syria or any one else in the ME who may try to mess with the situation.

AND it removes the bulk of the members of the military OUT of the middle of a civil war but still in a position where they can help if help is needed (in Iraq or anywhere in ME). This will reduce the number of deaths and/or casualties significantly.

2) Use the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, and the elite special forces to conduct the brunt of the war–in an undercover/stealth fashion. If the special forces/CIA/FBI/ Special Forces is not equipped to handle fighting the brunt of the war–then we need to change that quickly.

They should receive the full support of the Air Force, Navy, and Army for anything they need at any time. But do everything possible to limit the combat missions–along with intelligence gathering to members of special forces/CIA/FBI, etc.

No more US military members driving around or standing around (in uniform) in the cities to be used as target practice for insurgents and/or terrorists.

Also, I know special forces are a part of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. I am just saying that ONLY special forces –with help from and along side of the CIA, FBI, NSA, ETC should be used to conduct combat missions.

To win this war (especially the propaganda war), we need to keep a low-profile in the middle-east.

3) Talk to the enemy (Iran). Face to Face. Show the world we are the ones playing fairly and not being deaf to what everyone else is saying.

4) At the same time, send in special forces, CIA, FBI, to Iran, if necessary–and start making sure they will never develop nuclear weapons that threaten everyone (especially Israel). Publicly deny any and all claims by Iran, Syria or anyone else that we are conducting secret military operations. Keep the war small by pretending like there is no war going on.

DQ again. I was surprised at this response. Essentially, BigAl is suggesting we carry out the entire war with the kind of covert operations that conservatives generally love and liberals general hate. I don’t even know if such a thing is possible; I seriously doubt we have enough covert operatives (special forces) to pull it off, but at least it is a highly original idea.

So what do you all think? Is BigAl on to something? Or what should we do? Not just what should we do about Iraq, where it appears there are no good options. What should we do about the entire jihad being waged world-wide against Westerners, non-Muslims and our values and our way of life? I look forward to your ideas.

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Take it away, DQ! It’s yours.

I’m off for a few days (ski week, although we’re not skiing) and I’ll be without computer access.  I’m therefore keeping my fingers crossed that DQ will have the time and the inclination to blog here.  I always love coming back to my blog after he’s taken over, because his posts are so thought-provoking, and spark such marvelous discussions.

Obama cliche alert

As you know, I agree with Ann Coulter, who considers Obama a singularly uninspiring orator. She thinks he’s given a pass because he’s black. I think he’s given a pass because, in our inarticulate age, he’s able to string sentences together (something, sadly, that President Bush can’t do). Take, for example, Obama’s performance in San Francisco where, says the SF Chronicle, he “dazzled” democrats. What were the dazzling lines?

According to the Chron, the first was that “We are here because the country is at a crossroads.” I’ve certainly never heard that line before in a political speech. Or, wait . . . maybe I have. There was the stirring speech that Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, gave when he inaugurated the Saifee Hospital in Mumbia on June 4, 2005. On that occasion, in connection with changing healthcare in India, he said “our country stands at a peculiar crossroad of history.” And I enjoyed the exciting moment when Vitalino Canas, the Deputy to the Assembly of the Republic, State Secretary responsible for drug policy coordination (1995-2002), while speaking at the 4th International Symposium on Global Drug Policy, gave a speech entitled “Afghanistan at the crossroad.” And who can forget the thrill when, in March 2004, U.S. Representative Richard Burr (R – N.C.) told a gathering of UNC College Republicans that “Our country is at a crossroad.” It still makes me shiver when I think about it.

If I haven’t made my point, the bit about “our country is at a crossroads” has become so hackneyed that a website teaching foreign students English, in its section about the mechanics of political speeches, created a generic political speech that has, as its very first sentence, “Our country has come to a crossroad, and now you have the power to change the political landscape of America.” So far, therefore, I’m not dazzled.

And how about this rhetorical gem?

“We’ve gone through depression and world war. … We decided we were finally going to let justice roll down like waters,” he said. “When we put our minds to it, we can do it. … When we want something different, change will come.”

That’s precisely the type of platitudinous speech that old Hollywood loved to put in the mouths of generic everyman politicians who spoke to the little guy. Except for the WWII reference, can’t you just hear Jimmy Stewart saying that in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (which predated WWII)?

