Saturday, February 04, 2006

Syria Has A Lot To Answer For

There is no good enough excuse to justify this kind of savagery:

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Hundreds of Syrian demonstrators stormed the Danish Embassy in Damascus Saturday and set fire to the building, witnesses said.

The demonstrators were protesting offensive caricatures of Islam's Prophet Mohammed that were first published in a Danish newspaper several months ago.

Witnesses said the demonstrators set fire to the entire building, which also houses the embassies of Chile and Sweden.

The Syrian goverment must be held responsible for the burning of the Danish Embassy in Damascus. There is no way that this attack was spontaneous, but instead sponsored by the Syrian government. Bashar Assad's regime must be held accountable for this atrocity.

It is certainly the worst kind of response to some offensive cartoons. There is simply no justifiable way to equate the non-violent criticisms of the cartoons, vulgar as they may be, and the violent attacks on the sovereign property of a foreign government by Muslim radicals.

Friday, February 03, 2006

There's A Lesson In Those Cartoons

I have avoided commenting on the Danish Cartoons that have caused an uproarious reaction in the blogosphere, mainly because it seemed like most of the responses from either side of the issue were being based solely on emotion, without much consideration for any given facts. But after reading much of what is being said from all sides of the issue, I feel the need to throw my hat in to the mix of commentary.

You may ask, how can you respond to this kind of an issue with "facts?" And this is a perfectly valid question. For the answer I turn to an ideal that is central to the concept of democracy, and one that makes the American system the beautiful thing that it is: Freedom of speech. This is one distinguishing characteristic that separates a democracy from any other form of government, and it is a cornerstone for a free society. Without it, there could be no truly democratic system.

This matters. It should especially matter to those in the blogosphere who are advocating publication of the cartoons yet seemingly without any acknowledgement of the vulgarity of the cartoons. Although some don't see the cartoons as being very harsh, the truth is that they deeply offend those who they were directed towards. The cartoons were created with the specific intention of attaining a visceral reaction from the Muslims they were aimed at, in an effort to offer some sort of commentary about the religion.

The publication of these cartoons is, of course, perfectly permissible. The views expressed by the cartoons are perfectly allowed by the guarantees of freedom of speech. But that does not mean that we should in any way advocate the publication of these cartoons, approve of them or their message, or view them as anything less than completely distasteful. It also does not mean that we have any right to condemn papers who do not publish these cartoons, as many bloggers have done.

The truth is, the cartoons were very offensive towards Muslisms, and publishing them could provoke unnecessary reactions. At the end of the day, a newpaper is still a business, no matter how you look at it, and if publishing cartoons offensive to Muslims is bad for business, then it is perfectly permissible for a paper to choose not to run the cartoons. However, if a paper does choose to run the cartoons, it must be ready to answer for its choice to do so, and it must be prepared to deal with any anger that could potentially ensue.

Furthermore, if a paper publishes somethign that is offensive, there are proper ways to display the anger it may cause some to feel. Reactions like this and statements like these are completely unwarranted. A free society allows for dissent and disagreement, that is one of its beauties. Responding to the opinions of others with pure hatred and calling for them to be beheaded is not what marks a free society.

Again, we do not have to accept these opinions, or even condone them, but we must allow them to exist in our democratic society. So when many bloggers were rightly outraged by Joel Stein's attack on the military and by Tom Toles' utterly distasteful jab at wounded soldiers, they should be eqaully upset about cartoons created with the specific intent of provoking Muslims.

We are not at war with the Muslim world, but with the Islamofascists who place no value on innocent life. Deliberately offending Muslisms must be viewed as reprehensible, and it is detrimental to our relationship with our Muslim allies in the Middle East.

So while those who hold to radical beliefs that drive them to create distasteful cartoons intended to offend must have their right to do so protected, they do not deserve support or recognition of any kind.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

New Leadership In The House

The new Majority Leader of the House is Rep. John Boehner of Ohio. Boehner won in the second round of voting, defeating Roy Blunt 122-109.

After an inconclusive first round of voting, John Shadegg, the candidate I supported, dropped out after coming in third. Most of his votes then went to Boehner, allowing him to win.

