Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Monday, September 29, 2003

Sorry I've been so silent, real job has been real busy. I've wanted to put up one column length piece each week, and fill in with some shorter stuff, at least to start with, but when I sit in front of a computer screen for 8 straight hours, sometimes the last thing I feel like doing is coming home and sitting in front of it some more. *sigh* I'll be better. Tonight the Packers and Bears are on MNF and opening the new Soldier(s) Field and the Cubs have won their division. The Cubs have won their division! (Yes, that DID need to be written twice - I honestly never thought I'd see that in my lifetime and I'm in my mid 20's!). So now they start their series tomorrow, and I'll have to watch that, like I said I may never see it again.

So I'll have my new piece up in the next few days, see you then. In the meantime, Go Cubs and Go Packers!!!

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Damnit! I don't know why, sometimes my "Baghdad's Eye View" and "archives" appears right where it's supposed to be sometimes, but then other times... AT THE VERY BOTTOM OF THE PAGE!?! I'm not particularly tech savvy.......

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Lessons of Terror, Civil Disobedience and Martin Luther King

Last Sunday the Chicago Tribune headlined this article alluding to a policy shift in Israel's seemingly never ending battle against terrorism.
The article reports this statement from the Israeli government:
In the same statement Thursday that called Arafat "a complete obstacle" to peace, the government said: "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has today instructed the security forces to Act relentlessly, continuously and determinedly to eliminate the terrorist organizations and take all appropriate measures against their leaders, commanders and operatives until their criminal activity is halted. The aforementioned activity will continue night and day, uninterrupted."

Since a suicide bombing last month that killed 22, the Israeli military has killed a dozen more Hamas leaders, including a (failed) assassination attempt on Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the group's spiritual leader. And for the first time, polls suggest that the policy of targeted killings, enjoys comfortable support amongst the Israeli public. It seems that after three years of countless attacks directed at civilians in cafes, Passover dinners and everyday bus riders, the Israeli public has said "enough!" In other words, it's time to take out the trash.

It seems likely that this (quiet) shift was on some level, influenced by the Israeli public taking a long look at the United States successes in Afghanistan and Iraq as a model for fighting terrorism. We have been attacking terrorism where it grows for two years now and have (quite to my amazement) not suffered another attack on U.S. soil; something that, after 9/11/01 seemed like a not too distant inevitability.

There is a lesson in this for us as well. A policy of appeasement and restraint does not end terrorism. On the contrary, it encourages it. If suicide bombings win concessions, then one can expect more suicide bombings. Restraint, or trying to understand "why they hate us" is not an effective combatant. Hamas has zero interest in living in peace with Israel, but instead seek to live on their ruins. (The Palestinian majority has this goal as well and if you poll Al-Qaeda, you'll find about 100% that would like to see us Infidels exterminated) The U.S. had already suffered a string of attacks throughout the 90's (African Embassy bombings, WTC bombing in '93, and the USS Cole attack) and reacted with hardly a shrug. That policy earned us the horror of 9/11. There are no negotiations with those whose demands start with your destruction.

Just as there are lessons that the United States and Israel can take from each other, there are lessons that the Palestinians would be wise to consider as well. Not the least of which is the realization that Yassar Arafat and the Palestinian policy of violence has brought nothing but more violence, more misery, and less hope. It may be time for them to take a page out of Martin Luther King or Gandhi's book.

Israel is a free society. Can you imagine, in this world of instant news, the ripple effect that a policy of peaceful Palestinian protest would have on world opinion? Now imagine the results of that policy beamed to millions of TV's around the world by Al-Jazeera and CNN a-like. Could Israel continue to fire rockets and drop bombs on the homes of suspected leaders, without a serious international backlash? Would world opinion not turn against Israel overnight if they continued to ignore Palestinian civil rights in the face of non-violent protests?

Perhaps Palestinians are treated as second class citizens by some in Israel, but they do have the right to get jobs and make a living, and there are hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children attending Israeli schools, an opportunity many neighboring Arab countries deny them. In Israel, Palestinians have rights, including the right to free assembly. It is time for change, and somewhere amongst the militants there must be a leader, one who can look to history's civil rights movements for the model to success. American blacks were much more oppressed than the Palestinians, but they managed to secure their rights without resorting to suicide bombs.

