The Left Blogoshere: Piling on

I as you know, in the search of truth I keep my salt shaker handy when I go to the bloggers. That’s because msot of them fall into either the Right or Left blogosphere, and thus are fraught with parisan biases. In yesterday’s “fauxtography and propaganda” story, I was careful to tread with caution with reference to blog-sourced news, specifically in this case Right-wing blogs.

The Left-wing blogs are, as far as I can tell, less about being the self-appointed media ombudsmen and much more about promulgating virulent attacks upon their enemies. Take for instance DAILYKOS, one of the most prominent liberal blogs. This guy is brutal. The Joe Lieberman story is still the headline, and Kos absolutely pounds Lieberman. Who will run his campaign?! Who will donate money?! Kos poses these questions with a disgusting air of superiority. If the Republican Lieberman backers were charging the Dems with nothing less than booting the senior Senator out the door, well, the Dems appear none too ashamed to hide it; in fact they are gloating.

Howard Dean is evidently having more of an impact on the DNC than I gave him credit for. The party is going hard left, and to their own detriment. As I have said time and again, this crazy Democratic party looks poised to completely blow a golden opportunity to take control of the Congress. We’re going to Connecticut and beyond. Yaaargh!

fauxtography and propaganda

If you were unanware, the blogger nation is working overtime to expose the propaganda campaign perpetrated by Hizballah in Lebanon. As you no doubt have seen, Reuters has admitted that photos supplied by a contributing photojournalist from Lebanon were in fact photoshopped to make the devastation in those photos appear more dramatic; as a result the photos were removed from all Reuters media and the contributor thereof was canned. This came to pass largely as a result to those nerdy bloggers, who began to question what they were seeing in the media and then determined to analyze these pictures more carefully. One should usually take the word of right (and left) wing bloggers with a grain of salt; but in this case they were vindicated by Reuters.

And this is only the most publicised result of the bloggosphere’s massive media watchdog action. After careful analysis, other bloggers are beginning to paint a picture of the tragedy in Lebanon as a large-scale stage production by Hizballah to discredit Israel and by proxy the US. It would be numskullish to discount the tragedy in Lebanon, but there is I think some merit to the charges made by the bloggers that Hizballah is engaging in a bit of shucking and jiving in order to win the war of popular opinion. And that is smart on their part. But if American journalists are indeed being led by Hizballah handlers through a dog-and-pony show, then it is irresponsible of them to not report it. Maybe I should trust the media enough to take them at their word that none of this is happening; but somehow its hard for me to use “trust” and “media” in the same sentence.

This doctored photo scandal involving Reuters is the latest in a line of various shortcomings in the media, shortcomings including the likes of Dan Rather’s infamous forged papers that earned the venerable news anchor a dismissal from CBS. It would be great to have an impartial watchdog for the media; unfortunately, all the “watchdogs” arrive from the out reaches of political ideology. In the Reuters case, though, the bloggers have come through.

Now to the controversial stuff. Bloggers in many cases are unafraid to tread the waters of political incorrectness; indeed AMERICANREVOLUTION is unafraid to do so when circumstances require it. In the links I am providing below, we find instances where the bloggers have opted to be callous to suffering for moment to show what they feel is strong evidence of a Hizballah-orchestrated propaganda campaign in Lebanon. For the faint of heart, these links do show graphic images of death. But if you dare to see what the blogger watchdogs are up to, see the Gateway Pundit’s expose on an “unbelievable (perhaps not hyperbole?) fraud” in the NYTimes. Then look at this piece on EUReferendum showing some more “orchestrated” devastation.

AMERICANREVOLUTION would love to hear your thoughts on this one.

What About Americans?

Maybe it is selfish of me to ask, but does anyone remember the concept of domestic policy?

Strange how this period in America is completely defined by its foreign policy travails. The spotlight is set on the Middle East. The fate of America appears to be directly connected to the level of violence in Iraq or the body count in Lebanon. Even our chief domestic concern, gas prices, is closely related to happenings in the region.

And yet, as we wring our hands over violence in the Middle East, we seem to forget the problems we face within our own borders–problems that have a tangible effect on Americans. Or has it come the point that we are satisfied with domestic conditions? I think the majority of the citizenry would say we have not. Our nation faces numerous problems at home, many of which have plagued us for long time–poverty, lack of education, a failing social security system, drugs, crime, et cetera. However, arguably more important are the newer issues, issues that will have a very noticeable impact on Americans in the long run. Immigration and oil supply come to mind as such issues.

