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The Sophistry of Judge Coughenour’s Soliloquy, and Eliot not-Ness’s “Investigation” into Air America.

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Earlier today I used the word sophistry to describe the divestment rhetoric of the Presbyterian Church USA. The same description applies to Seattle Federal District Court Judge Coughenour’s sentencing statement of the so-called Millenium Bomber, who entered the United States in December, 1999 with the intention of blowing up LAX and murdering a large number of American men, women and children. Judge Coughenour’s windy rhetoric –which was really a lovce letter to himself stamped c/o ACLU– comes under the withering gaze of University of Chicago Law School professors Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule in today’s Washington Post. Key graphs:

[C]liches about terrorism are familiar from debates among commentators and politicians. What is new and surprising is their citation by judges as self-evident truths. Judges do badly when they appeal to speculative causal theories about terrorism or to the romantic ideals of civil libertarianism. Both are incompatible with the kind of balancing that is so much a part of the judicial function. That ideals have a tendency to explode on the rock of fact was spectacularly demonstrated in Britain, where terrorist carnage occurred just a few months after the detainees in Lord Hoffman’s case were released under legal compulsion. It is too soon to tell whether there was a causal connection between the two events, but Lord Hoffman’s casual dismissal of the threat to citizens’ lives now appears grotesque.

The day before Coughenour’s soliloquy, Prime Minister Tony Blair said that he doubted whether statements such as Lord Hoffman’s “would be uttered now.” Perhaps that’s true in England, but it seems that American judges have yet to learn the lesson.

HT: Instapundit, who, though on vacation, sent me a link to the professors’ essay.

Radio Equalizer keeps the focus on Air America. Perhaps by the time I get back, some voice in MSM will have noticed the Would-be Radio Emperor’s new clothes. More at Michelle Malkin, including the word that Eliot Spitzer has opened a file on Gloria Wise’s Board.

This is interesting, as Spitzer’s staff must know the peril into which a botched investigation into Air America’s start-up funding will throw their boss. The Wise Board are the small fish do-gooders who got hood-winked by the fast-talking Air America start-up con. Obviously if Air America needed the funny money from the kids’, there’s a reasonable suspicion that more was needed from other funny sources. If Eliot’s team looks the other way but there is corruption within Air America –Air Enron style corruption as Michelle has branded it– the damage to Eliot not-Ness’s reputation will be profound.

A previously reputable blogger –who kept company with other blogs in good standing such as Hedgehog and Okie (also working on Air America)— has been corrupted by contact with the Fraters gang. If he does not shape up, he will be left behind in Moscow, along with the USC alums.

Netanyahu’s Resignation and the PCUSA’s Foolishness

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Benjamin Netanyahu resigned from the Israeli Cabinet, and sent this resignation letter (translation from IMRA):

Mr. Ariel Sharon Prime Minister Jerusalem


From the first conversation when you presented your plan to me, I told you that I oppose unilateral withdrawal without anything in return, that in my estimation will strengthen the forces of terror. As a minimum I asked for the inclusion of the settlement blocs within the security fence before the beginning of the withdrawal and the holding of the Philadephi Corridor in our hands. In this way we would be neutralizing the impression that we are running away from terror and instead shows that we are choosing a new defense line in accordance with out national interests. In addition, we set that after then the Government would be able to consider if to decide on the evacuation in light of the reality developing in the area.

To my sorrow, the security fence has not been completed around the settlement blocs, the Philadelphi Corridor will be handed over to the Palestinians, and worse than that, we will allow the Palestinians to open a sea port that will be open to the terror boats.

To my disappointment, the Government ignores reality. As I warned, the Hamas is strengthening, the terror continues, the firing of rockets and mortars on our communities has not ended, and terror elements proclaim that they will move the rockets that drove us out of the Gaza Strip to Judea and Samaria, and from there will operate them until “the complete liberation of Palestine.”

