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Johnathan Podhoretz , writing in todays New York Post, thinks that the situation in the Ukraine might just be an unintended consequence of American foreign policy:
Millions of Ukrainians are creating an entirely new kind of democratic revolution: They've simply refused to let their election be stolen by a government run by a kleptocratic mafia, and they've taken to the streets of the capital. As their peaceful, high-spirited, optimistic and profoundly moving protest has grown over the past weeks, it has taken an amazing turn. This isn't just a fight against electoral fraud. It's become the communal expression of the basic human need for self-government.
What we are seeing in Ukraine is the birth of the second stage of the liberation of the former Soviet Union from Communist totalitarianism. The corrupted pseudo-system that arose in Communism's wake — with strongmen taking more and more power with the support of billionaire "businessmen" who got hold of the reins of the economy in the midst of chaos — is dying before our eyes.
The only hope for Ukraine's collapsing leadership would have been to massacre the protestors at the start to dissuade others from joining in. But as Natan Sharansky explains in his extraordinary new book, "The Future of Democracy," an oppressive political system can't survive forever because it takes too much energy to sustain the oppression.
Ukraine's thugs couldn't come down hard on the protest because they no longer had the power to do so. The last gasp of their power came when they stole the election. They couldn't give the order for a massacre because the order would not have been obeyed. And so an entire political system was delegitimized instantly.
...To what extent the Ukrainian revolution has been influenced by American evangelizing about the power of freedom and democracy is something we won't know for a while. But we can be sure it played some kind of role — and that's an unintended consequence of which we can all be deeply, deeply proud. And another reason to give thanks for the sacrifice of those who are fighting for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I've often described the U.N. as feckless. Now comes confirmation from an unlikely source--The U.N. Key findings from the U.N. High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change include:
"The biggest source of inefficiency in our collective security institutions has simply been an unwillingness to get serious about preventing deadly violence."
""Too often, the United Nations and its member states have discriminated in responding to threats to international security."
""We have been struck once again by the glacial speed at which our institutions have responded to massive human rights violations in Darfur, Sudan."
""The nuclear nonproliferation regime is now at risk because of lack of compliance with existing commitments."
""One of the reasons why states may want to bypass the Security Council is a lack of confidence in the quality and objectivity of its decision-making. The Council's decisions have often been less than consistent, less than persuasive and less than fully responsive to very real state and human security needs ... very often acting too late, too hesitantly or not at all."
""There is little or no expertise for tackling many of the new or emerging threats."
The Red Cross is out with another report critical of our treatment of detaineees at Gitmo. Meanwhile, Scott Ott at Scrappleface has this excellent satire:
Just a day after The New York Times leaked excerpts from a confidential Red Cross report claiming that detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have undergone psychological and physical coercion "tantamount to torture," the Times has printed a second story alleging that Al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Iraq conduct interrogations "tantamount to beheading." Al Qaeda terror cells, like the Pentagon, gave the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross complete access to facilities, staff and medical records of detainees for an entire month.
"We've found numerous incidents of Al Qaeda captives who were released," said an unnamed Red Cross source in the Times report. "And for that we applaud Al Qaeda. However, in a footnote to the report, we mention that a disturbing number of these detainees are released without their heads, which we believe may be a violation of the Geneva conventions."
The source emphasized that "both sides in the war on terror have transgressed." "Whether it's the apparent videotaped beheading of an innocent civilian contractor, or psychological manipulation of an enemy combattant who may have knowledge of planned attacks on the U.S. citizens--it's all reprehensible," she said.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "Sure, we play head games with terrorists to get them to divulge information that will save lives. We can do that at Guantanamo because our detainees have heads. A recent internal study shows that the ratio of detainees to detainee-heads at Gitmo is one-to-one."
President Bush, upon learning of yesterday's leaked confidential Guantanamo report, said, "I'm always deeply concerned about allegations that our government has acted improperly. And of course this story has the added credibility of coming from anonymous sources leaking selected excerpts of confidential documents to the The New York Times. And that's tantamount to journalism."
