Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
July 31, 2005 - July 24, 2005

Friday, July 29, 2005

Shuttles Recalled... Again

PSAYINGS.5Q.54. More problems for NASA. The Ford Motor Company has issued yet another recall for the 1976 Gran Torino model on which the original shuttle design was based. This time the problem is faulty outside mirrors, which have a tendency to fall off during hard acceleration. A company spokeperson expressed regret that an administrative delay prevented the recall notice from reaching NASA before the recent launch of Discovery, which shed both outside mirrors during liftoff.

Discovery's rearview mirror falling off during launch.

Houston immediately issued a statement:

NASA suspended further flights of the space shuttle fleet on Wednesday...

The decision will not curtail [Discovery's] 12˝-day mission to the International Space Station, the officials said. But further flights will be postponed indefinitely, starting with that of the Atlantis, which was to have lifted off as early as September.

"Until we fix this, we're not ready to go fly again," William W. Parsons, the manager of the shuttle program, said at a news briefing at the Johnson Space Center here on Wednesday evening.

As word of the recall spread, veteran reporters of the shuttle program pressed NASA officials about the viability of the 1970s era technology still being used in the orbiters. While much of NASA's internal maintenance information is held close to the vest, the record of the Ford Gran Torino is public and abundantly documented. The vehicle has been recalled a total of 158 times since 1976, for body problems such as door handles, radio antennas, bumper guards, bumpers, hubcaps and wheels that fall off spontaneously during normal driving. The fact is, the Torino was designed and manufactured when quality was still Job Two at Ford. Confronted by the list of faulty parts, a tight-lipped NASA spokesman observed that Discovery doesn't have hubcaps and referred reporters to a press release already on file about the reasons the Torino was selected as the basis for the shuttle fleet. The release reads in part:

A further source of embarrassment for NASA is that the alternative model listed -- and blacked out -- in the release is the Ford Fairmont, which featured even worse build quality than the Gran Torino and was used as the basis for all the Mars landers that disappeared shortly after reaching the planet.

Perhaps it's time for America's space jocks to consider implementing slightly newer technology.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Snowy, Icy Stuff

"Who is that other who walks beside you?"

QUOTE. Well, I'm backward, I guess. I just found out about Christmas in July this week. But I can make up for it.

Snow Walker.

Eight Below.




Wednesday, July 27, 2005

She's Ba-a-a-a-a-ck.

The original political Gorgon of Hollywood

DAVE.57.1-4. Here's the masterpiece of understatement for the week:

Jane Fonda, the celebrated Hollywood actress who led demonstrations against the Vietnam war, is returning to her anti-war activities by calling the US to end military operations in Iraq.

Fonda announced over the weekend that she would be leading a cross-country drive in a bio-diesel bus to call for an end to US military operations in Iraq.

She said the campaign would include her family and the families of Iraq war veterans and casualties. Fonda said she decided to resume her anti-war activities at the urging of war veterans.

"I've decided I'm coming out," she said. "I have not taken a stand on any war since Vietnam," she said. "I carry a lot of baggage from that."

She calls it baggage. As if it were something she could order one of her personal assistants to carry for her. Not surprising, I suppose, for someone who has led a life so pampered and removed from meaningful consequence. But I sincerely hope that if she has any real friends, they will dissuade her from this political comeback tour. Time does not heal all wounds, and just because she feels distant from her sins of the 1960s doesn't mean that everyone out there has accepted her fey apologies about the past.

American soldiers were already dying in Vietnam while she was doing this (NSFW). And then, in between movies and marriages and affairs, she noticed that a war was going on and descended from Olympus to render judgment and mete out punishment to those who had honorably accepted the call to duty of their country.

They have not forgotten. Someone should advise her to look here and here and here and here and here and here and here. And if that doesn't convince her, make her work her way through this gauntlet (297,000 entries) of contempt, disgust, and loathing intermingled with half-wit excuses and rationalizations.

