Thursday, November 29, 2007
Emerging (AQ) Defeat
Bay highlights this week’s announcement of a joint, long-term Iraqi and
The January 2005 Iraqi election succeeded, giving terrorists and tyrants a disturbing "purple finger" -- the very public ink stains marking the fingers of Iraqi voters.
That election was an incremental success, but one of many. This week's publicized call for a more "normalized" U.S.-Iraq relationship is another indication that the incremental successes are accumulating. Every increment can become a decrement, but war is a dynamic process -- and from a historical perspective the dynamic direction in
I know, that runs counter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's April 2007 declaration that the
This emerging success required lots of money and unfortunately involved lots of blood. I had another document on my
He also described his counter-strategy: a Shia-Sunni sectarian war. That's war's hideous dynamic, effort met by effort -- with death, pain and suffering in each terrible collision. Zarqawi's murderers did their best to incite a sectarian debacle. Oh, they got headlines, they enlisted a motley array of criminal allies, they set
In concluding his analysis, Bay commends an October 15th article by Tom Ricks in The Washington Post, discussing “al-Qaida's information warfare defeat.”
Victims of Multiculturalism
I’ve been trying all week to catch up with an excellent piece on Monday, written by Evan Coyne Maloney. Maloney goes on a riff over a classic Mark Steyn piece on “silent surrender,” the price posturing artists and other intelligentsia of the Left pay in homage and abeyance to the cult of multiculturalism.
Maloney first quotes Steyn: “Most writers and filmmakers ignore today’s epic cross-cultural war. It’s safer that way.”
Maloney calls out multi-culti dogma for what it is: not so disguised racism:
The dogma of multiculturalism holds that all cultures are equal, except Western culture, which (unlike every other society on the planet) has a history of oppression and war is therefore worse. All religions are equal, except Christianity, which informed the beliefs of the capitalist bloodsuckers who founded
Once you understand this, the Multicultural Pyramid of Oppression, you can begin to understand how to turn to your advantage certain circumstances that are beyond your control: such as where you were born, the type of genitalia you were born with, into what race you were born, and the religion of your parents. You see, the fewer things you have in common with The Oppressors, the more you can cast yourself as The Victim. And as The Victim, you are virtuous, so there are certain things you can get away with that others can’t: like actually oppressing people.
As racist as anything the Klan ever claimed, this implicit dogma of the Moral Supremacy of the Oppressed.
Maloney indicts the ethical and moral implications of prevailing multi-culti theology, as necessitating a “we must self-condemn and surrender ourselves to retribution,” in the interest of the Higher Justice, of course:
Consider what happens when you apply this thinking on a societal level: if we convince ourselves that all of the blame for the current state of the world should be placed at the feet of Western civilization, then why would any Westerner think that our civilization is worth fighting for? Or even worth saving? The rules of Multicultural Hierarchy require us to preemptively surrender, because any crime committed against us by a more worthy Victim is somehow deserved. And if we deserve it, then fighting against what we deserve amounts to fighting the administration of justice.
Many times in the years following the September 11th attacks, I’ve heard earnest-sounding commentators and social critics bring up “root causes” of September 11th—we are invariably the root of all causes, it would seem—and suggest that somehow, “we deserved it.”
Well, if we deserved it then—and still do now—then what business do we have defending ourselves? Who are we to stand in the way of justice?
The only bright spot I can see is that, much like the Roe effect that challenges the Left in the
Maloney reminded me of some pop cultural refuse that informs the topic, I think.
Remember that gaudy tripe of an anti-war anthem, masquerading as sophisticated cynicism, used for M.A.S.H.? A refresher on the some lyrics, for those who only remember the lyric-free TV version, here’s an excerpt:
The game of life is hard to play
I'm gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I'll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.
that suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.
The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I'm beat
and to another give my seat
for that's the only painless feat.
The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn't hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger...watch it grin, but...
A brave man once requested me
to answer questions that are key
is it to be or not to be
and I replied 'oh why ask me?'
'Cause suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.
...and you can do the same thing if you please.
This mindset, self-indictment, surrender, and suicide, was seeded in the minds of the gullible Left for quite some time. It never went away; it burrowed its way into how most of them, without reform or maturity, define the world in which they pine for better
Unfortunately, their own ideologies deny them any relief in an afterlife, and they continue to laugh to scorn those who believe in things eternal.
(That is, as long as the objects of their scorn are Western, non-Victim class, followers of Jesus Christ who actually mean it when they claim the faith.)
