Friday, December 28, 2007

BBC's fantasy of a downturn in Iraq

'But that vision could turn out to be a pipe dream - it is not hard to imagine a much grimmer scenario, such as:

-bickering Iraqi politicians fail to rise above their differences and agree vital legislation, which is already months behind schedule and would weld the country together

-as US forces start to thin out to pre-surge levels by July 2008, al-Qaeda begins to make a comeback

-Sunni "local security" forces established by the US, clash with Shia militias, which laid low until the American grip loosened

-Iraq disintegrates into sectarian strife, perhaps descends into unequivocal civil war.'

Now that the bad news from Iraq has dried up to a whispy trickle, the BBC has to fantasize possible future bad news! Too funny. Yeah, and a big sea creature might swim up the Thames and eat London too.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Man of the Year: Gen David Petraeus

General Petreaus changed the world in 2007. He changed the dynamic of Iraq beyond recognition. The cascade of information being fed to coalition forces about the criminals and terrorists to enable them to kill them was a trickle in January 2007. It is that cascade which has so transformed Iraq that even tourists are starting to go there. And the reason the cascade came? Because of the FOB's and the COP's and joint foot patrols instituted by Petraeus.

Fallujah, once the dark heart of the Sunni insurgency has not had a single attack in four months. Many US units are now asking to be transferred to Afghanistan because they don't hear or fire a shot during a whole tour. Journalists, up until recently prisoners of the Green Zone, now go out in search of stories, and to try to find people willing to slag off the Americans, although its tougher and tougher to do. Iraqis have discovered patriotism, community spirit and goodwill, and a doughty spirit of resistance against Al Qaeda and the forces of malevolence. Their neighborhood watch schemes, or what US forces call 'force multipliers' leave the remaining groups of murderous scum very little room to maneuver.

All of these synergies were whispily apparent (if you were willing to ignore the torrent of misinformation and noise from the MSM) in January 2007, but it has become apparent to everyone now that Iraq was not lost, was never lost, but was in an excruciating holding pattern. Petraeus, to his eternal credit, broke Iraq out of that holding pattern, and Iraqis can now see the clear potential for a viable and peaceful future. Sadly, dozens of people are dying every day still, but a day will come soon when the pain will stop, and the rebuilding and the real hard work of grafting Iraq back together will start in earnest.

The effects of US victory in Iraq will be manifold. All parties are sure of that. Now, its time to see who will win the peace.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas Everybody!!!

'You can watch the film and marvel in its perfect script, unrivaled series of iconic scenes, and the towering performance given by Jimmy Stewart… And you can watch that final scene with the living room full of family and loved ones and realize, like George Bailey does, that it’s all up to us. That our fate and happiness and chance at a wonderful life are almost always completely within our own control. Goals are good, but ambition can poison. Wanting what we don’t have and comparing ourselves to others is a punishing way to live a life. But anyone can fill a living room with people who love them, you just have to accept that love.

George Bailey’s dark and desperate path to that moment is there to remind us that our blessings are not found in the world or given to us by others, but rather in who we are and what we’re capable of as human beings. Everything that matters or is beautiful in life costs nothing more than what we’re born with: our ability to be decent and gracious and kind. This is a bleak examination of the terrible thing in the human condition which makes us look over what we have to what we can’t have. It’s a perspective antidote that ends, as many films do, with an amazing triumph, but a triumph available to anyone for the asking.'

What if I'd never lived? What have I contributed? Would anybody notice if I was dead? As this movie shows, there are very good reasons to be optimistic about the answers to those questions.

And to all a Good Year!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fallujah: a place of hope or fear?

'Mr. al-Fadhily quotes many disgruntled Iraqis. That’s all fine and good. I, too, heard lots of complaints. There’s plenty to gripe about. Fallujah is a broken-down, ramshackle, impoverished wreck of a city. It was ruined by more than three years of war. What else can you expect of a place that only stopped exploding this summer? But if the best possible scenario ever unfolds, if peace arrives even in Baghdad, if the government becomes truly moderate and representative, if rainbows break out in the skies and the fields fill with smiling children and bunny rabbits, somebody, somewhere, will complain that Iraq has been taken over by the imperial powers of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Starbucks.'

Michael Totten is a gem. A brave, honest, funny man. Where are the rest of the media? Couldn't find the testicular fortitude to make it to Fallujah... He's right about the story though- Al-Fadhily's version will go much further than Mr Tottens because its what people in London, New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Paris want to believe is true. Forget about what is real. The story is elsewhere.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tolerance and relativism

'Toleration is not an assertion of relativism. It is, rather, the forbearance from judging and acting on judgments in the public sphere that one might well believe oneself entitled to make in private. Toleration entails the suspension of public disbelief, or at least political action thereupon, about matters that one might nonetheless consider well within the realm of private moral judgment. Relativism, by contrast, is denial of grounds for judging at all. They could not be more different—
and, crucially, relativism removes the possibility of toleration because it removes the possibility of reasoned judgment.'

