Category ►►► Unuseful Idiots
February 25, 2009
The Louse of Saud
Foreign Policy magazine announced last week that a fellow named Chas W. Freeman, current (or former) president of the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), will be President Barack H. Obama's pick to chair the National Intelligence Council, the lead group in creating the National Intelligence Estimates that drive policy on intelligence issues. The NIC reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), currently Dennis Blair; it is not an inconsequential group within the intelligence community.
Who is Chas W. Freeman, jr.?
He is a former ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the Clinton presidency. He serves on the MEPC with such luminaries as George McGovern, top executives from Boeing, ExxonMobil, and the Carlyle Group -- all of which have multibillion-dollar investments in Saudi Arabia -- a CIA consultant, and a Palestinian immigrant named Talat Othman, who came to our attention most recently in 2002, when he vigorously protested against the FBI raids of the International Institute of Islamic Thought, created in 1981 by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Freeman may not be the best fit for this critical job, however:
- The MEPC, hence Freeman himself, is funded by the House of Saud to lobby on behalf of the Kingdom, which it does frequently in its journal, Middle East Policy.
Chas Freeman is of the opinion that China's real sin in dealing with the demonstators at Tiananmen Square was that they were too lenient and "overly cautious": "[T]he truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud, rather than -- as would have been both wise and efficacious -- to intervene with force when all other measures had failed to restore domestic tranquility to Beijing and other major urban centers in China."
To put it bluntly, Freeman is an authoritarian crank who believes that "domestic tranquility" is more important that freedom of speech.
Freeman and the MEPC were the first in America to publish the anti-Israel and antisemitic screed "the Israel Lobby" by Professors Walt and Mearsheimer; even one of Freeman's supporters, David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy magazine, calls that paper "frail intellectual framework" and a "jihad" against American support of Israel.
Here is Freeman enthusing, crowing even, about his accomplishment in bringing this frail framework to American readers (from an interview with the Saudi-US Relations Information Service, SUSRIS): "Our Fall issue will contain a revised, updated, and unabridged version of the controversial paper by Professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt on "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it. So we continue to do important things that are not done by anybody else, which I think fill some gaps."
The inner Freeman
But it's not simply that Freeman sucks up to Red China and King Abdullah of the House of Saud and opposes American support for Israel; he opposes Israel itself, seeing it as the source of all problems in the Middle East.
The MEPC website posts a speech Freeman gave to the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs in 2007; the spech concludes:
[T]he problem of terrorism that now bedevils us has its origins in one region -- the Middle East. To end this terrorism we must address the issues in the region that give rise to it.
Principal among these is the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that is about to mark its fortieth anniversary and shows no sign of ending. Arab identification with Palestinian suffering, once variable in its intensity, is now total. American identification with Israeli policy has also become total. Those in the region and beyond it who detest Israeli behavior, which is to say almost everyone, now naturally extend their loathing to Americans. This has had the effect of universalizing anti-Americanism, legitimizing radical Islamism, and gaining Iran a foothold among Sunni as well as Shiite Arabs. For its part, Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them. Palestinian retaliation against this policy is as likely to be directed against Israel's American backers as against Israel itself. Under the circumstances, such retaliation -- whatever form it takes -- will have the support or at least the sympathy of most people in the region and many outside it. This makes the long-term escalation of terrorism against the United States a certainty, not a matter of conjecture.
The Palestine problem cannot be solved by the use of force; it requires much more than the diplomacy-free foreign policy we have practiced since 9/11. Israel is not only not managing this problem; it is severely aggravating it. Denial born of political correctness will not cure this fact. Israel has shown -- not surprisingly -- that, if we offer nothing but unquestioning support and political protection for whatever it does, it will feel no incentive to pay attention to either our interests or our advice. Hamas is showing that if we offer it nothing but unreasoning hostility and condemnation, it will only stiffen its position and seek allies among our enemies. In both cases, we forfeit our influence for no gain.
There will be no negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians, no peace, and no reconciliation between them -- and there will be no reduction in anti-American terrorism -- until we have the courage to act on our interests. These are not the same as those of any party in the region, including Israel, and we must talk with all parties, whatever we think of them or their means of struggle. Refusal to reason with those whose actions threaten injury to oneself, one's friends, and one's interests is foolish, feckless, and self-defeating. That is why it is past time for an active and honest discussion with both Israel and the government Palestinians have elected, which -- in an irony that escapes few abroad -- is the only democratically elected government in the Arab world.
Remember, this speech was given in 2007 -- after several successive democratic elections in Iraq brought that government to power. Remember also that, while Hamas may have been elected, those elections were hardly fair and certainly not free... unless we imagine that gangland assassinations of one's political opponents creates no "fear factor" among those opponents' supporters.
So let's sum this up:
- Israel's "occupation" of Palestine is responsible for all the terrorism launched against the United States (which would be news to Osama bin Laden, who thought it was our presence on the holy soil of Saudi Arabia);
- Israel also controls American policy (Freeman has wholly absorbed the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis of the "Israel Lobby," through which the Jews pull the puppet strings of the world;
- That's why everybody hates America and cheers on Islamic terrorism;
- Israel is unreformable and must be destroyed;
- Hamas is Democratic, honest, and reasonable, and is only responding in a reasonable way to our "unreasoning hostility and condemnation," which is forced upon us by our Israeli puppeteers.
- (And by omission, Iraq is an undemocratic puppet government of the United States -- hence a grandpuppet of Israel.)
Mr. Freeman's Israel delenda est rant is not a one-shot; here he is in 2005, discussing (what else?) the "Israeli occupation":
[A]s long as such Israeli violence against Palestinians continues, it is utterly unrealistic to expect that Palestinians will stand down from violent resistance and retaliation against Israelis.
I certainly agree with that last point! But I draw my concurrance more from the nature of Palestinian and Arab mass psychosis than from the mad idea that Israel should commit national suicide so that people will think well of the Jews.
Freeman does not confine his hatred to Israel; he sees not only Israel's "American backers" as enemies to be reviled, but America itself; we, he says, are to blame for all the troubles in Iraq... Iraq was, one presumes, a calm and peaceful place -- before Americans mindlessly invaded:
In Iraq, the problem is not now – if it ever was – weapons of mass destruction, bad government, or even terrorism; it is the occupation. The occupation generates the very phenomena it was intended to cure. In that respect, the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq has come to have much in common with the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. In Iraq, as in Palestine, ending the occupation is the prerequisite for reversing the growth of terrorism and restoring peace.
Like Solla Sollew, there were no problems -- or at least very few -- in Iraq before we inexplicably invaded the peaceful Land of Two Rivers and overturned its democratically elected leader. On instructions from Israel, no doubt.
As to his perspicacity about events that are at the very core of his field of interest, here is Freeman's 2005 prediction of "the best outcome still possible in Iraq":
The best outcome still possible in Iraq, it now seems, is a Shia-dominated state with a largely autonomous southern region heavily influenced by Iran and a Kurdish region independent in all but name.
Or, perhaps, a stable democratic state with deep and widespread participation by every ethnic group and all tribes, firmly accepted by the people as representative of their interests. And with Muqtada Sadr driven into exile in (where is that again?) Iran. Oh, wait; that wasn't one of the buttons on Mr. Freeman's voicemail.
The two most vital duties of the chairman of the National Intelligence Council are presidential gatekeeping and unbiased analysis: controlling what intel the president sees and what he thinks about what he sees.
But Freeman is not unbiased; he has a dog in the fight. He has chosen up sides. Freeman supports Saudi Arabia, the Hamas-led government in the Palestinian Authority, and Iran's primary source of military equipment, the People's Republic of China; and he vehemently opposes Israel and a strong American presence in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East. Freeman's biases have already led him to make frankly risible pronunciamentos that sound like something from CAIR's website.
These interests are not only ideological but financial as well: Freeman won't be in government service forever, and he has once and future patrons to placate.
And this is the man who will determine what intel gets to the desk of President Barack H. Obama -- who is himself already ambivalent about Israel, the Arabs, and America's role in that volatile region. Suppose the NIC comes across intelligence of a looming terrorist attack on the homeland by a bunch of Saudis or Palestinians (this is not exactly a far-fetched scenario); but suppose the intel comes from Mossad, and it's hotly denied by Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the head of the Saudi intelligence service. Would Freeman pass it on to the president? Or would he roll his eyes, give a Chris Matthews-like "oh God," and bury it in the "nothing to see here, time to MoveOn" file?
How can we ever be sure that Chairman Freeman is being guided by an unbiased evaluation of conflicting intelligence claims, rather than by the hand of King Abdullah the Munificent?
I realize this may be a rhetorical question, but is this really who America wants heading up the main intelligence evaluating committee advising both the president and the DNI?
But at least Samantha Power and Zbigniew Brzezinski will have congenial company at the Durban II antisemitism rally; they can all sit about and discuss Palestinian resistance with the representatives of Iran, the KSA, Hamas, and Hezbollah.
UPDATE: Two thoughts with but a single mind between them... (But I like my title better!)
August 4, 2008
Justin Levine Compares American Revolutionary Patriots to Thieves and Leeches
Yesterday, too-frequent guest poster Justin Levine, on Patterico's Pontifications, reiterated his oft-expressed opinion that copyright is somehow unAmerican and wicked... because "information wants to be free," you know. This is a position that Mr. Levine loves to pronounce but hates to debate; he prefers pontificating:
This time, Mr. Levine coupled his profoundly anti-capitalist rant against allowing artists and writers to profit from their creations -- which forces Mr. Levine actually to pay for his favorite books, music, movies, and software applications, an irksome demand that appears to make him positively irate -- with a new crusade: He now calls for a massive increase in file "sharing" (that is, theft of intellectual property), to steal away whatever small amount most of us make from writing and other creative endeavors. And in the process, he makes a rather jaw-dropping comparison:
That is why I have reluctantly rejected the centrism that Patry still desperately tries to embrace in this debate. I actually sympathize with it to an extent, but the world copyright cartel [!] has metastasized in such a way that it makes reasonable compromise all but impossible.
I suppose that the participants of the Boston Tea Party were law breakers whose actions were condemned in many quarters at the time. I see the file-sharing community in the same light and hope they can help lay the groundwork for a much needed revolution.
Let's think about this identification of Mr. Levine's. The participants of the Boston Tea Party were British colonists who were being taxed by the British Parliament -- without having any representation in that legislative body. It wasn't the tax itself; American colonists were actually paying less for tea than (some) British subjects living in England. It was the principle that no free Englishman ought to be governed by a body that refused to allow him the same voting rights that all other Englishmen have.
Justin Levine sees that as analogous to a fully representative government protecting the property rights of the creators of intellectual property, including their right to dispose of that property as they choose... including selling or leasing those rights.
In other words, Justin Levine opposes Capitalism and urges a wave of theft by a gang of moochers, parasites, and freeloaders... theft that targets writers, musicians, filmmakers, software designers, and other fairly vulnerable creative artists, who for the most part do not themselves have the wherewithal to go after the nihililst thieves.
And he compares these parasitical freeloaders to the Founding Fathers of the American constitutional republic... who, by the way, were so concerned about intellectual property rights that they actually included copyright and patent in the United States Constitution (article I, section 8, paragraph 8).
I strongly urge everyone reading this post to follow the link above to Justin Levine's post and leave a comment expressing just what you think of him leading a cheer for thieves and leeches and calling for more, more, and ever more theft, a veritable "revolution" of robbery.
Oh, wait; you can't: Reflecting his passionate devotion to the libertarian ideal of rational debate, Mr. Levine closed comments on the post the moment he posted it.
You know... that sounds remarkably similar to the rhetorical approach of Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 93%) and Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 85%). But perhaps that's just me.
October 31, 2007
Hajj is the pilgrimage all good Moslems must undertake during the lunar month of Dhu’l Hijja, sometime during their lives. The journey to Mecca is the fifth of the five pillars of Islam, after professing that there is no God but God, and Mohammed is His prophet; praying five times every day; giving charity to the poor; and fasting during Ramadan.
Every year, millions of the faithful travel to Mecca, walk seven times around the Kabah and sacrifice an animal to God, in honor of the patriarch Ibrahim.
And every year, it seems that brainless Hollywood weirdos must perform their own Hajj to the America-hating dictator du jour.
The most recent pilgrim is 37 year old "supermodel" and violent harridan Naomi Campbell; and the hip, young guru who is the object of Miss Naomi's spirit journey is our old friend Hugo Chavez of the soon to be hellhole Venezuela. Miss Naomi follows in the footsteps of other seekers and disciples, including Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, Harry Bellafonte, and Danny Glover... names to conjure with, to be sure.
As a camp follower of Hugo Chavez, Miss Naomi is a natural, as you can see here. They go together like ham and fist, and rumor has it Miss Naomi will audition for the role of Che in the Caracas production of Evita.
According to a confidential Democratic memo that was accidentally left behind at the Midnight Special bookstore in Los Angeles, Mr. Chavez will give the keynote speech at the 2008 Democratic National Mirror-Convention in La Paz, Bolivia; Chavez will be introduced by his fiancé, Evo Morales, president of Bolivia.
La Paz, at 11,811 feet, has been declared the sister city of Denver, Colorado, where the normal Democratic convention will be held. Denver itself has petitioned the state of Colorado to permanently change its name to Demver in honor of the occasion.
Miss Naomi will take a holiday from the rigorous production schedule in Caracas of eight performances per day (every other Monday to be dark) in order to be present when Chavez and Morales read the wedding banns in La Paz, and she has agreed to be Chavez's best man; Morales has chosen Heather Mills as his.
The author solemnly warrants that there is no joke or subtle meaning in the publisher's imprint.
October 22, 2007
Why Do So Many People Hate Intellectuals? Let Me Count the Ways...
The major reason people tend to hate self-styled intellectuals is that so often, their thinking is divorced from ordinary human thought. They say or write things so truculent, while simultaneously so risible, that you wonder whether they need a sedative -- or a keeper.
Take this year's Nobel winner in literature, Doris Lessing:
Nobel laureate Doris Lessing said the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States were "not that terrible" when compared to attacks by the IRA in Britain.
"September 11 was terrible, but if one goes back over the history of the IRA, what happened to the Americans wasn't that terrible," the Nobel Literature Prize winner told the leading Spanish daily El Pais.
"Some Americans will think I'm crazy. Many people died, two prominent buildings fell [two? well, ten, actually -- and three other buildings were heavily damaged, including the Pentagon in a separate attack as part of the same operation], but it was neither as terrible nor as extraordinary as they think. They're a very naive people, or they pretend to be," she said in an interview published Sunday. [Oh! Those colonists think they're the centre of the world. But we civilized people have suffered too... how we've suffered!]
"Do you know what people forget? That the IRA attacked with bombs against our government; it killed several people while a Conservative congress was being held and in which the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was (attending). People forget," she said.
(Lessing is British, of course.)
Here is the next paragraph of the Reuters story, which demonstrates the essential absurdity (and narcissism) of her statement:
Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks. About 3,700 died and tens of thousands of people were maimed in more than 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland. The Irish Republican Army guerrilla group, which caused most of the deaths, disarmed in 2005.
Ergo, when you subtract those killings carried out by terrorist Protestant groups, we probably have a rough parity between killings by al-Qaeda on September 11th, 2001, and killings by the terrorist IRA -- spread over a thirty year period, averaging 100 homicides per year.
I believe that people who consciously think of themselves as intellectuals -- living the life of the mind (in their own minds) -- feel pressure to stand out from the pack of lesser mortals. This leads them to say outrageous things for sake of outrage itself... as if saying the mirror-opposite of what a normal person would say betokens superiority. But it's a faux superiority and glibness that often masks thoughts no more interesting than the quotidian ruminations of the masses; their verbal ability fools nearly everyone, starting with themselves. But except in a very few cases, at core, it's charlatanism.
The intellecual typically slings around polysyllables with pyrotechnic abandon -- prismatic diction like "quotidian" instead of more ordinary words like "ordinary" -- in an effort to appear brighter than he actually is. Original thinkers are rare; contrary to popular belief (especially among intellectuals), they're no more common among intellectuals than among ad-men, landscapers, or battlefield commanders.
Intellectualism is almost entirely disconnected from intelligence: The Bell curve of brightness for soi-disant "intellectuals," if superimposed over that of humanity as a whole, would match nearly exactly (allowing a bit of blueshift for the fact that intellectuals do have to be literate). Viz:
"I always hated Tony Blair, from the beginning," El Pais quoted Lessing as saying. "Many of us hated Tony Blair, I think he has been a disaster for Britain and we have suffered him for many years. I said it when he was elected: This man is a little showman who is going to cause us problems and he did."
"As for Bush, he's a world calamity," added Lessing. "Everyone is tired of this man. Either he is stupid or he is very clever, although you have to remember he is a member of a social class which has profited from wars."
What matchless, incisive analysis! While Tony Blair is "a diaster," Bush is "a world calamity." And the worst part about the American is that, "Either he is stupid or he is very clever;" and who could argue with that?
I'm not sure what "social class" Bush is a member of, since America does not have classes the way Britain does; and Doris Lessing doesn't know either. But she knows, by God, that whatever class Bush belongs to, it has "profited from wars!" This doesn't mean that he, personally, profited; but some other people who went to similar schools did. You see? Even intellectuals of the first water are just as prone to stereotyping and collectivism as real people.
Lessing's thinking doesn't even deviate from the mundane widely enough to be considered disordered. It's Nancy Pelosi level; Lessing could be Squeaker of the House, would she but come here and run for Congress.
Being intellectual doesn't mean you're stupid; but it doesn't mean you're smart, either. It means you live a life of verbal acuity, but you think you live a life of the mind. Some intellectuals (such as Thomas Sowell) are right; they do live for deep thinking. Others are only ponderous; and all, without exception, are pompous.
To shift back to science fiction (Lessing decided she could conquer SF with her Canopus in Argos series), intellectuals think of themselves as slans -- a term derived from the first-rate 1946 novel Slan, by A.E. Van Vogt; slans are mentally and physically superior to humans, and some are even telepathic. For a while in the 1950s through 1970s, science-fiction fans would say, only half in jest, that "fans are slans." I suspect most intellectuals would say the same, could they but force themselves to read a science-fiction novel.
In Slan, the slans are hunted by mundane humans; that is another parallel, playing into the delusion of persecution shared by intellectuals and sci-fi fans.
In fact, there are many similarities between the intellectual community and fandom; I suspect the latter aped the former, but I wouldn't be surprised at some cross-pollination: Both communities tend towards smugness, superiority, fantasies (or even delusions) of grandeur, insularity, unexamined liberalism, poor physical condition, and both like to read a lot -- mostly as escapism.
The shared trait of liberalism is the least surprising of the intersection between intellectualism and science-fiction fandom: Liberalism is not a political philosophy -- it's a lifestyle, one that promises childish libertinism (what Freud would call an oral fixation), freedom from hard choices, and the intellectual life of a teenaged joyrider. Liberalism is Peter Pan syndrome tarted up with intellectual pretension... envision Ward Churchill, standing athwart the intesection of liberalism, intellectualism, and American-Indian fantasy fannishness.
Most ordinary people despise intellectuals for the same reason they despise the snotty, adolescent know-it-all, constantly lecturing everyone else on moral failings, while his own emotional and spiritual development never rose beyond smoking weed, groping drunk girls at a party, and listening to "Free Bird" and "Crazy Train" with the knob set to 11.
Note that I'm not saying intellectuals are stupider than ordinary people; I'm saying they're not demonstrably more intelligent. When an intellectual is both intelligent and morally sound, he can serve as a true spirit guide to humanity. When he's intelligent and evil, he can create or at least empower the most horrific movements for misery the human race has ever seen, from Communism to radical Islamism.
And when an intellectual is not particularly bright and has no moral compass whatsoever, he becomes a star columnist for the elite media.
So if you've ever felt the urge to sneer at self-anointed intellectuals, with their pipes and elbow patches and Volvos, please go right ahead; most of them deserve it. Note those intellectuals who seem best able to connect with the outside world and get along well at barbecues and the Winternationals... they're the smart ones.
But if you ever run into one who uses any of the following words or phrases --
- Living Constitution
- Substantive due process
- Original intent
- Overreaction to 9/11
- Question my patriotism
- Antidisestablishmentarianism (if correctly used in a sentence)
- Womyn (or wimmin)
- North American union
- Voter suppression
- Mexican superhighway
- Flyover country
- NASCAR innoculations
- Religious fanatic
- Thank you for telling me that
- Operating thetan
- Liberation theology
- Freedom from want
- Information wants to be free
- Free Tibet
- Cowboy diplomacy
- New Left
- or That's not funny
-- Then run, do not walk, to the nearest exit.
October 4, 2007
When news surfaced that Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID, 88%) had pled guilty to disorderly conduct -- in order to avoid prosecution for solicitation of sex in a men's room and for being a Peeping Tom -- he stated in no uncertain terms that he would resign on September 30th, 2007.
As that date approached, he belatedly decided to challenge his guilty plea, despite the low probability of success. Accordingly, he announced that he would not resign until he'd been heard and the issue was resolved. Well, it was resolved today: Hennepin County (Minnesota) Judge Charles Porter denied the request.
Mr. Craig's response?
Idaho Sen. Larry Craig defiantly vowed to serve out his term in office on Thursday despite losing a court attempt to rescind his guilty plea in a men's room sex sting.
"I have seen that it is possible for me to work here effectively," Craig said in a written statement certain to disappoint fellow Republicans who have long urged him to step down.
This is perhaps the most narcissistic decision by a senator I have ever seen. At least Mark Foley had the decency, grace, and sense of duty to resign from the House.
Craig evidently is so angry at his fellow Republicans not defending him (after he was nabbed trying to solicit sex in a men's room and peep into the adjacent stall), that he has decided to take the entire GOP down with him when he goes. This is so bitter, self-destructive, and vengeful, that I begin to suspect he is in the closet after all: I believe Larry Craig is a closet Democrat.