(Link via Instapundit)
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Our local high school has been hosting a Participation in Government speaker series. On Wednesday, November 28, they hosted a session on Pre-emptive War, the War in
The format allowed each of us 10 minutes to present our views on the three topics in turn, followed by student questions. I started. I used a brief outline, Ritter appeared to speak extemporaneously. Students and an adult or two asked questions, and towards the end the teacher who organizes the sessions augmented with questions of his own. Most allowed both of us to respond, but most were primarily directed at Ritter, but he was often offered to let me lead in response and I always had an opportunity to rebut or otherwise offer my own response.
My first impression of Ritter was of a very professional and courteous, even likeable man. His military background is evident. He was very respectful during the entire exchange, and had researched me at least as thoroughly as I researched him.
Here’s an outline of what I presented to open the session:
Just War Concept -- the morality of war
Why and How wars start
Aggressive, reactive, retributive, pre-emptive
Cold War, MAD, emergence of terrorism
Lessons from September 11th:
War as Risk Management
Threat of Nuclear proliferation, other WMD
Terror as proxy for state to state warfare
Potentially catastrophic cost of inaction
The War in
Gulf War and “Cessation” of Hostilities
UN Security Council Resolutions (1991-2002)
Iraq Regime Change as official
9/11 Aftermath, change in strategy:
Waiting for imminence can be catastrophic
State sponsors of terror, “safe harbor” & terror proxies
WMD Proliferation as terror threat
Human Rights and Democracy Promotion
Pre- and Post-Invasion Intelligence
Possible War with
Iranian proxies: Hezbollah, Shiite Militias
Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFP)
IEDs, weapons, funding, terrorist training
Regional influence & destabilization
Human Rights and Democratization
Iranian nuclear program:
Financial & technical resources driven by intent
Repeated obstruction and deception towards IAEA
Avowed aim the obliteration of
Concerns about proliferation, “nuke by proxy”
Ritter centered his 10 minutes on the premise that the
I later challenged that formulation on the basis of
I highlighted that for several decades, and all modern wars (since WWII), all three branches of Government have been complicit in allowing Congress to abrogate its Constitutional obligations to declare war (War Powers Act), Congressional authorizations for Presidential use of military force, etc. Hold Congress to its obligations, I’d agree, but to allow Congress to then escape responsibility and only blame the President is allowing those complicit to evade responsibility twice: first in the votes to authorize, then second in turning around and blaming the President with the results, as if they were innocent bystanders.
Ritter obviously tailored what might have been a different, more strident kind of presentation, were he not before a student audience. It really was a good, vigorous debate. He knows his UN Charter, for sure, perhaps more than he knows his Constitution, but he knows better than I, though I’m certain he cherry picks from the
He made the claim that we made Al Qaeda stronger, that we haven’t beaten them anywhere, that we discredited ourselves and our ideals by our actions. He responded to questions about
I replied with a fuller explanation of what Geneva means to signatories and non-signatories, the significance of unlawful combatants, how to conceptually deal with terrorists as POWs, when you can’t have prisoner exchanges or terms of surrender with non-state, unlawful combatants or even with the militaries of non-signatory countries. Problematic, and in other eras, such people found on the battlefield were summarily executed, and the Geneva Conventions can be found to approve of such actions. (Not that I advocate same, but that’s the problem, isn’t it?)
I also said there’s one place that we actually DID defeat Al Qaeda:
I found myself time and again returning to the context of decisions, viewing decisions in light of potential, known and unknown threats. I stressed repeatedly that we are already at war, were already at war, and that our enemies used (and use) terror proxies to do what they can’t or won’t do explicitly, openly, with their military forces. State sponsors of terror, in many ways, are more dangerous than the minions they fund, sponsor, host, hide, and direct. Safe havens should be of great concern, and nuclear and other WMD proliferation is a grave threat.
As I stated several times, there is a potentially catastrophic cost of inaction, which serious minded leaders must confront. (And do, when they are in the decision seat.)
Just based on a search I did yesterday, Ritter appeared less than 2 months ago in a college forum in
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
John Stossel, writing at Real Clear Politics, marks tomorrow’s
Stossel recounts Pilgrim history not found nor mentioned in today’s heavily socialized public school curricula. Most of us remember Pilgrim stories, about how the first European settlers nearly starved themselves out of existence those first two years. Many of us were either taught overtly or surmised that only by the intervention and instruction of big hearted and ecologically grounded natives did the Pilgrims find their footing, and survive.
Most Americans of any age share a stereotypic and cartoonish view of (all) Native American cultures as quintessentially communalist: they all hunt together, roam together, eat and live together, in tightly connected family, clan and tribal alignments.
