Saturday, February 06, 2010
Saturday, February 06, 2010
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Here's a new rule for the next 100 annual Super Bowl news conferences by the commissioner of the National Football League: No questions that include any of the following:
A) The name of a city.
B) The name of a country.
C) Both. Especially both.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answers a question during a news conference Friday, Feb. 5, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The New Orleans Saints will play the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV Sunday, Feb. 7, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. (AP)
Yesterday's ritualistic appearance by Roger Goodell on the eve of Super Bowl eve devolved into still another NFL Network version of Where in the World is Carmen San Diego. Still again, journalists from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries jockeyed for the opportunity to force the commissioner to conjure up the league's exact geography five or 10 years in the future.
Will the Jaguars stay in Jacksonville?
Will the Rams stay in St. Louis?
Will Los Angeles remain 100 percent NFL free?
Will there be a Super Bowl in New York?
Will the Chargers leave San Diego for Los Angeles?
Will somebody, anybody, move to Toronto?
Why doesn't Mexico City get another regular-season game when London just keeps getting them?
Will there be a Super Bowl in Hawaii?
Will there be a regular-season game in Japan?
Will there be a regular-season game in China?
Will they ever fix Route 22 east of Murrysville?
Did all those letters Paul wrote to the Corinthians ever reach Corinthia?
All right those last two I made up, but all the rest were asked in some form Friday and all were answered gamely and sincerely by Goodell but in lieu of this truth, which is that to each and every one, Goodell could comfortably have said "I don't know."
Instead, he said things like this:
"I spent quite a few years in Japan with the American Bowl Series and our partners trying to develop the game. We have some great fans over there who really understand the game of football. I think it is important for us to continue to be there. We have determined though, in the short term, where our focus needs to be as far as regular-season games are concerned. There are some unique challenges to playing a regular-season game in the Far East."
Yes, like putting Casey Hampton in an airplane seat for a brisk 7,000 miles.
These kinds of questions and their unavoidable non-answers consume the majority of the commissioner's time on the only occasion on which he's widely available, reducing the discussion of relatively urgent matters.
Too little time was spent again Friday on the concussion issue, an ever-growing concern in a game in which collisions are becoming more violent. Goodell deserves credit for his initiative in this area, but he hasn't gone nearly far enough.
"We need to make sure we continue to do what we can to make the game safer," he said Friday, "and that deals with how we modify the rules and take certain techniques out of the game, how we use the better equipment to make sure that our players are safer, and what we can do to make sure that our coaches and our players understand the serious nature of these injuries."
Right. Too bad the league isn't doing any of those things.
The league warns about and occasionally penalizes and fines players for helmet-to-helmet hits, but not more than one in 10 such incidents are even flagged by the game officials in my estimation. The league refuses, as the Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette pointed out in December, to require players to wear helmets that have been proven safer, and its players say they won't due to -- are you ready? -- fashion concerns. As for the coaches, it's hard to believe that so many defensive players think tackling is the process by which you turn yourself into a surface-to-air missile without any coaching influence. So much for "making sure our coaches and our players understand the serious nature of these injuries."
The other issue that should have gotten more attention Friday was the game's looming labor trouble, as Goodell tried to defuse the increasingly inflammatory remarks of players union firebrand DeMaurice Smith, who said Thursday that on a scale of 1 to 10, a work stoppage is "a 14."
"I couldn't make that prediction and I sure hope he's wrong and I sure hope it doesn't become a self-fulfilling prophecy," Goodell said. "Right now, we don't need a lot of focus on that. We will have an agreement, it's just a matter of when, but talking about options like work stoppages is not going to get us there. If it comes to something like that, we've all failed.
"There have been talks, but I want to see production. Just meeting isn't good enough. If our objective was to meet, we'd already have met that."
If the NFL owners and players can't formulate an equitable division of about $10 billion annually, if they'd rather take the game away from a fanbase that has made the average NFL franchise worth in excess of $1 billion in the estimation of Forbes Magazine, wait until they see the helmet-to-helmet hit that triggers.
On a side note, I failed again to get my question asked yesterday, but this was it:
Will players still be allowed to wear ballcaps on the sideline in an uncapped year?
Just as well.
Gene Collier: email@example.com.
Ed Bouchette's blog on the Steelers and Gerry Dulac's Steelers chats are featured exclusively on PG+, a members-only web site from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Our introduction to PG+ gives you all the details.
First published on February 6, 2010 at 12:00 am
By Deroy Murdock
February 5, 2010 12:00 A.M.
The Obama administration wisely is considering moving from Manhattan the trial of five September 11 conspirators, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Team Obama’s original idea of trying Team al-Qaeda in civilian court cannot be scrapped soon enough. In fact, Team Obama should abandon its plans to try Team al-Qaeda in civilian court. Instead, KSM and his Islamofascist brethren should stay at Guantanamo and get what they want: execution.
These al-Qaeda leaders — KSM, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, Walid Bin Attash, and KSM’s two nephews, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali — already offered to plead guilty.
“We all five have reached an agreement to request from the commission an immediate hearing session in order to announce our confessions and plea in full,” they stated in a letter that military judge Colonel Stephen Henley read aloud at a Dec. 8, 2008, Guantanamo hearing.
The terrorists expressed “our earnest desire in this regard without being under any kind of pressure, threat, intimidations or promise from any party.” The al-Qaeda bigwigs also asked to drop their defense motions.
Henley wondered if they were ready to plead guilty to all charges.
“Yes,” KSM replied. “We don’t want to waste time.”
Ali assured Henley that KSM did not coerce his fellow terrorists into confessing. “All of these decisions were undertaken by us without any pressure or influence by Khalid Sheikh,” Ali said. “What was said or will be said by Khalid Sheikh will be repeated by us, also.”
Rather than grant the defendants’ wishes, Henley slowed matters by ordering psychiatric examinations of bin al-Shibh and al-Hawsawi. “We want everyone to plead together,” KSM then responded.
Hamilton Peterson, whose parents were killed on September 11 on United Flight 93, witnessed this proceeding. He was stunned that “not only do the defendants comprehend their extensive rights,” Peterson told the Associated Press, “they are explicitly asking the court to hurry up because they are bored with the due process they are receiving.”
KSM et al. celebrate their plot that killed 2,980 and injured 7,356. And they dream of further barbarism. Calling themselves “The 9/11 Shura Council,” they wrote in a March 5, 2009 tribunal filing:
Your intelligence apparatus, with all its abilities, human and logistical, had failed to discover our military attack plans before the blessed 11 September operation. They were unable to foil our attack. . . .
We will make all of our materials available, to defend and deter, and egress you and the filthy Jews from our countries. . . .
So we ask from God to accept our contributions to the great attack, the great attack on America, and to place our nineteen martyred brethren among the highest peaks in paradise. . . .
At a March 10, 2007, Guantanamo hearing, KSM admitted his culpability in 31 actual and attempted terror strikes. Among them:
I was responsible for the 9/11 Operation, from A to Z. . . .
I was responsible for the assassination attempt against President Clinton during his visit to the Philippines in 1994 or 1995. . . .
I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head. . . .
I was responsible for the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, which was frequented by British and Australian nationals. . . .
I was responsible for the Shoe Bomber Operation to down two American airplanes. . . .
I was responsible for planning, training, surveying, and financing for the Operation to bomb and destroy the Panama Canal. . . .
I was responsible for planning, training, surveying, and financing for the Operation to destroy Heathrow Airport, the Canary Wharf Building, and Big Ben on British soil. . . .
I was responsible for surveying and financing for the destruction of the New York Stock Exchange and other financial targets after 9/11. . . .
I was responsible for surveillance needed to hit nuclear power plants that generate electricity in several U.S. states. . . .
I was responsible for planning, surveying, and financing to hit NATO Headquarters in Europe.
These defendants welcome execution. When Judge Ralph Kohlmann asked KSM if he knew he faced death, he replied: “That is what I wish. I wished to be martyred for a long time.” Bin al-Shibh similarly stated: “I’ve been seeking martyrdom for five years. I tried for 9/11 and could not get a visa. If this martyrdom happens today, so be it.”
These facts render absurd the notion that these terrorists belong in civilian court. This idea assumes that America must prove to the world that even these butchers can be tried justly here.
“I am confident in the ability of our courts to provide these defendants a fair trial, just as they have for over 200 years,” Attorney General Eric Holder said November 13, as he announced the Manhattan terror trial. “The alleged 9/11 conspirators will stand trial in our justice system before an impartial jury under long-established rules and procedures.”
