Last week I overheard two conversations. Technically, both of the quotes below were part of the same long conversation, but there was enough of a pause between them that I’ll label them separately.

The first phrase that perked my ears was in conjunction to the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, the one that prohibits President Clinton (or any other twice-elected President) from serving a third term. One person was lamenting that President Clinton couldn’t run again unless that Amendment were overturned by another, the way the 18th was overturned by the 21st. And then came the phrase that really got my attention:

“The Republicans don’t want to repeal the 22nd Amendment so Bush could be elected a third time, because they know that President Clinton would be elected with a majority of the vote if he ever ran again.”

I could have responded, but I was talking with a customer about a fairly complicated technical issue, and I decided to concentrate on the issue at hand. But if I’d been free to say it, I would have replied:

Reelected with a majority? What makes you think President Clinton could be reelected with a majority when he never got a majority in his two times at bat?

The conversation drifted away from politics and into the realm of work for the next little while, but it veered back onto the subject of President Clinton when one of the guys asked why people would vote for President Clinton if the choice were available. Here is the response from the same guy quoted above:

Clinton was a great president because he didn’t take us into war. Instead, he was a perfect caretaker for the nation as he kicked the ball of problems down the road. It was Bush who couldn’t keep the peace and wrecked the economy. The economy was great under Clinton, and people would vote for Clinton again to bring back that prosperity.

Ah. Where to start with this? Since I was still on the phone with a customer (that call lasted for over three hours), I couldn’t bring up the bubble economy of the dot-com craze, nor could I bring up Haiti, Kosovo, or Somalia to show that President Clinton had no problem with taking the nation to war, ignoring the U.N. as he did so. Remember the huge peace protests in all our major cities when our forces bombed from 30,000 feet? It’s funny that protesters only seem to wind up the anti-war machine when a Republican is in office.

But if there is any definitive reason why President Clinton should never be reelected, it is precisely because he failed to act when it really mattered. This inaction allowed Osama bin Laden to become progressively more bold as he viewed the U.S. as a paper tiger. After all, the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, Khobar Towers in 1996, two embassies in Africa in 1998, and the USS Cole attacked in 2000. The response was measured at best, and so ineffectually wimpy at worst as to let Osama believe that the U.S. would never respond to an escalated attack. That’s the sort of problem that occurs when a leader kicks the ball of problems down the road, rather than dealing with it himself. If you don’t agree, I have a phrase from history for you to ponder:

My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.

Moiz Syed has created a page that lists the current number of deaths as Israel hunts down the Hezbollah terrorists. I have attached a truncated image of the page as posted on BoingBoing, but it gives you an idea of what Syed is doing. When I pointed out the page to TPK, her tongue-in-cheek response was, “Only 4 UN deaths? Those Israeli slackers!” But she is evil that way. It is interesting to note some of the issues that have come to light because of the UN deaths, namely that Hezbollah has been using the UN people as (unwilling?) human shields for its murderous work.

But what is Syed’s purpose for creating this page? Is it to show just how much more effective the Israeli military force is over the Hezbollah terrorists? I notice that there is no distinction drawn between innocent Lebanese civilians and the Hezbollah terrorists who are cowardly blending in among them. Or is it Syed’s purpose to show how uneven this conflict has been? If so, does he expect Israel to stop fighting just so Hezbollah can catch up in its death count? Please.

To put this conflict into perspective, Israeli deaths are close to 10% of the total at the time of this writing. If I were an Israeli military commander, I’d be pleased with this outcome because the first and foremost responsibility of the military is to win the war. Killing the enemy is an means to that end, and while it is desirable to avoid civilian deaths, it should not be a priority lest the enemy use your moral compunction against you. And there are times when civilian deaths simply cannot be avoided.

Here is one last way of putting these numbers into perspective. Based on Syed’s format, here are the military deaths in World War II for the U.S., Germany, and Japan; each coffin represents 10,000 dead.

Military Deaths in World War II
U.S.: 407,300
Germany: 5,500,000
Japan: 2,000,000

U.S. Deaths
10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths 10,000 U.S. Deaths

German and Japanese Deaths
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Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other explosives, died at the end of the 19th century. His final will and testament set aside his amassed fortune to the establishment of the Nobel Prizes. There are Nobel Prizes in the categories of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, peace, and economics, although the economics prize is not part of Nobel’s original will and was established in 1969.

I vow to never again be impressed by the Nobel Prize for Peace, knowing that it has been given to a known terrorist, a useless organization and its corrupt leader, and a mediocre President whose Agreed Framework was revealed to be a farce in the same week the prize was announced.

And here is the most recent Nobel Prize laureate to join my list of shame: Betty Williams. She is reported in The Australian as expressing her “peaceful” nature thus:

“I have a very hard time with this word ‘non-violence’, because I don’t believe that I am non-violent,” said Ms Williams, 64.