India took a similar road in gaining their independence from colonialism as Dinesh D'souza observes in his book "What's So Great About America:"
"They (India) did not secure their freedom by inflicting a military defeat on the West. This they did not have the power to do. They won by appealing to the principles of the West, including the principle of self-determination, and by shaming the West into relinquishing its empire and granting independence to its former colonies."

Martin Luther King exploited the same hypocrisy in the United States. Our Declaration of Independence proclaimed that "all men are created equal," but not all of the United States lived that way. By declaring this right as fundamental, the enforcement of it must follow, for it is the foundation of the rule of law and, by extension, the foundation for basic human rights. For a free society to deny this is to deny its own legitimacy. The civil rights movement forced the country to confront this question, and face either a constitutional crisis, or democracy.

D'Souza also notes in his book, "If Hitler had been ruling India, Gandhi would be a lampshade." By the same token, if Saddam had been ruling Israel the Palestinians would have long ago choked on sarin gas. Fortunately though, Israel is not Iraq, and saying a bad word about the government will not get you and your family torturously murdered. Opportunity is there, so instead of exploiting the openness of the Israeli society to bomb them, they would be further ahead to use the morals of that society against them -- not pass out candy and dance in the streets when a suicide bomber successfully detonates himself. But this cannot happen until the Palestinian movement becomes united in a two state solution. So far, they haven't been.

I will be going to see Dinesh D'Souza speak at my alma mater, Monmouth College (IL), in October and will review it here.

Also Chicago Tribune links tend to expire quickly, if anyone who wants to see the above linked article after it's gone, let me know.

Friday, September 12, 2003

The Jumpers. I've read a lot of 9/11 tributes over the last few days, and it seems to me, this year, it's the jumpers that stick in my head. I never saw much of the jumpers, certainly not live that day. I went to work and was sent home an hour or so after the towers collapsed, by then the media had ceased showing that footage. But yesterday I read this piece from Esquire and Glenn Reynolds also posted the picture that's on the right with his 9/11 post, which led to an outburst from Eric Muller which is pretty well documented here.

For the record, Muller is dead wrong, for reasons already articulated in the comments section of his original complaint. But what got me thinking were these pictures that Glenn points to here, here, here, and here. You must look at them before you read on. (The pictures courtesy of this post by Justin Katz.)

Look at those people facing an unthinkable decisions. Are they attempting to climb down the building? I would, what's the better choice? Can you imagine standing on the edge of death as they are, looking and seeing your fellow men and women all around you, frantically looking around for help. But you see their eyes, and they are asking for something too, but it's not help. They all know..... there is no help, not in the mortal world. What should I do? Jump? How long will the fall be? More importantly how long will it seem.... 10 seconds.... 10 years? What will I think about, would God consider this suicide? (of course not!) Will it hurt when I crash?!?!? Who did this, what the hell is happening?!?!? All I did was go to work, it's getting so GODDAMNED HOT...... !!?!

ughhh.... I am thankful that I did not have to make that decision, I don't know what I would do and it's haunting to consider. Jump or get burned alive? BURNED ALIVE? That is not human choice, but it is a sobering reminder of what we are fighting against.

Here is a letter written the morning of 9/11/03 by a very good friend of mine who now lives in San Diego, I am happy and honored that he asked me to publish it here:

As I woke up this morning, I obviously had an awareness of the date; that two years ago today occurred the most horrific American tragedy committed on our soil it's hard to be an American and not at least have an awareness of the significance of September 11. As I got out of the shower and went into my bedroom and turned on the same TV on the same dresser in my bedroom as I did two years ago, almost to the minute, I watched the memorials in Arlington National Cemetery, the children of victims of the World Trade Center attacks, and the memorial in Pennsylvania for the victims of Flight 93, and I was overcome with a powerful mixture of sadness, grief, and anger, all in larger quantities than I can ever remember feeling. I've never lost anyone in my immediate family, never lost a friend or teammate or co-worker -- this tragedy is probably the most painful loss I've endured, and I didn't even personally know anyone who died on September 11, 2001.

