Re: Patrick O'Hannigan's On Forecasting Fratricide in Iraq:
Fratricide in Iraq wasn't inevitable. Shia and Sunni work together when it suits them and kill each other when it suits them. In Iraq, Sunni and Shia worked together after our invasion. Al Qaeda decided to ignite a civil war by attacking Shia civilians. The Shia waited patiently for about a year for the U.S. to stop the Sunni massacres of Shia, but instead of killing the Sunni murderers, Bremer negotiated with them behind the scenes, trying to woo them into the government while calling them nasty names in the press. Finally, the Shia had had enough and decided to retaliate. Paul Bremer deserves all of the credit for the mess and mass murder in Iraq today.
-- Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
If O'Hannigan can point to his having published an article prior to the Iraq invasion that predicted deliberate Muslim fratricide, I'll take his criticisms of the Administration more seriously. As it is, they simply seem to form another example of 20-20 hindsight.
He questions "...whether people in the president's inner circle learned lessons from...the etymology of the word 'assassin'"? OK, it comes from hashish -- but what point is that supposed to make?
Dubya can be effectively criticized for being too "nice' to Islam; for failing to hit Syria and Iran; for not firing General Zinni on January 21, 2001; and probably for many other things. I don't see how he can be criticized for failing to use the Palantir to foresee Muslims killing Muslims in order to embarrass the USofA.
In fact, on re-reading O'Hannigan's effort, the whole article fails to hang together, and looks like a patch job of multiple rants pasted up for AmSpec.
-- Richard Donley
New Lyme, Ohio
Patrick O'Hannigan replies:
I would like to assure Mr. Richard Donley that the essay was not "a patch job of multiple rants." I'm pleased to say that no less an authority that Robert Spencer thinks well of it (here).
Moreover, Donley's reference to assassin as being derived from "hashish" is correct, but incomplete. Hashish was the drug of choice associated with a secret Islamic order of killers that originated in the 11th century. If Mr. Donley thinks I inserted an oblique anti-drug message into an anti-Muslim pastiche, then he missed not just one point, but two-- and for that I am sorry.
Mr. Patrick O'Hannigan nails the problem in our national "forecasting" about the inter-civilizational war radical Mohammedans have once again launched against us. The forecasters have cast their own religious preferences into their interpretive template. When one commences one's reasoning upon faulty premises, rest assured that faulty conclusions result. "Garbage in, garbage out."
The social elites who dominate our government bureaus all share the secularist false 'religion' (first widely exported by Revolutionary France and cursing the world ever since). The "progressivist" secular, humanist "religion" produces: "positive" thinking, naturalism, materialism, scientism, and usually also socialism; and it further assumes that all human change necessarily produces advancement. Secular elites also assure themselves that they in their human rationality stand personally superior to any and every advocate of any supernatural religion. They claim most particular superiority over those who confess that the LORD is God, and Jesus Christ as Lord. The secularist (correctly) views Christianity as even more dangerous to secular religiosity than the manifestly murderous Mohammedans.
For all his pretensions to "multiculturalism" and "global thinking" the elite secularist suffers just as much provincialism, blindness and self-pride as those he looks down upon as benighted lesser beings. Following his irrational faith in human "progress" the secularist ignores contrary lessons offered in abundance by competing religions and by objective human history. He sees the past as always per se worse than today, and tomorrow as necessarily more "advanced" than today. Under his blinkered religious thinking the secularist presupposes that all persons in the world must think and react just as he would, and all for the betterment of man. Small wonder that our best and brightest did not "forecast" Mohammedans murdering Mohammedans on vast scales.
Of greater concern to me is the worthy Dennis Prager's apparent sharing secularism's foolish presumptions. For an orthodox Jew to find Mohammedan bloodthirstiness "unforeseeable" -- Ow. Both reason and revelation provide irrefutable evidence of Mohammed's fixation on lust, blood and death. Reason directs us to the long historical record of Mohammedan crimes and hatred. Their mistreatment of Jews alone would certainly prove the lie to protestations that Mohammed preached a "religion of peace." Let alone all of us other "dhimmis" (root concept: dimunition). Just as secularist Marxian sects engaged in vicious intramural violence while each deeming themselves superior to all non-Marxists, so also have, and do, Mohammedan sectarians.