“Right now, I would love to kill George Bush.” Her young audience at the Brisbane City Hall clapped and cheered.

It’s a good thing she gave this speech in Australia, because making a comment like that is a crime here in the States — freedom of speech notwithstanding. I think Ms. Williams should be denied entry if she ever tries to visit the United States. We don’t need any additional sufferers of Bush Derangement Syndrome here.

Senator John “F#$%ing” Kerry, Democrat from Massachusetts, failed Presidential candidate, and all-around dork, took advantage of a campaign trip for Democrat Governor Jennifer Granholm to bash President Bush and inflate his own ego. Talking about the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, Sen. Kerry pontificated: “If I was president, this wouldn’t have happened.” And how would the French-looking Senator have prevented this? As he sees it, the problem is how President Bush has concentrated so much on Iraq. “The president has been so absent on diplomacy when it comes to issues affecting the Middle East,” Kerry said. “We’re going to have a lot of ground to make up (in 2008) because of it.”

So diplomacy would have saved the day, but only if Senator Kerry were in charge. But the Senator doesn’t explain how you can negotiate with someone who wants you dead. Hezbollah has shown that its desire and ultimate goal is a world without the nation of Israel, so where is the middle ground when one side wants the other side dead and gone? Would Hezbollah settle for just killing half of Israel? Would they be willing to just maim and deal out grievous bodily harm as a compromise?

Not bloody likely.

But here’s the kicker of Kerry’s comments, as quoted in the news article:

Hezbollah guerillas should have been targeted with other terrorist organizations, such as al-Qaida and the Taliban, which operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kerry said. However, Bush has focused military strength on Iraq.

“This is about American security and Bush has failed. He has made it so much worse because of his lack of reality in going into Iraq….We have to destroy Hezbollah,” he said.

Note that the “Kerry solution” entails going after various terrorist organizations “such as al-Qaida and the Taliban,” and, by his crystal-clear hindsight, Hezbollah. Instead, says he, President Bush made the mistake of taking out Iraq, and as Kerry already mentioned, there were no terrorists there in Iraq. And Senator Kerry explains what needs to be done: “We have to destroy Hezbollah.”

So what happened to the art of diplomacy that Senator Kerry loves so dear?

There are vocal people standing up for Hezbollah and against Israel, and there are people who are calling for peace.

The simple symbols printed on their T-shirts and signs summed up the reason for their protest.

They want peace.

A group of about 40 people, wearing and holding peace symbols, gathered Thursday at the corner of Sanborn Street and Pine Grove Avenue in Port Huron.

They “demand peace” by calling for an end to the Iraq war and fighting in the Middle East.

But the reality is that they are not demanding that peace break out, they are demanding that the fighting stop immediately. Unfortunately, that is not the same as peace. Thomas Sowell explains this well in his townhall.com post today:

One of the many failings of our educational system is that it sends out into the world people who cannot tell rhetoric from reality. They have learned no systematic way to analyze ideas, derive their implications and test those implications against hard facts.

“Peace” movements are among those who take advantage of this widespread inability to see beyond rhetoric to realities. Few people even seem interested in the actual track record of so-called “peace” movements — that is, whether such movements actually produce peace or war….

Was World War II ended by cease-fires or by annihilating much of Germany and Japan? Make no mistake about it, innocent civilians died in the process. Indeed, American prisoners of war died when we bombed Germany.

There is a reason why General Sherman said “war is hell” more than a century ago. But he helped end the Civil War with his devastating march through Georgia — not by cease fires or bowing to “world opinion” and there were no corrupt busybodies like the United Nations to demand replacing military force with diplomacy.

There was a time when it would have been suicidal to threaten, much less attack, a nation with much stronger military power because one of the dangers to the attacker would be the prospect of being annihilated.

“World opinion,” the U.N. and “peace movements” have eliminated that deterrent. An aggressor today knows that if his aggression fails, he will still be protected from the full retaliatory power and fury of those he attacked because there will be hand-wringers demanding a cease fire, negotiations and concessions.

I would label the protesters in Port Huron who are demanding peace as “hand-wringers demanding a ceasefire.” They don’t like the war, so in the name of peace, they demand that we leave Iraq right away. And what would be the result if we did that? Would it be peace? The last time we pulled out of a major engagement due to public pressure, the result was millions of murdered people in Vietnam and Laos. There was a form of peace there after we left — the peace of the dead.

Peace comes through winning the war and making the loser beg to sit at the negotiation table. Peace does not come from going to the negotiation table and signing some documents, unless the war has already been fought and won. Don’t believe me? In an attempt to appease the Germans, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain sat down at the negotiation table with Hitler, but there was no peace. Germany annexed the Sudetenland that same year, invaded Poland the next, and invaded the rest of Europe by 1940. That was no peace. But after Japan signed the terms of surrender on the USS Missouri, there was peace between the U.S. and Japan for more than 60 years.

