From Christopher Hitchens at Slate.com regarding this past weekend's "anti-war" protests: Anti-War, My Foot: The phony peaceniks who protested in Washington (via Little Green Footballs).
To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh. And this in a week when Afghans went back to the polls, and when Iraqis were preparing to do so, under a hail of fire from those who blow up mosques and U.N. buildings, behead aid workers and journalists, proclaim fatwahs against the wrong kind of Muslim, and utter hysterical diatribes against Jews and Hindus.
Some of the leading figures in this "movement," such as George Galloway and Michael Moore, are obnoxious enough to come right out and say that they support the Baathist-jihadist alliance. Others prefer to declare their sympathy in more surreptitious fashion. The easy way to tell what's going on is this: Just listen until they start to criticize such gangsters even a little, and then wait a few seconds before the speaker says that, bad as these people are, they were invented or created by the United States. [Emphasis added]
UPDATE --Oct. 2: Zombie has a large collection of San Francisco "anit-war" rally photos -- highlights include Anatomy of a Photograph and DOWN WITH LITERACY! where you'll see an interesting variation on the peace symbol (hat tip Johannes R. Arnold).
This cartoon was created in December 2002 and is one of over 450 cartoons in our second book Black & White World II. Unfortunately, when it comes to Iran and Saudi Arabia President Bush still seems intent on evading a confrontation with the primary state supporters of Islamic terrorism.
According to President Bush, the Saudi government qualifies for financial aid since they have cooperated in the fight against terror. It seems that all reports that contradict this cooperation were either ignored or brushed aside.
In the "reports" link above, Robert Spencer writes:
Nor is the Palestinian jihad the only ones the Saudis support. NBC’s Lisa Myers reported last summer: “An NBC News analysis of hundreds of foreign fighters who died in Iraq over the last two years reveals that a majority came from the same country as most of the 9/11 hijackers — Saudi Arabia. Among the suicide bombers was Ahmed al-Ghamdi, a one-time medical student and son of a Saudi diplomat. In December 2004, he climbed into a truck in Mosul and blew himself up. On an Internet video, another Saudi says goodbye to his mother, then drives an ambulance full of explosives into a building.” What motivated these people to go to Iraq? Unmistakably, it was the jihad ideology that, now over four years after 9/11, continues to be taught all over Saudi Arabia — while political correctness and fear prevent the State Department from identifying it as any problem, actual or potential.
And from CNN in August: Rumsfeld: Iraq bombs 'clearly from Iran'.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said ... that weapons recently confiscated in Iraq were "clearly, unambiguously from Iran" and admonished Tehran for allowing the explosives to cross the border.
UPDATE -- Oct. 10: From BBC: Iran 'behind attacks on British'.
Britain has accused Iran of responsibility for explosions which have caused the deaths of all eight UK soldiers killed in Iraq this year.
A senior British official, briefing correspondents in London, blamed Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
He said they had provided technology to a Shia group in southern Iraq, although the Iranians had denied this, he added.
BIG NEWS!: Pataki Nixes WTC Freedom Center.
In a story first reported by NY1, Governor George Pataki has cancelled plans to build the controversial International Freedom Center at the World Trade Center site - and representatives of the center say the location change has forced the entire project to be scrapped.
The center had drawn criticism from some 9/11 victims' family members because it would not focus exclusively on the terror attacks. Family members also said the IFC could potentially contain exhibits that were anti-American.
The IFC has been completely scrapped! A big congratulations goes to Robert Shurbet at Take Back The Memorial, Tim Sumner at 9/11 Families for America, and everyone involved in the effort to protect Ground Zero [Update: And a special thanks to Debra Burlingame who broke the story in a Wall Street Journal opinion article -- The Great Ground Zero Heist].
UPDATE I: From The Washington Post: Museum Dropped From WTC Site for Now.
"Goodbye and good riddance," said Rep. Vito Fossella, one of three congressmen who had threatened hearings on federal funding if the museum stayed where it was. "The IFC will not stand on the hallowed grounds of the World Trade Center site."
UPDATE II -- Sept 29: From The New York Post: THE FREEDOM CENTER: GOOD RIDDANCE.
Frankly, it's a wonder this travesty was hatched in the first place.
Take Back The Memorial posts a Thank You and says it will remain vigilant.
Take Back the Memorial will continue to monitor the plans for Ground Zero to ensure that a fitting and proper memorial is built; one that is respectful of the victims murdered that day, their families, the first responders, and the American people.
UPDATE III: Charles Johnson notes that the IFC is folding up completely rather than find a new location and wonders: "This seems to be a clear admission that their goal was to exploit Ground Zero; if not, why couldn’t they simply relocate?"
Michelle Malkin has more related links. Michelle pays us a nice compliment (thank you, Michelle), but it it wasn't for big-traffic bloggers like her and Charles, this issue would not have gotten the attention it deserves.
UPDATE IV -- Oct. 4: The Wall Street Journal has a good interview with Debra Burlingame: Westchester Housewife; Meet Debra Burlingame, who won the Battle at Ground Zero.