Thanks to primary sources left behind by the Pilgrims, we can know that attempts at sharing labor and the fruits of that labor in the settlement had failed. Two years of collective farming and resource sharing brought them famine and want. Immediate introduction of privatized farming led to plenty and sufficiency.
However much the Pilgrims learned from their native hosts, they learned something very different from their own social experiment. In contrast perhaps to their native American hosts, white European settlers tended to take advantage of communal social solutions.
They could not be trusted with a kind of “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.” Folks wouldn’t work up to the capacity of their abilities, when the fruits of that capacity would not be theirs to enjoy.
We can learn something of vital importance in an age of increasing advocacy for communitarian social solutions.
Here’s Stossel’s assertion based on that early Thanksgiving object lesson:
When action is divorced from consequences, no one is happy with the ultimate outcome. If individuals can take from a common pot regardless of how much they put in it, each person has an incentive to be a free rider, to do as little as possible and take as much as possible because what one fails to take will be taken by someone else. Soon, the pot is empty and will not be refilled -- a bad situation even for the earlier takers.
What private property does -- as the Pilgrims discovered -- is connect effort to reward, creating an incentive for people to produce far more. Then, if there's a free market, people will trade their surpluses to others for the things they lack. Mutual exchange for mutual benefit makes the community richer.
Life is about consequences. Learning is mentally tying the appropriate consequence to individual actions. Prosperity and happiness, most often, results from altering behavior to elicit positive consequences and avoiding negative ones.
That’s an insight that can yield much for which to be thankful.
More Signs of Victory
AJ Strata continues his commentary on remarkable events in
Strata begins by noting what by now are widely reported declines in violence: against civilians, against US armed forces, in previously hostile areas outside and even more remarkably, dangerous areas inside
In recent months, as evidence of the success of the “surge” mounted, war critics have pointed to what they allege has been a diaspora of Iraqis, professionals in particular, largely Sunni, fleeing the dangers of today’s Iraq. Most recently, these same critics have suggested that, without clear evidence that many of these Iraqi refugees were returning, any latter day Iraq would be crippled by what amounted to real and de facto ethnic cleansing. These same critics may be running out of “yes, but” caveats and constraints at surrendering to ever-apparent victory: Iraqis are returning.
Strata links to a British press report:
The figures are hard to estimate precisely but the process could involve hundreds of thousands of people. The numbers are certainly large enough, as we report today, for a mass convoy to be planned next week as Iraqis who had opted for exile in
Why are hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, many with Baathist ties and one would assume some power and money, be streaming back into
But whatever the reason, we now see three major indicators the war on
From the terrorist cells we find we gain a wealth of intel which leads us to more terrorists, weapons and intel. We see a wave of concerned citizens leading us to the terrorists and their caches. We see the ever increasing amounts of weapons being seized and destroyed.
And now we see this massive migration of Iraqis coming home. These are not the signs of an endless war, an endless quagmire. These are the signs of a conflict ending. And they are all pointing to a huge US-Iraqi victory and a stunning defeat for Bin Laden’s Butchers.
Growing optimism. The people with a real stake in victory, their very lives at risk if they wager wrong, are voting, yet again, for the miracle that is modern, may the name and memory of the hated Tyrant not be uttered, post liberation Iraq.
Wait for it. When the
Contrary to the myths of the left, peace can only be built over the corpses of evil men.
(Via Real Clear Politics)
Labels: war on terror
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I am often pleasantly surprised by the pathways readers travel to find my blog through internet searches.
I get a lot of hits on An NCO Induction, probably by unit non-commissioned officers (NCOs) trying to find ideas on how to conduct one.
I get a lot of hits from people wanting to find the story behind the hymn It is Well (With My Soul). It is a great story, if you’re not familiar with it. Linking to hymns and songs must build traffic, as many people want to know the lyrics to a song playing in their head.
I recently got a lot of hits on An Iraqi Dust Storm. Who knows? Maybe they wanted ideas for alliteration on current events.
But the one hit I seem to get most often is from A Letter to My Son. I haven’t revisited that post since writing it. It seems like I see a search on that topic at least once every day. I think there are a lot of Fathers trying to find a way to say something important to their children.
In my case, this letter was one I wrote in Iraq, in answer to questions Little Manly was asking Mrs. Manly while I was away. It seemed a good and right time to tell my son how it was that I came to believe in God, and call Him by name. Little Manly was asking about God, how you can know He exists, why sometimes He works in ways difficult or impossible for us to understand.
