Dog Brothers Public Forum

Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities => Politics & Religion => Topic started by: Crafty_Dog on June 12, 2003, 11:06:21 AM

Title: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 12, 2003, 11:06:21 AM
Woof All:

  I open this thread for all WELL-WRITTEN and REASONED political rants and interesting thought pieces.  GOOD HUMORED Commentary welcome.

Crafty Dog
Ann Coulter

I could hardly breathe. Gulping for air, I started crying and yelling, "What do you mean? What are you saying? Why are the Clintons back again?"

Interviewing Hillary Clinton last Sunday night about her book Living History, ABC's Barbara Walters began with such hardball questions as:

"Are you a saint?"
"[Is it] tougher than being first lady, being a senator?"
"You know, you have been working on so many bills with Republicans. ... How do you turn old enemies into allies? ... I mean, no hard feelings?"
"How do you get on with this?"
"There were the accusations that [your husband] was a womanizer." I believe a DNA test revealed that they were more than accusations. "How'd you deal with it?"
Hillary dealt with it. Hillary is a survivor. As Walters said, Living History is a "wife's deeply personal account of being betrayed in front of the entire world." In fact, it was so deeply personal, it took several ghostwriters to get it right.

Walters brazenly probed the question on everyone's mind: How could Hillary be so brave, so strong, so downright wonderful? As Walters recounted, once our brave heroine even lived in Arkansas! Summarizing Hillary's sacrifice, Walters said: "You were young. You were smart. You had a future in Washington. But you gave it up to be with Bill Clinton, to move to Arkansas. ... Why on earth would you throw away your future?" Admittedly, even Bill Clinton couldn't wait to get out of Arkansas. Manhattanites cannot conceive of a greater hardship.

Walters also astutely observed that "in addition to being first lady, you're a mother." Will Hillary's mind-boggling feats never end? Usually such phony liberal amazement at the staggering heroism of women ends with the woman drowning all her children.

Describing interviews like these, New York Times television reviewer Alessandra Stanley said that Hillary was finally able to show her "grit, an outsize will and discipline that has nothing to do with gender." This, Ms. Stanley said, was a welcome change from Hillary's more recognized role as "an emblem of the modern female condition." So on one hand, Hillary has grit and determination. But on the other hand, she is a living, breathing icon. It's good to see the New York Times really going the extra mile to give both sides these days.

In "her" book, "Hillary" explains that the story of how Nelson Mandela forgave his jailers inspired her to forgive Bill for his infidelity. OK, but they locked up Mandela only once. Revealing more about herself than Hillary, Ms. Stanley claims that "millions of women have forgiven far worse of philandering husbands." Far worse? Really? No wonder liberal women hate men so much.

If you credit news reports, the public can't get enough of Hillary. The crush of ordinary people buying Hillary's book seems baffling in light of recent polls. According to an ABC poll, 48 percent of Americans have an unfavorable impression of Hillary, 53 percent of Americans don't want Hillary to ever run for president, and 7 percent of Americans have been date-raped by Bill Clinton.

First in line for Hillary's book at Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Center on Sunday night was Charles Greinsky, who told the New York Daily News he rushed out at midnight to get one of the first books because he supported Hillary's health-care plan. A few years ago, the Associated Press identified Greinsky more fully. It turns out he is "a longtime Clinton campaigner" from Staten Island, who has been the Clintons' guest several times both at the White House and at their home in Chappaqua, N.Y.

Lining up at midnight to buy Hillary's book is street theater for liberals. I suppose shelling out $30 to support the concept of Hillary is less dangerous than the pernicious nonsense liberals usually fund. Hillary has already gotten a record $8 million advance from Simon & Schuster for the book ? the most anyone has ever received for rewriting history. Hillary's acolytes could buy enough copies of her book to rebuild the World Trade Center, and she's not going to pocket more than that.

Another average individual eager to get Hillary's book was Greg Packer, who was the centerpiece of the New York Times' "man on the street" interview about Hillary-mania. After being first in line for an autographed book at the Fifth Avenue Barnes & Noble, Packer gushed to the Times: "I'm a big fan of Hillary and Bill's. I want to change her mind about running for president. I want to be part of her campaign."

It was easy for the Times to spell Packer's name right because he is apparently the entire media's designated "man on the street" for all articles ever written. He has appeared in news stories more than 100 times as a random member of the public. Packer was quoted on his reaction to military strikes against Iraq; he was quoted at the St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Veterans' Day Parade. He was quoted at not one ? but two ? New Year's Eve celebrations at Times Square. He was quoted at the opening of a new "Star Wars" movie, at the opening of an H&M clothing store on Fifth Avenue and at the opening of the viewing stand at Ground Zero. He has been quoted at Yankees games, Mets games, Jets games ? even getting tickets for the Brooklyn Cyclones. He was quoted at a Clinton fund-raiser at Alec Baldwin's house in the Hamptons and the pope's visit to Giants stadium.

Are all reporters writing their stories from Jayson Blair's house? Whether or not it will help her presidential ambitions,  Living History definitely positions Hillary nicely for a job as a reporter.

Ann Coulter is host of
Title: political rant
Post by: matinik on June 12, 2003, 12:31:34 PM
cool article. ann as usual, articulated the issue well.
 one book that underline the clinton's misuse of public trust is  "derilection of duty". the authors name escapes me at the moment but it is by a former "football" holder who listed all the things bubba did when in office, one of which is actually losing the nuclear codes :shock:  :shock: ! think of it: lost code: no way to authorize counter strike. for a period of time the united states nuclear might was effectively neutralised. by it's own president. scary stuff. now hillary is sending out feelers for a posible run :shock: ?

god help us all

Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 12, 2003, 12:35:24 PM
Some of you may have heard that AC was fired by National Review.  Here's some background:


The background story here is as follows. Coulter wrote a column, quoted by many, wherein she called upon America to invade Muslim countries and convert them to Christianity. Then she wrote another column--whose original words seem in dispute--which meandered upon the same lines. National Review Online ran the first column, but did not publish the second. At which point NRO and Coulter parted ways. She loudly claimed censorship; they said editorial judgement. Here's the editor's letter explaining his side. Not badly, I think.


October 3, 2001

Dear Readers,

As many of you may have heard, we've dropped Ann Coulter's column from NRO [National Reviw Online]. This has sparked varying amounts of protest, support, and, most of all, curiosity from our readers. We owe you an explanation.

Of course, we would explain our decision to Ann, but the reality is that she's called the shots from the get-go. It was Ann who decided to sever her ties with National Review -- not the other way around.

This is what happened.

In the wake of her invade-and-Christianize-them column, Coulter wrote a long, rambling rant of a response to her critics that was barely coherent. She's a smart and funny person, but this was Ann at her worst -- emoting rather than thinking, and badly needing editing and some self-censorship, or what is commonly referred to as "judgment."

Running this "piece" would have been an embarrassment to Ann, and to NRO. Rich Lowry pointed this out to her in an e-mail (I was returning from my honeymoon). She wrote back an angry response, defending herself from the charge that she hates Muslims and wants to convert them at gunpoint.

But this was not the point. It was NEVER the point. The problem with Ann's first column was its sloppiness of expression and thought. Ann didn't fail as a person -- as all her critics on the Left say -- she failed as WRITER, which for us is almost as bad.

Rich wrote her another e-mail, engaging her on this point, and asking her -- in more diplomatic terms -- to approach the whole controversy not as a PR-hungry, free-swinging pundit on Geraldo, but as a careful writer.

No response.

Instead, she apparently proceeded to run around town bad-mouthing NR and its employees. Then she showed up on TV and, in an attempt to ingratiate herself with fellow martyr Bill Maher, said we were "censoring" her.

By this point, it was clear she wasn't interested in continuing the relationship.

What publication on earth would continue a relationship with a writer who would refuse to discuss her work with her editors? What publication would continue to publish a writer who attacked it on TV? What publication would continue to publish a writer who lied about it -- on TV and to a Washington Post reporter?

And, finally, what CONSERVATIVE publication would continue to publish a writer who doesn't even know the meaning of the word "censorship"?

So let me be clear: We did not "fire" Ann for what she wrote, even though it was poorly written and sloppy. We ended the relationship because she behaved with a total lack of professionalism, friendship, and loyalty.

What's Ann's take on all this? Well, she told the Washington Post yesterday that she loves it, because she's gotten lots of great publicity. That pretty much sums Ann up.

On the Sean Hannity show yesterday, however, apparently embarrassed by her admission to the Post, she actually tried to deny that she has sought publicity in this whole matter. Well, then, Ann, why did you complain of being "censored" on national TV? Why did you brag to the Post about all the PR?

Listening to Ann legalistically dodge around trying to explain all this would have made Bill Clinton blush.

Ann also told the Post that we only paid her $5 a month for her work (would that it were so!). Either this is a deliberate lie, or Ann needs to call her accountant because someone's been skimming her checks.

Many readers have asked, why did we run the original column in which Ann declared we should "invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity" -- if we didn't like it.

Well, to be honest, it was a mistake. It stemmed from the fact this was a supposedly pre-edited syndicated column, coming in when NRO was operating with one phone line and in general chaos. Our bad.

Now as far as Ann's charges go, I must say it's hard to defend against them, because they either constitute publicity-minded name-calling, like calling us "girly-boys" -- or they're so much absurd bombast.

For example:

Ann -- a self-described "constitutional lawyer" -- volunteered on Politically Incorrect that our "censoring" of her column was tantamount to "repealing the First Amendment." Apparently, in Ann's mind, she constitutes the thin blonde line between freedom and tyranny, and so any editorial decision she dislikes must be a travesty.

She sniffed to the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz that "Every once in awhile they'll [National Review] throw one of their people to the wolves to get good press in left-wing publications." I take personal offense to this charge. She's accusing us of betraying a friend for publicity, when in fact it was the other way around.

And, lastly, this "Joan of Arc battling the forces of political correctness" act doesn't wash. In the same 20 days in which Ann says -- over and over and over again -- that NR has succumbed to "PC hysteria," we've run pieces celebrating every PC shibboleth and bogeyman.
Paul Johnson has criticized Islam as an imperial religion. William F. Buckley himself has called, essentially, for a holy war. Rich Lowry wants to bring back the Shah, and I've written that Western Civilization has every right to wave the giant foam "We're Number 1!" finger as high as it wants.

The only difference between what we've run and what Ann considers so bravely iconoclastic on her part, is that we've run articles that accord persuasion higher value than shock value. It's true: Ann is fearless, in person and in her writing. But fearlessness isn't an excuse for crappy writing or crappier behavior.

To be honest, even though there's a lot more that could be said, I have no desire to get any deeper into this because, like with a Fellini movie, the deeper you get, the less sense Ann makes.

We're delighted that FrontPageMagazine has, with remarkable bravery, picked up Ann's column, presumably for only $5 a month. They'll be getting more than what they're paying for, I'm sure.

-- Jonah Goldberg
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 12, 2003, 05:06:05 PM
Woof Dog Russ:

  I've moved your Wood Allen post to this thread with an eye to saving the WW3 thread for more serious posts  :)  


LONDON, England (CNN) -- U.S. film director and comedian Woody Allen has made an advert for France in which he calls on Americans to put "petty" anti-French feelings behind them.

In an advert for the French Tourist Board he asks his fellow Americans to "forget about our differences."

The winner of three Oscars, including two for the 1978 comedy "Annie Hall," says he will defy a boycott of everything French by his fellow countrymen.

He will continue to eat French fries and French kiss his wife, he said.

The star asks the U.S. to forgive the French for their resistance to the latest war in Iraq. French President Jacques Chirac threatened to veto any U.S.-inspired second resolution in the U.N. Security Council which would have opened the way to military action.

Anti-French sentiments are so high that some sections in the U.S. retaliated by calling for a boycott of French products, with some going so far as to call for the renaming of French fries as freedom fries.

Some U.S. media lampooned the French as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," while the number of U.S. tourists visiting France in the last three months has dropped by 15 percent.

"Recently there has been a lot of controversy between the countries, and I would hope that now the two countries could put all that behind them and start to build on what really has been a great friendship," Allen said in the video.

"No one will be petty about this and we can forget about our differences and I will not have to refer to my French fried potatoes as 'freedom fries' and I don't have to freedom kiss my wife when I really want to French kiss her. So let's pull together now."

The video, called "Let's Fall in Love Again," also features chef Daniel Boulud, New York firefighter Chris Jense and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.

Allen, recently voted as one of the 100 greatest movie stars in a poll by British film fans, has long been a fan of French culture. Last year at the Cannes Film Festival he defended the strength of French democracy in the face of far-right prominence.

The comedian rejected a call by American Jews to boycott the festival because of recent anti-Semitic attacks in France and the rise of the far-right.

A long-standing fan of French culture, Allen is an obvious advertising choice, at least from a French point of view.

But the decision has raised eyebrows in the United States.

"Woody Allen is bizarre choice. ... Catherine Deneuve would have been good -- the boys would appreciate her, and Johnny Depp -- the girls would appreciate him. And he lives in Paris," said Ray Bennett, a Hollywood reporter.

"I don't know why they would use Woody Allen, I don't think he has a good reputation in New York, a lot of people don't like him, so I don't think it's a good idea," said one New Yorker, Julie Belcher.

In his film "Hollywood Ending," Allen -- who plays a blind director whose film was a hit in France but a flop in America -- says: "Here I am a bum, there I am a genius. Thank God the French exist."
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 17, 2003, 05:17:08 PM
If The Bush Administration Lied About WMD, So Did These People (Updated)By John HawkinsSince we haven't found WMD in Iraq yet, a lot of the anti-war/anti-Bush crowd is claiming that the Bush administration lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The story being floated now is that Saddam had no WMD (or almost none) and that the Bush administration didn't tell the truth about the WMD threat.

Well, if they're going to claim that the Bush administration lied, then there sure are a lot of other people, including quite a few prominent Democrats, who have told the same lies since the inspectors pulled out of Iraq in 1998. Here are just a few examples of what I'm talking about...

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." -- From a letter signed by Joe Lieberman, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara A. Milulski, Tom Daschle, & John Kerry among others on October 9, 1998

"This December will mark three years since United Nations inspectors last visited Iraq. There is no doubt that since that time, Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to refine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer- range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies." -- From a December 6, 2001 letter signed by Bob Graham, Joe Lieberman, Harold Ford, & Tom Lantos among others

"Saddam's goal ... is to achieve the lifting of U.N. sanctions while retaining and enhancing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. We cannot, we must not and we will not let him succeed." -- Madeline Albright, 1998

"Iraq made commitments after the Gulf War to completely dismantle all weapons of mass destruction, and unfortunately, Iraq has not lived up to its agreement." -- Barbara Boxer, November 8, 2002

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retained some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capability. Intelligence reports also indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons, but has not yet achieved nuclear capability." -- Robert Byrd, October 2002

"What is at stake is how to answer the potential threat Iraq represents with the risk of proliferation of WMD. Baghdad's regime did use such weapons in the past. Today, a number of evidences may lead to think that, over the past four years, in the absence of international inspectors, this country has continued armament programs." -- Jacques Chirac, October 16, 2002

"The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." -- Bill Clinton in 1998

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security." -- Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002

"I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons...I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out." -- Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen in April of 2003

"Iraq is not the only nation in the world to possess weapons of mass destruction, but it is the only nation with a leader who has used them against his own people." -- Tom Daschle in 1998

"Saddam Hussein's regime represents a grave threat to America and our allies, including our vital ally, Israel. For more than two decades, Saddam Hussein has sought weapons of mass destruction through every available means. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons. He has already used them against his neighbors and his own people, and is trying to build more. We know that he is doing everything he can to build nuclear weapons, and we know that each day he gets closer to achieving that goal." -- John Edwards, Oct 10, 2002

"I share the administration's goals in dealing with Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction." -- Dick Gephardt in September of 2002

"Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." -- Al Gore, 2002

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction." -- Bob Graham, December 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." -- Ted Kennedy, September 27, 2002

"I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force - if necessary - to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." -- John F. Kerry

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandates of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them." -- Carl Levin, Sept 19, 2002

"Over the years, Iraq has worked to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. During 1991 - 1994, despite Iraq's denials, U.N. inspectors discovered and dismantled a large network of nuclear facilities that Iraq was using to develop nuclear weapons. Various reports indicate that Iraq is still actively pursuing nuclear weapons capability. There is no reason to think otherwise. Beyond nuclear weapons, Iraq has actively pursued biological and chemical weapons.U.N. inspectors have said that Iraq's claims about biological weapons is neither credible nor verifiable. In 1986, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran, and later, against its own Kurdish population. While weapons inspections have been successful in the past, there have been no inspections since the end of 1998. There can be no doubt that Iraq has continued to pursue its goal of obtaining weapons of mass destruction." -- Patty Murray, October 9, 2002

"As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process." -- Nancy Pelosi, December 16, 1998

"Even today, Iraq is not nearly disarmed. Based on highly credible intelligence, UNSCOM [the U.N. weapons inspectors] suspects that Iraq still has biological agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, and clostridium perfringens in sufficient quantity to fill several dozen bombs and ballistic missile warheads, as well as the means to continue manufacturing these deadly agents. Iraq probably retains several tons of the highly toxic VX substance, as well as sarin nerve gas and mustard gas. This agent is stored in artillery shells, bombs, and ballistic missile warheads. And Iraq retains significant dual-use industrial infrastructure that can be used to rapidly reconstitute large-scale chemical weapons production." -- Ex-Un Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter in 1998

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. And that may happen sooner if he can obtain access to enriched uranium from foreign sources -- something that is not that difficult in the current world. We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction." -- John Rockefeller, Oct 10, 2002

"Saddam?s existing biological and chemical weapons capabilities pose a very real threat to America, now. Saddam has used chemical weapons before, both against Iraq?s enemies and against his own people. He is working to develop delivery systems like missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that could bring these deadly weapons against U.S. forces and U.S. facilities in the Middle East." -- John Rockefeller, Oct 10, 2002

"Whether one agrees or disagrees with the Administration?s policy towards Iraq, I don?t think there can be any question about Saddam?s conduct. He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do. He lies and cheats; he snubs the mandate and authority of international weapons inspectors; and he games the system to keep buying time against enforcement of the just and legitimate demands of the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States and our allies. Those are simply the facts." -- Henry Waxman, Oct 10, 2002
Title: Your Inner Caveman
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 26, 2003, 03:39:13 PM
Guys, don't lose touch with your inner caveman  

By Samantha Bonar, Times Staff Writer

A group called Euro RSCG Worldwide has done a study of American men aged 21 to 48, purporting to deconstruct the 21st century man. If you are like me, you will find the results alarming.

According to the new study, "When asked to choose from a list of approximately three dozen words," only 20% of men described themselves as "sexy."

"The word today's men are most apt to assign themselves is 'caring,' selected by 74% of correspondents," the study said.

I don't want a caring man. I like my men moody, sullen, dark and distant. Disturbed, if you will. With deep thoughts they cannot articulate ? and big, strong arms. Caring? Ho-hum. My mom's caring.

When asked what they would choose if they could have only one wish, 35% of men said they want "to grow old with a woman I love." In second place (22%) was "to have happy, healthy kids." Third was "to have a circle of friends to support me unconditionally and whose company I enjoy" (10%).

I'd say these "new men" are more like old women.

The media has dubbed these girlie-guys "metrosexuals." They are said to be concentrated around big cities ? kind of like pollution. They are said to be knowledgeable about fashion and to enjoy shopping ? kind of like gay men ? but they are not gay.

The study results continued to sicken me. Today's men apparently care about "feeling and looking good": "In the business world, good grooming is essential for men today, according to 89% of the male respondents. Perhaps that's why nearly half the sample (49%) contend that there's nothing wrong with a man getting a facial or manicure."

I've never desired a man with baby-soft, exfoliated skin. There's something super-sexy about a man's rough lip and cheek and the "chin burn" it leaves behind. And if my date had polished nails I would escape out the bathroom window.

"The metrosexual represents the tipping point of a shift that parallels the process of the women's movement," reads a statement by Marian Salzman, chief strategy officer of Euro RSCG Worldwide.

My God. The men's women's movement? More like the fall of the Roman Empire. Onetime heroes fiddling with moisturizer and self-help books while Rome burns.

"In this new century, men are finding the courage to explore the female domain without fear of losing their status as 'real' men," Salzman continued.

It does take a certain amount of courage to face various waxing procedures, I will admit. But I don't want my men to fret about such things. I want them to worry about how they are going to sweep me off my feet, not how they are going to get those nasty calluses off their heels.

One of the best things about being a man, I have always thought, is that men get to worry about what they do and what they are rather than how they look. Why should we celebrate their joining women's narcissistic, consumerist party?

Men: Get out of Stepford while you still can!

Women want you scruffy and intense, not coiffed and chatty. It's your psychological complexity and physical roughness that make you so appealing to we on the softer, more emotional end of the species. We want the man about town, the man of his word and the man of the world, he who is his own man who works lots of man hours using his man power. Heck, I'll even take a man-ipulative man-ic-depressive over a metroweenie.

Samantha Bonar can be contacted at samantha.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 01, 2003, 02:45:06 PM
Tuesday, July 1, 2003 12:01 a.m. EDT

Students across the state of New York recently took their Regents' examinations, the tests that they must pass in order to get a high school diploma. A year ago, the state education department was embarrassed when Jeanne Heifetz, a vigilant parent in Brooklyn, announced her discovery that state officials had expurgated literary selections on the English examination. Words and sentences that might offend anyone had been quietly deleted from passages by writers such as Elie Wiesel, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Franz Kafka.

New York's penchant for bowdlerizing literature, it turns out, was not unique to the Empire State. The educational publishing industry follows very specific guidelines to ensure that school children are not exposed to words or topics that might be controversial, especially those that are related to gender, race, religion, or sex. I compiled a list of over 500 words that are banned by one or more publishers. Some are relatively obsolete, like "authoress" or "geezer," but others are everyday words that one is likely to encounter in the newspaper, like "landlord," "senior citizen," "dogma," "yacht" or "actress" (what would the late Katherine Hepburn have made of that?).


Since my book appeared, I have received a large number of letters from people in the educational publishing industry, offering fresh material about the sanitizing that occurs on a regular basis. In Michigan, the state does not allow mention of flying saucers or extraterrestrials on its test, because those subjects might imply the forbidden topic of evolution. A text illustrator wrote to say that she was not permitted to portray a birthday party because Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in celebrating birthdays. Another illustrator told me that he was directed to airbrush the udder from his drawing of a cow because that body part was "too sexual."
A review of my book in the Scotsman, an Edinburgh newspaper, said that a well-known local writer for children sold a story to an American textbook company, along with illustrations. The U.S. publisher, however, informed her that she could not show a little girl sitting on her grandfather's lap, as the drawing implied incest. So, the author changed the adult's face, so that the little girl was sitting on her grandmother's lap instead. A contributor to a major textbook series prepared a story comparing the great floods in 1889 in Johnstown, Pa., with those in 1993 in the Midwest, but was unable to find an acceptable photograph. The publisher insisted that everyone in the rowboats must be wearing a lifevest to demonstrate safety procedures.

A freelance writer sent me the "bias guidelines" for a major publisher of texts and tests. The "bias guidelines" consist of advice to writers and editors about words and topics that must be avoided, as well as specifications for illustrations. Like other publishers, this one requires adherence to gender and ethnic balance. All lessons, test questions, and illustrations must reflect the following ratios: 50-50 male-female; 45% Caucasian; 25% African American; 22% Hispanic American; 5% Asian American; 5% American Indian and others; and 3% "persons with disabilities." These figures do not total 100%, nor do they represent actual U.S. Census numbers, but the principle of representation is well understood by writers and editors. American society, as represented in the textbooks, is perfectly integrated by race, ethnicity, gender, age, and disability.

When it comes to illustrations in textbooks, certain images--women cooking, men acting assertive, scenes of poverty, and old people walking with the aid of a cane or a walker--are likewise considered unacceptable. The specifications for photographs, I have learned, are exquisitely detailed. Men and boys must not be larger than women and girls. Asians must not appear as shorter than non-Asians. Women must wear bras, and men must not have noticeable bulges below the waist. People must wear shoes and socks, never showing bare feet or the soles of shoes, and their shoelaces must be solid black, brown, or white. People must never gesture with their fingers, nor should anyone be depicted eating with the left hand. Things to avoid: holiday decorations and scenes in which a church or a bar appears in the background.

There are so many rules, one wonders how they manage to keep track of them. Even after its national humiliation a year ago, the New York State Education Department still manages to make mistakes. On the last administration of the Regents' English examination in January, the state asked high school seniors to write about a poem by Matthew Arnold. However, the examination did not mention the name of this famous poem ("Dover Beach"); it inexplicably offered only one stanza of the four-stanza poem; and it changed or misquoted an important line. Instead of Arnold's exclamation, "Ah, love, let us be true to one another!" it stated, "Ah, friend, let us be true to one another!"


As the example shows, bowdlerization is not only dishonest, it leads to dumbing down of language and ideas. And of one thing I am convinced: The widespread censorship of language and ideas in education caused by the demands of advocacy groups will not end unless it is regularly exposed to public review and ridicule. The next time someone in a publishing office or a state education agency suggests deleting a literary passage from a test or textbook because it contains the word "anchorman" or shows a witch flying around on a broomstick, perhaps someone in the room will say, "Wait, if we do that, people will laugh at us."

Ms. Ravitch is author of "The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn" (Knopf, 2003).
Title: Political Rants
Post by: rogt on July 01, 2003, 03:53:16 PM
Woof All,

>I open this thread for all WELL-WRITTEN and REASONED political rants.
>GOOD HUMORED Commentary welcome.

Started off with an editorial from right-wing bully Anne Coulter, no

>Ann Coulter

>Walters also astutely observed that "in addition to being first lady,
>you're a mother." Will Hillary's mind-boggling feats never end?
>Usually such phony liberal amazement at the staggering heroism of
>women ends with the woman drowning all her children.

In case Coulter didn't know, Andrea Yates (the woman who drowned all
5 of her children in June 2001, to whom I assume she's referring) and
her husband were as conservative and fundamentalist Christian as one
could find.  So it's pretty dishonest for her to imply that
"liberalism" was somehow to blame for this.

>In "her" book, "Hillary" explains that the story of how Nelson
>Mandela forgave his jailers inspired her to forgive Bill for his
>infidelity. OK, but they locked up Mandela only once. Revealing more
>about herself than Hillary, Ms. Stanley claims that "millions of
>women have forgiven far worse of philandering husbands." Far worse?
>Really? No wonder liberal women hate men so much.

If Coulter wants to slam out Bill over his infidelity, fine.  Have at
him.  But why the outrage over the fact that Hillary forgave him?
Given how vocally most conservatives register their support for
"family values", I'd think Coulter might find Hillary's decision

As for this idea that "liberal women hate men so much", where's she
getting this idea?  Coulter may seem like some kind of "intellectual"
to people whose only source of political information is conservative
talk radio and right-wing media watch groups, but her "arguments"
largely consist of name-calling and ad hominem attacks on "the

>Lining up at midnight to buy Hillary's book is street theater for
>liberals. I suppose shelling out $30 to support the concept of
>Hillary is less dangerous than the pernicious nonsense liberals
>usually fund. Hillary has already gotten a record $8 million advance
>from Simon & Schuster for the book ? the most anyone has ever
>received for rewriting history. Hillary's acolytes could buy enough
>copies of her book to rebuild the World Trade Center, and she's not
>going to pocket more than that.

I don't see Coulter donating any of the profits from her book sales
(or her lucrative career as right-wing media critic) to the 9/11
victims or the rebuilding of the trade center, so what exactly is the
meaning of the above criticism?

I have no love for Hillary myself, but it's obvious that Coulter and
her colleagues feel somewhat threatened by her.  I think they don't
like the fact that as much as they trash and ridicule Hillary and
"liberal" views altogether, both are actually quite popular.  Too bad
for Coulter that hundreds of people aren't lining up outside of
stores at midnight to buy a copy of *her* book.

Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 01, 2003, 09:31:40 PM
Woof Rog et al:

  I could go at length on the merits of why I don't like her (a bag lady-- the $100k commodities deal that was a pay off to her husband the governor; a criminal-- the missing files from her law firm found in her quarters, the theft of White House furniture; her participation in peddling pardons;  a socialist-- the effort to socialize American medicine, etc etc etc) but instead I'll share the following:

Some Late Night TV show comments about our beloved Hillary........

"Hillary's got this huge book, it's a memoir of her life and times at the
White House. In the book she says when Bill told her he was having an
affair, she said 'I could hardly breath, I was gulping for air.'
No, I'm  sorry, that's what Monica said."
     David Letterman

"Hillary Clinton's book hits the stores this Monday. Oh
boy, it took her a long time to write it. But in her defense, every time she
tried to use the desk, Bill was always using it for a date."
       Jay Leno

"Hillary Clinton's 506-page memoirs comes out next week.
So much of her personality shines through, that in the end, you'll want
to sleep with an intern."
         Craig Kilborn

"In Hillary Clinton's new book 'Living History,' Hillary
details what it was like meeting Bill Clinton, falling in love with him,
getting married, and living a passionate, wonderful life as husband and
wife. Then on page two, the trouble starts."
         Jay Leno

"Hillary Clinton has finished her memoirs for publication
next year, while Bill has barely finished the first chapter. Well, in all
fairness, Fiction is a lot harder to write."
         Jay Leno

"Hillary Clinton, our junior senator from New York, announced that
she has no intentions of ever, ever running for office of the
President of the United States. Her husband, Bill Clinton, is bitterly
disappointed. He is crushed. There go his dreams of becoming a
two-impeachment family."
         David Letterman

"Last night, Se! nator Hillary Clinton hosted her first
party in her new home in Washington. People said it was a lot like the parties she used to host at the White House. In fact, even the furniture was the same."
         Jay Leno

"Senator Hillary Clinton is attacking President Bush for
breaking his campaign promise to cut carbon dioxide emissions, saying
a promise made, a promise broken. And then out of habit, she demanded that Bush spend the night on the couch."
         Late, Late Show host Craig Kilborn

"Hillary Clinton is the junior senator from the great state of New York.
When they swore her in, she used the Clinton family Bible. You know,
the one with only seven commandments."
         David Letterman

"CNN found that Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in America.
Women admire her because she's strong and successful. Men admire her because she allows her husband to cheat and get away with it."
         Jay Leno
Title: Re: Political Rants
Post by: rogt on July 02, 2003, 12:31:21 PM
Woof All,

>I could go at length on the merits of why I don't like her (a bag
>lady-- the $100k commodities deal that was a pay off to her husband
>the governor;

I don't know the exact details of this deal, but it seems like $100k
is nothing compared to the $800k George W. Bush made from insider
trading while on the board of Harken Energy.  Not to mention the
personal between qhis administration and the Enron scandal.

>a criminal-- the missing files from her law firm found in her
>quarters, the theft of White House furniture;

Don't know about any missing papers (regarding what exactly?), but
did the Clintons really steal any White House furniture?  I've heard
the right-wingers make this claim over and over, but if you can cite
a source of hard evidence that they committed any such theft, I'd
like to see it.

>her participation in peddling pardons;

Oh, like Bush Sr. pardoned all of his fellow Iran-Contra
conspirators?  Not that this excuses what the Clintons did, but how
is it any worse than any other pardon-peddling by Republican

>a socialist-- the effort to socialize American medicine, etc etc etc)

Trying to ensure that all Americans can get quality healthcare makes
her a "socialist" (a term to which you clearly attribute only
negative connotations)?  Have you ever heard Hillary (or any
Democrat) urge workers to "seize the means of production" or advocate
the abolition of private property rights?  If Hillary is a full-on
"socialist", then what do you consider merely "liberal"?

Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 03, 2003, 09:24:32 PM
Hate My Father? No Ma'am!
By Glenn Sacks


The university professor began the first class of the semester by announcing that she was an "anti-imperialist, anti-heterosexist Marxist-feminist." She read us the famous quote from Robin Morgan, the leading feminist and former editor of Ms. Magazine, who said "kill your fathers, not your mothers."  Seeing the students' shocked faces, she added "Kill is too strong.  Hate your fathers, not your mothers."  I guess she was a moderate.

One of the male students in the class, obviously feeling chastised, said the defense I've heard young men say hundreds of times--"don't blame us for what happened to women in the past--blame our fathers and grandfathers."

I've ruminated darkly over those words many times, and when thinking of my father and grandfather, I can't help but be struck by the special burdens they shouldered as men, because they were men, and how these special burdens have now become a blank space in our history.

Hate my grandfather? My grandfather was a milkman.  A young immigrant who enlisted to fight in World War I out of gratitude to the country which had allowed him to escape Russian Czarist tyranny.  A man who, wounded in the decisive Battle of the Argonne Forest in 1918, received the Purple Heart and the French Croix de Guerre.  A tender father who stayed up half the night stroking the fevered brow of his sickly youngest daughter--a "daddy's girl"-- before going to work at three in the morning. A man who put his safety and even his life on the line during the violent union strikes and battles of the 1930s, because he believed that workers have the right to decent wages and living conditions.

Hate my father? The man who worked six days a week for 25 years yet somehow always had time to spend with me? Who never once let me down? Who worked 12 hour days when my sister and I were toddlers so he could ensure that we would be provided for? Who recalls sadly as he looks at his little granddaughter that he doesn't even remember what we looked like at that age, because he was rarely able to be home?

The successful feminist re-writing of the pre-feminist past as a virtual dark ages where men lived like nobles and women were their serfs is at the core of the "hate your father" idea. Tens of millions of male blue collar workers--who put their bodies on the line in the coal mines and steel mills so their wives and children could live in safety and comfort--have been turned into oppressors.  Their wives and children, for whom these men sacrificed so much, have been turned into their victims.  

Edited out of our history are the tragedies of millions of American men who were killed or maimed on what early trade unionists called the "battlefield of labor."  The miners who died in cave-ins, explosions, or of black lung disease.  The sailors and fisherman who died at sea. The oil refinery workers killed in explosions. The factory workers killed in industrial accidents. The construction workers who died carving train tracks and then highways through majestic mountain cliffs or the scorching desert.  The construction workers who died building our bridges, dams, high rises, stadiums, and apartments.

All of them have been forgotten, in part because there is no natural constituency which would like to remember them--the right generally does not dwell on yesterday's struggling blue collar workers and heroic union men, and the left is beholden to the feminists, for whom any mention of men as special contributors or as victims is strictly forbidden.

The only credit left for men is the military, and even this has been partially hijacked.  We now speak of "the men and women who fought and died in our wars" as if even one percent of our military casualties were ever suffered by women, or as if women were ever conscripted the way men were.

Feminists once excoriated our society--correctly--for ignoring the massive, hidden contributions of women in child-rearing and housework.  They asked new and important  questions like "Who cooked the last supper?" and, even better, "Who washed the dishes afterwards?"  But we have now come full circle--men's special and unique contributions (hazardous jobs, long work hours, long commutes, time away from the family, etc.) are ignored, and any reference to them as a male burden is "sexism."

I thought of this recently  when I took my young son to a large model train exhibition, one rich in 1940s and 1950s Americana.  Looking at the huge displays of trains cutting through mountain peaks, of bridges and railroad trusses towering hundreds of feet above canyons and rivers, of towns and their factories and coal mines, of the sheer industrial might of the old America, I felt torn inside.  I know that this was a world where many Americans were terribly mistreated--blacks, Latinos, some women, and often the working-class and the poor.  Yet I couldn't also help but feel a tug of nostalgia as I looked at a world which men--through their ingenuity, strength, and raw physical courage--had carved out of wilderness.  Men of my generation have endured relentless criticism,  and even the best of us must struggle just to attain the moral status automatically granted to women.  Yet in this older world, it seems,  there was respect for men and the special sacrifices they made.

And perhaps someday, the professor's dictum "hate your father" aside, there will be some respect for the sacrifices my father and grandfather made, the uniquely male sacrifices they made. Hate my father?  No ma'am!
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 28, 2003, 09:40:57 PM
"It doesn't get any better (worse?) than this.

"Jessie Jackson has added former Chicago democratic congressman Mel Reynolds to Rainbow/PUSH Coalition's payroll. Reynolds was among the 176 criminals excused in President Clinton's last-minute forgiveness spree.

"Reynolds received a commutation of his six-and-a-half-year federal sentence for 15 convictions of wire fraud, bank fraud and lies to the Federal Election Commission. He is more notorious, however, for concurrently serving five years for sleeping with an underage campaign volunteer.

This is a first in American politics: an ex-congressman who had sex with a subordinate... won clemency from a president who had sex with a subordinate... then was hired by a clergyman who had sex with a subordinate.

"His new job?

"Youth counselor!!!
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 06, 2003, 11:19:42 PM
Dan Rather, Jesse Jackson, Cokie Roberts, and a marine were hiking through the jungle one day when they were captured by cannibals.  They were tied up, led to the village, and brought before the chief.  The chief said, "I am familiar with your western custom of granting the condemned a last wish. Before we kill and eat you, do you have any last requests?"

Dan Rather said, "Well, I'm a Texan; so I'd like one last bowlful of hot, spicy chili." The chief nodded to an underling, who left and returned with the chili. Rather ate it all and said, "Now I can die content."

Jesse Jackson said, "You know, the thing in this life I am proudest of is my work on behalf of the poor and oppressed. So before I go, I want to sing "We Shall Overcome" one last time." The chief said, "Go right ahead, we're listening." Jackson sang the song, and then said, "Now I can die in peace."

Cokie Roberts said, "I'm a reporter to the end. I want to take out my tape recorder and describe the scene here and what's about to happen.  Maybe someday someone will hear it and know that I was on the job til the end."  The chief directed an aide to hand over the tape recorder, and Roberts dictated some comments. She then said, "Now I can die happy."  

The chief said, "And, Mr. Marine, what is your final wish?"  "Kick me in the ass," said the Marine.  "What?," said the chief. "Would you mock us in your last hour?"   No, I'm not kidding. I want you to kick me in the ass," insisted the Marine. So the chief untied the Marine, shoved him into the open, and proceeded to kick him in the ass. The Marine went sprawling, but then rolled to his knees, pulled a 9mm pistol from his waistband, and shot the chief dead. In the resulting confusion, he leapt to his haversack, pulled out an M16, and sprayed the cannibals with gunfire. In a flash, the cannibals were all dead or fleeing for their lives.

As the Marine was untying the others, they each asked him, "Why didn't you just shoot them? Why did you ask them to first kick you in the ass?"  "What!?" asked the Marine. "And have you assholes call me the aggressor?!?"
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 04, 2003, 12:44:26 PM
Moore's Law
The immorality of the Ten Commandments.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2003, at 2:04 PM PT

The row over the boulder-sized version of the so-called "Ten Commandments," and as to whether they should be exhibited in such massive shape on public property, misses the opportunity to consider these top-10 divine ordinances and their relationship to original intent. Judge Roy Moore is clearly, as well as a fool and a publicity-hound, a man who identifies the Mount Sinai orders to Moses with a certain interpretation of Protestantism. But we may ask ourselves why any sect, however primitive, would want to base itself on such vague pre-Christian desert morality (assuming Moses to be pre-Christian).

The first four of the commandments have little to do with either law or morality, and the first three suggest a terrific insecurity on the part of the person supposedly issuing them. I am the lord thy god and thou shalt have no other ... no graven images ... no taking of my name in vain: surely these could have been compressed into a more general injunction to show respect. The ensuing order to set aside a holy day is scarcely a moral or ethical one, unless you assume that other days are somehow profane. (The Rev. Ian Paisley, I remember, used to refuse interviewers for Sunday newspapers even after it was pointed out to him that it's the Monday edition that is prepared on Sunday.) Whereas a day of rest, as prefigured in the opening passages of Genesis, is no more than organized labor might have demanded, perhaps during the arduous days of unpaid pyramid erection.

So the first four commandments have almost nothing to do with moral conduct and cannot in any case be enforced by law unless the state forbids certain sorts of art all week, including religious and iconographic art?and all activity on the Sabbath (which the words of the fourth commandment do not actually require). The next instruction is to honor one's parents: a harmless enough idea, but again unenforceable in law and inapplicable to the many orphans that nature or god sees fit to create. That there should be no itemized utterance enjoining the protection of children seems odd, given that the commandments are addressed in the first instance to adults. But then, the same god frequently urged his followers to exterminate various forgotten enemy tribes down to the last infant, sparing only the virgins, so this may be a case where hand-tying or absolute prohibitions were best avoided.

There has never yet been any society, Confucian or Buddhist or Islamic, where the legal codes did not frown upon murder and theft. These offenses were certainly crimes in the Pharaonic Egypt from which the children of Israel had, if the story is to be believed, just escaped. So the middle-ranking commandments, of which the chief one has long been confusingly rendered "thou shalt not kill," leave us none the wiser as to whether the almighty considers warfare to be murder, or taxation and confiscation to be theft. Tautology hovers over the whole enterprise.

In much the same way, few if any courts in any recorded society have approved the idea of perjury, so the idea that witnesses should tell the truth can scarcely have required a divine spark in order to take root. To how many of its original audience, I mean to say, can this have come with the force of revelation? Then it's a swift wrap-up with a condemnation of adultery (from which humans actually can refrain) and a prohibition upon covetousness (from which they cannot). To insist that people not annex their neighbor's cattle or wife "or anything that is his" might be reasonable, even if it does place the wife in the same category as the cattle, and presumably to that extent diminishes the offense of adultery. But to demand "don't even think about it" is absurd and totalitarian, and furthermore inhibiting to the Protestant spirit of entrepreneurship and competition.

One is presuming (is one not?) that this is the same god who actually created the audience he was addressing. This leaves us with the insoluble mystery of why he would have molded ("in his own image," yet) a covetous, murderous, disrespectful, lying, and adulterous species. Create them sick, and then command them to be well? What a mad despot this is, and how fortunate we are that he exists only in the minds of his worshippers.

It's obviously too much to expect that a Bronze Age demagogue should have remembered to condemn drug abuse, drunken driving, or offenses against gender equality, or to demand prayer in the schools. Still, to have left rape and child abuse and genocide and slavery out of the account is to have been negligent to some degree, even by the lax standards of the time. I wonder what would happen if secularists were now to insist that the verses of the Bible that actually recommend enslavement, mutilation, stoning, and mass murder of civilians be incised on the walls of, say, public libraries? There are many more than 10 commandments in the Old Testament, and I live for the day when Americans are obliged to observe all of them, including the ox-goring and witch-burning ones. (Who is Judge Moore to pick and choose?) Too many editorialists have described the recent flap as a silly confrontation with exhibitionist fundamentalism, when the true problem is our failure to recognize that religion is not just incongruent with
morality but in essential ways incompatible with it.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: milt on September 08, 2003, 01:11:39 PM

The Post-Modern President
Deception, Denial, and Relativism: what the Bush administration learned from the French.

By Joshua Micah Marshall

Every president deceives. But each has his own style of deceit. Ronald Reagan was a master of baseless stories -- trees cause more pollution than cars -- that captured his vision of how the world should be. George H.W. Bush, generally conceded to be a decent fellow, tended to lie only in two circumstances: When running for president, or to save his own skin, as in Iran-Contra. Bill Clinton famously lied about embarrassing details of his private life, and his smooth, slippery rhetorical style made some people suspect he was lying even when he was telling the truth.

George W. Bush has a forthright speaking style which convinces many people that he's telling the truth even when he's lying. But in under three years, Bush has told at least as many impressive untruths as each of his three predecessors. (See The Mendacity Index, p.27) His style of deception is also unique. When Reagan said he didn't trade arms for hostages, or Clinton insisted he didn't have sex with "that woman," the falsity of the claims was readily provable--by an Oliver North memo or a stained blue dress. Bush and his administration, however, specialize in a particular form of deception: The confidently expressed, but currently undisprovable assertion. In his State of the Union address last January, the president claimed that Saddam Hussein had ties to al Qaeda and a robust nuclear weapons program, and that therefore we needed to invade Iraq. Even at the time, many military and intelligence experts said that the president's assertions probably weren't true and were based on at best fragmentary evidence. But there was no way to know for sure unless we did what Bush wanted. When the president said on numerous occasions that his tax cuts--which were essentially long-term rate reductions for the wealthy--would spur growth without causing structural deficits, most experts, again, cried foul, pointing out that both past experience and accepted economic theory said otherwise. But in point of fact nobody could say for sure that maybe this time the cuts might not work.

This summer, when it became clear that Iraq had no active nuclear weapons program--indeed showed no apparent evidence of any weapons of mass destruction at all--that the economy was still losing jobs, and that the administration's own budget office predicted deficits as far as it dared project, Bush's reputation for honesty took a turn for the worse. By the middle of July, only 47 percent of adults surveyed by Time/CNN said they felt they could trust the president, down from 56 percent in March. The president's response to all this was to make yet more confidently expressed, undisprovable assertions. He simply insisted that his tax cuts would create jobs--and who knows? Perhaps someday they will--and that American forces would eventually turn up evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But by then, the press was beginning to pick up on deceptions in other policy areas--the redaction of evidence of global warming in EPA reports, the administration's refusal to provide Congress with any estimates whatsoever about the costs of the occupation of Iraq. The White House seemed guilty of what might be called persistent, chronic up-is-downism, the tendency to ridicule the possibility that a given policy might actually have its predictable adverse consequences, to deny those consequences once they have already occurred, or--failing that--to insist against all evidence that those consequences were part of the plan all along. By late July, even a paragon of establishment conservatism like Barron's columnist Alan Abelson was lamenting the president's "regrettable aversion to the truth and reality when the truth and reality aren't lovely or convenient."

The president and his aides don't speak untruths because they are necessarily people of bad character. They do so because their politics and policies demand it. As astute observers such as National Journal's Jonathan Rauch have recently noted, George W. Bush campaigned as a moderate, but has governed with the most radical agenda of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Indeed, the aim of most of Bush's policies has been to overturn what FDR created three generations ago. On the domestic front, that has meant major tax cuts forcing sharp reductions in resources for future government activism, combined with privatization of as many government functions as possible. Abroad, Bush has pursued an expansive and militarized unilateralism aimed at cutting the U.S. free from entangling alliances and international treaty obligations so as to maximize freedom of maneuver for American power in a Hobbesian world.

Yet this is not an agenda that the bulk of the American electorate ever endorsed. Indeed, poll after poll suggest that Bush's policy agenda is not particularly popular. What the public wants is its problems solved: terrorists thwarted, jobs created, prescription drugs made affordable, the environment protected. Almost all of Bush's deceptions have been deployed when he has tried to pass off his preexisting agenda items as solutions to particular problems with which, for the most part, they have no real connection. That's when the unverifiable assertion comes in handy. Many of the administration's policy arguments have amounted to predictions--tax cuts will promote job growth, Saddam is close to having nukes, Iraq can be occupied with a minimum of U.S. manpower--that most experts believed to be wrong, but which couldn't be definitely disproven until events played out in the future. In the midst of getting those policies passed, the administration's main obstacle has been the experts themselves--the economists who didn't trust the budget projections, the generals who didn't buy the troop estimates, intelligence analysts who questioned the existence of an active nuclear weapons program in Iraq. That has created a strong incentive to delegitimize the experts--a task that comes particularly easy to the revisionists who drive Bush administration policy. They tend to see experts as guardians of the status quo, who seek to block any and all change, no matter how necessary, and whose views are influenced and corrupted by the agendas and mindsets of their agencies. Like orthodox Marxists who pick apart mainstream economics and anthropology as the creations of 'bourgeois ideology' or Frenchified academic post-modernists who 'deconstruct' knowledge in a similar fashion, revisionist ideologues seek to expose "the facts" as nothing more than the spin of experts blinded by their own unacknowledged biases. The Bush administration's betes noir aren't patriarchy, racism, and homophobia, but establishmentarianism, big-government liberalism, and what they see as pervasive foreign policy namby-pambyism. For them, ignoring the experts and their 'facts' is not only necessary to advance their agenda, but a virtuous effort in the service of a higher cause.

Tinker Beltway

To understand the Bush administration's need and propensity for deception one must go back to the ideological warfare of the 1990s, which pitted Bill Clinton's New Democratic agenda against Newt Gingrich's Contract for America Republicanism. Clinton's politics were an updated version of early 20th century Progressivism, with its suspicion of ideology and heavy reliance on technocratic expertise. He argued that while government agencies or our relations with the international community might need reform, they were basically sound, and their proper use was to solve discrete problems. Crime on the rise? Put more cops on the street. Federal budget deficits out of control? Trim federal spending and nudge up taxes on the wealthy. Many in Washington debated whether Clinton's policies would work; some still argue that they didn't. But few ever questioned that their intent was to solve these specific problems.

Newt Gingrich and the House Republicans who came to power in 1995 held a very different, neo-Reaganite view. Deriding the whole notion of a federal response for every crisis, they argued that society's problems could be solved only through a radical reordering, both of government in Washington and of America's relationship with the world. This required tax cuts to drain money out of the Beltway; radically scaling back regulation on business; pulling America out of many international agreements; and cutting funding to the United Nations. The Gingrichites were not pragmatists but visionaries and revolutionaries. They wanted to overthrow the existing structure of American governance, not tinker with it.

The contest between these two worldviews played out during the middle 1990s, and eventually the public rendered its verdict at the ballot box. In 1996, Clinton decisively won re-election and Gingrich's GOP lost seats in the House. Then in 1998, at the height of impeachment, the House GOP lost even more seats ? marking the first time since 1934 that the party in the White House won seats during a mid-term election--and Clinton's job approval rating soared as high as it ever would during his eight years in office.

Voters had chosen problem-solving moderation over radical revisionism--and perceptive GOP leaders knew it. Following the 1998 electoral setback, they quieted their talk of revolution and mulled over how to soften their image. More and more of them gravitated towards the son of former president George H.W. Bush, the kindler, gentler Republican. Texas governor George W. Bush had a reputation as a pragmatist who made common cause with Democratic leaders in the Texas legislature. He launched his campaign for president not as an ideologue, but as a "compassionate conservative," who spoke the language of progressive problem-solving on issues such as education, and was perfectly willing to use the powers of the federal government to get results. Even when Bush proposed a massive tax cut during the Republican primaries, most commentators dismissed it as a campaign ploy to fend off his more conservative GOP rival, Steve Forbes. After ascending to the presidency without winning the popular vote, Bush was widely expected to compromise on the size of the tax cut.