Here, Ms. Burlingame resorts to her greatest strength--forensic rigor acquired at law school (where she went, at the age of 37, after working for TWA as a flight attendant for several tedious years): "You can't tell the broader story of 9/11 and not talk about terrorism, or Islamo-fascism, or the jihad. . . . But in the Freedom Center's 49-page report they never once mention bin Laden. The words 'al Qaeda' never appear anywhere in it. There's nothing about the war on terrorism."
UPDATE V -- Oct. 7: The battle goes on as the LMDC seems to be dragging its feet after losing the IFC. Tim Sumner asks, Is the LMDC's board stuck on stupid?.
From CNN: 'Intelligent design' debate back in court.
"Intelligent design" is a religious theory that was inserted in a school district's curriculum with no concern for whether it had scientific underpinnings, a lawyer told a federal judge Monday as a landmark trial got under way. ...
But in his opening statement, the school district's attorney defended Dover's policy of requiring ninth-grade students to hear a brief statement about intelligent design before biology classes on evolution.
"This case is about free inquiry in education, not about a religious agenda," argued Patrick Gillen of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. ... The center, which lobbies for what it sees as the religious freedom of Christians, is defending the school district....
Intelligent design, a concept some scholars have advanced over the past 15 years, holds that Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection cannot fully explain the origin of life or the emergence of highly complex life forms. It implies that life on Earth was the product of an unidentified intelligent force.
From the Ayn Rand Institute: The Bait and Switch of "Intelligent Design" by Keith Lockitch.
Its advertising to the contrary notwithstanding, "intelligent design" is inherently a quest for the supernatural. Only one "candidate for the role of designer" need apply. [Leading proponent William] Dembski himself -- even while trying to deny this implication -- concedes that "if there is design in biology and cosmology, then that design could not be the work of an evolved intelligence." It must, he admits, be that of a "transcendent intelligence" to whom he euphemistically refers as "the big G."
The supposedly nonreligious theory of "intelligent design" is nothing more than a crusade to peddle religion by giving it the veneer of science -- to pretend, as one commentator put it, that "faith in God is something that holds up under the microscope."
The insistence of "intelligent design" advocates that they are "agnostic regarding the source of design" is a bait-and-switch. They dangle out the groundless possibility of a "designer" who is susceptible of scientific study -- in order to hide their real agenda of promoting faith in the supernatural.
UPDATE -- Oct. 2: On Oct. 25, The University of Southern California Objectivist Club will host a lecture by the author of the above editorial, Dr. Keith Lockitch, titled "Creationism in Camouflage: The "Intelligent Design" Deception" (details here). Lockitch has also updated the editorial to include a reference to the current court case:
Eighty years after the famous Scopes "Monkey" Trial, the anti-evolution forces have regrouped. Today, the battle in Dover, Pennsylvania, is over the teaching of "intelligent design," the view that life is so complex it must be the product of a "higher intelligence." The central issue under debate is whether "intelligent design" is, in fact, a genuine scientific theory or merely a disguised form of religious advocacy -- creationism in camouflage.
Has anybody seen Kim Jong Il lately? Seriously. A recent photo? A public speech? I heard rumors that he was killed or badly wounded in the April 2004 train explosion. In November 2004 came reports of his posters starting to disappear. In January 2005 there was an unprecedented report of his posters being defaced in protest. And last week I stumbled across this: Kim Jong-il's Second Son to Inherit Dictatorial Mantle.
North Korea is constantly in the news because of its never-ending cycle of nuclear blackmail (which our politicians help perpetuate), but there are never reports about Kim. Where is he?
Some articles on the topic from last year:
From FrontPageMagazine in December 2004: Kim Jong-il, Missing in Action?.
From The Washington Times in November 2004: Analysis: Mystery still swirls around Kim Jong Il.
UPDATE -- Sept. 27: Martin Lindeskog noted this Taipei Times article from two days ago: Kim Jong-il orders high-level meetings with US officials. But there are no direct quotes from Kim; it's all "reportedly instructed aides" and "citing an anonymous source."
UPDATE -- Oct. 17: TIME magazine visits North Korean, but there's no mention of seeing Kim: Pyongyang Peekholes: Looking for Life Beyond the Kims.
The International Freedom Center Content and Governance Report (pdf) was released last week, fleshing out plans for the IFC's cultural facilities at Ground Zero. Not surprisingly, the controversy is only getting worse. For instance, before Ground Zero visitors experience the "tragedy of September 11" (as if it wasn't an atrocity), they will be forced walk through an exhibit about the world's perspective of 9/11 -- presumably minus the perspective of the Palestinians who danced in the street. And in addition to MLK, the Greatest Generation and Soviet gulags, there will be exhibits about the South African Constitution and Gandhi, too, all tied to 9/11 yet not distracting from that hallowed ground.
Yeah, right. I became distracted just reading about it. The IFC report is full of reasons why the IFC should not be built at the World Trade Center site (see Jeff Jarvis for more), but one contradiction stands out above the rest.