As I watched those children announce about 20 or so names each at the World Trade Center memorial, finishing with the name of their respective fathers or mothers who lost their life on that day, I tried to imagine what it must have felt like to experience such a powerful loss. They had no idea when they kissed their Moms and Dads goodbye that fateful morning that it would be the last time they would see the person who brought them into this world, raised them, cared for them and nurtured them, hoped to see them graduate high school and get married and have kids of their own. Even after the whole country became aware of the attacks that morning, I'm sure they knew their mom or dad worked in the World Trade Center, and they had to endure an entire day at school or work, wondering whether or not their father made it out, or whether he was one of the more than 3000 people who died that morning. I tried to imagine how they felt, thinking "my mommy flew on a plane out of New Jersey this morning" and having to wonder if her plane was one of the ones that crashed so horrifically that morning. I couldn't even comprehend what that must have felt like. I can think back to times in my life when I've had to wait for the results of something as mundane or relatively trivial as a test score or an acceptance letter, how slow the day seemed to go by, the countless times I would play and replay the possible outcomes in my head. Can you imagine having to wonder "Is my dad dead?" Did he make it out alive?" Will I ever see my mother again?" Then to come home from school that day, to see the look on their mother's face, and to come to find out they've lost their father forever. Or to come home and find no one there at all. There is no anticipation of such a loss, as is when we lose loved ones to disease, no closure as we can attend a wake to say goodbye. The presence of someone so important to their life was simply stripped away, never to return, no closure to be found, no goodbyes to be made. Gone forever are their mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, friends and co-workers -- people that are so very much a part of our lives one day, then gone and never to return the next.

As I tried to comprehend such remorse within, my thoughts then leapt to the cause of such immense pain and hurt to the countless families in our great country that were affected by that loss on 9/11. I realized -- not one single person who was in that building or on those planes asked for such a fate. Not one family member who lost a loved on that morning could have anticipated what happened, nor did they in any way do anything to deserve such a fate. They were all at work, or headed to a destination, contributing to the greater good of our country in a peaceful manner -- they were not out, injecting hate and fear and even considering the taking of innocent lives. I highly doubt that even one of the 3000+ innocent American civilians we lost that day woke up that morning and even cursed the name of the Islamic extremists, or thought to themselves "I hope a few people from the Middle East die today."

We are not the ones who brought this hatred and murder into our world. They are. We are not the ones who initiated such a horrific, murderous act of war. They are. We are not the ones who sought out to destroy the lives of so many people, innocent people, people whose paths have probably never even crossed. THEY ARE. I feel as if people often forget that -- people not only around the world, but also within the borders of our own great nation. Had those murderous acts of September 11, 2001 not taken place, does anyone believe that we would be on the forefront of a global war as we are today? We are not the instigators of this battle with terrorism. This war was brought to us, on our soil, from the wreckage of the World Trade Centers, right down to the hearts and souls of the families and loved ones who remain. If our President feels even a fraction of the sadness and anger that I do today, he must have the same overwhelming desire that I do to avenge the deaths of those innocent Americans. If the pain of those thousands of families can transcend his emotions as it has mine, he must at the very least want to do anything and everything in his power to ensure that our country does not suffer another heartbreak and bloodshed as it did on 9/11. And as I watch the news and read the papers, and see the pain and loss in the eyes of those children, and feel the incredible sadness within for the tragic loss of innocent lives, I still read as the surviving Al Qaeda network continues to threaten our country, even on this day. The heartless bastards can't even give us a day to mourn the immense loss we felt two years ago, a loss they caused. They continue to threaten our national security, our civilians, our country, even on the day when we as a country hurt the most. This threat is very real, it is not going away, and most importantly, it was not instigated by us.

So as we as a nation mourn today, still under the threat of attack from a group of people that have such hatred in their blood that they would disrespect our right to mourn as a nation, after they took so many Americans -- innocent Americans like you and me -- out of this world without any provocation -- I ask each of you to think of what it would feel like if you came home from work today to find out you lost a loved one in another attack. What would it feel like if another attack occurred this morning, at a building where a loved one of yours worked or lived, and you had to spend the entire day wondering if that kiss you gave your wife, son or daughter was your last? What if you had to come to the realization that this morning was the last time you will ever see your father or mother again? Without any choice, without any warning, without any closure, that someone who brought so much love into your life was taken away for you, when they didn't even do anything wrong? If you could anticipate such a horrible thing happening to you, would you still believe we truly should stand down and ignore such a threat? If you could prevent such a great and tragic loss in some way, would you?

