Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
I can't find any solace in that. Nor can I in the soon-releasing, award-winning DVD "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West." See it low-res for free, and order it from the website. Donate a copy to your public library if it won't order it.
British cultural watchman Melanie Phillips says "[Obsession] should be made compulsory viewing for every politician and pundit who clings to the misguided belief that all we face is terrorism rooted in various grievances around the world. It is the single most powerful and terrifying public exposition of the fact that a global Islamic jihad is now being waged from Bali to Istanbul, from Chechnya to Madrid, from Morocco to Manhattan, from Thailand to Bloomsbury – and that the world that is under attack is deeply in denial about what it is facing." (See her Londonistan, which documents the UK's morphing into a jihadi haven.)
Among the insights from "Obsession" you may find hard to believe: America is the #1 enemy of Arabs and Islam, because America is dedicated to eliminating both(!). This propaganda fuels the call to jihad as defense of Islam and the honor of Allah.
Let's hope the partying Dems won't remain dim about why the war in Iraq matters as a key front -- among many -- against global jihad, and ditto for Afghanistan.
Even more, hope that the film can convince any doubters that jihad, whether fought on US territory or abroad, must be fought as a military and not primarily a law-enforcement action.
Jihad means war -- one Americans do not want and did not seek but that has been declared on them since at least the Muslim invasion and occupation of the American Embassy in Teheran in 1979. Anyone who insists on prosecuting this war as if prosecuting homicides in courts of law has already conceded victory to the armies of jihad.
We've been called up to combat, not to practice criminal law.
How do we win? As in all conflicts, one party loses the will to continue, and the other wins. Exactly what strategies and tactics will produce that result in this conflict, I do not know. But primarily prosecuting domestic terrorists in federal courts and dealing similarly with combatants detained outside the US will not defeat this foe.
Am I alarmist? Overreacting?
Nonie Darwish, the Egyptian-born daughter of a jihad martyr and author of Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror, tells fellow Americans, "America has to wake up. We are strangling ourselves with our political correctness."
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Ann Coulter points out that the GOP has already defied historical trends in its majority government of legislative and executive branches for six years: "It at least seems clear that Democrat gains this year are going to fall far short of the historical average. No poll has the Democrats winning even half of their rightful midterm gains." Charles Krauthammer concurs, calling likely Democratic gains "the American people's usual response to entrenched power — a bracing and chastening contempt."
Today's NY Times revises its forecast of GOP gloom in conservatives' favor, drawing on polls that, even beyond the Times' reportage, show Republican lag decreasing widely. Throw in Saddam Hussein's ticket to the gallows after an unsurpassably open trial -- no small evidence of real change for the good in Iraq -- and I believe that the GOP base of disciplined voters will staunch predicted huge losses and perhaps pull off many slim-margin wins.
All that really matters at the national level, in my opinion, is giving President Bush a minimally cooperative Senate with which he can complete two key jobs in his remaining two years:
- prosecuting the war against Islamofascism (God save us from Nancy Pelosi two clicks from the Oval Office; or from Harry Reid's directing the Senate!);
- and appointing up to two Supreme Court justices (both of which would likely replace aged liberal justices).
The economy has gone clearly to Republican credit and, confined as a stump issue now to rust- and textile-belt regions, has ceased to be a top-level national election issue. Republicans have already proven disunified regarding sound immigration policy, so GOP losses in Congress probably can't hurt this fiasco any more deeply than GOP governance in Congress already has.
What matters at the national level is enabling a President who has led steadily, courageously, and righteously to finish his term with success in those two top tasks. I agree with at least 17 points of Wayne Grudem's 18-point appreciative assessment of our President's stalwart service and leadership (immigration reform being the bone of contention). And, about the Iraq war, I cannot agree more:
"It is just that -- a war, and wars are not won quickly or easily. We were attacked in an act of war on 9/11, and we had been attacked by similar terrorists many times before that. Finally we are fighting back, against an invisible, very skillful, very evil enemy.
"When people complain, "It's not going well," I just think, "What you are saying is that we haven't won yet. But that is because there are still evil people in the world who want to destroy Iraq and eventually destroy Israel and destroy us, and in some countries their governments are not stopping them yet. So this is a huge task, but we have no choice but to go forward. There will only be one side left at the end of this war, and I want it to be us, not the Muslim terrorists."
