Mr. Hodges – R.I.P.

For the Labor Day weekend, Agricolae demanded an impromptu excursion away from the familiar environs of Charleston.  After assenting, I was advised a few hours later that we would be visiting Beaufort for an overnight stay. We went, we saw, we spent (my apologies to Caesar).

Upon leaving Beaufort, we came upon Hodges Vegetable Stand, located on Highway 17, just north of the Gardens Corner intersection. Still having a few dollars in my pocket, I further assented to a stop for a vegetable purchase. Hodge’s is a well-built, organized, and fully stocked produce stand, and we gladly bought fresh vegetables, jams, and such for our larder. Mr. Hodges could not have been more friendly, helpful, and patient as we peppered him with questions about his products.  After 10 minutes or so, he carefully added up our bill, including sales tax, and made change.  I noted, during the exchange, that he and I were of the same generation, in that we both learned how to make change by counting back, starting in the smallest increment.  We both chuckled, sharing a nice moment together, and the Agricoli loaded into the car and drove off.

Today, I read in the paper that Mr. Hodges was shot dead yesterday in an apparent robbery at his vegetable stand.  It passes beyond my comprehension that such a nice, pleasant man should be murdered for the $100 or so he held in his cash box, and that our world is now deprived of yet another gentle soul. A good man, working hard, selling the fruit of his work for a fair price, and laboriously recording state sales tax so as to not run afoul of the law…….whose life is taken in the random collision of good and evil.

I still have his sugar-free Peach Jam, which is delicious.

God rest his soul, and God damn the person (or persons) that took the life of this gentle man.

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Teachers Need to Teach – And That’s All!

From The Corner comes linkage to an unbelievable story on education issues in Norway.  Speaking as a "stand-up" kind of guy, your scribe hopes this trend remains peculiar to the Scandinavian countries…..what will they think of next?

One has to ask the question, given our preceding post: But can they read and write?

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Education in South Carolina – A Contradiction in Terms?

Today’s Wall Street Journal (no link) Editorial page has a piece on the state of public education in our beautiful state. I hope the WSJ will not take offence at my extensive excepting:

Change Comes to a Carolina

South Carolina civil-rights advocate Dewey Tullis explained to reporters a few weeks ago why he’s supporting a Republican running for the state’s top education job, Karen Floyd: "Frankly, I’m tired of seeing our young black men graduate high school without knowing how to read and write."

Mr. Tullis is joining more than a dozen African-American Democrats in the effort. Also crossing party lines to support Ms. Floyd is State Representative Harold Mitchell, Jr., from urban Spartanburg.

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Ahmadinejad Meets The Foreign Policy Establishment

American Future reports on Ahmadinejan’s meeting, in New York, with the poobahs of Foreign Policy, known as the Council on Foreign Relations.  An organization that does not consider itself a mouthpiece for, of friend of, the Bush administration, the CFR has long been at odds with the stated goals of the Bush foreign policy team.  Imagine, then, the unease the group must have felt after having an opportunity for an "exchange of ideas" with the Iranian president.

This excerpt serves as an indication of the tenor of the event:

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s habit of answering every question about Iranian policy with a question about American policy was clearly wearing on some of the members, but at the end they acknowledged that he was about as skillful an interlocutor as they had ever encountered. "He is a master of counter punch, deception, circumlocution,” Mr. Scowcroft said, shaking his head. Mr. Blackwill emerged from the conversation wondering how the United States would ever be able to negotiate with this Iranian government.

"If this man represents the prevailing government opinion in Tehran, we are heading for a massive confrontation with Iran," he said. [emphasis added]

The NYT has more…

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Update: Revolt of the Generals

Westhawk, a blogger that should be in everyone’s favorites list, posts today on an article in the most recent Proceedings on a subject we have addressed on more than one occasion. Anyone interested in the future of our military, the issues, and the possible outcome should read the story.

A tease:

Three schools of thought have emerged from the recent Revolt of the Generals. The one that wins out will shape the future of the military long after the current administration is gone.

For the record, consider this former sailor firmly in the camp of the Introspective School….

