The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Monday, January 31, 2005
What are the Democrats smoking?
On the other hand, the Democrat reaction to the election did cause John Podhoretz to write this beauty:
When you heard about the stunning success of the Iraqi elections, were you thrilled? Did you see it as a triumph for democracy and for the armed forces of the United States that have sacrificed and suffered and fought so valiantly over the past 18 months to get Iraq to this moment?
Or did you momentarily feel an onrush of disappointment because you knew, you just knew, that this was going to redound to the credit of George W. Bush? This means you, Michael Moore. I'm talking to you, Teddy Kennedy.
And not just to the two of you, but to all those who follow in your train.
There are literally millions of Americans who are unhappy today because millions of Iraqis went to the polls yesterday. And why? Because this isn't just a success for Bush. It's a huge win. It's a colossal vindication.
It's a big fat gigantic winning vindication of the guy that the Moores and Kennedys and millions of others still can't believe anybody voted for.
And they know it.
And it's killing them.
Case in point: the junior Eeyore from Massachusetts, John Forbes Kerry, who had the distinct misfortune of being booked onto "Meet the Press" yesterday only 90 minutes after the polls closed in Iraq — and couldn't think of a thing to say that didn't sound negative.
"No one in the United States should try to overhype this election," said the man who actually came within 3 million votes of becoming the leader of the Free World back in November.
No? How about "underhyping"? How about belittling it? How about acting as though it doesn't matter all that much? That's what Kerry did, and in so doing, revealed yet again that he has the emotional intelligence of a pet rock and the political judgment of a . . . well, of a John Kerry.
At the worst possible time to express pessimistic skepticism, Kerry did just that. The election only had a "kind of legitimacy," he said. He said he "was for the election taking place" (how big of him!), but then said that "it's gone as expected."
Hey, wait a second. If it went as Kerry "expected," how could he have been "for the election taking place" — since the election only had, in his view, a "kind of legitimacy"?
I mean, who would want an election with only a "kind of legitimacy"?
Is Kerry perhaps saying he was for the election before he was against it?
Kerry views the results in Iraq as being less legitimate than, say, the opinions about U.S. conduct in Iraq as expressed to him by "Arab leaders." In a truly jaw-dropping moment, he told Tim Russert approvingly of his conversations with those self-same Arab leaders — Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan among them — who expressed concerns about the Bush administration's approach in Iraq.
Kerry seems to believe that the autocrats and oligarchs in the region are actually rooting for the creation of a democracy in their midst — and want to help the United States make it happen.
Okay, what politician wants to join Kerry in pooh-poohing an election in which at least 8 million Iraqis braved death to cast a ballot? What politician wants to cite Mubarak and Abdullah in support of that position?
Hillary? Hillary, are you there?
Wow, suddenly it's so quiet in here you can hear crickets chirping.
Yesterday's amazing human drama in the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates changes the nature of the political bet on Iraq, and that's why you don't hear Hillary Clinton throwing her lot in with the skeptics.
She better steer clear of Newsweek magazine this week as well. In another jaw-dropping display, Fareed Zakaria soberly informs us in this week's issue that Iraq's democratic evolution is probably doomed because — get this — it isn't proceeding according to a plan he outlined in a book he published two years ago.
No, I'm not kidding.
"No matter how the voting turns out," Zakaria wrote, "the prospects for genuine democracy in Iraq are increasingly grim . . . In April 2003, around the time Baghdad fell, I published a book that described the path to liberal democracy . . . In Newsweek that month, I outlined the three conditions Iraq had to fulfill to avoid this fate. It is currently doing badly at all three."
Whoa, better stop the vote counting, Omar! You Iraqis aren't following the Zakaria Plan! Tell you what — I'll go to my dentist's office and send you an old copy of Newsweek from his coffee table so that you can get yourself right with Zakaria.
Yesterday was a day for Democrats and opponents of George W. Bush to swallow their bile and retract their claws and join just for a moment in celebration of an amazing and thrilling human drama in a land that has seen more than its share of thrilling human drama over the past 5,000 years.
But you just couldn't do it, could you?
Changing hearts and minds
He got answers, only they weren't the ones he was searching for. An interesting and honest essay (with photos) from a conflicted man.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
A moment of pride and happiness
The people have won.
We would love to share what we did this morning with the whole world, we can't describe the feelings we've been through but we'll try to share as much as we can with you.
We woke up this morning one hour before the alarm clock was supposed to ring. As a matter of fact, we barely slept at all last night out of excitement and anxiety.
The first thing we saw this morning on our way to the voting center was a convoy of the Iraqi army vehicles patrolling the street, the soldiers were cheering the people marching towards their voting centers then one of the soldiers chanted "vote for Allawi" less than a hundred meters, the convoy stopped and the captain in charge yelled at the soldier who did that and said:"You're a member of the military institution and you have absolutely no right to support any political entity or interfere with the people's choice. This is Iraq's army, not Allawi's".
This was a good sign indeed and the young officer's statement was met by applause from the people on the street.The streets were completely empty except for the Iraqi and the coalition forces ' patrols, and of course kids seizing the chance to play soccer! We had all kinds of feelings in our minds while we were on our way to the ballot box except one feeling that never came to us, that was fear.
We could smell pride in the atmosphere this morning; everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the center. I couldn't think of a scene more beautiful than that.
From the early hours of the morning, People filled the street to the voting center in my neighborhood; youths, elders, women and men. Women's turn out was higher by the way. And by 11 am the boxes where I live were almost full!
Anyone watching that scene cannot but have tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.
The sounds of explosions and gunfire were clearly heard, some were far away but some were close enough to make the windows of the center shake but no one seemed to care about them as if the people weren't hearing these sounds at all.
I saw an old woman that I thought would get startled by the loud sound of a close explosion but she didn't seem to care, instead she was busy verifying her voting station's location as she found out that her name wasn't listed in this center.
How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends.Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.
I still recall the first group of comments that came to this blog 14 months ago when many of the readers asked "The Model?"… "Model for what?" Take a look today to meet the model of courage and human desire to achieve freedom; people walking across the fire to cast their votes.
Could any model match this one!? Could any bravery match the Iraqis'!?
Let the remaining tyrants of the world learn the lesson from this day.The media is reporting only explosions and suicide attacks that killed and injured many Iraqis so far but this hasn't stopped the Iraqis from marching towards their voting stations with more determination. Iraqis have truly raced the sun.
I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants.
I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said "brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn".Yes brothers, proceed and fill the box!
These are stories that will be written on the brightest pages of history.
It was hard for us to leave the center but we were happy because we were sure that we will stand here in front of the box again and again and again.
Today, there's no voice louder than that of freedom.No more confusion about what the people want, they have said their word and they said it loud and the world has got to respct and support the people's will.
God bless your brave steps sons of Iraq and God bless the defenders of freedom.
Aasha Al-Iraq….Aasha Al-Iraq….Aasha Al-Iraq.
Mohammed and Omar.
Mark Steyn on the Iraqi elections
In Europe, the wise old foreign-policy ''realists'' scoff at today's elections in Iraq -- Islam and democracy are completely incompatible, old boy; everybody knows that, except these naive blundering Yanks who just don't have our experience, frankly.
If that's true, it's a problem not for Iraq this weekend but, given current demographic trends, for France and Belgium and Holland a year or two down the line.
