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June 12, 2006

Re-Establishing the LRB

After being closed the last several months - more like a year - the Little Red Blog is returning shortly. Older archives will be available in a re-sorted manner. And other features will be added.

All archives listed prior to this entry are from the prior versions of the LRB.

May 23, 2005

Forsaking Stability

Of our greater virtues one must recognize the end to our acceptance of “the soft bigotry of low expectations” as most significant in the world today. After decades of preferring the stability of the autocrats in the Arab world, the terrible attacks of 9/11 and the President’s unwillingness to count all Muslims among the enemies to the U.S., we are in the midst of a spring of possibilities. Fouad Ajami, writing in the Opinion Journal, describes his meeting with Arab men and women filled with hope, a press opening up for the first time to a critical review of Arab culture and politics, and clearly recognizing that the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq led the way to their new hope.

"As I made my way on this Arab journey, I picked up a meditation that Massimo d'Azeglio, a Piedmontese aristocrat who embraced that "springtime" in Europe, offered about his time, which speaks so directly to this Arab time: "The gift of liberty is like that of a horse, handsome, strong, and high-spirited. In some it arouses a wish to ride; in many others, on the contrary, it increases the desire to walk." It would be fair to say that there are many Arabs today keen to walk--frightened as they are by the prospect of the Islamists coming to power and curtailing personal liberties, snuffing out freedoms gained at such great effort and pain. But more Arabs, I hazard to guess, now have the wish to ride. It is a powerful temptation that George W. Bush has brought to their doorstep."

Ajami’s conclusion that while some will accept their new found hope with reserve and a willingness to progress slowly, more will seek the path of haste in their desire to bring the gift of liberty to their children sooner rather than later. Likewise, in our tossing aside the value of stability, we are called to forsake the inclination to judge all Arabs or Muslims as terrorists, enemies of the U.S. or villains waiting on their opportunity to rule with an iron hand.

In this effort, as exemplified by recent comments on this blog, many are thus far incapable of finding a proper balance. One of my personal interests in the War on Terror is in the effort to find metrics for measuring our progress toward victory. As Strategy Page notes in their efforts to do the same, it cannot be done in isolation as events around the world have a significant impact as well, whether in direct conflicts, wars or purely in the realm of diplomacy. As such, we should be prepared to recognize the implications of policy decisions around the world. When we compromise our beliefs to permit WTO membership for a non-democratic state, ignore human rights abuses to avoid potential economic hardship, or acknowledge and accept terrorists as politicians, the Arab people who are now so enthused by the possibility of liberty will recognize the inconsistency. Even if justified by pragmatism, we should recognize that for those with only a hint of liberty knocking at their door, such play is less likely to be understood.

Whether by our valuing liberty above tyranny or the expansion of our own economic interests, we must be willing to forsake stability, risk the turmoil of transition and embrace the potential of others to achieve. In doing so, we tell the Arab hopeful that we will stand by them, should things turn awry, and moreover, we tell the non-Arab that it isn’t by terror alone we are prompted to action… it is by our values.

[Originally posted at The Fourth Rail.]

April 15, 2005

Morays and Morass

Time flies when you ponder such things. Or at least for me it does. Here it is the hour of necessity, or at least when this would have to be delivered for consideration, and I’m only beginning to put keys to fingers. My first inclination is to harken back to the time when I more frequently commented on the absence of moral thought or awareness in our self-governance. Somehow that doesn’t seem right though, at least not for this occasion. Instead, I’ll offer this.

There is a terrible beauty in simplicity. Beauty in the very way the simple reaffirms the nature of our being and the universe. Terrible in the many ways we are blind to the simple. Whether it is our addiction to nuance, our expansive capacity to create conspiracy, or otherwise carnal yearnings of primacy it is evident that the wisdom of years past is seen as but a folly to today’s foolish. In a time when from afar hatred brews to a boil and scalds our very being in a wave of violence unknown before to us, there are those who find fault not in the foaming hatred of the murderous, rather they cry that the murdered were at fault. Fools will be about their folly and stray not from its grip.

Being a nation born of moral virtue and dependent on those very virtues to stand the test of time, we are today in battle to maintain our heritage while proclaiming it anew for friend and former foe. And here at home we know just as well that there are those in our homes, across the street and about town who would rather not hear tell of our sacred honor or the meaning of God’s providence. It is that they’d rather support peace, in all its nuance and variety, than stand firm for or against any act or indignity. It has not always been so, yet it has always been that far too few stand for the virtuous, the moral and the absolute.

For right or wrong, the ideas and values of our hearts are formed with the faith of our forbearers. A Judeo-Christian nation we were. And like we were we must remain a nation of values and morality. Else we fail.

Our political and cultural foes, whose courses are unknown even unto themselves, speak of fear of imposed faith, moral policing, and the establishment of a religious dominion. This while it is their ethos, their acceptance of all forms of behavior, their tolerance of only those who agree, their ridicule of the simple at heart, simple in words or of simple aspirations that tears at the fabric of our nation.

Morays are the bindings of common faith, understanding and purpose that we share aside from our legal bindings. And unfortunately they are less and less availed to those who seek them. On the other hand, the law reaches deeper into our daily lives. The impact is clear. Our character fails as the state takes the lead, our values are worthless when all values are equal, and sadly… the morass of nuance hides the beauty of simple truth.

[This post was prepared for the 2005 EO Symposium (2nd Quarter). The symposium theme is Judeo-Christian Morality in an Ethically Pluralistic Society. Other entries will be listed here as soon as the complete list is available.]

April 1, 2005

Shepherds Lost

While sitting with a determination to write on subjects that have come, shifted, realigned and even come and gone over the past two weeks, when I’ve written little for this space, I have once again been unable to do so. Earlier today I heard that Pope John Paul II had passed away. Within minutes the story was retracted, yet the news that he was close to death has stayed with me. Keep writing I would say, so many significant events have passed and despite their importance I’ve not commented on them. Just keep writing… whether it is Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Ukraine, Sudan or any other part of the world facing the challenge of reform, the terrible weight of bigotry, the unyielding passion of fanaticism, or the struggle to find hope in an increasingly dangerous world, I had something to say. But again, I was unable.

The imminent death of a man of character and influence like few others in our recent history binds my mind and heart just as two weeks ago I was bound by concern for the unheard voice of one soul in Florida. Why is it that distant loss reaches so deep into my heart that breathing becomes a challenge? Just keep writing, even if it has nothing to do with the spread of democracy, I tell myself again. Just keep writing.

I don’t know any more about the passing Pope than you or many others. What I know is that he held firm to his beliefs at a time when the world needed a man willing, able and ready to do just that. Like Ronald Reagan he stood for something and by doing so played a significant part in the ending of the Soviet Union. But many stand for something, that can’t be it. It must be what he stood for. At a time when self supplants selflessness, Pope John Paul II was a selfless servant of his faith and the traditions of the Catholic Church. Had I been a Catholic, perhaps I’d been more able to express the cause of my admiration and respect for the man. I can’t.

All I know is that the sight of this frail man over the last few weeks has wrenched my heart. It is simply a great loss for the world to see him leaving us. A shepherd of men and women of all faiths, standing on a foundation of moral and ethical thought with a depth beyond my capacity is about to leave the flock. Did we learn the value of life, the significance of liberty, the necessity of responsibility or the promise of hope that this shepherd of men so ardently taught? It must be the fear that not enough has been learned and that another of the simple, yet profound, men who stood guard over a flock more concerned with fool and fancy will be lost. Our world is in need of more men with an eye toward good, a forgiving ear, an eloquent and sharp way with words and most of all a love for us all.

March 9, 2005

Pearlstein Deciphering the Stonecipher Decision Wrongly

For many reasons I had not intended to discuss in this space the firing/resignation of Harry Stonecipher, the man brought in to rebuild Boeing’s luster just over a year ago. And then I read what was to be one too many attempts to connect his firing to the conservative or religious right. Steven Pearlstein, of the Washington Post, penned a column entitled - Ethics Pedestal Assures Some Hard Falls. And his title is correct, even an understatement. His thesis is, however, broken. Why, because like much of the legacy media, Mr. Pearlstein apparently couldn’t author this column without an unhealthy dose of politics. Politics that not only made his conclusion wrong, it also showed the thinness of his journalistic objectivity.

Pearlstein begins with a rather funny quip taken from the Wall Street Journal.

A question that will be played out in ethics classes at business schools for years to come is whether Boeing, one of the largest government contractors, struggling to get out from under an ethics cloud, should have fired its married 68-year-old chief executive for carrying on with one of the company's Washington area employees.

Perhaps the best line of the week goes to the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, which noted wryly that if something like this had happened at rival Airbus, the French would have put the fellow up for a bonus.

Pearlstein then explains the two "truths" that the "profound" retort exposes.
First, given the political and legal environment in which the company finds itself, and the prevailing business culture in the United States, the board probably made the "right" decision in demanding Harry Stonecipher's resignation.
When I first read this paragraph, Pearlstein’s decision to place quotation marks around the word right caused a brief pause. Is Pearlstein implying that it was "right" as in the political right or "right" meaning the proper decision, one he would agree with at least. The second truth Mr. Pearlstein recognized cleared things up a bit.
And, second, it's a ridiculous outcome that leaves nobody better off and raises serious questions about that environment and that business culture.
Indeed it does. Pearlstein’s "right" was not agreement or appropriateness. He is implying that it was the political "right." Of course, business executive has affair, gets fired by his employer for affair or through bizarre and convoluted logic gets fired to avoid embarrassing the company, it must be the moral majority reborn as the board of directors.

Ridiculous.

It wasn’t a moral decision to fire Stonecipher, nor was it done to appease the morally inclined government officials who might be offended if, or when, the story got out. The board was acting out of fear, self-loathing, and risk aversion supported by an army of litigious and morally bankrupt attorney’s (or at least morally blinded by their profession) who have all but squashed individual freedom for those employed, particularly high profile employees, by America’s once great businesses.

The problem is that Pearlstein knew this. His comments regarding zero-tolerance and the absence of making a decision on a case-by-case basis prove it. He just couldn’t connect the proverbial dots. Personal responsibility has been abdicated. In the boardroom or the management offices the standard is aligned toward the lawyers advice about potential lawsuits much more so than it is to the ideals of personal accountability or leadership.