What would you do?

Joe Burnett
San Diego, CA

Right on Joe, thanks for the thoughts.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Last Thing For Today Emotionally, I am exhausted, I've spent the day reading so many wonderful thoughts and tributes (see below) but also re-living the awful slaughter that took place two years ago. I've shed a lot of tears today for those lost, tears of frustration, anger and sadness and all at the same time. Freedom is threatened, and I plan on doing all I can to fight that threat via this web site.

Here is a wonderful 9/11 memorial, be patient it takes a few minutes to load but it is well worth it.

Also here is a poem by W.H. Auden it was written in the 50's, but just as easily could have been inspired by 9/11:

Though mild clear weather
Smile again on the shire of your esteem
And its colors come back, the storm has changed you: You will not forget, ever,
The darkness blotting out hope, the gale Prophesying your downfall.

You must live with your knowledge.
Way back, beyond, outside of you are others,
In moonless absences you never heard of, Who have certainly heard of you,
Beings of unknown number and gender: And they do not like you.

What have you done to them?
Nothing? Nothing is not an answer:
You will come to believe how can you help it? That you did, you did do something;
You will find yourself wishing you could make them laugh, You will long for their friendship.

There will be no peace.
Fight back, then, with such courage as you have
And every unchivalrous dodge you know of, Clear in your conscience on this:
Their cause, if they had one, is nothing to them now; They hate for hate's sake.

Good Night.

Remembering 9/11/01 Very strange the second anniversary is upon us and no one knows quite what to do. Put me in that boat. A big part of me wants something like the footage from 9/11 re-run, all day. To remind us all of the hell that day was, and the way it shook us out of a (quite secure) slumber. In the summer if 2001 the news was of shark attacks, more shark attacks, and Gary Condit. (hey, wait a second, Gary Condit benefited from 9/11, he must have been involved in the conspiracy too!) Now all of a sudden I was hearing the first hand misery from the victims families... on an hourly basis. I suppose it's cliche' now, but the world changed. I went to work that morning, I work in the shadow of the Sears Tower, it could have been me and, it should have been me, if not for randomness, really. That's what sent it home. This was an attack on our civilization. An attack on going into work on a beautiful Tuesday morning to bring home the fruits of your labor to spend on whatever you want; your children, saving for the dream house, a nice dinner with your girlfriend, rounds for your friends at the bar. Whatever you want; that is the American way.

Perhaps that is why 9/11 had such a profound effect on me. I realized what a false sense of the world I had, and certainly I will blame some of that on my age, but I thought democracy had already won. I believed it was The End of History. It wasn't. There was a new struggle, a struggle of cultures. Terrorists vs. The West. Democracy vs. 12th century theocracy. Basic Human Rights vs. The Lash of Islamo-Fascists. That's what it has come down to. That is why our collective response is so important, terrorists must be hunted down and killed and democracy and the ideals of individual rights must be spread. The Arab world is governed by torture and massacre, their authoritarian governments control almost all information that flows in and out. The fertilizer for extremism. And it's grown. The time is now, the Middle East needs democracy, their citizens deserve it, and Iraq and Afghanistan are the starting points. Now is not the time to lose our resolve, now is not the time to forget what complacency leads too. Now is the time to remember that those that died on 9/11/01 were some of the first casualties in the war on terror. It was their deaths that shook us out of our restful lives and into this war. We should honor their deaths by carrying through on our quest to stamp out terror and extend the promise of individual liberty to the world over.

My heart goes out to those that were made widows, widowers, orphaned, or whatever the euphemism is for those that lost their loved ones and a piece of themselves on that epochal day. We Will Never Forget.

UPDATE: Here's a short list of other links and thoughts that are worth reading.

Jeff Jarvis is blogging from the WTC today. Excerpt:
: It's the children's voices that make this so much harder.
At the World Trade Center, the month, the day, and the minute come, and their voices cut through the sounds of the city. They sing our anthem: clear and strong and beautiful; that was hard enough. And then they start reading the names, the names that will continue for hours. It takes so long to read the names. It took so little time to kill the people. And then one of the children reads a name and says that this was her father;s name. And she adds, "I love you, Daddy, we miss you a lot."
God, I can't see how these children have the courage to do this.
I'm standing on the street crying as I have not been able to in two years. I'm not alone.
The street is crowded with people who have come to mourn and pay their tributes. They're crying, too.
It's the children, their loss, their pain, their strength. It's the children who make me cry.