I do not know when the terror will break out in full force. It is possible that it will take a month or two or a year or two. It is possible that the terror will first break out in Judea and Samaria. I hope that it won’t break out at all. But just as I warned in 1993 that the Oslo Agreement will bring attacks from Judea and Samaria and rockets from Gaza, so I unfortunately am convinced today that the current move will bring in the course of time to an increase in terror rather than a decrease. As you know full well, security officials also confirm that in the wake of the unilateral withdrawal they expect an increase in terror in the mid-run.

In summary: it is becoming increasingly clear that the unilateral withdrawal under fire doesn’t give us anything. The opposite; it endanger the security of Israel, divide the Nation, and sets the principle of withdrawal to the ’67 lines that are no defendable.

This is not the way to achieve peace.

I always thought that the withdrawal from Gaza is possible in an agreement or for a reasonable consideration. That is not the case now. Therefore, what are we receiving in return for the withdrawal? What are we receiving for uprooting families with their children, their homes, their graves! We will receive an Islamic terror base.

After the terror attacks in New York, Washington, London and Sinai, the world begins to understand that it is necessary to fight terror and not make compromises. The international community understands more and more that it is impossible to fight terror by running away from it, because the accumulating experience shows that the terror only strengthens and pursues us. And yet Israel, which showed the world the way to fight terror, now, goes in the completely opposite direction.

In recent months I hoped that the Government would open its eyes against this clear reality and change direction. But the opposite happened. A balanced Government that reflected the will of the People in the last elections has turned into a Government that carries out automatically policies that oppose the principles of the Likud and the mandate that we received from our voters.

Mister Prime Minister, you could have kept a balanced National Government. You could have prevented the splitting of the Nation. Over the course of months I asked for a national referendum that would maintain unity in the Government and the Nation. To my sorrow, you chose to oppose it, as before you chose to ignore the referendum of the Likud members that you initiated and whose results you promised to honor. Now, in these hard days before us, the need for reserve, control and responsibility from all parts of the Nation and the Government is greater than ever.

All this time I remained in the Government despite my growing opposition to the withdrawal given the developments. I did this as an attempt to minimize the dangers and damages resulting from the unilateral withdrawal. An attempt that to my sorrow has been exhausted. And I did it out of responsibility to my position as minister of the treasury. We are in the middle of carrying out a revolution of reforms and privatizations unprecedented in the market, which will strengthen the State of Israel and its economy. These days I completed the two last reforms, in banks and reducing taxes, and I prepared a responsible State budget that I developed in complete coordination with you.

When I entered my position two and a half years ago, the Israeli economy was on the edge of collapse. Today this economy is healthy, growing and vibrant. If the economic policies that I led are not changed, the growth will continue and reach all parts of the Nation.

Today we reached the moment of truth. There is a way to reach peace and security. Unilateral withdrawal under fire without compensation is not the way. I am not prepared to be a partner to a step that ignores reality and blindly advances the establishment of an Islamic terror base that will threaten the State. I am not prepared to be a partner to an irresponsible move that endanger the security of Israel, divides the Nation, sets the principle of withdrawal to the ’67 lines, and in the future even endangers the unity of Jerusalem.

Therefore I advise today of my resignation from the Government.

Best regards, Binyamin Netanyahu

Yoni Tidi, a long-time guest on my program and 20 year veteran of Israeli security services, has repeatedly warned on air that Gaza will become the R&D center for al Qaeda. He’s not alone. Here is Barbara Lerner’s take from last month on what approaches:

To see what Hamas control of Gaza will mean for us in Iraq, we have to see it as our enemies do – not just Hamas, but its parent organization, the Brotherhood, and its longtime partners Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and the Wahhabi and Salafist movements. To do that, forget Israel entirely for a moment. Look only at the terror war against America, and at the geography of Islamofascism that supports it. Place Gaza in that context, and its strategic location jumps out at you. Control of Gaza gives Hamas and its partners direct access to the land border with Egypt, as well as access by sea to terrorist supply ports in Lebanon and Syria, and from them, overland, to the terror training camps in Syria, Lebanon, and Iran and to the ratlines from Syria into Iraq.