The ever-thoughtful Peggy Noonan reflects on Dan Rather's long career and laments what he'll be most remembered for.
People are complicated, careers are complicated, motives are complicated. Dan Rather did some great work on stories that demanded physical courage. He loved the news, and often made it look like the most noble of enterprises. He had guts and fortitude. Those stories he covered that touched on politics were unfortunately and consistently marred by liberal political bias, and in this he was like too many in his profession. But this is changing. The old hegemony has given way. The old dominance is over. Good thing. Great thing. Onward.
Joseph Farah offers something to think about before we are attacked with WMD's:
It's time for a clear-cut plan of retribution to protect the people of the United States from such a horrific attack. We don't like to think about the necessity of inflicting innocent deaths. Ever since the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, many in the United States have been wringing their hands over whether it was the right thing to do. We've been second-guessing our parents and grandparents for that life-and-death decision.
Now our generation has a more wrenching decision to make.
What will we do if we're attacked again – this time with weapons of mass destruction? We cannot afford to put off this discussion until it happens. It will be too late. At that point, it will be pure vengeance. But making the plans now and making them known to the world – as uncomfortable and unpopular as those plans might be – may be the only way to deter the deaths of thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions.
It's happening everywhere--the elimination of Christmas from Christmas:
In the latest skirmish over Christmas in America, a Christian group is not allowed to participate in Denver's annual Parade of Lights , because church members sought to sing yuletide hymns and proclaim a "Merry Christmas" message on their float. However, the event, now in its 30th year, will include homosexual American Indians, Kung Fu artisans, belly dancers and, of course, Santa Claus.
Here's what the parade spokesatheist said:
"We want to avoid that specific religious message out of respect for other religions in the region," Krikorian told the News. "It could be construed as disrespectful to other people who enjoy a parade each year."
Here's what the head of the Catholic League said:
"This is only the beginning of the Christmas season and already the anti-Christmas crusade is in high gear," he said. "In the name of 'separation of church and state,' they distort it. In the name of diversity, they crush it. In the name of tolerance, they obliterate it. Which is why we need to call them for what they are – cultural fascists."
Meteorologists, religion and global warming. While I don't subscribe to Lindzen's assertions that a belief in global warming is equivalent to believing in religion, he is correct in this argument:
"The research and support for research depends on the alarm," Lindzen told CNSNews.com following his speech. Lindzen said scientists must be allowed to conclude that 'we don't have a problem." And if the answer turns out to be 'we don't have a problem,' we have to figure out a better reward than cutting off people's funding. It's as simple as that," he said.
When I was a meteorology graduate student at Texas A&M in the early to mid '90's there was great interest in global warming and greenhouse gases. Why the interest? Because that's where the research dollars were. It was much easier to get NSF funding to explore the extent, variability, and duration of the ozone hole over the Antarctic or studies of global temperature records than other areas of inquiry.
Laurence Aster argues that mass immigration is the death knell of our society and that this trend is the result, in part, of liberalized Christianity:
...When the liberal order was born in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it did not immediately appear, at least in America, as a social force hostile to religion. Far from attacking or banning religion, liberalism marked out a religiously neutral public space where religious conformity would not be demanded and a person's religion could not be used against him. The various Protestant denominations plus Catholicism and Judaism were tolerated, and a generic—and rather strict—Protestant morality was authoritative throughout the society. In his journey through America in the 1830s, Toqueville was deeply impressed at how in America, more than in any other country in history, religion and liberty worked in harmony.