I explained how I went from being an Atheist, not only not believing but in many ways defiantly rejecting the idea of God, to tentative trust in a Higher Power, to believing in God, to coming to a place where I accepted who He is and what He offered to me.
If you need a little encouragement to think about God, maybe a little prompting to consider Him at His word, I’d offer that you read the whole thing.
As I look forward to Thanksgiving, I think it an excellent time to revisit what I believe, what I told my son, what I am most thankful for. I am so similarly thankful for the God I’ve come to know, and His gifts to me I’ve come to cherish, that I sometimes lose sight of which came first. But of course I know the truthful answer to that, and so I Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow.
Here’s an excerpt from that letter.
Where I Started, and What I So Wanted to Believe
Let me tell you why I believe in God, because once upon a time I did not believe in Him. I did not think He was real, I thought this was the only world there was, that there was no such things as heaven (or hell). I believed that each person only exists for just the amount of time they breathe and walk the earth, and when they die, they die and their bones turn to dust and they become just bits of matter. Eternity just meant longer than human beings can imagine, but nothing more than that.How Did I Come To Believe?
So what changed?
My life changed, most importantly. And that has made all the difference in the world, all the difference in my world.
First, let me tell you that I always wanted to believe in God. When people did bad things, I wanted to believe that there was a God who would punish them. When dangerous things were about to happen, I wanted to think that there was a God who could save people. When terrible things happened to people, and they were hurt or killed, especially big catastrophes, I wanted to believe that there was a God who would love us and show us that there was still good, that we could be comforted and given hope. I very much wanted that Hope that He would provide. Because there are a lot of bad things that happen and that people do, even me, and I didn’t want to think, “These bad things are just facts, and this idea that there’s a God above us all is a lot of silly nonsense.”
So before I believed anything, I very much wanted to believe, because the alternative is to have no hope for something better.
In the process of me learning about myself, and my family, and dealing with people and problems, I came to believe that there was a Power greater than me who could help me, who wanted to help me, who had always been and always would be a part of the world He created. How did I come to that? I’m not really sure, but it happened.For that, and blessings He has bestowed on me and my family, I am truly thankful. May the God who created all of us in His image shine His grace into your life, and bring you to the place of gratitude and love.
It made me want to find out more about this idea of “God,” and the only place I could think of to find out more were other people – asking them what they thought – and the Bible. (That’s supposed to be full of God’s words, right?) So I talked to a lot of people, friends, family, people I trusted, and I started reading the Bible. I got far enough to start thinking there had to be something to what the Bible said, I mean Jewish people followed God for at least 2,000 years before Jesus was born, and they believed in him despite really terrible things: slavery in Egypt in ancient times, and even the Holocaust in World War II. They never gave up on their God, because they believed He never gave up on them.
And the first Christians, the ones who were called Saints, the ones that saw Jesus with their own eyes, and those who knew and met people who DID see Jesus when he walked the Earth, those early believers really believed. Many times, they gave up everything they had for Jesus. They were killed for believing in him. That’s pretty hard to imagine they would do for something made up.
One day, I was walking along the frozen Mohawk River and Erie Canal. It was a brilliantly sunny day in January, the kind of day where the sun is so bright, and reflects so strongly off the snow and ice, it hurts your eyes. But it was brilliant, beautiful just the same. As I walked, I started talking to a God I wasn’t even certain was there. I told him I needed Him to help me know that He exists. I told Him I needed to know for myself. I told Him that I couldn’t pretend, wouldn’t pretend something I didn’t know, and He was going to have to convince me.
As I walked, He spoke to my heart. He suggested to my mind some questions to ask myself, which He must have given me because they were way different from anything I had been thinking.
I asked myself, “How can I know God exists? Is there one thing I can see or know absolutely to be true, that can only be true of there is a God?”
And I found an answer. In my heart, I know that there are certain things, certain acts, that are absolutely bad or evil. Likewise, I know there are things that happen, things people do, that are absolutely good. Killing someone without necessity, causing harm to someone else for fun, these things I know are evil. Sacrificing your life for someone else, protecting someone who is helpless, saving someone’s life, these are good things. I know these things with complete certainty, without ever having been taught or told this is so.
If there is no God:
If there is no Being who created the world, who caused all things to be, or set the world in order;
If there is no God who requires us to come to know Him and His purposes;
If there is no God who will weigh us and our actions here on Earth;
If death is the final everything, and there is nothing after;
Then it really wouldn’t matter whether I do good or evil. There is no hope, but no punishment either. No law that binds us, no Authority greater than what each of us, in our own selfish desires, decides is good for us. And I wouldn’t care at all what happens to anyone else. And there is NO EXPLANATION for why I would know, deep in my heart, that certain things are evil and bad, and other things are good. Because without God, there is no reason to think abut right and wrong.
