Patterico's Pontifications


Why We Should be Glad When They Only Have Rocks

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 11:25 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

There is a certain glamour attached to the underdog, where we think that if a person fights when it is futile it is a sign of virtue in the fighter.

It can be, of course.  For instance, in the annals of war, Col. Joshua Chamberlain is rightfully lionized for his leadership of the 20th Maine when defending Little Round Top in the Battle of Gettysburg.  Col. Chamberlain was a thinking man, an idealist who saw the Civil War as a holy war against slavery and he had enough vision that day to recognize that if the Confederates took his position they might win the battle—and by extension, win the war itself.  It is hard to say what precisely strikes the killing blow in a war of attrition, but it is more than reasonable to believe he won the war that day—or more precisely prevented the Union from losing.  And his virtue fed his bravery.  As his unit ran out of ammunition, he ordered a desperate bayonet charge and against all odds won the fight.

But what that kind of bravery, that willingness to fight even when it seems hopeless is most precisely understood to be the product of fervor.  And good ideas are not the only source of such fervor.  A person can be fervent in a vile and evil cause.

That was the logical mistake too many liberals make when they try to justify Palestinian terrorism.  They see fervor—you might even call it fanaticism—and they think this is a sign of virtue.  So over ten years ago, even as they were still pulling bodies from Ground Zero, I first heard a liberal tritely justify Palestinian suicide bombing as follows.  “It’s a poor man’s cruise missile.   All they have is rocks against tanks and airplanes, what do you expect them to do?”

Of course the first thing wrong with that is that even when it was tanks and airplanes v. tanks and airplanes, in Israel’s War for Independence and in the Six Day War, the Arabs still went out of their way to murder civilians.  I mean perhaps it is not wise to say this and give out tactical advice, but have you ever wondered why the Israelis could be outnumbered so massively and still win?  Maybe it was because while the Israelis were focused on attacking their enemies’ ability to make war, their enemies were concentrating on dropping bombs on their bus terminals and other essentially civilian targets.  It certainly doesn’t help.

But we also see, via the Blaze, this trio of horrifying stories of what the Palestinians do when all they have are stones.  First there is Asher and Yonathan Palmer (Yonathan is the baby):

They both died when Palestinians stoned their car, hitting the father in the face:


The State Department Offers Its Condolences… To the Family of a Terrorist We Just Killed?

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 10:32 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Besides Alwaki, American drones strikes also killed Samir Khan, an American who joined al Qaeda to be their propagandist and declared that he was “proud to be a traitor to America.”  So this isn’t exactly collateral damage, you know, or at least if hitting him was an accident, it was a very, very happy accident.  Which makes this State Department action just plain bizarre, if the family is to be believed:

An official from the U.S. State Department has called the Charlotte family of al-Qaida propagandist Samir Khan to offer the government’s condolences on his death in a U.S. drone attack last week in Yemen, according to a family spokesman.

“They were very apologetic (for not calling the family sooner) and offered condolences,” Jibril Hough said about the Thursday call from the State Department to Khan’s father, Zafar.

The phone call came a day after the family released a statement through Hough that condemned the “assassination” of their 25-year-old son – a U.S. citizen – and said they were “appalled” that they had not heard from the U.S. government to discuss their son’s remains or answer questions about why Khan was not afforded due process.

On Friday, State Department spokesman Harry Edwards confirmed to the Observer that the call had been made, but said “privacy issues” kept him from offering details.

Read the whole thing, although it will make your blood boil.  But Mr. Edwards, if you are listening, come up real close so you can hear me real good on this.

To hell with their privacy. They have publicly alleged that our State Department officially said something completely moronic.  The State Department should at least be able to confirm or deny it.  Any right to privacy was waived the moment their official family spokesman made statements about the conversation.