I hope that the Republicans, for their own sake and the sake of the nation, plan to take decisive action to remove the source of the problem. There is some indication they may be doing so:
In his statement, Craig said he will not run for a new term next year. [Uh-huh.]
But in the meantime, he said: "I will continue my effort to clear my name in the Senate Ethics Committee -- something that is not possible if I am not serving in the Senate."
The ethics committee has already signaled it is reviewing the facts of Craig's case, taking the step after the Senate Republican leadership requested it.
Craig's decision to stay and fight raises the strong possibility of public hearings - virtually certain to be televised live - centered on the issue of gay sex.
This needn't necessarily hurt the GOP in 2008 -- if they play it straight (sorry, couldn't resist). If they vigorously fight to expel him from the Senate, calling as witnesses the cop who arrested him and those who were involved in the interrogation, playing the audiotape of the interrogation, and so forth, then I don't think they will be Foleyed a year from November.
If the Republicans succeed in expelling Craig, then the Democrats will have a hard time arguing that the GOP is a seething hotbed (sorry) of sexual deviancy. And if the GOP fails because the Democrats vote en masse to keep Crait... well then the shoe is on the other hand, isn't it?
By the way, I love this sentence: "In his statement, Craig said he will not run for a new term next year."
Of course, he also said he would resign on September 30th; and he also strongly and deliberately implied that, if he lost his bid to withdraw his guilty plea, he would resign then. That constitutes two public lies to the American people in less than one month -- another reason to believe he is a closet Democrat!
I guess he believes "third time's the charm..."
September 24, 2007
Cindy Sheehan's Day of Out-of-Tunement Manifesto
I rarely do this, as you know: I rarely link to some piece and say simply "read this." (I'm too in love with the sound of my own fingers typing on a keyboard.)
But here's an exception. Read Cindy Sheehan's Yom Kippur "sermon," delivered at Michael Lerner's Beyt Tikkun "synogogue;" you will be -- if not exactly glad, then at least agape. (Rabbi Lerner is Hillary Clinton's mentor, author of the Politics of Meaning and other works of Socialist agit-prop masquerading as theology.)
My response (I love this) is entirely contained in the list of categories I had to attach to this post.
(Well, one more thing. It has always been my understanding that Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is a day for each person to atone for what he, personally, has done wrong -- not "atone" for his enemies failing to live up to his own lofty standards, apologize for all the times America hasn't followed his lead, or wallow in self-righteous indignation that nobody listens to him. 'Nuff said; read the list of categories above.)
July 13, 2007
Warner, Lugar Draft Bill to Oust President, Declare Congress Commander in Chief
[Correction added; see below.]
Republican Senators John Warner (VA, 64%) and Richard Lugar (IN, 64%) have introduced a bill into the Senate that would remove the president as Commander in Chief of the military, requiring him to report to Congress instead and implement battle plans at their direction:
Two prominent Senate Republicans have drafted legislation that would require President Bush to come up with a plan by mid-October to dramatically narrow the mission of U.S. troops in Iraq.
The legislation, which represents a sharp challenge to Bush, was put forward Friday by Sens. John Warner and Richard Lugar, and it came as the Pentagon acknowledged that a decreasing number of Iraqi army battalions are able to operate independently of U.S. troops [because they have been decimated in both men and materials by valiant combat with al-Qaeda and Shiite militias -- as explained deep in the story]....
The legislation would direct Bush to present the new strategy to Congress by Oct. 16 and suggests it be ready for implementation by Dec. 31. [Regardless of what Gen. David Petraeus reports in September, one presumes.]
The proposal also would seek to make Bush renew the authorization for war that Congress gave him in 2002. Many members contend that authorization - which led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 - was limited to approval of deposing dictator Saddam Hussein and searching for weapons of mass destruction.
Fortunately, Warner and Lugar explained in great detail why legislation requiring the president to draft a battle plan at the pleasure of Congress -- a plan that would mandate a return to the strategy of 2005-2006 (which was working so well) -- would actually lead to victory in Iraq:
"Given continuing high levels of violence in Iraq and few manifestations of political compromise among Iraq's factions, the optimal outcome in Iraq of a unified, pluralist, democratic government that is able to police itself, protect its borders, and achieve economic development is not likely to be achieved in the near future," the Warner-Lugar proposal said....
The Warner-Lugar proposal states that "American military and diplomatic strategy in Iraq must adjust to the reality that sectarian factionalism is not likely to abate anytime soon and probably cannot be controlled from the top."
Accordingly, Warner and Lugar say Bush must draft a plan for U.S. troops that would keep them from "policing the civil strife or sectarian violence in Iraq" and focus them instead on protecting Iraq's borders, targeting terrorists and defending U.S. assets.
In short, the "surge," not quite a month old, has failed miserably, so we must retreat, surrender, and declare defeat. Well a day! That's certainly compelling... who could argue with that?
But let no one accuse either gentleman of being an "armchair general." Sen. Warner served in the United States Navy during World War II for a solid year, rising to the rank of PO3. He joined the Marines later during the Korean War, then stuck it out for ten years in the reserves, eventually skyrocketing to the rank of captain. Sen. Lugar's career was even more illustrious: After graduating college, he served for three years in the peacetime Navy. Lugar was also an Eagle Scout. He has 34 honorary doctorate degrees.
[Corrected previous paragraph to add Warner's Marine Corps experience. - The Mgt.]
Legal experts, speaking on condition of anonymity because they have not been consulted, do not appear in the article, and in fact know absolutely nothing about the Warner-Lugar proposal, expressed skepticism that it was even constitutional for the United States Congress to order the President of the United States to craft and implement a specific battle plan.
But what do they know? To paraphrase Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%), Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%), and, well, nearly every other Democrat and RINO Republican... all three branches of government are coequal; but some are more coequal than others.
We shall watch Congress's future antics with great interest.
(One more point needs elucidation, giving me the opportunity to play "sea lawyer" again -- a chance I rarely pass up! But I'll save it for the "slither on.")
Standard disclaimer: I am not a lawyer; I never graduated law school; I never attended law school; I never applied to law school; I know absolutely nothing about the law, probably less than the butcher at the Armenian meat market down the street opposite Ralphs Fresh Fare. But I enjoy playing lawyer on this blog. Try and stop me!
The AP article also contains this:
The proposal also would seek to make Bush renew the authorization for war that Congress gave him in 2002. Many members contend that authorization - which led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 - was limited to approval of deposing dictator Saddam Hussein and searching for weapons of mass destruction.
Curiously, however, the actual operational language in the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq Resolution of 2002 mentions neither Saddam Hussein nor weapons of mass destruction. It says:
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
(a) Authorization.--The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to --
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.
A dizzying array of "whereases" lurk at the beginning, some of which do discuss WMDs; but there are also numerous whereases that talk about the danger of terrorists from al-Qaeda and other groups operating in Iraq; for example:
Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;
Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens;
Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;
This seems, at least prima facie, to justify continued combat in Iraq even after Saddam Hussein is deposed in order to prevent al-Qaeda and "other international terrorist organizations" from remaining in Iraq. And then there is also this:
Whereas in December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it "supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1),'' that Iraq's repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and "constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region,'' and that Congress, "supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688'';
UNSC Resolution 688 "condemns the repression of the Iraqi civilian population" and "demands that Iraq... immediately end this repression" and "ensure that the human and political rights of all Iraqi citizens are respected"-- which seems a pretty open-ended call to create a democratic state in Iraq and not allow any group -- including the majority Shia -- to impose theocratic, dictatorial rule.
While I don't want to get too far out on a limb or express an opinion before the many lawyers (and sea lawyers!) in Congress have spoken, it sure seems as if the 2002 AUMF authorizes rather more than simply removing Saddam Hussein and bringing in international inspectors to look for WMD.
July 8, 2007
In a comment on a previous post, commenter Terrye said the following:
I know I am an Independent and I voted a straight Republican ticket in 06 while real true blue Republican conservatives like Noonan were telling people to stay home and let the Democrats win.
This started me thinking. This post began as a comment; but like Topsy, it "just grew," and I decided to promote it to the rank of blogpost. So here goes...
First, a whiff of heresy to start the day: Peggy Noonan is not a "true blue Republican conservative;" she is instead a "Reagan conservative," and thereby hangs a tale...
I cannot tell what her political position was BR (before Reagan), but I wouldn't be surprised if she grew up much more liberal than she became later. Regardless, she glommed onto Reagan during his 1980 campaign (or perhaps a little earlier) and hasn't let go since.
Now, many Republicans will argue that conservatism is entirely defined by WWRD ("what would Reagan do?") The problem is that Ronald Reagan -- who was himself eclectic -- chose to define his presidency on only two big (urgent) ideas:
- Economic policy reform: lower taxes and lower interest rates, though he never carried through to privatizing "entitlement" programs such as Social Security and MediCare, and he never quite understood the importance of small business -- especially independent (non government-subsidized) technological innovation;
- Confronting Communism around the globe.
Strangely, his eagerness to engage in "foreign adventures" to hit Communism never seemed to spill over into a general theory of active military and diplomatic engagement on behalf of other urgent foreign-policy goals. For example, after Libya committed the Berlin disco bombing, Reagan decided a response was necessary; but his response was limited to a single bombing raid. He made no attempt to get at the root cause -- in Libya, Arabic nationalism rather than extreme Islam -- and resolve it.
Qaddafi pulled in his horns, but not for long; and his subsequent attacks on America (such as the Lockerbie bombing) were more subtle than the Berlin attack had been. He also waited until Reagan was nearly out of office: Because Reagan had set in place no anti-pan-Arabist policy that would survive his own presidency -- he thought Libya a nuisance, not a new anti-American front -- Qaddafi simply outwaited him.
Reagan treated pan-Arabism, and the pan-Islamism of Iran, as annoying distractions to the "real" problem of stopping Communism, rather than as separate, distinct, and very serious threats to America in their own ways. Destroying the Soviet Union was vital, and Reagan was both prophet and general (like Mohammed!) on that front. But he was AWOL on the Arab/Moslem threat.
Today, there is a strong strain of conservatism that loyally plays follow the leader down that same blind trail; they typically oppose the Iraq war as the very sort of "foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues" that George Washington warned against in his farewell address.
That was good policy... in the 18th century. But that was then, this is now: 2007 is not 1796, and the world is far too interconnected and integrated today to retreat behind the walls of "Fortress America" and let the rest of the world rot. (See the Pentagon's New Map, by Thomas P.M. Barnett, for further information.)
Such Reagan conservatives were willing to go along with the first stage of the Iraq war, invasion followed by the swift collapse of Hussein and the Baathists; but when the war evolved to the counterinsurgency, reconstruction, and diplomacy of today, they lost interest.
For some reason I cannot ken, many "Reagan conservatives" are allergic to an activist foreign policy -- except insofar as it applies to Russia, Red China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and now Venezuela (anyone detect a pattern here?) In particular, they deride any response anywhere that goes beyond "killing people and breaking things," as if America were a blundering ogre whose only weapon is a massive tree trunk in one hand.
Thus, many -- most definitely including Noonan -- hated the post-war attrition strategy, and now they hate the counterinsurgency strategy... or even the fact that we have a post-war strategy at all. Their preferred plan would have been to smash Iraq flat, bounce the rubble, and then toddle off with a quiet glow of satisfaction at a job well done. Putting the rubble back together again makes the job seem overdone, in their minds, like trying to put the firecracker back together after exploding it.
They deride swamp-draining as "nation-building," which appears to be a term of opprobrium: Either they believe building something is inherently inferior to tearing it down, or they believe our enemies do not deserve (e.g.) the Marshall Plan or the rebuilding of Japan, or else they judge America to be utterly incompetent at doing so... which is a harsh and ahistorical judgment to make, considering our mixed but not at all catastrophic record of achievement at reconstructing the conquered in our own image.
Curiously, this reticence does not carry over to the remnants of the former Soviet Union; we are expected to make them capitalist democratic republics. I believe this to be an example of taking a prophet's action (or inaction), which may have been driven entirely by personal, secular, human considerations, and imbuing it with almost religious significance: We visit the house where George Washington once slept the night; we avoid broccoli because the prophet always hated it.
Reagan never took seriously any foreign policy threat beyond world Communism... so who are we mortals to run where the great man feared to tread? Remember, Khomeini took over Iraq the year before Reagan was elected; yet in Reagan's entire eight years in office, he never did a thing about the rise of the regional superpower and its terrorist arm Hezbollah -- not even when they attacked us and killed 241 Marines and 58 French paratroopers in Beirut in 1983.
For many Reagan conservatives, Reagan himself becomes not merely the greatest president of the twentieth century, which most of us would agree he was, but a Mohammed-like figure who both defines and limits modern American conservatism: Just as many extreme Moslems will not do anything unless the prophet did it first, it seems that a typical Reagan conservative like Peggy Noonan is suspicious of any action that goes beyond what Reagan did -- and what she imagines he would do today, were he only still alive.
Thus, at core, Peggy Noonan is angry at George W. Bush for not allowing the Salafist and Shiite fever swamp to fester, as "the prophet" did: To move beyond the divine master is to become apostate.
Because Bush has actively tried to dismantle the irhabi hirabah infrastructure by a combination of war, diplomacy, and reconstruction or "nation building," which the entire region desperately needs, Noonan feels he has abandoned Reaganism and become just like George H.W. Bush, the first man to jilt her at the ideological altar. (Unlike Jeanne Kirkpatrick -- whom Noonan wishes she were -- Noonan is more of a "feeler" than a "thinker.")
Bush-41 personally betrayed her: She wrote his "read my lips, no new taxes" speech. I think Noonan, like many Reagan conservatives, was always chary of Bush jr., breathlessly waiting for him to "betray the legacy," just as his father did. Thus, at the first sign of deviancy -- whether it's nation-building, immigration reform, or a more robust integration with the outside world, working with other countries rather than dictating to them (as Reagan conservatives falsely remember Reagan doing) -- Noonan, et al, instantly cried "havoc" and let slip the dogs of Reagan orthodoxy.
I have never had much respect for Noonan as a thinker; now I despise her as a spineless defeatist. I fully expect her eventually to find a home in Pat Buchanan/Bill O'Reilly socially conservative populism (as Buckley appears to be doing), thus completing the dawn-to-dusk cycle from naif to Reagan acolyte (Noonan's high) to aging Mother Superior of the First Church of Fundamentalist Reaganism.
She will end her days as an embittered Maureen Dowd of the Right, endlessly railing against the modern and clinging to her narrowing tunnel-vision of Reaganism as if it were poor King Charles' head.
June 15, 2007
Adios, Señor Nifong
Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong is resigning his office. Do you think it could have anything to do with a desperate attempt to avoid disbarment?
Oh, but listen to Moses explain why he must resign:
Facing the loss of his law license, a tearful Mike Nifong said Friday he will resign as district attorney, more than a year after he obtained rape indictments against three Duke University lacrosse players who were later declared innocent by state prosecutors.
"My community has suffered enough," Nifong said from the witness stand at his ethics trial on allegations that he violated rules of professional conduct in his handling of the case.
Let my people go! (Of course, if Nifong is disbarred, he would pretty much have to resign as DA anyway. You think?)
UPDATE: Hey, how about that? We scooped Power Line, Real Clear Politics, Patterico, Hugh Hewitt -- and even InstaPundit with this breaking news. Heh.
(Forgive my crowing, but it's not often that Big Lizards has a scoop. We're more into tedious, didactic, and colossally boring news analysis than news reporting.)
June 13, 2007
It's Like Déjà-Vu All Over Again...
...Why do I have the feeling I used that line before?
I'm actually starting to lose track of how many times we've lost the Iraq war; at least, according to Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%). But he's at it again. I don't think I've ever before seen a feller so anxious to see his own side lose:
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenged the president over Iraq by sending him a letter, ahead of a White House meeting later on Wednesday.
"As many had forseen, the escalation has failed to produce the intended results," the two leaders wrote. [The troops are just now in place, and the new counterinsurgency strategy is just about to begin.]
"The increase in US forces has had little impact in curbing the violence or fostering political reconciliation. [Even before the new strategy begins, violence in Baghdad is down significantly; some has moved outside the capital, but that was the plan: Secure Baghdad, then expand the security outward.]
"It has not enhanced Americas national security. The unsettling reality is that instances of violence against Iraqis remain high and attacks on US forces have increased. [By "attacks on US forces," you of course mean "casualties suffered as US forces take the fight to the terrorists and insurgents, increase the tempo of engagement, and obliterate al-Qaeda in Anbar, Salahadin, Diyala, and Baghdad.]
"In fact, the last two months of the war were the deadliest to date for US troops." [So let's make all those deaths meaningless by retreating just as we're about to launch the full-scale attack!]
Of course, t'other way of looking at it is -- the side he's anxious to see lose isn't his own side at all. Has anybody seen any photos of Harry Reid sitting astride an al-Qaeda anti-aircraft gun? And does anybody know if a Special Forces guy ever gave Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) a "magic hat?"
Is this really the image the Democrats want to project? When the going gets tough, the Democrats have another panic attack. How many more of these spasmodic breakdowns will we have to suffer through before the 2008 elections?
They have become the George Constanza party:
- They lurch from one crisis to the next;
- They're crude;
- They're cowardly;
- Their normal emotinal state is hysterical overreaction;
- And they're "unusually good liars."
I grow weary of pointing out every time Reid or Pelosi or some other dysfunctional Defeatocrat (not to mention any names, such as John Murtha, D-PA, 65%) informs us that we've lost, there's no point in continuing, we've learned a difficult lesson, and it's time to crawl away, lick our wounds, and negotiate surrender with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar Assad, Grand Kleagle of al-Qaeda in Iraq Ayyub al-Masri, and Iranian Puppet Muqtada Sadr.
You know who "Pinky" Reid has always reminded me of? In Aliens (a.k.a., Alien II) -- anybody remember that great movie? -- one of the Colonial Marines, Hudson, spends the entire movie whining, "That's it man, game over man, game over! What the [expletive deleted] are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do? We're toast, man, we're history!"
But that's really unfair, and I'm sorry I made the comparison. After all, in the end, Hudson actually did his duty and mowed down a bunch of alien monsters.
June 12, 2007
Palestinian Civil War in Gaza; UN Declares It's Bush's Fault
I never was able to get the software working to allow readers to vote on Dhimmi of the Month, but I thought this might be a propitious time to dust off the concept (if not execution) for this incredible story.
Here is the sequence of steps:
- Israel decides to evacuate from Gaza.
- Israel sends troops into Gaza, not to attack Palestinians, but to herd several thousand Jewish settlers into buses and trucks and ship them back into Israel. No Jews left in Gaza (no live ones, anyway).
- Palestinian voters decide to thank Israel by electing Hamas.
- The European Union, the United States, and many other countries decide to boycott the Palestinian Authority, now officially run by a mob of thugs on everybody's list of terrorist groups.
- Fatah gets angry at losing power.
- Hamas and Fatah begin to fight.
- Fighting escalates.
- Fighting escalates.
- Fighting escalates; recall this war is between rival Palestinian terrorist groups fighting each other over the "spoils" of the Gaza Strip (which seems to me like fighting a duel over a hooker, but you know).
- Fighting escalates.
- United Nations Middle East Envoy Alvaro de Soto writes a secret report to U.N. Secretary General Nanki-Poo; declares that George W. Bush is to blame!
I rib you not; here is the Guardian story.
You just can't make this stuff up. Evidently, it's America's fault for urging civilized nations to boycott Hamas, which every national and international body agrees is a gang of terrorists. If only we had embraced Hamas, worked with them to exterminate the Jews, and not riled them up, then surely all this wouldn't be happening now. Oh, a few Juden might be killed here and there, Israel might be obliterated... but we wouldn't have the dreadful spectacle of Arabs killing Arabs.
So... it's Bush's fault. Remember that for next time.
May 2, 2007
Natter On the Nutroots
Another day, another interesting Dean Barnett post... this one on the carnival relations between John Edwards, Barack Obama, the creator of the Obama MySpace page -- and the nutroots, led by head nut Markos "Daily Kos" Moulitsas. Read this and ask yourself of whom the rooties remind you:
What gets the Nutroots up in the morning is the chance that some politician will demonstrate his fealty and devotion in the most obsequious manner imaginable. Not only did Obama fail to do that, he treated a blogger like something he stepped [in]. He declined to cower before their imposing might as John Edwards did when he didn’t fire those kooky bloggers that he never should have hired in the first place. In deferring to the Nutroots’ wishes on that matter, Edwards showed an appropriate respect for the titanic force that liberal bloggers wield.
Barack Obama, the man who is probably by consensus the guy most likely to be our next president, has for the moment refused to kneel. And now he shall feel the Netroots’ wrath. Markos has already rattled his saber. As Drudge would say, DEVELOPING.
That's the quotation; now let's extract the core elements it exposes:
- A pathetic need for "respect" (that is, attention) from their betters;
- Flying into a rage when they don't get it;
- A colossal ego the size of a large planet -- not a rockball like Earth, I mean a gas giant like Jupiter, or at least Neptune;
- The demand (due to the ego described above) that the nutterbutter acolytes regularly contact more serious people and somehow insinuate the names of prominent nutrooters into the conversation;
- Infantile behavior better suited to a particularly ill-mannered third grader (the kind that public schools regularly dose with Ritalin, to avoid having to deal with them);
- And an ability that borders on the supernatural to sense exactly the wrong political move -- and to make it as fast and hard as they possibly can.
Yes, I think that Dean has really put his finger on it. Rem acu tetigisti: The nutroots are the political pressure-group equivalents of Howard Stern!
I predict they will soon be inviting buxom blondes with big, bouncy badonkadonks to their conferences to play "Butt Bongo."
April 29, 2007
Also Sprach Santayana
San Francisco freeway collapse
(Hat tip to Friend Lee.)