As for Divine revelation: Mohammedans claim that "Mohammed is the prophet" of a self-conceived god they call Allah. They further claim their descent from Ishmael, firstborn son of Abraham. But Almighty God told Abraham, about this son: "He will be a wild man, his hand will be against every man". God ordained that Ishmael, "son of the bondwoman", be "cast out" of the family of Abraham, declared to be no son of Abraham's -- dis-adopted, as it were. God ordained "through Isaac shall your seed [descendants] be called" unto God for salvation from sin. For through Isaac came Israel, and Judah, and David, and all of God's true prophets, and ultimately our final Prophet, Priest and King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Denying Christ is Lord and God, Mohammed most certainly is a false prophet. He abysmally fails the test of one-hundred-percent accuracy fixed by God in the Torah. Mohammed advocates actions which violate the Ten Commandments revealed two thousand years before he ever came to be. And, the god who Mohammed claims to represent is most certainly less than our Almighty God and LORD. The unholy Koran's "god" is but a pale, partial description of the One True God Who revealed Himself in ancient times and in diverse manners -- Law, Prophets, and Writings -- and finally some six hundred years before Mohammed by His Son. Mohammed stole his material from Judaism and Christianity. Mohammed's god is not their Immanuel. Mohammedanism lacks a doctrine of grace -- thus knows no means of reconciliation of man to God or of man to man; the only "peace" Mohammedans know is the "peace" of the grave. Mohammedism lacks a doctrine of Trinity -- thus knows no means of reconciling the one with the many in amicable unity; Mohammedanism is inescapably Monist, forcing all to submit to one, "might makes right," the law of the jungle. Mohammedanism lacks a doctrine of atonement -- thus knows no means of obtaining pardon for sin and assurance of God's favor; all is "works righteousness," the way of Cain who envied and killed his elect brother. Just as for Cain, Mohammed's true "god" was himself. Mohammed's adherents do likewise.
I do hope that Mr. Prager contemplates God's revelation of Himself. God's Word reveals the true, pagan pattern of Mohammedan self-consuming bloodlust. I also recommend that our "forecasters" consider Mohammedan behaviors in light of our Creator's revelation of what fallen men of any stripe will do. Thus says the LORD: "All who hate Me love death."
-- David James Hanson
"'Widespread massacres of Iraqi civilians by other Iraqis and Muslims' were 'completely unforeseeable.'"
This eventuality was foreseen many centuries ago and is recorded in the prophecy regarding Ishmael's offspring:
He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, AND HE WILL LIVE IN HOSTILITY TOWARD ALL HIS BROTHERS [emphasis mine] (Genesis 16:12)
It's all there for anyone to see and read.
-- A. Robinson
RICH MEN, POOR MEN
Re: Ben Stein's Dollar Signs at Ground Zero:
Ben has done it again, pulled us, well some of us, out of our complacency by reminding us of what we are facing and who it is protecting us. Sadly, however, not everyone hears the message especially those head in the sand congressmen and women who refuse to believe there are evil people in the world who want to kill us and will use any means available to do so.
Keep up the good work Ben. I hope the message gets through.
-- Tom Bullock
West Covina, California
And your point is? Tax the rich? OK, who qualifies as rich? Shall we levy a surcharge on all personal income of any kind in excess of $1,000,000 per year? Feel better? It will raise little money and be easy to avoid. OK, a surcharge on all personal income of any kind in excess of $100,000 annually? Now you're talking...like a Democrat. You seem offended that sacrifice and patriotism are disproportionate among the population and that wealthy, nauseating New York liberals (the absolute worst kind!) end up getting a free ride. Yes, they do; and yes, it is disgusting. Get used to it; it has been ever thus, from the Civil War on down. Do your part, and despise them for not doing theirs. Shame them into donating to charity. But give up the coercion (taxes); it lowers you to their level.
-- Steve Gingerich
As usual Ben has brought up some good points on the dichotomy between today's rich and those of the past.