But, as it happens, it's not true. The Afghan election worked so well that, there being insufficient bad news out of it, the doom-mongers in the Western media pretended it never happened. They'll have a harder job doing that with Iraq, so instead they'll have to play up every roadside bomb and every dead poll worker. But it won't alter the basic reality: that today's election will be imperfect but more than good enough. OK, that's a bit vague by the standards of my usual psephological predictions, so how about this? Turnout in the Kurdish north and Shia south will be higher than in the last American, British or Canadian elections. Legitimate enough for ya?
But look beyond the numbers. When you consider the behavior of the Shia and Kurdish parties, they've been remarkably shrewd, restrained and responsible. They don't want to blow their big rendezvous with history and rejoin the rest of the Middle East in the fetid swamp of stable despotism. The naysayers in the Democratic Party and the U.S. media are so obsessed with Rumsfeld getting this wrong and Condi getting that wrong and Bush getting everything wrong that they've failed to notice just how surefooted both the Kurds and Shiites have been -- which in the end is far more important. The latter, for example, have adopted a moderate secular pitch entirely different from their co-religionist mullahs over the border. In fact, as partisan pols go, they sound a lot less loopy than, say, Barbara Boxer. Even on the Sunni side of the street, there are signs the smarter fellows understand their plans to destroy the election have flopped and it's time to cut themselves into the picture. The IMF noted in November that the Iraqi economy is already outperforming all its Arab neighbors.
You might not have gained that impression from watching CNN or reading the Los Angeles Times. The Western press are all holed up in the same part of Baghdad, and the insurgents very conveniently set off bombs visible from their hotel windows in perfect synchronization with the U.S. TV news cycle. But, if they could look beyond the plumes of smoke, they'd see that Iraq's going to be better than OK, that it will be the economic powerhouse of the region, and that the various small nods toward democracy going on in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere suggest that the Arab world has figured out what the foreign policy ''realists'' haven't: that the trend is in the Bush direction. When Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, warned that the U.S. invasion of Iraq would ''destabilize'' the entire region, he was right. That's why it was such a great idea.
The ''realpolitik'' types spent so long worshipping at the altar of stability they were unable to see it was a cult for psychos. The geopolitical scene is never stable, it's always dynamic. If the Western world decides in 2005 that it can ''contain'' President Sy Kottik of Wackistan indefinitely, that doesn't mean the relationship between the two parties is set in aspic. Wackistan has a higher birth rate than the West, so after 40 years of ''stability'' there are a lot more Wackistanis and a lot fewer Frenchmen. And Wackistan has immense oil reserves, and President Kottik has used the wealth of those oil reserves to fund radical schools and mosques in hitherto moderate parts of the Muslim world. And cheap air travel and the Internet and ATM machines that take every bank card on the planet and the freelancing of nuclear technology mean that Wackistan's problems are no longer confined to Wackistan. For a few hundred bucks, they can be outside the Empire State Building within seven hours. Nothing stands still. ''Stability'' is a fancy term to dignify laziness and complacency as sophistication.
If you want a good example of excessive deference to the established order, look no further than Iraq. I'm often asked about the scale of the insurgency and doesn't this prove we armchair warriors vastly underestimated things, etc. I usually reply that, if you rummage through the archives, you'll find that I wanted the liberation of Iraq to occur before the end of August 2002. The bulk of the military were already in place, sitting in the Kuwaiti desert twiddling their thumbs. But Bush was prevailed upon to go ''the extra mile'' at the United Nations mainly for the sake of Tony Blair, and thanks to the machinations of Chirac, Schroeder and Co., the extra mile wound up being the scenic route through six months of diplomatic gridlock while Washington gamely auditioned any casus belli that might win the favor of the president of Guinea's witch doctor. As we know, all that happened during that period was that the hitherto fringe ''peace'' movement vastly expanded and annexed most of the Democratic Party.
Given all that went on in America, Britain, France, etc., during the interminable ''extra mile,'' it would be idiotic to assume that, with an almighty invasion force squatting on his borders for six months, Saddam just sat there listening to his Sinatra LPs. He was very busy, as were the Islamists, and Iran, and Syria.
The result is not only an insurgency far more virulent than it would have been had Washington followed my advice rather than Tony's and gone in in August 2002, but also a broader range of enemies that learned a lot about how ''world'' -- i.e., European -- opinion could be played off against Washington.
I don't believe Bush would make that mistake again. Which means he wouldn't have spoken quite so loudly if the big stick weren't already in place -- if plans weren't well advanced for dealing with Iran and some of the low-hanging fruit elsewhere in the region. Bush won't abolish all global tyranny by 2008 -- that might have to wait till Condi's second term -- but he will abolish some of it, and today's elections are as important in that struggle as any military victory.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
A race-baiter caught in the act
As Iraqi elections loom, the left changes its stripes
Blood continues to flow as Iraqis prepare to answer bullets with ballots. Americans must mourn the losses in the ranks of our uniformed forces. But the enemies of Iraqi democracy have made clear that for them the Western media paradigm posing American invaders against Iraqi "resistance" is merely background noise. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the lead murderer in Iraq, issued a diatribe on Monday, January 24, denouncing the very concept of "democracy," and reinforcing his followers' longstanding commitment to one principle: permanent massacre of Shia Muslims, the majority in the country.
Zarqawi railed against democracy as illegitimate because it is based on majority rule and pluralism. He further accused the United States of plotting to establish Shia rule over Iraq, declaring that the Shias "will spread their insidious beliefs, and Baghdad and all the Sunni areas will become Shiite. Even now," he continued, "unbelief and polytheism" are increasingly visible. His rhetoric, allegedly in defense of Sunni Islam, was replete with hate speech against Shias, referring to them as "rafidah" or "rejectors of religion." Amusingly, Zarqawi echoed the claim voiced by Westerners suffering a fear of Shiism, charging that four million Iranians had crossed the border to subvert the process.
But the real threat to the Iraqi balloting comes more from across the country's southern border, than from its eastern frontier. Zarqawi's bombast reflects the origins of the Iraqi terror campaign in the Wahhabi ideology that is the ruling Islamic sect in the country's giant southern neighbor, Saudi Arabia. Wahhabis loathe democracy; they teach Sunni Muslims living in the U.S. and other Western nations to abstain from voting in local elections. By contrast, Iraqi Shia Ayatollah Ali Sistani urges Muslims living abroad to participate in local politics, and even the clerical dictatorship in Shia Iran makes concessions to principles of popular sovereignty.
In addition, the Saudi schools and state-subsidized Wahhabi clerics habitually employ the term "rafidah" to refer to the Shia minority in their own country. And Wahhabis are infamous for their claim that Shia Muslims have fallen away from Islam, into unbelief and the worship of multiple divinities. The Baathist regime in Syria, which stands accused of assisting Iraqi Baathists, never uses such a vocabulary; it is headed by Alawites, an Islamic sect even more unorthodox, from the Sunni perspective, than the Shias.
The ideology of Zarqawi and his acolytes has a brief history in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad himself never predicted that his community of faith, or umma, would fall back into unbelief. Until the rise of Wahhabism in the desert wastelands of central Arabia 250 years ago, such accusations, as well as allegations that Muslims had surrendered to polytheism or apostasy, were exceedingly rare in the Islamic world. For Wahhabis, however, they are standard theological practice, since Wahhabism aims, above all, at control.
The jihadists in Iraq come from as far away as Uzbekistan -- and even include some American Muslims. But Saudi Wahhabis are especially fearful of a successful election in Iraq, because a Shia-led protodemocratic regime on their northern border spells the inevitable end of the repressive Saudi autocracy. Post-election Iraq, with its economic and cultural resources, will inspire the large Shia minority in Saudi Arabia to press for their rights; it will stir the Shia majority in Bahrein, which is ruled by Sunnis, in the same direction -- and it will encourage a transition in Iran. It may even stimulate political change in Syria.
