Thursday, March 26, 2009

Obamajugend? Actually more like Red Guards...

Well, it's not like we were warned about this or anything.

Last July, our Messiah made a speech (there are YouTube videos online on this as well, but I wanted something in text) about having a national security force. The American Thinker article has the quote in full: " "We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded." (emphasis added)"

Now bear in mind that this is exactly what Obama said. It wasn't taken out of context, he wasn't mistaken, this is what he stated (off the teleprompter of course). It received a pretty negative reaction from conservatives at the time. And of course, came this news (note: I linked to the actual bill because I really do think people need to take a good look at what they'll be getting soon).

Several conservative bloggers have written about this, notably Cassy Fiano, Gateway Pundit and Michelle Malkin. I guess I'll throw my two cents in, though I'm not as illustrious as the said bloggers. This thing scares the shit out of me. It is very vague in its applications and it could get out of control very quickly.

A good portion of it essentially adds major portions to the original AmeriCorps bill under President Bill Clinton. However, it is the latter additions that make this monstrosity truly frightening.


‘(a) In General- The Corporation, after consultation with the Secretary of Education, may annually designate not more than 25 institutions of higher education as Campuses of Service, from among institutions nominated by State Commissions.

In other words, 25 different campuses of service may be designated by the executive office to carry out these activities. This section explains that the states may nominate colleges and universities, but the ultimate choosing is done by the Secretary of Education (and hence Obama). Now, most campuses in this country are already very liberal in nature and I can easily see the Messiah choosing some of the most leftist ones for this assignment. I will bet even money that one of these campuses will be Berkeley. Bear in mind that most of this will be from Federal funding.


‘(2) YOUTH ENGAGEMENT ZONE- The term ‘youth engagement zone’ means the area in which a youth engagement zone program is carried out.

I don't know about you, but this has military connotations. But let's delve further...

‘(3) involve students in service-learning projects in emergency and disaster preparedness

‘(5) involve high school age youth in the mentoring of middle school youth while involving all participants in service-learning to seek to meet unmet human, educational, environmental, public safety, or emergency disaster preparedness needs in their community;

‘(B) for community-based service-learning projects that--

‘(i) shall--

‘(I) meet unmet human, educational, environmental (including energy conservation and stewardship), emergency and disaster preparedness, and public service needs; and

An awful lot of emergency and disaster preparedness in here. What am I getting at? Let's keep going.

‘(1) ELIGIBLE PROGRAMS- National service programs under this subsection shall be known as ‘Opportunity Corps’ and may include the following types of national service programs:

‘(F) A program that engages citizens in public safety, public health, and emergency and disaster preparedness, and may include the recruitment and placing of qualified participants in positions to be trainees as law enforcement officers, firefighters, search and rescue personnel, and emergency medical service workers, and may engage Federal, State, and local stakeholders in collaboration to organize more effective responses to issues of public safety and public health, emergencies, and disasters.

Fantastic, some of these people will be law enforcement...I'm not against police, mind you. Quite the opposite. But I do have a problem when this sort of thing is nationalized (like paramilitary?).


‘(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:

‘(1) Attempting to influence legislation.

‘(2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.

‘(3) Assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing.

‘(4) Impairing existing contracts for services or collective bargaining agreements.

‘(5) Engaging in partisan political activities, or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to any public office.

‘(6) Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation, or elected officials.

I have to admit that this is pretty ingenious. Since all of these organizations are going to be run by the federal government and more or less answerable to the President, why would they do any of this stuff. Pray tell why they would protest against the government?

"Subtitle E--Amendments to Subtitle E (National Civilian Community Corps)


Section 151 (42 U.S.C. 12611) is amended to read as follows:

‘It is the purpose of this subtitle to authorize the operation of, and support for, residential and other service programs that combine the best practices of civilian service with the best aspects of military service, including leadership and team building, to meet national and community needs. Such needs to be met under such programs include those related to--

‘(1) natural and other disasters

Still more of the disaster stuff. One thing that does give me the creeps here is the part about the best aspects of military service, leadership and team building. Is this going to be run on military principles? To meet national needs?


Now that's a phrase that makes me feel better. Are we sure we're not in the Soviet Union?

"STUDY OF INVOLVEMENT OF VETERANS- The Corporation shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress, not later than 3 years after the enactment of this section, on--

‘(A) the number of veterans serving in national service programs historically by year;

‘(F) how to improve utilization of veterans as resources and volunteers

Why this interest in veterans? Seriously, I'm really curious.


‘(E) improve disaster preparedness and response

It's a recurring thread in this bill.


‘(1) On a biannual basis, the Corporation shall certify organizations with demonstrated experience in responding to disasters, including through using volunteers, for participation in the program under this section.

‘(2) The Corporation shall ensure that every certified organization is--

‘(A) prepared to respond to major disasters or emergencies;

‘(B) prepared and able to utilize National Service Reserve Members in responding; and

‘(C) willing to respond in a timely manner when notified by the Corporation of a disaster or emergency.