It soon became clear, however, that Bush would govern very differently from how he ran. Instead of abandoning the tax cut, for instance, he became more determined to pass it, for rather than being a mere ploy, cutting taxes was a fundamental goal of his agenda. Politically, it was a policy on which each part of the once-fractious conservative base could agree on. It also rewarded the party's biggest donors. But most importantly, tax cuts would help shift the very premises of American governance. Republicans had come to view progressive federal taxation as the linchpin of Democrat strength. As Rep. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), an up-and-coming conservative, told The New Yorker's Nicholas Lemann during the 2001 tax debate, "[t]oday fewer and fewer people pay taxes, and more and more are dependent on government, so the politician who promises the most from government is likely to win. Every day, the Republican Party is losing constituents, because every day more people can vote themselves more benefits without paying for it." By this theory, the more the tax burden shifted from upper-middle-class and wealthy voters to those of the middle class, the more average voters would feel the sting of each new government program, and the less likely they would be to support the Democrats who call for such programs. To put it another way, it was a policy designed to turn more voters into Republicans, particularly the middle class. Without massive upper-bracket tax cuts, DeMint worried, "The Reagan message"--smaller government--"won't work anymore."

But telling the majority of voters that your tax policies are designed to shift more of the burden of paying for federal government onto them is not a very effective way of eliciting their support. So, instead, Bush pitched his tax cuts as the solution to whatever problems were most in the news at the time. During the election, he argued that tax cuts were a way to refund to voters part of a budget surplus that people like Alan Greenspan worried was growing too big. By early 2001, it became clear that those surpluses were never going to materialize. So the administration cooked up an entirely new rationale: The tax cut was needed as fiscal stimulus to pull the economy out of an impending recession. In other words, the tax cut that was tailor-made for a booming economy made equally good sense in a tanking one. When the economy eventually began to grow again but only at feeble levels, the administration insisted that things would have been worse without the tax cuts (another assertion impossible to prove or disprove). And when, because of that anemic growth, coupled with gains in productivity, the unemployment rate continued to rise, the administration had yet another excuse: A new round of tax cuts, they said, would generate jobs.

The same technique--invoking the problem of the moment to sell a predetermined policy agenda--came to characterize just about everything the administration would do. Take energy policy. Oilmen like the president and vice-president have wanted to drill in places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for years because of their generalized belief that U.S. energy supplies should be exploited as fully and rapidly as possible. But for a public increasingly enamored of the idea of protecting pristine wilderness areas, this rationale was insufficient to get the derricks pumping. Then, while the Bush administration was formulating their energy policy during the spring and summer of 2001, California had an "energy crisis." Suddenly, there was a big problem, and the administration had what it said was the perfect solution: Drilling in ANWR and giving free reign to energy producers. But California's shortage had nothing to do with marginal supplies of oil, and we now know it had everything to do with companies like Enron gaming an ill-conceived energy privatization regime in that state. When that became apparent, the administration didn't skip a beat. 9/11 came soon after, and instead of heading off an energy crisis, the administration pitched drilling in ANWR as a way to safeguard national security by weaning ourselves off from foreign oil supplies. Many pundits have mocked these constantly-shifting rationales as though the administration is somehow confused. But they only seem confused if you assume that the problem needing to be solved actually called forth the policy solution aimed at solving it. Once you realize that the desire for the policy is the parent of the rationale, and not the other way around, everything falls into place.

Trickle Down Deception

Iraq was the most telling example. Many neoconservatives from the first Bush administration had long regretted the decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power in 1991. During their years out of power, as these neocons hashed out a doctrine of post-Cold War American military primacy, Saddam's removal moved higher and higher up their list of priorities. He was, after all, the prime obstacle to U.S. dominance of the Middle East. And holding him in check was generating serious diplomatic and military damage in the region. Those plans to remove Saddam shot to the top of the White House's agenda within hours of the 9/11 attacks. The neocons believed that the threat of catastrophic terror required not just taking down al Qaeda but solving the root problem of Islamic terrorism by remaking the entire Middle East. And ousting Saddam was at the center of the plan. Outrage over the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia--put there to contain Saddam--had helped Osama bin Laden recruit his jihadists. And installing a US-backed regime in Baghdad could, the neocons believed, help trigger a domino effect against the old order which would spread secular, democratic regimes throughout the region.

But that was just a theory. In practice, Saddam and al Qaeda were largely unconnected. In fact, the two goals were often at odds with each other. When the Pentagon needed its top special forces to lead the search for Saddam Hussein, Michael Duffy and Massimo Calabresi of Time reported, it simply reassigned the soldiers who had been on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Again, a newly apparent problem ? the al Qaeda terrorist threat ? was being used to advance an existing and largely unrelated policy goal.

The effort to make the Iraq-al Qaeda connection stick gave rise to the administration's grandest deception: The charge that Saddam was rapidly reconstituting his nuclear weapons program and might slip a nuclear bomb--or the chemical and biological weapons he was thought to have already--to bin Laden's terrorists. "We know he's got ties with al Qaeda," Bush said at an election rally in November 2002. "A nightmare scenario, of course, is that he becomes the arsenal of a terrorist network, where he could attack America and he'd leave no fingerprints behind." To make that scenario seem plausible, the administration had to muscle all manner of analysts at the CIA, the State Department, and elsewhere. These analysts knew the Middle East best and doubted the existence of any Saddam-al Qaeda link. Nor did they believe that Saddam's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons justified the crisis atmosphere the White House whipped up in the leadup to war.

The clash spilled into public view this summer, after American forces failed to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at all. The media began to press White House officials on how false nuclear weapons claims had made their way into Bush's State of the Union address and other speeches. Administration officials have given shifting accounts, and tried to frame the story as a matter of procedural breakdown. But one former official of Bush's White House has suggested a more compelling psychological explanation. Writing in National Review Online this past July, former Bush speechwriter David Frum argued that "[t]he CIA's warnings on Iraq matters had lost some of their credibility in the 1990s. The agency was regarded by many in the Bush administration as reflexively and implacably hostile to any activist policy in Iraq. Those skeptics had come to believe that the agency was slanting its information on Iraq in order to maneuver the administration into supporting the agency's own soft-line policies."

We have since learned that it wasn't just mid-level aides who knew about and discounted the CIA's warnings, though we still don't know exactly how far up this dismissive attitude went. But Frum's point rings very true for those who followed the infighting between Bush appointees and the Agency over the last two years. Within the White House, the opinions of whole groups of agency experts were routinely dismissed as not credible, and unhelpful facts were dismissed as the obstructionist maneuverings of bureaucrats seeking to undermine needed change.

Indeed, this same tendency to dismiss expertise shaped the whole war effort. Just before the U.S. invaded Iraq, Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki--who had focused his tenure on peacekeeping and nation building--said that hundreds of thousands of soldiers would be needed to pacify and control Iraq. Days later, Paul Wolfowitz told another committee that Shinseki didn't know what he was talking about; the occupation, Wolfowitz said, would require far fewer troops. At the time, many took Wolfowitz's evident self-assurance as a sign that he knew something the general didn't. Now, it's clear that it was the other way around, and Wolfowitz was engaging in a typical undisprovable assertion. Senior officials like Wolfowitz set an example that trickled down the bureaucratic ladder. One Pentagon civil servant specializing in Middle East policy described to me how, a few months after 9/11, he was chastised by a superior, a political appointee, for delivering a negative assessment of a proposed policy in a briefing memo to the Secretary of Defense. The civil servant changed his assessment as instructed but still included a list of potential pros and cons. But that wasn't good enough either. The senior official told him, "'It's still not acceptable. Take out all the discussion of the cons and basically write there's no reason why we shouldn't [do this].' I just thought this was intellectually dishonest."

Hide the Baloney

That cavalier dismissal of expert analysis isn't limited to the national security arena. In the summer of 2001, the Bush administration was looking for a decision the President could make on the use of embryonic stem cells for medical research. His Christian conservative base wanted an outright prohibition. But such a ban would have alienated swing voters eager for the therapies that could come from that research, such as cures for Parkinson's disease. As Nicholas Thompson explained in these pages ("Science Friction," July/August 2003), Bush's advisors came up with a scheme they thought would pass muster with both the core and the swing voters: the President would limit research to only those stem cell lines which existed already. But before the decision was announced, federal scientists warned the administration that there simply weren't enough reliable existing lines to be useful to researchers. The White House ignored the warnings, which have subsequently proved all too accurate, and went ahead with the decision, thereby setting back crucial medical research for years.

Look at just about any policy or department of government and you're likely to see the same pattern. In July, Slate's Russ Baker reported that the Bush administration "muzzles routine economic information that's unfavorable." Last year, the administration simply stopped issuing a report that tracks factory closings throughout the country, the better to hide evidence of mass layoffs. The report was reinstated only after The Washington Post happened to notice the cancellation, disclosed only in a footnote to the Department of Labor's final report for 2002, issued on Christmas Eve.

The sidelining of in-house expertise is nowhere more apparent than on the environmental front. This Bush administration came into office just as the consensus was solidifying among scientists that human activity contributes to climate change. That consensus, however, ran counter to key administration goals, such as loosening regulations on coal-burning power plants and scuttling international agreements aimed at limiting fossil fuel emissions. Rather than change its agenda, the administration chose to discredit the experts. As GOP pollster Frank Luntz wrote in a memo just before the 2002 election: "The scientific debate [on global warming] is closing against us but is not yet closed. There is still an opportunity to challenge the science." The idea that global warming was a reality that actually had to be grappled with simply didn't occur to Luntz. Indeed, when questioned about whether administration policies might contribute to global warming, White House spokesmen direct reporters to the small, and rapidly diminishing, group of scientists who still doubt that humans contribute to the problem. In June, when the EPA released an Environmental Progress report, the administration edited out passages that described scientific concerns about global warming.

In any White House, there is usually a tension between the political agenda and disinterested experts who might question it. But what's remarkable about this White House is how little tension there seems to be. Expert analysis that isn't politically helpful simply gets ignored.

The Boys in Striped Pants

Educated, liberal-leaning professionals are apt to see this conflict as an open-and-shut case: Expertise should always trump ideology. This has been the case for over a century, ever since Progressive Era reformers took on corrupt city machines and elevated technocratic expertise above politics. Those early Progressives restructured government by turning functions hitherto run by elected officials over to appointed, credentialed experts. And many of the ways they refashioned government now seem beyond question. Few would challenge, for instance, our practice of assigning decisions at the FDA or CDC to panels of qualified scientists rather than political appointees.

On the other hand, anyone who's worked as a political appointee at the higher levels of government and tried to get anything new done has been frustrated by the myriad ways in which bureaucrats manipulate numbers and information in ways intended to thwart the new agenda and maintain the status quo. There is a long tradition in American politics of finessing policy initiatives past stubborn bureaucrats. Franklin Roosevelt, for instance, routinely used amateur diplomats and personal intermediaries to sidestep the professionals at Foggy Bottom ? the "boys in striped pants," he called them ? for fear that they would slow-roll, walk back or generally meddle in his chosen course in international affairs. As the historian Warren Kimball aptly notes, Roosevelt shared the conviction that foreign service officers believed that they had a "priestly monopoly against intervention by members of Congress, journalists, professors, voters and other lesser breeds."

All of this is to say that the Bush administration's unwillingness to be pushed around by the bureaucratic experts or to have their ideas hemmed in by establishment opinion isn't by itself a bad thing. Nor is this administration the first to ignore or suppress unhelpful data or analyses from experts that runs contrary to its agenda-?foolish as such conduct usually proves. But in this administration the mindset of deception runs deeper. If you're a revisionist?someone pushing for radically changing the status quo?you're apt to see "the experts" not just as people who may be standing in your way, but whose minds have been corrupted by a wrongheaded ideology whose arguments can therefore be ignored. To many in the Bush administration, 'the experts' look like so many liberals wedded to a philosophy of big government, the welfare state, over-regulation and a pussyfooting role for the nation abroad. The Pentagon civil servant quoted above told me that the standard response to warnings from the Joint Staff about potential difficulties was simply to say: "That's just the Joint Staff being obstructionist." Even if the experts are right in the particulars--the size of the deficit, the number of troops needed in Iraq--their real goal is to get in the way of necessary changes that have to be made.

Apr?s nous, le d?luge

In that simple, totalizing assumption we find the kernel of almost every problem the administration has faced over recent months--and a foretaste of the troubles the nation may confront in coming years. By disregarding the advice of experts, by shunting aside the cadres of career professionals with on-the-ground experience in these various countries, the administration's hawks cut themselves off from the practical know-how which would have given them some chance of implementing their plans successfully. In a real sense, they cut themselves off from reality. When they went into Iraq they were essentially flying blind, having disengaged from almost everyone who had real-world experience in how effective occupation, reconstruction and nation-building was done. And much the same can be said of the administration's take on economic policy, environmental policy, and in almost every sort of policy question involving science. Muzzling the experts helped the White House muscle its revisionist plans through. But in numerous cases it prevented them from implementing even their own plans effectively.

Everyone is compromised by bias, agendas, and ideology. But at the heart of the revisionist mindset is the belief that there is really nothing more than that. Ideology isn't just the prism through which we see world, or a pervasive tilt in the way a person understands a given set of facts. Ideology is really all there is. For an administration that has been awfully hard on the French, that mindset is...well, rather French. They are like deconstructionists and post-modernists who say that everything is political or that everything is ideology. That mindset makes it easy to ignore the facts or brush them aside because "the facts" aren't really facts, at least not as most of us understand them. If they come from people who don't agree with you, they're just the other side's argument dressed up in a mantle of facticity. And if that's all the facts are, it's really not so difficult to go out and find a new set of them. The fruitful and dynamic tension between political goals and disinterested expert analysis becomes impossible.

Doctrinaire as they may be in the realm of policy, the president's advisors are the most hard-boiled sort of pragmatists when it comes to gaining and holding on to political power. And there's no way they planned to head into their reelection campaign with a half-trillion-dollar deficit looming over their heads and an unpredictable, bleeding guerrilla war in Iraq on their hands. At the level of tactics and execution, the administration's war on expertise has already yielded some very disappointing, indeed dangerous results. And if that gets you worried, just remember that the same folks are in charge of the grand strategy too.

Joshua Micah Marshall is a Washington Monthly contributing writer and editor of
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 12, 2003, 10:24:12 PM
I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not  heard of a
plan for peace. So, here's one plan:

1. The US will apologize to the world for our "interference" in their
affairs, past &present. You know, Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Noriega,
Milosovich and the rest of those 'good ole boys.' We will never "interfere"

2. We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with
Germany, South Korea and the Philippines. They don't want us there.   We would station troops at our borders. No one sneaking through holes in the fence.

3. All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and
leave. We'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days  the remainder will
be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or where they are. France would welcome them.

4. All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90
days unless given a special permit. No one from a terrorist nation would be allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself and don't hide
here. Asylum would never be available to anyone.   We don't need any more cab drivers or 7-11 cashiers.

5. No "students" over age 21. The older ones are the  bombers.  If
they don't attend classes, they get a "D" and it's back home ,baby.

6. The US will make a strong effort to become self-sufficient energy
wise. This will include developing non-polluting sources of energy  ,but
will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness.  The
caribou will have to cope for a while.

7. Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries  $10 a barrel
for their oil. If they don't like it, we go some place else.  They can go
somewhere else to sell their production. (About a week of the wells filling
up the storage sites would be enough.)

8. If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world,
we will not "interfere." They can pray to Allah or whomever, for seeds,
rain, cement or  whatever they need. Besides most of what we give them is stolen or given to the army. The people who need it most get very little, if anything.

9. Ship the UN Headquarters to an isolated island some  place.  We
don't need the spies and fair weather friends here. Besides,the building
would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.

10. All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no
one can call us "Ugly Americans" any longer.

The Language we speak is ENGLISH.....learn it...or LEAVE...

Attributed to Robin Williams
Title: Political Rants
Post by: guest on September 13, 2003, 03:46:40 AM
hmm, now thats a possibilty!
Title: great thread
Post by: guest on September 13, 2003, 09:56:48 AM

1. We saved hundreds of thousands of Kuwaiti Muslims in Gulf War I, and just as many Muslims during our Kosovo Operations (where the UN dropped the ball and we had to paint our planes in NATO colors to get the job done) and brought freedom to the nation of afganistan and Iraq (afganistan you could kill my daughter legally to punish me and Iraq had prisons for little kids whose parents didnt tow the line for the baath party).  Does the U.S.A we get any credit for this? No. I would love to blame poor public relations on our part, but that aint it. We are hated. We cannot make friends with extremists or with extremist governments. I am sure that everyone in Iran doesnt think we are the great Satan. We need to prove it by doing a serious cleanup in Afghanistan and Iraq.

2. If can tell me the last 100 things I have purchased, recommend product to me (table saws because I bought some woodworking books) and let me know when an author I have purchased has a new book out then why the hell cant we track everyone coming over our border through _legal_ channels (ports and airports). "Here is your tourist VISA m'am. You have to call the 1800 number on the back every 7 days or a warrant will be issued for your arrest and immediate deportation. Welcome to America." "Hello University/tech school/.etc... if you want us to issue an education visa we need to check the name and papers against the terrorist watch list. Have the individual go to the embassy in their home country or the immigration office here in the US for fingerprinting and to receive their passcode and 800 number to call in order to avoid arrest and deportation."

3. We have foreign nationals in the universities around this country studying 'nuculur' physics, bioengineering, cryptography, etc. We are teaching future bad guys. How about nothin but Liberal Arts for all foreign nationals? How about we start protecting some of our expensive and hard won knowledge (which is more valuable than oil or bombs).

4. The USA is exporting (outsourcing) thousands of tech and customer support jobs to India. We have issued and still issue thousands of work visas to foreigners. There are schools in India where they teach English with accent training (midwest, southern, etc.) so that Customer Service reps sound like americans. We have the highest unemployment rate in the last 25 years. We make it legal for them to work here. We take advantage of low cost of living and slave wages there (cost and efficiency). Oh, yeah, it is illegal for a foreigner to work in India and almost impossible to get a work visa. Trade deficit? How about a talent deficit. Nice.

5. You dont see a lot of legal immigrants saying "Gee, I cant wait to go back to <insert third world country here>. Before anyone gets there panties ina bunch, I am a citizen thanks to legal immigration 90 years ago (thanks grandma).

6. THere are police chiefs and sherrifs in this country who are announcing their cities as "safe for illegal immigrants". We are rewarding people who are breaking our laws. Gray "I never met a constituent I didnt pay off" Davis just signed a law making it legal for illegal (ILLEGAL AS IN NOT LEGAL AS IN CRIMINAL ACT OF BREAKING INTO THIS COUNTRY) immigrants to get drivers licenses.  "I know you broke the law, and use a lot of resources we are paying for in our sales, personal income and property taxes, but you seem like a nice guy so here is a drivers license". LEts reward them. The democrats in Cali call anyone who opposes the law "Anti Immigrant".

We need more common sense.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: mookie on September 24, 2003, 09:52:02 AM
From Neal Boortz to all of the bedwetting Liberals:
Please answer as many of the following questions as you can, and as many with a straight face as possible. Please answer quickly as you already have all of the answers.

1. Since George W. Bush is evil, and thought by some to be far more dangerous than Saddam Hussein, could you please list the instances you are aware of where George W. Bush has ordered the murder, torture and rape of American citizens, like yourself, who oppose his presidency.

2. Could you list any sites of mass graves of American citizens ordered to be killed by the Bush administration?

3. Further, could you please list the instances you are aware of when George W. Bush has ordered the murder of members of his own family.

4. Do you feel that Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons he was specifically forbidden to have by the UN; for example, the Scud missiles he fired into Kuwait during the first two weeks of the war?

5. How do you think Saddam was able to fire weapons that he didn't have?

6. Are inspectors inspectors, or are inspectors detectives?

7. How many more months would you have given Saddam Hussein to comply with the 17 UN resolutions, passed over 12 years?

8. If you owned an apartment building, for how many months would you allow a tenant to defy you to kick him out for not paying the rent he owes?

9. If the UN, and the previous administration, were convinced Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and used that as a basis for their actions against Iraq, how do those reasons evaporate when applied by the Bush administration?

10. If the Bush administration, led by the evil GWB, lied about weapons of mass destruction in order to go to war, why haven't we found any WMD secretly planted by the Bush administration?

11. If you feel it would be too difficult to plant WMD in Iraq, because there are too many people watching, such that no one can do anything sneaky in Iraq, then why can't we find Saddam?

12. Do you disagree with the statement..."The weapons of mass destruction used in the 9/11 attacks were box-cutters"?

13. Do you think finding an airplane fuselage in a terrorist training camp in northern Iraq means terrorists were practicing hijackings? If not, for what purpose do you think they were using the airplane?

14. Knowing what little you may know about spy satellites, what do you think Iraq was hiding using the tunnel-digging equipment they bought from the French some 5 years ago?

15. Why do you think Iraq had a 'Higher Committee for Monitoring the Inspection Teams' headed by Hussein's Vice-President, and son, Qusay?

16. The fact that Iraq trained experts to foil UN weapons inspectors is documented not just by U.S. intelligence organizations, but by those of many other countries. Why do you think Iraq needed to use these tactics, if George W. Bush is lying?

17. In 1995, Iraq admitted it had biological weapons. They declared they had, for example, 8500 liters of anthrax. Where did they all go? If Iraq destroyed them, why would there be any need for more UN resolutions after that?

18. When do you think Iraq abandoned their existing Weapons of Mass Destruction program? What do you think was their motivation for abandoning it- the 17th time the UN said 'pretty please', or the fact that it was spending too much money that could used for social programs to improve the lives of Iraqi citizens?

19. Do you think the bio-weapons lab vehicles found in Iraq were being used as lunch wagons, or as mobile auto detail trucks?

20. If a terrorist organization attacked America tomorrow by spraying anthrax over a large city, would you blame George W. Bush for not doing enough?

21. Would Hillary?

22. How many minutes after the attack do you think it would take for Hillary to appear on CNN?

23. If an illegal U.S. president declares an illegal war, wouldn't the two cancel each other out?

Bonus Question: Do you think O.J. killed Ron and Nicole, or was he the victim of a massive conspiracy to plant evidence by many separate divisions of the LAPD?
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 10, 2003, 12:18:03 PM
E-mail Author
Author Archive
Send to a Friend
Print Version

October 10, 2003, 8:42 a.m.
Legends of the Fall
More myths about the current war.

?The war is against 'terror'." As a number of astute observers have reminded us, terror is a method, not an enemy. And we are no more in a war against it than we were once fighting the scourge of Zeros or the plague of Soviet MiGs.


Such vague, loose nomenclature is reassuring, of course, in our therapeutic society. It ensures that we are not really angry at any one person or nation, but rather at an abstraction ? as if somewhere there were soldiers with caps embroidered, " Republic of Terror," or crowds chanting "Up with Terror, Down with the USA," or perhaps thuggish leaders in sunglasses and khaki who beat their shoes at the U.N. and warn, "Terrorism will bury you."

In fact, those who employ terror of the type that culminated (rather than began) on September 11 are real people with real government backing. They cannot operate without money, havens, and at least passive complicity. Who are they? Aside from the deposed Taliban, al Qaeda, of course; but also Hezbollah and its sponsors in Iran ? as well as Islamofascist groups funded and abetted by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. After 9/11, any autocratic country in the Middle East that had recently gone to war with the United States and cumulatively required 350,000 American air sorties, twelve years, $20 billion of policing, and occupation of two-thirds of its airspace to prevent genocide was an enemy, both de facto and ? given Iraq's violation of the armistice accords of 1991 ? de jure. That Abu Abbas and Abu Nidal were in Baghdad before the war, and al Qaeda afterward, is the expected calculus of the Hussein regime and its noxious fumes.

While we may be in various stages of bellicosity with differing states, the fact is that after September 11 we will either accept defeat and stay within our borders to fight a defensive war of hosing down fires, bulldozing rubble, arresting terrorist cells, and hoping to appease or buy off our enemies abroad ? or we will eventually have to confront Syria, Lebanon's Bekka Valley, Saudi Arabia, and Iran with a clear request to change and come over to civilization, or join the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.

Of course, a single dead American soldier is a tragedy, both for the nation and for the aggrieved family. But, by any historical measure, what strikes students of this war so far in its first two years is the amazing degree to which the United States has hurt its enemies without incurring enormous casualties and costs. So far there have been five theaters of conflict: Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, Afghanistan, and Iraq. After suffering about 3,000 dead, $100 billion in direct material damage in Manhattan and D.C., and perhaps another $1 trillion hit to the economy at large in areas as diverse as airline losses, increased security expenditures, and tourist and travel drop-offs, the United States has lost under 400 soldiers in defeating the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, and probably spent roughly $100 billion in direct military expenditures, with another $100 billion in slated reconstruction costs.

In terms of American military history, this is a staggering paradox. Usually the initial attacks that have prompted past American wars were relatively mild, while the subsequent reaction was costly ? in the manner that Fort Sumter paled in comparison with Shiloh, or Tonkin was not Hue, or Pearl Harbor was nothing like Iwo Jima. But 9/11 itself was much more deadly than all of the subsequent campaigns that have followed in the last two years. Unlike other wars, our present offensives going into the third year of fighting have cost far fewer lives than the first 25 months of any major conflict in American history ? the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, or World War II. But then, to see the logic of this anomaly, one must first accept the initial premise that we are currently in a war ? and millions of Americans apparently do not.

Of course, we cringe in despair at Americans killed and billions of dollars in costs to rebuild Iraq. But what is truly strange about the opposition to military efforts since 9/11 is the absence of a serious alternative strategy. It is easy to quibble about going into Iraq or the problems of sniping, bombing, or power and water in Baghdad; but so far the opponents of the war have not advocated any of the measures that their spiritual forerunners in Vietnam found so successful in ending hostilities ? from sit-ins, daily demonstrations, and teach-ins, to military resistance and the cut-off of funding.

The Senate, which voted overwhelming to give President Bush the authority to fight in Iraq, has few voices who wish either to rescind that legal prerogative or to deny funds for it. Our supposed European enemies have organized no real counterbalance to pressure us to leave; even Sweden has not yet recalled its ambassador. French newspapers may blare, "The slowly rotting situation in Iraq, the Mideast and Afghanistan has destroyed the myth American omnipotence," but they don't tell us how removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein is worse than selling weapons to them ? or why and how France lost 30 times more of its own citizens to heat in a month than we lost soldiers in battle in two years. Apparently French apartments are far more deadly places than the Pakistani border or the Sunni Triangle.

Here at home, the campuses are relatively quiet. The most recently announced Democratic presidential candidate, Gen. Clark, is on record praising the present administration for arresting the drift of prior years. And for all of Howard Dean's invective, he is no Eugene McCarthy, and thus has offered no proposals to end the appropriations for Iraq in lieu of empty slurs and smug criticisms.

Why? Besides the obvious fact that fewer American soldiers have been killed in two years of fighting than often were lost in one week in Vietnam, it is hard to rescind a war that has made the United States more secure and 26 million people freer ? and taken out the most odious fascist in the Middle East, who was once bombed by Bill Clinton without either Senate or U.N. approval. So when Wesley Clark in May 2001 applauded the Bush team for its efforts to restore deterrence, and most of the serious Democratic candidates supported the Clinton administration in its past bombing to prevent the spread of Saddam's WMDs, it is tricky now simply to convince anyone that the entire thing was cooked up in Texas.

Americans may be angry, but most of them are irritated with the Iraqis, for not assuming responsibility for their own fate and showing some gratitude for their liberation ? as well as the Arab world in general, whose "moderate" journalists and intellectuals are more critical of the new democratic council in Baghdad than the corrupt autocracies in Cairo, Damascus, and on the West Bank.

Which countries have become hostile to the United States in the wake of the Iraqi war? The United Kingdom? Australia? Spain? Italy? Have even India, Russia, or China turned away or threatened us? Have Jordan and Egypt thrown up their hands and joined the enemy?

Besides North Korea, Syria, and Iran, those states peeved at recent events are, in fact, a handful of countries ? Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Algeria, and a few other Arab states. Many of them, as we speak, are still engaged in some sort of military relationship with the United States ? NATO coordination, Mediterranean patrolling, hosting of United States troops ? joint operations all subject to sudden cancellation at the pleasure of any of these governments. European elites might harp at GPS bombs, but the masses quietly at home, far away from the coffeehouses, acknowledge that the use of such precision weapons during the last decade ? whether in Belgrade, Kabul, or Baghdad ? hinged on one salient characteristic: They were intended to distinguish fascists from the victims of their state-sanctioned murder.

Ex post facto, all presidents are blamed for getting Americans into wars ? from Wilson in World War I to Reagan in Grenada, as incidents like Pearl Harbor, Tonkin, and the captive students in Grenada were all said to have been concocted. Did Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Johnson, and Reagan all lie, misjudge, or overreact to draw us into wars?

But, in contrast, this war was predicated on a variety of immediate reasons ? so much so that antebellum critics complained that the Bush administration was using a shot-gun approach in advancing too many causes for war: the broken agreements of 1991; twelve years of no-fly zones that were legal acts of war; Saddam's past invasions or attacks against four countries; genocide against the Kurds; violation of U.N. accords; the harboring of terrorists in a post-9/11 world; and a host of others. The WMD charge was also predicated on the Clinton administration's bombing and perhaps killing 1,000 Iraqis to take out Saddam's WMD capability; thus, according to popular belief here and abroad, these weapons once existed, and yet the bombing offered no proof of their destruction.

There is, however, a political crisis. Critics of the near-flawless military campaign of three weeks were stymied when none of their bleak scenarios came to pass: thousands killed; millions of refugees; governments toppled; terrorist attacks in the United States; mass starvation; and hundreds of U.N. camps. Thus in a frenzied election year they have turned to two backup positions: reconstruction as "quagmire" and WMDs as the sole (and fraudulent) reason for war. Both strategies are risky because they presuppose that a year from now Iraq will be worse, not better, and that there will be no forthcoming textual or eyewitness reports that such weapons in fact were hidden, exported, or secretly dismantled as some goofy gambit of an unhinged dictator.

Finally, rogue states like Iran and North Korea will soon emulate the strategy of Saddam Hussein ? but learning the critical lesson of first finishing their bombs before invading neighbors or confronting the United States. Thus the irony of this phony debate is that, in the future, an exasperated United States, in an act of unilateral defense, will reluctantly shy away from the thankless task of policing such regimes, and instead press on with its own military preparedness and missile defense ? allowing the more circumspect and purportedly sober EU and U.N. to pay blackmail or pass empty resolutions to deal with these new rogue nuclear states.

Good luck to them both.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Lazyhound on October 15, 2003, 07:44:36 PM
Quote from: Crafty_Dog
I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not  heard of a
plan for peace. So, here's one plan:


Attributed to Robin Williams

Actually written by some guy on a Harley Davidson USENET group (
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Hermann Goering on October 16, 2003, 12:34:00 AM
"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

--Hermann Goering (Nuremberg, 1946)

Gilbert, G.M. Nuremberg Diary. New York: Farrar, Straus and Company, 1947 (pp. 278-279)
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 01, 2003, 09:00:09 AM
"Those Jews"

If only Israel and its supporters would disappear.

There are certain predictable symptoms to watch when a widespread amorality begins to infect a postmodern society: cultural relativism, atheism, socialism, utopian pacifism. Another sign, of course, is fashionable anti-Semitism among the educated, or the idea that some imaginary cabal, or some stealthy agenda - certainly not our own weakness - is conspiring to threaten our good life.

Well apart from the spooky placards (stars of David juxtaposed with
swastikas, posters calling for the West Bank to be expanded to "the sea")
that we are accustomed to seeing at the marches of the supposedly ethical antiwar movement, we have also heard some examples of Jew-baiting and hissing in the last two weeks that had nothing to do with the old crazies. Indeed, such is the nature of the new anti-Semitism that everyone can now play at it - as long as it is cloaked in third-world chauvinism, progressive thinking, and identity politics.

The latest lunatic rantings from Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad are nothing new, and we should not be surprised by his mindless blabbering about Jews and his fourth-grade understanding of World War II and the present Middle East. But what was fascinating was the reaction to his madness: silence from the Arab intelligentsia, praise from Middle Eastern leaders ("A brilliant speech," gushed Iran's "president" Mohammad Khatami), and worry from France and Greece about an EU proclamation against the slander. Most American pundits were far more concerned about the private, over-the-top comments of Gen. Boykin than about the public viciousness of a
head of state. Paul Krugman, for example, expressed the general mushiness of the Left when he wrote a column trying to put Mahathir Mohamad's hatred in a sympathetic context, something he would never do for a Christian zealot who slurred Muslims.

Much has been written about the usually circumspect Greg Easterbrook's
bizarre ranting about "Jewish executives" who profit from Quentin
Tarantino's latest bloody production. But, again, the problem is not so much the initial slips and slurs as it is the more calculated and measured
"explanation." Easterbrook's mea culpa cited his prior criticism of Mel
Gibson, as if the supposed hypocrisy of a devout and public Christian's
having trafficked in filmed violence were commensurate with the dealings of two ordinary businessmen who do not publicly embrace religion. Michael Eisner and Harvey Weinstein simply happen to be movie executives, with no stake in producing Jewish movies or public-morality films, but - like most in Hollywood - with a stake in making money from films. That they are Jewish has absolutely no bearing on their purported lack of morality - unless, of course, one seeks to invent some wider pathology, evoking historical paranoia about profiteering, cabals, and "the Jews."

Recently, Joseph Lieberman was hissed by an Arab-American audience in
Dearborn, Mich. when he briefly explained Israel's defensive wall in terms not unlike those used by Howard Dean and other candidates. What earned him the special public rebuke not accorded to others was apparently nothing other than being Jewish - the problem was not what he said, but who he was. No real apology followed, and the usually judicious and sober David Broder wrote an interesting column praising the new political acumen of the Arab-American community.

Tony Judt, writing in The New York Review of Books, has published one of the most valuable and revealing articles about the Middle East to appear in the last 20 years. There has always been the suspicion that European intellectuals favored the dismantling of Israel as we know it through the merging of this uniquely democratic and liberal state with West Bank neighbors who have a horrific record of human-rights abuses, autocracy, and mass murder. After all, for all too many Europeans, how else but with the end of present-day Israel will the messy Middle East and its attendant problems - oil, terrorism, anti-Semitism, worries over unassimilated Muslim populations in Europe, anti-Americanism, and postcolonial guilt - become less bothersome? Moreover, who now knows or cares much about what happened to Jews residing under Arab governments - the over half-million or so who, in the last half-century, have been ethnically cleansed from (and sometimes murdered in) Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, and almost every Jewish community in
the Arab Middle East?

And what is the value of the only democratic government in a sea of
autocracy if its existence butts up against notions of third-world
victimhood and causes so much difficulty for the Western intelligentsia?
Still, few intellectuals were silly enough to dress up that insane idea
under the pretext of a serious argument (an unhinged Vidal, Chomsky, or Said does not count). Judt did, and now he has confirmed what most of us knew for years - namely, that there is an entrenched and ever-bolder school of European thought that favors the de facto elimination of what is now a democratic Jewish state.

What links all these people - a Muslim head of state, a rude crowd in
Michigan, an experienced magazine contributor, and a European public
intellectual - besides their having articulated a spreading anger against
the "Jews"? Perhaps a growing unease with hard questions that won't go away and thus beg for easy, cheap answers.

A Malaysian official and his apologists must realize that gender apartheid,
statism, tribalism, and the anti-democratic tendencies of the Middle East
cause its poverty and frustration despite a plethora of natural resources
(far more impressive assets than the non-petroleum-bearing rocks beneath parched Israel). But why call for introspection when the one-syllable slur "Jews" suffices instead?

And why would an Arab-American audience - itself composed of many who fled the tyranny and economic stagnation of Arab societies for the freedom and opportunity of a liberal United States - wish to hear a reasoned explanation of the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian war when it was so much easier to hiss and moan, especially when mainstream observers would ignore their anti-Semitism and be impressed instead with the cadre of candidates who flock to Michigan?

How do you explain to an audience that Quentin Tarantino appeals both to teens and to empty-headed critics precisely because something is terribly amiss in America, when affluent and leisured suburbanites are drawn to scenes of raw killing as long as it is dressed up with "art" and "meaning"?

How could a Tony Judt write a reasoned and balanced account of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict when to do so would either alienate or bore the

So they all, whether by design or laxity, take the easier way out -
especially when slurring "Israel" or "the Jews" involves none of the risks
of incurring progressive odium that similarly clumsy attacks against blacks, women, Palestinians, or homosexuals might draw, requires no real thinking, and seems to find an increasingly receptive audience.

You see, in our mixed-up world those Jewish are not a "people of color." And if there really is such a mythical monolithic entity in America as the
"Jews," they (much like the Cubans) are not easily stereotyped as
impoverished victims needing largesse or condescension, and much less are they eligible under any of the current myriad of rubrics that count for
public support. Israel is a successful Western state, not a failed
third-world despotism. Against terrible oppression and overt anti-Semitism, the Jewish community here and abroad found success - proof that hard work, character, education, and personal discipline can trump both natural and human adversity. In short, the story of American Jewry and Israel resonates not at all with the heartstrings of a modern therapeutic society, which is quick to show envy for the successful and cheap concern for the struggling.

This fashionable anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism - especially among
purported intellectuals of the Left - reveals a deep-seated, scary pathology that is growing geometrically both in and outside the West. For a Europe that is disarmed, plagued by a demographic nightmare of negative population growth and unsustainable entitlements, filled with unassimilated immigrants, and deeply angry about the power and presence of the United States, the Jews and their Israel provide momentary relief on the cheap. So expect that more crazy thoughts of Israel's destruction dressed up as peace plans will be as common as gravestone and synagogue smashing.

For the Muslim world that must confront the power of the patriarch, mullah, tribe, and autocrat if it is ever to share the freedom and prosperity of the rest of the world, the Jews offer a much easier target. So expect even more raving madness as the misery of Islamic society grows and its state-run media hunker down amid widespread unrest. Anticipate, also, more sick posters at C-SPAN broadcast marches, more slips by reasonable writers, and more anti-Israeli denunciations from the "liberals."

These are weird, weird times, and before we win this messy war against
Islamic fascism and its sponsors, count on things to get even uglier. Don't expect any reasoned military analysis that puts the post-9/11 destruction of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein's evil regime, along with the liberation of 50 million at the cost of 300 American lives, in any sort of historical context. After all, in the current presidential race, a retired general now caricatures U.S. efforts in Iraq and quotes Al Sharpton.

Do not look for the Islamic community here to acknowledge that the United States, in little over a decade, freed Kuwait, saved most of the Bosnians and Kosovars, tried to feed Somalis, urged the Russians not to kill Chechnyans, belatedly ensured that no longer were Shiites and Kurds to be slaughtered in Iraq, spoke out against Kuwait's ethnic cleansing of a third of a million Palestinians - and now is spending $87 billion to make Iraqis free.

That the Arab world would appreciate billions of dollars in past American
aid to Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority, or thank America for
its help in Kuwait and Kosovo, or be grateful to America for freeing Iraq -
all this is about as plausible as the idea that Western Europeans would
acknowledge their past salvation from Nazism and Soviet Communism, or be grateful for the role the United States plays to promote democracy in Panama, Haiti, the Balkans, or the Middle East.

No, in this depressing age, the real problem is apparently our support for
democratic Israel and all those pesky Jews worldwide, who seem to crop up everywhere as sly war makers, grasping film executives, conspiratorial politicians, and greedy colonialists, and thus make life so difficult for the rest of us.

Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 28, 2003, 12:17:49 AM
Waiting for Allah
(some new additions and corrections)

< Bush's war has been the greatest thing that ever happened to Al Qaeda. If Bush were making progress in the war on terror, we wouldn't be seeing vastly more Al Qaeda attacks now than we saw before the Iraq war..Carl>

Conspiracy theories, as in the 1001 Arabian Nights stories, abound in the 21st century for the aged logic that the crackdown on the war on terror had increased as a result of crack down on terror. This wearied argument from the Arab street further stresses that because of the new crusade by the Bush administration there is a new holy war! These mushrooming sleepers cells and wide spread convoluted sympathies on the fringes of Islamic world exists because they need to heap the reasons of their failures on some one else, in the recent century it happened to be US, and last century it was colonialism.

Islam today is faced with new questions that need to be answered by the main body politic of Islam not Bush; that is how Muslim blood became the collateral damage in the jihad against infidels. For when guns are turned on one?s own as a result of an inability to act in the west, it has led to the failure of AlQaeda sympathizers and led to their implosion within their own confines, the fallout of which is now affecting Muslims at large. In an effort to bring total chaos they have waged war against their own people, in the month of Ramadan where even in times before the Prophet, the spilling of blood was prohibited. The blood orgies of AlQaeda have opened a lot of unopened eyes; the questions that were missed post 911 (as most of the blood was those of ?infidels?) are now being asked such why and what for. When Western blood is spilled, there is a gleeful silence, when Western interests are hurt, there is a universal sense of accomplishment in the fringe Islamic communities. This perverse pleasure taken in the miseries of the West is not what Islam preaches as its very message is peace and creation of the abode.

Wasted excess of squabble against US imperialism cannot be more exemplified by the life of a fringe youth within the Islamic world. He, who wakes up with a Proctor & Gamble mouthwash, a breakfast of Kellogg?s frosted wheats, wears Gap jeans, works on a Cisco-Intel-Microsoft based technology to connect to the internet whilst sipping Starbucks coffee lashes out at American way of life. The envy towards America, for it?s accomplishment through hard won freedoms, is nothing more than passive-aggressive aggression egged on by the sense of abject failure and underachievement of the leadership that failed them. A madrassa product can not be compared to an Oxbridge grad and this is the result of centuries of accumulated failure where ?innovation of thought? was denounced by Imam Al-Ghazali as heresy. Khuldoon, Sina, Ibn Ishaq, Khayyam, Biruni or Farabi you name it, for one or other reasons were declared heretics or were condemned as revisionaries by the clergy of the time, the efforts to arrest Islamic free thought in cocoon of time have been always triumphant as clergy took the front seat in championship of Islam. The silent majority spirit has always been trampled by determination and ?insight? of clergy to keep the masses in check, the inability to move with times and be a part of change left Islamic world directionless.

Clerical leadership has been the cause of decay, had it not been for the foresight of leaders like Sir Syed, the South Asian region would be as backward as those north in Asia. It is not an accident that Afghanistan does not have institutions like King Edward Medical College or the rail and canal systems. The continuous battles to refuse supremacy and struggle for false sovereignty have resulted into a country that has limbless thousands and still unable to connect to the world. Connect tribalism with a virulent form of extremist ideology and an explosive combination will lead to a self destruction of the societies, AlQaeda today is in on the forefront to achieve this ?failure? of a society like Afghanistan for places that are connecting to the world. Turkey is the target since it represents the ability of Islam to co-exist with democracy and freedom. In the Islamic world, the concept of pre-destination and born with the will of Allah overtook struggle for betterment, the idea of pre-destination became the vial of the Islamic world.

Palestinians feel aggrieved by Israeli aggression but their leadership have failed them during the course of this century by aligning themselves with losers. The issue of Palestine would not have risen had the Ottomans not aligned itself with the Germans in the First World War. The break up of the Ottoman Empire was the result of realignments within the world and the mufti Al Hussieni went to Hitler in World War 2 to produce Muslim recruits for the German army. Why should Islam become aligned with losers, why can?t we have the vision to connect with the winners? The Palestinian issue is at the core of the Islamic world but defeatism has become a currency and self-inflicted pain has become pleasure.

The war against civilized world was hatched by the loonies of the world when the icons of 'Democrats' were busy having flings in the sacred office of the White House; the appeasers after Cole incident had fired some misguided missiles on a Sudanese factories and some mud rubble in Afghanistan was destroyed but no consistent policy was followed since the hornets nest was considered to be far too sensitive. These vandals on the doors need men with resolve; the left with its self serving agenda does not have what it takes to face the criminals.

The ??lan? of global jihad against US and her citizens was carried out by the likes of Osama under an administration who never took it seriously. If taking the battle from streets of US to far flung areas of the world is not success what else should succeed! These extremists are and will be in constant hibernation and the challenge was to deny them sanctuaries in hinterlands of terror production factories that existed under Global Jihad Inc under the tutelage of countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and others. Even Iran?s recent cooperation with IAEA represents how the threat of big sticks works across the board so comprehensively. Iran is ready today to open up its facilities of enrichment and that is one other success of areas that are benefiting from global containment of terror regimes.

US has today exactly done that, freedom of action that allows us to speak and differ is now a new coinage in the Arab world which is of historic magnitude. The very reason that an ?Iraqi can call Bush a usurper? is a success of war on terror, war on terror is a freedom from the shackles of primitiveness, and that is the big picture post 911 strategy that I understand it is not neoconism or a new crusade it is for the collective good of the world freeing Islam from people who want to hijack it in the name of blood orgies, from Bali to Istanbul the fight remains single minded resolve to free our world from influence of cave man who want to rob us our freedoms. The challenge to bring the Arab world out from the cave age and from the cradle of conspiracy theories to a giant step to incorporate a free press where ?expression of dissent? is guaranteed is an era of new self-determination for the medieval world; we the free people of the world are all united and the previous weak administration postponed reckoning with the ground realities that existed in our part of the world.

This administration sees it and hence its ability to convert the most hardened on its side, the likes of Musharraf, Prince Abdullah and Erdogan are ex-hardliners within the context of Islamic freedom movements however they are now the staunchest of the US allies. US needed the pivotal countries in Muslim world to carry its fight to the enemy, how strange that the left in US is unable to appreciate the alliance of the most unwilling that this administration have been able to sew. If this is not success of diplomacy, the carrying of a big stick and dangling of big carrots, what else is success? The fight against Al Qaeda mercenaries in the northern most lands of Pakistan and in the hinterland of Qasim province could have not been possible. The sleeper cells of Turks would have one day created havoc in the west as part of the EU and freedom of movement that would have come, now all this coming on surface is helping the cause in two ways. One is that the cancer is clear and presents itself as a defined target that can be confronted. Every suicide bombers leaves a trail that closes door for other 100 possible bombers. Turks in Istanbul or Saudis in Jeddah blowing themselves up are not in retaliation to US actions but as a result and inability of Al Qaeda to destroy western homes.

In a last ditch attempt, they are now on the path of self destruction. The streets that had gleefully expressed smiling adulations to the suicide bombers in Israel today find how horrendous these bombers can be. Saudis who complained that Israel should take no action against Palestinians even if they keep blowing the Israelis with these bombs are now on a crack down, the realization that this is ferocious beast out to take anyone who opposes their brand of medievalism. The Bush doctrine has set a whole region freed from the chains of the past. Yes, it will be upheaval and a mounting task to face but the street in the Arab lands fails to see how come Muslims is killing Muslims in a vendetta that is directed against west. The concept of collateral damages of the Islamic blood is now too difficult to handle for appeasers and naysayers in our part of the world. The reasoning that all this would have passed if no action would have been taken is the biggest fallacy. There is and was no sympathy to the western philosophy, according to the extremists. Islam promised the 1 billion faithful the rule of the world and what they have discovered is that they are at the bottom most wrung of the ladder as a result of their own failure. The rage of impotence combined with the blind craving to manage the human race through the 'will of Allah? is what propels hatred within the fringe elements.

It is dreams of rediscovering history of the golden age and the re-conquest of the world, like old Spain, propels many a lunatics to impose the will of 'Allah' on the unwilling. This is not about terror, rather this is about imposing a way of life through a 'regime of terror'. Appeasment only makes their work easier. Throwing a gauntlet like what Bush did makes it harder but it takes a very big man to do it. History has put this burden on a Texan who looked quite ordinary and for the left even stupid but he has taken this burden better than many a Sagittarius.

Just to be clear, I am not the author of this. I merely found it floating on the seas of the Internet.-- Crafty Dog
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Anonymous on November 28, 2003, 03:17:15 PM
I would agree that America is a great country and it is only one of a few countries in the whole world where "freedom" is being enjoyed by most citizens.

However, the American educational system should educate the citizenry at what cost this freedom and economic benefits that the citizens are fighting for to retain.

Lest, most Americans do not even know about their imperialistic past.  Only a few even know that the Philippines was a former US colony.

The Filipinos backed the US during their fight with Spain with the thought that the US would pass on the power to them. But what happened? The US invaded the Philippines.

People always talk about Hitler and the Holocaust, but only a select few know about what the US military did in Balangiga Town in Southern Philippines when a US officer ordered all male Filipinos over ten years old should be killed in retaliation for the death of approximately 50 US soldiers.

How about the US policy with the dictator Ferdinand Marcos? The US had to please Marcos for 20 years to be assured of tenure for the US military bases. But at what cost? The death of political prisoners, death of the citizenry from hunger.  The Philipines was the 2nd biggest economic power in East Asia next to Japan. Marcos plundered all of the money.
and who helped Marcos flee to Hawaii when the citizenry revolted? A US helicopter and plane flew his whole family for an escape. He and his family would have been tried and executed( as what happened in Romania), which would have served as a warning to all corrupt citizens. and what do we have today? A Philippine society that is in an economic standstill where a great number of the people live in poverty because of the actions of a corrupt few who continue on with their actions, unafraid.

I do not discount the fact that there have been a great protest from certain groups from different times in different places in the US against US policy in the whole world. And this is what makes America great. But to keep it great, the citizens must be informed of the wrong of the past so that it may not be repeated.

Do not get me wrong. I support the US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and I do admire the democratic system of the United States.

Happy Thanksgiving to all :P
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 02, 2003, 12:31:43 AM
The Chant Not Heard

Published: November 30, 2003

I stood on the sidewalk in London the other day and watched thousands of antiwar, anti-George Bush, anti-Tony Blair protesters pass by. They chanted every antiwar slogan you could imagine and many you couldn't print. It was entertaining ? but also depressing, because it was so disconnected from the day's other news.
Just a few hours earlier, terrorists in Istanbul had blown up a British-owned bank and the British consulate, killing or wounding scores of British and Turkish civilians. Yet nowhere could I find a single sign in London reading, "Osama, How Many Innocents Did You Kill Today?" or "Baathists ? Hands Off the U.N. and the Red Cross in Iraq." Hey, I would have settled for "Bush and Blair Equal Bin Laden and Saddam" ? something, anything, that acknowledged that the threats to global peace today weren't just coming from the White House and Downing Street.

Sorry, but there is something morally obtuse about holding an antiwar rally on a day when your own people have been murdered ? and not even mentioning it or those who perpetrated it. Watching this scene, I couldn't help but wonder whether George Bush had made the liberal left crazy. It can't see anything else in the world today, other than the Bush-Blair original sin of launching the Iraq war, without U.N. approval or proof of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Believe me, being a liberal on every issue other than this war, I have great sympathy for where the left is coming from. And if I didn't, my wife would remind me. It would be a lot easier for the left to engage in a little postwar reconsideration if it saw even an ounce of reflection, contrition or self-criticism coming from the conservatives, such as Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, who drove this war, yet so bungled its aftermath and so misjudged the complexity of postwar Iraq. Moreover, the Bush team is such a partisan, ideological, nonhealing administration that many liberals just want to punch its lights out ? which is what the Howard Dean phenomenon is all about.

