Saturday, May 31, 2008

Seriously...What Happened?

When Ari Fleischer's book, Taking Heat, was released in 2005, was there much fanfare? Did he get an invitation to spoon with Keith Olbermann? No. Mainstream journalists didn't seem to particularly like it.

I understand that part of the media attention is merely that "controversy sells". But another aspect is anti-Bush bias on the part of a lazy media, that's already written the narrative that "Bush lied, people died".

Those who already have it in for the Bush Administration, want to make more out of Scott McClellan's perspective than is probably warranted, when he talks of how the Iraq War was sold to the American people with a sophisticated "political propaganda campaign" and aimed at "manipulating sources of public opinion" and "downplaying the major reason for going to war."

I am not automatically arguing that Scott McClellan is lying; he may well believe what is written in his book, and reflects his feelings accurately. But are facts shaping his perception and perspective? Or are his perspective and perception shaping the facts?

WSJ lead editorial:
The problem is that Mr. McClellan presents no major new detail to support his conclusions about Iraq, or even about the Administration's deliberations about how to sell the war. This may be because he was the deputy press secretary for domestic issues during the run-up to war and thus rarely attended war strategy sessions.
Someone else who recently saw his book release with moderate fanfare (namely, because it's not an anti-Bush "tell-all"), is Douglas Feith's "War and Decision". As Undersecretary of Defense for Policy from July 2001 to August 2005, and one of the architects of the War in Iraq, Douglas Feith's book should carry more weight on matters related to the run-up to war.

This weekend, I will go down to the bookstore and peruse McClellan's memoir. From the sounds of it, McClellan's book reads like a 30-pieces-of-silver-store gossip novel, filled more with opinions and impressions, than with concrete facts (apparently, no footnotes).

I haven't read all of Feith's book; but it is a serious work, well-sourced with a rich, detailed appendix. Anyone who downright dismisses its scholarly relevance and historical importance out of partisan prejudice, does themselves a disservice.

I admit that my partisanship makes me knee-jerk suspicious of McClellan's book; but it also seems to contradict information that I know to be well-documented (not just right-wing spin, but from actual intell documents, Senate Intell Committee hearings, etc.). Seth Leibsohn sums it up:
The evidence I’ve seen does in fact show that the administration had different justifications for the liberation of Iraq — but we saw them plainly and in the open before as well as after the invasion. The president, the secretary of state, the VP, and many others gave lots of reasons for the invasion of Iraq. There were international legal cases, there were public policy cases, there were national security cases all to be made. And they were. The idea that the press didn’t do its job and was too soft on the president — as McClellan writes — is, frankly, laughable. Raise your hand if you have any evidence that the press was too soft on the administration.
Also, from the WSJ editorial I linked to earlier:
His talking points are merely the well-trod claims that the Administration oversold the evidence about WMD and al Qaeda.

Three independent investigations have looked into these claims, and all of them concluded that political actors did not skew intelligence to sell the war. These include the Senate Intelligence Committee report of 2004, the Robb-Silberman report of 2005, and Britain's Butler report. They explain that U.S. – and all Western – intelligence was mistaken but not distorted. Saddam Hussein himself told U.S. interrogators that he kept the fact that he lacked WMD even from many of his own generals.

If one wants a serious "insider's account" on what happened after 9/11 to bring us into concluding the war against Saddam Hussein which began in 1991, start with the book written by the number 3 civilian war architect in the Pentagon.

Another contrast between the two books? ALL of the revenue to Feith's book is going to charities that help veterans and military families.

Just one more reason to purchase a serious book of history over a frivolous personal gossip memoir, if one only had $30 to slap down on the table.

Previous posts on Douglas Feith:
The New Douglas Feith Book On Iraq

Feith on Iraq: Not a retaliatory response to 9/11
War and Decision

Previous posts on Scott McClellan:
The Rehabilitation Of A Bad Legacy

The McClellan Fiasco Continues

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A President's Best Friend

Friday, May 30, 2008

Is the Islamic world rejecting al-Qaeda theology, thanks to the War in Iraq?

We've often heard critics of the war in Iraq assert that we've diverted attention away from the real war on terror, and need to focus attention on al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan (as if we aren't engaged against al-Qaeda operatives all over the world). Even Presidential candidates think it's a winning statement, to push forth the belief that Iraq is still a disaster, and that we've only succeeded in "emboldening our enemies" and “We are seeing al-Qaeda stronger now than at any time since 2001.” The other criticism is to dismiss the level of influence of al Qaeda in Iraq, because foreign fighters make up a low percentage number of the insurgents.

Yet developments in Iraq have seen not only the success of the Surge, but also a rejection of al-Qaeda by all Iraqis including (and especially by) Sunnis; as well as a rejection of al-Qaeda in the Muslim world, in general. Iraq damaged al Qaeda's image and any prestige they might have commanded, at one point. Al Qaeda knows this. Why doesn't Senator Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Ariana Huffington?

Last year, Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, a popular Saudi Islamic scholar criticized Osama bin Laden who once lionized him.

Mufti Sheikh Abd Al-’Aziz bin Abdallah Aal Al-Sheikh, the highest Islamic religious authority in Saudi Arabia, issued a fatwa prohibiting Saudi youth from engaging in jihad abroad. Tareq Al-Humaid, the editor of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, points out the significance:
"It is true that some of these [young people] have become enslaved by Al-Qaeda and its ideology, and are now beyond hope; however, the importance of the fatwa lies in the impact that it will have on most of the Saudi public, and in particular the fathers and mothers. Its value lies in the fact that it will wrest from the hands of the 'politicized sheikhs' the card that they have been using all this time.
"Where are the moderates?" Mainstream Muslims have been rejecting terrorism and al Qaeda's brand of Islamic ideology, even as we remain suspicious of the sincerity and heart of those who profess to be practitioners of the Islamic faith.

The most recent astonishing and important rejection and condemnation of al Qaeda comes from Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, also known as Dr. Fadl.

Who is Dr. Fadl?