April 21, 2007
Speak For Yourself, "Pinky"
This is by way of addendum to our previous post, Into Every Life, Some Reid Must Fall. Now it's falling into the lives of Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates.
Our squirrelly little Majority Leader of the Senate, Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 95%) -- who spent Thursday telling reporters that the Iraq war was "lost" and that the "surge" had been proven a "failure" -- now goes even further in his hubris: He purports to speak for the Secretaries of State and Defense, flatly stating that they, too, believe the war is lost and the counterinsurgency a failure. (Hat tip to Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics.)
In the clip, Reid does not quote anything they said to that effect, because of course they have said no such thing. Nor does he claim they told him this privately. He simply announces, ex cathedra, that they agree with him that all is lost!
Oh, and he also implies that President Bush thinks so, too... though here, he allows as how he might not actually know what Bush thinks. (Evidently Reid believes he does absolutely know what Rice and Gates think.)
What next? Will Reid announce tomorrow that he channeled the brain of Gen. Petraeus -- and that the commander of MNF-I also believes his own counterinsurgency strategy stinks?
March 16, 2007
Don't Worry. Be Happy.
Is it just me?
Members of extremist groups have signed up as school bus drivers in the United States, counterterror officials said Friday, in a cautionary bulletin to police. An FBI spokesman said "parents and children have nothing to fear...."
The bulletin, parts of which were read to The Associated Press, did not say how often foreign extremists have sought to acquire licenses to drive school buses, or where....
It noted "recent suspicious activity" by foreigners who either drive school buses or are licensed to drive them, according to a counterterror official who read parts of the document to The Associated Press.
Foreigners under recent investigation include "some with ties to extremist groups" who have been able to "purchase buses and acquire licenses," the bulletin says.
But Homeland Security and the FBI "have no information indicating these individuals are involved in a terrorist plot against the homeland," it says.
Whew! Dodged that bullet. Fortunately, it turns out that these "foreign extremists" (which I believe is Newspeak for "known jihadis") aren't currently involved in "a terrorist plot against the homeland." That we know of. So let's just forget the whole thing and go back to sleep.
I can't be the only one who believes that the phrase "foreign extremist" is more or less defined as "a person in this country plotting some sort of extreme action against someone." How do we know it's not against the United States -- which is, after all, the "Great Satan?" (Israel is merely the "Little Satan.")
Just because he hasn't yet settled on an actual plan of terrorist attack -- assuming our intel is correct about even that much -- doesn't mean he's not positioning himself to have access to 30 or 40 American schoolkids at the drop of a turban, whenever he finally decides how best to use them.
If we strongly suspect that a person is a "foreign extremist," is there some constitutional reason we cannot bar him from any job that puts large numbers of Americans at great risk? Favorite occupations for known jihadis could include:
- Flying a commercial airliner
- Inspecting cargo at a port
- Working in the infectious diseases ward at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Working at an explosives factory
- Driving a truck containing large quantities of nuclear waste
- ...Or driving a bus full of school children.
At the very least, let's call in the potential employer, apprise him of some of what we suspect about this particular subject... and then remind the employer that, now that he knows the risk, if "anything happens," his company will be liable for any damages. That should cause the employer to reevaluate its hiring procedures.
I know it may be decried by Democrats as racial profiling; but it won't be decried loudly or for very long: I doubt there is any great groundswell of public sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked jihadis in America who are unable to gain employment as school bus drivers; so there's little the Democratic Party can do for this natural constituency of theirs.
Maybe they can pass a non-binding resolution.
December 15, 2006
An Immoral Proposal
I hope by now everybody has seen this post on the Daily Kos:
Greg Sargent has a problem with Eason Jordan going to Iraq with Michelle Malkin. I think it's a splendid idea. So long as they leave the Green Zone, and without security detail that puts a single US soldier in harm's way. I mean, things are so splendid and it's just like Philly and there's all those great new schools! They'll be perfectly safe, I'm sure.
I regret that we Republicans cannot be as tolerant of diverse viewpoints and take such concern for innocent human life as does Markos Moulitsas Zúniga. As always, a class act; a true gentleman. He wears a suit.
October 19, 2006
Dear Leader Regrets...
Evidently, the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il, "regrets" the nuclear test. That's what he told the Chinese.
In fact, he regrets the test so much, he's even willing to return to the six-party talks... provided the United States grants unilateral, pre-negotiation concessions of, well, every concession North Korea has demanded in the past before returning to the table:
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed regret about his country's nuclear test to a Chinese delegation and said Pyongyang would return to international nuclear talks if Washington backs off a campaign to financially isolate the country, a South Korean newspaper reported Friday.
"If the U.S. makes a concession to some degree, we will also make a concession to some degree, whether it be bilateral talks or six-party talks," Kim was quoted as telling a Chinese envoy, the mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo reported, citing a diplomatic source in China.
Of course, they've always returned to the six-party talks anyway, even without such concessions. But only long enough to leave again and commit some provacative act: test-firing a missile (that topples over and crashes into the ocean), setting off a nuclear bomb (that fizzles faster than Democratic electoral hopes), or shooting an old missile they bought from China right across the Japanese mainland. Then they offer to return. In exchange for, shall we say, a few concessions?
So what specifically does the Democratic People's Republic of Korea want this time? Why, it's quite simple; painless, really:
North Korea has long insisted that the U.S. desist from a campaign to sever its ties to the international financial system. Washington accuses Pyongyang of complicity in counterfeiting and money laundering to sell weapons of mass destruction.
No big deal. What's a little counterfeiting and chemical warfare among chums? After all, he is the Dear Leader.
Big Lizards sincerely hopes that Secretary of State Condoleezza "Football" Rice picks up on the head-fake and rejects the Devil's deal. Any loosening of restrictions on North Korea must come about as part of the negotiations, not before negotiations even begin! And it must be in exchange for better guarantees against cheating, such as on-the-ground inspections by American-led inspection teams (we all still remember how Saddam punked UNSCOM and UNMOVIC).
I anticipate that when Dear Leader fails to get the pre-talk concessions he wants, his contrition will disappear faster than civility from a losing Democrat. But maybe I'm misjudging the fellow (he opposed the Iraq war, so that's a plus, as far as the nutroots is concerned).
October 18, 2006
Quick, Somebody Find Mike Rogers a Map
Evidently, some Democratic dirty-tricks specialist -- and isn't there an extraordinary history of such people in the Democratic Party? -- named Mike Rogers has supposedly "outed" Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID, 96%) as "gay."
Craig denies it, as does his (heterosexual) family. Now, like Dean Barnett, I am completely indifferent to the truth or falsity of the charge (though unlike Dean, I very much oppose same-sex marriage). But as I read this on Hugh Hewitt, I was completely flummoxed: I didn't recall Craig being in any electoral danger, since his name hadn't appeared on any of the lists of senators who were in trouble. In fact, I couldn't find any polls about him at all.
But then I turned to Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball site and found out why: I discovered that Larry Craig isn't even running for reelection this year! He's not up until 2008, having been reelected in 2002.
What buffoonery the Democratic Party has embraced. For God's sake, if Democrats are going to sink to such despicable tactics as pointing and shouting "faggot!" at random Republicans, assuming that mindless Christian voters will recoil in horror from the unclean -- then wouldn't simple sanity suggest that such sleazy, homophobic attacks should be limited to people who are actually running for office that year?
Or does Rogers fantasize that if he calls Idaho's Larry Craig a homosexual, enraged voters 2,000 miles away will pull the lever for James Webb in Virginia?
As Jerry Pournelle likes to say, ye flipping gods.
September 17, 2006
The Lidless Eye Award
Well well, "international critics" at the Toronto Film Festival yesterday awarded a special "Fipresci prize" to the movie Death of a President:
The film, a fictional documentary showing the assassination of President Bush, was noted by the jury "for the audacity with which it distorts reality to reveal a larger truth."
Yes sir, you read it right: the movie that begins with Bush being gunned down and concludes with a "Monsters Are Due on Maple Street"-like denouement, in which America's underlying Fascism, tyranny, and violent anti-Arab bigotry is revealed, was awarded a prize in Canada -- for being fake but accurate!
I'm pleased as poisoned punch to see that Mapesery is alive and well in Toronto. Dan Rather and the lidless eye of CBS will be proud indeed.
September 14, 2006
The Topology of Lincoln
(Chafee, not Abraham)
Scott Johnson of Power Line posted the letter that Sen. Lincoln "12%" Chafee of Rhode Island sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on September 7th. It includes two amusing lines. First, this one:
Chairman Lugar decided to hold the vote over to a later date, and I support that decision.
As Friend Lee pointed out, it's hardly a shock that Chafee supported this delay... since Dick Lugar (R-IN, 88%) was simply acceding to Lincoln Chafee's own request! Thus, this sentence translates to, "Chairman Lugar granted my request to hold the vote over, and I support his decision in my favor."
But the more ominous passage comes two paragraphs later:
One of the key issues with many of our allies is the situation with the Palestinians. I support the creation of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with its neighbor Israel. I believe progress on this front would be beneficial for the Palestinians, and futher America's, and Israel's security.
With Dr. Rice's PhD, she is probably better able to read a map than is Mr. Phillips Academy. But it's really not hard. Here, take a look-see:
Map of Israel
I believe I already explained this in Contiguationness, on Captain's Quarters... but as we can plainly see, there are only two ways to make the Palestinian Authority "contiguous":
- You can create a weird, narrow corridor of land that hugs the southern "V-cut" along the Israeli borders with Egypt and Jordan, connecting Gaza to the West Bank. But this is silly -- how wide should it be, just enough for a north-going Zax and a south-going Zax to pass without having to turn sideways?
- You can create an aggressive spit of land that cuts straight across Israel to connect Gaza and the West Bank. In that case, "Palestine" would be contiguous, but Israel wouldn't be. You would have sliced it neatly in half.
I'm not exactly sure how chopping Israel in half would "further Israel's security," but maybe Chafee can explain it to me someday.
A simple glance at the map shows why a "contiguous" Palestinian authority won't fly. Not to beat a dead hearse, but when Lincoln drives, who is the navigator?
July 25, 2006
The Hunt for Red Osama
Hugh Hewitt quotes from (but does not link to) a speech given by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 100%), about all the terrible failings of Bush administration policy on the war on jihadi terrorism. These four compound sentences encapsulate the very core of Reid's and the Democrats' argument:
We argued that the administration follow the law and make 2006 the year of transition, with Iraqis taking charge of their own security and government, so that American forces can be redeployed by year's end. [That's a "law," that we have to immediately pull out of Iraq? When was that passed? -- the Mgt.]
Our plan would have given the Iraqi people their best chance for success, while also giving America the best chance to confront the growing threats of North Korea, Iran and terrorism.
Our plan would have engaged regional powers to help bring stability to Iraq, and would have reminded the countries of the world of their commitment to invest in Iraq's long-term economic prosperity.
Our plan would have refocused America's military, diplomatic, and economic might on the terrorist threats that face us in Iraq and globally, including Osama Bin Laden-who remains free 5 years after 9/11.
He included, of course, the traditional Democratic contradictions, which I think is a caucus rule:
- "In the last month, the price of gas has shot past three dollars a gallon." [Yet Democrats oppose any and all drilling and refining of oil, whether off the California coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, or in ANWR.]
- "In the last month, North Korea -- on the Fourth of July -- tested new long-range missiles." [Which we were prepared to shoot down (if the DPRK had succeeded in launching them) using antiballistic missile systems that the Democrats fought hammer and tooth, delaying us for eight long years.]
- "In the last month, Hezbollah has terrorized Israel." [Due to Israel having "redeployed" out of Lebanon in 2000, in a way that mimicked a military rout (despite having lost no battles), in response to heavy pressure from Bill Clinton on Ehud Barak.]
- "And in the last month, Al Qaeda may have found a new sanctuary in large swaths of Somalia." [From which we "redeployed" in a panic under orders by Bill Clinton, paving the way for al-Qaeda to move in as squatters.]
But that's all milk spilt over the bridge. I want to "focus like a laser beam" on Reid's "redeployment" plan. If the Democrats can be said to have any sort of strategic plan at all in the war on jihadism, it's to find an immediate exit strategy.
But what is their positive vision to put in place of fighting wars? They do actually have one, and Sen. Reid alluded to it in this speech: Democrats believe that we should put all our resources into hunting for Osama bin Laden.
That's it; that's the plan. (It should be a new Tom Clancy novel: the Hunt for Red Osama.) Since war is nothing but a big police investigation anyway (see the previous post), the focus should always be on arresting and trying the perpetrator, rather than thwarting future acts.
But what fascinates me is that we already tried this in miniature... and it was an unmitigated disaster. Does anybody here remember Somalia?
The Wikipedia account is more or less accurate:
[Mohamed Farrah] Aidid hindered international U.N. peacekeeping forces in 1992. As a result, the US put a $25,000 bounty on his head [in August 2003] and attempted to capture him. On October 3, 1993 a force of U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force operators set out to capture several officials of Aidid's militia in an area of the Somalian capital city of Mogadishu, controlled by him. Although technically successful, with the capture of several "tier-one personalities," the operation did not completely go as planned, and between 500 and 1000 Somalis, as well as 19 American soldiers, died as a result.
The people of somalia were later angry at the Rangers and supported Aidid. Videos showed Somalis eating the flesh of Cliff Walcott and his crew members of Super 64. Aidid himself was not captured. The events are commonly known outside Somalia as the Battle of Mogadishu. [I'm not entirely sure about that video claim; I hadn't heard it before. -- the Mgt.]
The U.S. withdrew its forces soon afterwards (a move viewed by some as a sign of weakening American strength on the international front), and the U.N. left Somalia in 1995. Aidid then declared himself president of Somalia, but his government was not internationally recognized.
Under former President George H.W. Bush (Bush-41), the American military initiated a humanitarian operation in Somalia in 1992; but under President Bill Clinton, it morphed -- especially after the "Blackhawk down" incident -- into a massive manhunt throughout that country, which is smaller than either Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iran (let alone the combination of the three that would be our actual target area to search for bin Laden)... with only one of those three countries willing to allow such a search in the first place: the one we occupy, Afghanistan.
I remember the humiliation of the Hunt for Red Aidid: day after day, week after week, Rangers ranged up and down Somalia, but were unable to catch Mr. Aidid. News reporters were considerably more successful, however, for he popped up fairly regularly, like Whack-a-Warlord, to taunt us and hoot at our pathetic, bootless efforts.
And of course, despite keeping a very high profile (unlike bin Laden), we never managed to catch Aidid in two years of hunting... and then we quit looking and just yanked our troops out. In fact, in October 1993, Clinton had told everybody that we were pulling out in six months, whether we found Aidid or not. The sole target of the Democrats' current battle plan -- Osama bin Laden -- actually cited Clinton's retreat from Somalia as evidence that al-Qaeda could hit the United States with impunity, because we were paper tigers.
Astonishingly enough, Aidid dodged us until March. Then when we evacuated, Aidid emerged from his very public "hiding," crowned himself president, and was promptly shot to death by a rival warlord.
The lesson should be clear: it is virtually impossible to find a single, particular person hiding in a death zone... particularly when he is well-heeled and well-served by fanatical followers who move him around secretly. There are too many caves, too much land, too little "society" to ensare him in its net.
Bin Laden doesn't have any credit cards and he doesn't use an ATM. There are no security cameras in the wilderness of Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Iran -- at least none that we can view. And our satellites are virtually useless trying to pick a single guy out of millions: we don't have Star-Trek "sensors."
And even if we managed to spot him, what would we do... beam him up to the mothership? By the time we could get a Predator close enough to shoot a Hellfire, bin Laden's caravan will have moved on.
Like every other Democratic plan, their GWOT strategy is a prescription for disaster: it would gift us only with humiliation and failure, make us the laughingstock of the world, and squander all the work we have done rebuilding our military capability after eight years of Clinton -- and we still haven't fully recovered from a scant four years of Carter.
If you want to understand "fractals," there is no better place to start than by carefully reading Democratic initiatives: they look stupid as a whole; and the deeper you look, the stupider they get.
June 29, 2006
Time to Withdraw From Geneva... If We Can
Hugh Hewitt says that the actual majority decision of the Supreme Court in the Hamden case does not reach quite as far as the unholy quadrumvirate of Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Souter did: interpreting the 1949 Geneva Conventions to apply to terrorists captured abroad. Specifically, he says that Justice Kennedy did not join that part of the opinion, opting instead for the narrower view that only the procedures of the military tribunals need comply with Geneva, because some of those held in Guantánamo Bay are members of the Taliban, which was an organized militia (as if mere membership meant they couldn't be terrorists).
I don't know if he is correct; maybe it is actually a majority position. But let's assume Hugh is right, and contrary legal commentators are wrong. That still means that the entire war on jihadi terrorism now hangs by the thread of Justice Anthony Kennedy's sanity and common sense... and that that is a slender lifeline indeed.
If that's where the Court, as a majority, stands, then we're still alive; we're on life support but not dead yet. But -- and it's a Big But -- if "Coin-Flip" Kennedy changes his mind and joins with Stevens, we may find ourselves in a true horror movie.
Because of the terrible danger that this may happen, I sincerely believe it is time for the United States to withdraw (by any means necessary) from the Geneva Conventions... if Justice Stevens will even permit the president and Congress to do so.
This drastic reaction is thrust upon us by the plurality's action, led by ultra-liberal Justice John Paul Stevens. There are now four justices who hold that terrorists must be treated as prisoners of war under the conventions.
To arrive at this weird conclusion, they completely ignored Article 4 of Convention III, Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, which defines who is and who is not a "prisoner of war"... and which clearly and unambiguously excludes terrorists. Article 4 holds that:
A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy...
(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:
(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) that of carrying arms openly;
(d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
I do not believe that Stevens ever addressed this provision, which undeniably excludes unlawful combatants, such as al-Qaeda terrorists, from consideration as prisoners of war. He simply dismisses it without discussion and, in essence, declares all unlawful combatants to be legal combatants from now on.
But this clearly was not our intent when we agreed to the conventions. Such unlawful combatants were excluded when we signed, and there's solid evidence we still hold to that exclusion even now.
There was an addition to the conventions, Protocol I, enacted in 1977 that muddied the waters, having the effect of declaring that states party to it must treat even unlawful combatants as they would treat prisoners of war... without calling them prisoners of war.
But because of this very provision, the United States refused to accept Protocol I. We are not signatories to it... shouldn't that alone have convinced Stevens that he was flatly wrong about what we intended when we ratified the original conventions in 1949?
Even the website for the Geneva Conventions itself is at odds with Justice Stevens and his posse:
Combatants who deliberately violate the rules about maintaining a clear separation between combatant and noncombatant groups — and thus endanger the civilian population — are no longer protected by the Geneva Convention.
So how would the terrorists' new status, were a plurality of the Court to become the majority, affect how we must treat them? It would mean, as Stevens argued, we must treat what used to be considered unlawful combatants as well as we treat ordinary American soldiers being tried by courts-martial.
In particular, Justice Stevens, writing for 80% of the majority, opined that Convention III, Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Article 3, applied to al-Qaeda and other terrorist prisoners. Article 3 requires the following:
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons....
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
The latter requires, as a matter of course -- and this is how the quadrumvirate interpreted it -- that any tribunal trying such prisoners must afford them all the legal protections afforded members of the military being court-martialed... including the right to be present, along with the civilian attorney of their choice, for all introduction of evidence, including highly classified evidence exposing methods and personnel of our intelligence-gathering capabilities.
I would think this would also require the production of all relevant "witnesses" that the prisoner demands at his trial -- which could mean yanking from the field every soldier involved in apprehending him, since the capture is certainly relevant to his case.
As one blogsite put it (I wish I could remember which one), that could in theory mean having to undeploy entire units and send them back to the United States for every trial where a clever attorney (Ramsey Clark, for example, who would of course happily volunteer) figures out that rather than disrupt the entire war, we would just drop the case.
This is absolutely nutty, and I cannot believe that a subsequent Court would really enforce that. But we don't have a subsequent Court; we have this one. And this one, under the direction of Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Souter, and with only the thin reed of Anthony Kennedy preventing it from being a majority of the Supreme Court, has proven that it jolly well might enforce just such a provision... since four justices did exactly that.
All right, so we can't try them by any rational form of tribunal, since we certainly cannot risk exposure of secrets to the attorney provided by al-Qaeda for each prisoner. But the Court did say we could still hold the prisoners for the duration of hostilities. So no problem, right?
Yeah. Sure. Look again at Article 3, section 1, subsection (c):
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
I am sure that the quadrumvirate would hold that this utterly and completely prohibited the interrogation of captured terrorists, no matter where they were captured, where the interrogation took place, or what the circumstances were of the capture. If we caught one of three couriers carrying modified airborne ebola in aerosol containers, we could not, under Hamden, interrogate the prisoner to find out where the other two couriers were.
Certainly nothing more than asking him politely -- certainly not by any method that might outrage his personal dignity. Like, say, waterboarding.
At the moment, I think Congress can redraft the law allowing for tribunals to cover this by requiring a finding by the President of the United States first that a particular detainee is an unlawful combatant anent the Geneva Conventions, and only then can he be tried by the military tribunal. Presumably, this finding would be subject to litigation in the courts; but it's a fairly cut and dried issue, and the test could be written right into the new law.
But that's assuming Kennedy doesn't flip again. If he does, all bets are off.
Simply put, four of the nine justices, through their hysterical and borderline treasonous malinterpretation of the Geneva Conventions, would turn them into an international suicide pact. Stevens sees no "practicable" reasons why captured al-Qaeda terrorists with knowledge of an imminent WMD attack upon the American mainland should not be treated exactly the same as a United States Marine accused of pilfering the petty cash, with all the same rules, protections, and privileges, which includes protection against any form of aggressive interrogation.
