Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Democrats' Plan for "Real Security" 

Well, thanks to Instapundit and Brian Dunn, I have read the "executive summary" of the Democrats' plan for "Real Security" in its entirety. The meat of it consists of 19 long sentences spread out over two pages. And as I said in my last post, it's all "motherhood." You can read it for yourself here (pdf file).

There is a 123 page version available here (pdf file) which I have merely skimmed through, but based on that quick review it seems to consists of the same 19 long sentences with 121 pages of cover sheets, introductory pages and "backup material". The backup material for each section of the plan is made up of several pages of political rhetoric bashing Bush and the Republicans, followed by several pages of Democratic political puffery glorifying the Democrats' achievements, followed by more GOP and Bush bashing, and then there's a long report from an investigatory group made up of Democratic notables. If there's any additional meat in the long version, it's in those "white papers" but it seemed to me that these reports consisted of a lot of opinion backed up by facts that would mostly be true regardless of which party was in power. I repeat, I only skimmed over the material, so I could be missing something.

In summary, the Democratic plan makes 19 promises, each of which is pretty much a mirror image of what the Bush administration is currently doing, except that the Dems are going to do more of it. If they actually kept all of these promises (some of which are probably impossible to achieve, e.g., screening 100% of cargo containers coming to the US at their point of origin) the costs would far exceed the amounts that those very same Democrats are calling excessive today. I await the Democrats' future annex to their plan, that gives the cost estimates for achieving their goals, and describes where the money is going to come from.

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Democratic Security and Illegal Immigration 

I confess that I have not put in a lot of time studying the Democrats' national security strategy, nor the details of the competing plans to stop the invasion through our southern border. I have, however, tried to pay attention to the talking heads on TV and the newspaper articles on both subjects, and I have formed an impression: as Wally Moore, who was my manager in a job I held a long time ago and far, far away used to say, "Motherhood!"

That is, what the Democrats say about national security and what all politicians say about our illegal immigration problem contain a lot of obvious points that pretty much everyone can agree with, as in, "How can anyone be against motherhood?" (Of course, nowadays we have PETA and Earth First and their ilk, and I'm not sure they're all pro-motherhood.)

Wally's point, applicable here, is "Tell me how you're going to do it." So far I've heard nothing but platitudes from those who oppose Bush and those who oppose the plans currently being batted around in Congress.

I am reminded of the old fable about the mice getting together and agreeing to put a bell on the cat's collar so the cat can't sneak up on them. Everyone thought it was a great idea until one of the mice said, "Now, who's going to do it?"

Until the Dems come up with some details, I'll ignore them as behaving like politicians. As to immigration, believe it or not, the only plan I've heard as an alternative to proposed illegal immigrant legislation that makes any sense (and it makes more sense to me than any of Congress' ideas) is Bill O'Reilly's.I hope I won't get in trouble by reproducing it here:
One, immediately move the National Guard to the border to back up the border patrol. If this is done, there's no need for a $1 billion wall. Illegal crossings would decline drastically.

Two, detain anyone caught trying to cross the border illegally and deport them ASAP. No more catch and release.

Three, inform businesses that hiring illegal workers will lead to expensive fines first time, prison time for employers second time.

Four, allow those illegals already in the USA to register as foreign residents without fear of reprisal. An illegal would have 60 days to do that. Failure to register would be a felony with mandatory prison time.

Five, once the foreign resident is registered, he or she would be issued temporary working papers and would have to pay a $3,000 fine for breaking the immigration law. The money would be deducted from paychecks over a three-year period.

Six, after three years, that foreign resident could apply for citizenship, but such a privilege would not be guaranteed. The applicants would take their place in line behind those who have obeyed the immigration rules.

Seven, a legal guest worker program would be set up to meet the needs of businesses. Foreign countries could send a list of applicants and a pool would be formed.

And finally, any immigrant evading taxes in the USA would be immediately deported.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

IBD: Islam a Religion of Peace? 

Wow! This editorial in Investors Business Daily is going to get a LOT of press in the Blogosphere, especially since Charles Johnson has posted on it.

The piece advises CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) that now is a good time to answer some questions about Islam. Some examples (numbers in parentheses refer to Surahs and verses of the Koran):
Is Islam the only religion with a doctrine, theology and legal system that mandates warfare against unbelievers?

Does Islam advocate expansion by force? And is the final command of jihad, as revealed to Muhammad in the Quran, to conquer the world in the name of Islam (9:29)?