Oh, I’m sorry, I have to retract the preceding question. Having read the Hollywood version of a political speech, I’ve realized that Jimmy Stewart would never have said anything as banal as Obama’s little riff about change. Here is what Jimmy Stewart, as Jefferson Smith, said in his non-partisan, generic (but lovely) everyman speech:

Just get up off the ground, that’s all I ask. Get up there with that lady that’s up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won’t just see scenery; you’ll see the whole parade of what Man’s carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so’s he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That’s what you’d see. There’s no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. And, uh, if that’s what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we’d better get those boys’ camps started fast and see what the kids can do. And it’s not too late, because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light. They’re right here; you just have to see them again!

The impressively inexperienced Obama also doesn’t just stop with calling himself the new Lincoln (a bit arrogant, wouldn’t you say?). Instead, he wants us to think of the old Clintons too. When I read the following Obama sentence, all I could think about was that dewy “Man From Hope” campaign video that Clinton’s Arkansas buddies made:

“For all the slash-and-burn politics, underneath all that, there is something that binds us together as a people that is greater than anything that divides us. That thing called hope.”

Now I recognize that I’m in a minority here, insofar as I view Obama as an insipid, unoriginal thinker who sounds more like Deepak Chopra, or maybe Oprah, than a potential leader for the most powerful nation in the world — during a time of war, yet. While I’m finding his lack of depth, originality and insight downright scary, others amongst the “dazzled” are applauding him for simplicity, and are enthusiastically comparing him to Lincoln and Kennedy:

Obama’s speech was less elaborate than Kennedy’s address, as he attempted to capture more of the simplicity and directness of Lincoln, a president whose career Obama invoked over and over as he stood in front of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln began his political career and where he ran his 1860 presidential campaign. The parallels were deeply intentional: Lincoln went to the White House with little national political experience but with a hardened sense that many difficult measures needed to be taken to hold the Union together.

The same reporter who wrote the above was deeply impressed by Obama’s statement that “I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness — a certain audacity — to this announcement [that he intends to run for President].” I think she saw it as refreshing humility. I saw it, however, as one of the real moments of truth from someone who otherwise limits himself to platitudes: it is presumptuous, in a time of war, when someone who has almost no political or practical experience, and who has no plan about an ongoing war except for his repeated Marxian announcement that he’s “against it,” tries to finagle the American public into putting him in the White House. Presumptuous, arrogant, hubristic, and scarily likely to succeed, given the media’s infatuation with the being the collective kingmaker that puts the first black man in the White House.

I’d be delighted to see a black man in the White House one day, but not just because he’s black. That’s racist and I don’t go there. Instead, I want to see someone there because he (or she) is manifestly qualified for the job, something that I expect of any candidate. To anoint as the new Democratic messiah a guy who doesn’t have a gut when he wears his swim trunks, and can give a speech that would make Oprah proud is about as demeaning a moment in American politics as we’re likely to see in the near (or far) future.

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There goes the Jewish vote

John Edwards is clearly attempting to attract the European vote. It was Europeans after all, who opined in large numbers that Israel is the most dangerous nation in the world. In a clear effort to attract Europeans to the polls in 2008, Peter Bart’s column reports on this gem: “Perhaps the greatest short-term threat to world peace, Edwards remarked, was the possibility that Israel would bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.” For a candidate who looks like a dumb bimbo, Edwards gives a remarkably good impression, not merely of a dumb bimbo, but of an anti-Semitic dumb bimbo.

And just to keep that bimbo image fresh in your mind, a priceless moment from a past campaign:

Democratic candidates: the gifts that just keep giving.

Hat tip: The Hillary Spot, via Drudge

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Amazing

The West has developed a sophisticated capacity to destroy but, unlike any culture I can think of, it’s also developed a staggering ability to create, save and nurture:

A premature baby that doctors say spent less time in the womb than any other surviving infant is to be released from a Florida hospital Tuesday.

Amillia Sonja Taylor was just 9 1/2 inches long and weighed less than 10 ounces when she was born Oct. 24. She was delivered 21 weeks and six days after conception. Full-term births come after 37 to 40 weeks.

“We weren’t too optimistic,” Dr. William Smalling said Monday. “But she proved us all wrong.”