But, I still do. I have to. I can’t help myself. Because I am His creation, and that’s how He made each one of us.
As I listened to what God was causing me to think about this, I became more and more excited as I walked along that frozen emptiness. I was not alone, and I knew it. God was with me that day, and He’s been with me ever since.
Winning, to Won
The NY Times decided it’s time for front page acknowledgement that the situation in
The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.
As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of
Gone are the negatives in the lead, the contrarian framing of the story in editorially favored tones. Sure there’s a slight effort of “sure things are good now, but that may not last,” but the effort is pale and weak, and shrivels in contrast.
When the Times picks illustrative anecdotes bathed in the flush of real life as lived by common people, happy people showing joy and relief, this isn’t just a one-off. (Or the Times editors would have made very sure to tell their readers that, explicitly and implicitly.)
None of that today. Time for the Gray Lady to yank off her bonnet, hike her skirts, and hustle herself over to a prominent place where she hopes all the new excitement and attention might flow over onto her. No apologies to them what brung her.
What a fortunate turn for that other contrarian, Hillary Clinton. By the time she needs to start reminding voters that, in fact, she voted in support of our victory in
Bloggers and other news outlets across the political spectrum comment on emerging consensus on success in
AJ Strata explains “Why I See Victory Is At Hand In Iraq.”
I have to say I think we are moving from ‘winning’ in
If al-Qaeda restarts the bloodbath now it will be clear to all it was not due to Americans - it will be the fault and crime of al-Qaeda.
Strata advances his argument by suggesting that having retreated in defeat so obviously, and peace taking hold, “al-Qaeda “lost its ability to use terrorism as a tactic in Iraq.”
I see victory at hand, but I don’t think I would make the claim Strata makes. I don’t doubt for one moment that any upsurge in violence, or a counter-offensive by Al Qaeda, however anemic, would be followed in nanoseconds by a resumption of the war against the war.
That said, Strata offers an insightful analysis into why the media, aided and abetted by many thoughtful and well-intentioned analysts who in good faith until recently saw only bad outcomes for our efforts in Iraq. For the war opponents on the Left and in media, Strata sees their failure as one resulting from arrogance.
(I would add hubris: in so quickly dismissing more positive views; assuming evil in the hearts and minds of their opponents; and thinking their very narrow perceptions all they needed to form an accurate view.)
Strata links to Dr. George Friedman at StratFor. Friedman has done some great work assessing the many facets of the war on terror and
That’s a must read, if only as a noble example of how a real academic or analyst confronts revealed errors or shortcomings in their analysis. (None of us maintain anywhere near a major league batting record on prognostication, or even explication of complex trends. But we can all aspire to such transparency and humility in an ongoing dialogue towards better comprehension.)
Friedman objects (only somewhat) to characterizing his reassessment as an acknowledgement of an error and admission of mistake. Strata considers it a mistake, but one emblematic of too much analysis on
Actually, the mistake was worse than that. It is the same mistake the news media is making now when claiming there is no reconciliation going on when there is. Reconciliation is being done without laws to mandate. It is being done but in a manner that the far left will not or does not recognize. There is oil revenue sharing and de-facto de-baathification. The Iraqis knew it was needed and are doing it. The arrogance from the West is in the thinking no good can be done without a law to make it happen. So the fact it their premise is wrong because they don’t or can’t see all the forces at work. The Iraqis are coming together in many ways. Laws on books are irrelevant to the actions and changes taking place. If your analysis requires a law on the books to recognize the forces at work in
Similarly with StratFor’s analysis, they failed to take into account Iraqi initiative and efforts. They looked to Patraeus’ efforts alone. Patraeus is an opportunist - as all good military and counter-insurgency people are. He would not announce a goal or an effort if it was tenuous - but he would exploit it. The problem many people have had in assessing which way
Isn’t that the way of it? Every Big Solution or Grand Idea that’s ever been contrived in History is premised on a patronizing arrogance: we will save you, or we will consume you, defeat you or exploit you. And the Joes and Janes of the world, given a chance, thumb their noses, and worse, and declare: “not if I have anything to say about it.”
Left to their own devices, people all over the world, throughout history, confound all the experts, the historians and diplomats and reporters and politicos. Give the people, the “little” ones, those in the great silent majority of any community or culture, just enough room to decide for themselves, and they may just surprise the heck out of all of us.