But here's why the left needs to get beyond its opposition to the war and start pitching in with its own ideas and moral support to try to make lemons into lemonade in Baghdad:

First, even though the Bush team came to this theme late in the day, this war is the most important liberal, revolutionary U.S. democracy-building project since the Marshall Plan. The primary focus of U.S. forces in Iraq today is erecting a decent, legitimate, tolerant, pluralistic representative government from the ground up. I don't know if we can pull this off. We got off to an unnecessarily bad start. But it is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad and it is a moral and strategic imperative that we give it our best shot.

Unless we begin the long process of partnering with the Arab world to dig it out of the developmental hole it's in, this angry, frustrated region is going to spew out threats to world peace forever. The next six months in Iraq ? which will determine the prospects for democracy-building there ? are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time. And it is way too important to leave it to the Bush team alone.

On Iraq, there has to be more to the left than anti-Bushism. The senior Democrat who understands that best is the one not running for president ? Senator Joe Biden. He understands that the liberal opposition to the Bush team should be from the right ? to demand that we send more troops to Iraq, and more committed democracy builders, to do the job better and smarter than the Bush team has.

Second, we are seeing ? from Bali to Istanbul ? the birth of a virulent, nihilistic form of terrorism that seeks to kill any advocates of modernism and pluralism, be they Muslims, Christians or Jews. This terrorism started even before 9/11, and is growing in the darkest corners of the Muslim world. It is the most serious threat to open societies, because one more 9/11 and we'll really see an erosion of our civil liberties. Ultimately, only Arabs and Muslims can root out this threat, but they will do that only when they have ownership over their own lives and societies. Nurturing that is our real goal in Iraq.

"In general," says Robert Wright, author of "Nonzero," "too few who opposed the war understand the gravity of the terrorism problem, and too few who favored it understand the subtlety of the problem."

For my money, the right liberal approach to Iraq is to say: We can do it better. Which is why the sign I most hungered to see in London was, "Thanks, Mr. Bush. We'll take it from here."
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 12, 2003, 05:15:26 AM
When Does Politics Become Treason?
By J. Michael Waller

"Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged" - that's what President Abraham Lincoln said during the War Between the States. While none have suggested such extreme measures in the midst of the war on terrorism, Lincoln's approach illustrates the deadly seriousness of political responsibility in wartime and draws a fine line between legitimate political dissent and aiding the enemy. The Supreme Court eventually stopped Lincoln's policy of having treasonous lawmakers arrested and tried before military tribunals, but for decades after the war the late president's Republican Party successfully tagged the Democrats as the "party of treason."

Today's very different Democratic Party is said to be playing with treason - even by outraged leaders within its ranks - to destroy the nation's wartime Republican president. Critics aren't using that word lightly. But with many liberal politicians having cut their teeth in the protest movement against the war in Vietnam - a movement characterized by militant displays of support for the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese enemy - treason is something to be taken lightly. But two important political commentators with large national audiences recently have compiled damning indictments: Mona Charen in her best-selling Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First (Regnery), and Ann Coulter in her blockbuster Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism (Crown/Forum). The main difference from Lincoln's day is that the president's enemies are attacking him in the name of "supporting our troops."

It started shortly after the liberation of Iraq when Senate Democrats asked the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to examine whether faulty intelligence might have led President George W. Bush to mislead Congress and the public about the urgency of toppling Saddam Hussein. The committee chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), agreed to a probe in light of the panel's nonpartisan tradition since its founding in the 1970s. But in a sharp break with tradition, the Democrats on the committee, led by Vice Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and pushed behind the scenes by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), decided to turn the probe into a savage and bitterly partisan weapon against the White House.

Proof of the Democrats' intent came in early November when Fox News received a leaked memo authored by a Rockefeller staffer on the committee. According to the memo, the Democrats' strategy was to "pull the majority as far along as we can on issues that may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials. For example, in addition to the president's State of the Union speech, the chairman [Roberts] has agreed to look at the activities of the Office of the Secretary of Defense as well as [Under] Secretary [John] Bolton's office at the State Department. The fact that the chairman supports our investigations into these offices and cosigns our requests for information is helpful and potentially crucial." In other words: exploit the unique bipartisanship of the Intelligence Committee by launching fishing expeditions in the offices of the conservative policymakers at the Pentagon and the State Department, using the Republican committee chairman's signature as a fig leaf.

The plan ordered up by Rockefeller took the partisanship even further: "Assiduously prepare Democratic 'additional views' to attach to any interim or final reports the committee may release. Committee rules provide this opportunity and we intend to take full advantage."

Once the Republicans caught on and stopped cooperating, the plan called for Democrats to "prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear that we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority. We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation at any time - but we can only do so once." The timing, according to the memo, would involve pulling that trigger during the heated campaign season of 2004.

The plan was a gross breach of the committee's practices and, even as Americans were being killed in ambushes, it was aimed at hamstringing, in the words of the memo, "the senior administration officials who made the case for a unilateral, pre-emptive war."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was outraged. "For a quarter-century there has been a consensus in the Senate that the committee's nonpartisan tradition must be carefully safeguarded. Nothing else is acceptable. Why? Because this committee deals with information that is unique, that is privileged information, because of the dangerous and sensitive nature of the subject matter for which the Intelligence Committee ... has unique oversight.

"I came to the [Senate] floor because that critical tradition has now been willfully attacked. How can I say that? By this memo," Frist roared. "The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has been harmed by a blatant partisan attack. I have no earthly idea who wrote the memo. I do know why. I don't know who it was intended for, but I do know why. If you read the memo [available online at,2933,102258,00.html], you can look. It is a sequence of steps spelled out. The sequence of steps proposed in this partisan battle plan for the committee itself is without question intended to sow doubt, to abuse the fairness of the committee chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts, to undermine the standing of the commander in chief at a time of war and to launch a partisan investigation through next year into the elections."

Intelligence professionals agree that the plan was a grave breach during time of war, showing reckless disregard for national security and national war aims. Frist, an ex-officio member of the committee, made three demands: that the author or authors of the memo step forward and identify themselves, that "the author or authors and the designated recipient or recipients disavow once and for all this partisan attack in its entirety" and for the perpetrators to make "a personal apology" to the committee chairman.

Almost incredibly to national-security specialists, that was all. No further sanctions. No nothing.

"Frist has emboldened the Democrats," warned a senior administration official at the time. And indeed, he did. For rather than repent, confess and seek forgiveness, Rockefeller openly admitted that his staff had done it with his full support and he accused Republicans of "stealing" the proof of the Democratic scheme to undermine the war effort from his staff computers. He and other Democrats demanded and received an official investigation of the "theft."

It was classical Clintonism. "When [Bill] Clinton got a [sexual favor] in the White House, he unleashed a thousand Lanny Davises and he won," says a senior Bush aide, referring to the former president's extremely aggressive and partisan lawyer. "The handling of the Rockefeller memorandum follows the same strategy."

A top figure in the national-security community fumes, "Some Democrat leaders are flirting with treason while the Republicans are acting like a bunch of sissies." But it isn't just Senate Republicans, the official concedes. "Where's the fight back from the White House?" Senators and congressmen have been reprimanded, censured, expelled, even put on trial for less. In some of Capitol Hill's pubs wags are urging, tongue in cheek, for Republicans to play hardball the way President Lincoln did. Shortly after signing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Lincoln spoke forcefully of the need to arrest, convict and, if necessary, execute congressmen who by word or deed undermined the war effort. At least one congressman was exiled and another awaited the gallows.

"Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier-boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to desert? This is none the less injurious when effected by getting a father, or brother, or friend, into a public meeting, and there working upon his feelings till he is persuaded to write the soldier-boy that he is fighting in a bad cause, for a wicked Administration of a contemptible Government, too weak to arrest and punish him if he shall desert. I think that in such a case to silence the agitator and save the boy is not only constitutional, but withal a great mercy," Lincoln wrote in June 1863, after the arrest of Rep. Clement L. Vallandigham (D-Ohio).

The congressman's arrest was military, not political, Lincoln insisted: "His arrest was made because he was laboring, with some effect, to prevent the raising of troops; to encourage desertions from the Army; and to leave the rebellion without an adequate military force to suppress it. He was not arrested because he was damaging the political prospects of the Administration, or the personal interests of the commanding general, but because he was damaging the Army, upon the existence and vigor of which the life of the nation depends. He was warring upon the military, and this gave the military constitutional jurisdiction to lay hands on him."

Warring upon the military: Lincoln's words apply to some lawmakers today, but even the most bitter of them insist that they're doing it to "support the troops." The law might allow the U.S. military to arrest lawmakers who undermine military effectiveness or morale while in a theater of war. In considering the Lincoln-era arrests of treasonous congressmen, the Supreme Court ruled the arrests illegal because the politicians in question lived outside the war zone at the time of their actions.

Rhode Island Chief Justice Frank J. Williams, a scholar of the Lincoln era, has been mulling the question of such arrests and their applicability today. He studied the case of Rep. Lambdin P. Milligan (D-Ind.), a Copperhead who had tried, in solidarity with the Confederacy, to discourage enlistments after Lincoln called for raising troops in 1862. The Army arrested Milligan in October 1864. A military commission found him guilty of inciting insurrection and giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war, and sentenced him to be hanged on May 19, 1865.

"Condemned to hang, he invoked the habeas corpus writ," says Williams in a recent essay. "But by then the war was over, and the Court was prepared to act boldly. It ruled that Indiana, where Milligan resided and spoke, was not part of the 'theater of war' and that the civil courts there were 'open' and therefore available to conduct his trial. Under such a combination of circumstances, the writ could not be constitutionally suspended. The Milligan case, needless to say, has become the source of permanent consternation to the friends of presidential power."

Nearly a century later, Chief Justice Earl Warren called the Milligan case a "landmark" that "firmly established the principle that when civil courts are open and operating, resort to military tribunals for the prosecution of civilians is impermissible."

Modern scholars express little doubt about the legitimacy of the Milligan conviction. The issue is the authority of the military to do the arresting and prosecuting. According to Williams, the Milligan case "establishes the principle that the courts shall determine, even to the point of overriding the executive, what is the area of war and public danger, a principle that could well cause havoc with presidential effectiveness in an actual emergency."

Politicians feel freer to use more extreme rhetoric against the war on terrorism now that they have political cover from elders such as Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and left-wing moneybags such as George Soros, who calls Bush more dangerous than the terrorists and has pledged millions to bring him down. As the war debate deteriorates from principle and practicality to partisanship, the once-important intolerance toward uttering words that comfort the enemy also is deteriorating. Combine that with the by-any-means-necessary approach to using the Senate Intelligence Committee as a partisan bludgeon and the question arises as to whether lawmakers can be trusted to police their own behavior.

Public censure long has been a tool that responsible legislators have wielded to punish or deter bad behavior from within their own ranks. The House and Senate have censured and expelled some of their more wayward colleagues, even invalidating their elections, but apart from the Civil War period such measures generally were reserved for financial corruption and sex crimes. In the 20th century, no lawmakers had action taken against them for behavior that may have lent aid and comfort to the enemy, according to Herbert Romerstein, a veteran congressional investigator and a historian of subversion in the United States. "Vietnam is the only time it comes to mind, and though there was widespread support for the enemy nobody was punished." Probably because the war had not formally been declared.

However, there were and are established precedents to punish lawmakers who reveal classified information. The most prominent, though largely forgotten, case is that of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who was accused repeatedly of revealing sensitive secrets in interviews with reporters, including leaking stories about U.S. intelligence intercepts of conversations of foreign leaders. In 1986, Leahy, then vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, let an NBC reporter read a secret draft report on the emerging Iran-Contra scandal. The committee spent a half-year investigating and forced Leahy to resign from the panel.

It was perhaps the most serious breach in the committee's decadelong history, and it wasn't Leahy's only offense. He was long a suspected leaker of national-security secrets as part of his effort to discredit the Reagan administration and its policy of rolling back Soviet communism. The problem was the Senate Intelligence Committee leadership had no proof. Insight has learned that staffers on the committee set up a sting operation against Leahy to catch him in the act. In compiling documents for each senator on the committee, staff members made small alterations in the numbered copies reserved for Leahy, marking the text in small ways that would, if leaked, prove the identity of the leaker. The sting worked, hastening Leahy's exposure and resulting in his being forced to leave the committee in disgrace.

Like the United Nations, the current Senate appears unwilling to enforce its own rules and resolutions on security matters. The Republican response to the Intelligence Committee memorandum is proof of that, critics say, even though the committee's Rules of Procedure require immediate action in such cases. According to section 10.8, "The Committee shall immediately consider action to be taken in the case of any member of the Committee staff who fails to conform" to committee rules. "Such disciplinary action may include, but shall not be limited to, immediate dismissal from the Committee staff."

Meanwhile, of course, the Democrats are trying to make a criminal case of the GOP "theft" of the memorandum proving their plot against the war effort.


Note on sources: Given the recent controversy about the authenticity of quotations attributed to President Abraham Lincoln, Insight went directly to the primary source for the presidential statements about how to deal with congressmen who sabotage the war effort. This reporter found the quotes in a June 1863 letter that President Lincoln wrote, published that year in pamphlet form as "The Truth from an Honest Man: The Letter of the President," by King & Baird Printers in Philadelphia and distributed by the Union League. Insight thanks Herbert Romerstein for providing the original pamphlet from his collection.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Anonymous on December 12, 2003, 06:13:59 PM

5. No "students" over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If
they don't attend classes, they get a "D" and it's back home ,baby.

Are you sure Robin Williams wrote this thing? I don't think he's that stu$%d. The writer shows too much ignorance. Foreign graduate students contribute alot of funds to US Universities just to keep these esteemed American educational institutions afloat or at par with world standards.

The whole write-up shows much arrogance. I doubt that Robin Williams would ever write something like that. Moreso that that he married his children's Filipina nanny.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 29, 2004, 10:15:15 AM
A Friendly Drink in a Time of War
by Paul Berman


A friend leaned across a bar and said, "You call the war in Iraq an antifascist war. You even call it a left-wing war-a war of liberation. That language of yours! And yet, on the left, not too many people agree with you."


"Not true!" I said. "Apart from X, Y, and Z, whose left-wing names you know very well, what do you think of Adam Michnik in Poland? And doesn't Vaclav Havel count for something in your eyes? These are among the heroes of our time. Anyway, who is fighting in Iraq right now? The coalition is led by a Texas right-winger, which is a pity; but, in the second rank, by the prime minister of Britain, who is a socialist, sort of; and, in the third rank, by the president of Poland-a Communist! An ex-Communist, anyway. One Texas right-winger and two Europeans who are more or less on the left. Anyway, these categories, right and left, are disintegrating by the minute. And who do you regard as the leader of the worldwide left? Jacques Chirac?-a conservative, I hate to tell you."


My friend persisted.


"Still, most people don't seem to agree with you. You do have to see that. And why do you suppose that is?"


That was an aggressive question. And I answered in kind.


"Why don't people on the left see it my way? Except for the ones who do? I'll give you six reasons. People on the left have been unable to see the antifascist nature of the war because . . . "-and my hand hovered over the bar, ready to thump six times, demonstrating the powerful force of my argument.


"The left doesn't see because -" thump!-"George W. Bush is an unusually repulsive politician, except to his own followers, and people are blinded by the revulsion they feel. And, in their blindness, they cannot identify the main contours of reality right now. They peer at Iraq and see the smirking face of George W. Bush. They even feel a kind of schadenfreude or satisfaction at his errors and failures. This is a modern, television-age example of what used to be called 'false consciousness.'"


Thump! "The left doesn't see because a lot of otherwise intelligent people have decided, a priori, that all the big problems around the world stem from America. Even the problems that don't. This is an attitude that, sixty years ago, would have prevented those same people from making sense of the fascists of Europe, too."

Thump! "Another reason: a lot of people suppose that any sort of anticolonial movement must be admirable or, at least, acceptable. Or they think that, at minimum, we shouldn't do more than tut-tut-even in the case of a movement that, like the Baath Party, was founded under a Nazi influence. In 1943, no less!"


Thump! "The left doesn't see because a lot of people, in their good-hearted effort to respect cultural differences, have concluded that Arabs must for inscrutable reasons of their own like to live under grotesque dictatorships and are not really capable of anything else, or won't be ready to do so for another five hundred years, and Arab liberals should be regarded as somehow inauthentic. Which is to say, a lot of people, swept along by their own high-minded principles of cultural tolerance, have ended up clinging to attitudes that can only be regarded as racist against Arabs.


"The old-fashioned left used to be universalist-used to think that everyone, all over the world, would some day want to live according to the same fundamental values, and ought to be helped to do so. They thought this was especially true for people in reasonably modern societies with universities, industries, and a sophisticated bureaucracy-societies like the one in Iraq. But no more! Today, people say, out of a spirit of egalitarian tolerance: Social democracy for Swedes! Tyranny for Arabs! And this is supposed to be a left-wing attitude? By the way, you don't hear much from the left about the non-Arabs in countries like Iraq, do you? The left, the real left, used to be the champion of minority populations-of people like the Kurds. No more! The left, my friend, has abandoned the values of the left-except for a few of us, of course."


Thump! "Another reason: A lot of people honestly believe that Israel's problems with the Palestinians represent something more than a miserable dispute over borders and recognition-that Israel's problems represent something huger, a uniquely diabolical aspect of Zionism, which explains the rage and humiliation felt by Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia. Which is to say, a lot of people have succumbed to anti-Semitic fantasies about the cosmic quality of Jewish crime and cannot get their minds to think about anything else.

"I mean, look at the discussions that go on even among people who call themselves the democratic left, the good left-a relentless harping on the sins of Israel, an obsessive harping, with very little said about the fascist-influenced movements that have caused hundreds of thousands and even millions of deaths in other parts of the Muslim world. The distortions are wild, if you stop to think about them. Look at some of our big, influential liberal magazines-one article after another about Israeli crimes and stupidities, and even a few statements in favor of abolishing Israel, and hardly anything about the sufferings of the Arabs in the rest of the world. And even less is said about the Arab liberals-our own comrades, who have been pretty much abandoned. What do you make of that, my friend? There's a name for that, a systematic distortion-what we Marxists, when we were Marxists, used to call ideology."


Thump! "The left doesn't see because a lot of people are, in any case, willfully blind to anti-Semitism in other cultures. They cannot get themselves to recognize the degree to which Nazi-like doctrines about the supernatural quality of Jewish evil have influenced mass political movements across large swaths of the world. It is 1943 right now in huge portions of the world-and people don't see it. And so, people simply cannot detect the fascist nature of all kinds of mass movements and political parties. In the Muslim world, especially."

Six thumps. I was done. My friend looked incredulous. His incredulity drove me to continue.


"And yet," I insisted, "if good-hearted people like you would only open your left-wing eyes, you would see clearly enough that the Baath Party is very nearly a classic fascist movement, and so is the radical Islamist movement, in a somewhat different fashion-two strands of a single impulse, which happens to be Europe's fascist and totalitarian legacy to the modern Muslim world. If only people like you would wake up, you would see that war against the radical Islamist and Baathist movements, in Afghanistan exactly as in Iraq, is war against fascism."


I grew still more heated.


"What a tragedy that you don't see this! It's a tragedy for the Afghanis and the Iraqis, who need more help than they are receiving. A tragedy for the genuine liberals all over the Muslim world! A tragedy for the American soldiers, the British, the Poles and every one else who has gone to Iraq lately, the nongovernmental organization volunteers and the occupying forces from abroad, who have to struggle on bitterly against the worst kind of nihilists, and have been getting damn little support or even moral solidarity from people who describe themselves as antifascists in the world's richest and fattest neighborhoods.


"What a tragedy for the left-the worldwide left, this left of ours which, in failing to play much of a role in the antifascism of our own era, is right now committing a gigantic historic error. Not for the first time, my friend! And yet, if the left all over the world took up this particular struggle as its own, the whole nature of events in Iraq and throughout the region could be influenced in a very useful way, and Bush's many blunders could be rectified, and the struggle could be advanced."


My friend's eyes widened, maybe in astonishment, maybe in pity.


He said, "And so, the United Nations and international law mean nothing to you, not a thing? You think it's all right for America to go do whatever it wants, and ignore the rest of the world?"


I answered, "The United Nations and international law are fine by me, and more than fine. I am their supporter. Or, rather, would like to support them. It would be better to fight an antifascist war with more than a begrudging UN approval. It would be better to fight with the approving sanction of international law-better in a million ways. Better politically, therefore militarily. Better for the precedents that would be set. Better for the purpose of expressing the liberal principles at stake. If I had my druthers, that is how we would have gone about fighting the war. But my druthers don't count for much. We have had to choose between supporting the war, or opposing it-supporting the war in the name of antifascism, or opposing it in the name of some kind of concept of international law. Antifascism without international law; or international law without antifascism. A miserable choice-but one does have to choose, unfortunately."


My friend said, "I'm for the UN and international law, and I think you've become a traitor to the left. A neocon!"


I said, "I'm for overthrowing tyrants, and since when did overthrowing fascism become treason to the left?"


"But isn't George Bush himself a fascist, more or less? I mean-admit it!"


My own eyes widened. "You haven't the foggiest idea what fascism is," I said. "I always figured that a keen awareness of extreme oppression was the deepest trait of a left-wing heart. Mass graves, three hundred thousand missing Iraqis, a population crushed by thirty-five years of Baathist boots stomping on their faces-that is what fascism means! And you think that a few corrupt insider contracts with Bush's cronies at Halliburton and a bit of retrograde Bible-thumping and Bush's ridiculous tax cuts and his bonanzas for the super-rich are indistinguishable from that?-indistinguishable from fascism? From a politics of slaughter? Leftism is supposed to be a reality principle. Leftism is supposed to embody an ability to take in the big picture. The traitor to the left is you, my friend . . ."


But this made not the slightest sense to him, and there was nothing left to do but to hit each other over the head with our respective drinks.


Paul Berman is the author of Terror and Liberalism. His book The Passion of Joschka Fischer will come out in the spring.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 09, 2004, 11:23:49 PM
The Threat of Global Terrorism
Why Sept. 11 made Iraq's liberation necessary.

Saturday, March 6, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST

(Editor's note: Mr. Blair delivered this speech in his constituency yesterday morning.)

No decision I have ever made in politics has been as divisive as the decision to go to war to in Iraq. It remains deeply divisive today. I know a large part of the public want to move on. Rightly they say the government should concentrate on the issues that elected us in 1997: the economy, jobs, living standards, health, education, crime. I share that view, and we are.

But I know too that the nature of this issue over Iraq, stirring such bitter emotions as it does, can't just be swept away as ill-fitting the preoccupations of the man and woman on the street. This is not simply because of the gravity of war; or the continued engagement of British troops and civilians in Iraq; or even because of reflections made on the integrity of the Prime Minister. It is because it was in March 2003 and remains my fervent view that the nature of the global threat we face in Britain and round the world is real and existential, and it is the task of leadership to expose it and fight it, whatever the political cost; and that the true danger is not to any single politician's reputation, but to our country if we now ignore this threat or erase it from the agenda in embarrassment at the difficulties it causes.

In truth, the fundamental source of division over Iraq is not over issues of trust or integrity, though some insist on trying to translate it into that. Each week brings a fresh attempt to get a new angle that can prove it was all a gigantic conspiracy. We have had three inquiries, including the one by Lord Hutton conducted over six months, with more openness by government than any such inquiry in history, that have affirmed there was no attempt to falsify intelligence in the dossier of September 2002, but rather that it was indeed an accurate summary of that intelligence.
We have seen one element--intelligence about some WMD being ready for use in 45 minutes--elevated into virtually the one fact that persuaded the nation into war. This intelligence was mentioned by me once in my statement to the House of Commons on 24 September and not mentioned by me again in any debate. It was mentioned by no one in the crucial debate on 18 March 2003. In the period from 24 September to 29 May, the date of the BBC broadcast on it, it was raised twice in almost 40,000 written parliamentary questions in the House of Commons; and not once in almost 5,000 oral questions. Neither was it remotely the basis for the claim that Saddam had strategic as well as battlefield WMD. That was dealt with in a different part of the dossier; and though the Iraq Survey Group have indeed not found stockpiles of weapons, they have uncovered much evidence about Saddam's program to develop long-range strategic missiles in breach of U.N. rules.

It is said we claimed Iraq was an imminent threat to Britain and was preparing to attack us. In fact this is what I said prior to the war on 24 September 2002: "Why now? People ask. I agree I cannot say that this month or next, even this year or next he will use his weapons."

Then, for example, in January 2003 in my press conference I said: "And I tell you honestly what my fear is, my fear is that we wake up one day and we find either that one of these dictatorial states has used weapons of mass destruction--and Iraq has done so in the past--and we get sucked into a conflict, with all the devastation that would cause; or alternatively these weapons, which are being traded right round the world at the moment, fall into the hands of these terrorist groups, these fanatics who will stop at absolutely nothing to cause death and destruction on a mass scale. Now that is what I have to worry about. And I understand of course why people think it is a very remote threat and it is far away and why does it bother us. Now I simply say to you, it is a matter of time unless we act and take a stand before terrorism and weapons of mass destruction come together, and I regard them as two sides of the same coin."

The truth is, as was abundantly plain in the motion before the House of Commons on 18 March, we went to war to enforce compliance with U.N. resolutions. Had we believed Iraq was an imminent direct threat to Britain, we would have taken action in September 2002; we would not have gone to the U.N. Instead, we spent October and November in the U.N. negotiating U.N. Resolution 1441. We then spent almost four months trying to implement it.
Actually, it is now apparent from the Survey Group that Iraq was indeed in breach of U.N. Resolution 1441. It did not disclose laboratories and facilities it should have; nor the teams of scientists kept together to retain their WMD, including nuclear expertise; nor its continuing research relevant to CW and BW [chemical and biological weapons]. As Dr Kay, the former head of the ISG [International Survey Group] who is now quoted as a critic of the war, has said: "Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of Resolution 1441". And "I actually think this [Iraq] may be one of those cases where it was even more dangerous than we thought."

Then, most recently is the attempt to cast doubt on the attorney general's legal opinion. He said the war was lawful. He published a statement on the legal advice. It is said this opinion is disputed. Of course it is. It was disputed in March 2003. It is today. The lawyers continue to divide over it--with their legal opinions bearing a remarkable similarity to their political view of the war.

But let's be clear. Once this row dies down, another will take its place and then another and then another.

All of it in the end is an elaborate smokescreen to prevent us seeing the real issue: which is not a matter of trust but of judgment.

The real point is that those who disagree with the war, disagree fundamentally with the judgment that led to war. What is more, their alternative judgment is both entirely rational and arguable. Kosovo, with ethnic cleansing of ethnic Albanians, was not a hard decision for most people; nor was Afghanistan after the shock of September 11; nor was Sierra Leone.
Iraq in March 2003 was an immensely difficult judgment. It was divisive because it was difficult. I have never disrespected those who disagreed with the decision. Sure, some were anti-American; some against all wars. But there was a core of sensible people who faced with this decision would have gone the other way, for sensible reasons. Their argument is one I understand totally. It is that Iraq posed no direct, immediate threat to Britain; and that Iraq's WMD, even on our own case, was not serious enough to warrant war, certainly without a specific U.N. resolution mandating military action. And they argue: Saddam could, in any event, be contained.

In other words, they disagreed then and disagree now fundamentally with the characterization of the threat. We were saying this is urgent; we have to act; the opponents of war thought it wasn't. And I accept, incidentally, that however abhorrent and foul the regime and however relevant that was for the reasons I set out before the war, for example in Glasgow in February 2003, regime change alone could not be and was not our justification for war. Our primary purpose was to enforce U.N. resolutions over Iraq and WMD.

Of course the opponents are boosted by the fact that though we know Saddam had WMD, we haven't found the physical evidence of them in the 11 months since the war. But in fact, everyone thought he had them. That was the basis of U.N. Resolution 1441.

It's just worth pointing out that the search is being conducted in a country twice the land mass of the U.K., which David Kay's interim report in October 2003 noted, contains 130 ammunition storage areas, some covering an area of 50 square miles, including some 600,000 tons of artillery shells, rockets and other ordnance, of which only a small proportion have as yet been searched in the difficult security environment that exists.

But the key point is that it is the threat that is the issue.
The characterization of the threat is where the difference lies. Here is where I feel so passionately that we are in mortal danger of mistaking the nature of the new world in which we live. Everything about our world is changing: its economy, its technology, its culture, its way of living. If the 20th century scripted our conventional way of thinking, the 21st century is unconventional in almost every respect.

This is true also of our security.

The threat we face is not conventional. It is a challenge of a different nature from anything the world has faced before. It is to the world's security, what globalization is to the world's economy.

It was defined not by Iraq but by September 11th. September 11th did not create the threat Saddam posed. But it altered crucially the balance of risk as to whether to deal with it or simply carry on, however imperfectly, trying to contain it.

Let me attempt an explanation of how my own thinking, as a political leader, has evolved during these past few years. Already, before September 11th the world's view of the justification of military action had been changing. The only clear case in international relations for armed intervention had been self-defense, response to aggression. But the notion of intervening on humanitarian grounds had been gaining currency. I set this out, following the Kosovo war, in a speech in Chicago in 1999, where I called for a doctrine of international community, where in certain clear circumstances we do intervene, even though we are not directly threatened. I said this was not just to correct injustice, but also because in an increasingly interdependent world, our self-interest was allied to the interests of others; and seldom did conflict in one region of the world not contaminate another. We acted in Sierra Leone for similar reasons, though frankly even if that country had become run by gangsters and murderers and its democracy crushed, it would have been a long time before it impacted on us. But we were able to act to help them and we did.

So, for me, before September 11th, I was already reaching for a different philosophy in international relations from a traditional one that has held sway since the treaty of Westphalia in 1648; namely that a country's internal affairs are for it and you don't interfere unless it threatens you, or breaches a treaty, or triggers an obligation of alliance. I did not consider Iraq fitted into this philosophy, though I could see the horrible injustice done to its people by Saddam.

However, I had started to become concerned about two other phenomena.

The first was the increasing amount of information about Islamic extremism and terrorism that was crossing my desk. Chechnya was blighted by it. So was Kashmir. Afghanistan was its training ground. Some 300 people had been killed in the attacks on the U.S.S Cole and U.S. embassies in East Africa. The extremism seemed remarkably well financed. It was very active. And it was driven not by a set of negotiable political demands, but by religious fanaticism.

The second was the attempts by states--some of them highly unstable and repressive--to develop nuclear weapons programs, CW and BW materiel and long-range missiles. What is more, it was obvious that there was a considerable network of individuals and companies with expertise in this area, prepared to sell it.

All this was before September 11th. I discussed the issue of WMD with President Bush at our first meeting in Camp David in February 2001. But it's in the nature of things that other issues intervene--I was about to fight for re-election--and though it was raised, it was a troubling specter in the background, not something to arrest our whole attention.
President Bush told me that on September 9th, 2001, he had a meeting about Iraq in the White House when he discussed "smart" sanctions, changes to the sanctions regime. There was no talk of military action.

September 11th was for me a revelation. What had seemed inchoate came together. The point about September 11th was not its detailed planning; not its devilish execution; not even, simply, that it happened in America, on the streets of New York. All of this made it an astonishing, terrible and wicked tragedy, a barbaric murder of innocent people. But what galvanized me was that it was a declaration of war by religious fanatics who were prepared to wage that war without limit. They killed 3,000. But if they could have killed 30,000 or 300,000, they would have rejoiced in it. The purpose was to cause such hatred between Muslims and the West that a religious jihad became reality; and the world engulfed by it.

When I spoke to the House of Commons on 14 September 2001 I said: "We know, that they [the terrorists] would, if they could, go further and use chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons of mass destruction. We know, also, that there are groups of people, occasionally states, who will trade the technology and capability of such weapons. It is time that this trade was exposed, disrupted, and stamped out. We have been warned by the events of 11 September, and we should act on the warning."

From September 11th on, I could see the threat plainly. Here were terrorists prepared to bring about Armageddon. Here were states whose leadership cared for no one but themselves; were often cruel and tyrannical towards their own people; and who saw WMD as a means of defending themselves against any attempt external or internal to remove them and who, in their chaotic and corrupt state, were in any event porous and irresponsible with neither the will nor capability to prevent terrorists who also hated the West, from exploiting their chaos and corruption.

I became aware of the activities of A.Q, Khan, former Pakistani nuclear scientist, and of an organization developing nuclear weapons technology to sell secretly to states wanting to acquire it. I started to hear of plants to manufacture nuclear weapons equipment in Malaysia, in the Near East and Africa, companies in the Gulf and Europe to finance it; training and know-how provided--all without any or much international action to stop it. It was a murky, dangerous trade, done with much sophistication and it was rapidly shortening the timeframe of countries like North Korea and Iran in acquiring serviceable nuclear weapons capability.

I asked for more intelligence on the issue not just of terrorism but also of WMD. The scale of it became clear. It didn't matter that the Islamic extremists often hated some of these regimes. Their mutual enmity toward the West would in the end triumph over any scruples of that nature, as we see graphically in Iraq today.

We knew that al Qaeda sought the capability to use WMD in their attacks. Bin Laden has called it a "duty" to obtain nuclear weapons. His networks have experimented with chemicals and toxins for use in attacks. He received advice from at least two Pakistani scientists on the design of nuclear weapons. In Afghanistan al Qaeda trained its recruits in the use of poisons and chemicals. An al Qaeda terrorist ran a training camp developing these techniques. Terrorist training manuals giving step-by-step instructions for the manufacture of deadly substances such as botulinum and ricin were widely distributed in Afghanistan and elsewhere and via the internet. Terrorists in Russia have actually deployed radiological material. The sarin attack on the Tokyo Metro showed how serious an impact even a relatively small attack can have.
The global threat to our security was clear. So was our duty: to act to eliminate it.

First we dealt with al Qaeda in Afghanistan, removing the Taliban that succored them.

But then we had to confront the states with WMD. We had to take a stand. We had to force conformity with international obligations that for years had been breached with the world turning a blind eye. For 12 years Saddam had defied calls to disarm. In 1998, he had effectively driven out the U.N. inspectors and we had bombed his military infrastructure; but we had only weakened him, not removed the threat. Saddam alone had used CW against Iran and against his own people.

We had had an international coalition blessed by the U.N. in Afghanistan. I wanted the same now. President Bush agreed to go the U.N. route. We secured U.N. Resolution 1441. Saddam had one final chance to comply fully. Compliance had to start with a full and honest declaration of WMD programs and activities.

The truth is disarming a country, other than with its consent, is a perilous exercise. On 8 December 2002, Saddam sent his declaration. It was obviously false. The U.N. inspectors were in Iraq, but progress was slow and the vital cooperation of Iraqi scientists withheld. In March we went back to the U.N. to make a final ultimatum. We strove hard for agreement. We very nearly achieved it.

So we came to the point of decision. Prime ministers don't have the luxury of maintaining both sides of the argument. They can see both sides. But ultimately, leadership is about deciding. My view was and is that if the U.N. had come together and delivered a tough ultimatum to Saddam, listing clearly what he had to do, benchmarking it, he may have folded and events set in train that might just and eventually have led to his departure from power.

But the Security Council didn't agree.

Suppose at that point we had backed away. Inspectors would have stayed but only the utterly naive would believe that following such a public climb-down by the U.S. and its partners, Saddam would have cooperated more. He would have strung the inspectors out and returned emboldened to his plans. The will to act on the issue of rogue states and WMD would have been shown to be hollow. The terrorists, watching and analyzing every move in our psychology as they do, would have taken heart. All this without counting the fact that the appalling brutalization of the Iraqi people would have continued unabated and reinforced.
Here is the crux. It is possible that even with all of this, nothing would have happened. Possible that Saddam would change his ambitions; possible he would develop the WMD but never use it; possible that the terrorists would never get their hands on WMD, whether from Iraq or elsewhere. We cannot be certain. Perhaps we would have found different ways of reducing it. Perhaps this Islamic terrorism would ebb of its own accord.

But do we want to take the risk? That is the judgment. And my judgment then and now is that the risk of this new global terrorism and its interaction with states or organizations or individuals proliferating WMD, is one I simply am not prepared to run.

This is not a time to err on the side of caution; not a time to weigh the risks to an infinite balance; not a time for the cynicism of the worldly wise who favor playing it long. Their worldly wise cynicism is actually at best naivet? and at worst dereliction. When they talk, as they do now, of diplomacy coming back into fashion in respect of Iran or North Korea or Libya, do they seriously think that diplomacy alone has brought about this change? Since the war in Iraq, Libya has taken the courageous step of owning up not just to a nuclear weapons program but to having chemical weapons, which are now being destroyed. Iran is back in the reach of the IAEA. North Korea in talks with China over its WMD. The A.Q. Khan network is being shut down, its trade slowly but surely being eliminated.

Yet it is monstrously premature to think the threat has passed. The risk remains in the balance here and abroad.

These days decisions about it come thick and fast, and while they are not always of the same magnitude they are hardly trivial. Let me give you an example. A short while ago, during the war, we received specific intelligence warning of a major attack on Heathrow. To this day, we don't know if it was correct and we foiled it or if it was wrong. But we received the intelligence. We immediately heightened the police presence. At the time it was much criticized as political hype or an attempt to frighten the public. Actually at each stage we followed rigidly the advice of the police and Security Service.
But sit in my seat. Here is the intelligence. Here is the advice. Do you ignore it? But, of course intelligence is precisely that: intelligence. It is not hard fact. It has its limitations. On each occasion the most careful judgment has to be made taking account of everything we know and the best assessment and advice available. But in making that judgment, would you prefer us to act, even if it turns out to be wrong? Or not to act and hope it's OK? And suppose we don't act and the intelligence turns out to be right, how forgiving will people be?

And to those who think that these things are all disconnected, random acts, disparate threats with no common thread to bind them, look at what is happening in Iraq today. The terrorists pouring into Iraq, know full well the importance of destroying not just the nascent progress of Iraq toward stability, prosperity and democracy, but of destroying our confidence, of defeating our will to persevere.

I have no doubt Iraq is better without Saddam; but no doubt either, that as a result of his removal, the dangers of the threat we face will be diminished. That is not to say the terrorists won't redouble their efforts. They will. This war is not ended. It may only be at the end of its first phase. They are in Iraq, murdering innocent Iraqis who want to worship or join a police force that upholds the law not a brutal dictatorship; they carry on killing in Afghanistan. They do it for a reason. The terrorists know that if Iraq and Afghanistan survive their assault, come through their travails, seize the opportunity the future offers, then those countries will stand not just as nations liberated from oppression, but as a lesson to humankind everywhere and a profound antidote to the poison of religious extremism. That is precisely why the terrorists are trying to foment hatred and division in Iraq. They know full well, a stable democratic Iraq, under the sovereign rule of the Iraqi people, is a mortal blow to their fanaticism.

That is why our duty is to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan as stable and democratic nations.

Here is the irony. For all the fighting, this threat cannot be defeated by security means alone. Taking strong action is a necessary but insufficient condition for defeating. Its final defeat is only assured by the triumph of the values of the human spirit.

Which brings me to the final point. It may well be that under international law as presently constituted, a regime can systematically brutalize and oppress its people and there is nothing anyone can do, when dialogue, diplomacy and even sanctions fail, unless it comes within the definition of a humanitarian catastrophe (though the 300,000 remains in mass graves already found in Iraq might be thought by some to be something of a catastrophe). This may be the law, but should it be?
We know now, if we didn't before, that our own self-interest is ultimately bound up with the fate of other nations. The doctrine of international community is no longer a vision of idealism. It is a practical recognition that just as within a country, citizens who are free, well educated and prosperous tend to be responsible, to feel solidarity with a society in which they have a stake; so do nations that are free, democratic and benefiting from economic progress, tend to be stable and solid partners in the advance of humankind. The best defense of our security lies in the spread of our values.

But we cannot advance these values except within a framework that recognizes their universality. If it is a global threat, it needs a global response, based on global rules.

The essence of a community is common rights and responsibilities. We have obligations in relation to each other. If we are threatened, we have a right to act. And we do not accept in a community that others have a right to oppress and brutalize their people. We value the freedom and dignity of the human race and each individual in it.

Containment will not work in the face of the global threat that confronts us. The terrorists have no intention of being contained. The states that proliferate or acquire WMD illegally are doing so precisely to avoid containment. Emphatically I am not saying that every situation leads to military action. But we surely have a duty and a right to prevent the threat materializing; and we surely have a responsibility to act when a nation's people are subjected to a regime such as Saddam's. Otherwise, we are powerless to fight the aggression and injustice which over time puts at risk our security and way of life.

Which brings us to how you make the rules and how you decide what is right or wrong in enforcing them. The U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights is a fine document. But it is strange the United Nations is so reluctant to enforce them.

I understand the worry the international community has over Iraq. It worries that the U.S. and its allies will by sheer force of their military might, do whatever they want, unilaterally and without recourse to any rule-based code or doctrine. But our worry is that if the U.N.--because of a political disagreement in its Councils--is paralyzed, then a threat we believe is real will go unchallenged.

This dilemma is at the heart of many people's anguished indecision over the wisdom of our action in Iraq. It explains the confusion of normal politics that has part of the right liberating a people from oppression and a part of the left disdaining the action that led to it. It is partly why the conspiracy theories or claims of deceit have such purchase. How much simpler to debate those than to analyze and resolve the conundrum of our world's present state.
Britain's role is try to find a way through this: to construct a consensus behind a broad agenda of justice and security and means of enforcing it.

This agenda must be robust in tackling the security threat that this Islamic extremism poses; and fair to all peoples by promoting their human rights, wherever they are. It means tackling poverty in Africa and justice in Palestine as well as being utterly resolute in opposition to terrorism as a way of achieving political goals. It means an entirely different, more just and more modern view of self-interest.

It means reforming the United Nations so its Security Council represents 21st century reality; and giving the U.N. the capability to act effectively as well as debate. It means getting the U.N. to understand that faced with the threats we have, we should do all we can to spread the values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, religious tolerance and justice for the oppressed, however painful for some nations that may be; but that at the same time, we wage war relentlessly on those who would exploit racial and religious division to bring catastrophe to the world.

But in the meantime, the threat is there and demands our attention.

That is the struggle which engages us. It is a new type of war. It will rest on intelligence to a greater degree than ever before. It demands a difference attitude to our own interests. It forces us to act even when so many comforts seem unaffected, and the threat so far off, if not illusory. In the end, believe your political leaders or not, as you will. But do so, at least having understood their minds.

Mr. Blair is the British prime minister.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 12, 2004, 10:19:00 AM
*  (no subject)  wontondon  3/12/04 09:52  
  Thicker than Oil
Putting to rest the Left's Iraq deceptions.
By Victor David Hanson

It has now been almost a year since the liberation of Iraq, the fury
of the antiwar rallies, and the publicized hectoring of Michael Moore,
Noam Chomsky, Sean Penn, and other assorted conspiracy freaks ? and we have enough evidence to lay some of their myths to rest.

I just filled up and paid $2.19 a gallon. How can that be, when the
war was undertaken to help us get our hands on "cheap" oil? Where is
the mythical Afghan pipeline when we need it?

"No Blood for Oil" (never mind the people who drove upscale
gas-guzzlers to the rallies at which they chanted such slogans) was
supposed to respond to one of two possibilities: American oil
companies were either simply going to steal the Iraqi fields, or
indirectly prime the pumps to such an extent that the world would be
awash with petroleum and the price for profligate Western consumers
would crash.

Neither came true. Iraqis themselves control their natural resources;
the price of gasoline, despite heroic restoration of much of Iraqi
prewar petroleum output, is at an all-time high.

So did Shell and Exxon want too much ? or too little ? pumping? Was
the Iraq conspiracy a messy crisis to disrupt production as an excuse
to jack up prices, or a surgical strike to garner Third-World
resources on the cheap to power wasteful American SUVs?

The truth is, as usual, far more simple. The United States never did
intend to steal or manipulate the oil market ? not necessarily because
we are always above such chicanery, but because it is nearly
impossible in a fungible market under constant global scrutiny, and
suicidal in the Byzantine politics of the Middle East.

Instead we have pledged $87 billion to secure and rebuild Iraq ? one
of the largest direct-aid programs since the Marshall Plan. Tens of
thousands of brave Americans risked their lives ? and hundreds have
died ? to end the genocide of Saddam Hussein, alter the pathological
calculus of the Middle East, and cease the three-decade support of
terrorism by Arab dictators.

The only credible critics on the left are those who make the argument
that Iraq never made any sense economically and "took away" money from health care, education, aid to poor, transportation, etc. (the litany
is familiar) at home ? although even this is a hard argument when
domestic spending has increased 8 percent per annum under the Bush

A year ago, almost no one claimed that we were far too na?ve,
idealistic, or stupid. No, Americans were forever conniving and
larcenous. Remember the invective about perpetual American
intervention? Tens of thousands of our troops poured into the Middle
East after the "excuse" of September 11. Right-wingers alleged that we
had turned from republic to a garrison empire in a new global ego
trip. Leftists assured us that we were greedy colonialists replicating
the British raj ? perhaps keen to corner the Iraqi date market or
exploit at slave wages the skilled workforce around Tikrit. Arab
fundamentalists prattled on about the American Crusaders and Zionists
out to steal holy lands and desecrate shrines ? no doubt convinced
that Billy Grahamites, if not blowing up ancient Buddhist statuary,
would soon be attaching crosses to minarets.

Yet since the very day the war started, the reality has been just the
opposite ? a constant desire for the bare-minimum amount of troops
abroad in as brief a deployment as possible. More sober military
observers have always fathomed that the dangers of the American
campaign were never that we were overrunning the Middle East in hope
of perennial occupation. Instead we ? as amateur interventionists who
have always had a very short attention span ? had too few troops to
fight the war, and fewer still to rebuild the country.

Even the chief, albeit private, worry of most Iraqis was mostly that
there were not enough American infidels to provide them security and
that we would leave too soon ? hardly the response one would expect to
old-style, foreign, pith-helmeted imperialists who had stayed too long.
Then there was the third-world exploited-peoples angle. At least, I
think that was one of the favorite themes of the peace rallies where
various groups ? from supporters of cop-killers to Puerto Rican
independence zealots ? spouted off about their shared racism,
victimhood, and oppression.

Surely one of the most astounding intellectual trends in our lifetime
has been this transmogrification of religious fascists and Middle East
autocrats ? the minions of Saddam, Arafat, Khaddafi, or the Iranian
mullahs ? into some sort of exploited peoples worthy of Western
forbearance for quite horrific dictatorships, theocracies, and all the
assorted pathologies that we have to come to associate with the modern
Middle East. The way things were going, belonging to Hamas or
Hezbollah soon might have earned one affirmative-action status on an
American campus.

Let's examine, instead, what really happened. While fellow Arabs did
little or nothing to free the Iraqi people ? but apparently both
cheated on and profited from the U.N. embargoes ? Americans set up a
consensual government. And for our part, American casualties so far
mirror roughly the racial make-up of our general population. So much
for the old Vietnam-era myth that people of color always die in
disproportionate numbers fighting rich people's wars. Our three top
officers most visible the last year in Iraq ? Generals Abizaid,
Sanchez, and Brooks ? are an Arab American, Mexican American, and
African American. The national-security adviser and the secretary of
state are minorities as well. And so on. This was a war about values ?
not race, class, or ethnicity.

Another myth was that of the "noble European" ? promulgated here at
home by American shysters like Michael Moore, who cashed in overseas,
fawning over the likes of Jacques Chirac (the guy who sealed the
French nuclear-reactor deal with Saddam) and Dominique de Villepin
(who wept over the Christ-like Napoleon's demise at Waterloo).
The truth again is very different; and John Kerry should be wary about
bragging that unnamed European leaders ? if true ? tell him that they
favor his election. Each week we learn how European companies were
knee-deep in the foul stream of forbidden supplies that flowed to
Saddam in violation of their hallowed U.N. statutes. And the most
recent European tired chorus ? "We support the needed Afghan
multilateral operation, but not the Iraq aggression" ? is proven false
by the fact that there are about ten times more American troops right
now in Europe than there are NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.

Sorry, a few thousand troops in Afghanistan doesn't cut it from a
continent with a larger population than that of the United States,
which in turn does the dirty work to ensure Europe's security.
Unilateral, multilateral, U.N., no U.N., Balkans, Iraq ? it doesn't
matter: The Europeans are never going to risk lives and treasure for
much of anything. The predictable NATO rule: The stationing of troops
is to be determined in direct proportion to the absence of both need
and danger.

But what about WMDs? Wasn't that a Bush fable? Forget that most ? from
Bill Clinton to John Kerry ? believed that they were there, and that
all the evidence about Saddam's arsenal is not yet in.

The truth is that almost everybody in the world believes that the war
had something to do with WMDs and nothing to do with Halliburton ?
except Western leftists. By going into Iraq we probably will find more
dangerous weapons in Libya than were stockpiled in Baghdad. The
president argued that we must depose Saddam Hussein to prevent scary
weapons from being used by rogue regimes. He did so, and suddenly Dr.
Khan, Khaddafi, and even a few mullahs seemed to wish to come clean.
The danger of promulgating the old mistruths about sacrificing blood
for oil, reviving colonialism, and suggesting the operation in Iraq
has led to disaster are manifold. First, ever-so-steadily, such
invective wears away support for an action that, by any historical
yardstick, was as successful as it was noble. The only peril to the
United States in Iraq would be a unilateral withdrawal before
stability and constitutional government are achieved. And the only
chance of that disaster happening would arise from our own continual
harping that wears down the will of the American people ? and those
asked to fight for us in the field.

The other worry is that there were, in fact, real concerns about the
entire campaign that have scarcely been addressed. While the media
hold conferences on university campuses about the morality of using
embedded reporters, they have simply refused to discuss the real
ethical crisis of the reporting of the war: that dozens of Western
journalists sent censored news accounts from Baghdad in the months
preceding the conflict and in fact during the actual fighting.

Unbeknownst to us, their dispatches always were monitored carefully by
"minders" and transmitted only through pay-offs and blackmail. None of
this was known at the time ? leading to the absurdity that on the day
Baghdad fell journalists suddenly came clean over uncensored mikes, as
if to say, "Oh, by the way, everything I sent out to you the last two
months was sort of censored by the Iraqi Ministry of Information."
So here we are a year later. We fuss about the WMD "myth"; enemies
scramble over its reality. We talk of our theft of third-world
resources ? and pay more for gas than ever before while the price of
Iraq's national treasure soars. We worry that we are too involved
abroad; those in Europe, Afghanistan, and Iraq claim there are not
enough of us over there. And we scream at each other that we are not
liked, even as those overseas express new respect for us.