"It seems to me that what we need as a country is to unite behind the President in this war, not attack every move he makes (isn't this what a country usually does in war?). For every U.S. soldier who dies there are many times more terrorists who are caught or killed (which I think in light of Rom. 13:4 is the right thing for civil government to do), and the terrorist movements simply cannot and will not continue a losing battle forever. Criticism of the war sounds to me like people are saying, "There are still some evil people in the world, therefore Bush is a bad President." That is misguided reasoning, because there will always be evil people in the world, and the God-given solution, according to Rom. 13:1-7, is to prevent them from harming others through the use of superior force by our military and police.
"That is what President Bush is doing, and I don't know if anyone else in the world could do any better. (Many nations are not even trying, just sitting back and letting us do the dirty work while they criticize!)"
On the eve of nationwide elections, with the GOP "glum" (according to the New York Times) about looming Congressional losses, a recent Nielsen/Net Ratings report suggests that if ballots were cast online, Republicans would have a good chance of continuing to control both Congressional houses. Results of Nielsen's by-party study of Internet use show that "36.6 percent of U.S. adults online are Republicans, 30.8 percent are Democrats and 17.3 percent are Independents."
"The Web site with the highest concentration of Republicans was RushLimbaugh.com, with an 84.8 percent Republican audience . . . . NewsMax.com and Bill O’Reilly.com ranked No. 2 and 3, with audiences that were 65.4 percent Republican. The Drudge Report and Salt Lake Tribune rounded out the top five Republican sites with 59.0 and 57.9 composition percent.
"Among Democrats, the top three sites were BlackAmericaWeb.com, AOL BlackVoices and BET.com with audiences that were 79.9 percent, 64.8 percent and 58.6 percent Democratic, respectively. Salon.com and Village Voice ranked fourth and fifth among Democrats, with 55.3 and 55.2 composition percent.
Online newspaper use by party should surprise no one: "WSJ.com has predominantly Republican readers, at 40.2 percent. Democrats make up 25.8 percent of WSJ.com’s readership, closely followed by Independents at 24.3 percent.
"The New York Times online is a favorite among Democrats, who make up 52.3 percent of its readership. Independents compose 22.6 percent and Republicans 18.3 percent."
The largest segment of respondents identified themselves as "Moderate," 36.1%, while 32.5% self-identified as "Conservative/Very Conservative," and only 19.8% chose "Liberal/Very Liberal" for themselves.
African-American respondents "were over twice as likely to be Democratic as the average Web user. Asians were 36 percent more likely than the average Web user to be Democratic, and Hispanics were 28 percent more likely." But whites were only "slightly more likely to be Republican."
Considered only by age or gender, respondents favored neither party.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Kane's "Facts About Today’s Soldiers" includes these items that the stereotypical majority news coverage doesn't:
* The average reading level of new soldiers is roughly a full grade level higher than their civilian peers’.
* Enlistees’ high school graduation rate was 97 percent in 2003, 2004, and 2005. The civilian graduation rate is seventeen percentage points lower.
* The wealthiest 40 percent of neighborhoods in America are the home of 45.6 percent of 2005 enlistees. For every two U.S. recruits from the poorest neighborhoods, three come from the richest.
* There is no statistical evidence to support the claim that minorities are being targeted or exploited for military service. The 100 zip codes with the highest proportions of African-Americans were actually under-represented among military enlistees in 2005.
* Every U.S. military recruit of the last 33 years has been a volunteer.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
New Life Church Overseers Dismiss Pastor Ted Haggard
in a Nov. 4 press release citing proof that "he has committed sexually immoral conduct."
Homosexual Escort's Charge Days before Colorado Marriage Vote Seems Opportunistic
New Life Church Pastor (Col. Springs) and National Association of Evangelicals President Ted Haggard's unedited interview with Denver's 9News flatly but not passionately denies claims that he had sex with escort-accuser Mike Jones (who has now failed a polygraph). I am surprised that he does not deny the charges more forcefully and with a greater sense of surprise; however, such a response fits his public image: very likeable, irenic, and kind. Haggard denies being anti-homosexual even while supporting law defining marriage traditionally. So I believe his denial and certainly hope, for the sake of Haggard, his family, the church, and American evangelicals, that the charges are no more than a desperate, 11th-hour ploy to discourage values voters such that they won't vote Nov. 7.
Nov. 3 update: Rocky Mountain News reports that:
"KUSA-TV reported Thursday night that a voice analysis expert compared a voice mail recording provided by Jones to a recording of Haggard's speech and that they matched."
"Haggard, 50, initially denied the allegations, telling 9News Wednesday night that 'I’ve never had a gay relationship with anybody, and I’m steady with my wife. I’m faithful to my wife.'"