‘(1) IN GENERAL- If a major disaster or emergency designated by the President under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.) occurs and the Corporation, in consultation with the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, determines is an incident for which National Service Reserve Corps members are prepared to assist, the Corporation shall--

‘(A) deploy interested National Service Reserve Corps members on 30-day assignments to assist with local needs related to preparing or recovering from the incident in the affected area, through organizations certified under subsection (c);

‘(B) make travel arrangements for the deployed National Service Reserve Corps members to the site of the incident; and

I believe that if any of the organizations has the possibility of evolving into something like a national paramilitary police corps, this one is it. I would advise people to pay attention to this particular group since this one will be most involved in "emergency and disaster" situations. Time will tell on this development.

Will this end up being a Presidential Guard? It's too soon to tell. My guess is that it'll be a gradual buildup and not rushed. The government won't try to alarm people too much. You can already hear Democratic supporters saying that this bill is a great idea because it puts kids to work in a positive way.

Perhaps, but in a representative republic that values individual freedom why should kids become the ward of the government rather than parents? Every time the government increases power, even incrementally, individual liberty loses correspondingly. Alexis de Toqueville was prophetic when he wrote about the small tyranny that could be the bane of this country.

Is the fear that a paramilitary that's answerable to the executive branch frightening? Yes it is. We have a law (Posse Comitatus Law) in this country that prevents the military from interfering in internal affairs. The founding fathers had a huge argument about the powers of a standing army. On one side, the Anti-Federalists, argued that there should be a part-time militia whose loyalty was beholden to the states. They were wary of a standing professional army. The Federalists, headed by Alexander Hamilton, felt that a strong standing army and powerful central government was the only guarantee of liberty as well as an effective national defense.

President Bush tried to do away with the Posse Comitatus act in 2007 but there was such an outcry that it was reinstated early the following year. He did not abuse it and never called up troops. But it concerned many people and gave the liberal nuts ammunition to scream that the president was going to make a power grab.

This bill is potentially much more insidious, because it goes around the Posse Comitatus law. Think about the actual name of this: The National Service Reserve Force. What's it a reserve to? The other organizations listed in the bill? Not really, because it has little in common with the others (they sound like they are pretty specialized). Only the NSRF is vague with its actual intentions, and it deals with national emergencies and disasters. The problem with is that emergency and disaster can be open to all sorts of interpretation. Can't use the military to enforce the government's will? No problem, it has a paramilitary force answerable only to the President, to take care of an 'emergency." What I cannot understand is how people cannot fathom that this could be a major problem. But then the government counts on the populace to be rather dense.

We have a president who is accumulating considerable power at a growing and alarming rate. What's his next move going to be?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fun in foreign policy or dealing with the Russians

Well, the economy seems to be stabilizing for the moment (stocks did well last week), though it's still too soon to say what will happen next.

However, our foreign policy is looking pretty pathetic. I think we're going to have to resign ourselves to watching the Russians take pot shots at us for a few years. However, short of economic retaliation, there was and still is very little chance for us to do anything to support Georgia militarily in the near future (I stated this when the Russians invaded Georgia last year). However, this seems to be another move by the Russians to test the resolve the Messiah.

" The Russian General Staff has chosen the small town of Bombora outside Gudauta to be an air force base. In Soviet times a paratroopers' regiment was based there. Now about 20 aeroplanes are proposed to be stationed there: Su-27 fighters, Su-25 low-flying attack aircraft and some An-26 transport aircraft."

Probably elements of several squadrons, I'm assuming? It's a pretty balanced mix: interceptor/air superiority, ground attack and transport/supply. However, the base could be used to house much larger numbers in the future (as the article implies). It's possible that the Russians are moving a small force to see how we'll react, and then slowly build up as needed later on.

And how is the West reacting to this?

"An official NATO spokesman James Appathurai explained at a press conference in Brussels that the alliance and its allies had determined their positions on Georgia's territorial integrity - on the basis of accepting 'll recognized borders' Therefore they view reports appearing in the press that Russia might build military bases in South Ossetia and Abkhazia with some concern. 'he Secretary-General of the alliance Jaap de Hoop Scheffer,'assured Appathurai, 'ill raise this question at the February meeting with Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov.'
ou may agree that this is quite a mild reaction. The alliance - for the time being, at least - has avoided making any vociferous demands or protests. While Moscow has found its 'nternational levers' As a result of which Appathurai spent more time talking about the fact that NATO and Russia had reached an agreement over the transit of civilian cargo for the alliance's contingent in Afghanistan. Which might very well explain why we have heard what almost amounts to a willingness from them to resign themselves to Russian bases on the 'recognized borders of Georgia'

Well, naturally, the spineless Europeans aren't going to do anything about this. What is surprising is that there is not a peep from the US. However, our supply corridor through Central Asia is vulnerable and the US is dependent on the goodwill (or at the very least hefty bribes) of the Central Asian countries, many of which still have strong ties to Russia. My guess is that this is how the interceptor missile question in Eastern Europe will eventually finish: We'll remove them so that Russia won't strangle our supply lines into Afghanistan.