And even this grim Google search does not encompass all the havoc she has wreaked upon the nation. Without the precedent set by Jane Fonda, we would not now be suffering the shallow, moronic pontifications of Susan Sarandon, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone, Janeane Garofalo, and all the other college dropout she-wolves of Hollywood. Fonda helped unleash a poison upon this nation that could still do mortal damage to millions who know little of the Vietnam War. What a legacy.

She's 68 (?) now. Forgiveness is not in the cards. The very best she could achieve is a dignified silence. But I suspect that even that is too much to hope for. Medusa was never much for looking in a mirror.

UPDATE 08-02-05. Michell Malkin has an entertaining entry about Jane here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Saving Mecca

You see that teeny tiny white dot just to the left of the big square thing in the
middle? That's Hugh Hewitt throwing himself into the fray as a human shield.

THE SMART ONES. There's much to respond to in Hugh Hewitt's latest blast at Tom Tancredo. Most of what he argues isn't too hard to understand and can be responded to forthrightly. The bitterly emotional tone is more of a mystery, and so I'll save that for last.
Hugh is apparently outraged and offended that Tom Tancredo would dare to defend his remarks in print:

Congressman Tom Tancredo takes to the pages of the Denver Post today in an effort to resurrect his reputation. He fails because he doubles down on his absurd insistence that "bombing Mecca" ought to be "on the table." No serious politician in the country has come to Tancredo's defense, and indeed I have not seen any credible authority on war or religion endorse this foolishness. No serious Christian theologian can endorse what is obviously an immoral threat against another faith.

Hugh has a tendency to conflate governments with peoples, which will become more evident as we go. This causes him to be baffled by phenomena that are really quite easy to comprehend. Here he seems to be trying to position himself as either a "serious politician" or "serious Christian theologian." Perhaps he considers himself both. Still, he misses what should be obvious. Those who agree with Tancredo's attempt to expand the debate know very well that politicians are far too cautious and politically correct to agree publicly with anything he said. And no one expects a professional theologian to endorse a gritty tactic of warfare. It's their job to say, "no, no, we must be peaceful," even if they're speaking from behind the cover of a tank.

Tancredo is drawing encouragment from the small percentage of Americans who have fallen into the erroneous belief that all of Islam is arrayed against the West.

That's right. How small that percentage is and how erroneous that belief is are still open for debate.

Point number one. Tancredo's ego is really astonishing, attributing the widespread comment on and embarassment at his remarks to the veiw that they: "served to start a national dialogue about what options we have to deter al-Qaeda and other would-be Islamic terrorists."

Speaking of astonishing egos, one wonders whether Hugh is actually more astonished by the fact that something of a debate has been occurring -- at least here in his precious blogosphere -- despite his own blatant demand that no such debate be permitted. His words: "I want to be very clear on this. No responsible American can endorse the idea that the U.S. is in a war with Islam. That is repugnant and wrong, and bloggers and writers and would-be bloggers and writers have to chose [sic] sides on this, especially if you are a center-right blogger. The idea that all of Islam is the problem is a fringe opinion.  It cannot be welcomed into mainstream thought because it is factually wrong. If Tancredo's blunder does not offend you, then you do not understand the GWOT."

Uh, sorry, Hugh. We have been debating it. So Tancredo is merely reporting here.

Twice in the column Tancredo makes absurd leaps of logic in an effort to obscure the central issues of the morality or utility of a threat on Muslim holy sites. Here's the first: "[I]n this battle against fundamentalist Islam, I am hardly preoccupied with political correctness, or who may or may not be offended. Indeed, al-Qaeda cares little if the Western world is "offended" by televised images of hostages beheaded in Iraq, subway bombings in London, train attacks in Madrid, or Americans jumping to their death from the Twin Towers as they collapsed."

In fact Tancredo is preoccupied with attention-getting statements that play to the frustrated edge of the conservative camp that sees any denunciation of "political correctness" as an endorsement of their desire for blunt talk against media elites.

But not threatening Islamic countries and populations with the destruction of the places they devoutly esteem is not p.c.-generated double-talk. It is sensible respect for a vast group of Muslims abroad and a few million Muslims who are our fellow citizens from whom we must ask cooperation and to whom we must pledge a non-bigoted appreciation for their religious choices.

