Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Of Ants and Grasshoppers

31.05.2007 (7:42 pm) – Filed under: Humor,Liberalism ::

Received this unattributed depiction of liberalism in the natural world via email:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.  Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press  conference and demands to know why the ant should be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

America is stunned by the sharp contrast.  How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”

Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house where the news stations film the group singing, “We shall overcome.” Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper’s sake.

Nancy Pelosi & John Kerry exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the gras! shopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity and Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.  The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.

Hillary gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that Bill Clinton appointed from a list of single-parent welfare recipients.

The ant loses the case.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around him because he doesn’t maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow. The grasshopper is found dead in a drug-related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.

Sounds like so-called progressives at work to me.

Russia’s New Aims

30.05.2007 (8:52 pm) – Filed under: Business,Russia ::

Perhaps I shouldn’t call them new – Vlad Putin’s had a plan in mind for quite a while, I now understand – but his real objectives are new to me.  It’s a bit embarrassing, really, to have missed the obvious.

Putin’s policies (and tantrums) have never been about Iraq, although that little debacle has certainly helped Putin more than it hurt him – a lot more.  And it’s not about the proposed European missile defense system, which Putin denounced in what could only be called an aggressively belligerent reaction.

No, it’s always been about oil.  Mike Baker says:

Publically, Shell, BP, Exxon and smaller companies talk nice about their cooperation with the Putin administration, even while they continue to lose control of legally licensed and paid for major holdings inside Russia.

Privately, they all concede that they have no option but to give in to Putin’s various demands as he continues to create a massive energy monopoly under the Gazprom brand name.

On the global stage, the European Union, and soon Asia, understand that upsetting Putin can impact the quality of living… everything from the availability of gas to the ability to heat your home. It must be difficult for Putin to run the entire country while keeping one hand on the oil and gas spigot.

His administration has bullied the oil majors into making a variety of concessions and will continue to do so as he pushes for energy dominance. Frankly, who’s going to stop him?

No one.  Vlad’s objective is now clear: the re-creation of Russia as a world power using oil as a tool.

Russia has strayed a long way from the path we’d all hoped for during the days of Gorbachev and Yeltsin.  The Japan Times says:

Putin has systematically eliminated the rudimentary democracy Yeltsin had built. One television channel after another was taken over by the state under various pretexts, as were major newspapers. Opposition candidates and parties were denied registration for the slightest formal complaint. Falsification of elections became the rule.

Many prominent Russians favored the Pinochet model of authoritarian politics and liberal economics. But growing authoritarianism also hit business. In October 2003, Putin cracked down on Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the CEO and main owner of Yukos oil, Russia’s most valuable company, who was thrown into prison on dubious charges of tax fraud after backing Putin’s political opponents. Moreover, Putin’s associates wanted Yukos’ wealth, which was confiscated by the state oil company Rosneft through lawless taxation, leaving Putin’s tax reform and judicial reform in tatters and severely undermining property rights.

In fact, since 2003, Putin’s main economic policy has been re-nationalization. Well-run private companies have been more or less forced to sell out to state-dominated companies. Gazprom is buying up oil (Sibneft), gas and power companies at knockdown prices, reinforcing its monopoly. That, in turn, allows Gazprom to boost its profitability through price increases, despite stagnant production. Indeed, with state companies now producing one-third of Russia’s oil, output growth has plummeted, as owners of private enterprises — the source of dynamism in the sector — are now afraid to invest in new capacity. Among foreign investors, both Shell and TNK-BP are being pushed out by Gazprom in their main gas fields in Russia.

This are not the actions of a nation or a leader who cares about either world opinion, democratic principles, or business ethics.

We may talk tough, but the U.S. is certainly not going to do anything about Putin’s ambitions any time soon.  Like it or not, Vlad’s the least evil oil baron on the international stage today and he’s immune to America’s blustering.  For the sake of our national dignity I hope we don’t bother trying to pressure the Russians.  It simply would not work.

To Die For

29.05.2007 (7:46 pm) – Filed under: Abortion,Death Penalty,Right to Die ::

Dr. Jack Kevorkian will be released on parole June 1st after serving 8 years in prison for helping a 52 year old main suffering from Lou Gehrig’s Disease die.

In various interviews, Kevorkian has said:

“Legally it was wrong. It was an infraction of the law. I had to do it that way — or so I thought”

“I assumed it was a constitutional issue of choice. I learned the best way to approach this issue is at the legislative level.”

It’s the opinion of this author that Kevorkian never should have gone to jail at all, let alone been forced to serve 8 years for what should not be considered a crime at all.

The Ayn Rand Institute agrees:

“Hopefully,” said Thomas Bowden, “Dr. Kevorkian will be successful nationwide in promoting the right to commit suicide with voluntary physician assistance. Currently, only Oregon has set forth clear procedures by which doctors can insulate themselves from criminal prosecution while easing their dying patients’ pain and suffering.”