One thing the media and many people have stated (including myself) is
Contrary to what the US Congress, Democrat controlled, holds about Iraqis and the Iraqi people, how much they may feel compelled to Support our Troops but deride the courage and commitment of the Iraqi people, the Iraqi people have persevered.
How about “The Iraqi People” as Time Persons of the Year?
(Because the American Soldier has already received that distinction, and Lord knows they’ll never give it to the President, who wouldn’t quit on Iraq.)
Friday, November 16, 2007
My hunch is that we’d see the same level of management of the Internet from the U.N. that we’ve seen when it came to peacekeeping operations in
But it gets even better, as Fred nails the UN even tighter:
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if when you look up “fool’s errand” in the dictionary, you find: “Role for United Nations’” as the definition.
The notion of surrendering management of the Internet – a global, strategic infrastructure for communications and commerce – to the UN is just a plain dumb idea. We shouldn’t be handing over something that works right to an institution that has difficulty doing anything right.
If you want to sexual exploitation of enslaved women and children, racketeering both pedestrian and monstrous, or personal enrichment of Internationalist bureaucrats and their families, by all means, call the UN.
If you want technical excellence and efficiency, better stick with high tech private industry, especially that still residing in large part in the US of A.
Michael Yon posts an absolutely must-read, must-see pictorial with commentary on the reopening of a Christian church in
Yon captures the inaugural ceremony, and quotes briefly from an old Christian hymn:
Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary, come home;
(Will L. Thompson, “Softly and Tenderly”)
I know this hymn well, I learned it at Life’s
As Yon reports:
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any fighting. I can’t remember my last shootout: it’s been months. The nightmare is ending. Al Qaeda is being crushed. The Sunni tribes are awakening all across
Sometimes there is nothing so moving as the old sacred hymns. Here it is in its entirety, courtesy of the Cyberhymnal. (Note the history and remarkable provenance of the hymn there as well.)
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!
Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?
Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me.
O for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.
With tears, not of bitterness, but of joy and relief, so we will be welcomed home. So too, perhaps, for the Iraqi Diaspora.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Am I the first to notice that when you visit certain blogs from links elsewhere, when you hit the back button, you return to where you are? Could it be that less than scrupulous or honest bloggers install a device that inflates their traffic counts by redirecting a “go back” attempt to stay still? (Call it a double or triple hit.)
My solution to this problem is to hit back twice in rapid succession, which usually pulls me back to where I came from.
I’ve had this happen at Malkin’s site; the latest offender is Glenn Greenwald at Slate, so this traffic inflation technique knows no partisan bounds.
I’m no expert, but it reminds me of a technique that seems pervasive in a less reputable online industry…
A Moment of Awakening
Greyhawk posts another of his thoughtful and evocative ruminations at
Mudville Gazette. Read the whole thing for several reasons, but I was immediately struck by his description of walking on gravel:
In the Gardens of Stone
So I'm walking to the gym. Under my feet: four inches of gravel pave the way. When the rains come that will be better than mucking through the sort of muddy paste that the sands of Iraq become when mixed with the slightest bit of water, but in the dry season (and it hasn't really rained here since May) it's just another feature. You want to experience some aspect of life in the camps in
But I digress. So I'm walking to the gym. Under my feet: four inches of gravel pave the way. Concrete t-wall sections form unbroken fortress walls on either side of my path. They are a relatively new feature; at least, we didn't have them in any significant number on my last trip here. Then we lived in tents, with sandbags stacked knee-high around them. Hypothetically these would afford us some protection from shrapnel should the odd mortar or rocket detonate nearby - or close enough to send the shrapnel flying but far enough to spare us death in the initial blast. Back then politicians in the States were screaming hysterically about armor and how we didn't have enough, but their utter ignorance of conditions in the real
And oh by the way, Greyhawk reminds us that
We've won the war.
Greyhawk gets lots of credit in my book for being the first to call it won, now that even the Associated Press and the NYT can’t ignore the signs of victory.
All good. But he’s got me stuck somewhere back in time, just 2 years ago, when I was walking on all those stones and sharing the same experience:
Back in the
But I digress. So I'm walking to the gym. Under my feet: four inches of gravel pave the way. Concrete t-wall sections form unbroken fortress walls on either side of my path. It's early in the morning, so the shadow of the wall on my left is shading that half of the road. A breeze is blowing, and in the shade in the moments just after dawn that breeze hits me in my shorts and t-shirt and chills me just enough that I take a few steps sideways and into the sun.