The jump Tancredo makes from Americans disgusted with his foolishness to al Qaeda's reactions to American outrage is incoherent. Really, incoherent.

Oh? It might be incoherent if mainstream moderate muslims had been as vocal about condemning al qaida as Hugh Hewitt has been about condemning Tom Tancredo. But they haven't been. And while we're on the subject of incoherence, Hugh's second paragraph in this passage certainly verges on it, and the next sentence, with its "not... is... not" construction serves to remind us which of the two is speaking more directly and clearly about the matter at hand.

In fact, Tancredo's logic is coherent; it's just not lawyerly. He's saying, look, people of their faith have assaulted major symbols of American life and they are reluctant to condemn the perpetrators. Meanwhile, we seem to be more respectful of their religious sensitivities than we are of domestic Christianity. Doesn't this make us look like saps in a time of war? Mightn't it give them an attitude adjustment if we started talking the way they talk? Two and two still do add up to four. The problem is, Hugh is working like hell to make two and two add up to three. Just because he thinks it's more prudent and helpful to make nice with muslims, he tries to declare any other kind of arithmetic indefensible. But there are other kinds of arithmetic. That's why it's good to talk about these things openly, not default to the position that we should be quiet and leave it all up to the smart people who know better.

The next incoherence follows quickly: "People have accused me of creating more terrorism by making these statements. Indeed, we often hear that Western governments bring these attacks on themselves." Tancredo's foolishness will no doubt be used, as was Dick Durbin's outrageous comparison of the American military to Nazis and Khmer Rouge, by propagandists for Islamist extremists. But Tancredo's attemp to hide himself under the wings of John Howard and other eloquent spokesmen who reject the dangeorus idea that the West is generating the attacks on itself overlooks Howard's --and Blair's and Bush's-- refusal to be drawn into Islam bashing or incediary rhetoric like Tancredo's.

On Thursday, Howard bluntly stated, again: "[T]his is about the perverted use of the principles of a great world religion, that at its root preaches peace and cooperation, and I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder."

Serious leaders in the West refuse to indulge the hatred for a different religion that is implicit in Tancredo's frothings. No doubt Tancredo and his supporters deem Howard, Blair, and Bush "soft" on terrorism.

Practically everything a westerner says will be used by al jazeera in its propaganda. (Note that InstaPunk was more concerned by what Durbin's remarks said about him and his liberal apologists than about the propaganda impact.) If the words aren't inflammatory enough, they'll be twisted into something that is. Tancredo is covered by the Blair/Howard defense. He didn't start the war on terror. He hasn't killed any defenseless civilians. He is exercising his freedom of speech, and he is -- we must keep returning to this -- voicing the thoughts of many Americans who, right or wrong, would benefit from hearing their ideas considered in the market of public opinion. The fate of an unexpressed idea is that it grows ill and malignant in the dark. Of all people, Hugh Hewitt should know this and accept that speech in a free country can be untidy indeed. It is the role of sunlight not censors to burn away the dross.

I also object to the imputation of "hatred" to Tancredo and his supporters. His remarks bespeak a mentality more Roman than crusader. The Romans didn't hate the constituencies -- religious or political -- that threatened the safety of Roman citizens. They were rather matter-of-fact in squashing the infant powers which undermined order before a rabble could become an army. They understood the potency of striking at symbols too. One can argue whether or not the U.S. should adopt a more Roman strategy to protect its citizenry, but to dismiss it a priori as hatred is a deceitful bit of cunning.

I doubt, too, whether Tancredo's most avid supporters think Bush, Blair, and Howard are soft on terrorism. They understand the politics that accompany the "religion of peace" rhetoric. What's different about them is that they're not afraid to ask whether or not this coldly calculated and executed policy is working. The questions we don't ask ourselves are the ones whose answers can prove most disastrous, because those answers come in the form of real consequences, not theoretical ones.