I served in the 3rd Armored Division (SPEARHEAD!) from 1986-1988 and every year the division would send a team to Margraten, the Netherlands, to honor Major General Maurice Rose -- the division's WWII commander for much of its drive across France, Belgium, and into Germany. MG Rose was the highest ranking Jewish officer in the US Army in WWII and also one of the few generals to be killed in action. (In March 1945 he and an aide were scouting forward of the division and ran into a German tank, and the SS staff sergeant commander panicked and shot him before he realized he had captured a general officer.)
I have always wondered why Hollywood has never made a film about Maurice Rose -- someone who certainly deserves it.
-- Cookie Sewell
Aberdeen, DPRM (Democratic Peoples Republic of Maryland)
Mr. Stein is right as far as he goes. But I would remind him he was looking at a small slice of life, and one that is far from the real America. What he saw was an extreme example of the worst of our culture. And not one I or most of my acquaintances would even recognize. I live in an America where our sons and daughters are in harm's way, where we hold our veterans and current military in very high regard. Where the scouts put memorial flags on the court house square to honor our War dead.
I live in a country where there are jobs and prosperity but Rolexs are rare and a $300,000 watch would be a wasted extravagance, and unknown. Where charity is real and quietly given.
I am not a Pollyanna, of course we have problems, but there are plenty of our citizens who are able and willing to solve them. Of course few of them are sipping $22.00 martinis or eating $45.00 steaks. Perhaps Ben should spend more time in the real America. He would perhaps have a better attitude.
-- Doug Palmer
Dalton, Georgia USA
Mr. Stein, to paraphrase the statement in the scriptures re the selfish, wealthy ruler who threw himself a feast. We have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. We chase wealth and all it will buy. We spend all we have, then go into debt so that we can spend more. We ignore all the warnings re 'saving for a rainy day', or 'putting something away for retirement'. Then we complain that the government won't give us more welfare, and social security, and health care, while voting for liberals who make us the empty promises we so foolishly believe.
Mankind isn't improving as we evolve. We're literally flying apart, degenerating as our momentum slows.
Sir, keep trying to warn your audiences to save more, and prepare for the future. But don't take it too hard when they smilingly ignore you, assuming that the government (using our tax money) will save them from their own cupidity.
-- Tim Jones
Ben Stein wonders about what we all think about the soldiers in Iraq (extremely supportive and grateful). He marvels at the vast wealth around him. He of course is extremely wealthy. And he inveighs against us baby boomers for not putting enough away for retirement. He simply has no idea what he is talking about. Let me run down my costs of living so he will have a better idea of how Americans actually live. I am a 57 year old physician, an endocrinologist (not a very lucrative medical specialty). I make a salary of $220,000 a year, which qualifies me as wealthy, and ineligible for the tax breaks the Democrats want to give for college tuition payments. My son is in an MFA program at Columbia, tuition of $40,000 a year for the 3-year program. (I also previously paid for his older sister's undergraduate and medical school costs.) Living costs for him in New York are at least $30,000 a year. (I have just finished paying $250,000 for his Stanford undergraduate education.) I pay $70,000 a year in federal income taxes, including the alternative minimum. I pay $10,000 a year in health insurance. I pay $12,000 a year in property taxes in Texas, a high property tax state, unfortunately. (I have no mortgage payment. I have owned my home for 15 years). $10,000 is withheld from my paycheck for SS. I put $16,000 a year into a 401k, now to rise to $20,000 if I can find the money, the limit allowed by my employer. I put $7,000 a year into IRA's for myself and my wife. I haven't had a vacation in 7 years. I work 60 to 80 hour weeks. I don't eat out. You can calculate from the above figures that I live on $25,000 a year (less for my wife and I than it costs to support our son with living expenses in New York City). I have $750,000 in retirement accounts, stocks, and cash. Based on my current circumstances, I will be able to retire perhaps at age 80 with adequate income if I am very lucky. All I get out of Washington is grief.
I think a lot about the troops all over the world (I was in the Navy). My parents' generation fought WWII. I favor the Neocon view of more troops in Iraq, and taking out Syria and Iran, and sending special ops forces in Pakistan to take bin Laden. I favor U.S. military action in Darfur, Somalia, and North Korea. I didn't sign up for the Navy again after 9/11 because my wife and son would have no means of support, and I was too old to do much useful. I very much wanted to go. I favor the Sherman approach, overwhelming force, utter destruction of the enemy, done quickly, and then rebuild vigorously.