That has, of course, been the essence of the Bush administration's strategy throughout the intervention in Iraq. The Iraqi Shias have reacted with limitless joy to the possibility that the voting box will ensure their control over their holy sites in Karbala and Najaf, and Iraqi Kurds have called for the erection of a Western-style constitutional regime for years. But it is now clear that the majority of able-bodied Iraqis, men and women alike, wish to exercise their voting rights. Iraqis outside the country have the right to vote, and although media report low registration rates among those resident in the U.S., nearly half of the 25,000 Iraqi Canadians have signed up; some 280,000 Iraqis living abroad, out of about a million, have registered. Iraqi voting registries are open in Detroit, Nashville, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, and for many Iraqis in America these locations are too few and too distant for them to easily register, and then return to cast their votes. But in Iraq itself, citizens do not need to register; they can vote if their names appeared on the Saddam-era "Oil for Food" rosters.
I believe with President Bush that the election will be successful, and that Iraq will soon have a sovereign government. As I have written repeatedly, the most dismaying aspect of the entire proceeding, aside from the terrible loss of human life brought about by the terrorists, is the adoption of an idiom contemptuous of democracy by Western, and especially American advocacy groups, media, and "liberal" politicians. The same activists, commentators and elected officials who clamored for democracy in the "underdeveloped" countries in the radical '60s, and against numerous right wing regimes in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, now express a deep loathing for the globalization of democracy. The liberals and left have reached a point of corruption below which it is difficult to imagine them going.
Perhaps they are merely jealous, because President Bush has brilliantly and eloquently seized the moment, returning the Republican party -- the party of Lincoln -- to its origins as a force for global liberation. The liberal agenda has been freed from the clutches of racial and economic demagogues. Bush, in his Wednesday press conference, repeated his prior commitments to
"a bold, new goal for the future… I believe this country is best when it heads toward an ideal world… And in doing so, we're reflecting universal values and universal ideas that honor each man and woman, that recognize [that] human rights and human dignity depend upon human liberty. I'm looking forward to the challenge, and I'm looking forward to reaching out to our friends and allies to convince them of the necessity to continue to work together to help liberate people."
With these eloquent phrases, President Bush appropriately echoed our national poet, Walt Whitman, in the aftermath of our civil war, and words I quoted much earlier in the Iraq epic, and which I quote again, with even greater optimism:
-- Then turn, and be not alarm'd, O Libertad
-- turn your undying face, To where the future, greater than all the past, Is swiftly, surely preparing for you.
The success of the vote in Iraq will be a victory for America, and for every freedom-loving man and woman on earth.
Photography, Lies, and Propaganda
Above all don't miss the information posted on the photographers themselves.
Can you say "Wag the Dog"?
UPDATE: Belmont Club has a great synopsis of this story here.
Friday, January 28, 2005
Condi and Hugo
A prominent president, one who commands enormous resources and can influence the lives of many women, has recently made disgusting sexist comments.
No, not Lawrence Summers of Harvard, who merely had the temerity to suggest as a possible hypothesis, and in a non-public academic seminar, that women might not go into hard sciences in large numbers because, on average, their brains might not be quite wired for it, and because many women choose to focus their energies on raising children rather than on their careers. And for doing what academics are supposed to do – freely entertaining hypotheses and investigating their limits, implications, and consequences – Summers has been forced to grovel in the public spotlight.
The comments we reference are really sexist and disgusting. Nasty and vulgar words about the sex life of a prominent and highly distinguished woman, and her need for what he could readily supply but won’t. For this kind of deliberate and malevolent sexism, no public outrage has erupted, and no apologies have been forthcoming.
If none of this rings a bell, you have plenty of company. The American media have imposed a near-total blackout on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s televised crude and rude sexual verbal assault on Dr. Condoleeza Rice last Sunday, during the period that her nomination for Secretary of State was being held in limbo by ex-Kleagle Senator Robert Byrd and his merry mini-Klaven of Senate Democrats. The kinds of things Chavez said in his weekly television show "Alo Presidente," speculating about sexual intercourse with her like a lowlife on his jail bunk, showed decisively that he's a man deeply beneath his office.
But there has been no U.S. media scrutiny. It was broadcast right out loud on Venezuelan radio and television; there are full transcripts in the Venezuelan press, and the U.S. media paid no attention. And this is not about some internal politics in a faraway country but an attack on our own Secretary of State designate!
It hasn't helped that the wimps at the State Department, in a briefing recently, replied to a reporter's question about the matter by saying 'we're big boys now, we can handle insults.' Not one word, and not one retort from the U.S. government. All that has appeared in the U.S. press so far is a footnote in a watered-down story in the Miami Herald about deteriorating U.S.-Venezuelan relations. Not one word appeared in the two newspapers which claim to offer the best coverage of fireign affairs and diplomacy. And not even in the New York Post, which surely could have sold a few newspapers with a well-chosen banner headline, has taken up the story. All of this during a period where the victim of the slur was the focus of intense national attention.
Why is it that the American media has ignored such a brazen, egregious insult to the most prominent and powerful American woman, who, incidentally, happens to be black, from a sitting head of state?
Editors who were quizzed about why they ignored the story told one of us that the comments were simply too disgusting to present to their readers, and that Chavez is frankly regarded as a loony. Of course, if these criteria were seriously applied to other stories, Michael Jackson’s trial in Santa Barbara County would not be attracting any press coverage.
Another reason cited by some editors is that Americans just don’t perceive Latin America as important. Maybe so. But isn’t it the job of editors to tell the public about important matters they don’t yet know about? And aren’t Spanish-speaking Americans the largest single minority group, as well as the fastest-growing demographic component of the population?
But all of this is beside the point. Condoleeza Rice’s ascent to the head of most prestigious cabinet office is history-in-the-making, and not just because she is the first African-American woman to hold the job. She is one of the most brilliant and highly-accomplished officials ever to take a seat in the Cabinet Room of the White House. A champion figure skater and highly accomplished pianist (she has accompanied Yo-Yo Ma in concert), the youngest provost of a major American university (Stanford) in history, Dr, Rice is the very embodiment of hard work and achievement. She embodies the American dream, and is powerful symbol not just for African-Americans but for all Americans who dream big dreams. She is a heroine.
She is also the focus of intense political controversy. And, she was the target of an effort by one political faction to discredit her in the eyes of the world, before she even assumed office, thereby damaging her ability to discharge her official duties, and ultimately damaging her further career prospects, such as, for instance, as a candidate for Vice President or even President someday. There is, to put it bluntly, a political war underway, and this news would have negatively affected one side. The side which provides 80% of the members of the national press.
To report that a foreign head of state, a close friend and ally of Communist Fidel Castro, was picking up the ball thrown out by Democrats, and attacking the Secretary-designate in even more vile terms, could definitely affect the American public mood. As a people, we do not like to see our officials slandered by foreign despots. We also do not react favorably when African-American women, in particular, are subjected to disgusting sexually-degrading verbiage.
In other words, reporting Chavez’s comments would create sympathy for Dr. Rice. And it would make the left wing faction of Senate Democrats who slandered her as a “liar” look worse than they already do.
There is no question about it. Our news diet has been managed, in order to avoid reporting highly significant and vivid news, partly because it would arouse sympathy for a target of the left wingers in the Democrats and the media.