Is Islam the only religion that does not teach the Golden Rule (48:29)? Does the Quran instead teach violence and hatred against non-Muslims, specifically Jews and Christians (5:50)?

Along with Charles, I'm glad that mainstream media (I don't think IBD necessarily qualifies as "lamestream media") is finally asking this kind of quesions. They are pertinent questions, indeed, and ones that non-Muslims absolutely need to know the answers to.

I'm waiting ....

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Thoughts on Immigration Marches 

Watching the accounts on TV over the weekend, and reading the stories today, I think a few points need to be made.

First, nobody who is not a citizen of the United States has a right to enter the country. For the sake of argument, I will concede that there are rational arguments for allowing hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and other nationalities into the country to perform labor for a much lower wage than native-born Americans would insist on. I will also concede that there are rational arguments for keeping such people out of the country. Both of those positions are irrelevant to the point I'm making, which is that the United States government, and only the United States Government, has the authority to determine who will be permitted to enter and who will not, and on what terms. To deny this is to deny that the United States is a nation-state.

Second, only the United States government has the authority to determine what to do with persons who enter the United States in a manner that is not permitted by law. Local governments that develop their own "immigration policy" do so only with the explicit or implicit permission of the United States Government. To the extent that local governments act in contravention of the laws of the United States with respect to immigrants and immigration, they are subject to whatever penalties the law may exact on them.

Third, any person who enters the United States in a manner that is not permitted by law possesses only those rights that the United States Government, acting through the legislature or the federal courts' interpretations of the Constitution, statutes and regulations, elects to confer on them, other than basic human rights such as the right to be treated humanely. Those rights may properly be of lesser scope than the rights possessed by citizens and noncitizens who have entered the country in the manner permitted by law. One right in particular that those here illegally do not possess is the right to vote. Accordingly, the attempt to exert political pressure in the form of mass demonstrations amounts to an effort to bypass the established political process and intimidate the Congress, and perhaps the courts, of the United States.

All that said, it appears to me that the Congress lacks the political will to do what it takes to stop the US illegal immigrant problem, which is to get rid of the magnet of readily available, relatively well-paying jobs. Some employers probably need to go to jail, and I don't think that's about to happen.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds' take is here and, as always, it's well thought out and well expressed.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006


According to al-Reuters, the controversy over Abdul Rahman being subject to beheading for converting to Christianity is the Western equivalent to Muslim rioting over the cartoons published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Not until the third paragraph does the piece by Religion Editor Tom Heneghan acknowledge that there is a difference between rioting and attacking embassies over the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed and sharply worded comments by Western leaders over the potential death penalty faced by Mr. Rahman. But that acknowledgement is grudging at best, as I read it.

So there you have it: at Reuters, cartoons that may or may not insult a faith are morally equivalent to the death penalty for changing one's faith. Cartoons = Death.

I don't know which is worse, the fact that under sharia the penalty for apostasy is death, or the moral bankruptcy of Reuters.

Credit Little Green Footballs for the pointer.

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Yale and the "Taliban Man" 

John Fund has an excellent summary of the Yale/Taliban spokesman controversy in today's Wall Street Journal, which can be accessed online here.

It seems to me that many of our so-called "elite" institutions of higher learning, like Yale and Harvard, have jumped the shark like the New York Times. I have always believed that universities were indeed places where controversial ideas could be aired and debated in a civil manner, without fear of retribution. In too many of today's universities, however, free expression is available only to those adhering to transnational progressivism and similar multi-culti "isms." Along with this pandemic of political correctness there is an appalling lack of morality. Yale, for example, apparently plans to admit into its degree program the infamous Mr. Hashemi, the onetime (and apparently unrepentant) spokesman for the Taliban.

You remember the Taliban, don't you--those who governed Afghanistan according to strict sharia law--who beat women with sticks because they showed too much skin on their hands and wrists--whose penalty for homosexuality consisted of placing the offenders in a ditch and causing a masonry wall to fall on them--who impose the death penalty on Muslims who convert to Christianity.

Anyway, Yale believes it's OK to have Mr. Hashemi on campus, but not ROTC or military recruiters, purportedly because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. (Which obviously must be much worse than execution by brick wall.)

