Friday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesThe Taliban has hit Marin County (indirectly).  Marin County is headquarters for Roots of Peace, an admirable charity that seeks to advance agricultural development in poverty-stricken areas.  It has an outpost in Afghanistan, where it seeks to enable the Afghani people to feed themselves.  The Taliban can’t have that kind of thing happening in its country.  It therefore sent off some foot soldiers to attack the Roots of Peace Kabul office, killing a child in the process.  If radical Islam had a cable-TV station, it’s motto would be “All war, all the time.”  One wonders if this will be a bit of reality that mugs that peaceniks who are so self-centered that they cannot envision cultures that have, as their core value, a desire for perpetual warfare.

***

David Clarke, Milwaukee’s Sheriff, made a splash when he encouraged Milwaukee’s beleaguered citizens to arm themselves:

Police chief get a gun

I think Clarke may have found a kindred spirit in Detroit Police Chief James Craig. During a press conference in which he discussed the rising numbers of homeowners (successfully) using arms to defend themselves, he had this to say:

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a press conference last week that in his 37-year career, he’s never seen as many homeowners defending themselves by shooting intruders. Craig told The News in January he felt the crime rate could be lowered if more “good Americans” were armed, because he said criminals would think twice about attacking.

“It does appear more and more Detroiters are becoming empowered,” Craig said. “More and more Detroiters are getting sick of the violence. I know of no other place where I’ve seen this number of justifiable homicides. It’s interesting that these incidents go across gender lines.”

We want more law enforcement like Clarke and Craig, and less like Marin’s Second Amendment-challenged sheriff.

***

I also want more of this:  An Ebony magazine editor went on a rant against conservative blacks; got called on it; claimed that the person calling her out was a white racist; when she learned that the person calling her out was black apologized for calling him white; and then doubled down on rants that were both anti-conservative black and anti-white.  (That’s not want I want to see more of.  It’s this next thing I like.)  Normally, Republicans would run away screaming from this type of confrontation, leaving the racist Leftist in control of the field.  This time, the RNC demanded an apology . . . and got it.

***

Speaking of the Left’s racial obsessions:  Any half-sentient being knows that Stephen Colbert’s shtick is that he created a faux-conservative character who is pathologically dumb, racist, sexist, etc., and that Colbert, a marginally-talented generic Leftist, uses this character to claim that all conservatives are pathologically dumb, racist, sexist, etc.  That’s why it’s hysterically funny that, when his show tried to  highlight (non-existent) Republican racism by having his character ostensibly tweet out a crude anti-Asian stereotype, the Asian community got riled and demanded that Colbert be fired for being an anti-Asian racist.  Asians should stop getting their knickers in a twist about stupid TV shows and should start looking at where their real politic interests lie.  (Hint:  It’s not the Democrat Party.)

***

Leland Yee has been around forever as a fixture in Bay Area politics.  As his name implies, he’s Asian, he’s hard Left, and he represents San Francisco and parts of San Mateo in the California legislature.  Since Sandy Hook, Yee’s been very vocal about being anti-guns.  He also just got indicted for gun running, including trying to sell arms to Islamist groups.  The MSM has been trying hard to ignore his story, as it’s been trying hard to ignore a bunch of other stories about spectacularly corrupt Democrat figures.  Howie Carr therefore serves a useful public service when he calls out the media, the Democrat party, and the crooks.

***

Speaking of crooks, Harry Reid claims never to have called Republicans liars when it comes to Obamacare, despite footage of him calling Republicans liars because of Obamacare.  There’s some debate on the Right about whether Reid’s gone senile or is just trying out his version of The Big Lie.  My theory is that we’re seeing malignant narcissism in play.  As I’ve said a zillion times before in speaking about Obama, malignant narcissists never “lie” because their needs of the moment always dictate the truth of the moment.  That is, if they need to say it, it must be true.  (It’s nice to be your own God.)

***

Keith Koffler identifies the four roots of Obama’s disastrous foreign policy.  I agree with him, although I would add a fifth, which is that Obama desperately wants to see America knocked down to size as punishment for her myriad sins.  Perhaps Obama should read the DiploMad, as he explains why Russia, the country before which Obama is now weakly doing obeisance, has always been much worse than America could ever be, both as a protector and an enemy.

