Sunday, October 30, 2005

Band of Brothers

I remember fondly Lieutenant Colonel Khaki, the commander of the 206th Iraqi National Guard (ING) Battalion. The 206th ING was the only Iraqi unit operating in our area. When I first arrived to Iraq, the battalion was in bad shape. Each of its company has only 3 vehicles, and most soldiers have only two magazine worth of ammo. To compound the problem, the ING at the time only received 2 weeks of basic training - not enough training time to be a soldier. This is the problem for the ING throughout Iraq. Those who point to the failures of the Iraqi security force during the twin insurgencies in 2004 do not appreciate the predicament they were in. Imagine having an AK47 with two magazines of ammo facing opponents who were well armed with plenty of ammo and heavy weapons such as RPG7 and PK machine guns. Of course, when the ING in Fallujah disintegrated and fled, it did not surprise me. I am not sure I would stand and fight if I was in their place. American fought because we were well trained (the most well trained in the world). I received months of retraining prior to my arrival to Iraq. We were well armed with almost unlimited amount of ammo and we could always expect that someone would come to our rescue if thing get desperate. The Iraqi soldiers did not have that advantage – or not at least at the time.

But the 206th ING was reliable and courageous. We had almost zero desertion and most held their ground when “shit hit the fan” (excuse my authentic military language). The 206th ING suffered three times the casualties we suffered despite having only a third of our man power. It is also important to put thing into context. We get to go home after 365 days of war. They live the war everyday; their homes are in the war zone.

I watched with amazement as the 206th ING grew from a ragtag band of undisciplined armed men into a cohesive and effective fighting force. When I left at the end of 2004, they were operating mostly on their own – either as a category 2 or 3 unit. They were quite aggressive – sometime a bit reckless. But Iraqis believe that their lives are in the hand of God. “Inshalah,” “God willing” they say. I and my section worked very close with the 206th. We even participated in several of their raid – raids that they independently initiated and we just came along for the ride. You do not ride with a unit that you cannot trust.

And what I remember most about the 206th is their hospitality. We were the first unit to arrive at the area and we had to build the base from nothing. So for the first 6 months, we ate T-ration. If you know anything about food, you know MRE (Meal-Ready-to-Eat) is the prepackaged military ration, and you also know that it taste terrible. Well, T-ration tastes even worse. So we were happy when the 206th insisted that we eat with them whenever we work at their compound. They had fresh bread and rice. We then discovered that their food budget was limited and that we were eating into their budget – the Coalition Provisional Government was quite stingy when it comes to Iraqi units funding. We stopped. Colonel Khaki was offended that we stopped eating with his unit. We explained to him that the food was for his men and it was limited, and that it is not right for us to eat food that was meant for his men. Colonel Khaki acclaims, “But you are my men too.” And a bunch of other Iraqi soldiers joined the colonel in insisting that we share the meal with them. I was quite moved and so were other in my section. Here are people who have very limited resource who are willing to give the shirt of their back for their friends. This behavior was consistent from the 206th ING throughout our deployment. They were generous and hospitable.

In the armed profession, the greatest praise that can be said to a man is “I will go to war with you.” It is a statement of confidence, in his commitment, his loyalty, and his ability. Concerning Colonel Khaki and the 206th ING, I would go to war with them and I did.

(I am the little skinny guy on the right and next to me in the middle is Colonel Khaki. This picture was taken the day before we went home.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Carnival of Liberty XVII

Eric is hosting the 17th Carnival of Liberty. I sent in my post on marriage certificate.
  • Notable among the posts are Jacqueline Passey who asked the question that we often forget to ask - What is the role of the government?
  • Mr Completely, wrote the funniest post - check it out. I had a good laugh.
  • Andrew Bartlett, wrote a post that I intent on rebute. I agree that we should not use torture, but it has to be argued on the utilitarian reasoning. The Kantian line of reasoning does not work here.
  • Brad Warbiany who wrote an excellent analysis on society and the government.
  • Just because I did not mention a post, it does not mean I did not like it or consider it not worthy. I can only comment on so many posts. So visit the carnival yourself.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Proudest Days