Chavez has gotten away with this outrage, and the message to the Venezuelans is clear. fire away. The Venezuelan press is already taking the ball and running with it. A cartoon far too vile to reprint (link here, in untranslated Spanish), with even worse explicit sexual insults to the Secretary of State, was just published in the Venezuelan press. Venezuelan women and girls are now on notice that they, too, will be subjected to the worst kind of verbal assault (or worse) if they get out of line. And like it or not, this officious tyrant, as a head of state in a neighboring state, sets the standard for political discourse, demonstrating what the press will tolerate. Somehow the U.S. media seems to think it's okay for a black women to be attacked with racist, sexist epithets by a tinpot dictator, who supplies every sixth tank of gas you put in your car, so long as she's a Republican.
Somehow, an insult directed at a black woman is not quite as newsworthy as a perceived insult directed at the largely white women who are present in U.S. sciences. This is simply an outrage. And a failure on the part of the free press to report the news. And now Chavez knows he can talk like this as often as he likes, because apparently, it's an acceptable standard. Larry Summers was only expressing a hypothesis that was opposed by liberal dogmatism rampant in academia. Hugo Chavez was expressing outright filth. The word is out that so long as your target is black, female and Republican, no trash talk is too low in the minds of the U.S media.
Hillary's Path to victory...
Hillary Clinton gets religion and an AK47
How far will the liberal New York senator go in her quest to become America’s first female president?
ACCORDING TO The New York Times
January 25, 2005:
“Senator Hillary Clinton said on Monday that the opposing sides in the divisive debate about abortion should find ‘common ground’ to prevent unwanted pregnancies and ultimately reduce abortions, which she called a ‘sad, even tragic choice to many, many women . . . ’ Mrs Clinton, widely seen as a possible candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008, appeared to be reaching out beyond traditional core Democrats . . . (She offered praise) for the influence of ‘religious and moral values’ on delaying teenage girls from becoming sexually active.”
April 25, 2005:
Senator Clinton yesterday delighted delegates to the annual convention of the National Rifle Association when she expressed her unstinting opposition to the proposed ban on new classes of lethal assault weapons and dedicated herself to securing the right of every American to own “a fully stocked arsenal” if necessary in defence of his freedoms.
Raising aloft what she described as one of the favourites from her collection of AK47 automatic weapons, Mrs Clinton declared to wild cheers: “If they think some unelected judge in Washington is going to take away my constitutional rights, let them think again! Let them try! Let them come! I’d like to see them. They’ll have to prise this beauty from my cold, dead hands.” Mrs. Clinton has recently been reaching out beyond the Democratic Party’s core supporters on the gun control issue. Last week she was filmed while hunting in upstate New York, and was later seen dragging a dead deer to her new, five-litre Ford Exterminator sports utility vehicle.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
September 15, 2005
At a public ceremony near Waco, Texas, Senator Clinton was received yesterday into full communion with the Church of Jesus Christ of the Repenting Transgressors.
As her sponsors, the Rev Jerry Falwell and the Rev Pat Robertson looked on lovingly, the New York senator was fully immersed in the swirling waters of the Brazos River. A gospel choir sang a collection of spiritual hymns, including, Lo, the Yankee Queen In Bright Array, Rises and It Takes a Village to Smite the Evil.
Mr Falwell welcomed Mrs Clinton, dressed in a white toga, as a reformed sister in the family of former sinners.
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Voter,” he said. “The prodigal daughter has come home to the Lord! The sheep that was lost is found.”
Mrs Clinton has recently been reaching out beyond the Democratic Party’s core supporters on religious values. At a news conference after the baptismal ceremony, Mrs Clinton announced that she is to begin hosting a television show next month on Mr Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. Cookies for Christ will feature her favourite housewife recipes for spiritually appropriate confectionery, including Rock Cakes of Ages and Apocalypse Apple Fritters.
January 17, 2006
Mel Gibson, the actor and film director, announced yesterday that he had concluded an agreement with Hillary Clinton to make a biographical movie about her life as first lady and senator of the United States.
Called, tentatively, The Passion of the Wife, the film will star Arnold Schwarzenegger as Bill Clinton, Scarlett Johansson as Hillary and Glenn Close as Monica Lewinsky. It tells the story of how Mrs Clinton fought for eight years while in the White House for tougher abortion laws and an end to Church-State separation. It also describes her long campaign to cleanse her husband of perverted and sinful desires.
Mrs Clinton has recently been reaching out beyond the Democratic Party’s core supporters to embrace ethnic groups. In an unusual move for a mass audience motion picture, Mr Gibson plans that the film will be entirely in biblical Greek.
The San Francisco Chronicle
May 23, 2006
Senator Clinton yesterday led a defence-of-marriage vigil on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco. As supporters waved banners that said “Queer? Not here,” Mrs Clinton said marriage was a sacrosanct institution and urged gays: “If you want to get hitched, try the Lord.”
Mrs Clinton has recently been reaching out beyond the Democratic Party’s core supporters, and has been campaigning across the nation for a federal ban on gay marriage.
The Washington Post
September 16, 2006
Senator Clinton yesterday urged a chastened Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, to stop “pussyfooting around” and get on with the long-deferred invasion of Iran.
At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the growing tension between Washington and Tehran, Mrs Clinton, dressed head to toe in desert khaki fatigues, rounded on a plainly intimidated Defence Secretary and said that she had had enough of Mr Rumsfeld’s insistence on pursuing a diplomatic approach to the nuclear crisis in the country.
“Are you a man or a mouse, Mr Secretary?” she asked. “Rummy or Runny? There’s only one language these people understand. And let me tell you, it isn’t Farsi!” Mrs Clinton has recently been reaching out beyond the Democratic Party’s core supporters on defence and national security issues. Last month she joined the US National Guard and quickly impressed her commanding officers with her tactical genius.
The Des Moines Register
November 30, 2006
On her seventeenth trip this month to Iowa, Major-General Hillary Clinton (221st Battalion, New York Army National Guard) was introduced to Julia Ericsson, who according to Senate aides is Mrs Clinton’s seventh cousin, twice removed. Mrs Ericsson, a native of Dubuque, seemed a little nonplussed by the New York senator’s warm embrace. A tearful Mrs Clinton said that she had longed for this day when she would be reunited with her long-lost Iowa family.
The Union Leader Manchester, New Hampshire
April 10, 2007
While anointing sick children on a visit to New Hampshire yesterday, Senator Clinton announced that she was moving to Manchester.
“It’s actually a lot closer to New York than most people think; I can be in Manhattan in less than four hours. Besides, I just love the idea of living in a state where there is no income tax. In a way it chimes perfectly with the values I have always held dear throughout my long career in public service.”
The thing that makes all this funny also makes it rather scary.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Furthermore the network holier than thous are playing right into the hands of the monsters who behead innocent human beings for sport… actually it is more accurate to say that they behead human beings for airtime… and airtime is exactly what the morons at CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and yes, even FOX is giving them. Why? Why are we allowing the media to feed the flames of our enemies and put American lives in greater jeapordy?.
Is it new news that innocent civilians have been kidnapped and butchered on camera? No, this “news flash, gotta run it now” footage is from months ago… so what in the hell is our news media doing putting it as the lead story on the evening news and endangeing even more innocents? Why are they adding fuel to the murderers’ fire…is it just so they can take yet another tired shot at our President? Is it because your party masters are telling you how to spin it still? Still feeling a few sour grapes about the election are we? Well, get yourselves. What kind of planet are you living on? Where is your shame?
I have always shied away from censorship. But what has happened to our news media? Didn’t our media once upon a time support our war effort? Newsreels of our proud forces taking another South Pacific atoll, marching towards victory? With music playing in the background?