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Chavez Addresses the UN

In a display worthy of Kruschev’s banging shoe episode, Hugo Chavez is addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations.  His personal attacks on President Bush, his astonishing insults hurled towards the United States, indeed, the entire premise of his speech, thus far, is insulting, embarrassing, and indicative of overweening egotism, paranoia, and delusional thinking.  And this is the kind of UN that our enemies wish to create by altering the structure of the Security Council and the UN in general?  I don’t think so……

I’m certain that more informed, erudite bloggers than I will have far more to say on this subject.

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President Bush and The Geneva Conventions

From the UK, courtesy of Samizdata, comes a British perspective on the McCain/Warner/Graham attempt to hamstring our effort to collect information from captured terrorists/enemy combatants.

Some excerpts:

"Undermine human dignity" – this is the sort of language that the Geneva Convention is written in. Very noble to want to stop such things no doubt, but what do the words actually mean? Is it undermining human dignity to make enemy captives dress in prison uniforms? Some of the IRA prisoners in Ulster certainly thought so – and starved themselves to death to make their point.

How about being questioned by a women – Islamic prisoners may well hold that to be undermining their dignity. What is a tough interrogation and what is torture? Should the line be left vague (perhaps to be decided by some international "court" hearing a case against American interrogators later) or should the line be set down clearly in law in advance?

And this:

As for the arguments of Senator McCain and company – they are uniformly worthless.

"President Bush wants to modify the Geneva Convention" – no he does not, he wants to define what its vague words mean in terms of law.

"The United States does not define treaties in terms of its laws" – wrong, it has done so many times.

"The world will hate us if we do this" – the "world" (i.e. the leftist establishment) has hated the United States since President Truman decided to be Joe Stalin’s door mat. And this is not going to change – no matter what the United States does or does not do.

"If we do this American prisoners will be treated badly by their captors" – American prisoners will be tortured and killed regardless of whether Islamic terrorists are put into orange jumpsuits or whatever else is done. The idea that by being nice to the Islamic terrorists (or whoever) they will be influenced to be nice to Americans is crap.

If Americans do not wish to be tortured or killed they had better avoid being captured, nothing that America does or does not do will influence their treatment in any way.

This whole effort to achieve some sort of moral high ground, as if such an achievement would increase our standing in the world, is utter nonsense.  According to virtually every survey taken that gauges US standing in the world, we are either hated or despised by a substantial majority of respondents.  That we undertake the defense of liberty and democracy means nothing to Western Europeans, and is virtually unreported in the Muslim world.

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The Power of Faith

The Belmont Club posts, here, on two events central to the controversy about the Pope’s remarks.

First, he quotes an ABC News report:

Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that he was "deeply sorry" about the angry reaction to his recent remarks about Islam, which he said came from a text that didn’t reflect his personal opinion. "These (words) were in fact a quotation from a Medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thought," Benedict told pilgrims at his summer palace outside Rome.

Second, he quotes a Reuters report on the death of a nun:

Gunmen shot and killed an Italian nun at a children’s hospital in Mogadishu on Sunday in an attack that drew immediate speculation of links to Muslim anger over the Pope’s recent remarks on Islam. The Catholic nun’s bodyguard also died in the latest attack apparently aimed at foreign personnel in volatile Somalia.

The assassinations were a blow to Mogadishu’s new Islamist rulers’ attempt to prove they have pacified one of the world’s most lawless cities since chasing out warlords in June. The bodyguard died instantly, but the nun was rushed into an operating theatre at the hospital after the shooting.

"After serious injuries, she died in the hospital treatment room," doctor Ali Mohamed Hassan told Reuters. "She was shot three times in the back."

In his commentary following the dispatches, Wretchard makes the following observations:

Neither the Pope nor the Italian sister would probably care to start an argument with Islam, despite everything that’s happened. After all the Pope had just made a point about the inadmissibility of violence in resolving matters of faith. And the Italian nun died in the line of a duty fully understanding that being killed was an occupational hazard in certain Islamic countries. Whatever the Islamic world may think, there is very little prospect of the Catholic Church calling for another Crusade. It’s a simple fact that most Christians won’t do that, as Christians.

