Friday, May 16, 2008

Barack Obama says he's not soft on terror

So maybe Obama can explain his plan to give Osama bin Laden exactly what he wants.

Iraq is the perfect base to set up the jihad to liberate Palestine

-- Osama bin Laden, audiotape, released March 21, 2008

. . . the situation in Iraq brings news that the victory of Islam and the defeat of the [American] crusaders and those who stand under their banner is near, Allah willing

-- Ayman al-Zawahiri, interview, released April 17, 2008

Back in December, bin Laden even gave an entire speech devoted to the need to throw the Americans out of Iraq:

My speech to you today is about the conspiracies devised by the Zionist-Crusader alliance under the lead of America -- in cooperation with its agents in the region -- to hijack the fruits of the blessed Jihad in Mesopotamia, and what our duty is in frustrating these conspiracies.

In light of these statements, Obama's plan to withdraw from Iraq amounts to giving Osama bin Laden exactly what he wants. And that is softness on terror.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

In case you are still wondering whether or not Al Qaeda in Iraq reports to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, a recently released interview with Ayman al-Zawahiri may be of help. Here is one of the answers he gave about Iraq:

Q: What is your estimation of the current situation in Iraq? What is your position with regards to the jihadist movements in Iraq headed by the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and the Ansar al-Sunnah organization? . . . .

A: First, the situation in Iraq brings news that the victory of Islam and the defeat of the crusaders and those who stand under their banner is near, Allah willing. Second, regarding the distinguished brothers from Ansar al-Sunnah, I have clearly stated my opinion previously. Third, the Islamic State [of Iraq] is a step towards the establishment of the caliphate, and is superior to the other armed jihadi movements. Thus, it is these groups that are obliged to acknowledge [the authority] of the Islamic State and not vice versa. The Amir al-Mumineen Abu Omar al-Baghdadi -- may Allah protect him -- is one of the great leaders of the Muslims and mujahideen during this era, and we ask Allah to grant him and us the strength to stand upright, victory, and success.

I have put part of al-Zawahiri's answer in boldface here for emphasis. Notice that al-Zawahiri is saying that other armed jihadi groups in Iraq must acknowledge the authority of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who heads up the Islamic State, an Al Qaeda front group.

If you believe that Al Qaeda in Iraq, AKA the Islamic State in Iraq, does not report to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, you have got to ask yourself why would al-Zawahiri be insisting that other armed groups in Iraq acknowledge the authority of the ISI? Would he really do that if the ISI didn't report to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The New York Times trumpets a nonsensical study

Yesterday's New York Times had an article about a study of the death penalty in Harris County, Texas. The article began as follows:

About 1,100 people have been executed in the United States in the last three decades. Harris County, Tex., which includes Houston, accounts for more than 100 of those executions. Indeed, Harris County has sent more people to the death chamber than any state but Texas itself.

Yet Harris County’s capital justice system has not been the subject of intensive research — until now. A new study to be published in The Houston Law Review this fall has found two sorts of racial disparities in the administration of the death penalty there, one commonplace and one surprising

The unexceptional finding is that defendants who kill whites are more likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill blacks. More than 20 studies around the nation have come to similar conclusions.

But the new study also detected a more straightforward disparity. It found that the race of the defendant by itself plays a major role in explaining who is sentenced to death.

The last sentence (which I have highlighted in bold) is the main point of contention. The article eventually quotes someone who is suspicious of the study's methodology. But a reader would have to go deep into the article to see that quote. And the article fails to point out the worst flaws in the study.

To see what is really going on, you need to look at the study itself. You can find it here. A few facts jump out:

First of all, as the article notes, of 100 defendants indicted for capital crimes in Harris County, 27% of the blacks and 25% of the whites were sentenced to death. No bias there.

However, after controlling for the mitigating and aggravating factors such as the heinousness of the crime, the study found bias.

But the study measured the mitigating and aggravating factors by looking at newspaper coverage of the case! So what if the newspaper coverage depends on the assailant's race? Many people have complained that a murder in a white area is big news, while a murder in a black area is not. So if the white area murderers get more thorough newspaper coverage than the black murderers, the study is going to find more aggravating factors, which makes the white murderers appear "worse" than the black ones, which in turn makes it appear unfair that they are sentenced to death at an equal rate.

That's not all. The study also reports that there were plea bargains in 38% of the cases with white defendants, and only 28% of the cases with black defendants. In capital cases, it is common for the defendant to agree to plead guilty if the prosecutor is willing to take the death penalty off the table. The statistics suggest (but do not prove) that the white defendants are more willing to plea bargain. Now, all other things being equal, a group of defendants that is more willing to plea bargain should be sentenced to death less often. But this is a result of the decisions of the defendant's themselves.