I'm sure Ben Stein doesn't agree with or understand any of this (nor does anyone in Washington, it seems). But he is one of the effete elites, and has no idea how I live. He is sought for commentary, yet knows virtually nothing and never says anything germane. I could give him a lot better idea of how the country should be run than he can give me, but he certainly would never deign to listen to anyone with a good idea. His argument that taxes on the rich (me) should be increased is insane. I wish he would just go away. We have enough problems without him adding to them.
I also am very tired of the federal and state governments hamstringing me my entire life, with preposterous policies, with very few that make sense. I am utterly disgusted with government and the political games Washington plays, all corrupt and venal in the extreme, almost agreeing with extreme Islam that the U.S. is the great Satan, but would fight to defend it anyway, because it's the best by far the world has to offer. He is moved by the Jewish museum and Ground Zero. I have had friends die in the military. The Holocaust would have been avoided if Hitler had been taken seriously and not appeased, or for that matter, if the Allies had cooperated with Admiral Canaris, which would have enabled them to end the war a couple of years earlier and saved tens of millions of lives, and prevented the enslavement of Eastern Europe after WWII and avoided most of the cold war. But FDR was too foolish to even consider that.
Please ask Mr. Stein to go pedal his nostrums somewhere else, and stop printing his nonsense. It will only encourage the feds to hurt us Americans in the hinterlands more than they already do.
-- Kent J. Lyon
Mr. Stein: Thank you very much for this eloquent piece. May the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob bless and protect you and your family.
-- James Bilezikian
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Shut up, Ben, and enjoy your steak.
-- Abe Grossman
Pleasantville, New York
Re: McCain Vilsacked:
I am not sure where David Hogberg gets the idea that Sen. McCain will "run out of gas" in the 2008 primaries. There is a huge difference between his "insurgent" campaign from 2000 and his establishment campaign of today. He is no longer playing the "spoiler" -- today, he is the candidate to beat. Regardless of his performance in Iowa or New Hampshire, Sen. McCain is doing very well indeed in South Carolina, and, as has been the case in every Republican primary season since its inception in 1980, the winner of the South Carolina GOP primary goes on to be the nominee. Just ask John Connolly and George H.W Bush in 1980, Bob Dole in 1988, and Sen. McCain himself in 2000. All of them came to South Carolina with a head of steam from Iowa, or New Hampshire, or both, and all of them came crashing down to earth in the Palmetto State. Sen. McCain has almost daily received endorsements from politicians and figures from all around the state, and South Carolina's two most popular elected officials, Gov. Mark Sanford and Sen. Lindsey Graham, were supporters in 2000. Sen. Graham, in fact, mentions his support of Sen. McCain in virtually every public address. I do not say that New Hampshire and Iowa are irrelevant, but their importance pales beside that of South Carolina. If the other states were as crucial as Mr. Hogberg seems to believe, then we might have endured Presidents Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan. Thanks to South Carolina, neither happened, and the state will play kingmaker again in 2008.
-- Warren Mowry
After the accuracy of David Hogberg last week I am not about to again declare him a "Glass half empty" reviewer of public and voter opinion. With that admission and while still amazed at the depth of the drubbing taken by Republicans of all stripe I am so pleased to read his piece today concerning Senator McCain. Finally some good news from a source that I should be able to trust. A silver lining is a silver lining and I'll take comfort in this for a while.
-- Roger Ross
John McCain is the main reason John McCain should not attempt a run at President. His record reveals a greater animus toward Republicans and their staple policies than his opposition to anything Democrats ever attempted to do. Arlen Specter slapped down malcontents on the Judiciary committee a while back, and while it doesn't make him a contender either, we've gotten nothing of the sort from McCain.
McCain has his own skeletons that will be revealed such as: his relationship to S&L fraudster Charles Keating and the whole S & L scandal of which McCain was a central figure. His being a Senator is another reason to punt. He's proposed tons of mediocre legislation, but he's never run a state, or even a dog pound. McCain is at his best when slammin' fellow Republicans. That alone is reason enough to banish him to the jungles of Borneo, or drop him off 2,000 feet below the summit of Mt. Everest.