This is the reality we face: The “Palestinian democracy” we rattle on about is a mirage no desert-dweller is seduced by. Abu Mazen is president of nothing; his Fatah party no longer exists. It never was anything but a collection of competing terrorist gangs, but Arafat was a master manipulator who controlled them all by keeping the big carrots and sticks in his own hands and wielding them with ruthless cunning. With his death, Fatah splintered into a multitude of shifting groups and now they’re not just competing – they’re at war, regularly breaking up each others meetings with gunfire and shooting each other down in the streets, along with hapless bystanders. We pretend that with our help and a huge new infusion of Western cash the 58,000-man Palestinian security forces will be able to create order out of this internecine chaos, but this too is a mirage. It’s the security forces that are doing most of the shooting, mostly at each other. As U.S. special envoy General William Ward, our no-nonsense military expert on the ground in Gaza told us last week, Palestinian security forces are “dysfunctional.” Only about a third of them actually show up for work, and it doesn’t make much difference when they do, because the chain of command that supposedly links them to their leaders is so broken that Abbas and his few remaining loyalists can barely get them to protect his headquarters in Ramallah, let alone the whole of Gaza and the West Bank.

Netanyahu’s action won’t stop the pullback, but it will make it impossible to argue that no one saw the worst case clearly.

Yoni, btw, does a number on my Presbyterians. We deserve it. Leave it to the Louisville bureaucrats to get everything exactly wrong. You can oppose the Israeli pullout from Gaza, or you can support it as a wild gamble for peace, but attempting through corproate divestment to put more pressure on Israel is just revealingly ignorant.

There are many Presbyterians who understand how foolish, unjust and dangerous is the “divestment” movement within the PCUSA. Unlike Netanyahu, we have a few options other than resignation. The Louisville church bureaucrats and a few radicals in the congregations have often triggered backlashes in the past, and this controversy is likely to move to that stage now that the actual “divestment” appears to be underway.

Here is the “official” announcement of the PCUSA policy. Background biographies of the five member committee steering this disastrous course are here, here, here, and here.

This “phased divestment” policy is quite obviously a charade, an anti-Israel policy dressed up in the sophistry of Divinity School humbug. The majority of Presbyterians reject this absurd policy, and I suspect now that it has moved beyond the committee endless talking phase, a number of congregations will act quickly to demand of their elders a response that reflects that commitment to Israel.

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Great Britain’s New Rules

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“Blair to curb human rights in war on terror,” “Row over tougher rules on preachers of hate,” and “Blair vows to root out extremism” are examples of the headlines dominating Great Britain this morning as Tony Blair announces his government’s intention to change the rules ofasylum and immigration to reflect an end to the safe haven for radical Islamists that England has become over the past decades. Blair, yesterday:

“New grounds [for deportation and exclusion] will include fostering hatred, advocating violence to further a person’s beliefs or justifying or validating such violence … Let no-one be in any doubt. The rules of the game are changing”

How sweeping are the changes? From the Guardian:

Will the government now be able to close institutions such as mosques?
“We will consult on a new power to order closure of a place of worship which is used … for fomenting extremism”

Mr Blair says he will consult with Muslim leaders to draw up a list of any foreign imams to ensure that they are suitable to preach in the UK. Those not suitable will be excluded from Britain.

He wants to work with the Muslim community to ensure better integration.

What actions or words could result in someone being deported or barred from entering the UK?

“The home secretary today publishes new grounds for deportation and exclusion”

Charles Clarke’s list of “unacceptable behaviour” speech or action in or outside Britain. It includes the use of writing, preaching, public speaking, a website or a position of responsibility to foment terrorism, justify or glorify terrorism, foment other serious criminal activity, foster hatred and advocate violence in support of particular beliefs. Mr Blair said a database would be created of individuals who had demonstrated “unacceptable behaviour”.

The government has also given itself power to decide which beliefs or actions make someone eligible for deportation; the list of unacceptable behaviour says anyone who promotes “extreme views that are in conflict with the UK’s culture of tolerance” could be deported.

ProteinWisdom reacts:

Make no mistake: this is not an example of legislating against ‘thought crimes’

August Blogging

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With the New York Times descending to creepy new lows and Air America with its shields on high, I am going where the wireless is at best imperfect. Full blogging resumes on August 15.


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