And please, can we stop bending over backwards to be “sensitive” to our sworn enemies?  If anything, again, I reiterate that we should bury these terrorist idiots with pigs.  The terrorist masterminds use the faith of their minions against us.  They teach their idiot followers that if they do this, then they will get 72 virgins in Heaven, as though God was some kind of pimp.  But the same version of Islam says that if they are buried with pigs, they will be consigned to Hell.  So we should at least make them think that will happen to them (by this approach you don’t actually have to bury them with pigs, so long as the bad guys are convinced we have done so)—then it will be that much harder to convince people to die for their cause.  They use their faith as a weapon against us, we should return the favor.

And for the love of God we should not be apologizing for killing our enemies or bending over backwards to be respectful to the remains.

Seriously, did Hitler get a proper Christian burial?

Hat tip: Hot Air.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

So What Does Yoo Think About the Obama Administration Killing American Citizens in a Time of War?

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:49 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: I forgot to give Insty his hat tip.  Here ya go.  This should help that small, unknown blog increase its traffic.

That “Yoo” is not a typo, but a bad pun on the name of the famous and persecuted Professor John Yoo.*  As you/Yoo can imagine, he has a lot of interesting thoughts on the Obama administration’s new-found love of killing bad guys even if they are nominally Americans, and those thoughts are here.  The money quote:

By my lights, I would rather the Obama folks be hypocrites in favor of protecting the national security than principled fools (which they are free to be in the faculty lounges both before and after their time in government).

Yoo get him!

(I’m going to stop doing that, now.)

Joking aside, that comment by Yoo will definitely leave a mark.  By the way, I suppose all the people who tried to have Yoo disbarred and fired from his job, and tried to sue him for giving legal advice, will come after Obama’s lawyers, too, right?  Because otherwise you guys are going to look kind of like partisan hacks if you don’t.  Certainly Yale Law School is not getting my alumni money until they stop this assault on the right of a president to receive candid counsel and compensate Professor Yoo for wasting his time with this foolishness.

Come to think of it, maybe that is why the memos were kept secret as a matter of national security, not because the contents were secret but because no one is willing to publicly support this kind of thing after the attempt to silence opposing legal views—views that today have been partially vindicated.  Which I suppose would make the secrecy more understandable, although still wrong.  The answer isn’t to make this government more opaque but to have extremely robust laws prohibiting the kind of persecution that Yoo is facing.


* With apologies to Mr. Yoo and pretty much everyone.  I will now flog myself as self-punishment.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Double Secret Justification for Killing American Civilians! (Update: al Qaeda Objects, too!)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:55 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: Good news, Ron Paul and Kirsten Powers, a major organization agrees with you: al Qaeda!  From the WaPo:

Al-Qaeda has also criticized the Obama administration for killing U.S. citizens, saying doing so “contradicts” American law.

“Where are what they keep talking about regarding freedom, justice, human rights and respect of freedoms?!” the statement says, according to a translation by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist Web sites.

Right, we should respect their freedom to kill us for exercising our freedom.  It makes perfect sense!


So we learn over the weekend that the Obama administration had prepared a secret memo explaining why it was legal to just outright kill nominal American citizens, like Anwar al-Awlaki, and there is so much wrong here that I barely know where to begin.  But don’t worry, I am not going to go the full Ron Paul on you.  You should never go the full Ron Paul.  But there is so much stupidity on both sides of the issue it isn’t even funny.

First, to the Obama administration…  um…  why is this a secret memo?  Are you under the impression that the law is now a national secret, that only people with security clearance are allowed to read the U.S. Code, and Supreme Court cases?  Perhaps in the particular case of Awlaki your memo reveals facts that are best kept secret.  I can accept that.  But why not release a generic version that makes no reference to a specific case?

Of course the reason why isn’t really national security, but embarrassment.  For instance, over at Powerline, Steven Hayward writes:

Gosh, who knew that John Yoo had gone back to work for the Obama Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel[?]