The emphasis on the last two sentences is mine.  He goes on to say:

But it would be untrue to say the recent controversy over the Islamic world’s reaction to the Pope’s remarks have no effect. Just as the public will probably read the Pope’s sorrow for the reaction to his remarks as being sorry for his remarks — that is, as an apology– much of the simple public will probably regard the apology as as the product of a bullying Islamic world as abetted by the liberal establishment, of which the nun’s recent death is an example. And while such sentiments are unlikely to manifest themselves in any large shift in the political proportions of Western countries, it will have the effect of hardening the attitudes of those who suspect they are being sold down the river by the liberals and the left. Not by any great measure, but by some small increment. Added on to the context of train bombings, airline scares and the ceaseless belligerence of militant Islamic preachers in the West, it will make unctuous remarks at how carelessly and insensitively the Pope has treated Islam just that much more nauseating. The New York Times for example says "Because the world listens carefully to the words of any pope, Benedict XVI needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology for his hurtful speech." The NYT may be playing to an audience, but not since the phrase "let them eat cake" has there been such an unwitting example of contempt for those outside the charmed circle. We have learned less from Pope Benedict’s words then we have discovered from the reaction to them.

Let’s go back to the sentences I emphasized, which may have been written to provide a lead for the second paragraph.

Whatever the Islamic world may think, there is very little prospect of the Catholic Church calling for another Crusade. It’s a simple fact that most Christians won’t do that, as Christians.

Wretchard is saying that the Catholic Church, the basis for all modern Christianity, and the source for much of what we consider to be the values of our Western Civilization, has, in these modern times, become an institution that can and will defend itself only in the arena of ideas. In other words, it has forsaken any obligation to physically protect its believers from the belligerence of non-believers.  Not only that, but the state of Faith today is such, he observes, that even if a call to arms was made, the "Faithful" would not heed the Pope’s call.

But the position of the Catholic Church and its flock is no different from the rest of the branches of Christianity. There will be no call to arms in defense of their Faith.  No one will be asked, or allowed, to sacrifice their lives or their possessions in the name of their Faith.  In the post modern world, Faith is not a central tenet in our existence.

Islam, on the other hand, requires a true commitment of faith from its adherents.  To a true believer, and there are many, being asked to sacrifice in the furtherance of their Faith is a natural, and honorable, request.

If we are engaged in a world struggle for domination, confronted by an enemy whose Faith is the driving raison d’etre, and for whom sacrifice is given without hesitation, what will sustain us through the war? Capitalism, Secularism, Selfishness? Will Faith ultimately be the saving Grace that we turn to to prevail in this struggle of Will?

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The Law and The War on Terrorism

If any of our loyal readers wish to know what we think of the imposition of the legal system into the conduct of war by our national leaders, then stick around.  We have two examples of legalistic interference that are so beyond the pale as to render us (nearly) speechless.

Example 1: A report from the hellhole of Guantanamo… also described by Amnesty International and Dick Durbin as our Gulag…….as if.

Yessir, this is life in the Gulag…..

The high-minded critics who complain about torture are wrong. We are far too soft on these guys – and, as a result, aren’t getting the valuable intelligence we need to save American lives.

The politically correct regulations are unbelievable. Detainees are entitled to a full eight hours sleep and can’t be woken up for interrogations. They enjoy three meals and five prayers per day, without interruption. They are entitled to a minimum of two hours of outdoor recreation per day.

Interrogations are limited to four hours, usually running two – and (of course) are interrupted for prayers. One interrogator actually bakes cookies for detainees, while another serves them Subway or McDonald’s sandwiches. Both are available on base. (Filet o’ Fish is an al Qaeda favorite.)

Interrogations are not video or audio taped, perhaps to preserve detainee privacy.

Perhaps we should ask the critics of our "gulag" to refresh their memories of "The Gulag Archipelago", by Solzhenitsyn.  They might find the differences startling, even in this post-modern age.

