The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Saturday, December 31, 2005

To Speak or not to Speak: A New Year's Resolution to be true to your inner Neocon

Even for we center-right patriots who live in Red States, many if not all of us have friends who are rabid Democrats, and who have become more rabid and even more viscious in their raging against the Republicans since 2000. As the fine line between friendship and two belief systems with vastly different roots, levels of discourse, and (most importantly) outcomes blurs the line of what should and should not be discussed in the company of one's ideological polar opposites, it is easy to see why people like "Bookworm" (a pseudonym to preserve her annonymity)--who live in a virtual sea of Blue State rage, venom, and hate, and who thus have a justified fear of coming out and revealing their true feelings about their country, their President, and their core values--are so reluctant to speak out. Her essay should be read in its entireity before proceeding on.

Portions of that essay are included below in Neo-Neocon's superb response to Bookworm's "confessions". I am reprinting this response in its entireity because I so relate to it (although I live in a Red State, many of my close freiends are Blue...), and because I believe many of us all have similar circumstances with people we genuinely like. I have always considered their emotionally-based ideology to be their shortcoming, rather than mine--but reading this post I could not help but relate to many of the things Neo-Neocon said, especially concerning the fact that some of my friendships have been noticably changed somehow--in most cases through no fault of my own, save revealing that I heartily and robustly support this President and the Republican party. This knowledge about me has changed something in some of my friends, in subtle yet clearly discernable ways. And now whenever I get together with some of these friends, it is often what is not said--what is avoided--that speaks the loudest. And this really is a sad thing.

Anyway, read Bookworm's post first (all of it--linked above), and then read Neo-Neocon's response below. But then, I highly, HIGHLY recommend visiting Neocon's site here and reading the comments to his post, which includes a response from "Bookworm" herself. And as you will see in almost all of the many comments, she (and he...and I) are far from alone (h/t The American Thinker):

To speak or not to speak: coming out as a neocon

This essay, which appeared at the American Thinker, is by blogger and sometime visitor Bookworm, of Bookwormroom.

It's entitled, "Confession of a Crypto-Conservative Woman," and it's on a topic dear to my heart: being a closet neocon (a neo-neocon, at that) in a true blue town.

Bookworm writes:

I was at a party last year when a woman I know suddenly burst out, “I hate Bush. He’s evil. I wish he’d just drop dead” – and everyone around her verbally applauded that statement.

At a lunch with some very dear friends, the subject of the Iraq war came up and one of my friends, a brilliant, well-read, well-educated man, in arguing against the War, announced as his clinching argument the “fact” that “Bush is an idiot.”... This is me: I grew up in this same liberal environment and was a life-long Democrat. ...

And then things changed: Although I realize that my journey to the right began before 9/11, there is no doubt that 9/11 was my moment to cross the Rubicon...I suddenly had to confront the fact that I was a neocon living in one of the bluest of Blue corners in America.

How did I react to my change? With silence. You see, having lived a lifetime on the Left myself, I instantly realized that my new outlook would not be greeted as an intellectual curiosity, to be questioned politely and challenged through reasoned argument.

Instead, I would be deemed to have gone to the dark side. After all, if Bush is evil, his followers must be evil too. ...I also knew from my years on the Left that the debate wouldn’t revolve around facts and the conclusions to be drawn from those’s the futility of argument and the personal animus behind political argument in Liberal communities that results in something I call closet- or crypto-conservatism. I further believe that this is a syndrome especially prevalent amongst women...

In a woman’s world, you don’t earn any social points for staking out an extreme position and defending it against all comers. Men might garner respect for doing so, and experience the exhilaration of battle along the way; women are more likely find themselves on the receiving end of some serious social isolation, and to find the road to this isolation stressful and frightening.

Did I mention how nice my community is? And how child oriented? I enjoy being well-integrated into this community, as do my children, and neither the kids nor I would function well in light of the inevitable social repercussions that would occur if I were to admit that, well, I kinda, sorta, well, yeah, I voted for “that man – that evil man.” ...

I’ve also managed to confirm through talking to a few other conservative women I know who also live in liberal communities that they too keep their mouths shut about their politics...The question I struggle with is whether I ought to elevate my political principles over my day-to-day needs. Currently, I don’t believe there is any benefit, large or small, moral or practical, to such a step...

I've quoted liberally (pun intended) from Bookworm's essay because I want to convey the full flavor of the dilemma she faces. It's one I understand only too well, and one with which I sympathize. I've written about it before, here (note, especially, the comments section). I know the ostracism of which she speaks, and I know how important social connection are, and what it's like to be looked at by supposed friends whose eyes are forever changed and distanced.

But, despite all that empathy for Bookworm, I have to say that I part company with her conclusion. Oh, it's not that I speak up all the time (if you look at that post of mine I previously linked to, you'll see that in fact I don't). I weigh each situation to decide whether it seems like a good idea or whether it seems like an exceptionally futile exercise, and try to act accordingly.

At social gatherings where I'm among strangers, people I'm not likely to meet again, I often don't bother. But with anyone who is a friend--close, or even not-so-close--sooner or later I feel the need to "come out" and declare myself.

Why? After all, I'm not that keen on combat, or on spinning my wheels in useless arguments. I like to have my friends and keep them, too; I'm not interested in attaining pariah status for the sake of being able to pat myself on the back for bravery.

But over the past couple of years I've spoken out to virtually every friend I have, and gotten quite a variety of responses. A few have stopped speaking to me, and that makes me both sad and angry. Many look at me ever after with "that look" in their eyes--at least, I perceive that look, and I don't think I'm imagining things. It appears that my relationship with them has changed in some subtle way, and not for the better; they now see me as strange and somehow not quite trustworthy or kindly.

Some tease me, as though they can't quite believe it's true and are trying to test things out in a light way. A few had extremely angry and rejecting outbursts at first, but then got over it--outwardly, at least. A couple of people have decided never to speak politics to me again, in order to preserve our friendship. Still others, to my delight, can have lucid and calm discussions with me on the topic.There are really two reasons I've decided to speak out to friends. The first is personal--and perhaps self-indulgent, in a way. I'll call it, for want of a better name, integrity. Or perhaps that old liberal notion: authenticity. Or maybe honesty.

Call it what you will. The idea is that I can't keep as a deep dark secret something so important and basic to my way of thinking from people I consider my friends. Painful though it may be, if the friendship can't handle it, I'm willing to kiss the friendship goodbye. Because what sort of a friendship is it, if it's based on something so very fragile?

The second reason I tell friends is actually more important, because it's not about me. It's this: if I don't speak up, and if people like me (and Bookworm, and her other crypto-con friends) don't speak up and "out" ourselves, then it simply perpetuates the myths of those who consider The Other Side to be monstrous.

Yes, some will consider you an awful person if you tell the truth about your current beliefs. But your speaking up may make others wonder about their preconceptions. If Republicans and neocons and even liberal hawks are considered the absolute Other, they can continue to be demonized and typecast. If it's you, on the other hand, who's the neocon--and not some stranger--you, that nice mother down the street who bakes the brownies; you, the one with the jokes and the helping hand; you, who's always been so smart and so kind--then how can all of Bush's supporters be cruel and stupid?

It's easy to move through life in a liberal bubble if everyone around who disagrees is silent and invisible. The only way to change that is to challenge it by standing up, speaking out, and bursting the bubble. It's very difficult; but you may find, as I did, that most of your worthwhile relationships survive the blow, although many are never quite the same again.

Again, be sure and read the comments.

Perhaps, in the interest of those who will come after us, we should all look for ways to help others to find their inner Neocon--not by hitting them over the head with a 2x4, but by using appropropriately timed, reasonable, logical comments and conclusions about the events of the day. This is enormously difficult for me to do without getting really passionate about it--but as a trained mediator, I do believe it is worth the effort if we are to unite as a country and overcome those who would either murder us (or cause our murder by their blind, ideologically vacant, neglect). It is especially worth it to try and enlighten those who by their misunderstanding of reality would unwittingly enable those who would destroy this dream and way of life that is the United States of America. They are our friends. Friendship is important to us. But if we are all dead in some bio or nuclear attack, those friendships won't matter. Or if the world goes into worldwide depression if one of our cities goes up and the markets crash. This is the goal of our enemies--and it is something we must not let those we care about forget. (See my recent link here to Victor Davis Hanson's essay about Americans being spoiled by our success thus far.)