So I believe -- purely for defensive purposes -- that it is now time to withdraw from the 1949 Geneva Conventions. It was a good treaty, and it served its purpose; but that was then, this is now.
Wait a minute, Dafydd... what about less drastic measures? If Kennedy flip-flops again, can't Congress just redraft the law to restore our ability to interrogate captured terrorists?
I cannot imagine they could: treaty obligations are considered by the Court the equivalent of constitutional provisions, and they cannot simply be waved away by legislation. No more than could Congress simply pass a law overturning part of the First Amendment. If a majority of the Court ever held that our treaty obligations under the Geneva Conventions required us to treat captured terrorists like members of our own military in courts-martial, Congress could not simply overrule that finding.
And evidently, they also cannot limit the Supreme Court's jurisdiction. They already tried that... and the Court (the full Court, Kennedy concurring) simply rejected it, notwithstanding the constitutional provision that says Congress has exactly that authority. Article III, section 2, of the United States Constitution:
In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.
All right; but what would happen if we did withdraw? Wouldn't that be dangerous for our own soldiers?
The second glib response is that if we do withdraw and no longer extend those protections to others, others will not extend them to us. But this is facile sophistry, because the only enemies we're likely to fight now or in the future -- whether Stalinist North Korea or al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups -- already ignore the Geneva Conventions... as the abduction of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, currently being held hostage by Hamas, demonstrates: holding hostages is against the Geneva Conventions.
Those countries that actually do abide by them are precisely those Western nations (like the United States) that would abide by them even if fighting a country that did not... and that we're not going to end up at war with in the first place. And even if we did, we could quickly negotiate a temporary treaty incorporating the Geneva protections for the duration of that war.
There is no downside to withdrawal, because the West has accepted their spirit, as it applies to wars against actual countries. For example, we ourselves adhere to the conventions in our treatment of Taliban and Iraqi insurgents who were captured fighting as armed militias while wearing uniforms and such; we do not apply the same interrogation techniques to them that we apply to captured unlawful combatants, such as terrorists.
Even though some Taliban members are at Gitmo, they are precisely those who behaved as unlawful combatants... which is why I'm not in the least confident that Justice Kennedy grasps the distinction; if he thinks that a terrorist becomes a non-terrorist because he happens to be a member of an organized army, even if he acts contrary to the conventions, then Kennedy could easily fall into Liberal-Land hand in hand with the quadrumvirate. It's a short and slippery slope.
So long as the conventions hang out there, and so long as there is no stomach on the part of other countries to negotiate a new protocol making absolutely clear that terrorists are unlawful combatants and are not covered by the protections of the conventions -- and why should they, especially signatories like Iran and Syria? -- the Geneva Conventions are a ticking time bomb, just waiting for one more Supreme Court justice to turn the plurality into a majority.
But the real question is whether the Court -- Kennedy included -- would allow us to withdraw. Having gone so far, would they go the rest of the way and hold that the conventions are eternal, and that we cannot withdraw even if we choose?
I've been looking and looking through them, and I cannot find any reference at all to withdrawal: nothing forbidding it, but no procedures for leaving, either. If Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Souter are willing to cripple -- essentially obliterate -- our ability to interrogate captured terrorists; and if even Kennedy considers following the conventions more urgent than surviving the war the jihadis imposed upon us; then I'm sure all five of them would move swiftly to prevent any attempt to wriggle out of the straightjacket by withdrawing from the Geneva Conventions altogether.
Which leaves us in a constitutional crisis: has the Supreme Court actually become "more equal" than the other equal powers? Is the only solution impeachment of justices -- assuming the Court would even allow that?
And would the Democrats, in the last analysis, vote to impeach even if Kennedy were to flip on the critical issue of treating all captured terrorists as prisoners of war? Or would they vote to acquit, sacrificing any hope of winning the war against jihadi terrorism in their BDS-driven need to hurt George W. Bush?
The Court has left us with a dreadful Sword of Damocles dangling above our heads. What are we going to do about it?
June 23, 2006
Adios and Hallelujah - Norman Mineta Is Finally Gone
Norman Mineta has announced his retirement as secretary of transportation, effective July 7th:
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, who spearheaded an unprecedented overhaul of transportation security after the September 11 attacks, announced his resignation on Friday.
Mineta, 74, the lone Democrat in President George W. Bush's Cabinet, will leave on July 7 after 5 1/2 years on the job. He not only was the nation's longest serving transportation secretary but the most visible as well.
Transportation Department spokesman Robert Johnson said Mineta will announce his plans in the coming weeks but would not say if he had another job. Johnson said Mineta informed Bush of his decision to resign earlier this week.
I hope he gets a great job -- somewhere far away from public policy.
Mineta is a classic "September 10th" Democrat, and his post-9/11 tenure as secretary of transportation has been disastrous. The only Democrat in Bush's cabinet, Mineta was a holdover from Bill Clinton's administration, where he was (briefly) secretary of commerce.
Mineta is responsible for two utterly insane policies, each of which has actually impeded our national defense against terrorism:
Norm Mineta, Crusader Against Profiling
Just ten days after the attacks, Mineta swiftly moved to solve the most pressing problem facing America in the wake of Moslem Arabs flying two jumbo jets into the World Trade Centers, one into the Pentagon, and a fourth -- prevented from reaching its target in Washington D.C by the heroism of its passengers -- into the ground in a field in Pennsylvania.
Acting with speed and rapidity, Mineta contributed to secure Americans from terrorist attack: on September 21st, 2001, he forbade airlines from "profiling" in their searches or questioning of passengers; all searches would be conducted on passengers chosen randomly.
Airlines were required to pay as much attention to elderly grandmothers from Dubuque as they did to young male Arabs. Or Moslems. Or immigrant males from Saudi Arabia who look nervous, shake with agitation, and continually mumble "Allah-hu akbar" as they board the plane.
Since resources are limited, even in the hunt for terrorists, that meant that groups of young males from Pakistan or Jordan or Sudan were left alone so that airlines could focus on searching and interrogating a pregnant thirty-something from Kansas or a seventy year old black janitor from Queens.
This folly is breathtaking in its refusal to deal with the facts:
- We were attacked by young Arabs recently here from the Middle East;
- The threat to America primarily comes from known jihadi hot spots there and in Central Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and a few other places;
- Those who might attacks us typically exhibited very obviously suspicious behavior -- which Mineta would not allow airlines to take into account when chosing people to investigate.
This as insane as ordering the police, when they cruise around looking for gang-bangers on the prowl, to stop and investigate senior citizens working quietly at their jobs rather than a mob of teenaged and twenty-something males roaming the streets wearing "colors."
And what was Mineta's explanation for his mental fugue? That when he was a boy, his family was "profiled" by Franklin D. Roosevelt and sent to Manzanar -- and they took his baseball bat away and wouldn't give it back.
I can well understand Ann Coulter's frustration (she would be as likely to be detained at the airport today as the next Ramzi Binalshibh, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or Mohammed Atta) when she wrote, "Someone please give him a baseball bat." (It's not my fault that Townhall.com strips out minor formatting issues like paragraphination.)
Ten days after 9/11, Norman Mineta was more worried that we might round up all the Arabs, Indians, and Sikhs and whisk them off to relocation camps than he was that al-Qaeda, having just successfully struck the United States and sent us reeling, might swing a second time.
Norm Mineta - Fashion Mavin
After months of hair-pulling, and after President Bush directly ordered it, Mineta reluctantly embraced the new policy of having armed air marshals fly on commercial flights. To prevent, you know, that 9/11 thing from happening again.
I can only imagine that he was initiallly so reluctant for two reasons:
- Suppose another group of mad Moslems tried to seize control of an airliner and fly it into the Sears Tower (to pick a target also in the news today), Mineta was terrified that in the ensuing gunfight, as the air marshals wrested control away from the al-Qaediacs, some passenger might get hit by a stray bullet. Just think, he could sue the Transportation Security Agency!
- As we all know, guns often explode on random occasions, all on their own, sending a bullet flying in some unguessable direction. Mineta, well aware of this possibility from frequent conversations with his old pal Chuck Schumer, must have sweated bullets (sorry) that if the round happened to go through a window, then many of the passengers would be sucked out the half-inch diameter hole by the irresistable force of nearly one whole atmosphere of pressure differential between inside and outside the cabin.
Didn't I see that in some James Bond movie?
Be all as it may, having been dragged, kicking and screaming, to accept having armed marshals riding the airlanes, Mineta was certainly not going to allow them to create a bad impression of his agency. They would behave themselves as gentlemen with sartorial respectability.
Thus he ordered the undercover air marshals to wear suits and ties and have neatly trimmed hair and no facial hair as they flew about.
The idiocy of this order is hard to convey, but I doubt it's even necessary. You fly, right? Look around the cabin and see how many people are dressed as if they're headed to the opera. (For that matter, the next time you're at the opera, look around and see how many of those patrons are dressed as if they're headed to the opera.)
This uniform -- for that is what it is, and it may as well be replaced by something blue with braid and brass buttons -- is like a neon sign screaming, "stab me first, I'm a Federal Air Marshal." No amount of reasoning, ordering, or wheedling could budge the dapper Mr. Mineta. If the TSA must allow marshals to fly undercover, then they certainly wouldn't be allowed to look sloppy while doing so!
Mineta is, quite simply, incapable of wrapping his brain around the fact that we are at war; like nearly all his Democratic brethren, he is fundamentally unserious when it comes to terrorism. Think of him as a natty and anti-profiling Barney Fife.
He may be a capital fellow, convivial, a laugh-riot at D.C. cocktail parties... but he has been a catastrophe as transportation secretary, and Bush has been a fool for keeping him on so long. America is better off not having Norm Mineta to kick around anymore.
June 15, 2006
Go North, Young Chix
I know, I know, I am obsessed with the stupid Dixie Chicks. I see them everywhere I go. Wait, they are everywhere I go, but not for long, I hope.
The other day, I talked about the Dixie Chicks' sagging ticket sales for their upcoming U.S.Tour, especially in the American heartland (the South and the Middle West). Well, they've wisely charted a new course: they're heading north, up through New England and the lefty Northeast all the way to the Great White North of eastern Canada.
They had to postpone (and probably cancel) twelve originally scheduled concerts:
- Milwaukee, WI;
- Kansas City, MO;
- St. Louis, MO;
- Indianapolis, IN;
- Fresno, CA (in the Republican-leaning San Joaquin Valley);
- Los Angeles, CA (that one is odd);
- Las Vegas, NV;
- Oklahoma City, OK;
- Memphis, TN;
- Houston, TX;
- Jacksonville, FL;
- and Greensboro, N.C.
Note that each of these concert venues (except for L.A. and Las Vegas) are locations known not only for being quite conservative but also for being "core country" music centers; they are all in the South, the Midwest, and the West -- the heartland of America. They didn't have to cancel any concert dates in New England! In fact, even Los Angeles and Las Vegas have a lot of "urban cowboys" who tend, by and large, to side with that fellah from Texas over the Chix from Texas.
I am surprised that Los Angeles is on the chopping block. I can understand Fresno; that central Californian farm city is very conservative, as is the entire central valley (except for Sacramento, the state capital, of course).
But Los Angeles? Only a couple of weeks ago, operations manager R.J. Curtis of LA's popular KZLA country station insisted that listeners consider the Dixie Chicks controversy a "non-issue." Much to my annoyance, and despite my protest letters, they play the Chix often enough:
"I can play this music," he said. "I just did a focus group [how Hollywood!], and for our listeners it's a non-issue. Now, down the road in San Diego, where there are military bases, the program director would tell you that the Chicks are unplayable."
Hm... maybe he should have conducted the "focus group" among KZLA's actual listeners, instead of the station management!
Meanwhile, the promoters have added eight northern cities to the tour -- five of them in Canada:
- Uncasville, CN;
- Jones Beach, NY;
- Atlantic City, NJ;
- Halifax, Nova Scotia;
- St. John, New Brunswick;
- Montréal, Quebec;
- London, Ontario;
- and Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The Ontario date replaces the "postponed" Milwaukee concert... an indication that they're writing off the Midwest in favor of Canada. Not a single one of these venues is in a more conservative area; and only one, Winnipeg, is even in the Canadian prairie country (the rest of the Canadian dates are in the eastern provinces). Nothing in Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, or even northern Manitoba -- Canada's "cowboy country." Not even a single concert date in British Columbia, though I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually added one (BC is more like Oregon and Washington than like Montana or Idaho).
The conclusion is inescapable: whatever the Dixie Chicks are now, they are no longer a "country western" group. Martie Maquire has abandoned country fans, saying "we don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do." Natalie Maines has called the country audience "rednecks" (she didn't mean it like Gretchen Wilson does), and she says she never really liked playing country music in the first place. Their promoters have abandoned cowboy country in favor of New York and New Brunswick.
The Chix have abandoned country altogether. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Maybe they'll be successful as a pop-rock group, though their country sound -- and their name -- may be hard for the new audience to swallow over "the long road."
But in keeping with their new orientation, I think the Dixie Chicks should change their name: they should call themselves the Yankee Feminists. Truth in advertising, you know.
June 14, 2006
The insanity continues in Venezuela, which rapidly heaving towards becoming the Zimbabwe of South America. Dictator Hugo Chávez is desperately continuing the charade that the United States plans to invade Venezuela any day now... so they must immediately rearm with massive shipments of Kalashnikovs from Russia:
Chavez hands out rifles, says US won't defeat him
Jun 14, 2006
by Patrick Markey
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Wearing his old army uniform and red paratroop beret, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez handed new Russian-made rifles to troops on Wednesday, vowing Washington would not defeat his socialist revolution.
Venezuela received a shipment of 30,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles earlier this month [on June 3rd] just weeks after Washington banned U.S. arms sales to Caracas over concerns about Chavez's close ties to longtime U.S. foes Cuba and Iran and what it called his inaction against Marxist FARC guerrillas in neighboring Colombia.
One of the surest ways of recognizing a military dictatorship is that it incessantly warns that the Great Satan plans to invade at any moment, so therefore they must crack down, re-arm, and throw all political opponents in la calabooza. So far as I know, the United States has never invaded Venezuela.
The rifles in question are AK-103s; the 103 is an upgrade on the famous AK-47, probably the most widely dispersed and used rifle in the world today... and especially popular among murderous terrorist and revolutionary groups, to the chagrin of the rifle's creator:
Mikhail Kalashnikov says he designed the assault rifle that bears his name to fend off the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
But six decades later, he laments its transformation into the worldwide weapon of choice for terrorists and gangsters.
"Whenever I look at TV and I see the weapon I invented to defend my motherland in the hands of these bin Ladens I ask myself the same question: How did it get into their hands?" the 86-year-old Russian gunmaker said.
Big Lizards can answer that question.
The AK-47 became the "worldwide weapon of choice for terrorists and gangsters" because Mr. Kalashnikov's motherland, the Soviet Union, and its successor, the Russian Federation, madly exported it to every brutal terrorist, tinpot dictator, and revolutionary wannabe on the planet, so long as they were loud and angry anti-Americans.
And that is exactly how Hugo Chávez got the upgraded version, the AK-103, this month: from Russia, with love. It's the first installment of 100,000 rifles that he bought from Russia -- along with their blessing for him to build an AK-103 rifle and ammunition factory in Caracas, to spread even more misery, revolution, and terrorist thuggery around Latin America. From Reuters again:
Soldiers, sailors and airmen, in battle fatigues and faces daubed with camouflage paint, took turns marching up to hand Chavez old rifles and receive new AK103 rifles -- the first batch of 100,000 Venezuela purchased [from Russia] last year.....
With Russian help, Venezuelan [sic] plans to build a Kalashnikov rifle and ammunition factory near Caracas that will start producing the weapons in about three years.
Venezuela has already purchased 10 Russian attack helicopters and plans to buy more. Chavez said his government had also decided to buy Russian Sukhoi 30 jets to replace its U.S.-made F-16 fighters, but gave no details.
Big Lizards can answer that question. Chávez is switching to Su-30s because the United States has ceased supplying Venezuela with spare parts to maintain their small fleet of Fighting Falcons, due to Chávez's flirtation (I think it's more like heavy petting now) with China, Iran, Cuba, and narco-terrorists in Colombia.
The Russians, however, happily sold a hundred thousand of Mr. Kalashnikov's children to the Robert Mugabe of the Western Hemisphere despite knowing that he consorts with jihadi terrorist groups that engage in mass murder and preach genocide of the Jews, such as al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.
[Thomas A. Shannon, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs], a career diplomat serving in a post usually held by a political appointee, also expressed concern about "groups and individuals" in Venezuela with "links to terrorist organizations in the Middle East."
He declined to be more specific, but U.S. military officials have in the past noted the presence in Latin America of groups linked to Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terrorist organization. [Sic; Hezbollah is actually based in and funded by Iran. Lebanon is just their biggest FOB. -- the Mgt.]
Chávez has also cemented ties with revolutionary terrorist groups, such as FARC and ELN, in order to meddle by force of arms in the internal affairs of Venezuela's neighbors, such as Colombia. Unquestionably, some of these very AK-103s will be slipped into the hands of butchers in Colombia, Brazil, and Guyana, as well as across South and Central America... and particularly into Peru.
In addition, [Shannon] said, "the western part of Venezuela has always been a wild place," and members of Colombian guerrilla groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia [FARC] and the National Liberation Army [ELN] have "moved with a certain amount of ease."
"But over time, we've seen what appears to be a more structured relationship," he said. "There appears to be more movement of weapons across the frontier into Colombia, and some of it comes from official Venezuelan stockpiles, and it almost certainly involves the participation of Venezuelan officials, either corrupted or not."
Chávez nakedly meddled in the recent election in Peru, where he suffered a setback when the candidate he backed, Ollanta Humala, was convincingly humiliated at the polls; he lost to former President Alan García, generally considered the worst past president in Peru's history, by 55 to 44... after earlier leading the pack by a substantial margin.
Perhaps the next time a neighboring country holds an election -- say, Peru again in a few years -- rather than simply campaign with the most rabidly Stalinist, anti-American candidate running, Hugo Chávez will simply use his gifts from Russia to cast his vote in a more emphatic manner.
Thank you, Vlad.
June 13, 2006
We Didn't Start the Fryer
And while we're on the subject:
A U.S. consumer group sued the operator of the KFC fried chicken restaurant chain on Tuesday to try and force it to stop frying foods in an artery- clogging fat.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, in a suit filed against Yum Brands Inc., said some KFC meals were "startlingly" high in harmful trans fat from the partially hydrogenated oils used for frying.
(We gloss lightly over the collapse of grammatical standards among news providers, such as Reuters. "Try and force it?" Do they also write "prolly," as in "I'm prolly going to die from all this fried chicken?")
In a related story, the CSPI announced that any day now, they will file another suit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia against McDonalds, accusing them of deliberately making hamburgers that don't taste as good as those made by Carl's Jr.
"I'm sure we can find some cause of action here, if we look hard enough," a spokesman for the CSPI was expected to say shortly. "These fast food corporations act as if they own the joint!"
Let's All Move Into Daryl Hannah's House!
So we start with these grafs, showing poor farmers being evicted by the evil government from the land they had farmed for many years:
Sheriff's deputies evicted people from an urban community garden to make room for a warehouse Tuesday, touching off a furious protest in which actress Daryl Hannah and others climbed into a walnut tree or chained themselves to concrete-filled barrels. More than 40 people were arrested.
Authorities cut away branches and used a fire truck to bring down the "Splash" actress and another tree-sitter, who raised their fists as they were removed. Hannah was arrested.
"I'm very confident this is the morally right thing to do, to take a principled stand in solidarity with the farmers," she said by cell phone before the fire truck raised officers into the tree.
So right away, we're all reaching for our Solidarność t-shirts and singing Pete Seeger songs. And then we discover just exactly what "principle" Hannah is standing in solidarity with, along with (we learn) Willie Nelson, Joan Baez, and professional tree-sitting protester Julia Butterfly Hill.
They are bravely protecting the right of Mexican immigrants to steal other people's land:
About 350 people grow produce and flowers on the 14 acres of privately owned land, in an inner-city area surrounded by warehouses and railroad tracks. The garden has been there for more than a decade, but the landowner, Ralph Horowitz, now wants to replace it with a warehouse....
Dozens of protesters chanted, "We're here and we're not going to leave!" in Spanish, blew whistles and blocked traffic in the surrounding streets. Protesters linked arms and sat on the tracks. Officers dragged some protesters away.
It seems that the owner, Ralph Horowitz -- probably a liberal -- foolishly allowed the poor, immigrant farmers (Reuters makes clear they are immigrants) to grow food and other crops on his land for a number of years; but at $25,000 per month, it has become too expensive to maintain the mortgage without any income. So Horowitz asked them to leave.
They told him No: now that he had graciously allowed them to farm it for so long, it was now their land, and he could jolly well shove off, or Spanish words to that effect. He tried to evict them, and they fought back in the courts, suing Horowitz. (What on earth was the cause of action? AP doesn't say.) They picketed his office, they picketed his home.
And lefty celebrities by the bushel, possibly having flashbacks to the grand old days of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, rushed forward to support the theft of land worth millions of dollars -- from a man whose only crime was to allow poor, Spanish-speaking immigrants the opportunity to grow crops while he decides how best to use the land that he bought with his own money.
That's the American spirit! That's the way to persuade voters to support normalization of illegal immigrants already here -- though of course we have no way of knowing whether these particular immigrants are legal or illegal. (I should ask Patterico whether there is any state or local law that forbids the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputies to inquire about the immigration status of people they arrest.) But even if they're legal... shouldn't attempted grand theft be sufficient to deport them?
Horowitz noted that the farmers were squatting on land zoned for warehouses and factories. The landowner said in a telephone interview that he was paying $25,000 to $30,000 a month in mortgage and other land costs.
"We've made, in the last three years, enough of a donation to those farmers," he said. "I just want my land back."
