Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Iowahawk Reveals Durbin Correspondance

From the Desk of Senator Durbin:

Customer Relations Department
United Airlines
Elk Grove Village, IL

Dear Sir or Madam:

In the dark annals of human evil, history has recorded the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocides, and Stalin's mass starvation program. And now, United Airlines flight 671 from Reagan International to Chicago O'Hare on June 3rd, 2005. I know, because I am a survivor of that dark exemplar of man's cruelty to man.

Perhaps I should have known what I was in for when your brusque gate agent refused to issue an upgrade to me for the flight (despite being a Premier/1K member for over 10 years), or when your flight crew Gestapo confiscated my carry on Roll Tote (even though I had nearly fit it into the overhead bin). But the true measure of the horror did not dawn on me until me and my fellow passengers were left taxiing on the O'Hare tarmack for over twenty minutes in the Auschwitzian Airbus A320 cattlecar, in temperatures approaching 85 degrees, not knowing our fates or whether we would make it to our fundraising dinners.

Santayana once said, "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." And I say to you and your fellow United criminals: "never again," unless you credit my account at least 2 flight segments for this travesty.


Senator Richard J. Durbin
Washington, DC

cc: Human Rights Watch
cc: Amnesty International

There are several more outrages well worth reading about. Personally, I'm devoting them to memory in case I'm ever elected to the senate and have to filibuster.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

President Bush's Speech: ABC's Coverage

Well, I now understand one big reason Bush has had a hard time with public opinion the last four years.* A speech is NOT a debate. Having a Democratic senator give a critique and rebuttal before the applause has even died down is NOT being fair and balanced. If you want balanced, get a Democrat and a Republican up to debate the points of the speech after it's over.

In this case, the ABC staff told us what the speech was supposed to be about before Bush was on stage. Then as soon as he finished, they criticized, er, critiqued it, pointing out that the troops were remarkably quiet when Bush entered. Go figure; the troops were quite naturally at attention during Bush's entry. They made a point of noting that the one time Bush was applauded in the middle it was prompted by a White House staffer, and made no comment about the standing ovation the troops gave him at the end. Then Dem. Senator Joseph Biden came on to refute the president's points. Then commentary ended, except on the west coast.

Again, if the Allied media in WWII had acted this way, we would have lost the war. Indeed, if the opposition party (the Republicans in WWII) had acted like the opposition party now, we would have lost the war.


Full text of speech.

Instapundit roundup of comments.

*Yeah, I've been out of the country for seven years. Until now, I've always read the President's speeches.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Monday Roundup

Inakayabanjin tells us about Bjork the Dork, Live 8, and how Europeans are still screwing Africa up.

David Harsanyi isn't on Team Jesus - more like Team Heretic - but he's not happy with the ACLU. Here's a taste:
Last week, a group of Democrats in Congress tried to pass a measure condemning the Air Force Academy for allowing religious proselytizing at the school before the report [on religious discrimination] was released.

In response, an Indiana Republican injected a bit of high drama, contending that "like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians."

Now, describing all Democrats as anti-Christian is about as intelligent as calling all Republicans white Christians.

Yet there are some groups, like Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union, with the help of some Democrats in Congress, that denigrate and undercut religious freedom at every turn.

And if these congressmen were genuinely interested in condemning even the "perception" of religious intolerance or "perceived" bias, they could start in their own backyards.

Last week, for instance, a mock impeachment hearing regarding President Bush (nothing wrong with fantasizing) run by the dependably outlandish Congressman John Conyers featured a bunch of Father Coughlin types like Virginia's Jim Moran.

The meeting was replete with malicious anti-Semitism.

No condemnation.

Bill Roggio at Winds of Change writes:

The brutal acts of violence directed at civilians and Iraqi police is losing favor among some of the members of the Iraqi insurgency. During Operation Matador, we saw examples of the local tribes, some of whom are sympathetic or even participating in the insurgency, rise up to fight the foreign jihadis after their attempts to impose a Taliban-like rule of law in Western Anbar. Today’s New York Times reports further cases of ‘red-on-red’, AKA the enemy fighting amongst themselves.