Happy New Year -- both to those who see the light, and to those who hopefully will see it soon--before it is too late.
DiscerningTexan, 12/31/2005 03:10:00 PM | Permalink | |
Friday, December 30, 2005

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DiscerningTexan, 12/30/2005 06:49:00 PM | Permalink | |

Has President Bush done TOO good of a job protecting the homeland?

Victor Davis Hanson pens one of the most thought-provoking pieces I have read in quite some time as to the collective American psyche:

After September 11 national-security-minded Democratic politicians fell over each other, voting for all sorts of tough measures. They passed the Patriot Act, approved the war in Afghanistan, voted to authorize the removal of Saddam Hussein, and nodded when they were briefed about Guantanamo or wiretap intercepts of suspect phone calls to and from the Middle East.

After the anthrax scare, the arrests of dozens of terrorist cells, and a flurry of al Qaeda fatwas, most Americans thought another attack was imminent — and wanted their politicians to think the same. Today's sourpuss, Senator Harry Reid, once was smiling at a photo-op at the signing of the Patriot Act to record to his constituents that he was darn serious about terrorism. So we have forgotten that most of us after 9/11 would never have imagined that the United States would remain untouched for over four years after that awful cloud of ash settled over the crater at the World Trade Center.

Now the horror of 9/11 and the sight of the doomed diving into the street fade. Gone mostly are the flags on the cars, and the orange and red alerts. The Democrats and the Left, in their amnesia, and as beneficiaries of the very policies they suddenly abhor, now mention al Qaeda very little and Islamic fascism hardly at all.

Apparently due to the success of George Bush at keeping the United States secure, he, not Osama bin Laden, can now more often be the target of a relieved Left — deserving of assassination in an Alfred Knopf novel, an overseer of Nazi policies according to a U.S. senator, a buffoon, and rogue in the award-winning film of Michael Moore. Yes, because we did so well against the real enemies, we soon had the leisure to invent new imaginary ones in Bush/Cheney, Halliburton, the Patriot Act, John Ashcroft, and Scooter Libby.

Afghanistan in October, 2001, conjured up almost immediately warnings of quagmire, expanding Holy War at Ramadan, unreliable allies, a trigger-happy nuclear Pakistan on the border, American corpses to join British and Russian bones in the high desert — not a seven-week victory and a subsequent democracy in Kabul of all places.

Nothing in our era would have seemed more unlikely than democrats dethroning the Taliban and al Qaeda — hitherto missile-proof in their much ballyhooed cave complexes that maps in Newsweek assured us rivaled Norad's subterranean fortress. The prior, now-sanctified Clinton doctrine of standoff bombing ensured that there would be no American fatalities and almost nothing ever accomplished — the perfect strategy for the focus-group/straw-poll era of the 1990s.

Are we then basking in the unbelievable notion that the most diabolical government of the late 20th century is gone from Afghanistan, and in its place are schools, roads, and voting machines? Hardly, since the bar has been astronomically raised since Tora Bora. After all, the Afghan parliament is still squabbling and a long way from the city councils of Cambridge, La Jolla, or Nantucket — or maybe not.

The same paradox of success is true of Iraq. Before we went in, analysts and opponents forecasted burning oil wells, millions of refugees streaming into Jordan and the Gulf kingdoms, with thousands of Americans killed just taking Baghdad alone. Middle Eastern potentates warned us of chemical rockets that would shower our troops in Kuwait. On the eve of the war, had anyone predicted that Saddam would be toppled in three weeks, and two-and-a-half-years later, 11 million Iraqis would turn out to vote in their third election — at a cost of some 2100 war dead — he would have been dismissed as unhinged.

But that is exactly what has happened. And the reaction? Democratic firebrands are now talking of impeachment.

It just gets better from there--read the rest here.
DiscerningTexan, 12/30/2005 06:25:00 PM | Permalink | |

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DiscerningTexan, 12/30/2005 04:52:00 PM | Permalink | |

Finally, some GOOD National Security News: Justice to investigate leaks, leakers

It's about time! The Justice Department is going to investigate how top secret National Security information got to the New York Times and Washington Post. And not a minute too soon. John Hindraker comments:

The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation of the leaks to the New York Times regarding the NSA's anti-terror programs. Great news. This makes two; the leaked story about secret detention facilities in Europe is also under investigation. I doubt that anything short of the sight of bureaucrats doing jail time will slow down the torrent of illegal leaks from the federal agencies, so let's get on with it.

Michelle Malkin has full coverage and rolling updates. And Flopping Aces is all over the story--in spades! :-)
DiscerningTexan, 12/30/2005 04:31:00 PM | Permalink | |

ANOTHER leak of a classified program

Partisans out to sabotage the Bush Administration are again forsaking their security clearance in leaking classified National Security information. As I said the other day, they should lock up the leakers and throw away the key... (From Ace of Spades HQ):

And the Washington Post Exposes another Secret Program

Dana Priest strikes again:

This time, the Washington Post uses its contacts in the CIA to expose an umbrella program called GST, the code for a loose affiliation of dozens of programs designed to locate and fight terrorists abroad rather than wait for them to show up here. Nothing about the article stands out as a smoking gun, it never alleges anything specifically illegal, but Dana Priest writes the front-pager as a warning that the President has gone out of control in defending the US from attack...

This effort by Priest mirrors the slop served up by the NY Times on the NSA surveillance of international communications, except in one regard -- the activities described by Priest clearly fall under the category of the President's war powers. One cannot even claim the limited ambiguity of the NSA position on that point.

More on the full story at Captain Ed, linked above.

To repeat myself: It is not Ms. Priest who is actually breaking the law here. It is her sources, determined to undermine the War Against Terror out of a partisan liberal animus against Bush. Ms. Priest should be subpoenaed and forced to reveal her sources, and locked up if she refuses to comply, not as punishment -- she is, after all, just doing her job, if perhaps insufficiently careful about national security -- but rather in order to get the names of the actual criminals in our national security apparatus.

Hat tip to Heard Here, who makes the case that the New York Times is badly in need of "adult supervision."

UPDATE: Scott Johnson of Power Line sums it up well:

Are the Post and the Times pursuing these stories for the sake of headlines, or for political purposes? It seems to me that the most notable political development of 2005 has been the emergence of the Copperhead Democrats as the core of the Democratic Party, abetted by their supporters such as the Times and the Post in the mainstream media. I would add only that I hope there is a reckoning with them well before the war is over.

Or, as Mark Steyn put it:

Of course, there’s no end of other movies out there. There’s Syriana, a film in which the CIA subverts a Middle Eastern government. Pardon me while I fall to the floor doubled up with laughter. If only the CIA were that good. The only government they seem the least bit capable of subverting is America’s.
DiscerningTexan, 12/30/2005 01:27:00 PM | Permalink | |

Heaven Forbid: COOKIES on WEBSITES? Impeachment is in order...

It really is getting to be beyond inane. Captain Ed weighs in:

In the denouement of the fizzling meme of NSA as Big Brother, the New York Times features an AP report on the intelligence agencies inadvertent use of persistent cookies in its new web system. The software came with persistent cookies as the default for any new installation, and the NSA forgot to disable it when it upgraded its website. Predictably, the AP and the Times (and CNN and the Guardian in the UK) treat this as yet another example of NSA abuse:

The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most files of that type.

The files, known as cookies, disappeared after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week. Agency officials acknowledged yesterday that they had made a mistake.

Nonetheless, the issue raised questions about privacy at the agency, which is on the defensive over reports of an eavesdropping program.