Georgia isn't the only area where the Russians are aggressively pushing. Apparently, the Russians are once again very interested in Caribbean airbases to land their long-range bombers.

"The Russian military has reached a contingency agreement to land long-range supersonic bomber aircraft in Venezuela, according to reports from Moscow on Saturday, which analysts cast as a nuisance rather than reason for alarm.
U.S. Defense and diplomatic officials told The Miami Herald they were aware of the report by the at-times unreliable InterFax agency but downplayed its significance

While it is nothing more than posturing by the Russians, it could have long-term significance. It's another example of someone else looking at the long-term future while we blithely look five minutes ahead. Russia only has 16 Tu-160 Blackjack bombers (their most modern long-range bomber) and its production rate is abysmal. Other potential aircraft include the Tu-22M Backfire (mainly a naval bomber) and Tu-95 Bear (recon and apparently once again a strategic bomber). Tu-16 Badger bombers were retired in the 90's.

My favorite part of this article was at the end where the Miami Herald quoted an anonymous military analyst.

"An American military analyst who has studied Latin America for 20 years questioned whether the Cuban airstrips were maintained well enough to handle anything more sophisticated than cargo aircraft.
Absent details from the Kremlin, he said, the general may have exaggerated the arrangement or 'may have gotten ahead of this.'
'I would have to wait for more information or confirmation from Moscow,' said the analyst, who was skeptical of the report and declined to comment with his name attached. 'It surprises me because we're pressing the reset button on Russian-U.S. relations and for the Russians to say this at this point seems out of whack
.' "

Ok, the part regarding Cuban airstrips is a valid point. It is also possible that the Russian general spoke out of turn. However, the last paragraph made me very suspicious because the "analyst" sounded like an Obama hack. It surprised this person because "we're pressing the reset button on Russian-U.S. relations"?

First of all, the "reset" crap is entirely a diplomatic game (and judging from the screwup by Clinton when she actually coined it, not a very good one). Why on earth would this military analyst be so shocked that the Russians are doing this? Because it doesn't fit into the Messiah's preconception of the world bowing to him because of his "oratory" genius? Is the analyst serious? Russia is going to look after its own interests, however the US feels. Russia is looking to regain some of their power, and while they probably aren't a high priority threat, they can be a vicious nuisance. This administration has, on several occasions already, looked at foreign affairs like a deer looking into the headlights of an oncoming car. It had better wake up before something drastic does happen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The shape of things to come or, let's just raise the Green Banner of Islam over the Capitol right now

This sort of article would have been unforgivable a couple of years back. But apparently in the new Golden Age of the Messiah, it's a breath of fresh air (trying to keep from puking)...

"Pakistan's Swat valley is quiet once again. Often compared to Switzerland for its stunning landscape of mountains and meadows, Swat became a war zone over the past two years as Taliban fighters waged fierce battles against Army troops. No longer, but only because the Pakistani government has agreed to some of the militants' key demands, chiefly that Islamic courts be established in the region. Fears abound that this means women's schools will be destroyed, movies will be banned and public beheadings will become a regular occurrence."

Ok, this is pretty much standard reporting (at least what goes for reporting these days).

"The militants are bad people and this is bad news. But the more difficult question is, what should we—the outside world—do about it? That we are utterly opposed to such people, and their ideas and practices, is obvious. But how exactly should we oppose them? In Pakistan and Afghanistan, we have done so in large measure by attacking them—directly with Western troops and Predator strikes, and indirectly in alliance with Pakistani and Afghan forces. Is the answer to pour in more of our troops, train more Afghan soldiers, ask that the Pakistani military deploy more battalions, and expand the Predator program to hit more of the bad guys? Perhaps—in some cases, emphatically yes—but I think it's also worth stepping back and trying to understand the phenomenon of Islamic radicalism."

Uh, to say that this stuff is bad is a prize understatement. So the gist of the article at this point is that we're fighting the enemy...but (alarm bells should be going off at this point)...

"It is not just in the Swat valley that Islamists are on the rise. In Afghanistan the Taliban have been gaining ground for the past two years as well. In Somalia last week, Al-Shabab, a local group of Islamic militants, captured yet another town from government forces. Reports from Nigeria to Bosnia to Indonesia show that Islamic fundamentalists are finding support within their communities for their agenda, which usually involves the introduction of some form of Sharia—Islamic law—reflecting a puritanical interpretation of Islam. No music, no liquor, no smoking, no female emancipation."

Ok, I've been actually stating this problem for several years. Islam is at odds with certain Western values. Always has been, always will be. They are not compatable, no matter how much the leftist elitists wish otherwise. This should also be a bit alarming because all of this crap is happening in areas that have either a majority population of Muslims or at least a substantial majority. This does not bode well for Western Europe in the near future. And make no mistake, they are winning on a number of fronts.