“What lawmakers and judges must grasp,” added Bowden, “is that there is no rational basis upon which the government can properly prevent an individual from choosing to end his own life. Our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness means that we need no one’s permission to live, and that no one may forcibly obstruct our efforts to achieve personal happiness. But if happiness becomes impossible to attain, due to a dread disease or some other calamity, a person must be able to exercise the right to end his own life.”

“To hold otherwise–to declare that society must give us permission to commit suicide–is to contradict the right to life at its root,” said Bowden. “If we have a duty to go on living, despite our better judgment, then our lives do not belong to us, and we exist by permission, not by right.

“For these reasons, each individual has the right to decide the hour of his death and to implement that solemn decision as best he can. The choice is his because the life is his. And if a doctor is willing–not forced–to assist in the suicide, based on an objective assessment of his patient’s mental and physical state, the law should not stand in his way.”

Well said, Mr. Bowden. I cannot add anything to that.

I occasionally get asked how I can be for the death penalty, for legalized assisted suicide, and still be against abortion.

“Aren’t you being inconsistent?” is the net effect of the questions. In fact, this argument was recently made by Roland Martin from his lofty perch at CNN:

…it’s still important to at least philosophically explore the issue of being a staunch pro-life advocate, yet stop the moment the child is born.

“I believe that every human life at every phase is unique, is beautiful, is a child of a loving God, period.” Those are the words of [Sam] Brownback, but does not that person — even that hardened criminal — fall under the same banner?

Folks, it’s hard to say on one hand that every life — at every phase — is important, but then say, “Send them to the death chamber!” Those two are diametrically opposed to each other.

Martin is incorrect, first in his assertion that being pro-life ends at birth – an utterly ridiculous statement – and second in saying that death penalty and abortion positions opposed to each other in any way.

In fact, the positions I articulated above are completely consistent when the concept of personal responsibility – one of the most important aspects of American life – is applied to each.

By definition those on death row have deliberately and with malice committed the most terrible crimes imaginable. They had the opportunity to do anything they could imagine with their lives and chose, of their own free will, to kill other human beings. By doing so they voluntarily ended their right to live in our society.

Similarly, those ailing patients who have turned to Dr. Kevorkian and others like him have reached the age of consent and have chosen to end their lives on their own terms. As Bowden articulated so well, there is no valid reason to step between a determined patient and his/her doctor.

Abortions, on the other hand, are imposed by force on the most defenseless lives among us. While I support the right of couples to end pregancies prior to the baby’s medical viability, an abortion performed after than point can only be described as a killing to which the victim has not – and indeed cannot, considering the “age” factor – consented.

This is being utterly consistent, the exact opposite of what I see from politicians who doggedly follow the party lines regardless of their illogic.

Presidential Candidate Alignment

29.05.2007 (8:59 am) – Filed under: Politics ::

My presidential preferences, according to the SelectSmart.com poll.

(Hat tip to David at the Mirror of Life)

 Your Results:

1.  Theoretical Ideal Candidate   (100%)
2.  Mitt Romney   (70%)  Click here for info  
3.  John McCain   (66%)  Click here for info  
4.  Chuck Hagel   (64%)  Click here for info  
5.  Sam Brownback   (62%)  Click here for info  
6.  Tom Tancredo   (61%)  Click here for info  
7.  Rudolph Giuliani   (59%)  Click here for info  
8.  Kent McManigal   (58%)  Click here for info  
9.  Ron Paul   (56%)  Click here for info  
10.  Tommy Thompson   (56%)  Click here for info  
11.  Duncan Hunter   (55%)  Click here for info  
12.  Newt Gingrich   (55%)  Click here for info  
13.  Fred Thompson   (54%)  Click here for info  
14.  Mike Huckabee   (53%)  Click here for info  
15.  Bill Richardson   (50%)  Click here for info  
16.  Jim Gilmore   (49%)  Click here for info  
17.  Christopher Dodd   (42%)  Click here for info  
18.  Barack Obama   (42%)  Click here for info  
19.  Wesley Clark   (42%)  Click here for info  
20.  Hillary Clinton   (40%)  Click here for info  
21.  Dennis Kucinich   (39%)  Click here for info  
22.  Al Gore   (39%)  Click here for info  
23.  John Edwards   (38%)  Click here for info  
24.  Joseph Biden   (36%)  Click here for info  
25.  Mike Gravel   (18%)  Click here for info  
26.  Elaine Brown   (13%)  Click here for info  

No Story Here

25.05.2007 (6:42 am) – Filed under: Crime,Death Penalty ::

I read quite a few news sites and blogs and never ran across the case of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom until David Broussard began to wonder why the case, one of the most horrific that I’ve ever read about, wasn’t getting any attention from the mainstream media. David says:

There are those that say that it is because the victims are White and the alleged perpetrators are Black. I hope that this is not the case. It certainly has many of the ingredients of on of the myriad national media storms that we see from time to time. Granted, it is missing the most important element (they caught the alleged killers quickly and so there was no breathless speculation as to the whereabouts of the missing couple.