If it did raise questions about privacy at the NSA, then it also answered them. The AP report explains later that the new installation created the problem and that it corrected it as soon as the AP and the one complainant made them aware of the issue. In the great spectrum of Internet privacy dangers, "persistent cookies" sits on the weakest end. Spyware from free downloads cause more security problems than cookies, and even the ones used by the NSA can be blocked by any browser on the market. The AP uses the mistake to make cookies sound vaguely sinister when they're almost as ubiquitous on the Internet as pop-up ads, if not more so. The Guardian gets even more hysterical, in all senses of the word, when it says that the "[e]xposure adds to pressure over White House powers".

The silliest part of the story is that no one can understand why the cookies would present any danger to visitors to the NSA website. Both versions of the story call the risk to surfers "uncertain", but a more accurate description would be "irrelevant". Even if the NSA used it to track where casual visitors to its site surfed afterwards, it would discover nothing that any casual surfer wouldn't already be able to access on their own with Google or a quick check on Free Republic. Now imagine who stops to check on the NSA website and try very hard to come up with any good reason to spend precious resources on scouring the web preferences of bloggers and privacy groups instead of focusing on real signal intelligence, which already comes in such volume that the agency has trouble keeping up with their primary task.
The only story on the NSA cookies is that the Exempt Media intends on milking every last ounce of public outrage it can manufacture out of sugary nothings.

ADDENDUM: Just for grins, here's a partial list of cookies that the Exempt Media has placed on my computer:

Cookie ........................................................... Expires ......................................12/30/2037 .....................................12/30/2037 ...................12/30/2037 .................................12/30/2037 .........................................................09/23/2021 ....................................................11/21/2009 ......................................................05/27/2010 ...............................................12/31/2010 ....................................12/31/2010 .................................................12/15/2010 ...........................................11/04/2021 ................................................10/06/2021 ...............................................12/31/2025 ....................................01/17/2038

It's a damned good thing that the Exempt Media -- especially the AP, the New York Times, and the Guardian -- have so much concern about my privacy.

UPDATE: The DNC web site generated persistent cookies that expired in 2033, according to
Wizbang -- until this Tuesday. Why do you suppose they suddenly changed their programming? Do you suppose that the AP may have tipped them off?
DiscerningTexan, 12/30/2005 12:59:00 PM | Permalink | |
Thursday, December 29, 2005
DiscerningTexan, 12/29/2005 03:46:00 PM | Permalink | |

Iran enriching uranium--with or without Russians

Although yesterday's blog pointed out an apparent softening of the Russian stance towards nukes in Iran, Doug Hanson--writing in the American Thinker -- points out that Iran already has what it needs to enrich uranium without the Russkies. Bottom line: This is a problem that is not just going to go away (hint: follow the links, especially the last one...):

Let’s face it, the only thing Russia is doing to control Iran’s nuclear ambitions is to have a slick PR campaign that spouts disinformation about the entire sordid affair in the hope that no one notices its support of the mad mullahs.

report from the AP via The Washington Times, says that Javad Vaidi, Iran’s nuclear negotiator is considering a Russian proposal to have a joint fuel enrichment program in Russia to supposedly ensure that no fuel is diverted to make weapons. This proposal means nothing.

Earlier, I
reported that the Novosibirsk nuclear fuel fabrication facility in Siberia was already producing enriched uranium for Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor under the terms of a contract signed in January 2005. Putin also promised that the spent fuel would be returned to Russia for reprocessing, but we later learned that the spent fuel rods would remain in Iran for 10 years, which way beyond accepted industry standards. In other words, Iran would have an available supply of spent fuel in its own territory for a decade in order to extract plutonium for nuclear weapons.
Javad Vaidi is being two-faced on this proposal. In
November, he accepted another Russian deal whereby Iran would be allowed to convert yeallowcake at home in the Isfahan plant, before sending the uranium to Russia for enrichment. Of course, this would mean that the 80 tons of fuel already manufactured by the Novosibirsk plant for Iran no longer has a home. If this doesn’t make any sense, you’d be right; which is why this Russian effort to “help” solve the Iranian nuclear problem is such a farce.

These non-deals put forward by Putin are meant to delay any sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council because of Iran’s violations of the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Sanctions would put a serious dent in Russia’s potential return on investment for refurbishing the Bushehr reactor and the vast sums of cash generated by contracts for fuel fabrication and reprocessing. The recent sale of advanced Russian-made SAMs to Iran shows Putin is very serious about protecting his cash cows.

The article highlights the fact that both Europe and the US back these non-deals. A more probable explanation is that the US and the EU are putting on a nice face for the press, while privately acknowledging that Russian support will shortly lead to a nuclear armed Iran. Largely uncovered by the MSM, the US has successfully forged
new alliances in direct talks and through selected UN agencies. Of course, there are other options available if economic and diplomatic measures fail.
DiscerningTexan, 12/29/2005 03:31:00 PM | Permalink | |

Steyn reflects on the French rioting

Nice post from Mark Steyn (originally in National Review) regarding the so called "assimilation" of Islam into Western society:

A month ago, most of the western media were as over-heated as a Renault 5 in Clichy-sous-Bois in their insistence that these riots were nothing to do with Islam. “The mayhem has yet to take on any ideological or religious overtones,” The New York Times assured us. “This has nothing to do with religion,” a Muslim told The Washington Post. Never mind the cries of “Allahu Akhbar!”, never mind the invocation of “jihad” by at least some of the “youths”, never mind the particular care given to the incineration of Jewish targets, never mind the fact that the French government itself turned to various bigshot imams in an attempt to pacify les banlieues.

Instead, the move-along-folks-no-jihad-to-see-here crowd point to the rioters’ fondness for drugs, caterwauling rappers, casual sex and hideous western leisurewear as evidence of how culturally assimilated they are. Why, they threatened their victims with baseball bats!

Hold it right there for a minute. That’s how we define “assimilating” into western society at the dawn of the 21st century? If a fellow deals a little coke while wearing pants with a gusset located at calf height while singing along to the re-mix of “Slap Up My Bitch”, we say, hey, he seems to be fitting in very nicely? No need to worry about him getting any wacky ideas down at the madrassah, he’s an impeccably secular pluralist Peugeot-torcher.

It’s true that the rioters look rather less foreign than, say, the stern young men in the mosques of Peshawar or the training camps outside Jalalabad. But, on the other did, so did Mohammed Atta and his 18 confreres. They were very well “assimilated” by Clichy-sous-Bois standards. If you recall, in the days after 9/11 a flurry of all-American cocktail waitresses, lap-dancers and prostitutes popped up to say they remembered Mohammed and Marwan and Majed and the rest of the gang chugging vodkas, groping strippers, renting porn videos – just like fully assimilated citizens of advanced western democracies. They were said to have patronized, inter alia, Shuckums of Hollywood, Florida, Cheetah’s of San Diego, the Pink Pony of Daytona Beach, Nardone’s Go-Go Bar of Elizabeth, New Jersey, none of which rates a mention in even the racier suras of the Koran. And none of which prevented the guys from drinking up, leaving a tip (lousy, according to the gals), and flying their planes into the Twin Towers on Tuesday morning.

The July 7th London bombers were also impeccably assimilated: they ate fish’n’chips and loved cricket. Omar Sheikh, the man believed to have masterminded the beheading of Daniel Pearl, is, in fact, an Englishman, educated at an English public (ie, private) school and the London School of Economics. And so it goes: somewhere right now far away from these shores, there’s a guy sitting in a Yankees cap, wearing a Disney T-shirt, listening to Britney Spears – and plotting to bomb America.

The two are not mutually exclusive. They never have been. The Merry Widow was both the biggest smash on Broadway and Hitler’s favourite operetta. In a not entirely persuasive attempt to humanize the old KGB hard man, Yuri Andropov was widely touted as a Glenn Miller fan. The world’s former Numero Uno Commie, China’s Jiang Zemin, could hardly attend a state banquet without getting up and singing Elvis’ “Love Me Tender”. Saddam Hussein is not just assimilated with western culture, he’s eerily assimilated with National Review’s back page columnist: The old Baathist mass-murderer and I share the same favorite singer – Frank Sinatra. If you dialed up’s “We have recommendations for you!” CD page, Saddam’s and mine would be identical. Even more unsettling, we share the same favorite candy – Britain’s “Quality Street” chocolates, especially the big gold-wrapped toffees the shape and size of the old English penny. “Quality Street” was named after a 1902 West End hit by J M Barrie (of Peter Pan) whose principal characters were a loyal soldier of the Queen and his bonneted sweetheart. In the early advertisements for the toffees, the lovebirds were renamed Major Quality and Miss Sweetly:

Major Quality: Sweets to the sweet, Miss Sweetly.