"The groups that advocate these policies are ugly, reactionary forces that will stunt their countries and bring dishonor to their religion. But not all these Islamists advocate global jihad, host terrorists or launch operations against the outside world—in fact, most do not. Consider, for example, the most difficult example, the Taliban. The Taliban have done all kinds of terrible things in Afghanistan. But so far, no Afghan Taliban has participated at any significant level in a global terrorist attack over the past 10 years—including 9/11. There are certainly elements of the Taliban that are closely associated with Al Qaeda. But the Taliban is large, and many factions have little connection to Osama bin Laden. Most Taliban want Islamic rule locally, not violent jihad globally."

Well, that's merely a matter of perspective. It's a no-brainer that these lunatics will "stunt" their countries because they want to bring their world back to the 7th century. However, I continue to hear about how these are just little extremist groups and not the whole. Well, if they are such a small segment of the population, then why do they have such enormous influence. Zakaria said in the previous paragraph that these people have the support of their communities. Therefore they're either a small group that's fanatical enough to enforce their view on the rest of the population or they are actively getting much more support from those people than we care to admit.

And let's take this "local" rule argument to its logical conclusion. If enough countries want Islamic rule locally, is it really all that absurd that they will start thinking globally? I mean, didn't the original Muslims just want Arabia back in the 630's? And didn't it just kinda move into Persia and the rest of the Middle East, and then into North Africa, the Caucasus and Central Asia and finally into India, Asia and Europe? History shows very clearly that once anyone, religious or otherwise, consolidates their power, they start expanding.

I don't believe for a moment that the Taliban wasn't in cahoots with Al Qaeda. They sheltered them and fought with them after 9/11. Maybe their goal was to stay in Afghanistan, but we'll never really know that.

"How would you describe Faisal Ahmad Shinwari, a judge in Afghanistan? He has banned women from singing on television and called for an end to cable television altogether. He has spoken out against women and men being educated in the same schools at any age. He has upheld the death penalty for two journalists who were convicted of blasphemy. (Their crime: writing that Afghanistan's turn toward Islam was "reactionary.") Shinwari sounds like an Islamic militant, right? Actually, he was appointed chief justice of the Afghan Supreme Court after the American invasion, administered Hamid Karzai's oath of office and remained in his position until three years ago."

I would describe Mr. Shinwari as a tad barbaric. End of story. What else could I say? If you honestly think we're going to usher in a Golden Age for Afghanistan, you're kidding yourself.

"Were he to hold Western, liberal views, Shinwari would have little credibility within his country. The reality—for the worse, in my view—is that radical Islam has gained a powerful foothold in the Muslim imagination. It has done so for a variety of complex reasons that I have written about before. But the chief reason is the failure of Muslim countries to develop, politically or economically. Look at Pakistan. It cannot provide security, justice or education for many of its citizens. Its elected politicians have spent all of their time in office conspiring to have their opponents thrown in jail and their own corruption charges tossed out of court. As a result, President Asif Ali Zardari's approval rating barely a month into office was around half that enjoyed by President Pervez Musharraf during most of his term. The state is losing legitimacy as well as the capacity to actually govern."

Actually, it seems that Mr. Zakaria is finally, after a number of years, unveiling himself as he's truly meant to be seen. That of an Islamic apologist. The fact that he stated that radical Islam has a "powerful foothold in the Muslim imagination" pretty much guarantees that we're not dealing with a small band of extremists. So why continue to believe that we are?

"Consider Swat. The valley was historically a peaceful place that had autonomy within Pakistan (under a loose federal arrangement) and practiced a moderate version of Sharia in its courts. In 1969 Pakistan's laws were formally extended to the region. Over the years, the new courts functioned poorly, with long delays, and were plagued by corruption. Dysfunctional rule meant that the government lost credibility. Some people grew nostalgic for the simple, if sometimes brutal, justice of the old Sharia courts. A movement demanding their restitution began in the early 1990s, and Benazir Bhutto's government signed an agreement to reintroduce some aspects of the Sharia court system with Sufi Muhammed, the same cleric with whom the current government has struck a deal. (The Bhutto arrangement never really worked, and the protests started up again in a few years.) Few people in the valley would say that the current truce is their preferred outcome. In the recent election, they voted for a secular party. But if the secularists produce chaos and corruption, people settle for order."

Ah yes, Swat...a peaceful place for peaceful people with a peaceful religion.

So the moral of the story is that democracy will never take hold in Islamic regions. I'm truly shocked...didn't see that one coming...

"The militants who were battling the Army (led by Sufi Muhammed's son-in-law) have had to go along with the deal. The Pakistani government is hoping that this agreement will isolate the jihadists and win the public back to its side. This may not work, but at least it represents an effort to divide the camps of the Islamists between those who are violent and those who are merely extreme."

Mr. Zakaria makes it sound like this is a bad deal for the militants. I would have to disagree completely. Since the Pakistani army is no longer making an effort to retake it, those troops can redeploy elsewhere. Yeah, I'd agree that there's a lot of hoping, but I see the conquest of Swat as more of a consolidation before pushing southwards again. It's obvious that Mr. Zakaria knows little of military strategy. If it is an effort by the Pakistani government, then it's a desperate gamble. The fact is that the army has been beaten pretty badly recently. Any plan to enable your opponent to dig in is unwise to say the least. That would be akin to Stalin asking for a six-month ceasefire after the Germans overran European Russia in World War II.