Still, one does wonder why this case is getting no attention from the media outside of Knoxville when we were inundated with coverage of Anna Nichol Smith’s death, or the Duke Lacrosse non-rape.

Later Sister Toldjah pointed me to her write-up of the case, one referenced a Wikipedia article describing the macabre crime in such detail that I’m only now getting it out of my head a week later. It’s too disgusting to reproduce here.

ST says:

Imagine this: A young black couple in Knoxville, TN go out for a night on the town, but instead are viciously murdered – their bodies mutilated and burned, after being brutally gang raped, sodomized, and tortured at the hands of five white thugs. The story easily makes it onto the front page of the national news, right? For weeks, we hear of little else outside of the manhunt that takes place for the suspected perps. Pictures of the perps are shown on national TV, and the mediots play up the racial angle of the crime, which leads to commentary from purveyors of ’social justice’ exclaiming that the white suspects are guilty of what ‘all’ white people are guilty of, and that’s ‘hating black people’, in this case, to the extreme.

Such a crime did in fact occur, but reverse the races: the perps were black, and the victims were Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom

The media’s dereliction of duty didn’t start with the Christian/Newsom murders nor, unfortunately, will it end with them because, just like Democrats, the media would rather sensationalize and side with groups of people that have historically been viewed as ‘helpless minorities’ rather than actually report the facts as they stand

Assuming the information about the case is accurate and the 5 rapist killers are convicted of their crimes, is there any room for debate over what their fate should be?

What possible “mitigating circumstances”, to coin a favorite liberal non sequitor, could justify the perpetrators’ multiple dehumanizing acts performed on a pair of innocent young people?

There are none, of course. There can be none.

If anything, the American version of the death penalty is too good for these sorts of animals. Certainly they are not worth keeping alive on the taxpayers’ dime.

Neither is Kenisha Berry, who was convicted of murdering her 4 day old son in 1998 in Jefferson County, TX. Another terrible crime, one that she received the death penalty for, but not right away:

The 4-day-old child remained unidentified and the case remained unsolved for five years until the Beaumont woman was identified as the mother of a newborn girl, Paris, found alive, but abandoned and covered with fire ants in a ditch in June 2003.

Now it seems that we’ll be paying approximately $1 million dollars to keep Berry on the dole for the rest of her life:

the appeals court said that Jefferson County prosecutors misstated the special issue presented to jurors regarding Berry’s likelihood of being a future danger to society. The question of future dangerousness is one jurors consider when they are deliberating a death sentence.

Future danger? The murderess left a second child for dead in a damn ditch and the appeals court has questions about whether she’s a future danger to society? That was in the future, relative to the crime. With rulings like this one it’s the courts that are a danger to society.

Is there no authority in this country with the courage to see justice done?

Before anyone comments about my burning desire for Christian retribution or other similar nonsense, take 60 seconds to contemplate the question below.
What do you think Hugh Newsom Jr. would want to have done to the animals who fucked him up the ass – repeatedly – before they cut off his penis and shot him dead?

One portion of justice, arguably the least part, is retribution – retribution for the victims. That’s why white collar criminals pay restitution – it’s an attempt to make the victim whole.
Of course, Channon Christian will never be whole again on Earth, will she?

That cruel, inescapable fact demands a response in kind. Hugh and Channon’s memory demands it. Justice demands it. When the killers are proved guilty – whether the current suspect or others – their polluting presence should be permanently removed from the world.

All Americans of good conscious ought to agree on that, regardless of race, creed, or color.

Worthless Votes

23.05.2007 (9:00 pm) – Filed under: Politics ::

Texas state senator Mario Gallegos says that voting without identification is a right that must not be taken away:

Every nonpartisan, academic study on the impact of voter ID laws in other states shows they suppress voter turnout among the elderly, low-income citizens, Hispanics, African-Americans and the disabled. But I don’t need a study to know why voter ID proposals like House Bill 218 are bad; I just have to think about my grandmother.

My grandmother came from Mexico, played by the rules, became a citizen and earned her right to vote. She didn’t have a driver’s license, but she had her voter registration card, went to the polls where the workers knew her, and voted. If the voter ID law were in effect, I’m not sure she or others like her could have voted.

I’m sure that his grandmother was a wonderful person.  Whose grandmother isn’t?  Yet that has nothing to do with ensuring the value of American citizens’ votes.

Every election there are cries of voter fraud from both sides of the aisle.  In 2000, George Bush won the presidency after capturing Florida’s electoral college delegates by only a few hundred votes.

So why is there such a rancorous debate over requiring a photo ID at polling places?  Gallegos notes:

Voter ID laws passed in Georgia and Missouri were struck down by the courts, which concluded that the cost of obtaining the ID and necessary documents amounts to a 21st century poll tax.