Lawrence Wright, author of the most definitive account of the history of al-Qaeda, The Looming Tower, writes in the New Yorker:
Last May, a fax arrived at the London office of the Arabic newspaper Asharq Al Awsat from a shadowy figure in the radical Islamist movement who went by many names. Born Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, he was the former leader of the Egyptian terrorist group Al Jihad [Egyptian Islamic Jihad], and known to those in the underground mainly as Dr. Fadl. Members of Al Jihad became part of the original core of Al Qaeda; among them was Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s chief lieutenant. Fadl was one of the first members of Al Qaeda’s top council. Twenty years ago, he wrote two of the most important books in modern Islamist discourse; Al Qaeda used them to indoctrinate recruits and justify killing. Now Fadl was announcing a new book, rejecting Al Qaeda’s violence. “We are prohibited from committing aggression, even if the enemies of Islam do that,” Fadl wrote in his fax, which was sent from Tora Prison, in Egypt.

Fadl’s fax confirmed rumors that imprisoned leaders of Al Jihad were part of a trend in which former terrorists renounced violence. His defection posed a terrible threat to the radical Islamists, because he directly challenged their authority. “There is a form of obedience that is greater than the obedience accorded to any leader, namely, obedience to God and His Messenger,” Fadl wrote, claiming that hundreds of Egyptian jihadists from various factions had endorsed his position.
Why my emphases? Because of my recent arguments with fellow war-on-terror conservatives, regarding the nature of Islam, and what approach to use in dealing with a religion of 1.5 billion, that seems to have a serious anger management problem.

Andrew McCarthy, author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad, estimates that perhaps 20% of Muslims are an issue, when it comes to Islamic terror and Islamism. They are a vocal, "dynamic minority", he said yesterday in an interview on the Dennis Prager Show. Most readers find Spencerian agreement with McCarthy in his assessment of the Islamist threat. But I do not think he goes so far as to condemn Islam as a whole, falling into the pitfalls of educated religious bigotry.

Can terrorists be reformed? Yes. Dr. Fadl may still be an Islamist whose values we still differ strongly with; but if he rejects the violence of terrorism and is a legitimate, influential voice for Islamic scholarship, then he is an important chess piece in winning the Long War.

The fact that a major, influential player in the "jihad" movement has now come out in rejection of violence as a method to spreading Islam should be welcomed and encouraged. And he is not alone:
Another important event occurred in October 2007, when Sheikh Abd Al-’Aziz bin Abdallah Aal Al-Sheikh, the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, issued a fatwa prohibiting Saudi youth from engaging in jihad abroad.
Sheikh Salman alAwdah, an influential Saudi cleric whom Mr bin Laden once lionised, wrote an “open letter” condemning Mr bin Laden. “Brother Osama, how much blood has been spilt? How many innocents among children, elderly, the weak, and women have been killed and made homeless in the name of al-Qaeda?” Sheikh Awdah wrote. “The ruin of an entire people, as is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq . . . cannot make Muslims happy.”

If we are going to win the War against Islamic Terror, it will not be by violently eradicating 1.5 billion plus Muslims into extinction, but by converting hearts and minds to reject terrorism; by convincing those who practice Islam that what they have been told by the Zawahiris regarding persecution from the West, is propaganda and lies. al-Qaeda has murdered more Muslims than President George W. Bush; and they have deceived and misled many more.

Islam critics claim that Islam cannot be reformed (unless, of course, it's in the direction of more violence), that it's incompatible with democracy, that there is no such thing as "radical" Islam. But a "pacified" Islam is exactly what was and has been taking place in Muslim countries. Many Muslims have accepted living under secular governments and not Sharia. It is the wahhabists, salafi fundamentalists, and modern "jihad" movement, as instigated by the likes of Zawahiri, Dr. Fadl, and Sayyid Qutb, who wish to derail the secular modernization of the Islamic faith- what they see as the erosion of "true" Islam- with their own backward reformation movement.

But al Qaeda is the enemy of us all, including Islam. it is influential modern works of Islamist scholars, such as Dr. Fadl's " “The Compendium of the Pursuit of Divine Knowledge” as much as anything found in the Koran or Hadith, from which "jihadis" draw their inspiration and motivation. Good, peaceful Muslims also read from the Koran. Not from the interpretive writings on Islam by radicalizers such as Sayyid Qutb and Abdul Qader bin Abdul Aziz (Dr. Fadl's pen name under which he wrote the Compendium used for al Qaeda recruitment).

Today, Dr. Fadl's most recent book "undermined the entire intellectual framework of jihadist warfare.” and is “a trenchant attack on the immoral roots of Al Qaeda’s theology”. And that's a good thing.

There is an ideological/theological split in the "jihad" movement, and we should take advantage of that. Condemning Islam as an evil religion, as some commenters have done on my previous posts of this nature, does nothing to encourage this tearing asunder and fomenting of an ideological "civil war".

If Islam wishes to survive beyond the 21st century, it will not be by embracing the romanticized, revisionist delusions of political Islamic scholars who wish to reform Islam away from secularized compatibility and modernity, and back toward 7th and 12th century intolerability and past glory.

Read the entire Lawrence Wright article. And also Peter Wehner's take on it.

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt
(*UPDATE*: Curt posts part of yesterday's Hewitt interview with Lawrence Wright)

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

Related FA post: CIA says al Qaeda is losing hearts and mind

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

What You Say Can (and Will!) Come Back to Bite You in the Ass

You'd think that after all the controversy that has plagued the Obama campaign in shaking off associations to Reverend Wright, Michael Pfleger would have better sense than to deliver this on Sunday:

You'd think....but they can't help being who they are; because of course, they see nothing wrong with who they are. Why would anyone hold beliefs, they feel are wrong? Yet, here come the apologies [by way of Hot Air]:
Senator Obama:
“As I have traveled this country, I’ve been impressed not by what divides us, but by all that that unites us. That is why I am deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger’s divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn’t reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause,” Obama said in a statement…
Reverend Pfleger:
“I regret the words I chose on Sunday. These words are inconsistent with Senator Obama’s life and message, and I am deeply sorry if they offended Senator Clinton or anyone else who saw them.”
What is so baffling to me, is the lack of sense and judgment.

The deep disappointment (how many more of these "deep disappointments" are we going to have to hear about, before this campaign is through?) and apology are only being delivered because of politics. At least Reverend Wright has the backbone to stand by his beliefs and be himself. So far, no one's claimed the 3-4 minute video excerpt of the sermon has been "taken out of context".

Jack Tapper on Pfleger:

a fiery liberal social activist and a white reverend at an African-American church -- St. Sabina’s Catholic Church on the South Side of Chicago -- is a longtime friend and associate of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, having known him since the presidential hopeful was a community activist. In September, the Obama campaign brought Pfleger to Iowa to host one of several interfaith forums for the campaign.