No wonder, when asked for specific follow-ups about his general
criticisms of the Iraqi war in a recent Time magazine interview, a
resolute Kerry variously prevaricated, "I didn't say that," "I can't
tell you," "It's possible," "It's not a certainty," "If I had known,"
"No, I think you can still ? wait, no. You can't ? that's not a fair
question and I'll tell you why," ? employing the entire idiom and
vocabulary of those who are angry about Bush's removal of Saddam, but
neither know quite why nor what they would do differently.
Title: "Mobile phones ringing in the pockets of the bodies....
Post by: LG RUSS on March 14, 2004, 08:17:06 PM
March 14, 2004
      Origin of Species

      andan Nilekani, C.E.O. of the Indian software giant Infosys, gave me a
tour the other day of his company's wood-paneled global conference room in
Bangalore. It looks a lot like a beautiful tiered classroom, with a massive
wall-size screen at one end and cameras in the ceiling so that Infosys can
hold a simultaneous global teleconference with its U.S. innovators, its
Indian software designers and its Asian manufacturers. "We can have our
whole global supply chain on the screen at the same time," holding a virtual
meeting, explained Mr. Nilekani. The room's eight clocks tell the story:
U.S. West, U.S. East, G.M.T., India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia.

      As I looked at this, a thought popped into my head: Who else has such
a global supply chain today? Of course: Al Qaeda. Indeed, these are the two
basic responses to globalization: Infosys and Al Qaeda.

      Infosys said all the walls have been blown away in the world, so now
we, an Indian software company, can use the Internet, fiber optic
telecommunications and e-mail to get superempowered and compete anywhere
that our smarts and energy can take us. And we can be part of a global
supply chain that produces profit for Indians, Americans and Asians.

      Al Qaeda said all the walls have been blown away in the world, thereby
threatening our Islamic culture and religious norms and humiliating some of
our people, who feel left behind. But we can use the Internet, fiber optic
telecommunications and e-mail to develop a global supply chain of angry
people that will superempower us and allow us to hit back at the Western
civilization that's now right in our face.

      "From the primordial swamps of globalization have emerged two genetic
variants," said Mr. Nilekani. "Our focus therefore has to be how we can
encourage more of the good mutations and keep out the bad."

      Indeed, it is worth asking what are the spawning grounds for each.
Infosys was spawned in India, a country with few natural resources and a
terrible climate. But India has a free market, a flawed but functioning
democracy and a culture that prizes education, science and rationality,
where women are empowered. The Indian spawning ground rewards anyone with a
good idea, which is why the richest man in India is a Muslim software
innovator, Azim Premji, the thoughtful chairman of Wipro.

      Al Qaeda was spawned in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan,
societies where there was no democracy and where fundamentalists have often
suffocated women and intellectuals who crave science, free thinking and
rationality. Indeed, all three countries produced strains of Al Qaeda,
despite Pakistan's having received billions in U.S. aid and Saudi Arabia's
having earned billions from oil. But without a context encouraging freedom
of thought, women's empowerment and innovation, neither society can tap and
nurture its people's creative potential ? so their biggest emotional export
today is anger.

      India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan each spontaneously
generated centers for their young people's energies. In India they're called
"call centers," where young men and women get their first jobs and technical
skills servicing the global economy and calling the world. In Pakistan,
Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia they're called "madrassas," where young men,
and only young men, spend their days memorizing the Koran and calling only
God. Ironically, U.S. consumers help to finance both. We finance the
madrassas by driving big cars and sending the money to Saudi Arabia, which
uses it to build the madrassas that are central to Al Qaeda's global supply
chain. And we finance the call centers by consuming modern technologies that
need backup support, which is the role Infosys plays in the global supply

      Both Infosys and Al Qaeda challenge America: Infosys by competing for
U.S. jobs through outsourcing, and Al Qaeda by threatening U.S. lives
through terrorism. As Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins foreign policy
professor, put it: "Our next election will be about these two challenges ?
with the Republicans focused on how we respond to Al Qaeda, and the losers
from globalization, and the Democrats focused on how we respond to Infosys,
and the winners from globalization."

      Every once in a while the technology and terrorist supply chains
intersect ? like last week. Reuters quoted a Spanish official as saying
after the Madrid train bombings: "The hardest thing [for the rescue workers]
was hearing mobile phones ringing in the pockets of the bodies. They
couldn't get that out of their heads."
Title: Re: "Mobile phones ringing in the pockets of the bodies
Post by: adam smith on March 15, 2004, 12:37:55 AM
wrong analogy.

Infosys - brought about by democratic capitalism
            - free market economy being promoted by Western countries  
              like the US and the UK
            - promotes concept of comparative advantage - whoever does
              something better produces and exports it for trade with other
              goods that other countries can
            - India has a comparative advantage of providing cheaper labor
              of equivalent US quality, US has comparative advantages in
              other things
            - ironic backlash --- US promoting democratic capitalism ---but
               can not provide IT labor with competitive wages that can not
               compet with India
            - solution --- develop on other resources that US has a better
              competitive potential to reap better economic benefits for US

Al Qaeda terrorism---- does not equal Infosys economic advantage that also favors US firms by making US companies more cost effective and benefits US economy in some ways by increasing profitability to US firms.

 US citizen's lives would be better served by politicians/public personalities searching for solutions --rather than finding blame or searching for others to blame to divert attention from their ineffective economic policies.  

Quote from: LG RUSS
March 14, 2004
      Origin of Species

      andan Nilekani, C.E.O. of the Indian software giant Infosys, gave me a
tour the other day of his company's wood-paneled global conference room in
Bangalore. It looks a lot like a beautiful tiered classroom, with a massive
wall-size screen at one end and cameras in the ceiling so that Infosys can
hold a simultaneous global teleconference with its U.S. innovators, its
Indian software designers and its Asian manufacturers. "We can have our
whole global supply chain on the screen at the same time," holding a virtual
meeting, explained Mr. Nilekani. The room's eight clocks tell the story:
U.S. West, U.S. East, G.M.T., India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia.

      As I looked at this, a thought popped into my head: Who else has such
a global supply chain today? Of course: Al Qaeda. Indeed, these are the two
basic responses to globalization: Infosys and Al Qaeda.

      Infosys said all the walls have been blown away in the world, so now
we, an Indian software company, can use the Internet, fiber optic
telecommunications and e-mail to get superempowered and compete anywhere
that our smarts and energy can take us. And we can be part of a global
supply chain that produces profit for Indians, Americans and Asians.

      Al Qaeda said all the walls have been blown away in the world, thereby
threatening our Islamic culture and religious norms and humiliating some of
our people, who feel left behind. But we can use the Internet, fiber optic
telecommunications and e-mail to develop a global supply chain of angry
people that will superempower us and allow us to hit back at the Western
civilization that's now right in our face.

      "From the primordial swamps of globalization have emerged two genetic
variants," said Mr. Nilekani. "Our focus therefore has to be how we can
encourage more of the good mutations and keep out the bad."

      Indeed, it is worth asking what are the spawning grounds for each.
Infosys was spawned in India, a country with few natural resources and a
terrible climate. But India has a free market, a flawed but functioning
democracy and a culture that prizes education, science and rationality,
where women are empowered. The Indian spawning ground rewards anyone with a
good idea, which is why the richest man in India is a Muslim software
innovator, Azim Premji, the thoughtful chairman of Wipro.

      Al Qaeda was spawned in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan,
societies where there was no democracy and where fundamentalists have often
suffocated women and intellectuals who crave science, free thinking and
rationality. Indeed, all three countries produced strains of Al Qaeda,
despite Pakistan's having received billions in U.S. aid and Saudi Arabia's
having earned billions from oil. But without a context encouraging freedom
of thought, women's empowerment and innovation, neither society can tap and
nurture its people's creative potential ? so their biggest emotional export
today is anger.

      India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan each spontaneously
generated centers for their young people's energies. In India they're called
"call centers," where young men and women get their first jobs and technical
skills servicing the global economy and calling the world. In Pakistan,
Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia they're called "madrassas," where young men,
and only young men, spend their days memorizing the Koran and calling only
God. Ironically, U.S. consumers help to finance both. We finance the
madrassas by driving big cars and sending the money to Saudi Arabia, which
uses it to build the madrassas that are central to Al Qaeda's global supply
chain. And we finance the call centers by consuming modern technologies that
need backup support, which is the role Infosys plays in the global supply

      Both Infosys and Al Qaeda challenge America: Infosys by competing for
U.S. jobs through outsourcing, and Al Qaeda by threatening U.S. lives
through terrorism. As Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins foreign policy
professor, put it: "Our next election will be about these two challenges ?
with the Republicans focused on how we respond to Al Qaeda, and the losers
from globalization, and the Democrats focused on how we respond to Infosys,
and the winners from globalization."

      Every once in a while the technology and terrorist supply chains
intersect ? like last week. Reuters quoted a Spanish official as saying
after the Madrid train bombings: "The hardest thing [for the rescue workers]
was hearing mobile phones ringing in the pockets of the bodies. They
couldn't get that out of their heads."
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Russ on March 16, 2004, 02:10:22 PM
"US citizen's lives would be better served by politicians/public personalities searching for solutions --rather than finding blame or searching for others to blame to divert attention from their ineffective economic policies."

Agreed...., however, this is a structural comparison, not an economic comparison (as in, how these two organizations use modern technology to operate efficiently).

Therefore, based on this structural comparison, THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN's analogy is quite sound, whether or not you agree with his political opinion.

Leave the comparative advantage debate for the US versus Indian jobmarkets.   :)

Title: Politics- Thai Style
Post by: Russ on March 17, 2004, 07:01:29 AM
BANGKOK, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Flick open the menu at the "Barbara" in central Bangkok and a picture of a blonde woman unwrapping her dressing gown beside a picture of fried garlic prawns tells you it is no ordinary restaurant.

"Truth is often stranger than fiction," the menu reads -- a better description of Chuwit Kamolvisit, owner of the coffee shop and adjoining massage parlour, than of the dishes on offer.

An accountant who graduated from one of Thailand's most prestigious universities, Chuwit has made millions since hopping a decade ago from the property business to the sex industry, one of the few areas unscathed by Asia's 1997-1998 economic crisis.

After a series of publicity stunts to expose corruption, a short jail term and a kidnapping he blames on bent policemen, the self-styled "massage parlour king" is plotting to become Bangkok governor in August elections likely to centre on morals.

Alarmed that nearly a third of Thais lose their virginity before they are 18, the government is ratcheting up a social order crusade popular with the middle class. It is considering a 10 p.m. curfew for teenagers and whether to shut nightclubs two hours earlier at midnight.

Chuwit has led sex industry employees on protests against the plans, which he says will ruin Bangkok as a tourist magnet. He dismisses establishment politicians as hypocrites.

"We don't need dinosaurs," Chuwit said. "And I know secrets about them no one else knows. They used to come here all the time before, but then suddenly they became family men overnight."

A musty office in a warren of bedrooms at the Copacabana, one of Chuwit's six massage parlours, serves as campaign headquarters for his First Thai Nation Party.

A golden Buddha image sits on one shelf and on another is a photograph of five women in evening dress draped over a portly, moustached Chuwit sporting a flowered Hawaiian shirt.

Windows are plastered with "We love Chuwit" stickers that will take an anti-corruption message to voters in the hope of upsetting candidates put up by the governing and main opposition parties.

The central plank of Chuwit's policy is to cut police numbers drastically to keep the men in uniform busy fighting crime rather than pushing paper.

He is undeterred by polls giving him just under five per cent of public support. Chuwit's nemesis, Deputy Prime Minister Purachai Piumsombun, who heads the government's social order drive, leads with 36.7 per cent.


"I'm in the massage parlour industry. I clean bodies," Chuwit said. "And in politics, I'm going to clean some dirty people. I want to make Bangkok a city of happiness, a city of joy."

But Chuwit now wants to get out of the lucrative massage business because he has fallen foul of the police and they are making life difficult.

Undercover police had sex with five masseuses at a club last September and arrested them for prostitution -- dubbed the "get laid and raid" sting by Thai newspapers. Another club was shut down because it had more rooms than its licence allowed.

A bribe would have done the trick in the past, but the police now only take them from others and shun him, Chuwit said.

Chuwit's relations with the police began to deteriorate at the beginning of last year, when they arrested him for sending men to bulldoze bars on land he owns in central Bangkok.

He argues a company that sublet the land evicted the out-of-contract tenants. The case is still pending in court.

Angry at his treatment, Chuwit told reporters he had been paying high-ranking officers 12 million baht ($300,000) a month to keep his massage parlours up and running -- an accusation the police have denied vehemently.

Thais were stunned, but only because the claims were so open. Surveys showed 60 per cent of the public lost their already low levels of confidence in the police but many believed Chuwit's comments would shame them into reducing corruption.

Then Chuwit disappeared, to be found staggering but unharmed by a truck driver two days later. He insists he was drugged and abducted, but police say it was just another publicity stunt.

"I was kidnapped by four guys. They said 'stay cool, don't talk anymore'," Chuwit said. "It was absolutely the police. They didn't ask for money, they just wanted me to stop talking."


The publicity caused a 70 per cent fall in Thai clientele at Chuwit-owned Victoria's Secret, Emanuelle and Honolulu, but Hong Kong and Singapore businessmen still flock there, he said.

In the "good old days" Chuwit was making 30 million baht profit a month from each massage parlour, which all gave a full return on investment within two years.

But Chuwit's clubs, in a busy area of Bangkok housing embassies and investment banks, still receive dozens of job applications a day from budding masseuses.

Next to the account books on Chuwit's desk, one form marked "approved", came with the comments: "Average body, yellowish skin, good-looking, nice manner, beautiful breasts".

At 2,000 baht for a basic jacuzzi and massage, a masseuse could make around 80,000 baht a month before tips for "extras", if she had three clients a day, Chuwit said.

A police sergeant's monthly salary is around 10,000 baht.

"You have to face the fact that Thailand's still a poor country. If people could earn enough, no one would sleep with someone they didn't know," Chuwit said.

"I tell the girls to save, but they have to send money to parents, aunts and uncles because they are the only earners."

With business down, only a dozen women with numbered tags sit on the red velvet steps in the "gold fish bowl", waiting for men to appear on the otherside of the glass wall to make a choice.

One offers a tour of Copacabana's suites, some with three bedrooms with jacuzzis and saunas, that open onto a living room with large-screen television and a dining table.

She opened a door to a "special" room, with two giant four-poster beds and two adjacent bath tubs, and giggled: "I don't know why, but this room is really popular with policemen."
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 24, 2004, 04:07:11 AM
Somewhere along the way, the Federal Courts and the Supreme Court have misinterpreted the U. S. Constitution. How could fifty States be wrong?

THIS IS VERY INTERESTING! Be sure to read the last two paragraphs.
America's founders did not intend for there to be a separation of God and state, as shown by the fact that all 50 states acknowledge God in their state constitutions:

Alabama 1901, Preamble. We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution ...

Alaska 1956, Preamble. We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land ....

Arizona 1911, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...

Arkansas 1874, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...

California 1879, Preamble. We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom .....

Colorado 1876, Preamble. We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe.

Connecticut 1818, Preamble. The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy ...

Delaware 1897, Preamble. Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences ...

Florida 1885, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty establish this Constitution...

Georgia 1777, Preamble. We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution...

Hawaii 1959, Preamble. We, the people of Hawaii, Grateful for Divine Guidance .. establish this Constitution.

Idaho 1889, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings ...

Illinois 1870, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

Indiana 1851, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to chose our form of government.

Iowa 1857, Preamble. We, the People of the State of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings . establish this
Kansas 1859, Preamble. We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges . establish this Constitution.

Kentucky 1891, Preamble. We, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties...

Louisiana 1921, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.

Maine 1820, Preamble. We the People of Maine .. acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity ... and imploring His aid and direction.

Maryland 1776, Preamble. We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God or our civil and religious liberty...

Massachusetts 1780, Preamble. We...the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe ... in the course of His Providence, an opportunity ..and devoutly imploring His direction ..

Michigan 1908, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom ... establish this Constitution.

Minnesota 1857, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings.

Mississippi 1890, Preamble. We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.

Missouri 1845, Preamble. We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness ... establish this Constitution .

Montana 1889, Preamble. We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty. establish this Constitution ...

Nebraska 1875, Preamble. We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom .. establish this Constitution ..

Nevada 1864, Preamble. We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom establish this Constitution...

New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V. Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own

New Jersey 1844, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our
endeavors ...

New Mexico 1911, Preamble. We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty .

New York 1846, Preamble. We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for
our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.

North Carolina 1868, Preamble. We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those ...

North Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...

Ohio 1852, Preamble. We the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common ....

Oklahoma 1907, Preamble. Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty ... establish this ..

Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I. Section 2. All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences..

Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble. We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly
invoking His guidance.

Rhode Island 1842, Preamble. We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing...

South Carolina, 1778, Preamble. We, the people of he State of South Carolina, grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

South Dakota 1889, Preamble. We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties ... establish this

Tennessee 1796, Art. XI. III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience...

Texas 1845, Preamble. We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God.

Utah 1896, Preamble. Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution ....

Vermont 1777, Preamble. Whereas all government ought to ... enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man...

Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI ... Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator ... can be directed only by Reason ... and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity
towards each other ..

Washington 1889, Preamble. We the People of the State of Washington, grateful! to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution .....

West Virginia 1872, Preamble. Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia .. reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God...

Wisconsin 1848, Preamble. We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility ..

Wyoming 1890, Preamble. We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties ... establish this Constitution...

After reviewing acknowledgments of God from all 50 state constitutions, one is faced with the prospect that maybe, just maybe, the ACLU and the out-of-control Federal Courts are wrong!

"Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants."
William Penn
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 07, 2004, 10:18:30 AM

In defense of the Stars and Stripes
Anti-Americanism by Jean-Francois Revel, French-English translation by Diarmid Cammell

Reviewed by John Parker

All across the globe, from Sydney to Siberia, from Quebec to Patagonia, there is one sporting obsession that unifies the entire human race. Young and old, male and female, black, white and every shade in between, there is one pleasurable activity that unifies them all.


I'm speaking, of course, about America-bashing. (Why, did you think I was talking about something else?) By 2004, any remaining wisps of sympathy for the Americans who were forced to choose between jumping and burning alive in 2001 had long since dissipated, and the globe had returned to its former habit of treating the United States as the official whipping boy for all the world's ills.

Indeed, anti-Americanism has ascended from its former status as the preoccupation of a relative handful of Jurassic Marxists, professional victims, Third World whiners, and Islamo-fascist troglodytes to the level of a major new global religion. Like any religion, it has its saints (which include the likes of Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh), its martyrs (the Rosenbergs, the Guantanamo Bay detainees and Saddam Hussein's sons), its high priests (Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and Abu Bakar Ba'asyir), and its desperately over-eager wanna-bes (eg, Asia Times Online's very own Pepe Escobar, whose viewpoint on any issue can be predicted with absolute accuracy by simply asking "what interpretation of this situation will put the United States in the worst light?").

Curiously, however, while the religion has a hell (America), and a devil (George W Bush), it lacks both a heaven (the collectivist pipe dream having been found wanting) and a god (since the anti-Americans consider themselves as having evolved beyond the need for a deity - save their Islamist faction, which wants to impose its religion forcibly on everyone else). Still, the anti-American cult provides its legions of drooling adherents with the crucial element of any faith: the illusion of meaning in an otherwise meaningless existence. That priceless psychological salve, in this case, is the comforting delusion that, no matter how hypocritical, backward, bigoted, ignorant, corrupt or cowardly the cult's followers might otherwise be, at least they are better than those awful Americans.

Jean-Francois Revel is a distinguished French writer who has, for nearly all his working life, chosen the rockiest path any intellectual can choose: the path of true non-conformity (as distinct from the ersatz, self-described non-conformists one finds on any university campus in the Western world). Specifically, Revel has chosen to confront directly - not only in this volume, but in several earlier books that touched on the issue - the entrenched anti-Americanism of an entire generation of European intellectuals, particularly French ones. Like his countryman Emile Zola (whose explosive article "J'accuse" attacked French society's handling of the Alfred Dreyfus affair), he has dared to defend an unpopular scapegoat and, in so doing, has probably done more to earn the gratitude of Americans than any Frenchman since General Lafayette, who came to the aid of the American revolutionary cause.

The reason that Revel's attitude toward the US is so strikingly different from most of his compatriots is not difficult to find: indeed, one finds it on the very first page of this book, when the author reveals that he lived and traveled frequently in the US between 1970 and 1990. During this time, he had conversations with "a wide range of Americans - politicians, journalists, businessmen, students and university professors, Democrats and Republicans, conservatives, liberals and radicals, and people I met in passing from every walk of life". This simple action - talking to actual Americans and asking them what they think, as opposed to blindly regurgitating European conventional wisdom about what Americans think - was obviously the critical step in separating Revel from the smug, chauvinistic sheep who predominate in his intellectual class. It was a step that the vast majority of this class, then and now, have been unwilling to take: they simply cherish their prejudice against Americans too greatly to face the possibility that real, live examples might not conform to it.

In Monsieur Revel's case, these conversations led to his first book, Without Marx or Jesus, published in 1970. Thirty-four years ago, Revel was "astonished by evidence that everything Europeans were saying about the US was false"; sadly, this situation has not changed in the slightest in the intervening time. Indeed, if anything, the conventional wisdom about the United States is even more wrong today than it was then. Without Marx or Jesus made two main points: first, that major social/political developments taking place in the US in the late 1960s, such as the Vietnam War protests, the American Free Speech movement, and the sexual revolution, constituted a new type of revolution, distinct from the working-class uprising predicted by the Marxist theories then in fashion. Second, Revel predicted that the great revolution of the 20th century would turn out to be the "liberal revolution" - ie, the spread of multiparty democracy and market economics - rather than the "socialist revolution". The latter point may appear to be almost conventional wisdom today, but it was a bold assertion in 1970. Most of the book consisted of a point-by-point rebuttal of the reflexive anti-Americanism of the day, and correctly identified its main psychological wellspring: envious resentment due to Europe's loss of leadership status in Western civilization during the postwar era.

In this first book, Revel also described the definitive proof of the irrational origins of anti-American arguments: "reproaching the United States for some shortcoming, and then for its opposite ... a convincing sign that we are in the presence not of rational analysis, but of obsession". In the 1960s, the best example of this behavior was European attitudes toward US involvement in Vietnam. A startling number of French commentators developed a sudden amnesia about their country's own involvement in Indochina, and the fact that France, while embroiled in its ugly war with the Viet Minh, "frequently pleaded for and sometimes obtained American help". Thus the same French political class that begged president Dwight Eisenhower to send B-29s to save the Foreign Legion at Dien Bien Phu was only too quick to label the United States a "neo-imperialist", or worse, for subsequently intervening in the unholy mess that the preceding decades of French colonial misrule had largely created.

In Anti-Americanism, which is basically a sequel to Without Marx or Jesus, a more contemporary example of the same phenomenon is given: the nearly simultaneous criticism of the US for "arrogant unilateralism" and "isolationism". As Revel dryly observes, "the same spiteful bad temper inspired both indictments, though of course they were diametrically opposed".

Examples of this psychopathology are almost endless, but the Iraq crisis has certainly provided a profusion of new cases. For example, during the 12 years after 1991, the anti-American press was filled with self-righteous hand-wringing over what was billed as the terrible suffering of the Iraqi people under UN sanctions. But when the administration of President George W Bush abandoned the sanctions policy (a policy that, incidentally, had been considered the cautious, moderate course of action when it was originally adopted) in favor of a policy of regime change by military force - which was obviously the only realistic way to end the sanctions - did these dyspeptic howler monkeys praise the United States for trying to alleviate Iraqis' suffering? No, of course not - instead, without batting an eyelash, they simply began criticizing the United States for the "terrible civilian casualties" caused by bombing.

Innumerable cases like this have made it perfectly clear to Americans that they will automatically be despised no matter what policy option they select. Furthermore, the only rational reaction Americans could have to this situation is to keep their own counsel when it comes to foreign policy, and leave their fair-weather friends - or, more accurately, no-weather friends - at arm's length. Predictably, however, the anti-American cult has a third accusation pre-packaged and ready to go for this very reaction: the inexplicable reluctance of Americans to listen attentively to their perpetually peeved critics is the result of their "arrogant unilateralism"! (Naturally, the possibility that the anti-American cultists' own statements might have played a role in promoting this behavior is never even considered.)

The most notable characteristic of Anti-Americanism, as a text, is the blistering, take-no-prisoners quality of its prose. Even those diametrically opposed to Revel's views would be forced to acknowledge his skills as a pugnacious rhetorician who does not eschew sarcasm as a weapon.

A few examples will suffice: referring to anti-war banners that proclaimed "No to terrorism. No to war", Revel scoffs that this "is about as intelligent as 'No to illness. No to medicine'." Responding to the indictment of the United States as a "materialistic civilization", he says: "Everyone knows that the purest unselfishness reigns in Africa and Asia, especially in the Muslim nations, and that the universal corruption that is ravaging them is the expression of a high spirituality."

Addressing the claim of the Japanese philosopher Yujiro Nakamura that "American culture ignores [the] dark dimension" of human beings, the author observes: "Evidently, Nakamura has never read Melville, Poe, Hawthorne, Henry James, Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, [etc], to mention only a few explorers of the depths." And he is positively withering in his contempt for Japanese intellectuals who, in the wake of September 11, opined that America's wealth disqualifies it from speaking in the name of human rights: "Everyone knows that Japan has always been deeply respectful towards [human rights], as Koreans, Chinese and Filipinos can amply confirm." Revel opens his sixth chapter, "Being Simplistic", by recalling the "pitying, contemptuous sneers" that greeted president Ronald Reagan's characterization of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire", then retorts, "it is not apparent that subsequent progress in Soviet studies gives us grounds to call it the 'Benevolent Empire'." And he responds to the claim of conservative British writer Andrew Alexander that "the Cold War was an American plot" by saying: "Following a similar logic, one might build a case that the Hundred Years' War was a complete fabrication by Joan of Arc, who wanted star billing in a pseudo-resistance against the conciliatory, peace-loving English."

In general, Revel's barbs strike most accurately when aimed at his own country. For example, responding to the tired claim that the US is "not a democracy" because it has supported dictatorships in Third World countries, Revel notes: "The history of Africa and Asia swarms with dictatorships of every type ... supported by the French and the British ... But it would very much surprise French living [in that period] if you told them that they didn't live in a democratic country."

Another telling denunciation arises from the statements of Olivier Duhamel, a Socialist deputy in the European Union, who responded to the electoral success of French ultra-rightist Jean-Marie Le Pen by complaining that France was "catching up with the degenerate democracies [such as] the US, Austria and Italy". First, Revel comments on the idiocy of Duhamel's insinuation that the United States is degenerate because Frenchmen voted for an ultra-rightist, then concludes: "The strange thing is that it is always in Europe that dictatorships and totalitarian governments spring up, yet it is always America that is 'fascist'."

Of course, the danger of the author's biting approach is that it could alienate, rather than convince, his readers. But given that the hypocrisy of the anti-Americans has piled up so thickly in recent years that one practically needs a chainsaw to cut through it, there may be no other choice.

Many of Revel's observations about the anti-Americans, such as their amazingly recent advocacy (in many cases) of totalitarian communism, or the fact that many intellectuals in failed societies have sought to blame the US scapegoat instead of engaging in self-criticism, have been made before by other writers. He is at his most original, however, when analyzing the cultists' psychological motivations; for example, contrasting the motives of the anti-American left with the anti-American right. To wit, the left essentially regards the United States as a devil figure, one that it has clung to all the more tightly in the years since its former deity, Marxist collectivism, collapsed in an abyss of poverty and repression. The right, by contrast, resents the United States as a pretender to the throne of global leadership that rightfully belongs to Europe - conveniently ignoring the fact that World Wars I and II, communist ideology, and socialist-influenced economic policies, which are, in actuality, the main factors that resulted in US ascension, all originated entirely in Europe.

Revel also breaks new ground when he discusses the striking tendency of other countries to ascribe their own worst faults to the United States, in a curious "reversal of culpability". Thus the famously peace-loving Japanese and Germans excoriate the US for "militarism"; the Mexicans attack it for "electoral corruption" in the wake of the 2000 election; the British accuse it of "imperialism"; Arab writers condemn it after September 11 for "abridging press freedom" (of course, the Arab states have always been shining beacons of that freedom). The gold medal for jaw-dropping hypocrisy, however, goes to the mainland Chinese, whose unelected dictatorship routinely accuses the United States of "hegemonism". Having been the chief hegemon of Asia for most of the past 5,000 years, the Chinese are in a singularly weak position to condemn the practice. What they actually oppose, of course, is not "hegemonism" itself, but the possibility that any power other than China would dare to practice it.

France has been no exception to this universal rule. Former minister of foreign affairs Hubert Vedrine, in his book Les Mondes de Francois Mitterrand, wrote: "The foremost characteristic of the United States ... is that it has regarded itself ever since its birth as a chosen nation, charged with the task of enlightening the rest of the world." Of course, this was a wholly conventional allegation of US "arrogance", delivered to an adoring choir. But then, a discordant note - Revel alone has the temerity to observe: "What is immediately striking about this pronouncement, the obvious fact that jumps right out, is how perfectly it applies to France herself." The Gallic emperor proves embarrassingly unclothed, for virtually every "arrogant" assertion of uniqueness made by Americans has its uncannily similar counterpart made by Frenchmen: if Thomas Jefferson once said "the United States is the empire of liberty", then countless French politicians have asserted with equal megalomania, "France is the birthplace of the Rights of Man." If anything, Revel does not develop this point highly enough. For, to an American observer of countless anti-American diatribes, the most striking aspect of the United States they describe is how little it resembles the actual, physical United States, and how uncannily it resembles a doppelganger of the writer's own society.

Not every psychological trait of the anti-Americans is discussed by Revel. He does not go far enough, for example, in delineating the fundamentally onanistic character of their rhetoric; it is difficult to explain the obsessive, droning, almost pornographic quality of the criticism, and its deliberate ignorance of easily obtained contrary facts, without understanding that the primary motive of the critics is to obtain pleasure. After all, hasn't the main purpose of bigots and bullies since time immemorial been to build themselves up by tearing down their victims?

Another unmentioned aspect is the sheer adolescent pettiness of the criticism. This can be seen most clearly in international press coverage of the United States, which scarcely ever misses an opportunity to America-bash, even when reporting on areas that are in essence non-political, such as economic statistics and scientific discovery. Revel discusses the typical example of a story in the economics journal La Tribune, which gleefully announced "The End of Full Employment in the USA" when the US unemployment rate climbed to 5.5 percent in early 2001 (at the time, the French government was congratulating itself for reducing French unemployment to only twice this level). More recently, the British Broadcasting Corp gave exhaustive coverage to a technical problem with the US Mars Spirit Rover, but barely mentioned the successful effort to solve the problem. This spiteful editorial decision, and countless others like it, was typical of an organization in which balanced, accurate news coverage has become secondary to the holy task of denouncing Uncle Sam.

Finally, one must mention the increasingly ill-disguised anti-Semitism of many America-bashers. Of course, such toxic ideas are to be expected of reactionary Islamist fanatics, who are so profoundly ignorant that they practically regard Americans and Jews as synonymous. But one increasingly hears grumbling about "neo-conservatives" from non-Muslim critics who really want to say "scheming Jews", but dimly sense that this choice of words is not permissible. How delicious the human comedy is - that European elites, whose greatest crime, the Holocaust, has not even passed from living memory, should begin to re-enact that demagogic crime in their increasingly poisonous anti-American rhetoric, as though absolutely nothing had been learned in almost 60 years of postwar struggle to advance freedom, human rights and democracy! It may be that those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it; but the apparent inability of Europeans, and others, to avoid such self-destructive cultural patterns raises the question of whether learning from the past is even possible.

Without a doubt, however, the defining trait of the cultists is their moral (if not physical) cowardice. While using Latin Americans as an examplar of this quality, Revel quotes the Venezuelan writer Carlos Rangel: "For Latin Americans, it is an unbearable thought that a handful of Anglo-Saxons, arriving much later than the Spanish and in such a harsh climate that they barely survived the first few winters, would become the foremost power in the world. It would require an inconceivable effort of collective self-analysis [emphasis mine] for Latin Americans to face up to the fundamental causes of this disparity. This is why, though aware of the falsity of what they are saying, every Latin American politician and intellectual must repeat that all our troubles stem from North American imperialism." In fact, the Latins are hardly unique in cowering tremulously at the prospect of "collective self-analysis": with minor changes in specifics, Rangel's fundamental point could apply equally well to most of Africa, the Slavic societies of Eastern Europe, the nations of the South Asian sub-continent, and last (but definitely not least) the benighted Arab world, which has repeatedly shown itself to be the global champion of finger-pointing and denial (as if that could make up for its glaring backwardness in virtually every other respect).

It is ironic, however, that so many East Asians would be drawn to the cult, since they, out of all the regions of the developing world, have the least reason to feel inferior to the United States (after all, many societies in the region have already surpassed the US by various objective criteria). It may be that in the Asian "school" of anti-Americanism, a different psychological dynamic is at work: since Asians are as convinced of their innate cultural superiority as all the other critics (though with infinitely more justification than most), it must make them very uncomfortable that, in almost every case, their societies' escape from thousands of years of static, inward-looking despotism only began when US, or British, influence arrived. In addition, of course, need one really point out the massive, obvious US influence on the postwar economic development, political evolution, and even the popular cultures of Asian societies? Or the fact that virtually the entire governing class of the most successful Asian economies was educated in the United States? It appears that some Asians feel subconsciously belittled by how much they owe the US, and respond by petulantly attacking their historic benefactor.

So is anti-Americanism just an exercise in onanistic hypocrisy, or does it have a real-world cost? It does, but the cost is not primarily the hurt feelings, or terrorist-caused deaths, of Americans - even if this was the main consequence, no one would care, since most of the world (to judge by their own words) already regards Americans as a non-human species, somehow introduced, one assumes, to North America by alien spacecraft. (Of course, this calculated, malicious demonization of Americans as "the other" is hugely ironic, since the US, due to its diverse ethnic composition and immigrant origins, arguably represents the entire human race more fully than any other single nation-state.) For decades, the anti-Americans have compared the US to the Roman Empire in the fond hope that a similar "decline and fall" would someday materialize (given that what followed the Roman collapse was centuries of war, ignorance, and barbarism, one questions their motives). Regrettably for the cultists, though, the US is large enough, is self-assured enough, and its political stability and economic momentum are great enough, that it will only continue to prosper regardless of their actions. To illustrate, countless commentators have parroted the cliche that the "war on terrorism" is unwinnable, but how many have noted the obvious, undeniable corollary that Osama bin Laden's self-declared war on the United States is equally unwinnable?

Therein lies another exquisite irony: the costs of anti-Americanism will be borne not by Americans, but by others. And their numbers are vast: Cubans, North Koreans, Zimbabweans, and countless others suffer and starve under their respective tyrannies because the democratic world's chattering classes, obsessed with denouncing the United States, can't be bothered with holding their criminal regimes to account. Meanwhile, in Iraq, fascist rabble, with no discernible political program save a pledge to kill more Americans, try desperately to extinguish the slightest hope of democracy, economic growth, and stability for that long-suffering land; but the world, instead of helping to beat back the wolves at the door, basks in anti-American schadenfreude. How countless are the political problems, cultural pathologies, and humanitarian disasters that fester unnoticed, all over the globe, as the anti-American cult, wallowing in ecstatic bigotry, desperately scrutinizes every utterance of the Bush administration for new critical fodder.

Indeed, it is not the slightest exaggeration to say that in 2004, anti-American sentiment has become the biggest single obstacle to human progress. It sustains repressive dictatorships everywhere; excuses corruption, torture, the oppression of women, and mass murder; provides ideological oxygen for vile, stupid "revolutionary movements" like the Maoist insurgents in Nepal; and has even promoted the spread of disease (as when, for example, Europeans haughtily dismissed Bush's AIDS initiative as insincere - God forbid that they should concur with any policy of the wicked Bush, even at the cost of a few million more African lives). By focusing monomaniacally on "why America is wrong", instead of asking "what is right", the global anti-American elite has massively failed to fulfill the most fundamental responsibility of the intellectual class: to provide dispassionate, truthful analysis that can guide society to make proper decisions. And it has contemptuously cast aside the irreplaceable, post-Cold War opportunity to irreversibly consolidate the "liberal revolution" praised by Revel - in which inheres the only true hope of lasting, global peace and development - all in the name of redressing the gaping psychological insecurities of its members.

None of this is to say that criticism of specific US policies, or aspects of US culture, is not entirely legitimate (and of course, inside the US, the ability to speak out publicly against such things is a cherished, constitutionally guaranteed, and frequently exercised right). Indeed, one is struck, when reading this book, by Revel's repeated emphasis of this very point. The author is hardly a universal apologist for US actions; in fact, he gives many examples of areas in which he disagrees with US government policies. However, Revel's critiques of the US, especially for American readers, can be easily differentiated from those of the anti-American cultists: his criticisms are reasonable, fair-minded, and based on accurate information; whereas those of the professional anti-Americans are unreasonable, unfair, and based on the willful disgregard of all contrary evidence. Rather than legitimate criticism, what Monsieur Revel, and I, deplore is the quasi-religious, obsessive, fanatical brand of anti-Americanism: the kind that blames the United States for every problem, everywhere, first, always, and forever; the kind that automatically identifies with, and supports, any criminal political thug anywhere on the globe, just because he happens to declare himself opposed to the United States; the kind that in essence has no other values or priorities at all, save the insatiable need to denounce the United States; the kind that is congenitally incapable of self-criticism, but searches endlessly, with inexhaustible creativity, for additional evidence that it can use for its interminable, tendentious show trial of the US.

I am reluctant to point out the weaknesses of Anti-Americanism, since I am in such profound agreement with its basic thesis. Nonetheless, in the interests of balance, there are some weak points.

First, the book is somewhat repetitive. The chapters are largely devoted to rebutting particular claims of the anti-Americanists - eg, that the United States promotes the allegedly nefarious globalization process (Chapter 2), that US culture is "extinguishing" others (Chapter 5), that US government policy is "simplistic" (Chapter 6), or that the United States is just about the worst society that has ever existed anywhere (Chapter 4). Partly as a by-product of this organizational scheme, similar types of material, eg denunciations of Islamic extremism, reappear in several different chapters.

Another problem is that, since the book was written in French primarily for a French audience, many of its specific examples refer to domestic French political figures and situations, which may not be familiar to international readers.

Finally, this reviewer noted at least one factual error. In a discussion of European reaction to the contested US presidential election of 2000, Revel asserts that no presidential elector has selected the minority candidate in its state since the beginning of the 19th century. (The US constitution provides for an indirect "electoral college" system for presidential elections, such that when an individual voter selects, say, the Democratic candidate for president, he or she is not actually voting for that candidate directly, but rather for a slate of "democratic electors" who, if the candidate wins a plurality in that state, are supposed to cast all the state's "electoral votes" for the Democrats.) In fact, there have been seven cases of "faithless electors" since 1948, most recently in 1988, when a Democratic elector in West Virginia selected vice presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen for president, and presidential nominee Michael Dukakis for vice president (presumably, he thought Bentsen would make a better president). However, this error does not contradict the author's point, which is that incidents of this type have been rare. Also, European critics of the electoral-college system are somewhat tardy: Americans have been arguing for electoral-college reform for at least 200 years, and recently, 75 percent of Americans, or more, have expressed in polls a desire to elect the president directly.

These admitted flaws do not reduce the importance, and value, of Anti-Americanism as a necessary antidote to the poisonous torrent of crude, atavistic anti-US hatred that spews forth daily from newspapers, magazines, and websites around the world. In the introduction, Revel recalls how Without Marx or Jesus, 34 years ago, was also greeted with strident denunciations from the baying jackals of the anti-American cult. But predictably, this hysterical response (Revel's Italian translator even attempted to rebut the book's arguments in his footnotes) only served to pique the public's interest: ordinary readers were quick to sense that any writer who had struck such a nerve obviously had something important to say, and Without Marx or Jesus became a smash hit.

It is hardly surprising that this pattern was repeated with Anti-Americanism, which has topped the French best-seller list. (Curiously, and completely contrary to what foreign stereotypes would lead one to expect, the book has been much less successful in the US - this is primarily because the anti-American obsession is entirely one-way; most Americans are barely even aware the cult exists.) The book's success shows conclusively that at least some Europeans sense the hypocrisy and intellectual vacuity of the anti-Americanists, and are once again developing an appetite for a balanced, truthful depiction of the US, as opposed to the spurious fiction they have largely been spoon-fed thus far.

Clearly, this book will not reach the committed fanatics. However, one hopes that at least a handful of fair-minded, reasonable people in Asia, Europe and elsewhere, who have the requisite moral courage to consider contrary views, will read it. I have really only scratched the surface of I>Anti-Americanism's virtues in this review: for example, Chapter 2, which critiques the anti-globalization movement, is probably the most devastating indictment of that incoherent, infantile crusade ever committed to paper.

In our time, anti-Americanism has become a crushing, Stalinist orthodoxy, an ossified system of bigoted dogmas that ruthlessly ostracizes all who would question it. It has become boring, even to the French. In this atmosphere, Monsieur Revel's book is truly a breath of fresh air. I only wish I had written it.

Anti-Americanism by Jean-Francois Revel, French-English translation by Diarmid Cammell. English edition copyright 2003 by Encounter Books. ISBN: 1893554856, 176 pages, price US$25.95.
Title: Re: "Mobile phones ringing in the pockets of the bodies
Post by: joe on April 08, 2004, 11:18:44 AM
Quote from: LG RUSS
March 14, 2004
      Origin of Species

      andan Nilekani, C.E.O. of the Indian software giant Infosys, gave me a
tour the other day of his company's wood-paneled global conference room in
Bangalore. It looks a lot like a beautiful tiered classroom, with a massive
wall-size screen at one end and cameras in the ceiling so that Infosys can
hold a simultaneous global teleconference with its U.S. innovators, its
Indian software designers and its Asian manufacturers. "We can have our
whole global supply chain on the screen at the same time," holding a virtual
meeting, explained Mr. Nilekani. The room's eight clocks tell the story:
U.S. West, U.S. East, G.M.T., India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia.

      As I looked at this, a thought popped into my head: Who else has such
a global supply chain today? Of course: Al Qaeda. Indeed, these are the two
basic responses to globalization: Infosys and Al Qaeda.

      Infosys said all the walls have been blown away in the world, so now
we, an Indian software company, can use the Internet, fiber optic
telecommunications and e-mail to get superempowered and compete anywhere
that our smarts and energy can take us. And we can be part of a global
supply chain that produces profit for Indians, Americans and Asians.

      Al Qaeda said all the walls have been blown away in the world, thereby
threatening our Islamic culture and religious norms and humiliating some of
our people, who feel left behind. But we can use the Internet, fiber optic
telecommunications and e-mail to develop a global supply chain of angry
people that will superempower us and allow us to hit back at the Western
civilization that's now right in our face.

      "From the primordial swamps of globalization have emerged two genetic
variants," said Mr. Nilekani. "Our focus therefore has to be how we can
encourage more of the good mutations and keep out the bad."

      Indeed, it is worth asking what are the spawning grounds for each.
Infosys was spawned in India, a country with few natural resources and a
terrible climate. But India has a free market, a flawed but functioning
democracy and a culture that prizes education, science and rationality,
where women are empowered. The Indian spawning ground rewards anyone with a
good idea, which is why the richest man in India is a Muslim software
innovator, Azim Premji, the thoughtful chairman of Wipro.

      Al Qaeda was spawned in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan,
societies where there was no democracy and where fundamentalists have often
suffocated women and intellectuals who crave science, free thinking and
rationality. Indeed, all three countries produced strains of Al Qaeda,
despite Pakistan's having received billions in U.S. aid and Saudi Arabia's
having earned billions from oil. But without a context encouraging freedom
of thought, women's empowerment and innovation, neither society can tap and
nurture its people's creative potential ? so their biggest emotional export
today is anger.

      India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan each spontaneously
generated centers for their young people's energies. In India they're called
"call centers," where young men and women get their first jobs and technical
skills servicing the global economy and calling the world. In Pakistan,
Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia they're called "madrassas," where young men,
and only young men, spend their days memorizing the Koran and calling only
God. Ironically, U.S. consumers help to finance both. We finance the
madrassas by driving big cars and sending the money to Saudi Arabia, which
uses it to build the madrassas that are central to Al Qaeda's global supply
chain. And we finance the call centers by consuming modern technologies that
need backup support, which is the role Infosys plays in the global supply

      Both Infosys and Al Qaeda challenge America: Infosys by competing for
U.S. jobs through outsourcing, and Al Qaeda by threatening U.S. lives
through terrorism. As Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins foreign policy
professor, put it: "Our next election will be about these two challenges ?
with the Republicans focused on how we respond to Al Qaeda, and the losers
from globalization, and the Democrats focused on how we respond to Infosys,
and the winners from globalization."

      Every once in a while the technology and terrorist supply chains
intersect ? like last week. Reuters quoted a Spanish official as saying
after the Madrid train bombings: "The hardest thing [for the rescue workers]
was hearing mobile phones ringing in the pockets of the bodies. They
couldn't get that out of their heads."

BANGALORE, India - Infosys Technologies Ltd., which has become India's second-largest software maker thanks largely to outsourced work from the West, is investing $20 million to create nearly 500 consulting jobs in the United States.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 09, 2004, 10:58:01 PM
  March 31, 2004
Response to Readership

I recently heard someone make a prediction that within the next fifty years there will likely be a civil war in Europe between "old" Europe and Muslims. That currently there is (at least) an ideological war being waged between European Socialism/Secularism vs. American Capitalism/Judeo-Christian-ism, with Muslims fighting both European and American concepts. Do you agree with this assessment? If so, could you speculate as to how you feel it will likely play itself out?

Hanson: I agree with your diagnosis, but believe that Europe already is aware that the old rules must change if it is to survive?witness immigration reform in Holland and Scandinavia. It is one thing to triangulate between the United States and the Arab world for short-term advantage; quite another to find oneself alienated from the heretofore supportive Americans without finding commesnurate  gratitude from the Middle East. Sensible people in Europe grasp this and are in a race with demagogues to change before it?s too late.
More "Response to Readership March 31"
  March 27: Book Signing - San Jose Barnes & Noble - 4pm  Mexifornia
April 2: Public Lecture - UC Berkeley  - Military Power & Empire - 12 noon  
April 17: Book Signing - Fresno, CA Fig Garden Bookstore - 1 - 3pm - Between War & Peace
Click to view calendar
 March 26, 2004, 8:36 a.m.
We Are Finishing the War
Anatomy of our struggle against the Islamicists.

Across the globe we watch the terrible drama play out. Car and suicide bombings in Baghdad are aimed at American aid givers, U.S. peacekeepers, Iraqi civilians, and provisional government workers. Spanish civilians are indiscriminately murdered ? as are Turks, Moroccans, Saudis, and Afghans.

President Musharraf is targeted by assassins. Synagogues are blown apart. Suicide murderers try to reach a chemical dump in Ashdod in hopes of gassing Jews to the pleasure of much of the Arab world and the indifference of Europe. Indeed, Palestinian murderers apologize for gunning down an Arab jogger in Jerusalem . . .

Read more "We are finishing the war"
Read more from the NRO
 April 4, 2004

The Mirror of Fallujah

No more passes and excuses for the Middle East

Victor Davis Hanson

What are we to make of scenes from the eighth-century in Fallujah? Random murder, mutilation of the dead, dismemberment, televised gore, and pride in stringing up the charred corpses of those who sought to bring food to the hungry? Perhaps we can shrug and say all this is the wage of Saddam Hussein and the thirty years of brutality of his Baathists that institutionalized such barbarity? Or was the carnage the dying scream of Baathist hold-outs intent on shocking the Western world at home watching it live? We could speculate for hours.

Yet I fear that we have not seen anything new. Flip through the newspaper and the stories are as depressing as they are monotonous: bombs in Spain; fiery clerics promising death in England, even as explosive devices are uncovered in France. In-between accounts of bombings in Iraq, we get the normal murdering in Israel, and daily assassination in Pakistan, Turkey, Morocco, and Chechnya. Murder, dismemberment, torture?these all seem to be the acceptable tools of Islamic fundamentalism and condoned as part of justifiable Middle East rage. Sheik Yassin is called a poor crippled ?holy man? who ordered the deaths of hundreds, as revered in the Arab World for his mass murder as Jerry Falwell is condemned in the West for his occasional slipshod slur about Muslims.
Yet the hourly killing is perhaps not merely the wages of autocracy, but part of a larger grotesquery of Islamic fundamentalism on display. The Taliban strung up infidels from construction cranes and watched, like Romans of old, gory stoning and decapitations in soccer stadiums built with UN largess. In the last two years, Palestinian mobs have torn apart Israeli soldiers, lynched their own, wired children with suicide bombing vests, and machine-gunned down women and children?between sickening scenes of smearing themselves with the blood of ?martyrs.? Very few Arab intellectuals or holy men have condemned such viciousness.

Daniel Pearl had his head cut off on tape; an American diplomat was riddled with bullets in Jordan. Or should we turn to Lebanon and gaze at the work of Hezbollah?its posters of decapitated Israeli soldiers proudly on display? Some will interject that the Saudis are not to be forgotten?whose religious police recently allowed trapped school girls to be incinerated rather than have them leave the flaming building unescorted, engage in public amputations, and behead adulteresses. But Mr. Assad erased from memory the entire town of Hama. And why pick on Saddam Hussein, when earlier Mr. Nasser, heartthrob to the Arab masses, gassed Yemenis? The Middle-East coffee houses cry about the creation of Israel and the refugees on the West Bank only to snicker that almost 1,000,000 Jews were ethnically cleansed from the Arab world.

And then there is the rhetoric. Where else in the world do mainstream newspapers talk of Jews as the children of pigs and apes? And how many wacky Christian or Hindu fundamentalists advocate about the mass murder of Jews or promise death to the infidel? Does a Western leader begin his peroration with ?O evil infidel? or does Mr. Sharon talk of ?virgins? and ?blood-stained martyrs??
Conspiracy theory in the West is the domain of Montana survivalists and Chomsky-like wackos; in the Arab world it is the staple of the state-run media. This tired strophe and antistrophe of threats and retractions, and braggadocio and obsequiousness grates on the world at large. So Hamas threatens to bring the war to the United States, and then back peddles and says not really. So the Palestinians warn American diplomats that they are not welcome on the soil of the West Bank?as if any wish to return when last there they were murdered trying to extend scholarships to Palestinian students.