The last paragraph of Fund's essay gets it exactly right:
There is a line beyond which tolerance and political correctness become willful blindness. Eli Muller, a reporter for the Yale Daily News, was stunned back in 2000 when the lies of another Taliban spokesman who visited Yale "went nearly unchallenged." He concluded that the "moral overconfidence of Yale students makes them subject to manipulation by people who are genuinely evil." Today, you can say that about more than just some naïve students. You can add the administrators who abdicated their moral responsibility and admitted Mr. Hashemi.
My 12-year-old is a pretty smart kid--straight As last semester, and she's already accomplished a lot in music and dance. Unless there's a sea change on campus there's no way in hell that Yale will be on the list of colleges for her to consider.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ruin of a Once-Great Newspaper II 

Now the NYT carries a story that the man who it claimed last Saturday (on which I commented here) was the Abu Ghraib prisoner in an infamous photo has admitted that he is not that prisoner. In a separate correction the paper admits that it did an abysmally poor job of fact-checking, and misquoted its sources.

Does anyone still seriously think of the New York Times as "the newspaper of record?" If so, why?

Credit Little Green Footballs for the ponter.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Succinct History of the Modern Middle East 

Jay Tea at Wizbang posts a short but accurate list of several significant points explaining the relationship between Israel, its neighboring nation-states, and the Palestinians. It should be required reading for anyone with an open mind who wants to understand why the Palestinians and Israelis fight like cats and dogs.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Ruin of a Once-Great Newspaper 

Yet another instance of the NYT relying on biased sources for its "news" stories.

Why would a serious journalistic enterprise take the word of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on something like Abu Ghraib without even checking with the Pentagon, which has undoubtedly performed the most comprehensive investigation into the Abu Ghraib matter?

This suggests that the Gray Lady is either (a) no longer a serious journalistic enterprise, or (b) persona non grata at the Pentagon, or both.

I think it's only a matter of time (assuming present management continues in authority) before the NYT morphs into the Weekly World News dressed up.

Credit to Little Green Footballs for the pointer.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Biowarfare's Brave New World 

If you read Instapundit regularly then you already know about this Technology Review article on the possibilities for biowarfare and bioterrorism. It is absolutely required reading. It's long (12 pages) and complex, but well worth the read. It's also the scariest "real world" piece of writing I've seen since Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone," and maybe ever. If you don't have time to read the TR article, at least read the Professor's TCS Daily column on the subject.

For an idea of what they're talking about, after reading the Technology Review piece, read Preston's "The Cobra Event." Then plan on a few sleepless nights.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Global Warming? Maybe, Maybe Not 

Charles Martin at The American Thinker notes that the computer models used to "prove" that global warming exists and is anthropogenic from tree-ring data produce the infamous "hockey stick" graph even when applied to random ("red noise") data. A description of the study that produced these results is here, and is also linked in Martin's post.

Now, I'm no scientist or mathematician, but when random data produce the same conclusion as real-world data when input into a statistical model, it seems to me that maybe, just maybe, the statistical model might have a built-in bias toward producing that result.

I'm not saying that the scientists who developed the statistical climatic models engaged in intellectual fraud. I am saying that anything created by humans, especially a statistical model that purports to reconstruct and/or mimic a system as complex as the earth's climate, quite possibly may contain errors.

At the very least, this development suggests that qualified scientists should conduct a detailed review of the structure and process of the climactic models that produce the "hockey stick" pattern to make sure that the pattern is not an artifact of the models themselves. Until that happens, maybe it would be better to suspend expensive government-funded projects aimed at stopping global warming.

Credit Jeff Goldstein for the pointer.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Double Standards in the Great White North 

The Sheaf, the student newspaper at the University of Saskatchewan, refused to publish the Danish Mohammed cartoons, purportedly because it did not want to offend Muslims. But the paper recently published a cartoon showing Jesus performing oral sex on a pig captioned "Go on, it's OK, it's kosher if you don't swallow. You can read the story here. (Story contains a link to the offensive cartoon.) A staffer for the paper said running the offensive cartoon was "not an editorial decision but a mistake that resulted from a miscommunication." Riiiiiiight.

It's fortunate for The Sheaf and the university that Christians don't react to insults to their faith in the same manner that many Muslims do. If they did, there's a good chance that by now the offices of The Sheaf would have been firebombed and dozens of death threats received by the editors and maybe even the university administration. And there might even have been riots involving many burning cars, and perhaps someone driving through The Bowl in an SUV looking for people to run down.

Credit Bryan Preston at JunkyardBlog for the pointer.

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Academic Logic 

As Arte Johnson used to say on Laugh-In, "Verrrry in-ter-ess-ting." Yale Law School fights tooth and nail (until yesterday) to ban US military recruiters from their campus because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals. At the same time, Yale University regards former Taliban spokesman Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi as a prize catch.