Oh, but how could the city of Los Angeles be so cruel and inhuman as to force people out to starve, wives and children huddled together in the snowdrifts? But of course, we don't learn until the very end that L.A. has actually provided other spaces for the farmers:
Horowitz also said the city had provided other locations for the gardeners, and most had left. In a statement, City Councilwoman Jan Perry also said many gardeners had moved to new garden sites.
So it's not even that they want some land; they demand this specific 14-acre plot. I wonder how long the warehouse will stand before somebody -- out of revenge for having "his" land stolen -- will burn it down.
So with what is Daryl Hannah standing in "solidarity?" With the proposition that if someone moves onto your land and squats there, and if you don't immediately summon the cops and have him evicted, but rather make the mistake of letting him stay for a few years while you get the land ready for sale -- then the squatter now owns that land, even if you told him all along that he had only temporary permission to stay.
In other words, if I want some piece of property -- let's say one of multi-millionaire Daryl Hannah's houses, or some piece of property owned by Joan Baez or Willie Nelson, or whatever tree Julia Butterfly Hill currently calls home... then all I need do is plant myself on it and declare it mine.
So let's all go move into Daryl Hannah's house. I'm sure, in the spirit of consistency and solidarity with the land-snatching Sandinistas, she will be delighted to let us stay... and equally delighted when we evict her -- from our new property.
Whaddya say, Daryl? You good with that?
June 9, 2006
Democrats Pooped In Colorado
The Democrats in Greely, Colorado are evidently so weary and worn by constant losing that they've lost all ability to communicate like humans. Instead, the appear to have attained the level of some of our simian relatives:
Republican U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's re-election campaign was already heated, and it just got smelly as well: Her staff accused a Democratic activist Thursday of leaving an envelope full of dog feces at Musgrave's Greeley office.
Musgrave spokesman Shaun Kenney said someone stuffed the envelope through the mail slot in the door on May 31 and then sped away in a car. Kenney said most of the preprinted return address was blacked out, but staffers used the nine-digit ZIP code to trace it to Kathleen Ensz, a Weld County Democratic volunteer.
In fact, Ms. Ensz is hardly a mere volunteer; she is "vice chairwoman of a state Senate district committee for the county Democratic Party." She has admitted leaving the envelope full of filth at Musgrave's campaign headquarters... but the gentlelady insists it was only in the foyer, not in the office doors themselves.
When Associated Press asked her why she did it, she answered in characteristic Democratic fashion: she refused to comment.
But all is being taken care of; the local Democratic Party is on top of things among their "volunteers" (and their vice chairwomen). James Thompson, a spokesman for Musgrave's probable Democratic opponent, state Rep. Angela Paccione, expressed his desire to stamp out such dirty tricks:
"This type of thing is really out of our control, but of course we'll do anything that we can to discourage this."
Ah, Democrats. I remember reading a sign warning me about this sort of thing the last time I visited the monkey cage at the zoo.
April 28, 2006
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-Bedlam) issued a stern warning today to President Bush:
Addressing the president in absentia, Sen. Byrd began by warning that Congress retains all its original powers under the Constitution.
"You better read that again in the Constitution," Byrd said, declaring that the Senate's powers include "serving as a court of impeachment....
"If the House impeaches you, the Senate will try you. The Senate, don't forget it, serves as a court of impeachment and has an equal say with the House on legislation."
Well... yeah. By golly, he's right!
And Byrd should know; after all, he was there the last time.
And the first time, too.
"I can hear the cuckoo singing in the cuckooberry tree...."
April 27, 2006
A Beesting On A Crying Face
I normally do not want to write anything bad about our military. But when it comes to mistreatment of our veterans, I have to speak up.
Anyone who has worked for the feds has a horror story or two about the cement-heads who cut the checks (or often fail to cut the checks, leaving employees and their families twisting slowly in the wind). But this is the worst yet: ABC news reports that the Army has been dunning wounded soldiers to pony up money they were overpaid -- because the green-eyeshade lackwits at the DoD personnel office couldn't change the soldiers' status quickly enough and continued to pay them as if they were in a combat zone... when in fact, they were in hospital.
The report highlights some horror stories:
Army specialist Tyson Johnson of Mobile, Ala., had just been promoted in a field ceremony in Iraq when a mortar round exploded outside his tent, almost killing him. "It took my kidney, my left kidney, shrapnel came in through my head, back of my head," he recounted....
His injuries forced him out of the military, and the Army demanded he repay an enlistment bonus of $2,700 because he'd only served two-thirds of his three-year tour. [! -- the Mgt.]
When he couldn't pay, Johnson's account was turned over to bill collectors. He ended up living out of his car when the Army reported him to credit agencies as having bad debts [!!], making it impossible for him to
rent an apartment.
"Oh, man, I felt betrayed," Johnson said. "I felt like, oh, my heart dropped."
And there are many more like Johnson. Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly lost his leg in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq.
He didn't realize it, but the Army continued to mistakenly pay him combat bonus pay, about $2,000, while he was in the hospital rehabilitating, and then demanded that he pay it back. He, too, was threatened by the Army with debt collectors and a negative credit report.
Since this whole thing is the military's fault, they should completely forgive all such debts and do whatever it takes to restore the soldiers' credit score. The total military debt incurred among wounded servicemen is a paltry $1.5 million. It is nothing compared to the entire cost of the war.
I don't care if the soldiers weren't technically supposed to receive that money. How would they know that? It's not a soldier's responsibility to figure out how much his monthly salary is, particualrly when he's lying in a gurney missing a kidney and pieces of his skull. He has a few other things to worry about.
In Japan, this sort of garbage is called "a beesting on a crying face," 泣きっ面に蜂: when you're already crying, a bee flies over and stings you. It means a bad thing happens when you are already suffering from another bad situation. (In America, I think you say "adding insult to injury" -- which is literally true in this case.)
How could we let this happen? These are our bravest young men, and they put their lives on the line to protect our country. For our military to treat them like this is unconscionable.
It turns out these problems are due to data-entry errors and the sluggish work habits of the personnel employees (probably civilians). Since the wounded soldiers are evacuated so quickly, the accounting office doesn't keep up with the status change. The five-sided castle claims that the problems are being addressed; of the two soldiers in the story, the Pentagon say that "much of their debt" was forgiven.
Much? How much? And why not all of it?
It's not clear from ABC's reporting how many of these cases exist; they claim "thousands." However many there are, the DOD must make it a top priority to correct these despicable and degrading financial hits on men and women whose only crime was not to rise up out of their hospital beds to research whether the Army was overpaying them.
Congress will hear the case tomorrow; but Secretary Rumsfeld should beat them to the punch by immediately ordering the problem to be fixed per above.
We are asking these young people to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to make sure that their transition from the combat zone to hospital to everyday life is as painless as possible. At the very least, when soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are wounded and need to be sent home, we should at least appropriate the doctors' motto, primum non nocere: first, do no harm.
Time To Ex-Specterate?
According to the Associated Press, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) has fired George W. Bush and declared himself the new President of the United States:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said Thursday he is considering legislation to cut off funding for the Bush administration's secret domestic wiretapping program until he gets satisfactory answers about it from the White House.
"Institutionally, the presidency is walking all over Congress at the moment," Specter, R-Pa., told the panel. "If we are to maintain our institutional prerogative, that may be the only way we can do it."
Specter said he had informed President Bush about his intention and that he has attracted several potential co-sponsors. He said he's become increasingly frustrated in trying to elicit information about the program from senior White House officials at several public hearings.
Ooh, I'll bet he has attracted some co-sponsors: I'm guessing he's got about 45 of them, including Sens. Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Harry Reid, and of course Russell Feingold.
Wait, let me check: no, I was right... Sen. Specter's name isn't listed here. And while I don't want to judge before all the facts are in, I would have to venture a guess that if his name isn't listed on the official list of members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, then he's probably not a member of that committee.
So if he's not on the Intelligence Committee, nor on Armed Services, nor on Homeland Security, then why the heck should he be briefed on that ultra-secret program?
Oh, wait, of course: he chairs the Judiciary Committee... which has oversight and responsibility over the judiciary, the courts, and especially over conducting hearings of and either recommending or rejecting federal judges nominated by the president before being sent to the full Senate.
(Which, by the way, Arlen Specter appears not to have done too good a job at, considering that some nominees have waited years for their hearings, such as Brett Kavanaugh and William James Haynes.)
Maybe it's just me, but I can't quite fathom why chairing the J-Com would qualify him to be briefed on intelligence-gathering programs. He's not a member of the federal judiciary, much as he may imagine it's his job to enforce the law.
Specter is also a member -- though not in a leadership position -- of the Appropriations Committee. But that can't be the basis of his authority for making this threat, since the chairman of that committee is Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), who hasn't said a word about this.
So what is Specter really arguing? Since he demands to be briefed on the NSA al-Qaeda intercept program, even though he has no connection to Intelligence, Armed Services, or any other terrorism-related committee or subcommittee... then what Specter must actually be demanding is that the Bush White House fully brief each and every single senator on all classified aspects of the program.
Oh, and surely Specter can't be saying that the Senate should be briefed, but not the other side of Congress! So he likewise calls for a complete classified briefing about every last element of the program for all members of the House of Representatives, as well.
Sen. Arlen Specter threatens to cut off all funding for one of our most vital intelligence operations unless all 535 members of Congress are fully briefed on all operational details. Is he a fool? Or is he a madman?
The New York Times and several NSA officers revealed the existence of the program and briefly sketched the sort of people who would be monitored. But the vast majority of the program is still well concealed: the bad guys don't know the precise methodology, techology, and who exactly has been surveilled. Which is very good, because knowing that would allow them to skirt around the surveillance in the future and would tell them who has been compromised and must be cut off from important communications.
How long does Arlen Specter think those secrets would last if they were handed over to Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Ron Dellums, Bernie Sanders, and John Murtha -- or even on his own side of the Dome, to Patrick Leahy, Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin, Mark Dayton, and John Kerry?
Wait a minute, ab Hugh; you're just jumping the gun. Sen. Specter is a reasonable man; he couldn't possibly mean what you're saying he means.
Fair enough. But then, what does this mean?
According to a copy of the amendment obtained by The Associated Press, it would enact a "prohibition on use of funds for domestic electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes unless Congress is kept fully and currently informed."
"Congress" clearly means more than just the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence or the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, since both are already being fully briefed on the NSA al-Qaeda intercept program. I can only conclude that keeping "Congress" "fully and currently informed" must mean a complete briefing for all members of both houses of Congress:
- A list of all past and current surveillance targets, so the Democrats can be reassured that Bush isn't spying on Russell Feingold, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton, as Feingold's new campaign ad claims;
- Plus a full and complete briefing on the methodology used at every stage, so opponents of the war on terror, such as Kucinich, Durbin, and Specter, can determine whether we're violating the sacred constitutional rights of al-Qaeda members here illegally.
It's very clear what is really going on here: Sen. Specter is simply trying to seize operational control of the program away from President Bush and put it instead where he imagines is belongs... in the hands of Congress. This is very similar to congressional actions during the Civil War, when Congress tried to seize operational control of the armed forces, ordering armies here and there and trying to run the war themselves.
It was a disaster then -- President Abraham Lincoln had to fight a two-front war, one against the Confederates, the other against egomanical Congressmen -- and it would be an unalloyed calamity now.
I've been on the fence about Specter for some time, owing to his antics on the J-Com. But now, with him trying to capture control of American intelligence policy (which has nothing whatsoever to do with any of Specter's four committee assignments, the other two being Veterans' Affairs and the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education), I believe there is no option but for the party to vote to remove him from his chairmanship -- which appears to have addled a once-fine brain. Let him cool his fevered head on the back bench for a while.
Fortunately, the House will probably save us from this insanity:
Specter's announcement came a day after the House passed an bill 327- 96 to dramatically increase spending on intelligence programs. In the process, Republicans blocked an amendment to expand congressional oversight of the NSA's warrantless surveillance program.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., said allegations that NSA domestic wiretapping operations are abusive or unconstitutional are outrageous and that Congress is committed to vigorous oversight of the program.
(The chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence? Piffle. Now if Rep. James Sensenbrenner, chairman of the mighty House Judiciary Committee, were to speak out, that might carry some weight!)
It's equally outrageous that we have to rely upon one chamber of Congress to protect us from the other... first the Senate Republicans give us the Gas Price Relief and Rebate Five Year Plan, and now this. If Specter gets any Republican co-sponsors other than Lincoln Chafee (RINO-RI), then we're doomed, doomed.
As President Bush said, you're either with us, or you're with the terrorists. Sen. Specter does not appear to be with us.
April 24, 2006
Kerry Me Back to Old Baghdaddy
I just heard this on Hugh Hewitt (guest-hosted by the perpetualy bemused Jed Babbin). Surely this must rank right up there with "I actually voted for the eighty-seven billion before I voted against it," if not quite up to the caliber of his "Genghis Khan" accusation of war crimes against the entire Vietnam-era military.
I wish I knew what show this was on; anybody out there in Lizardland who can point me to a transcript, I will be very appreciative and will correct any mistakes in the quotation below [quotation corrected; the comments have the two versions side by side, so readers can judge how close my remembered version was to the actual words. The show was This Week With George Snuffleupagus]. But here is what I heard him say to the best of my recollection, in his very own Boston-Brahmin, ersatz-Kennedy monodrone:
But there is no excuse three and a half years later for American troops to be driving by IEDs and getting blown up. Are you telling me that they can’t drive a truck?
Yeah, that's the problem -- the soldiers are getting blown up by IEDs because they have poor "defensive driving" skills.
If only we had listened to Sen. John Kerry (D-Beacon Hill) and shipped a few thousand high-school Drivers-Ed teachers over to Iraq, the whole problem would be cleared up before you could say "Boston baked beans." When the explosion began, our boys could simply swerve dexterously around it, just like in the movies.
Say, you do know that JFK is making another run for la Casablanca in 2008 (or perhaps starting this year), right? Boy, that gives us Republicans a nice, warm feeling.
April 18, 2006
Unelected Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez remains in his position only by dint of an "election" in 2000 that even Jimmy Carter declared invalid, and a recall election in 2004 where exit polls showed Chavez losing 60-40... but when Chavez's team finished counting the ballots, they discovered, mirabile dictu, that he had won by 60-40, instead.
Today, he steadfastly maintains that the United States is plotting to assassinate him, invade Venezuela, and steal Caracas. Or all the oil... we're there to steal something, that's for sure. And now he adds a new chapter to the annals of his reign (which double as university textbooks for abnormal psych).
Hugo Chavez now declares that the Caribbean Sea is off limits to American warships; we must leave and not return. In this, he presumes to speak not only for Venezuela, long a victim of American running-dog imperialism, but also for Cuba, long a victim of Castroite running-nose poverty:
President Hugo Chavez, who accuses Washington of planning to invade Venezuela, said on Tuesday recent deployment of U.S. warships in the Caribbean Sea threatened his country and its ally Cuba.
Four U.S. warships, including an aircraft carrier, and 6,500 sailors, are in a two-month deployment in the Caribbean Sea dubbed "Partnership of the Americas" by the U.S. Navy.
"They are doing maneuvers right here," Chavez told a student meeting in the country's west. "This is a threat, not just against us, against Venezuela, against Cuba."
He is particularly irked that we dropped anchor at Aruba, which he appears to believe he owns. (We await the inevitable "all your base are belong to us.")
Hugo Chavez has also revealed the military plan by which his citizen militia will repel America's inevitable invasion of fair Caracas:
Chavez, who has created a civilian reserve to resist the assault he says Washington is planning, has threatened to repel U.S. forces with arrows coated with poison.
You'd think he could at least borrow some Brazillian blowgunners.
Needless to say, I strongly suspect that we will not honor his demand. We will continue projecting American might (including our naval vanguard, Royal Caribbean cruise ships) into Aruba and many other islands. (As a side issue, in my one cruise in the Caribbean, we did, in fact, dock in Caracas, Venezuela. It was just a city back then, not the socialist paradise it is now, the envy of the world, and the concerted target of the Lexus of evil, the United States of America. After conducting intelligence-gathering operations for the Navy, I rejoined my parents and we continued on to Grenada.)
One wonders how long it will be before Hugo's head bursts open like a cocoon... and what, exactly, will come slithering out.
April 1, 2006
Um... What Am I Missing?
Scott Johnson of Power Line -- who is both useful and intelligent -- quotes a fellow who is neither in a recent post. He turn his gimlet eye on the maundering of the head of the Democratic Farmer Labor Party (the DFLP -- should that be pronounced "deaf-lip?"). Without further ado:
This past week Melendez has been hurling brickbats again, digging deeply to find ground on which to take offense. Speaking to College Republicans at Mankato State University in support of Kennedy's senate campaign and other Minnesota congressional campaigns, Republican Rep. Gil Gutkneckt sought to emphasize the importance of the midterm elections and inspire the students' efforts on behalf of Republican candidates. In his remarks Gutknecht invoked the legendary heroism of the First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment that saved the day at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, by filling a momentary gap in the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. As reported by the Mankato State University student newspaper, Gutknecht said:"We're asked to stand in that gap and there are big stakes in this election. I'm not asking you to make the kind of sacrifices that were made on July 2, 1863 by those brave Minnesotans, but I am asking you to make your best effort."
Melendez purports to have found Gutknecht's motivational talk deeply offensive; he demands an apology to "Democrats across the country." And isn't the reason obvious? If Gutknecht's analogy is pursued, the Democrats stand in the shoes of the Confederate forces (or "slaveholders," as asserted in the heading of Melendez's press release) who were charging the Union line. Thus Melendez says:"To compare beating Democrats to defeating the Confederate Army is either an absurd display of historical ignorance or an insult to the intelligence of Minnesota... [Gutknecht] should be ashamed of himself for stooping so low..."
Mr. Melendez? But... the Confederates were Democrats. Right?
March 30, 2006
Students Risk Life and Limb to Protest!
...Other people's lives and limbs, of course.
In an otherwise dreary New York Times article on the protests in France against businesses being able to fire dud employees, I stumbled across this section:
In a spectacular show of defiance today, some 2,000 students shut down rail traffic at Paris' Gare de Lyon, a key commuter hub and the departure point for high-speed TGV trains heading south. The national rail company, the S.N.C.F., was forced to suspend traffic for two hours after protestors blocked the tracks with wooden beams and other objects, the police said.
In the Mediterranean port city of Marseilles, riot police used tear gas to evacuate several hundred students from the tracks near one railway station.
Protesting students also blocked several highways across the country, causing some 215 miles of traffic jams, Reuters reported.
Traffic was brought to a standstill during the morning rush hour in and around Nantes and Rennes in the west, Lille in the north and Aix-en-Provence in the south. Students also managed to invade the Paris ring road, briefly bringing traffic on the main highway around the capital to a halt. About 50 protesters were arrested.
I wonder how many innocent people could have been injured, maimed, or even died through such shenanigans? Would the protesting students have felt any remorse?
Would they even have given a merde?
An angry protester today, presumably irked at being plucked from his perch trying to derail a high-speed passenger train, had this grievance to air:
One of them, Kark Stoeckel, the leader of France's main union of high school students, the UNL, said: "They did not need to arrest us — we were very calm. By using the police like this they are legitimizing the radicalization of the movement."
I hope the courts give you two years in prison, Kark Stoeckel. Very calmly, of course.
For a nation that constantly chides America for not being compassionate enough, the citoyens of la belle France seem to have very little regard for innocent human life... even their own parents and grandparents. When those 15,000 seniors died because the electricity failed -- all the operators were away during the national month-long holiday -- most of the revelers refused to return home even to bury their dead relatives. They assumed l'Etat (the State) would handle it... they themselves were too busy partying.
L'Etat c'est vous, mes amis. If Marie-Joseph-Paul-Roch-Yves-Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave.
March 8, 2006
The Stupid Party Returns
Today, several prominent GOP congressmen tried their level best to lose the 2006 election -- an election they could have won by being less... well, stupid.
Fingers in the air, quivering bunny noses sensing a change in the wind, Republican Reps. Peter King (NY), Jerry Lewis (CA), Duncan Hunter (CA), Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (IL), and newly elected House Majority Leader John Boehner (OH) have decided to attach a rider to an appropriations bill funding the troops and Hurricane Katrina victims; the rider is intended to kill the Dubai Ports deal outright, even before the extended investigation completes. No sense wasting time by waiting for actual facts!
If they manage to get it passed -- and a small minority of them can do it, if they link up with all of the Democrats -- and if another small minority in the Senate join forces with Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Harry Reid, and their pals, then they will plop a must-veto, must-sign bill on Bush's desk long before the agreed-upon review of the deal is even completed.
The president will veto it; and whether the Congress overrides the veto or not, the GOP will be shattered and crippled in the upcoming election. But that's all right... "moderate" Republican Peter King (R-Hicksville) will do well with his liberal New York constituency. Perhaps, after the Democrats take over the House, King can turn his coat and keep his chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee.
It makes no difference whether you support the Dubai Ports deal or oppose it... this is a battle that should have been worked out behind closed doors. The president has made it clear he wants the deal to go forward in some manner; but he has also signalled that he will accept reasonable compromise. The rabid Jacobites here are the greedy House Republicans, who cannot wait for the investigation, cannot accept any compromise, must be the "winners who take all." The House members are more interested in collecting Bush's scalp than actually advancing the conservative cause.
The GOP had a great chance this year. Normally, the second-term midterm election is very bad for the incumbent party... but this time, the Democrats have been unable to come together on any platform, plan, or campaign theme whatsoever. The Republicans were well poised to maintain their majorities in both the House and Senate.
Until now. It's not that Republicans will vote for Democrats; but with the Congressional GOP attacking and trying to bring down the Republican president, a huge chunk of the Republican electorate may simply decide to stay home -- "a plague on both your houses." Today, if I were betting, I would wager that the Democrats pick up at least ten seats in the House and four or five in the Senate; maybe more. And I'm no longer even sure the Republicans deserve the majority anyway. Thanks, Mr. Stupid.