I could do with a bit more red-on-red action over there.

Mug tip to Instapundit.

Apropos of an earlier post, here's something on the lack of American history knowledge in America:

Ann Applebaum visited the Smithsonian:

Just about the only thing that the Museum of American History does not do, in fact, is teach anyone American history. That is, it doesn't tell the whole American story, or even chunks of the American story, in chronological order, from Washington to Adams to Jefferson, or from Roosevelt to Truman to Eisenhower. When the museum was built in 1964, this sort of thing probably wasn't necessary. But judging from a group of teenagers whom I recently heard lapse into silence when asked if they could identify Lewis and Clark, I suspect it's now very necessary indeed.

Opinion polls bear out my suspicions. According to one poll, more U.S. teenagers can name the Three Stooges than the three branches of government. Even fewer can state the first three words of the Constitution. A San Francisco reporter once did an informal survey of teenagers watching Fourth of July fireworks in a park and found that only half could name the country from which the United States had won its independence. ("Japan or something, China," said one seventh-grader. "Somewhere out there on the other side of the world.") We're not talking about ignorance of semi-obscure facts here: We're talking about ignorance of basic information.

And more:

David Gelernter in the LA Times also:

My son told me about a high school event that (at first) I didn't understand. A girl in his English class praised the Vietnam War-era draft dodgers: "If I'd lived at that time and been drafted," she said, "I would've gone to Canada too."

I thought she was merely endorsing the anti-war position. But my son set me straight. This student actually believed that if she had lived at the time, she might have been drafted. She didn't understand that conscription in the United States has always applied to males only. How could she have known? Our schools teach history ideologically. They teach the message, not the truth. They teach history as if males and females have always played equal roles. They are propaganda machines.

Ignorance of history destroys our judgment. Consider Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), who just compared the Guantanamo Bay detention center to Stalin's gulag and to the death camps of Hitler and Pol Pot — an astonishing, obscene piece of ignorance. Between 15 million and 30 million people died from 1918 through 1956 in the prisons and labor camps of the Soviet gulag. Historian Robert Conquest gives some facts. A prisoner at the Kholodnaya Gora prison had to stuff his ears with bread before sleeping on account of the shrieks of women being interrogated. At the Kolyma in Siberia, inmates labored through 12-hour days in cheap canvas shoes, on almost no food, in temperatures that could go to minus-58. At one camp, 1,300 of 3,000 inmates died in one year.

Mug tip to Instapundit.

And that concludes our round-up this evening. Please tune in for further plagiarism reporting at your local AGIP affiliate. Er, or something.

Monday, June 20, 2005

War on Terrorism Roundup

Anti-Syrian Majority in Lebanese Parliament

Reuters reports that an anti-Syrian bloc has an outright majority of 72 seats out of 128 in the Lebanese parliament.

Hizbollah and allies only won 35 seats.

Good news for the revolution, I think.

Chrenkoff pays tribute to Coalition members.

Powerline talks about torture.

Dr. Demarche is back home and posting. He notes an "I Love Gitmo" campaign.

Jason Van Steenwyk at Countercolumn debunks the 'not enough troops' meme.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Will to Win

Wretchard over at Belmont Club reminds us of The Grave of the Hundred Dead and how the enemy is killing us in the war of ideas:
But if the US has been at pains to avoid the image of ruthlessness, the enemy by contrast has made a special effort to magnify his brutality by attacking mosques, beheading women, mutilating children, etc. often on camera. And the really disappointing thing it is that the intended intimidation works. If George Galloway's standard response to his critics is a lawsuit and radical Islam's first recourse is a fatwa then terror's first answer to insult is always the Grave of a Hundred Dead. Intimidation brings them respect from the very people who style themselves immune to intimidation. It is plain to the lowliest stringer from the most obscure tabloid that to insult America is cheap but to insult the local 'militants' very, very expensive. Kipling's cynical dictum is proven again and the lesson not forgotten.