Pearlstein continues:

What's most dangerous, however, is the implicit acknowledgment by the board that it is too risky for a company doing business with the government to be run by someone whose personal life might offend the ayatollahs of the religious right.
The "ayatollahs of the religious right" he says. Aside from the clear attempt to paint the Bush administration as similar to the Mullahs in Iran (which is shameful but not my point), this is simply wrong. As is his closing.
You would have thought we might have learned a lesson from the disastrous campaign to impeach a president on morals charges, only to ensnare a speaker-designate of the House. Instead, this same puritan standard now seems to have been extended to the corporate sector.

One of the mistakes of the '90s is that we all put too much stock in the magic power of chief executives. Along with giving them too much authority, attention and money, we also held them to unrealistically high expectations. Harry Stonecipher now joins the list of those who both benefited from that misplaced importance, and were brought down by it.

And there it is. We didn’t learn a lesson after failing to impeach a President, who should have been convicted of perjury, and now we’ve infected the business world with our mean spirited moral and ethical standards. WRONG.

What was learned from the failed impeachment is that personal accountability can be abdicated and nothing will be done about it. The executives Pearlstein describes as having magic power have much less than he attributes to them. The lefts greatest assets, attorneys and judges, have effectively neutered much of the executive sphere, leaving them impotent and incapable of making decisions or holding each other accountable (save of course on matters of P&L). Stonecipher may have acted in a manner inconsistent with the Board's expectation. And accordingly, they have every right to request his resignation. But to pass it off as if it were a moralistic intrusion of the religious right into the boardroom of Boeing is flatly wrong. Had the board been acting morally, they would have determined that Mr. Stonecipher’s relationship was none of their concern, save the use of corporate email, and simply demanded an end to the use of corporate assets for such communication. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a moral issue; it was an issue of risk mitigation and avoidance. And rather than telling them that, Mr. Pearlstein lets his politics guide his response.

February 27, 2005

Ever Hopeful

So many Arabs, and nearly all Arab governments, despise - no loath - no hate Israel. That hatred and only one other thing guide their every move. Power. They act on their hatred of Israel and thirst for power to such a degree as to make even the simplest gesture of cooperation seem significant. Hence we herald the reforming of the Palestinian cabinet as a breakthrough, or the election of Mahmoud Abbas as a step toward peace. Neither accurately, for the true pressure on Israel stems not from the Palestinian’s. It is the Arab neighbors that reflect the great threat, fuel the Palestinian’s arms with hatred, and, most certainly, possess the power to end the war against Israel.

The most meaningful and impressive aspect of the Iraqi election was the willingness of people to vote, despite threats against their lives, to form a democratic government. Their resolve has been met by continued violence and attacks on the Shi’a during a sacred time of remembrance. The enemy, fed and fueled by the powers in Syria, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, has not diminished in their battle for a return of what never was. That idyllic state whereby Islam ruled the hearts of men and governed the government accordingly has never existed. Yet, their romanticized view of the days of the companions, whether Abu Bakr, Umar, ‘Uthman or Ali, serves their thirst for power, and under the banner of Islam gives them righteous authority to attack their brother, neighbor, and friend for choosing instead to believe in the rights of man, to choose his faith, his government, his life’s work, and to live on the merits of his deeds.

While undertaking a study of the Qur’an (as well as the Hadith) some years ago, I was never left with the belief that Islam afforded its believers with the rightful hatred of any man. Like the Torah, and the Bible, it instead called to our higher, and significantly more challenging, character. Perhaps I was mistaken. For the unrelenting hatred espoused in the Middle East leaves little room for doubt. And no room for interpretation. While the Qur’an may state that there is no compulsion in religion, its adherents clearly compel Palestinian violence, terrorism in Iraq and the most immoral governments on this most un-heavenly earth.

Is it possible that peace may someday come to the Middle East? I’m left doubting my optimism, for it has little basis in reason, little supporting historic evidence, and moreover, little support from those whose efforts it will be built upon. Even so, I do remain an optimist.

Ungrounded optimism is foolish. Despite the email or comments of those who assert that that is indeed what I am, I believe that there are grounds for optimism. None are wishful platitudes of humanities goodness. For humanity is not predisposed to goodness, indeed the opposite is true. It is the goodness that men will bring forth, even against their nature that guides my optimism. Having seen the unprecedented voting in Iraq, I believe that there are men of good will, men who identify themselves as Muslim, that are at this very moment bound by their government, hindered by their clergy, and restrained by years of suppression, readying their plans to support freedom in the Middle East.

What prevents them from being heard, from establishing their freedom, is the governments teetering on the thin margin of power that suppresses the free. This, even if in order to hold power over even worse potential tyrants, must change. The challenge being to make such changes in a manner that prevents ideological tyrants from becoming rulers, and ensures that their governments secure their freedom rather than contain it. Is there reason to believe that the governments of the Middle East support such change? Limited evidence at best. Yet even that, is new and inspiring, for if it has reached the level of the leader, the people are most surely readying for their day.

Our nation, without significant aid from Europe’s old allies, our northern neighbor, or multi-national governing bodies has taken the lead in guiding the Middle East toward freedom. In many ways, this is due to the high price we have paid and continue to pay to prevent terrorism. It also stems from the realization that in today’s world, the light of freedom, more than ever before, is both needed and missing. Why others fail to share in the effort can, and will, be argued until the mission is accomplished. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that someone stands against terror, stand for freedom, and acts accordingly. That is our role, and that we do so should breed optimism in us all.

February 18, 2005

Waiting

Today, the eve of Ashoura, has seen a marked increase in the number and scale of attacks by terrorist on the people of Iraq, and particularly on Shi’a Muslims. This is Muslim on Muslim violence and yet, the worldwide Sunni population has not stepped forward to demand it stop, to stand between the terrorist and their intended victims or to support the brave American, Iraqi and allied troops who are doing so.

How long must we wait?

Before I go on, I am aware that there are small groups of Muslims, in the U.S. and abroad, who have spoken out against the terrorists and their tactics. Yet they’ve not taken to the streets, the governments (none democratically elected and representative of their citizenry) have remained silent and absent in Iraq, and no cry or call to admonish their behavior has been made. Is it because they fear being next? Perhaps some do, Faud and company for example, but clearly that isn’t the totality of the reason.

For far to many years the Muslim people have silently and not so silently supported the Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel. Having made the arguments that the murder of Israeli people, attacks on the military, government and civilian targets are warranted and even called for by their faith and its demand for struggle against those who oppose the will of God. This jihad has now been turned against fellow Muslims and the voice of the majority is absent.

So I ask again: How long must we wait?

I believe that we’ll have to wait a very long time. Imams, mullahs and sheikhs around the world have abandoned reason, moral and ethical teachings within the Qur’an, and the real and terrible consequences of sitting in silent support of evil. And in response, that evil now strikes at their own. The streets of the world have been filled with men and women who believed they had been wronged, that injustice was being done, and that their voices must be heard. Whether in protest of war, electoral shenanigans, or political corruption the memories are clear. Yet the last time we recall the Muslims taking to the streets it was in celebration of the worst attack ever on this nation. How many Muslims will die at the hand of terrorist before they see the terrible error of their past and present and take to the streets to demand an end to such acts. How long will Muslim children have to wait before their parents and grandparents demand an end to terror in their names or in the name of their god?

I’m waiting, but not holding my breath.

February 15, 2005

Journey and Course

A national journey is underway. And like any journey, a national journey requires the knowledge of not only where one wants to end up, but also, from what point one begins the journey. Who among us would question that the Iraqi people more than any foreign observer or policy maker knows both the starting point of their journey, and where they would like to be?

Our character at the outset of our nation was set and firm. It had been forged by years of economic repression, religious persecution, and various ignoble attacks on the very nature of those who made the colonies their home. No matter what course of action the crown had taken, the character that had developed within the hearts and minds of the colonial leaders was such that their course could be set not just against the crown, but rather toward their own objective. They knew were they wanted to be and where they were.

The setting of the course within, as seen in the founders of the United States, took place prior to the first efforts at creating a nation. Over the years that have come and gone, many within our borders have lost sight of the necessity for such an internal course setting. They represent a hodgepodge of special interest groups lost but for their singular vision for the issue de jour and as such are bound together wandering toward no particular destination. Thankfully, there are those whose course remains firmly set nearly the same as our founders. They defend the true principles held in the founding documents. And in a similar vane, the people of Iraq are soon to set their course and pass on to their progeny the values for which their course should use as guideposts.

We know little of what the course will hold for Iraq. Its guiding values will most certainly be the creation and extension of their various ethnic and religious heritages into a national heritage. Like our founding fathers, the Iraqi people have known repression in any and all areas of their lives. This too will have an impact on their choice of guiding principles and on their aspirations for untangling the biases that have previously caused dissension between them. And with newfound bearing, the Iraqi’s will set out to become that which they’ve never been.

Of course, there are those who are not yet adjusted to the new reality, or who hold no course settings for which to guide them toward something new, seeking rather to return to the old. They too will be heard. The point is that Iraq’s course is to be determined by the hearts and minds of Iraq’s people, putting their values into action, and setting sail on a course of their choice. And to guide them, the course within. We may not know, or ever understand the destination they chose, who around the world understands the American ideal so well as Americans, but our guiding principles should assure us that it is right and honorable that they are at the helm. Finally.

February 14, 2005

Whether Geo-Green or Not

When looking through the technorati listing of references to Thomas Friedman’s Sunday NY Times column, No Mullah’s Left Behind, I was disappointed to see little refutation of Friedman’s column. And more disappointed to see Glenn Reynolds agreeing with this Friedman statement:

As a geo-green, I believe that combining environmentalism and geopolitics is the most moral and realistic strategy the U.S. could pursue today. Imagine if President Bush used his bully pulpit and political capital to focus the nation on sharply lowering energy consumption and embracing a gasoline tax.
Thankfully, Glenn goes on to suggest that nuclear power plants as a solution. Still, however, he appeared to focus on energy for our cars, he describes the nuclear power plants as a means to producing hydrogen as a replacement fuel for autos. All fine by me, except that the majority of our energy needs aren’t our cars or transportation (35% to 40% of our energy consumption is for transportation, of which almost all is petroleum based). [For stats on U.S. Energy consumption see the Energy Information Administration. - ed.]

Is the objective to reduce our dependence on foreign (read Middle Eastern) oil, or to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels? Or both.

The primary issue I take with Friedman’s suggestion is the gasoline tax as a means to alter behavior. The idea of changing our behavior through taxing the consumption of gasoline is abhorrent to me. The proper means to accomplish the objective of reducing fossil fuel dependence, and the attached relationship to despotic leaders in the Middle East, is through altering our own production capabilities and sources.