Those were the days... as opposed to some snotty elitist worm saying something like “think of thouse thousands of bodies lying lifeless in the sands of Iwo Jima—lives completely wasted. And for what? Why are we fighting Japan anyway? So their Generals got a little carried away at Pearl Harbor..but you and I and the rest of Europe knows that if we just show our compassion and love for the planet and just make peace with the Japanese and Germans, all will be well. Don't listen to Churchill, he knows nothing--he is a right wing zealot. All we need to do is to say 'I'm sorry' to Hitler and Tojo and withdraw the troops and then send Germany and Japan all the money they need to rebuild. We'll and do some international ass-kissing in the New York Times...and all will be well. We'll just live our happy little utopian life. "
Right? Is that how our media acted in WWII? Becasue it sure as hell is how they are acting now. Was the press calling WWII the "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time?" Or did the media, like the rest of patriotic Americans, try to help us to win?
If the limosine liberal elitist media execs won’t do something about their off the reservation news divisions, then we the people need to. Vote with your pocketbooks. Vote with your letters to the editor. Vote with canceling subscriptions, turning off the channels that engage in this treason and not buying the products they advertise. People are dying and the network execs are raking in profits at the expense of the President and the American people, and our brave men and women. Not to mention millions of Iraqis who see the dream of freedom for the first time in their entire lives.
What is wrong with this picture? ??
I hate to get on a a bit of a rant here, but enough is enough. To Dan, and Peter and Brian and Wolf, and yes, even you Shep: just can it for a change. Just cut the crap.
And while you are at it, how about supporting the good guys for a change? How about standing behind our President for a change instead of working to put our country and the lives of our soldiers at more of a disadvantage because you can’t get over your bitterness that you lost. We elect the winners, not you. After the last three election cycles, what part of “partisanship and anti-Americanism is not your job” do you not understand? And just who do you people think you are that you presume to have the right to do this to the rest of us and those who are dying for us every day. Only to have you crap on everything they are trying to do so you can be free to run your mouths and look in the mirror and count your money.
Monday, January 24, 2005
The great thing about Johnny Carson was that when he made you laugh, he didn’t really do it at the expense of others; for even those who were the brunt of his jokes were laughing with him too. For years my routine was simple: do whatever the hell we do with our days when we are young and stupid …then go home and catch the monologue. We took it for granted.
And him… the man himself… Certainly he had flaws, and the media certainly made sure we knew all about them. But we didn’t care, did we? In fact we knew better…we knew that this was a man who was just so……good. At the deepest unconscious level the entire nation loved Johnny Carson. I certainly never met a soul who didn’t love Johnny or identify with him at an elemental level.
This was a guy who enjoyed life. He had FUN for a living. Not to discount how hard he worked. But once the lights came up and Ed McMahon let fly with “Heeeeere’s Johnny!”, you could expect that within about 30 seconds you were going to be laughing. It was a gift, a treasure. And we took him for granted.
Then one day we were suddenly told that NBC wasn’t going to be renewing Johnny’s contract. And not long afterward there were those last two shows; our last two nights with the legend. And a large portion of the country was there too; for above all else Johnny Carson embodied all that is great about America itself:
Good looks. A positive attitude, in fact this man was cocky. Ambitious and dynamic. Wealthy in a carefree way, but also generous. And above all generous in heart. We saw in Johnny everything we liked about ourselves and each other. Like a fellow Midwesterner, Ronald Reagan, Johnny Carson was a person who just made you feel good about yourself and lucky to be an American. And to lose men like Ronald Reagan, Ray Charles, and Johnny Carson, all within a year of each other: what a terrible body blow to our collective psyche. Now I know what Don McLean meant about “the day the music died…”
Imagine if countries like France had grown up with Johnny. How much better would they have understood us if only they had... because Johnny’s optimism and joy were contagious; there is no way any European could have gone through all that time with Carson without catching that optimism and goodwill. Which is why we were so very very lucky to have him here.
As with my father, it is going to take a while for the loss of Johnny Carson to sink in. When it does I hope I am better equipped to handle it than I was then. Probably I will be, because at least I am old enough to know now how lucky I was to have had him in my living room for all those years. But it is a stunning loss.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Mark Steyn: On the Inauguration and Democratic response
I picked up the Village Voice for the first time in years this week. Couldn't resist the cover story: ''The Eve Of Destruction: George W. Bush's Four-Year Plan To Wreck The World.''
Oh, dear. It's so easy to raise expectations at the beginning of a new presidential term. But at least he's got a four-year plan. Over on the Democratic bench, worldwise they don't seem to have given things much thought. The differences were especially stark in the last seven days: In the first half of the week, Senate Dems badgered the incoming secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice -- culminating in the decision of West Virginia porkmeister Robert C. Byrd to delay the incoming thereof. Don't ask me why. Byrd, the former Klu Klux Klan Kleagle, is taking a stand over states' rights, or his rights over State, or some such. Whatever the reason, the sight of an old Klansman blocking a little colored girl from Birmingham from getting into her office contributed to the general retro vibe that hangs around the Democratic Party these days. Even "Eve Of Destruction," one notes, is a 40-year-old hippie dirge.
The Democrats' big phrase is "exit strategy." Time and again, their senators demanded that Rice tell 'em what the "exit strategy" for Iraq was. The correct answer is: There isn't one, and there shouldn't be one, and it's a dumb expression. The more polite response came in the president's inaugural address: ''The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.'' Next week's election in Iraq will go not perfectly but well enough, and in time the number of U.S. troops needed there will be reduced, and in some more time they'll be reduced more dramatically, and one day there'll be none at all, just a small diplomatic presence that functions a bit like the old British ministers did in the Gulf emirates for centuries: They know everyone and everything, and they keep the Iraqi-American relationship running smoothly enough that Baghdad doesn't start looking for other foreign patrons. In other words: no exit.
If you want an example of "exit strategy" thinking, look no further than the southern "border." A century ago, American policy in Mexico was all exit and no strategy. That week's President-for-Life gets out of hand? Go in, whack him, exit, and let the locals figure out who gets to be the new bad guy. If the new guy gets out of hand, go back, whack him and exit again. The result of that stunted policy is that three-quarters of Mexico's population is now living in California and Arizona -- and, as fine upstanding members of the Undocumented-American community, they've got no exit strategy at all.
By contrast, the British went in to India without an "exit strategy," stayed for generations and midwifed the world's most populous democracy and a key U.S. ally in the years ahead. Which looks like the smarter approach now? ''Most Indians Say 'Thumbs Up' To Second Bush Term,'' reported the Christian Science Monitor this week, "and no, that doesn't mean something rude in Indian culture.''
The problem with "exit strategy" fetishization is that these days everywhere's Mexico -- literally, in the sense that four of the 9/11 killers obtained the picture ID they used to board their flights that morning through the support network for "undocumented" workers, and only a few days ago the suspected terrorists supposedly en route to Boston were said to have entered the country via the Mexican smuggling route. But everywhere's also Mexico in the more figurative sense -- if you've got a few hundred bucks and an ATM card you can come to America and blow it up. Everyone lives next door now. Sept. 11 demonstrated that the paradox of America -- the isolationist superpower -- was no longer tenable.
That was what Bush accomplished so superbly in his speech: the idealistic position -- spreading liberty -- is now also the realist one: If you don't spread it, in the end your own liberty will be jeopardized. "It is the policy of the United States," said the president, "to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." By the end of his second term? Well, not necessarily. But what matters is that the president has repudiated the failed "realism" that showers billions on a friendly dictator like Egypt's Mubarak and is then surprised when one of his subjects flies a passenger jet into the World Trade Center.