The Commissar asked blogger who inspired them to be blogger - their blogparent. I cannot recall which blogger specifically inspired me to blog. But I know what inspired me to blog. The War in Iraq. My first two posts were about Iraq. I came back from the war with mixed emotion about the war - both positive and negative. I first heard about weblog on "News Hour" which several bloggers were interviewed after the Eason Jordan scandal. The only person I remmembered and recognized was Andrew Sullivan.
I thought then that it would be a perfect medium to express my trapped emotion about Iraq. So I googled and studied as much as I could about blogging. So State of Flux, like the new Iraq, came into being. And much like Iraq, I had no idea where I was going or why. But now I am glad I did. It allows me to put my experience into perspective - to meditate about it deeply and rationally instead of emotionally. But emotion remains.
Today emotion is reawaken with the reminder that 2,000 US soldiers died in Iraq. The story brought me back to my first memorial service in Iraq. I did not know the soldier nor meet him. But his convoy was behind my convoy when he was killed by an IED. That was on the first day we entered Iraq from Kuwait. That was when I came face to face with my own mortality. That was my first but not last, more memorial services were conducted during our deployment. It was bitter, but in my heart of heart, I know that I was there for a good cause. But I also know that victory is uncertain. It is still pointless to mark the 1,000 or the 2,000 or the 3,000. Every fallen soldier is a great loss to his/her family, the community, and the country. The media by paying special attention to this day when the number reached 2,000 miss the point. This war is not about the deads but the livings - counts the living not the deads. Count the number Iraqi voters in the next coming election and many elections to come. Count the children who would have died in the cripping sanction.
My experience had much bitter. I wrote about it here. It even titles: "They Year of Discontent." It was a bitter and difficult year - many days I was in despair. But we did great thing - against great odds. And we did it not knowing what the outcome would be, not knowing if we would be appreciated for our sacrifice, not knowing if our political leaders have the conviction and wisdom to lead us to victory. We did it on faith - faith in our own nobility and hopefully the nobility of the Iraqis. I did not realize the fruit of my labor until January 30th, 2005 when Iraqi flocked to the poll to elect the first representative government.
Today, it is confirmed that the Iraqi constitution has passed. I cannot help but think that those days in Iraq were the proudest days of my life. Days that I can retell my children and grandchildren with pride. I have served with the most noble breed of men and women - some are counted among the 2,000 deads. I will remember fondly the numerous convoys we were on together - on an IED ladden road between Mandali and Balad Ruz. The rides were terrified - but the companies were terrific. I will remember fondly the meals we ate together. It was the worst tasting food I ever had; but I could not have it with better companions.
Let them count the deads, I will count them too. But I will remember them with pride, not with shame. My proudest days was short live, their are eternal.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Loretta Sanchez the "Economist"

Prior to his nomination to replaced Alan Greenspan as the chairman of the Fedearal Reserve today, on October 20th, Ben Bernanke gave a testimony to the Joint Economic Committee (House and Senate) on the economic outlook of the US. Listening the hearing, I was reminded why I never voted Democratic. What's a bunch of anti-market and anti-trade zealots!
The Democrats on the commitee spent most of their time on "tax cut for the rich," "loss manufacture jobs," and how bad the US economy is. Bernanke pointed out that the US has the much higher employment and economic growth than other industrial nations and he gave an example of Europe. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez who claims to be an economist rebuted that it was a terrible analogy by the White House to compare the US to Europe . I fell out of my chair laughing when I heard her calls herself "a trained economist." The self-porclaimed economist Sanchez said that Europe had to bear the burden of integrating the Eastern European countries (who were devestated by communism and are not used to the market economy) and the comparision is not accurate and fair.
First of all Miss Sanchez is no economist. She received an undergraduate in economic in 1982 - when Keynesian Economic was still popular in campus - an undergrad! I never heard undergraduates in economic calling themselves economists. Maybe I should start calling myself an economist - I took as many economic courses as she did (perhap more). And her rebuttal was grossly inaccurate. Eastern European economies are not the reasons the European economy is behind the US (in term of growth and employment). If Miss Sanchez even bothers to read the Economist, she would know that Eastern European economies are growing faster than the US. So European economy tank inspite of the growing Eastern European economies, not because of them. And her comment that they (Eastern Europeans) are not used to and are not adjusting to market economy is pure ignorant. Eastern Europe today is far more capitalistic and pro-market than Western Europe - that is why they are growing faster.
That's Loretta Sanchez the Economist!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Certificate of Morality

I have an idea that would end all for once the same sex marriage debate. The main issue with gay right activists is the fact that the government is not issuing marriage certificate to homosexuals who are in a committed relationship – and they want the same privilege extend to them. However I have another solution that better serve gay and straight people. That the government should stop issuing marriage certificates altogether – whether to gay or to straight people.