We have untapped resources in petroleum and we’ve nearly completely abandoned the use of nuclear energy. If we moved toward greater use of nuclear energy for non-transportation sector supply, the cut in fossil fuel usage would be significant, although, clearly 35 percent or more would remain due to transportation requirements. That component could be reduced through means such as Reynolds’ suggestion of hydrogen-fueled vehicles, but the time, and cost, between that solution and now is significant. The first step has to be opening up ANWR and other domestic sources for petroleum based exploration and production.

Whether geo-green or not, the administration needs to act to cut off U.S. backing of repressive regimes in the Middle East, and further, to create a more independent and viable long term solution to our energy needs. Our fear of nuclear technology, the cost associated with alternative fuels, and the lefts environmentalist ideals all serve as constraints to change rather as proponents of change. Another constraint is the attachment to stability. For years our economic policy has been propped up by the idea that through our continued use of Middle Eastern oil we foster stability in the region. This has to go. Maintaining the stability of despots neither advances the liberty of people around the world, nor does it enhance our security.

February 8, 2005

Serving America

Harking back to the pre-election scare mongering of the left, Southern Conservative asks in this week's Homespun Symposium, do we have the right to insist or expect that there will be no draft to fight the global war on terror? Noting the role the draft played in the first two World Wars, the author then asks, what gives our generation the right to expect to abstain from the same duty our grandfathers and forefathers were called to? These questions leave us to examine the very nature of our beliefs, the extent of them, and our willingness to defend that which we hold dear. For my part, this is an entirely worthwhile effort.

The advent of the all-volunteer service began after the Vietnam War. There was even a time, though short lived, where no registration was required between 1975 and 1980. It abruptly ended with the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. The volunteers have finally brought peace and self-governance to Afghanistan, or at least the beginnings of such.

In 1985, when I decided to join the U.S. Marine Corps, like nearly everyone else I would meet in the service, it was for personal reasons. Not a single reason, and not without the realization that in doing so I, like those I would serve with, either could, or would, be called upon to serve in time of war. When in 1987, as a young Corporal with just over a year of service, General Alfred M. Gray became Commandant of the Marine Corps, replacing the venerable P.X. Kelley, I was reminded, as were all Marines, that we were warriors first, no matter our occupational specialty or MOS. It was a grand time to be a Marine as General Kelley had worked to rebuild the caliber of the Corps, and General Gray would lead the Corps to refocus on what we did best. Or as Paulie once reminded me, the Marines are trained to kill; it’s the Army that is taught to be all you can be.

Being a volunteer, in August of 1991, the following weekend after the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces, I walked into Master Gunnery Sergeant Montoya’s office and declared - if anyone has to go, I want to. The call came, and I did. My second son was born while I was at Ras al-Mishab in Saudi Arabia. And now, another generation of volunteers has removed Saddam from power.

Does this in any way serve as a means to support the idea that an all-volunteer force will forever meet the needs of the nation? No. It is simply a means to clarify prior to my response, that I speak not as someone who has not served nor as someone who’s children may not. I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who serve today. And in all earnestness, on many occasions, long for a way that I too could serve the great cause that they do.

Last November, and before, when political manipulators attempted to sway the vote by suggesting that a draft was in the works if President Bush was reelected, I like many on the right immediately challenged the assertions and noted that it was the left, Charlie Rangel for instance, who was calling for a draft. But that was politics, or so I’m told.

Should a draft be needed, a highly unlikely event during President Bush’s second term, then I, and other libertarian and conservative members of our society will step up to the plate and support its existence, if for no other reason that it is the responsible thing to do. As would liberals, or at least I would hope. We’ve made no argument except the defense of our nation, and when that defense requires more of us than our volunteer forces can provide, we would provide it. Our history has shown this to be among the greatest American traits.

Other Homespun Responses:

Karin Kydland
Southern Conservative
Major Dad 1984
American Warmonger
Being Thomas Luongo
Nixon's Memoirs
Eric's Random Musings
Ogre's Politics and Views
Bunker Mulligan
Carpe Bonum
The Commons at Paulie World

January 29, 2005

To Iraq and Her Friends

The vote in Iraq is nearly 3 hours from beginning. In 14 countries it has begun. There are few things I’d like to offer prior to the elections. To the coalition forces in Iraq, to the men and women who are working to build a free nation, to the citizens voting for a free and democratic nation, to the morally confused media, and finally, to the terrorist who are threatening those who vote, I have a short number of things to share with you.

No matter the nation that sent you, no matter your service, religion, race, or political ideology, I want to thank those who serve in the coalition of the willing. Your efforts are not forgotten. Your sacrifice, and the lives of those who’ve been injured or died beside you, will not be forgotten. What was once a despotic regime of terror is no more. And in its place, the people of Iraq will build a more free and hopeful nation. Thank you.

To the American military who serves in Iraq, or elsewhere, a special thanks, for you are leading the effort to do that which is right and just in defense of your nation, and for those who may not recognize your sacrifice. Thank you.

To the employees and aid workers of all sorts who have taken to the streets of Iraq, your hours of toil, your personal risk, and your desire to be a part of something greater than yourself will not be in vain. You too, have lost friends and coworkers to the hands of villains of the worst kind, and they too are not to be forgotten. I will not, nor will those who stand with me, forget your diligence and perseverance. Thank you.

To the Iraqi voters, I don’t know where to start. You, like the brave men who liberated your nation, are heroes. Vote! Hold your blue tipped index fingers in the sky in defiance and yell to the heavens that you’ve voted. While night envelopes my home and you will be in my prayers; morning on your streets will be a new beginning for you and your nation. And here at home, far from the danger you will face, I will be thankful to those of you who will brave the streets and take what is yours. Take Iraq and make her anew.

To the media… I will not read your headlines, no matter what violence may or may not occur; I will not fall for your condemnations or your dour predictions. I understand that you are supposed to be free and objective. I await evidence of your ability to be.

And finally, to the filth of man, the most abhorrent of all, the supposed holy warriors fighting against the occupiers or the new government, to you I offer but one thing. Be warned. You had the gall to threaten those who vote not out of vice or avarice, but out of duty to build, where there was nothing, something great. You have attacked and killed men, women and children who serve the same god that you claim to serve, but we know better. You serve yourself and none other. Be warned! Our brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are looking for you. They’ll bring you to justice. And long after they’ve gone, the good people of Iraq will recall your warnings, your bombs and your murder, it is you who will perish. The eternal desert of hell will be your home. For Iraq will again rise to be an oasis, a blooming flower for all to see that hope is never to be lost. Not while we remember.

January 25, 2005

Pogrom

Yesterday the United Nations marked the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz with a special commemoration ceremony. Over the last 30 years the U.N. has been seen a progressively becoming more anti-Semitic and the commemoration was an effort to deflect some of that criticism. The same U.N. which still has not determined if genocide is taking place in the Sudan, or defined terrorism due to the unwillingness of Arab and Muslim nations to come to terms with Islamist and Palestinian terror. And then there is the news that a group of Russian lawmakers are attempting to outlaw Jewish religious and ethnic organizations as extremist.

The pogroms of years gone by are quickly forgotten in much of the world where men attribute their woes to those who, for no other reason than being Jewish, are seen as the cause of all ills. Putin, and the Duma, should act immediately to secure the religious freedom of Jews in Russia, or else, the sentiments of a minority, given the inaction of men of good will, will once again have a foothold in a nation known for its history of persecuting Jews. In just the last 130 years, the Russian’s under the Czar, guided by Constantine Pobedonostev, or the Soviet Union, and it’s state sponsored anti-Semitism, the Jews of Russia, and allied states, have been under nearly constant attack.

Pobedonostev advocated that one third of all Jews be converted to Christianity, one third be expelled from Russia, and one third be put to death. Being a Jew in Russia was to be illegal. In the Soviet Union, from its outset, being Jewish was a high risk, even among the non-practicing Jews, three of the five leaders of the Revolution where non-practicing Jews, the Jewish people and Judaism where seen as a threat to the state.

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Today, we fight an islamofascist movement hell-bent on destroying Western civilization, both from within, and from afar. One of the primary characteristics of this movement is its anti-Semitism. And at a time when many of us are concerned that Vladimir Putin has taken steps that limit freedom and public participation in government in Russia, we witness a reminder of the fickle nature of man and his ability to forget the lessons of history. Our silence on the murders in Darfur, the moral ambiguity of the United Nations, and our inability to recognize the nature of islamofascism, whether in the Palestinian territories or Iraq, are not signs that bode well for our ability to recognize the warning signs of a renewal of anti-Semitic movements around the world. Our eyes and ears must remain attuned to the threats within us, just as we are watchful to the threats from abroad. Link via Sherry.

Vox Blogoli v2.1

Hugh has offered yet another opportunity to contribute to the blogosphere’s combined voice through his Vox Blogoli. First, he offers a brief passage from Jonathan Rauch, written for the monthly journal, The Atlantic, and then asks for our commentary, what does it say about the author, The Atlantic, and the left’s understanding of the Christian culture in America. The passage in question follows:

"On balance it is probably healthier if religious conservatives are inside the political system than if they operate as insurgents and provocateurs on the outside. Better they should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics. The same is true of the left. The clashes over civil rights and Vietnam turned into street warfare partly because activists were locked out of their own party establishments and had to fight, literally, to be heard. When Michael Moore receives a hero’s welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around."
I had to read it twice before beginning. Not because it is difficult to understand or a challenge to gain the perspective of the author, but rather because it is so completely and utterly insulting and off the mark.

The publishers of The Atlantic, its editors, its advertisers, all must have the utmost confidence in the continued support of their clearly disturbed readers in order to permit this piece to make it into print. Mr. Rauch has stepped in it. He doesn’t understand the Christian or religious center-right supporters of the Republican Party, and moreover he has taken to the most egregious of insults as an example of his ignorance.

It’s one thing to compare fringe elements of the Democratic Party to perhaps single issue voters within the Republican Party, in this case pro-life voters. Rauch wasn’t going to be satisfied with such a comparison. His choice was to imply that the pro-life conservatives are similar to "insurgents." Insurgents. You know the word, the media’s euphemism for the terrorist in Iraq. If Mr. Rauch’s view is correct, it would stand that the insurgents, or terrorist, in Iraq are merely responding to the failure of the political parties to include them in the platform, conventions and political system. Yes, I see it now, that’s why they’re insurgents.