There are many other excellent things in this piece (which is available in its full form on the Weekly Standard website) but this struck me as a hugely important factor in todays politics. It immediately brought to mind the words of the Dutch minister when discussing the seemingly inevitable rise of the Muslim population of Holland to become the majority, that Dutch people ought to establish themselves on friendly terms so that when Sharia is voted in as the new Dutch law, the Muslims will be kind in like turn. There is no private moral judgement vs public moral judgement in Islam. That is something we in the west have created uniquely in the history of mankind. The alternative, as Kenneth Anderson points out, is increasingly fractious politics ending up in internicine violence.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Am I old school yet?

'After awhile we look up and get engrossed in a conversation that will last long after our coffee has gone cold -- what, in God's name, are we supposed to do with this information? What are we -- three well-educated, big-hearted, human beings -- supposed to do when we get up from these tables and discard this paper, knowing about the dead people and dreams in Iraq, the injured in India, the starving and old in Maine?'

'This has to change. There must be some method whereby we can become informed and inspired to action. Maybe the answer lies in retraining journalists to go one step beyond reporting. Get the story, and also seek information about how a reader might constructively respond to it. This, of course, would require increased support for the work of investigative journalists. It would also require strategic partnerships between the professional media and nonprofit worlds, links that already exist between journalism and international affairs schools like those at Columbia University.

Maybe the answer lies in citizen journalists -- folks who often abandon the old-school idea of objectivity and tackle local issues with a verve for making change, not just reporting on it. This trend is already on the rise, and while it makes traditional journalists wince, maybe it could actually serve to empower some of the country's currently disenchanted readers.'
Hat tip: KisP/SondraK

This woman thinks she's well-educated? I beg to differ. In fact, all the people who've been educated AT ALL would like to differ. If society can't tell the difference between a campaigner and a journalist, or an advocate and a journalist, then its in trouble. And the fact that this idiot can't figure out what might be wrong with replacing all our newspaper articles with editorials is an indication that perhaps the importance of objectivity, indeed even the possibility of objectivity, is very much neglected in US universities. The danger of a little knowledge...

Oh, and I'd like Courtney to know that despite being a polemicist I am completely dedicated to objectivity. As I would hope are all the other bloggers who hope to have anyone pay attention to their words. Objectivity means 'judgment based on observable phenomena and uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices' according to the dictionary. To me it also means being able to see the flaws and mistakes in your own thinking, being able to see what your views entail and being able to look back at yourself with honesty. This is what you'd like our journalists to give up?

To intervene or not Part 1 (hat tip Instapundit)

'We may agree with Ron Paul that our interventionist policy in the Middle East has led to unintended negative consequences, including even 9/11, but this admission offers us absolutely no insight into what unintended consequences his preferred policy of non-intervention would have exposed us to. It is simply a myth to believe that only interventionism yields unintended consequence, since doing nothing at all may produce the same unexpected results. If American foreign policy had followed a course of strict non-interventionism, the world would certainly be different from what it is today; but there is no obvious reason to think that it would have been better.'

Further to this point, anti-Americanism in the middle east is VERY VERY NEW. Way back in 1997, Usama Bin Laden caused great consternation within the top echelons of Al Qaeda by indicating that America was the number one enemy. This was very new, and not very welcome news to most elements of his group. For the Egyptians, a very large part of his group, the Egyptian government, and maybe Britain as the former colonial power, were by far the main enemies. By extension, so were the 'apostate' governments of various other 'muslim' countries, even including Saudi Arabia (for allowing US troops onto the sacred earth of the land of the two holy places). But for most violent muslims, the Americans were the good guys. They had no colonial baggage, and had provided huge material support to the jihad against the soviets in Afghanistan. The last thing they wanted to do was go to war with America. Many were not stupid either, and understood the enormous weight of military power and non-military resources that America could bring to bear against them. Why screw with them at all?

It it really a trick of history: the combination of the anal and sexually repressed Sayyid Qutb's weird response to his time at Uni in the US, and Osama Bin Ladens hatred of Christianity that led Al Qaeda up such a weird path.