If the US military discovers that one of its members is homosexual, that person is given a discharge and returns to civilian life to live however he or she chooses. If the Taliban discovered that any person was homosexual, that person was either subjected to high-level defenestration (without a net!) or forced to lie in a ditch while a masonry wall was collapsed onto him/her (sort of a medium-tech stoning).

Somehow, in the minds of the Yale academics, the US military's rules are abhorrent and intolerable, while the Taliban is given a pass because Western society has no standing to judge the ethos and mores of another culture. I suppose that makes sense if you believe that logic is merely a societal artifact.

I think it's bullshit. More specifically, it's a sophistic mechanism to allow those pinheads to take inconsistent stands on moral issues without having to explain themselves or experience cognitive dissonance, not to mention guilt.

Cheers to the SCOTUS for injecting a little reality into the ivory tower. It's about time.

Judges, unlike professors, work in the real world, where their reasoning and decisions have real consequences to the parties who come before them. Often the questions on which they must rule are very close, and I suspect that many judges agonize over the effects their decisions will have on the losers. (Since yesterday's decision was 8-0, the Justices evidently didn't think the issue in Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, Inc. was one of those close ones.) I suspect the academics at Yale who see no inconsistency in their positions regarding miltary recruiting and the institution's embracing a Taliban leader don't agonize about much of anything. Except, perhaps, that Bush occupies the White House.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

The Yale Taliban 

John Fund has a piece at OpinionJournal.com (subscription may be required, but it looks like it's in the public part of the site) about Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, the former spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan who is now a student at Yale. Mr. Fund explores the reasoning behind Yale's acceptance of Mr. Rahmatullah as a special student, versus other more deserving people from Afghanistan and other places, interviewing (or attempting to interview) several members of the Yale community. My take: at Yale, it seems "cultural diversity" trumps reason and common sense, not to mention morality.

Here are a couple of my favorite paragraphs:
Having lived overseas as a child and traveled to many developing countries, I am all for students knowing more about the world. But the arguments for accepting Mr. Rahmatullah are surreal. "If we didn't accept him and try to learn from him, how could we say we're this diverse body and institution of higher learning?" freshman Benjamin Gonzalez asked the New York Sun. "If we just dismiss him, what does that say about us?" It may say that moral relativism has such an entrenched hold on campus that some people can no longer make needed distinctions.

Some, though, are more discerning. James Kirchick, a senior who describes himself as a liberal Democrat, is appalled that campus feminists and gays trash American society as intolerant but won't protest now that "an actual, live remnant of one of the most misogynistic and homophobic regimes ever" is in their midst. "They have other concerns, such as single-sex bathrooms and fraternities," he told me.
I read a spy novel a long time ago--I can't remember the author or title--in which one of the characters referred to Yale as "the fool factory." Whether that epithet was appropriate then, I don't know, but it sure looks to me as if it's appropriate today. Go read the whole thing and form your own conclusions.

UPDATE: Captain Ed Morrissey has a much more eloquently written post on this issue.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Civil War? What Civil War? 

Ralph Peters, reporting from Baghdad following a day on patrol with the 1st Platoon of Bravo Battery, 4-320 Field Artillery, doesn't see much evidence of the civil war that the New York Times and others have been whining about.

He notes that most of the Western reporters in Baghdad forego all opportunities to go outside their enclaves for first-person observation, and instead rely on Iraqi stringers to get the stories for them. It didn't take long for the Iraqis to catch on to the "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality, so guess what kind of stories those stringers bring back.

My favorite comment: "I'm just afraid that some of our journalists don't want to know the truth anymore."

I don't know about that, but it's been evident to me for a long time that some of our journalists don't want to report the truth anymore.

Credit Instapundit for the pointer.

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Iranian Nuclear Program 

Iran says it's going to start "large scale" uranium enrichment if it's referred to the UNSC. Are we to infer, therefore, that it will refrain from large scale uranium enrichment if it is not referred to the UNSC?

If you believe that, I've got a heck of a deal for you on some ocean-front property in Des Moines. Or, if you prefer, how about investing in a coal mining project in Hawaii?

UPDATE: And then there's this item about how Iran is bragging that it duped the West.

Credit Little Green Footballs for the pointer.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Worse than Benedict Arnold 

This post at Little Green Footballs illustrates yet again why I think that Jimmy Carter was the worst President in the 20th Century, and the worst former President ever.

This man is literally a walking disaster for the United States. It's a pity we can't do anything to make him shut up.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

See What I Mean? 

San Francisco Supervisors have passed a resolution calling for the impeachment of Pres. Bush.

Thanks to Charles Johnson for the pointer.

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