Tancredo then quotes a couple of extremist Islamists and/or apologists for such extremist Islamists before finishing with this flourish --a libel on every Muslim who has indeed condemned terror and especially on the between 5,000 and 10,000 Muslims serving in the American military: "In many respects, the decision of "moderate" Muslims to acquiesce to these actions and even provide tacit justification for them is just as damaging to global safety and security as the attacks themselves. Until "mainstream" Islam can bring itself to stop rationalizing terrorist attacks and start repudiating and purging people like Ali and Hajjar from its ranks who do, this war will continue. As long as this war goes on, being "offended" should be the least of anyone's worries."

This insult to every Muslim who has courageously stood up to Islamist terror should not be allowed to pass uncondemned by supporters of the GWOT. There needs to be more and more and louder and louder condemnation of Islamist terror from within Islam. There needs to be more and more cooperation from among Muslims in the identification of Islamist threats at home and abroad. But Tancredo's absurd hypotheticals injure that prospect. The Congressman needs to review the record, finding the good --not just the evil-- and praising it. He might want to start with the fact the Muslim community in upstate New York helped DOJ uncover and halt the operation of a cell there. 

If you were a Muslim, would Tancredo's outrageous speculations make you more or less likely to assist in the GWOT? Obviously the latter. After braving Islamist threats to help the authorities break a cell, you open the paper and find that your holy places will be "on the table" if terror takes another huge toll in the United States.

Not so fast, Mr. Hewitt. The answer to your question is not "obviously the latter." If members of my faith were responsible for murdering innocent civilians all over the world in the way that al qaida and its affiliates have been doing, I would not be surprised if the peoples of the victimized nations began grumbling about nuking the Vatican or Robert Schuler's Crystal Cathedral. And even if I had been fighting hard in my personal life to defeat the terrorists, I would still be aware of the lack if my clergy had been dragging their heels and hemming and hawing about condemning the crimes of  "renegade" parishioners. And if a significant percentage of my clergy had been guilty of fomenting the terror acts, I would feel compelled to begin fighting for access to a microphone so that I could rally others of my faith in a joint act of condemnation.

If you don't believe me, look at the response of lay Catholics to the pedophilia scandal. When the church evaded its responsibility, Catholics came forward as ordinary citizens to demand accountability and justice. As devout Catholics, they knew that the reputation of their faith was in grave jeopardy and that they had a greater responsibility than non-Catholics to rectify the wrongs.

Even you concede that there hasn't been nearly enough of this kind of action. The fact of a resistance doesn't excuse all those who stand aside and go with the flow. Was there a French resistance in WWII? Yes. Was France still a collaborator nation in the Nazi assault on Europe? Yes. Is it painful to point this out? Perhaps. But however painful it is to lance a boil, it's sometimes necessary to relieve the pressure and allow healing to begin.

"Being 'offended'" is not my worry.

Having progress in the GWOT compromised handicapped by a publicity-seeking Congressman is my worry. Handing propaganda to Islamists is my worry. Encouraging the wrong-headed belief that the world cannot be made safe until Islam is destropyed is my worry.

Here are some basic facts for Tancredo fans to ponder: "Islam is the second-largest religion in the world, counting more than 1.3 billion believers. Americans have the misconception that all Muslims are Arabs and that all Arabs are Muslims. In fact, less than 20 percent of the Muslims in the world are Arab, and all Arab countries have populations that believe in other religions. The nation with the world's largest Islamic population is Indonesia -- 88 percent of its 280 million people are Muslims. In the United States, Islam is the fastest growing religion, a trend fueled mostly by immigration. There are 5 million to 7 million Muslims in the United States. They make up between 10,000 and 20,000 members of the American military. Army Chaplain (Capt.) Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad is a Muslim Imam stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. In his chaplaincy, he ministers to all faiths."

Uh, there are a lot of muslims? We knew that. Not all muslims are Arabs? We knew that too. We also know that muslim nations, including non-Arab ones, have shown a distressing tendency to kill innocent civilians  in campaigns the U.N. really hates to classify as genocide -- notably in the Sudan and in Indonesia (East Timor ring a bell?). Al qaida and its minions have also committed acts of terror and, obviously, found cover in many other nations with muslim majority and minority populations.