Their relationship spans decades. Pfleger has given money to Obama's campaigns and Obama as a state legislator directed at least $225,000 towards social programs at St. Sabina's, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Via Huffington Post:

Pfleger, known locally as a community activist and organizer, was arrested in June 2007 with the Rev. Jesse Jackson during a protest outside of a south suburban Chicago gun shop. The criminal trespass charges were later dropped.

He also has hosted Louis Farrakhan, the controversial leader of the Nation of Islam, at St. Sabina and has called him "a gift from God to a sick, sick world."

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What You Say Can (and Will!) Come Back to Bite You in the A$$

"Well, why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner? This is one-and-a-half years after he left the administration. And now, all of a sudden, he’s raising these grave concerns that he claims he had. And I think you have to look at some of the facts. One, he is bringing this up in the heat of a presidential campaign. He has written a book and he certainly wants to go out there and promote that book.
…When someone uses such charged rhetoric that is just not matched by the facts, it's important that we set the record straight. And that's what we're doing. If you look back at his past comments and his past actions, they contradict his current rhetoric. I talked to you all a little bit about that earlier today. Go back and look at exactly what he has said in the past and compare that with what he is saying today."

Who said it? Highlight here: <
Scott McClellan referencing former Bush White House counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke, “Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror,” on March 22, 2004>

Via Flopping Aces

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Paulville, U.S.A. ("Oh, but don't dare call them 'Isolationist'!")

Tina Fineberg, AP

This is no joke, folks (
The goal of it to establish gated communities containing 100% Ron Paul supporters and or people that live by the ideals of freedom and liberty.
They just recently purchased 50 acres of land in west Texas for the first of what they hope are many such "gated communities". Doesn't that just totally reek of awesomeness? Maybe if they get enough "gated communities" going, they can buy up their own country and call it "Paulistine". Whatever happened to those millions of voters, anyway?

Can I call the Paul Bearers a cult, yet for this Jonestown-style venture? Or are the Paulbot cyber-Paulice patrol still prowling Technorati for conservative blogs that dare speak ill and disrespectfully of their Chosen One? I guess this post will be a test to see if the Ronulans still pour out of the woodworks to blather about what the Founding Fathers wanted, blowback, 9/11 was an inside job, how the Ron Paul Revolution will win the Presidency, etc.

One community supporter wants to honor their Constitutional Messiah by erecting a statue:
What would everyone think if we made sure that in the public square there was a majestic statue of Mr. Ron Paul holding a copy of the constitution?
Not all Ron Paul supporters are cult-like Paul Reverists:
I realize you all are talking this movement forward with the best of intentions, but by attaching it to Ron Paul you are hurting his cause. Already he and his supporters are labeled "kooks," and now there's a (nicely done) Web site...nay, entire GATED NEIGHBORHOODS, that support the notion.

Isn't Paul already accused of being an isolationist? Well, we know he's not, but it seems some of his supporters are.

Cutting yourself off from the nation isn't the solution.
Ah....gotta love dissent within the ranks of the Paul Bearers. Ron Paul himself isn't about to isolate himself from sane civilization:

“I don’t think that’s the solution,” said the still-running Republican presidential candidate. “You want to spread out and be as pervasive as possible.”
No please....don't spread out....what happened to isolationism non-interventionism?
But dropping out and creating an isolated community isn’t the answer, says Paul, a congressman from Texas. “You don’t want the ideas to be centered in one place,” he says. “But it shows how desperate people are for freedom.”
Hmm...America's a community....should her ideals be "centered in one place"? Are there many people outside of our "non-gated community (country)" "desperate" for freedom? Yet we should "mind our own business", right?

As they have on the website,

"I am just absolutely convinced that the best formula for giving us peace and preserving the American way of life is freedom, limited government, and minding our own business."

- Ron Paul

I can live with that: them minding their own business.

In other PaulWatch news, the Washington Post, yesterday, reported where some of those donations to the ArPee campaign went:
Ron Paul's Campaign Is a Family Business, FEC Reports Show

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 27, 2008; A03

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) has built a national following largely by preaching an isolationist foreign policy. Stick with your own kind, says the maverick presidential candidate.

And that's more or less what he has been doing over the past few months, putting relatives in a slew of key positions and paying them a total of $169,063, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

Paul's granddaughter Valori Pyeatt helps organize fundraising receptions and has been paid $17,157. Another granddaughter, Laura Paul ($2,724), handles orders for Ron Paul merchandise. Grandson Matthew Pyeatt ($3,251) manages Paul's MySpace profile. Daughter Peggy Paul ($2,224) helps with campaign logistics. The candidate's sons Randall and Robert and his daughter Joy Paul LeBlanc have all been paid for campaign travel and for appearing as surrogates at political events.

Who keeps track of all these finances? Paul's brother and daughter, naturally, who have been paid a combined $62,740 to handle the campaign's accounting.

Campaign aides said they discussed the possibility that involving so many family members could create the impression that nepotism was driving hiring decisions, but ultimately they saw no problem with the practice.

"You always think about those kinds of things," said Jesse Benton, Paul's spokesman and, it just so happens, the fiance of one of the candidate's granddaughters (he has been paid $54,573). "But his family is very important to him. There is something important about having a family element involved in a campaign. Having people around you that you can unconditionally trust."

Paul has received relatively few votes in his insurgent bid for the Republican nomination, but he has attracted an extraordinarily dedicated following that has flooded his campaign coffers with more than $30 million in donations. Even after releasing a video on his Web site in March indicating that he no longer expected to win the Republican nomination, Paul has continued to collect and spend those riches.
Congressman Paul's new book, "The Revolution: A Manifesto," currently ranks number 7 on the NYTimes bestseller list. (I'm sure Scott McClellan's book will push past that- when's the 60 Minute tell-all interview, Scott?)

Maybe when their Dali Bama loses the 2008 Election, Senator Obama's diehard supporters can buy up acres of earth, and live in their own little Obamanation, where they can chant, "Obama...Obama"to their hearts' content. They can live next door to Paulistine, too. Just try not to disturb the Paultards. They're trying to isolate be non-intervened.