As infuriating as it is to see the Squeaker of the House pile on, Boehner is even more of a disappointment. I don't think anyone expected that the first peep we would hear out of the new majority leader would be "the polls are fluttering -- throw the president under the bus!"
Voters are largely opposed to the DP World plan, and that's something Republicans are sensitive to eight months before an election that will determine whether the GOP continues to control the House and Senate.
House Republicans feared that if they did not move to block the deal now, Democrats would force their own vote that would be successful. That would only invite criticism of the GOP's national security record, which historically has been the party's strength.
"This has become a very hot political potato," House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "I have seen it in my district. I have seen it every place I have been."
So, instead of backing Bush on the DP World takeover, House Republicans are largely reflecting their constituents' views and distancing themselves from a president's whose popularity has declined.
Rather than actually looking into the issue (too much work) and then standing up for what is right and rational (that would require leading), this handful has decided to find the nearest rampaging mob and dash to the front of it. The Democrats will be all too willing to oblige the Republicans' suicidal spree... and yet again, just as in decades past, the GOP (which was always more comfortable as the minority party) will snatch defeat from the dripping fangs of scary victory.
Even the Democrats are stunned that the Republicans rolled over so rapidly:
Several Republicans also said they saw little alternative but to act or face the prospect of Democrats' taking the initiative, potentially cutting into a Republican political advantage on national security issues.
Democrats said they were surprised at how quickly Republicans were moving to separate themselves from Mr. Bush.
I guess it's out of the question for GOP campaigners to point out that the Democrats are opposed to spying on al-Qaeda, opposed to the CIA interrogating terrorists, and opposed to racial profiling -- unless they're "profiling" a company owned by our greatest and most reliable Arab ally in the Global War on Jihadi Terrorism. Does any American really believe that the Democrats screaming about this deal really give a rat's patootie about national security, as opposed to simply partisan politics? Does anyone doubt that if a presiding Democratic president approved this same deal, all those loyalistas in the Democratic Party would defend it to the hilt?
The Democrats, at least, know what is meant by a "party vote."
What is so despicable about this is that a wonderful opportunity had just presented itself: a group of Republican budget hawks are just about to propose sweeping new budget cuts that would electrify the GOP voters. The president will almost certainly work with them and come up with a compromise between his own budget and the one proposed by the unnamed but allegedly influential representatives:
The legislation, part of a push by some Republicans to re-establish themselves as champions of fiscal restraint, was taking shape as President Bush struck a similar theme on Monday by asking Congress to grant him line-item veto power to eliminate federal spending that he might judge wasteful....
Senior aides say the conservatives' plan would wring about $350 billion from Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs and save $300 billion partly through a major reorganization of the Education, Commerce and Energy Departments.
But now, any progress in the direction of fiscal responsibility will be drowned out by Republican joyriders out in the streets, howling that President Bush is either an incompetent moron or a pro-terrorist traitor. That'll show those Democrats!
I am totally disgusted. No matter what the political problem, the solution is never to immolate your own president. Republicans tried that in 1974, thinking that by helping to destroy Richard Nixon (et tu, Barry?) they would dodge the axe themselves.
And in the Congressional elections two months later, the Democrats captured 49 Republican seats in the House and 4 GOP seats in the Senate. Two years after that, in the 1976 election, Jimmy Carter won a narrow victory over Republican President Gerald Ford, giving Democrats control of the House, Senate, and the White House.
The rule is simple: eating your own never works in politics. You can never win by turning against your own standard bearer like dogs tearing the wounded pack-leader to pieces. If the Flab Five had even a thimbleful of political brains, they would work with the president and come to an amicable compromise. Several people have already floated the possibility, first suggested here on Big Lizards, of an intermediary American subsidiary, independently operated, that would actually control port operations; and the White House has already subtlely signalled they might go along with this.
But that is unacceptable to the ghouls. It is not enough that they, themselves win; they must see George Bush lose. They imagine this will solidify their standing as "independent minded" Republicans; but assuredly, it will only reveal to the Republican voters that they are disloyal thugs who cannot be trusted, men with no gratitude for all that Bush has done in 2002 and 2004 to reverse their declining fortunes and hold the majority.
And we will remember who cost us the last two years and gave us President Hillary, President Howard, or President Al. We'll remember who cost us the Iraq War and brought about another terrible terrorist attack on America.
Buckle up, friends; it's going to be a bumpy ride. Now.
February 24, 2006
Red Ken Gets a Time Out
Mayor "Red" Ken Livingstone of London was suspended from his duties for four weeks by the Adjudication Panel for England today for comparing a Jewish reporter, Oliver Finegold, to a Nazi "concentration camp guard" and asking if the reporter was a "German war criminal"... because he worked for a newspaper, the Evening Standard, which opposes some of Livingstone's leftist policies, and whose sister paper (the Daily Mail) once endorsed a British Fascist candidate -- seventy-two years ago.
According to the BBC story, as criticism mounted about his language, Livingstone attempted to defend himself against the tide by invoking the sexual-preference card (Livingstone is straight, but he was speaking at a gay-rights event):
The Mayor of London's office defended him saying he had been harassed at a "predominantly gay event".
The gay-rights group that put on the event, OutRage!, responded with some outrage of their own:
The gay rights group Outrage has said the mayor should not "embroil lesbians and gay men in his dispute with the Evening Standard" and that it would not fear a journalist reporting on Tuesday's party.
Now, Godwin's Law notwithstanding, I don't think it's a good idea for a court to suspend an elected official from performing his duties for saying something boorish. True, the UK has a different system than we, and they do not have the full protections of, e.g., our First Amendment (though they recognize freedom of speech, mostly through the common law).
But just as an ethical issue, punishing elected officials for expressing their opinions -- however boneheaded and outrageous -- is a terrible example, particularly at a time when Europe (including the UK) are protesting against the "cartoon violence" by insisting that freedom of speech is the most important right recognized by the West.
In addition, suspending Livingstone also punishes the electorate that, however misguidedly, duly elected this fellow as mayor of London, a post he has held since 2000, when it was created as an elective office. That's also a very, very bad idea (both suspending Livingstone -- and having elected him in the first place).
That out of the way, however, let's focus for a moment on Red Ken's comments. What kind of a buffoon casually compares a reporter to Nazis just because his newspaper opposes the buffoon's policies? Worse, while Livingstone might not have known the reporter was Jewish -- Finegold? -- he surely knows now; yet he still refuses to apologize for his asinine and infantile smears.
The most interesting question to me, giving Livingstone's history of bizarre and borderline treasonous behavior over the years, is why Londoners keep reelecting the dope. The following are from Wikipedia, so their accuracy and veracity may be suspect; but I've actually heard him say things at least as egregious, so I do believe these claims:
- In July 2004, he embraced Moslem scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who once said anent suicide bombings in Israel, "for us Muslim martyrdom is not the end of things but the beginning of the most wonderful of things."
- In March 2005, he called Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a "war criminal" and accused him of practicing ethnic cleansing.
- Three months later, he said in a BBC interview,
And I think the particular problem we have at the moment is that in the 1980s ... the Americans recruited and trained Osama Bin Laden, taught him how to kill, to make bombs, and set him off to kill the Russians and drive them out of Afghanistan.
They didn't give any thought to the fact that once he'd done that he might turn on his creators.
A lot of young people see the double standards, they see what happens in Guantanamo Bay, and they just think that there isn't a just foreign policy.
It should be needless to say, but probably is needful, that the last is a complete fabrication: we never "recruited" or "trained" Osama bin Laden.
During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, we sent some money and weaponry to the mujahidin fighting the Russians; but they were distributed through Pakistan, and we did not give Pakistan a list of groups we particularly liked.
One mujahidin group was Maktab al-Khadamāt (MaK), founded by Abdullah Azzam; after four years, bin Laden joined MaK and became a top deputy of Azzam. The pair had a falling out after the Soviets withdrew: Azzam wanted to establish a sharia state in Afghanistan and possibly move to "Palestine" to fight against Israel; bin Laden wanted to launch a global jihad against the West. Around this time, Azzam was assassinated; many intelligence specialists believe OBL had his mentor murdered so he could take over MaK and roll it into al-Qaeda, which was just then getting started.
But at no time did the United States directly fund bin Laden, Azzam, MaK, or al-Qaeda, or indirectly direct funds or arms specifically to them; at no time did we train or arm bin Laden; and bin Laden was never a CIA agent or stringer. In fact, there is no evidence we ever had any direct contact with bin Laden in any context. All this garbage was simply made up after 9/11 to smear Ronald Reagan, and Red Ken seized it gleefully.
Red Ken Livingstone is London's own Howard "the Mouth" Dean. At some point, I would hope that the sheer weight of stupidity emanating from the penumbra of Ken Livingstone would eventually sink down to the London voting booth, and he would be turned out to find an honest job -- if he can.
Until then, we can only sigh and invoke whatever patience we can muster.
(Interestingly, one of his pre-politics jobs was to work as a food critic for the Evening Standard... the same paper that Finegold works for now.)
February 14, 2006
This Water Has No Edge
When Dhimmi of the Month nominee Al Gore made his scurrilous attacks on the United States, many conservative pundits (or "pundants," as the president might say) made much of the fact that "there used to be an unspoken rule that politics ended at the water's edge." A commenter to that post, MTF, suggested:
The only other possibility is that he thinks the core voters on the Dimocrat side are blindly accepting and loyal, and his supporters just won't care what he says, or whom he speaks to, just so long as he squeaks enough anti-American rhetoric into the speech to satisfy the base.
This got me thinking that there is another possible reason why none on the left seems concerned that Gore made his remarks in a foreign country: it's possible that people are actually starting to lose the distinction between America and Abroad.
We see this also in the courtroom, even the Supreme Court, where some of the justices -- notably Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and David Souter -- have begun citing foreign statutes and even foreign court decisions (!) to decide American cases. It's hardly surprising that politicians (particularly those on the Left) travel freely to other countries and there express highly political sentiments without much regard to where they are or who they're addressing... they're always addressing the "international court of world opinion" anyway.
(I suspect most members of "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" are internationalists at heart, anyway.)
But I think what it really means is that people in general (not just Democrats) are starting to lose the idea that there is any difference between one location on Earth -- even here in America -- and any other.
With the advent of worldwide news, a broadcast from Karachi or Tokyo or Rwanda-Burundi looks and sounds the same as one from New York or Houston. It no longer "feels" foreign. The big distinction is between local news (about your city, your neighborhood) and "in other news," which means anywhere else; there is no longer any distinction between national and international news. A viewer sees a clip of Gore talking, and he can't tell where Gore is... so therefore, it ceases to matter.
Foreign correspondents may still live in the country of their posting; but what people see are the anchors, who typically don't travel; they converse with people in the foreign location as if they were in the same room. Even when they do go "on location" (a Hollywood term, by the way), they pop in, do the story, maybe stay overnight at the local Hilton, and then reappear back in New York the next day.
Because of the speed of modern travel and the excellence of communications, even in East African or South Asian hellholes, getting to or broadcasting from a foreign country really isn't any harder than getting to Chicago or Los Angeles... it just takes longer. And the cities even look the same, whether Buffalo or Beirut... excepting only some wartime damage (but no worse that we often see in American news about riots).
For this reason, I'm afraid the very distinction has been lost. I've noted this phenomenon before, but regarding history: because our schools do such a poor job teaching kids about the vast sweep of history, most people I talk to seem to think of all history as one undifferentiated mass called The Past, and that everything in The Past more or less happened around the same time. Thus, the Peloponnesian War, the Civil War, and Vietnam all happened roughly the same time -- in The Past -- and Thomas Jefferson routinely picked up the phone and called his friend Alexander the Great for wartime advice.
(TV shows like Xena probably contribute to this problem; even though they did it tongue in cheek, what sticks is that every historical figure was around at the same time, and what's more, they all knew each other!)
The loss of distinction between the United States and other countries is just as serious, because it entails forgetting the very concept of American exceptionalism... the idea that there is something unique and special about the United States that we should cherish. When our own Supreme Court looks, not to the Constitution of the United States, but to the caselaw of the European Union to decide American cases, we have a terrible, terrible problem.
We really are different; and among those differences are that we allow far more freedom of speech here than elsewhere. Most European countries have laws literally criminalizing "hate speech," which they define as anything at odds with established liberal EU protocols. Thus, saying "Islam as a religion is far too accepting of terrorism by its most extreme believers" would literally be illegal in quite a few EU countries, because it could be called hate speech against Moslems.
In America, we understand that a person who says such things is just expressing his own opinion. We even accept anti-American statements; we dislike them, but contrary to what Democrats say, we don't round such people up and put them in Gitmo (the Democrats seem to have confused us with their favorite European countries).
But since other countries, especially tyrannies like Saudi Arabia, do not have such freedoms, the people there tend to assume that any sentiments expressed by top politicians must be more or less official positions of the American government. I know this is true in Japan, for example, because Sachi reads a lot of Japanese bulletin boards; and that is exactly what they say: when American politicians go abroad and to make scurrilous statements, their listeners assume they're speaking for the American government.
That is why we used to hold that "politics stops at the water's edge": since you're assumed to be speaking for us all, you should restrict yourself to sentiments that we all share. But with the loss of the distinction between the United States and other countries, folks have lost their core understanding why it should matter more what someone says abroad than what he says at home... and also what the American Constitution says more than what laws in other countries say.
The two phenomena are intimately linked, both deriving from the same problem: with an increasingly worldwide society, the water no longer even has an edge. Gore merely made a "campaign stop" in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, just like he might make one in Concord, New Hampshire. He likely doesn't see the distinction, even today... or why saying something anti-American in the former should be any more or less offensive than saying the same thing in the latter.
All he knows is that the crowd loved him, they just loved him... in the Middle East.
February 8, 2006
The Last Remake of Beau Prophetism
I know, I know; I'd hoped that Abbot and Costello would have killed off this thread, like they tried to do with Frankenstein. But like that venerable construction of the good doctor, Radical Prophetism yet lives!
This entry is mercifully short, however (by Big Lizards standards).
Hugh Hewitt, who still agrees with me, is currently flogging the analogy of Spain under Franco during WWII: he worries about countries like Pakistan that currently aid us in the GWOT but which might be pushed into the arms of the jihadis by these cartoons. But I have a different analogy in mind, focusing on the very beginning.
I agree that we must eventually have it out with militant Islamism over freedom of speech vs. sharia law: in a free society, obeying a religious code like sharia (or the 613 laws of Judaism) is optional; Moslems not only want to make it mandatory in their territories but in ours as well... and that is completely and utterly unacceptable and will spark a war to end all wars if they seriously try to impose it. I agree in principle with the Danish editor, Flemming Rose, whose paper, Jyllands-Posten, first published the cartoons:
When I go to a mosque, I behave by the rules that exist in that holy house. I will not stand up and make a cartoon of the holy prophet in a mosque. But I think if any religion insists that I, as a non-Muslim, should submit to their taboos, then I don't think they're showing me respect. I think they're asking for my submission. This is a key issue in this debate.
But there is another point to be made, and that is that you do not fight a war on the enemy's terms... not if you want to win; you make the enemy fight it on your terms. And here is the analogy that sums up my point:
That is the problem. I want to fight the free-speech battle on the high ground of, e.g., the Mark Steyn piece that Hewitt keeps mentioning ("It's the Demography, Stupid"), which discusses the demographics of mass Moslem immigration into Europe; this is a piece that not only can be defended on free-speech grounds but is also an extraordinarily important work in itself, and could well turn the tide of the war -- if Europe were to take it seriously.
Alternatively, we could find a really, really good piece on freedom versus tyranny, then pay a bunch of newspapers in Moslem countries to run it (which is the normal practice in many places). That sort of piece will divide the jihadis from those Moslems in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and elsewhere who want to live in freedom.
But these stupid cartoons, which should still be defended as free speech (in fact, must be so defended, now that the battle is engaged on the other side), are nevertheless offensive and in bad taste... putting us once again in the box of having to defend the nearly indefensible, rather than the great. It is not the ground we would have chosen for this war; by handing such ammunition to our enemies, Jyllands-Posten and Flemming Rose gave them the gift of selecting where and when we would fight and over what provocation.
It couldn't have gone any better for the jihadists if they'd planned the whole thing from the beginning -- right down to the original publication. I'm not saying Rose is an Islamist; certainly he is not. But he is a dupe and a useful idiot... to the terrorists: he fell into their trap and dragged the rest of us along with him.
Hit Me, Natalie. Hit Me Quick.
Hit me with your big clue stick.
I was driving home today from Fry's Electronics, listening to the local country station (KZLA). Mind, this is in Southern California. Along comes Mr. D.J., and he announces they're going to do a five-song set... of the Dixie Chicks.
So I'm already gagging (sorry, "gag me with a spoon;" I forgot my Val-Speak for a moment), but the next words made me do a Danny-Thomas spit-take with a mouthful of Caffeine-free Diet Dr. Pepper:
Here's a five-song set from the Dixie Chicks... and we're dedicating this set to all of our boys fighting overseas!
Egah. Yeah, and while you're at it, why not send our boys a bunch of autographed copies of Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter?
What goes through people's minds -- besides the whistling of the wind?
February 2, 2006
Julian Channels His Inner Harry...
...So what else is new?
Assuming we can believe World Net Daily -- although they're not usually a good source, in this case I do believe them, as Julian Bond has made many such statements in the past -- Bond went off on another one of his psychotic rants yesterday:
Civil rights activist and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond delivered a blistering partisan speech at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina last night, equating the Republican Party with the Nazi Party and characterizing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her predecessor, Colin Powell, as "tokens."
"The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side," he charged.
Another couple of lowlights:
He referred to former Attorney General John Ashcroft as J. Edgar Ashcroft. He compared Bush's judicial nominees to the Taliban.
And a blast from Julian Bond's past:
In July 2001, Bond said, "[Bush] has selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics, appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing, and chosen Cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection."
The calculation is simple; repugnant to basic human decency (as repugnant as white-on-black racism), but still simple: Democrats have not won the white vote in a national election in decades. From a 2003 Jack Lessenberry article in the MetroTimes, an "alternative" newspaper in Detroit:
Here’s a safe political prediction. Even if Democrats’ wildest dreams come true, even if they win next year’s presidential election, President George W. Bush will win a solid majority of white people’s votes.
How do I know that? Because Republicans always win the white vote for president. The last time Democrats carried a majority of the white vote was in 1964, when this was a vastly different world.
Democrats have their own explanation why that is:
How did this all happen? Republicans always have been mostly the party of the "haves" as opposed to the "have-nots," at least since Abraham Lincoln was shot [by a Democrat, by the way -- the Mgt.]. But for a long time, because of Lincoln and the virulent racism of Southern Democrats, Republicans competed for what black votes there were.
That all changed for good in 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson committed his party to the support of civil rights for African-Americans. Barry Goldwater, that year’s Republican presidential candidate, opposed a major civil rights bill. Immediately, blacks deserted his party forever. And the Deep South became Republican.
But this is political nonsense, and Lessenberry needs to retake his history class. In that same 1964 election, a very popular Southern governor and virulent white supremacist was also running for president: Georgia Gov. George Wallace ran strongly in the South as well as a couple of midwestern states (Wisconsin and Indiana)... in the Democratic primary. You might think that someone like Wallace's fellow Southern governor Strom Thurmond would have supported him; you would be be wrong: Thurmond chose 1964 to reject the Democratic Party and also to reject George Wallace and turn instead to the blatantly non-racist Barry Goldwater.
It's possible Lessenberry is actually aware of the terrible problem with his "racism" explanation of the split between the two parties, because he makes a feeble attempt to paint Goldwater as a racist, noting that he "opposed a major civil rights bill." What he fails to mention is that Barry Goldwater supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act all the way through the Senate debate on it... until the Democrats, in a betrayal, changed the bill to make illegal not only government racism but also private-party racism.
At that point, many supporters dropped off, including Goldwater. But surely it's possible to think of another explanation for opposing the federal government outlawing private racial discrimination other than being a racist oneself: a belief in individual liberty, for example, including the liberty to be wrong. Democrats have been hurling this smear at Goldwater for decades -- despite the fact that if you look at Goldwater's legislative history, he was always a champion of individual rights, whether the individual was white, black, Hispanic, or any other race.
And this history points the way to the real reason the parties began to split on race, as the Claremont Institute notes:
Some Republicans seem to think that the Southern white allegiance still hangs on some vague racial prejudice. This would mean that the main strength of the party — the white vote in the South — is actually a liability to Republicans.
But the South is no such liability. Studies have shown quite clearly that the region is strongly Republican because of issues like abortion, gun rights, and national defense. Racism or a desire for segregation plays no real role in the Republican advantage, in the South or elsewhere. Indeed, the chorus against Lott proves one thing: racism is simply illegitimate in America.
The fact is that starting in 1964, the Democratic Party veered hard Left -- and began to pander to special interest groups against the general interest of the majority. The particular beneficiaries of this pandering were blacks. Again, we're not talking about civil rights here; Republicans supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the same level as non-Southern Democrats. Anybody motivated by race in 1964 and 1968 moved to Wallace, not to Goldwater and Nixon, neither of whom was a racist.
(Nixon's "Southern strategy" was never to play to racism to steal the South from the Democrats but rather to play to traditional values that were being denounced by Democrats and leftists in the streets, such as patiotism, Capitalism, sexual morality, and democracy.)
And ever since Lyndon Johnson's landslide victory over Goldwater, Democrats have been unable to win national election unless they hold the Republican white vote to 55% and win the black vote by at least 90% and win the non-white Hispanic vote by at least 65%. Kerry, for example, only held the Republican white margin to 58%, not 55%; and he only got 88% of the black vote and only won the non-white Hispanic vote by 53%.