The IFC has repeatedly claimed that the center's purpose is to present mankind's "ongoing struggle for freedom," yet nowhere in the report nor in past statements can I find anything about the ongoing struggle against Islamism, the fundamentalist, anti-freedom ideology that motivated the Taliban to oppress Afghanis and harbor al Qaeda murderers, that motivates Saudi Arabia to deny women the right to vote, that motivates Iranian mullahs to hang homosexuals and sponsor terrorists, that motivates Palestinian suicide bombers to slaughter Jews, that fuels a global jihad, and -- most relevant to Ground Zero -- it's the ideology that motivated the 9/11 terrorists. Here's as close as the report gets:
While the motives behind the September 11 attacks were complex and criminal, by responding with an institution dedicated to freedom, we will create a fitting legacy for generations to come.
"Complex and criminal"? As John pointed out to me, that describes a bank heist not an ideological movement that has declared war on us, killed thousands on and off American soil, and forced us into a global military conflict.
If the IFC can't even get that right, if they can propose to be critical of Communism, Nazism and Jim Crow laws yet never utter a word about the evil of radical Islam, how can they be trusted to honor those who were murdered on 9/11? In short, they can't.
For the latest news on the ongoing struggle to prevent the IFC from being built at Ground Zero (e.g., Senator Hillary Clinton has come out against the IFC), visit Take Back The Memorial and 9/11 Families for America.
UPDATE II: Take Back The Memorial has posted a strong statement against the IFC (see the bolded line below for a perfect summation of what is going on): Family Member Group Press Release:
The IFC is a redundant institution that intends to appropriate 9/11 content in order to create an artificial connection to the site and use it to promote a decidedly political agenda. They intend to steal the stories of our loved ones away from the memorial and memorial museum – to pillage the most important artifacts like the Koenig sphere – to blatantly plunder a family-driven initiative called the ‘Living Memorial’ - to ransack our highly personal family tributes and belongings that we keep in our family room. All this in order to force families and the public to visit the IFC and force feed their views. Where in the absence of leadership is the gatekeeper that should be zealously guarding all that is most precious to the memorial and memorial museum? Why is the gatekeeper allowing Tom Bernstein and friends to exploit 9/11 and go on a veritable looting spree? [Emphasis added]
As they say, read the whole thing.
UPDATE III -- Sept. 28 -- BIG NEWS!: IFC Ousted From Ground Zero!.
From FoxNews: GOPers Fear Huge Katrina Costs.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland joined other House Republicans Wednesday in proposing $500 billion in spending cuts to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief and reconstruction efforts.
At a news conference Wednesday, the Republican Study Committee launched "Operation Offset," a detailed list of proposed budget savings options so that the reconstruction costs of Katrina, estimated at upwards of $200 billion, will not be passed onto future generations in the form of unmanageable debt. ...
The 20 House Republicans at the news conference highlighted programs that could be either eliminated or reduced. Among the savings options were delaying prescription drug benefits and increasing premiums under Medicare, increasing co-payments for Medicaid and limiting grants for first responders to large, at-risk communities.
The Wall Street Journal has been covering this issue well:
The GOP's New New Deal; The bill for Katrina may fall due next November by Stephen Moore.
Conspicuously missing from the post-Katrina spending debate is a question for some brave soul in Congress to ask, What is the appropriate and constitutional role here for the federal government? Before the New Deal taught us that the federal government is the solution to every malady, most congresses and presidents would have concluded that the federal government's role was minimal. One of our greatest presidents, Democrat Grover Cleveland, vetoed an appropriation for drought victims because there was no constitutional authority to spend for such purposes. Today he would be ridiculed by Ted Kennedy as "incompassionate." ...
Alas, in the world of compassionate conservatism, the quaint notion of limited federal power has fallen to the wayside in favor of an ethic that has Uncle Sam as first, second and third responder to crisis. FEMA, despite its woeful performance, will grow in size and stature. So will the welfare state. Welcome to the new New Dealism of the GOP.
Both political parties are now willing and eager to spend tax dollars as if they were passing out goody-bags to grabby four-year-olds at a birthday party. The Democrats are already forging their 2006 and 2008 message: We will spend just as many trillions of dollars as Republicans, but we will spend them better than they do. After witnessing the first few Republican misappropriations for Hurricane Katrina, the Democrats may very well be right.
This isn't all Katrina's fault. Republicans have been kidding themselves for years that they are still the stewards of fiscal conservatism and limited government. The Medicare prescription drug plan is just one example. Run down the list of the some 80 federal entitlements--including Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, Pell Grants and so much more--and it becomes clear that little has been done to take these massive programs off of spending autopilot. Welfare reform and Freedom to Farm in the 1990s were nice, but what has the GOP done lately? In many cases Republicans have ramped up spending and then bragged about it.
Cuts for Katrina editorial.
The idea of a pork-for-reconstruction swap had already been denounced as "moronic" by a spokesman for Don Young of Alaska, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee and proud father of the now-infamous $223 million "bridge to nowhere" near Ketchikan. Since then the White House and Congressional Republican leadership have been acting as if the cost of Katrina relief should have no impact on the course of an administration that has presided over the fastest growth in discretionary spending since Lyndon Johnson.
