Thursday, March 30, 2006

If You'll Scroll To The Bottom...

I've added something new. It's the great web comic, Rockwood. I hope you'll enjoy as much as I do.

BTW, I like the Boondocks a great deal. I've got no beef with the Boondocks, in case anyone was wondering.

Also, I'm planning on posting my thoughts on the immigration bruhaha in a day or two, in case any of the millions I delude myself into thinking read this blog daily are interested. Moving up, one stone at a time.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The "Undisputed" Facts (Or, What I Think Reasonable People Should Agree On)

Let it be known first off that I am, for all intents and purposes a supporter of the war in Iraq. I supported the war in the beginning (with some reservations about timing), and my support really has not wavered. That being said, I recognize that a lot of mistakes have been made in Iraq, and a lot of things went down in a way they shouldn't have. Regardless, it is clear to me that we were justified in removing Saddam, and while he was not directly involved in 9/11, he was a long-term threat that needed to be dealt with. The debate over this war, and the justifications will rage on for years to come. There is plenty of room for debate on the war, pro or con, but I submit that in order to have an honest and serious debate of this war (and the larger War on Terror), reasonable people must recognize these seven facts to be undisputed:

1. America was hit with an unprovoked attack on 9/11, by radical Islamists who want to destroy us. Nearly 3,000 Americans were killed. America did NOTHING to deserve this attack.

2. America has an obligation to confront all clear terrorist threats. This does not always mean open war, but if military force is required, we must be ready.

3. Saddam Hussein was a brutal, murderous dictator, who committed genocidal acts against his own people. He invaded his neighbors, and at one point had WMDs. He used them against his own people, and had clear designs to use them against us at one point.

4. Saddam's removal is a good thing for the free world, and for the Iraqi people.

This is a value judgment, but one I think all of us should agree on.

5. The war was not illegal, as it was backed by U.N resolution, and the Iraq War Resolution in Congress.

6. Our troops, all of them, are heroes, who are fighting for a noble cause.

Again, another value judgment, but also one I think reasonable people can agree upon.

7. Criticism of the war is not treason, and support for the war is not apology for war crimes. Iraq is not a war crime.

These are things the all of us ought to agree upon, regardless of ideology, if we are really serious about fighting terror. Just so you know, I'm not the biggest fan of this Administration, and one could say that I support the war in spite of Bush. Many on the Left in this country really can't seem to move beyond Bush, and many on the right can't seem to suffer any criticism of him. This war on terror isn't about Bush. This war doesn't end when his term is up. We're in this for the long haul.

Considering Iraq, it's my view that a premature withdrawal is bad for everybody. I respect those who sincerely believe the contrary, but I fail to see how pulling out now helps. Perhaps gradual drawdowns can happen in the future, but many people are calling for immediate pullouts or artificial timetables. This is a flawed approach. Especially when this is real progress being made.

Before you accuse me of carrying the water for the GOP, I recognize that there are real problems. Civil war may very well come. However, real work has been done by Allied and Iraqi troops. It seems that many in the press can't resist the "if it bleeds, it leads" impulse, and only seem to focus on the negative. Some take this further, imposing their own antiwar biases on their reporting. This really does happen. Of course, the Bush-friendly press seems to only focus on the favorable coverage, and is less inclined to report the negative. Often these stories are less focused on Iraq, than trying to make Democrats look like the enemy. Their coverage is tainted with pro-war (and pro-Bush) bias, and is just as bad.

The fact is, a lot of great journalists of all stripes are doing good reporting in Iraq, that's balanced. This needs to increase.

The point of all this that all of us need to deal in sense when dealing with these issues. I've had enough of both the "Liberals are traitors" mantras, and the "Bush lied, millions died" mantras. Enough of this talk of impeachment. Enough of this talk about prosecuting journalists. This has been said to death but it bears repeating: This war is the central front on the war on terror. It doesn't matter how we got there, we're here now, and we must focus on the here and now.