This is another inane ruling by the court system.  Liberals claim it’s their voters who would be excluded more often because they’re more likely to be unable to prove their identities.  Yet one cannot drive or write a check in this country without a photo ID.  Why is voting, the most important duty a citizen has, not subject at least the same requirement as buying non-prescription allergy medicines?  It’s completely ridiculous to call identifying oneself a tax.

Gallegos also says that a broad investigation of voter fraud has resulted in only a couple dozen convictions.  I don’t have the numbers to contradict that statement, but the Gateway Pundit says that 16 Dems were convicted of voter fraud in St. Louis alone in 2005 while ThinkProgress says that only 13 convictions were made out of a mere 38 charges of voter fraud.  Something doesn’t add up.

Personally I buy the argument that voter fraud is very low.  That’s a reasonable argument to make.  But do the exact numbers even matter?  To invert the Dems’ 2000 Florida logic, even one invalid vote is too many because it dilutes the value of every legitimate voter’s ballot.  

Presenting a picture ID card is not too much to ask, particularly in a society where every vote counts.

Too Few Prison Guards? Or Too Many Laws?

23.05.2007 (6:50 pm) – Filed under: Drugs,Justice,Law,Texas ::

According to the Waco Tribune, Texas is short on prison guards to the tune of nearly 3200 officers.  Exacerbating the problem is the fact that Texas plans to build three additional prisons in the near future.  The Trib blames this shortage on the growing Texas economy that has been drawing workers from other states here.

Despite the fact that illegals make up approximately 4-6% of the average state’s prison population, depending on who’s doing the reporting, no mention is made of illegal immigrants in the article.  The implications of the proposed plan to “get tough” on illegal immigrants on Texas prisons is obvious:  we’ll need even more guards to handle the rush of illegals being arrested at the borders, even if they’re simply there for the short-term waiting for the bus back across the border.

It seems to me that we’re spending too much $$$ on prisons already.  Square white dudes like me who watch the local news and read the paper get the idea that America is a violent country and we’re right. 

The U.S.’s rate of 7 murders per 100,000 people is higher than any other nation that we’d regard as being truly civilized – 300% higher than that of the United Kingdom, for example.

Considering prison population per capita, in 2005 the U.S. per capita incarceration rate was nearly 6 times that of the U.K. and 10 times that of France.  More telling is the fact that the U.S. was also slightly higher that Russia at around 740 per 100,000 people.  Russia, for Pete’s sake!  You know Russia, land of the gulag and home of Uncle Joe Stalin and Vlad “the Bad” Putin. That’s simply outrageous given the wealth in this country.

Considering the relative advantage that even the “poorest” Americans have over their Russian counterparts, I have only two thoughts:

  1. American society is utterly dysfunctional
  2. We’re putting too many people behind bars for “crimes” that don’t matter

It’s my opinion that both are true. Volumes could and have been written about item #1 so why dwell on it here?  But for #2, it seems to me that there is a pretty obvious solution, one that will make my liberal friends in the audience happy and shock the rest.  What is it?

The U.S. should legalize most drugs that are illegal today.

As of 2003, 24% of the U.S. prison population were in jail over drug-related offenses.  That’s about 338,000 people who will be wasting the best years of their lives in the pokey because they used, bought, or sold the refined extract from the wrong plant.

What exactly is wrong with getting high?  Yes, it rots brains, ruins people’s physical and mental health, and generally lowers the life expectancy rate of users.  So what?  It’s a personal choice to engage in behavior that has known risks.  Why is the government involved in the mass arrest of its people?  What happened to personal responsibility?

One reason is that being tough on drugs is mandatory for getting elected to public office.  This post alone would disqualify me from being elected to any significant office (assuming I had a chance given my other positions and lack of public speaking ability!), it’s that much of a scarlet letter to be in favor of this variety of freedom of choice.

Consider also the percentage of crimes – I have no numbers on this – that are committed by guys who need money to buy drugs.  That would make the numbers quoted earlier significantly higher. This does not have to be. 

What would Bayer charge for a quality, controlled coke buzz?  $1?  I have no notion of what street value is for a line but I’m certain it’s more than what an efficient pharmaceutical company would charge for an equivalent dose. 

Further consider the benefits of regulated industry.  Deaths from “bad cuts” would drop to zero, making one’s drug of choice much safer than it is now. Crime would decline as a result of legalizing all but the hardest drugs – meth, et al.  Dramatically.  Prison populations would decline in proportion.  We wouldn’t have a shortage of prison guards – we’d have to subsidize their re-training for other professions!  Or maybe we could use them in the Border Patrol; that bunch needs all the help they can get.

Consider also the additional tax benefits to the national treasury as a result of bringing these currently illegal transactions into the legitimate economy.  We might even get a real tax cut out of the deal.