Admittedly the embarrassment theory is just that—a theory—but seriously is there a better explanation than the hypothesis that this administration doesn’t want to sound too much like George. W. Bush, lest someone get the impression that eight years of criticism of the man was, shall we say, less than sincere?  Then the average American might get the impression that the Democrats were harming national security just for cheap political gain, so naturally that makes this memo a dangerous national secret that can’t be revealed to the public.

And of course the dismaying part of it is that they still manage to sound like they are treating terrorism like a criminal matter, rather than an issue of war:

The legal analysis, in essence, concluded that Mr. Awlaki could be legally killed, if it was not feasible to capture him, because intelligence agencies said he was taking part in the war between the United States and Al Qaeda and posed a significant threat to Americans, as well as because Yemeni authorities were unable or unwilling to stop him.

(Emphasis added.)  Now, I personally believe strongly in capturing terrorists alive not because I care a jot about their lives as valuable in and of themselves, but because I prefer that we then squeeze them for intel.  But there is no legal requirement in war that you only kill if you can’t capture—it may be pragmatically wise, but it is not legally required.  Instead in war, you are allowed to kill the enemy wherever he or she is found, without mercy, unless the person actually surrenders.

But in law enforcement, you are supposed to capture, i.e. arrest, a “suspect” if it is possible—and only if it is not feasible to capture the person do you consider killing him or her outright.

So that is the stupidity on the “pro” side in the debate over killing Awlaki.  Meanwhile for stupidity on the “con” side, we have my twitter dustup with Kirsten Powers.  It all started when I saw her post the following when we learned the good news:


Rick Perry’s Iowa tune-up and media strategy

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 2:03 am

[Posted by Karl]

The NYT’s Jeff Zeleny reports on Rick Perry trying to get back on message with retail politics in Iowa:

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas struggled through his first three debates, so his aides have staged practice sessions, complete with a stand-in for Mitt Romney. He has stirred outrage among conservatives on immigration, so he is defending his stance on the campaign trail as good economics.

And as he prepares for two more debates in the next nine days, along with his first major policy address, his advisers have devised another way to help: requiring Mr. Perry to get more sleep.

After weeks in which he has stirred doubts about his abilities as a candidate, Mr. Perry is re-examining his campaign — and himself — in an effort to correct his shortcomings of style and substance so he can capitalize on his strengths, including the $15 million he has in the bank and what he points to as a record of job creation in Texas.

RTWT, or the Associated Press writeup, which hit most of the same points with the same skeptical tone, right down to faulting his (relative non-)answer on what books had influenced him (get ready for some Palin comparisons, I’m sure). 

The AP also notes that Perry took questions from voters, but not reporters, which is generally in line with Perry’s past media strategy.  Team Perry believes that doing retail politics generates more favorable local coverage, which experiments in prior Texas campaigns showed to be more worthwhile.

The coverage of Perry this weekend seems to bear at least half of that strategy out, as the Iowa coverage had a less skeptical tone than the NYT and AP reports.  The Des Moines Register’s caucus blogger led with Perry’s economic defense of the “Texas Dream Act” as trying to ensure that illegal immigrants be taxpayers instead of tax wasters, but also noted that only 4 of 183 state legislators had opposed it.  The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that he “seemed to redeem himself ” with the crowd at an appearance in Tiffin, quoting a number of supportive comments.  The Sioux City Journal similarly quoted people who found persuasive Perry’s explanation that illegal immigrants were subject to the same rules for in-state tuition as other students attending public universities in Texas.  The reports from the Iowa City Press-Citizen and the Spencer Daily Journal did not even touch on the knocks to date against the Perry campaign, focusing instead on the jobs message Perry wants reported.

Whether the second premise of Team Perry’s media strategy — that the national coverage ultimately does not matter all that much — remains open to question.  Unlike a Texas campaign, the NYT, the AP, and the other usual suspects will be covering his campaign regardless of whether Perry feeds them material (not that it would be noticibly more favorable if he did).  The news about debate practices — and the fact that it was fed to the NYT — suggests Team Perry is covering its bet.


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