But thankfully, a grassroots Internet campaign and a handful of House GOP conservatives have refused to give up on the idea that spending cuts should be found to defray the estimated $200 billion federal price tag for hurricane relief.
American politics seems to have dwindled down to a choice between a big government party and a big permanently-out-of-government party. ...
Big-time Republicans tell me Bush's profligacy is doing a great job of neutralizing the Dem advantage in the spending-is-caring stakes. This may have been true initially -- in the same sense as undercover cops neutralize a massive heroin-smuggling operation by infiltrating it. But, if they're still running the heroin operation five years later, it looks less like neutralization and more like a change of management.
This cartoon is from our series of gag cartoons for the Buster McNutt humor column in AutoGraphic's Automotive Report newspapers.
From ABC News Oil Prices Leap As Rita Prompts Evacuations.
Concerns that Hurricane Rita could smash into key oil facilities in Texas lifted crude-oil prices more than $1 a barrel Wednesday as workers fled oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico less than a month after Hurricane Katrina tore through the same region.
From The Wichita Eagle on Sept. 4: As drivers, economy suffer, local oil work is resurrected.
From the Department of Defense: Commander Describes Routing Foreign Fighters From Tal Afar.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2005 -- The commander of coalition troops in Iraq today described "an extremely successful tactical operation" in which U.S. and Iraqi troops all but cleared Tal Afar, Iraq, of foreign fighters.
Tal Afar is one of two major transit zones for foreign fighters coming into Iraq, Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq, said from Baghdad today. The other route is through the Euphrates River Valley, farther south.
U.S. troops from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and Iraqi forces from the 3rd Iraqi Army Division have been working for two months to plan and prepare for an operation to "restore Iraqi control to Tal Afar," Casey said.
Since Sept. 10, this combined force has been engaged in an operation to clear a roughly 600-by-800-meter section in the center of Tal Afar that foreign fighters had set up as a sanctuary.
The combined force killed about 150 insurgents and captured roughly 350 more. Casey said officials estimate this accounted for about 75 percent to 80 percent of the foreign fighters and other insurgents they believed were in the city. "It looked like a pretty tough fight," he said.
Strong support from the Iraqi government made the soldiers' mission significantly easier, Casey said. In the days leading up to the military assault, Iraqi government representatives spent time in Tal Afar and brokered an agreement with local leaders from all local ethnic groups: Shiia, Sunni and Turkoman.
"The other piece of this that sometimes gets lost is the Iraqi government was very much involved in setting the conditions for success," he said.
Casey explained that local sheiks signed statements saying basically: "We've had enough. We ask for the military to come in and clean the terrorists and foreign fighters out of Tal Afar."
This led to support for the mission from the city's civilian population. "That had a huge impact on what we had to deal with with respect to the population of that city," Casey said.
About 20,000 civilians left Tal Afar before the fighting began. The Iraqi and coalition force was prepared with humanitarian assistance, but many of those who fled went to stay with friends or relatives elsewhere, Casey said. The Iraqi government also provided $50 million to compensate civilians whose property was damaged and to fund rebuilding damaged areas.
The mission was intended to allow Iraqi civilians to participate in the upcoming constitutional referendum Oct. 15.
From Strategy Page: Why It's Getting Harder to be a Bad Guy.
The U.S./Iraqi offensive in Tal Afar has been more effective than anticipated, and terrorists are abandoning the area. It is unclear as to whether the dispersal of terrorist forces, who seem mostly to be local Sunni Arab tribal fighters and al Qaeda "Foreigners", is a planned response in the event of defeat or a spontaneous development. Whichever the case, the insurgents have abandoned large stocks of arms as well as some important infrastructure, including bomb factories and underground installations. The damage to al Qaeda was serious enough to elicit a public announcement from the terrorist organization, where it announced a new wave of suicide bombings, as revenge for the success of the Tal Afar, and related, operations. Apparently it was a case of "use it or lose it," with al Qaeda fearing that the continuing operations along the Syrian border and in western Iraq, would lead to more bomb workshops, and completed car bombs, being captured.
UPDATE I -- Sept. 21: In today's Wall Street Journal, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani addresses the foreign fighter issue among others: We Need American Troops.
American forces are in Iraq at the invitation of the democratically elected government of Iraq, and with the backing of a United Nations Security Council resolution. Your soldiers are in my country because of your commitment to democracy. Moreover, during my visit to Washington, Mr. Bush reaffirmed the United States' complete support for the Iraqi political process toward sustainable democracy, and for the fight to defeat fascist and jihadist terrorism in Iraq. ...
Above all, American forces provide Iraq with a much-needed deterrence capability. In the past, Iraq sought an illusory security through the follies of aggression, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Today, our external security comes from our alliance with the United States. Our neighbors can thereby be assured that we will settle all of our differences with them peacefully.
Sadly, some of our neighbors have chosen not to understand this. They seem either unwilling or unable to shut off the pipeline of terrorists crossing into Iraq. And in addition to what is at least passive support for the terrorists, some of them are providing financial and material support to them, too. They must desist from this behavior now.
