Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Domestic Enemy #1

Roger Toussaint has backed himself into the same kind of corner that Yasser Arafat did in the waning days of the Clinton Administration. Back in 2000 President Clinton negotiated a deal that is as good as any deal the Palestinians are ever likely to get. But Yasser Arafat, after a lifelong, and uncompromising commitment to his ideals, decided that he would stand on his principles, instead of cutting a deal. He had predicated his four decades leading the PLO on repeated statements calling for the destruction of Israel. In 2000, walking away from the deal he claimed that the Palestinian people could not accept a deal that did not include all of Jerusalem and the right of return for all Palestinians, to their former holdings. He missed an opportunity to truly lead, forgetting that leadership means compromise, and convincing one’s constituents to accept it. Instead the peace process waited another four years for Arafat’s passing, before it could move forward again.

Let’s hope it doesn’t take the TWU that long to come to its senses and realize that Roger Toussaint has led them to a dead end. Like Arafat, Toussaint made his name as a radical leader. As a mere transit worker, his continual clashes with MTA management led to his eventual dismissal. But Toussaint had found his place in the union organization. He made his mark leading the New Directions, a radical wing of the TWU that managed to express the dissatisfaction of much of the union’s membership with the 1999 MTA contract. The rank and file thanked by electing him as TWU President the next year. Toussaint has been spoiling for a strike since back in 1999. As President, he blinked in 2002 swerving from a strike with a last minute deal. Apparently he has regretted it ever since.

Like Arafat, Toussaint has already seen as good a deal, as he is likely to. There’s just not that much more to give on the MTA’s side. Whether Toussaint can see that or not is hard to tell. Obviously the TWU national organization has; they refused to sanction this strike. Toussaint may be crippling New York City because he really believes he can do better. But his demagoguery has blinded him to reality. In addition to his union’s national leaders, every politician in New York, and apparently every editorial page in the city, has criticized him. A state judge realizing the severity of the economic threat has fined Toussaint’s local, a million dollars a day, for every day on strike. Without the national organization Local 100 will be bankrupt by Saturday morning. The only public figures who haven’t criticized Toussaint are fellow municipal union leaders like Pat Lynch of the PBA and Randi Weingarten of the UFT, both with recent contracts in hand have refrained from offering any criticism, or any real support either.

Toussaint like Arafat is using extortion. Where Arafat threatened a continuing war of terror, Toussaint offers inconvenience and economic devastation to New York. Like the Palestinians, when the TWU returns to the bargaining table, they are likely to find the same deal waiting as when they left. In both cases, the deal on the table was as good as it ever could be, in Toussaint’s case he has a far better than average municipal contract waiting for him already. But both leaders turned away from pragmatism, allowing their bankrupt ideology to blind them to reality. And suffering was the result. Fortunately we live in a nation of laws and democratic will. Toussaint doesn’t have a lifelong grip on his union.

The pressure of public opinion is eroding his support by the hour. In fact some one thousand or so TWU members have followed the national rather than local mandate and continued to report for work, breaking their own picket lines. So far New Yorkers have remained patient, but how patient they’ll remain while Toussaint the ideologue subjects them to extortion for a few more scraps of their tax dollars, he will soon see.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Tap My Phone! Please!

Imagine, for a minute, it’s a few years in the future. The Black Friday Commission has just completed its report on the intelligence failings that led to the post Thanksgiving bombings in dozens of American Malls. A terrorist attack that has left hundreds of Americans dead, and crippled the American economy by suppressing holiday retail trade. The commission has found that American intelligence was technologically capable of intercepting communications made between disposable cell phones in the US to pre-paids and pay phones overseas in Riyahd, Islamabad, Mexico City and Montreal. But because the NSA was forced to seek a warrant from FISA courts for every intercept, they were unable to keep up, and thus identify the terrorists, who switched phones regularly.

Sound farfetched? It’s not. It’s a scenario that many in congress, most in the media and every single member of the ACLU is more comfortable with than routine surveillance of calls between the US and suspect locations overseas. This is a willful ignorance in the face of our enemy’s obvious tactical flexibility.

Readers of Lewis Carroll are familiar with a character known as “The Red Queen,” a character used to symbolize the effects of long term conflict. The Red Queen runs and runs, but never gets anywhere. Actors caught in a long term adversarial conflict often feel like The Red Queen. As one develops a new tactic or technique, the competitor develops a countermeasure. Our adversaries in the War on Terror have demonstrated this type of cunning over and over again. Not surprising since they have little in the way of assets short of brains and determination.