You'd think the Democratic Party would welcome this: They spent the days after Sept. 11 yakking endlessly about the need to address "root causes." But, as the pitiful displays in the Senate hearing made clear, they still don't comprehend the new world -- abroad or at home. The other day David von Drehle of the Washington Post did a monster tour of what he called "The Red Sea" -- Bush country -- and went to almost painful lengths to eschew the condescension the coastal media elite usually apply to their rare anthropological ventures into the hinterland. But in the middle of his dispatch was this quote from Joyce Smith of Coalgate, Okla.: "When Kerry said he was for abortion and one-sex marriages, I just couldn't see our country being led by someone like that."
Von Drehle added: ''Later, I double-checked what Kerry had said on those subjects. During his campaign, he opposed same-sex marriage and said that abortion was a private matter.''
If the point is that Red Staters are ignorant, double- or even triple-checking John Kerry isn't the best way to demonstrate it. Insofar as I understand it, Kerry's view on abortion was that, while he passionately believes life begins at conception, he would never let his deeply held personal beliefs interfere with his legislative program. On gay marriage, likewise. That's why gay groups backed Kerry and why von Drehle's media buddies weren't running editorials warning that a Kerry presidency would end "a woman's right to choose": They understood his deeply passionately personally deep personal passionate beliefs were just an artful but meaningless formulation designed to get him through election season. Message: If Kerry's elected, abortions will continue and gay marriage will happen and he'll be cool with both. Joyce Smith understood that. Von Drehle seems vaguely resentful that she wasn't dumb enough to fall for the spin cooked up by Kerry's hairsplitters and enthusiastically promoted by his media cheerleaders.
There's a big lesson for the Democrats there that goes way beyond the merits of abortion or gay marriage. On Sept. 11, the world came unspun: There's no shame in acknowledging, as Condi Rice did last week, that previous policy -- Republican and Democrat -- toward the Middle East is wrong. But there's something silly and immature about a party that, from Kerry to Boxer to Byrd, can't get beyond spin, grandstanding and debater's points: Joyce Smith sees through it, even if David von Drehle thinks it's ingenious. If the president's speech yoked idealism and realism, that doesn't leave much for dissenting Dems except their own peculiar combination of cynicism and delusion.
The Times of London: Don't count America out yet
The Inauguration of an American president is an introspective affair, the ultimate home-brewed celebration of the continuing success of this great continental experiment.
Beneath the Greek-echoing columns of the Capitol building yesterday assembled the protagonists of the American demos — the fabled three branches of government, plus the modern successors to the citizen-militia, an independent press, and above all, of course, the people, tens of thousands of them, arrayed in a snowy tableau off to the hinterland’s horizon.
But with billions able to watch the event around the world, the obverse of this democratic coin is its imperial head. A presidential inauguration is a chance for America to remind the world who is boss, to demonstrate that the modern United States is the inheritor not only of Greece’s glory but of Rome’s reach.
President Bush’s second inaugural address professed anew this self-confidence of a nation tirelessly willing and uniquely empowered to take on the responsibilities of global leadership. And yet behind the pageantry and in between the rhetorical tropes, it was not hard to spot an unusual level of anxiety and uncertainty among Americans about their country’s leadership in the world.
The war in Iraq has sapped the brimming self-confidence with which America greeted the new century. The strength and boldness of the US response to September 11 has given way to a nervy resignation about the limits of American power. In financial terms an unsettling sense that America is increasingly beholden to rising powers across the oceans has infected its famous optimism.
Though Americans gave Mr Bush another four years in November, they did so, not so much in a spirit of vaulting confidence but of constrained choices. As he begins a new term, polls suggest that Americans remain uncharacteristically gloomy about the future. A solid majority believes, just as it did on election day, that the US is on the wrong track.
Iraq is the main reason, of course. Before Iraq, and even after the shock of September 11, it was commonplace to think that America could achieve by arms more or less anything it wanted. The doubts generated by Vietnam had been banished in a decade of military achievements — in Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Now, to be stymied by a few thousand insurgents in Iraq is a bitter, and unexpected, revelation of the limits to ambition.
The US economy too, the other pillar of reborn American pride in the 1990s, is as much a fount of worry and self-doubt. The dollar continues to struggle under a mountain of public and private debt. You could not help but notice the symbolism this week of a European consortium unveiling an aircraft to eclipse Boeing’s dominance. Surprising books about the rising power of a united Europe are ascending the bestseller lists.
More plausibly, perhaps, Americans look at their growing dependence on Asia’s rapidly expanding economy and wonder if this is the future. China, and increasingly India, are talked of as rivals, not in some distant future, but in the world that is taking shape now.
What to make of all this? The first thing to note is that we have been here before. Previous premature judgments about America’s decline enjoin us to be a little circumspect about its current difficulties. Even as American pre-eminence was realised in the past 60 years, the country has been racked by prolonged periods of self-doubt. In the 1950s, half the nation was convinced it was losing the Cold War. Vietnam eroded American confidence, not only in its power but even in the justice of its cause. In 1989, the apotheosis of American success, the fall of the Berlin Wall, was seen by many as the passing of an era of American supremacy. Japan and Germany were going to rule the world, we were told.
All these alarms proved false. Will this incipient post-Iraq malaise prove to be any different? It is too early yet to declare Iraq a failure. True, the Bush Administration, and those of us who supported it, were wrong to believe that a quick show of force would bring the walls of tyranny crashing down. It will indeed be a long slog. But if the US can stay the course, the auguries are still positive. The principal obstacle to American goals there, and in the broader Middle East, is not the brittleness of US power, but the willingness of the American people to shoulder its burden.
The prospects for the economic foundations on which American supremacy has been built are harder to predict. We need not dwell too long, Airbus superjumbo or no, on the threat from a united Europe. This ageing, genteel, pacifist, dysfunctional old Continent is not going to be challenging anyone in my lifetime.
Asia is different. China’s ascent to global pre-eminence, or at least parity with America, looks inevitable. Like the US it has a vast internal market, a motivated and increasingly skilled workforce. Its current three-to-one population edge over the US may fall, but it will still be a giant. India’s ascent has farther to go but looks equally assured.
The rise of rival economic power centres does not necessarily spell America’s end. The resilience of the US economy through the past four turbulent years — in contrast to Europe and Japan — is a monument to its capacity to recreate itself. But more important even than America’s dynamism and economic resilience is the durability of its central ethos: the power of freedom. The genius of the founding fathers, which was celebrated again yesterday, has created the world ’s most stable, successful, and, for all the current phobias, still the most appealing model of society for humankind. The world may grow and change around it, but I would not bet on America’s eclipse just yet.
(via Roger L. Simon and Austin Bay Blog)
Alek Boyd of VCrisis has a fascinating bit of breaking news up about President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia handing over to the Venezuelan government a list of FARC Marxist narcoterrorists. To those of us from afar, it might not look like anything earth-shattering. But it is. President Uribe is one of the most effective terror fighters in the world today, a man with Bush-like and Sharon-like resolve to stomp out some of the world's most savage organized killers. Like them, he's taking a huge risk by doing it. And he's winning big. Over the weekend, it came to light that he was fighting his country's monstrous terrorists whenever, wherever, they wander on this earth. Not surprisingly, that led straight to Marxist dictator Hugo Chavez's capital Caracas. Some news reports and diplomatic sources say one of these guerrillas went not only to Caracas, but to the presidential palace itself for a visit. But what the guerrilla didn't do was escape the reach of President Uribe, who paid bounty hunters to snatch the brutal leftist thug back from Caracas to Colombia to face justice. The deed certainly made Chavez apocalyptic. He broke off commercial relations and recalled his ambassador.