This is to take nothing away from the gravity of America’s activities on the international stage. I have long maintained that the war on terror is our new Cold War. In the Cold War, America was able to multitask as it were, unlike in the World Wars where the nation was a collective war machine. And if we accept the the war on terror is akin to the Cold War, it stands to reason that we should be able to tackle domestic problems as well. Perhaps the media is to blame for setting the tone for national debate, which at this point is wholly focused on the war in Lebanon. If the Connecticut Democratic primary featuring incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman vs. upstart Ned Lamont is any indication, this fall’s congressional races will be essentially a referendum on the war in Iraq. That is unfortunate, because to neglect the big domestic issues is very short-sighted.

The perennial problems–education, poverty, social security, et cetera–should be dealt with certainly. But I think we are selling ourselves short by not taking more seriously the other issues I mentioned earlier. First of these is immigration. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants enter the southern border of the US every year, mostly illegally. The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) puts the number of immigrants by the end of the 1990s as over 1.5 million a year. It is best left for another time to discuss the impacts of illegal immigration; but one can imagine though the consequences of the fact that the US hosted over 18 million illegal immigrants in 2003 and that number has continued to grow dramatically since then.

The other key issue that demands more attention is oil. I maintain that relative to the rest of the world, what Americans pay at the pump is a bargain. But there is a point at which the economy will begin to suffer the effects of high gas prices. Take for instance the announcement today that British Petroleum has shut down its Prudhoe Bay operations in Alaska to repair corroded and leaking pipelines. Aside from the stupidity of fact that it took a few leaks to convince BP to check the condition of its chief conduit for oil, the real story here is the effect on US oil sources. BP’s Alaska operation provided 8% of US oil production. The news of the shutdown coupled with uncertainty about the Middle East sent oil prices to around $77 per barrel today. One can only expect the oil companies to pass this along to consumers soon. What worse than this, though, is how tenuous even our current less-than-optimum situation is. The Middle East supplies a third of the world’s oil, so clearly and interruption in that supply would be catastrophic for the US economy. With Iran controlling a sizeable portion of that supply, and threatening to cut off supplies if the US offends it too badly, one can see just how precarious our situation is. Further reason for concern is Venezuela, source of 15% of American oil supplies. Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez’ deep hatred for the US gives reason to suspect that this source may be in jeopardy at some point. Few will disagree that the loss of any of these sources would be devastating to the American economy.

So here’s to a little selfishness on the part of Americans, and a call for putting more emphasis on the issues at home that are of equal or perhaps more significance to Americans. We may be the world’s police and defenender of democracy, but it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we remain what we think we are–the most powerful and independent and free country in the world. We cannot be the “shining city on a hill” if we neglect to take care of our problems at home. Problems we have, and they are exigent.

The Spirit of the American Revolution

It is seldom that the AMERICANREVOLUTION singles out a Democrat politician for praise, indeed as exemplary of the spirit of political enterprise the REVOLUTION seeks to promote. Very seldom, in fact, considering that it is rare that a politician of any political persuasion is deemed worthy of praise on this blog. One of those rare occasions, however, occurs now; and the worthy one is none other than the embattled incumbent Connecticut sentator Joe Lieberman.

Lieberman has faced a very tough challenger in the Connecticut primary in the person of cable TV mogul Ned Lamont. Lamont has gained the upper hand with his strong anti-war stance on Iraq, while Lieberman continues to stick to his support for the war. Lieberman has been accused by his opponent of being “President Bush’s “best friend and enabler,” citing his vote for the war in Iraq and his purported closeness to the President. The video of the President apparently kissing the Connecticut senator last February has been played endlessly by Lamont supporters in that state to drive this point home. Lieberman has struggled to clarify his position on the war in Iraq, saying yesterday “I still believe that was right. What I don’t think is right, as I have said over and over again, are many of the Bush administration decisions regarding the conduct of the war.”