Example 2:

2_21_091306_taliban_lineup_1 Although this may be hard to see, it is a reconnaissance photo taken by an unmanned drone in Afghanistan several days ago.  The images are of Taliban soldiers and their commanders, neatly lined up at a funeral for one of their own who has been transported to wherever bad people go when they die.  An attack on this assembly was ruled out by the on-scene military lawyer because our "Rules of Engagement" do not allow attacks on the enemy while attending funerals at cemeteries.  We should all ignore the news reports of a suicide bomber attack at the funeral of an Afghan governor who was killed by, you guessed it, a suicide bomber.

Here’s how it looks to us, right now.  We can’t kill the enemy where we find them, but they can attack us anytime, anywhere.  If we should be so fortunate as to be allowed (by our lawyers) to attack the enemy, any prisoners lucky enough to make it to Guantanamo (The Gulag) cannot be pressed for information, but can assault their guards at any time, anywhere, without fear of retribution.

The icing on this cake is that these restraints aren’t enough for Senators McCain, Warner, and our own Lindsey Graham.  They want to make certain we can’t convict any terrorists that we have been able, on those rare occasions, to capture on the field of battle.

Our enemy has, in every instance, acted illegally in the conduct of this war.  They ignore diplomatic principles, wage a vicious guerrilla war where civilians of all ages are fair game, seek a solution that is anathema to the cherished principles of our democratic institutions and values, and wish to either kill or subjugate every one of us.  And we allow legalistic solutions to impose severe restrictions on our ability to defend ourselves.

We deserve to perish if we aren’t willing to fight.

H/T Powerline


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South Carolina Calling Lindsey Graham

Friday AM Update: Hugh Hewitt interviews our Senator, is not impressed with his arguments, and senses weakeness in the positions taken by our Man from Central.

Add Jeff Sewell to the list of South Carolinians that don’t understand Lindsey’s logic on the GWOT, Al-Qaeda, and the creation of military tribunals.  Those of you that drop by this site know the Agricoli believe that klieg lights, cocktail parties, and media hounds have all conspired to seduce the Man from Central into thinking that he is more than our Senator; indeed, he oft appears more comfortable in his role as a free thinker, rising above the hoi polloi of the Palmetto State who see things in a slightly different light.  Mr. Sewell does a splendid job of asking the senior Senator a few rhetorical questions that really are basic policy questions.  We’d appreciate some answers from Senator Graham, so that we can make an informed decision before voting in the 2008 Republican primary. There just might be an alternative willing to hew a more conservative line in the Senate.

CWCID: The Body Politic, who adds his own acid to the "Who is Lindsey" battery…..

Not to make this "Bash Lindsey Graham Day" (which my friend Jeffrey seems already to have done this morning with his OpEd in The State), but something very odd happened this morning.

This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee was supposed to have a hearing on judicial nominations. Five judges were on the list for consideration: Boyle, Myers, Wallace, Smith, and… Jim Haynes.

The only problem? They had to cancel the hearing.

Why did they cancel the hearing, you ask? Why, when we only have three more weeks of session, possibly the last Republican controlled Senate for a while?

Because they couldn’t get a quorum.

Because Lindsey Graham was a no-show, in what appeared to be a coordinated effort with the Democrats to hold up not one but FIVE nominations.

Five qualified judges delayed (AGAIN) because the obstructionist Dems joined with an obstreperous Republican to put the kibosh on the whole hearing.

Do you recall all of that talk from the Senator about "ensuring up or down votes for judicial nominees?" I guess we can kiss that pablum goodbye as just another broken campaign promise…

Lindsey’s issue with Jim Haynes is basically the same issue he has with the Bush proposal on military tribunals. Quoting The State:

Graham, a military lawyer and a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, read the White House bill late Thursday on a flight from Washington to Greenville. He pored through the 86-page document until, on page 34, he reached a clause that would prohibit defense lawyers from sharing classified information with defendants they represent. He marked it with a red pen.

"That’s the killer," the S.C. Republican said. "I fell over when I read it."

The killer, as seen from this little slice of the Lowcountry, is our Senator saying one thing and doing another.

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