Put Me In, Coach!!

Only TWO bids!! The shame. The loss of face. I can’t stand it.

[Updated Update: Forget the whole thing. It closes Thursday at midnight Pacific (GMT -0800).]

OK, I can’t stand it any more.

I’ve been a worker bee for Spirit of America for a while, but haven’t been a part of the recent blog frenzy to raise money for them. And I feel…lonely. Left out. Like I’m on the bench during the Big Game. They’re so close to the $50,000 mark.

Well, put me in, Coach!!

Since I alwys root for the underdogs, we’re going to join the Liberty Alliance.

I’m sure Joe (and Jan) will chime in with their own ideas, but I’m going to auction off one of each of these items:

* A genuine ‘Armed Liberal’ mousepad, in your choice of Deep Green or Red White And Blue;

* A genuine ‘Armed Liberal’ t-shirt, in your choice of Deep Green or Red White And Blue;

* Lunch or Dinner at a Favorite Dive With Armed Liberal and Tenacious G!! Yes, if you are in the Los Angeles area, and willing to eat at one of the following divine restaurants: The Pit BBQ, Zankou Chicken, Gallo’s Grill, Tacos Delta, The Shack, or Riviera Mexican Grill (nondisclosure required. see my post here for more details).

* A Day At The Range With Armed Liberal!! Yes, nimrod or Nimrod (the great Biblical hunter), I’ll take you to the range, provide safety gear, weapons, ammo, range fees, and – if you want it or not – instruction. (nondisclosure required.)

* A full package, including all of the above!!

Bids are in the comments below; I’ll pick up all shipping on the goods, you’re responsible for all damaged sensibilities. Please note which item you’re bidding on…

Joe?? Jan?? Step up, step up…

* JK: Baseball game in Toronto’s Skydome with Joe. Skyclub 200 level (padded seats) right behind home plate. 2 seats for auction x 2 games available = 4 tickets. Face value = $54 per.

Riding With PFC Chance

I got this in my email box a few days ago, and set it aside to try and verify its source. I didn’t get around to it (as I should have) and Blackfive beat me to it.

So let me send you over there to see how typical Americans react to our war dead, at the recent funeral of a Marine.

I post this both as a way of showing my own regard for our troops, those alive and well and those who are not, and as a cautionary reminder to those who may share many of my politics, but not my respect for the troops and the cause in which they fight.

The service was a fitting tribute to this hero. When it was over, we stood as the casket was wheeled out with the family following. The casket was placed onto a horse-drawn carriage for the mile-long trip from the gym, down the main street, then up the steep hill to the cemetery. I stood alone and saluted as the carriage departed the high school. I found my car and joined Chance’s convoy.

The town seemingly went from the gym to the street. All along the route, the people had lined the street and were waving small American flags. The flags that were otherwise posted were all at half-staff. For the last quarter mile up the hill, local boy scouts, spaced about 20 feet apart, all in uniform, held large flags. At the foot of the hill, I could look up and back and see the enormity of our procession. I wondered how many people would be at this funeral if it were in, say, Detroit or Los Angeles—probably not as many as were here in little Dubois, Wyoming.

I’m not sure that’s true. But even the fact that it might be is a damn shame.

Regardless of how we feel about Bush or Kerry, regardless of whether we agree with the decision to go to war, we all owe the men and women in uniform our regard and affection.

The Jittery 50

Fifty British foreign policy “experts” wrote a scathing letter to Prime Minister Blair this week.

We the undersigned former British ambassadors, high commissioners, governors and senior international officials, including some who have long experience of the Middle East and others whose experience is elsewhere, have watched with deepening concern the policies which you have followed on the Arab-Israel problem and Iraq, in close co-operation with the United States.

They’re unhappy about Israel.

The decision by the USA, the EU, Russia and the UN to launch a “Road Map” for the settlement of the Israel/Palestine conflict raised hopes that the major powers would at last make a determined and collective effort to resolve a problem which, more than any other, has for decades poisoned relations between the West and the Islamic and Arab worlds. … But the hopes were ill-founded. Nothing effective has been done either to move the negotiations forward or to curb the violence.

Well, the Israelis seem to have done a pretty good job of curbing the violence. Note the sharp dropoff in suicide bombings in the last 4 years.

Britain and the other sponsors of the Road Map merely waited on American leadership, but waited in vain.

No, they waited for Arafat to act like a statesman who wanted to found a nation, and not a kleptocratic thug. The U.S. played along with the fiction until recently.