Let examine the extrinsic value of the marriage certificate.

(1) It cannot be traded like stock and bond certificate.
(2) It does not give one’s ownership, such as car title, house title, patent or trademark.
(3) It is not a license that grants you certain privilege like driving, opening a restaurant, or practicing a profession (like professional license).
(4) It is not even a contract which states clearly who has to do what and what the obligation each person has.

It in fact has no extrinsic value. It does not even have a utilitarian value. At least with other certificates such as birth and death, they are useful. The birth certificate proves that one exists, death certificate prove that one ceases to exist, they are therefore helpful as census so the government can plan their economic policy. Some say that it provides inheritance right, visiting right and other so called right pertaining to children and spouse.

But it does poorly that these function too. Marriage law differs from one locality to another. If the couple moves, then expectation and obligation concerning marriage will change. Marriage certificate fails to provide clear obligation, duty and right. It does not enumerate these things. All those things depend not on the marriage certificate itself, but on local laws which there are fifty of them. In fact a contract is better served for such a purpose. It enumerates clearly the obligation, duty, and right. Since it states in plain text, the meaning is the same wherever one go.

Then why is such a thing exists despite providing no extrinsic or utilitarian value? The marriage certificate is nothing but a moral certificate. The government through the control of such certificate is defining the moral values, which activities are moral and which are not. Those they grant marriage certificate to, they approve of their morality. Those they refuse to grant marriage certificates to, they deem immoral.

In the interest of individual liberty, we need to remove the government from the moral defining function and give that function back to the rightful owners: the individuals, the families, the communities (which they free associate), and the churches which they freely choose. It is the family, the community, and the church which an individual belong to and has emotional tie with - not the government. The government has no personal relationship with a person to play a role in his or her private life. The government is at best a benign faceless bureaucracy and at worst an oppressive and intruding leviathan.

They should not be allowed to make moral judgment. Of course, for now, the harm from government issued marriage certificate is abstract and not concrete. The government has not cracked down on people activities. Nobody is hauled to jail. Nobody is even monetarily fined – whether they are heterosexuals living outside of marriage or homosexuals who practice their orientation. But the justification for sanction is already there – waiting to be used. It is true that it is very unlikely to punish those they deem unworthy of a marriage certificate. But one must keep in mind the government has and is punishing activities that harm no one – what we call victimless crime - this range from cancer ridden patients who smoke marijuana to women who choose to sell their sexual services. So it is improbable but not impossible.

Regardless whether you find these activities (homosexual marriage, marijuana, prostitution) offensive or acceptable, you do not want to involve the government. It is better that you accomplish your goal through persuading your fellow citizens from such activities – rather than calling in the government. Because once you give the government the right to crack down on activities you deem offensive, they may start to crack down on activities you find acceptable – perhaps even activities you cherish.

With that in mind, let empower yourself, your family, your community, and your religious institution by supporting an end to government exclusive control of marriage certificate. Gay activists, in the interest of their own liberty, should stop asking the government to grant them marriage license. They are simply putting themselves into a position of subservience. They should instead ask that the government stopped granting the absurd certificate of morality altogether and be free from the grip of the leviathan.