So why are marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs illegal anyway?  Anyone know the history?

My guess is that it’s a result of an overly judgmental social order.  Some characterize the “war on drugs” as being akin to the struggles to reduce the abortion count and/or to preserve the right to religious freedom.  These are an inaccurate comparisons because there is no moral or ethical basis for the criminalization of drugs.  None.  But we’re doing it anyway and no one who would vote to rationalize the status quo can play a meaningful role in the U.S. government.

That I don’t understand.

Other countries have legalized the use of certain popular drugs without significant impact on the quality of their society.  Why not here?

How to Fight a War

22.05.2007 (5:21 pm) – Filed under: Iraq,Islam ::

Wars should be fought to win a victory against an aggressor. That is the true purpose of war. Not nation-building. Not leading an ungrateful rabble to the holy grail of democracy only to have them spit on it. Even preempting a potential enemy’s future capabilities is not, by itself, a reason to fight a war. Victory and the safety that results are the necessary results, nothing else.

According to the Ayn Rand Institute, a recently disclosed Pentagon study on the impact of the Iraq war on U.S. combat troops “provides evidence for a searing indictment of Washington’s immoral battlefield policies–policies that entail the sacrifice of American troops for the sake of the enemy.

If true the war in Iraq is a lot more like Vietnam than we’ve been led to believe. From the article:

U.S. troops were sent, not to defend America against whatever threat Hussein’s hostile regime posed to us, as a first step toward defeating our enemies in the region; but instead the troops were sent (as Bush explained) to “sacrifice for the liberty of strangers,” putting the lives of Iraqis above their own. Bush sent our troops to lift Iraq out of poverty, open new schools, fix up hospitals, feed the hungry, unclog sewers–a Peace Corps, not an army corps, mission. Consistent with that immoral goal, Washington enforced self-sacrificial rules of engagement that prevent our brave and capable forces from using all necessary force to win, or even to protect themselves: they are ordered not to bomb key targets such as power plants, and to avoid firing into mosques (where insurgents hide) lest we offend Muslim sensibilities.

According to the report: “More than one-third of all Soldiers and Marines continue to report being in threatening situations where they were unable to respond due to the Rules of Engagement (ROE). In interviews, Soldiers reported that Iraqis would throw gasoline-filled bottles (i.e., Molotov cocktails) at their vehicles, yet they were prohibited from responding with force for nearly a month until the ROE were changed. Soldiers also reported they are still not allowed to respond with force when Iraqis drop large chunks of concrete blocks from second story buildings or overpasses on them when they drive by. Every group of Soldiers and Marines interviewed reported that they felt the existing ROE tied their hands, preventing them from doing what needed to be done to win the war.”

This is not a valid way to fight a war. Colin Powell understood this when he spoke and ensured the delivery of “overwhelming force” in the first Gulf War. That has not been done in the Iraq war. Why not is a question that remains to be answered.

Does America even want to win in Iraq?

I was speaking to a rather intelligent woman about this subject recently and I said that if we really wanted to win the war in Iraq we could do so easily by declaring that it would be a capital offense for Iraqis to carry a weapon of any kind after such-and-such a date and thereafter American troops would shoot to kill armed persons without warning. Period.

She laughed and said that was never going to happen. I had to agree. We’re not serious about winning this war.

I think that we have had the wrong objectives from the beginning.

Why? Because it is flat-out impossible to create a working democracy in Iraq. Turkey is the only semi-democratic state of any consequence that has been implemented by an Islamic culture and even the Turks must to fight to remain democratic, as demonstrated by today’s bombing in Ankara.

Islam and democracy are incompatible at a fundamental level. No amount of military force or economic pressure will change this elemental fact. Only to the extent that Muslims are willing to ignore their religious leaders and assimilate into a democratic culture can the two co-exist.

Nowhere are Muslims better integrated into mainstream society than in America. Yet even here, some 30% of Muslims under the age of 30 believe suicide bombings in the name of Islam are acceptable in some cases. If only a fraction of these young men turn jihadi America will have a real problem on its hands. I think we can deal with that if it happens. But it won’t be pretty.

Westerners need to understand that Islam is a religion with a purpose: world domination. Perhaps there was a time when it was possible to establish friendly relations with Islam. If so, that time has passed us by. Perhaps it will come again. But not until the West proves to them that they cannot defeat us through military or theological means.

Ultimately this is why the present strategy that we’re following in Iraq cannot be successful – the nature of Islam will not allow it. Unless we’re willing to get into a real war – a bare-knuckled, blood-spilling, fight-to-the-death war – with the murdering thugs that are raping Iraq, Bush’s vision – idealistic as it was – doesn’t have a chance of succeeding.

The best outcome we can hope for from the current strategy is an Islamic Iraq that is not overtly hostile to the U.S. Even this will be difficult to achieve given the level of carnage the Iraqi people have been subjected to. The fact that it has been caused almost exclusively by other Muslims is irrelevant. This is an American war if for no other reason than we’re the enemy that they they can identify.