And then it hit me - I'd been walking in the shade because that's what I - and everyone else here - had done throughout the 120 degree summer and on into the merely 90 degree days of early fall. And while the change has been gradual, it was only today that I noticed it, as I broke a time-worn habit and passed from the too-cool shadows into the glowing warmth of the morning desert sun.
I remember walking on gravel more clearly than anything else.
It is an attempt at firmness, controlling the uncontrollable. Every step shifts, there is more effort in every stride, and it wearies you the longer you walk on it.
But it does allow forward motion, however aggravating and tiring. It beats the alternative of Iraqi clay that can become muck at those rare times of rain. I suppose.
We who walked upon it will remember it always. I was happier to walk on honest asphalt than any other physical experience, back home.
A fitting symbol of our service, our sacrifice, and yes, our victory in
A faint stirring of excitement, perhaps unnoticed at the time.
A moment of awakening, to be sure. An eye-blinking, sudden consciousness, after a too long season of numbness, walking slumber, a kind of deadening. Breeze brings hope. Like a mirror of what takes place throughout the barren landscape: the oppressive heat lifts, then cooler nights, and eventually a chill, cold rain, but just now only a harbinger of mission end. You wait so long for any change in season, that any change must mark a milestone.
Friday, November 09, 2007
If I have to pick one quality that makes James Taranto an incredibly readable commentator, I’d say it’s the strength of his logic. On Thursday, he deployed that logic in devastating fashion against highly offensive comments by Senator Chris Dodd.
Sen. Dodd, in a speech he gave in
Compare that case to the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who organized the attacks of 9/11. He was held in a secret prison, where he claims he was tortured severely. Whether he is lying or not, by our actions we have allowed Khalid Mohammed to claim the moral high ground. Khalid Mohammed plays martyr to a world that is inclined to believe it.
Yes, assuredly, but does Dodd believe it? For some, by asking that, I leave myself open to immediate outrage in response, accusing me of questioning Dodd’s patriotism. I don’t question his patriotism, but his judgment. This is not an attack, but a question to probe the true intent of someone making such an assertion, an assertion that opponents of the President make repeatedly. This assertion is matched by a host of related assertions, about the standing of the
Dodd does not quite have the courage of his convictions in this matter. He does not actually make the primary assertion: that KSM is morally superior to
Is even this secondary assertion true? Color us skeptical. Sure, a significant portion of the "world" is inclined to believe bad things about
Possibly our information is incomplete and someone actually has said such a thing. Doesn't Dodd agree that this is an outrageous slander? And if
Either Dodd is condoning the most vicious defamation of
Even if one accepts on good faith the presumed intent of Dodd in making this argument, one can fault him on the attention he pays in world opinion, when it is factually wrong.
Much like decision-making or leadership by polls, while it is often informative to see what others think, even a majority of others, it is morally and ethically wrong to use such “consensus” or opinions of others as a determinant for action. Unless of course, you share those views.
And it isn’t questioning his patriotism to ask how thoroughly Dodd and other Democrats have thought through the logical chain of their arguments. By elevating the moral standing of our enemies most foul, partisan opponents burnish and enhance those enemies, and are part of the wrong-headedness and lack of perspective that allows the “world” to think wrongly, with an attendant suffering in our esteem.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
By now, everybody’s probably seen this photo by Michael Yon, showing Iraqi Muslims and Christians working together to restore a cross atop a Christian church in Baghdad.
Here’s what Yon reports along with the photo:
A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from “Chosen” Company 2-12 Cavalry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John’s, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope.Among the many reactions to Yon’s photo, Anchoress observes how such unfiltered images from real reporters like Yon, reveal how little we really know:
The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. ” Thank you, thank you,” the people were saying. One man said, “Thank you for peace.” Another man, a Muslim, said “All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.” The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers.
It’s one of those photographs that takes the breath - there is a feeling of cognitive dissonance. Some of us on one side - who perhaps have never understood why we went to Iraq in the first place - may look at this picture and say, “but…but…Iraq is a hell-hole, an unmanageable, unwinnable, place of civil strife, death and occupied people who hate us!”In a related vein, IraqPundit asks and answers the question that gets begged (via Bob Krumm):
Some on the other side, who - overwhelmed with images of burned flags and screaming mobs - may have forgotten the humanity of the Iraqi people (people we let down once before, and who had reason to distrust us and our commitment) may see these Muslims and Christians raising a cross together, in a language of brotherhood and gratitude, and say, “but…but…all those people are bad people…”
Some of us will discover that we have said or thought both things at one time or another. It’s not important which one of those people you are. It’s important, though, to get a sense of what is going on over there, where our people are serving, living and dying. It’s important to realize that where there is danger and tragedy, there is also progress and hope. In the major media outlets, we get big servings of the first two and very niggardly helpings of the latter. We need a more balanced diet of information.In truth, we know so little. So much of the information we get from Iraq is filtered and delivered from “safe” locations. So little of it is unfiltered and delivered from the Iraqi streets.