"Over the past eight years such distinctions have been regarded as naive. In the Bush administration's original view, all Islamist groups were one and the same; any distinctions or nuances were regarded as a form of appeasement. If they weren't terrorists themselves, they were probably harboring terrorists. But how to understand Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the countries "harbor" terrorists but are not themselves terrorist states? "

And should be continued to be regarded as naive because it is appeasement. You don't stop an opponent by offering more territory or goodies. The Romans tried to buy off barbarian hordes in the Late Imperial period, but it only postponed the inevitable. This is a piss poor long term strategy to have and pretty much guarantees that we will lose this war. As for the last question, I think it's just silly American diplomacy that's making it difficult. We're at war. We need to know if they are on our side or not. If not, engage them. If not, then start acting like an ally.

"To be clear, where there are Qaeda cells and fighters, force is the only answer. But most estimates of the number of Qaeda fighters in Pakistan range well under a few thousand. Are those the only people we are bombing? Is bombing—by Americans—the best solution? The Predator strikes have convinced much of the local population that it's under attack from America and produced a nationalist backlash. A few Qaeda operatives die, but public support for the battle against extremism drops in the vital Pashtun areas of Pakistan. Is this a good exchange? "

Well, those are numbers that we know of. My guess is that they are much stronger than that. One has to remember that Al Qaeda changed after 2001. It became more of a "franchise" than an army. They welcome anyone who wants to engage our troops, whether they're actually Al Qaeda or not. It's this sort of circular logic that totally pisses me off. Look if Al Qaeda is there, and they are only a "few thousand", the question (once again) is why they are able to exert such a tremendous influence in that region? In terms of square miles, it's enormous. There's a large population there. So who else are we bombing? I would say Al Qaeda sympathizers. In order to get at these guys we have to fight them. My guess is that we'll probably end up fighting Pakistan eventually. Once again, we just don't want to admit it. Mr. Zakaria doesn't really give any solutions at this point, though I believe that leaving that region is a good idea in his opinion.

"We have placed ourselves in armed opposition to Muslim fundamentalists stretching from North Africa to Indonesia, which has made this whole enterprise feel very much like a clash of civilizations, and a violent one at that. Certainly, many local despots would prefer to enlist the American armed forces to defeat their enemies, some of whom may be jihadists but others may not. Across the entire North African region, the United States and other Western powers are supporting secular autocrats who claim to be battling Islamist opposition forces. In return, those rulers have done little to advance genuine reform, state building or political openness. In Algeria, after the Islamists won an election in 1992, the military staged a coup, the Islamists were banned and a long civil war ensued in which 200,000 people died. The opposition has since become more militant, and where once it had no global interests, some elements are now aligned with Al Qaeda."

Well, that's because it is a clash of civilizations, silly. The fundamentalists have figured this out pretty early. We're just naive enough still to not understand this basic concept. We've just decided to try the messiest approach to this problem.

"Events have taken a different course in Nigeria, where the Islamists came to power locally. After the end of military rule in 1999, 12 of Nigeria's 36 states chose to adopt Sharia. Radical clerics arrived from the Middle East to spread their draconian interpretation of Islam. Religious militias such as the Hisbah of Kano state patrolled the streets, attacking those who shirked prayers, disobeyed religious dress codes or drank alcohol. Several women accused of adultery were sentenced to death by stoning. In 2002 The Weekly Standard decried "the Talibanization of West Africa" and worried that Nigeria, a "giant of sub-Saharan Africa," could become "a haven for Islamism, linked to foreign extremists."

Sounds pretty bad, but Zakaria is going to throw a curve ball here...

"But when The New York Times sent a reporter to Kano state in late 2007, she found an entirely different picture from the one that had been fretted over by State Department policy analysts. "The Islamic revolution that seemed so destined to transform northern Nigeria in recent years appears to have come and gone," the reporter, Lydia Polgreen, concluded. The Hisbah had become "little more than glorified crossing guards" and were "largely confined to their barracks and assigned anodyne tasks like directing traffic and helping fans to their seats at soccer games." The widely publicized sentences of mutilation and stoning rarely came to pass (although floggings were common). Other news reports have confirmed this basic picture."

Yeah, 'cuz the NYT is that bastion of balanced and unbiased reporting. Bear in mind that this reporter went there in 2007, which was during Bush's tenure. Given the way the NYT acted towards him for eight years, I doubt they would have considered backing him by reinforcing his "warmonger" stance. Funny thing is that journalists always portray the extremists as being pretty reasonable. Have these journalists ever heard of a Potemkin Village? I seriously doubt that these people are going to trot out people to be stoned or mutilated right in front of a journalist. That's just the height of stupidity. Most likely these people were quietly killed after the reporter left. I'm curious how long Ms. Polgreen actually stayed in the area. I doubt it was for very long.