Bob Kerrey wrote this in the Opinion Journal today:

American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq’s middle class has fled the country in fear.

With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.

Those who argue that radical Islamic terrorism has arrived in Iraq because of the U.S.-led invasion are right. But they are right because radical Islam opposes democracy in Iraq. If our purpose had been to substitute a dictator who was more cooperative and supportive of the West, these groups wouldn’t have lasted a week.

Finally, Jim Webb said something during his campaign for the Senate that should be emblazoned on the desks of all 535 members of Congress: You do not have to occupy a country in order to fight the terrorists who are inside it. Upon that truth I believe it is possible to build what doesn’t exist today in Washington: a bipartisan strategy to deal with the long-term threat of terrorism.

The American people will need that consensus regardless of when, and under what circumstances, we withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq. We must not allow terrorist sanctuaries to develop any place on earth. Whether these fighters are finding refuge in Syria, Iran, Pakistan or elsewhere, we cannot afford diplomatic or political excuses to prevent us from using military force to eliminate them.

Kerrey’s caught some heat over this op-ed, of course. That’s the price of being right.

But we’ve been using military force and haven’t made any discernible progress in Iraq in as long as I can remember.

So how do we fight them? Once again ARI has the right idea. Elan Journo says:

America’s security depends on identifying precisely the enemy that threatens our lives–and then crushing it, rendering it a non-threat. It depends on proudly defending our right to live free of foreign aggression–by unapologetically killing the killers who want us dead.

We need a campaign that ruthlessly inflicts the pain of war so intensely that the jihadists renounce their cause as hopeless and fear to take up arms against us. This is how America and its Allies defeated both Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan.

Victory in World War II required flattening cities, firebombing factories, shops and homes, devastating vast tracts of Germany and Japan. The enemy and its supporters were exhausted materially and crushed in spirit. What our actions demonstrated to them was that any attempt to implement their vicious ideologies would bring them only destruction and death. Since their defeat, Nazism and Japanese imperialism have essentially withered as ideological forces.

Do we have the courage to do that? I doubt it very much. There are too many Americans in positions of power who lack to commitment to do what would be necessary to defeat the enemy pulling the strings in Iraq. That is Iran, of course.
Nevertheless, the choice is upon us. The time has come to either go all in or get all the way out. As Journo says:

U.S. troops were sent, not to crush an enemy threatening America, but (as Bush explained) to “sacrifice for the liberty of strangers,” putting the lives of Iraqis above their own. They were prevented from using all necessary force to win or even to protect themselves. No wonder the insurgency has flourished, emboldened by Washington’s self-crippling policies.

This war has been worse than doing nothing, because it has galvanized our enemy to believe its success more likely than ever–even as it has drained Americans’ will to fight. Washington’s feeble campaign demonstrates the ruinous effects of refusing to assert our self-interest and defend our freedom. It is past time to consider our only moral and practical option: end the senseless sacrifice of our soldiers–and let them go to war.

Thoughts on the ACLU

20.05.2007 (7:26 pm) – Filed under: Politics,Religion ::

Russell recently took me to task over my statement that the ACLU actively seeks to suppress the Christian religion and highlighted one of his readers who pointed out several cases where the organization has defended individual high school student’s religious freedoms.

These cases do muddy the waters.  Even though it makes my distaste for the ACLU marginally harder to defend, I’m glad to see that the group can do some good after all.

Yet despite these good deeds, it certainly doesn’t take long to discover an even greater number of cases where the ACLU has acted against Christians’ freedoms.

Here are a few summaries:

“the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Newark public school district, saying a school’s decision to hold its graduation ceremonies in a Baptist church violated a Muslim student’s religious freedom””the ACLU of Louisiana sponsored a lawsuit today to stop the endorsement of religion at Stockwell Place Elementary School in Bossier Parish…That is what prompted them to complain:  about a Christian cross on a teacher’s classroom door, the endorsement of a group called “Stallions for Christ” (led by a teacher during recess), a religiously oriented student choral presentation that opened with a prayer, nativity scenes in the school and a DARE graduation program with religious songs, a student-led prayer and religious speech by Mr. Kruithoff and two deputies from the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Department.

“Filed on their behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Eastern Missouri, the lawsuit claims that on two successive days in May 2005, school assemblies at Doniphan Elementary School began with teachers leading a prayer”

“The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed its fifth religion-related lawsuit in 13 years against an eastern Louisiana school district, this time alleging that a principal improperly allowed people to distribute Bibles to students.”

“a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and a Muslim woman over using the Quran and other non-Christian texts for courtroom oaths should be allowed to go forward”

“A program that teaches abstinence is at the center of a new lawsuit against the federal government. The ACLU is filing suit against “The Silver Ring Thing,” which it alleges promotes religion.”