We choose life. And are included in the party platform to keep us from doing what, supporting candidates that support life but are not part of the party. It isn’t that we are likely to take to the streets and its even less likely that we’ll harm anyone, yet it is that picture that Rauch chooses to paint. He ensures that we recognize his agenda, his malice and his complete disregard for the implications, to us, of his words. Rauch has no idea who or what the center-right or conservative American looks like. He doesn’t know what we believe, or how and why Christian culture is so vastly different from the religious extremes of the Islamist. By comparing pro-life conservative to the murderous thugs, if only in the choice of language, Mr. Rauch has shown his true disdain for the Christian, the Conservative (religious or otherwise) and for the civility of Christian culture in America. This perhaps more than anything shows him to be a part of the left rather than a moderate as he describes himself. He has joined the fringe he describes, such as the leftist protesters who clamor about calling the President a fascist or Nazi, and thusly removing themselves from any serious discussion. Rauch is not in the mainstream, and neither is the Atlantic.

It steams me to no end to read the words of someone so blinded by either ignorance or snobbery. Now how am I to get to sleep? Oh yeah, we won in November, and we win again when the elections take place at the end of the month. Too bad for the insurgents terrorists.

UPDATE: Hugh is interviewing the author, Mr. Rauch, right now. Based on his responses to Hugh, I don’t think he is as far off the range as I’d previously seen him. He is simply squishy and unwilling to accept his own leanings to the left, choosing instead to see himself as moderate where he is not.

After mentioning the LRB on the air, a first, Hugh is trying to show Rauch that, at least through this one paragraph, it appears that he is comparing religious conservatives to the terrorist, and further to the most radical left portions of the Democratic Party. It would be great to see the entire article, and if it isn't made available, a trip to the book store may be in order. I don't want to mis-understand Mr. Rauch, yet, I'm not convinced that he hasn't done exactly what he intended in his rather soft use the language.

UPDATE 2: The full story is now available on Hugh's site. I stand by my previous comments.

January 16, 2005

Promised

If nothing more, David Gelernter’s Commentary column is provocative and challenging. While its titled Americanism -- and Its Enemies, the column serves primarily as a means to present a theory of Americanism as the continuation of Puritanism. The questionable contention is that Americanism is a religion, as is anti-Americanism. It is powerful stuff, as Gelernter states, and no less than G. K. Chesterton said that America is "the nation with the soul of a church." Is this enough?

Clearly not, yet Gelernter moves on as if for no other reason that his stating it, it should be enough. While this may be that no other evidence exists, unlikely, it is more likely that Gelernter recognizes that those who share his view of America, and her place in the world, are likely to share his creedo for Americanism. We may share it, many will, yet we do not all achieve the same understanding from the same basis, as he notes in admitting that those from outside the Judeo-Christian religions are capable of sharing in the beliefs of Americanism, although he states it is harder than most recognize. The reason - Americanism, as he defines it can be found in a creed built upon "one fundamental fact [that] creates two premises that create three conclusions."

The fundamental fact: the Bible is God’s word. Two premises: first, every member of the American community has his own individual dignity, insofar as he deals individually with God; second, the community has a divine mission to all mankind. Three conclusions: every human being everywhere is entitled to freedom, equality, and democracy.
Had Gelernter described Americanism as a value system, a moral belief system, or an ethos, anything short of a religion, much of the challenge would have been alleviated. We would consider how Puritans evolved into the mainstream of America just as did the many other peoples making up the melting pot, and more importantly, we could seek to find the influence of Puritan thought on the fundamental makeup of Americanism. Yet, as a religion, moreover, the religious continuation of Puritanism, Americanism is somehow defunct and unacceptable to many. Perhaps this is because many of those who are advocates of Americanism, even as defined above, are incapable of considering the notion as a religion. To share the conclusions of Gelernter’s Americanism creed, it is not a necessity that we share faith in God, only that we share the belief that in the conclusions and the moral value of Life and Liberty. This is quite different than religious teachings whereby the believer is expected to believe not only the conclusions, but to believe in, if not understand, the genesis of the faith or the source, God.

It was with that clarity, that the founders made the statement in the Declaration of Independence:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
As this statement shows our allegiance to the truths that preceded it, rather than to the government that we are both subject to and participants in.

It would have been grand had Gelernter chosen to examine Americanism and anti-Americanism based on the communicated and un-communicated values associated with both. In lieu of that discussion, we are discussing Americanism as an evolutionary extension of Puritanism. Of course, it is possible that had the column not focused on the religiosity of Americanism; little would have been made of it. As for this blogger, a discussion of our moral foundations, and that of our enemies, is always welcome; as is Americanism, by any definition.

It is arguable that we are hated for the values we hold. The ideals we accept, and in many ways seek to extend to others are foreign and dangerous to many, and in as much so are likely to generate hatred and rivalry on par with religious bigotry. While we did experience the now politically incorrect notion of Manifest Destiny, we are now, even more so, advocates of our ideals beyond our borders. It isn’t that men, Afghan or Zimbabwean, are more entitled to freedom today than in previous generations; it is that we recognize that our continued success as a nation requires that we foster a system of beliefs similar to our own throughout the world. The reason lies in the defense of our ability to live free. As nineteen islamo-fascist have shown us, our world is no longer made safe by distance or lack of armament; our enemies from so far away, and with so little in the form of weaponry are able to inflict immeasurable damage and for this reason, Americanism, religion or not, is spread by word and deed, to all people that they too may see life and liberty as virtues above all others.

Again I would recommend that you visit the Evangelical Outpost and the many fine entries.

November 30, 2004

The Threat

Before attempting to respond to this week’s symposium question, one that strikes a particularly strong cord with those on the right apparently more than those on the left, it is incumbent upon us to review what is at stake. The question this week:

What, in your mind, represents the single greatest long-term threat to the United States of America, and what should be done about it?

The author of the question, limits our discussion to the single greatest threat to the United States of America, and challenges us to offer a solution. Threats to the US come in many forms, from within and without, from direct attack, unintended consequences and subversive undermining, and from the governed and the government. When discussing the threats, current or long-term, our view of what is at stake is reflected by our assessment of the threats. Should we look at the threat from the view of ending our nations existence, there are relatively few threats. Should we instead look at the nature and character of our nation, there are many threats and more significantly, these threats weaken our ability and willingness to recognize and defend ourselves against threats to our very existence.

So the answer was apparent. The threat of single greatest significance must be a threat to the character of the nation and its ideals. If you are so patient, let me add that I’ve included the list of current and possible long-term threats here, should you be interested in it.

Islamo-fascism – the perversion of Islamic thought and doctrine in support of a bigoted, intolerant, arabesque world-view. Primary concerns are the current militant Islamo-fascist of al-Qaeda and associated terrorist organizations, secondary concern is the enormous support of and adherence to the Islamo-fascist view of Islam held throughout the world, and dominant in the Middle East (whether Sunni or Shi’a in inclination). Affiliated issues include the propagation of anti-Semitism or anti-Israeli thought and action, an enormous amount of propaganda and a willingness to accept lies and conspiracies as truth, an inability or unwillingness to permit cultural assimilation, and a birth rate far exceeding European and North American non-Hispanic growth rates.

Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorism – the spread of nuclear weapons and technology to unstable, rogue and hostile nations possibly willing to aid terrorist in acquiring them or incapable of adequately securing them.

China – the increased economic and military reach of China and their attempt to construct a Chinese hegemony in Asia and beyond as a counter-American force in the world.

Indo-Pakistani belligerence – two nuclear capable nations with a breadth of immoral and unjust hatred and bigotry for the other. Socialist/Communist ties and the general inability of each state to extend liberty to their citizens creates the greater incentive for public dissatisfaction and instability.

Iran – essentially a theocratic oligarchy of Shi’a Islamo-fascist. The gravest threat here is the development of nuclear weapons and technology, the support for terrorist outside Iran and the open hostility towards Israel and the US.

Middle Eastern Kings and Emirs – the kingdoms and emirates of the Middle East have used islamo-fascist thought as a means to control their populations and are limited in their ability to reform out of fear of a true islamo-fascist take over as in Iran.

European Socialism – primarily in Western Europe, unlike the firm opposition to Communism, their Socialism has gained support over the years and influences all aspect their lifestyles, thought and culture.

Russia – Vladimir Putin and other remnants of the former Soviet Union continue to show a return to Soviet styled governance rather than encouraging Liberty and fighting the corruption that followed the fall of the USSR through rule of law and vigilant economic and intellectual openness.

Of course, there are other risks and areas of concern.

The single greatest threat to the United States comes from within. Not just within the nation, but within each of its citizens. As noted in a previous post, the course within is the most significant and it is measured by our understanding, acceptance and acting on a moral basis. Some respondents to the question will make the issue a religious issue, a possible cause for the reactionary steps of those attacking the foundation of our nation today; others will find a particular symptom of our weakened moral state and attribute the danger to it. We might instead seek to prevent the disease itself from further spread to future generations and to cure it among the many (millions) currently afflicted.

In a post on the danger of moral ambivalence, and others, we’ve noted that one must recognize that while religion is often a precursor to our understanding of moral or ethical issues, as a nation we must resist the religious argument as a means for establishing rules of governance. We have the moral truths of our unalienable rights, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, and upon these we should be able to debate and determine the proper course of governance for a strong and moral people. The trouble, of course, is when we are no longer a moral people, capable of living up to the responsibilities associated with Liberty. The danger lies therein.

The larger the role our government, the federal government in particular, plays in our lives, the less we as a people are responsible to each other and to our progeny for our decisions and actions. Federal activism in education, health, social character and what should be state or local issues remains not only a symptom of our failing moral compass but a cause for its further decay. The solution is to aim for a return to the federalist approach of our founders and to re-establish the sovereignty of the state, the community and the family. The good news is that while we are falling toward complete moral irrelevance and the loss of the most basic of truths, we have far to fall before hitting ground, and the parachute, our Constitution, remains as a means to recover.

Other Homespun Symposium Responses

A Physicist's Perspective
Bunker Mulligan
Bill's Big Bloviating Blog
Ogre's Politics and Views
Mud and Phud
The Commons at Paulie World
The Terriorists
The Redhunter
Never Sway
Mad Poets Anonymous
Considerettes
In Search of Utopia
Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates

Addendum: We are, whether perilously or not may be debated, divided in our understanding of the nature of being American, of being a free people, and of the nature of our government’s responsibilities to us as citizens. We may, or rather will, debate, on many occasions, the extent and nature of the divide in our nation. Those who see a divide may lament its existence, while others likewise seeing it, will see it as a sign of our health and prosperity. Partisan we are, some by reason and principle, others for reasons neither they nor their counterparts can discern. In the end, the truth of the divide may be seen not by our debate or acknowledgement of its existence, but by our vocal and active support for altering the direction of the nation, whether our party, or the closest in similarity, is in power or not.