"Residents hadn't become less religious; mosques still overflowed with the devout during prayer time, and virtually all Muslim women went veiled. But the government had helped push Sharia in a tamer direction by outlawing religious militias; the regular police had no interest in enforcing the law's strictest tenets. In addition, over time some of the loudest proponents of Sharia had been exposed as hypocrites. Some were under investigation for embezzling millions."

More of the same BS. Of course it's entirely possible that the loudest opponents had been already silenced by this time. I personally think that Mr. Zakaria is stretching a bit if he has to go back two years and use a central African country as the cornerstone of his argument.

"We have an instant, violent reaction to anyone who sounds like an Islamic bigot. This is understandable. Many Islamists are bigots, reactionaries and extremists (others are charlatans and opportunists). But this can sometimes blind us to the ways they might prove useful in the broader struggle against Islamic terror. The Bush administration spent its first term engaged in a largely abstract, theoretical conversation about radical Islam and its evils—and conservative intellectuals still spout this kind of unyielding rhetoric. By its second term, though, the administration was grappling with the complexities of Islam on the ground. It is instructive that Bush ended up pursuing a most sophisticated and nuanced policy toward political Islam in the one country where reality was unavoidable—Iraq."

And with good reason. When someone says they want to martyr themselves by killing a bunch of infidels, I'd be a bit leery of being around them as well, at least without having some kind of weapon to defend myself with. I'm not sure that Iraq is necessarily a good example because we don't know how that will end up (and the fact that Obama will get out of there by 2010 does not bode well).

"Having invaded Iraq, the Americans searched for local allies, in particular political groups that could become the Iraqi face of the occupation. The administration came to recognize that 30 years of Saddam—a secular, failed tyrant—had left only hard-core Islamists as the opposition. It partnered with these groups, most of which were Shiite parties founded on the model of Iran's ultra-religious organizations, and acquiesced as they took over most of southern Iraq, the Shiite heartland. In this area, the strict version of Islam that they implemented was quite similar to—in some cases more extreme than—what one would find in Iran today. Liquor was banned; women had to cover themselves from head to toe; Christians were persecuted; religious affiliations became the only way to get a government job, including college professorships."

Ok, but how does that relate to what's going on throughout the Muslim world? After all, Mr. Zakaria stated that radical Islam has a powerful hold. Therefore, is simply blaming Saddam for the hard-core element necessarily true? I think it's deeper than that. If anything, this serves as a warning of things to come for the West.

"While some of this puritanism is now mellowing, southern Iraq remains a dark place. But it is not a hotbed of jihad. And as the democratic process matures, one might even hope that some version of the Nigerian story will play out there. "It's hard to hand over authority to people who are illiberal," says former CIA analyst Reuel Marc Gerecht. "What you have to realize is that the objective is to defeat bin Ladenism, and you have to start the evolution. Moderate Muslims are not the answer. Shiite clerics and Sunni fundamentalists are our salvation from future 9/11s."

Ok, great for southern Iraq, but here's my question. A lot of Muslims are immigrating into the West, be it Europe or North America. They are also having a lot more babies than the Westerners are. Does this mean we'll have a bloodbath here and then a "mellowing out" phase? I don't believe that's particularly reassuring. And I believe that the CIA guy's logic is tragically warped. Maybe that'll be the case in the short term, but long term after they consolidate? Well, if the Muslims outbreed us here in the West, then it'll probably be a moot point because they'll be in charge.

"The Bush administration partnered with fundamentalists once more in the Iraq War, in the Sunni belt. When the fighting was at its worst, administration officials began talking to some in the Sunni community who were involved in the insurgency. Many of them were classic Islamic militants, though others were simply former Baathists or tribal chiefs. Gen. David Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy ramped up this process. "We won the war in Iraq chiefly because we separated the local militants from the global jihadists," says Fawaz Gerges, a scholar at Sarah Lawrence College, who has interviewed hundreds of Muslim militants. "Yet around the world we are still unwilling to make the distinction between these two groups."

Hmmm, that's because there's a distinction between short term and long term damage. The local militants of today could very well become the global jihadists of tomorrow. Jesus, does anyone actually read Islamic history??? Once again, Iraq is not finished and we won't know the result until it happens. They're trying to foretell a future that is uncertain at best.

"Would a strategy like this work in Afghanistan? David Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency expert who has advised Petraeus, says, 'I've had tribal leaders and Afghan government officials at the province and district level tell me that 90 percent of the people we call the Taliban are actually tribal fighters or Pashtun nationalists or people pursuing their own agendas. Less than 10 percent are ideologically aligned with the Quetta Shura [Mullah Omar's leadership group] or Al Qaeda.' These people are, in his view, 'almost certainly reconcilable under some circumstances.' Kilcullen adds, 'That's very much what we did in Iraq. We negotiated with 90 percent of the people we were fighting.' "

Well, that's the million dollar question. I'm not sure how much I'd rely on Mr. Kilcullen's sources, since they're talking to an infidel. But time will tell. It seems that we're adopting a strategy that doesn't see the forest for the trees. It sounds like we're not looking at the big picture.