Miss Sweetly: Spare my blushes, Major Quality. Feast your eyes rather on this sumptuous array of toffees and chocolates.

Put Saddam and me on a sofa with a box of “Quality Street” and we’d be billing and cooing like Major Quality and Miss Sweetly – right up until he called security to feed me feet first into the industrial shredder.

There’s no contradiction between a liking for western pop culture and a loathing of western civilization. Merely the latest in a long tradition, Mahmoud Khabou, the 20-year old unemployed son of Algerian immigrants in Clichy-sous-Bois, understands more clearly than the media that jihad is by no means incompatible with conventional forms of western delinquency. Asked by a reporter to name his heroes, he replied, “Osama bin Laden and Rodney King.”

The Snoop Dogg CDs, the chips and cricket aren’t enough. In Yorkshire and in les banlieues, these “youths” have adopted so many western trees we can’t see they lack the big overarching forest – the essence of identity, of allegiance – if, indeed, France and Britain still have one.

If by “cultural imperialism”, you mean movies and pop songs, America’s very successful. If by “cultural imperialism”, you mean the export of a core identity that transcends national citizenship, then political Islam’s the big globalization success story. Under the western rap tracks and drug habits and fashions, the core identity of these young men is Muslim.

DiscerningTexan, 12/29/2005 03:16:00 PM | Permalink | |

Hewitt: a year end review of the MSM

The venerable Hugh Hewitt, reacts to the latest front-page fiction that was admitted by the Los Angeles Times. Be sure read it all: Hewitt uses the story as a launching pad to illustrate this and other examples of the depths to which the MSM has sunk--and why it is no longer trusted by an ever-growing majority of Americans.

Some key grafs about the LA Times snafu in particular:

Yesterday I noted the front-page pratfall from Monday's Los Angeles Times:

But now, as the Fish and Wildlife Service ponders a delisting plan that would turn over management of the wolves to the states, federal officials are balking at plans they fear would allow hunters to exterminate whole packs.
In Wyoming, for example, Gov. Dave Freudenthal last April decreed that the Endangered Species Act is no longer in force and that the state "now considers the wolf as a federal dog," unworthy of protection. The governor's declaration reflects the views of hunters and ranchers that the wolves are decimating elk herds and devouring cattle and sheep. Some rural residents say they fear that wolves may prey on children.Idaho, home to the largest population of wolves in the West, has been the least welcoming. Officials say hundreds of wolves have been shot, in violation of federal law. A recent spate of poisonings has not only killed wolves, but dozens of ranch dogs and family pets that ingested pesticide-laced meatballs left along wildlife trails, state wildlife managers say.

I did not reproduce the paper's "correction" from Tuesday, which read:

FOR THE RECORD Gray wolves - An article in Tuesday's Section A about tensions over the federal effort to reintroduce wolves into parts of the West wrongly attributed to Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal a statement that Wyoming considered the Endangered Species Act no longer in force and "now considers the wolf as a federal dog." The statement, which was circulated on the Internet, was purportedly from Freudenthal but was in fact a hoax
You be the judge. Did the Los Angeles Times correct its embarassing and deeply misleading story, or repair the reputation of the Wyoming governor, and did it take any steps to protect the paper, its readers, or future targets of its reporters? Of course not.

On October 10, 1999, the Times devoted its Sunday magazine to the opening of the Staples Center, and did so because it had agreed with the center to split the revenues from the advertising in that magazine with the Center. Oh the agony within the newsroom! How the tubas of journalism sounded deep notes. The exercise in self-flagellation amused outsiders as it so clearly framed the cluelessness of the newspaper's insiders as to what mattered to outsiders. Outsiders --especially readers-- just want to be able to trust the stuff they read. The content of the magazine wasn't flawed, but the self-perception of the delusional reporters was.

I doubt that even one of those insiders shocked and horrified by the Staples Center flap even raised an eyebrow at the fact that a front page story could casually absorb and pivot off of an internet hoax, and that the "correction" would be the small and buried aside published above.

Which is why the New Year's Resolution you ought to make and keep is to cancel a MSM subscription today. The papers won't change until they are made to.

DiscerningTexan, 12/29/2005 11:55:00 AM | Permalink | |
Wednesday, December 28, 2005

NYT daily Editors' meeting (click to enlarge)
DiscerningTexan, 12/28/2005 09:04:00 PM | Permalink | |

Mossad Chief: Iran less than two years away from Bomb

Via the Daily Briefing from Regime Change Iran, some very interesting developments today, according to a story in the Jerusalem Post. For example, (from this story further down in the RCI Daily Briefing) for the first time in recent months, there are signs that Russia may be about to join the West in referring Iran to the UN Security Council, if Iran does not accept its terms to allow the enrichment of uranium on Russian soil.

Meanwhile in the article linked below, Mossad (the Isreali intelligence service) is estimating that Iran will have the bomb within two years. Some really interesteing reading here. (bold emphases are mine):

The Jerusalem Post:
"Iran is one to two years away, at the latest, from having enriched uranium," said Mossad Chief Meir Dagan during his annual report to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee late Tuesday morning. "From that point, the completion of their nuclear weapon is simply a technical matter. If Iran goes undisturbed, they will reach technical nuclear development independence in the coming months," said Dagan.

The comments echoed those of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, who earlier this month said it is possible that Iran would be able to complete building a bomb as early as 2008 or as far as 2015.

Just last week it was reported in the Jerusalem Post that Iran recently acquired 12 cruise missiles with a range of up to 3,000 kilometers. OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash) noted the missiles had the ability to carry a nuclear warhead.

Also on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Iran was undermining Russia's attempts to engage in dialogue regarding its nuclear program.

Iran had denied on Sunday that it had received from Russia a proposal for moving its uranium enrichment facilities to Russian territory, a compromise Europe is seeking to resolve controversy over Iran's nuclear program. Russia announced a day earlier that it had formally put the proposal to Teheran. Iran has so far insisted it would not agree to moving enrichment abroad, and it was not clear if Teheran's denial was an attempt to gain time without directly rejecting a proposal from Moscow, a longtime ally.

"We have not received any particular plan yet," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters. "It's quite clear that Iran will positively look at any proposal that recognize right of having nuclear enrichment on its soil."

Asefi underlined that Iran and Russia enjoy positive mutual relations and understandings in many fields.

Uranium enrichment is a key step in the nuclear process, producing either fuel for a reactor or the material needed for a warhead. The Europeans want enrichment moved to Russia to ensure Iran cannot divert uranium for a weapons program.

Incidentally, if you are a blogger or use an RSS News Aggreagator, Regime Change Iran is an excellent source of information from a place where it is very difficult to get good information--it should be on the blogroll of anyone interested in world affairs and the Global War on Islamist terror. Click here and register your support for a secular democracy in Iran.
DiscerningTexan, 12/28/2005 06:33:00 PM | Permalink | |

Overwhelming public support for NSA Surveillance

Michelle Malkin trumpets the numbers from the latest Rasmussen poll. And with good reason. Read 'em and weep Dems:

I'm not much of a poll watcher, but the new Rasmussen numbers on Americans' views of the National Security Agency's counterterrorism programs are very notable:

December 28, 2005--Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 23% disagree.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Americans say they are following the NSA story somewhat or very closely.

Just 26% believe President Bush is the first to authorize a program like the one currently in the news. Forty-eight percent (48%) say he is not while 26% are not sure.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of Republicans believe the NSA should be allowed to listen in on conversations between terror suspects and people living in the United States. That view is shared by 51% of Democrats and 57% of those not affiliated with either major political party.