***

Adm. Jeremiah Denton, Jr. has died at 89.  The public learned about Denton during the Vietnam War when, during one of the forced confessions that the North Vietnamese liked to televise to the world, he blinked out a Morse code message — “T-O-R-T-U-R-E” — thereby providing the first proof America had that the Commies were torturing American POWs.  During the same interview, he bravely said he supported his country, a statement that led to more torture.  Denton was also America’s longest-held POW, spending almost 8 years in the Hell that was the Hanoi Hilton, and various related prisons.  During that entire time, he was brutally and repeatedly tortured and he spent four years in solitary confinement (where he was tortured).  My heart bleeds when I read what happened to him.  But Denton came home and he got on with a full, rich life, including six years in the U.S. Senate.  If anyone deserves to Rest In Peace, it is Adm. Denton.

***

I don’t think much of Stanford.  It’s nothing personal.  I think all the big universities (and most of the small ones) have become intellectually corrupt.  However, Prof. Michael McConnell, at Stanford Law School, has somewhat restored my faith in Stanford by writing one of the clearest analyses I’ve yet seen of the problems facing the government in the Hobby Lobby case.  Of course, law and logic will not sway Ginsberg, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer, all of whom are activists much more concerned with making policy than with applying law.  As happens too often, Anthony Kennedy will cast the deciding vote — a reality that places way too much power in the hands of a man who seems too often to blow, not where the Constitution takes him, but wherever his fancy for the day alights.

***

And to end on a light note, two more ridiculously funny Kid Snippets, offering an inspired combination of kid wisdom lip synched by some remarkably talented adult actors:

 

Are matters coming to a head this October?

I’ve got an amazing array of links, all of which indicate that, with three weeks before the election, America and the Middle East aren’t static.  Instead, there are a lot of things that are suddenly coming to the boil in ways that make me pray very hard that Mitt Romney wins.

A lot of people have been linking to an op-ed piece in the Arab News, a paper that I understand is the English language paper in Saudi Arabia.  That being the case, I have to believe that the Saudi government sent this one up the flag pole to see if anyone salutes.  It would be amazing and wonderful if they did salute, because the column says that Arab countries must stop blaming Israel for their woes, and start examining their own cultures:

[I]f many of the Arab states are in such disarray, then what happened to the Arabs’ sworn enemy (Israel)? Israel now has the most advanced research facilities, top universities and advanced infrastructure. Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World. Wasn’t one of the judges who sent a former Israeli president to jail is an Israeli-Palestinian?

The Arab Spring showed the world that the Palestinians are happier and in better situation than their Arab brothers who fought to liberate them from the Israelis. Now, it is time to stop the hatred and wars and start to create better living conditions for the future Arab generations.

These changes can’t happen too soon.  Lara Logan, who was brutally gang raped during Egypt’s “Arab Spring,” could have retreated forever from the public view, or become a scared dhimmi, hiding behind PC platitudes.  She did neither.  Instead, she is speaking openly about the grave threat we face from Al Qaeda and the Taliban, one that hasn’t diminished with the years but that, instead, has been resurgent during Obama’s “reset.”  More than that, Logan directly accuses the current administration of lying about the enemy’s strength in order to justify its failed policies. I salute her.

Not only does Obama deny the reality in the Middle East, he is exceptionally cavalier with those Americans on the front lines fighting this enemy.  In Houston, today, a Marine’s father is livid that he received a generic form condolence letter from Obama following his son’s death.  If you would like to see what a real condolence letter looks like, check out the letter that Obama’s alleged hero, Abraham Lincoln, sent to one grieving mother.

With matters escalating so quickly, we need a Mitt Romney.  Happily, the evidence is that, since the debate, people are eying Mitt Romney more favorably.  The Left, of course, can’t let that happen and they’re doing what the Left does best:  threatening people.  African-American Actress Stacey Dash discovered that Lefties don’t take well to being crossed when she sent out a tweet endorsing Mitt Romney.  Among the nicer things she was called was a “race traitor.”  It went downhill from there, with the usual intimations of rape and violent death.  But Leftists are looking at bigger things.  Dash is just a dot on their radar.  The current idea is to run riot if Romney wins — and I think they mean it.

Please feel free to treat this as an Open Thread, and add to the comments section any interesting things you’ve found today.

Forget all the dead bodies. Repeat after me: the Taliban is our friend.

Sadie played connect the dots for me:

Dots begin here . . . .