While the problem of some of our neighbors supporting terrorism is bad enough, we can only imagine what our neighbors might have done if American troops had not been present. Most likely, Iraq would have been transformed into a regional battlefield with disastrous consequences for Middle Eastern and global security.
Despite the fact that Bush has, unfortunately, often defined the Iraq war in altruistic terms, it should not be Iraq's need that fundamentally determines whether or not our troops are there. After all, many countries "need" our troops for various reasons, but that doesn't mean we should send them. Our troops should be used only to protect America's national security interests, and the only basic reason for staying in Iraq should be to fight America's enemies, in this case, Islamic and Baathist terrorists and their state sponsors, two of which border Iraq. It remains to be seen how we will deal with Iran and Syria. But considering that both countries are fighting a proxy war with the U.S. in Iraq, I don't see how settling "our differences with them peacefully," as Talabani assures them, can even be an option. Whether Iraq itself becomes a "sustainable democracy" or a theocracy is another problem altogether.
From FoxNews today: World Leaders Urged to Sign Anti-terror Treaty:
Last week's U.N. summit ended with world leaders adopting a watered-down document committing them to efforts to fight poverty, human rights abuses and terrorism.
The declaration put leaders on record for the first time as condemning "terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purpose ... ." But it failed to include a definition of terrorism that rules out attacks on civilians, as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan had recommended.
Nonetheless, Annan said it was an important first step.
"You must build on that simple statement to complete a comprehensive convention against terrorism in the year ahead and forge a global counterterrorism strategy that weakens terrorists," he told the assembly on Saturday. "We can do it and we must do it."
Here's a March 2005 cartoon on the same topic: All Bark.
From a New York Post editorial: Anon, Annan.
The 840-page Oil-for-Food report released last week by the Volcker Independent Inquiry Commission is a damning document: It demonstrates as clearly as possible that not only is the United Nations broken, but that present management -- specifically, Kofi Annan -- is ill-equipped to fix it.
From AP: Iran Proclaims Right to Nuclear Energy.
In a fiery speech to the U.N. General Assembly, [Iranian] President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied his nation had any intention of producing nuclear weapons. To prove that, he offered foreign countries and companies a role in Iran's nuclear energy production.
The Iranian leader lashed out at the United States for its insistence on keeping its nuclear weapons even as it rejected Iran's efforts to build a peaceful energy program.
He said Iran has a right to produce nuclear fuel under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and implicitly accused the Europeans and Americans of "misrepresenting" Iran's desire for civilian nuclear energy "as the pursuit of nuclear weapons."
"This is nothing more than a pure propaganda ploy," he said.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran reiterates its previously and repeatedly declared position that in accordance with our religious principles, pursuit of nuclear weapons is prohibited," Ahmadinejad said.
UPDATE I -- Sept. 22: From CNN: Iran gains reprieve in nuclear standoff.
Iran gained a reprieve in the standoff over its nuclear program Wednesday, with diplomats saying the European Union had decided to postpone its push to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council.
The decision to delay a vote until a later board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency instead of demanding one this week appeared driven by concerns about strong opposition.
Reminds me of this cartoon: Nuke-Go-Round.
Under pressure over its nuclear programme, Iran flaunted its ballistic missiles and warned any nation considering attacking the Islamic republic would face a "destructive and fiery" response.
On show at an annual military parade on Thursday were thousands of troops and a range of hardware including six of Iran's Shahab-3 ballistic missiles -- which sported banners saying "Death to America", "We will crush America under our feet" and "Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth".
Over the last week, there's been a fully justified controversy over the proposed Flight 93 memorial, called "Crescent of Embrace", because its red crescent shape is a symbol of the hijackers' religion. AP reports today that the architect has offered to alter his design due to public criticism. That's a start, but Michelle Malkin warns that the controversy is not over.
Commentary on the proposed memorial:
Flight 93, Re-Hijacked by Mark Steyn:
The memorial is called "The Crescent of Embrace." That sounds like a fabulous winning entry -- in a competition to create a note-perfect parody of effete multicultural responses to terrorism. Indeed, if anything, it's too perfect a parody: the "embrace" is just the usual huggy-weepy reconciliatory boilerplate, but the "crescent" transforms its generic cultural abasement into something truly spectacular. In the design plans, "The Crescent of Embrace" looks more like the embrace of the Crescent -- ie, Islam. After all, what better way to demonstrate your willingness to "embrace" your enemies than by erecting a giant Islamic crescent at the site of the day's most unambiguous episode of American heroism?"
Monumental surrender by Michelle Malkin:
Let's set aside the utter boneheaded-ness of using a symbol that, inadvertently or not, commemorates the killers' faith instead of the victims' revolt. The soft-and-fuzzy memorial design of "Crescent of Embrace" still does injustice to the steely courage of the Flight 93's passengers and crew. It evokes the defeatism embodied by those behind a similar move to turn the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero in New York City into a pacifist guilt complex. This is no way to fight a war. Or to remember those who have died fighting it.
Speaking of Ground Zero, visit Take Back The Memorial for the latest on the WTC 9/11 memorial fight.
UPDATE I -- Sept. 16: Michelle Malkin has more.