Worse was to come. After all those wasted months, the international community has now been confronted with the announcement by Ariel Sharon and President Bush of new policies which are one-sided and illegal and which will cost yet more Israeli and Palestinian blood.

You mean the abandonment of the fictitious ‘right of return’ which was stupidly fuzzed over in the Oslo talks by these professionals?

Our dismay at this backward step is heightened by the fact that you yourself seem to have endorsed it, abandoning the principles which for nearly four decades have guided international efforts to restore peace in the Holy Land and which have been the basis for such successes as those efforts have produced.

And, looking at the facts on the ground in 2003, which successes, exactly, would those be? What ‘principles’, other than an overweening pride, and respect for the ‘process of negotiation’ for its own sake, would those be?

This abandonment of principle comes at a time when rightly or wrongly we are portrayed throughout the Arab and Muslim world as partners in an illegal and brutal occupation in Iraq.

The conduct of the war in Iraq has made it clear that there was no effective plan for the post-Saddam settlement.

No accurate plan, that’s for sure. Here’s the one valid criticism.

All those with experience of the area predicted that the occupation of Iraq by the Coalition forces would meet serious and stubborn resistance, as has proved to be the case.

To describe the resistance as led by terrorists, fanatics and foreigners is neither convincing nor helpful.

Well, that’s funny. Because if the masses of Iraqi people were rising up, the news would look somewhat different than it does, wouldn’t it? Which means that – wait for it – the forces we oppose are terrorists, fanatics, and foreigners. The masses of people haven’t, and aren’t – the trick is going to be making sure they won’t.

… The military actions of the Coalition forces must be guided by political objectives and by the requirements of the Iraq theatre itself, not by criteria remote from them.

It is not good enough to say that the use of force is a matter for local commanders.

Heavy weapons unsuited to the task in hand, inflammatory language, the current confrontations in Najaf and Falluja, all these have built up rather than isolated the opposition.

Thanks, guys but war under diplomatic control was tried several places by UN forces. Didn’t work so well. Let’s not do it any more, OK? Soldiers fight, and make those decisions – when the fighting is over, or has the chance to be over, let’s let the diplomatic corps take the lead.

Here’s a metaphor. If someone (my uncle, say) has pancreatic cancer for two years and doesn’t know about it – is the surgeon who’s excising that cancer causing a problem, or solving one?

The basic failure of this cohort of diplomats – in the UK, US, UN, and elsewhere – is that for twenty years, they were silent and ineffective while Islamism grew in power and hatred.

They believed that by negotiating the terms of ‘stability’ – because, after all, when you negotiate for a living, a successful negotiation is the major thing you’re looking for – even as one side made it clear that stability wasn’t what was being sought – they were accomplishing something.

What they were doing was selling my uncle Lydia Pinkham’s Elixir as the cancer grew deeper into his body. These men (interestingly, it appears to be an all-male group) should be ashamed; ashamed of writing this letter, and more deeply, ashamed for having dined on the Queen’s silver while allowing this problem to grow unchecked.

In fact, they not only let it grow unchecked, but stood by, supportive and silent, as any real peace process was undermined by oil bribes.

One of the keys of any successful negotiation is the willingness to simply go ‘basta!’ – no more – and get up and walk from the table.

The problem with a policy of engagement and continuous negotiation supported by this crew is that you preclude that possibility.

Bush and Sharon have done just that in Palestine, and Bush and Blair have done it in Iraq.

That’s infinitely preferable to a policy in which diplomats confer in luxury while suicide bombers murder innocents.

My uncle had surgery two weeks ago, at Columbia-Presbyterian in New York. His surgery was successful, and he’s recovering at home.

Look, I’m not a historian of the Middle East, nor someone who lives and breathes foreign policy.

But I do know failure when I see it.

And I’ll quote an old reply of mine to Trent, who challenged my credentials in this area:

…the genius of the American system is that there certainly are experts on game theory, diplomatic history, and policy who have substantive and valuable expertise in these areas.

And they all work for guys like me. Our Congress and our President are typically business men and women, lawyers, rank amateurs when it comes to the hard games that they study so diligently at ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration). And that’s a good thing, in fact, it’s a damn good thing.

It is a good thing because the unique power of the United States comes from our willingness to diffuse power down into the ranks – to act in ways outside what a small cadre of mandarins sitting at a capital can envision.

I’ll stand by those words, and voice a small appreciation that guys like the jittery fifty work for Tony Blair, and not the other way around.