" Beyond Afghanistan, too, it is crucial that we adopt a more sophisticated strategy toward radical Islam. This should come naturally to President Obama, who spoke often on the campaign trail of the need for just such a differentiated approach toward Muslim countries. Even the Washington Institute, a think tank often associated with conservatives, appears onboard. It is issuing a report this week that recommends, among other points, that the United States use more "nuanced, noncombative rhetoric" that avoids sweeping declarations like "war on terror," "global insurgency," even "the Muslim world." Anything that emphasizes the variety of groups, movements and motives within that world strengthens the case that this is not a battle between Islam and the West. Bin Laden constantly argues that all these different groups are part of the same global movement. We should not play into his hands, and emphasize instead that many of these forces are local, have specific grievances and don't have much in common."

Wow, didn't see this coming...what did I say in the first paragraph again? I cringe when I see the word "sophisticated." It generally is a masking word for retreat or defeat or at the very least a lack of political will. What I fail to understand is why we should stop using "sweeping declarations" when Islamic media continually portrays the West as evil and even sub-human? This is simply horseshit.

"That does not mean we should accept the burning of girls' schools, or the stoning of criminals. Recognizing the reality of radical Islam is entirely different from accepting its ideas. We should mount a spirited defense of our views and values. We should pursue aggressively policies that will make these values succeed. Such efforts are often difficult and take time—rebuilding state structures, providing secular education, reducing corruption—but we should help societies making these efforts. The mere fact that we are working in these countries on these issues—and not simply bombing, killing and capturing—might change the atmosphere surrounding the U.S. involvement in this struggle."

Ok, this is why I get so annoyed with this Islamic apologist crap. Zakaria is all over the place with his argument. The fact is that the extremists do burn girls' schools, they do stone criminals. They do all sorts of nasty shit that should shock a Westerner to the core. That should be enough to mount a desperate (yes, desperate) defense of Western Civilization. Mr. Zakaria wants us to mount a "spirited defense of our views and values," but his entire argument up to this point is to do exactly the opposite. And where exactly does he think we're going to pony up the money to do all of this wonderful stuff in the Islamic world that he wants? We're in the middle of a deep recession. We don't have enough money to help ourselves much less a bunch of people who, let's face it, hate our guts.

"The veil is not the same as the suicide belt. We can better pursue our values if we recognize the local and cultural context, and appreciate that people want to find their own balance between freedom and order, liberty and license. In the end, time is on our side. Bin Ladenism has already lost ground in almost every Muslim country. Radical Islam will follow the same path. Wherever it is tried—in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in parts of Nigeria and Pakistan—people weary of its charms very quickly. The truth is that all Islamists, violent or not, lack answers to the problems of the modern world. They do not have a world view that can satisfy the aspirations of modern men and women. We do. That's the most powerful weapon of all."

Ok, that's fine but there's a fine difference between people wanting to find their own balance and imposing it on another culture. Unfortunately, that's what Islam does. And I don't necessarily agree with him about time being on our side. In fact, I would argue the opposite. We are incredibly short-sighted as a culture. Islamic history shows that it is far more patient in the long term. I think Mr. Zakaria is grasping at straws. Things are way too uncertain right now to say that bin Ladenism is gone. We said that several years ago. We were proven wrong. Every time we even consider that, we have to revise it. Therefore I can't really accept that radical Islam is going away anytime soon. Mr. Zakaria is right in that Islam cannot create solutions to the modern world. It's a 7th century religion and has not made much in the way of progress since then. It has gained "progress" by riding the backs of other civilizations, be it Persian, Indian, Chinese, European or American.

I find Mr. Zakaria's stance a bit bizarre. On one hand he's essentially telling us that we should just radical Islam run its course as if it's no big deal. At the end, he tells us that we need to fight. Well, which one is it? Do we need to fight, or not? I lump him into the group of Muslims who are unsure of how to resolve their issues with residing in the West. On the one hand, the West has given Muslims a lot of benefits that they take advantage of. On the other hand, the West is well, not Muslim (well, not yet anyway). My guess is that Mr. Zakaria does not believe in the militant aspects of Islam and yet does have a private wish that Islam, in general, be victorious. Unfortunately for Muslims (and they really don't understand this at all) is that once the West is gone and attached to the Islamic world, those benefits will stop.

Monday, March 2, 2009

This and that, plus major BS Newsweek article...

I didn't write about the State of the Union Address last week because it was pretty much what I expected: bunch of give-away program nonsense that the Congressional crowd(and apparently, most of the American people) ate up. Standard Democratic boilerplate. I was disappointed in Bobby Jindal's response. He looked and sounded like a goober talking to a bunch of inbred retarded children ("Americans can do anything" was repeated at least a half dozen times).

The stock market dropped another 300 points today. I can see that Unicornucopia of pure goodness is just around the's truly change that we can believe in.