Lieberman has pledged to run as an independent this fall if defeated by Lamont in the Democratic primary, and with Lamont now out in front by a double-digit margin, this appears increasingly likely. As the primary campaign winds down, Lieberman delivered a passionate speech ahead of tomorrow’s vote. And with the pressure on, Lieberman dispensed with posturing and laid it all out there, as might be said in the contemporary vernacular. Addressing the chief issue of the campaign, his suport of the war in Iraq, Lieberman did what many of his colleagues on Capitol Hill are seemingly afraid to to–he stuck to his guns in the face of staunch opposition. In a time where so many Democrats, and even Republicans, are stumbling over each other as they scramble to distance themselves from the President and the “quagmire” in Iraq, Lieberman only made clearer his position. And it is a credible one that makes sense even for many conservatives. According to the NYTimes, “Mr. Lieberman said that while he believed his vote to authorize the war in 2002 was correct, he now felt a ‘heavy responsibility’ to end the war quickly. He said he wanted to withdraw American troops ‘as fast as anyone,’ yet insisted that leaving Iraq now would be a ‘disaster’ that could worsen the sectarian violence there.” In true AMRERICANREVOLUTION spirit, he added that “I not only respect your right to disagree or question the president or anyone else, including me, I value your right to disagree.”

Blind partisanship has made the Congress a place where very little is done on behalf othe American people. And just as bad has been the effect of flip-floppers, or politicians so worried about reelection that they are constantly posturing instead of developing a coherent stance on an issue. These things define a large percentage of the representatives that fill the seats of Congress today. These poor statesmen plague both political parties and in the end the American political system. Though we may disagree with Joe Lieberman’s liberal ideology, we would all benefit if more of our representatives echoed his approach. “That’s something that distinguishes me from my opponent in this race,” said the Senator; “I don’t hate Republicans. I know that sometimes in the United States Senate the best way to deliver for the people who sent me to Washington is to work with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. And I’ll tell you this: that doesn’t make me a bad Democrat it makes me a better senator.”

Long Hauling in Iraq

Iraq is a mess. Today before the Senate Armed Forces Committee, General John Abizaid, head of the US Central Command, said that the sectarian violence in Iraq is “probably as bad as I have seen it,” and that civil war is “inevitable” if major changes are not made in the current state of affairs. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld faced serious questioning on the part of a number of senators, including Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who asserted that Rumsfeld of presided over a “failed policy” in Iraq and Afghanistan. To date as many as forty thousand Iraqi civilians have died since the US deposed dictator Saddam Hussein three years ago, according to this website of questionable authority. Over 130,ooo US troops are currently deployed in the region, and there is talk of augmenting that number. So it is clear that we are in a mess there, mostly as a result of sectarian violence. Abizaid claims that the majority of Arabs do not want extremism, and he is probably right. It does not take a majority of extremists, however, to make life very miserable on their opponents and capture daily headlines.

So for months now, Democrats and now even some Republicans have been calling for an immediate pullout of American troops from Iraq. At least, they want a timetable for withdrawal.
And I am tired of hearing it.

The reason this is a bad idea is not because of an imperative that Americanism must triumphantly be established in Iraq. I see it as a bad idea from more of a realist perspective. What would happen if America pulled out? First of all, America would face international humiliation much worse than any it already faces. Its influence internationally would be marginalised for some time to come. Many of our National Guard would return to civilian life, but a large number of American troops would remain in harms way as they would likely be redeployed to a number of international hotspots as part of peacekeeping missions that currently the US must op out of due to lack of manpower. Liberals could gloat about how they righted the wrongs of Bush, Rumsfeld, et al, then take the helm of a badly weakened nation.

We have seen that concessions given to terrorists do not keep them at bay; instead they pounce on these perceived weaknesses. Most recently we have seen this as Israel withdrew from occupied territory in Lebanon in an effort to promote peace. As we know they were rewarded with attacks from Hizballah. In much the same way the US likely would face an increased threat of another terrorist attack. Terrorism would still wreak havoc internationally; there just wouldn’t be a war on it. Remember terrorism is an offensive war, not a defensive war; so retreat does not equal peace.

In Iraq, the consequences would be devastating for the Iraqi population. It is likely that the new government democratically elected by the Iraqi people would soon be overrun by extremists, which even now probably have a bit of a military advantage over the Iraqi Army. The extremists would probably form a para-governmental organization with a very similar flavor to that of Hizballah (if a branch of Hizballah itself was not exported to Iraq). This organization would benefit from strong support from Iran, which would probably tip the balance of power in its favor. Several years of civil war would follow, and perhaps the US and others might get involved again in some capacity. One can only speculate how such a war would play out, but it is unlikely that any of the possibilities would be desireable.