Neonatologists who cared for Amillia say she is the first baby known to survive after a gestation period of fewer than 23 weeks. A database run by the University of Iowa’s Department of Pediatrics lists seven babies born at 23 weeks between 1994 and 2003.

Amillia has experienced respiratory problems, a very mild brain hemorrhage and some digestive problems, but none of the health concerns are expected to pose long-term problems, her doctors said.

“We can deal with lungs and things like that but, of course, the brain is the most important,” Dr. Paul Fassbach said Monday. “But her prognosis is excellent.”

Read the rest here (with pictures!).

Hat tip:  Drudge

Intentionally confusing the illegal immigration debate

One of the best ways to mask a bad argument is to conflate similar, yet entirely separate ideas, one of which is valid, one of which isn’t. Juggle these ideas around often enough and your reader will lose track of their separate identity and eventually give to both a status that can legitimately only be granted to one. The New York Times did just this in an op-ed editorial it wrote a few days ago about the illegal immigration problem. From the first paragraph, the Times seeks to conflate legal and illegal immigration, which are two very different animals. Take the opening paragraphs:

Almost a year ago, hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers and their families slipped out from the shadows of American life and walked boldly in daylight through Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, New York and other cities. “We Are America,” their banners cried. The crowds, determined but peaceful, swelled into an immense sea. The nation was momentarily stunned.

A lot has happened since then. The country has summoned great energy to confront the immigration problem, but most of it has been misplaced, crudely and unevenly applied. It seeks not to solve the conundrum of a broken immigration system, but to subdue, in a million ways, the vulnerable men and women who are part of it. Government at all levels is working to keep unwanted immigrants in their place — on the other side of the border, in detention or in fear, toiling silently in the underground economy without recourse to the laws and protections the native-born expect.

To the extent that these people were in “the shadows of American life,” they were keeping to those shadows because they’re illegal. They are not America. They are people who came here in violation of American law. They have no green cards and no visas. The NYT’s glowing first paragraph somehow glosses over that fact, and the second paragraph doesn’t do any better. In speaking generally of immigrants, it attempts to make many of us remember the fact that we too are immigrants, or the children of immigrants. But my parents came here legally, as did all of my friends or their parents. For that reason, we weren’t pathetic people who lived in shadows “without recourse to the laws and protections the native-born expect.” Laws and protects in America aren’t limited to only native-born people, they’re extended to all people who are here legally, whether native-born or not. Only in Times-land does this type of mystical xenophobia exist.

The rest of the op-ed editorial whines about the fact that the feds and local governments are just doing it wrong and are unfairly harassing people. It also notes, correctly, that when there is an illegal labor supply, those laborers inevitably get channeled into the worst types of jobs, such as meat packing plants. Being the Times, the op-ed editorial wants us to go after the meat packers. Here’s an alternative: How about keeping the illegals out of this country? Then they wouldn’t have to take those rotten jobs. As it is, quite sadly, illegals take those rotten jobs because the situation here is still better than there (usually Mexico). And if the Times really thinks through the whole problem, it might wonder whether Mexico is never going to have an incentive to reform, that is, to make itself tolerable for its own citizens, as long as we provide an unlimited safety valve.

As it is, the whole op-ed editorial irritated me because of its fundamental dishonesty in trying to merge in the readers’ mind illegal and legal immigrants, but one paragraph particularly irked me because it was so blatant in this effort. Here’s the paragraph:

The Justice Department wants to expand routine DNA collection to include detained illegal immigrants, creating a vast new database that will sweep up hundreds of thousands of innocent people. DNA, far more than fingerprints, is a trove of deeply personal information. Its routine collection from law-abiding citizens is considered an outrageous violation of privacy rights. In the belief that illegal immigrants lack such rights, DNA swabs and blood would be collected even if a detainee is not suspected of a crime. This reinforces the notion that immigrants should be treated as one huge class of criminal suspects.

As y0u can see, the Justice Department wants DNA from detained illegal immigrants. In other words, it wants DNA from people the Feds have arrested for breaking the law — in this case, the law against breaking and entry into the United States of America. While I freely admit that those arrested are not murderers or rapists (at least not most of them), they’re still criminals. Which is what makes it so disingenuous for the Times, in the same paragraph, to say that Justice wants to create a database with information from “hundreds of thousands of innocent people” or that this policy “reinforces the notion that immigrants should be treated as one huge class of criminal suspects.” Considering that their very first act upon entry into this country is to break the law, these illegal immigrants are not innocent and they are criminals. Under those circumstances, DNA gathering is just one of the consequences that leads to the saying that crime doesn’t pay. (By the way, I’m not arguing here for or against DNA gathering; I’m just arguing against the Times’ dishonest approach to the issue.)