UPDATE II -- Sept. 18: Tim Sumner, founder of 9/11 Families for America and a staunch supporter of the Take Back The Memorial campaign at Ground Zero, has a dissenting opinion of the criticism of the proposed Flight 93 memorial: Paul Murdoch's design is perfect for the Flight 93 memorial, that American ground where 40 heroes fell.
Could Paul Murdoch change the design and put an end to this controversy? Perhaps. If he does, will the bloggers take a fresh, objective look at his design? I hope so and I also hope that we don't let Islamic terrorists dictate every word in English we decide to keep or toss out. I ask my friends in the blogging community to take a few deep breaths as the memorial selection process continues. I think most folks will support what the selection committee finally decides upon for the Flight 93 memorial. Will everyone approve of it? No yet the Flight 93 memorial will never be desecrated by those creating it. What could happen is a group of otherwise intelligent internet bloggers will inadvertently and unfairly diminish the reputations of the good people creating the Flight 93 memorial.
Read the whole thing for Tim's full argument. I respectfully disagree with him that the design should remain a crescent, despite the fact that the design was approved by some family members. I'm readily willing to give the benefit of the doubt that not everyone involved in approving the design understood the significance of the crescent in Islam. But the Islamists know it, and they are the ones who will exploit it. Symbolism played a crucial role in the 9/11 attacks; the terrorists wanted to destroy symbols of American power and freedom as well as Americans themselves. To grant them the placement of one of their own symbols on the very site where Americans began fighting back is unacceptable.
Yes, crescents and the color red are used in many ways unrelated to Islam. Likewise, red circles are used in ways unrelated to Japan. But for good reasons I doubt you'll find a red circle as the centerpiece of any Pearl Harbor memorial.
From FoxNews: Roberts: I Have Been Forthcoming.
"I think I have been more forthcoming than any of the other nominees," [Supreme Court nominee John] Roberts said in response to [Sen. Charles] Schumer's criticism.
The nominee was willing to say that Congress has the authority to counter a controversial Supreme Court ruling that said cities have the right to seize private property for commercial use and vowed to follow the law, not his personal beliefs, on issues such as right-to-die cases.
"This body and legislative bodies in the states are protectors of the people's rights," Roberts said. "Legislators have the right to protect the rights of the people as much as courts."
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were up in arms earlier this year when a sharply divided Supreme Court ruled on what's known as "eminent domain" in the case of Kelo v. City of New London, Conn.
That ruling said cities can seize private land and homes in order to build shopping malls, convention centers or other structures to generate tax revenue. The decision drew a scathing dissent from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as favoring rich corporations, and Republican lawmakers have blasted it, saying it infringes on individual ownership rights.
Many Americans are now concerned that it has become "much easier for one man's home to become another man's castle," noted Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.
Congress has been working on legislation that would ban the use of federal funds for any project based on the Kelo decision. Roberts said that was an "appropriate approach."
"What the court is saying is there is this power," he added. "That leaves the ball in the court of the legislature."
Our Kelo cartoon: Property Wrongs.
From FoxNews: Roberts Grilled on Abortion, Civil Rights.
Supreme Court chief justice nominee John Roberts on Tuesday declined to give his opinion on the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which effectively legalized abortion in the U.S. Roberts did say, however, that legal precedent already set by the court is a "very important consideration."
"I think it is a jolt to the legal system when you overturn precedent. ... It is not enough that you may think that a prior decision was wrongly decided," Roberts said during the first round of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Roberts also battled with lawmakers like Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., over what types of questions he should or should not be answering.
Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., opened the day's confirmation hearings with myriad questions about court rulings regarding a woman's right to choose, privacy and prior court rulings.
While Roberts said he was more than willing to answer questions regarding the importance of abiding by prior court rulings, he said he would not get into detail about the application of those rulings to potential future cases.
From CNN: FEMA Director Brown resigns.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown resigned Monday after coming under fire over his qualifications and for what critics call a bungled response to Hurricane Katrina.
"Today I resigned as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency," Brown said in a news release.
"As I told the president, it is important that I leave now to avoid further distraction from the ongoing mission of FEMA."
David Paulison, a 30-year veteran of fire rescue work, was named acting director by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
Brown's resignation came three days after Chertoff recalled Brown to Washington and replaced him as the point main for Katrina relief efforts.
Take Back The Memorial tribute
We created the original panels of this cartoon (bottom two) in 2002 and have added a panel every year since. If the Iranian theocracy remains in power and a terror-sponsoring Palestinian state is created, it will only get uglier.
From Reuters: US grants Iranian president visa for U.N..
The United States said on Wednesday it had granted a visa to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend U.N. meetings in New York but was still looking into his role in the 1979 U.S. Embassy storming in Tehran.
From the SMCCDI: Support the Campaign Against Ahmadinejad's Presence at UN (via Free Thoughts).
UPDATE -- Sept. 13: More on the protest to be held tomorrow in New York City on the occassion of the Iranian president's U.N. visit: NY Committee Against Ahmadinejad (via Winds of Change), and from the SMCCDI: "Iran UN Protest 2005" to rally in New York on Wednesday.