Even if KSM and company’s trial were even-handed enough to bring tears of joy to the ghost of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, would al-Qaeda be so impressed as to padlock its training camps in Yemen?
Al-Qaeda agent Ramzi Yousef, another KSM nephew, received a fair trial in 1997 after blasting the Twin Towers in 1993. Islamofascists did not marvel that Yousef could bomb an American landmark, murder six Americans, injure 1,040 others, and still get properly tried and convicted by a federal jury, after three days of deliberation. Instead, Yousef’s militant-Islamic brethren viciously finished his assignment on Sept. 11, 2001.
Those who detonate girls’ schools because they want Afghan females to cook and reproduce — period — do not care if the al-Qaeda Five are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Those who would weaponize their private parts in order to explode jumbo jets on Christmas Day rarely weigh federal evidentiary standards. That the Obama administration believes otherwise exposes its potentially lethal naïveté.
London’s Mail on Sunday reported January 31 that Britain’s MI5 intelligence service uncovered al-Qaeda’s plans to insert explosive packets surgically into terrorists’ bodies. Once healed, these killers would masquerade as diabetics, board airplanes, and then — under the guise of administering insulin — inject liquid detonators into these bombs. Minds that evil cannot be swayed. They must be neutralized.
American justice never will satisfy Islamofascist killers who drink from a bottomless reservoir of grievance. “All of the industrialized countries, especially the big ones, bear responsibility for the global-warming crisis,” Osama bin Laden whined in a January 29 recording. The terror presumably will continue until President Obama signs cap-and-tax legislation.
Stranger still: What if KSM and Company are acquitted? They would be re-arrested in court and tried on other charges, Obama allies insist. So, which is it: a fair trial, from which these men might walk free, or a rigged process with a pre-destined result?
This fiasco disgusts Americans. A February 1 Rasmussen survey discovered that only 16 percent of likely voters want terrorists to enjoy the same legal rights as U.S. citizens, while 74 percent disagree. Meanwhile, HumanEvents.com (which often posts my columns) has gathered 126,665 signatures on its online petition demanding KSM and company’s ejection from civilian court.
“These proceedings will make the O. J. Simpson trial look like a traffic-court hearing,” says Marc Thiessen, author of Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack , a new bestseller on the Obama administration’s soft-on-terror policies. “KSM disappeared from the international stage for seven years. Now he will make a dramatic return, and use the platform Obama is giving him to rally jihadist faithful to new attacks. Consequently, Americans could be killed.”
This entire escapade can be avoided quickly and cheaply. Guantanamo judges should let KSM and his conspirators plead guilty. And then, as would satisfy these mass murderers, they should be marched before a firing squad and granted instant lead poisoning.
— Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.
By Mark Steyn
February 6, 2010 7:00 A.M.
At the National Prayer Breakfast, Barack Obama singled out for praise Navy Corpsman Christian Bouchard. Or as the president called him, “Corpseman Bouchard.” Twice.
Hey, not a big deal. Throughout his life, the commander-in-chief has had little contact with the military, and less interest. And, when you give as many speeches as this guy does, there’s no time to rehearse or read through: You just gotta fire up the prompter and wing it. But it’s revealing that nobody around him in the so-called smartest administration of all time thought to spell it out phonetically for him when the speech got typed up and loaded into the machine. Which suggests that either his minders don’t know that he doesn’t know that kinda stuff, or they don’t know it either. To put it in Rumsfeldian terms, they don’t know what they don’t know.
Which is embarrassingly true. Hence, the awful flop speeches, from the Copenhagen Olympics to the Berlin Wall anniversary video to the Martha Coakley rally. The palpable whiff given off by the White House inner circle is that they’re the last people on the planet still besotted by Barack Obama, and that they’re having such a cool time starring in their own reality-show remake of The West Wing they can only conceive of the public — and, indeed, the world — as crowd-scene extras in The Barack Obama Show: They expect you to cheer and wave flags when the floor-manager tells you to, but the notion that in return he should be able to persuade you of the merits of his policies seems entirely to have eluded them.
But, since Obama’s mispronunciation is a pithier summation of the State of the Union than any of the dreary 90-minute sludge he paid his speechwriters for, let us consider it: Is America a Corpseman walking?
Well, we’re getting there. National Review’s Jim Geraghty sums up Obama’s America thus: “Unsustainable is the new normal.” Indeed. The other day, Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, described current deficits as “unsustainable.” So let’s make them even more so. The president tells us, with a straight face, that his grossly irresponsible profligate wastrel of a predecessor took the federal budget on an eight-year joyride, so the only way his sober, fiscally prudent successor can get things under control is to grab the throttle and crank it up to what Mel Brooks in Spaceballs (which seems the appropriate comparison) called “Ludicrous Speed.”
Obama’s spending proposes to take the average Bush deficit for the years 2001–2008, and double it, all the way to 2020. To get out of the Bush hole, we need to dig a hole twice as deep for one-and-a-half times as long. And that’s according to the official projections of his Economics Czar, Ms. Rose Colored-Glasses. By 2015, the actual hole may be so deep that even if you toss every Obama speech down it on double-spaced paper you still won’t be able to fill it up. In the spendthrift Bush days, federal spending as a proportion of GDP average 19.6 percent. Obama proposes to crank it up to 25 percent as a permanent feature of life.
But, if they’re “unsustainable,” what happens when they can no longer be sustained? A failure of bond auctions? A downgraded government debt rating? Reduced GDP growth? Total societal collapse? Mad Max on the New Jersey Turnpike?
Testifying to the House Budget Committee, Director Elmendorf attempted to pull back from the wilder shores of “unsustainable”: “I think most observers expect that the government will act, that the unsustainability will be resolved through action, not through witnessing some collapse down the road,” he said. “If literally nothing is done, then eventually something very, very bad happens. But I think the widespread view is that you and your colleagues will take action.”
Dream on, you kinky fantasist. The one thing that can be guaranteed is that a political class led by Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, a handful of reach-across-the-aisle Republican accomodationists and an economically illiterate narcissist in the Oval Office is never going to rein in unsustainable spending in any meaningful sense. That leaves Director Elmendorf’s alternative scenario. What was it again? Oh, yeah: “Some collapse down the road.”
Speaking of roads, I see that, according to USA Today, when the economic downturn began, the U.S. Department of Transportation had just one employee making over $170,000. A year and a half later, it has 1,690.
Happy days are here again!
Did you get your pay raise this year? What’s that, you don’t work for the government? Yes, you do, one way or another. Good luck relying on Obama, Pelosi, Frank, and the other Emirs of Kleptocristan “taking action” to “resolve” that. In the last month, the cost of insuring Greece’s sovereign debt against default has doubled. Spain and Portugal are headed the same way. When you binge-spend at the Greek level in a democratic state, there aren’t many easy roads back. The government has introduced an austerity package to rein in spending. In response, Greek tax collectors have walked off the job.
Read that again slowly: To protest government cuts, striking tax collectors are refusing to collect taxes. In a sane world, this would be a hilarious TV comedy sketch. But most of the Western world is no longer sane. It’s tough enough to persuade the town drunk to sober up, but when everyone’s face down in the moonshine, maybe it’s best just to head for the hills. But where to flee? America is choosing to embrace Greece’s future when even the Greeks have figured out you can’t make it add up. Consider the opening paragraph of Martin Crutsinger, “AP Economics Writer”: “WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.83 trillion budget on Monday that would pour more money into the fight against high unemployment, boost taxes on the wealthy and freeze spending for a wide swath of government programs.”
What language is that written in? How can a $3.83 trillion budget “freeze spending”? And where’s the president getting all this money to “pour” into his “fight” against high unemployment? Would it perchance be from the same small businesses that might be hiring new workers if the president didn’t need so much money to “pour” away? Heigh-ho. Maybe we can all be striking tax collectors. It seems a comfortable life . . .
If unsustainable is the new normal, it should also be the new national anthem. Take it away, Natalie Cole:
That’s what you are
Though near or far
Like a ton of debt you’ve dropped on us
How the thought of you has flopped on us
Has someone spent more . . . ”
It’s not the “debt” or the “deficit,” it’s the spending. And the only way to reduce that is with fewer government agencies, fewer government programs, fewer government employees, lower government salaries.
Instead, all four are rocketing up: We are incentivizing unsustainability, and, when it comes to “some collapse down the road,” you’ll be surprised how short that road is.
— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2010 Mark Steyn
By Andrew C. McCarthy
February 5, 2010 12:01 A.M.
Attorney General Eric Holder has responded to criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of the Christmas bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, with an “all’s well that ends well” letter to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.
Holder’s missive vigorously defends what he says was his decision to treat Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant, to impose peacetime law-enforcement protocols on his interrogation, and to charge him in civilian court. He argues that the use of the criminal-justice system has been vindicated because the terrorist is talking again (thanks to whatever undisclosed deal the Justice Department had to make with him). The letter contains various misleading assertions but is a fair statement of Holder’s philosophy — and it is good to have such a statement, given that the DOJ’s practice under his leadership too often has been to stonewall.
The fundamental problem with the attorney general’s line of argument is that it unfolds as though there were no war and no president. Abdulmutallab, Holder believes, is just like any other person arrested in the United States: When an arrest happens, government officials automatically employ “long-established and publicly known policies and practices.” It does not matter who sent the person or what he was arrested trying to do. Miranda warnings are given, lawyers are interposed, charges are filed, and trials are conducted. Even if the nation is at war, we don’t inquire into whether the arrested person is an operative dispatched here by hostile forces to commit mass murder. We don’t concern ourselves with whether he knows about other people plotting the same thing. All that matters to Holder is that we have our procedures, and they must be followed.
But they don’t have to be followed. FDR didn’t follow them with the German saboteurs in 1942. The train doesn’t speed down the track on autopilot, propelled by nothing but remorseless procedures — there is someone driving it. That someone is the president, and he doesn’t get to vote “present.”
Holder points out that the FBI followed its regular protocols. Of course it did — it’s not the job of FBI agents to do anything but follow their regular procedures, unless they are ordered to do otherwise. The attorney general protests that no other agency objected to his treating the case like any other case — an intriguing assertion, given that the heads of all the relevant agencies have just testified in Congress that they weren’t even consulted. In any event, the power of the executive branch does not well up from the bottom. All executive power is reposed in the president. FBI agents, the executive agencies, and Holder himself merely implement the president’s policies. If alien enemy combatants get Miranda warnings and trials, it’s not because FBI and DOJ procedures dictate that result. It’s because the president has decided it should be done that way.
Holder contends that the policies and practices used in Abdulmutallab’s case “were not criticized when employed by previous administrations.” That’s not true. Many people disagreed vigorously with, for example, President Bush’s decision to treat Zacarias Moussaoui as an ordinary civilian defendant. Later events have validated that critique. Indeed, the whole reason for fighting the conflict militarily after 9/11 — and for implementing a military-commission system for handling prisoners — was the patent ineffectiveness of relying upon law-enforcement policies and practices to protect the nation from an enemy who is not committing crimes but making war.
Oddly, the attorney general asserts that since 9/11 the practice “followed by prior and current Administrations without a single exception, has been to arrest and detain under federal criminal law all terrorist suspects who are apprehended inside the United States.” (Emphasis in original.) His own letter later shows that to be untrue: Jose Padilla (who, unlike Abdulmutallab, is an American citizen) was designated an enemy combatant and held without trial after being arrested inside the United States; so was Ali al-Marri. Ultimately, both were prosecuted in the civilian system — but only years later, after the intelligence community had ample opportunity to exhaust their capacity to provide useful information.
The decision to detain them as war criminals was controversial, but Holder acts as if all the criticism were on one side of the ledger. In the event, left-wing lawyers were agitated, but the public was supportive. The attorney general trumpets the Second Circuit decision invalidating Padilla’s detention, while he calls the Fourth Circuit ruling that upheld al-Marri’s detention “fractured.” In point of fact, the Second Circuit’s 2-1 ruling was equally fractured — and, though Holder doesn’t see fit to mention it, the ruling was reversed by the Supreme Court on jurisdictional grounds. What’s more, while Holder is quick to invoke the name of his predecessor, Michael Mukasey, when he thinks doing so helps his cause, he neglects to mention that Mukasey’s scholarly opinion as a district-court judge forcefully affirmed the commander-in-chief’s wartime authority to detain Padilla.
In any case, all of Holder’s spin on the court precedents is a diversion: We have a president, and presidents are not captives of court precedents when executing their own constitutional responsibilities. Holder’s takeaway from the Padilla and al-Marri cases is that military detention of a person arrested inside the United States “raised serious statutory and constitutional questions in the courts regarding the lawfulness of the government’s actions and spawned lengthy litigation.” So what? The courts are not the commander-in-chief, they are not responsible for the conduct of war, and they are not infallible.
The courts, moreover, did not even purport to settle these matters in a way that ultimately impedes military detention and trial. Indeed, unnoticed in Holder’s letter are (a) Congress’s several interventions after Padilla and al-Marri to firm up military proceedings, and (b) the courts’ rejection of the claim by Padilla that his detention as an enemy combatant tainted his later civilian prosecution. And as for the attorney general’s concerns about “lengthy litigation,” that’s what we have a Justice Department for. If the CIA had been interrogating Abdulmutallab for the last five weeks while DOJ was digging in to litigate the lawfulness of his detention for the next few years, national security would have been well served. By contrast, our security is imperiled when a wartime commander-in-chief is paralyzed into inaction out of fear that judges may be disturbed and controversy sparked.
Holder also provides a skewed version of recent counterterrorism history: He claims, for example, that terrorists must be permitted to meet with lawyers upon capture, based on the fact that Judge Mukasey denied the Bush administration’s attempt to cut off Padilla’s access to counsel. (When Holder agrees with Mukasey, that’s binding precedent; when Mukasey has gone the other way, Holder passes over in silence.) But that’s not what really happened. Padilla was not designated an enemy combatant when first captured. He was arrested on a material-witness warrant to testify before the grand jury, a civilian process. While that was going on, the Bush administration changed course, designated him an enemy combatant, and transferred him to a military brig. Mukasey had appointed counsel to represent Padilla on the civilian warrant, and — at his own discretion — permitted those lawyers to continue representing Padilla on what became his challenge to his detention as a war prisoner. But Mukasey was very clear that Padilla did not have a right to counsel.
What’s more, Mukasey’s discretionary appointment of counsel did not permit the lawyers to interfere in Padilla’s ongoing interrogation, nor did it prevent the military from imposing strict conditions on Padilla’s meetings with his counsel. As Judge Mukasey wrote, although the Supreme Court has “recognized a Sixth Amendment right against custodial interrogation without access to counsel, the remedy for violation of this right is exclusion of the fruits of the interrogation at a criminal trial. . . . There being no criminal proceeding here, Padilla could not enforce this right now even if he had it.”
Holder also says that “the widespread experience of law enforcement agencies including the FBI is that many defendants will talk and cooperate” after Miranda warnings. What he doesn’t say is that many defendants will not talk — they will remain silent. Of the dozen defendants in the Blind Sheikh case, for example, I believe only one talked, and he gave false exculpatory statements rather than genuine cooperation. None of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers confessed, and some of the conspirators were able to flee because there was not enough evidence to detain them under civilian rules. The bomber of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi confessed — but only after nine days, and only because Kenyan law permitted his detention without trial for two weeks and did not require giving him access to counsel.
It’s ridiculous for Holder to imply that, since a few terrorists have confessed upon being Mirandized, most or all of them are apt to do that — much less that they’re going to do it fast enough for our agencies to acquire actionable intelligence. It’s great that Abdulmutallab is talking now, but what has happened in the last five weeks? Have we been infiltrated by sleeper agents he could have helped us identify? Have terrorists we could have grabbed now scattered? Who knows?
The fact is, most good interrogations of suspects arrested in the criminal-justice system happen days, weeks, or even months after arrest. It is frequently not in a defendant’s interest to speak to the government, especially right after capture. Chances are good that he will not speak when you have to tell him he doesn’t need to cooperate — especially when you have to get him a competent defense lawyer who will tell him he should not cooperate. The valuable information usually flows only after defense counsel has had time to digest the government’s case, has debriefed his client, has decided that it is in the client’s interest to cooperate rather than fight the case, and has advised the client that being truthful is the only way out. That process can take a long time. It can take an even longer time to build the relationship of dependence and trust that yields the most reliable information. That’s fine — indeed, it’s preferable — when it is peacetime and there are no ticking bombs. When the nation is at war with a terror network that has carried out unspeakable atrocities and is actively plotting more of the same, it is irresponsible to let that process run its course if there are other, faster ways to get the information.