Bush and the Republicans will take a hit of the prosecution of the war, and the numerous other GOP screw-ups. Most of this the GOP brought on themselves, but no political outcome should lead to a pullout of troops too early. Bush has said that he's leaving the troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future. I support him on that. Not for his sake, but for the sake of the mission, and our brave troops fighting it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Triumph and Tragedy

You know, it's stories like this that force us to realize how small and miniscule many of the problems many of us complain about are.

Some of us have it a lot worse, yet they endure.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Clooney's a Liberal, But He's No Blogger

He says so himself. I'm not even sure what to make of this.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

This Woman Is A Hero Indeed

Dr. Wafa Sultan lays out the specifics of the struggle the West faces clearly and plainly, better than few others can. It's not a really clash of civilizations. It's a clash between human rights and barbarism. Free people of all religions, versus the madmen.

Thanks to Exit Zero

OK, That Was Funny

I'm sorry, but this was straight up hilarious.

Less War Talk Is Good?

Despite our current problems in Iraq, and the various mistakes by Bush, I'm stil a cautiously optimistic supporter, and still believe it was right to take out Saddam, for numerous reasons. We can debate the supposed links between Saddam and al-qaeda (certainly debatable) and WMDs, etc. on and on. The fact is, we're there, and we need to aim for the best possible victory.

Glenn Reynolds has an interesting idea. He has a quote by Neal Boortz, pointing out that he and other conservatives are still behind Bush on the war, but have aught with Bush on other issues. However, in their view, the Dems are worse. Reynolds argues that Dems should consider this, and spend less going after Bush on the war, and focus on other issues, if they want to capitalize on Republican dissatisfaction with Bush.

An interesting idea, but I think the Dems would do better if we just came up with a clear, consistent, and coherent alternative to Bush's war approach, as opposed to just criricism. A lot of the criticism is legitimate, but if the Democrats don't have a clear alternative that they can clearly put forth, we still end up looking wishy-washy.

Many conservatives are dissatisfied with the war, and only 34 percent of the country really backs Bush right now. Dems will never win the rank and file, but moderates and swing votes are up for grabs as always. The approach has to be clear though. In fact, the problem is less that the message we put out is anti-Bush, than the fact that it's not coherent.

On a sort-of side note, while I don't think the Dems should take the advice of the Michael Moore types and move to the Left, or the advice of the Zell Millers and move to the right, the problem with this whole movement thing isn't about the direction moved, but the frequency of movement.

Oh, NOW He's Had Enough?

Isaac Hayes has had enough. He's decided to quit South Park, on the grounds that the show has gone too far in their attacks on religion.

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," the 63-year-old soul singer and outspoken Scientologist said.

Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored," he continued. "As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

You know, I like Isaac Hayes, but I have to wonder what exactly they've done now to cross the line, considering all the stuff they've done in previous years.

Are you telling me that you were perfectly fine with Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo, the infamous anti-Catholic episode, The Passion of the Jew, Jesus vs. Satan (where Satan wins!!), and a lot of others, but now they've croosed the line? What was so horrible that finally exhausted your patience? Creator of the show Matt Stone gives us the answer:

"South Park" co-creator Matt Stone responded sharply in an interview with The Associated Press Monday, saying, "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."

It certainly seems that way.

Look, South Park has been going after religion since episode one, and many times they've gone too far in my view. But at least they've been consistent. Apparently Isaac Hayes is only concerned when they go after his religion. Christianity and Judaism are fair game, but quasi-cultic religion Scientology is off limits. Nope, that doesn't wash.

Stone told The AP he and co-creator Trey Parker "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."

The story via AP is here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

An Absurd Proposal

I watch Bill Maher every Friday night that he's on, and on a whole host of issues, he has insightful commentary. Yes, he's views on religion in general are quite bothersome, but I can look past that. It's no secret that he has no love for the Bush Administration, and I've certainly got no beef with that. One thing that has bothered me about him in recent weeks though, is his quasi-humorous/not-so-humorous flirtation with the idea of putting Saddam back in charge of Iraq.