Hat tip:
Ace of Spades
DiscerningTexan, 12/28/2005 05:47:00 PM | Permalink | |

Presidential power as defined by the Constitution: Congress can't usurp the president's power to spy on America's enemies

I received a comment on my earlier post today that was a good example of the widespread misunderstanding of the Constitution and the powers that it grants the President in wartime. So it was to my great delight when my Wall Street Journal came today and I came across this scholarly op-ed on just this very topic. Written by Robert F. Turner, co-founder of the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia, puts this argument to bed, as far as I am concerned (emphases are mine):

In the continuing saga of the surveillance "scandal," with some congressional Democrats denouncing President Bush as a lawbreaker and even suggesting that impeachment hearings may be in order, it is important to step back and put things in historical context. First of all, the Founding Fathers knew from experience that Congress could not keep secrets. In 1776, Benjamin Franklin and his four colleagues on the Committee of Secret Correspondence unanimously concluded that they could not tell the Continental Congress about covert assistance being provided by France to the American Revolution, because "we find by fatal experience that Congress consists of too many members to keep secrets."

When the Constitution was being ratified, John Jay--America's most experienced diplomat and George Washington's first choice to be secretary of state--wrote in Federalist No. 64 that there would be cases in which "the most useful intelligence" may be obtained if foreign sources could be "relieved from apprehensions of discovery," and noted there were many "who would rely on the secrecy of the president, but who would not confide in that of the Senate." He then praised the new Constitution for so distributing foreign-affairs powers that the president would be able "to manage the business of intelligence in such manner as prudence may suggest."

In 1790, when the first session of the First Congress appropriated money for foreign intercourse, the statute expressly required that the president "account specifically for all such expenditures of the said money as in his judgment may be made public, and also for the amount of such expenditures as he may think it advisable not to specify." They made no demand that President Washington share intelligence secrets with them. And in 1818, when a dispute arose over a reported diplomatic mission to South America, the legendary Henry Clay told his House colleagues that if the mission had been provided for from the president's contingent fund, it would not be "a proper subject for inquiry" by Congress.

For nearly 200 years it was understood by all three branches that intelligence collection--especially in wartime--was an exclusive presidential prerogative vested in the president by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, John Marshall and many others recognized that the grant of "executive power" to the president included control over intelligence gathering. It was not by chance that there was no provision for congressional oversight of intelligence matters in the National Security Act of 1947.

Space does not permit a discussion here of the congressional lawbreaking that took place in the wake of the Vietnam War. It is enough to observe that the Constitution is the highest law of the land, and when Congress attempts to usurp powers granted to the president, its members betray their oath of office. In certain cases, such as the War Powers Resolution and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, it might well have crossed that line.

Keep in mind that while the Carter administration asked Congress to enact the FISA statute in 1978, Attorney General Griffin Bell emphasized that the law "does not take away the power of the president under the Constitution." And in 1994, when the Clinton administration invited Congress to expand FISA to cover physical as well as electronic searches, the associate attorney general testified: "Our seeking legislation in no way should suggest that we do not believe we have inherent authority" under the Constitution. "We do," she concluded.

I'm not saying that what the president authorized was unquestionably lawful. The Supreme Court in the 1972 "Keith case" held that a warrant was required for national security wiretaps involving purely domestic targets, but expressly distinguished the case from one involving wiretapping "foreign powers" or their agents in this country. In the 1980 Truong case, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the warrantless surveillance of a foreign power, its agent or collaborators (including U.S. citizens) when the "primary purpose" of the intercepts was for "foreign intelligence" rather than law enforcement purposes. Every court of appeals that has considered the issue has upheld an inherent presidential power to conduct warrantless foreign intelligence searches; and in 2002 the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, created by the FISA statute, accepted that "the president does have that authority" and noted "FISA could not encroach on the president's constitutional power."

For constitutional purposes, the joint resolution passed with but a single dissenting vote by Congress on Sept. 14, 2001, was the equivalent of a formal declaration of war. The Supreme Court held in 1800 (Bas v. Tingy), and again in 1801 (Talbot v. Seamen), that Congress could formally authorize war by joint resolution without passing a formal declaration of war; and in the post-U.N. Charter era no state has issued a formal declaration of war. Such declarations, in fact, have become as much an anachronism as the power of Congress to issue letters of marque and reprisal (outlawed by treaty in 1856). Formal declarations were historically only required when a state was initiating an aggressive war, which today is unlawful.

Section 1811 of the FISA statute recognizes that during a period of authorized war the president must have some authority to engage in electronic surveillance "without a court order." The question is whether Congress had the power to limit such authorizations to a 15-day period, which I think highly doubtful. It would be akin to Congress telling the president during wartime that he could attack a particular enemy stronghold for a maximum of 15 days.

America is at war with a dangerous enemy. Since 9/11, the president, our intelligence services and our military forces have done a truly extraordinary job--taking the war to our enemies and keeping them from conducting a single attack within this country (so far). But we are still very much at risk, and those who seek partisan political advantage by portraying efforts to monitor communications between suspected foreign terrorists and (often unknown) Americans as being akin to Nixon's "enemies lists" are serving neither their party nor their country. The leakers of this sensitive national security activity and their Capitol Hill supporters seem determined to guarantee al Qaeda a secure communications channel into this country so long as they remember to include one sympathetic permanent resident alien not previously identified by NSA or the FBI as a foreign agent on their distribution list.

Ultimately, as the courts have noted, the test is whether the legitimate government interest involved--in this instance, discovering and preventing new terrorist attacks that may endanger tens of thousands of American lives--outweighs the privacy interests of individuals who are communicating with al Qaeda terrorists. And just as those of us who fly on airplanes have accepted intrusive government searches of our luggage and person without the slightest showing of probable cause, those of us who communicate (knowingly or otherwise) with foreign terrorists will have to accept the fact that Uncle Sam may be listening.

Our Constitution is the supreme law, and it cannot be amended by a simple statute like the FISA law. Every modern president and every court of appeals that has considered this issue has upheld the independent power of the president to collect foreign intelligence without a warrant. The Supreme Court may ultimately clarify the competing claims; but until then, the president is right to continue monitoring the communications of our nation's declared enemies, even when they elect to communicate with people within our country.

Mr. Turner, co-founder of the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, served as counsel to the President's Intelligence Oversight Board, 1982-84.

Here endeth the lesson.

UPDATE: Bench Memos has a nice roundup of NSA-related articles today. Follow the links...
DiscerningTexan, 12/28/2005 01:43:00 PM | Permalink | |

Why is Sam Johnson's voice not being heard?

Congressman Sam Johnson (Texas - 3rd district), was a former prisoner in the Hanoi Hilton--just asJohn McCain was. But both have very different viewpoints regarding "what's in and what's out" of allowable interrogation techniques should be codified. Amazingly, you got to hear on every netowork what John McCain's viewpoint was; but clearly he does not represent the point of view of every Vietnam prisoner-of-war.

Beast 7 has a nice post up with a transcript of the speech Sam Johnson gave on the House Floor in response to the John Murtha's suggestion that we pull the troops out now:

Odds are, amidst all of the MSM tripping over each other reporting the latest belches from Rep. John Murtha, you didn't see this. Vietnam vet and former Prisoner of War U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (3rd Dist.-Texas) delivered the following closing statement on the floor of the House of Representatives November 18 in response to Congressman Murtha’s suggestion to pull out U.S. troops from Iraq. A 29-year veteran of the Air Force, Johnson was held captive nearly seven years as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam.

Mr. Speaker – I rise today on behalf of the American men and women in uniform – and their families. I spent 29 years in the Air Force – served in Korea and Vietnam… and spent seven years as a POW in Vietnam – more than half of that time in solitary confinement.

I know what it’s like to be far from home – serving your country – risking your life – and hearing that America doesn’t care about you… Your Congress doesn’t care about you. Your Congress just cut all funding for your war. They’re packing up and going home – and leaving you here.

When I was a POW, I was scared to death when our Congress talked about pulling the plug that I would be left there forever.

I know what it does to morale – I know what it does to the mission – and so help me God, I will never, ever let our nation make those mistakes again. Never.