NOTE: There are those who will interpret this essay as an opposition to the institution of marriage (it has happened before). It is not the case. The opposite is true. I value the institution of marriage and value it so much that I want it to be free from the government.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday Hayek Blogging




With all the depressing news concerning porks in Congress, Miers for the US Supreme Court, Hayek blogging alway cheer me up. And not to forget about the other Hayek - I introduce to you the blog of F.A. Hayek great nephew (F.A. Hayek is his grandfather brother). Here is Richard Zundritsch and his blog Hayek in Vienna. It is a must go to if you are a fan of F.A. Hayek like me (If you are a fan of Salma, you can always come here every Friday). Richard dedicates his blog to the biography of his great uncle and the idea he advocated when he was alive - freedom through free market.
And since it is a very depressing week (The Senate voted down the Coburn amendment), I am posting two Salma pictures.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Let Hamas Participates

In 2000, when I was a peacekeeper in Bosnia, I was my opinion then that the banning of the Bosnia Serb Radical Party (SRS) from participating in the Bosnian election was a bad idea. It is true that the ideology by the SRS was abhorrent – it advocates racism and many of its members were indicted for war crime. But by banning the SRS from election, the OSCE strengthened Serb ultra-nationalism and radicalism. And the election of 2000 precisely did that. SRS supporters simply voted for the next radical and extreme party, the Bosnian Serbian Democratic Party, ensuring the electoral defeat of the much more liberal government who was in power.

Let not repeat the same mistake in Palestine. There is a suggestion that Hamas should be banned from the electoral process. As I argue before, let them participate in the electoral process. For democracy to be credible, all who want to participate must be allowed to participate. We cannot and should not pick and choose who get to run for election. And as I argued before, I am not concerned with Hamas winning election. I am more concerned with the prospect that they are barred from the electoral process. It will not weaken Hams. It will in fact strengthen them politically and discredit the whole electoral process.

Also let not confuse the disarmament with the electoral issue. They are two separate tracks. We must press for the Palestinian Authority to disband all armed groups to include Hamas, Islamist Jihad, and other belligerents. And we should provide whatever assistance we can to President Abbas so that he can carry out the task. But while that is going on – free and fair election should be extended to everyone – even the most repugnant.

Related articles:
(1) Defeating Hamas (Washington Post)
(2) A Vote for Hamas? (Washington Post)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Good Enough Justice

I am remain unconvinced of the White House argument for Harriet Miers. I think the White House argument is back ward, if not upside down. It should not be us the critics who have to prove that Miers is unqualified. It should be the White House who should prove to us that Miers is qualified. The President says that she is the best there is for the Supreme Court, then the burden of proof is on him. And so far he has not proven the case - all we got is "trust me." "Trust me" is not an acceptable argument.
I do not doubt that Miers is a good person with a good heart who want to do good thing. However it is not an argument for the Supreme Court nominee. If it is, my mother would be emminently qualified. The premise for this debate should be that it is the responsible of the President to pick the best mind among the legal professionals to fill the position - the best not the good enough. To say that there were other justices who similarly lacking in experience is to argue for mediocrity. Just because there were mediocre justices before - as there are mediocre ones on the court now - is not a good reason to pick another mediocre one.
A question for the readers to ponder, when you need heart surgery, do you want to be operated by a surgeon that is "good enough," or do you want that surgeon to be "the best."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Jose Ramos-Horta on Iraq

Unlike most pundits, this one know the horror of living under tyranny, he also knows the sweet tatse of freedom and democracy. Jose Ramos-Horta was the receipient of the Nobel Peace prize in 1996. In the recent article in the Asian Wall Street Journal (October 17, 2005), he offered his thought on Iraq.
U.S. Soldiers Are The Real Heroes In Iraq
By Jose Ramos-Horta

Time and again as I watch the barbarity inflicted on innocent Iraqi civilians, often women and children, pass with seeming silence and indifference from the rest of the world, I ask where are those who are so quick to take to the streets to protest every alleged U.S. sin -- be it real or imaginary? If they are so appalled at the graphic photos showing the depraved acts committed by a small number of American servicemen -- photos that, never let it be forgotten, were unearthed as a result of the U.S. Army's own investigation -- surely they should be even more appalled by the daily carnage inflicted on the Shia majority in Iraq. Instead, those who hate the U.S. seem to believe that every wrong committed by an American serviceman must not only be loudly condemned but portrayed as a deliberate act by the U.S. government, while the systematic and daily barbarities perpetrated predominantly by Sunni Muslims upon their fellow Muslims pass without comment.

Such hypocrisy and unwarranted attacks increase the pressure on the U.S. to cut and run from Iraq. In the face of a mounting death toll and growing financial burden, it's understandable that some have begun to have doubts about whether America should continue to send its brave young soldiers to die in a battle so far away.

