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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cemeteries Off Limits — Our Limits, Their Cemeteries

There they were — 190 top Taliban thugs apparently saying prayers over the grave of one of their fallen soldiers. Or maybe it was a military formation. The image was captured by a high-flying American drone, and it would seem that the Pentagon decided not to send a missile to blast these scumbags (this being the correct technical term) off the face of the earth. Why? Because American military rules of engagement prohibit the bombing of enemy cemeteries. MSNBC's intrepid Kerry Sanders conveys this frustrated message from one of our soldiers who apparently takes seriously America's stated aim to dispatch Islamofascists into the waiting arms of their respective 72 virgins:
One officer involved says, "We were so excited. I came rushing in with the picture." But in the end, that excitement turned to frustration. The unmanned Predator drone, flying undetected overhead, continued to feed back pictures as the Taliban dispersed, heading off in tiny groups, too small to effectively target.
So, while these miserable cowards are free to scurry off to their "holy" work of sending more Americans to cemeteries, we can pat ourselves on the back for our military politesse and our slavish adherence to interfaith compassion. We wouldn't want to give the Taliban cause to lodge a complaint with the U.N. human rights commission.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Republicans Will Keep Congress

I usually prefer comparing competing scenarios to making full-blown predictions about future events, especially when the factors influencing those events 1) are multiple, 2) are volatile, and 3) have several weeks to mutate via factors not yet in view — such as national security issues. Even so, I'm prepared to go out on a limb at say: the GOP maintains both houses of Congress on November 7. I base this prediction on a series of hunches related to several key issues. 1. The GOP base isn't happy but they're not going to sit out the election en masse because they've tried that before and the result was liberal-left gains that had to be undone by a future GOP majority. 2. The Democrat/left base is very motivated to punish Bush and the GOP in general. They'll turn out but not in sufficient numbers to win control of Congress. 3. Bush has national security issues on his side, and while the country is weary of Iraq and majorities say they want to set a firm withdrawal date, I don't believe the country's weariness is anywhere close to the kind of 1968 anger that turned the nation decisively against Viet Nam. When Bush talks about security, voters will think: This guy probably read national security briefings this afternoon. When Kerry talks about security (as he will), voters will think: This guy probably got a pedicure this afternoon. 4. Gas prices are going down, and the descent will continue. Big bonus for GOP. 5. The economy's in strong shape. There's a disturbing trade deficit and we're still spending too much. Does America think Reid-Pelosi will spend less? That's my Big Five, all in this context: The increasing strength of the Republican Party has been both broad and deep. Granted, the president's party loses on average 40 seats in the House of Representatives in year six of a two-term presidency. But this did not hold true with either of the two most recent sixth-year elections: Reagan in 1986 and Clinton in 1998. If I'm right I'll probably be inspired to continue making predictions, possibly including psychic readings. If I'm wrong, I'll blame unnamed, oppressive, marginalizing forces for stacking the deck against me, and I'll call for a new national dialogue — you know, the left's primary response to ... you name the issue.

The Unity's Over

How extraordinary, the nation's consensus. On the fifth anniversary of September 11, all Americans — even the fiercest critics of U.S. foreign policy, even the most rabid Bush Derangement Syndrome — came together in agreement that, yes, The World Trade Center was destroyed, the twin towers no longer exist. Beyond that point, the consensus doesn't exist. The majority of Democrats in Congress really do seem to believe that what happened that day in Manhattan, Washington, and Shanksville was simply an unfortunate episode, a sad aberration, a tragic quirk. Quirky and episodic like former national security advisor Sandy Berger unthinkingly removing top secret documents from classified archives and, in a state of distraction and inattention, stuffing the documents down his pants, only to absent-mindedly destroy those documents when he returns home. It's a common thing, that kind of pants problem. Happens a lot, like Madeleine Albright's boast that she can leg-press 400 pounds. Sandy and Maddy — yes, these are the two main people I trust to evaluate the reality basis of a TV show about the leadup to September 11. They agree: the buildings fell. The rest is details, like Bill Clinton not answering Berger's phone calls. The president had his own pants problems, cut the guy some slack.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Measure of a Day