“Our men and women in uniform need our full support. They need to know that when they’re in Iraq driving from Camp Blue Diamond to Camp Victory that the Congress is behind them – to give them the best armored trucks they can drive, the best weapons they can fire, and the best ammunition they can use. They need to have full faith that a few naysayers in Washington won’t cut and run – and leave them high and dry.

They need to know these things because that’s mandatory for mission success and troop morale. America – and the Congress – must stand behind our men and women in uniform because they stand up for us every minute of every day! Any talk – even so much as a murmur – of leaving now– just emboldens the enemy and weakens the resolve of our of troops in the field. That’s dangerous! If you don’t believe me – check out Al Jazeera. This story is on the front page.

We can’t do that to our fellow Americans over there.“Mr. Speaker – we’re making great progress in Iraq.

Remember in January how we saw pictures from Iraq of that first election. For weeks the media predicted gloom and doom. Remember that? What did we see? We watched people as they waited in lines for hours – defying death threats – just to cast their vote for democracy. Remember the picture of the woman in a black head cover flashing her purple finger in the V after voting in the first Iraqi elections. It was a breakthrough for democracy – and it was just the beginning.

Remember the recent vote on the referendum -- when people came out in droves to make their voice heard. You wouldn’t have known about it because there was so little mention of it here in the American press – but people got out there and they voted – they showed their support for a democracy – a new government, hope and a future. These people are thirsting for something more – they’re risking their lives in the name of a new government – and we must stay the course if we want to foster a stable Iraq and create hope for millions in the Middle East.

And our work is paying off -- not just at the ballot box. Remember when we were waking up that Sunday morning in shock as we caught Saddam Hussein cowering in a rat-hole. He’s gone.
And you know what, at least 46 of Hussein’s 55 most wanted regime members are either dead or incarcerated.“Nationwide, thousands and thousands of police officers have been hired and nearly 200,000 Iraqi soldiers are trained and serving their country.“It’s going to take time – but our guys on the ground are working with other nations to make inroads to create leadership and inspire democracy in a country that has only known hate, fear, and death from a ruler.

However, sadly – some here want to embolden the enemy by saying we just cut and run. That’s just irresponsible and unconscionable. I have to ask – What would Iraq be like if the United States pulled out -- allowing dangerous people like the head of al-Qaida, Zarqawi, to run the country? What would that mean for the region? The world? Al Qaida rules with death, fear, terror and blood. Al Qaida takes innocent people hostage – then beheads them – and then brags about it on the internet. Al Qaida has no respect for human life. They prey on innocent people to do their dirty work – because they know we don’t target schools and hospitals and mosques – yet those are the exact places that they’re using for safe cover. Al Qaida will kidnap loved ones – especially very young children - of people trying to build democracy – like local leaders – to scare them out of helping out the new country. They’re taking kids hostage – because parents want a new life and a better future for their children. Why is that such a crime?

What part of Al Qaida do you want operating here in America? Al Qaida is a world-wide organization and world-wide threat. I don’t want any part of this. Americans don’t want, need or deserve al Qaida. Our troops are over in Iraq fighting not just for our freedom and protection – but freedom for the world. We must fight the bad guys over there – not over here. WE must support our troops to the hilt so they don’t go to bed at night – covered in talcum-powder thin white sand wondering – Does America really support me?

In case people have forgotten, this is the same thing that happened in Vietnam. Peaceniks and people in Congress – and America - started saying bad things about what was going on over there. Let me tell you what it did for troop morale. It’s a real downer. I just pray our troops and their families can block this noise out and know that I will fight like mad to make sure our troops have everything they need - for as long as they need - to win the global war on terrorism.

Withdrawal is not an option!

I hope and pray every Member of Congress stands up and says to our troops ‘THANK YOU’ and ‘AMERICA SUPPORTS YOU.’ To them I say, God bless you and I salute you.

Does a lot more for me than Congressman Murtha's blather..
DiscerningTexan, 12/28/2005 01:30:00 PM | Permalink | |

Someone, please sedate me....

After reading the following story, I am guessing that my blood pressure may have jumped 30 points. They ought to rename the headline for this to the following: Leaks of Top Secret Program (with NYT Cooperation) May Enable Convicted Terrorists to go free. The New York Slimes reports on its own complicity:

Defense lawyers in some of the country's biggest terrorism cases say they plan to bring legal challenges to determine whether the National Security Agency used illegal wiretaps against several dozen Muslim men tied to Al Qaeda.

The lawyers said in interviews that they wanted to learn whether the men were monitored by the agency and, if so, whether the government withheld critical information or misled judges and defense lawyers about how and why the men were singled out.

The expected legal challenges, in cases from Florida, Ohio, Oregon and Virginia, add another dimension to the growing controversy over the agency's domestic surveillance program and could jeopardize some of the Bush administration's most important courtroom victories in terror cases, legal analysts say.

Thanks guys. Way to step up for the Home team (you know who I mean: I'm talking about the team that is actually attempting to prevent the mad religious zealots from murdering us all...)

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin scorches the New York Times for sins past and present. A must read.
DiscerningTexan, 12/28/2005 10:38:00 AM | Permalink | |
Tuesday, December 27, 2005

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DiscerningTexan, 12/27/2005 10:48:00 PM | Permalink | |

The rabid Paranoia of the American Left

Bill Kristol, writing in the Weekly Standard, does not mince words about the myopia and paranoia of our enemies within our own country:

No reasonable American, no decent human being, wants to send up a white flag in the war on terror. But leading spokesmen for American liberalism-hostile beyond reason to the Bush administration, and ready to believe the worst about American public servants-seem to have concluded that the terror threat is mostly imaginary. It is the threat to civil liberties from George W. Bush that is the real danger. These liberals recoil unthinkingly from the obvious fact that our national security requires policies that are a step (but only a careful step) removed from ACLU dogma.

On Monday, December 19, General Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and now deputy director of national intelligence, briefed journalists. The back--and--forth included this exchange:

Reporter: Have you identified armed enemy combatants, through this program, in the United States?

Gen. Hayden: This program has been successful in detecting and preventing attacks inside the United States.

Reporter: General Hayden, I know you're not going to talk about specifics about that, and you say it's been successful. But would it have been as successful-can you unequivocally say that something has been stopped or there was an imminent attack or you got information through this that you could not have gotten through going to the court?

Gen. Hayden: I can say unequivocally, all right, that we have got information through this program that would not otherwise have been available.

Now, General Hayden is by all accounts a serious, experienced, nonpolitical military officer. You would think that a statement like this, by a man
in his position, would at least slow down the glib assertions of politicians, op--ed writers, and journalists that there was no conceivable reason for President Bush to bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. As Gary Schmitt and David Tell explain elsewhere in this issue, FISA was broken well before 9/11. Was the president to ignore the evident fact that FISA's procedures and strictures were simply incompatible with dealing with the al Qaeda threat in an expeditious manner? Was the president to ignore the obvious incapacity of any court, operating under any intelligible legal standard, to judge surveillance decisions involving the sweeping of massive numbers of cell phones and emails by high--speed computers in order even to know where to focus resources? Was the president, in the wake of 9/11, and with the threat of imminent new attacks, really supposed to sit on his hands and gamble that Congress might figure out a way to fix FISA, if it could even be fixed? The questions answer themselves.

But the spokesmen for contemporary liberalism didn't pause to even ask these questions. The day after Gen. Hayden's press briefing, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee blathered on about "the Constitution in crisis" and "impeachable conduct." Barbara Boxer, a Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asserted there was "no excuse" for the president's actions. The ranking Democrat on that committee, Joseph Biden, confidently stated that the president's claims were "bizarre" and that "aggrandizement of power" was probably the primary reason for the president's actions, since "there was no need to do any of this."

So we are really to believe that President Bush just sat around after 9/11 thinking, "How can I aggrandize my powers?" Or that Gen. Hayden-and his hundreds of nonpolitical subordinates-cheerfully agreed to an obviously crazy, bizarre, and unnecessary project of "domestic spying"?

This is the fever swamp into which American liberalism is on the verge of descending.