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My "Favorite" Martian

Beware of Eco-Geeks Bearing Polarizing Gifts

Michelle Obama- The Bittered Wife

Posted this to FA last week, and forgot to do it here:

To compliment Bill Dupray's two recent posts on Michelle Obama ( here and here), here's Michael Medved's smackdown of a Michelle Obama supporter:

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How Al Gore Almost Stole an Election

"Our sort of motto has been, get the story right, get the facts right, tell it honestly and tell the truth."
-Kevin Spacey, actor portraying Ron Klain (campaign aide to Al Gore and former V.P. chief of staff), commenting about the HBO movie, "Recount"

How convenient, then, that the HBO movie, which debuted last Sunday, has this disclaimer: "based on certain facts". Like the fact that this movie is written by, for, and about Gore-supporting Democrats? No revisionist partisan parsing of the facts present, right? Wrong.

The movie is passing itself off as a docudrama that is supposedly even-handed in its account.

One of the movie's consultants is ABC's Jack Tapper who admits to Washington Post's Howard Kurtz:
the film is "a fictional version of what happened" and "tilts to the left because it's generally told from the point of view of the Democrats."
Entertainment Weekly's Gillian Flynn (by way of NewsBusters):
Recount may not be downright blue, but it's not as purply as it wants to appear. Despite its ''equal time'' approach, Recount is an underdog story, and thus a Democrat story.
A good number of Americans are not aware of the political propaganda and partisan dishonesty that goes into a "docudrama" like this. It has the effect of indoctrinating more and more Americans to the liberal mindset and beliefs, that 2000 was a stolen election and Bush heir to an illegitimate presidency that was handed over to him by the Supreme Court. But as Richard Baehr writes, "the U.S. Supreme Court action probably prevented the theft of the election in Florida from occurring."

President Bush won. So how could he steal what was already his? It was Al Gore and his blitzkrieg of lawyers who attempted to steal the 2000 presidential election, by being selective in their recount methods.
The left likes to say that the United States Supreme Court gave the election to Bush. They did no such thing. What they did was reverse the Florida Supreme Court's effort to keep on counting until Gore won. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Bush v Gore may not have been a model of jurisprudence, but the left also ignores the fact that the decision to over—rule the Florida Supreme Court was not a 5—4 decision dictated by the five conservative members of the Court, but a 7 to 2 decision. Even two liberals on the Court were offended by the machinations of the Florida court and its creation of a chaotic vote counting system for the 'undervotes'.


The US Supreme Court decision over—ruling the Florida Supreme Court had two parts: the first a 7 to 2 vote over—ruling the vote counting system established by the Florida Supreme Court ; the second a 5 to 4 vote, requiring the vote count to be concluded almost immediately so that Florida could participate in the Electoral College process.

Had the second decision been 5 to 4 the other way, it is likely that the Florida count would not have been concluded in time for the state to determine a winner and select a slate of electors to the Electoral College. In that case, one of two scenarios would have played out. One is that the Florida legislature, Republican dominated, would have selected the Bush electors to vote in the Electoral College. Alternatively, no Florida electors would have been selected, and neither Bush nor Gore would have won a majority of the Electoral College vote. In that case, the US House of Representatives, voting by states (as in 1824), would have picked Bush since the GOP controlled more state delegations than the Democrats. So even if the 5—4 portion of the U.S. Supreme Court decision had gone the other way, Bush would still have become our President.
Antonin Scalia on 60 Minutes, April 27, 2008:
"People say that that decision was not based on judicial philosophy but on politics," Stahl asks.

"I say nonsense," Scalia says.

Was it political?

"Gee, I really don’t wanna get into - I mean this is - get over it. It's so old by now. The principal issue in the case, whether the scheme that the Florida Supreme Court had put together violated the federal Constitution, that wasn't even close. The vote was seven to two," Scalia says.

Moreover, he says it was not the court that made this a judicial question.

"It was Al Gore who made it a judicial question. It was he who brought it into the Florida courts. We didn't go looking for trouble. It was he who said, 'I want this to be decided by the courts.' What are we supposed to say? 'Oh, not important enough,'" Scalia jokes.

"It ended up being a political decision" Stahl points out.

"Well you say that. I don't say that," Scalia replies.

"You don’t think it handed the election to George Bush?" Stahl asks.

"Well how does that make it a political decision?" Scalia asks.

"It decided the election," Stahl says.

"If that’s all you mean by it, yes," Scalia says.

"That’s all I mean by it," Stahl says.

"Oh, ok. I suppose it did. Although you should add to that that it would have come out the same way, no matter what," Scalia says.
Analysis from the National Research Center study on Florida Ballot Project comprehensive review, sponsored by major news organizations, found that the selective county by county recount advocated by the Gore lawyers would still have resulted in a Gore defeat and Bush victory.

Every newspaper in Florida did their own little investigation, and concluded that President Bush won the Election.

"African voter disenfranchisement"? Not a single black voter ever came forward with a credible claim, and voter turnout for black Floridians was higher than in previous elections. (*cough*military absentee ballots*cough*)

"Butterfly ballots"? Designed and approved of by Democrats.

Instructions were provided at every polling station in Florida where punch-card ballots were used; so if your chad is hanging or pregnant, take responsibility for the most important decision you're about to cast. Old Soldier said it best:
in regards to voting; where does the government's responsibility end and the voter's responsibility begin? I believe the government has a responsibility to provide a voting process by which a vast majority of the voters can render a lawful vote. I also believe it is encumbant upon the government to institute measures to regulate voting and establish consequences for failure to comply with the laws governing voting. That means that the government should ensure a voter is a citizen who is elligible to vote, is properly registered and renders a vote that complies with the specified requirements. Failure on the part of a voter to render a lawful vote should not become a burden upon the government. To wit, failure to render a lawful vote bears the consequence of not having that vote counted. Every polling place I have ever entered has had election commission oversight and paid helpers to assist the voters in any manner possible to ensure their vote is indeed 'lawful.'
One final sidenote:
About 20% of votes gets thrown out for various reasons in every election and in every state already, right?

Well, Florida was indeed a very, very close race. That being acknowledged, did you know that 4 other states were also within less than half of one per cent in difference? I forget one of them, but three of them were Iowa (I'm pretty sure), Wisconsin, and New Mexico (only 300 votes differentiated Gore and Bush- in Florida it was something like 500 a 500 vote differential). And guess what else? Gore won these 4 other states, no different really than Florida; what if Bush wanted to pull the same stunt as Gore did over Florida? At a certain point, this only hurts us, and one can probably draw questions regarding many elections, tying us up forever.