November 5, 2004

The Counsel of the Citizens

In their post-election anguish, many on the left and extreme left have shown both their disdain for the average American as well as their more troubling disdain for America. We must look no further than the editorials, essays and commentaries of the blogs, magazines and newspapers to see it. In exposing their scurrilous vitriol the left is determined, even if unknowingly, to slide further from the realm of influence and toward a seat alongside the openly socialist, communist, neo-nazi, or Aryan militiamen watching but not participating in the governance of the nation. Some will inevitable believe that it is their rightful position in obscurity. It isn’t so.

One of the greatest benefits of living in the new media, in as much as the internet and the blogosphere are concerned, is the ability of the everyday citizen to offer opinions, counsel and commentary on the issues before our leaders throughout the election cycle and beyond. In making derisive and inflammatory comments beyond the realm of reason, many Democrats have essential made their voice less likely to be heard. We should not celebrate this, as there are many issues before us that justly need the voice of both the center-left and center-right to be heard. The further loss of the left of center voices will not prevent the resolution of the issues by any means; it simply leaves many who had been spoken for by the left no longer with a reasoned voice in the chamber of counsel.

The proper course for those on the left, just as it is for those on the right and in the center, is to seek and advance the voices which best reflect their beliefs and values to the largest possible audience. There was a time when the religious right held men such as Reverends Falwell and Robertson up as their voices. Both men lost support and influence as they lost sight of the nation’s guiding principles and pressed for their personal and religious ideals to be those of the nation. Many on the religious right now will readily admit that while they may still hold their religious beliefs, they are unwilling to follow their political views. The black or African-American community has shown a similar response to Reverends Jackson and Sharpton. Perhaps to an even greater extent as both men have failed by taking positions naturally opposed to the values of the faith of those they once held sway.

We all have at our means now the ability to be self-appointed counsel to the political leaders of our nation. In addition, our counsel is shared among the many seeking to further understand their views or to find truth in a world filled with non-sense, whimsy and vice. It is striking that so many would take for granted the liberty of this nation, the technology behind our communications, and the willingness of so many to take the time to read their words only to repay them all by offering abuse of truth, revisionist histories and inciting outright disregard for the very foundation which permits their insolence.

It remains to be seen who among the many self-appointed leaders of the left today are capable of maintaining civil discourse and advancing their ideas in government. What we do know is that many, who are now lashing out, may be gaining a name for themselves and a sense of fame, but fame without excellence, good works, and values often comes as infamy. Time alone will tell. What is certain is that while no one voice is particularly likely to be heard, the ramifications of spreading truth or untruth and freeing those willing to do likewise are always heard. So how will the left respond in the coming days? And how will you?

November 4, 2004

To Unite the Divided

One of the most significant challenges of leadership, particularly in the political arena, is to advance an agenda beyond those who without invitation offer agreement and bring forth those who have professed disagreement or divergent views. This is the challenge before the newly re-elected President not, the commonly called for, reaching out to the opposition to close the divide. One of the greatest factors in the success of the U.S. over the last 100 years is our willingness to stand together against the odds and in the face of danger. We are not the lone super-power in the world because we slid toward the communist, socialist or fascist ideologies of our enemies. No, we defeated them in the arena of ideas, and we defeated them both politically through strategic and military efforts. Why then does the press clamor for the President to close the divide between in this nation by working on the agenda of the opposition party?

As is far too often the case, the call of the press for the President to appeal to the left, to work with the Democrats in Congress, is self-serving and not in the interest of the nation. We have seen, in this election, the vested interest of the media and their desire to see the left take power in this country. Their incessant adherence to the micro issues before our nation, rather than to the macro issues, shows not their desire for ratings but rather their affliction or affiliation with the same micro view the left subscribes to. The people of the nation have elected a man not beholden to those views and capable of eliminating the alligators by clearing the swamp.

President Bush is not the cause of the divide nor is he the cure. The media and the punditry may spend the next four years describing the divide and how he has failed to move toward the middle. And in this space, and many like it, we will applaud his convictions and his willingness to act thereupon. In addition, we will continue to seek those who today hold divergent views, whether by worldview, faith, political ideology or misguided compassion, and attempt to bring them back into the political mainstream. The alternative they face is to follow the left as it scampers further from the majority and toward political insignificance within their own country.

In the future, we should continue, as the President will, to stress the moral and uplifting significance of liberty for Americans and to share these ideals with our neighbors both in the U.S. and abroad. Whether it be tax policy, property rights, foreign affairs or war, the central themes remain the same. Our government is to provide for the defense of our liberties, not to constrain them, and we, Americans, should seek an understanding of the rightful place of government in our lives and the merit of personal virtue despite the liberty to live in excess and vice. With an understanding of these ideals, we are not only more capable of divergent ideologies, we are capable of shared ideologies.

October 20, 2004

A Divided World | A Divided Nation

It appears the entire world has an opinion, or a candidate, in the race for the White House. This is not by chance. A straightforward analysis of the world today reflects that the world is divided sharply, just as this nation is, hence the willingness of political leaders from around the world to state their beliefs about the proper man for the Oval Office. We are apt to pin the divide both at home and abroad on one issue. When we do so, we are wrong.

Foremost among the commonlly recognized divides is the Global War on Terror or the Iraqi campaign in particular. However, the greater divides have led to the GWOT divide, just as they’ve led to the divide of Israel and the Palestinians. The greater divides are more esoteric to some, and unmentionable to others. They include issues such as virtue or vice, excellence or mediocrity, man or mankind and individual liberty or societal equity. Do all people or nations who fall on one side or the other of any particular divide see things alike? Of course not, yet those who follow the general path of opposition to the war also tend to be of the opposition in each of the other areas.

The divided world arises from several issues. The most commonly discussed is, as noted above, the Global War on Terror or the removal of Saddam Hussein from Iraq and the ensuing effort to build a free and democratic Iraq. In addition we are divided by our very nature as a society from much of the world, this divide is between virtue and vice. Indeed, the U.S., a nation where most any vice can be found, stands as the beacon of virtue, while the defenders of the most terrible of vices stand against us. The world is also divided by its expectations for its people and their fulfillment. Here we see excellence against mediocrity. And of course, fueling each of these great divides, the churning battle between liberty and socialism.

While we might enjoy an exploration of how we came to this divide, our current attention must be the battle at hand. The fronts in the undeclared war of liberty and socialism are many, so many that we are each involved in not just one, the personal battle to elevate ourselves to the most noble of human characteristics, rather we are involved, knowingly or not, in a majority of them. Thankfully so, as our votes are a testament to our stand in this war.

In the United States, the most significant of the battles is taking place. It isn’t the most significant because the writer of this blog lives in the U.S., but rather because the U.S. is the spearhead of the defense of liberty, even while the war wages on within the U.S. President Bush, his supporters, and like-minded people around the world, are the leading proponents for the liberty of man over the limitations of societal whimsy. The President represents a belief that the individual determines his success or failure not the government or the collective view its citizens. He espouses entrepreneurial effort, a disciplined work ethic, self-reliance and a value system that honors rather than limits man’s capacity to succeed. The Senator from Massachusetts offers the more globally prevalent, socialist inspired view which has led to the decline of Western European influence, economic stagnation, moral ambivalence and stirred the more base nature of man to prominence and broad acceptance.

In Europe and the U.N., the war also has many fronts as the French, German and new Spanish governments represent the Islamophobic Socialist for Appeasement, while the recently liberated, and those holding any remnants of moral clarity remain staunchly supportive of the U.S. and of liberty. The much-maligned Coalition of the Willing is comprised not of traditional Allies of the U.S. rather it is comprised of the few who remain true to the cause of liberty, as many former allies were not so much advocates of liberty as they were self-serving tag-a-longs while the threat of the Soviet Union stood at their doorstep. What we’ve seen in recent months is that the much larger Coalition of the Coerced, Corrupt and Condemned will do or say anything to prevent the recognition of their money trial to terrorist, while at home they take measures to deny religious freedoms, constrain individual rights and maintain power within their governments. The French, builders of the Statue of Liberty, are expelling children who wear religious garments to school, and are unwilling to come to the defense of the people of Iraq fighting terrorist in their nation. The fear of Islamic terror has blinded them to their own hypocrisy, just as their greed blinded them to the moral injustices of their support for Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat, Syria, and the Sudan. They have become default leaders of the Axis of Ambiguity, soon to be the Axis of the Irrelevant.

When we re-elect President Bush, we are sending a signal to the world that the U.S. is not about to cede our rightful place as leaders of the free world. The task afterwards will be to continue to develop new allies in the lands once occupied by our enemies, to stand resolute, when the U.N. will not, and to work to defend liberty at home and in our enemy’s backyard. The U.S. has a noble calling, let us answer it well.

October 19, 2004

Answering Neu

Just in case you don’t know I will let you in on a not so well kept secret, we are at war. Not a single day since September 11, 2001 have I doubted it or forgotten it. It sorrows me that I didn’t know prior to that horrible day. I had reason to know, but I did not permit myself to see it as such. In a way, I was much like Senator Pander; I convinced myself that terror and terrorists were a nuisance. With the knowledge that our political, intelligence, military and law enforcement communities were on the case, I slept well and believed the matter to be under control. As we know now, it wasn’t.

The single greatest factor to our winning the global war on terror will not be our destruction of their ability to commit acts of terror, but the removal of their desire, will and belief that terror is an alternative, or more properly said, that terror is necessary. There are voices on occasion in the Arab world that cry out against terrorist and terrorism. Our military forces in Iraq have met many who understand and appreciate our role in Iraq as that of liberator rather than occupier. Yet I believe that too many retain the inability to see it.

The most popular story emailed from the al-Jazeera website is described as a look into the political roots of American insecurity. This is not by chance. It is a symptom of the plague of amoral at best or immoral ideological views held by Arab and Muslim men. While some attribute the problem to Arab identity, legitimacy and authority, or lack thereof, the majority continue to attribute the problem to the policies of the U.S. and primary among those our policies with regard to Israel.

The reporter points to Richard Neu’s words in a report from the RAND Corporation. Neu says "Understanding the root causes of Islamic anti-Americanism and crafting policies to discourage its violent manifestations will require consideration of at least seven fundamental questions".

As some may say is always the case, I have an opinion and here are my thoughts regarding each question (the questions are quoted for your easy reference).