I’ll take real and lasting peace through victory any time.

Cox and Forkum sum up the current troubles in Lebanon with their latest political cartoon.

Giving Shelter

As criticism of Israel rises with the Lebanese death toll, it is paramount to remember: Hezbollah initiated this war by crossing the Lebanese border into Israel to kill eight Israeli soldiers and kidnap two more. Hezbollah then returned to take refuge in Lebanon, where the terrorist group enjoys a safe haven behind Lebanese human shields. The civilian casualties in Lebanon will continue to rise, as long as Lebanon continues to harbor Hezbollah. The responsibility for the death of every single Lebanese victim should be laid at the feet of Hezbollah, and any Lebanese who have supported Hezbollah’s base of operations in Lebanon.

Israel didn’t start this. But I hope that Israel will finish it. For those people who think it is a terrible thing that innocents are dying at the hands of Israeli forces, I remind them of Niven’s Laws, especially 1b:

1a – Never throw s*** at an armed man.
1b – Never stand next to someone who is throwing s*** at an armed man.

President Bush has stood firm stating that he will not allow for government funding for embryonic stem cell research, so when the House and Senate passed a bill that would pony up government funds for embryonic stem cell research, President Bush kept his word and vetoed it. And that’s his first veto. Why he couldn’t have vetoed the hideous McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act? Grrr.

I have heard supporters of the bill say that President Bush is keeping alive the ban on stem cell research with this veto, but scientists are able to research stem cells, both adult and embryonic. There is no government ban on research. The ban, such as it is, is on government funding of the research. And that is problem for proponents of embryonic stem cell research. There are so many possible benefits from embryonic stem cell benefits, they say, that the government should be giddy with joy to pay for the research itself. But here’s a question for you — if there are so many potential benefits just waiting to be discovered in embryonic stem cell research, why is the private sector not rushing to fund the research? Why should the government reach into your pocket and mine to fund research?

Captain Ed does a great job addressing this issue, and the comments left by people on his site are interesting. Here is one posted by jiHymas:

Cap’n Ed : The lack of private investment in this procedure tells volumes about its value.

Er, no. The lack of private investment in this procedure tells volumes about its potential for immediate profitability.

There’s a difference, a big difference. Private industry could and should undertake applied research, the transforming of the ‘possible’ into the ‘done’, but basic research is more appropriately funded by government.

Posted by: jiHymas@himivest.com

Since jiHymas says that basic research like embryonic stem cell research is more appropriately funded by the government, perhaps he could point to the specific line in Article I Section 8 in the Constitution that grants Congress the power to pay for this research. I certainly can’t find it. But this hasn’t stopped Congress from forking out our taxed money to pay for services that they have no business supporting. And currently the government is funding embryonic stem cell research.

Yes, you read me right. President Bush did call for and got government funding for embryonic stem cell research, almost $100 million dollars worth of funding. Go back and read my first paragraph. This is the explanation commonly held that President Bush has said there will be no funding of embryonic stem cell research, but his own words today show this is not the case (emphases mine):

When I took office, there was no federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. Under the policy I announced five years ago, my administration became the first to make federal funds available for this research, yet only on embryonic stem cell lines derived from embryos that have already been destroyed.

My administration has made available more than $90 million for research on these lines.

This policy has allowed important research to go forward without using taxpayer funds to encourage the further deliberate destruction of human embryos.

So contrary to the commonly held view, the federal government is providing funding for embryonic stem cell research, but it is holding the line at funding to create more embryonic cells for research. And I support President Bush in this. There is no need to sacrifice more embryos on the alter of science since we currently have cell lines to research. I, like Captain Ed, believe that life can be traced back to the moment of conception. Here is how Captain Ed wrote it.

I believe that life begins within minutes of conception, and that belief is based on science, not faith, although they intersect. Eggs and sperm carry 23 chromosomes, half of the genetic blueprint for human life. Even if other primates have the same chromosome count, the DNA encoding on human eggs and sperm is uniquely human. When the sperm fertilizes the egg, the separate DNA strands combine into 23 pairs of chromosomes and a unique blueprint for a unique human being. Once the cell divides on its own — usually within a half-hour — that being is alive, unique, and separate from, though dependent on, its mother.

At no other point can you point to and say “here it is human” other than at conception. While birth is certainly an important step along the path of life, it is at conception that the gametes fuse and become something different from the parents yet still identifiably human. People have argued that point with me, and my typical response is to ask them to identify what the result of conception has become if it isn’t human. The discussion tends to wander off to questions of viability and choice, but the question is almost never answered when I ask it.

I applaud President Bush taking a moral stand on this bill. I wish that other Republicans in the House and Senate could also take a moral and principled stand on this issue.