But over the past two centuries, as the demand for individual freedom has become ever more insistent and far-reaching, the respect accorded religion and religious morality in American public life has steadily diminished, a process that has reached an extreme stage in recent years. Education, the arts, entertainment, architecture, public monuments, and many other areas of society in which religion was once honored or deferred to, or which were at least open to a religious sense of life, have become thoroughly secularized, as has the Christmas holiday itself. For the first time in American history, prominent individuals and established political movements, not to mention many movies and television programs, are openly atheistic and hostile to religion, seeking, in the name of liberal tolerance, to drive religion out of the public sphere altogether. Or, to be more precise, they seek to drive Christianity out of the public sphere, while welcoming non-Western religions such as Islam. The only Christianity tolerated by these left-liberals is a desiccated Christianity that keeps up the external forms and formulae of the faith but no longer adheres seriously to any Christian beliefs that are distinct from those of liberalism. Even conservative Christian leaders have given up the traditional idea of America as a basically Christian society and now subscribe to the liberal view of America as a level playing field where different beliefs, including non-Western beliefs, can strive for influence.
The effects of this leftward drift on the mainline Protestant churches and on significant parts of the American Catholic Church have been profound. No longer looking for the meaning of life in God and Christ, but in the celebration and achievement of human rights and equality,—or, rather, defining God and Christ in terms of human rights and equality—these liberal Christians tend to look at every issue through the lens of social justice, one-worldism, and U.S. guilt, and are deeply committed to diversity, multiculturalism, and open borders. The liberal belief in the equal freedom of all human beings as the primary political and spiritual datum leads inexorably to the idea that our nation should open itself indiscriminately to all humanity. President Bush's proposal to give a green card to every person on earth who can underbid an American for a job is an example of this utopian attitude, and is plainly motivated, at least in part, by the liberal evangelicalism to which he subscribes.
Aster argues that the "cult of Man" has led to moral liberationism, cultural egalitarianism, and the worship of the Other. On the subject of cultural egalitarianism, Aster writes:
Another consequence of the cult of man is radical egalitarianism, particularly in the area of culture. If there is no truth higher than humanity, then there is no objective basis on which to determine the relative value of various human things. All human things—all cultures—must be of innately equal value. But if all cultures are of innately equal value, how then can we explain the persistently backward state of some cultures? At bottom, there is only one answer to that question, and it recurs again and again: the backward cultures must have been artificially placed in their inferior situation by the better-off and more powerful cultures, namely our own. Thus the denial of higher truth makes all things seem equal, which in turn requires an explanation for why things are not actually equal, which in turn leads to a belief in some all-pervading oppression to account for the actually existing inequalities—an oppression that is always blamed on the West, or America, or Christianity, or capitalism, or the white race, or white men, or the patriarchal family, or George Bush, or what have you. And the attack on the West does not end there. Since the less advanced condition of certain other peoples and cultures is our fault, we must, in order to raise them up, excuse them from normal standards while subjecting ourselves to the harshest standards. This is the leftist double standard, of which I've written about previously at FrontPage Magazine.
More man-playing-God in this article by Hugh Hewitt:
The Groningen Protocol is the proposal of doctors in the Netherlands for the establishment of an "independent committee" charged with selecting babies and other severely handicapped or disabled people for euthanasia. The original article provides some of the key details:
Under the Groningen protocol, if doctors at the hospital think a child is suffering unbearably from a terminal condition, they have the authority to end the child's life. The protocol is likely to be used primarily for newborns, but it covers any child up to age 12.
The hospital, beyond confirming the protocol in general terms, refused to discuss its details. "It is for very sad cases," said a hospital spokesman, who declined to be identified. "After years of discussions, we made our own protocol to cover the small number of infants born with such severe disabilities that doctors can see they have extreme pain and no hope for life. Our estimate is that it will not be used but 10 to 15 times a year."
A parent's role is limited under the protocol. While experts and critics familiar with the policy said a parent's wishes to let a child live or die naturally most likely would be considered, they note that the decision must be professional, so rests with doctors.
The slippery slope gets steeper and slicker.