Boehner is a better choice than Blunt, though I would have preferred to see Shadegg win the position. Hopefully Rep. Boehner can take some initiative and get the GOP back to its small-government roots.


UPDATE:

N.Z. Bear has some very accurate thoughts:

While the first choice of many of us in the blogosphere, Representative Shadegg, did not win the election, his impact on the race cannot be denied. His candidacy reminded his fellow Representatives that real reform, and real change in the leadership, was not simply the right thing to do, but utterly necessary to ensure the success of the GOP in November.

It is my sincere hope that Representative Boehner takes this message to heart, and takes up the banner of real reform with enthusiasm and commitment. And his past statements give reason for optimism. In our blogger conference call, and in his interview with Hugh Hewitt, Rep. Boehner reiterated his strong commitment against earmarks, and expressed support for the idea of posting legislation online for 72 hours prior to any vote. Limited government fans will be pleased with his direct and positive answer when asked if he'd support rules requiring legislation to contain statements identifying the authority within the Constitution that grants the Congress to legislate in that area ("That'd be fine with me."), and his even more direct answer to concerns about McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform ("We ought to blow the whole bill up.").

It is a critical time for the House GOP, and Boehner's leadership will be essential in bringing the party out from the cloud of corruption scandals.

The Sunni Ultimatum

An important article about the ongoing negotiations in the Iraqi government comes via the Washington Times:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Iraq's Sunni leadership presented the majority-Shi'ite government yesterday with a 10-point ultimatum that they said would either end the violence or lead to a national strike and widespread street demonstrations.

It was the first time the Sunni minority has publicly offered conditions to end a bloody insurgency that has left thousands of Iraqis dead. However, it was not clear how much control the political parties have over the insurgents, who include foreign terrorists and disgruntled former members of dictator Saddam Hussein's military.

At the top of the list of demands was the resignation of the interior minister and his entire staff -- who are seen as leading a brutal anti-Sunni campaign through Iranian-trained Badr militias and a pro-Shi'ite police force.

This is certainly progress, and it is certainly a good sign for the development of the Iraqi democracy.

No Comment

Today's Washington Post published the letter from the Joint Chiefs in response to Tom Toles' cartoon (see immediately below ). However, it did not publish any sort of response from either Toles or the editors.

The Posts' "no comment" is undeniably cowardly. If the paper is going to publish anything, it should be prepared to defend its decision to do so, or offer an apology of mistaken judgement. But "no comment" is not an answer.

Simply publishing the Joint Chiefs' letter is a way of acknowledging its existence, but not having to deal with the issues it raises.

If I had to guess, I'd say that the editors at the Post actually stand behind the message of the cartoon, and approve of its vulgarity, so they are hesitant to apologize. I'm sure the editorial staff had some sort of a meeting regarding what to do, given the Joint Chiefs' response. The probably sat around a table tossing up "excuses" that could potentially be used, but none of them were good enough, so they chose non-response.

This is spineless stuff. When is the Post going to own up and offer a real response?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Washington Post Gets A Message From The Joint Chiefs

As if giving op-ed pages to a terrorist wasn't enough, The Washington Post has offered yet another outrageous publication. Consider Tom Toles' cartoon.

The cartoon was so offensive and inappropriate that all six of The Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote a letter of complaint to the editors at the Post.

A Tom Toles editorial cartoon published in The Washington Post on Monday and on its Web site has drawn a very rare and very strong protest letter to the editors from all six members of The Joint Chiefs of Staff, E&P has learned.

The letter, not yet published by the Post, charges that the six military leaders "believe you and Mr. Toles have done a disservice to your readers and your paper's reputation by using such a callous depiction of those who have volunteered to defend this nation, and as a result, have suffered traumatic and life-altering wounds. ... As the Joint Chiefs, it is rare that we all put our hand to one letter, but we cannot let this reprehensible cartoon go unanswered."

You can read the letter in its entirety here. In any regard, anything that can rally a response from all six of the Joint Chiefs is something that should not be printed in the pages of one of the nation's major newspapers.

Stay tuned for the Post's reponse, which I expect will be more of a non-response/dismissal than any real apology.