All the lefty tropes about the Arabs hating America because they deposed Mossadegh and replaced him with the Shah- try to understand this leftards!!! Persians are not Arabs, Arabs are not Persians. The Arabs did not give two rat turds about the CIA deposing Mossadegh. Really. They did (and do) care about US help for Israel, but that has never generated the kind of extreme hatred that Al Qaeda evidence. In fact, the left and Al Qaeda have had to invent a fictional past to reframe America as a colonial power to get around the unfortunate reality that it isn't one, and has only ever been so for a few years at the beginning of the 20th century under the first Roosevelt. In fact, America can be seen in many ways as the hammer of empires, the perennial stumbling block for the building of uber-empires on the part of Europeans, the Russians and the Japanese. The left and Al Qaeda have also had to take up the fascist fantasy about the Jews running the world and especially America to give their unwarranted hatred some traction amongst the poor and ignorant of the Levant and the Maghreb.

Ths complicity of the left in this paranoid delusionary fantasy is beyond doubt. It is a sign of their desperation, and a warning for the future as they become more desparate and ever less likely to gain power through the ballot box. The larger point, that it was nothing that America DID which brought it into the cross-hairs of Al Qaeda is proven by the written words of Sayyed Qutb and the reported words of Usama Bin Laden. America is the last bastion (in the wierdo world of Usama) of power which Islam must destroy before it can RULE THE WORLD. Bin Laden, being detached from reality in most crucial respects, thinks that once the US has collapsed, Islam will just walk through the rest of the world, imposing the Ummah on everybody whether they like it or not. Laughable but true.

The debate between Americans as to whether they are likely to cause more damage by intervening or not intervening in the wider world tells you everything you need to know about American 'Imperialism'. If America were an empire, they would not debate this piffling issue. Causing more or less damage would be a trifling concern compared to the one of how to best advance America's interests. Why not just depose the Sauds and steal their oil without paying for it? Because America isn't an empire.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bye bye Britain

Not that you can really tell, but today most of the last 22% of Britains soveriegnty was donated by Gordon Brown to the EU superstate. He didn't think we'd want any say in that, so he didn't have a referendum.

Well, Gordo, I did want a say, you promised me a say at the last election, and if you think I'm going to forget that un-illusion yerself real quick. I go back and forth on the EU, as I'm not blind to its merits, but I'd say that for a multi-national trade organisation it already had vastly too many other jobs given to it.

As things stand, you may have turned me into a eurosceptic. Thats because I'm beginning to think that whatever your stance is a on subject the antithesis of it will be much closer to the sane view.

I think you know that most British people already see the EU as over-powerful and therefore you just couldn't risk us nixing your treaty. That disdain for our opinions is going to cost you big time.

News written by people who don't know anything

'Years ago I was talking to a friend who's a doctor, and he said that the inaccuracy of medical stuff on TV infuriated him. I made some comment about the demands of drama, and he said, "No, the news!" He said just about every medical story was botched by the three networks and the cable networks, botched utterly, and cited examples that would be clear to any doc. "Why can't they be as accurate about medicine as they are about other stuff?"

That got me thinking. I have pretty deep knowledge in several areas, but the deepest are probably aviation and military operations, particularly special operations. And everything about the areas I know best are always misreported on the news. So I started to ask other people... businessmen, cops, lawyers, engineers. And everybody has the same problem.

Namely, we know that everything they report about our domain is bull. But we assume that the stuff they report about other domains must be accurate. Why that assumption?

In fact, it's all bull. Sometimes it's bull because they were careless or sloppy, and sometimes bull because they set out to report the story with it already framed in their little C+ English undergrad minds. But always bull.'

Kevin R.C. 'Hognose' O'Brien


'Kevin R.C. 'Hognose' O'Brien wrote, "Namely, we know that everything they report about our domain is bull. But we assume that the stuff they report about other domains must be accurate. Why that assumption?"

Michael Crichton in Why Speculate? calls this the "Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect."

"Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the 'wet streets cause rain' stories. Paper's full of them."

"In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story-and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know."

"That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I'd point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say."

The rest of the article is worth reading.

Posted by: Looking Glass at December 12, 2007 09:24 PM'

These are two comments from

(Hat Tip instapundit)

Is it time we had a new paradigm in the news media? One where all the news gets reported by people who know what they are talking about? Is that just too darn revolutionary?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lefty America and Islam

Why do they care? What is it about America's (and Britain's and France's and Sweden's and Germany's) growing distaste for islam that rankles so much with lefty Americans? What drives them to write semi-literate rubbish like the following:

'What are the beliefs representing shades of Islamaphobia?
Islam is monolithic and cannot adapt to new realities.
Islam does not share common values with other major faiths.
Islam as a religion is inferior to the West. It is archaic, barbaric, and irrational.
Islam is a religion of violence and supports terrorism.
Islam is a violent political ideology.'