Much has been said and written about the current fighting between Israel and Iran-backed terrorist organization of Hezbollah based in southern Lebanon. I’ve heard many liberals at work and on the radio say that Israel should not be attacking Hezbollah in Lebanon. After all, why is Israel waging war in another sovereign nation? It’s funny that none of them seem to notice that Hezbollah was waging war in another sovereign nation, namely Israel, and that Hezbollah and other Arab terrorists organizations and nations have the goal of a Middle East without an Israel. But they are not the only people to envision a world without the nation of Israel.

Here is how CNN sums up the current struggle in one paragraph:

Israel launched an extensive bombing campaign against the militant Islamist group after it abducted two Israeli soldiers and killed three others in a raid into northern Israel last Wednesday. Since Thursday, Hezbollah has fired 750 rockets into Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Israel is doing its best to avoid civilian deaths in their bombing runs, but even with accurate guided munitions, civilians will die, and part of the blame lies not with the Israelis dropping the bombs on military and strategic targets, but on Hezbollah which is blocking civilians from fleeing the combat zone. And notice that while Israel is targeting the Hezbollah fighters while Hezbollah is indiscriminately tossing rockets into Israel. They obviously don’t care whether their rockets kill soldiers or civilians.

There is a world of difference between these two. It’s a shame that more people can’t recognize that Israel is fighting for their lives. Cox and Forkum points out the disproportion response going on.

disproportionate response

The criticism that Israel is using a “disproportionate response” to the kidnappings of its soldiers is an attempt to morally disarm Israel and make Israel out to be a bully. This notion is ludicrous when considered in the full context: Hezbollah and Hamas initiated the current crisis in an ongoing war against Israel’s right to exist. Notice that no one cried “disproportionate response” when Hamas demanded 1,200 prisoners in exchange for one Israeli hostage. Hamas and Hezbollah aren’t playing a game of proportions, why should Israel?

I’m all for Israel to be victorious over the terrorist thugs who wish to see Israel gone.

I heard some liberal whiners complaining about a sound bite of President Bush at the G8 summit uttering a swear word that burned their sensitive ears. And when the news reporter played the sound bite as part of the news at the half-hour mark, he played the whole unbleeped sentence. For five minutes after, the talk show host discussed the President swearing and practically swooned at the crude nature of our President. Here’s the sentence in question as reported by the Associated Press:

“See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s— and it’s over,” Bush told Blair as he chewed on a buttered roll.

Everybody, to the fainting couches! Smelling salts will be provided in a bit.

With all the ranting going on by Liberals, I have to wonder if they have forgotten the potty mouth on their own Presidential candidate.

(OK, we’re typing this up on a laptop in the van as we drive back home Saturday night, after a good meal of bashing seafood. This stretch of the road is very bumpy due to construction and poor maintenance, and V is in the back going “aaaaaaaahhhhhhh” just to hear her voice vibrate with the bumps. Your WADOT tax dollars, hard at work.)

We took a very quick trip this weekend to visit some friends and set up a new server. This meant five plus hours driving in the Big Hoopdy Van. As we drove, we would point out some things to Little Miss V. “Look, it’s Mount Rainier! It’s a volcano!” “Look, pink and white wildflowers that someone sprinkled on the side of the highway!” “Look at all the bridges over the river! They should call this Bridgeland!” Each pronouncement of an interesting vista was greeted with an unenthusiastic grunt from the back seat. A scientist armed with a super-accurate atomic clock and sensitive instruments would have been hard pressed to measure the minuscule amount of time that her eyes left her toys to gaze out the van. It almost made me want to say, “Look, V! It’s the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot singing ‘La Bamba’ in Hebrew!” to see if her reaction would be any different.

This is not a complaint, merely an observation. I would have no leg to stand on if I were to complain. When I was her age, I was just as bad. My family was living in England, and Mom and Dad were always pointing out interesting sites. “Look, it’s a castle!” “Look, it’s another castle!” “Look, it’s the Queen with Bigfoot singing ‘La Bamba’ in Hebrew!” We were more interested in fighting in the back seat, or reading our books, than in paying attention to what our parents were saying. After all, it was just another castle.

At one point, my parents threatened that if we didn’t start paying attention on these trips, they would leave us in England as they went off to Amsterdam. If we were engaged and paying attention, we would go as a family. Needless to say, there were three bummed kids with the babysitter the weekend my parents went off for a fun time in Amsterdam without us. So I have no grounds for complaint if V isn’t paying attention.

I have learned my lesson, and I pay great attention to my surroundings now. Let me state for the record that when my wife is reading a book out loud to me, I am not snoring. It is a sinus condition or deep breathing, whichever excuse she is most likely to accept. I also MEANT to miss that on-ramp. Really. And no, I’m not asking for directions.