I'm also not terribly moved by the citation of muslims in the military. They are American citizens and they've made their choice. In WWII, plenty of German-Americans and Italian-Americans went to war against the Axis. I knew a German-American who went to war against the Kaiser in WWI. Except for his accent, he was as German as they come, and to the end of his life he made free with such locutions as "Huns" and "Krauts." He knew who the enemy was because they tried hard to kill him. And if it's the religious angle you're primarily concerned with, American Catholics may have resisted the notion of bombing the Montecassino Abbey during the Anzio invasion, but bomb it we did to save American lives. War is not chess. It is, as the generals remind us, "killing people and breaking things."

The United State is locked in a deadly war with Islamists who would indeed use nukes against American cities if they could, or any other WMD for that matter. There are some states that support these Islamists, including the governments of Iran and Syria, and some of the elites in Saudi Arabia.

But there are also governments like those in Eygpt, Jordan, and Pakistan that are providing us enormously valuable assistance in the war, governements which come under huge pressure from their fundamentalist Muslim populations to stop assisting the "crusaders."

Tancredo made all of their jobs more difficult, and ours as well, by sounding exactly like a Christian jihadist would sound, even though it is clearly contrary to Christian teachings to threaten retaliation against non-combatants even in a just war.

This is where Hugh conveniently plays both ends against the middle by erasing the lines between nations and governments. Members of the Bush administration's policy team have to be punctilious about referring to governments as if they were fully representative of their people, but the rest of us ordinary citizens don't have to be. If we want to, we can feel and express the conviction that Musharaf of Pakistan is helping us in the war on terror only because he has to, and we can recognize that Pakistan as a whole is a hotbed of muslim extremism that contributes as much (or more) to terror as its government does to the war against terror. We can harbor similar feelings about Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc, because there's a lot of truth to the rumor that even the most supposedly friendly governments have subsidized Islamofascist propaganda to deflect criticisms of their own despotism into anti-American, anti-western, and anti-Christian feeling. If they are now being burned by their own bad decisions, it doesn't mean the fire they started among their peoples has been extinguished. Hugh acknowledges this when he concedes that such "governments.. come under huge pressure from their fundamentalist Muslim populations to stop assisting the 'crusaders.'"

Think about this. We're 'crusaders' because we want your crazies to stop killing our women and children? So, just who is it, Hugh, who's going to be moved and converted by your profound deference for their religion of peace?

I have repeatedly invited Congressman Tancredo on my show over the past week. He has declined every opportunity, and Tancredo fans have repeatedly asked me to "drop it." Well, Tancredo doubled down today, and his attempt to camouflage his inanity in a variety of ways does nothing but highlight again and again why he doesn't deserve invitations to GOP events or leadership positions in Washington.

By Golly, Tancredo has been summoned to appear before the Office of the Holy Inquisition, and he has refused to obey. Damn. Is this where all the heat is coming from? Think about it, Hugh. You've been more polite to the America-hating muslims than you've been to a Congressman who disagrees with your politics. Why should he subject himself to the inherently unfair format of a radio talk show hosted by someone who slanders him repeatedly? Why? Because you're somehow in charge of the all-important blogosphere? I don't think so.

"Supporting" Congressman Tancredo on this issue identifies you as an American interested in comforting noise rather than progress in the GWOT.

Now, for good measure, he wants to be clear that he's also slandering all of us. Thank you, sir.

I am sure I will hear --again-- from all the "realists" who want to quote the Koran to me and instruct me on how blind I am to the threat of Islam. Look, feel free to write me, but try and find at least one quote from a serious conservative on the American or world stage to back you up. Dick Cheney's pretty solid, right? So is Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, right? O.K., then, send me some citations to their Tancredo-like remarks. There's a reason they are leading and Tancredo is simply milking rage and anger for personal benefit. They are interested in the national security and victory in the GWOT. Congressman Tancredo is interested in, well, Congressman Tancredo.