We've suffered enough with the Chafees, Jeffords, Snowes and Specters. Heck, Specter at least got us Clarence Thomas. McCain is a Ross Perot type running interference for Democrats. Chucky Schumer's got McCain's lunch tab covered for the next 6 years.
We can do better. We better damned well do better.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan
David Hogberg says the "McCain straight talk express will quickly run out of gas"; well, from his lips to God's ears, I hope.
Blue Springs, Missouri
The only way I would EVER vote for McCain is if the Democrats have another idiot running (and they have so many to chose from).
-- Elaine Kyle
Re: William Tucker's How About a Nuclear Standoff?:
I hope this argument is being made "tongue-in-cheek", because if it's not it is the single stupidest idea I've heard in my 58 years.
The only reason "MAD" worked with the Soviets is that they were essentially rational beings, many of whom had seen, up close and personal, the horrors of total war (Khrushchev was the political commissar for the Red Army at the Battle of Stalingrad). Also, as atheist, the Soviet leaders had no burning desire to experience an afterlife that they didn't believe existed.
How, pray tell, is MAD supposed to work when we are confronted by the leader of a nation that expresses EAGERNESS for the onset of the End Times?
No I think putting your faith in MAD this go around is a prescription for disaster, and I don't think it's one the Israelis will accept!
-- Terrence B. Hogan
Re: Philip Klein's Rudy the Running Man:
Mr. Klein, may I take issue with one part of your campaign speech for Mayor Rudy? You take issue with Romney for stances he took when appealing to voters in the state of Massachusetts. You also take issue with some of the legislative products that he signed as Governor of Mass. Sir, I hold no particular folio for Gov. Romney, but as a resident of New Hampshire observing the scene, I wonder if these were not simply things that he had to do, given the electoral realities of the state. The electorate is overwhelmingly Democrat. Both houses of the state government is overwhelmingly Democrat. The boards and commissions within the state a controlled by Democrats The unions and the government bureaucrats are controlled by the Democrats. In short, the only offices NOT controlled by the Democrats were the Governor and Lt. Governor.
Sir, I am not making a nominating speech for him like you seem to be for Rudy, but I am not sure that Romney had realistic alternatives to the actions that he took. Sir, I find it unfortunate in the extreme that the Republican party seems to have no one in the wings that can even hold Mr. Reagan's coat, philosophically, oratorical, nor charismatically.
-- Ken Shreve
Philip Klein replies:
When he was mayor, Rudy Giuliani faced a City Council made up of 46 Democrats and just 5 Republicans. Among registered voters in New York City, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by a 5-to-1 margin. Giuliani was actually the first New York City mayor elected as a Republican who remained a Republican throughout his mayoralty since Fiorello LaGuardia left office in 1945 (John Lindsay was elected as a Republican in 1965, but later switched parties). If Romney is to be forgiven for liberal stances he took as governor of Massachusetts, the same understanding should be extended to Giuliani.
READY FOR RUDY
Re: Reader Mail's Forgive and Don't Forget:
Having read some of the comments about a possible Rudy candidacy, I am concerned by some of the contempt for him by some conservatives. I am a devout, full-throttled conservative, but I would support Rudy. In fact, to me the ideal ticket is Rudy Giuliani and Michael Steele as VP.
One some social issues Rudy is more liberal than I would prefer or would otherwise support. Of them all, his gun control views bother me most. However, I do not believe he would support any gun control legislation, knowing the bulk of the GOP is not for that. He has passed tax cuts as New York mayor, supported Bush's tax cuts and would be strong on defense. He also supported the nominations of John Roberts and Sam Alito so I think he would be good on judges, and I believe he would govern a little more conservatively than one might think. He also is a leader and is well spoken. And I think he is electable. Electability is key, my fellow conservatives. This country would be much better off with a President Guiliani (and Vice President Steele) than it would with a President Billary and VP Obama.
Think about it, my fellow conservatives!!
-- John D. Lakemoor
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