"1. How extensive is anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world? Is a proclivity toward anti-American violence characteristic of only isolated rogue groups that might, at least in theory, be hunted down and destroyed? Or are such sentiments widespread in the Muslim world, requiring a broad campaign of action and public diplomacy to win over hearts and minds?"
1. The extent of anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world is greater than represented by terrorist and should not be seen as a direct indicator of the size or scope of terror organizations, just as in the U.S., or Europe, anti-American sentiment does not equate to terrorist. In addition, it should not be the determining factor in the tactics used to combat terror, nor in the strategy employed to defeat the ideology that spews forth terrorists.
"2. Too much modernity, or not enough? Some writers have focused attention on the disappointments and humiliations suffered by Muslims—and especially Arabs—in recent years. Many Muslims recognize that something has gone wrong with their once-proud and once-successful culture. And an increasingly strident debate has sprung up about the causes of recent impotence and dysfunction. Often, this debate pits Western-oriented modernizers against Islamic fundamentalists who seek closer adherence to traditional Muslim principles. How much of what is manifested as rage against America grows out of a desire to recapture past Arabic and Islamic glory? Can Americans help to reconcile Western modernity with Muslim tradition and achievement?"
2. While we look to tomorrow, to a brighter future, to opportunity and the fulfillment of dreams, the Arab and Muslim world looks to the past and seeks a return of their romanticized glory days. We may play a significant role in the reversal by bringing liberty to the Arab world, while respecting the traditional social morays of the religion. The greater task will be for the Muslim cleric to alter the methods of both education with regard to their faith and the means by which men are valued in their society. Our churches and synagogues teach the moral lessons of Judeo-Christian heritage, while in the mosque, the Khutbah states without equivocation the expected behavior of a Muslim. If you have submitted to God, Allah in this case, are you seeking the moral lessons of Islam, or rather the direct law (as seen in Fiqh or Jurisprudence) and guidance of personal, business and state behavior.
"3. Are American values a threat? In many eyes—and not just in the Muslim world—America represents an aggressive manifestation of a particular set of political values: democracy, economic liberalism, individual rights and responsibilities, strict separation of religion and governance, and a willingness to question established beliefs and practices. More invasive may be American popular culture with its secularism, consumerism, promiscuity, freedom for women, and suspicion of authority. America's dominance in the modern world makes American values impossible to ignore. Can modernist American values and traditional Muslim values coexist? Or are Muslim fundamentalists correct that the dominance of American values poses an existential threat to Muslim societies? We cannot, of course, change our values. Can we convince Muslims that our values pose no threat?"
3. American values and the traditional Muslim values can coexist, with one very significant caveat. The traditional Muslim must broaden their values to include liberty, remembering that their can be no compulsion in religion, seeing the broader value of individuals choosing to live righteously in a world of unrighteousness. Are we capable of convincing Muslims of the value of liberty? No. However, that will come from within as those who experience liberty, and the freedom to misbehave, chooses instead to live a life within the framework of traditional Islam.
"4. Does poverty breed terrorism? Not all those who wish to harm Americans come from the ranks of the poor, the unemployed, or the uneducated. Yet it is hard to dismiss the hypothesis that forced idleness, little or no hope for a materially better future, and the sense of impotence that comes from deprivation will breed at least sympathy for those who attack the richest and most powerful country in the world, a country whose wealth and power depend crucially on energy resources derived from the Muslim world. Can economic development and poverty reduction decrease support for terrorists?"
4. I do not believe that poverty creates terrorism, however, I do believe that economic opportunity and a political voice will impact the ability to recruit and develop terrorist removing the barriers that create the current captive audience.
"5. Is it the company we keep? Some Muslims find themselves estranged from their own governments, which they see as corrupt, oppressing their own peoples, and selling out to false Western ideals. U.S. support for these regimes is sometimes seen as a cynical exchange for access to energy resources and military basing rights. To what extent does anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world reflect not a rejection of American values and policies but outrage at American support for regimes of dubious competence or legitimacy? Can we—should we—push these governments toward effective reform?"
5. We not only should but we must push for reform in the governments of the Middle East. It would be hypocritical and immoral for us to state the failings of those governments and the impact they have on repressing liberty within the Muslim world, and do nothing to change the situation. In Saudi Arabia for instance, the Wahabi, and for that matter many who do not consider themselves Wahabi or Salafi, regularly ridicule the Royal family’s hypocrisy as they proclaim to be keeper of the two holies and practice the most repugnant of behaviors usually associated with American liberal excess. This is by no means a call for overthrow, but rather a statement that we should press for a greater liberalization across the society and an increase in both individual liberty and participation within the government. Some of which has begun.
"6. Can Americans be secure if Israelis and Palestinians are not? Certainly, the continuing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis complicates relations between America and the Muslim world. If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict persists, must America remain a target for terror? And if this conflict were somehow resolved, how much Muslim antipathy toward America would still remain?"
6. The use of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict by Muslims, and yes it is use, abuse, and outright untruth, will remain a point of contention and inflame anti-American sentiment. The change necessary, toward truth, acceptance and liberty, among the Arab and Muslim states and their citizens will not occur overnight. The political forces of each Arab nation play a significant role in fanning the fires of resentment. Only when they accept Israel, will the citizens begin to erase the now state and religious sponsored bigotry prevalent in the Middle East.
"7. How can we fight terrorists and still win friends? Military action against terrorists, pressure on foreign governments to round up suspected terrorists and their sympathizers, and more aggressive efforts to defend Americans against terrorism will inevitably harden some hearts against America and create propaganda opportunities for those who portray America as unjust, biased, or evil. Indeed, suspicion of—if not hatred for—the United States in the Muslim world may well have increased in the past year. How can we pursue the necessary war against terrorists without losing the broader struggle against anti-American sentiment?"
7. The question presumes that the cause of terrorism is our action. No matter the propaganda efforts, our pursuit of a just cause must not waiver. Only our strident pursuit of terror, while preserving the lives of the innocent and providing liberty where none had been will close the doors to those who recruit new terrorist. As to the anti-American sentiment, it is a self-imposed prison and one that each Arab or Muslim possesses the key to.

As always, it is possible that I am completely off the mark, and while I’d like to write much further on each of the seven questions, I’ll refrain for now. Instead, I offer a summary of the theme of my opinion on the issue in general. It is the Arab and Muslim world that has failed to fight terrorism, so now we are. It is the Arab and Muslim governments and clergy that must wash away the ideology behind the terrorist. It will happen through their efforts or after we’ve removed their authority through our efforts.

October 11, 2004

Have a Coke and a Smile

Will the army of Islamo-fascist defeat the army of peace nicks? Only if those of us who are armed not just with intelligence, but also with moral conviction, intellectual honesty and courage allow it. The war today is not between the peace nicks and the radical Muslim forces of al-Qaeda or the Mahdi Army. It is between those who believe in the inalienable rights of man, as typified by George Bush and his allies, and the Islamo-fascist who seek to control or kill all men who do not subscribe to their beliefs. This battle stands as the only barrier between those who worship peace, such as Senator Pander, the EU, the UN and their supporters, and the threat of radical Islam. Should the Senator become President, the war will take a different turn.

The left, led by the worshipers of peace, will seek to negotiate with Islamo-fascist, buying into the non-sense that it is economic injustice that has led to the attacks on Israel, the United States, and the many other nations who’ve been attacked over the last few years alone. Nowhere in the Islamo-fascist creed are there statements of support for the ideals of the left, multiculturalism, tolerance, and order attained by law. Yet the left believes that they, more than the men of moral courage will be able to broker peace with those seeking an idealist utopian world of Islam. What do they have in common?

Both the left and the Islamist believe in a utopian ideal of what the world should be, if only everyone followed their ideals. How is this a superior intellectual dream, as they would have us believe?

The reality of the world escapes them. I have been hesitant somewhat to see Senator Pander as a pacifist. Primarily because I have some respect for those who are pacifist out of a moral, albeit faulty, argument or out of an understanding of their faith, i.e. Tolstoy. While in the Marine Corps, I met several new pacifists, right at the time of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Needless to say, most of them were not conscientious objectors, and they weren’t missed while those of us who volunteered where in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. Senator Pander is not a pacifist by moral or religious argument. He is a pacifist from lack of courage, having served, and been scarred in the process, he now possesses no will or strength to stand for justice in times of war, as is shown by his failure to support the first Gulf War and his current track of appeasement towards Iran, North Korea and the nuisance of global terror.

The dream world does not exist. Only their continued lies and blind faith in the potential for man to exist in such a way extends their arguments at a time when the truth is that neither dream world, Islamic or liberal, would co-exist with the other, and that the Islamic militant forces, fueled by a greater fervor, higher birth rate, and lack of scruples would inevitably defeat the left and in doing set upon making the world into a model of their ideals.

No man who embraces liberty as a moral truth can submit to this course of action. Yet Senator Pander wants us to believe that he will defend our liberty, while he clearly does not understand what he would be defending it against, nor the threat that he posses to that very liberty.

October 6, 2004

The Danger found in the Irrelevance of Moral Arguments

In previous writing here, I noted that I believe that what is legal is not necessarily moral, just as what is immoral is not necessarily illegal. And neither illegality nor immorality exclusive equates to sin. Why are these distinctions significant to me? As an amateur commentator on the political and social issues before our nation and the world, it has occurred to me on a consistent basis that a large portion of the peoples of the world and of the United States no longer look to a moral basis in determining a course of action or in the judgment of the actions of others. Individuals once were concerned with their godliness and considered sin a relevant concept. It isn’t sin I wish to discuss, as I believe that to be a matter between the individual and God. However, moral and legal issues are of man’s domain and must be discussed and understood in order to develop the finest characteristics in man, enabling our compassion, inspiring our dreams and suppressing our aptitude to harm each other.

There are many, on the left end of the political spectrum primarily, who argue that the right seeks to "impose their morals" on them. In response, the right now fails to make moral arguments and is held captive by the left’s view of us. Their alternative, to make arbitrary legal decisions and arguments that constrain us as individuals, restrict the debate and render the U.S. subject to the will of an immoral world.

We have, over the past three years, been very aware of the threat of an evil in the world that threatens the life and rights of all mankind. Yet we are often chided when we make such statements and are rebuked for proclaiming a man evil rather than accepting or using the euphemistic statement that “his actions are evil”.