To those who harbor such doubts, I say remember the lessons of history. In Lebanon in the 1980s under a Republic Administration and Somalia in the 1990s under a Democratic Administration, the U.S. retreated in the face of American casualties. As a result, both countries fell into the grip of terrorists -- a state from which it took Lebanon many long years to emerge, while Somalia still remains mired in lawlessness. Any such instance of the superpower vacillation emboldens its sworn enemies, while causing anxiety among its friends. And Lebanon and Somalia are but small dots when compared with the vital strategic importance of Iraq.

Retreat is not a viable option for the costs would be far too high for U.S. vital interests in the Middle East and the world as a whole. Iraq would inevitably descend into a Somalia-like failed state with dire implications for its neighbors. Oil prices would skyrocket, bankrupting many non-oil producing countries, and triggering recessions in industrialized economies.

In addition to such strategic considerations, there is the moral and ethical dimension of betraying the Shia majority and all those, Kurdish and Sunni democrats who have put so much faith in the U.S. and in the international community to stand with them in their struggle for a secular and democratic Iraq. The Shia leadership, in particular, have shown enormous restraint in the face of daily provocations and attacks, as they struggle to grasp this historic opportunity to overcome many centuries of oppression by the Sunni minority.

All these are reasons why it is in the world's interests to see the U.S. stay the course. But other countries also have a part to play. In particular, Iraq's neighbors need to do far more to prevent their territory from being used as a training ground, safe heaven and transit route for mercenaries and weapons. For all Syria and Iran's denials of actively aiding the extremists in Iraq, at the very least they are not doing enough to assist the democratic government in Baghdad win the battle against the terrorists and the remnants of Saddam Hussein.

Europe too has a role to play. It is a great relief that the acrimonious trans-Atlantic tirades over Iraq have given way to a far healthier discussion on how best to assist the Iraqis. Many Europeans remain critical of U.S. policies, and there are some who are never prepared to accept that America can do anything good. But there are many more whom are realistic enough to accept that there is no substitute for the U.S. as a guarantor of international peace. They understand full well that America provides a vital security umbrella and strategic balance, especially in areas of the world where regional rivalries could easily escalate into open conflict without the stability provided by a U.S. presence.

For all the present violence, in a few years Iraq could easily evolve into a peaceful and democratic country. Whether that transpires ultimately rests in the hands of the millions of Iraqis who defied the terrorists by bravely turning out to vote earlier this year. But they cannot succeed if they are abandoned. And the brave, young American soldiers whom we today see cruising the treacherous streets of Iraq, sometimes battling the terrorists, sometimes conversing with ordinary Iraqis, will be remembered as the heroes who made this possible.

Monday, October 17, 2005

In Praise of the SAS

Details emerged on incident involving the British SAS in Basra in which they were imprisoned by the Basra police. According to the London Sunday Telegraph.
It is understood that the Special Air Service had been ordered to carry out surveillance operations against several members of the Iraqi police, who were believed to be responsible for torturing prisoners at the notorious Jamiyat prison in Basra.
Military sources said that the operation was ordered by senior officers after the body of an Iraqi, who had been arrested by the police for smuggling and gun-running, was found on the outskirts of the city in April. An examination of his body had revealed that an electric drill had been used to penetrate his skull, hands and legs.
When the story came out innitially, I was not sure how a Iraqi police force could have captured the best special force soldiers of Great Britain. The well-trained and well-equiped commadoes could have easily outfought the police and escaped. According to the article:
To try to avoid a shoot-out with the police, the SAS soldiers decided to surrender and each pulled out handkerchief-sized Union flags and began shouting, "British forces, British forces".
It is clear that the soliders acted honorably and care deeply about the unneccessary loss of lives - since if there was a firefight, the loss of lives would likely be Iraqi polices and not the British soldiers. Their mission was honorable because the British was concerned about misconduct by the Iraqi polices in their area of operation that may have violated human right. And their action throughout the crisis was measured and responsible. Who among us would willingly surrender to people we suspect of practicing torture, knowing we could easily outfight them?
It was the correct action by their commander to carry out the rescue mission. And they should be praised for the execution of the mission without any loss of lives - British or Iraqi.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday Hayek Blogging