Had Kerry gotten 45%, 90%, and 65%, he would have won the election. But without a massive margin of black and Hispanic votes, he -- in fact, any Democrat -- loses, because the Democrats are so uncompetitive in the white vote.
The Hispanic vote is very much in play, and unless the Democrat is himself a Hispanic, he has to appeal to that demographic the same way he would try to appeal to whites: by identifying various issue that are important to Hispanics and taking positions that resonate with them. But there is only one way the Democrats can guarantee, year in and year out, that they get such gigantic, 90%+ majorities among blacks; and that is to appeal to the most blatant black-on-white racism possible.
Hence, what Julian Bond does is actually crucial for Democratic campaigns: the Democrats must convince black voters anew each election cycle that Republicans are all vicious Nazis, David-Duke cheerleaders, and white-hooded nightriders out to lynch blacks and reinstitute Jim Crow. If they fail to accomplish that task, if their portion of the black vote drops below a critical level, then numerous states swing from the Democrats to the Republicans... and the Democrats lose. This is true both in presidential and midterm elections.
That's why the NAACP put on an ad in 2000 accusing George W. Bush of dragging James Byrd to death behind his pickup truck. That's why the Democrats never muzzle people like Julian Bond, Harry Belafonte, Kweisi Mfume, Cynthia McKinney, Sheila Jackson Lee, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, Major Owens, or Jesse Jackson, and indeed engage in the spectable every cycle of bending over and kissing race-baiter Al Sharpton's ring: the party believes that without catering to the most extreme of black opinion, from racial preferences to "reparations" for slavery, and without accusing every Republican of have a white robe under his bed, they will lose that massive majority on which they depend... and history suggests they're right.
Sadly, that means there is simply no chance that the Democratic party will change its racemongering for the forseeable future, because to do so would be political suicide. So what else is new?
January 31, 2006
Sheehan Demands Impeachment of Hillary, Kerry, Reid, Pelosi
Impeachment, conviction, removel from office, and that they all be tried for "crimes against humanity."
What, really? Well, perhaps Cindy Sheehan didn't even know that was what she was doing. But earlier today, in the little "alternative State of the Union" event sponsored jointly by CODEPINK and the Elves, Gnomes, and Little Men's Chowder and Marching Society, alongside fellow nutbags Ramsey Clark, David Swanson, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and like-minded souls, Sheehan declared that "anyone who said anything about Saddam and WMDs" should be impeached, removed, and tried for crimes against humanity. Cushlamochree!
I will be charitable and assume she meant only those who agreed with the CIA, the Clinton administration, the Bush administration, Downing Street, Jacques Chirac, Gerhardt Schroeder, and Vladimir Putin that Saddam Hussein actually did have WMD (which he did; we found tons)... not literally everyone who said anything (which would include people who denied it). But even so, that dragnet would scoop up nearly every prominent Democrat in the House and Senate leadership.
After the PINKFIZZ, Lynn Woolsey -- representative of Marin and Sonoma counties, a.k.a. "whine country" -- invited Sheehan to watch the actual State of the Union address (Gallery 5, seat 7, row A, if anybody cares), on Sheehan's parole not to do anything disruptive. Woolsey gave her the ticket, and Sheehad scuttled up to the House Gallery... whereupon she was promptly cuffed and busted for unlawfully demonstrating by unfurling her t-shirt, emblazoned with an anti-war slogan.
(I wonder how Rep. Woolsey feels now about wasting a precious ticket on Mother "I Can't Keep My Word For Two Minutes" Sheehan? And speaking of which -- when was the last time Sheehan saw her son? She has another, you know, besides Casey. Or her husband, for that matter.)
And now that you bring up Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who gave the Democratic response to the State of the Union -- no word whether Zell Miller or his brother Dennis was to give the alternative Democratic response -- I had a hard time with one phrase Kaine used. I can't make out what it means; perhaps one of the commenters can enlighten me.
Kaine demanded that the government confiscate, through extra taxes, the "excess profits" of oil companies as a way to make gasoline more abundant. My question is, what exactly is an excess profit? Kaine must have had some formula in mind, but danged if I can suss it out from his statement. As a small business owner, I don't see any level of profit as "excess," however beyond my reach it may be.
Oh well. Just another day in the life of the reality-based party.
January 25, 2006
With the Goo-Goo-Googley Eyes
Now let me see if I have gotten this bull by the tail, so I can look the facts in the face.
Google -- the search engine guys we all know and loathe -- made a big to-do earlier this month about refusing to cooperate with the United States government when the feds wanted to do some data-mining to see how many kids were accessing porn sites:
The exception among major search engines was Google Inc., which said it would "vigorously" fight the government's requests.
The government had asked Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., for a broad amount of data, including a million random Web addresses and records of Google searches over any week, the Associated Press reported....
Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., Yahoo, Sunnyvale, Calif., and AOL, Dulles, Va. unit of Time Warner Inc., said they provided the data without handing over personal information on subscribers.
"We did comply with their request for data in regards to helping protect children in a way that ensured we also protected the privacy of our customers," MSN spokesman Adam Sohn said in a statement. "We were able to share aggregated query data, not search results, that did not include any personally identifiable information at their request....”
While it appeared the government was not seeking personal data that would identify individuals, there was still reason for concern, Sullivan said. [Danny Sullivan is an editor of Search Engine Watch.]
"Nothing suggests that they wanted to know who did the searches in any way," Sullivan said. "Having said this, such a move absolutely should breed some paranoia. They didn't ask for data this time, but next time, they might."
All right, I can understand that; Google simply doesn't want to compromise its "Don't be evil" corporate motto (I rib you not) by climbing into bed with a government, rather than catering to its user base. Um... except when some real money might be at stake, that is. Then, they're willing to bed the Devil himself:
Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin said his company's decision to self-censor its Chinese search system followed a change of heart over how best to foster the free flow of information.
Google said on Tuesday it will block politically sensitive terms on its new China search site and not offer e-mail, chat and blog publishing services, which authorities fear can become flashpoints for social or political protest. Those actions go further than many of its biggest rivals in China....
"There is no question. Google would tell you that going into China is about making money, not bringing democracy," John Palfrey, author of a study on Chinese Internet censorship and a law professor at Harvard Law School, on Google's action.
Some uncharitable folks might purport to see some sort of dichotomy here: Google makes a big show about refusing to cooperate with the American government -- which won't punish them, even financially, for their petulance -- but they wriggle like a puppy for the Chinese government, which would have blocked them completely if they hadn't agreed to be, let's say, a little bit evil. Think of the money they would have lost by refusing just that miniscule bit of evilness!
But of course, Reuters hastens to reassure us, it's not just the Chinese who demand (successfully) that Google cooperate with censorship: there's Germany, France -- and of course the Great Satan of Censorship, George W. Bush and the Americans:
In different political circumstances, Google already notifies users of its German and French search services when it blocks access to material such as banned Nazi sites in Europe.
"France and Germany require censorship for Nazi sites, and the U.S. requires censorship based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA). These various countries also have laws on child pornography," he said.
The DCMA law requires U.S. Internet service providers to block access to Web sites violating copyrights on materials such as music or movies.
Yeah, sure, Google is helping China block political sites, speech, and thoughts that might discomfit the one-party Communist dictatorship, maybe even opening the eyes of Chinese subjects to freedom and democracy. But America is just as bad, since they insist Google not participate in theft of copyrighted materials or the distribution of child pornography. Surely you can see the parallel!
Um, Mr. President Sergey Brin? Perhaps it's time to amend that corporate motto.
(Any readers of Big Lizards who would care to suggest a new, updated, and more accurate motto for Google, please leave a comment to that effect... bearing in mind the Reptillian Comment Policy, of course!)
More On Cindy Sheehan
From Yahoo news: US anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan hails Venezuela's Chavez
...Is she still here?
January 16, 2006
The Not So Quick and the Nearly Dead
Desperation mounting, the enemy now realizes they have only one last chance. Defeated on the field of arms, they must turn to their secret weapon... their tongues, inspired by the cause, must lure the infidels and crusaders into such guilt and despair that they come to believe they've lost a war that they've already won, persuading them to flee the field in the nick of time -- before the enemy loses everything.
But the enemy is unsure of its allies; they're not very reliable. Many of the Sunni rejectionists, the only ones who could validly make the claim to be real "insurgents" and gain thereby the sympathy of the world, are now rejecting the path of the enemy: they're laying down their arms and joining in the hateful democracy of the infidels.
Worse, the enemy's other allies -- the foreign jihadis -- have proven so bloodthirsty and ineffectual that they have utterly lost the hearts and minds of their Arab brothers in the heart of Mesopotamia.
The enemy is nearing the end. They have nothing left to give, having given it all for their cause. At last, in near despair, the enemy turns to one of its earlier, revered sheikhs, a man renowned during his tenure as only the elect of the prophet can be... a man who still has such a following among the enemy that they hush when he approaches, and they come as close to bowing as they can for any man (other than themselves, for the enemy has an egocentric streak as wide as the limousines in which they're driven by their lackeys). They beg the Great Sheikh, the erstwhile leader of the cause, to speak, to bring back the magic of the Elect one more time.
And Uncle Walter is moved by their devotion... for speak he does:
"It's my belief that we should get out now," Cronkite said in a meeting with reporters....
"We had an opportunity to say to the world and Iraqis after the hurricane disaster that Mother Nature has not treated us well and we find ourselves missing the amount of money it takes to help these poor people out of their homeless situation and rebuild some of our most important cities in the United States," he said. "Therefore, we are going to have to bring our troops home."
And among the enemy, a ragged cheer breaks forth, quickly swallowed in the holy solmnity of the moment. The Great Sheikh won perhaps the most magnificent victory of the cause, but so many years ago, in 1968. Those among the enemy, the Anointed, who are old enough still to remember the glory days bow their heads and smile at the terror that the Great Sheikh inspired in the quavering hearts of the infidels and crusaders:
Cronkite said one of his proudest moments came at the end of a 1968 documentary he made following a visit to Vietnam during the Tet offensive. Urged by his boss to briefly set aside his objectivity to give his view of the situation, Cronkite said the war was unwinnable and that the U.S. should exit.
Then-President Lyndon Johnson reportedly told a White House aide after that, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."
The bitter, hated leader of the crusaders at the time was so disheartened by the magic of the Great Sheikh that he fell into despair and gave up his mighty emirate, wasting his few remaining days in penance and regret, a bootless attempt at expiation for his monstrous crime. But the Anointed wasted no pity on the wretch: he had been one of them, until he fell into apostasy, espousing the cause of the Great Satan and even extending its reach against the Holy Land of the Caucasus -- for a time, until the might of the Great Sheikh cowed him, defeated him, and rolled back the satanic victory, returning the conquered land to the Vision: Indochine was once again part of the ummah of the Anointed.
Surely the cause would smile upon the Great Sheikh again today. Surely his words will work the same magic as before! After all, are not the Elect every bit as devoted to the cause as they were in 1968? And that must count, even in the eyes of the infidels and crusaders who make up the armed forces and the execrable "democracy" of the Great Satan even today. Surely that blind devotion must count for something!
January 14, 2006
Michael, not Gerhard -- though of course I have no problem with dumping the latter from the Russian payroll, too.
Daniel Weintraub, on his excellent Sacramento Bee-blog California Insider, says that the former chairman of the California Republican Party -- did you know there was one? -- is urging Cal-GOP to dump Gov. Schwarzenegger and support someone else for the governor's race this year:
Former California Republican Party chairman Michael Schroeder says Schwarzenegger should not run again, and if he does, the Republican Party should withdraw its endorsement. He was, Schroeder says, a "longshot who failed to work out."
I'm thinking Dan Lungren is ripe for another turn around the block, or maybe we should see if Bill Simon or Matt Fong is interested. Perhaps we could offer an inducement -- an annual pass to Disneyland and Universal Studios, say -- and attract some interest from Alan Keyes. But of course, there are numerous cookie-pedaling Girl Scouts, middle-school kids in Needles, and marauding marsupials in the LA Zoo who haven't had their shot yet (and who would probably do better against Phil Angelides than any of the Republicans that Schroeder prefers).
I should note for those outside the Golden State that if the Cal-GOP's position had prevailed, and their preferred candidate, Tom McClintock, had been the only Republican running in the 2003 recall, that almost certainly means we would have Gov. Cruz Bustamante today -- along with species-neutral marriage, no capital (or non-capital) punishment, a state income tax higher than the federal one, and a state Department of UFOs, Bigfoot, and Other Cryptozoological Phenomena. We would currently be negotiating with President Vicente Fox over whether we kept Sacramento or returned it to Mexico with the rest of Southern California. (Bustamante is a rotten negotiatior: Fox's position would prevail, and we would be forced to keep it.)
Great strategy, Schroeder! If we carefully follow your advice from here on out, I'm sure we can move from being a minority party to a nonexistent party in just a few short months. So the Cal-GOP leadership is proficient in at least one area -- fratricide!
UPDATE: One of the Freds notes that Schroeder's op-ed on the subject, which I didn't notice that Daniel Weintraub had linked, is This governor should be terminated (free registration required). Thanks, Xrlq!
December 29, 2005
Farris Hassan's Day Off
Heart In Right Place; Brain MIA
Look, I know this kid is an "idealist" (his term), and he's actually more or less on our side. But being an idealist is tough work requiring a realistic understanding of the world where you intend to practice your "ideals;" and at age sixteen, he doesn't yet have the chops. He's "jumping the queue," so to speak:
AP: U.S. Teen Runs Off to Iraq by Himself
by Jason Straziuso
Dec 29, 2005
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Maybe it was the time the taxi dumped him at the Iraq-Kuwait border, leaving him alone in the middle of the desert. Or when he drew a crowd at a Baghdad food stand after using an Arabic phrase book to order. Or the moment a Kuwaiti cab driver almost punched him in the face when he balked at the $100 fare.
But at some point, Farris Hassan, a 16-year-old from Florida, realized that traveling to Iraq by himself was not the safest thing he could have done with his Christmas vacation.
And he didn't even tell his parents. [Emphasis added]
Neither "safest" nor sanest. Taking a high-school course in "immersive journalism," Hassan (his parents immigrated here from Iraq in 1970) decided it would be, like, way cool to fly to the Middle East, take a taxi to Baghdad, and, you know, like, sorta hang with the, like, people there. You know. (Didn't this used to be called gonzo journalism when the late Hunter S. Thompson was doing it?)
From a self-indulgent "essay," which Hassan mailed to his parents from the Kuwait City airport:
"Those terrorists are not human but pure evil. For their goals to be thwarted, decent individuals must answer justice's call for help. Unfortunately altruism is always in short supply. Not enough are willing to set aside the material ambitions of this transient world, put morality first, and risk their lives for the cause of humanity. So I will."
As the theme from Dragnet goes, dumb dumb-dumb dumb. Fortunately for Hassan, the gods who look after fools and teenagers were on duty, and he failed several times to ride into Iraq in a taxi. He eventually got there by the (slightly) safer route of flying into Baghdad International Airport, and he ended up at an American hotel there (AP doesn't say which one; the Palestine Hotel, perhaps, where the journalists stay).
At that moment, he abruptly awoke from his Pulitzer pipe dream and turned himself into the AP, which summoned the American embassy. The 101st Airborne will evidently accompany him to BIA, pour him onto a plane, and send him back home (which of course means several soldiers wasted ferrying an American youth around Iraq, rather than patrolling or training Iraqi Army units).
When he gets back, I'm sure dozens of people will ask him why he did it. I can already tell you his answer: "it seemed like a good idea at the time!"
Youth is wasted on the young.
December 12, 2005
The French: You Gotta Love 'Em
Dr. Phat Tony's has a hilarious collection of French-bashing quotes. Here are some of my favorites:
- "Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion." -- Norman Schwartzkopf
- "As far as I'm concerned, war always means failure." -- Jacques Chirac, President of France
"As far as France is concerned, you're right." -- Rush Limbaugh
- "I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me." -- General George S. Patton
I wonder why we find French-bashing so darned funny? Is it because they're always so smug and preachy?
Or are we just jealous because we're not as "sophisticated" as they? (Our riots are nothing compared to theirs, and nobody can work up a good theme-park blockade like the French!)
Perhaps we're still angry about the whole idea of fish-eggs sitting on top of smelly cheese on top of squares of stale bread.
In any case, none of these jokes would work with the British or the Italians. So there.
December 11, 2005
Dario, Fo of the World
Dario Fo, an überleftist playwright, Nobel Prize winner -- say, where have I heard that combination before? -- and candidate for Mayor of Milan, has rushed into production a play about the lonely vigil of Cindy Sheehan (and presumably her rather massive and worshipful entourage, though I'm not sure whether any of them has a speaking part):
"Peace Mom" received its world premiere in London on Saturday night, starring British actress Frances de la Tour, with both Sheehan and Italian dramatist Fo in the audience.
The one-woman show is based on extracts from Sheehan's letters to Bush and other writings. De la Tour delivered the monologues beneath large pictures of Sheehan's son Casey and a tank in the Iraqi desert in front of a plume of fire....
The play was rushed into production to conclude a day-long conference of activists opposed to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, with de la Tour reading some passages from a script.
But relax; I'm sure the play will be every bit as fair and even-handed as his other farces and satires, which have gotten him kicked out of virtually every theater group he has ever joined, banned (off and on) in most countries, and have drawn death threats from the Italian Left, the Fascisti, condemnation by the Church, and a tear-gas grenade hurled during a performance of one of his plays. (Another play exalted the PLO... and actual members performed in its cast).
"Frances did such an amazing job of conveying my feelings of anger and betrayal," a tearful Sheehan said after the play.
She said she hoped the play would help "put a human face" on the war.
There is a peculiar belief among leftists that if a person manages to enrage people on all sides of the political spectrum, that must mean he is telling the truth (perhaps even speaking it to power). This is, of course, utter nonsense: it is entirely possible to offend everybody merely by being a big enough fugghead. (I just blurted the name "Bill Burkett" out loud, Tourette's-like, for some inexplicable reason.)
Fo, the leftist playwright who won the 1997 Nobel Prize for Literature, said his wife and artistic partner Franca Rame would star in a longer final version of the play in Italy.
I can barely contain my anticipation. I am giddy with excitement.
I suspect "Mother Sheehan," having evidently abandoned her family (including her surviving son), has finally found her ideological soulmate: a man who hates everyone and everything. Surely this must be minute seventeen or eighteeen for Cindy Sheehan by now... I wonder when the bill for overtime will come due?
December 6, 2005
The Dean Drive
In the 1950s, a crackpot named Norman Dean "invented" what he called, with characteristic modesty, the Dean Drive. This device supposedly produced linear momentum without any reaction mass: that is, Dean claimed it would just zoom off in a straight line without having to expel anything behind it, like a jet or rocket must.
The fabled John W. Campbell, jr., editor of Astounding Science Fiction, the best science-fiction magazine ever published, had by then entered his crank phase, championing such cockamamie ideas as the the Hieronymous Device and Dianetics. Campbell siezed upon the Dean Drive as the epitome of his almost religous faith in the ability of backyard inventers to circumvent the fundamental laws of the universe. Like, you know, gravity.
Today, we have a new Dean Drive: the drive by Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean to circumvent the fundamental laws of electoral politics. In this case, by getting the entire Democratic Party to run on a platform of higher taxes at home and defeatism abroad... and imagining that this will levitate the party to victory in 2006 and 2008.
Dean's descent into utter crackpottery began during the 2004 elections, but it continues apace as he desperately battles to bring about a great defeat in Iraq, for which he presumably will claim credit as he runs for president in 2008 (hat tip to the enigmatic eloi, Michelle Malkin). Some samples for your election delectation:
Dean: US Won't Win in Iraq
Posted By: Jim Forsyth
San Antonio WOAI.com
December 5th, 2005
(SAN ANTONIO) -- Saying the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong," Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean predicted today that the Democratic Party will come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all US forces within two years....
"I've seen this before in my life. [From the sidelines, he means. -- the Mgt.] This is the same situation we had in Vietnam. Everybody then kept saying, 'just another year, just stay the course, we'll have a victory.' Well, we didn't have a victory, and this policy cost the lives of an additional 25,000 troops because we were too stubborn to recognize what was happening."
Aha, so the Murtha-Pelosi Proposal is about to become the new sailing orders for the Democratic Party... excellent! (Imagine this said in my best impersonation of Monty Burns.) What other suggestions does Mean Howard Dean have to offer?
"The White House wants us to have a permanent commitment to Iraq. This is an Iraqi problem. President Bush got rid of Saddam Hussein and that was a great thing [that's mighty white of him -- BL], but that could have been done in a very different way. [Perhaps levitating him out of the country by use of the Dean Drive! -- BL] But now that we're there we need to figure out how to leave. 80% of Iraqis want us to leave, and it's their country."
Translation: been there, done that. Time to go. Who's on Letterman tonight? I really love that turn of phrase: "now that we're there we need to figure out how to leave." For such a short trip, we could have walked.
Here's a rather startling claim:
And we need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country to fight (terrorist leader Musab) Zarqawi, who came to Iraq after this invasion.
Gosh, that will come as a great shock to the Kurdish victims of Zarqawi's terrorism during his (formerly presumed) year running Ansar al-Islam in northern (Kurdistan) Iraq from 2002 to 2003 -- a year before "this invasion," while Saddam Hussein was still firmly in charge. Starting right after Zarqawi received medical treatment in a Baghdad hospital restricted to leading members of Hussein's inner circle.
Governor Doctor Dean seems not only "stuck on stupid" but stuck in the 70s. First, there are the incessant Vietnam comparisons; and now this:
Dean also compared the controversy over pre-war intelligence to the Watergate scandal which brought down Richard Nixon's presidency in 1974.
"What we see today is very much like what was going in Watergate," Dean said.
Well! Who can argue with that?