The attorney general repeats his Justice Department’s specious talking point that “the Bush administration used the criminal-justice system to convict more than 300 individuals on terrorism-related charges.” That doesn’t mean 300 terrorists. Hopefully, as I’ve urged (here, here, and here), he will tell us where this number comes from. A thorough study by Human Rights First found only 195 — and to get there, it had to count people convicted on all manner of non-terrorism charges. The ACLU, meantime, has put the figure at 39.
Regardless, Holder’s exaggerated figure misses the point: No one is saying that most of these “terrorism-related” cases should not have been tried in the civilian courts, or that the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s offices have not done stellar work prosecuting them. No one is suggesting that we should “remov[e] this highly effective weapon” of civilian prosecution from our “arsenal.” For example, the civilian prosecutions that interrupt terrorist financing (i.e., the cases President Obama wants to cut back on) are critically important if we’re to prevent future attacks.
What is at issue is the subset of terrorism cases that involve actual terrorists carrying out actual terror attacks — the operatives our military kills or detains as war prisoners if it encounters them on the battlefield overseas. It is perverse to give such jihadists more generous rights if they are fortunate enough to get into the United States, where they stand to do the greatest harm to civilians. Protecting civilians is the goal of humanitarian law; in effect, the policy Holder recommends gives the worst offenders the best privileges.
Yes, as Holder recounts, shoe-bomber Richard Reid was Mirandized and given civilian due process. That happened in December 2001, three months before the military-commission system was established. But even if you give the attorney general that one, it was a mistake, not a precedent — and the legal landscape is dramatically different now. Throughout the 2008 campaign, Holder and Obama derided Bush-era counterterrorism policies: Who knew Holder would be citing Bush as an authority by the end of his first year in office?
But President Bush is not in charge anymore. President Obama is. When an al-Qaeda operative, fresh out of the training camps in Yemen, comes into our country trying to commit a massacre — and almost certainly aware of similar, ongoing plots — it’s up to President Obama to decide what to do. It doesn’t matter what Bush did. It doesn’t matter what the FBI’s procedures are. It doesn’t matter that his attorney general wants to use the hamstringing protocols of the civilian system or that other relevant agencies appear not to object. And it doesn’t matter that some judges, academics, and leftists have an aversion to military processes. How to treat that terrorist is the president’s call. Commanders-in-chief don’t get to lay low in the tall grass while their attorneys general dilate on points of procedure.
This president could have designated Abdulmutallab an enemy combatant and ensured that his interrogation proceeded without delay. Instead, he sat on his hands, knowing that meant the wheels of justice would grind: The terrorist would be given a lawyer and told he didn’t have to speak to us; he would very likely refuse to speak for a long time — five weeks as it turned out — while al-Qaeda continued plotting; the criminal case would proceed and complicate the gathering of intelligence. That happened because that is the way Obama chose to proceed. It was a decision, not a fait accompli.
According to the attorney general, any person arrested in the United States, for any reason, is to be advised of his Miranda rights and submitted to civilian prosecution. No exceptions — presumably, not even for the top leaders of the terrorist organization with which we’re at war. That, Holder says, is what the procedures and protocols dictate.
It is one thing for the attorney general to take that view, but the buck stops with President Obama. Is he ready to roll those dice? Apparently so.
— National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books, 2008).
February 5th, 2010 4:59 pm
It looks like February 11th will be the most violent confrontation to date. The regime is taking unusual measures to put down the promised demonstrations. In many ways it resembles the “Chinese solution.” First, an unprecedented mobilization: 120 trains and something like a thousand buses have been deployed from as far away as 250 kilometers from the capital. They will be used by the Revolutionary Guards and Basij to bring tens of thousands of paid “volunteers” to Tehran. These will consist of entire families (dependent on the regime) to counter the Green Wave. Each family gets $80 for the day, plus free food. The regime is aiming at 300,000 thugs in the streets. The Greens don’t think the numbers will be that high, and in any event they expect ten times that number of protesters, upwards of three million increasingly angry people, demanding freedom and justice.
Their resolve has undoubtedly been hardened by the very tough interview released earlier this week by Green leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. As before, Mousavi put himself on the line, defying the regime to move against him as the mullahs have moved against his friends, allies, and family members. It’s quite a challenge:
Today, the prison cells are occupied with the most sincere and devoted sons of this nation: students, professors and others. [Security forces] are trying to prosecute them with espionage or charges related to financial or sexual misconduct – charges based on expired formulas – while the real criminals and thieves who steal public money are free. Instead of looking for the real spies, they accuse decent religious people. I should take this opportunity to express my regret that all of my advisors, who are decent, honest and educated individuals, have been arrested; that I am not with them. These days, there is not a [single] night that I do not think of Imam [Khomeini], martyr Beheshti and others. I whisper to them that what was achieved is far from what they sought…
Khamenei has still not mustered the courage to strike directly at Mousavi or Karroubi, which everyone sees as a sign of weakness. They see it as I do, as evidence that he is not prepared for a real showdown, fearing the vastly greater numbers of the Greens, and the unreliability of his armies. He knows that the recent Green video, appealing to the armed forces to join the revolution, is having an effect.
Still, I don’t think there has been anything in recent history that compares to the regime’s planned actions. All internal communications are supposed to be shut down: internet, cell phones, SMS, you name it. Since this would in any case paralyze the country, offices, factories, banks and practically everything else will be shut down until the 14th; thus they can afford to shut down the internet. The Chinese have reportedly provided essential services (including internet) for key security offices and Khamenei’s residence.
This does not look to me like a strategy for a “final solution;” it’s more like a desperate throw of the dice with fighters of unproven courage and reliability. We know, after all, that considerable numbers of trained police have been fired of late, that their replacements are “country boys” with little experience and probably poor discipline, and that the ex-police are likely to have become (if they weren’t already) Green recruits.
While exact numbers have not been secured, Fox News is reporting that sources within Tehran are reporting that 20 to 30 percent of the police force are being let go. That equates to roughly 5,000 officers and more that have been dismissed throughout the country.
Meanwhile the officers that have been let go are being replaced by 700 to 900 civilians during times of protests and those numbers falling during times of peace.
A former police officer told NewsCore that the police are bring replaced by village people who desperately need money and would [use] violence without hesitations.
Forces are typically under the control of the Revolutionary Guard, and they are responsible for keeping local peace. Now sources report that they will be much less organized and possibly have much less control.
One former officer was reported saying, “Many of us are being replaced by bus loads of people from villages who are willing to do anything for a piece of bread instead of protecting the ideas of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.”
What, then, to do? Khamenei has ordered the massacre of the country’s youth, especially journalists, academics and activists, especially women. Their treatment is atrocious, as you can see from this tweet: “Ordinary prisoners are protesting, saying screams, noises, sobbing & crying of injured from Sepah (intelligence forces) section keep the entire prison awake.”
On the other hand, every night the doors of Evin Prison open, and ten or twenty battered citizens emerge to a waiting crowd of relatives, praying that this will be the night for their own loved ones to be released. Inevitably, this has turned into an ongoing protest that the Basiji themselves have been unable to quell. On Friday night, more than a thousand people gathered at Evin, and the Basiji tried unsuccessfully for more than three hours to drive them away.
The leaders are even spooked by the color green, which is inconvenient, since it’s in the flag. Ahmadinejad recently appeared on television with the flag in the background…and the green had become blue(!). Just as poor Captain Hook lived in dread of the sound of the ticking clock, so Ahmadinejad dreads the sight of green. This is not a sign of great resolve. If you want great resolve, listen to Mousavi:
The people know that these executions are only [carried out] so that a brutal, ruthless leader of Friday prayers – one who has constantly defended corruption, violence and deception – can applaud them. It matters not to him that there are abundant [instances of] forced confessions, and he does not care that [those executed] have had nothing to do with the election. For him, what matters is the power of the executions to generate fear. He is ignorant of the power of innocent blood. He doesn’t know that it was the blood of martyrs that caused the Pahlavi regime to collapse. From the revolution onwards, people have believed in freedom, independence and the Islamic Republic. The courageous resistance and the strength of our people and our soldiers during the eight year war was a sign of the fundamental changes that had taken place in our society…parts of our country were lost in the wars, crises and political games present during the time of the shahs [kings]. The courageous resistance of our people during the eight-year war ended this vicious cycle. And now, in the courageous, defiant and green rows of people who demand their rights, we see a continuum of the very struggle we saw during the war and the revolution.