Uribe wasn't fazed. He warned Chavez he was the injured party in this, and called for a public meeting about why Marxist narcotrafficantes were walking freely in Chavez's Bolivarian paradise. Chavez wasn't up for that. But President Uribe doesn't back down. He doesn't budge. He's pressing the issue by releasing the names of all of the terrorists who've taken shelter in Venezuela, based on powerful intelligence, possibly from the Americans.
Uribe's got satellite pictures showing guerrilla camps in Venezuela [emphasis mine], and a huge trove of further damning evidence. Uribe's a smart politician so he's releasing it publicly. He's not doing that for Chavez, but doing that for us, and the entire world. He's laying down the case that Hugo Chavez is neck-deep in narcotrafficante terrorism and a menace to our entire hemisphere. Uribe's shattering the image Chavez likes to show of himself as a champion of the poor an downtrodden. Like Arafat, who also liked to play that image, it's just Chavez's mask for his support of killers.
Once again: thanks a ton, Jimmy...
Friday, January 21, 2005
Best Inaugural ever? Possibly...
Yesterday's strongly thematic address was indeed "the freedom speech." Not only did the words "freedom, free, liberty" appear 49 times, but the president used the world-watched occasion to expound his basic reason for the war and his vision of America's mission in the world.
I rate it among the top 5 of the 20 second-inaugurals in our history. Lincoln's profound sermon "with malice toward none" is incomparable, but Bush's second was better than Jefferson's mean-spirited pouting at "the artillery of the press."
In Bush's "second gathering" (Lincoln called it his "second appearing"), the Texan evoked J.F.K.'s "survival of liberty" phrase to convey his central message: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands." Bush repeated that internationalist human-rights idea, with a slight change, in these words: "The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."
The change in emphasis was addressed to accommodationists who make "peace" and "the peace process" the No. 1 priority of foreign policy. Others of us - formerly known as hardliners, now called Wilsonian idealists - put freedom first, recalling that the U.S. has often had to go to war to gain and preserve it. Bush makes clear that it is human liberty, not peace, that takes precedence, and that it is tyrants who enslave peoples, start wars and provoke revolution. Thus, the spread of freedom is the prerequisite to world peace.
It takes guts to take on that peace-freedom priority so starkly. Bush, by retaliatory and pre-emptive decisions in his first term - and by his choice of words and his tall stance in this speech, and despite his unmodulated delivery - now drives his critics batty by exuding a buoyant confidence reminiscent of F.D.R. and Truman.
Seymour Hersh: the man who cries wolf
Tony Blankley thinks that Sy Hersh probably committed espionage with his latest article in The New Yorker, in which he breathlessly speaks of secret commando teams and joint American-Israeli efforts to target Iranian nuclear facilities. My pal Roger Simon rather suspects that Hersh was simply used by the Bush administration to make the mullahs even more nervous than usual.
Hersh himself seems to think of himself as a seer, a prophet of upcoming military actions by the United States against a collection of terror-supporting enemies, starting with Iran. This is clear enough from his title, "The Coming Wars."
I have usually ignored Hersh's articles and books over the years, because there were so many errors in them that I could never figure out what, if anything, was true. Better to ignore him altogether than get sucked into a morass of confusion. And of course, Hersh has long specialized in stories that are severely damaging to the American mission. He almost never seems to think we have real enemies, he invariably takes the side of anti-American critics, and it never seems to occur to him that there are people in the government who are desperately trying to do the right thing. Real life is full of paradox, indecision, and error, with rare moments of decisiveness and coherence. But Hersh's world is black and white, there are clear winners and losers, and policy is driven by a handful of willful men and women who know where they want to go and how they want to get there. I think that’s plain crazy.
Still, "The Coming Wars" is ostensibly about Iran, so I thought it behooved me to take a look. But it was classic Hersh incoherence, almost from the beginning. Early on he says that he spoke to current and past defense and intelligence officials, but shortly thereafter he says, "The Defense Department and the White House did not respond to requests for comment on this story."
There was apparently no editor at The New Yorker who noticed that you can’t have it both ways. For if "the Defense Department" wouldn’t comment, then how could Hersh have spoken to current Defense officials? In fact, Hersh’s claim — “they wouldn’t talk to me” — is not true. Prior to publication, senior Defense Department officials told Hersh that he was dead wrong on several counts — something he might have mentioned, unpleasant though it is.
Internal inconsistency has always been one of Hersh’s trademarks, and "The Coming Wars" abounds with other examples. The most hilarious comes when his sources fess up that "the core problem is that Iran has successfully hidden the extent of its nuclear program, and its progress."
I think that’s right, and it follows that we'd have to be very careful about planning any operation against the Iranian nuclear program. But Hersh doesn’t think in straight lines, because he somehow manages to claim, with a tone of utter confidence, that "(Hersh’s intelligence sources) believe that about three-quarters of the potential targets can be destroyed from the air, and a quarter are too close to population centers, or buried too deep, to be targeted." Once again, you really can't have it both ways: If the Iranians have hidden the program from us, we can't possibly know which ones can be hit from the air, because…we just don’t know. That’s what "successfully hidden" means.
I entirely agree with Roger that of course any rational administration would be going all-out to get all the information about the Iranian nuclear program.
And I entirely agree with Tony Blankley that any journalist who reveals details of our quest for that information should be relegated to the lowest levels of Hell, whether the real thing or the legalistic equivalent.
Guantanamo, maybe? No, no, only kidding, hoHo. But I don't think we need worry too much about Hersh's revealing the darkest secrets of American intelligence, because he doesn't have them. He can't even write a logically consistent paragraph.
Anyway, if you actually indulge your masochistic strain and read the whole thing, you will discover that this isn't really an article about American foreign policy. It’s an overwritten and hyperventilated assault on Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, for, according to Hersh, crushing the CIA in the interagency battles over control of certain kinds of intelligence operations.
The big quote (from "a former senior C.I.A. officer"): "For years, the agency bent over backward to integrate and coordinate with the Pentagon," the former officer said. "We just caved and caved and got what we deserved. It is a fact of life today that the Pentagon is a five-hundred-pound gorilla and the C.I.A. director is a chimpanzee."
Anyone familiar with Washington knows what that quote is all about. It's a classic "cover your a**" line, combined with a touch of "apres nous, la deluge." The guy is saying that things were manageable, but just barely, when he was there, but then he and his cohorts made the terrible mistake of cooperating with the Defense Department, and they got the shaft. So if anything goes wrong henceforth, the CIA is blameless; it's all Rumsfeld’s fault.
Like so much in the Hersh piece, this claim is ridiculous. If anything, Rumsfeld has been irresponsibly timorous in this, as in all other interagency battles. He famously refused to let DoD employees go work on the National Security Council Staff, thereby guaranteeing that the NSC would be manned by State Department and CIA professionals whose instincts would be different from those of Defense professionals. Rumsfeld meekly ceded total control over all investigations of WMDs in Iraq to the CIA. His intelligence czar, Stephen Cambone, has a hard-earned reputation as the CIA’s Pentagon poodle. Nobody thinks Cambone is a threat to CIA's influence. There is indeed a battle of sorts going on over how much latitude our military forces should have in wartime, and it’s a serious question, far removed from the sort of drivel Hersh presents. The actual discussion stems from several cases in which the Pentagon had to get approval from the CIA — and from State as well — before proceeding with intelligence operations, even though time was of the essence. In some of those cases, approval either did not come, or it came too late. Those who want our commanders to have greater autonomy are not — contrary to Hersh’s brief — trying to circumvent congressional oversight or well-defined legal parameters. They are, rather, requesting clearer definition and a more efficient system.