First item is actually two things. Islam is not monolithic, but all branches of it seem unable to adapt to new realities. Second item is true in a number of crucial respects- there is no universal set of moral precepts in islam; there is what is moral between muslims and there is what is moral between muslims and non-muslims and they are different. Islam has historically had within it strong traditions of violent domination and the conquering by force of non-muslim nations, as an even a vanishingly brief perusal of islamic history will bear out. The third item is both logically and factually nonsensical. How can you compare a religion to a disparate group of nations with many separate cultures, traditions and religions? Is Islam archaic, barbaric and irrational? By my standards (and keeping in mind that all the major religions would probably be considered archaic and irrational) I would say it is. The fourth item is beyond dispute. Pick up a newspaper- read it. There will be an item about islamic violence somewhere. The last item is contentious- is islam a violent political ideology? The answer is that for an increasing number of people all over the world, including many in the 'west', it is. That wasn't true a hundred years ago, but hey, things change. All that Saudi oil money has bought a lot of madrassas and hardline Wahhabist imams.

Why do lefty Americans care whether Islam is liked or disliked?

'It is perhaps worth noting that the toll in Sunday's shootings exceeded the combined total in all "hate crimes" against Muslims in the six years since September 11.'

Islamaphobia is the wrong name. More correctly it is Mismohammedanism. Phobia's are about fear, Mismohammedanism is about dislike (as in misanthropy or misogynist). Whats wrong with disliking someones religion? I know a lot of people in Britain who dislike Roman Catholicism. Its a long-running strain in our history, and there are some completely valid reasons why many Britons dislike and distrust the Catholic Church. I don't hear Roman Catholics bleating on via high profile pressure groups about Catholiphobia and requesting special treatment and new laws outlawing it. Despite the fact that in at least one place in the United Kingdom (northern Ireland) violence against Catholics is a potential and often an actual occurence, most Catholics in Britain just get on with their lives, go to mass and participate fully in British life.

The Daily Kos morons and their pals in Britain don't seem to see any weirdness in their championing of Islam, and their deep antipathy to Christianity. No insult is too extreme for 'right-wing extremist Christians'.

"Turkey: Int'l Summit On Islamophobia Issues Final Statement," from ANSAmed (thanks to Insubria):
(ANSAmed) - ANKARA, DECEMBER 10 - "Islamophobia should be accepted as a crime, just like anti-semitism". So read the final statement of the The International Conference on Islamophobia"..."The fight against Islamophobia should be a basic duty for everybody, every institution and every government"

Anti-semitism isn't a crime. If it was, there would be huge numbers of muslims in jail all over Europe and the US. Thinking ill of people and their religions isn't a crime in western nations, and long may it continue. Muslims are risking a growing (non-violent) backlash if they continue to make these hypocritical and nonsensical demands for special treatment. If we allow their demands and pander to their mistaken beliefs, we have only ourselves to blame.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Shhhhhhhh!!! We don't want to hear

'IN the last few weeks, in three widely publicized episodes, we have seen Islamic justice enacted in ways that should make Muslim moderates rise up in horror.
A 20-year-old woman from Qatif, Saudi Arabia, reported that she had been abducted by several men and repeatedly raped. But judges found the victim herself to be guilty. Her crime is called “mingling”: when she was abducted, she was in a car with a man not related to her by blood or marriage, and in Saudi Arabia, that is illegal. Last month, she was sentenced to six months in prison and 200 lashes with a bamboo cane.'

I'm a big fan of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This piece of hers is spot on- where are the moderates, the great silent majority of regular Sunni and Shia moslems who haven't bought the Wahhabists lies? Its very disappointing that there has been absolutely no public disquiet vioced by the likes of the MCB and MPAC-UK. Its almost like they covertly agree with the punishments...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

CIA awash with liberal idiots

'During the past year, a period when Iran’s weapons program was supposedly halted, the government has been busy installing some 3,000 gas centrifuges at its plant at Natanz. These machines could, if operated continuously for about a year, create enough enriched uranium to provide fuel for a bomb. In addition, they have no plausible purpose in Iran’s civilian nuclear effort. All of Iran’s needs for enriched uranium for its energy programs are covered by a contract with Russia.
Iran is also building a heavy water reactor at its research center at Arak. This reactor is ideal for producing plutonium for nuclear bombs, but is of little use in an energy program like Iran’s, which does not use plutonium for reactor fuel. India, Israel and Pakistan have all built similar reactors — all with the purpose of fueling nuclear weapons. And why, by the way, does Iran even want a nuclear energy program, when it is sitting on an enormous pool of oil that is now skyrocketing in value? And why is Iran developing long-range Shahab missiles, which make no military sense without nuclear warheads to put on them?'