Here we go again. We're only permitted to disagree with Mr. Hewitt if we can "find at least one quote from a serious conservative on the American or world stage to back (us) up." Sorry, Hugh. We're not the one who is pretending to be some kind of shadow government spokesperson. We're just citizens who happen to disagree with you and retain the luxury -- unlike all the "official" leaders such as, ahem, yourself -- of speaking our minds about matters that really do affect us. I am sure that even our soft-spoken conservative leaders would privately allow that we do have that right. Otherwise, they wouldn't be conservatives any more. They'd be autocrats.

A few final thoughts. I don't believe Mr. Tancredo has ever suggested that "putting Mecca on the table" was tantamount to waiting for Mecca to fill up with civilians before bombing it. In fact, I have a hunch his idea includes delivering a clear warning about how much time people have to evacuate the place. Bombing Mecca is in the category of "breaking things," not "killing people." Mr. Hewitt's repeated characterization of Tancredo's remarks as slaughtering innocent civilians is disingenuous if not dishonest.

Which leads to the question I posed at the start: why all the emotional bitterness? I hate to say it, but I think Mr. Hewitt may have contracted Blogger's Disease. He thinks he's in charge of something, something that Tancredo and his supporters have somehow violated by having and expressing an unacceptable opinion.

Well, Mr. Hewitt, you're in charge of your blog and your radio show. That's all. You're not in charge of us, and you're not entited to control what we say and think. It' still America, and we're pretty determined to keep it that way.

And just to be clear, I personally still stand by what I said yesterday.

UPDATE. More on Hewitt and Tancredo from Lump on a Blog, who seems to have survived his recent excommunication in good shape. Thanks for the link.
INCIDENTALLY. Here's an interesting link I received from RattlerGator. It may relate to this discussion only tangentially, but it's interesting in its own right. Thanks for the email, RG.

POSTSCRIPT: After reading Mr. Hewitt's outburst, I thought of this nasty old politically incorrect opus by that old imperialistic bastard Kipling. So I just had to share it with all of you. Without apologies.

OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, 
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat; 
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, 
When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Unreality Trap

A BILLION. Ace columnist Mark Steyn begins his latest with the tale of a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee who met twice with Mohammed Atta to consider his request to get $650,000 in government funds to help finance the 9/11 attacks. Atta used a different name each time and explicitly referenced the possibility of attacking Washington, DC. She thought he was just an eccentric example of multiculturalism. Confident that he's got us us all rolling in the aisles with this anecdote, Steyn proceeds to extrapolate:

For four years, much of the western world behaved like Bryant. Bomb us, and we agonise over the "root causes" (that is, what we did wrong). Decapitate us, and our politicians rush to the nearest mosque to declare that "Islam is a religion of peace". Issue bloodcurdling calls at Friday prayers to kill all the Jews and infidels, and we fret that it may cause a backlash against Muslims. Behead sodomites and mutilate female genitalia, and gay groups and feminist groups can't wait to march alongside you denouncing Bush, Blair and Howard. Murder a schoolful of children, and our scholars explain that to the "vast majority" of Muslims "jihad" is a harmless concept meaning "decaf latte with skimmed milk and cinnamon sprinkles".

The piece is published in the Australian and might be aimed more at them than the western world in general, but Steyn appears to be making two points -- one, that the London bombings are having an effect on the ostrich left and, two, that multiculturalism is a kind of labyrinthine denial mechanism that makes it difficult to locate common sense on any level.

Steyn is always brilliant, but I think there's another point that needs to be made. Reading the paragraph I quoted above, I couldn't help musing on the Internet contretemps about Tancredo's comments and the odd fact that mainstream conservatives have been taking positions of the sort Steyn is mocking in his second and third sentences. Captain Ed and Hugh Hewitt aren't multicultural dupes, so why have they joined this very nonexclusive club?

I think I know why, and I mean no disrespect to Hugh and Ed in returning yet again to this peculiar controversy, because there's a lesson here for almost everyone.

