Thursday, July 20, 2006

Middle East Conflict, round 37,498 and counting

I must confess that I don't know what is going through the minds of the Israeli government these days. When Hizbullah invaded Israel and kidnapped (and killed) its soldiers, it was no surprise at all when Israel retaliated. After all, what nation would tolerate random rocket attacks launched at its civilian population, plus attacks on its soldiers?

When the Israelis used their air force to cut off southern, Hizbullah-controlled Lebanon from the rest of the country, it occurred to me the IDF was using this occasion to damage Hizbullah enough to allow the Lebanese government to move in and finish them off. Pound Hiz from the air, then go in on the ground and destroy as many missiles and kill as many Hizbullah thugs as they could find, turn the place over to the Lebanese government.

Then Israel started hitting Lebanese army bases and other targets that I don't associate with Hizbullah. What for? For once, Arab governments were blaming the right parties (Hizbullah and Hamas) for a change, as were substantial numbers of non-Hizbullah Lebanese. I think someone in the Israeli high command has miscalculated this.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, USA!

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

-- He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

-- He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

-- He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

-- He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

-- He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

-- He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

-- He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

-- He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

-- He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

-- He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

-- He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

-- He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

-- He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

-- For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

-- For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

-- For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

-- For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

-- For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

-- For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

-- For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

-- For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

-- For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

-- He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

-- He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

-- He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

-- He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

-- He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Obtained from here.

More Proof the Strib Doesn't Get It

And Adam Platt, too, judging by today's commentary defending the New York Times. He apparently is of the opinion that secret (and legal) anti-terrorist programs work best when advertised in the NYT. But don't accuse him of being a limosine liberal:
Before you pigeonhole me as a limousine liberal, I am personally inclined to give the White House the benefit of the doubt on these programs, even though they are inevitably prone to abuse by an overzealous, secrecy-mad administration. Such is the nature of the threats the nation faces. And I am willing to grant the Times' critics that the SWIFT revelations were merely that. There was no implication of illegality or wrongdoing. Gratuitous? To some. The truth, to me.

What I am not willing to cede is my right to know that these programs exist, nor my elected representatives' right to scrutinize them. In the United States we elect a president, not a king (not that you'd know that these days).

How would I tell?

Here's the gist of his defense of the Times' decision:

What renders the administration's outrage at the Times so hollow is that it has acknowledged since 9/11 that it is using every technique at its disposal to monitor terrorists' communications and impede their fundraising. If Al-Qaida were capable of pulling off 9/11, did it take the NYT to clue it in to the fact that its phone conversations, e-mail communications and financial transactions were subject to electronic scrutiny?
No, but it took the NYT to tell them how the US was doing it. The point, Mr. Platt, is the US government not trying to hide the fact it tries to monitor terrorist communications and financing isn't the same thing as telling the bad guys how it is doing so. If the terrorists were so smart about this stuff, why were the authorities able to use it to nab the dirtbag behind the Bali bombing with it? The fact is the Times unilaterally chose, despite the request of the Treasury Secretary, to deprive our government of a useful anti-terrorist tool by telling the world (and Al Qaeda) about it. That, not hostility to civil liberties, is why a lot of people are ticked off at the Times. Nobody is attempting to take away freedom of the press here, but freedom of the press does not confer freedom from criticism, and the Times' bone-headed stunt has got them some.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Via Instapundit, this Ana Marie Cox review of Katha Pollit's new book, Virginity or Death caught my attention. I don't really care for her writing, since it's basically the warmed over, narrow-minded, ignorant of the other side leftism that seems to permeate The Nation, where columns that comprise the book were originally published. I'm not claiming to have read the book, a passage from the review did inspire a bit of comment. This one (already commented on by Professor Reynolds):
There's a certain preserved-in-amber quality to some of the thinking here. For example, Pollitt herself confesses that the opinions that underpinned her most controversial column — against displaying American flags after 9/11 — were formed during the Vietnam War; she despairs that her pro-flag daughter cannot see "the connection between waving the flag and bombing ordinary people half a world away." I'm not sure if she's right about that, but it's significant that Pollitt would see the world outside her window through a scrim of 30-year-old lefty rhetoric. She simply rejects the argument that the meaning of the flag (like the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance, which was composed by a 19th-century socialist) might change.

There's some importance to the Vietnam-era leftist prism she looks through, but I think Ms. Cox misses something else. I think Ms. Pollit's prejudices prevent her from understanding the flag doesn't represent the same things to her that it does to people who don't share her narrow, fossilized, stuck-in-the-sixties world view. (Both then and now - ed.) Moreover, in the flag she sees only the things she hates about our country. For all her purported concern for women's rights in the Middle East, Pollit ignores the progress for women's rights there obtained by dropping bombs on the Taliban (not ordinary people). In Afghanistan, a good argument can be made that the high explosives dropped by our armed forces did more for women's rights there than any efforts made by the feminst left. It must grate on her... .

Judging from this passage, I would guess that Pollit really doesn't understand conservatives very well:
"The truth is, most of the good things about this country have been fought for by liberals," she warns in a 2004 pre-election column. "If conservatives had carried the day, blacks would still be in the back of the bus, women would be barefoot and pregnant, medical care would be on a cash-only basis, there'd be mouse feet in your breakfast cereal and workers would still be sleeping next to their machines."
For example, do I have to remind Pollit that the Democrats are responsible for Jim Crow, not conservatives? The quote displays her notion of people who disagree: they are bigoted sexist slave drivers. In other words, you are a good person only if you agree with my politics. How narrow... .

I also have a question - how many guys out there demanded the woman in their lives cut off toes to fit in Jimmy Choo shoes? Any?