... Silly not that Hayek, this Hayek

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Friedman, Hayek, Buckley and the Vienna State Opera

Enough of heavy and contentious subject for this week. So here is something light - or lighter.
An interesting post by Peter Robinson at the Corner. Peter, trying to decide whether PBS should continue to exist asked readers to email a quote (if it is true) that Von Hayek supported public subsidy of the Vienna State Opera. Apparently, Peter could not make up his mind. Myself, despite being a small-government conservative I must confess my worst sin, I supported government subsidy of the National Endowment for the Arts. Milton Friedman on an email to Peter said:
I believe your memory is playing tricks on you. It was Ludwig von Mises who was notorious for supporting state opera. I never heard that Hayek was a fellow sinner…. Re my view on PBS, I believe the government has no business running a propaganda mill, by radio, TV, or in print. I would completely privatize PBS.
Who am I to argue with Milton Friedman? Especially if I claims to be his greatest admirer. But Mr. Friedman, unlike me, was never poor. Until very recently, I could not afford to attend classical music concert without government subsidy - it would be cost prohibitive if it is privately funded. I love classical music. When I went to war, beside defending democracy, I thought of myself as defending Mozart against Islamofacism. Yes, I fought for W but W. Mozart, not W. Bush. Who would you rather fight for? After the porks ladden highway bill and the Harriet Miers nomination, I am glad I fought for Mozart.
Yet, being poor is not a good accuse for my position. I was essentially supporting socialism - that someone else pay for my pet cause. And then William Buckley came to the rescue. In an inteview with Brian Lamb (via Peter original post), Buckley said:
Adam Smith said that the state can legitimately do certain things. And those are a very short list. It can look after the common defense and it can be the custodian of monuments. So I asked myself the question: Does the authority of Adam Smith attach to a state enterprise that takes dead musicians and makes their music available?
...as to suggest that a monument need not only be something chiseled in marble, sitting in the middle of a park, but might also be keeping alive a musician and providing the wonderful amenity.
I know some of you may still be unconvinced and think of me as a hypocrite. You may even be right. I am afterall flaw. But if I died in war and requested that the government pay for Mozart Requiem to be sung at my funeral (which I actually did in my will - it is my favorite requiem). Would you object?
If you are still unconvinced by my shamless emotional argument above, I still have one last argument (even more shamless) - this.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Loosing Is Not Neccessary Bad

Both Hugh Hewitt and Mark Coffey warned that overplaying the conservative objection to Harriet Miers may cause the Republican Party to loose in 2006 and 2008. Let set aside the Harriet Miers and the nomination, I am still in disagreement that loosing election is necessary bad for the Party. It may be bad for the Party in the short run, but not necessary bad for the Party in the long run.

Let look oversea for an analogy. The Congress Party of India lost the first election to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1998 for the first time after years of Congress domination. The reason was because Congress became arrogant and and lost touch with the people. For five years, the BJP ruled India. Being a religious fundamentalist party, the BJP fail miserably at governing. This ushered the Congress back into power in 2004 with Dr. Manmohan Singh as prime minister.

Loosing an election in 1998 was not necessary bad for Congress. Congress before the defeat was corrupted, arrogant, and poorly governned. Five years as an opposition allowed the party to reform itself and when it came back in power, it was better before – free of corruption, modest, and better governed. And the people of India had a taste of the BJP and decide that it did not agree with their palate.

Return to the US, the Democratic Party in its current form is similar to the BJP, extremist and radical – a fringe movement. It would not be a bad thing to give an American people a taste of the Democratic Party. Of course, the secondary benefit is a reform within the Republican Party in while in opposition. The Republican Party is now too arrogant and governed too poorly. We had became the Democrat before the 1994 election. We are an obese party that love pork to much, a careless party that spent too much money. When in opposition, we lobbied against the government on the behalf of the people. Now that we are the government, we decide that the Democrat was right, big government is actually good when one is in charge.

We need and deserve to loose elections. And when we return, and we will, we will have learn our lesson and be a better political party. Of course, the only thing that stop me from fully endorsing this option is the War in Iraq. It is the sole reason I am still on board.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Judge Janice Rogers Brown

Like many others, I am puzzled at the President choice in nominating Hariet Miers to the Supreme Court. I am not screaming (not just yet) - there is still a confirmation process when the nominee can prove her intellectual prowess. But at this point, I am very unimpressed.