He’s telling Khamenei what he least wants to hear: We Greens are the true revolutionaries and we cannot be intimidated. We will keep fighting until you are gone.
It’s astonishing and sad to see how our “intelligence community” persists in believing that the protests are merely a blip on the screen of the Islamic Republic, a momentary phenomenon that will shortly go away. The “experts” are nothing if not foolishly consistent: they failed to predict the results of the June “elections;” they failed to anticipate the aftermath; they thought the demonstrations would diminish and then end; they seem not to comprehend the depth of the regime’s crisis, and they expect the regime to triumph. As Eli Lake tells us,
Despite political turmoil that has brought hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets since the June 12 presidential elections, Iran’s decision-making process would remain the same, [Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair] said.
Overall…he gave he protesters little chance for success. “Strengthened conservative control will limit opportunities for reformers to participate in politics or organize opposition,” he stated. “The regime will work to marginalize opposition elites, disrupt or intimidate efforts to organize dissent, and use force to put down unrest.”
To which Eli permits himself the obvious retort:
The U.S. intelligence community in the past failed to foresee political events in Iran. For example, a noted CIA assessment of Iran in the fall of 1978 predicted there was no prospect for an Islamic revolution. That prediction proved wrong within five months.
He could have added that CIA was positive that Gorbachev was firmly in control just before the fall of the Soviet Empire. Revolutions aren’t easy to see; you need a good nose to sense it, and the sense of smell is frowned upon at institutions of higher learning and deep thinking.
Still and all, this revolution is the biggest we’ve seen in a long time. Lenin, who thought such things were led and organized by a tiny, conspiratorial vanguard, would be astonished to see that tens of millions of Iranians, from all classes, tribes, ethnic groups and sexes, are defiantly putting their lives on the line.
Anyone think the good Admiral will resign when the regime comes down? He should.
UPDATE: thanks Instapundit (with Michael Totten subbing for Glenn)
UPDATE 2: Not everyone is waiting for the 11th; seems the citizens of Lar have driven the local security forces out of town. There’s even video.
Feb 5th, 2010
John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, in an hour-long television documentary titled “Global Warming: The Other Side,” presents evidence that our National Climatic Data Center has been manipulating weather data just as the now disgraced and under investigation British University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit. The NCDC is a division of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Its manipulated climate data is used by the Goddard Institute of Space Studies, which is a division of the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. John Coleman’s blockbuster five-part series can be seen here.
The Coleman documentary presents research by computer expert E. Michael Smith and Certified Consulting Meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo. During the 1960s and into the 1980s, the number of stations used for calculating global surface temperatures was about 6,000. By 1990, the number of stations dropped rapidly to about 1,500. Most of the stations lost were in the colder regions of the Earth. Not adjusting for their lost made temperatures appear to be higher than was in fact the case. According to Science & Environmental Policy Project, Russia reported that CRU was ignoring data from colder regions of Russia, even though these stations were still reporting data. That means data loss was not simply the result of station closings but deliberate decisions by CRU to ignore them in order to hype their global warming claims. D’Aleo and Smith report that our NCDC engaged in similar deceptive activity where they have dropped stations, particularly in colder climates, higher elevations or closer to the polar regions. Temperatures are now simply projected for these colder stations from other stations, usually in warmer climates.
Mounting evidence of scientific fraud might make little difference in terms of the response to manmade global warming hysteria. Why? Vested economic and political interests have emerged where trillions of dollars and social control are at stake.
Therefore, many people who recognize the scientific fraud underlying global warming claims are likely to defend it anyway. Automobile companies have invested billions in research and investment in producing “green cars.” General Electric and Phillips have spent millions lobbying Congress to outlaw incandescent bulbs so that they can force us to buy costly compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). Farmers and ethanol manufacturers have gotten Congress to enact laws mandating greater use of their product, not to mention massive subsidies. Thousands of major corporations around the world have taken steps to reduce carbon emissions including giants like IBM, Nike, Coca-Cola and BP, the oil giant. Companies like Google, Yahoo and Dell have vowed to become “carbon neutral.”
Then there’s Chicago Climate Futures Exchange that plans to trade in billions of dollars of greenhouse gas emission allowances. Corporate America and labor unions, as well as their international counterparts have a huge multi-trillion dollar financial stake in the perpetuation of the global warming fraud. Federal, state and local agencies have spent billions of dollars and created millions of jobs to deal with one aspect or another of global warming.
It’s deeper than just money. Schoolteachers have created polar-bear-dying lectures to frighten and indoctrinate our children when in fact there are more polar bears now than in 1950. They’ve taught children about melting glaciers. Just recently, the International Panel on Climate Change was forced to admit that their Himalayan glacier-melting fraud was done to “impact policy makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.”
What would all the beneficiaries of the global warming hype do if it becomes widely known and accepted that mankind’s activities have very little to do with the Earth’s temperature? I don’t know but a lot of people would feel and look like idiots. But I bet that even if the permafrost returned as far south as New Jersey, as it once did, the warmers and their congressional stooges would still call for measures to fight global warming.
Friday, February 05, 2010
The Washington Post
Friday, February 5, 2010; A19
"I am not an ideologue," protested President Obama at a gathering with Republican House members last week. Perhaps, but he does have a tenacious commitment to a set of political convictions.
Compare his 2010 State of the Union to his first address to Congress a year earlier. The consistency is remarkable. In 2009, after passing a $787 billion (now $862 billion) stimulus package, the largest spending bill in galactic history, he unveiled a manifesto for fundamentally restructuring the commanding heights of American society -- health care, education and energy.
A year later, after stunning Democratic setbacks in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, Obama gave a stay-the-course State of the Union address (a) pledging not to walk away from health-care reform, (b) seeking to turn college education increasingly into a federal entitlement, and (c) asking again for cap-and-trade energy legislation. Plus, of course, another stimulus package, this time renamed a "jobs bill."
This being a democracy, don't the Democrats see that clinging to this agenda will march them over a cliff? Don't they understand Massachusetts?
Well, they understand it through a prism of two cherished axioms: (1) The people are stupid and (2) Republicans are bad. Result? The dim, led by the malicious, vote incorrectly.
Liberal expressions of disdain for the intelligence and emotional maturity of the electorate have been, post-Massachusetts, remarkably unguarded. New York Times columnist Charles Blow chided Obama for not understanding the necessity of speaking "in the plain words of plain folks," because the people are "suspicious of complexity." Counseled Blow: "The next time he gives a speech, someone should tap him on the ankle and say, 'Mr. President, we're down here.' "
A Time magazine blogger was even more blunt about the ankle-dwelling mob, explaining that we are "a nation of dodos" that is "too dumb to thrive."
Obama joined the parade in the State of the Union address when, with supercilious modesty, he chided himself "for not explaining it [health care] more clearly to the American people." The subject, he noted, was "complex." The subject, it might also be noted, was one to which the master of complexity had devoted 29 speeches. Perhaps he did not speak slowly enough.
Then there are the emotional deficiencies of the masses. Nearly every Democratic apologist lamented the people's anger and anxiety, a free-floating agitation that prevented them from appreciating the beneficence of the social agenda the Democrats are so determined to foist upon them.
That brings us to Part 2 of the liberal conceit: Liberals act in the public interest, while conservatives think only of power, elections, self-aggrandizement and self-interest.
It is an old liberal theme that conservative ideas, being red in tooth and claw, cannot possibly emerge from any notion of the public good. A 2002 New York Times obituary for philosopher Robert Nozick explained that the strongly libertarian implications of Nozick's masterwork, "Anarchy, State, and Utopia," "proved comforting to the right, which was grateful for what it embraced as philosophical justification." The right, you see, is grateful when a bright intellectual can graft some philosophical rationalization onto its thoroughly base and self-regarding politics.
This belief in the moral hollowness of conservatism animates the current liberal mantra that Republican opposition to Obama's social democratic agenda -- which couldn't get through even a Democratic Congress and powered major Democratic losses in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts -- is nothing but blind and cynical obstructionism.
By contrast, Democratic opposition to George W. Bush -- from Iraq to Social Security reform -- constituted dissent. And dissent, we were told at the time, including by candidate Obama, is "one of the truest expressions of patriotism."