Some have already descended. Consider Arlene Getz, senior editorial manager at She posted an article Wednesday-also after Gen. Hayden's press briefing-on Newsweek's website ruminating on "the parallels" between Bush's defense of his "spying program" and, yes, "South Africa's apartheid regime."

You get the idea; you can read the rest here.
DiscerningTexan, 12/27/2005 10:26:00 PM | Permalink | |

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DiscerningTexan, 12/27/2005 10:25:00 PM | Permalink | |

Time for change in Iran

I would be the first to admit that I have not been overjoyed with Bill Frist's leadership in the Senate last year, although I do not envy him trying to keep turncoats like McCain, Snowe, Collins, Hagel, Graham, etc. in line. But I did not find much to argue with in his op-ed in the Los Angeles Times regarding Iran.

A showdown is coming, eventually. You know it and I know it. Tehran is the Capital of Global State-sponsored Terror, and if the world is lucky, the brave patriots within Iran will take matters into their own hands. But they may need help. And the US needs to be there to provide it. Here is Frist's op-ed, courtesy of Regime Change Iran:

Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is Senate Majority Leader, The Los Angeles Times:

Iran's ruling mullahs have waged a 26-year campaign to suppress dissent, support terror and pursue a nuclear weapons program. In recent weeks, it has become clear that international efforts to stop Iran's atomic program have failed to bear fruit. Unless we act quickly, the United States will have a nuclear crisis on its hands.

Today's Iran presents a sharp contrast between a ruling class hostile to the world and a populace ready to rejoin the global community. The Iranian people's desire for freedom, however, hasn't stopped he nation's leaders from trying to build a fearsome arsenal.

Iran already has missiles capable of striking Israel, parts of Europe and American forces in the Middle East. It also appears that rogue Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan has given Tehran's ruling clerics the blueprints for a nuclear warhead. Veteran Iran-watchers believe that the nation could soon use its supposedly civilian nuclear program to produce weapons-grade fissile material.

The world's democracies largely agree that a nuclear-armed Iran presents a threat to Middle East stability and world peace. Meetings between the United States and the other 34 members of the International Atomic Energy Agency's governing board have produced resolutions but no final agreement to end Tehran's illicit nuclear program. Several IAEA board members have blocked serious action out of fear that Iran will pull out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, suspend international energy sales or even lash out militarily.

Late last month, the Bush administration went along with a European recommendation to delay asking the IAEA board members to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for action. The nonproliferation treaty calls for such referrals when countries violate their international obligations, and Iran has violated them more than a dozen times.

In this case, there may be a good reason to wait: Permanent Security Council members Russia and China have significant commercial and strategic interests in Iran and would probably block U.N. action against the regime. Going ahead with a referral now could drive away allies whose help we will need to stop Iran's nuclear program.

Although we should continue IAEA discussions with Iran — a process that has given us insights into its nuclear program — we need to explore other measures. In particular, we should ask allies who trade with Iran to join a sanctions campaign against Tehran.

For years, the U.S. has maintained sanctions on Iran that prohibit most trade, investment and assistance. And because Iran is on our list of state sponsors of terrorism, U.S. law requires the president to oppose all multilateral assistance to Iran in international forums and impose sanctions on those who aidits weapons programs or invest in its energy sector. Now, we should persuade other countries to follow our lead. Aside from those covering food and medicine, we shouldn't rule out any type of sanction.

A multinational sanctions regime might begin with an embargo on technologies that Iran can use in its nuclear program. If these initial sanctions prove ineffective, the program might escalate in stages to include a ban on arms sales and penalties for suppliers.

Further sanctions could include limits on the export of civilian technologies, such as machine tools, that have military applications, and, eventually, the full spectrum of measures the U.S. has in place to isolate Iran and persuade its rulers to give up their nuclear ambitions.

If we let Tehran develop nuclear weapons covertly while IAEA negotiations slog forward, Iran's theocrats will have little reason to negotiate with anyone. The U.S. needs to act before a regime that has denied the real Holocaust unleashes another.

He still did not call for hearings on pending the Iran Freedom Act. Call his office and ask for him to call for hearings now!
DiscerningTexan, 12/27/2005 09:19:00 PM | Permalink | |

Another mass grave uncovered in Iraq

Many of you may have missed the reports today of yet another mass grave that has been discovered in Iraq. Didn't get a huge amount of play in the media--not nearly as much as did the latest bombing by al Qaeda. But just for the record, this Iraqi mass grave was unearthed in the city of Karbala, where hundreds of remains were found today which were believed to have been murdered after the attempted 1991 Shiite revolt against Saddam. Captain Ed's comments on the BBC reporting of this atrocity hit home with me:

(From the BBC report)
A mass grave has been discovered in the predominantly Shia city of Karbala south of Baghdad, Iraqi police said.

Dozens of bodies have reportedly been found, apparently those of Shia rebels killed by Saddam Hussein's army after its defeat in the 1991 Gulf War.

The Shia revolt was crushed and as many as 30,000 people were killed, many of them buried in mass graves.

The remains were uncovered by workmen digging a new water pipe in the centre of the city known for its Shia shrine.

They called the police, who cordoned off the area. Clothing found with the bodies indicated that they included men, women and children.

Had this grave contained the remains of men only, one could understand the explanation of its existence to bury rebels killed in an open battle. However, the presence of women -- not usually associated with Shi'ite political or military activity -- and especially children point to something else entirely. It sounds almost as if the BBC wants to couch this discovery in terms favorable to Saddam. The BBC assumes that all Shi'ites rebelled against the Saddam government, which would make all Shi'ites open targets for reprisals.

This mass grave shows something different than just a rebellion gone bad. It demonstrates that Saddam put down a rebellion among the Shi'a by indiscriminately killing civilians and dumping the bodies where they presumed no one would ever find them. That makes Saddam and his henchmen genocidal maniacs and mass murderers -- not exactly news to anyone, or at least anyone outside of the offices of the BBC.
DiscerningTexan, 12/27/2005 08:02:00 PM | Permalink | |

Now THIS is what I call a magazine cover...
DiscerningTexan, 12/27/2005 05:30:00 PM | Permalink | |

How to get things back on track

Brendan Mintner has a three-step prescription for how the Republicans can sieze the initiative and regain momentum in the coming year. Well worth the read. For example:

On Friday Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dropped in on U.S. Marines in Fallujah, Iraq. The day before, the White House made sure his trips to war zones wouldn't endanger national security by rewriting the Pentagon's succession rules to allow Gordon England, the acting deputy defense secretary, to be in charge should something happen to Mr. Rumsfeld.

It's a relief to know that now a lucky strike by insurgents (or a sudden illness) can't throw the Pentagon into disarray. But that the rewrite was necessary at all is an indictment of the U.S. Senate and an indication of why Republicans are in danger of losing control of Congress.

Mr. England wasn't already in line to succeed Mr. Rumsfeld for the simple reason that Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican, is mad at him. She placed a "hold" on his nomination because she feels he didn't do enough in recent years to keep naval installations open in her state. President Bush could sidestep the hold and give Mr. England a recess appointment, which would allow him to serve until the beginning of 2007. But under the old rules an "acting" deputy couldn't assume the powers of the secretary in an emergency, so there was a glaring hole in the Pentagon's line of succession.

While the Senate fiddles, the rest of us have time to wonder if Republicans will ever again start acting like a party that wants to change the culture in Washington. A look back over this past year gives little reason to be hopeful.

From making the tax cuts permanent to reauthorizing the Patriot Act, this Congress has preferred to kick the can down the road. And on Social Security and other necessary entitlement reforms as well as giving the president's nominees to key posts within the bureaucracy an up or down vote, the current crop of GOP leaders is dropping the ball.

One wasted political year doesn't have to follow another, however. There are a few things Republicans can do in the coming months to put the country in a better position to tackle its large and looming problems.