Much of the world now holds as its highest accord that law and legality are what will free men from tyranny, end injustices and expand democracy. The U.N. fueled by this almost uniform belief, continually acts to legislate civility and equality rather than seeking the more powerful argument of moral justice and liberty as a basis for how man is governed and how nations interact. While the U.N. contemplates how to it may legally determine if genocide is occurring in Darfur, more innocent people are killed out of racial and religious bigotry. Particularly troubling to me is the prominence of this trend in the U.S., a nation I believe is the greatest advocate for liberty, justice and peace in the world.

While Senators Kerry and Edwards debate the justification for the invasion of Iraq, they miss the simplest of moral truths. They argue that it is wrong because of the lack of WMD’s found in Iraq, the U.N.’s failure to call the action “legal”, the lack of support of former allies in Europe, and of course, the new acts of terror in portions in Iraq. While doing this they fail to display any understanding for the moral value of liberty and the defense of it. The Presidents decision to liberate Iraq was driven by a clear understanding of our sovereignty, a responsibility to protect American lives, and the resolve to hold Saddam Hussein accountable for agreements he made with the U.N. in 1991.

The idea that Iraq had no direct relationship to the attacks of 9/11 should be resoundingly evicted from our conversation. The legal basis, that which they hold in such high regard, was clearly established by 17 U.N. resolutions and the agreement of Congress to permit the President to use force to enforce the regulations in question. More significant, and damning in their ignorance of it, is the moral basis for the liberation of Iraq. The U.S. is fighting a global war on terror, against an enemy which knows no political or national boundaries, and which after losing their base of operations in Afghanistan would most certainly seek not only other locations to train and plot, but would seek leaders willing to supply them with weapons and sanctuary. Iraq will no longer be such a potential home.

To this they respond, where does it stop? It stops when the terrorist, their ideology and nations that foster or support them are no longer in existence. The concern I have is that the world does not have the fortitude and moral resolve of President Bush or Vice President Cheney, and this will inevitably lengthen the war.

The world, and the United States, has suffered a great of loss. Of course, the terrible acts of terror committed by men who profess faith in and an interpretation of Islam have caused great loss of life to both the innocent who are victims of their terror, and the deaths of service men, American and others, contractors and employees, aid workers and citizens of a nation reborn into liberty. Remembering this loss is almost more than a man can take. Yet it is not the loss for which I reflect today. The loss that concerns me today is the loss of clarity and relevance of righteous and moral thought, dialogue and action in governance and daily life.

September 30, 2004

The Swamps Must Be Cleared

Some years ago, nine or there about, a man whom to this day remains one of my favorites, not for his personality, of which he had much, or his authority, again he carried much, rather due to his character and wisdom, offered some advice regarding the accomplishment of strategic objectives. Of course, we agreed first after some discussion on what the strategic objectives were. His advice, "don’t get caught up in killing the alligators while your aim is to clear the swamp". Whether in business ventures, as was the case, personal matters or political objectives, our ability to see and address the real issues often serves as the determining factor in our success or failure. Having both succeeded and failed, the evidence, aided by the gift of hindsight, reminds me of this daily.

History is filled with examples of man’s willingness or inclination to address the symptoms rather than the cause. Terrible wars have been fought because men filled their day with tactical maneuvering rather than seeking, obtaining and acting on a strategic objective. Appeasement, a tactical effort to avoid confrontation, mars the history of man more so in the last century than in any before it. This century must see a return of our willingness to set and act on strategic objectives. Why?

Our nation has for 40 years or more killed alligators within our swamps in a futile attempt to defeat injustices, force equality, and sooth our emotional desperation or guilt associated with our prosperity. The greatest attribute of our federal republic may turn out to be its built in resistance to the efforts of those set squarely on moving the government toward active participation rather than its appropriate position on the sidelines and in defense of our lives.

Have we tackled racism through affirmative action? Have we defeated poverty through welfare? Have we conquered ignorance with public education? Have we ended violence by restricting gun ownership? Are truth, decency and common sense more prevalent today without prayer in schools or public acknowledgements of faith? For the answers, we need look no further than this year’s Democratic nominee for the Presidency and his aides. They offer a campaign of fear mongering filled with race baiting, class envy, untruths and a dependence on the gullibility of the electorate.

The result of the past forty years of alligator killing is not seen in the divide between the political parties or their supporters. The result is evident in their inability to recognize, describe and attack the real threats to this nation both internal and from afar.

So I ask, does John Kerry know where the swamps are?

First, We Set the Course Within

No original thought is found in this piece, of that I am confident. Yet, I am driven, or perhaps obsessed, with clearing away the muck left after a day observing political pandering, illicit coddling and the joyous acceptance of ignorance. The foolish among us, is it possible they out number the wise, will cry foul to hear that it is they who have given leave to our transgressors. And the wise, having not lost sight of our responsibilities, press on in the defense of the ignorant and perverse.

Forgive the illustration, but is a man without concern for morality, ethics, justice or right and wrong, likely to be a man of character. Or is he more likely to stray from character in a perpetual statement of his individuality, his freedom or in search for that which pleasures him. Listing in an ocean of freedom with no winds of responsibility, the tiny ship of a man without character is doomed to follow the circular currents of his whims and fancies. Without character, or guiding principles, he accepts the lies of the deceitful as truth, he seeks ease over effect, he passes personal responsibility on to government edict, and he seeks only to be legal rather than moral. A nation of such men will not seek just and proper governance, rather it will contrive to constrain men or other nations.

We are a nation in search of our character once again. To find our character, the moral and ethical standards we hold as truths must be reaffirmed. We must admit that we are a nation of just and righteous men, boldly and willingly in command of our responsibilities, sailing toward our destiny. Is it that I believe we are prepared for this? No. First, each of us must seek moral truths, understand that what is immoral may not be illegal, and what is legal may not be moral, and then be willing to act and vote on our beliefs. We know the risk of being up the creek without a paddle, do we know what it is like to sail without the wind. Our national conscience should be our greatest strength, if not, then our will to do the just and proper will fade, just as the wind does, and we will be adrift.

Noting that I’ve not slept, my eyes remind me that I too have responsibilities. The rested man presents his wares with keen eye and clear thought. The penitent man seeks forgiveness for his sins. Let me be among them.

September 24, 2004

Encouraging Words

Time and time again Americans of all walks of life are, often if not predominately, encouraging our enemies in their efforts to destroy our nation and our way of life. In stating this do I mean to say that many are committing an act of sedition? Some yes, but the majority no. Our enemies have a misunderstanding of the nature of the disagreements between the political forces within the U.S., as do many of those actively involved in the disagreement. To explore this we need to look at only a few areas of our political or social discourse. For brevity, and relevance, the ‘War on Terror’ and ‘Iraq’ will serve in this instance.

There are reasons, of varying degrees of merit, to oppose the “War on Terror”. Primary among those is the pacifist belief that all violence, including in self-defense, is immoral, unethical or unjust. There are those who would argue that no state has the right to act on behalf of its citizens in a military manner or even that the state does not exist. And finally there are those who support the Islamist effort to alter our civilization. Opposition based on policies, strategies, tactics or outcomes however are not an honest representation of the beliefs of those who state them.

An example here would be those who state that they oppose the war because of the way the President has handled it. An intellectually honest opposition to the manner the President has conducted the war would not oppose the war, but rather the effectiveness of his implementation. Critiques in this light would be not only more helpful to the nation, but would better represent the ideals of those who state them. The Democratic Party, Senator Kerry, in particular, has failed to such a degree in this area that not only does it leave him incapable of contributing to the war, or discussion of it, in a positive way, he has become an aid to those who we fight against. Note that this is not the same as acting to aid the enemy; rather an inadvertent betrayal of his values and nation, such as he has them.

To oppose the War in Iraq the same merit based arguments of the pacifist, the sympathizer and those who question the sovereignty of the nation are available yet rarely stated. The more common argument, and one that is worth discussion, is to address the cause, aims and outcome of the War in Iraq and whether or not it is a just path for the U.S. and our allies to pursue. The time for this was before the war began. And many, like Senator Kerry, supported the effort at that time. At this point they present themselves as having been duped into believing that the War in Iraq was justified based on weapons of mass destruction and direct ties to al-Qaeda. The record reflects the fault in their argument and supports the Presidents position prior to and since the war.

The war in Iraq is, and always has been, an extension of the War on Terror. The initial justifications for the war, to confront and defeat a lawless warmonger who threatens the free world via failure to abide by his agreement which ended the first Gulf War, his abuse of the citizens of his nation, his use and possession of weapons of mass destruction and the likelihood that he had or would at some point assist Islamist terror organization in their efforts to attack the U.S. and our allies, show the war as a component of the War on Terror, not a separate or disparate act.

As such, criticisms of the war, as it unfolds in Iraq, should be clearly communicated to be criticisms of the methods and means rather than of the ideals behind the war or broad statements of despair and failure, which are baseless and show the lack of perspective and intellectual honesty of the part of those making them. That same despair does and will continue to show up in the press of the Arab world, and fuels the enemy to believe that as we did in Vietnam, we are failing to have the will to win. A more truthful argument against the merit of our invasion, just as during the Vietnam War, has not been provided, and just as in Vietnam, our enemy seeks not to win on the battlefield, but rather to win by defeating our will to defend our proclaimed values.

In penning this, so to speak, my intent is not to state that Americans are committing sedition. My intent is to attempt to understand and relate my understanding, as much as I achieve any, of the issue. In doing this, the lack of a principled argument from our political opposition strikes me as a weakness that cannot be ignored. Our real enemies suffer from a lack of argument and discussion in their faith and it’s outlook on governance and life, and to see the Democratic Party and many of my friends become just as intellectually immobilized by their disagreement or hatred of the right, or the President, tears at the tattered bits of hope for our nation that I hold onto so dearly.

September 23, 2004

Faith before Truth?

The threat that faces the United States, in fact the entire world is not terror. Those who have written about the war on terror and issues related to Islam have gone out of their way to state that the U.S. is not at war with Islam. In many ways, some unfortunate, this is true. We have focused our efforts on the physical, financial and geographic battle against the Islamic organizations and nations, which have openly engaged the U.S. in war through the tactics of terror or the support thereof. As I’ve noted, our enemies are not at war with the United States they are at war with our inalienable rights. What has concerned me to a degree that I am severely struggling to articulate is the threat of Islam, as it is practiced by many Muslims, and their confluence with the Left is this country, Europe and the United Nations is far greater than the likelihood of terror attacks, military defeat or eventual nuclear confrontation. The ideological threat, found in modern Islam, is the greatest threat to us all. Why have I struggled to say this? I was a convert to Islam.

Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune published an article by Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Sam Roe, and Laurie Cohen about the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) and their existence and aims within the U.S. This article and a recent column by Daniel Pipes have made it clear to me that while there are those who understand the threat of Islam in America and to America; many others continue to pursue relations with organizations, including the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen. Both Pipes and the Tribune article note the real aim of the Brotherhood is not to destroy the U.S. or for that matter any nation in battle, rather it is to make the United States an Islamic state. On first reading the Tribune article, my intent was to respond, as I am now, by describing the threat as I see it. The difficulty with doing so came from my personal experience and my desire to discuss the reality without making it personal. So I delayed and was prompted again today by Pipes excellent column.

In teaching Islam, the Imam, Sheikh, or others who take the mantle of leadership provide the believer not with a moral foundation for decision-making and actions, instead they offer a guidance through the actions and words of the Prophet Muhammad, and the words of the Qur’an. No guiding principles are offered to believers with which they are able, if not required, to study, contemplate and determine appropriate actions on their part. Curiosity is not a character trait of the adherent who follows the teachings of the modern Imamate. Instead, he believes what he is told to believe, no questions asked. This destruction of an innate characteristic of man, to question and seek truth for himself, leaves him incredibly susceptible to the lies, falsehood and propaganda of those who lead him. In addition, the leader, also not able or willing to question the morality of his actions, becomes more rigid and stubborn in his interpretation and implementation of Islam, just as the Taliban did in Afghanistan. Perhaps, giving them the benefit of the doubt, they did so to avoid the displeasure of God, fearing that they would be judged for allowing an action that is forbidden in the Sunnah or Qur’an. Either way, their failure becomes immoral as they fail to recognize or seek greater truth or understanding.

The results are evident throughout the Muslim world. A dearth of education beyond the fundamentals of Islam, no tolerance for opinion or individuality, and no incentive to neither seek nor achieve any success other than the highest honor of their brethren and their God; martyrdom.

It is my concern that many in the United States are being guided, often out of good intentions, toward an ideology that is similar not in its religious dogma but rather in its tactic of limiting man from seeking higher understanding and truth. The left, globally, describes themselves as tolerant and caring, while classical liberals, modern conservatives and neo-cons are described as dispassionate, racist, intolerant and greedy. Experience shows this to be false. It is in fact the left that recognizes and categorizes men by race, creed, religion, gender and orientation. The policies and ideals of the left have given us schools which do not seek to educate instead choosing to inculcate the doctrines and philosophies of the left into their students. And unmistakably, the left seeks not to free men from the binds of government or external authority, as their words and policies religate generations of men to a belief that societal obligations are greater than your individual obligation to seek truth, to live free, and to achieve the utmost with your ability and efforts.

Now as we recognize that the left seeks to coddle the Islamist, to appease Europe and the U.N. and to continue to expand government influence in the lives of Americans, it becomes even more apparent that the ideological war for our rights, given by God not man, requires our attention. For no matter how many victories we find on the battlefield, should we fail to defend our values and rights, fail to address the ideological infestation, and to seek real understanding of the task at hand, we may fail from within. Just as I have done on too many occasions.

September 19, 2004

America at War

The founders of the United States understood, and considered, the dangers of democratic rule. Men, given their innumerable flaws, self-interests, and prejudices are generally incapable of self-governance unless constrained by an outside force, education, a moral foundation, or government devised for a slow gate toward the fickle wishes of its citizens. These United States of America have proven to be of incalculable benefit to the people of the world in both economic and political terms. We've led the efforts of people around the world to find self-governance, to create political systems to encourage economic development and to feed man that which he should cherish most, his liberty.

The wars of the last century, like the current war, were against an enemy not of the United States, but of mankind’s inalienable rights. In combating those wars, the United States took a moral high ground, and suffered through a significant and long course of actions, which at any given date would leave one to believe success was impossible. Yet we pursued the cause with the aplomb that we must fight on, or the battle would end up on the streets of New York City, Washington, or rural Pennsylvania. Today, a portion of our government, and our populace fights on with the same assurance of both justice and inevitable victory, while remembering that the war has already come to our shores, yet it is only a portion of our nation, which does so.

In the wars of the previous century, the American character, that of independence, self-determination, loyalty, optimism and perseverance was evident in the majority of Americans and led the call for men to act responsibly and if necessary lay down their lives for Freedom. At some point, after World War II, and apparent by the late 1960’s that American character began to change and the ramifications of the change helped to instill the confidence that our enemies have today for their cause. Prior to 9/11, and for indeed most of the last quarter of the 20th century, American’s were driven toward a form of group think that weakened our individuality while claiming that the free spirited, make love not war, policies of the left where those of progress and liberalization in the U.S.  Instead, those efforts have led to an epidemic of boys, who are not capable of behaving as men, asking for more and more restrictions on our economic engine, more restrictions to our civil liberties, and an ever increasing intrusion into our lives by the government on all levels. Their pandering of entitlements, pseudo science, and class or gender based policies have created an education system which is focused not on creating the next generation of thinkers but on growing its economic and ideological impact on the United States. This has led to men such as John Kerry being the choice of a the party that once offered JFK and FDR, while the once conservative Republican party hawks the pre-1964 democratic agenda. The shift to the left reflects on our character and the character of our children, and the emasculated remains of the U.S. are seen as ill prepared to take on the hyper masculine ideals and will of an enemy which values nothing more than death in the struggle for their values.

Of course, the United States has every means needed to defeat this enemy. There are still men of strength and character who carry arms for the U.S. and our President has shown some understanding of the fortitude required for the task, yet we have not shown a willingness to put the enemy away, seeking first to begin to “win the peace”, a concept that should be removed from the discussion when fighting an enemy who does not value peace, liberty or truth.

Our politicians have failed us by their desire to secure votes and elections, rather than defending our values and our heritage. Republicans and Democrats alike have sat idly by while judges attack the constitution, state referendums seek to weaken the power of the voter, and men of good character are made criminal by the overly vocal few wielding power. Politicians seek the “issues” that the voters will respond to, rather than seeking to educate the voter as to the issues before our nation, they seek to resolve what we believe are our problems, rather than offering us the freedom to resolve them ourselves. Our nation is in jeopardy not because of our enemies great power, but because we have shown our weakness in the defense of liberty at home.

With this in mind, our enemies are fueled by an ideology that we make no moral argument against. The voice of the American, once found in the Press, has been replaced by an internationalist view, a view towards the sensational, and an outright denial of the truth as newsworthy. Instead of aiding us in the defense of the system that ensures their rights, they highlight the depravity of a people free to be as loathsome as their minds imagination. To thwart the efforts of our enemy, we have to be willing to call him by name, and to point him out when we see him. Our media no longer does this, our government is unwilling to restrain itself, and our people seem oblivious to the possible ramifications of our weakness.

Islam, as practiced by a majority of the worlds Muslims, allows for no such individual variance of thought. Our enemy is often described as economically or politically motivated, while the truth that his argument for his actions comes directly from his understanding of his faith and its teachings, is ignored. Not having such justifications, our enemy will not flinch in his attempt to destroy us. Islam, the religion, may or may not be agreeable with liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice. What is clear is that the people, who practice Islam, while waging war of terror on the United States and our allies, do not concern themselves with such things.

Should the U.S. fail to remember those values, our fight with Islamic terror will be questioned continuously, while our battlefield tactics are controlled not by military commanders, but rather by politicians concerned with votes. The success of our effort thus far will be for naught should we permit our politicians to waiver in their support of the effort. While politicians and pundits revisit Vietnam, it might be worthwhile for them to remember that the United States did not lose the war in Vietnam by force or strategy, but rather we lost our will as a nation to fight a battle against a spreading evil.

The debate over Vietnam isn’t won by continuing it; it is won by our resolve to not repeat the same mistakes. A resolve that is not clear in the Democratic Party, and unfortunately, that the Republican Party has not been able to show on either its foreign or domestic agenda for the last 10 years.

August 27, 2004

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

We have all heard the words, and perhaps even read them in the document that declares them to be the purpose for our government. How many of Americans, whether they are Virginians, Nebraskans, Texans or Californians will remember the following as they vote on November 2, 2004:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, ..."
Following the Declaration of Independence, those who founded this nation stood behind their beliefs and fought a war in their own backyards to secure the right to form a government in accordance with that Declaration. After successfully winning that war, these founding fathers of our nation spent years working to establish a government that reflected the system of beliefs and values that had fostered that great effort and that cost so many lives. The eventual result was the Constitution of the United States of America.

From the great disharmony in their lives of the late eighteenth century to the enormous work of instituting a form of government never before seen, our founders managed to remain generally positive and to look forward to a bright future for this nation. More significantly, the founders thought highly of the American citizen and believed in the future of the people of the United States. Our leaders since then have generally been of similar outlook, even when their understanding of the reason for our government has faltered.

Yet, today, our nation sits just a few short weeks from an election and if you read, or watch the predominant media, the outlook is bleak. Whether it is the Democratic Party, or the media, that view is not predominant and may even be scarce. Few notable exceptions, such as Zell Miller, Ed Koch, and FoxNews, excluded.

The media, long since the days when objectivity and truth mattered most, has become a proponent of negativity. Learning at some point that good news doesn’t sell, and that the influence and power of the media is greater when it is able to move the citizens to one course of action or another. Negative polling data, stories of families in crisis, unemployment, illicit business deals, war and injustice are sought after and on occasion created to serve their needs. Is there any wonder that American’s would say the country is moving in the wrong direction?

The Democratic Party, once a champion of American opportunity and values, now seeks equality of results rather than opportunity, election victory without regard for truth or law, multiculturalism rather than unity and most painfully, world approval over American sovereignty. The collapse of the Democratic Party has followed years of pandering to group think rather than individual rights and responsibilities. Senator Kerry, the nominee for the Presidency has exhibited just such a mentality throughout his life, and as now evidenced in the positions he supports that directly diverge from his previous statements, he cannot be trusted to lead our nation. Senator Kerry supports the United Nations rather than the United States; he supports government over the individual; and by his actions alone, it is clear that he supports nothing and no one more than John Kerry.

No candidate today, or in our history, has or will be a perfect advocate of the citizen of the United States. What is clear to me, is that President Bush respects the sovereignty of the United States more than the opinion of the United Nations or the European Union; he understands that the individual must accept responsibility for themselves, in order to live with Liberty; and President Bush knows that the United States is not diverse because it sought diversity, but rather because our Liberty enabled opportunity and excellence. And lest we forget, President Bush knows so very well that it is better to take the war to the enemy, than to have the enemy bring it to you.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Little Red Blog in the Society category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Politics and Media is the previous category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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