No more. Today, dissent from the governing orthodoxy is nihilistic malice. "They made a decision," explained David Axelrod, "they were going to sit it out and hope that we failed, that the country failed" -- a perfect expression of liberals' conviction that their aspirations are necessarily the country's, that their idea of the public good is the public's, that their failure is therefore the nation's.
Then comes Massachusetts, an election Obama himself helped nationalize, to shatter this most self-congratulatory of illusions.
For liberals, the observation that "the peasants are revolting" is a pun. For conservatives, it is cause for uncharacteristic optimism. No matter how far the ideological pendulum swings in the short term, in the end the bedrock common sense of the American people will prevail.
The ankle-dwelling populace pushes back. It recenters. It renormalizes. Even in Massachusetts.
By James Bowman on 2.5.10 @ 6:02AM
The American Spectator
It will come as no news to readers of The American Spectator that science is now no longer just science but has become a religion-substitute for a large number of Americans. This faith, perhaps, claims even a majority of those in some other liberal democracies of the West. And if science, and its political arm, environmentalism, is the new religion, Charles Darwin is its Christ figure, despised and rejected of (theist) men and persecuted for the Truth he sought to bring to set men free of their inherited chains. These are not the bonds of sin and death but of the superstition and ignorance which supposes the world to have had any Creator at all or any Redeemer other than Darwin himself. That is what we mean by myth: a story that explains the world, whether or not the story happens to be true, and the Darwinist myth now comes closer to an explanation that people are prepared to accept than any other since the Redemptive history in the Christian interpretation of the Bible.
For this reason Jon Amiel's Creation, written by John Collee from a family memoir by Randal Keynes, Darwin's great-great-grandson, has something of the odor of piety about it that has hardly been seen on screen since the days of Cecil B. DeMille's Biblical epics. The movie would have us believe that Charles Darwin (Paul Bettany) lost his always rather uncertain religious faith on account of the death of his beloved daughter Annie (Martha West) and only then allowed himself to be persuaded by a group of hard-line atheist friends, led by T.H. Huxley (Toby Jones), to finish the long-delayed writing of The Origin of Species. Furthermore, their ideological interest in his doing so became his own over time and fully congruent with the atheistic triumphalism in Huxley's words of proleptic appreciation for the Origin: "You have killed God, Sir."
That sounds dubious enough, even coming from the historical Huxley, but then the filmmakers can't resist making him add: "Good riddance to the vindictive bugger" -- the v.b., that is, being God. At once we are made aware that we are no longer in anything that is even meant to look like the 19th century except in the most superficial ways. Instead, the film is quite self-consciously taking up the cudgels on behalf of the Dawkins-Hitchens faction in the theist-antitheist debates of our own time. The movie-Darwin tentatively protests at first about how society is held together by religion and, though it is a frail bark, it nevertheless manages to float; he is also restrained by the still-powerful religious belief of Mrs. Darwin (Jennifer Connelly, the real-life Mrs. Bettany) -- until she reads the book in manuscript and urges him to publish it. But in the end his own atheism is as confirmed as Huxley's. Or, more to the point, Richard Dawkins's.
All the movie's drama over God versus no-God, in other words, is just a vulgar invention by the filmmakers, made to make their hero seem more "relevant" to a tedious public controversy of our own time than he ever was or could have been in his. It is as much an anachronism as Huxley's ungrammatical but unmistakably 21st century colloquial description of a committee "comprised of" himself and others. A screen card at the beginning informs us that "Charles Darwin's Origin of Species has been described as the biggest idea in the history of thought. This is the story of how it came to be written." Does it matter if it is in fact, as it is in fact, nothing of the kind? Not even approximately? I don't know, but I do know it matters that it is, instead, the story of how that idea has since been put out to stud by a progressive-minded faction and so made to sire the politicized science of today.
Writing in the London Review of Books, the historian of science Steven Shapin shows how much of last year's celebration of the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth as "Darwin Year" owed to the political agenda of Professor Dawkins and others who regard Darwin's work as the unanswerable proof of the non-existence of God, even though Darwin himself was never an atheist. "The party [i.e. Darwin 200] is one in which the present, with its pressing present concerns, processes fragments of the past in roughly the same way that assorted blocks of white fish, bulked out with filler, are processed into fish fingers. Myths have a market; myth-busting has a small one; setting the historical Darwin in his Victorian intellectual and social context has practically none at all." In other words, this movie is just another bit of cheerleading in the same cause, and even as propaganda it is pretty poor stuff.
The human drama naturally centers around the close relationship between Darwin and the doomed Annie with subplots of the same tendency involving the Missus's gradual "conversion" to Darwinism (and, implicitly, to atheism), a clergyman (Jeremy Northam) who is comprehensively put down and spurned from him by Darwin after years of friendship on account of not being progressive enough, and the great man's own rather eccentric notions about taking the "water cure" for his eczema -- except that the movie finds eczema not poetic enough as an ailment for the great man and hints at a more spiritual sickness requiring barrels full of cold water to be spilled over him. Between being dowsed with water and racked with grief, both of which present Mr. Bettany with opportunities to show his stuff, Darwin finally arrives at that moment of triumph in his own godlessness that his atheist followers of today have achieved with considerably less trouble. What, if anything, that has to do with the actual Origin of Species or the theory of evolution viewers will have to supply for themselves.
- James Bowman is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, media essayist for the New Criterion, and The American Spectator's movie and culture critic. His new book, Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture, was recently published by Encounter Books.
Thursday, February 04, 2010
February 4, 2010
First came Climategate. Hacked e-mails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at England’s University of East Anglia (UEA) showed that CRU researchers were defending the thesis that humans are causing global warming by suppressing contrary evidence, trying to keep opposing viewpoints from being published in scientific journals, and dishing up private insults to skeptics. The East Anglia CRU is one of three major sources of world temperature data; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at the UN relies heavily on it. Thus, the scandal is serious. When an Australian scientist sought access to CRU data under the Freedom of Information Act, CRU director Dr. Phil Jones stiff-armed him, telling him that he had twenty-five years of work invested in his data set and wouldn’t share it with anyone who intended to find fault with it. Then, as pressure to disclose the data mounted, the CRU announced that the raw data had been destroyed, leaving only “interpreted” figures. The claimed temperature trends (ever upward) cannot be verified.
Next came another embarrassment, this time to the IPCC itself: the discovery that a 2007 report that the glaciers of the Himalayas could vanish by 2035, published by the IPCC in 2007, was entirely bogus. The report had its origins in an article published by the World Wildlife Federation that was not peer-reviewed but that the IPCC accepted uncritically as scientific research. Dr. Murari Lai, the lead author of the IPCC report’s section on Asia, admitted that the claim was a deliberate exaggeration. But, said Dr. Lai, “We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.” IPCC chair Dr. Rajendra Pachauri (who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore on behalf of the IPCC) at first vigorously defended the glacier claim, calling criticisms of it “voodoo science.” He subsequently had to eat humble pie and withdraw the alarm, as there is no evidence of any such rapid melt.
Then came an IPCC report that ice is disappearing from mountaintops in the Alps, the Andes, and Africa. As it turned out, this report, too, was only masquerading as science. It was based on an article in a popular climbers’ magazine that offered anecdotal evidence from climbers, and on a master’s thesis from a Swiss geography student who interviewed Alpine guides as sources. This anecdotal evidence is not science and certainly cannot go back to the early 1900s to show the trend the IPCC claimed.
But wait! Matters get even worse. The 2007 IPCC report also claimed, as a scientific finding, that 40 percent of the Amazon rain forest was at risk of turning into tropical savanna because of a global warmingcaused decline in rainfall. This claim turns out, again, to have its source in the World Wildlife Federation, in speculation from two nonscientistsan Australian policy analyst and a freelance journalist and environmental activist. This is not the kind of science that the IPCC is supposed to produce. The main danger to the Amazon rain forest comes from loggers and expanding farms, not rising temperatures.
And again: The IPCC claimed that there was an increase in extreme weather conditions as a result of human-induced global warming. But the expert on whose paper this assertion was based said that his work was quoted only in part to make it yield a conclusion the data did not support. “There is insufficient evidence to claim a statistical link between global warming and catastrophic loss,” he said.
And one more: The IPCC used a study of tree-ring data from eastern Russia to demonstrate a history of ever-rising global temperatures. But subsequent inquiry by doubters showed that the data were cherry-picked only from trees that supported the thesis. The majority of the trees in the forest did not. Data indicating periodic cooling trends were suppressed.What are the consequences of this series of exposs?