Tomorrow, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly should order his men to escort the new hard-line president of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Kennedy International Airport, the minute he finishes speaking to the U.N. General Assembly at 3:10 p.m.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who took office in August after disputed elections, is not just any head of state. He has a terrorist pedigree that should make him an unwelcome guest in any civilized country, if having a terrorist "watch list" serves any purpose. But perhaps "civilized" is not an adjective that applies to the United Nations, which has standards all its own.
The State Department found Aug. 31 that the Iranian president was "excludable" by law from entering the United States, since he met the definition of an "international terrorist." Nevertheless, the wise heads at Foggy Bottom decided to waive the law.
From the The Washington Post: Socialism a Hard Sell for Some Venezuelans.
The shopping mall is a blur of Guess jeans, Louis Vuitton purses and Motorola cell phones, a temple of consumerism in a country that is supposed to be on a path toward socialism. So popular is the Sambil Mall that "Sambil society" has become a derogatory term in the Venezuelan socialist vocabulary. Reject it and build a fairer Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez urges his nation of 25 million people.
"We're capitalists, consumers by nature," said 26-year-old Marbelys Gonzalez, strolling through the mall with two friends, carrying a shopping bag filled with five pairs of designer jeans. ...
Chavez says capitalism created Venezuela's poverty, and a "new socialism of the 21st century" can end it.
"It's the search for social justice, for equality," Chavez said recently. "The capitalist model is perverse. It favors a minority and expropriates from the majority."
In his nearly seven years in power, Chavez has presided over a society increasingly divided by his politics and sometimes shaken by spasms of street violence pitting his supporters against his enemies.
It remains unclear what sort of socialism Chavez may achieve, but his latest moves provide hints _ raising taxes on foreign companies pumping oil, setting up stores to sell cheap food to the needy, subsidizing farming and industrial cooperatives, and handing over some wealthy ranchers' lands to poor farmers. ...
"Every day it looks more like the communism of Fidel Castro," says Jesus Garrido Perez, an opposition congressman. "The economic disaster has begun." ...
Some opponents accuse Chavez, a former army officer elected in 1998, of planning an assault on private property, pointing to his land reform program as a starter. But Chavez has insisted private property will be respected and business encouraged. So far, his sharpest attacks on the wealthy have been verbal.
"It's bad to be rich," Chavez said in one speech. "Those who have a lot of money should donate it." ...
"You have to strip yourself of individualism," he urged listeners in one televised address. "You have to strip yourself of the yearnings for personal wealth. You have to strip yourself of egotism. You need to be, simply, useful."
See the writings of Ayn Rand for a refutation of such collectivism.
In other Chavez-related news: Heinz Calls on Venezuela to Give Back Seized Ketchup Plant.
S. O'BRIEN: You're telling me the president [Bush] told you the governor [Blanco] said she needed 24 hours to make a decision?
S. O'BRIEN: Regarding what? Bringing troops in?
NAGIN: Whatever they had discussed. As far as what the -- I was abdicating a clear chain of command, so that we could get resources flowing in the right places.
S. O'BRIEN: And the governor said no.
NAGIN: She said that she needed 24 hours to make a decision. It would have been great if we could of left Air Force One, walked outside, and told the world that we had this all worked out. It didn't happen, and more people died.
From The Washington Post: Many Evacuated, but Thousands Still Waiting.
Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state's emergency operations center said Saturday.
The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals," said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly.
A senior administration official said that Bush has clear legal authority to federalize National Guard units to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act and will continue to try to unify the chains of command that are split among the president, the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor.
Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Craig Martelle: FEMA is not a first responder.
As one who has received training by FEMA in emergency management and also training by the Department of Defense in consequence management, I believe that the federal response in New Orleans needs clarification.
The key to emergency management starts at the local level and expands to the state level. Emergency planning generally does not include any federal guarantees, as there can only be limited ones from the federal level for any local plan. FEMA provides free training, education, assistance and respond in case of an emergency, but the local and state officials run their own emergency management program.
Prior development of an emergency plan, addressing all foreseeable contingencies, is the absolute requirement of the local government --and then they share that plan with the state emergency managers to ensure that the state authorities can provide necessary assets not available at the local level. Additionally, good planning will include applicable elements of the federal government (those located in the local area). These processes are well established, but are contingent upon the personal drive of both hired and elected officials at the local level. ...
It seems that the mayor of New Orleans is leading the effort in not taking responsibility for his actions. The emergency managers for the state of Louisiana do not have much to say either. The failure in the first 48 hours to provide direction for survivors is theirs to live with. When FEMA was able to take over, it started out behind and had to develop its plan on the fly. Now the federal government has established priorities -- rescue the stranded, evacuate the city, flow in resources and fix the levee. It appears that now there is a plan and it is being systematically executed.
From The Telegraph: The Big Easy rocked, but didn't roll by Mark Steyn:
Readers may recall my words from a week ago on the approaching Katrina: "We relish the opportunity to rise to the occasion. And on the whole we do. Oh, to be sure, there are always folks who panic or loot. But most people don't, and many are capable of extraordinary acts of hastily improvised heroism."