State Of The Union Roundup

Here is a HUGE roundup of the blogosphere's reactions to the State of the Union address, from Pajamas Media. (HT: Instapundit)

I thought the president's speech was very on target, both in the breadth of the issues it covered and in the emphasis he put on certain issues.

Notably, President Bush offered another stern defense of the NSA surveillance program, much to the dismay of the Democrats present. As republicans stood to applaud, the Dems sat in silence, displaying the ignorance that plagues them.

Here is the paragraph in question, which, I might add, was one of the most crucial in the entire speech:

It is said that prior to the attacks of September 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al-Qaida operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack – based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute – I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have – and Federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed. This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al-Qaida, we want to know about it – because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.

The president also made direct statements to Hamas and Iran, which was a prudent move. Taking a strong stance, and an early one, is crucial in dealing with these two situations.

The main point that should become apparent from the speech (and the reactions of those present in the audience) is that the President, his administration, and his party, are committed to the national security of this country, and the ongoing safety of its people, and are serious about solving the domestic problems we currently face. His opponents, however, led by windbags like Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Kerry, are not.

More Factless Banter From John Kerry

Senator John Kerry claimed on The Today Show that "53 percent of our children don't graduate from high school."

This is, of course, entirely false. Census data show that 84 percent of Americans over the age of 25 are, in fact, high school graduates.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Transparency at the Washington Post

Except its the kind of transparency that comes from revealing your radical leftist bias by giving op-ed space to terrorists.

Captain Ed has more.

Who Cares About Objectivity?

Not CNN.

Why report things with at least a shred of truth in them when you can do an interview that furthers your leftist agenda? Christiane Amanpour certainly prescribes to this model. And she exhibited it last night on CNN. Partial transcript via Michelle Malkin:

Clip 1:

AMANPOUR: If we don't do it, who does it? We have had, uh, we have to have an independent eye on these conflicts. The war in Iraq has basically turned out to be a disaster. And journalists have paid for it, uh, paid for the privilege for witnessing and reporting that. And so have many, many other people who have been there. And I think that's terribly, terribly difficult for us. And unfortunately, for some reason which I can't fathom, the kind of awful thing that's going on there now on a daily basis has almost become humdrum. So when something happens to people that we identify, like Bob and like Doug, we wake up again and realize, no, this is not acceptable, what's going on there. And it's a terrible situation.
KING: Well said.

Clip 2:

AMANPOUR: [Trashes reconstruction efforts] ...Most of the Iraqi people are losing hope that the promised reconstruction is going to happen and that the quality of their lives is going to increase. This is a big drama, because hope is the only thing they have in the middle of this spiraling security disaster. And by any indication, whether you take the number of journalists killed or wounded, whether you take the number of American soldiers killed or wounded, whether you take the number of Iraqi soldiers killed or wounded, uh, contractors, people working there, it just gets worse and worse.

Well, we're there to report what's actually going on. And we pay a heavy price for trying to get to the truth and the truth is what our business is all about. And that's why we're out there despite the enormous, enormous personal costs to us, to our families, to our networks.


Does Amanpour even care about the truth? Apparently not.

There is insurmountable evidence that the Iraq war has not been a failure at all. Let's start with the obvious: the Iraqi people have been freed from the brutal and oppressive rule of a ruthless dictator. Iraq is now a newborn democracy, already boasting an approved constitution and successful elections. The insurgency is dismantling itself. The U.S. is handing over more control to the Iraqi Army every day.

And all of this adds up to a "disaster?"

On the other hand, this shouldn't come as much of a surprise from CNN. They've suppressed the news before, why not do it again?

58-42

Judge Samuel Alito has been confirmed to the Supreme Court.



With the confirmation process now completed, how on earth are the Dems going to make fools of themselves now?

Well, with Colleen Rowley on their side, I don't think they're going to have any trouble.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Suspicious Yet?

The Telegraph has a report that Iran is secretly infiltrating the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Iran has formed a top secret team of nuclear specialists to infiltrate the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, the UN-sponsored body that monitors its nuclear programme, The Daily Telegraph has been told.