I am sorry, but these toxic fumes of the Dark-Ages permeate everywhere. It won?t do any more simply to repeat quite logical exegeses. Without consensual government, the poor Arab Middle East is caught in the throes of rampant unemployment, illiteracy, statism, and corruption. Thus in frustration it vents through its state-run media invective against Jews and Americans to assuage the shame and pain. Whatever.

But at some point the world is asking: ?Is Mr. Assad or Hussein, the Saudi Royal Family, or a Khadafy really an aberration?all rogues who hijacked Arab countries?or are they the logical expression of a tribal patriarchal society whose frequent tolerance of barbarism is in fact reflected in its leadership? Are the citizens of Fallujah the victims of Saddam, or did folk like this find their natural identity expressed in Saddam? Postcolonial theory and victimology argue that European colonialism, Zionism, and petrodollars wrecked the Middle East. But to believe that one must see India in shambles, Latin America under blanket autocracy, and an array of suicide bombers pouring out of Mexico or Nigeria. South Korea was a moonscape of war when oil began gushing out of Iraq and Saudi Arabia; why is it now exporting cars while the latter are exporting death? Apartheid was far worse than the Shah?s modernization program; yet why did South Africa renounce nuclear weapons while the Mullahs cheated on every UN protocol they could?

No, there is something peculiar to the Middle East that worries the world. The Arab world for years has promulgated a quite successful media image as perennial victims?proud folks, suffering under a series of foreign burdens, while nobly maintaining their grace and hospitality. Middle-Eastern Studies programs in the United States and Europe published an array of mostly dishonest accounts of Western culpability, sometimes Marxist, sometimes anti-Semitic that were found to be useful intellectual architecture for the edifice of panArabism, as if Palestinians or Iraqis shared the same oppressions, the same hopes, and the same ideals as downtrodden American people of color?part of a universal ?other? deserving victim status and its attendant blanket moral exculpation. But the curtain has been lifted since 9-11 and the picture we see hourly now is not pretty.

Imagine an Olympics in Cairo? Or an international beauty pageant in Riyadh? Perhaps an interfaith world religious congress would like to meet in Teheran? Surely we could have the World Cup in Beirut? Is there a chance to have a World Bank conference in Ramallah or Tripoli? Maybe Damascus could host a conference of the world?s neurosurgeons?

And then there is the asymmetry of it all. Walk in hushed tones by a mosque in Iraq, yet storm and desecrate the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank with impunity. Blow up and assassinate Westerners with unconcern; yet scream that Muslims are being questioned about immigration status in New York. Damn the West as you try to immigrate there; try to give the Middle East a fair shake while you prefer never to visit such a place. Threaten with death and fatwa any speaker or writer who ?impugns? Islam, demand from Western intellectuals condemnation of any Christians who speak blasphemously of the Koran.

I have purchased Israeli agricultural implements, computer parts, and read books translated from the Hebrew; so far, nothing in the contemporary Arab world has been of much value in offering help to the people of the world in science, agriculture, or medicine. When there is news of 200 murdered in Madrid or Islamic mass-murdering of Christians in the Sudan, or suicide bombing in Israel, we no longer look for moderate mullahs and clerics to come forward in London or New York to condemn it. They rarely do. And if we might hear a word of reproof, it is always qualified by the ubiquitous ?but??followed by a litany of qualifiers about Western colonialism, Zionism, racism, and hegemony that have the effects of making the condemnation either meaningless or in fact a sort of approval.

Yet it is not just the violence, the boring threats, the constant televised hatred, the temper-tantrums of fake intellectuals on televisions, the hypocrisy of anti-Western Arabs haranguing America and Europe from London or Boston, or even the pathetic shouting and fist-shaking of the ubiquitous Arab street. Rather the global village is beginning to see that the violence of the Middle East is not aberrant, but logical. Its misery is not a result of exploitation or colonialism, but self-induced. Its fundamentalism is not akin to that of reactionary Hinduism, Buddhism, or Christianity, but of an altogether different and much fouler brand.

The enemy of the Middle East is not the West so much as modernism itself and the humiliation that accrues when millions themselves are nursed by fantasies, hypocrisies, and conspiracies to explain their own failures. Quite simply, any society in which citizens owe their allegiance to the tribe rather than the nation, do not believe in democracy enough to institute it, shun female intellectual contributions, allow polygamy, insist on patriarchy, institutionalize religious persecution, ignore family planning, expect endemic corruption, tolerate honor killings, see no need to vote, and define knowledge as mastery of the Koran is deeply pathological.

When one adds to this depressing calculus that for all the protestations of Arab nationalism, Islamic purity and superiority, and whining about a decadent West, the entire region is infected with a burning desire for things Western?from cell phones and computers to videos and dialysis, you have all the ingredients for utter disaster and chaos. How after all in polite conversation can you explain to an Arab intellectual that the GDP of Jordan or Morocco has something to do with an array of men in the early afternoon stuffed into coffee shops spinning conspiracy tales, drinking coffee, and playing board games while Japanese, Germans, Chinese, and American women and men are into their sixth hour on the job? Or how do you explain that while Taiwanese are studying logarithms, Pakistanis are chanting from the Koran in Dark-Age madrassas? And how do you politely point out that while the New York Times and Guardian chastise their own elected officials, the Arab news in Damascus or Cairo is free only to do the same to us?

I support the bold efforts of the United States to make a start in cleaning up this mess, in hopes that a Fallujah might one day exorcize its demons. But in the meantime, we should have no illusions about the enormity of our task, where every positive effort will be met with violence, fury, hypocrisy, and ingratitude.

If we are to try to bring some good to the Middle East, then we must first have the intellectual courage to confess that for the most part the pathologies embedded there are not merely the work of corrupt leaders but often the very people who put them in place and allowed them to continue their ruin.

So the question remains did Saddam create Fallujah or Fallujah Saddam?
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 15, 2004, 09:24:30 AM
Wed Apr 14, 8:02 PM ET  Add Op/Ed - Ann Coulter to My Yahoo!

By Ann Coulter

Last week, 9/11 commissioner John Lehman revealed that "it was the policy (before 9/11) and I believe remains the policy today to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that's discriminatory." Hmmm ... Is 19 more than two? Why, yes, I believe it is. So if two Jordanian cab drivers are searched before boarding a flight out of Newark, Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) could then board that plane without being questioned. I'm no security expert, but I'm pretty sure this gives terrorists an opening for an attack.



In a sane world, Lehman's statement would have made headlines across the country the next day. But not one newspaper, magazine or TV show has mentioned that it is official government policy to prohibit searching more than two Arabs per flight.

Meanwhile, another 9/11 commissioner, the greasy Richard Ben-Veniste, claimed to be outraged that the CIA (news - web sites) did not immediately give intelligence on 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar to the FBI (news - web sites). As we now know -- or rather, I alone know because I'm the only person in America watching the 9/11 hearings -- Ben-Veniste should have asked his fellow commissioner Jamie Gorelick about that.

In his testimony this week, John Ashcroft (news - web sites) explained that the FBI wasn't even told Almihdhar and Alhazmi were in the country until weeks before the 9/11 attack -- because of Justice Department (news - web sites) guidelines put into place in 1995. The FBI wasn't allowed to put al-Qaida specialists on the hunt for Almihdhar and Alhazmi -- because of Justice Department guidelines put into place in 1995. Indeed, the FBI couldn't get a warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui's computer -- because of Justice Department guidelines put into place in 1995.

The famed 1995 guidelines were set forth in a classified memorandum written by the then-deputy attorney general titled "Instructions for Separation of Certain Foreign Counterintelligence and Criminal Investigations," which imposed a "draconian" wall between counterintelligence and criminal investigations.

What Ashcroft said next was breathtaking. Prohibited from mounting a serious search for Almihdhar and Alhazmi, an irritated FBI investigator wrote to FBI headquarters, warning that someone would die because of these policies -- "since the biggest threat to us, OBL (Osama bin Laden), is getting the most protection."

FBI headquarters responded: "We're all frustrated with this issue. These are the rules. NSLU (National Security Law Unit) does not make them up. But somebody did make these rules. Somebody built this wall."

The person who built that wall described in the infamous 1995 memo, Ashcroft said, "is a member of the commission." If this were an episode of "Matlock," the camera would slowly pan away from Ashcroft's face at this point and then quickly jump to an extreme close-up of Jamie Gorelick's horrified expression. Armed marshals would then escort the kicking, screaming Gorelick away in leg irons as the closing credits rolled. Gorelick was the deputy attorney general in 1995.

The 9/11 commission has finally uncovered the proverbial "smoking gun"! But it was fired by one of the 9/11 commissioners. Maybe between happy reminiscences about the good old days of Ruby Ridge, Waco and the Elian Gonzales raid, Ben-Veniste could ask Gorelick about those guidelines. Democrats think it's a conflict of interest for Justice Scalia to have his name in the same phonebook as Dick Cheney (news - web sites). But there is no conflict of interest having Gorelick sit on a commission that should be investigating her.

Bill O'Reilly's entire summary of Ashcroft's testimony was to accuse Ashcroft of throwing sheets over naked statues rather than fighting terrorism. No mention of the damning Gorelick memo. No one knows about the FAA (news - web sites)'s No-Searching-Arabs counterterrorism policy. Predictions that conservatives have finally broken through the wall of sound coming from the mainstream media may have been premature.

When Democrats make an accusation against Republicans, newspaper headlines repeat the accusation as a fact: "U.S. Law Chief 'Failed to Heed Terror Warnings,'" "Bush Was Told of Qaida Steps Pre-9/11; Secret Memo Released," "Bush White House Said to Have Failed to Make al-Qaida an Early Priority."

But when Republicans make accusations against Democrats -- even accusations backed up by the hard fact of a declassified Jamie Gorelick memo -- the headlines note only that Republicans are making accusations: "Ashcroft Lays Blame at Clinton's Feet," "Ashcroft: Blame Bubba for 9/11," "Ashcroft Faults Clinton in 9/11 Failures."

It's amazing how consistent it is. A classic of the genre was the Chicago Tribune headline, which managed to use both constructs in a single headline: "Ashcroft Ignored Terrorism, Panel Told; Attorney General Denies Charges, Blames Clinton." Why not: "Reno Ignored Terrorism, Panel Told; Former Deputy Attorney General Denies Charges, Blames Bush"?

Democrats actively created policies that were designed to hamstring terrorism investigations. The only rap against the Bush administration is that it failed to unravel the entire 9/11 terrorism plot based on a memo titled: "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

I have news for liberals: Bin Laden is still determined to attack inside the United States! Could they please tell us when and where the next attack will be? Because unless we know that, it's going to be difficult to stop it if we can't search Arabs.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 30, 2004, 05:57:24 AM
It is amazing how the facts are unimportant to so many, and how soon they
forget! (Please read through to the bottom!)

"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to
develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That
is our bottom line." - President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We
want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction program." - President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998

Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal
here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear,
chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest
security threat we face." - Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998

"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times
since 1983." - Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the US
Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if
appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond
effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of
mass destruction programs." - Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens.
Carl Levin (D-MI), Tom Daschle (D-SD), John Kerry (D - MA), and others Oct.

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass
destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he
has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process." - Rep. Nancy Pelosi
(D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998

"Hussein has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass
destruction and palaces for his cronies." > - Madeline Albright, Clinton
Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999

"There is no doubt that ... Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons
programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs
continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam
continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of
a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten
the United States and our allies." - Letter to President Bush, Signed by
Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL,) and others, December 5, 2001

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and threat
to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandated of
the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the
means of delivering them." - Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002

"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical
weapons throughout his country." - Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to
deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is
in power." - Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing
weapons of mass destruction." - Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are
confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and
biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to
build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence
reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..." - Sen. Robert Byrd
(D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority
to use force-- if necessary-- to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe
that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real
and grave threat to our security." - Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct.

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively
to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the
next five years .. We also should remember we have always underestimated
the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass
destruction."- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002

"He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years,
every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and
destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This
he has refused to do" - Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA), Oct 10, 2002

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show
that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological
weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He
has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al
Qaeda members.. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam
Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and
chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons." - Sen.
Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam
Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for
the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction." - Sen. Bob
Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8, 2002

"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal,
murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a
particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to
miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his
continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction
. So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real"
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003


Yes I know the saying goes, "Much Ado About Nothing" and unlike that Shakespearean play the Iraqi prisoner abuse is no comedy but it does involve politics of a sort.  It IS something.  For good and ill it will remain an issue.  On the one hand, right thinking Americans will abhor the stupidity of the actions, while on the other hand political glee will take control and fashion this minor event into some modern day My Lai massacre.

Some Arabs are asking for an apology.  I offer mine here, as stated below .

I am sorry that the last seven times the Americans took up arms and sacrificed the blood of our youth it was in the defense of Muslims (Bosnia, Kosovo, Gulf War 1, Kuwait, etc.)

I am sorry that no such call for an apology from the extremists came after 9/11.

I am sorry that all of the murderers on 9/11 were Arabs.

I am sorry that Arabs have to live in squalor under savage dictatorships.

I am sorry that their leaders squander their wealth.

I am sorry that their governments breed hate for the US in their religious schools.

I am sorry that Yasir Arafat was kicked out of every Arab country and highjacked the  Palestinian "cause."

I am sorry that no other Arab country will take in or offer more than a token amount of financial help to those same Palestinians.

I am sorry that the USA has to step in and be the biggest financial supporters of poverty stricken Arabs while the insanely wealthy Arabs blame the USA.

I am sorry that our own left wing elite and our media can't understand any of this.

I am sorry the United Nations scammed the poor people of Iraq out of the "food for oil" money so they could get rich while the common folk suffered.

I am sorry that some Arab governments pay the families of homicide bombers upon their death.

I am sorry that those same bombers are seeking 72 virgins. They can't seem to find one here on Earth.

I am sorry that the homicide bombers think babies are a legitimate target.

I am sorry that our troops died to free Arabs.

I am sorry they show so much restraint when their brothers in arms are killed.

I am sorry that Muslim extremists have killed more Arabs than any other group.

I am sorry that foreign trained terrorists are trying to seize control of Iraq and return it to a terrorist state.

I am sorry we don't drop a few dozen Daisy Cutters on Fallujah.

I am sorry that every time terrorists hide they find a convenient "Holy Site."

I am sorry they didn't apologize for flying a jet into the World Trade Center that collapsed and severely damaged St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church - one of OUR Holy Sites.

I am sorry they didn't apologize for flight 93 and 175, the USS Cole, the embassy bombings, and others.

I am sorry Michael Moore is American; he could feed a medium sized village in Africa.

I am sorry the French act like French.

America will get past this latest absurdity. We will punish those responsible because that's what we do.  We hang out our dirty laundry for all the world to see.  We move on. That's  why we are hated so much. We don't hide this stuff like all those Arab countries that are now demanding an apology.

Deep down inside when most Americans saw this in the news we were like...  so what?  We lost hundreds and then made fun of a few prisoners.
Sure it was wrong, sure it dramatically hurts our cause, but until captured we were trying to kill these same prisoners.  Now we're supposed to wring our hands because a few were humiliated?  Come on.  Our compassion is tempered with the vivid memories of our own people killed, mutilated and burnt amongst a joyous crowd of celebrating Fallujans.

If you want an apology from this American your gonna have a long wait. You have a better chance of finding those 72 virgins.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 16, 2004, 01:07:28 PM
Feeding the Minotaur
Our strange relationship with the terrorists continues.

As long as the mythical Athenians were willing to send, every nine years, seven maidens and seven young men down to King Minos's monster in the labyrinth, Athens was left alone by the Cretan fleet. The king rightly figured that harvesting just enough Athenians would remind them of their subservience without leading to open rebellion ? as long as somebody impetuous like a Theseus didn't show up to wreck the arrangement.

Ever since the storming of the Tehran embassy in November 1979 we Americans have been paying the same sort of human tribute to grotesque Islamofascists. Over the last 25 years a few hundred of our own were cut down in Lebanon, East Africa, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Yemen, and New York on a semi-annual basis, even as the rules of the tribute to be paid ? never spoken, but always understood ? were rigorously followed.

In exchange for our not retaliating in any meaningful way against the killers ? addressing their sanctuaries in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, or Syria, or severing their financial links in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia ? Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and their various state-sanctioned kindred operatives agreed to keep the number killed to reasonable levels. They were to reap their lethal harvests abroad and confine them mostly to professional diplomats, soldiers, or bumbling tourists, whose disappearance we distracted Americans would predictably chalk up to the perils of foreign service and exotic travel.

Despite the occasional fiery rhetoric, both sides found the informal Minoan arrangement mutually beneficial. The terrorists believed that they were ever so incrementally, ever so insidiously eroding America's commitment to a pro-Western Middle East. We offered our annual tribute so that over the decades we could go from Dallas to Extreme Makeover and Madonna to Britney without too much distraction or inconvenience.

But then a greedy, over-reaching bin Laden wrecked the agreement on September 11. Or did he?

Murdering 3,000 Americans, destroying a city block in Manhattan, and setting fire to the Pentagon were all pretty tough stuff. And for a while it won fascists and their state sponsors an even tougher response in Afghanistan and Iraq that sent hundreds to caves and thousands more to paradise. And when we have gotten serious in the postbellum reconstruction, thugs like Mr. Sadr have backed down. But before we gloat and think that we've overcome our prior laxity and proclivity for appeasement, let us first make sure we are not still captives to the Minotaur's logic.

True, al Qaeda is now scattered, the Taliban and Saddam gone. But the calculus of a quarter century ? threaten, hit, pause, wait; threaten, hit, pause, wait ? is now entrenched in the minds of Middle Eastern murderers. Indeed, the modus operandi that cynically plays on Western hopes, liberalism, and fair play is gospel now to all sorts of bin Laden epigones ? as we have seen in Madrid, Fallujah, and Najaf.

Much has been written about our problems with this postmodern war and why we find it so difficult to fully mobilize our formidable military and economic clout to crush the terrorists and their patrons. Of course, we have no identifiable conventional enemy such as Hitler's Panzers; we are not battling a fearsome nation that defiantly declared war on us, such as Tojo's Japan; and we are no longer a depression-era, disarmed, impoverished United States at risk for our very survival. But then, neither Hitler nor Mussolini nor Tojo nor Stalin ever reached Manhattan and Washington.

So al Qaeda is both worse and not worse than the German Nazis: It is hardly the identifiable threat of Hitler's Wehrmacht, but in this age of technology and weapons of mass destruction it is more able to kill more Americans inside the United States. Whereas we think our fascist enemies of old were logical and conniving, too many of us deem bin Laden's new fascists unhinged ? their fatwas, their mythology about strong and weak horses, and their babble about the Reconquista and the often evoked "holy shrines" are to us dreamlike.

But I beg to differ somewhat.

I think the Islamists and their supporters do not live in an alternate universe, but instead are no more crazy in their goals than Hitler was in thinking he could hijack the hallowed country of Beethoven and Goethe and turn it over to buffoons like Goering, prancing in a medieval castle in reindeer horns and babbling about mythical Aryans with flunkies like Goebbels and Rosenberg. Nor was Hitler's fatwa ? Mein Kampf ? any more irrational than bin Laden's 1998 screed and his subsequent grainy infomercials. Indeed, I think Islamofascism is brilliant in its reading of the postmodern West and precisely for that reason it is dangerous beyond all description ? in the manner that a blood-sucking, stealthy, and nocturnal Dracula was always spookier than a massive, clunky Frankenstein.

Like Hitler's creed, bin Ladenism trumpets contempt for bourgeois Western society. If once we were a "mongrel" race of "cowboys" who could not take casualties against the supermen of the Third Reich, now we are indolent infidels, channel surfers who eat, screw, and talk too much amid worthless gadgetry, godless skyscrapers, and, of course, once again, the conniving Jews.

Like Hitler, bin Ladenism has an agenda: the end of the liberal West. Its supposedly crackpot vision is actually a petrol-rich Middle East free of Jews, Christians, and Westerners, free to rekindle spiritual purity under Sharia. Bin Laden's al Reich is a vast pan-Arabic, Taliban-like caliphate run out of Mecca by new prophets like him, metering out oil to a greedy West in order to purchase the weapons of its destruction; there is, after all, an Israel to be nuked, a Europe to be out-peopled and cowered, and an America to be bombed and terrorized into isolation. This time we are to lose not through blood and iron, but through terror and intimidation: televised beheadings, mass murders, occasional bombings, the disruption of commerce, travel, and the oil supply.

In and of itself, our enemies' ambitions would lead to failure, given the vast economic and military advantages of the West. So to prevent an all out, terrible response to these predictable cycles of killing Westerners, there had to be some finesse to the terrorists' methods. The trick was in preventing some modern Theseus from going into the heart of the Labyrinth to slay the beast and end the nonsense for good.

It was hard for the Islamic fascists to find ideological support in the West, given their agenda of gender apartheid, homophobia, religious persecution, racial hatred, fundamentalism, polygamy, and primordial barbarism. But they sensed that there has always been a current of self-loathing among the comfortable Western elite, a perennial search for victims of racism, economic oppression, colonialism, and Christianity. Bin Laden's followers weren't white; they were sometimes poor; they inhabited of former British and French colonies; and they weren't exactly followers of the no-nonsense Pope or Jerry Falwell. If anyone doubts the nexus between right-wing Middle Eastern fascism and left-wing academic faddishness, go to booths in the Free Speech area at Berkeley or see what European elites have said and done for Hamas. Middle Eastern fascist killers enshrined as victims alongside our own oppressed? That has been gospel in our universities for the last three decades.

Like Hitler, bin Ladenism grasped the advantages of hating the Jews. It has been 60 years since the Holocaust; memories dim. Israel is not poor and invaded but strong, prosperous, and unapologetic. It is high time, in other words, to unleash the old anti-Semitic infectious bacillus. Thus Zionists caused the latest Saudi bombings, just as they have poisoned Arab-American relations, just as neo-conservatives hijacked American policy, just as Feith, Perle, and Wolfowitz cooked up this war.

Finally, bin Laden understood the importance of splitting the West, just like the sultan of old knew that a Europe trisected into Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism would fight among itself rather than unite against a pan-Islamic foe. Hit the Spanish and bring in an anti-American government. Leave France and Germany alone for a time so they can blame the United States for mobilizing against a "nonexistent" threat, unleashing the age-old envy and jealously of the American upstart.

If after four years of careful planning, al Qaedists hit the Olympics in August, the terrorists know better than we do that most Europeans will do nothing ? but quickly point to the U.S. and scream "Iraq!" And they know that the upscale crowds in Athens are far more likely to boo a democratic America than they are a fascist Syria or theocratic Iran. Just watch.

In the European mind, and that of its aping American elite, the terrorists lived, slept, and walked in the upper aether ? never the streets of Kabul, the mosques of Damascus, the palaces of Baghdad, the madrassas of Saudi Arabia, or the camps of Iran. To assume that the latter were true would mean a real war, real sacrifice, and a real choice between the liberal bourgeois West and a Dark-Age Islamofascist utopia.

While all Westerners prefer the bounty of capitalism, the delights of personal freedom, and the security of modern technological progress, saying so and not apologizing for it ? let alone defending it ? is, well, asking a little too much from the hyper sophisticated and cynical. Such retrograde clarity could cost you, after all, a university deanship, a correspondent billet in Paris or London, a good book review, or an invitation to a Georgetown or Malibu A-list party.

Nearly three years after 9/11 we are in the strangest of all paradoxes: a war against fascists that we can easily win but are clearly not ready to fully wage. We have the best 500,000 soldiers in the history of civilization, a resolute president, and an informed citizenry that has already received a terrible preemptive blow that killed thousands.

Yet what a human comedy it has now all become.

The billionaire capitalist George Soros ? who grew fabulously wealthy through cold and calculating currency speculation, helping to break many a bank and its poor depositors ? now makes the moral equation between 9/11 and Abu Ghraib. For this ethicist and meticulous accountant, 3,000 murdered in a time of peace are the same as some prisoners abused by renegade soldiers in a time of war.

Recently in the New York Times I read two articles about the supposedly new irrational insensitivity toward Muslims and saw an ad for a book detailing how the West "constructed" and exaggerated the Islamic menace ? even as the same paper ran a quieter story about a state-sponsored cleric in Saudi Arabia's carefully expounding on the conditions under which Muslims can desecrate the bodies of murdered infidels.

Aristocratic and very wealthy Democrats ? Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, and John Kerry ? employ the language of conspiracy to assure us that we had no reason to fight Saddam Hussein. "Lies," "worst," and " betrayed" are the vocabulary of their daily attacks. A jester in stripes like Michael Moore, who cannot tell the truth, is now an artistic icon ? precisely and only because of his own hatred of the president and the inconvenient idea that we are really at war. Our diplomats court the Arab League, which snores when Russians and Sudanese kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims but shrieks when we remove those who kill even more of their own. And a depopulating, entitlement-expanding Europe believes an American president, not bin Laden, is the greatest threat to world peace. Russia, the slayer of tens of thousands of Muslim Chechans and a big-time profiteer from Baathist loot, lectures the United States on its insensitivity to the new democracy in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Iraq, and the rest of the Middle East, we see the same old bloodcurdling threats, the horrific videos, the bombings, the obligatory pause, the faux negotiations, the lies ? and then, of course, the bloodcurdling threats, the horrific videos, the bombings...

No, bin Laden is quite sane ? but lately I have grown more worried that we are not.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 02, 2004, 10:40:41 PM
Author unknown

I am John Kerry.

I was against the first Iraq war, I am against the second Iraq war, but I voted for it. Now I'm against it but I was for it. I support the UN.  I'm against terrorism and against the Iraq war. But I voted for the Iraq war.

So, I voted against the first war and supported the second war, wait...

I'm against gay marriage but for gay unions. I support gays but think the San Francisco mayor is wrong. I support gay marriages. No, wait, gay unions.

I'm Catholic. Wait, I'm Jewish. My granddad was Jewish. But I was raised
Catholic. What am I? I don't want to confuse people.

I am for abortions, but wait, I'm Catholic, and Catholics are pro-life. But I
might consider putting pro-life judges in office, but I'm not sure. I do know I voted for a pro-life judge once, but I stated that it was a mistake.

I hate the evil drug companies, and dub them like Frankenstein when I am hanging around Robert Kennedy, Jr. and the Natural Resources Defence Council. But when I am with Ron Reagan Jr. and Sarah Brady I say drug companies do too little R&D, because I favor tax-payer supported stem cell research and responsible cloning. But if Archbishop McCarren sees, or worse yet can hear me; then I am morally opposed to stem-cell research "on demand," and don't believe in cloning of non-consenting adults. I have never said that I believe that Canadians have the inalienable right to clone, but prefer that this whole matter be left up to the United Nations.

I went to Vietnam. But I was against Vietnam. I testified against fellow US
troops in Vietnam, threw my medals away and led others to do the same.  But I am a war hero.  Against the war.  I stated I threw my medals away then I threw my ribbons away.  I then revealed that I threw my ribbons away but not my medals, then lately I stated that I threw someone else's medals away and never threw anything of mine away. I believe ribbons and medals aren't the same thing.  Medals come with ribbons, so now I believe that ribbons and medals are the same thing besides the fact that ribbons are cloth and  medals are metal.

I wrote a book that pictured the US flag upside-down on its cover.  But now I fly and campaign in a plane with a large flag right-side up on it.  But
sometimes, we fly upside-down for fun.

I am for the common man, unlike Bush. I am against the rich. But my family is worth 700 million dollars has a jet and many SUVs. I am the common man.  I am against sending jobs overseas. My wife is a Heinz heir. Heinz has most of its factories offshore. I am against rewarding companies for exporting jobs as long as it is not Heinz.

I own $1 million in Wal-Mart stock. I believe Wal-Mart is evil by driving small business owners out of town. I am a capitalist and I own part of Wal-Mart but I am a good guy for small corporate America.

I own SUVs when I talk to my followers in Detroit, MI.  Teresa owns SUVs, I don't, when I talk to tree hugging followers. I have a campaign jet that gets .003 mpg, which is great fuel efficiency.

I am against making military service an issue in Presidential elections.  I
defended a draft dodger Clinton and stated that all serve in their own capacity whether they draft dodge or not. Did I mention, I served in Vietnam and am a hero?  Are you questioning my patriotism?  I served in Vietnam.  My opponent didn't.  I have three purple hearts!  I am a hero. I am qualified to run this country since I served.

I spent Christmas of 1968 in Cambodia, being shot at by the drunken
South Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge, while President Nixon was lying to the country and saying that there were no troops in Cambodia. What's that you say, Nixon wasn't president in 1968, well it must have been some other President then. Who was that President with the a phony  Silver star [LBJ], it was probably him.  Are you sure the Khmer Rouge were not active until 1970, well I guess I must not have been there then. That's right I was actually in my base camp in Vietnam at least 55 miles from the Cambodian border and I spent the evening writing in my journal about being in Cambodia. I got confused after I said it so many times between 1968 and 1986. You can see now what living under Nixon did to all of us. When I went to Paris three times with Jane Fonda between 1970 and 1972  to meet with Lee Duc Tho, North Vietnam's foreign minister, we actually did not talk about politics. And also, that was probably not me but rather Roger Vadim who like me speaks fluent French and you can see why reporters for the Associated Press could get so confused.  But if it was me, I there on other business.

I am a real hero though, you just spend three minutes with the people who served with me and they will tell you. No, not those 200 plus veterans who served with me and say I lied, and not all those veterans that signed affadavits that say I am a phony, I mean just these 8 people that travel around with me as my band of brothers.

I am John Kerry.  I want to be your President.
Title: HAHA!
Post by: SB_Mig on September 03, 2004, 10:17:14 AM
LMFAO! That's good stuff.

After watching both conventions, I have to admit that I am more disillusioned with the state of our political system than ever. It's become a matter of which circus would you like to join? For the first time ever, I am actually considering a write-in vote for my cat.

The one thing that bugs me the most is the idea that either candidate is for "the common man". Folks, let's wake up and smell the coffee. NEITHER candidate even knows what the "common man" wants, needs, or worries about.

John Kerry is known to be the richest Senator in government with a personal fortune (or his wife's however you choose to look at it) in the area of $165 million to $626 million dollars. Hell, he dumped $850,000 of his own cash into his campaign. George Bush's net worth is somewhere in the area of $9 million to $26 million. Sounds pretty "common" to me. I guess you could argue that when compared to Kerry, Bush is just a "common" millionaire.

Neither candidate has ever held a "common man's" job (i.e. minimum wage). Owning a baseball team, working on your father's presidential campaign, being a district attorney, and becoming 4 term Governor (both candidates) are not "common man" jobs. Both went to Ivy League schools (not on scholarship), and I can pretty much guarantee that if either of them loses their "job" they don't have to worry about unemployment. And upon their retirement, neither has to worry about that Soc. Security check arriving on time.

The "common man" is not driven around by a chaffeur, does not own a ranch, a jet, a beach house, a winter home, nor can afford to send their offspring to private schools and universities (and again I am speaking about both candidates).

The "common man" does not attend $1000-$5000 a plate dinners unless he is serving tables. The "common man" can't take a paid vacation wherever, whenever 'cause he needs a break from a tough schedule of campaigning or making policy decisions.

The "common man" worries about his children's education, his mortgage payment, his monthly bills, getting food on the table, the rising cost of gas, getting healthcare (affordable or otherwise), and basically making it to the end of the year without going into debt. Again neither candidate has these concerns.

Having worked in the press covering campaigns, speeches, and appearances by mayors, governors, vice-presidents and presidents of both parties, I can tell you that the most time any candidate spends with "the common man" is limited to 5 minutes at best. Usually meeting "the common man" consists of a handshake and a "Thanks for coming out/your support".

"The common man" whose name is dropped by candidates while on the road (i.e. 'I met a man named Bob Hakenworth in Iowa the other day') are carefully screened individuals who are handpicked by assistants to the press secretary or candidate's "advance team". Your chances as "the common man" of just walking up to a candidate or president and voicing your concerns (and actually having them addressed) are slim to none.

Now, if anyone can explain to me how either candidate can relate to "the common man's" everyday problems (without the use of political rhetoric, either liberal or conservative) then I may start believing what they say. Either that, or find me a dishwasher who has run a successful presidential campaign.
Title: Along those lines...
Post by: SB_Mig on September 03, 2004, 10:22:57 AM
Here's a bit of information from

Dear Jack:

We knew the presidential salary had been $200,000 for a number of years -- a relatively paltry sum considering the state of executive compensation these days -- but we were unsure of the salary our current president is drawing. We seem to recall hearing something a few months ago about a raise for our country's commander in chief.
We searched on "presidential salary," and on the first page of search results we received several relevant web sites and one amusing anomaly.

According to a CNN article dated July 16, 1999, the House voted earlier that week to increase the next president's salary to $400,000, which means George W. Bush, our 43rd president, makes twice as much as his predecessor, President Clinton.

After a little more research, we found a table that should put to rest any doubts that our country's former presidents are struggling to make ends meet. The National Taxpayers Union provides a Presidential Pension Graph that shows estimated pension benefits of former presidents. Bill Clinton stands to collect $7.29 million, the most of any living ex-president, while Ronald Reagan's pension is just over $2.5 million.

...and these aren't updated figures. Sounds pretty "common" to me!  :wink:
Title: Political Rants
Post by: pretty_kitty on September 03, 2004, 05:18:18 PM
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Anonymous on September 07, 2004, 11:20:57 PM
From | Original article available at:

They're Terrorists - Not Activists
by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
September 7, 2004

"I know it when I see it" was the famous response by a U.S. Supreme Court justice to the vexed problem of defining pornography. Terrorism may be no less difficult to define, but the wanton killing of schoolchildren, of mourners at a funeral, or workers at their desks in skyscrapers surely fits the know-it-when-I-see-it definition.

The press, however, generally shies away from the word terrorist, preferring euphemisms. Take the assault that led to the deaths of some 400 people, many of them children, in Beslan, Russia, on September 3. Journalists have delved deep into their thesauruses, finding at least twenty euphemisms for terrorists:

Assailants - National Public Radio.
Attackers ? the Economist.
Bombers ? the Guardian.
Captors ? the Associated Press.
Commandos ? Agence France-Presse refers to the terrorists both as "membres du commando" and "commando."
Criminals - the Times (London).
Extremists ? United Press International.
Fighters ? the Washington Post.
Group ? the Australian.
Guerrillas: in a New York Post editorial.
Gunmen ? Reuters.
Hostage-takers - the Los Angeles Times.
Insurgents ? in a New York Times headline.
Kidnappers ? the Observer (London).
Militants ? the Chicago Tribune.
Perpetrators ? the New York Times.
Radicals ? the BBC.
Rebels ? in a Sydney Morning Herald headline.
Separatists ? the Christian Science Monitor.
And my favorite:

Activists ? the Pakistan Times.
The origins of this unwillingness to name terrorists seems to lie in the Arab-Israeli conflict, prompted by an odd combination of sympathy in the press for the Palestinian Arabs and intimidation by them. The sympathy is well known; the intimidation less so. Reuters' Nidal al-Mughrabi made the latter explicit in advice for fellow reporters in Gaza to avoid trouble on the Web site, where one tip reads: "Never use the word terrorist or terrorism in describing Palestinian gunmen and militants; people consider them heroes of the conflict."

The reluctance to call terrorists by their rightful name can reach absurd lengths of inaccuracy and apologetics. For example, National Public Radio's Morning Edition announced on April 1, 2004, that "Israeli troops have arrested 12 men they say were wanted militants." But CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, pointed out the inaccuracy here and NPR issued an on-air correction on April 26: "Israeli military officials were quoted as saying they had arrested 12 men who were ?wanted militants.' But the actual phrase used by the Israeli military was ?wanted terrorists.'"

(At least NPR corrected itself. When the Los Angeles Times made the same error, writing that "Israel staged a series of raids in the West Bank that the army described as hunts for wanted Palestinian militants," its editors refused CAMERA's request for a correction on the grounds that its change in terminology did not occur in a direct quotation.)

Metro, a Dutch paper, ran a picture on May 3, 2004, of two gloved hands belonging to a person taking fingerprints off a dead terrorist. The caption read: "An Israeli police officer takes fingerprints of a dead Palestinian. He is one of the victims (slachtoffers) who fell in the Gaza strip yesterday." One of the victims!

Euphemistic usage then spread from the Arab-Israeli conflict to other theaters. As terrorism picked up in Saudi Arabia such press outlets as The Times (London) and the Associated Press began routinely using militants in reference to Saudi terrorists. Reuters uses it with reference to Kashmir and Algeria.

Thus has militants become the press's default term for terrorists.

These self-imposed language limitations sometimes cause journalists to tie themselves into knots. In reporting the murder of one of its own cameraman, the BBC, which normally avoids the word terrorist, found itself using that term. In another instance, the search engine on the BBC website includes the word terrorist but the page linked to has had that word expurgated.

Politically-correct news organizations undermine their credibility with such subterfuges. How can one trust what one reads, hears, or sees when the self-evident fact of terrorism is being semi-denied?

Worse, the multiple euphemisms for terrorist obstruct a clear understanding of the violent threats confronting the civilized world. It is bad enough that only one of five articles discussing the Beslan atrocity mentions its Islamist origins; worse is the miasma of words that insulates the public from the evil of terrorism.

From | Original article available at:
Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on September 08, 2004, 10:34:21 AM
How's about some military service records since everyone is up in arms about them?


* Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
* David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
* Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.

* Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army
journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.

* Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.

* Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-'47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
* John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V,

* Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.

* Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star,

* Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-1953.

* Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.

* Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.

* Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star and
seven campaign ribbons.

* Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars,
and Soldier's Medal.

* Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and
Legion of

* Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.

* Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze
Star with Combat V.

* Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.

* Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57

* Chuck Robb: Vietnam

* Howell Heflin: Silver Star

* George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.

* Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but
received 311.
* Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.

* Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953

* John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.

* Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul

* Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
* Tom Delay: did not serve.
* Roy Blunt: did not serve.  
* Bill Frist: did not serve.
* Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
* Rick Santorum: did not serve.
* Trent Lott: did not serve.

* Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.

* John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.

* Jeb Bush: did not serve.
* Karl Rove: did not serve.

* Saxby Chambliss (The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism) did not serve  

* Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
* Vin Weber: did not serve.
* Richard Perle: did not serve.
* Douglas Feith: did not serve.
* Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
* Richard Shelby: did not serve.
* Jon Kyl: did not serve.
* Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
* Christopher Cox: did not serve.
* Newt Gingrich: did not serve.

* Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as aviator and flight

* G.W. Bush: six-year Nat'l Guard commitment (in four).  

* Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role
making movies.

* B-1 Bob Dornan: Consciously enlisted after fighting was over in Korea.

* Phil Gramm: did not serve.

* John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart
and Distinguished Flying Cross.

* Bob Dole: an honorable veteran.

* Chuck Hagel: two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Vietnam.

* Duke Cunningham: nominated for Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Silver
Stars, Air Medals, Purple Hearts.

* Jeff Sessions: Army Reserves, 1973-1986

* Colin Powell: Long career in military.

* Wayne Gilchrest: USMC in Vietnam; wounded in action.

* Don Nickles: Biography does not list military service.

* Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.  
* John M. McHugh: did not serve.
* JC Watts: did not serve.

* Jack Kemp: did not serve. Knee, although continued in NFL for 8 years.

* Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.

* Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
* George Pataki: did not serve.
* Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
* John Engler: did not serve.
* Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.

* Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base.  

* G.H.W. Bush: Pilot in WWII. Shot down by the Japanese.

* Tom Ridge: Bronze Star for Valor in Vietnam.

* Sam Johnson: Combat in Korea and Vietnam, POW in Hanoi.

* Ted Stevens: WWII pilot, DFCs, two Air Medals.

* John Warner: Served in the Navy during WWII as a RM3

* Heather Wilson: Air Force 1978-1989
* Gerald Ford: Navy, WWII

Pundits & Preachers
* Sean Hannity: did not serve.
* Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a pilonidal cyst in the crack
of his buttocks)
* Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
* Michael Savage: did not serve.
* George Will: did not serve.
* Chris Matthews: did not serve.
* Paul Gigot: did not serve.
* Bill Bennett: did not serve.
* Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
* John Wayne: did not serve.
* Pat Robertson: not, as claimed, a "combat veteran." A "Liquor
* Bill Kristol: did not serve.
* Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
* Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
* Clarence Thomas: did not serve.
* Ralph Reed: did not serve.
* Michael Medved: did not serve.
* Charlie Daniels: did not serve.
* Ted Nugent: did not serve.
* Ollie North: At least he served.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on September 08, 2004, 10:46:51 AM
So, the debate among my friends is this:

Which action is more reprehensible, supporting a war but not willing to fight in it OR not supporting a war, going to fight, and returning to discredit those still fighting?

My military friends give me one of two responses:

1) If you were ever in uniform you have the right to say whatever you want. And if you weren't, shut your piehole.


2) If you were ever in uniform, you support your comrades no matter what.

Anyone else got 2 cents on this?
Title: Linear Constructs
Post by: buzwardo on September 08, 2004, 04:32:50 PM
Against my better judgment I'll respond, though experience suggests these sorts of discussions devolve into a circular mishmash.

Serving your country does not automatically qualify you for elected office.

Not serving your country does not automatically disqualify you from elected office.

Lots of National Guard, Cost Guard, Air Force Reserve, etc. units end up in shooting wars; witness Korea and current deployments. For much of US history, reserve service doesn't mean you're in the rear with the gear.

Regardless of service, US citizens get to say what they want to, when they want to. Vets can choose not to dis other vets, and they can get their undies in a bunch when non-vets talk about vet issues, but the First Amendment to the constitution--the same constitution vets swore to uphold--guarantees the rights of everyone to say what they please.

In the context of the current presidential race, I think Bush's military record, or lack thereof, has been picked over pretty well. Think what you want of it, but there have been plenty of people who wish him ill in the strongest of terms eyeballing every available aspect of his service. Their findings have been reported extensively.

Where Kerry's concerned there's still a lot to be examined. The few things he has been pinned down on--Christmas in Cambodia, self-inflicted Purple Heart wounds--have demonstrated more than a degree of equivocation. My guess is there is plenty more to be found.

Bottom line for me is that framing the issue in an either/or manner isn't particularly constructive. But hey, I'm a non-vet discussing vet issues who believes American citizens should be able to say what they damn well please. Feel free to dismiss my opinion as it doesn?t adhere to the linear constructs as posed.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on September 08, 2004, 05:11:08 PM

I wholeheartedly agree with the bottom line of your response:

American citizens should be able to say what they damn well please

As for the linear nature of the question being debated among my friends, the question was put to me in that manner and so I passed it on as such.  And yes, the debate (at least among my friends) has definitely devolved into a circular mishmash.  :lol: The original debate was whether or not an individual who had served had carte blanche when it came to discussing another service member's record. And you can see what a can of worms that opens :lol:

Bottom line for me is that framing the issue in an either/or manner isn't particularly constructive

Absolutely! I believe that one of the biggest problems in our society today is the lack of gray areas (i.e. everything is either black or white). I, for one, would love to hear a discussion of our society's issues (political, economic, industrial, environmental, etc.) that didn't become into a shouting match based solely on one's political stance/party.

Thanks for the response...

Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on September 16, 2004, 08:59:43 AM
Not sure if this video qualifies as a rant, but I think it's funny...
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 16, 2004, 09:24:17 AM
Woof Mig:

I can't get the video to open but this is horrendous:

"Americans must be able to trust the facts in political ads. Every voter has the right to truthful advertising.  Free speech is no defense to massive, purposeful fraud.

"You, the FCC, have an obligation to ensure that broadcast stations around the country do not transmit misleading, deceptive and fraudulent advertising.  

"We, the undersigned American citizens, demand that you require proof of fact before airing political advertisements.  Laws must change to protect our democracy. "

Said with love, but are you crazy?!?  You have to prove truth to a government agency before engaging in political speech?!?!?!?!?!?  Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Naderian, whatever-- this is profoundly ass-backwards.

McCain-Feingold is one of the most pernicious pieces of legislation to pass in a long, long time and shame on President Bush for signing it, and shame on the Supreme Court for upholding it.  Our First Amendment has taken a serious blow with this.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on September 16, 2004, 09:48:34 AM
"Said with love, but are you crazy?!? You have to prove truth to a government agency before engaging in political speech?!?!?!?!?!? Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Naderian, whatever-- this is profoundly ass-backwards. "

I agree wholeheatedly. Freedom of speech means just that.

The site sucks, but the video is great. Will Ferrell doing an amazing GW impersonation.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 16, 2004, 10:27:27 AM
Glad we agree on that!

This on Dan Rather:
Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on September 16, 2004, 11:16:38 AM
That is too f-ing funny!

The media has sadly become a hotbed of ineptitude and shoddy reporting. From plagiarism (Jayson Blair) and the latest CBS blunder (hey, how about checking the veracity of your story before releasing it?), we should all be embarassed.

If I was a journalism major, I'd be considering a different career path.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 16, 2004, 11:28:15 AM
If you liked that, try this rant from Ann Coulter :lol:

Ann Coulter
September 15, 2004

Why do TV commentators on CBS' forgery-gate insist on issuing lengthy
caveats to the effect that of course this was an innocent mistake and no one is accusing Dan Rather of some sort of "conspiracy," and respected newsman Dan Rather would never intentionally foist phony National Guard documents on an unsuspecting public merely to smear George Bush, etc., etc.?

I'll admit, there's a certain sadistic quality to such overwrought decency
toward Dan Rather. But how does Bill O'Reilly know what Dan Rather was
thinking when he put forged documents on the air? I know liberals have the paranormal ability to detect racism and sexism, but who knew O'Reilly could read an anchorman's mind just by watching him read the news?

What are the odds that Dan Rather would have accepted such patently phony documents from, say, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?

As we now know, CBS' own expert told them there were problems with the documents -- the main one being that they were clearly fakes dummied up at a Kinko's outlet from somebody's laptop at 4 a.m.

According to ABC News, document examiner Emily Will was hired by CBS to vet the documents. But when she raised questions about the documents' authenticity and strongly warned CBS not to use the documents on air, CBS ignored her. Will concluded: "I did not feel that they wanted to investigate it very deeply."

Within hours of the documents being posted on CBS' Web site, moderately observant fourth-graders across America noticed that the alleged early '70s National Guard documents were the product of Microsoft Word. If that wasn't bad enough, The New York Times spent the following week hailing Rather for his "journalistic coup" in obtaining the documents that no other newsman had (other than Jayson Blair).

By now, all reputable document examiners in the Northern Hemisphere dispute the documents' authenticity. Even the Los Angeles Times has concluded that the documents are fraudulent -- and when you fail to meet the ethical standards of the L.A. Times, you're in trouble.

In Dan Rather's defense, it must be confessed, he is simply a newsreader. Now that Walter Cronkite is retired, Rather is TV's real-life Ted Baxter without Baxter's quiet dignity. No one would ever suggest that he has any role in the content of his broadcast. To blame Dan Rather for what appears on his program would be like blaming Susan Lucci for the plot of "All My Children."

The person to blame is Ted Baxter's producer, Mary Mapes. Mapes apparently decided: We'll run the documents calling Bush a shirker in the National Guard, and if the documents turn out to be fraudulent we'll:

   a) Blame Karl Rove;

   b) Say the documents don't matter.

But if the documents are irrelevant to the question of Bush's Guard duty,
then why did CBS bring them up?  Why not just say: "The important thing is for you to take our word for it!"

Interestingly, the elite (and increasingly unwatched) media always make
"mistakes" in the same direction. They never move too quickly to report a story unfavorable to liberals.

In 1998, CNN broadcast its famous "Tailwind" story, falsely accusing the
U.S. military of gassing American defectors in Laos during the Vietnam War. (This was part of liberals' long-standing support for "the troops.") The publishing industry regularly puts out proven frauds such as: "I, Rigoberta Menchu" (a native girl's torture at the hands of the right-wing Guatemalan military), "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture" (a liberal fantasy of a gun-free colonial America), "Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President" (a book by a convicted felon with wild stories of George Bush's drug use), and the unsourced nutty fantasies of Kitty Kelley.

In a book out this week, Kelley details many anonymous charges against the Bush family, such as that Laura Bush was a pot dealer in college, George W. Bush was the first person in America to use cocaine back in 1968, and he also regularly consorted with a prostitute in Texas who was then silenced by the CIA.

Kelley backs up her shocking allegations with names of highly credentialed people -- who have absolutely no connection to the events she is describing. No one directly involved is on the record, and the people on the record have never met anyone in the Bush family. In other words, her stories have been "vetted" enough to be included on tonight's "CBS Evening News" with Dan Rather.

The New York Times review blamed Kelley's gossip mongering on "a cultural climate in which gossip and innuendo thrive on the Internet." Kelley has been writing these books for decades, so apparently, like the Texas Air National Guard, Kelley was on the Internet -- and being influenced by it -- back in the '70s. As I remember it, for the past few years it has been the Internet that keeps dissecting and discrediting the gossip and innuendo that the major media put out.

Curiously, all this comes at the precise moment that speculation is at a
fever pitch about whether Kitty Kelley is in the advanced stages of
syphilis. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases: "Approximately 3 percent to 7 percent of persons with untreated syphilis develop neurosyphilis, a sometimes serious disorder of the nervous system.

Dr. Jonathan Zenilman, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Johns
Hopkins University, has found there is an "inter-relationship" between STDs and truck routes in Baltimore. I'm not at liberty to reveal the names of my sources, but there are three or four highly placed individuals in the publishing industry who say Miss Kelley or someone who closely resembles her is a habitue of truck routes in Baltimore.

While opinions differ as to whether Miss Kelley's behavior can be explained by syphilis or some other STD, people who went to Harvard -- and Harvard is one of the top universities in the nation -- say her path is consistent with someone in the advanced stages.

Amid the swirling dispute over her STDs, there is only one way for Kelley to address this issue: Release her medical records. As someone who would like to be thought of as her friend said anonymously: "For your own good, Ms. Kelley, I would get those medical records out yesterday." This doesn't have to be public. She may release her medical records to me, or if she'd be more comfortable, to my brothers.

Since TV commentators have assured me that Dan Rather is an equal
opportunity idiot, Kelley had better clear all this up before someone slips
this column to CBS. As a precaution I've written this on a 1972 Selectric
Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on September 22, 2004, 09:29:54 AM
Rather's producer assured CBS execs on Guard papers
By Peter Johnson, USA TODAY

Mary Mapes, the Dallas-based producer of Dan Rather's controversial Sept. 8 60 Minutes segment questioning President Bush's military record, is the focus of attention following published reports that she arranged for her Texas source on the story to talk to a top aide to Democratic hopeful John Kerry.  

CBS News executives want to know why Mapes, one of Rather's most trusted producers, repeatedly assured them that both Bill Burkett and the documents he gave her could be trusted ? only to have both widely called into question by Internet bloggers and rival news organizations soon after 60 Minutes aired the story. On Monday, CBS said the story should have never run, and Rather apologized to viewers.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that Mapes arranged for Burkett to talk to a top aide to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Standard journalistic ethical practices forbid reporters from doing anything that could be perceived as helping a political campaign.