He pointed out that he was joking the first few times he's said this, but now he's kind of serious. Whether he was serious or not, it appeared to me that Robert Baer (the former CIA-agent on which Syriana was based) basically agreed.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't think Maher is really thoughtfully considering this. I think it is a quasi-comedic, short-sighted call for stability in Iraq. Stability at any cost. There is a lot of chaos in Iraq, and many feel the only way this war can end is if we pull out our troops, or put in place a strong man like Saddam. This is really a rebirth of the containment approach to dealing with Saddam. Like I said, I don't think Maher wants to throw the Iraqis back under the boot, but of course we all know that would happen. The very idea of putting that monster back on the throne is an affront. We shouldn't punish the Iraqis because of our mistakes. Besides, I've always felt, that even among the most ardent war critics, the one thing we all could agree on was the Saddam being gone was a good thing.

This approach is so absurd I needn't dwell on it further. The idea that all our brave troops will have died in vain, the Iraqi soldiers fighting beside us will have died in vain, that after all that blood and treasure, that we'd just give up, throw up our hands and tell Saddam "never mind, you can have it back," it's too absurd to even consider.

Especially considering the progress we've made, and we have made real progress.

In truth, I suspect that Maher, if he's not joking, hasn't even begun to really think any of this through. Maybe he's just being controversial for its own sake. Either way, for every inch this idea moves closer to legitimacy is an inch towards defeat and the triumph of really f-ed up ideas.

But you know what, I'm worrying for nothing. No one in their right mind can really be considering this.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Worst Best Picture Choice Ever?

As you know, Crash won the Best Picture Oscar last night, upsetting Brokeback Mountain. Personally, I think the better movie won, but apparently some aren't convinced. Marc Cooper is one of those who thinks Crash was the worst choice Hollywood could have made. He's spot-on in his criticism of the over-the-top race-baiting rant by Tom Hayden, but his review of Crash is a slander against a great film.

To each his own, I guess.

"Crash" Wins Best Picture!

To that, I give a big huzzah. I am delightfully surprised. The best movie won tonight, hands down. Period. I am quite happy.

Not quite as happy as the Three-6 Mafia, but you get my drift.

Most of the other awards went as expected. Clooney. Reese. Hoffman. Weisz.

Bravo to March of the Penguins, BTW.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The UAE Port Deal, Politics, and Moderate Islam

I've been really thinking over this port deal with the UAE, and at the end of the day, I can find no compelling reason to oppose this. At worst, it's not a big deal, and at best, it's a win-win for the War on Terror, and our image around the world. I still think a thorough investigation needs to happen, to calm any honest fear, but I fear, as with a lot of issues, this story has been given over to hysteria and politics.

It has always been my belief that in order to achieve a long-term victory in the War on Terror, we must embrace moderate Islam, and moderate forces for change in th region. Democracy in Iraq will be impossible without this.

There are those among us who reject this idea, and assert that there is no such thing as moderate Islam. They don't want Arabs guarding our ports. They want profiling, and other programs in place. Some are so extreme as to engage in outright xenophobia, as seen with the latest antics of Ann Coulter, and blogs such as LGF. For some people, the very suggestion of a moderate Islam is nothing more than a closet appeal for dhimmitude. "There goes the moonbat Left again," they say. Keep in mind that most Americans don't think this way-at least not to that degree.

Back to the UAE port deal, and the politics involved-for those on the far-right who oppose this, it seems to be an appeal to their aforementioned sensibilities. For the Democrats, it looks like politics. In trying to look tough on terror, they've played right into Republican hands. Of course Dems have been bringing up the legit concerns about our ports being unguarded, but it still looks political. It looks like another way to slam Bush. Bush hasn't guarded ports. Arab country with possible ties gets port deal. Bush blows it. Instant scandal.
Nver mind the fact that Dubai and the UAE is an ally in the GWoT, and that these ports are still under American control. There's a lot to get Bush and the Republicans on, but this isn't it.
At least I'm pretty darn sure it isn't.

On a side note, Bush is committed to sticking up for the UAE. I only wish they'd be as committed to sticking up for Denmark.