Oh yes, they also have the complicity of those in this country who would make there jobs easier by ceding them tactical advantages where ever it’s possible. Not that we should never be concerned about the balance of civil rights, but we should be rational and realistic about. Instead the self appointed guardians of our rights waged a hysterical campaign against government efficiency in the name of liberty, but which is really about their anti-Bush agenda. The NY Times release of the NSA story, an old story they sat on for months, amid the Senate debate on renewing the Patriot act reveals their agenda.

Saturday night, at a social occasion, a close friend expressed her oft spoken concerns about President Bush yet again. When I pressed her about what her exact objections were, to our Commander in Chief, civil liberties. Under the influences of her main news sources: the NY Times, CNN, and her uber-liberal boyfriend, she had come to believe that we are in a crisis of civil liberties. She is hardly alone as a victim of this campaign of disinformation. But I asked her if she had placed it in history? Did she know about the Sedition Act of 1798? Or the Espionage Act of 1917? About Lincoln’s suspension of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War?

She did not. Due to the efforts of the left, such episodes, and the subsequent restoration of status quo ante rights at the end of America’s wars are ignored and brushed under. Historical study is discouraged by the left, because it usually leaves a positive impression of America in the minds of students. Today, even under the Patriot Act, and with NSA activity American’s enjoy unprecedented freedom. Freedoms unheard of in 1797, 1916, or 1859.

I asked my friend: “What freedom have you lost? How in any tangible way has any of this affected you?” She demurred. There was no answer. Today we have internet and cable pornography available legally to anyone over 18, and readily to most of those under. We have a mainstream media dedicated to undermining the president, and our war against terror. We have protesters at the White House, in Crawford Texas, and in every major city and college campus. We have legal political parties subscribing to communism and socialism. We have an ACLU that searches bags at its NY HQ, while suing the NYPD to stop bag searches in subways. It’s hard for me to see where I’ve lost my liberties.

Meanwhile in the European states slavishly worshipped by the NY Times as paragons of Human Rights, warrants are mostly unnecessary for electronic eavesdropping. That’s right a phone call from Paris to Algiers, or Brussels to Islamabad will be monitored by European signals agencies, with no worries. Does anyone really think that he US government shouldn’t track phone calls from Lackawanna to Lahore or from Detroit to Damascus? Please Mr. President, tell General Hayden it’s OK to tap my phone.

Crossposted @:

Betsy's Page

Stop the ACLU

Monday, December 19, 2005

Operation BS!

Knowing that I’ve been letting other projects slow my posting pace down, I’ve been mentally preparing commentary on the electronic eavesdropping story and the president's recent speeches. But once again I find myself furious at the amazing arrogance of my friend Paul Rieckhoff. Paul has just changed the name of his left wing oriented veteran’s organization. What was Operation Truth is now Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Now it may seem to be a step down in arrogance to claim to be speaking for veterans rather than for the very concept of truth. But as one of the veterans of this war, I find myself deeply disturbed by this change.

When it was Operation Truth the inherent arrogance in the name was laughable. After all since the days of Socrates, men have claimed to speak to The Truth. It may be slightly arrogant, but since truth is such a tenuous and at times subjective concept, particularly in politics, we can concede that the overreach of such a claim is essentially harmless. But to claim to speak in the name of my fellow veterans is a much more tangible hyperbole.

Of course if you talk to Paul Rieckhoff, he will tell you that his organization isn’t left wing or particularly political at all. In inviting me to join his organization, he made it a point tell me that there were both Democrats and Republicans in the membership. His pose is that he has created an organization that advocates for veterans and service issues. That its membership is open veterans of all political stripes. This is a patently deceptive dodge. The communist party has open membership too! But only people who believe in the communist agenda join. Paul and Op-Truth have been actively pursuing an anti-war, anti-Bush agenda since day one.

Even in the Vietnam era, John Kerry and his fellow Veterans for Peace had the decency to identify their agenda up front. Obviously Lt Rieckhoff has the right to name his organization anything he wants. But by re-naming it in such bland generalist terms, he is perpetrating a deception. An interesting position for someone previously publicly associated with The Truth. The innocuous sounding Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran’s of America attempts to associate his organization with more typical veteran’s fraternal groups like American Legion etc.

Paul, you don’t speak for me! You don’t speak for hundreds of thousands of OIF and OEF vets who understand that building democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan is a worthwhile endeavor that requires sacrifices. You don’t speak for those of us know that the War on Terror requires leaders to make tough decisions that result in bloodshed. So as arrogant your claim to be speaking The Truth was, your claim to speak in my name is far more insulting.

Continuing Thanks to the folks at Mudville Gazette

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