So, next time you read one of these tear-jerker op-eds editorials about pathetic immigrants, read it a second time, to make sure that the paper isn’t playing a little bait and switch. No matter where you stand on the illegal immigrants issue, you should resent it when a major newspaper sets out to trick you.

UPDATED: DQ reminded me that I carelessly conflated two ideas: op-eds and editorials. This was an editorial, meaning that it reflects the Times‘ official position on an issue. I’ve corrected the post accordingly.  [And I corrected my corrections.  You can always tell when my kids are around, since everything I do is carelessly done.  I simply cannot work between the "Mommy" calls of my kids, and the "Mrs. Bookworm" calls of my husband.  They fragment my brain.]

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Danes struggle with the intersection between courts & terrorism

There’s much consternation in Denmark today after a jury found four men guilty under the country’s new anti-terrorism laws, and a reviewing panel of judges promptly overruled the verdict as to three of the men, based on insufficient evidence:

The panel of judges hearing Denmark’s first trial involving suspects charged under new strict anti-terror laws has overturned three of the four guilty verdicts handed down by the jury today.

The jury had found all four suspects in the Glostrup terror case guilty of being involved in the planning of a terrorist attack somewhere in Europe, but the judges overturned the verdict for three of the indicted, citing insufficient evidence.

The guilty verdict for the fourth suspect, 17 year-old Abdul Basit Abu-Lifa, was upheld.

The four men had been in custody since November 2005. Charges were filed against them after police and PET, the Danish domestic intelligence agency, found connections between them and two men found guilty in Sarajevo of planning a terror action in Europe.

Abu-Lifa reputedly had close contact with a Swedish national convicted in the Sarajevo case. The other person convicted was a Turkish-Dane.

Judges are obliged to overturn a jury’s decision when they find there is insufficient evidence to warrant a conviction.

In his final instructions to the jury yesterday, the presiding judge, Bent Østerborg, had indicated that the prosecution’s reliance on character witnesses failed to provide enough evidence to prove the suspects were involved in a planned attack. He informed the jury directly that the evidence against the case’s main suspect, Imad Ali Jaloud, was not sufficient to convict him. The 20-year-old was one of those released today.

It is now up to the state prosecutor’s office to decide if the decision will be appealed.

Knowing nothing about the facts of the case, I have no idea whether I’d agree with the judges or the jury on this one. However, I definitely agree with the politicians on this one (emphasis mine):

Politicians interviewed after the ruling were nearly all in agreement that dissension between the jury and judges in a case of such great importance was unsatisfactory.

‘Regardless of whether they were found guilty or not, it would have been best if everyone had been in agreement,’ said Karen Hækkerup, the Social Democratic judicial spokesperson. ‘This was a landmark case, but now it’s just mud. But as law makers we have to trust our legal system.’

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It’s all the dog’s fault

Sorry for the complete blackout today.  I meant to come up to my office, read the paper and other stuff and blog.  What happened instead was that the kids went to play with neighbors, so I sat down for a minute with a book.  The dog jumped on my lap and, as always happens when that warm little body intersects with mine, I fell asleep.  I feel very refreshed, but now have to do yardwork with my husband.  To be honest, all the yard work would be much more rewarding if the kids would actually play back there, but there still is virtue in making it an attractive space (which it is).

Conventional wisdom versus facts

Many of us put a great deal of faith in conventional wisdom, because we assume that it’s a useful distillation of actual facts. If that’s your view, and you draw your conclusions based on CW, rather than on actual facts, you need a reality check and you can get one, absolutely free, here.

By the way, I’m pleased to report that, with the exception of question #7, where I got befuddled by the question’s phrasing and couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to be looking for, I answered all of the questions correctly. Apaprently I’m functioning in a factually rich universe.

UPDATE:  Were you all too kind to point out that I spelled “conventional” wrong in the post caption?  Well, I finally caught it and corrected it.  This always, always happens when I have kids around, or will imminently have kids around (meaning I’m rushing to get things done).