CBS News hopes to name an independent panel today that will investigate how Burkett, a Texas Democratic operative and opponent of President Bush, deceived 60 Minutes in its now-retracted story about Bush's military record ? and who at the network is responsible.

"It's clear that something went seriously wrong with the process," CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves said. He called the review "both necessary and important."

Mapes also produced 60 Minutes' follow-up segment a week ago in which Marion Knox, the secretary to the National Guard officer who supposedly wrote the disputed memos, Col. Jerry Killian, said the information in the documents was correct but that the memos themselves were fake.

But now, with Mapes' credibility seriously questioned, CBS News staffers say they're puzzled why Mapes is still apparently actively working on the memos story. CBS News spokeswoman Sandy Genelius refused to comment on that. She said that Mapes, 48, remains on CBS' payroll.

Neither Mapes nor Rather, who said recently that Mapes has his "trust, respect and admiration," could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Mapes is a popular producer at CBS News, which she joined in 1989. She worked mostly on The CBS Evening News, joining the Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes? called 60 Minutes II until the current season ? in 1999.

In television news and on newsmagazines such as 60 Minutes, producers do the lion's share of the reporting legwork, with correspondents and anchors such as Rather the stars who take credit ? or in this case, the blame. Rather, who identifies himself on The CBS Evening News as "reporting" from New York, is known in the industry as being very active in the nuts and bolts of actual reporting, but producers such as Mapes are the unseen hands behind the stories.

Until now, her reporting skills were close to the stuff of CBS News legend: Mostly recently, she and Rather broke one of the biggest stories of the year by uncovering photos of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

Mapes, who is known as a fast, tenacious reporter with a quick wit and sense of humor, spent two months on the prison story getting it ready for broadcast. Network executives say she has spent five years digging into Bush's history in the Texas Air National Guard.

"She has done so many incredibly strong stories in her career here and at CBS News," said 60 Minutes producer Jeff Fager, who worked closely with her in recent years on 60 Minutes II before he replaced Don Hewitt at the helm of the Sunday version of the newsmagazine this summer.

"How this went so horribly wrong is hard to understand," Fager said.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on September 22, 2004, 10:47:32 AM
Since I'm on a roll:

Fascism Anyone?
Laurence W. Britt

Free Inquiry readers may pause to read the ?Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles? on the inside cover of the magazine. To a secular humanist, these principles seem so logical, so right, so crucial. Yet, there is one archetypal political philosophy that is anathema to almost all of these principles. It is fascism. And fascism?s principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for. The clich? that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.

We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by protofascist1 regimes at various times in the twentieth century. Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.

Beyond the visual, even a cursory study of these fascist and protofascist regimes reveals the absolutely striking convergence of their modus operandi. This, of course, is not a revelation to the informed political observer, but it is sometimes useful in the interests of perspective to restate obvious facts and in so doing shed needed light on current circumstances.

For the purpose of this perspective, I will consider the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco?s Spain, Salazar?s Portugal, Papadopoulos?s Greece, Pinochet?s Chile, and Suharto?s Indonesia. To be sure, they constitute a mixed bag of national identities, cultures, developmental levels, and history. But they all followed the fascist or protofascist model in obtaining, expanding, and maintaining power. Further, all these regimes have been overthrown, so a more or less complete picture of their basic characteristics and abuses is possible.

Analysis of these seven regimes reveals fourteen common threads that link them in recognizable patterns of national behavior and abuse of power. These basic characteristics are more prevalent and intense in some regimes than in others, but they all share at least some level of similarity.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people?s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice?relentless propaganda and disinformation?were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite ?spontaneous? acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and ?terrorists.? Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes? excesses.

7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting ?national security,? and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite?s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the ?godless.? A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of ?have-not? citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. ?Normal? and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or ?traitors? was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Does any of this ring alarm bells? Of course not. After all, this is America, officially a democracy with the rule of law, a constitution, a free press, honest elections, and a well-informed public constantly being put on guard against evils. Historical comparisons like these are just exercises in verbal gymnastics. Maybe, maybe not.


1. Defined as a ?political movement or regime tending toward or imitating Fascism??Webster?s Unabridged Dictionary
Title: Shotgun Approach, Anyone?
Post by: buzwardo on September 22, 2004, 08:06:26 PM
I hear members of most fascist regimes also were breast fed as babies, utilized bipedal locomotion, and had at least one X chromosome.

Cast a net widely enough there's not much you won't catch.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on September 23, 2004, 08:11:32 AM
Damn! I knew my mother was involved in this somehow!  :lol:
Title: Christopher Hitchens Piece
Post by: buzwardo on October 01, 2004, 03:30:18 PM
I often disagree with Christopher Hitchens, a self-described recovering Marxist, but the guy thinks deeply and writes well. More of his work can be found at this website:

fighting words
Flirting With Disaster
The vile spectacle of Democrats rooting for bad news in Iraq and Afghanistan.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Sept. 27, 2004, at 11:35 AM PT

There it was at the tail end of Brian Faler's "Politics" roundup column in last Saturday's Washington Post. It was headed, simply, "Quotable":

"I wouldn't be surprised if he appeared in the next month." Teresa Heinz Kerry to the Phoenix Business Journal, referring to a possible capture of Osama bin Laden before Election Day.

As well as being "quotable" (and I wish it had been more widely reported, and I hope that someone will ask the Kerry campaign or the nominee himself to disown it), this is also many other words ending in "-able." Deplorable, detestable, unforgivable. ?

The plain implication is that the Bush administration is stashing Bin Laden somewhere, or somehow keeping his arrest in reserve, for an "October surprise." This innuendo would appear, on the face of it, to go a little further than "impugning the patriotism" of the president. It argues, after all, for something like collusion on his part with a man who has murdered thousands of Americans as well as hundreds of Muslim civilians in other countries.

I am not one of those who likes to tease Mrs. Kerry for her "loose cannon" style. This is only the second time I have ever mentioned her in print. But I happen to know that this is not an instance of loose lips. She has heard that very remark being made by senior Democrats, and?which is worse?she has not heard anyone in her circle respond to it by saying, "Don't be so bloody stupid." I first heard this "October surprise" theory mentioned seriously, by a prominent foreign-policy Democrat, at an open dinner table in Washington about six months ago. Since then, I've heard it said seriously or semiseriously, by responsible and liberal people who ought to know better, all over the place. It got even worse when the Democratic establishment decided on an arm's-length or closer relationship with Michael Moore and his supposedly vote-getting piece of mendacity and paranoia, Fahrenheit 9/11. (The DNC's boss, Terence McAuliffe, asked outside the Uptown cinema on Connecticut Avenue whether he honestly believed that the administration had invaded Afghanistan for the sake of an oil or perhaps gas pipeline, breezily responded, "I do now.")

What will it take to convince these people that this is not a year, or a time, to be dicking around? Americans are patrolling a front line in Afghanistan, where it would be impossible with 10 times the troop strength to protect all potential voters on Oct. 9 from Taliban/al-Qaida murder and sabotage. We are invited to believe that these hard-pressed soldiers of ours take time off to keep Osama Bin Laden in a secret cave, ready to uncork him when they get a call from Karl Rove? For shame.

Ever since The New Yorker published a near-obituary piece for the Kerry campaign, in the form of an autopsy for the Robert Shrum style, there has been a salad of articles prematurely analyzing "what went wrong." This must be nasty for Democratic activists to read, and I say "nasty" because I hear the way they respond to it. A few pin a vague hope on the so-called "debates"?which are actually joint press conferences allowing no direct exchange between the candidates?but most are much more cynical. Some really bad news from Iraq, or perhaps Afghanistan, and/or a sudden collapse or crisis in the stock market, and Kerry might yet "turn things around." You have heard it, all right, and perhaps even said it. But you may not have appreciated how depraved are its implications. If you calculate that only a disaster of some kind can save your candidate, then you are in danger of harboring a subliminal need for bad news. And it will show. What else explains the amazingly crude and philistine remarks of that campaign genius Joe Lockhart, commenting on the visit of the new Iraqi prime minister and calling him a "puppet"? Here is the only regional leader who is even trying to hold an election, and he is greeted with an ungenerous sneer.

The unfortunately necessary corollary of this?that bad news for the American cause in wartime would be good for Kerry?is that good news would be bad for him. Thus, in Mrs. Kerry's brainless and witless offhand yet pregnant remark, we hear the sick thud of the other shoe dropping. How can the Democrats possibly have gotten themselves into a position where they even suspect that a victory for the Zarqawi or Bin Laden forces would in some way be welcome to them? Or that the capture or killing of Bin Laden would not be something to celebrate with a whole heart?

I think that this detail is very important because the Kerry camp often strives to give the impression that its difference with the president is one of degree but not of kind. Of course we all welcome the end of Taliban rule and even the departure of Saddam Hussein, but we can't remain silent about the way policy has been messed up and compromised and even lied about. I know what it's like to feel that way because it is the way I actually do feel. But I also know the difference when I see it, and I have known some of the liberal world quite well and for a long time, and there are quite obviously people close to the leadership of today's Democratic Party who do not at all hope that the battle goes well in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I have written before in this space that I think Bin Laden is probably dead, and I certainly think that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a far more ruthless and dangerous jihadist, who is trying to take a much more important country into the orbit of medieval fanaticism and misery. One might argue about that: I could even maintain that it's important to oppose and defeat both gentlemen and their supporters. But unless he conclusively repudiates the obvious defeatists in his own party (and maybe even his own family), we shall be able to say that John Kerry's campaign is a distraction from the fight against al-Qaida.
Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His new collection of essays, Love, Poverty and War, is forthcoming in October.

Article URL:
Title: Political Rants
Post by: buzwardo on October 04, 2004, 05:15:34 PM
The following was posted on the Naval Institute Proceedings Magazine web site:

I met Joe Galloway, referenced below, a couple weeks back at a miltary vehicle museum I do volunteer work for. Hadn't thought of him as an embedded reporter until now; Galloway's book We were Soldiers Once, and Young tells the story of a battle in Viet Nam's Ia Drang valley and was later adapted into a movie by Mel Gibson.

Lengthy article follows:

The military laments that its successes in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone unnoticed, while any bad news is immediately set on by a national media intent on painting every U.S. commitment as a quagmire. This might be true, but the military is not without responsibility for this state of affairs.

Military-media relations have improved since General William Sherman announced, ?I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast.?

Almost a century and a half later, no serving flag or general officers are on record advocating the extermination of journalists. Still, despite the success of the embed process and the tens of millions of dollars spent on public affairs infrastructure, relations continue to be strained. Military officers constantly lament that most of the successes in Iraq and Afghanistan went unnoticed, while every little setback or problem seemingly received national attention. Many believe national policy is set by the media intent on painting every U.S. military commitment as an unwinnable quagmire.

They are right.

But who is responsible for this state of affairs? While it is easy to blame the media for failing to get the true story or to accuse journalists of a liberal bias against military operations, this fails to identify the true culprit. The reason the military is losing the war in the media is because it has almost totally failed to engage, and where it has engaged, it has been with a mind-boggling degree of ineptitude. It is a strange circumstance indeed when virtually every senior officer agrees that the media can make or break national policy, but no more than a handful can name the top military journalist for The Washington Post, The New York Times, or The Wall Street Journal. Thousands of officers who spend countless hours learning every facet of their profession do not spend one iota of their time understanding or learning to engage with a strategic force that can make or break their best efforts.

The military is paying a high and continuing price for its inability to engage the media. There have been 30 years of studies, conferences, and meetings since Vietnam dealing with just this topic, and still the magic formula eludes the military. As the only embedded journalist in Iraq who still was carrying a military ID card (Army Reserve), I feel uniquely placed to comment on the military-media relationship. I served on active duty for more than a dozen years and came to journalism late. However, my stint in journalism focused on military affairs, which allowed me to develop a clear picture of the frustrations most journalists encounter when dealing with the military. Many readers will counter: But what about the frustrations of the military with the media? Who cares? That is like blaming enemy action for the failure of a brilliant plan. The media will always get a story out; it is the military?s responsibility to make sure that story is informed and correct. It is useless for officers to scream in frustration that the media got a story wrong, particularly if they did nothing to help journalists get it right.

As a journalist, when given an assignment, I will not fail. To a journalist, an assignment is the same as a mission order. If the people in the know will not tell me, I will go to their soldiers. If that does not work, I will go to the families of the soldiers and get the versions of the story their sons and daughters have sent them by e-mail. Then I will write the story based on what I was able to get from whatever source was available. All the after-the-fact howling in the world from those who think I got the story all wrong will have no effect. Even if I wanted to go back and fix it, I probably would not bother. The news cycle has moved on, and I have moved on with it.

Anyone who thinks a journalist is ethically bound to go back and fix wrong information or impressions is fooling himself. Even current military stories are competing for space against J-Lo?s latest wedding. Editors are not giving up space to rehash the past?historical record be damned. Besides, too many corrections will begin to make it look like I could not get the right story in the first place, and what compelling reason is there to make myself look incompetent?

Even with knowledge of how the military works, I still found virtually my every attempt to get information from public affairs officers (PAOs) to be akin to getting water from a stone. Many times I sat looking at the phone in disbelief at some answer or non-answer a PAO had given me. Too often, I hung up the phone and thought to myself, if the Secretary of Defense only knew how one of his PAOs was treating a man about to write a column for national distribution. Sometimes, I had to sit back and count off the reasons I should not just start writing mean little articles about the military.

After major combat operations ended, Time magazine took me home. My final article on the war and the military was called ?The Men Who Won the War.? This one article alone should have marked me as a journalist worth being nice to. So, when I called the PAOs at the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to work out some access for my return to Iraq, I was stupefied by the response. My offer, which was given to half a dozen civilian and military public affairs folks over the course of 20 or 30 calls was pretty extraordinary. At a time when everyone in Iraq was screaming that the media were failing to cover the military?s accomplishments, I said I wanted to tell the country what was going right.

If given the right access, I told them, I probably could get the cover of a major newsweekly several times over the course of a couple of months. In addition, I had several national opinion magazines lined up that would publish all I could send them. I also was in conversations with producers of a network TV news magazine, and they were interested in doing a piece along the same positive lines. Finally, I reminded these public affairs people that Time and CNN were owned by the same company and that I probably would be able to get substantial air time during what I expected to be an extended stay in Iraq.

I was coming to Iraq to look for the news the rest of the media were missing. In short, I had an agenda that correlated exactly with the military?s and the CPA?s, but no one wanted to be bothered. Excuses about it being a hectic period should fall on deaf ears. At one point, I asked for access to Paul Bremer, civil administrator for Iraq, and was told I would have to get in line behind 250 other requests for the same thing. I reminded that PAO what I was bringing to the table and that it was ludicrous I should be placed in line behind a request from the Podunk Gazette. He hung up on me.

Giving up, I asked the 101st Airborne if I could re-embed with them and report on what they were doing. Within an hour of my e-mail request, I had a note from the commanding general telling me to hurry back. He said he had a lot of good news and it had to get out. An hour after his e-mail arrived, the 101st PAO office was on the phone telling me what flight I would be on going back to Iraq. Here was an organization that knew how to treat friendly journalists. It also helped that they have the best PAO of my acquaintance.

I could spout off more about the indignities, incompetence, and rudeness I have been subjected to by PAOs, but the high ground in this discussion is not going to be held by whining. It will be won and held with constructive solutions, and as luck would have it, I have some.

First, a few words about the embed process. What a wonderful idea. Anytime you can get a journalist living in the sand and mud with real soldiers it is a major plus. It is impossible for anyone to be associated with U.S. soldiers in combat and not walk away impressed. As one CBS reporter told me, ?I just had no idea our army was filled with such quality people.? When journalists are sharing the fatigue, deprivations, and danger of the soldiers they are covering, a new respect develops, and it is not long before the Galloway effect (Joe Galloway, a renowned military correspondent, has never written a bad thing about soldiers since he left Vietnam) takes hold.

While the embed process can be improved, such as by ensuring the journalists are mobile and have access to electrical power, I have only one major suggestion for the future. Make sure thought is given to placing embeds at places and levels appropriate for their organizations. My experience will illustrate why this is important. I was embedded at brigade headquarters and saw everything the brigade commander saw. All the other Time and Newsweek embeds were at lower levels. Just after the sandstorm-enforced halt in the assault on Baghdad, Time sent me the copy for that week?s cover story entitled ?Why Are We Losing? and asked me to find comments to feed into the story.

That day I saw Colonel David Perkins of the 3rd Infantry Division and talked to many of his officers. Their reaction to the story was, ?Tomorrow we laager up to refuel and rearm. The next day we move out to hit the Medina Division. It?s beat up, facing the wrong way, and does not know we?re coming. The day after that we ride onto Baghdad International Airport.? After a few calculations, I figured out Time was going to declare the war lost on the same day we entered Baghdad. This was not good.

I sent a note to Time telling them they were about to look very foolish. Unfortunately, I was alone in my estimation of the situation. All of the talking heads on TV were shouting about disaster. However, expert talking-head opinions on the threat Saddam?s paramilitaries were posing to the 3rd?s supply line were not in line with the reality I was witnessing. Battlefield commanders in Iraq, rather then being alarmed at attacks on the supply lines, were thankful, ?Isn?t it nice of them to come out of hiding in the cities and attack across open desert to be slaughtered.? In addition to the talking heads, most of my fellow embeds were echoing the disaster sentiment. When you are living in the dirt with an infantry platoon, it is easy to miss the progress that becomes visible when you get the big picture at a brigade headquarters or higher. After a six-hour meeting, the compromise at Time was to rename the story ?What Will It Take to Win.?

Newsweek went with the cover story ?Quagmire? in big red letters, which allowed  Time to claim a major journalistic coup by not looking as foolish as Newsweek.

The key point here is that it behooves the military to make sure the journalists with the most national impact are placed in locations where they will be able to get a full appreciation of events.

Now, some questions. Did anyone keep track of the embeds after the war was over? Were any of the media invited back to unit homecomings, unit formals, to view unit training, or to follow up on individuals they had covered during the war? Were any of them asked to join unit associations? In fact, there has been virtually no effort whatsoever to try to make the journalists, who shared the misery and danger of war, part of the team. A chance to bond hundreds of journalists to the military is being let slip away.

Each of these journalists should have been cultivated by the units they were with, as well as by the military as a whole. By giving them preferred access, the military would help many of their careers and bind them closer then ever. Some journalists, not given this kind of treatment, will scream that journalists covering the military this way will lose all objectivity. This is a facile argument and hardly worthy of comment. Why do the journalists who have the crime beat in New York City and hang out at One Police Plaza never get accused of being too cozy with the police force? How is it the White House Press Corps, which gets all kinds of privileged access and perks, is never accused of being too cozy with the President?

Neither should anyone in the military assume that just because journalists have been brought into the fold everything will be rosy. Joe Galloway has never said anything bad about the American soldier, but that has not stopped him from pointing his rhetorical weaponry at the Pentagon, the top brass, and the system whenever he has spotted a wrong or injustice. A journalist with a negative story is still going to publish. That is how he gets page one, promotions, and the praise of his peers. However, the military can expect to receive the benefit of the doubt more often than is now the case, and the journalists at least will know what they are talking about, making them more likely to get the story right.

The PAO process needs to be radically rebuilt. Critical to accomplishing this is reversing the passive mind-set of the PAO community such that it ceases being a filter for information and becomes actively engaged in making sure information gets out the door. There is no reason PAOs should be sitting back waiting for journalist inquiries or requests for interviews. Every day they should be out executing an aggressive media plan to get the military story in front of the public. This has to go beyond the sterility of a periodic press release or press briefing. It means spending every day trying to get important stories into the hands of journalists or facilitating stories already in the works.

To do this, military public affairs organizations need to employ some radical new business concepts.

Every businessperson knows that if you want to stay in business you have to anticipate customers? needs and supply them. PAOs have two customers?the organization they serve and the media who come to them for information. They are failing both. Ask your average PAO what information the command wants to get out next week or over the course of a year and the vast majority will give you a blank stare, or worse. Worse would include, ?We want to make sure everyone knows what a magnificent job the soldiers in this organization are doing. On a daily basis they are accomplishing the mission under the most . . .? Thank you, but journalists have all the pabulum they need. PAOs need to get more knowledgeable about the specifics of what their organizations are doing and then be aggressive in getting that story out.

When it comes to getting closer to or understanding the media, the PAO community is failing miserably. Yes, there are some bright lights, but they are few and far between. Programs such as ?Working with Industry? are a step in the right direction, but they are much too small to have any serious practical effect.

One step in the right direction would be to assign a captain/lieutenant to each of the major media organizations. I like to use the term ?reverse embed,? but that could be interpreted as having that officer reporting back to the Pentagon on what the media is doing. What I envision is not a spy, but an informed individual that members of a media group can turn to as a source. Someone who can explain that while a second lieutenant outranks a sergeant major, he gives him an order only at great peril. The manpower costs would be relatively insignificant (three networks, three major news magazines, three cable channels, and maybe a half dozen leading newspapers or syndicates). There is, of course, the chance the media organizations will be wary. This is easily overcome?offer it to only a few groups or on a first come, first served, basis and wait for the rest to clamor for their fair share.

Once in place, this individual could provide context for ongoing stories and facilitate journalist dealings with various commands (local PAOs). At the very least, it would not hurt to have a permanent goodwill ambassador inside organizations that often are viewed as hostile to all things military. It will take a long time before this officer is trusted by the editors, and many of those assigned this duty may feel entitled to combat pay. By its very nature, this will have to be a long-term effort, but I am sure it will not be too many years before the military-media attach? is being given space on the masthead of many media outlets.

A seemingly easy fix would be to give journalists a single point of contact at the higher level depending on what media they work for. For instance, a group of PAOs would be assigned to print magazines and another to news channels. Every journalist at Time or Fox News would know who to call for information. Long-term relationships would be built, and PAOs would gain a thorough understanding of the media with which they are working. Understandably, no PAO team would be able to answer every question that came in, but they would be able to point journalists in the right direction and facilitate contact with local PAOs who might have the information. A side benefit would be that they often would be able to give local PAOs a heads up. And if someone from the national media called a local PAO, that PAO would know who to alert about the inquiry. In an era when even what appears to be local trivia can have a strategic impact, this kind of intelligence would be critical in any attempt to get ahead of a story or at least to get the broad context of an event in journalists? hands.

In fact, failure to provide broader context to events is another major shortcoming of the PAO community. Recently, an article in The Washington Post screamed out about 91 cases of misconduct toward Iraqis being investigated by military authorities. U.S. soldiers and Marines were presented as marauding barbarians in tone if not in words. Some said this was an unfair portrait, but the article was correct in every factual detail. But what if there had been a PAO office somewhere that was responsible for putting this kind of information in context? Alerted by the captain/lieutenant assigned to the Post (who is passing information, not spying) or by the PAOs covering major newspapers, they would have gotten the gist of the article. Then they could have produced something like this:
   ?    .05% of soldiers in Iraq were accused of any misconduct toward Iraqis in the past year.
   ?     15% of New York?s Police Department is accused of some misconduct during the year.
   ?     .003% of military patrols have resulted in investigation.
   ?     .16% of NYPD patrols result in investigation.
   ?     Remove the incidents committed by one terribly led unit of prison guards (800th Military Police), and the military?s performance improves by more than 100%.
   ?     In an environment at least 850 times as deadly as New York City, with a force of tens of thousands of teenagers who have no police training and who are working in communities where they do not even know the language, the U.S. military has done its policing job with 1/300th of the complaints that NYPD receives annually.
   ?     On a per patrol basis, the military is 50 times less likely to receive a complaint than the NYPD.
   ?     In the past year, New York City has lost one officer in the line of duty, or .002% of its force.
   ?     Over the same period, the U.S. military in Iraq lost 842 or .7% of the in-country force (and 5,000 more wounded).

This kind of context could have been given to the article?s author before the story ran or to others after the fact. While even one case of misconduct is a tragedy, the above context puts a new complexion on the problem. The military no longer is a bunch of barbarians pillaging the Iraqi countryside. It is now clear that while there has been some abuse, the vast majority of our men and women in Iraq are doing a great job under very dangerous conditions.

The military would also do well to look into funding various media operations. The reason most embeds came home as soon as major combat operations ended is that it was costing a fortune to keep them in Iraq. News organizations were losing millions covering the war, but they could not decrease their coverage in the face of brutal competition. However, as soon as it was safe to pull the plug, the accountants made them do it. Just when it became critical for the military to have embeds who could tell the full story in Iraq, they vanished. The military needs to come up with a way to foot the bill for extended media operations.

There are several arguments against this. First, the military does not owe the media a stipend to cover their commercial enterprise. Many would claim the military is doing enough by giving journalists access and providing security. That is all well and good, except that it is the military that has a strong vested interest in getting out the entire story. New organizations will get enough copy to cover the news cycle from just a small office in Baghdad. If the military wants journalists to go see what is happening in the rest of the country and how soldiers are coping as they perform their missions, then it has to be ready to pony up the money to finance it. Otherwise, it is useless to complain about the lack of perspective journalists have on events because all they do is sit in offices in Baghdad. Given a choice, the journalists would all be out with the troops because that is where the accolades and Pulitzer Prizes are to be found.

The second objection is that this would give the appearance of a state-controlled media. This might be a long-term problem, but I do not see the media giving in to state control of content anytime soon. However, if we must have a solution, creating an independently administered fund that media outlets could draw on as required would fit the bill. It might be messy as each group fought over its share, but I am confident it would not take long before accommodations were made and some equilibrium achieved.

The military also would be well served by sending some of its more fluent and entertaining PAOs on regular tours of journalism classes throughout the country, possibly even teaching classes at universities. Here is a real chance for the military to catch budding journalists on the ground floor and educate them about the functions and realities of the military. There already are some programs to send fellows to places such as the Shorenstein Center for Press and Public Policy, but once again the numbers are too few to make a significant impact.

In addition, the military needs to expand and formalize programs to get media representatives out to any and all kinds of training and daily events. A lot of this is being done at the local level, but it needs to be expanded to include the national press. This does not mean that marksmanship training will find its way onto national news, but it will begin to establish a new tone and familiarity between the elite press and the military. Once again, I advocate that the military pick up the bill for all of this.

Not all journalists will accept these offers, but some will. Those who do should be brought into the fold. Each media person who shows up for anything should be made an honorary member of the unit, given a unit coin, put on the unit newsletter distribution list, and invited to every social event. This holds doubly true if the visiting journalist writes a negative story. Remember to be nice to the young journalists. You never know which one is going to become a news anchor.

Finally, the military needs to develop programs to get more of its senior officers and civilian officials in front of the press on a regular basis. Too many see the press as their enemy or something to be feared. If the media are the enemy, then the military needs to wade into them as if storming ashore on D-Day. Officers who will run any personal risk in combat to ensure mission accomplishment must learn to be equally fearless when dealing with this new foe. Besides, once they wade in, they might find the enemy is not so bad after all.

Mr. Lacey is a Washington-based writer focusing on defense and international affairs issues. He was embedded with the 101st Airborne during the war in Iraq.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Whack job on October 07, 2004, 04:59:37 PM

Very long, read part two only if you are short on time
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 14, 2004, 07:40:54 PM
To call this interesting read by Arthur Miller a "Political Rant" is an injustice, but I didn't know where else to put it



On politics and the art of acting

Arthur Miller


Here are some observations about politicians as actors. Since some of my best friends are actors, I don't dare say anything bad about the art itself. The fact is that acting is inevitable as soon as we walk out our front doors and into society. I am acting now; certainly I am not using the same tone as I would in my living room. It is not news that we are moved more by our glandular reactions to a leader's personality, his acting, than by his proposals or by his moral character. To their millions of followers, after all, many of them highly regarded university intellectuals, Hitler and Stalin were profoundly moral men, revealers of new truths. Aristotle thought man was by nature a social animal, and indeed we are ruled more by the social arts, the arts of performance--by acting, in other words--than anybody wants to think about for very long.


In our own time television has created a quantitative change in all this; one of the oddest things about millions of lives now is that ordinary individuals, as never before in human history, are so surrounded by acting. Twenty-four hours a day everything seen on the tube is either acted or conducted by actors in the shape of news anchormen and -women, including their hairdos. It may be that the most impressionable form of experience now for many if not most people consists in their emotional transactions with actors, which happen far more of the time than with real people. In the past, a person might have confronted the arts of performance once a year in a church ceremony or in a rare appearance by a costumed prince or king and his ritualistic gestures; it would have seemed a very strange idea that ordinary folk would be so subjected every day to the persuasions of professionals whose studied technique, after all, was to assume the character of someone else.


Is this persistent experience of any importance? I can't imagine how to prove this, but it seems to me that when one is surrounded by such a roiling mass of consciously contrived performances it gets harder and harder to locate reality anymore. Admittedly, we live in an age of entertainment, but is it a good thing that our political life, for one, be so profoundly governed by the modes of theater, from tragedy to vaudeville to farce? I find myself speculating whether the relentless daily diet of crafted, acted emotions and canned ideas is not subtly pressing our brains not only to mistake fantasy for what is real but to absorb this falseness into our personal sensory process. This last election is an example. Apparently we are now called upon to act as though nothing very unusual happened and as though nothing in our democratic process has deteriorated, including our claim to the right to instruct lesser countries on how to conduct fair elections. So, in a subtle way, we are induced to become actors, too. The show, after all, must go on, even if the audience is obligated to join in the acting.


Political leaders everywhere have come to understand that to govern they must learn how to act. No differently than any actor, Al Gore went through several changes of costume before finding the right mix to express the personality he wished to project. Up to the campaign he seemed an essentially serious type with no great claim to humor, but the presidential-type character he had chosen to play was apparently happy, upbeat, with a kind of Bing Crosby mellowness. I daresay that if he seemed so awkward it was partly because he had cast himself in a role that was wrong for him. As for George W. Bush, now that he is president he seems to have learned not to sneer quite so much, and to cease furtively glancing left and right when leading up to a punch line, followed by a sharp nod to flash that he has successfully delivered it. This is bad acting, because all the dire overemphasis casts doubt on the text. Obviously, as the sparkly magic veil of actual power has descended upon him, he has become more relaxed and confident, like an actor after he has had some hit reviews and knows the show is in for a run.


At this point I suppose I should add something about my own bias. I recall the day, back in the fifties, during Eisenhower's campaign against Adlai Stevenson, when I turned on my television and saw the general who had led the greatest invasion force in history lying back under the hands of a professional makeup woman preparing him for his TV appearance. I was far more naive then, and so I still found it hard to believe that henceforth we were to be wooed and won by rouge, lipstick, and powder rather than ideas and positions on public issues. It was almost as though he were getting ready to assume the role of General Eisenhower instead of simply being him. In politics, of course, what you see is rarely what you get, but Eisenhower was not actually a good actor, especially when he ad-libbed, disserving himself as a nearly comical bumbler with the English language when in fact he was a lot more literate and sophisticated than his public-speaking style suggested. As his biographer, a Life editor named Emmet John Hughes, once told me, Eisenhower, when he was still a junior officer, was the author of those smoothly liquid, rather Roman-style speeches that had made his boss, Douglas MacArthur, so famous. Then again, I wonder if Eisenhower's syntactical stumbling in public made him seem more convincingly sincere.


Watching some of our leaders on TV has made me wonder if we really have any idea what is involved in the actor's art, and I recall again a story once told me by my old friend the late Robert Lewis, director of a number of beautiful Broadway productions, including the original Brigadoon. Starting out as an actor in the late twenties, Bobby had been the assistant and dresser of Jacob Ben-Ami, a star in Europe and in New York as well. Ben-Ami, an extraordinary actor, was in a Yiddish play, but despite the language and the location of the theater far from Times Square, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, one of its scenes had turned it into a substantial hit with English-speaking audiences. Experiencing that scene had become the in thing to do in New York. People who had never dreamed of seeing a Yiddish play traveled downtown to watch this one scene, and then left. In it Ben-Ami stood at the edge of the stage staring into space and, with tremendous tension, brought a revolver to his head. Seconds passed, whole minutes. Some in the audience shut their eyes or turned away, certain the shot was coming at any instant. Ben-Ami clenched his jaws. Sweat broke out on his face. His eyes seemed about to pop out of his head; his hands trembled as he strove to will himself to suicide. More moments passed. People in the audience were gasping for breath and making strange asphyxiated noises. Finally, standing on his toes now as though to leap into the unknown, Ben-Ami dropped the gun and cried out, "Ikh ken nit!" I can't do it! Night after night he brought the house down; Ben-Ami somehow compelled the audience to suspend its disbelief and to imagine his brains splattered all over the stage.


Lewis, aspiring young actor that he was, begged Ben-Ami to tell him the secret of how he created this emotional reality, but the actor kept putting him off, saying he would tell him only after the final performance. "It's better for people not to know," he said, "or it'll spoil the show."


Then at last the final performance came, and at its end Ben-Ami sat in his dressing room with the young Lewis.


"You promised to tell me," Lewis said.


"All right. I'll tell you. My problem with this scene," Ben-Ami explained, "was that I personally could never blow my brains out. I am just not suicidal, and I can't imagine ending my life. So I could never really know how that man was feeling, and I could never play such a person authentically. For weeks I went around trying to think of some parallel in my own life that I could draw on. What situation could I be in where, first of all, I am standing up, I am alone, I am looking straight ahead, and something I feel I must do is making me absolutely terrified, and finally that whatever it is I can't do it?"


"Yes," Lewis said, hungry for this great actor's key to greatness. "And what is that?"


"Well," Ben-Ami said, "I finally realized that the one thing I hate worse than anything is washing in cold water. So what I'm really doing with that gun to my head is, I'm trying to get myself to step into an ice-cold shower."


Now, if we translate this situation to political campaigns, who are we really voting for? The self-possessed character who projects dignity, exemplary morals, and enough forthright courage to lead us through war or depression, or the person who is simply good at creating a counterfeit with the help of professional coaching, executive tailoring, and that whole armory of pretense that the groomed president can now employ? Are we allowed anymore to know what is going on not merely in the candidate's facial expression and his choice of suit but also in his head? Unfortunately, as with Ben-Ami, this is something we are not told until the auditioning ends and he is securely in office. After spending tens of millions of dollars, neither candidate--at least for me--ever managed to create that unmistakable click of recognition as to who he really was. But maybe this is asking too much. As with most actors, any resemblance between the man and the role is purely accidental.


The Stanislavsky system came into vogue at the dawn of the twentieth century, when science was recognized as the dominating force of the age. Objective scientific analysis promised to open everything to human control, and the Stanislavsky method was an attempt to systematize the actor's vagrant search for authenticity as he works to portray a character different from his own. Politicians do something similar all the time; by assuming personalities not genuinely theirs--let's say six-pack, lunchbox types--they hope to connect with ordinary Americans. The difficulty for Bush and Gore in their attempts to seem like regular fellas was that both were scions of successful and powerful families. Worse yet for their regular-fella personae, both were in effect created by the culture of Washington, D.C., and you can't hope to be president without running against Washington. The problem for Gore was that Washington meant Clinton, whom he dared not acknowledge lest he be challenged on moral grounds. As for Bush, he was forced to impersonate an outsider pitching against dependency on the federal government, whose payroll, however, had helped feed two generations of his family. There's a name for this sort of cannonading of Washington; it is called i acting. To some important degree both gentlemen had to act themselves out of their real personae into freshly begotten ones. The reality, of course, was that the closest thing on the political stage to a man of the people was Clinton the Unclean, the real goods with the six-pack background, whom it was both dangerous and necessary to disown. This took a monstrous amount of acting.


It was in the so-called debates that the sense of a contrived performance rather than a naked clash of personalities and ideas came to a sort of head. Here was acting, acting with a vengeance. But the consensus seems to have called the performances decidedly boring. And how could it be otherwise when both men seemed to be attempting to display the same genial temperament, a readiness to perform the same role and, in effect, to climb into the same warm suit? The role, of course, was that of the nice guy, Bing Crosby with a sprinkling of Bob Hope. Clearly they had both been coached not to threaten the audience with too much passion but rather to reassure that if elected they would not disturb any reasonable person's sleep. In acting terms there was no inner reality, no genuineness, no glimpse into their unruly souls. One remarkable thing did happen, though--a single, split-second shot that revealed Gore shaking his head in helpless disbelief at some inanity Bush had spoken. Significantly, this gesture earned him many bad reviews for what were called his superior airs, his sneering disrespect; in short, he had stepped out of costume and revealed his reality. This, in effect, was condemned as a failure of acting. In the American press, which is made up of disguised theater critics, substance counts for next to nothing compared with style and inventive characterization. For a millisecond Gore had been inept enough to have gotten real! And this clown wanted to be president yet! Not only is all the world a stage but we have all but obliterated the fine line between the feigned and the real.


Was there ever such a border? It is hard to know, but we might try to visualize the Lincoln-Douglas debates before the Civil War, when thousands would stand, spread out across some pasture, to listen to the two speakers, who were mounted on stumps so they could be seen from far off. There certainly was no makeup; neither man had a speechwriter but, incredibly enough, made it all up himself. Years later, Lincoln supposedly wrote the Gettysburg Address on scraps of paper while en route to a memorial ceremony. Is it imaginable that any of our candidates could have such conviction and, more importantly, such self-assured candor as to pour out his heart this way? To be sure, Lincoln and Douglas were civil, at least in the record of their remarks, but their attack on each other's ideas was sharp and thorough, revealing of their actual approaches to the nation's problems. As for their styles, they had to have been very different than the current laid-back cool before the lens. The lens magnifies everything: one slight lift of an eyelid and you look like you're glaring. If there is a single, basic requirement for success on television it is minimalization: whatever you are doing, do less of it and emit cool. In other words--act. In contrast, speakers facing hundreds of people without a microphone and in the open air must inevitably have been broader in gesture and even more emphatic in speech than in life. Likewise, their use of language had to be more pointed and precise in order to carry their points out to the edges of the crowd. And no makeup artist stood waiting to wipe up every bead of sweat on a speaker's lip; the candidates were stripped to their shirtsleeves in the summer heat, and people nearby could no doubt smell them. There may, in short, have been some aspect of human reality in such a debate.


Given the camera's tendency to exaggerate any movement, it may in itself have a dampening effect on spontaneity and conflict. There were times in this last campaign when one even wondered whether the candidates feared that to raise issues and engage in a genuine clash before the camera might set fire to some of the more flammable public. They chose instead to forgo the telling scowl or the passionate outburst in favor of that which ran less risk of a social conflagration: benign smiles on a glass screen.


No differently than with actors, the single most important characteristic a politician needs to display is relaxed sincerity. Ronald Reagan disarmed his opponents by never showing the slightest sign of inner conflict about the truth of what he was saying. Simpleminded as his critics found his ideas and remarks, cynical and manipulative as he may have been in actuality, he seemed to believe every word he said. He could tell you that atmospheric pollution came from trees, or that ketchup was a vegetable in school lunches, or leave the impression that he had seen action in World War II rather than in a movie he had made or perhaps only seen, and if you didn't believe these things you were still kind of amused by how sincerely he said them. Sincerity implies honesty, an absence of moral conflict in the mind of its possessor. Of course, this can also indicate insensitivity or even stupidity. It is hard, for example, to think of another American official whose reputation would not have been stained by saluting a cemetery of Nazi dead with heartfelt solemnity while barely mentioning the many millions, including Americans, who were victims of that vile regime. But Reagan was not only an actor; he loved acting, and it can be said that at least in public he not only acted all the time but did so sincerely. The second best actor is Clinton, who does occasionally seem to blush, but then again he was caught in an illicit sexual act, which is far more important than illegally shipping weapons to foreign countries. Reagan's tendency to confuse events in films with things that really happened is often seen as intellectual weakness, but in reality it was--unknowingly, of course--a Stanislavskian triumph, the very consummation of the actor's ability to incorporate reality into the fantasy of his role. In Reagan the dividing line between acting and actuality was simply melted, gone. Human beings, as the poet said, cannot bear very much reality, and the art of politics is our best proof. The trouble is that a leader comes to symbolize his country, and so the nagging question is whether, when real trouble comes, we can act ourselves out of it.


The first obligation of the actor, just as with the politician, is to get himself known. P. T. Barnum said it for all time when a reporter asked if he wasn't ashamed at having tricked the public. He had originated the freak show, which had drawn an immense audience to his Bridgeport, Connecticut, barn to see the bearded lady and the two-headed calf. But the show was such a great hit that his problem was how to get people to leave and make room for new customers. His solution was to put up a sign, with an arrow pointing to the door, that read, "This way to the Egress." Since nobody had ever seen an "egress" before, the place emptied satisfactorily, and the audience found itself in the street. The reporter asked if this ploy wouldn't anger people and ruin his reputation. Barnum gave his historic reply: "I don't care what they write about me as long as they spell my name right." If there is a single rubric to express the most basic requirement for political or theatrical success, this is it.


Whether he admits it or not, the actor wants not only to be believed and admired but to be loved, and what may help to account for the dullness of this last campaign was the absence of affection for either man, not to speak of love. By the end it seemed like an unpopularity contest, a competition for who was less disliked by more people than the other, a demonstration of negative consent. Put another way, in theatrical terms these were character actors but not fascinating stars. Ironically, the exception to all this lovelessness was-Nader, whose people, at least on television, did seem to adore their leader, even after he had managed to help wreck Gore and elect Bush, whom they certainly despised far more than they did Gore. At this point I ought to confess that I have known only one president whom I feel confident about calling "the President of the United States," and that was Franklin Roosevelt. My impulse is to say that he alone was not an actor, but I probably think that because he was such a good one. He could not stand on his legs, after all, but he took care never to exhibit weakness by appearing in his wheelchair, or in any mood but that of upbeat, cheery optimism, which at times he certainly did not feel. Roosevelt was so genuine a star, his presence so overwhelming, that Republicans, consciously or not, have never stopped running against him for this whole half-century.


The mystery of the star performer can only leave the inquiring mind confused, resentful, or blank, something that, of course, has the greatest political importance. Many Republicans have blamed the press for the attention Bill Clinton continued to get even out of office. Again, what they don't understand is that what a star says, and even what he does, is incidental to people's interest in him. When the click of empathic association is made with a leader, logic has very little to do with it and virtue even less. Obviously, this is not very encouraging news for rational people who hope to uplift society by reasoned argument. But then, not many of us rational folk are immune to the star's ability to rule.


The presidency, in acting terms, is a heroic role. It is not one for comedians, sleek lover types, or second bananas. To be credible, the man who acts as president must hold in himself an element of potential danger. Something similar is required in a real star.


Like most people, I had never even heard of Marion Brando the first time I saw him onstage not long after the end of World War II. The play was Truckline Cafe, a failed work by Maxwell Anderson that was soon to close, hardly a promising debut for an ambitious actor. The set is a shabby cafe on some country highway. It is after midnight, the place miserably lit and empty. There is a counter and a few booths with worn upholstery. A car is heard stopping outside. Presently, a young man wearing a worn-leather jacket and a cap strolls in, an exhausted-looking girl behind him.


He saunters down to center stage, looking around for a sign of life. For a long time he says absolutely nothing, just stands there in the sort of slouch you fall into after driving for hours. The moment lengthens as he tries to figure out what to do, his patience clearly thinning. Nothing has happened, he has hardly even moved, but watching him, the audience, myself included, is already spellbound. Another actor would simply have aroused impatience, but we are in Brando's power; we read him; his being is speaking to us even if we can't make out precisely what it is saying. It is something like an animal that has slipped from its cage. Is he dangerous? Friendly? Stupid? Intelligent? Without a word spoken, this actor has opened up in the audience a whole range of emotional possibilities, including, oddly enough, a little fear. Finally he calls out, "Anybody here?!" What a relief! He has not shot up the place. He has not thrown chairs around. All he wanted, apparently, was a sandwich.


I can't explain how Brando, wordlessly, did what he did, but he had found a way, no doubt instinctively, to master a paradox--he had implicitly threatened us and then given us pardon. Here was Napoleon, here was Caesar, here was Roosevelt. Brando had not asked the members of the audience merely to love him; that is only charm. He had made them wish that he would deign to love them. That is a star. That is power, no different in its essence than the power that can lead nations.


Onstage or in the White House, power changes everything, even how the aspirant looks after he wins. I remember running into Dustin Hoffman on a rainy New York street some years ago; he had only a month earlier played the part of the Lomans' pale and nervous next-door neighbor, Bernard, in a recording session with Lee Cobb of Death of a Salesman. Now as he approached, counting the cracks in the sidewalk, hatless, his wet hair dripping, a worn coat collar turned up, I prepared to greet him, thinking that with his bad skin, hawkish nose, and adenoidal voice some brave friend really ought to tell him to go into another line of work. As compassionately as possible I asked what he was doing now, and with a rather apologetic sigh he said, after several sniffles, "Well, they want me for a movie." "Oh?" I felt relieved that he was not about to collapse in front of me in a fit of depression. "What's the movie?"


"It's called The Graduate," he said.


"Good part?"


"Well, yeah, I guess it's the lead."


In no time at all this half-drowned puppy would have millions of people at his feet all over the world. And once having ascended to power, so to speak, it became hard even for me to remember him when he was real. Not that he wasn't real, just that he was real plus. And the plus is the mystery of the patina, the glow that power paints on the elected human being.


The amount of acting required of both President Bush and the Democrats is awesome now, given the fractured election and donation by the Supreme Court. Practically no participant in the whole process can really say out loud what is in his heart. They are all facing an ice-cold shower with a gun to their head. Bush has to act as though he were elected, the Supreme Court has to act as though it were the Supreme Court, Gore has to act as though he is practically overjoyed at his own defeat, and so on. Unfortunately, such roles generally require hard work ahead of time, and the closest thing I've seen so far to deliberately rehearsed passion was the organized mob of Republicans banging threateningly on the door of a Florida vote-counting office and howling for the officials inside to stop counting. I must confess, though, that as a playwright I would be flummoxed as to how to make plausible on the stage an organized stampede of partisans yelling to stop the count and in the same breath accusing the other side of trying to steal the election. I can't imagine an audience taking this for anything but a satirical farce.


An election, not unlike a classic play, has a certain strict form that requires us to pass through certain ordained steps toward a logical conclusion. When, instead, the form dissolves and chaos reigns, the audience is left feeling cheated and even mocked. After this last, most hallucinatory of elections, it was said that in the end the system worked, when clearly it hadn't at all. And one of the signs that it had collapsed popped up even before the decision was finally made in Bush's favor; it was when Dick Armey, the Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives, declared that he would simply not attend the inauguration if Gore were elected, despite immemorial custom and his clear obligation to do so. In short, Armey had reached the limits of his actor's imagination and could only collapse into playing himself. You cannot have a major performer deciding, in the middle of a play, to leave the scene without utterly destroying the whole illusion. For the system to be said to have worked, no one is allowed to stop acting.


The play without a character we can really root for is in trouble. Shakespeare's Coriolanus is an example. It is not often produced, powerful though it is as playwriting and poetry, no doubt because, as a totally honest picture of ambition in a frightening human being, the closest the play ever gets to love is Coriolanus' subservience to his mother. In short, it is a truthful play without sentimentality, and truthfulness, I'm afraid, doesn't sell a whole.tot of tickets or draw votes. Which inevitably brings me again to Clinton. Until the revulsion brought on by the pardon scandal, he was leaving office with the highest rating for performance and the lowest for personal character. People had prospered under his leadership, and, with whatever reluctance, they still connected with his humanity as they glimpsed it, ironically enough, through his sins. We are back, I think, to the mystery of the star. Clinton, except for those few minutes when lying about Monica Lewinsky, was relaxed on camera in a way any actor would envy. And relaxation is the soul of the art, because it arouses receptivity rather than defensiveness in an audience.


That receptivity brings to mind a friend of mine who, many years ago, won the prize for selling more Electrolux vacuum cleaners in the Bronx than any other door-to-door salesman. He once explained how he did it: "You want them to start saying yes. So you ask questions that they can't say no to. Is this 1350 Jerome Avenue? Yes. Is your name Smith? Yes. Do you have carpets? Yes. A vacuum cleaner? Yes. Once you've got them on a yes roll, a kind of psychological fusion takes place. You're both on the same side. It's almost like some kind of love, and they feel it's impolite for them to say no, and in no time you're in the house unpacking the machine." What Clinton projects is a personal interest in the customer that comes across as a sort of love. There can be no doubt that, like all great performers, he loves to act, he is most alive when he's on. His love of acting may be his most authentic emotion, the realest thing about him, and, as with Reagan, there is no dividing line between his performance and himself he is his performance. There is no greater contrast than with Gore or Bush, both of whom projected a kind of embarrassment at having to perform, an underlying tension between themselves and the role, and tension, needless to say, shuts down love on the platform no less than it does in bed.


On every side there is a certain amount of lamenting about the reluctance of Americans to condemn Bill Clinton, but rather than blaming our failed moral judgment I think we would do better to examine his acting. Clinton is our Eulenspiegel, the mythical arch prankster of fourteenth-century Germany who was a sort of mischievous and lovable folk spirit, half child, half man. Eulenspiegel challenged society with his enviable guile and a charm so irresistible that he could blurt out embarrassing truths about the powerful on behalf of the ordinary man. His closest American equivalent is Brer Rabbit, who ravishes people's vegetable gardens and, just when he seems to be cornered, charmingly distracts his pursuer with some outrageously engaging story while edging closer and closer to a hole down which he escapes. Appropriately enough, the word "Eulenspiegel" is a sort of German joke: it means a mirror put before an owl, and since an owl is blind in daylight it cannot see its own reflection. As bright and happy and hilariously unpredictable as Eulenspiegel is, he cannot see himself, and so, among other things, he is dangerous.


In other words, a star. Indeed, the perfect model of both star and political leader is that smiling and implicitly dangerous man who likes you.


In part because Gore and Bush were not threatening, their offer of protective affection was not considered important. Gore was so busy trying to unbend that he forfeited whatever menace he may have had. Bush did his best to pump up his chest and toughly turn down the corners of his mouth, but it was all too obviously a performance, and for too long his opponents failed to take him as anything more than the potential president of a fraternity. Risking immodesty, to say the least, he actually referred to himself as a "leader" and claimed that his forth-coming administration would fill the vacuum of "leadership." Caught time after time fouling up his syntax, thus shaking the image of manly command, he has improved since real power has descended upon him, and his sentences, saving on grammar, have gotten shorter and shorter--to the point where, at times, he comes close to sounding like a gunslinger in a Clint Eastwood film. He is, though, beginning to relax into his role and, like most presidents, may in the fullness of time come to seem inevitable.