I've seen the same phenomenon at work in corporate organizations. I call it the Unreality Trap. Imagine a bad situation that probably can't be fixed. Imagine you're in the Coca Cola marketing department on the eve of the launch of "New Coke." You suspect that you are involved in a business catastrophe -- a company conspiring to kill its own flagship product, perhaps the most successful single brand name product in the history of the food industry. What do you do? All the alternatives suck. If the campaign proceeds as planned, the company will lose millions and become the laughingstock of the world. If you could somehow halt the campaign, the company would still be a laughingstock and many careers would come to an end. There's no solution to the problem that isn't almost unbearably costly and difficult. What do you do?

In the corporate world, the response to these kinds of situations is to pretend that reality is different from what it obviously is to otherwise intelligent observers. You follow the most intelligent course you can think of given that the situation itself is out of control. For example, you decide to waste a little less money wherever you have some control of spending on promoting the turkey called "New Coke." It's sensible and defensible. After the catastrophe, you'll look comparatively smarter, and at least you didn't fling gasoline on the bonfire. You may even succeed in convincing yourself that this course of action is shrewder and better advised than running around corporate headquarters screaming about the need to stop the launch of "New Coke."

That's what's going on with Hugh and Captain Ed and all the other conservatives who got so stuffily self righteous about Tancredo's remarks.  The truth is, there isn't an easy or automatically right solution to the problem of Islamofascism. It's true that every attempt to defeat them, kill them, or stop their murderous plans will create more terrorists. That's the real bitch of fighting an irrational enemy. Deep down, Hugh and Captain Ed know as well as we do that Islam itself is a major part of the problem, no matter how condescendingly they respond to those of us who are willing to say it out loud. Otherwise, why would they be so frightened that one politican's remarks are going to seriously increase the threat against all of us? They wouldn't. If some congressman suggested that the best way to deal with the corruption of the U.N. would be the nuking of Paris, everyone of sound mind would just laugh.

So what's up with Hugh and Captain Ed? They don't want to think about just how awful the problem is, and they can't see any way out of the situation we're in that doesn't involve bloodshed and sacrifice on a massive scale. And so they choose to remake reality in more comforting terms. Our enemy is only a few million malcontents. Therefore, we can navigate our way through the gauntlet by selecting some judicious set of military, diplomatic, and economic measures.

The only problem with that strategy is that it's wrong. The world economy can't afford the United States to take a gigantic blow that erases the confidence of ordinary people in going about their daily business. The Islamofascists know that, and it is their ovverriding purpose to deal just such a blow. When they succeed, their numbers will increase immeasurably beyond what they are now. The proof that crippling America is actually possible will be a more potent recruiting tool than anything any politician can say on his most insane day.

But there's another problem of denial that must be confronted by those who are willing to stand up to Hugh and Captain Ed. Defeating and controlling the considerable population of muslims who are cheering on the terrorists will not be achieved simply by killing a bunch of them or eliminating their holiest places. Yes, PC games are worse than accepting the facts as they most probably exist, but what then? What strategy can be successful for those who see with unblinkered eyes?

Because they won't all lay down their arms and put their hands up the day after Mecca starts glowing like the dial of an alarm clock. What do you propose to do to win the war on terror? It's an important question, much more pertinent in the scheme of things than how best to respond to the silly denials of the self-deluding. What will it take to win this thing?

Forget all the ordinary assumptions about what Congress will fund, what any U.S. president will have the guts to do. Those assumptions will be the biggest casualty of the first real assault on America. Start thinking now about how we will have to fight the nightmare war that begins the day after that attack. And by fighting, I mean fighting to win.

HINT: The right answer isn't going to be a paragraph or two in the Comments section. It's got to be far more than a few bellicose declarations of spleen and will.

Hugh and Ed need to end their fit of denial. And so do the rest of us. We really are in a war for civilization. And we really do have nearly a billion opponents. Think about it.

UPDATE:  I see that the Pope has issued another infallible encyclical on the Tancredo matter. I'll have more to say about this later. He's starting to become positively obnoxious.

UPDATE:  This is a continuation of the discussion started HERE with continuing analysis HERE.

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