What the hell was I thinking? I should be fired for that. Well, someone should be fired. I say that in the spirit of the Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, the Anti-Giuliani, a Mayor Culpa who always knows where to point the finger.
*CORRECTED: The interviewer was reporter Soledad O'Brien not anchor Miles O'Brien. [hat tip Richard Wohlman]
UPDATE -- Sept. 7: From today's Wall Street Journal: Blame Amid the Tragedy by Bob Williams.
Many in the media are turning their eyes toward the federal government, rather than considering the culpability of city and state officials. I am fully aware of the challenges of having a quick and responsive emergency response to a major disaster. And there is definitely a time for accountability; but what isn't fair is to dump on the federal officials and avoid those most responsible--local and state officials who failed to do their job as the first responders. The plain fact is, lives were needlessly lost in New Orleans due to the failure of Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco, and the city's mayor, Ray Nagin.
The primary responsibility for dealing with emergencies does not belong to the federal government. It belongs to local and state officials who are charged by law with the management of the crucial first response to disasters. First response should be carried out by local and state emergency personnel under the supervision of the state governor and his emergency operations center.
The actions and inactions of Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin are a national disgrace due to their failure to implement the previously established evacuation plans of the state and city. [Emphasis added]
From FoxNews: Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies at 80.
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who served on the Supreme Court for 33 years, steered the court back toward federalism and restored the sovereignty of states in the face of federal power.
Rehnquist, who has led the court since being elevated to chief justice by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, died late Saturday night after battling thyroid cancer for the better part of the past year.
His death comes as senators in Washington prepare for the battle over the confirmation of President Bush's nominee for the seat vacated by Sandra Day O'Connor.
UPDATE -- Sept. 6: From FoxNews: Roberts Bump-Up Raises Stakes.
President Bush's decision to nominate John Roberts (search) as the nation's 17th Supreme Court chief justice raises the stakes of the upcoming Senate confirmation hearings, with lawmakers now asked to pass judgment on a man who could lead the nation's highest court for decades.
Republicans say nothing has changed, that Roberts is the same well-qualified judge who seemed to be headed for confirmation as an associate justice before Chief Justice William Rehnquist (search) died Saturday and Bush tapped Roberts, 50, for the top spot. ...
Democrats, however, said bumping Roberts up to chief justice instead of having him replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (search) means tougher scrutiny of Rehnquist's former Supreme Court clerk.
It's the one-year anniversary of the Beslan school massacre, and still few news articles acknowledge the Islamist motivations of the terrorists. Charles Johnson noted the omissions in this AFP wire story: Minute of silence marks anniversary of Beslan hostage bloodbath.
Stifling anguished cries, survivors of the Beslan tragedy and relatives of more than 300 dead hostages observed a minute of silence at the ruins of School Number One on the anniversary of the disaster.
Gathering under rain clouds, mourners stood in and around the ruins of the school to observe a minute of silence at 1:05 pm (0905 GMT), the precise moment when Russian rescue forces a year ago launched a chaotic attempt to rescue more than 1,100 hostages.
Only the sound of sobbing interrupted the silence.
Then white balloons were floated into the dark sky, one for each of the 319 hostages who perished, including 186 children, and 12 servicemen. All but one of the 32 gunmen, who had been demanding an end to the war in Chechnya, were also killed in the battle. ...
The Beslan tragedy began last year on September 1 when gunmen seized more than 1,100 students, parents and teachers while they celebrated the start to the academic year. It ended on September 3 in a battle so fierce that much of the school was destroyed by fire and blast.
But this Mail & Guardian article fills in some important details: Beslan mastermind thumbs his nose at Russia.
He is Russia's most wanted man, with tens of thousands of soldiers on his trail, but a year after masterminding the Beslan massacre, Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev remains at large, openly mocking the Kremlin. ...
The bearded guerrilla leader has become legendary for his ability to escape the net, despite multiple wounds, including the loss of his right lower leg on a landmine five years ago, and a $10-million bounty on his head.
Military analysts describe Basayev (40) as a brilliant commander, fearless and ruthless -- even psychopathic -- in his decade-old war against the Russian state.
That has earned him cult status among the radicalised wing of Chechen rebels and in the worldwide Islamic jihad movement, from which he is believed to receive some of his funding.
For more information, see our post from last year.
NEW ORLEANS, United States (AFP) - Rescuers raced to reach stranded survivors of Hurricane Katrina as authorities battled to stop looters taking control of the stricken city of New Orleans.
With authorities estimating hundreds of dead from Monday's storm -- and not even bothering to recover bodies from the floods, news that floodwater levels had stabilised offered scant relief as the enormous scale of the crisis became apparent. ...
US National Guard troops early Thursday girded for a mission to stem rising anarchy in looting-hit New Orleans, as authorities tried to stop the situation spiralling out of control.
"The National Guard is quickly hoping to turn its mission to more law enforcement," Bob Mann, spokesman for Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, told reporters in a late night briefing.
UPDATE II: Robert Tracinski offers some insight into the origin of the looter mentality criticized in our cartoon: An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State .