Extrapolation of that trend to the rest of the Middle East and indeed to the world makes the picture no prettier. But I think it is a very reasonable guesstimate. And keep in mind, I have left out the Iranian nuclear issue and the North Korean nuclear issue, both of which are interrelated and interdependent from reports I have addressed elsewhere on this blog.

If the US is to stay the course in Iraq, it likely will for some time serve little more that to play the role of the finger holding back the dike until a better strategy is devised. Terrorism is a new threat posing new challenges; and sadly the free nations of the world for the most part are behind the curve when it comes to learning how to combat it. One can but spectulate, but it seems the US can only get better at this sort of combat. Of course the Iraqis must increasingly take up responsibility for any of this to work. I think they will over time. But it is important to see that this is simply not a war that can be won overnight unless some dramatic compromise is reached between the largest factions in Iraq . Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace captured that effectively today when he said “Shiite and Sunni are going to have to love their children more than they hate each other.”

The victory in Iraq will be a hard-fought one, no doubt. Losses there are already above what many considered acceptable for victory, and sectarian violence is at an all-time high. But the price America will pay by giving up now is much greater. For that reason I say it is irresponsible for a congressman in opposition of the war to call for an immediate withdrawal. These crys are nothing more than political pandering by officials up for reelection this fall. Like so many modern congressmen, these spineless representatives are but demagogues more interested in reelection than truly seeking the best interest of their constituency. And it is clear that of the two evils we face in Iraq, the evil of early withdrawal is the greater, and while it might help one win election this fall, it will not serve America’s best interest.

Massacre: Perpetrated by Israel, or Not?

As we are all painfully aware, hundreds of Lebanese civilians are becoming the “collateral damage” in Israel’s attemp to drive Hizballah from southern Lebanon. Thousands more have been displaced from their homes, though more fortunate in that they have escaped alive. The conflict has gone on for more than three weeks, and the Israeli Defense Forces, which are some of the world’s best, have failed to prevent over two hundred Katyusha rockets to be fired into Israel today. One of the most visible parts of the war has been the tragedy faced by Lebanese, and TV footage of weeping mothers and crying children are very real to us.

It can be argued that Israel, in its bullyish failure to better avoid civilian casualties, is to blame for the tragedy. On the other hand, it is logical to cast blame upon Hizballah for its unprovoked attack on Israel and subsequent blatant and disgusting use of civilians to camouflage military operations. The reader would be correct to sense the moral judgement weighing more heavily on the terrorists of Hizbollah. Your author, does, however agree with the criticisms of the manner in which Israel is prosecuting its war. The ineffectiveness of its strategy is readily apparent. It is very frustrating to see how the war on terror continues to be fought largely with conventional military means. Terrorism is by definition a war based more on a public relations battle than on traditional military battle. Terrorists scare their enemies into decisive action, decisive action ends up killing civilians, then the original enemy become the aggressor, and at last the terrorists appear to be protectors of the oppressed people among which they hide.

If we accept that as the basic timeline of terrorist attacks, then it becomes clear why the current approach to its defeat is not the most efficient. The Israelis are to be applauded, perhaps, for at last resorting to ground assaults, which should be more successful in achieving Israel’s goal than the destructive and sometimes accurate, sometimes not air attacks. Of course this is more dangerous for Israeli troops.

Terrorists are masters of PR, and now there is evidence that Hizballah has gone farther in using civilians as pawns in the PR battle. Robert Spencer in frontpagemagazine.com reports that Hizbollah actually staged a civilian bloodbath. AMERICANREVOLUTION is not apt to sensationalism, but Spencer cites some fairly respectable sources as he outlines the lengths Hizballah is willing to go in order to turn popular sentiment against its enemies.

The bottom line is this: Israel in particular could have done much to minimize or eliminate civilian casualties by adapting to modern realities in its drive to dislodge Hizballah from Lebanon. But in evaluating where blame should be laid with respect to the tragedy in Lebanon, it is incumbent upon us to take a more critical look at the dastardly acts perpetrated by Hizballah.

The New Middle East Order

While I wholeheartedly support President Bush’s goal of a new, democratic Middle East, I have of late come to question the feasability of such a venture. Setting up a democratic government has proven very troublesome in Iraq, largely due to the vile transgressions of Islamic extremists who for some reason cannot stomach the prospect of a free, democratic nation in which to live. Certainly, these mean types now strive to destabilize the region further with a guerrilla war waged on Israel, all the while devising plans for more worldwide terrorist attacks like the others that have so darkly punctuated life in free countries.