First, the credibility of the IPCC’s so-called scientific findings has been dealt a blow, possibly fatal. The IPCC is not, in fact, an objective, neutral body that evaluates pure research; it is a dominantly political body controlled by a tight group of true believersan advocacy organization that only pretends to scientific objectivity. Its scandalous behavior has led to widespread calls for Dr. Pachauri’s resignation. Apparently, however, a majority of IPCC scientists still supports him.
Second, there is a new willingness in the mainstream media, and even among some hitherto reluctant scientists, to pay respectful attention to the so-called climate skeptics. John Beddington, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser, says that climate scientists should be less hostile to doubters who question man-made global warming, and that public confidence in science depends on more openness to varied opinions. Britain’s BBC, a longtime purveyor of climate alarmism, once thought the skeptics so foolish that they need not be noticed. Now the BBC has come around to covering them. Balance has made a belated appearance, and “The science is settled” is no longer a credible statement. The British media on the whole, especially national newspapers such as the Telegraph and the Times, are way ahead of their American counterparts in reporting on these unsettling disclosuresperhaps because the big one, the incriminating East Anglia e-mails, occurred on their turf.
Third, the political drive to enact climate control (what a foolish expression!) legislation in the United States has been delayed, perhaps for a long time or permanently, although pieces of programs, such as mixing energy sources, will survive for other reasons. It is a safe bet that proposals for carbon mitigation, which will be expensive and will damage our economy, will not make it through Congress not now, and maybe not ever.
Finally, the credibility of science itself has been shown once again, and as if we needed a reminder to be subject to such ordinary human failings as ego defense, the willingness to bend the truth rather than admit error, and the temptation to disparage and insult one’s opponents. Greed may be in the mix, too, as research grants are at stake.
All in all, it’s been a sorry month or so for the global-warming alarmists. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole movement is going away, though. A mystique has been built around it, and that is not going to vanish overnight. The movement’s credibility has been damaged, and its political future is dismal, but a large body of scientific opinion still supports it. Meanwhile, if the temperatures do resume rising (right now, they’re flat), I, like most of humanity, intend to enjoy them.
- Thomas Sieger Derr, a member of the First Things editorial and advisory board, is professor emeritus of religion and ethics at Smith College and the author of Environmental Ethics and Christian Humanism
The Washington Post
Thursday, February 4, 2010
On Day One of his vow to take "meaningful steps to rein in our debt," Barack Obama asked Congress to freeze portions of discretionary domestic spending. This would follow an astonishing permanent expansion: Republicans on the House Budget Committee say appropriations bills Obama has signed, along with his stimulus spending, have increased discretionary domestic spending 84 percent. He almost certainly will not keep his promise to veto spending bills when Congress, as it almost certainly will, largely disregards his request.
On Day Two, taking a break from the rigors of austerity, he was in Tampa, promising $8 billion for high-speed rail projects there and in a dozen other places. Four days later, he released a $3.8 trillion fiscal 2011 budget that would add an additional $1.3 trillion to the national debt. The budget reveals that the deficit emergency is not so great as to preclude another stimulus, a.k.a. "jobs bill."
Or to require that middle-class tax cuts enacted under The Great Alibi (George W. Bush) be allowed to expire. Or even to scrub from the budget such filigrees from olden days as $430 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which perhaps made some sense 42 years and 500 channels ago, when public television meant for some Americans a 33 percent increase in channels, from three to four.
The depressing minutiae of the moment pale next to two large possibilities anticipated by Robert Fogel, a Nobel Prize-winning economist. They concern the rise of American health spending and the even more dramatic rise of China's economy.
Writing last September for the online journal the American, published by the American Enterprise Institute, Fogel warned that spending on health care is going to surge, for two reasons: By living longer, Americans will become susceptible to more health problems. By becoming richer they will be able to purchase more biotechnologies that make health interventions more effective.
"The financial per capita [health care] burden at age 85 and older," Fogel wrote, "is nearly six times as high as the burden at ages 50-54" and "the financial burden of health care for ages 85 and older is over 75 percent higher per capita than at ages 75-79." A century ago, "the burden of chronic diseases among elderly Americans was not only of greater severity but began more than 10 years earlier in the life cycle than it does today."
But the severity of afflictions increases and the cost of preventing further deterioration increases with age: "Five years before the year of death, annual health cost is virtually the same as all annual Medicare costs per capita. By the second year before death the cost has risen by about 60 percent, and in the year of death the annual cost exceeds the average by more than four times. Indeed, expenditures on persons during their last two years of life account for 40 percent of all Medicare expenditures."
The 20th century radically reduced deaths due to acute infectious diseases, which were concentrated in infancy and early childhood. In 1900, more than 33 percent of all deaths were of children under 5; today they are less than 2 percent. In 1900, deaths of persons 65 and older were only 18 percent of all deaths; today they are 75 percent.
This demographic destiny might entail starving every other sector of society -- including national defense, at great cost to America's international standing. It had better not, given what Fogel argues in another essay, this one in the current issue of Foreign Policy. It carries the headline "$123,000,000,000,000." Fogel's subheadline is: "China's estimated economy by the year 2040. Be warned."
He expects that by 2040 China's GDP will be $123 trillion, or three times the entire world's economic output in 2000. He says China's per capita income will be more than double what is forecast for the European Union. China's 40 percent share of global GDP will be almost triple that of the United States' 14 percent.
Fogel finds many reasons for this, including the increased productivity of the 700 million (55 percent) rural Chinese. But he especially stresses "the enormous investment China is making in education."
While China increasingly invests in its future, America increasingly invests in its past: the elderly. China's ascent to global economic hegemony could be slowed or derailed by unforeseen scarcities or social fissures. America's destiny is demographic, and therefore is inexorable and predictable, which makes the nation's fiscal mismanagement, by both parties, especially shocking.
Last Friday an Afghan interpreter shot dead two of his employers, American soldiers serving in Afghanistan. He was able to gain access to them, of course, and to be in their presence, because he had won their trust with his translation work and they let their guard down.
Their trust was misplaced; and they were not the first American soldiers to die in this way and -- tragically -- likely won’t be the last. This episode yet again illustrates a key but almost completely overlooked difficulty that hamstrings our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq as well: there is no reliable way to distinguish a peaceful Muslim from a potentially violent jihadist short of elaborate behavioral profiling such as the Israelis do on air travelers.
The U.S. military denies that he was a jihadist at all, saying that he was a “disgruntled employee” angry about pay and treatment. Our military is so awash in political correctness that they -- to paraphrase the words of Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey -- would think it more tragic if their commitment to “diversity” were damaged than if another massacre such as the Fort Hood murders occurred.
The denial that the Afghanistan bomber wasn’t a jihadi doesn’t ring true, any more than did the official denials that the Fort Hood jihad massacre had anything to do with jihad. I myself once had a job in which I was disgruntled about pay and treatment; perhaps not so oddly, I never opened fire. There is obviously more to this story than is being revealed, and most likely, here again what is being left out has to do with Islamic jihad, and with the impossibility of distinguishing a “moderate” from a “radical” Muslim.
Given the almost universal acceptance of the iron dogma that Islam is a Religion of Peace that has been hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists, this impossibility may come as a surprise. But in reality, there is no mainstream sect of Islam or school of Islamic jurisprudence whose authorities have renounced and rejected violent jihad and Islamic supremacism, and declared that anyone who holds to the idea that Muslims have a collective responsibility to wage war against Infidels and subjugate them under the rule of Islamic law is a heretic.
If there were such a sect or school in Afghanistan or elsewhere where there is an American military presence, one could rely on the peaceful group and shun the group that taught violence. But there is no such group. Contrary to popular belief, not only is the principle of jihad warfare against unbelievers not the province of a “tiny minority of extremists,” but it is taught by every mainstream sect and school of Islam.
The U.S. government, of course, denies this fact and bases numerous policies upon the assumption that the vast majority of Muslims share universally accepted notions of human rights, and abhor jihad terrorism. The deaths of these two soldiers are the fruit of that false assumption -- and just as they were not the first casualties caused by this mistaken idea, they will not be the last.
This is not to say, of course, that nothing at all can be done with the locals in Afghanistan. The problem in Afghanistan is not unique to that country: the locals can be paid off to fight, but even then their loyalty is not guaranteed. And once the money flow stops, they will fight for the next paymaster -- and when no paymaster is there, they will fight each other. This is a weak reed on which to build a reliable alliance, and has already been shown to have been a spectacular failure in Pakistan, where the U.S. government has showered billions over the years upon the Pakistanis in order to induce them to fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, only to see a good amount of that money funneled to those very groups by jihadist ideologues within the Pakistani government. Yet the Pelosi Congress’s solution to this problem was to triple aid to the Pakistanis, without devising any improved mechanism for accountability.
