Thursday, September 28, 2006

Déjà vu All Over Again

We’re getting closer to the November election, and despite McCain-Feingold’s prohibition on letting us know anything about who is running, what the issues are or whether anyone of the candidates has a position on anything, there is a trickle of info coming out.

Here’s the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee visiting an Austin TX beer garden:

Looking Familiar

I’d just spent the morning reading the Dallas Morning News from cover to cover. There was little about politics except for an editorial page endorsement of a couple of County Commissioner candidates. It would be hard to even know that all of the Texas House of Representatives seats were up for election as well as one of the Senators. There was a brief news piece about Governor Rick Perry, but that was news of the job, not of his re-election campaign. That’s why I was surprised to see Howard Dean’s pronouncement regarding his party’s success-to-be in Texas.

I had to click on the video. There he was microphone in hand, jacket off, sleeves rolled up, pointing to the crowd for emphasis. (Is it just coincidence that Dems this week seem to be doing a lot of finger-jabbing?) I listened as he talked about taking Texas back before going on the march to take back all of those other states. Then, it dawned on me. This simply had to be a dubbing of file footage from his failed presidential bid. It ended before the part where he starts the manic whooping and screaming to energize his fanatical followers. It was the same speech. If we’ve noted the occasional argument that the party of the left is doomed to failure for lack of new and dynamic ideas, this was certainly strong evidence of that fact. Almost word-for-word, he was mouthing the same false bravado that had failed him so miserably in the run up to the 2004 presidential election.

And, the location offers some insight as well. Austin, that capital city of one of the most conservative states in the Union, whose unofficial motto is “Keep Austin Weird”! In a beer garden, no less. Isn’t that where Adolph of WW II fame got his political start?

Prediction? It ain't gonna happen, Howard.

Monday, September 18, 2006

To Have a Friend

When I was growing up in Chicago one of the guys in our group came from a family that owned a bar and restaurant out on Mannheim Road, not far from the growing O’Hare Airport complex. In those days you could still find some farm land around the airport and some spaces between the buildings in that area. There was an old sign behind the bar and it obviously had been in the family a long time and meant a lot to them. It was a simple maxim: “To Have a Friend, Be One”. They pretty much lived by that. They were friends to many and they had scores of friends in return.

I was driven to think about that guide for living as I continue to shake my head in astonishment at the high dudgeon of the Islamic world over the remarks of a fourteenth century Byzantine emperor used by Pope Benedict XVI in a speech last week.

The essence of the historic comment was that the Prophet had directed that Islam be spread by the sword and that this was an unusual way for a religion supposedly of peace to be propagated. The discussion revolved around the incompatibility between jihad, holy war, violence and the nature of God.

Key to this issue is that the words were said by someone more than 500 years ago. The statement wasn’t one of prejudice or disrespect by the pontiff, but was an example of discussion long ago.

So, the Muslims of the world find that this description of their religion and their prophet as being violent and unpeaceful is so offensive that they now are pronouncing capital punishment sentences against the Pope. They are so insulted by characterizations that they aren’t a peaceful religion that they are Shooting Nuns, Burning Churches, and Demanding Death of the Pope

Excuse me, but isn’t that what the benighted Byzantine emperor was griping about?

It was a few months ago that in a somewhat misguided effort to illuminate the intolerance of the Islamic world, a Danish newspaper sought to publish editorial drawings (I avoid the terminology “cartoon” to avoid being recipient of a Fatwa myself) of the Prophet. The result was that around the world cars were overturned, churches were burned and an innocent priest in Turkey—a long way from Denmark—was killed. Thousands rioted to demonstrate their peacefulness.

It may be the flowery rhetoric of the Middle East that I simply don’t understand. I do understand that if you want to get along, you need to make an effort to get along. If you want to have a friend, be one. If someone doesn’t understand the alleged peacefulness of your beliefs, avoid killing them to correct their misunderstanding. Standing in demonstrations and shouting “Death to…” whomever is not going to make your case.

But, it seems overly optimistic to think that the Muslim world is going to change any time soon. What might be possible, however, is for the rest of us to acknowledge the hypocrisy. Stop apologizing. Stop pussy-footing around this jihad. Stop treating these murderous, fourteenth century thugs who seek to dismantle civilization as someone who should be isolated and protected from offense. I don’t like being threatened. I consider that insulting. I demand some apologies from the mullahs and the imams and the ayatollahs. If they want a friend, I’m ready. But to have a friend they need to consider how to be one.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Yeah, But…

It must be in bold print at the top of the daily talking points memo coming out of the Democratic National Committee each morning. This is an election year, and we (the DNC) need to emphasize to the American people how dangerous the world has become because the administration insists on not letting terrorists operate freely. You’ve heard the basics again and again. We’ve supposedly botched the war on terror and in the process made the nation much less safe. Just like the Wizard of Oz cautioned Dorothy and crew, “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” We’re supposed to forget about 9/11 and ignore the fact that plot after plot has been discovered and dismantled prior to coming to fruition. Yes, the message is that we are simply making the terrorists mad by hunting them down. Why, they most assuredly would be satisfied if we simply thanked them for pointing out to us the error of our ways on 9/11. By hunting them down, rooting them out of their caves and raining JDAMs down on their turbaned heads, we simply anger them and convince more young radicalized jihadists that strapping fifteen pounds of C-4 to their body and killing a dozen innocents is the best that life can be.

The message is that we have failed because we haven’t caught Osama Bin Laden. How can we be so inept? We haven’t caught the leader; ergo the war on terror is a failure. How then does one account for this:

#2 Captured

Or maybe this:

Convert Now or We'll Kill Ourselves

Or one of my favorites:

Another One Bites the Dust

Or this very old tidbit:

Three Year Old News

Or maybe this dodged bullet:

British Success

I’m willing to bet that the incessant drum beat of failure because we haven’t got Osama is going to be a huge mistake as voting Americans who can read, write, see, listen and think will make a distinction between the importance of capturing one, now largely emasculated, terrorist leader and the reality of thwarting terrorist plots and inexorably rolling up the network of communications, finance, logistics and operations that allow them to function.

It makes sense to examine the slow progress of netting the preachers of jihad and the leaders of a movement to embrace the Dark Ages. If we pay attention to what is really going on, we might notice that so far we’ve cleared a lot of names and faces off of that deck of playing cards that was distributed after we rolled down the highway to Baghdad. If we count coup on those who would do harm randomly for a mis-guided religious cause, we might conclude that Hezbollah took a big hit in their little kidnapping adventure against Israel. We might notice that precision-guided munitions are unannounced guests at meetings of the local al Qaeda cell. We might even acknowledge that whether or not Bin Laden is captured doesn’t have much to do with the greater vision of freeing the world from terror.

If OBL is living in a cave, increasingly isolated as his henchmen are eliminated, unable to move freely and without access to his financial resources, we really don’t need him in a cell at Gitmo where he can be the center of a media circus and the star client for an army of ACLU attorneys claiming his rights have been abridged.