But the funniest of all of Hersh’s little gags is the suggestion that aggressive self-assertion by the Pentagon — which he perceives behind DoD and White House concerns about some aspects of the sweeping intelligence reform just passed by Congress — will somehow diminish "competitive intelligence." It is precisely the opposite. The misconceived "reform" provides for greater centralization, and thus much less competition among the elements of the intelligence community. For CIA officials, past or present, to whisper the opposite is simply one more example of the deceptive character of those officials.
And of S. Hersh, their unconvincing mouthpiece.
A religious war is nigh
Dems in a tailspin...
Thursday, January 20, 2005
A noble, ambitious, and historic speech
The speech was brilliant in its optimism, ambition, and clarity of purpose. Above all the speech was uniquely American in nature, born in a place where freedom has been paid for in the blood of our ancestors. And is still being paid for today.
The President got to the heart of the matter here:
We have seen our vulnerability and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny — prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder — violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the maker of heaven and earth. Across the generations, we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.
So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.
The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause. moving.
My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people from further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America's resolve, and have found it firm.
We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.
We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.
Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.
Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:
All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.
Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: The future leaders of your free country.
The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."
The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.
And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help. Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedoms enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies defeat.
Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens: From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well as a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.
Did you hear that? He is saying: if you are an oppressed soul somewhere in the world the United States is your friend. He is saying: to ultimately protect America and the world from tyranny, terror, and mass murder, our best hope is for oppressed people everywhere to find freedom. And that we will help. How on Earth could any person (except tyrants and murderers) have a problem with that? And why should we care what the tyrants and murderers think?
This is as bold a mission statement as I have ever heard a President make. Or even heard of a President making. Historic . I'll take a President who sets the bar high over one who sets it low (does the name Jimmy Carter ring a bell?) any day of the week.
I also really liked what Jonah Goldberg had to say about it as well...
Some Advice for CBS
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
And speaking of CBS...
"We Were Only Issuing Orders"
Last week, John Ellis mocked the "Reverse Nuremberg" defense offered by CBS News President Andrew Heyward, who inexplicably kept his job in the rout at CBS following the panel report on Memogate.
Well, now Mr. Ellis has something new to mock - remember how CBS fired Mary Mapes and announced that three other executives had been "asked to leave"? Well, according to CBS chairman Leslie Moonves, they would prefer not to:
Mr. Moonves again defended retaining the president of CBS News, Andrew Heyward, saying that he was satisfied that Mr. Heyward had asked the right questions before the broadcast, though he was "denied the right answers" by the executives under him.
The report's producer, Mary Mapes, was fired as a result of the panel's report. Three others were asked to resign. Mr. Moonves revealed today that none of the three have done so. Asked what CBS will do if they refuse to resign, Mr. Moonves said he could not talk about that situation. "It's a legal issue," he said.
It must be like herding cats over there.
More NYT Outrage...
Today there are three excellent posts on the fallout over the NYT/Boxer article, and I would urge you to read them all:
- There is this from Winds of Change
- The venerable Bear from The Truth Laid Bear weighs in with some sarcasm of his own
- And finally (if you really want to boil over) check out this juxtaposition from Belmont Club.
Isn't it time that people who care about this country stopped buying the Times, and that responsible American businesses stopped advertising there? I mean the only CBS broadcast I have watched since Rathergate has been NFL football... their ratings have plummeted. Why can't we have the same impact on the old grey hag? If everyone reading this would just pass it on (i.e. a message to quit supporting the damn NYT...), maybe we can eventually bring this powerful anachronism finally to a screeching halt.
A "new sherrif" in the Senate?
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
The Uncivil War
David Lebedoff is a Minneapolis attorney and long-time friend. David is also the author of my two favorite books on Minnesota politics, The Twenty-First Ballot: A Political Party Struggle in Minnesota and Ward Number 6. Most recently, he is the author of the widely reviewed and admired The Uncivil War: How a New Elite is Destroying Our Democracy, published this fall just before the election. David has now forwarded to us "IT'S CALLING PEOPLE STUPID, STUPID," in which he applies the thesis of The Uncivil War to the outcome of the election:
This is so simple. It's astonishing that they still don't get it. "They" is the people who write and fund the ads and run the campaigns and control the nominations of the Democratic party.
It's a relatiavely small group of people. Most Democrats are not allowed to participate in the workings of their party. Most Republicans, who in truth are remarkably like most Democrats, face the same exclusion--but that's another article. This one is about why Democrats keep on losing elections.
Voters may not be fully consulted on who the presidential contestants are, but they are absolutely free to choose between them. And they keep voting against the Democrat.
Read that again. They aren't voting for anyone as much as they are voting against the Democrat. They are voting against the Democrat in election after election, because they think that the Democrat thinks that they're stupid.
And they are right. Oh, maybe the candidate doesn't think that they're stupid, but if everyone around the candidate does, and says so, what else are people to think?
What people think is that those who are quick to call others stupid must think of themselves as awfully smart. In fact, smarter than everyone else.
There is indeed a new social class comprised of those who think that they're smarter than everyone else. I call them the New Elite. This new class has been waging war, very successfully, against majority rule for decades now, through a combination of altered rules, political correctness, and judicial activism, so that now most people in both parties really feel left behind.
Most Democrats aren't members of the New Elite but most (not all) of the New Elite are Democrats, and they're the ones who the voters see. They're the ones that say the things that make people for the Republican.
And what they don't say is important, too. They never talk about tradition or experience or values. Because if you're smarter than everyone else, what really matter isn't values but rather the newest untested idea that you've just come up with.
The silence about values turns off even more voters than does the habit of calling "stupid" anyone who disagrees with you.
Most Americans, from both parties, rely heavily on moral (not necessarily religious) values. But you'd never know that by the way the handlers handle the Democrat. In the second debate of the last campaign, in answering a question about stem cell research, Bush spoke of ethics and Kerry of data. To know who "won" the debate, look at the election returns.
One of the reasons that Bush detractors call him stupid is that the President speaks no foreign language (excepting some campaign Spanish) and seems quite uninterested in the cultures of other countries. (John Kerry courted his wife in French, and she speaks five languages.)
So here's the point: how stupid would somebody be who didn't even speak the language of his own country? Pretty dumb, huh? And that's just how monumentally stupid the New Elite is--these people don't know enough about most Americans to be able even to speak to them--let alone win their votes.
Democrats have as many moral values as Republicans, but not the Democrats who the voters see. The New Elite shuns values because you can't quantify them like--well, like test scores. Tfhe new calss disdains experience because the lessons of history only tell us what people did do, and therefore might do, not what they should do.
The point is not that you have to tell voters only what they want to hear. You don't. But you do have to speak their language. Not to speak it is insulting. If you move to France and insist on speaking only English you will be insulting the French. You will never be in a position to win them over.
Behaving this way in one's own country is very, very stupid--just to steal the favorite word of those who are illiterate in their own national culture. Technically they speak the same language as their fellow Americans, but in fact they do not, because they never mention the things that concern most Americans. This is stupid.
Refusing to express one's values is stupid--it makes people think that you don't have any values. Insisting that experts always know better than voters is stupid, and, by the way, unconstitutional. Association only with people who think exactly like oneself is stupid, and very boring.
Not understanding the strength and depth and moral underpinning of one's own country is the stupidist thing of all--except of course for explaining repeated election losses only by assuming that the voters are stupid.