The first would be for President Bush to veto something. Any piece of legislation would do, and it should be easy enough to pick out a bill Sen. Snowe is particularly fond of to send back to Congress. (Though there are plenty of other Republican senators to target--George Voinovich and Susan Collins come immediately to mind.) The president hasn't yet used his veto pen, so this simple step would send shockwaves through the city and go a long way to giving the White House a better whip hand with Congress. Only so many times can a president threaten a veto without actually exercising the power and still be taken seriously, and this president has long ago surpassed that threshold.

It would be all the better if he vetoed a large spending bill, forcing Congress to strip out the pork before sending it back to his desk. The process would be therapeutic for all involved.

The man has a point. And a few other good points as well... It is time for the President, and especially for the prima donnas that Republicans elected to represent them in the Senate to get off their collective duffs and do what we elected them to do.
DiscerningTexan, 12/27/2005 01:08:00 PM | Permalink | |
Monday, December 26, 2005

This one speaks for itself... (click to enlarge)
DiscerningTexan, 12/26/2005 01:26:00 PM | Permalink | |

Abraham Lincoln on the Appropriate use of Presidential power in Wartime

Have just begun to read my new copy of Doris Kerns Goodwin's Team of Rivals--The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, about Lincoln's political rivals and their many attempts to derail him. So today when I ran across this superb summary of Lincoln's use and defense of the powers granted to a President during wartime by our Constitution (courtesy of Scott Johnson of Power Line), I felt compelled to pass it on:

On Saturday in "Thinking about the Great Liberator" I wrote a little on Lincoln's exercise of the commander-in-chief's war powers during the Civil War. Wielding Lincoln as his club, left-winger Robert Kuttner coincidentally attacked President Bush in a column for the Boston Globe on Sunday: "What Bush could learn from Lincoln."

At Discriminations, John Rosenberg commented on Kuttner's column: "What would Lincoln do? What Lincoln did."

My point was that Lincoln's construction of the war powers of the commander-in-chief belies much of the silly commmentary on Bush by liberals like Kuttner. I would enjoy reading Kuttner on Lincoln's defiance of Chief Justice Taney's order to free John Merryman on the ground that Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus was unconstitutional. Lincoln respectfully disagreed and ignored Taney's order. I hope Kuttner will get around to writing such a column someday; he might learn something if he studies up enough to write it.

Lincoln enunciated his understanding of public necessity enhancing the constitutional powers of the president during wartime on many occasions, perhaps on no occasion more memorably than in his 1864 letter to Albert Hodges on the Emancipation Proclamation. Read and learn from America's greatest, most influential interpreter of the Constitution:

I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act official upon this judgment and feeling. It was in the oath I took that I would, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. I could not take the office without taking the oath. Nor was it my view that I might take an oath to get power, and break the oath in using the power. I understood, too, that in ordinary civil administration this oath even forbade me to practically indulge my primary abstract judgment on the moral question of slavery. I had publicly declared this many times, and in many ways. And I aver that, to this day, I have done no official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and feeling on slavery. I did understand however, that my oath to preserve the constitution to the best of my ability, imposed upon me the duty of preserving, by every indispensable means, that government – that nation – of which that constitution was the organic law. Was it possible to lose the nation, and yet preserve the constitution? By general law life and limb must be protected; yet often a limb must be amputated to save a life; but a life is never wisely given to save a limb. I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might become lawful, by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the constitution, through the preservation of the nation. Right or wrong, I assumed this ground, and now avow it. I could not feel that, to the best of my ability, I had even tried to preserve the constitution, if, to save slavery, or any minor matter, I should permit the wreck of government, country, and Constitution all together.

When Kuttner returns to the subject of Lincoln, he may also remind us of the role played by the Peace Demcorats during the Civil War, and how Lincoln dealt with them. If he does so, I hope he will title his column in a manner similar to that of his column yesterday.

There is no getting around that the President has extraordinary powers during wartime. This President has used some of those powers to protect us, but has not abused these powers beyond the simple goal of preventing attacks on our fellow citizens. I am glad we have a man in the White House who understands that 9/11 is not simply some anamoly: it is what Islamists would do to all of us, given half a chance. In today's society, where microseconds can make a difference between life or death, the President does not always have the luxury of asking "Mother may I" before taking action to protect us. And that is how it should be.
DiscerningTexan, 12/26/2005 01:02:00 PM | Permalink | |

Lock up the Leakers and throw away the key

(with a h/t to Michelle Malkin) There are many others besides myself who believe strongly that the leakers who resulted in a secret NSA program being made public by the America-hating New York Times should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law (along with the reporters and editors who ran the story, ignorning a request from the President not to do so)--and perhaps should also enjoy the sort of accomodations that some of Saddam's captives enjoyed. Of course American prisons are not that barbaric; but it would give me great pleasure to know that the leakers in this case were going to have experience life "on the inside". And I am not by any means alone in my sentiment on this question--in New Jersey, Fausta's Bad Hair Blog makes the case quite well:

I had just read this post from Philomathean, MSM Blows the Cover on Terrorist Nuke Monitoring Program:

Recent revelations by The New York Times and other members of the press regarding the CIA's secret prison system and the NSA's efforts to monitor terrorist communications have severely harmed national security. The mainstream media do not appear to care, as long as their stories hurt President Bush. Meanwhile, every "scoop" about the government's efforts to prevent a terrorist disaster make such a disaster more likely.

The press has always had broad discretion in what gets reported. But now they've gone too far. David Kaplan of U.S. News & World Report has just blown the cover on "a far-reaching, top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses, plus similar sites in at least five other cities." This is yet another instance where the press behaves as if we were not at war, while endangering all of us.

Philomathean’s post reminded me of a sermon I heard on September 11. On September 11 this year I listened to a church sermon where the person giving the sermon said that on 9/11/2001 the USA had “sand thrown in its eyes”.

Some sand.
Six hundred and sixty-two people from NJ died at the WTC alone, out of a total 2,996 killed or missing on just one morning. That is not what I would call “sand in the eyes”, but the sermon giver’s outrage was placed elsewhere. His outrage was saved for the 2,000 soldiers who died in Iraq, because they were sent there by Bush.

Buried under all the verbiage, the message was that the USA has no enemies, that there is not much in the way of danger, and that we’d all live in peace if only we’d turn our swords into plowshares. I kid you not. I fully expected him to introduce Peter, Paul and Mary, and break into chords of Kumbayah while we all held hands.

But the fact is, we are at war. Thousands of people around the world have died over several decades at the hands of Islamist fascists who want to impose their vision of a caliphate on everybody.

This is not a new war.

Yesterday I read in the Sunday NYT Magazine that Uli Derickson died this year. I had the privilege of briefly meeting Ms Derickson in the late 1980s, a few years after her ordeal. Ms Derickson was a woman of luminous beauty and tremendous courage. She saved the lives of the people of flight 847, which was kidnapped by Lebanese Shiite Muslims in 1985. The NYT obitiuary calls her, The Peacemaker of Flight 847, and justly so. Back then the terrorist kidnappers were able to listen to her.Four years ago the story changed; the last four American planes that were hijacked couldn’t be saved by the courage of a great woman. There was no more listening. The focus had changed from making hostage deals to simply killing.

The war that went unnoticed for so many years is now very much in front of our eyes, if we have our eyes open.

The press chooses to close their eyes, and, as Philomathean said, cash in on any "scoop" about the government's efforts to prevent a terrorist disaster, which makes such a disaster more likely – as long as it hurts Bush. Like the guy that gave the sermon, they’re flying blind.

Other blogs and articles on leakers:

Enlighten NJ What Are The Motives Of The Leakers and Their Media Enablers?

Ankle Biting Pundits states,
. If you can't see the difference between detecting drugs and detecting nuclear bombs then there's really no hope for you, as you are stuck in the September 10th world of fighting terrorism by using law enforcement techniques. And we all know how that worked.

The Volokh Conspiracy has a series of posts on the subject from the legal point of view.

The New York Times' Christmas Gift

The Paranoid Style In American Liberalism

The NY Times Strikes Again

Cassandra posts on the Fourth Branch of Government.

Update What They Did For "Love"

Welcome, Michelle Malkin readers!

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DiscerningTexan, 12/26/2005 12:36:00 PM | Permalink | |