Something That’s Missing

Kevin Drum has a guest post up by Bruce Reed, who was Clinton’s chief domestic policy advisor (calm down!). It’s a dead-on commentary on the pro-choice march in Washington last weekend (see pictures and commentary by a pro-choice Republican here).

He makes a key point:

After sharing the Mall with a million choice supporters yesterday, I don’t see how anyone could say that our side lacks religious fervor. People made pilgrimages from thousands of miles to stand up for their convictions, flocking to the capital of compassionate conservatism to demand more compassion from their leaders.

At the same time, I couldn’t help noticing that the one thing we seem to have no religious fervor for is religion.

And he concludes…

Still, the Mall could have used more sermons on Sunday, and fewer celebrities. It’s not fair to compare a Sunday spent listening to well-meaning activists with that day Martin Luther King called all God’s children to join hands and sing the words of the old spiritual, “Free at last.” But as we helped our children count the number of dogs at the march so they wouldn’t count the number of obscenities one entertainer was shouting from onstage, I couldn’t help thinking about what has been lost along the way.

And how much longer it will take to get where we want to go without it. (emphasis added)

I’ll drink to that.

I’ve followed the whole ‘defending Howard Stern’ discussion with a kind of sour grin. The only thing I like less than the coarsening of public behavior we’re seeing now is the censorship proposed to cure it; that’s as true of political discourse as entertainment.

A Question For The Doves

OK, here’s a question for all of you who think that it’s the hawks who are moonbats (and I know you’re out there). It stems in part from Henley’s post, as well as much of what I’ve read from people who want to be ‘aggressively chasing terrorists’ while not invading countries.

How – exactly – does that work? Because I can’t figure it out. Let’s take the following examples…Let’s take three hypothetical cases:

# Joe-Bob Bin Laden, Osama’s Texan brother, who has been demonstrated to have financed the Hamburg Al Quieda cell, and is now living in a small villa on the beach in Lebanon.
# Jessica Bin Laden, Osama’s sister, who was videotaped unloading duffel bags into Mohammed Atta’s car in August of 2001. She’s living in a small village somewhere in Syria.
# Juan Bin Laden, Osama’s South of the Border brother, whose call phone triggered the explosions in Madrid. He’s now vanished into Iran.

OK, let’s toss this open.

* How do you find them?

* Once you find them what do you do?

* What do you require from their host country?

* How will their host country react when you do whatever it is that you do?

The Book Exercise

Via danah boyd:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 23.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

The lawyers wanted to know if the plaintiffs, the black children in Clarenden County, would show the same result as those we had tested earler.

– from ‘Eyes on the Prize, America’s Civil Rights Years 1954 – 65’ by Juan Williams

(hat tip to Tim Oren)

The Battle of Algiers

While commenter Lilith and Trent put ‘paid’ to modern Islam in the comments to the post criticizing Henley’s Grand Scheme below, it’s important to note that there are signs of hope.

In today’s L.A. Times, Walter Russell Mead has a column on Algeria.

It’s important to note that it was in Algeria that the roots of modern anticolonial theory took hold – Fanon wrote from his experience as a psychiatrist in Algeria. The film ‘Battle of Algiers’ brought the brutal reality of counterinsurgency home to us, and the French policy toward the Arab world was shaped in Algeria.

And now, some good things are happening there.

Algeria just completed the freest election in the history of the Arab world, it has lots of oil and gas, it wants to work closely with the United States against fanatical terror — and, as a special added bonus, it still doesn’t like France.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has played a leading role in the reforms that are changing the country. First elected in a 1999 contest widely regarded as rigged, Bouteflika has lifted controls on the press and on the opposition. He was reelected earlier this month. A brash and independent press criticizes the president daily — and as long as it remains free, Algeria’s institutions will continue to gain international respect.

Reality is complex, and a very smart (and rich) fellow once told me that he’d made most of his money on the simple assumption that things are seldom as bad or good as people think.

Advice well worth taking.

Autarky Again

Jim Henley gleefully points out that while my post looking agog at his Grand Plan was titled ‘Autarky in the U.S.A.‘, he meant no such thing, and presupposes that we can freely trade with the Islamist world while withdrawing from them culturally, politically and militarily.

This is on a par with his assumption that we can “beat the hell” out of terrorists who attack us while magically remaining at peace with the nations that shelter them. It’s been explained to me that he’s a libertarian, which may explain it, as somehow some of them seem to think it’s possible to have economic or political relationships without social or historical ones. They’re the flip side of the Rawls folks who think that participants in the political world somehow appear magically from the forehead of Zeus.

I’m looking forward to his longer response. No, really, I am.