Further to my point about those states which were close wins for Gore: Florida is worth only 25 electoral votes. These 4 other states were worth 30 each, from what I can recall.
Richard Baehr, makes the same point in his article:
It is also worth noting, that with the exception of Florida, every other state that was decided by less than 1% in the 2000 election went to Gore: New Mexico, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Oregon. These four states combined had 30 Electoral College votes, 5 more than Florida. While there were murky circumstances surrounding the Gore victories in every one of them, the results were not contested by any Bush 'lawyer blitzkrieg' in any of them. In fact, the Democrats know more about winning close federal elections than the Republicans, in recent years. In the past five years, Democrats have won Senate elections in South Dakota, Nevada and Washington State, by an average margin of 0.1% of the total vote cast.
So "stolen election Democrats": Get over it. It was almost 8 years ago. YOUR president and MY president, George W. Bush, will be out of office in 6 months.

But of course, releasing this movie in the middle of a presidential election year is about the future, isn't it? Thanks. It's good to be reminded that if it isn't close, Democrats can't cheat.

In the end, as Republican lawyer, Ben Ginsberg, puts it: "Republicans won the recount. Democrats won the movie."

Enjoy your HBO fantasy movie, and dream on, Democrats!

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Monday, May 26, 2008

A Soldier's Perspective on the G.I. BIlls

CJ's been listening to both sides on both bills floating around Congress. Here's his conclusion:
Soldiers have been asking for expanded benefits for years. We’ve plainly laid out what we want: enough to cover the actual cost of tuition and transferability. Both Webb’s and McCain’s bills bring us a step closer, but Webb’s bill ignores the transferability option and encourages attrition. Approving Webb’s version of the bill without any changes would absolutely kill the non-commissioned officers corps in the military and provide a vaccuum in mid-level experience and leadership. One only has to serve three to 36 months for pete’s sake! It takes at least three years to make a good NCO. McCain’s bill rewards those who remain on active duty for longer periods of time. I think that is smart and rewards the sacrifices of those who remain in service to their country.
Read the whole post.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day Tribute Video (2008)

"A family invited him to dinner. He told us, 'I have no idea what it was that we ate, but it was good.' His heart went out to those people. He had us send 300 soccer balls to Iraq for the kids."
—Joel Ailes , father (LATimes: California's 492 war dead, Iraq and Afghanistan)

Memorial Day isn't just barbecues and 4 day weekends. There's a reason why we are able to enjoy such things; and it has to do with those who are willing to serve and sacrice; who risk all to preserve the freedoms we often take for granted.

Memorial Day Tribute to Fallen Heroes (2007)

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorializing The Miracle Man

"I may no more understand why he left us when he did than why he survived when he did, "
-Lt. Col. Evan Renz, surgeon of Merlin German (read here)

November 15, 1985- April 11, 2008

Merlin's Miracles

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

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Saturday Afternoon Movie Matinee

"Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett (are) second-rate actors, serving as the running dogs of the CIA. We need to deprive these people of the right of entering the country,"
-Andrei Gindos, member of the Russian Communist Party.

My favorite scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark:

At first, I wasn't particularly motivated to go see the new Indiana Jones movie. As I got older, I saw how cartoony it all was (I loved the first movie, but even as a teenager, when Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom came out, the action sequences were so far-fetched, it required a willing suspension of disbelief I just couldn't bring to the table) and it ruined much of the enjoyment.

Plus, I wasn't that interested in seeing an aging Harrison Ford cracking his whip (I thought he was supposed to have gained immortality from The Last Crusade?) for the sake of nostalgia. But then I heard about this:
Russian Communist party members condemned the new Indiana Jones' film on Friday as crude anti-Soviet propaganda that distorted history and called for it to be banned from Russian screens.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull stars Harrison Ford as an archeologist in 1957 competing with an evil KGB agent, played by Cate Blanchett, to find a skull endowed with mystic powers.

"What galls is how together with America we defeated Hitler, and how we sympathized when Bin Laden hit them. But they go ahead and scare kids with Communists. These people have no shame," said Viktor Perov, a Communist Party member in Russia's second city of St Petersburg.

Hmm....were the Russians really "together" with America when it came to Saddam Hussein? And should we still consider Russia "together" with America as we face current dangers, including Islamic terrorism?

"Scare kids with communists"? The Red Scare was real: A conservative estimate of 61 million in Soviet Russia, murdered by communism. Everywhere, around the world, they were testing and probing western resolve; of whether or not America was willing to defend its interests.

Other communists said the generation born after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union were being fed revisionist, Hollywood history. They advocated banning the Indiana Jones outright to prevent "ideological sabotage."

"Our movie-goers are teenagers who are completely unaware of what happened in 1957," St Petersburg Communist Party chief Sergei Malinkovich told Reuters.

"They will go to the cinema and will be sure that in 1957 we made trouble for the United States and almost started a nuclear war."

"It's rubbish ... In 1957 the communists did not run with crystal skulls throughout the U.S. Why should we agree to that sort of lie and let the West trick our youth?"

Vladimir Mukhin, another member of the local Communist Party, said in comments posted on the Internet site that he would ask Russia's Culture Ministry to ban the film for its "anti-Soviet propaganda."

It's a movie. A fantasy-adventure. Anyone who confuses a Steven Spielberg directed Indiana Jones narrative as a good substitute for opening up a history book, needs to have their brain examined.

So yesterday I went to see the movie. I might not have gone to see it, if not for the controversy stirring up my interest.

The action is fit for a cartoon, the plot juvenile. Take it for what it is- escapist entertainment- and you might have a good time. And it just might stimulate some interest in looking at the actual history of crystal skulls....and the communist Soviet Union.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Shades of Jamil Hussein?


Who do you trust to have the story right, the anonymous media robo-calling police sources, or a named Army soldier issuing formal releases?

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Monday, May 19, 2008

All You Ever Really Needed to Learn About Polar Bears and The Endangered Species Act

Why is Hugh Hewitt an authoritarian on the topic? From the first column:
By way of background, I have practiced natural resources law since I left the Reagan Administration in early 1989. Wetlands, jurisdictional waters, and endangered species are my areas of expertise,

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

"There's nothing wrong with the street!"

Why do we need gas tax? There's nothing wrong with the streets:

"Congress can make and remake a lot of laws. They can. But the one law they can't repeal,is the law of supply and demand; but that doesn't stop them from trying."
- Michael Medved on air, May 7, 2008.