All I can say, contemplating four more years of Harry Reid (D-Las Vegas) running the Democratic caucus in the Senate, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as Minority Leader in the House, and Howard Dean as the philosophical mentor of the party as chairman, is "bring -- it -- on!"
Victim of Mad How Disease? Dean puts his finger on the root of the problem.
Norman Dean never had any success selling his "Dean Drive": his secretiveness, lying, and raging paranoia always got in the way. That plus the fact that Dean's idea was a nonsensical pile of junk to begin with. I doubt that his contemporary namesake will do any better... and mostly for the same reasons.
November 29, 2005
Those "Corrupt" Republicans
As Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) blubbered out a confession yesterday to accepting bribes large enough to intrigue the publishers of the Guiness Book of World Records, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pounced like a cat on catnip:
"This offense is just the latest example of the culture of corruption that pervades the Republican-controlled Congress, which ignores the needs of the American people to serve wealthy special interests and their cronies," Ms. Pelosi said in a statement.
Brace yourselves for a cold blast of truth: Pelosi is technically right -- but in the larger sense, she's wrong.
She is almost certainly correct that there are more corrupt Republicans in Congress today (even as a percent of membership) than Democrats. Why? For the simple reason that Republicans are in charge. Back when the Democrats ran the joint, they were the corrupt ones, from Dan Rostenkowski to Tom Foley to Tom Daschle to Bill Clinton (Marc Rich ring any bells, Sen. Hillary?) Of the "Keating Five" senators, four were Democrats: Alan Cranston (D-CA); Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ); John Glenn (D-OH); and Don Riegle (D-MI). (The only Republican was John McCain from Arizona. Heh.)
Do we detect a pattern here? Let's reason this through. Suppose you're a corrupt businessman or foreign politician or fugitive from justice, and you think a little judicious squeeze will help your case. You have some significant lettuce to spread around. How much of it do you plan to give to pathetic, powerless losers like Harry Reid (D-Las Vegas), Nancy Pelosi (D-Baghdad By the Bay), and John F. Kerry (D-Hyannisport)? Wouldn't it be a little more rational to extend the largess to the folks who can actually steer the car, rather than just sit in the back seat and bitch about the driving?
That said, Pelosi is also wrong: there is no indication that the Republicans are any more corrupt than were the Democrats when they were in charge; in fact less, but probably only because the GOP hasn't been in power long enough to really institutionalize corruption, the way the Democrats in the House did in their decades of rule. There is no distinctively Republican "culture of corruption;" the culture of corruption attends whoever sits in the big chair, has the biggest staff, and the office with a view of the Capitol Mall -- not a view of the garbage dump.
It's power, not party, that corrupts.
And of course, much of the so-called Republican "corruption" isn't corrupt by the normal meaning of the word (payoffs, kickbacks, bribes and suchlike): Tom DeLay stands (falsely) accused, not of accepting bribes, but of bypassing campaign finance reform laws to get around Democratic gerrymandering; Bill Frist is under investigation for the sale (by a blind trust) of stock that he already owned; and Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted for lying about having told reporters that the wife of disgraced former ambassador Joe Wilson worked for the CIA. None of these fits the classic definition of corruption, which requires accepting money for performing favors.
So the next time your wiseguy coworker smirks about those "corrupt" Republicans, instead of launching into a three-hour peroration on the baselessness of the charges against DeLay and Frist and the overexpanded reach of the special counsel in the "Leakgate" probe, just grin and say, "of course! Who the hell's going to bribe the losing candidate?"
November 17, 2005
"Cut and Run" -- the Slap Back
Antimedia writes in the comments to "Cut and Run" Now Out In the Open that the White House has already responded to Rep. Murtha's call for capitulation to Musab Zarqawi and the merry men of al-Qaeda in Iraq:
Statement by the Press Secretary on Congressman Murtha's Statement
Congressman Murtha is a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America. So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party. The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists. After seeing his statement, we remain baffled -- nowhere does he explain how retreating from Iraq makes America safer.
"The policy positions of Michael Moore... surrender to the terrorists... retreating from Iraq" -- no-siree, this is not the president's father's administration anymore!
This spills more wind into the sails of those of us who desperately want to see Bush really start to fight back against unuseful idiots like Rep. Murtha.
"Cut and Run" Now Out In the Open
It's good to know that even the Democrats have a few folks who never get the memo.
Hawkish Democrat Calls for Iraq Pullout
Nov 17, 2005
By Liz Sidoti
WASHINGTON (AP) - An influential House Democrat who voted for the Iraq war called Thursday for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, another sign of growing unease in Congress about the conflict.
"It is time for a change in direction," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats. "Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region."
House Republicans assailed Murtha's position as one of abandonment and surrender, and accused Democrats of playing politics with the war. "They want us to retreat. They want us to wave the white flag of surrender to the terrorists of the world," Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said in a statement.
Murtha estimated that all U.S. troops could be pulled out within six months. A decorated Vietnam veteran, he choked back tears during his remarks to reporters.
And I suspect the Democratic leadership was choking back rage and fury: here they are, desperately trying to convince the American people that the Democrats can be trusted with national-security policy, that we don't have to worry that they'll cut and run from Iraq if they get into power... and along comes "an influential House Democrat," "one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats," and "a decorated Vietnam veteran" who nakedly says exactly that!
Note that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refused even to attend Murtha's press conference and was at pains later to distance herself from his tearful offer to surrender the United States to Musab Zarqaqi.
And this is not just some wackjob back-bencher, either... Murtha is about as good as it gets in Democratic circles; he has what passes for gravitas there:
The top Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, Murtha has earned bipartisan respect for his grasp of military issues over three decades in Congress. He planned to introduce a resolution Thursday that, if passed by both the House and the Senate, would force the president to withdraw U.S. troops.
This is about the greatest present that the Democrats could give Bush and the Republicans, and coming at such a critical moment, too! Every Democrat in the House and Senate will once again have to go on record as advocating either an immediate, John-Kerryesque surrender in the global war on terrorism -- thus infuriating the American people -- or else advocating that we follow Bush's strategy of staying the course... thus enraging their paymasters at MoveOn.org, International ANSWER (another stupid acronym), and the Tides Foundation!
Could this possibly get any better?
By the way, two pet peeves of mine. Number one:
First elected to Congress in 1974, Murtha is known as an ally of uniformed officers in the Pentagon and on the battlefield. The perception on Capitol Hill is that when the congressman makes a statement on military issues, he's talking for those in uniform.
The fallacy of using proxy measurements instead of just measuring the actual event of interest
We also see this in the liberal "proof" that there is pervasive "right-wing bias" in the media: the media consist of big corporations -- Knight Ridder, Columbia Broadcasting System, and so forth; but we all know that corporations are right wing; therefore, the New York Times and the Washington Post, being corporations, must be biased towards the right wing.
In law, the principle is that of "best evidence," at least if Perry Mason (my main source of authoritative legal knowledge) knew what he was talking about: the best evidence of what is in, say, a will is the will itself, not someone talking about what he read in the will. You can only introduce the latter when the former is unavailable. In our mass-media example, we have only to look at how they treat liberals vs. conservatives in the actual articles they publish, and we see that they are in fact biased to the left -- as are many corporations. That is the best evidence.
In the Murtha case, surveys of soldiers are readily available; they get polled all the time. And I have never seen a single one where a majority of soldiers or sailors advocated the surrender for which Murtha here calls. So instead of reporting the "perception" that "he's talking for those in uniform," why not simply note that the best evidence indicates he decidedly is not?
His voice cracked and tears filled his eyes as he related several stories of visiting wounded troops, including one who was blinded and lost both his hands but had been denied a Purple Heart because friendly fire caused his injuries.
"I met with the commandant. I said, 'If you don't give him a Purple Heart, I'll give him one of mine.' And they gave him a Purple Heart," said Murtha, who has two.
The fallacy of the uncheckable anecdote
Name, please? So we can check out whether this really happened as Murtha relates, or whether it's a fabrication, like the atrocity stories of Jimmy Massey (or John Kerry, for that matter), now proven (by testimony of five embedded journalists) to be utter fakes.
This is astonishing... the mainstream Democrat who advocates turning Iraq into Vietnam is the political gift that just keeps on giving! If Ken Mehlman is on his game, we should start seeing Rep. Murtha in Republican television commercials about May or June of next year.
November 13, 2005
Der Sauer Kraut
You gotta love Charles Krauthammer. He's always so chipper and bright, never sees a dark cloud, almost Disney-esque in his optimism and love for all of humanity.
And generous! He's generous to a fault. I don't know of any other supposedly conservative columnist who would lend his column to Paul Krugman, despite the fact that Krauthammer's syndicated column runs in the Washington Post, while Krugman is syndicated out of the New York Times. True, Friday's column is bylined "Charles Krauthammer," but that's just the kind of stand-up guy he is, letting Krugman take over his column anonymously.
I mean, there is no other way to explain this, is there?
Just yesterday we were paying $3.50 at the pump and ready to pay $4 or $5 if necessary. No blessing has ever come more disguised. Now that we have lived with $3.50 gasoline, $3 seems far less outrageous than, say, a year ago. We have a unique but fleeting opportunity to permanently depress demand by locking in higher gasoline prices. Put a floor at $3. Every penny that the price goes under $3 should be recaptured in a federal gas tax so that Americans pay $3 at the pump no matter how low the world price goes.
Why is this a good idea? It is the simplest way to induce conservation. People will alter their buying habits. It was the higher fuel prices of the 1970s and early '80s that led to more energy-efficient cars and appliances -- which induced such restraint on demand that the world price of oil ultimately fell through the floor. By 1986, oil was $11 a barrel. Then we got profligate and resumed our old habits, and oil is now $60. Surprise.
The worst part is that much of this $60 goes overseas to foreigners who wish us no good: Wahhabi Saudi princes who subsidize terrorists; Hugo Chavez, the mini-Mussolini of the Southern Hemisphere; and (through the fungibility of oil) the nuclear-hungry, death-to-America Iranian mullahs. This is insanity. It makes infinitely more sense to reduce consumption, drive the world price down and let the premium we force ourselves to pay at the pump (which begins the conservation cycle) go to the U.S. Treasury. If the price drops to $2, plow that $1 tax right back into the American economy by immediately reducing, say, Social Security or income taxes.
This is classic Krugmanish liberal insanity, even if he is confusingly writing under the "Charles Krauthammer" nom de processor (possibly to get out from under that $50 masochism fee that the Times now charges to read Krugman under his own name): only a liberal would propose a massive, regressive, and East-Coast-centric gasoline tax in order to force consumers to change their driving habits. Particularly when even the actual columnist, whoever he is, admits that the market is already taking care of the problem by itselt, without heavy-fisted intervention:
Consumers are not stupid. Within weeks of Katrina, SUV sales were already in decline and hybrids were flying off the lots.
And we're talking a seriously big tax hike here: using the anonymous author's own example, if gasoline dropped to $2 a gallon, then the "Krauthammer" tax would be 50% -- on top of the outrageous tax we already pay on gas (about 40¢ per gallon in Southern California).
- It's a huge tax increase.
"Krauthammer" (Krugman, I presume, lurking behind the pseudonym) says that the tax should be ploughed "right back into the American economy by immediately reducing, say, Social Security or income taxes," but he knows this will never happen: the tax increase will simply increase the bloat of the federal government -- and will likely go towards new spending that has nothing to do with energy production. Of course, for liberals (like whoever is masquerading under the name "Charles Krauthammer"), that's a good thing.
- It's extremely regressive.
Naturally, a tax on a commodity like gasoline falls hardest on the lower middle class: the poor typically don't have jobs, or at least their jobs are nearer to where they live. And the impact of a per-gallon tax on the rich, no matter how huge, is miniscule compared to their annual income.
It's the commuter class, the mob of lower middle class worker-bees, who will be hit hardest; the folks who literally cannot afford to live near their work because the housing costs are too great, so they must commute every day -- often more than a hundred miles round trip (as Sachi does). Sure, they can try to carpool; but in many cases, nobody else lives reasonably nearby. And if you have to carpool with people who live far away and off your route, that just shifts the tax currency from dollars to time: working mothers and fathers who already have too little time with their kids would have even less.
Of course, liberals don't care about the middle class... only about the poor, who can be herded into the streets whenever the ballot box goes south on them, and about the rich, who are liberalism's natural constituency: the Hollywood elite, the Manhattan socialites, the "dot-com-ers," the Clintons. This is another clue that the culprit behind this column is a liberal. I'm guessing Krugman, but it could equally well be Robert Scheer of the Los Angeles Times or even Maureen Dowd of the New York Times (the latter is unlikely because there is nothing libelous in the column). I'm still putting my money on Krugman, since it's a tax and economy issue.
- It's aggressively Eastocentric.
Remember those maps of the United States as seen by New Yorkers? Enormously detailed Manhattan, Jersey is sketched in as a small strip surrounding Newark Liberty International, Cape Cod and Miami are islands, and the rest of the country warps around like a fisheye lens into one undifferentiated mass until you get another big bulge for Hollywood.
Well, this gasoline tax proposal suggests just such a distorted view. In the East, states and cities are small and compact, and they typically have workable public transportation that will get you anywhere a person might reasonably want to go. But out in the west, cities can be hundreds of miles apart; and even within a city, your job can be fifty or sixty miles from where you live. Distances are huge in California, Texas, and even smaller states like Arizona... and public transportation is virtually unworkable in a city without well-defined transit corridors, driving is a necessity, not a useless frippery, like a hair weave or eyelash extensions, that can be cut back when money gets tight.
I thought these all might be clues to the real author of this piece; but whoever it is, the real Charles Krauthammer would do well to see a doctor about his swollen generosity gland; left untreated, it can continue to lead him to such eccentric behavior as allowing some nameless, mindless, boneheaded, liberal nitwit to ghost-write Krauthammer's column for him.
October 24, 2005
And How Are You, Mr. Wilson?
I am remiss in posting this; Scott from Power Line had this up more than a week ago!
But it's worth noting: the best timeline of the Plame-name blame-game imbroglio is by (no surprise) Stephen Hayes, writing in the Weekly Standard: "The White House, the CIA, and the Wilsons".
Note that the "unuseful idiot" of the category is creepy liar Joseph Wilson -- not Stephen F. Hayes!
Read it and shriek.
October 20, 2005
"Hurricane" Hugo Chavez is having another psychic fugue.
US planning invasion, says Chavez
Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, says he is in possession of intelligence showing that the United States plans to invade his country.
October 20th, 2005
In a BBC interview, Mr Chavez said the US was after his nation's oil, much as it had been after Iraq's.
But he stressed that any invasion would never be allowed to happen.
My first thought was, of course, "when was Hugo Chavez ever 'in possession of intelligence'" in the first place? But even making my way past that huge suspension of disbelief, I note that yet again, the American loony-Left is writing the script for Communist thugs and dictators around the world: why would we invade Venezuela? Why, to steal their oil, of course! Just as we did in Iraq.
Thank you, "Hurricane" Howard Dean.
If you have ever considered a career in forensic psychiatry and psychological profiling, you simply must read this article.
But worry not, Hugophiles; the Man has assurred us that if the United States were to attack Venezuela, the mighty al-Chavez Militia will repel us, driving us into the sea to drown like rats. Presumably just as the terrorists did in Iraq.
September 28, 2005
Cindy Sheehan Got Busted
Update and Bump: see botom
On Saturday, the well known Communist organization International ANSWER and its affiliate World Peace Now organized an Anti-American rally in Washington DC. ( AP )
[A] massive demonstration Saturday on the National Mall that drew a crowd of 100,000 or more, [was] the largest such gathering in the capital since the war began in March 2003.
In other words, all the people who were against the war before the war are still against the war. Big deal. After two and half years of negative campaigning, they cannot recruit any more people than what they had when the war started.
Oh yes, don't forget our friend Cindy Sheehan. The following day, she and her supporters gathered around the White House, chanted an anti war "song," and got arrested. One of the participants even tried to climb the fence and was quickly subdued by the Secret Service. (He was lucky not to be shot.)
I wonder how many of those participants claimed to be family members of soldiers killed in Iraq. As I wrote last month at Captains Quarter’s, they are well known for puffing up such claims:
"We're also asking that you bring pictures of children," MoveOn.org requested, and it didn't matter "whether or not you have a child serving in the military."
Update: Sep. 28, 2005, 10:38pm
Protein Wisdom does not think the anti-America rally comprised anywhere near 100,000 people. They've got interesting pictures.
Update 2: Sep. 28, 2005, 10:41pm
Power Line has an interesting picture of a Marine at the anti-war rally. Pay close attention to the sign he carries.
Paging Ronnie Earle...
Let me get my thoughts in order here. Today, Rep. Tom DeLay was indicted by District Attorney Ronnie Earle (D-DNC) on charges of conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws because a political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, on whose board DeLay serves, accepted some money from some corporations -- and then sent a different amount of money to the Republican National Committee with recommendations of various Texas politicians to whom they might, if they chose, donate money.
The indictment accused DeLay of a conspiracy to "knowingly make a political contribution" in violation of Texas law outlawing corporate contributions. It alleged that DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee accepted $155,000 from companies, including Sears Roebuck, and placed the money in an account.
The PAC then wrote a $190,000 check to an arm of the Republican National Committee and provided the committee a document with the names of Texas State House candidates and the amounts they were supposed to received in donations, the indictment said.
The indictment included a copy of the check.
Ah, but did it also include a copy of the contributions to Texans for a Republican Majority by ordinary people, not corporations? Did that amount exceed $190,000?
John Hinderaker, over on Power Line, has much, much more on the DeLay "indictment." As usual, John nails it.
Democrats are screaming that DeLay, being in charge of the PAC, just shoulder the legal blame for any irregularities committed (or even alleged to have been committed) by the PAC. In short, they want Tom DeLay sent to prison, or at least expelled from the House.
Over on the other channel, we have two aides to Charles Schumer, Katie Barge and Lauren Weiner, who allegedly fraudulently obtained a credit report on Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, a likely Republican contender to steal away the Senate seat being vacated by five-term Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes -- first elected to the Senate the year Jimmy Carter stumbled into the presidency.
Schumer Staffers Eyed in Probe of Political ID Theft
By Deborah Orin
New York Post
September 22, 2005
Two staffers on a Democratic political committee headed by Sen. Chuck Schumer are being investigated by the FBI for an alleged dirty trick — getting a Republican candidate's credit report illegally, officials confirmed yesterday....
Sources familiar with the situation said the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's] head of research, Katie Barge, and a deputy, Lauren Weiner, got the credit report by using Steele's Social Security number, which they say they obtained from public documents....
The U.S. Attorney's office confirmed that it was alerted by the committee but declined to say whether it is or could become a target of the probe.
I'm not a lawyer, but if true, this would appear to be a violation of the Schumer-Nelson ID Theft Prevention Bill, which as Captain Ed wryly notes, was introduced by one Sen. Charles Schumer.
So correct me if I've missed something, but here we appear to have the allegation that a couple of aides who work for Chuck Schumer -- Schumer is the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- have committed serious ethical and possibly criminal violations. In response, per Captain Ed (quoting the New York Post), Schumer sent the two on paid vacations:
Phil Singer, a spokesman for the Schumer-headed Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said two staffers were instantly suspended — with pay — in July after admitting they obtained the credit report of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, who is running for Senate. [emphasis added]
So where, may I ask, are the Democrats screaming for an indictment of Schumer under the same theory by which DeLay was indicted for something allegedly done by a committee he doesn't even head, but on whose board he merely serves?
Where is the Republican Ronnie Earle for the District of Columbia?
September 20, 2005
John At Power Line Loses It, part Deux!
In my previous post, John At Power Line Loses It!, I called your attention to John Hinderaker's excellent (if scorching) chastisement of Bill Clinton for attacking the current president... during which Clinton lied (there's a shock!) not only about the current facts on the ground but even about his own earlier belief that Iraq had stockpiles of WMD, a fact easily shown by a Clinton quotation from 2003.
Now, Patterico supplies much more of that quotation, which completely contradicts the charge Clinton now levels at his successor (and superior). Like a web, the pieces are falling into place; like a puzzle, the fine strands come together at the center. It's as clear as Christmas (at least to me) that the only thing that has changed between 2003 and 2005 is that somebody or other's wife is now gearing up for a run at the presidency.
The original Power Line post is here.
September 18, 2005
John At Power Line Loses It!
Loses his ability to suffer lying weasels gladly, that is.
The recent fusillade of fabrications from former President Bill Clinton seems to have broken John Hinderaker's camel-shaped back; today, John lashed out at the smug, smarmy, decadent nihilist who used to suck up all the oxygen in Washington and is still trying... though John spots a bit of an ulterior motive in Clinton's stream of consciencelessness accusations against President Bush.
Bill Clinton flings his dirt like a monkey with a handful of monkey byproduct, and for the same reason: to mark his territory and ward off enemies -- Republicans who might stand in the way of Billary's return to la Casa Blanca. This is, of course, the open secret we're supposed to forget: that Hillary has designs on the presidency, and that her husband would of course go along for the ride... and possibly even take the wheel when she wasn't looking.
So now, Three-Term Bill suddenly decides that "there was no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq after all (but read Power Line for a Clinton Cwote from 2003 on that subject), that the military has become too small for the job under George W. Bush (wait -- didn't we use to have sixteen divisions in 1992?), and that we've been "unsuccessful" in Iraq because the proposed Iraqi constitution is not "universally supported" (yes, we've lost the crucial Zarqawi - al Duri vote).
There's much more, all finger-licking good. This is one of John's most passionate posts... and not coincidentally, one of his best. My guess is that he didn't pause to ruminate and contemplate but wrote in a white-hot fury at the criminal thug and casual despoiler of American security who we used to have to salute.
Read, read now and come away simultaneously incensed, relieved, and a little bit anxious... as you contemplate past -- and present -- and future.
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