The danger of remembering what happened five years ago is the danger that memory will triumph over understanding. To say we remember where we were — what we saw, what we heard, what we felt — is to say little more than that on September 11, 2001, we were sentient beings. What do we see today? This is the question that matters. "America is at war." We'll hear these words in the background of today's public memories. For many of us the words won't quite register. "Radical Islam is at war with America." We'll hear these words, too. The meaning of the two sentences is identical. Taking the full measure of this day means letting real meaning sink in. To encourage full comprehension, it helps to add a few more sentences. First: "I am an American." Then: "America is at war with radical Islam." One more: "We will win this war, because the very heart and soul of America makes any other outcome unthinkable." As Americans, we are at war with a grotesque ideology that goes by the name of radical Islam. This ideology leaves no guessing room about its intention to murder anyone and everyone who refuses to vow allegiance to to its quest for global empire. If your impulse is to parse the preceding sentence, at best you're living in nostalgia. Second best, you're in the same kind of denial by which reasonable, misguided, tragically naive people allowed Hitler to get as far as he got. Third alternative: perhaps you're among those who can't help blaming America for everything that goes wrong in the world. If so, radical anti-Western jihad is the latest festival of opportunity to encourage the enemy of your enemy. Be warned: totalitarians invariably reserve special vengeance for the "useful idiots" whose sympathies they no longer require. Please don't take it personally when the butchers come at you with machetes rather than thanking you for your help. It's just so hard to cotton up to people who betray their own countrymen. Five years later, certain familiar truisms bear repeating, such as: Not every Muslim supports radical global jihad. That said, today's a good time for less familiar truisms to become more so: Muslims who in the solitude of their hearts and minds dissent from radical global Islamist ideology do so by carving out some interior exemption, some manner of personal "This doesn't apply to me" haven of denial. Such Muslims, Canadian author Irshad Manji observes, pretend that "Islam is an innocent bystander in today's terrorism." Fairy tales take many forms. Americans who are religious, no matter what faith; Americans who are secular; Americans who answer "spiritual but not religious" — any and all who give ourselves over to sad memories of what happened five years ago, without coming to terms with the need to destroy this enemy, are living a fairy tale. Voters who believe a Democrat-led congress will make America safer by forcing America to abandon Iraq are Neville Churchill's unweaned children. Homework assignment: If the word caliphate is not part of your everyday vocabulary, make sure it is before your head hits the pillow tonight after all of today's commemorations. (It will be on the test, and the test won't be paper-pencil.) Working definition: Radical Islamists are not simply permitted but required by religious sanction to use any means necessary — agreeing to "truces," signing "treaties" — to achieve the end of killing every Christian, every Jew, every secular Westerner, including every "moderate" Muslim who stands in their way of global Islamic domination. Hell, yes. I remember 9/11/2001. Can I can tell you exactly where I was and how it hit me? With riveting, aching detail. What I saw, heard, felt, all of it. So can you; we have that in common. Let's agree, you and me, to keep those remembrances to ourselves, especially today. Suppose we agree to have the harder conversation, that one that starts with: Though we would like to believe otherwise, we are in a war for our survival against an enemy that spends every waking moment to plotting to destroy us as they did 3,000 of our fellows five years ago. I hate war. Even more I hate those who foist it upon others, and that is what radical jihad means in our time. When our collective memories are synonymous with that realization, we'll be on the right track. Those who died in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania deserve our remembrance. But they deserve so much more. They gave blood and today many of us give tears. They also deserve our sweat — our willingness to give everything we've got to defend the teeming, freedom-loving, unapologetically creative nation that the fanatical savages hate not least because we to love it and dare to call it home. We are Americans. "Let's roll."