I just finished reading 'The Looming Tower' and the CIA and the NSA come out of it very badly. Happy as little fluffy bunnies to hide behind any and every bureaucratic firewall, both were deeply culpable in the preventable disaster that was 9/11. Now again the CIA seems to be more intent on pursuing its own foreign policy than finding Americas enemies and uncovering their secrets. The CIA might as well rename itself the Democrat Party/EU Annex for high-level twittering.

In an interesting parallel, the plot of 24 season six centers around two Presidential flunkies; the heroine is a paid-up lets-all-hug bleeding heart liberal staunchly defending America against hardened criminal fascist right-wing vice president/generals, and the other is a careerist who is gradually persuaded that the heroine is not only right but good. In every instance, the bad people end up being right wing conservatives who believe that America should defend itself. In every instance, the good people want to close Gitmo, bring the troops home, apologise to the whole world for existing at all, bend over and take it up the arse from whoever feels like it.

It didn't take me long to realise that whoever writes 24 is a paid-up Defeatocrat, as presumably are most of the middle ranking CIA population. If I was GWB or the next President if he's a Republican, I would have a root and branch clear-out of those institutions, and replace them with patriots. The current pseudo-intellectual morons can't even lie well.

(found this link on Instapundit)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Kicking the ones who won't kick back

'To be fair, I am not saying Pullman is some sort of neo-Nazi. I think his invocation of fascist themes and memes is probably unconscious. It is just that similar jobs tend to call forth similar tools. The European fascists generally and the Nazis in particular very much wanted to cut off the influence and ultimately destroy the Judeo-Christian God and the Church in particular. They had political reasons for wanting this, but also ideological and (weirdly) religious reasons. Not all of the Nazis were devotes of the occult, but many of them were, and the ones who were not very much understood the importance and power of building a fascist mythos which could motivate and inspire people. To put together their ideology, the Nazis pulled out of the great cesspool of European ideas a lot of nasty things that would have been much better left alone, but among them was the idea that Christianity, which they saw as nothing more than a kind of Judaism, severed people from their inner Nature spirit, their pagan, let's run through the woods naked sort of thing. When Pullman has the Church taking children to camps to sever them from their daemons -- their animal- embodied-soul-mates that every whole person in his alternative universe has -- he is just parroting in kid lit form the old canard you could have picked up in a hundred disreputable places in Bavaria or Vienna in the 1930's.'

Anti-Christian and more specifically anti-Catholic diatribes are all the rage. I'm not sure why, given that only something like 7% of English people actually go to church. Do the words 'kicking a man when he's down' have resonance here? Why don't we have anti-Moslem diatribes? Could it be that those would be met with extreme violence and mayhem and are therefore truly risky? I love our brave intellectuals and journalists. There is so much to respect and honour in them.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Decadent self-hating leftie crap in shock win

'Mark Wallinger has been named the winner of the Turner Prize for his replica of the one-man anti-war protest in Parliament Square, State Britain. ...
For the exhibition he chose to display a film of him roaming the National Gallery in Berlin in a bear suit.'

Lets see... here's a guy who copied banners and placards MADE ORIGINALLY BY OTHER PEOPLE, whose only other 'art' was a film of him wandering around a gallery in a bear costume- winning a major art prize. Western civilization is disappearing up its own fundament, rapidly.

St Clinton of New Yarrrrk

'When the hostages had been released and their alleged captor arrested, a regal-looking Hillary Rodham Clinton strolled out of her Washington home, the picture of calm in the face of crisis.
The image, broadcast just as the network news began, conveyed the message a thousand town hall meetings and campaign commercials strive for — namely, that the Democratic presidential contender can face disorder in a most orderly manner....

It was a thawing moment for a stoic figure who once snapped that she opted for professional life instead of staying home to bake cookies.
She buttressed it with one final message. Clinton sought to use the sad moment as a national teaching opportunity, another skill often employed by presidents.'

Disgusting, AP. Thats not journalism- thats straight up and down hagiography. Does a trail of songbirds stream behind her? Do butterflies flutter around her fragrant head? Does the barren ground sprout little flowers where her feet tread?

Time for a change,25197,22857673-7583,00.html

'As a distant observer of Australian affairs, I had some small personal contact with Howard and co. over the years. Merry, feisty, blunt and fair, they were exactly what we need at this moment: happy warriors.'

Reading this, I had a vision of exactly what kind of men Britain and the rest of the West need right now. Thank you mister Steyn for capturing yet again in very few words what matters.