New York Magazine has a great story on some individuals that were in stairwell B of the North Tower (some as high as the 22nd floor) when it collapsed. These 16 inexplicably survived, read their miraculous stories and how they are coping today, here.

Mark Steyn is brilliant as usual in this MUST READ COLUMN. It's near impossible to excerpt Steyn but this is too good to pass up:
There are basically two lines on Bush these days. At home, the media and the Democrats argue that Americans are somehow reeling under a terrorist onslaught. As the New York Times's elderly schoolgirl Maureen Dowd put it last week, 'We wanted to get rid of Osama and Saddam and the Taleban and al-Qa'eda. We didn't. They're replicating and coming at us like cockroaches.'

Really? Osama is replicating? That's news to me. Considering that the original hasn't been seen in a year and three quarters, it looks more like he's plicated. I said in these pages 15 months ago that he's dead, he's bin Laden to rest' he's pushing up daisy-cutters, and I'm sticking with that.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the tinfoil-hat brigade has gone mainstream. Of course America hasn't been attacked again. That's because 9/11 was a neocon conspiracy to give Washington a pretext to grab Iraq's oil and Afghanistan's, er, rubble.

Stephen Green's thoughts are here and should not be missed either. Same goes for Christopher Hitchens who takes a somewhat iconoclastic look at the 2nd anniversary.

And finally, A Small Victory has been collecting and publishing thoughts for her rememberance project titled "Voices: Stories from 9 11 and Beyond" It is quite a collection.

Another Update I've been waiting for this all day and now it's up, go read James Lileks right now.

The new Bin Laden tape. It proves nothing to me. It's old video footage with a voiceover, nothing more. As far as I'm concerned (and you should be too damnit!) Osama is dead until he proves otherwise. Why not release a tape specifically mentioning recent events? Where's the footage of Osama holding yesterday's newspaper? He's dead.

Instead the tape reeks of desperation. Al-Qaeda is in disarray, no attacks on American soil for two years(!), a feat I assumed impossible after 9/11/01. In fact Al-Qaeda is reduced to, essentially bombing in their own backyard since then. As I've said before, the next step is cutting out the middle man and bombing themselves! (We could only hope)

What is noteworthy in the tape however, is a call to the useful idiots. Ayman al-Zawahri, the voiceover throughout the tape and one of bin Laden's top deputies, calls on American mothers, whose sons are in Iraq, to make their voices heard and get the US out of Iraq or else "their sons willl come home in coffins." Clearly a plea for the anti-war movement to help them out. The only hope is that the U.S. will lose their resolve in the quest to remake Iraq and the Middle East into functioning democracies. Make no mistake, preventing a democratic Iraq and Afghanistan is what the Islamo-Fascists need for survival. And the last thing they need is the terror front being fought in Iraq, as it is now. The US occupying Iraq requires the rats to come out of the caves, they must. If Al-Qaeda can't attack US forces while they are in the Middle East they lose their credibility amongst the Arab terrorist street. But this plays right into our hands. Go ahead Osama and friends, make another call for Jihad, send a bunch of Muslim Fundamentalists to Iraq to fight the infidels. They will be killed or captured by armed Marines in Iraq and your dreams of a 12th century theocracy will be further crushed. As the flypaper theory suggests, it is better to have Al-Qeada attacking our Marines in Iraq than our citizens in Anywhere, USA.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Praise for the anti-war movement. Not from me of course, but from a terrorist:
The man who helped mix the deadly one-tonne Bali nightclub bomb Sawad, alias Sardjiyo, yesterday said he wanted to thank the Australian people who had supported his cause during recent Australian anti-Gulf War protests.

And fellow bomb-mixer Abdul Ghoni urged Australians against forming friendly alliances with America.

The pronouncements of the two Bali bombing suspects came as they and the evidence against them was handed from Bali police to prosecutors.

"I want to thank the Australian people who supported our cause when they demonstrated against the policies of George Bush. Say thank you to all of them," Sawad said.

American protesters please don't feel left out, I'm sure he thanks you for the de facto support as well, sleep easy tonight.


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