A stable, democratic Middle East is hard to imagine, but if we can manage to do so, we see a host of benefits. The more feel-good benefits are stable lives for inhabitants of the region, economic development resulting in better lives for the people, and best of all, access to many of the freedoms the citizens of the free world hold so dear. And to be fair, there exists many benefits for foreign coutries as well, not the least of which is more reliable access to oil. On the flip side though, foreign economic development in the Middle East could greatly benefit the people of the region, especially if the proceeds went to private individuals rather than corrupt dictators. The economic impact of the money Saddam Hussein spent on his numerous lavish palaces would have been very significant.

But the questions remain. Can the US create a lasting democratic government in Iraq? Can it win the war on terror? Josh Manchester of TCS Daily says that the invasion of Iraq and the resultant upsetting of the balance of power in the Middle East has already paid off. In the opinions page of the Wall Street Journal online, Manchester says that the US has by its action in Iraq created a situation in which the Arab League is no unanimous body united against the US and Israel. Instead, and Manchester cites the recent Arab League meeting as an example, more pragmatic Arab states are beginning to question the wisdom of continuing to wage jihad against the West. Even Saddam Hussein has reservations about the continual terrorist war waged by Iran through its various proxies. This provides a golden opportunity to defeat terror, now with the sympathies of some Arab leaders on our side, if only for their own self-interested reasons. Of course this cannot happen overnight, but it makes the prospect of the prolonged war on terror seem to have more chance of success.

All this is not to paint a rosy picture of things in the Middle East. There are a host of serious problems facing the US and Israel, and all Western nations with interests there. But there is still room for success. Victory, in some form, is still winnable. Winning will require, though, a lot of nimble maneuvering on the part of the US; and a large part of that must come in the form of new military strategies more adapted to realities of terrorist warfare. The bottom line is that we musn’t give up. The threat posed by radical, militant Islam to all free men and womem is such that a long struggle ultimately is worth it. Jihad is not defensive; in its drive to spread radical Islam, it is offensive.To back down is to proclaim weakness. And weakness, as we know, does not preclude one from terrorist attacks.

And Mayhem Continues

I spoke in my coverage of the Democrats’ fall campaign strategy last week about how the Dems planned to harp on minimun wage hikes in the campaign. In now appear that the Dems may have had that arrow stolen from their quiver by the Republicans. Early Saturday the House passed a new minimum wage bill that would move the wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour, phased in over a three-year period. They Republicans also won passage of a major estate tax cut by pairing it with the minimum wage legislation. A vote against the estate tax cuts would have meant a vote against a minimum wage increase, so the Dems had little choice. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was miffed, explaining, “Just think of what it is to have a bill that says to minimum wage workers, ‘We’ll raise your minimum wage but only if we can give an estate tax cut to the 7,500 wealthiest families in America’.” The bill is expected to face a tougher battle in the Senate, but the Republicans have in essence poured water on the coals of the debate the Dems wanted to have this fall over the minimum wage.

And in Lebanon, the much vaunted “48-hour cease-fire” appeared to be not exactly that, as Israeli forces took the option they retained to make certain attacks in Lebanon during the halt in the action. Evidently, Hizballah attacked some Israeli ground troops and a little firepower was needed to set things right. In his remarks today, the President maintained his call for a sustainable peace in leiu of an immediate cease-fire. This of course, is losing the US friends much faster than it is gaining them, and likewise with Israel. The outlook for a sustainable peace is not reassuring, especially after reading David Horowitz’s piece I linked to this morning here at american-revolution.

The more I observe this war in the Middle East and the War on Terrorism in general, I realize that not only is this our new Cold War (as I have repeatedly stated here); but it also might not be so cold. We can already see this. We are relatively new to this kind of warfare, so we have somoe problems. I do not deign to be a military stretegist, but it seems to me that our more conventional strategies are decreasing in their effectiveness against a wily terrorist network that fights as much with words and attitudes as is it does with Improvised Explosive Devices. We are dealing with an enemy that is willing to blow himself up if he can take a number of “infidels” with him; that defies the Geneva Convetion by making a habit of hiding amongst civilians, and is completely intolerant not only of other religions but also less extreme sects of its very own persuasion. This tells me its time to adapt. Israel’s low return for its massive and tragic bombing of southern Lebanon is just such an indicator. I intend to revisit the issue of anti-terror strategy again in the near future.