Michael Medved Show May 7, 2008:
"...Hillary has talked about, Obama too, that they're going to go ahead and have a FTC investigation of the oil companies with price gouging; this'll fix it all- you just watch: in a couple of weeks, price'll be back down to...what? $1.50 a gallon, you figure? Something like that, the way they should be...right? Of course! It should be that America is spending one-fifth of what the rest of the world spends on oil and gas- why not? The Congress of the United States taking care of the problem...if you believe that they are and that some of these approaches are encouraging, give me a call.

A report in the Wall Street Journal by Stephen Power:
Calls for windfall-profits taxes, investigations of oil-price fixing and punitive actions against oil exporters are flying through the air -- just as they have in almost every decade since the first major oil-price shocks of the mid-1970s.

Tuesday, the price of crude oil settled up $1.87 at $121.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after rising as high as $122.73.

Members of Congress are talking about measures such as blocking arms deals with Saudi Arabia, demanding OPEC's secretary-general make himself available to testify about the bloc's production policies or imposing windfall-profits taxes on oil companies.
This is meaningful stuff, right? If you can explain to me, why any of this would actually lower the price of gas at the pump, I'd love to hear it. To me, it is shameful; it is the most ridiculous example of the "do-something disease": gestural politics that accomplishes nothing at all except making the problem worse, while making the politicians look good; at least for people who don't think about this for more than 10 seconds.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama gave the same kind of approach last night in his victory speech in North Carolina. Barack Obama last night was talking about all the suffering he's seen in this long campaign; and he talked about one particularly unfortunate individual that he encountered in the great state of Pennsylvania:
The man I met in Pennsylvania who lost his job but can't even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one, he can't afford four more years of an energy policy written by the oil companies and for the oil companies, a policy that's not only keeping gas at record prices, but funding both sides of the war on terror and destroying our planet.

He doesn't need four more years of Washington policies that sound good, but don't solve the problem. He needs us to take a permanent holiday from our addiction from oil by making the automakers raise their fuel standards, corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future.

That's the change we need. That's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.


Did you just hear that? And people cheering wildly? Here he is, starting out talking about a guy who can't afford a tank of are any of the things that Barack Obama is talking about here, forcing the automakers to build more fuel-efficient vehicles? If you want a more fuel-efficient vehicle, who's stopping you from buying it? As a matter of fact, nobody! Right now you can read the reports! Everybody out there who is buying new cars is avoiding gas-guzzlers for obvious reasons. There's talk that the price of oil is going to continue going up; and by the way, for those people who say that it's meaningless...the whole John McCain idea of a gas tax holiday...?

Gas taxes, on a tank of gas, are .18¢ a gallon; and the total profit that the oil companies make is .08¢ per dollar;'s about the same. In other words, about as much of what you are paying is going to the federal government in gas tax as is going total to the oil companies in terms of profit. The profit that oil companies make- and the idea that you're going to make it harder for oil companies- Look: This is very basic; and I think it's so basic, that, honestly, I've talked to my kids about it, and kids can definitely understand it- anybody can understand it:

If you want the price of gas to go down, you need to produce more gas; or to consume less of it; or both. Putting extra taxes on oil companies, doesn't produce more gas, does it? It produces less. Why? Because the oil companies have less money to invest in getting the gas out of the ground. If you want to produce more gas, actually, one of the things that is good about rising oil prices- and it's not all bad- is that all of a sudden it becomes more economical to get some of the petroleum that is difficult to get at...and is costly to get at. Suddenly it pencils out. But, anybody believe that somehow, as Barack says, forcing the oil companies to invest in clean energy? The government knows better about how to get more gas out of the ground? Do the oil companies want to get more gas out of the ground? Of course. Why? Because the reason they are making "record profits" is because they are selling more of their oil- that's the same reason prices are high; because we as the world are consuming more. Most of the increase in price it's one thing: The world's biggest country, China, has literally hundreds of millions of people who, in the last couple of years, have begun transforming their lives from bicycles to cars. You don't think it makes a difference? You're talking about a country with one-and-a-half billion people?"

McCain’s Gas-Tax Plan May Be a Clunker, but not as misguided as Hillary Clinton's windfall-profits tax.

(Balance out your reading of that last one, with this.)

Thomas Sowell, being the "admiral of awesome":
Too "Complex"?

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Friday, May 16, 2008

The Compassionate Conservative President

"Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever. And I will carry this. It is my reminder of lives that ended and a task that does not end."
- President Bush in a speech before a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001.

In the Rose Garden a few days later ...
"The American people have got to understand that when I held up that badge, I meant it. This war on terrorism is my primary focus."

President George W. Bush holds the badge of a police officer killed in the September attacks. "And I will carry this," said President Bush during his address to Congress Sept. 20. "It is the police shield of a man named George Howard, who died at the World Trade Center.

In light of the recent criticism regarding President Bush's golfing statement (blogged by Curt, here), I thought I'd type out this excerpt from Robert Draper's "Dead Certain". He was given unprecedented access to key figures in the Bush White House, but certainly doesn't write a pro-Bush narrative. Supporters and detractors can find quite a bit in these pages that they will like and dislike.

Beginning on Chapter 11, Pg 225 of Robert Draper's Dead Certain:
Bush had listened, had professed to understand the consequences. Now he had to live with them. That "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended" was, by 2004, thoroughly beside the point. Far more American troops had been killed since that "Mission Accomplished" moment than before it. The mission- to rid the world of menace in Iraq- was far from accomplished, and the toll it exacted was there for him to see, every time he visited a wounded soldier or the families of the fallen.

No one can force a president to make such visits. But, as Andy Card had warned him, this was part of a commander in chief's job description, and Bush did not run from it. The task became a part of his routine whenever his travels took him near a military hospital. Because such moments couldn't be a perfunctory meet-and-greet, but instead had to last as much as twenty minutes for each family, the visits taxed his schedule. They also sapped Bush of his emotional reserves, such that the staff knew not to schedule a major public event for him afterward. He invariably cried during such encounters; and though, as some staffers would theorize, Bush's ability to emote freely enabled him to carry on untormented, the spectacle of maimed young men and women, and of sobbing mothers, would scar anyone's heart.