Ultimately, the Obama Administration is going to have to make some hard decisions about the level of access that Muslim employees and collaborators of all kinds are given to U.S. personnel in Afghanistan and elsewhere. But this will require Administration officials to take off their politically correct blinders and face some hard and inconvenient truths. If they do so, these two soldiers who died in Afghanistan will not have died in vain.
Mr. Spencer is director of Jihad Watch and author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)", "The Truth About Muhammad," "Stealth Jihad," and most recently "The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran" (all from Regnery -- a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
1. John Unitas...1956-1972 Baltimore Colts, 1973 San Diego Chargers
. . .Cut by 1955 Steelers, free agent with 1956 Colts, soon became legendary hero. . .Exceptional field leader, thrived on pressure. . .Led Colts to 1958, 1959 NFL crowns, Super Bowl V victory. . .All-NFL six seasons, AP NFL MVP three times...10 Pro Bowls. . .Pro Bowl MVP three times...Completed 2,830 passes for 40,239 yards, 290 TDs. . .Threw at least one TD pass in record 47 straight games. . .Had 26 games over 300 yards passing. . .NFL 1960s All-Decade Team...NFL 75TH Anniversary All-Time Team...One of seven numbers (19) retired by the Baltimore Colts...elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979...Born May 7, 1933, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. . .Died September 11, 2002, at age of 69.
"Playing with Johnny Unitas was like being in the huddle with God." - John Mackey
2. Sammy Baugh....1937-1952 Washington Redskins...Two-time TCU All-America. . .No. 1 draft choice, 1937. . .Split career between tailback, T-quarterback. . . Premier passer who influenced great offensive revolution. . . NFL passing, punting, interception champ, 1943. . .Six-time NFL passing leader. . .First-team All-Pro seven times...Second-team All-Pro twice...Career records: 21,886 yards, 187 TDs passing, 45.1-yard punting average, 31 interceptions. . . NFL 1940s All-Decade Team...NFL 50th Anniversary All-Time Team...NFL 75TH Anniversary All-Time Team...Born March 17, 1914, in Temple, Texas. . .Unanimously voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in its inaugural class of 1962...#33 is the Washington Redskins' only officially retired number...Died December 17, 2008, at age of 94.
3. Otto Graham...1946-1955 Cleveland Browns (AAFC/NFL)...College tailback, switched to T-quarterback in pros. . .Guided Browns to 10 division or league crowns in 10 years. . .Played in 10 straight league championship games, winning seven...Topped AAFC passers four years, NFL two years. . . All-league nine of 10 years. . .Four TD passes in 1950 NFL title win. . .Had three TDs running, three TDs passing in 1954 NFL title game. . .Career passes for 23,584 yards, 174 TDs. . .Scored 276 points on 46 TDs. . .NFL 1950s All-Decade Team...NFL 75TH Anniversary All-Time Team...elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965...one of five numbers (14) retired by the Cleveland Browns...Browns compiled a 105-17-4 record during his 10-year career...Played on Rochester Royals 1946 National Basketball League's championship team...Born December 6, 1921, in Waukegan, Illinois. . .Died December 17, 2003 at age of 82.
"All he ever did was win championships. How else do you judge quarterbacks?" - Don Shula
4. Joe Montana...1979-1992 San Francisco 49ers, 1993-1994 Kansas City Chiefs. . .Third round draft pick, 1979 . . .Master of come-from-behind victories. . .Led 49ers to four Super Bowl wins. . . Named Super Bowl MVP three times. . . Orchestrated 92-yard winning drive in closing seconds, Super Bowl XXIII. . .All-NFL three times, All-NFC five times. . . Missed entire 1991 season with injury. . . Selected to eight Pro Bowls. . .Two AP NFL MVP awards...Career statistics: 3,409 completions, 40,551 yards, 273 TDs, 92.3 passer rating. . .NFL 1980s All-Decade Team...NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team...one of eleven numbers (16) retired by the San Fransisco 49ers...elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000...Born June 11, 1956, in New Eagle, Pennsylvania.
"Some people lead vocally. Others lead with their presence and by example. That was Joe. At times it seemed like we had an unfair advantage, and we weren’t the only ones who felt that way. You looked across the line and saw it in the other teams’ eyes. We knew we were going to score, and they knew we were going to score." – Randy Cross
5. Peyton Manning...1998–present...Indianapolis Colts...Ten Pro Bowls...Five First-team All-Pro selections...Three Second-team All-Pro selection...Four AP NFL MVP awards...Indianapolis Colts All-time leader (Career Wins, Passing Touchdowns , Pass Attempts, Pass Completions and Passing Yards)...Pro Bowl MVP (2005)...Super Bowl MVP (XLI)...2000s All-Decade Team.
"What sets him apart is his preparation ... That's it in a word: preparation. He prepares himself mentally, physically and emotionally to be the best that he can be. Now, everybody wants to be the best. But Peyton does what it takes to be the best. There's a difference." – Jim Mora
6. Bart Starr...1956-1971 Green Bay Packers...17th-round draft pick, 1956. . . Precision passer, poised team leader. . .Led Packers to six division, five NFL, two Super Bowl titles. . .NFL Most Valuable Player, 1966. . . MVP in Super Bowls I, II. . .Three-time NFL passing champion. . . Two first-team and two second-team All-Pro selections...In four Pro Bowls. . .Career passing totals: 24,718 yards, 152 TDs, 57.4 completion percentage. . .NFL 1960s All-Decade Team...one of five players to have his number (15) retired by the Green Bay Packers...elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977...Born January 9, 1934, in Montgomery, Alabama.
7. Tom Brady...2000 - Present New England Patriots...Five Pro Bowls...First-team All-Pro selection(2007)...Second-team All-Pro(2005)..Super Bowl champion (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX)..Super Bowl MVP (XXXVI, XXXVIII)...NFL 2000s All-Decade Team...NFL single season record 50 touchdown passes in 2007.
8. Sonny Jurgensen...1957-1963 Philadelphia Eagles, 1964-1974 Washington Redskins...Exceptional passer, superb team leader, intelligent, determined, competitive, poised against pass rush. . .Career 82.625 passing rating. . .Won three NFL individual passing titles. . .Five time Pro Bowl selection...Five time All-Pro selection...Surpassed 3,000 yards in five seasons, 300 yards in 25 games, 400 yards in five games. . .Career totals: 2,433 completions, 32,224 yards, 255 touchdowns. . .Excelled in spite of numerous injuries. . .NFL 1960s All-Decade Team...elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983...Born August 23, 1934, in Wilmington, North Carolina.
"Jurgensen is a great quarterback. He hangs in there under adverse conditions. He may be the best the league has ever seen. He is the best I have seen." - Vince Lombardi
9. Roger Staubach...1969-1979 Dallas Cowboys...1963 Heisman Trophy winner. . . Four-year Navy service preceded pro play. . .Noted for last-minute heroics, guided Dallas to four NFC titles, Super Bowl VI, XII wins. . .MVP in Super Bowl VI. . .All-NFC five years . . .Career stats: 22,700 yards, 153 TDs passing; 2,264 yards, 20 TDs rushing. . .83.4 NFL passer rating best ever at time of retirement. . .Four-time NFL passing leader. . . NFL 1970s All-Decade Team...elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985...Born February 5, 1942, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
10. Dan Marino...1983-1999 Miami Dolphins. . .Miami's first round pick, 1983. . .One of most prolific passers in NFL history – career statistics include 4,967 completions, 8,358 attempts for 61,361 yards, and 420 touchdowns. . .First player ever to pass for 5,000 yards in a season, threw then-record 48 TDs, 1984. . .Recorded thirteen 3,000-yard seasons. . .First or second team All-Pro eight times. . .All-AFC six times. . . .NFL MVP (1984)...NFL Comeback Player of the Year (1994)...Selected to nine Pro Bowls. . .one of three numbers (13) retired by the Miami Dolphins...elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005...Born September 15, 1961 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The Next 10: Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Brett Favre, Jim Kelly, Sid Luckman, Fran Tarkenton, Y.A. Tittle, Norm Van Brocklin, Steve Young.