Austin Bay is reporting from Iraq and gives us his thoughts on the home front:
I find that this return visit to Iraq spurs thoughts of America– of American will to pursue victory. I don’t mean the will of US forces in the field. Wander around with a bunch of Marines for a half hour, spend fifteen minutes with Guardsmen from Idaho, and you will have no doubts about American military capabilities or the troops’ will to win. But our weakness is back home, on the couch, in front of the tv, on the cable squawk shows, on the editorial page of the New York Times, in the political gotcha games of Washington, DC. It seems America wants to get on with its wonderful Electra-Glide life, that September 10 sense of freedom and security, without finishing the job. The military is fighting, the Iraqi people are fighting, but where is the US political class? The Bush Administration has yet to ask the American people –correction, has yet to demand of the American people– the sustained, shared sacrifice it takes to win this long, intricate war of bullets, ballots, and bricks. Bullets go bang, and even CBS understands bullets. Ballots make an impression–in terms of this war’s battlespace, the January Iraqi elections were World War Two’s D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge combined. But the bricks– the building of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the other hard corners where this war is and will be fought– that’s a delicate and decades long challenge. Given the vicious, megalomanical enemy we face, five years, perhaps fifteen years from now occasional bullets and bombs will disrupt the political and economic building. This is the Bush Administration’s biggest strategic mistake– a failure to tap the reservoir of American willingness 9/11 produced.

Both posts are well worth a read. I do disagree with Bay about "perhaps." I think 50 years from now the occasional bullet or bomb will disrupt life in Iraq, just as the occasional bullet, bomb, or aircraft used as a missile has in the US in the last 50. Deep change in any culture is usually measured in generations, not years.

But democracy can survive internal violence. The US survived the Civil War and the assassinations of several presidents and other politicians, as well as riots and domestic terrorism. Throughout, the US has moved overall towards being a better, freer nation. Americans today are freer than we were during WWII. The Patriot Act doesn't come ANYWHERE close to turning back the freedoms we gained after WWII: it doesn't restore the government censorship of media that was common then, it doesn't re-institute anything like the relocation camps Japanese immigrants, their families, and their American descendants were forced into, it doesn't roll back the racial freedoms of blacks, hispanics, etc., etc., etc. The US today is a far better nation in terms of Good and Evil, it is a far freer nation, than the US of 1945. And the US of 1945, though flawed, was a Good nation.

So why even try, if it will take decades? Because violent conflict between the US and terrorist organizations was inevitable. It is the route the terrorists have chosen and pursued for decades, and there was no sign they were going to quit, even when we did everything "right." With eight years of Clintonian "getting along" with the world, of listening to our allies, of giving Saddam yet another chance, of pressuring Israel to give up land and make peace, the attacks against the US were getting more frequent and bloodier and the anti-American rhetoric around the world was increasing. The terrorists were going to carry out their war against the US regardless of what the US did. It was not a choice of war or peace, it was a choice of fighting or surrendering. Being nice doesn't keep the muggers away, and it wasn't going to keep the terrorists away.

But all of this is lost on most Americans today. Americans simply do not know history; the Left encourages us to forget, and the Right does not seem to care to remember. A German officer on the ship I took home asked me if it was worth 1,700 American lives to overthrow Saddam, and I asked him if it was worth more than 200,000 American lives to overthrow Hitler and Tojo. He said you cannot force peace and democracy on a nation at gunpoint, and I said it had worked in Germany and Japan. He said the Arabs were not ready for democracy, and I said they never would be under tyrants like Saddam. He said the US should listen to its allies like France, and I said we had no reason to listen to anyone who had been bought by our enemies. He said there were ways besides war to pressure Saddam, and I said not when your own allies were helping him under the table. He never answered any of my ripostes, but the next day, we had the same discussion over again.