Its target is the IAEA’s safeguards division and its aim is to obtain information on the work of IAEA inspectors so that Iran can conceal the more sensitive areas of its nuclear research, according to information recently received by western intelligence...

The operation to target the IAEA is being run by Hosein Afarideh, the former head of the Iranian parliament’s energy committee. Mr Afarideh, reported to have close links with Iran’s ministry of intelligence, is in regular contact with a team of Iranian nuclear engineers seconded to work at the IAEA’s Vienna headquarters.

According to western intelligence reports, Mr Afarideh heads a three-man team at the headquarters of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran in Teheran, to prevent more embarrassing disclosures about its nuclear facilities. ...

As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is entitled to full access to the IAEA for help with the development of its nuclear programme, so long as it is purely for peaceful purposes.

But western intelligence officials believe that the Iranians are now taking advantage of their access to the IAEA to spy on its inspection procedures so that they can conceal sensitive areas of their nuclear operations from the outside world.

But Iran only wants to develop its nuclear program for peaceful means. Yeah, right.

This gets worth considering more and more everyday.


UPDATE:

Iran has been referred to the U.N. Security Council.

Teddy K. Blows His Top

The Massachusetts senator absolutely lost it on C-SPAN earlier today.

Michelle Malkin has the scoop on all the screaming and podium-pounding.

The Vote We've Been Waiting For

The Senate has invoked cloture, by a vote of 72-25, ending the debate on Judge Alito.

This clears the way for an up-or-down vote on Alito's confirmation tomorrow morning. Which means that by noon tomorrow, Judge Alito will be Justice Alito of the Supreme Court, even without Lincoln Chafee.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Debunking the New York Times

Power Line's John Hinderaker is one of my all-time favorite bloggers. Especially lately. His research and commentary about the NSA's surveillance program has been unmatched. No one has come close to achieving the depth and accuracy of his work, and the MSM can't touch him.

So it comes as no surprise when John demolishes the New York Times' latest editorial.

Here are the concluding graphs from John's post, titled "Spies and Lying Editorialists":

So the only federal appellate court that has ruled on the issue says that the New York Times is wrong about the law. The Times, ostrich-like, pretends that the federal courts don't exist.

This is, if you think about it, a rather weird situation. The Times, in company with lots of other liberals, agrees that the administration is doing a good thing by intercepting international messages between al Qaeda terrorists and their agents in the U.S. Their only complaint is that in a relative handful of cases, they want the administration to follow a different procedure--a procedure which, on their telling, will not perceptibly encumber the administration's ability to carry out the international surveillance in question. So their grievance is a technical one.

The problem is, you can't base a technical legal argument on what you think the law ought to be. You can only base a technical legal argument on what the law actually is. And the current state of the law, as uniformly articulated by the federal courts, is that the NSA's international surveillance program is a legal implementation of the President's constitutional powers. So, technically speaking, the Times is simply wrong. Which leaves me wondering what the hyperventilating is all about.

Leave it to The Times to avoid "inconvenient" facts. They're way to crafty to let a silly little thing like judicial precent get in the way of some biased editorializing.

I strongly urge you to read the whole post, it does a great job of identifying the central issues to the NSA surveillance program, and the court rulings that allow it.

Getting Noticed

I've been singing the praises of Michael Yon for awhile, and it seems now the AP is finally noticing:

The 41-year-old former Army Green Beret, self-published author and world traveler didn't know exactly what he was going to do when he got to the war zone last year, nor did he have any particular plans to report what he saw to the world at-large.

But that's what he did.

After getting himself embedded as a freelance journalist with troops last year, he used his Internet blog to report on the car bombs, firefights and dead soldiers. But he also wrote descriptively about acts of compassion and heroism, small triumphs in the country's crawl toward democracy and the gritty inner workings of the military machine.

Yon's dispatches have been extolled by loyal readers as gutsy and honest reporting by a guy who's not afraid to get his hands dirty. He has been interviewed and his blog quoted by major newspapers and TV news networks, and he has drawn comparisons to Ernie Pyle, the renowned World War II correspondent who shared the trenches with fighting soldiers.

Please read the whole story. Then consider supporting his next dispatch.