"But KKTV in Colorado Springs reported that New Life Associate Senior Pastor Ross Parsley told a meeting of church elders Thursday night that Haggard had met with the church’s overseers earlier in the day and 'had admitted to some indiscretions.'"
"Parsley told the elders that Haggard had said some of the allegations were true, but not all of them."
Another RNM article discloses accuser Mike Jones' election motive: "[Jones] decided to come out with his story before the election to influence voters. . . . [Jones said] 'I had to catch him being a hypocrite.'"
In a remarkable essay (that by itself justifies the blogosphere), libertarian Jane Galt cites three American social reforms whose negative results far exceeded critics' fears and which caution against redefining marriage today:
(1) Federal income tax. When begun, a cap (10% ?) was dismissed as ridiculous because it was so outrageously high that Americans would surely revolt before paying it. Besides, a cap would invite taxes to rise to its level: No cap = a lower tax. But, as Galt points out, "a slow creep . . . eroded the American resistance to income taxation." What are you paying today?
(2) Public welfare. The widows and orphans pensions of the 1800's expanded into temporary support for unfortunate families. In the 1950's, reformers urged expanding aid to theretofore stigmatized unwed mothers, deriding any who objected that financing out-of-wedlock conception and birth would encourage its increase. "So despite the fact that the sixties brought us the biggest advance in birth control ever, illegitimacy exploded," and public welfare finances it.
(3) Divorce. Because it was very hard to divorce in the 1800's and many experienced marital unhappiness of many degrees, reformers made divorce easier. Critics objected: "If you make divorce easier, . . . you will get much more of it, and divorce is bad for society." To which reformers rejoined: "That's ridiculous! . . . People stay married because marriage is a bedrock institution of our society, not because of some law! The only people who get divorced will be people who have terrible problems! A few percentage points at most!"
"Ooops. When the law changed, the institution changed."
As with income tax and welfare, so with divorce: The first change, tiny and incremental, made the next one easier (and with less stigma); and "the magnitude of the change swamped the dire predictions of the anti-reformist wing; no one could have imagined, in their wildest dreams, a day when half of all marriages ended in divorce"; or when (as in the 1990's) out-of-wedlock births exceeded 70% among American blacks (risen from 25% in the early 1960's); or when 35% became the de facto income tax cap (and 10% became the lowest; 2006).
Galt asks how well-meaning reformers could go so badly wrong (noting that reviled critics were right beyond even their own predictions). With regard to how liberalized public welfare undermined marriage (but with application to the other reforms, including homosex marriage), "I think the core problems are two. The first is that [reformers] looked only at individuals, and took instititutions as a given. That is, they looked at all the cultural pressure to marry, and assumed that that would be a countervailing force powerful enough to overcome the new financial incentives for out-of-wedlock births. They failed to see the institution as dynamic. It wasn't a simple matter of two forces: cultural pressure to marry, financial freedom not to, arrayed against each other; those forces had a complex interplay, and when you changed one, you changed the other."
"The second is that they didn't assign any cultural reason for, or value to, the stigma on illegitimacy. They saw it as an outmoded vestige of a repressive Victorian values system, based on an unnatural fear of sexuality. But the stigma attached to unwed motherhood has quite logical, and important, foundations: having a child without a husband is bad for children, and bad for mothers, and thus bad for the rest of us. So our culture made it very costly for the mother to do. Lower the cost, and you raise the incidence. As an economist would say, incentives matter."
And, as Galt cites G. K. Chesterton's analysis, "people who don't see the use of a social institution are the last people who should be allowed to reform it" (as opposed to deforming it). (Reading the GKC excerpt alone is enough reason to move to Galt's essay.)
This reasoning leads her to plea "that people try to be a leeetle more humble about their ability to imagine the subtle results of big policy changes. The argument that gay marriage will not change the institution of marriage because you can't imagine it changing your personal reaction is pretty arrogant. It imagines, first of all, that your behavior is a guide for the behavior of everyone else in society, when in fact, as you may have noticed, all sorts of different people react to all sorts of different things in all sorts of different ways, which is why we have to have elections and stuff. And second, the unwavering belief that the only reason that marriage, always and everywhere, is a male-female institution (I exclude rare ritual behaviors), is just some sort of bizarre historical coincidence, and that you know better, needs examining. If you think you know why marriage is male-female, and why that's either outdated because of all the ways in which reproduction has lately changed, or was a bad reason to start with, then you are in a good place to advocate reform. If you think that marriage is just that way because our ancestors were all a bunch of repressed bastards with dark Freudian complexes that made them homophobic bigots, I'm a little leery of letting you muck around with it."
While this post excerpts key arguments, please read Jane's essay and update.