However I ran across this speech by Janice Rogers Brown - and I am immensely impressed. What's a brilliant mind! I am not going quote any because it is very difficult to pick among many profound passages. But I ask that readers read it for themselves. She articulates her judicial philosophy clearly in her speech - without refering to any pending or controversial Supreme Court cases.
After reading her speech, I understand why the Left feel threaten by Judge Brown. They should be. Judge Brown believes in the power and wisdom of the individual not the collective. And she believe that words have meaning. President Bush chose the easy road by nominating Harriet Miers, but the easy road often does not lead to right destination. Judge Brown as a nominee would not be a easy road - it will be a difficult journey full of obstacles. But the destination is worth the journey. She is someone we need in the Supreme Court.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Mukhtar Mai for Nobel Peace Prize



Last years (2004), as a battle buddy and I were sitting in the chow hall in Iraq, the Nobel Peace prize was announced. The winner was Wangari Maathai. My buddy who is an African-American female commented on that the Laureate is most undeserving. Her point was that it is absurd in a continent full of war, famine, and strife; an African is awarded the Nobel Peace prize for saving trees – not saving people.

Of course this does not surprise me that the institution that gave Peace prizes to Arafat and Le Duc Tho would do such a thing. It was then no surprise to learn that Wangari Maathai is an extremist. She believes that the virus HIV was created by Western scientists to punish Africans.

This year, the contenders include Bono of U2 and El Baradei. For the record, I like Bono and I think he does good work, but not Nobel Peace prize material. And I am even less certain about El Baradei. However, I have a candidate in mind (a candidate that Dymphna would approve). Her name is Mukhtaran Bibi, better known as Mukhtar Mai.

There are those who love her for being a victim. I admire her for being a heroin. She refused to be a victim – she fought back. She brought the Islamofacists who raped her to justice. Her fight did not stop there – she used the compensation to build school for girls in her village. Mukhtaran Bibi herself cannot read or write. Instead of award the Nobel Peace prize to communist, terrorist, and radical tree-hugger; the committee should award to someone truly deserving. Mukhtar Mai for Nobel Peace Prize!

UPDATE: Mohamed El-Baradei is the winner - underserving so. This year winner strengthen Pedro's point (comment section). However, I am not ready to renounce the Nobel Peace prize altogether because of the few underserving recipients (Le Duc Tho, Arafat, or Carter). To do so also means to not recognized other recepient such as Lech Wałęsa, the beacon of freedom and an inspiration when I was growing up under brutal Communism.

Avian Flu

Maxed Out Mama have been blogging about avian flu eversince I read her blog. I enjoyed her other topics (especially the legal ones) but never paid much attention to the avian flu topic. I knew that it was dangerous, but I did not think that it post a serious international threat. Boy, was I wrong. Of late, it shows that MaxedOutMama has better foresight than me - almost prescience.
Maxed Out Mama is where you want to stop in for avian flu update. Katrina and now Avian Flu taught me that there are other natural threats beside homocidal humans.
UPDATE: As soon as I finish posting, she put one up.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Interrogation Legislature

Andrew Sullivan highlights the McCain proposed amendment. Andrew calls it the anti-torture amendment. I am in agreement that we need to pass a bill - not only to protect the detainees but also to protect the interrogators. But the McCain proposed amendment is insufficient to address this issue.
Any bill being introduced concerning interrogation should not be political grandstanding - but should adress these following issues: (1) the protection of detainees, (2) the protection of interrogators, and (3) an effective interrogation program. The McCain proposal lack the last two goals. As I mentioned in this blog before (here and here), we need to look closer at our current interrogation policy, see if it suit our needs, and modify it accordingly. We must be candid and admit that our current interrogation program is obsolete. We need to go back and look at various interrogation techniques - whether on the books or proposed - approve or disapprove each technique, and put it into law. We can even add the oversight function into the bill to ensure that the harsher techniques go through an approval process.
This protect detainee from abuse. It also protect interrogator who know if he use a technique that is lawfully approved and if he receive approval from a legitimate authority, he is protected from prosecution. And the review of all interrogation techniques, we can have a better interrogation program that yield good intelligence for the war on terrorism. Detaineees were not the only victims of past scandals - interrogators and intelligence collection were victims as well. Let give the interrogators the backing of the law, let them do their difficult job knowing that they have the support of the country.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"Bedouin riding a camel"