I liked Rush Limbaugh's speech at CPAC (watched most of it on Fox). It was pretty fiery, but it would be nice if the Republican leadership would show similar backbone. RNC Chair Michael Steele then proceeded to go onto the D.L Hughley show on CNN (who the hell is this person, and is this even a legitimate political show?) and make an ass out of himself. I watched two numbnuts run rings around Steele (Hughley the dipshit and some hip-hop numbnut) and overall made him look like a tool. It's nice to know that Steele essentially agreed with these two mental giants on, well, everything from Limbaugh being a big meanie to the fact that Republicans are essentially Nazis. Lovely...Looks like Steele is shaping up to be a gutless wonder a la McCain. Yeah, like we need more of those twits at the helm.

I decided to concentrate on this Newsweek article (Obama's Pelosi problem) just because I feel the need to stomach more intellectual dishonesty from the mainstream media.

" Charlie Dent wanted to vote for Barack Obama's stimulus package. Obama really wanted Dent to vote for it. Nancy Pelosi? Not so much. Dent is a Republican congressman from Allentown, Pa., an old steel town that was in bad shape even before the recession. Most of the people Dent represents are Democrats who voted for Obama; the GOPcongressman has held on to their support in part by positioning himself as the kind of guy who listens to his conscience, and his constituents, not his party's bosses. Throughout the years, he's irritated GOP leaders by siding with Democrats on issues like stem cells and education funding."

I'm kinda curious how a district with what seems like Obama Democratic voters is "centrist." While I understand that congressmen and women need to listen to their constituents, my question is why they bother calling themselves Republican when they could just as easily be Democrats without all the fuss (let's face it Pennsylvania is and should be considered a blue state, not battleground). It sounds like Dent's the Representative equivalent of Arlen Specter (and same state too...who woulda thunk it?). And we can't ignore the little dig by Ms. Bailey about those pesky Republican party bosses. If only those conservatives would just abandon their principles and be like Democrats, everything would be hunky dory, right?

"But in the end, it wasn't enough to win Dent's support. Along with every other Republican in the House, he voted no on the stimulus. He thought the plan was too expensive and weighed down with pet projects. But still, he might have been persuaded to go along—if it weren't for Nancy Pelosi."

Yeah, good ole' Nancy. Psst...Dent...if you just switched parties, you wouldn't have the problem. You should look into that...The project was too expensive, but with a little greasing of the palms, he might have considered it. I have to admit though, that he at least listened to the "evil" party bosses this time, unlike a few Senators that come to mind...

"Obama and his aides, the official says, were upset over press leaks—which they believe came from Pelosi's office—suggesting Obama was "naive" to reach out to Republicans. Obama gets that Democrats in Congress still harbor resentment over the way GOP leaders treated them when Democrats were in the minority. Pelosi's allies say they wanted to work with Republicans on the stimulus and sought their input last fall. They accuse the GOP of trying to embarrass Obama by voting en masse against the stimulus. No doubt there's truth to that: Republican leader John Boehner muscled his members not to break ranks."

Yeah, he was really reaching out to them when he told them "I won," and that they needed to stop "listening to Rush Limbaugh." I felt the unity then. Apparently Ms. Bailey chose not to add that little tidbit into the story (though admittedly it would have brought her logic and the entire premise of the story crashing down around her ears since the Chosen One had no intention of getting real Republican support).

And why is it so awful that the GOP is trying to embarrass Obama? The two parties have different ideologies. Is it really so surprising that they wouldn't? Of course the Republicans are going to try to make him look stupid. But let's be honest while we're on the "truth" thing: Obama didn't need Republicans to pass it (the three senators don't count).

"But Obama's campaign was all about putting an end to this kind of petty sniping between the parties. By snubbing Republicans, Pelosi was very publicly undercutting the president. Obama wants that to stop. In recent weeks, the Obama official says, the White House has had "many candid conversations" with Pelosi and other Democratic leaders about the importance of winning over—or at least not openly antagonizing—Republicans."

Is this woman serious? It was nothing of the sort. The whole premise of the Messiah's campaign was to try to break apart the Republican Party by trying to act conciliatory while actually doing exactly the opposite. Let's be clear about this: The Democrats, for all of the "candid" talk, need the Republicans for nothing more than political cover, and the Republicans would be stupid for playing into that. Pelosi and Obama are attempting to play "good cop/bad cop" and very clumsily at that.

"For now, Pelosi may need Obama more than he needs her, but Obama knows he won't always be as popular as he is today, and he will count on her support in the coming budget and health-care fights. At last week's White House fiscal responsibility summit, Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, stood and told Obama that if he really wanted bipartisanship, he would tell Pelosi to have a more 'open process.' "

I doubt that this will ever happen. The fact is that the House is entirely decided on by a simple majority vote. Anything else is pure cosmetics (although it's nice when Republicans actually do vote exclusively to avoid looking clueless). True bipartisanship would occur if the Republicans did have control of one of the Houses. Obama would be forced to negotiate. However, given the current climate the Democrats, unfortunately, have virtual control of everything until 2010. The reality is that there is little to nothing that the Republicans can do to change that dynamic. Although Ms. Bailey would like to think that Pelosi's entirely to blame, Obama is the Party's head. It's up to him to decide what goes and what doesn't. Ultimately, the One has as much, if not more to blame for what's happening now.