The ultimate foundation of political power, of course, has never changed: it is the leader's willingness to resort to violence should the need arise. Adlai Stevenson may have seemed too civilized to resort to violence without a crippling hesitation, and Jimmy Carter was so clearly restrained by Christian scruple that a single military accident involving a handful of unfortunate soldiers destroyed all his credibility in one stroke. An American leader may deliver the Sunday lesson provided his sword is never out of reach, the two best examples being FDR and John Kennedy. But this type, which doesn't come along every day, is the aristocratic populist, and the aristocrat learns how to act at a very early age; it is part of his upbringing. A Nixon, on the contrary, has to learn as he goes along. Indeed, once he had ordered himself bugged, Nixon was acting during all his waking hours; his entire working life became a recorded performance.


The case of President Truman and the atom bomb is particularly rich in its references to acting and power. When several of the scientists who had built the first bomb petitioned Truman to stage a demonstration off the Japanese coast rather than dropping it on an inhabited city, he chose the latter course; the fear was that the first bomb might fail to work, encouraging the Japanese to refuse peace overtures even more resolutely. However frightful the consequences, it was better to bomb a city and in one flash bring the war to an end. The weakness in this reasoning is that if the bomb was so uncertain to explode, why drop it on a city, where Japanese scientists might examine and maybe even copy it? A more persuasive argument, I'm afraid, is that if the Japanese had been warned to expect a demonstration of a terrible new weapon, and it had been a dud, a dead iron ball splashing into the sea, Truman's unwillingness to kill would have threatened his leadership, and he, personally and symbolically, would have lost credibility. I'm not at all sure what I would have done in his position, confronted with the possibility of terrible American losses in a land invasion of Japan. But the issue is not Truman so much as the manifestations of power that people require their leaders to act out. Jesus Christ could not have beaten Hitler's Germany or Imperial Japan into surrender. And it is not impossible that our main reason for cloaking our leaders with a certain magical, extra-human, theatrical aura is to help disguise one of the basic conditions of their employment--namely, a readiness to kill for us.


Whether for good or for evil, it is sadly inevitable that all political leadership requires the artifices of theatrical illusion. In the politics of a democracy the shortest distance between two points is often a crooked line. While Roosevelt was stoutly repeating his determination to keep America out of any foreign war, he was taking steps toward belligerency in order to save England and prevent a Nazi victory. In effect, mankind is in debt to his lies. So from the tragic necessity of dissimulation there seems to be no escape. Except, of course, to tell people the truth, something hat doesn't require acting but may damage one's own party and, in certain circumstances, the human enterprise itself. Then what?


Then, I'm afraid, we can only turn to the release of art, to the other theater, the theater-theater, where you can tell the truth without killing anybody and may even illuminate the awesomely durable dilemma of how to lead without lying too much. The release of art will not forge a cannon or pave a street, but it may remind us again and again of the corruptive essence of power, its tendency to enhance itself at the expense of humanity. The late director and critic Harold Clurman called theater "lies like truth." Theater does indeed lie, fabricating everything from the storm's roar to the lark's song, from the actor's laughter to his nightly flood of tears. And the actor lies; but with all the spontaneity that careful calculation can lend him, he may construct a vision of some important truth about the human condition that opens us to a new understanding of ourselves. In the end, we call a work of art trivial when it illuminates little beyond its own devices, and the same goes for political leaders who bespeak some narrow interest rather than those of the national or universal good. The fault is not in the use of the theatrical arts but in their purpose.


Paradox is the name of the game where acting as an art is concerned. It is a rare, hardheaded politician who is at home with any of the arts these days; most often the artist is considered suspect, a nuisance, a threat to morality, or a fraud. At the same time, one of the most lucrative American exports, after airplanes, is art--namely, music and films. But art has always been the revenge of the human spirit upon the shortsighted. Consider the sublime achievements of Greece, the necrophilic grandeur of the Egyptians, the glory of the Romans, the awesome power of the Assyrians, the rise and fall of the Jews and their incomprehensible survival, and what are we left with but a handful of plays, essays, carved stones, and some strokes of paint on paper or the rock cave wall--in a word, art? The ironies abound. Artists are not particularly famous for their steady habits, the acceptability of their opinions, or their conformity with societal mores, but whatever is not turned into art disappears forever. It is very strange when you think about it, except for one thing that is not strange but quite logical: however dull or morally delinquent an artist may be, in his moment of creation, when his work pierces the truth, he cannot dissimulate, he cannot fake it. Tolstoy once remarked that what we look for in a work of art is the revelation of the artist's soul, a glimpse of God. You can't act that.

This essay was adapted from the 2001 Jefferson Lecture, sponsored annually by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Established in 1972, the Jefferson Lecture is the highest honor bestowed by the federal government for distinguished achievement in the humanities. Arthur Miller is the author of numerous plays, including Death of a Salesman and The Crucible. His memoir "A Line to Walk On" appeared in the November 2000 issue of Harper's Magazine.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 24, 2004, 11:04:38 PM

By RALPH PETERS October 24, 2004 -- EUROPEANS insist that the United States overreacted to 9/11. Conde scendingly, they observe that they've been dealing with terror ism successfully for three dec ades, that it can be
managed, that life goes on.

They're wrong.

What Europeans fail to grasp - what they willfully refuse to face - is that
the nature of terrorism has changed.

The alphabet-soup terrorists of the past - the IRA, ETA, PLO, RAF and the
rest - were essentially political organizations with political goals. No
matter how brutal their actions or unrealistic their hopes, their common
intent was to change a system of government, either to gain a people's
independence or to force their ideology on society.

The old-school terrorists that Europe survived did not seek death, although they were sometimes willing to die for their causes. None were suicide bombers, although a few committed suicide in prison to make a political statement.

Crucially, their goals were of this earth. All would have preferred to
survive to rule in a government that they controlled.

Now we face terrorists who regard death as a promotion - who reject secular ideologies and believe themselves to be instruments of their god's will.

Indeed, they hope to nudge their god along, to convince him through their
actions that the final struggle between faith and infidelity is at hand.
While they'd like to see certain changes here on earth - the destruction of
Israel, of the United States, of the West, of unbelievers and heretics
everywhere - their longed-for destination is paradise beyond the grave.

THE new terrorists are vastly more dangerous, more implacable and crueler than the old models. The political terrorists of the 1970s and '80s used bloodshed to gain their goals. Religious terrorists see mass murder as an end in itself, as a purifying act that cleanses the world of infidels. They don't place their bombs for political leverage, but to kill as many innocent human beings as possible.

Yesteryear's murderers of European politicians and businessmen by the old crowd seem almost mannerly compared to today's religion-fueled terrorists, who openly rejoice in decapitating their living victims in front of cameras.

When political terrorists hijacked airplanes, they hoped to draw attention
to their cause. When Islamic terrorists seize passenger jets, they do it to
kill as many people as possible.

The old terrorists were sometimes so rabid that they had to be killed or
imprisoned. But others became negotiating partners for governments. From Yasser Arafat to Gerry Adams, some gained international respectability. (It even may be argued that Adams became part of the solution, rather than simply remaining part of the problem.)

For today's apocalyptic terrorists, negotiations are no more than a tool to
be used in extreme situations, to allow them to live to kill again another
day. And no promises made to infidels need be honored.

The Islamic terrorists we now face will never become statesmen. They wish to shed our blood to fortify their faith, to impose their beliefs upon the world, to placate a vengeful god.

That doesn't offer much room for polite diplomacy. Islamic terrorists have
reverted to the most primitive of religious practices: human sacrifice.
Their brand of Islam is no "religion of peace." They're Aztecs without the
art. And it takes a Cortez to deal with them.

Europeans' experience of negotiating with political terrorists has allowed
them to deceive themselves into a false sense of security. Forgetting the
pain inflicted on their societies by tiny bands of assassins (whether the
Baader-Meinhof gang, the Red Brigades or the IRA-Provos), Europeans refuse to imagine what tens of thousands of fanatics bent on destruction might do if not faced down with courage and resolution.

It wasn't the United States that didn't "get" 9/11. It was the Europeans,
anxious that their comfortable slumber not be disturbed. They insist that
terrorism remains a law-enforcement problem, refusing even to consider that we might face a broad, complex, psychotic threat spawned by a failed civilization.

EUROPE will pay. And the price in the coming years will be much higher than any paid by the United States. Europe, not North America, is the vulnerable continent. Our homeland-security efforts, unfairly derided at home and abroad, are making our country markedly safer. Yes, we will be struck again. But "Old Europe" is going to be hit again, and again, and again.

American Muslims not only become citizens - they become good citizens.
Despite the assimilation hurdles that face every new group of immigrants,
our Muslims have opportunity and hope. A disaffected few may make headlines, but American Muslims overwhelmingly support their new country and do not wish it harm. They see no contradiction between faith in their god and faith in America. Our worries are their worries, and their dreams are our dreams.

Europe is another, grimmer story. Not a single European state - not even the United Kingdom - has successfully integrated its Muslim minority into
mainstream society.

While the United Kingdom has done the best job, countries such as France and Germany have time-bombs in their midst, large, excluded Muslim populations that the native majority regard as hopelessly inferior. If you want to see bigotry alive and well, visit "Old Europe."

It wasn't a random choice on the part of the 9/11 terrorists that led them
to do so much of their preparation in Europe. They know that American-Muslim communities won't offer hospitality to terrorists. But Germany, France, Spain and neighboring states contain embittered Islamic communities glad to see any part of the West get the punishment it "deserves."

As the United States becomes ever harder to strike - and as we respond so fiercely to those attacks that succeed - soft Europe, with its proximity to the Muslim world, its indigestible Muslim communities and its moral
fecklessness, is likely to become the key Western battleground in the
Islamic extremists' war against civilization.

Europeans don't want it to be so. But they are not going to get a choice.

Europeans are simply in denial. They've lived so well for so long that they
don't want the siesta from reality to end. One of the many reasons that
continental Europeans reacted so angrily to our liberation of Iraq was that
it made it harder than ever for them to sustain their myth of a benign world in which peace could be purchased and the government welfare checks would never stop coming.

America's crime was to acknowledge reality. It will be a long time before
Europeans forgive us.

IN many ways, the civilizations of North America and Europe are diverging. Eu rope has a crisis of values behind its failure of will. Their anxiety to tell everyone else what to do reflects their own uncertainty. Corrupt, selfish and cowardly, old Europe has fallen to moral lows not seen since 1945.

The one factor that will finally bring us closer again is terrorism.

In this horrid election year, we've heard endless complaints that Washington needs allies. Of course, we already have many allies. The old-thinkers just mean France and Germany. But the truth is that France and Germany - weak, blind, duplicitous and inept - will need us far more than we could ever need them.

The nature of terrorism has changed profoundly. It's no longer about
ideology, but about slaughter for its own sake. Nothing we could do would
placate these terrorists. They must be fought and destroyed, no matter how many decades that requires. For Europe to pretend otherwise harms the general counter-terror effort. But, above all, it sets Europe up for

Ralph Peters is the author of "Beyond Terror: Strategy in a Changing World."
Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on October 26, 2004, 10:48:36 AM
The Ghost of Vice President Wallace Warns: "It Can Happen Here"
by Thom Hartmann

The Republican National Committee has recently removed from their website an advertisement interspersing Hitler's face with those of John Kerry and other prominent Democrats.

This little-heralded step has freed former Enron lobbyist and current RNC chairman Ed Gillespie to resume his attacks on Americans who believe some provisions of Bush's PATRIOT Act, his detention of American citizens without charges, his willingness to let corporations write legislation, and the so-called "Free Speech Zones" around his public appearances are all steps on the road to American fascism.

The RNC's feeble attempt to equate Hitler and Democrats was short-lived, but it brings to mind the first American Vice President to point out the "American fascists" among us.

Although most Americans remember that Harry Truman was Franklin D. Roosevelt's Vice President when Roosevelt died in 1945 (making Truman President), Roosevelt had two previous Vice Presidents - John N. Garner (1933-1941) and Henry A. Wallace (1941-1945).

In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, "write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have
we? How dangerous are they?" Vice President Wallace's answer to those questions was published in The New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan.

"The really dangerous American fascists," Wallace wrote, "are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a
Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power."

In this, Wallace was using the classic definition of the word "fascist" - the definition Mussolini had in mind when he claimed to have invented the word. (It was actually Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile who wrote the entry in the Encyclopedia Italiana that said: "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." Mussolini, however, affixed his name to the entry, and claimed credit for it.)

As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is: "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

Mussolini was quite straightforward about all this. In a 1923 pamphlet titled "The Doctrine of Fascism" he wrote, "If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government." But not a government of, by, and for We The People - instead, it would be a government of, by, and for the most powerful corporate interests in the nation.

In 1938, Mussolini brought his vision of fascism into full reality when he dissolved Parliament and replaced it with the "Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazioni" - the Chamber of the Fascist Corporations. Corporations were still privately owned, but now instead of having to sneak their
money to folks like Tom DeLay and covertly write legislation, they were openly in charge of the government.

Vice President Wallace bluntly laid out in his 1944 Times article his concern about the same happening here in America: " If we define an American fascist as one who in case of  conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. ... They
are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead."

Nonetheless, at that time there were few corporate heads who had run for political office, and, in Wallace's view, most politicians still felt it was their obligation to represent We The People instead of corporate cartels. "American fascism will not be really dangerous," he added in the next paragraph, "until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information..."

Noting that, "Fascism is a worldwide disease," Wallace further suggested that fascism's "greatest threat to the United States will come after the war" and will manifest "within the United States itself."

In Sinclair  Lewis's 1935 novel "It Can't Happen Here," a conservative southern politician is helped to the presidency by a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. The politician - Buzz Windrip - runs his campaign on family values, the flag, and patriotism. Windrip and the talk show host portray advocates of traditional American democracy as anti-American. When Windrip becomes President, he opens a Guantanamo-style detention center, and the viewpoint character of the book, Vermont newspaper editor Doremus Jessup, flees to Canada to avoid prosecution under new "patriotic" laws that make it illegal to criticize the President.

As Lewis noted in his novel, "the President, with something of his former good-humor [said]: 'There are two [political] parties, the Corporate and those who don't belong to any party at all, and so, to use a common phrase, are just out of luck!'  The idea of the Corporate or Corporative State, Secretary [of State] Sarason had more or less taken from Italy." And, President "Windrip's partisans called themselves the Corporatists, or, familiarly, the 'Corpos,' which nickname was generally used."

Lewis, the first American writer to win a Nobel Prize, was world famous by 1944, as was his book "It Can't Happen Here." And several well-known and powerful Americans, including Prescott Bush, had lost businesses in the early 1940s because of charges by Roosevelt that they were doing business with Hitler. These events all, no doubt, colored Vice President Wallace's thinking when he wrote: " Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion.  American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after 'the  present unpleasantness' ceases."

Fascists have an agenda that is primarily economic. As the Free Dictionary ( notes, fascism/corporatism is ?an attempt to create a 'modern' version of feudalism by merging the 'corporate' interests with those of the state." Feudalism, of course, is one of the most stable of the three historic tyrannies (kingdoms, theocracies, feudalism) that ruled nations prior to the rise of American republican democracy, and can be roughly defined as "rule by the rich."

Thus, the neo-feudal/fascistic rich get richer (and more powerful) on the backs of the poor and the middle class, an irony not lost on author Thomas Frank, who notes in his new book "What's The Matter With Kansas" that, "You can see the paradox first-hand on nearly any Main Street in middle America - 'going out of business' signs side by side with placards supporting George W. Bush."  The businesses "going out of business" are, in fascist administrations, usually those of locally owned small and medium-sized companies.

As Wallace wrote, some in big business "are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage." He added, "Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise [companies]. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself."

But American fascists who would want former CEOs as President, Vice President, House Majority Whip, and Senate Majority Leader, and write legislation with corporate interests in mind, don't generally talk to We The People about their real agenda, or the harm it does to small businesses and working people. Instead, as Hitler did with the trade union leaders and the Jews, they point to a "them" to pin with blame and distract people from the harm of their economic policies.
In a comment prescient of George W. Bush's recent suggestion that civilization itself is at risk because of gays, Wallace continued: " The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment
and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination..."

But even at this, Wallace noted, American fascists would have to lie to the people in order to gain power. And, because they were in bed with the nation's largest corporations - who could gain control of newspapers and broadcast media - they could promote their lies with ease."The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact," Wallace wrote. "Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the
common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy."

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism the Vice President of the United States saw rising in America, he added, "They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection."

Finally, Wallace said, "The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many people. ... Democracy, to crush fascism internally, must...develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels."

This liberal vision of an egalitarian America in which very large businesses and media monopolies are broken up under the 1881 Sherman Anti-TrustAct (which Reagan stopped enforcing, leading to the mergers & acquisitions frenzy that continues to this day) was the driving vision of the New Deal (and of "Trust Buster" Teddy Roosevelt a generation earlier).

As Wallace's President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said when he accepted his party's renomination in 1936 in Philadelphia, "...out of this modern civilization, economic royalists [have] carved new dynasties.... It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction.... And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man...."

Speaking indirectly of the fascists that Wallace would directly name almost a decade later, Roosevelt brought the issue to its core: "These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power." But, he thundered in that speech, "Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power!"

In 2004, we again stand at the same crossroad Roosevelt and Wallace confronted during the Great Depression and World War II. Fascism is again rising in America, this time calling itself compassionate conservatism."

The RNC's behavior today eerily parallels the day in 1936 when Roosevelt said, "In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for."

It's particularly ironic that the CEOs and lobbyists who run the Republican National Committee would have chosen to put Hitler's fascist face into one of their campaign commercials, just before they launched a national campaign against gays and while they continue to arrest people who wear
anti-Bush T-shirts in public places.
 Thom Hartmann ( is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk radio show. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," and "We The People: A Call To Take Back America." His new book, "What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return To Democracy," based on four years of research in Jefferson's personal letters, begins shipping this
week from Random House/Harmony.
Title: Current Cyrstalnachts & Other Considerations
Post by: buzwardo on October 26, 2004, 08:24:47 PM
Uhm, so how do the sundry Cyrstalnachts occurring at RNC offices; the non-brown shirted union thugs early voters are forced to wade through in Florida and elsewhere; Democratic party bastions like Philadelphia who have more voters on the roles than census counted citizens; big lies about support for second amendment protections told by a candidate in camo; and so on, fit into the construct listed above?
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 29, 2004, 10:02:06 PM
Why Muslims always blame the West

Husain Haqqani International Herald Tribune
Saturday, October 16, 2004

WASHINGTON When Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, warned against the descent of an "iron curtain" between the West and the Islamic world, he appeared to put the onus of avoiding confrontation only on the West.

The Palestinian issue and the pre-emptive war in Iraq have undoubtedly accentuated anti-Western sentiment among Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia. But the conduct and rhetoric of Muslim leaders and their failure to address the stagnation of their societies has also fueled the tensions between Islam and the West.

Relations between Muslims and the West will continue to deteriorate unless the internal crisis of the Muslim world is also addressed.

After 9/11, General Musharraf switched support from Afghanistan's Taliban to the U.S.-led war against terrorism. He has since received a hefty package of U.S. military and economic assistance and spoken of the need for "enlightened moderation."

According to an opinion poll conducted by the Washington-based Pew Research Center as part of its Global Attitudes Survey, 86 percent of Pakistanis have a favorable view of General Musharraf while 65 percent also support Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden is viewed favorably by large percentages in other Muslim countries with "moderate" rulers.

Quite clearly, some Muslims find it possible to like Musharraf, who is regarded by the U.S. as the key figure in the hunt for bin Laden, while admiring his quarry at the same time. The contradiction speaks volumes about the general state of confusion in parts of the Muslim world, including Pakistan.

Instead of hard analysis, which thrives only in a free society, Muslims are generally brought up on propaganda, which is often state-sponsored. This propaganda usually focuses on Muslim humiliation at the hands of others instead of acknowledging the flaws of Muslim leaders and societies.

The focus on external enemies causes Muslims to admire power rather than ideas. Warriors, and not scholars or inventors, are generally the heroes of common people. In this simplistic "us vs. them" worldview, both Musharraf and bin Laden are warriors against external enemies.

Ringing alarm bells about an iron curtain between the West and the Islamic world without acknowledging the internal flaws of Muslim rulers and societies helps maintain the polarization as well as the flow of Western aid for the flawed rulers.

Ironically, a cult of the warrior has defined the Muslim worldview throughout the period of Muslim decline. Muslims have had few victories in the last two centuries, but their admiration for the proverbial sword and spear has only increased.

Textbooks in Muslim countries speak of the victories of Muslim fighters from an earlier era. Orators still call for latter-day mujahedeen to rise and regain Islam's lost glory. More streets in the Arab world are named after Muslim generals than men of learning. Even civilian dictators in the Muslim world like being photographed in military uniforms, Saddam Hussein being a case in point.

In the post-colonial period, military leaders in the Muslim world have consistently taken advantage of the popular fascination with military power. The Muslim cult of the warrior explains also the relatively muted response in the Muslim world to atrocities committed by fellow Muslims.

While the Muslim world's obsession with military power encourages violent attempts to "restore" Muslim honor, the real reasons for Muslim humiliation and backwardness continue to multiply. In the year 2000, according to the World Bank, the average income in the advanced countries (at purchasing price parity) was $27,450, with the U.S. income averaging $34,260 and Israel's income averaging $19, 320.

The average income in the Muslim world, however, stood at $3,700. Pakistan's per capita income in 2003 was a meager $2,060. Excluding the oil-exporting countries, none of the Muslim countries of the world had per capita incomes above the world average of $7,350.

National pride in the Muslim world is derived not from economic productivity, technological innovation or intellectual output but from the rhetoric of "destroying the enemy" and "making the nation invulnerable." Such rhetoric sets the stage for the clash of civilizations as much as specific Western policies.

Ironically, Western governments have consistently tried to deal with one manifestation of the cult of the warrior - terrorism - by building up Muslim strongmen who are just another manifestation of the same phenomenon.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 24, 2004, 12:50:45 PM

November 24, 2004 -- UKRAINE remains an indepen dent state. For now. But last week's shamelessly rigged presidential-election results were engineered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin's security services.
Exit polling, opinion polling, international election observers, Ukrainian local authorities and the people agree that opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-Western Democrat, won. But the pro-Moscow government of Ukraine claims that the spectacularly corrupt incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych received the major ity of votes.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to Kiev's streets in protest. Even Yanukovych has been wary of declaring his own victory. Yet Putin immediately extended his congratulations to the nervous "victor."

The Kremlin poured massive funding into the election campaign. The pro-Russian mafia that has a bully's grip on the Kiev government stuffed ballot boxes, manipulated absentee ballots, extorted votes and then simply changed the numbers to give Moscow's man a 49 percent to 46 percent lead.

This is the biggest test for democracy on Europe's frontier since the fall of the Soviet Union. Russia always seemed fated for a hybrid government ? part elections, part strongman rule ? but Ukraine could go either way. Especially in the country's west and center, Ukrainians have struggled for freedom for centuries.

But Russia regards Ukraine as its inalienable possession, stolen away as the U.S.S.R. collapsed.

Fatefully, the ties were never severed between the successors of the KGB in Moscow and Kiev. Now the grandchildren of the Russian thugs who mercilessly put down Nestor Makhno's Ukrainian revolt against the Bolsheviks, who slaughtered Ukraine's prosperous peasantry and murdered Ukraine's intelligentsia are back at work.

This election may have been Ukraine's last chance.

The tale begins almost a millennium ago. Converted to Christianity, Kiev was the jewel of the north, a magnificent city of churches and piety; Moscow was a shantytown. Then the Mongols came, destroying "Kievan Rus." Muscovy slowly expanded to fill the vacuum left by the destruction of the great Slavic civilization of the Steppes.

For centuries, Ukraine's Cossacks resisted Polish and Russian attempts to rob them of freedom. But by the end of the 18th century, Russia finally broke the Cossacks, dragooning them into its own military forces.

Subjugated, Ukraine responded with a 19th-century cultural revival. The Bolsheviks put an end to that. The first and greatest victims of Lenin and Stalin were the people of Ukraine.

Finally, in 1991, after six centuries, Ukraine regained its independence. Putin intends to take it away again.

With its declining population and threatened Far-Eastern territories, Russia desperately wants the additional population and strategic position of Ukraine back within its own borders, beginning as a "voluntary" federation. An ethnic-Russian population in eastern Ukraine serves as a fifth column.

Disgracefully, the international community appears ready to give Putin a free hand in subverting the freedom of a sovereign, democratic state. President Bush values his relationship with Putin, although Putin hasn't hesitated to undermine Washington's policies.

While constructive cooperation makes sense, there are times when the United States must draw a line ? unless we intend to make a mockery of our support for freedom and democracy.

This is one of those times. President Bush should not let a bunch of gangsters in Kiev and the sons of the KGB in Moscow destroy the hopes of a major European state. Ukraine isn't Russia's to steal.

The people of Ukraine who went to the polls to elect Viktor Yushchenko as their president, who want to be democratic, Western and free, need to hear from the White House. So does Mr. Putin.

If we allow Ukraine's freedom to be destroyed without so much as a murmur from our president, we will have betrayed the ideals we claim to support at home, in Iraq and around the world.

Ralph Peters worked as a Russia expert during his military career. (Colonel)
Title: Letter to Europe
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 29, 2004, 10:03:21 PM
An Open Letter to Europe by Harold E. Meyer

Hi. Are you nuts?

Forgive me for being so blunt, but your reaction to our reelection of President Bush has been so outrageous that I?m wondering if you have quite literally lost your minds. One of Britain?s largest newspapers ran a headline asking ?How Can 59 Million Americans Be So Dumb??, and commentators in France all seemed to use the same word ? bizarre -- to explain the election?s outcome to their readers. In Germany the editors of Die Tageszeitung responded to our vote by writing that ?Bush belongs at a war tribunal ? not in the White House.? And on a London radio talk show last week one Jeremy Hardy described our President and those of us who voted for him as ?stupid, crazy, ignorant, bellicose Christian fundamentalists.?

Of course, you are entitled to whatever views about us that you care to hold. (And lucky for you we Americans aren?t like so many of the Muslims on your own continent; as the late Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh just discovered, make one nasty crack about them and you?re likely to get six bullets pumped into your head and a knife plunged into your chest.) But before you write us off as just a bunch of sweaty, hairy-chested, Bible-thumping morons who are more likely to break their fast by dipping a Krispy Kreme into a diet cola than a biscotti into an espresso ? and who inexplicably have won more Nobel prizes than all other countries combined, host 25 or 30 of the world?s finest universities and five or six of the world?s best symphonies, produce wines that win prizes at your own tasting competitions, have built the world?s most vibrant economy, are the world?s only military superpower and, so to speak in our spare time, have landed on the moon and sent our robots to Mars ? may I suggest you stop frothing at the mouth long enough to consider just what are these ideas we hold that you find so silly and repugnant?

We believe that church and state should be separate, but that religion should remain at the center of life. We are a Judeo-Christian culture, which means we consider those ten things on a tablet to be commandments, not suggestions. We believe that individuals are more important than groups, that families are more important than governments, that children should be raised by their parents rather than by the State, and that marriage should take place only between a man and a woman. We believe that rights must be balanced by responsibilities, that personal freedom is a privilege we must be careful not to abuse, and that the rule of law cannot be set aside when it becomes inconvenient. We believe in economic liberty, and in the right of purposeful and industrious entrepreneurs to run their businesses ? and thus create jobs ? with a minimum of government interference. We recognize that other people see things differently, and we are tolerant of their views. But we believe that our country is worth defending, and if anyone decides that killing us is an okay thing to do we will go after them with everything we?ve got.

If these beliefs seem strange to you, they shouldn?t. For these are precisely the beliefs that powered Western Europe ? you -- from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance, on to the Enlightenment, and forward into the modern world. They are the beliefs that made Europe itself the glory of Western civilization and ? not coincidentally ? ignited the greatest outpouring of art, literature, music and scientific discovery the world has ever known including Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Bach, Issac Newton and Descartes.

Europe is Dying

It is your abandonment of these beliefs that has created the gap between Europe and the United States. You have ceased to be a Judeo-Christian culture, and have become instead a secular culture. And a secular culture quickly goes from being ?un-religious? to anti-religious. Indeed, your hostility to the basic concepts of Judaism and Christianity has literally been written into your new European Union constitution, despite the Pope?s heroic efforts to the contrary.

Your rate of marriage is at an all-time low, and the number of abortions in Europe is at an all-time high. Indeed, your birth rates are so far below replacement levels that in 30 years or so there will be 70 million fewer Europeans alive than are alive today. Europe is literally dying. And of the children you do manage to produce, all too few will be raised in stable, two-parent households.

Your economy is stagnant because your government regulators make it just about impossible for your entrepreneurs to succeed ? except by fleeing to the United States, where we welcome them and celebrate their success.

And your armed forces are a joke. With the notable exception of Great Britain, you no longer have the military strength to defend yourselves. Alas, you no longer have the will to defend yourselves.

What worries me even more than all this is your willful blindness. You refuse to see that it is you, not we Americans, who have abandoned Western Civilization. It?s worrisome because, to tell you the truth, we need each other. Western Civilization today is under siege, from radical Islam on the outside and from our own selfish hedonism within. It?s going to take all of our effort, our talent, our creativity and, above all, our will to pull through. So take a good, hard look at yourselves and see what your own future will be if you don?t change course. And please, stop sneering at America long enough to understand it. After all, Western Civilization was your gift to us, and you ought to be proud of what we Americans have made of it.

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA?s National Intelligence Council. His DVD on The Siege of Western Civilization is a nationwide best-seller.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 05, 2004, 04:45:01 PM

What is Man? Competition Attrition
Doug Giles

December 4, 2004

Nowadays, especially via TV and Hollywood, men are seen as despicable, cruel, pusillanimous, selfish, ineffectual oafs, veritable bumbling idiots who need women or some gay guy with a Queer Eye ? to help us through our primal fog towards metrosexual healing.

If you?re a guy who wants to keep his guy-ness and not trade it in for the androgynous pomosexual image of the 21st century, then you will receive more scorn than Michael Moore at a NRA luncheon. From the college classroom to the corporate boardroom, men have been meeting with man-hatred for quite some time now.

Look ? I?m sure men need some retooling, and I confess we do egregious things for which we need to take responsibility. Y?know, just the other day while I was on a hunting trip without my wife during our anniversary, after not bathing for 5 days, while eating cold refried beans out of a can, chasing the beans with a hot Budweiser and belching so loudly that a Bull Elk came to our cabin looking for a fight, I was thinking that maybe I need to take some etiquette classes.

However, the little tweaking that I?ll admit to needing with respect to balancing out my mannish weirdness will not be coming from our current culture of castration but from the scripture and from classical masculine values of days gone by (not from a re-run of Friends).

What are the basic elements of the masculine spirit? Well, from Homer to Gomer, from Abraham to the Apostle Paul, there are three primary traits that men, if properly raised and allowed to express their biology, will and should naturally exhibit.

They are the following:
? Competition
? Independence
? Responsibility

Let?s look at number one, competition. Guys will fight over anything ? and you know what? We?re supposed to. Probably the thing that separates the men from the ladies more than the Austin Power-like hair on our backs is man?s innate combative nature.

Take the animal kingdom, for instance. While on one of my glorious and many hunting trips, I had two bucks feeding in front of my stand about 75 yards away. To my right, out of a thick stand of trees, comes a doe in to feed with the grass-munchin? boys, and the next thing you know ? it?s a WWE match in a South Florida palmetto patch. The two young bucks commenced to smashing their heads together over Bambi?s cute sister. The kicker is ? while Frick and Frack are locked up vying for dominance ? a more mature buck appears and begins to walk off with the doe ? that is, until I shot him!

Male animals will fight over who gets to breed, who gets to eat, and who owns a particular piece of turf, and aside from our cell phones ? we bipods are no different. Men clash over women, ideas, politics, business, war, and if that does not suffice, we will make up stuff to wrangle over.

Nowadays, men are reviled and harangued for this traditionally esteemed and essential, God-wired, gung-ho spirit. It is this positive bellicose behavior that causes men to rightly protect, even to the point of death, women and kids from whatever threatens them. This is what men have been classically known for, and this is what should be re-tabled for men in this Age of Wussification.

In addition to and closely connected with this confrontational role, is the classic male mission of fetching vittles and acquiring a killer crib. Men looked for the new castle in a safer hamlet. Men sought increased opportunity for their kids and a greater slice of the bliss pie for the entire family.

And lastly, the male competitive spirit caused the production of a better breed of people. You know, in the animal kingdom, you don?t get to mate if you don?t exert your masculinity in the field by dominance.

The competitive spirit within the man, together with its spin-off fruits, is a must for our nation to continue to be the solid country it is. Sure, this viable spirited competitive distinctiveness, allowed to grow on its own, ungoverned by greatness, can fester into an O.J. However, the competitive spirit, governed by biblical ethics, has always produced powerful and productive patriarchs who were the backbone of whatever culture they grew up in. That?s why traditional Judeo-Christian communities invested so much time, capital and oomph in the ordering of this potential force through the institution of rights, rules and heroic narratives.

My ClashPoint is this: As society becomes more secular, dispensing with Judeo-Christian values that relate to man, and diluting the values which address their combativeness in a constructive fashion, man?s competitive bent will deteriorate rapidly into free-for-all competition, Scott Peterson weirdness, and success at all costs. On the flip side of that competition-minus-character coin is the current overcorrection of poo-pooing competition and turning men into Charmin-like creatures.

Traditional society esteemed and structured man?s aggressiveness, realizing that men who like to fight were a must for the good society. Our forebears bridled the bad fruits and released the good produce of combative behavior by recounting great biblical narratives, by conducting ceremonies, and by maintaining an ethical code built around properly releasing this warrior spirit.

Part two, Independence, to follow?
Title: I Was a Tool of Satan
Post by: buzwardo on December 09, 2004, 02:17:55 PM
A piece that wanders a bit out of Columbia Journalism Review

An Equal-Opportunity Offender Maps the Dark Turn of Intolerance


Last year, I drew a cartoon that showed a man in Middle Eastern apparel at the wheel of a Ryder truck hauling a nuclear warhead. The caption read, "What Would Mohammed Drive?" Besides referring to the vehicle that Timothy McVeigh rode into Oklahoma City, the drawing was a takeoff on the "What Would Jesus Drive?" campaign created by Christian evangelicals to challenge the morality of owning gas-guzzling SUVs. The cartoon's main target, of course, was the faith-based politics of a different denomination. Predictably, the Shiite hit the fan.

Can you say "fatwa"? My newspaper, The Tallahassee Democrat, and I received more than 20,000 e-mails demanding an apology for misrepresenting the peace-loving religion of the Prophet Mohammed ? or else. Some spelled out the "else": death, mutilation, Internet spam. "I will cut your fingers and put them in your mother's ass." "What you did, Mr. Dog, will cost you your life. Soon you will join the dogs . . . hahaha in hell." "Just wait . . . we will see you in hell with all jews . . . ." The onslaught was orchestrated by an organization called the Council on American-Islamic Relations. CAIR bills itself as an "advocacy group." I was to discover that among the followers of Islam it advocated for were the men convicted of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. At any rate, its campaign against me included flash-floods of e-mail intended to shut down servers at my newspaper and my syndicate, as well as viruses aimed at my home computer. The controversy became a subject of newspaper editorials, columns, Web logs, talk radio, and CNN. I was condemned on the front page of the Saudi publication Arab News by the secretary general of the Muslim World League.

My answer to the criticism was published in the Democrat (and reprinted around the country) under the headline With All Due Respect, an Apology Is Not in Order. I almost felt that I could have written the response in my sleep. In my thirty-year career, I have regularly drawn cartoons that offended religious fundamentalists and true believers of every stripe, a fact that I tend to list in the "Accomplishments" column of my r?sum?. I have outraged Christians by skewering Jerry Falwell, Catholics by needling the pope, and Jews by criticizing Israel. Those who rise up against the expression of ideas are strikingly similar. No one is less tolerant than those demanding tolerance. Despite differences of culture and creed, they all seem to share the notion that there is only one way of looking at things, their way. What I have learned from years of this is one of the great lessons of all the world's religions: we are all one in our humanness.

In my response, I reminded readers that my "What Would Mohammed Drive?" drawing was an assault not upon Islam but on the distortion of the Muslim religion by murderous fanatics - the followers of Mohammed who flew those planes into our buildings, to be sure, but also the Taliban killers of noncompliant women and destroyers of great art, the true believers who decapitated an American reporter, the young Palestinian suicide bombers taking out patrons of pizza parlors in the name of the Prophet Mohammed.

Then I gave my Journalism 101 lecture on the First Amendment, explaining that in this country we do not apologize for our opinions. Free speech is the linchpin of our republic. All other freedoms flow from it. After all, we don't need a First Amendment to allow us to run boring, inoffensive cartoons. We need constitutional protection for our right to express unpopular views. If we can't discuss the great issues of the day on the pages of our newspapers fearlessly, and without apology, where can we discuss them? In the streets with guns? In caf?s with strapped-on bombs?

Although my initial reaction to the "Mohammed" hostilities was that I had been there before, gradually I began to feel that there was something new, something darker afoot. The repressive impulses of that old-time religion were now being fed by the subtler inhibitions of mammon and the marketplace. Ignorance and bigotry were reinventing themselves in the post-Christian age by dressing up as "sensitivity" and masquerading as a public virtue that may be as destructive to our rights as religious zealotry. We seem to be entering a Techno Dark Age, in which the machines that were designed to serve the free flow of information have fallen into the hands of an anti-intellectual mobocracy.

Twenty-five years ago, I began inciting the wrath of the faithful by caricaturing the grotesque disparity between Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's televangelism scam and the Christian piety they used to justify it. I was then working at The Charlotte Observer, in the hometown of the Bakkers' PTL Club, which instigated a full-bore attack on me. The issues I was cartooning were substantial enough that I won the Pulitzer Prize for my PTL work. But looking back on that fundamentalist religious campaign, even though my hate mail included some death threats, I am struck by the relative innocence of the times and how ominous the world has since become - how high the stakes, even for purveyors of incendiary doodles.

One of the first cartoons I ever drew on PTL was in 1978, when Jim Bakker's financial mismanagement forced him to lay off a significant portion of his staff. The drawing showed the TV preacher sitting at the center of Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper informing his disciples, "I'm going to have to let some of you go!" Bakker's aides told reporters that he was so upset by the drawing that he fell to his knees in his office, weeping into the gold shag carpet. Once he staggered to his feet, he and Tammy Faye went on the air and, displaying my cartoons, encouraged viewers to phone in complaints to the Observer and cancel their subscriptions.

Jim Bakker finally resigned in disgrace from his PTL ministry, and I drew a cartoon of the televangelist who replaced him, Jerry Falwell, as a serpent slithering into PTL paradise: "Jim and Tammy were expelled from paradise and left me in charge."

One of the many angry readers who called me at the newspaper said, "You're a tool of Satan."

"Excuse me?"

"You're a tool of Satan for that cartoon you drew."

"That's impossible," I said. "I couldn't be a tool of Satan. The Charlotte Observer's personnel department tests for that sort of thing."

Confused silence on the other end.

"They try to screen for tools of Satan," I explained. "Knight Ridder human resources has a strict policy against hiring tools of Satan."


Until "What Would Mohammed Drive?" most of the flak I caught was from the other side of the Middle East conflict. Jewish groups complained that my cartoons critical of Israel's invasion of Lebanon were anti-Semitic because I had drawn Prime Minister Menachem Begin with a big nose. My editors took the strategic position that I drew everyone's nose big. At one point, editorial pages were spread out on the floor for editors to measure with a ruler the noses of various Jewish and non-Jewish figures in my cartoons.

After I moved to the Northeast, it was Catholics I offended. At New York Newsday, I drew a close-up of the pope wearing a button that read "No Women Priests." There was an arrow pointing to his forehead and the inscription from Matthew 16:18: "Upon This Rock I Will Build My Church." The Newsday switchboard lit up like a Vegas wedding chapel. Newsday ran an apology for the cartoon, a first in my career, and offered me a chance to respond in a column. The result - though the paper published it in full - got me put on probation for a year by the publisher. That experience inspired the opening scene of my first novel, The Bridge.

The novel's protagonist, a political cartoonist named Pick Cantrell, is fired after beating up his publisher and returns with his wife and son to North Carolina, where he confronts the ghosts of his past in the form of his grandmother, Mama Lucy, the family matriarch and his boyhood nemesis. In an attempt to show how the grandmother became such a formidable ogre, the book flashes back to mill life in the thirties, when Lucy, like my own grandmother, was bayoneted by a National Guardsman during a textile strike. There were obvious autobiographical elements of The Bridge. Like Pick, I would have beaten up my publisher if it had been legal. And The Bridge's fictional setting of Eno, North Carolina, is based loosely on Hillsborough, a former mill village where my ancestors once worked in the cotton mill's weave rooms and where I now live with my family. These days the town features an advanced white-wine-and-Brie-in-bulk community of writers and other bourgeois bohemians. Various members of the community were given highly fictionalized analogs in the novel, from a vegan restaurateur to a sex-toy manufacturer. But most of the book came straight from the imagination.

I'm not sure I expected my foray into what Mark Twain called the "littery" world to be a stroll through a Bloomsbury garden, but I surely did not expect the Taliban, or as some people in my town of Hillsborough called the literary terrorists who went after my book, "HillQaeda."

A neighbor of mine thought he recognized himself in the gay-writer character, Ruffin Strudwick, the author of a Civil War best seller, "told from the point of view of a female Confederate spy," which had "created an uproar among Civil War scholars by suggesting that the relationship between Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson was latently homosexual." It's true, my neighbor made a name for himself by taking on the fictional persona of a Confederate female (not a spy), but the fictional Strudwick was a composite. In fact, his troubled relationship with his father prompted Pat Conroy's sister to write and thank me for basing Strudwick on her brother. Their father, The Great Santini, "would just love how you made Pat gay," she said. The only literal trait my neighbor shared with Strudwick was a weakness for vintage costumes and red high-tops. If I had to defend myself for lifting those details, I would contend that dressing like that around a cartoonist amounts to entrapment.

Sadly, the title of my first chapter - "A Gift for Pissing People Off" - proved to be all too nonfictional. As the galleys of the novel circulated, the offended writer wept like a televangelist to anyone who would listen, claiming he had been viciously caricatured. Another local writer known for her "niceness" called urging me to change my book. Amused as I was to see literary sophisticates behaving like small-town provincials (this is North Carolina; hadn't they read Thomas Wolfe?), the smile was presently wiped off my face. A local publicist I had hired to promote my book called in tears after being told by the nice writer's husband that she would never work in this town again if she continued to represent me. Then the rector of the Episcopal church my family attended complained about the Strudwick character and, lest he be mistaken for the earthy minister in the novel, contacted my publisher and asked to have his name removed from the acknowledgments. This, of course, set off alarms within my publishing house, which brought in lawyers to vet the novel for libel.

Then the weeping writer's close friend who managed the campus bookstore at the University of North Carolina (where I had just become a visiting professor) canceled my book signing there. She tried to get other booksellers around the state to do likewise, on the ground that The Bridge was "homophobic trash." (Her bookstore sells T-shirts that proclaim, "I read banned books.")

Reviews were posted on trashing The Bridge, repeating the homophobia charge, all with similarly worded, weirdly personal talking points. A bit of verse was sent anonymously to my home address: "May maggots munch your belly-bone and rats chew on your ears . . . ." My wife, who had already been shunned on the street and at the local latt? bar, read it as a death threat.

I resisted the impulse to respond. My day job requires enough gladiatorial duty on behalf of free speech. And the attempts to censor my novel weren't really a First Amendment abuse: the government wasn't trying to shut me up (unless you count that state-owned campus bookstore) - only a bunch of unarmed and dangerous writers. Besides, my brothers and sisters in the free press covered my flank nicely. Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, for instance, called the attack "a panty-wadding fatwa," adding "I, for one, can't wait for the cartoon."

But how do you cartoon a cartoon? It's a problem of redundancy in this hyperbolic age to caricature an already extravagantly distorted culture. When writers try to censor other writers, we're in Toontown. We are in deep trouble when victimhood becomes a sacrament, personal injury a point of pride, when irreverence is seen as a hate crime, when the true values of art and religion are distorted and debased by fanatics and zealots, whether in the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Prophet Mohammed, or a literary Cult of Narcissus.

It was the cynically outrageous charge of homophobia against my book that brought me around to the similarities between the true believers I was used to dealing with and the postmodern secular humanist Church Ladies wagging their fingers at me. The threads that connect the CAIR and the literary fatwas, besides technological sabotage, are entreaties to "sensitivity," appeals to institutional guilt, and faith in a corporate culture of controversy avoidance. Niceness is the new face of censorship in this country.

The censors no longer come to us in jackboots with torches and baying dogs in the middle of the night. They arrive now in broad daylight with marketing surveys and focus-group findings. They come as teams, not armies, trained in effectiveness, certified in sensitivity, and wielding degrees from the Columbia journalism school. They're known not for their bravery but for their efficiency. They show gallantry only when they genuflect to apologize.

The most disturbing thing about the "Mohammed" experience was that a laptop Luftwaffe was able to blitz editors into not running the cartoon in my own newspaper. "WWMD" ran briefly on the Tallahassee Democrat Web site, but once an outcry was raised, the editors pulled it and banned it from the newspaper altogether.

The cyberprotest by CAIR showed a sophisticated understanding of what motivates newsroom managers these days - bottom-line concerns, a wish for the machinery to run smoothly, and the human-resources mandate not to offend. Many of my e-mail detractors appeared to be well-educated, recent ?migr?s. Even if their English sometimes faltered, they were fluent in the language of victimhood. Presumably, victimization was one of their motives for leaving their native countries, yet the subtext of many of their letters was that this country should be more like the ones they emigrated from. They had the American know-how without the know-why. In the name of tolerance, in the name of their peaceful God, they threatened violence against someone they accused of falsely accusing them of violence.

With the rise of the bottom-line culture and the corporatization of newsgathering, tolerance itself has become commodified and denuded of its original purpose. Consequently, the best part of the American character - our generous spirit, our sense of fair play - has been turned against us. Tolerance has become a tool of coercion, of institutional inhibition, of bureaucratic self-preservation. We all should take pride in how this country for the most part curbed the instinct to lash out at Arab-Americans in the wake of 9/11. One of the great strengths of this nation is our sensitivity to the tyranny of the majority, our sense of justice for all. But the First Amendment, the miracle of our system, is not just a passive shield of protection. In order to maintain our true, nationally defining diversity, it obligates journalists to be bold, writers to be full-throated and uninhibited, and those blunt instruments of the free press, cartoonists like me, not to self-censor. We must use it or lose it.

Political cartoonists daily push the limits of free speech. They were once the embodiment of journalism's independent voice. Today they are as endangered a species as bald eagles. The professional troublemaker has become a luxury that offends the bottom-line sensibilities of corporate journalism. Twenty years ago, there were two hundred of us working on daily newspapers. Now there are only ninety. Herblock is dead. Jeff MacNelly is dead. And most of the rest of us might as well be. Just as r?sum? hounds have replaced newshounds in today's newsrooms, ambition has replaced talent at the drawing boards. Passion has yielded to careerism, Thomas Nast to Eddie Haskell. With the retirement of Paul Conrad at the Los Angeles Times, a rolling blackout from California has engulfed the country, dimming the pilot lights on many American editorial pages. Most editorial cartoons now look as bland as B-roll and as impenetrable as a 1040 form.

We know what happens to the bald eagle when it's not allowed to reproduce and its habitat is contaminated. As the species is thinned, the eco-balance is imperiled.

Why should we care about the obsolescence of the editorial cartoonist? Because cartoons can't say "on the other hand," because they strain reason and logic, because they are hard to defend and thus are the acid test of the First Amendment, and that is why they must be preserved.

What would Marlette drive? Forget SUVs and armored cars. It would be an all-terrain vehicle you don't need a license for. Not a foreign import, but American-made. It would be built with the same grit and gumption my grandmother showed when she faced down government soldiers in the struggle for economic justice, and the courage my father displayed as a twenty-year-old when he waded ashore in the predawn darkness of Salerno and Anzio. It would be fueled by the freedom spirit that both grows out of our Constitution and is protected by it - fiercer than any fatwa, tougher than all the tanks in the army, and more powerful than any bunker-buster.

If I drew you a picture it might look like the broken-down jalopy driven by the Joads from Oklahoma to California. Or like the Cadillac that Jack Kerouac took on the road in his search for nirvana. Or the pickup Woody Guthrie hitched a ride in on that ribbon of highway, bound for glory. Or the International Harvester Day-Glo school bus driven cross-country by Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters. Or the Trailways and Greyhound buses the Freedom Riders boarded to face the deadly backroads of Mississippi and Alabama. Or the moonbuggy Neil Armstrong commanded on that first miraculous trip to the final frontier.

What would Marlette drive? The self-evident, unalienable American model of democracy that we as a young nation discovered and road-tested for the entire world: the freedom to be ourselves, to speak the truth as we see it, and to drive it home.

Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 03, 2005, 12:10:00 AM
Sent to me by a friend in the Israeli IDF


By Prof. D. Koller

Here is a capsule of accomplishments you may not be fully aware of. I thought you might find these statistics interesting.

The Middle East has been growing date palms for centuries. The average tree is about 18-20 feet tall and yields about 38 pounds of dates a year. Israeli trees are now yielding 400 pounds/year and are short enough to be harvested from the ground or a short ladder.

Israel, the 100th smallest country, with less than 1/1000th of the world's population, can lay claim to the following:

The cell phone was developed in Israel by Israelis working in the Israeli branch of Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel. Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel.

The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel. Both the Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were entirely designed, developed and produced in Israel.

The Pentium microprocessor in your computer was most likely made in Israel.

Voice mail technology was developed in Israel.

Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in Israel.

The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis.

Israel has the fourth largest air force in the world (after the U. S, Russia and China). In addition to a large variety of other aircraft, Israel's air force has an aerial arsenal of over 250 F-16's. This is the largest fleet of F-16 aircraft outside of the U. S.

According to industry officials, Israel designed the airline industry's most impenetrable flight security. U. S. officials now look to Israel for advice on how to handle airborne security threats.

Israel's $100 billion economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined. Israel has the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita.

Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world.

Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin - 109 per 10,000 people -- as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed.

In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has the largest number of startup companies than any other country in the world, except the U. S. (3,500 companies mostly in hi-tech).

With more than 3,000 high-tech companies and startups, Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world -- apart from the Silicon Valley, U. S.

Israel is ranked #2 in the world for venture capital funds right behind the U. S.

Outside the United States and Canada, Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies.

Israel has the highest average living standards in the Middle East. The per capita income in 2000 was over $17,500, exceeding that of the UK.

On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of biotech startups.