So you have a study which started with a situation that looks raceially neutral (27% of black capital defendants sentenced to death vs. 25% of whites). There are several confounding factors. Based on the newspaper coverage, the heinousness of the murders committed by whites appears to be worse than the heinousness of the murders committed by blacks. So the study controls for heinousness. Based on plea bargaining data, whites appear to be more willing to plea bargain than blacks. But the study's author, who realizes that a conclusion of racial bias will get more press than a conclusion of no racial bias, elects not to control for the defendant's willingness to plea bargain. And lo and behold, the study ends up concluding that there is racial bias.

The study's author is rewarded with coverage in the New York Times.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Find me one

Find me one liberal with a detailed analysis of the Iraq war. Just one.

What do I mean by a detailed analysis?

I mean an analysis that answers the basic and natural questions. Questions like these.

Who are the suicide bombers? Where do they come from? Why do they go to Iraq?

Whom do they target? Why do they target those people? Why do they believe those people are legitimate targets? What do they hope to accomplish by murdering those people?

If you do any serious investigation of these issues, you will learn the following:

The suicide bombers of Iraq come from all across the Arab world. The most common countries of origin are Sauidi Arabia and Libya. Their most common targets are innocent Shiite civillians.


If you think like a liberal, you now have a problem. These people are so outraged by the American invasion of Iraq that they go there to blow themselves up and kill . . . American soldiers?


Innocent Shiite civillians.

Once you understand that fact, you are on the path to realizing that withdrawal is not an option.

And that is why there are no detailed liberal analyses of Iraq.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The New York Times is at it again, with a twist.

Here is the New York Times describing Al Qaeda in Iraq [or Mesopotamia] today:

American intelligence says the group is homegrown but foreign-led.

This is a new twist. Previously, they always said something like this:

the homegrown Sunni militant group that American intelligence believes has foreign leadership.

So now the Times is attributing both the "homegrown" and "foreign led" to American intelligence. Is this simply an editing error? Or has the Times changed its line?

Meanwhile, in case you are still unclear on whether or not the "homegrown" descriptor is accurate, I decided to take a look at a few homegrown organizations here in the USA to see how many of them have foreign leadership:

United States Golf Association
American Contract Bridge League
United States Army
National Restaurant Association

After perusing all four websites for a while, I found names, addresses, and biographies of leaders of each of the four organizations. Strangely, not one of these four homegrown American organizations has any foreign leadership at all. Not only could I not find any top leaders who were from (say) Canada or England, but even when I looked at the second tier, I couldn't find any foreigners there, either.

In case you are still in doubt, here is some more evidence. The Islamic Army in Iraq was a legitimately homegrown Iraqi insurgent group. I haven't heard much from them lately. I'm not sure if joined the Awakening Councils, or even if they are still active at all. At any rate, back in 2007, they broke relations with the Islamic State in Iraq, an Al Qaeda front group. This conflict is described here. The two organizations had a shooting war back in 2007. Now that in and of itself doesn't prove anything. It is perfectly possible for two groups of Iraqis to have a war.

But what is interesting is the nature of the Islamic Army's complaints about the Islamic State. From the link above:

• al Qaeda in Iraq has divided the Iraqi people, failed to protect the Sunnis and brought the Shia death squads down on the Sunnis by inciting sectarian violence through mass suicide attacks.
• The Islamic State of Iraq in Iraq wants the Sunni groups to "pledge allegiance" to leaders, ministers and emirs whose identities are unknown, including Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.
• Islamic State of Iraq has continued to conduct an extensive campaign of assassination against rival sheikhs, emirs and insurgent group leaders, and in many cases added insult to injury by failing to give the bodies back to the families. One of al-Jabouri's own messengers was executed.
• The Islamic State of Iraq has no system of law or justice.
• Weapons and ammunition are being confiscated from insurgent groups that do not support the Islamic State.
• al Qaeda in Iraq is intentionally targeting members of the Iraqi Army and police forces, who al-Jabouri and other insurgents believe are acting in the best interest of Iraqis.
• The goal of the Islamic State of Iraq is to serve as a stepping stone to attack other nations, which endangers the Iraqi people.

Notice that several of these complaints are basically saying that the Islamic State is not working for Iraqis at all. The last two points are particularly notable in this regard.

It would be strange for a "homegrown" Iraqi insurgent group, which the New York Times wants us to believe Al Qaeda is, to do things like that. Very strange indeed.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More on the Big Lie Technique

Following up on the investigation described in my previous post, I did a search for articles published in the New York Times during the last week that contained the phrase "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia" but not the word "homegrown". Google had some hits which it thought were dated during the past week, but upon closer examination, they all referred to older articles. A few were from earlier in April, and others were from 2006 or 2007.

So in the past week, the New York Times has published 11 articles which refer to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. All 11 times, the Times asserts, without evidence, that the group is "homegrown". And all 11 times, it ignores the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, described here and here.