Wow, it's really been two weeks since I've blogged last. How time does fly. I've been a bit "out of the loop" lately and haven't been on top of the current events, but there are a few things that will not be addressed on this page. First off, the election is over. Done. I don't want to read/see/hear any more about what went wrong for Kerry and the Democrats. I don't want to hear about how the Dems need to reorganize for 2008. No analyses on whether red states have more cats or whether blue states have more DSL connections. I don't care who the contenders will be four years hence. It's done. Over. Next...please no more reports on Black Friday or Blue Monday. I don't care a rat's whit about how the retailers are doing this Christmas season. I certainly don't need a blow-by-blow every day or every week. It's the same old hackneyed story every year. It's about as creative as the standup next to the salt pile watching the trucks load up during a blizzard. It's the busy airport and stranded traveler story on a holiday. Oh, how I wish they would find something new....
I heard a story a couple weeks ago about a town in NC where the annual Christmas tree display was not going to happen this year. My first thought: ACLU. Turns out, it was near a power plant and officials had concerns about terrorism and the tree was going to be removed to increase security. I was relieved. Simply precautions against terrorism. Good. It was only the threat of terrorism that caused the change, not threats by the atheists at the ACLU. That made me sick. The ACLU has done so much damage to this country. It's a small minority, with threats of legal action, that has bullied the rest of us into giving up a portion of our heritage, culture and beliefs. Well, they've won another battle:
The sponsorship of two Boys Scout troops and a Cub Scout pack by the Quantico Marine Corps base ended recently following a partial settlement reached between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Pentagon.
...The ACLU of Illinois had filed a lawsuit in 1999 contending that because the Scouts excluded people who did not profess a belief in God, government funding of the organization through military officials acting in an official capacity violated the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state.
..."Under the very limited settlement applying existing DoD policy, DoD may not officially sponsor Boy Scout units and DoD personnel may not sponsor Boy Scout units in an official capacity. The DoD policy prohibiting official sponsorship applies to all private organizations, not just the Boy Scouts."
Pat Sajak illustrates the lack of outrage among the Hollywood crowd at the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by an Islamic terrorist because Van Gogh had produced a film critical of the treatment of women in Islamic societies. Sajak offers this simple thought exercise:
Picture this: Somewhere in the world, a filmmaker creates a short documentary that chronicles what he perceives as the excesses of anti-abortion activists. An anti-abortion zealot reacts to the film by killing the filmmaker in broad daylight and stabbing anti-abortion tracts onto his body. How does the Hollywood community react to this atrocity? Would there be angry protests? Candlelight vigils? Outraged letters and columns and articles? Awards named in honor of their fallen comrade? Demands for justice? Calls for protection of artistic freedom? It’s a pretty safe bet that there would be all of the above and much more. And all of the anger would be absolutely justified.
Tony Blankley writes eloquently in today's Washington Times about the misbegotten intelligence reform bill that is being opposed by Hunter and Sensenbrenner in the House. He not only points to its birth tainted by "political sin", but also to the reasons for the opposition:
...As House Armed Services Committee Chairman Hunter has powerfully pointed out, the bill would take operational control of needed battlefield intelligence away from the Pentagon and give it to the new intelligence czar. It seems surpassingly odd that we would take control away from the Pentagon, which has been performing superbly for years, and give it to the Intelligence agency that has been failing catastrophically for decades.
Likewise House Judiciary Committee Chairman Sensenbrenner is being nastily opposed for calling for tougher driver's license and political asylum standards to make it harder on possible terrorists. Ironically, the driver's license provision was in the September 11 commission's final report (page 390), but was deemed too controversial for open border-favoring politicians of both parties.
On this last point, Michelle Malkin has been railing for years about our lax borders and the nefarious efforts of the open-borders lobbyists, or OBL (not to be confused with the equally nefarious UBL), and agrees with the position of James Sensenbrenner:
If you actually read the immigration enforcement provisions supported by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner and his fellow maverick House Republicans (side note: just once, I'd like to see the mainstream media call a Republican other than John McCain a "maverick"), you will see clearly and unequivocally that these vital measures are anti-terrorist. Anti-criminal. Anti-fraud. And above all, pro-enforcement.