Frankly, I don’t understand why so many mock us for wanting a future for Iraq. Is your hatred for George Bush so great that you prefer to see millions of civilians suffer just to prove him wrong?Doing his part to draw attention to the image of Iraqi perseverance, Chris Muir includes it in today’s Day by Day.
It really comes down to this: you are determined to see Iraq become a permanent hellhole because you hate Bush. And we are determined to see Iraq become a success, because we want to live.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
The Washington Post today pulls back the curtain on one of the little-observed and lesser criticized inequities structurally embedded in the
Staff writer Jonathan Weisman’s report ostensibly gives background on a pending vote in the House on a bill designed to stave off the growth of the alternative minimum tax (AMT), offset by taxing the incomes of hedge fund and private equity managers as income, versus treating their incomes as earnings from capital gains.
To us poor slobs who have to work for a living, and pay income taxes on our income, it sure seems strange that these high rollers don’t have to pay tax on their income using income tax rates. I’m glad to hear it’s causing Congressmen and women some discomfort, according to Weisman:
The measure has deeply divided Democrats, pitting a rank and file that has railed for years against inequities in the tax code against the party's money men, who are reluctant to bite the hand that has generously fed them. Hanging in the balance is the AMT, enacted in 1969 to ensure that the wealthiest Americans pay at least some taxes. Instead, it has increasingly affected middle-class taxpayers.
Weisman also notes the confluence of legislative choices made by leading Democrats, and strategically precise donations by major hedge fund managers, quoting a former Treasury Department official:
"If you're a Democrat and you have to choose between the alternative minimum tax and the hedge fund industry, that's one tough ideological choice," said Viva Hammer, who recently left the Treasury Department's Office of Tax Policy and is now a tax partner at the law firm Crowell & Moring. "It's a choice between your votes and your wallet."
For this and any Congress, I’m not making any bets against their wallets. Coincident with some well-timed contributions from hedge fund managers:
By late July, Schumer was off the fence -- and on the side of the hedge funds and private-equity firms in opposing the Democratic legislation.
Glad to see my Senator Schumer knows what constituency he’s serving.
I suppose I can take comfort that the House is expected to pass the legislation, if narrowly, but with leading Democratic Senators on the dole, prospects in the Senate look bleak. Here’s what the legislation would correct:
The legislation would plug two obscure but highly controversial tax loopholes, deftly exploited by an industry that leans heavily Democratic. Private-equity fund managers earn much of their compensation by taking a cut of clients' earnings. It is pay for work, but critics of the arrangement note that it is taxed as capital gains, at 15 percent instead of the 35 percent income tax rate that they would otherwise pay.
Hammer said that about half of all private-equity compensation is taxed that way. About 20 percent of hedge fund compensation also is taxed at 15 percent, a rate lower than the one most secretaries pay.
"It's one thing to allow such generous tax treatment to a small business or perhaps a real estate investment. It's quite another to apply it to a billion-dollar equity fund," said Victor Fleischer, a University of Illinois law professor who has highlighted the issue.
Weisman also reports that the change in tax treatment of this income as income could bring in an additional $26 billion over the next decade.
Hedge funds and investment firms have been pouring money into
That is more than the $11.3 million they gave in all of 2005 and 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. More than two-thirds of that money has gone to Democrats.
Their contributions to congressional candidates, congressional campaign committees and congressional leadership PACs total nearly $4.8 million this year, well over the $3 million given in 2005 and 2006. Eighty-three percent has gone to Democrats, compared with the 53 percent they received in the last election cycle. [Dadmanly, emphasis mine]
Absolutely outrageous: that this was ever the law of the land, and that Democrats, kowtowing to the moneyed interests they serve, are trying to close such an offensive loop hole in the tax code.
All you progressives out there, who want to call the GOP the party of the rich and privileged, try to square that circle.
Oh, and as you are writing that “Republicans have been doing that for years blah blah blah,” you’re either against Government corruption, pork, and graft, or you’re not. You can’t find it repulsive from one party and tolerable from another.
We can all agree to throw all the bums out, too; works for me.
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