This makes me laugh. It is too funny when the Iraqi Interior Ministry, Bayan Jabr, fired back at the Saudi.
...This Iraq is the cradle of civilisation that taught humanity reading and writing, and some Bedouin riding a camel wants to teach us... They have one god, he is the king, he is the god, and he rules as he likes. A whole country is named after a family...
It might as well be a shot at the whole Arab establishment. It is a response to the racist comment by the Saudi Foreign Minister that the Saudi government is concerned about the growth of Iranian influence in Iraq. Jabr further said that Saudi Arabia should let "Saudi women be allowed to drive cars first before Saudis can talk about Iraq’s internal affairs" (Iraq the Model).
I agree with Mohammed that the comment is extremely undiplomatic and should have not been said, but nevertheless Jabr is correct. The Saudi position is absurd. What we should be concern is the Saudi regime, who is tyranical and beholden to a fundamentalist sect, who oppress women and minority (particularly Shiites). The Saudi is not in a position of criticizing anyone - and for that matter not a single Arab country in the Middle East is any position to criticize Iraq.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Palestinian Civil War

It started on Sunday (Oct 2nd, 2005). Palestinian Authority Police clashed with Hamas militants. PA and Hamas disputed the account of incident. According to PA:
Aljazeera reported Palestinian security sources as saying the incident started when a police patrol came across two people fighting at an ATM machine. When the security forces intervened, one of the men called for Hamas assistance and a grenade was thrown.
Hamas disputed the version:
A Hamas spokesman in Lebanon, Usama Hamdan, gave a different account. He told Aljazeera that fighting broke out when the police came to arrest Muhammad Abd al-Aziz al-Rantissi, the son of the late Hamas leader Abd al-Aziz al-Rantissi, who was assassinated by Israel in 2004.

According to Hamdan, the police beat al-Rantissi, people in the neighbourhood gathered to protect him, and the police opened fire indiscriminately to disperse the crowd. Al-Rantissi was unarmed when the police approached him, Hamas said.
Soon the fighting spread and Hamas fired several rockets at a police station killing a PA police major and several other policemen were wounded. Two civilians were also killed in the process. Today the polices stormed the Parliament building to protest inaction by the PA.
"We want the Palestinian Authority to take a stand on Hamas. Our blood is flowing for the Authority and they are not doing anything," one officer dressed in black said.
The sentiment of the officer is understood and justified. It is remained to be seen if Mahmoud Abbas can assert control. The viability of Palestine as a state depends on whether they can maintain law and order. That means that the PA must take on Hamas. The next few days will determined if Abbas has any spine. If Abbas is unwilling or affraid to take on Hamas, the Palestian cannot survive. Abbas will loose the support of his people if they perceive him as weak.
Since the withdrawal of Israel from Gaza, the threat to Palestianian state come not from the Israel Defense Force but Hamas. I am still waiting for condemnation of Hamas by the Arab world - but I won't hold my breath. On the side note, it seem no one in the "Arab street" seem to be outraged about the two Palestinian civilians killed by Hamas. I guess the mudering of Palestinians is acceptable as long it is done by other Palestinians.

The Media, Katrina, and The Vietnam War

So we found out that none of the horrors (rapes, murders, numerous bodies in the fridges, ten thousands deaths) occured during Katrina. Echoing Hugh Hewitt point that if the Media throw all their resource in the coverage about an even that happen at home, and they got it wrong; how can we trust them on things that is far away in a far less permissible environment such as Iraq. I wrote about it here.
But there is different point to it. We know that most of the accounts of the Vietnam War was reported by the Media, and many of the facts eventually ended up as sources for text books. During Katrina, even with the advent of weblog and close scrutiny of the media, they reported lies. Imagine the 60s and 70s, when there was no scrutiny, how can we trust anything they reported then.
Question: Are our children learning lies?