“the settlement of a 1999 lawsuit brought by the ACLU against the Department of Defense. Under the terms of the settlement, the DoD was required to instruct military commanders that the Boy Scouts may not be supported by military bases in any official capacity”

Without going into the specifics of each case, it’s clear from these cases – and from those of Russell’s friend – that the ACLU actively seeks out cases involving what it may consider to be “underrepresented” parties and pursues them regardless of the cost to school districts and other governmental agencies or the cases’ merits relating to the betterment of society.

Rather than saying “ACLU is for freedom of expression for all Americans” as Russell does, I would say, perhaps too generously, that the ACLU is for whatever the underdog in these cases is for, right or wrong.   They’re America’s super-hero, fighting for justice for those who can’t afford to.  At least that’s their spin.

From a neutral perspective, the ACLU is what most local governments and nearly all individuals would consider to be a wealthly, powerful enemy with comparatively unlimited funds.  According to Steven Voigt of Renew America:

In nearly all lawsuits, litigants pay only the fees for their own attorneys, regardless who prevails. This is known as the “American Rule.” One exception to the American Rule is where the plaintiffs’ attorneys recover their fees from the defendant under a fee shifting statute, 42 U.S.C. §1988, which Congress ratified in 1976.

The ACLU and like-minded groups have abused 42 U.S.C. §1988 to perpetuate endless lawsuits, such as the Dover lawsuit, against religion. Using this statute, the ACLU has been accumulating a war chest of cash to fund ongoing and future attacks against communities and schools that display crosses, post the Ten Commandments, set up nativity scenes, permit moments of silence, or allow public prayer. In the crosshairs of the barrage of litigation are groups such as the Boy Scouts of America and the American Legion–but also tiny libraries, schools, and small municipalities that are typically funded by local taxes and do not have the resources to fend off the high-priced lawyers who sweep in on behalf of the ACLU and similar left-wing groups.

The ACLU’s and the AUSCS’s use of the fee-shifting provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1988 to fund a self-sustaining campaign of litigation against religion is leagues astray from legislative intent. Nonetheless, these groups concede that their use of 42 U.S.C. § 1988 is essential to continue their litigation in religion cases. Following the Dover decision, the ACLU and the AUSCS issued a joint press release where they stated that they “rely on awards of attorneys’ fees in litigation to carry out their important work.”[3] Similarly, a Rhode Island attorney helping the ACLU told the press that it “is critical to the mission of the ACLU that it be able to receive fees generated in civil-rights litigation and reinvest funds to pursue litigation.

Let’s be clear on this point:  An organization that attacks the Boy Scouts is not interested in truth, justice, or the American way.  Neither are they truly interested in civil rights.  They’re interested in removing that group’s influence over young Americans.  Why?  Because they disagree with the Boy Scouts policies and values.

In many cases they do this by outspending the opposition, essentially blackmailing school districts, local governments, and other organizations who can’t afford to fight protracted legal battles with a better-funded opponent into retreating from their support of Christianity and, on rare occasions, other religions.
It’s no coincidence that nearly every time I hear about the ACLU filing a lawsuit I end up cringing because the suit is against people, places, and organizations who believe the same things I do.  White, middle class, Christian males are the enemy of the ACLU, even if they do toss us a bone every once in a while by defending one of our kids.
The legal basis for the ACLU’s position is the standard liberal interpretation of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the relevant portion of which reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

How this denies a local school district the right to teach a Bible elective as it sees fit is a bit of a mystery.  Rather than deconstructing the liberal argument (again), allow me to turn to Alan Keyes, a scholar and politician of some note:

“[The Founding Fathers] put an amendment in the Constitution with … wording intended to tell the Congress and thereby the national government that the whole business of religious belief, that whole business of any regime, any attitude to be imparted through law, that it was none of the federal government’s business.

“Now, that still gives rise to the possibility. Some folks don’t want to see it. There might be states in which they require a religious test or oath of office. There might be states in which they have established churches, where subventions are given to schools and so forth to teach the Bible. There might be places where you and I might disagree with the religion some folks wanted to put in place over their communities. But guess what the Founders believed? They believed that people in their states and localities had the right to live under institutions they would put together to govern themselves according to their faith.”

Enough said.

ACLU Sues School Over Bible Elective

18.05.2007 (9:57 pm) – Filed under: Law,Religion,Texas ::

The American “Civil Liberties” Union, along with People for the American Way and Jenner & Block, LLP, has filed a lawsuit against Ector County Independent School District, demanding the Odessa school system to stop teaching an optional Bible course, saying the elective “violates their religious liberty”.

The plaintiffs’ position:

“It’s important for students to be educated about religion and the role that people of faith have played in our history, but the Bible course being taught in Odessa gets a grade of F for failing to comply with the Constitution. The course is not designed to teach about religion — it’s designed to promote religion, and a very particular religious viewpoint at that,” said Judith E. Schaeffer, Legal Director of People For the American Way Foundation. “While public schools can teach students about the Bible, the Odessa Bible course presents the Bible to students from a specific sectarian perspective, and that’s a clear violation of the First Amendment.”