Sometimes Card joined his boss; sometimes a warm body from the press shop stood nearby. Joe Hagin nearly always accompanied Bush- though really, this was a lonely moment, the man who sent Americans into harm's way now confronting the grimness of that act. It was hard for others to appreciate this. Later, in the summer of 2004, Bush was conducting a final run-through of his convention speech, in a suite at the Waldorf-Astoria, in the presence of Rice, Karen Hughes, Card, Rove, Gerson, and Ed Gillespie. He came to an emotionally charged part at the end of the speech in which he acknowledged the somberness of these visits: "I've held the children of the fallen who are told their dad or mom is a hero, but would rather just have their mom or dad."

Karen and Rice both began to cry when he read the line- or tried to read it: Bush was starting to cry as well. Gillespie whispered to Gerson, "Do we really have to say this line?"

When Gerson spoke up and said, "Mr. President, it's very important that we say this line to show that we understand what's going on," Bush angrily cut him off.

"We don't have to say this line," he snapped. "I have to say this line."

To the wounded, he asked where they were from and what they liked to do. When it seemed the thing to do, he would crack a joke. Without fail, he thanked them for their service and told them that they made him proud. Often, they told their president that they would like to go back to combat again. Bush would try not to choke up as he indicated that they had already served enough.

To those who had lost a son or a daughter, he could offer no levity. Bush hugged them and wept with them. Occasionally, a family would refuse at the last minute to see the man who had prosecuted this lethal war. Or they would get in his face: "You killed my son! How could you?"

"Your son gave his life for his country," was all he could say in reply. Or: "Your son was a hero."

Far more often, they thanked him: Our son died for something he believed in. And this was both a humbling and an emboldening thing to hear- though perhaps not as much as the most common refrain of all, usually spoken with searing eye contact:

Don't let my son die in vain.
The next paragraphs, to the end of the chapter, covers President Bush's meeting with Staff Sgt. Michael McNaughton from the 769th Engineer Battalion of the Louisiana National Guard, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It's a detailed account. If you don't know who McNaughton is and the story about his meeting with President Bush....well,

It doesn't bother me (as much) that there are those who disagree with President Bush's decisions, judgment, policies; but what does bother me, is the notion that he is an evil, corrupt, uncaring man.

U.S. President George W. Bush tears up during a ceremony to present the Medal of Honor posthumously to Navy SEAL Petty Officer Michael Monsoor, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, April 8, 2008.

One final word (citing from the Huffington Post, of all places):

When the White House called my wife, they said she wasn't allowed to tell even my other son or daughter that we were invited to meet the President. They didn't want the press to know, and said the President didn't want the press to know. If it would have leaked out, we would not have had the meeting."

Which is telling. It belies the complaints of those who think the President has somehow politicized the situation regarding those who have died in Iraq.

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

Related post:
Take Two Conservative Aspirins with that Liberal Kool-Aid, and Call Me in the Morning!

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Politicizing Foreign Policy?!?

“Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”
-President Bush before the Israeli Knesset in a speech to celebrate Israel's 60th Birthday

So what exactly did he say that was so terrible?

The Obama campaign released a statement sharply criticizing Bush for these statements.

“It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack,” it said. “George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the President's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel."

Obama has said several times while campaigning for the Democratic nomination he would meet with “friends and foes” of the United States, a position his rivals, including Hillary Clinton, have scolded him for holding.

“It’s time to end the politics of fear,” is one of Obama’s favorite responses criticisms pertaining to his open negotiation philosophy-- a refrain repeated in his Tuesday statement.

The White House contends the President’s “appeasement” reference was not specifically directed towards Obama. “There are many who have suggested these types of negotiations with people that the president, President Bush, thinks we should not talk to,” White House Press Secretary Dana Perino told reporters in Israel.

“I understand when you’re running for office you think sometimes the world revolves around you” Perino said. “That is not always true and it is not true in this case.”


Newsflash for Senator Obama: President Bush isn't running in '08; here's your political rival.

Here's my favorite part with rousing applause:

"Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it. Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you."

Flopping Aces/Mike's America

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The Unfounded Fear Over "Domestic Spying"

From the Andrew S. Grossman at the Heritage Foundation:

FISA Modernization Is Not About "Warrantless Wiretapping"

And what does any of this post have to do with polar bears? No one understands this better than Hugh Hewitt.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Go Hillary!

Monday, May 12, 2008

In the Land of "Aah's....."

Words Matter

A handwritten Koran is displayed during an exhibition in Malacca, Malaysia January 12, 2008. You Witness News/Aizuddin Saad

This is going to drive many of you nuts (Robert Spencer certainly isn't happy about it....I suppose he doesn't want to change his site's name to Jihadwatch), but....

‘Jihadist’ among words struck from official lexicon

WASHINGTON | Don’t call them jihadists any more.

And don’t call al-Qaida a movement.

The Bush administration has launched a new front in the war on terrorism, this time targeting language.

Federal agencies, including the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, are telling their employees not to describe Islamic extremists as “jihadists” or “mujahideen,” according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Lingo like “Islamo-fascism” is out, too.

The reason: Such words may boost support for radicals among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or by offending moderates.

For example, while Americans may understand “jihad” to mean “holy war,” it is in fact a broader Islamic concept of the struggle to do good, says the guidance prepared for diplomats and other officials tasked with explaining the war on terror to the public. Similarly, “mujahideen,” which means those engaged in jihad, must be seen in its broader context.

For the most part, I think this is definitely a good thing, and progress toward winning hearts and minds, and the war of propaganda.

Amy Proctor was the one who first got me to shift my manner of thinking on the issue of "naming the enemy":
we do a disservice the war on terrorism when we refer to acts of terrorism as Jihad. It is not and in order to isolate the terrorists, we need to refer to what it is: Hirabah.

Jihad means to make an effort to overcome difficulty or to struggle. It includes an internal or personal, social and institutional struggle for justice and against oppression and sin. Jihad can not be used to force people to convert or kill non-Muslims. This is contrary to Islamic law.

Hirabah on the other hand is rebellion and terrorism, considered heresy within Islam. Acts of hirabah are capital crimes in Islam. It contains the principle of Jihad but carries out acts of “persuasion” to meet its objective.

Further on, she writes,

When we properly call terrorism hirabah rather than jihad, we alienate terrorists like al-Qaeda from the Muslim population and marginalize their efforts. In doing so, we show consideration for the Muslim religion, no matter what our personal opinions may be on the religion itself, and persuade good Muslims to support the effort against apostates like Osama bin Laden and the rest.

Calling terrorists “jihadists” may be more en vogue than referring to it as hirabah, but we risk legitimizing the likes of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah in the Islamic world if we refer to their terror as jihad. It’s murder, terrorism and hirabah. This is why the war on terror can be won; Muslims want to stop the assault on their religion as much as the rest of us do.