The physical war against terrorism is going well for the Coalition, but the war of ideas, I fear, is slowly being lost. If the Allies' media had acted in WWII as they do now, the Third Reich would be running Europe today, and we wouldn't be worrying about China, we'd be worrying about the growing economic juggernaut of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. I in no way want to see a return to government censorship of media reports, or the refusal to criticize a wartime government that characterized the media of the 1940's. Criticism can be helpful and even patriotic. But I do believe the American Left, including much of the media, has to decide whether the enemy is the Republican Party, which disagrees with them, or the terrorists, who want to destroy America. So far, they seem to have picked the Republicans.


Mug tip for the Austin Bay post to Instapundit.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Taking the Long Way Home

A reader asked, so I thought I might explain a little. There wasn't just one reason I went home. Last year, there was a death in my family, and another family member had a stroke. My job had made me too busy to do the things I went to Japan to do, and I was burned out at work. The re-election of Bush showed me that the loss of faith in America I experienced as a teenager (and then on through the Clinton years) was very possibly unfounded, and the realization that there were tens of millions of American voters I had something in common with helped. Maybe I had lost some faith in America in my youth, but I had never lost my love of America. The opposite of those who felt like fleeing the US after the 2004 election, I felt like I had something to return for. Maybe the dream is not quite lost ...

After seven years in Japan, I had become, to some extent, an outsider back home. In moving back, I wanted some time to think about it all, some kind of emotional space between Japan and Oklahoma. So, I chose to book passage on a container ship carrying cargo between Asia and the US, and then to drive Rt. 66 and I-40 the rest of the way.

My cabin view forward.
My cabin view forward.

The ship was big, but there are much bigger. It took a week and a half, cost just over a grand, including all meals, and deposited me on the pier in Long Beach, California. It was time to write and think a bit, time to learn a bit more about PHP programming, time to learn about different people living a very different life, but it was not the restful time to reflect I had wanted. Most of the conversations on board revolved around politics, and some of the European crew members continually attacked Bush, the neo-cons, America in general, etc., etc., etc., the whole time. It was, overall, a good experience, with lots of interesting talk, and there will be posts from some of the conversations we had, but not today.

Getting back to the US, I rented a car and visited a friend and a relative who live in California, then it was off down old Route 66 for a while. Contrary to the stereotype, there are Country & Western music stations in LA, as well as lots of old rock, which was a great start on the old route. My one real complaint about the drive home was I needed at least twice as long, and I could easily take a month to go LA to OKC, which is just over half of Rt. 66. I wish I could have stopped a lot more and seen a lot more things.

Rt. 66 sign.

Me on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.
On a corner in Winslow, Arizona.
Sadly, no flatbed Fords in sight.

So, what now for the pajama guy? Rest, get used to America again, get a part-time job to pay the bills, work on becoming a free-lance writer. That should keep me busy for a while.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Home Sweet Home

Well, here I am back in the old Indian Territory. It took about 19 days to get here.

On the way, I bounced through Shimonoseki, Pusan, Long Beach, San Diego, and Anaheim.

Then it was on to LA, San Bernadino, Barstow, and Flagstaff, Arizona. What a lovely city in a very beautiful state. Oh, and I didn't forget Winona, I just drove on by it. Then it was Gallup, New Mexico. I saw Amarillo, and after all that, let me tell ya, Oklahoma City is lookin' mighty pretty.

Time to sleep for a few days, remember what my friends and family look like, and begin starting over again.

And time to get caught up on the world. I haven't had much Internet access at all for nearly a month! What have you people done with the planet!?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

June 1 Sitrep

Hi, everyone!

Thanks for stopping by. I'm back in the good ol' US of A, San Diego to be exact.

More to follow in the next couple of days.