Doug Hildebrand, one of the parents bringing the lawsuit and an ordained elder and deacon at a local Presbyterian church, said, “Religion is very important in my family and we are very involved in our religious community. But the public schools are no place for religious indoctrination that promotes certain beliefs that not all the kids in the school share. It seems like a church has invaded our school system — and it’s not my church.”

“This class is not about educating students. It is about proselytizing one set of religious beliefs to the exclusion of others,” said Daniel Mach, Director of Litigation for the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “Students who don’t share those beliefs should not be treated as outsiders by their own schools.”

The other side, per CNN:

The Ector school board approved the high school elective in 2005. It teaches the King James version of the sacred text using material produced by the Greensboro, North Carolina-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, and uses the Bible as the students’ textbook.

Backers of the National Council include David Barton, who operates a Web site that promotes helping local officials develop policies that reflect Biblical views and encourages Christian involvement in civic affairs. Other supporters of the program include the conservative American Family Association, Eagle Forum and Plano-based Liberty Legal Institute.

“There is no question that these Bible electives are constitutional,” said Kelly Shackelford, Liberty Legal’s chief counsel. “The United States Supreme Court has stated more than once that teaching about the Bible is not only constitutional, but essential to a quality education. This lawsuit is a loser.”

Frequent readers will not be surprised to learn that I think the ACLU is wrong to pursue the lawsuit. More on that later.
It’s Doug Hildebrand in particular who ought to be ashamed of his part in this matter. Regardless of the outcome his hometown is certain to suffer long-lasting divisions that a godly man would not inflict on his neighbors. One expects such boorish bullying from the P.C. code enforcers at the ACLU, but from a local? No.

Hildebrand’s complaint that “public schools are no place for religious indoctrination that promotes certain beliefs that not all the kids in the school share” is preposterous. Does any group of people larger than 2 ever share the same set of religious beliefs? And who ever said that we have the right to be free of conflicting opinions?

If the course were required for graduation then I could accept Hildebrand’s point. But it’s an elective and no one is forced to take it. Hildebrand should get over himself and work on keeping his community together instead of deliberately dividing it.

Back to the ACLU. The reality is that they are the ones who are interfering with religious freedoms by filing lawsuits like this one. One of the group’s agendas has always been the suppression of the Christian religion and this case is no exception, Mach’s false piety aside.

Lawsuits, with their financial implications, whether with or without merit, have a calculatedly chilling effect on religion, particularly in small or “less than wealthy” communities. That’s repressing religious freedom by any definition and that’s what the ACLU is doing in Ector.

But there is hope yet. Should the ACLU prevail in this case they will undoubtedly challenge Texas’ new law allowing Bible classes to be taught in any interested school district. Governor Rick Perry and Attorney Greg Abbot are probably salivating at the thought if opening a Texas-sized can of whup-ass on these Yankee carpetbaggers.

As has been pointed out by some of you in the past, it’s not enough for the ACLU’s card-carrying America-haters to be able to live as they see fit. Nor is it enough to have created their crime-ridden liberal safe havens on the east and west coasts. They feel compelled to force their views into every corner of American and onto people who despise everything the ACLU stands for. Why? Because they can’t stand the idea that someone might dare to think for themselves and choose to believe.

Thanks, Mr. Mach – I feel more liberated already.

In related news, the ACLU evidently hasn’t heard about plans to open a Islamic public school in New York City that would be taught in Arabic and observe Muslim rather than traditional American holidays.

Where’s Mach’s outrage in this case? Indeed, where is the MSM’s coverage of this travesty? Where are the voices of Americans who believe that Muslims must join us rather than forming their own shadow society?

Utter silence.

Yet it’s exactly this sort of deviancy from the American norm that we should be concerned with, not Ector county’s Bible class.

For me the real danger with allowing Ector county’s course to continue is that such a course, even an optional one, gives the “equal outcome” crowd an opportunity to bang the drum for minority religions like Islam and demand that they receive “equal time”. All they have to do is find the right judge to play their tune to…

I remain ever hopeful, however, that Americans someday gather enough wit and courage to insist that 1% of the population should not be allowed to bully the vast majority.

Update

Phil Harris writes about the Church of Secularism at TownHall:

Freedom from religion is a delusional fantasy shared by atheists, liberals, and the varied collection of First Amendment interpreters, who see in it a prescription for religious sterility. Membership in one of these camps is required; otherwise, any individual would recognize the absurdity of stretching and molding the words of the amendment, like so much silly putty. The collective effort of these people does not strengthen their argument, but rather, masks the fallaciousness behind a deafening roar of monotonous repetition.

Read the rest.