After 10 months of secret dialogue with Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents, senior U.S. officials say the talks have reached a critical juncture and they will soon know whether a breakthrough is possible, leading to peace talks whose ultimate goal is to end the Afghan war.

As part of the accelerating, high-stakes diplomacy, Reuters has learned, the United States is considering the transfer of an unspecified number of Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay military prison into Afghan government custody.

Dots continue with Joe Biden . . . .

“Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That’s critical. There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens U.S. interests. If, in fact, the Taliban is able to collapse the existing government, which is cooperating with us in keeping the bad guys from being able to do damage to us, then that becomes a problem for us.”

When you think about it, it’s impressive how much damage an administration can do in less than three years.

“Simplistic” and “primitive” *UPDATED*

As I’ve mentioned just a few times, I just read, and was very moved by, Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.  A liberal I know flipped through the book’s first few pages and had a very different reaction.  The following passages bugged the liberal:

My name is Marcus.  Marcus Luttrell.  I’m a United States Navy SEAL, Team Leader, SDV Team 1, Alfa Platoon.  Like every other SEAL, I’m trained in weapons, demolition, and unarmed combat.  I’m a sniper, and I’m the platoon medic.  But most of all, I’m an American.  And when the bell sounds, I will come out fighting for my country and for my teammates.  If necessary, to the death.

And that’s not just because the SEALs trained me to do so; it’s because I’m willing to do so.  I’m a patriot, and I fight with the Lone Star of Texas on my right arm and another Texas flag over my heart.  For me, defeat is unthinkable.  (pp. 6-7)

[snip]

[As they're taking off from Bahrain to Afghanistan:] There were no other passengers on board, just the flight crew and, in the rear, us, headed out to do God’s work on behalf of the U.S. government and our commander in chief, President George W. Bush.  (p. 12.)

[snip]

[Of the Taliban/Al Qaeda enemy in Afghanistan:]  This was where bin Laden’s fighters found a home training base.  Let’s face it, al Qaeda means “the base,” and in return for the Saudi fanatic bin Laden’s money, the Taliban made it all possible.  right now these very same guys, the remnants of the Taliban and the last few tribal warriors of al Qaeda, were preparing to start over, trying to fight their way through the mountain passes, intent on setting up new training camps and military headquarters and, eventually, their own government in place of the democratically elected one.

They may not have been the precise same guys who planned 9/11.  But they were most certainly their descendants, their heirs, their followers.  They were part of the same crowd who knocked down the North and South Towers in the Big Apple on the infamous Tuesday morning in 2001.  And our coming task was to stop them, right there in those mountains, by whatever means necessary.  (pp. 13-14)

The liberal felt that the above passages showed that the writer was simplistic and primitive in his thinking.  The whole notion of simple patriotism offended the liberal, who also thought it was just plain stupid to seek revenge against guys who weren’t actually the ones who plotted 9/11.  My less than clever riposte was, “so I guess you would only kill Nazis who actually worked in the gas chambers?”  Frankly, given the differences in our world views, I’m not sure there is a clever comeback or, which would be more helpful, a comeback that actually causes the liberal to reexamine those liberal principles.

UPDATE:  Here’s an apt quotation, written by John Stuart Mill, in 1862, as a comment upon the American Civil War:

A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

Excerpts of Obama’s speech indicate he will do the right thing for the wrong reasons *UPDATED*

As I write this, Obama hasn’t spoken yet, but he has released excerpts from his speech.  These are my first thoughts on his words:

“The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 – the fastest pace possible – so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They will increase our ability to train competent Afghan Security Forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.” [This is good.  This is what Obama needed to do.  It's one thing as a candidate to demand that the sitting president lose the war.  It's another thing entirely for the former-candidate, now-president to preside over another 1975.  Having spent ten, agonizing, demoralizing months trying to figure this one out, Obama is finally doing the right thing.]

“Because this is an international effort, I have asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we are confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. Now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what’s at stake is not simply a test of NATO’s credibility – what’s at stake is the security of our Allies, and the common security of the world.”  [Is it just me, or did Obama completely avoid that old-fashioned word "victory" or that nice little phrase "win the war"?  Obama is such a Leftist he really cannot contemplate the possibility of a "we win, you lose" scenario.  To him, success is manifestly a way out, victory or not (and see the next paragraph to get what I mean).  Also, unless Obama expands upon it in his speech tonight, he's said nothing about the nature of the threat against us.  To say that "security" is "at stake" is meaningless without explaining who the enemy is, and what an enemy victory means.  Given the Islamists' willingness to spell out in words of one syllable their plans regarding the West, Obama should be able to articulate the danger they pose.  Again, he simply can't seem to make himself say certain words:  "The Taliban, a fundamentalist branch of Islam that sheltered and trained the terrorists who killed more than 3,000 Americans on 9/11, is resurgent and spreading.  It must be cut out, root and branch, in order to ensure that its members' willingness to attack us directly, and indirectly (by taking over our allies, such as Pakistan), is destroyed."  See?  It's simple -- but not for Obama.]

“Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We will continue to advise and assist Afghanistan’s Security Forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government – and, more importantly, to the Afghan people – that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.”  [Here's the kicker to the two preceding paragraphs.  Obama is not in this for victory against a determined and violent enemy that has already attacked America and Europe and that continues to threaten to West's security.  Instead, he's adding troops as a predicate to an orderly retreat.  He doesn't want to win.  He wants to escape.  Obama has also done something incredibly stupid by announcing his date of departure.  If I were the Taliban, I'd simply retreat into caves for a couple of years, wait for Americans to withdraw, and then return to the field.  Obama should announce that U.S. and allied forces will depart when the war against the Taliban has achieved certain milestones, not when a specific date hits on the calendar.]

Bottom line: Obama’s doing the right thing (thank God), but for the wrong reasons. The question is whether our strong and determined American military can achieve victory when the Commander in Chief (a) refuses to name the enemy and is afraid of the “V” word and (b) has given the enemy a specific time line, after which they are free to pursue their theocratic totalitarian goals?

UPDATE:  Well, the speech is over and done now.  I gather that Obama did spell out more clearly what the threat actually is, but for the most part that he tracked along the excerpts I discussed above.  I also gather that I, although unversed in military strategy, pretty much caught onto the myriad flaws in the approach.  Otherwise, how could I have tracked so closely with Steve Schippert’s informed analysis?

Kids make great targets — if you’re the Taliban

The American and world media go into a screaming frenzy whenever American or Israeli troops injure or kill a child.  They do this despite the fact that such incidents are rare and, more significantly, they are aberrant:  both the American and the Israeli military go out of their way to avoid injuring civilians, even if it means putting their own troops at greater risk.

The same media outlets conspicuously avoid reporting on an ugly little fact about the world’s Islamic fighters, whether those fighters are in Bali or Gaza or Indonesia or Iraq or Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world:  these fighters consider children either an integral part of the fight (whether as cover, junior fighters or propaganda instruments) or as completely irrelevant collateral damage in any fight.

The following video shows a Taliban fighter casually activating a rocket despite the fact that a child is directly in the line of fire:

In case you were worried, a worry that distinguishes you from the Taliban killer aiming at one of his own countrymen (or country-children), the child survived the bombing, American medics treated him on site, and he ended up being airlifted to America for further treatment.

Hat tip:  Soldier’s Angels Germany

The world continues to be too insane for satire

During the 1970s, there was a post-Yom Kippur War joke that was very popular in Jewish circles:

Arab soldiers realized that at least half the Israeli troops they were fighting were named David.  They decided to use this information to deal with situations in whch they were facing Israeli fighters who were hidden from sight.  The order came down from on high that Arabs were to holler out “Hey, David!”  When the Israeli soldier stood up or waved in answer, he would get shot.  Alas, the best laid plans….

When the Arab soldiers hollered out “Hey, David!”, the Israeli soldiers, instead of standing up or waving, would hell back, “Is that you, Mohammed?”  The Arab fighters would instantly stand up and wave, at which point they’d get shot.

It’s a pretty awkward joke, but it came to mind almost irresistibly when I read this news story:

Taleban insurgents fighting German forces in northern Afghanistan have often lived to fight another day thanks to trilingual warnings that have to be shouted out before the men from the Bundeswehr can squeeze their triggers.

The seven-page pocket guide to combat tucked into the breast pocket of every German soldier offers such instructions as: “Before opening fire you are expected to declare loudly, in English, ‘United Nations — stop, or I will fire,’ followed by a version in Pashtu — Melgaero Mellatuna — Dreesch, ka ne se dasee kawum!

The alert must also be issued in Dari, and the booklet, devised by a committee in some faraway ministerial office, adds: “If the situation allows, the warning should be repeated.” The joke going round NATO mess tents poses the question: “How can you identify a German soldier? He is the corpse clutching a pocket guide.”