Amy's husband, who is an Army chaplain, has worked hard toward shifting our lexicon, to win the overall war:

I am active duty US Army. I am a senior noncommissioned officer in the Chaplain Corps and have been working for the last 4 years since returning from OIF on establishing a body of knowledge that will equip commanders in OIF with operationally actionable cultural intelligence.
I was at the MNF-I HQs one week ago. Hopefully my remarks will be afforded a modicum of credibility commensurate with my experience.

1. The greatest buttress against radicalized Islam is support for orthodox expressions of it. Forget an all-out war with Islam; that is as absurd as it is impracticable. I recommend in your pilgrimage towards correct syntax, that you dump the demeaning expression "moderate Muslims". As a lapsed Catholic posted above, he is Catholic in self-description but admittedly a 'moderate' Catholic as described by decisive violation of basic tenets of the orthodox faith. Such 'moderates' add nothing to the Church's mission; in fact, they are scandalizers and stumbling blocks to others seeking the way of salvation. Likewise, "moderate Islam" is inherently troublesome and should be rejected as a creation of the MSM.

2. The next greatest weapon against radicalized Islam is building deep and sincere relations with Muslims. This occurs between neighbors over the backyard fence as much as it does between states. It is difficult to hate the completely humanized "other"; in Iraq, we have achieved monumental inroads simply by sticking by our word and committments with our Muslim friends. Believe me, they know we have to find ways to get along. They were the ones who had bombs dropped on them by concerned Americans. They want to get along at least as much as we say we do. As a Soldier, I can tell you the desire for friendship on both sides is palpable.

3. In American politics, polemical rhetoric is often based on obtuse abstractions and not real relations. If it is a requisite of the right to disown Islam, force the arguments into the concrete as quickly as possible. Ask, does that mean I should hate Abbas or Achmed or Fatima who work downstairs in sales? How exactly should I live out this denunciation of Islam in my own hometown? Realistically, we are bound by the Golden Rule to seek out what is best for the Other, even if he/she is a Muslim. That is best concretized by emplary behavior of our own.

4. The majority of the world's Christians and Muslims concur that both traditions worship the One true God. The Pope prayed in a Mosque recently. 138 Islamic scholars recently reached out to the Roman See. Muslims in Baghdad are pleading for their fellow Arabs who are Christians to return from refuge. Deep and scholarly discussions between the communities of faith are underway all over the world. This is the way that has worked over the centuries. Men of sincere prayer find it difficult to use violence and coercion to persuade a fellow religionist.

5. I would venture that when you peel back the layers from those who advocate denunciation of Islam, you may find either those with no actual religious affiliation or active practice of their own, or, a radicalized Christian sect without a mature position on relations to religionists of non-Christian faiths.

As a Roman Catholic and a member of a professional clergy team, I cannot embrace the tenets of Islam that disagree with Christianity; I CAN, however, embrace my Muslim friends as sincere seekers of God. I can purge the hatred from my own thinking and model the religion that I believe in. At the end of the day, we have no option but to learn to live together in this increasingly flatter, smaller global community.

Master Sergeant John Proctor

More from the AP link:

U.S. officials may be “unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers or spokesmen for ordinary Muslims,” said a Homeland Security report titled "Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims." (Sorry, had to remove the link- it's still supposed to be classified)

“Regarding ‘jihad,’ even if it is accurate to reference the term, it may not be strategic because it glamorizes terrorism, imbues terrorists with religious authority they do not have and damages relations with Muslims around the world,” the report says.

Language is critical in the war on terror, said another document, an internal memo titled “Words that Work and Words that Don’t: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication.”

The memo was approved for diplomatic use this week by the State Department, which plans to distribute a version to all U.S. embassies, officials said.

At least at the top level, it appears to have made an impact. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who once frequently referred to “jihad” in her public remarks, does not appear to have used the word, except when talking about the name of a specific terrorist group, since September.

The memo also draws heavily on the Homeland Security report that examined the way American Muslims reacted to different phrases used by U.S. officials to describe terrorists and recommended ways to improve the message.

Because of religious connotations, that report, released in January and obtained by the AP this week, counseled “caution in using terms such as, ‘jihadist,’ ‘Islamic terrorist,’ ‘Islamist,’ and ‘holy warrior’ as grandiose descriptions.”

“We should not concede the terrorists’ claim that they are legitimate adherents of Islam,” the report said, adding that Osama bin Laden and his adherents fear “irrelevance” more than anything else.

“We must carefully avoid giving bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders the legitimacy they crave, but do not possess, by characterizing them as religious figures, or in terms that may make them seem to be noble in the eyes of some,” it said.

Zawahiri and bin Laden would like nothing better than to galvanize the Islamic world to rise up and join them in their war against the non-Islamic civilizations. Why help them in that, by conceding over to the Islamic terror network, the language of legitimacy?

Advice from the National Counterterrorism Center:

•Don’t use the term “jihadist,” which has broader religious meanings beyond war, or “mujahideen,” which refers to holy warriors.

•Do say “violent extremist” or “terrorist.”

•Don’t use the term “al-Qaida movement,” because it gives al-Qaida political legitimacy.

•Don’t use “Islamo-fascism” and other terms that could cause religious offense.

•Do use the term “totalitarian.”

•Don’t label groups simply as “Muslim.”

•Do use descriptive terms to define how a group fits into society. For example: South Asian youth and Arab opinion leaders.

•Don’t use “caliphate” when explaining al-Qaida’s goals, as this has positive implications.

I do have some mixed feelings here (I abhor political correctness!), as I have and still do, resort to terms like "Islamo-fascists", depending on the context and audience. I understand its usage (not condemning a religion, but specifying a group within that religion), in the context in which many of us make it, along with similar identification of the enemy. I've been reluctant not to include "Islamic" in describing who it is we are fighting. But as the report says, it may be accurate, but not strategic to continue doing so.

At one time, I think it was useful; but now, I think we all know well enough who it is we are fighting, and can move beyond the usage of terms like "Islamo-fascism", "Islamo-Nazism", etc.

I'd be curious to know, however, what Muslim Americans Chertoff met with. That would give me encouragement, or pause...

Hat tip: Bottomline Upfront

Also blogging:
Linguistic Anthropology

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces, and taking it on the chin

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