Max Boot, who brought this story to my attention, thought that the story was a joke, but it’s not.  The only good news is that Germans are relaxing the above requirements so that they can actually kill the bad guys, while preserving their own lives.

I cannot for the life of me figure out what it means to live in a world that sees yesterday’s jokes as today’s reality — with ourselves as the butt of every punch line.  I’m pretty darn sure, though, that it’s not a good thing when it comes to long-term survival.

“Let’s not, but let’s say that we did.” *UPDATE*

Rusty Shackleford is spitting bullets about the fact that the Taliban have kidnapped Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl and are parading him for propaganda purposes.  Although it’s easy to get all tangled up about international law and whether the Geneva Convention should extend to these people, Dr. Shackleford gets to the core point, which is the fact that America’s enemies have an American — and we should do something about it, dammit!

As for me, I hope that the Obama administration doesn’t take its default position and fall back on words as the primary way to deal with the situation.  Both Daniel Henninger and James Taranto opined on Obama’s continued belief that the thought equals the deed.  Here’s Henninger:

Here’s the problem: Mr. Obama is not the nation’s Speaker in Chief. He’s not a senator, and he’s no longer a candidate. He’s the president. A president’s major speeches are different than those of anyone else. That high office imposes demands beyond the power of a podium. Inspiration matters, but the office also requires acts of leadership. A U.S. president’s words must be connected to something beyond sentiment and eloquence. Too much of the time, Barack Obama’s big speeches don’t seem to be connected to anything other than his own interesting thoughts on some subject.

And here’s Taranto giving the perfect example of this practice in play:

On his trip to Ghana last weekend, President Obama delivered a well-received speech. He also gave an interview to CNN, in which he discussed slavery and its legacy, as the network is reporting today:

On his trip in Ghana, Obama said the nation and the world should never forget the scourge of slavery because it’s still relevant in today’s world.

I think that the experience of slavery is like the experience of the Holocaust. I think it’s one of those things you don’t forget about. I think it is important that the way we think about it and the way it’s taught is not one in which there’s simply a victim and a victimizer, and that’s the end of the story,” he said.

“I think the way it has to be thought about, the reason it’s relevant is because whether it’s what’s happening in Darfur or what’s happening in the Congo or what’s happening in too many places around the world–you know, the capacity for cruelty still exists.”

“So trying to use these kinds of extraordinary moments to widen the lens and make sure that we’re all reflecting on how we are treating each other, I think, is something I want my kids to think about and I want every child to think about.”

This whole comment underscores one of the things that bothers us most about Obama. He says that slavery is “relevant” to today’s humanitarian crises in places like Darfur and Congo. For the sake of argument, let’s accept that this is true. What are we supposed to do?

Well, we’re supposed to “never forget” slavery, to “think about it,” to improve “the way it’s taught,” to “widen the lens,” to “make sure we’re all reflecting.” Oh, and he wants “every child to think about” it.

By Obama’s lights, then, it would seem that understanding slavery is important because it yields an endless supply of endless abstractions with which to respond ineffectually to contemporary humanitarian crises. While every child is thinking about this stuff, is the president of the United States doing anything?

We need to believe that the military can push Obama into acting, not just talking.  It’s impossible to govern a nation by falling back on a teenager’s snarky comeback to the effect that “Let’s not, but let’s say that we did.”

UPDATE:  I used Bowe Bergdahl as the springboard to riff about Obama’s reliance on words, not deeds, despite the fact that he holds the nation’s chief executive position.  I stand by what I said about Obama (and am thinking that perhaps we should be grateful that he’s not acting on everything he talks about), but the Bergdahl thing might prove to be more complicated.

Michelle Malkin posts at length about hints that Bergdahl may not just be a POW, but may be a complicit deserter.  Given the current factual vacuum, now is probably the time to withhold all judgment one way or another.  I’ll be interested as more news comes out.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

A little compare and contrast

I recognize that these are just two snippets that focus on microcosms of entire cultures in a technological age.  They’re nevertheless an interesting moment in “compare and contrast,” since both appear in today’s papers.

From Israel:  scientists have figured out how to use technology to make the paralyzed stand and walk.

From the Taliban:  Talibani fighters were planning on skinning a British Marine alive, and then broadcasting it on the internet.

I’ll leave you to draw your own morally relativistic conclusions, if any.