Twenty-four per cent of Israel's workforce holds university degrees -- ranking third in the industrialized world, after the United States and Holland - and 12 per cent hold advanced degrees. Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

In 1984 and 1991, Israel airlifted a total of 22,000 Ethiopian Jews at risk in Ethiopia, to safety in Israel.

When Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969, she became the world's second elected female leader in modern times.

When the U. S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya was bombed in 1998, Israeli rescue teams were on the scene within a day -- and saved three victims from the rubble.

Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship -- and the highest rate among women and among people over 55 - in the world.

Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. Immigrants come in search of democracy, religious freedom, and economic opportunity.

Israel was the first nation in the world to adopt the Kimberly process, an international standard that certifies diamonds as "conflict free."

Israel has the world's second highest per capita of new books.

Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees, made more remarkable because this was achieved in an area considered mainly desert.

Israel has more museums per capita than any other country.

Medicine... Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer.

An Israeli company developed a computerized system for ensuring proper administration of medications, thus removing human error from medical treatment. Every year in U. S. hospitals 7,000 patients die from treatment mistakes.

Israel's Givun Imaging developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill. Used to view the small intestine from the inside, the camera helps doctors diagnose cancer and digestive disorders.

Researchers in Israel developed a new device that directly helps the heart pump blood, an innovation with the potential to save lives among those with heart failure. The new device is synchronized with the heart's mechanical operations through a sophisticated system of sensors.

Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, with 145 per 10,000, as opposed to 85 in the U. S., over 70 in Japan, and less than 60 in Germany. With over 25% of its work force employed in technical professions.

Israel places first in this category as well. A new acne treatment developed in Israel, the Clear Light device, produces a high-intensity, ultraviolet-light-free, narrow-band blue light that causes acne bacteria to self-destruct -- all without damaging surrounding skin or tissue.

An Israeli company was the first to develop and install a large-scale solar-powered and fully functional electricity generating plant, in southern California's Mojave desert.

All the above while engaged in regular wars with an implacable enemy that seeks its destruction, and an economy continuously under strain by having to spend more per capita on its own protection than any other country on earth.



Prof. D. Koller is at the Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University.
Title: The Toothless Teeth Gnashers
Post by: buzwardo on February 04, 2005, 10:33:40 AM
Whoo, still trying to catch my breath after reading this one. No prisoners taken here:

February 04, 2005, 7:50 a.m.
The Global Throng
Why the world?s elites gnash their teeth.

Do we even remember "all that" now? The lunacy that appeared after 9/11 that asked us to look for the "root causes" to explain why America may have "provoked" spoiled mama's boys like bin Laden and Mohammed Atta to murder Americans at work? Do we recall the successive litany of "you cannot win in Afghanistan/you cannot reconstruct such a mess/you cannot jumpstart democracy there"? And do we have memory still of "Sharon the war criminal," and "the apartheid wall," and, of course, "Jeningrad," the supposed Israeli-engineered Stalingrad ? or was it really Leningrad? Or try to remember Arafat in his Ramallah bunker talking to international groupies who flew in to hear the old killer's jumbled mishmash about George Bush, the meanie who had ostracized him.

Then we were told that if we dared invade the ancient caliphate, Saddam would kill thousands and exile millions more. And when he was captured in a cesspool, the invective continued during the hard reconstruction that oil, Halliburton, the Jews, the neocons, Richard Perle, and other likely suspects had suckered us into a "quagmire" or was it now "Vietnam redux"? And recall that in response we were supposed to flee, or was it to trisect Iraq? The elections, remember, would not work ? or were held too soon or too late. And give the old minotaur Senator Kennedy his due, as he lumbered out on the eve of the Iraqi voting to hector about its failure and call for withdrawal ? one last hurrah that might yet rescue the cherished myth that the United States had created another Vietnam and needed his sort of deliverance.

And then there was the parade of heroes who were media upstarts of the hour ? the brilliant Hans Blixes, Joe Wilsons, Anonymouses, and Richard Clarkes ? who came, wrote their books, did their fawning interviews on 60 Minutes, Nightline, and Larry King, and then faded to become footnotes to our collective pessimism.

Do not dare forget our Hollywood elite. At some point since 9/11, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Whoopi Goldberg, and a host of others have lectured the world that their America is either misled, stupid, evil, or insane, bereft of the wisdom of Hollywood's legions of college drop-outs, recovering bad boys, and self-praised autodidacts.

Remember the twisted logic of the global throng as well: Anyone who quit the CIA was a genius in his renegade prognostication; anyone who stayed was a toady who botched the war. Three- and four-star generals who went on television or ran for office were principled dissidents who "told the truth"; officers in the field who kept quiet and saved Afghanistan and Iraq were "muzzled" careerists. Families of the 9/11 victims who publicly trashed George Bush offered the nation "grassroots" cries of the heart; the far greater number who supported the war on terror were perhaps "warped" by their grief.

There were always the untold "minor" embarrassments that we were to ignore as the slight slips of the "good" people ? small details like the multibillion-dollar Oil-for-Food scandal that came to light due to the reporting of a single brave maverick, Claudia Rosett, or Rathergate, disclosed by "pajama"-clad bloggers without journalism degrees from Columbia, sojourns at the Kennedy School, or internships with the Washington Post. To put it into Animal Farm speak: elite New York Times, CBS News, and PBS good; populist bloggers, talk-radio, and cable news bad.

In place of Harry Truman and JFK we got John Kerry calling the once-maimed Prime Minister Allawi a "puppet," Senator Murray praising bin Laden's social-welfare work, Senator Boxer calling Secretary of State Rice a veritable liar for agreeing with the various casus belli that Boxer's own Senate colleagues had themselves passed in October 2002. And for emotional and financial support, the Democratic insiders turned to George Soros and Michael Moore, who assured them that their president was either Hitlerian, a dunce, or a deserter.

Then there was our media's hysteria: Donald Rumsfeld should be sacked in the midst of war; Abu Ghraib was the moral equivalent of everything from Saddam's gulag to the Holocaust; the U.S. military purportedly tried to kill reporters; and always the unwillingness or inability to condemn the beheaders, fascists, and suicide murderers, who sought to destroy any shred of liberalism. Meanwhile, the isolation of a corrupt Arafat, the withdrawal of 10,000 Americans from a Wahhabi theocracy, the transformation of the world's far-right monstrosities into reformed democracies, and the pull-back of some troops from Germany and the DMZ went unnoticed.

What explains this automatic censure of the United States, Israel, and to a lesser extent the Anglo-democracies of the United Kingdom and Australia? Westernization, coupled with globalization, has created an affluent and leisured elite that now gravitates to universities, the media, bureaucracies, and world organizations, all places where wealth is not created, but analyzed, critiqued, and lavishly spent.

Thus we now expect that the New York Times, Harper's, Le Monde, U.N. functionaries who call us "stingy," French diplomats, American writers and actors will all (1) live a pretty privileged life; (2) in recompense "feel" pretty worried and guilty about it; (3) somehow connect their unease over their comfort with a pathology of the world's hyperpower, the United States; and (4) thus be willing to risk their elite status, power, or wealth by very brave acts such as writing anguished essays, giving pained interviews, issuing apologetic communiqu?s, braving the rails to Davos, and barking off-the-cuff furious remarks about their angst over themes (1) through (3) above. What a sad contrast they make with far better Iraqis dancing in the street to celebrate their voting.

There is something else to this shrillness of the global throng besides the obvious fact of hypocrisy ? that very few of the world's Westernized cynical echelon ever move to the ghetto to tutor those they champion in the abstract, reside in central Africa to feed the poor, give up tenure to ensure employment for the exploited lecturer, or pass on the Washington or New York A-list party to eat in the lunch hall with the unwashed. Davos after all, is not quite central Bolivia or the Sudan.

First, there is a tremendous sense of impotence. Somehow sharp looks alone, clever repartee, long lists of books read and articles cited, or global travel do not automatically result in commensurate power. So what exactly is wrong with these stupid people of Nebraska who would elect a dense, Christian-like George Bush when a Gore Vidal, George Soros, Ben Affleck, Bruce Springsteen, or Ted Kennedy warned them not to?

If the American Left is furious over the loss of most of the nation's governorships and legislatures, the U.S. House, the Senate, the presidency, and soon the Supreme Court, the Europeans themselves are furious over America's power ? as if Red America is to Blue America as America is to Europe itself. Thus how can a mongrel culture of Taco Bell, Bud Light, and Desperate Housewives project such military and political influence abroad when the soft, subtle triangulation of far more cultured diplomats and sophisticated intellectuals from France, Germany, and Scandinavia is ignored by thugs from Iran, North Korea, and most of the Middle East?

Why would the world listen to a stumbling George Bush when it could be mesmerized by a poet, biographer, aristocrat, and metrosexual of the caliber of a Monsieur Dominique de Villepin? Why praise brave Iraqis lining up to vote, while at the same hour the defeated John Kerry somberly intones on Tim Russert's show that he really did go into Cambodia to supply arms to the mass-murdering Khmer Rouge ? a statement that either cannot be true or is almost an admission of being a party to crimes against humanity if it is.

Second, political powerlessness follows from ideological exhaustion. Communism and Marxism are dead. Stalin and Mao killed over 80 million and did not make omelets despite the broken eggs. Castro and North Korea are not classless utopias but thugocracies run by megalomaniac dictators who the world prays will die any minute. The global Left knows that the Cold War is over and was lost by the Left, and that Eastern Europeans and Central Americans probably cherish the memory of a Ronald Reagan far more than that of a Francois Mitterrand or Willy Brandt.

But it is still more disheartening than that. In the 1960s and 1970s we were told that free-market America was becoming an anachronism. Remember Japan, Inc., whose amalgam of "Asian Values" and Western capitalism presaged the decline of the United States? Europeanists still assured us that a 35-hour work week, cradle-to-grave entitlement, and secularism were to be the only workable Western paradigms ? before high unemployment, low growth, stagnant worker productivity, unassimilated minorities, declining birthrates, and disarmament suggested that just maybe something is going very wrong in a continent that is not so eager for either God or children.

Perhaps the result of this frustration is that European intellectuals damn the United States for action in Iraq, but lament that they could do nothing in the Balkans. Democrats at home talk of the need for idealism abroad, but fear the dirty road of war that sometimes is part of that bargain ? thus the retreat into "democracy is good, BUT..." So here we have the global throng that focuses on one purported American crime to the next, as it simmers in the luxury of its privilege, education, and sophistication ? and exhibits little power, new ideas, intellectual seriousness, or relevance.

In this context, the Iraqi elections were surely poorly attended, or illegitimate, or ruined by violence, or irrelevant, or staged by America ? or almost anything other than a result of a brave, very risky, and costly effort by the United States military to destroy a fascist regime and offer something better in its place.

Yet as Yeehah! Howard Dean takes over the Democratic party, as Kojo Annan's dad limps to the end of his tenure, and as a Saddam-trading Jacques Chirac talks grandly of global airfare taxes to help the poor, they should all ask themselves whether a weary public is listening any longer to the hyped and canned stories of their own courage and brilliance.

? Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His website is
Title: Re: The Toothless Teeth Gnashers
Post by: alex on February 05, 2005, 03:32:02 AM
Quote from: buzwardo
Do we recall the successive litany of "you cannot win in Afghanistan/you cannot reconstruct such a mess/you cannot jumpstart democracy there"?

No, we don't. I recall an international effort by most of the nations that the author is attacking, to get retribution for a terrorist attack on America. Obviously that would get in the way of the "Euros and Liberals are all asshats" rant so never mind.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 05, 2005, 06:52:46 AM
Woof Alex:

That's pretty witty. :lol:   In particular the UK, Australia, and Poland have been good friends to us in all this, with the UK being especially noteworthy.  Point gladly acknowledged.

That said, there were quite a few voices out there on Afghanistan as VDH says.  That you didn't notice them speaks well of you :) so may I offer that his words be taken as a matter of "If the shoe fits, wear it"?


PS:  There is a reason this thread has the word "Rant" in its name :wink:
Title: Political Rants
Post by: alex on February 06, 2005, 03:01:46 AM
Quote from: Crafty_Dog

PS:  There is a reason this thread has the word "Rant" in its name :wink:

haha ok fair enough

Woof Alex:

That's pretty witty. :lol:   In particular the UK, Australia, and Poland have been good friends to us in all this, with the UK being especially noteworthy.  Point gladly acknowledged.

That said, there were quite a few voices out there on Afghanistan as VDH says.  That you didn't notice them speaks well of you :) so may I offer that his words be taken as a matter of "If the shoe fits, wear it"?


In fact French Special Forces are still helping US troops in hunting for Osama Bin Laden. Most of Europe had troops in Afghanistan. Yet many people ignore that fact when labelling the French as traitors in the War On Terror, and Euros in general as lazy, corrupt, elitist bystanders.

Westernization, coupled with globalization, has created an affluent and leisured elite that now gravitates to universities, the media, bureaucracies, and world organizations, all places where wealth is not created, but analyzed, critiqued, and lavishly spent.

(1) live a pretty privileged life; (2) in recompense "feel" pretty worried and guilty about it; (3) somehow connect their unease over their comfort with a pathology of the world's hyperpower, the United States; and (4) thus be willing to risk their elite status, power, or wealth by very brave acts such as writing anguished essays, giving pained interviews, issuing apologetic communiqu?s, braving the rails to Davos, and barking off-the-cuff furious remarks about their angst over themes (1) through (3) above.

Those comments are pretty funny coming from a Fellow of Stanford University.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 06, 2005, 06:29:42 AM
Woof Alex:

"In fact French Special Forces are still helping US troops in hunting for Osama Bin Laden. Most of Europe had troops in Afghanistan. Yet many people ignore that fact when labelling the French as traitors in the War On Terror, and Euros in general as lazy, corrupt, elitist bystanders."

Agreed that in some cases the support in Afghanistan was reasonably substantial, but in some cases it was rather minimalist and required pulling teeth.

Although I supported and despite some poor execution by our civilian leadership continue to support our efforts in Iraq and elsewhere, I readily agree that a fair case could and was made that our actions in Iraq were not a good idea and would end badly and the nations of Europe are free and sovereign (well maybe not so sovereign anymore with the Euro Union  :wink: ) to support us or not.

Where I think the anger with France and (certain elements elsewhere in Europe) comes is in its activities to actively sabatoge our play in Iraq.  These are NOT the actions of a friend.  I have not the time or mood to rehash this again, but it was France that:

1) sold the nuclear technology to SH that it was using in its efforts to go nuclear.  Thank God that the Israelis acted at Osirak to take it out-- otherwise we would have been facing a nuclear SH when he invaded Kuwait and the west would have lacked the will to oppose him, which IMHO means he would now be the ruler of the entire Arabian peninsula with all the power that comes from being militarily successful in this way and all the oil revenues he would be receiving.

BTW it was Chirac himself who was responsible for the sale of the nuke tech to SH and there has been extensive warm correspondence between the two of them over the years.

2) disallowed US overflights of France when we had to go after Qadaffi n Libya.

3) for some 20 years had a deal with various terrorist organizations that they could go through France as long as they left France alone

4) there's more of this sort of thing, but at 0600 this Sunday AM it slips my mind.

This is the background of France's perfidy in actively undercutting our play against SH.  

So far the investigations of the Oil for Food program show that three members of the UN Security Council were on the take: France, Russia and China.  (Not on the SC but also on the take were many other countries from Eruope and elsewhere as well.)  

Russia and China are not our friends, but France was supposed to be and its actions (and those of other Euro friends) have cost American lives by making things harder for us.  It is pretty natural for us to be upset about this.

What drives all of this?  In Chirac's case the answer appears to be pretty ugly.  As for the part of Europe that opposes us in our course of action (and I do note just how much of Europe does support us) here is one German's answer:

Crafty Dog


Matthias Dapfner, Chief Executive of the huge German publisher Axel Springer AG, has written a blistering attack in DIE WELT, Germany's largest daily newspaper, against the timid reaction of Europe in the face of the Islamic threat.

(Commentary by Mathias Dapfner CEO, Axel Springer, AG)

A few days ago Henry Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag, "Europe - your family name is appeasement." It's a phrase you can't get out of your head because it's so terribly true.

Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before they noticed that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to toothless agreements.

Appeasement legitimized and stabilized Communism in the Soviet Union, then East Germany, then all the rest of Eastern Europe where for decades, inhuman, suppressive, murderous governments were glorified as the ideologically correct alternative to all other possibilities.

Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo, and even though we had absolute proof of ongoing mass-murder, we Europeans debated and debated and debated, and were still debating when finally the Americans had to come from halfway around the world, into Europe yet again, and do our work for us.

Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," now countenances suicide bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians.

Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore nearly 500,000 victims of Saddam's torture and murder machinery and, motivated by the self-righteousness of the peace-movement, has the gall to issue bad grades to George Bush... Even as it is uncovered that the loudest critics of the American action in Iraq made illicit billions, no, TENS of billions, in the corrupt U. N. Oil-for-Food program.

And now we are faced with a particularly grotesque form of appeasement...How is Germany reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere? By suggesting that we really should have a "Muslim Holiday" in Germany.

I wish I were joking, but I am not. A substantial fraction of our (German) Government, and if the polls are to be believed, the German people, actually believe that creating an Official State "Muslim Holiday" will somehow spare us from the wrath of the fanatical Islamists.

One cannot help but recall Britain's Neville Chamberlain waving the laughable treaty signed by Adolf Hitler, and declaring European "Peace in our time".

What else has to happen before the European public and its political leadership get it? There is a sort of crusade underway, an especially perfidious crusade consisting of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims, focused on civilians, directed against our free, open Western societies, and intent upon Western Civilization's utter destruction.

It is a conflict that will most likely last longer than any of the great military conflicts of the last century - a conflict conducted by an enemy that cannot be tamed by "tolerance" and "accommodation" but is actually spurred on by such gestures, which have proven to be, and will always be taken by the Islamists for signs of weakness.

Only two recent American Presidents had the courage needed for anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush. His American critics may quibble over the details, but we Europeans know the truth. We saw it first hand: Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, freeing half of the German people from nearly 50 years of terror and virtual slavery. And Bush, supported only by the Social Democrat Blair, acting on moral conviction, recognized the danger in the Islamic War against democracy. His place in history will have to be evaluated after a number of years have passed.

In the meantime, Europe sits back with charismatic self-confidence in the multicultural corner, instead of defending liberal society's values and being an attractive center of power on the same playing field as the true great powers, America and China.

On the contrary - we Europeans present ourselves, in contrast to those "arrogant Americans", as the World Champions of "tolerance", which even (Germany's Interior Minister) Otto Schily justifiably criticizes. Why? Because we're so moral? I fear it's more because we're so materialistic, so devoid of a moral compass.

For his policies, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of additional national debt, and a massive and persistent burden on the American economy - because unlike almost all of Europe, Bush realizes what is at stake - literally everything.

While we criticize the "capitalistic robber barons" of America because they seem too sure of their priorities, we timidly defend our Social Welfare systems. Stay out of it! It could get expensive! We'd rather discuss reducing our 35-hour workweek or our dental coverage, or our 4 weeks of paid vacation... Or listen to TV pastors preach about the need to "reach out to terrorists. To understand and forgive".

These days, Europe reminds me of an old woman who, with shaking hands, frantically hides her last pieces of jewelry when she notices a robber breaking into a neighbor's house.

Appeasement? Europe, thy name is Cowardice
Title: Political Rants
Post by: alex on February 06, 2005, 08:27:14 AM
Quote from: Crafty_Dog
Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before they noticed that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to toothless agreements.


Appeasement? Europe, thy name is Cowardice

That's also an interesting twisting of the facts to attack the Euros. FYI WWII started in 1939 when France and Britain declared war on Germany in support of their ally, Poland. The US entered the war in 1941 only after being attacked by both Germany and Japan and with a formal declaration of war from both.

Maybe the US should feel guilty for having "hesitated too long".

I don't want to turn my own posts into Euro-centric rants either by the way. The last thing I want to do is disrespect you in your own forum, so maybe we should drop it.

Incidentally although I thought the invasion of Iraq was a bad idea to start with I firmly believe that now the damage is essentially done (in terms of the cost in military and civilian lives) our only course is to finish the job as intended - doing everything we can to help build an economically functional, democratic Iraq. It is the only way to get even close to the end justifying the means.
Title: Sheesh. . . .
Post by: buzwardo on February 06, 2005, 10:57:46 AM
That's also an interesting twisting of the facts to attack the Euros. FYI WWII started in 1939 when France and Britain declared war on Germany in support of their ally, Poland. The US entered the war in 1941 only after being attacked by both Germany and Japan and with a formal declaration of war from both.

Maybe the US should feel guilty for having "hesitated too long".

Oh my goodness. There is no reason to believe that anything fruitful will spring from further discussion, but there are a couple of comments here that I'm afraid I can't abide

WWII started when France and Britain declared war? That measure utterly ignores causality; many better lines of demarcation exist. Perhaps it began when the treaty of Versailles was utterly abrogated by Germany; maybe it began when Hitler staged fake attacks from Poland he then used as pretext; then again maybe when the Fascists in Germany usurped power by extra-constitutional means best marks the date; or perhaps the onset of the Nazi's eugenic madness can be considered the start.

After trying long and hard to ignore Hitler's imperial ends, France and Britain finally and formally acknowledged that a madman's brinkmanship left them no other choice but to fight. Claiming WWII started when the obvious was acknowledged is like saying the AIDs epidemic began when HIV was named. In both instances a lot of death and destruction occurred long before the talking heads made formal noise.

As for any guilt the US should feel . . . the US was in the midst of an economic depression, a strong strain of isolationism had swept the land, a significant portion of the population traced its roots back to Germany, nations most proximate to the threat were embracing appeasement, and indeed the threat was on the other side of the freaking Atlantic ocean. The surprise is not that the US stayed out of the war for so long, the surprise is that despite all sorts of very compelling reasons to let the Euros settle their own affairs many US politicians took very large political risks that almost certainly lead the US into another war far removed from its shores.

Was Lend Lease a sign of US hesitance? How about the massive rearmament program undertaken in the midst of a depression? Perhaps supplying Chenault and allowing our fighter pilots to resign their commissions and fight in China shows how we sought to duck and cover? Maybe the massive intelligence effort started up from near scratch demarks our hesitance? Or perhaps American meddling merely demonstrates we are parochial dunces before the feces hits the fan, and hesitant fools if we wait for the sh*t storm to reach our shores.

Sheesh. . . .
Title: Re: Sheesh. . . .
Post by: alex on February 06, 2005, 11:59:41 AM
Quote from: buzwardo
Or perhaps American meddling merely demonstrates we are parochial dunces before the feces hits the fan, and hesitant fools if we wait for the sh*t storm to reach our shores.

Sheesh. . . .

Is that better than the logic which blames the whole of Europe for a world war which covered Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, Asia and the Pacific?

I do not blame the US for waiting until Pearl Harbour to realize the threat from the Axis powers. The fact remains that British and French soldiers and civilians were giving their lives to end the threat of National Socialism long before the Americans entered the war.

The current American trend towards citing European action pre-WWII as symptomatic of the same attitudes towards Iraq clearly ignore the fact that at best the US held the same "stick your head in the sand" attitude, but for longer - despite the fact that the threat from the Axis always DID include a direct threat to America, but from the West rather than the East.

This is not an attack on America for the action in Iraq. I can understand perfectly the logic behind the action. But I can also understand that people can disagree with the reasoning behind it without being Elitist-liberal Eurocowards, and referencing a war 60 years old fought under a totally different set of circumstances is a perfect example of an ad hominem attack on those who opposed this action in Iraq.

That's why writers always ignore Afghanistan when using this comparison - the fact that virtually every western nation supported the US in removing the Taliban (and still does in the hunt for Osama) makes a nonsense of the argument that Euros have some kind of character flaw dating back to 1933.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: alex on February 06, 2005, 12:27:08 PM

Or perhaps American meddling merely demonstrates we are parochial dunces before the feces hits the fan,

That clearly is the attitude that some people hold. I just want everybody to know, I don't agree with it. The trend towards generalized labelling of a people and/or culture as one thing or another, frankly makes me sick.

I am a great admirer of many aspects of American culture and values, this European "Yanks are dumb" snobbery is for ignorant jerks.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: buzwardo on February 06, 2005, 04:32:45 PM
Like the warden says in Cool Hand Luke: ?What we got here . . . is failure to communicate.?

I?m home with two kids today both recovering from strep and so have exhausted my ration of thoughtful keyboard time for the day. Can?t escape the sensation, moreover, that all I?ll manage to do is further contribute to cascading non-sequiturs producing more heat than illumination. As such I?ll let things lie.

Will say that I?m a fan of well-crafted invective and so will continue to post select pieces when they cross my path. Not looking to pick on anyone in particular; just admire wordsmiths who can narrowly collimate their ire in a sensible fashion.
Title: Compare and Contrast
Post by: buzwardo on February 11, 2005, 10:41:59 AM
An effective use of the old compare and contrast essay:

Masters of the Game
The Left on Churchill and Summers.

If you're a liberal who's still moping like a dog whose food bowl has been moved, thanks to all the conservative victories of late, I have some words of encouragement for you: You guys are still way, way smarter than we are about some things.

Consider the current flap about Ward Churchill and the recent one about Harvard President Larry Summers.

Ward Churchill, as you've probably heard, is a tenured professor of "ethnic studies" at the University of Colorado. Until recently he was the chairman of the department. When invited to another school to give a talk, it came out that he had written an essay comparing the civilian victims of 9/11 to "little Eichmanns." This was a reference to Adolf Eichmann, the chief architect of the Holocaust.

Known for making factually unencumbered statements about the evils of America, Churchill recently gave an interview in which he said he wanted the "U.S. off the planet. Out of existence altogether." He thinks "more 9/11s" are necessary. He holds no Ph.D., and his scholarship ? for want of a better word ? is under relentless attack. Before the current kerfuffle, he'd attained whatever prominence he had by pretending he was an American Indian radical. He likes to pose with assault rifles. The Rocky Mountain News did a genealogical search of Churchill's past and found that he's basically a vanilla white guy playing Indian and enriching himself in the process. The American Indian Movement called Churchill a fraud years ago.

OK, flash back to the hysteria over Larry Summers. By now his auto-da-f? is old news. But let's recap. One of the most respected economists in America, president of Harvard University, and the former secretary of the Treasury, Summers was invited to a closed-door, off-the-record academic conference at which everyone was encouraged to think unconventionally. Warning his audience several times that he was going to be deliberately "provocative," he suggested that there might be some innate cognitive differences between men and women.

This is not a controversial hypothesis in macroeconomics, and it is losing its taboo status in psychology, genetics, and neuroscience. Thousands of peer-reviewed academic papers have been written on the differences between men and women when it comes to various cognitive functions. Note that I said "differences." Superiority and inferiority don't play into it, and Summers never said otherwise. Indeed, he ventured this hypothesis, after showing his obeisance to the more politically correct explanations: discrimination, not enough effort to recruit women, etc., etc.

So what was the reaction?

An MIT feminist biologist ? who moonlights as a feminist activist ? quickly got the vapors and stormed out of the room for fear of fainting. If she stayed any longer, she explained, she'd vomit. Derrick Jackson of the Boston Globe compared Summers to people who cavalierly bandy about the N-word or who thoughtlessly wear swastikas. One hundred members of the Harvard faculty drafted a letter demanding that he apologize. The National Organization for Women demanded that he resign.

The dean of engineering at the University of Washington called his comments "an intellectual tsunami." Since the Asian catastrophe had only just transpired, the tastelessness of the metaphor may not be as apparent now as it was then. Regardless, if his comments were a tsunami, Summers's critics have certainly cashed in on the disaster-relief effort.

Forced to apologize over and over, Summers was then bullied into appointing not one but two new "task forces" on gender equity. Staffed with 22 women and five men, the task forces will no doubt discover that much more work needs to be done and that Summers should apologize more.

In the Summers affair, free speech and academic freedom barely came up, except among a few conservative commentators and one or two academics who were already known for their political incorrectness. Instead, Summers was a pinata to be bashed for material rewards and to send the message that some subjects ? no matter what the evidence ? are simply taboo even for serious scholars to discuss in closed-door, off-the-record meetings.

Meanwhile, Ward Churchill, whose scholarship is a joke, whose evidence is tendentious at best, and who called the victims of 9/11 the moral equivalent of a man who sent babies to the gas chambers, is a hero of free speech. He has refused to apologize. Many conservatives are forced to defend free speech and "diversity" in academia while liberals let the NOWers feed on Summers's flesh.

Liberals may despise what Churchill said, but it's a matter of principle now. The normally insightful and fair Mort Kondracke declared on Fox News, "I really think it's useful for universities to have people like this around, to show students and the rest of us just how odious some of the ideas of the far Left are." Would Kondracke punt on a professor who'd endorsed slavery? I somehow doubt it.

Hopefully ? and, I think, probably ? someone will find enough academic fraud to fire Churchill for cause. No doubt, we'll hear from many on the left about the "chilling effect" such a move would have on "academic freedom," and many conservatives will clear their throats in embarrassment. You really have to marvel at how the other side has mastered this game.
Title: Some Simple English for A$$hats
Post by: buzwardo on February 18, 2005, 04:14:47 PM
February 18, 2005, 1:05 p.m.
How to Euro-Speak
A phrasebook for the presidential tourist.

Denis Boyles

Europeans hate the way Americans talk. They think we're loud and uncouth and they don't like our jokes, except for
Michael Moore. Plus, they resent the fact that they?ve had to learn our language because if they didn?t we wouldn?t buy their stupid metric widgets or visit their overpriced ruins.

So when the president goes to Europe to give his speech to all the EU-niks in Brussels on Tuesday, it?s important that he speak clearly ? or at least clearfully. Because there are a few things he needs to say, and they can all be summed up in seven handy, easy-to-utter phrases:

1. Get a job. With their endless vacations and pint-sized workweeks, Europe can?t produce enough of anything ? including more Europeans ? to save themselves from doom. So the French and Germans have only one realistic strategy when it comes to revitalizing their comatose economies: Wait for the U.S. economy to rise high enough to float their petits bateaux. Meanwhile, the EU?s own reports have long shown the complete failure of the Lisbon strategy that was supposed to have the EU on a competitive par with the U.S. by 2010. Now, as noted in the EU Observer, the EU is failing to compete in technology and research, lagging behind not only the U.S., but also countries such as India. ?The EU is falling behind,? admitted EU commissioner Janez Potocnik. ?And we are now under pressure not only compared to our traditional rivals like the U.S. or Japan, but also China, India or Brazil. We are facing a much tougher competition in talent and knowledge than we are used to.? Why? ?We don?t want to achieve our economic growth by lowering the social or environmental standards.?

2. Clean up your mess. As reported here and elsewhere, French leadership of EU and U.N. missions in Congo and Ivory Coast, among other African countries, have led to massive moral and tactical failures as ?peacekeepers? have turned into rapists, thugs, robbers, and killers. In France, according to Le Monde, some survivors of the Rwanda genocide, which would have been impossible without French complicity, are finally being given a chance to ask for a hearing in a French court of law. This will almost certainly be blocked by the government, which has been covering up this gruesome scandal by burying it in slow-mo ?investigations? for a decade now.

3. Stop taking bribes. Humanitarian groups have been screaming about the crisis in Darfur for a long, long time. The U.S. calls what is happening there a ?genocide? ? but the EU won?t buy that because if it did, it?d be forced by law to intervene, something it not only doesn?t want to do, but, logistically, could barely do if it had to. The U.N. Security Council is paralyzed because France, Russia, and China have blocked sanctions against Sudan. They blocked the sanctions because they all have very large oil and other investments there. Of course, this was the same reason the French rendered Security Council resolutions meaningless before the Iraq invasion, so not surprisingly, as the BBC reports, France is doing the same thing once again. The EU has introduced even more delay in bringing peace to Darfur because of a new insistence that war crimes ? assuming anything ever occurs to bring them to justice ? be tried before the ICC, where the U.S. does not participate.

4. Since you can?t defend yourselves, get out of our way. NATO became a work-around for the U.S. in Iraq, and the alliance is now paralyzed because of the EU?s own ambitions, as the International Herald Tribune reports. ?There is paralysis between the EU and NATO,? the paper quotes an EU official as saying. ?We do not discuss anything serious.? If that?s the case, then why are we spending serious billions to keep the thing alive?

5. Knock off the eco-hypocrisy. The Europeans like to parade their agreement to abide by the provisions of the Kyoto pact like members of an Earth Shoe drill team. According to a piece in the IHT, ?[J?rgen] Strube, the chairman of BASF?s supervisory board, responds with a hint of impatience when asked how European industry plans to comply with the Kyoto Protocol, which requires Germany and 34 other countries to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. As the treaty takes effect Wednesday, worries about its fairness are mixed with mild resentment [because] in their view? American and Chinese companies will not bear these extra costs.? The item is a pick-up of a New York Times story by Mark Landler, so of course the rather salient fact not reported is that neither France, Germany, nor the rest of the EU will comply with the treaty provisions either. They aren?t about to ?bear these extra costs? when they can barely afford to drive to the beach in August as it is. In fact, the EU has treated Kyoto like its now-toothless debt-limit treaty and given up on it altogether. ?Kyoto im Koma,? were the words of a memorable Suddeutsche Zeitung headline a little over a year ago when the EU?s Kyoto failure was first widely noticed.

6. Start a ?No European Left Behind? program. Anti-Semitism, like anti-Americanism, is a permanent part of the European cultural landscape. But, according to an EU study reported in Le Nouvel Observateur, the situation has ?seriously degraded? in the last five years. Anti-Semitism, needless to say, is a pretty reliable indicator of a lousy education. As a result, it?s impossible to make the French, Germans, Belgians, and others understand that Israel is a consequence of their own bloody history and that they therefore have a responsibility to protect that which they forced into creation. This lack of basic education shows sometimes even among those who go to fancy schools like Eton. In Britain, only a small fraction of people under 30 knew anything about Auschwitz until Prince Charles?s clever lad, Harry, decided to go partying with a swastika on his Nazi costume.

In France, it?s not at all uncommon to meet schoolchildren who have no clear understanding that their government eagerly collaborated in the Holocaust. ?We never learned that in school,? a couple of kids in Provence remarked. Because peace in the Middle East means a greater likelihood of peace in the world, European leaders must explain to their citizens their responsibilities regarding Israel, and stop playing enabler to anti-Semitic terrorism, as France is doing with Hezbollah by refusing to call the terrorists what they are ? and that would be terrorists to anyone but the French and Reuters. This quiet support of Hezbollah is hardly reported in the French press, as this rather disingenuous Lib?ration piece describing Chirac?s flying to Beirut suggests. The description of his gray suit is nice, though.

7. Jacques, Gerhard, get a better campaign issue. Chirac and Schr?der are running nations that, if they were American sitcoms, would be cancelled and sold to European TV networks where they?d run forever, dubbed and dumber. Both nations are in economic sloughs; the Germans in fact are approaching Weimar-levels of unemployment. If they ran on their records in their coming elections, they?d crash faster than this cheap laptop of mine. So for both of these guys, the only campaign issue available is anti-Americanism. In the case of Chirac, it?s just cynical opportunism, sort of what you?d expect from a guy wanted on fraud once he loses his office. In the case of Schr?der and especially German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, it?s blind ideology. As John Vinocur reports in the IHT, the small, cubical Schr?der is not hiding his ambition behind his arrogance:

[A] speech by Gerhard Schr?der, billed as a German-take-on-the-world and read out by Defense Minister Peter Struck (Schr?der called in sick), grated. The Bush folk, trying so hard to be Europe-amenable seven days before the president?s arrival, suddenly found themselves laboring not to look too wrong-footed, embarrassed or provoked by a message from the chancellor they did not fully expect ?

His text restated his determination that Germany get a UN Security Council seat cum veto power. It fled any mention of his quest to have the European Union lift its embargo on arms sales to China, a proposal that has enraged Congress across the board. And it urged an end to Iran?s isolation and consideration for the mullahs? ?legitimate security concerns? ? on a day when James Woolsey, a Clinton administration director of U.S. central intelligence, was asking a seminar panelist if he knew of a single shard of fact indicating that Iran was not about to produce atomic weapons. (No answer.)

This latest burst of anti-Americanism in France and Germany has been aimed not just at the policies of the American government and the war in Iraq but also the culture of the American people, the popularity of which is something Chirac described as an ?ecological disaster? during a visit to southeast Asia, just before the tsunami.

This kind of knee-jerk hatred colors the judgments of both men and their fellow citizens. If Germany and France hadn?t already demonstrated their ability to market brutal hatred during World War II, this might not matter. But to fan the flames of grotesque intolerance during a war on terror just to keep two political hacks out of their own growing unemployment lines is a bit much. If that?s worth deep-sixing the Atlantic ?alliance,? that?s jake. Or maybe we could give Germany our Security Council seat (and our share of the bills) on our way out of the U.N. Let Europe pay its own way for a decade or two. If Bush makes nothing else clear when he arrives in Brussels Monday night for a ?working dinner? with Chirac it should be that ultimately European anti-Americanism isn?t our problem. It?s Europe?s problem, and Euro-leaders should take the lead in solving it.

So there?s your seven-phrase speech, and good luck on that ?fence-mending? mission of yours, Se?or President. However, as a man who keeps a blind donkey in a pretty small pasture, I want to make a little suggestion: If you?re going to mend a fence, go for the barbed stuff, minimum two strand 12.5ga galvanized ? which, as you know, is just enough to cut the bull.

? Denis Boyles is author of Vile France: Fear, Duplicity, Cowardice and Cheese.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 21, 2005, 07:58:10 AM
Unsung Victories
The effects of American policy throughout the Middle East are gradually being felt.

Last week, Mr. Abbas ordered the ruins of Yasir Arafat's Gaza headquarters cleared away. The Israelis had destroyed the building in 2002, and Mr. Arafat had kept the ruins as a kind of memorial. Suddenly, in a day, it was gone." ? New York Times, Sunday, February 13, 2005.

In the war against the Islamic fascists and their supporters there have been a number of unheralded victories that have played some role in changing the landscape of the Middle East and eroding the power of the Islamists.

The first bold move was to censure and then ignore Yasser Arafat for his complicity in unleashing suicide bombers, his rampant corruption, and his stifling of Palestinian dissidents. At the time of the change in American policy, other members of the quartet ? the Russians, the Europeans, and the U.N. ? were aghast. The "moderate" Arab world protested vehemently. Pundits here alleged Texas recklessness and clung to the silly idea of the Arafat/Sharon moral equivalence, as if a freely elected democratic leader, subject to an open press and a free opposition, was the same as a thug who ordered lynchings and jailed or murdered dissidents.

Review press accounts from the summer of 2002: Neither ally nor neutral approved of Bush's act of ostracism and instead warned of disaster. Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, whose country then held the EU's rotating presidency, lectured that without dialogue with Arafat "Israel could not stop Palestinian violence through force." A circumspect Colin Powell visited the region often to smooth over hurt feelings and in the process to soften Bush's bold action. Dennis Ross, remember, had met with the American-subsidized Arafat almost 500 times, and it was said that the latter visited the Clinton White House more than any other foreign leader ? a fact apparently lost on the Palestinian street, which still spontaneously cheered on news of September 11.

Lost in all the controversy was the simple fact that Arafat had come to power through a rigged vote. He proceeded to corrupt the state, censure the media, and let thugs terrorize Palestinian reformers while he systematically looted public monies. His legacy was a ruined economy, murder, and systematic theft.

All knew this; few would say it publicly; none would do anything about it.

Calumny followed as the Israelis unilaterally went on to start their fence, take out the terrorist elite of Hamas, plan to abandon Gaza, and, pace Mr. Moeller, precisely through force crush the intifada. In those bleak months of suicide murdering, Arafat courted the world's sycophantic press as he railed against Sharon from his pathetic bunker at Ramallah.

Then something unexpected happened. Almost imperceptibly in his last two years, he devolved from a feared dictator to a defrocked terrorist to finally an irrelevant functionary. That metamorphosis proved critical as a prerequisite to his demise, as Arafat slowly lost his four-decade-acquired capital of intimidation ? critical for any Middle East autocrat ? and with it his grip on the popular imagination of the West Bank. In the Middle East a tyrant can look murderous or even psychopathic, but not impotent ? and especially not ridiculous.

Thus when he died, far from being sanctified as a mythical strongman, he was almost immediately forgotten and his legacy is currently undergoing a sort of Trotsky-like erasure. Postmortem stories almost immediately spread about absconded funds, tawdry fights broke out over his estate, and, mirabile dictu, a few signs of freedom emerged on the West Bank as elections mysteriously followed and with them renewed discussions of peace. The American ostracism did not ensure that we would see a settlement, only the chance that we could ? and that is some progress in the Middle East.

Later in April 2003, the United States withdrew its troops from Saudi Arabia ? most pilots and crews in the desert. The ostensible reason for their original deployment ? protection from Saddam Hussein's army in Kuwait and monitoring the no-fly zones ? was no longer valid. But many strategists thought Americans were still needed in the kingdom to ensure the free flow of the world's oil supply and perhaps to secure the royal family from the very terrorists that many in the clan had subsidized and abetted. Were we "abandoning" an "old and trusted" ally, or finally coming to our senses that the subsidized protection of a near-criminal state had to cease under the changed conditions of the post-Cold War Middle East?

In reality, Americans in uniform were subject to humiliating conditions, such as female military personnel being forced to veil when leaving bases, while helping to ready planes to protect a country where a great many were privately happy that 15 of their jihadists had murdered 3,000 Americans. Our presence among the "holy shrines" only played into bin Laden's hands, as his 1998 fatwa revealed. The Saudi state media often blamed the Americans or the Zionists for most of their own self-inflicted pathologies, hoping that such smears and billions in bribes to terrorists and Wahhabi fanatics might deflect popular outrage onto us.

But by withdrawing, the United States took the first steps in a long overdue disengagement from an autocratic dynasty that will either change under a consensual government into a titular and ceremonial royalty ? like the British crown heads ? or, as in the case of Iran's shah, be driven out by theocratic fundamentalists. Finally, the United States at last is beginning to cut loose from an octopus whose petroleum tentacles have wrapped deeply around banks, lobbyists, defense contractors, and lawyers in Washington and New York, both Republicans and Democrats, oilmen and multiculturalists alike. It is neither a wise nor a moral thing to have much to do with 7,000 royal cousins who have siphoned $700 billion from their country while unemployment there reaches 40 percent and while women, laborers from the third world, Christians, and assorted others are treated as undesirables.

Now in hindsight, few seem to object to the ostracism of Arafat or estrangement from Saudi Arabia. The moral?

As a rule of thumb in matters of the Middle East, be very skeptical of anything that Europe (fearful of terrorists, eager for profits, tired of Jews, scared of their own growing Islamic minorities) and the Arab League (a synonym for the autocratic rule of Sunni Muslim grandees and secular despots) cook up together. If a EU president, a Saudi royal, and a Middle East specialist in the State Department or a professor in an endowed Middle Eastern Studies chair agree that the United States is "woefully na?ve," "unnecessarily provocative" or "acting unilaterally," then assume that we are pretty much on the right side of history and promoting democratic reform. "Sobriety" and "working with Arab moderates" is diplo-speak for supporting or abetting an illiberal hierarchy.

There are other key decisions to be made that will go mostly unnoticed by the world's media. We should decide now to distance ourselves from the Mubarak regime, and to be ready for a dynastic squabble with the passing of the present strongman. We have over the years given $50 billion to that "moderate" dictatorship not to attack Israel ? as if it would really start a fifth war it would surely lose. It didn't.

But Egypt did unleash venom against us and become the intellectual nexus of Arab anti-Americanism. In the Arab world, a change in American policies to promote democracy was publicized as "anti-Arab" by state-run media ? in almost the identical manner that former support for the corrupt status quo was once condemned as "anti-Arab" by Middle East intellectuals. No matter: Despite the short-term lose-lose proposition, no one ever went wrong in the long-term by standing on the side of freedom.

No longer should we remain in thrall to any Arab government that with its left hand rounds up over-the-top terrorists, while with its right gives others less violent a pass to unleash virulent hatred of America. The Rubicon has been crossed in Iraq, and we can no longer watch Americans die for democracy in the Sunni Triangle while giving billions to a regime that kills off consensual government in Cairo. Diplomats can work out the details without sounding either moralistic or naive, smiling and assuring the Egyptians that our friendship will be only strengthened from a new understanding, as the money dries up and we part without acrimony ? even as in desperation Mubarak readjusts to his "helpful" role as a third-party interlocutor in Iraq and Palestine.

The American effort to democratize postwar Afghanistan and Iraq has placed a heavy burden on the United States to develop a coherent and consistent policy of supporting reformers throughout the Middle East. We should continue with demands for elections in a Lebanon free of a tyrannical Syria, elevate dissidents in Iran onto the world stage, pressure for change in the Gulf, and say goodbye to Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. If Western elites are really worried about the legitimacy of past elections in Iraq, let them go instead to Lebanon where they can worry first about having any at all, and then later complain about the proper degree of voter participation. The forces of history have been unleashed and we should cease apologizing for the deluge and instead steer the waves in the right direction.

Americans understandably focus on the hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet just as important are the unsung successes that received little praise, and then have a weird tendency to drift off into the collective global amnesia as if they arose from natural, not American-induced, reform.

? Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His website is

*   *   *
Title: More VDH
Post by: buzwardo on February 25, 2005, 11:21:44 AM
February 25, 2005, 7:48 a.m.
Merchants of Despair
Sort of for the war, sort of...
Victor Davis Hanson

Much of the recent domestic critique of American efforts in the Middle East has long roots in our own past ? and little to do with the historic developments on the ground in Iraq

1. "It's America's fault."

Some on the hard left sought to cite our support for Israel or general "American imperialism" in the Middle East as culpable for bin Laden's wrath on September 11. Past American efforts to save Muslims in Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia, Kuwait, and Afghanistan counted for little. Even less thanks were earned by billions of dollars given to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. The Islamofascist vision of a Dark Age world run by unelected imams ? where women were in seclusion, homosexuals were killed, Jews were terrorized, Christians were routed, and freedom was squelched ? registered little, even though such visions were by definition at war with all that Western liberalism stands for.

This flawed idea that autocrats supposedly hate democracy more for what it does rather than for what it represents is not new. On the eve of World War II isolationists on the right insisted that America had treated Germany unfairly after World War I and wrongly sided with British imperialism in its efforts to rub in their past defeat. "International Jewry" was blamed for poisoning the good will between the two otherwise friendly countries by demanding punitive measures from a victimized Germany. Likewise, poor Japan was supposedly unfairly cut off from American ore and petroleum, and hemmed in by provocative Anglo Americans.

By the late 1940s things had changed, and now it was the turn of the old Left, which blamed "fascists" for ruining the hallowed American-Soviet wartime alliance by "isolating" and "surrounding" the Russians with hostile bases and allies. The same was supposedly true of China: We were lectured ad nauseam by idealists and "China hands" that Mao "really" wanted to cultivate American friendship, but was spurned by our right-wing ideologues ? as if there were nothing of the absolutism and innate thuggery in him that would soon account for 50 million or more murdered and starved.

Ditto the animosity from dictators like Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro. The Left assured us instead that both were actually neo-Jeffersonians whose olive branches were crushed by Cold Warriors, and who then ? but only then ? went on to plan their own gulags in Vietnam and Cuba.

2. "Americans are weak."

Before we went into Afghanistan, we were hectored that the country's fierce people, colonial history, rugged terrain, hostile neighbors, foreign religion, and shattered infrastructure made victory unlikely. We also forget now how the Left warned us of terrible casualties and millions of refugees before the Iraq war, and then went dormant until the insurgents emerged. At that point it resurfaced to assure that Iraq was lost and precipitate withdrawal our only hope, only to grow quiet again after the recent Iraqi election ? a cycle that followed about the same 20-month timetable of military victory to voting in Afghanistan.

Now a new geopolitical litany has arisen: The reserves are "shattered"; North Korea, Syria, and Iran are untouchable while we are "bogged down" in the Sunni Triangle; a schedule for withdrawal from Iraq needs to be spelled out; there is no real American-trained Iraqi army; the entire Arab world hates us; blah, blah, blah...

In 1917, "a million men over there" was considered preposterous for a Potemkin American Expeditionary Force; by late 1918 it was chasing Germany out of Belgium. Charles Lindbergh returned from an obsequious visitation with Goering to warn us that the Luftwaffe was unstoppable. Four years later it was in shambles as four-engine American bombers reduced the Third Reich to ashes.

Japanese Zeroes, supposed proof of comparative American backwardness in 1941-2, were the easy targets of "Turkey Shoots" by 1944 as American fighters blew them out of the skies. Sputnik "proved" how far we were behind the socialist workhorse in Russia, even as we easily went to the moon first a little over a decade later. The history of the American military and economy in the 20th century is one of being habitually underestimated, even as the United States defeated Prussian imperialism, German Nazism, Italian fascism, Japanese militarism, and Stalinist Communism.

Nor in our more recent peacetime were we buried by stagflation, Jimmy Carter's "malaise," Japan, Inc., and all the other supposed bogeymen that were prophesized to overwhelm the institutional strength of the American state, its free-enterprise system, and the highly innovative and individualistic nature of the American people.

3. "They are supermen."

When suicide murderers dominated the news of the Intifada, followed by the car bombers and beheaders of the Sunni Triangle, many in the West despaired that there was no thwarting such fanatics. Perhaps they simply believed more in their cause than we did in ours. How can you stop someone who kills to die rather than merely dying to kill?

That Ariel Sharon in two years defeated the Intifada by decapitating the Hamas leadership, starting the fence, announcing withdrawal from Gaza, and humiliating Arafat was forgotten. In the same manner few now write or think about how the United States military went into the heart of darkness in Fallujah and simply destroyed or routed the insurgents of that fundamentalist stronghold in less than two weeks, an historic operation that ensured a successful turnout on election day and an eventual takeover by an elected Iraqi government.

So this paradox of exaggerating the strength of our weaker enemies is likewise an American trademark. Spiked-helmeted Prussians were considered vicious pros who would make short work of doughboy hicks who had trained with brooms and sticks. Indeed, the German imperial army of World War I may have been made up of the most formidable foot soldiers of any age. Still, it was destroyed in less than four years by supposedly decadent and corrupt liberal democracies.

The Gestapo was the vanguard of a new Aryan super-race, pitiless and proud in its martial superiority. How could soda-jockeys of the Depression ever fight something like the Waffen SS with poor equipment, little training, and a happy-go-lucky attitude rather than an engrained death wish? Rather easily as it turned out, as the Allies not only defeated Nazism but literally annihilated it in about five years. Kamikazes were also felt to be otherworldly in their eerie death cult ? who, after all, in the United States would take off to ram his Corsair or Hellcat into a Japanese ship? No matter ? the U.S. Navy, Marines, and Army Air Corps were not impressed, and rather quickly destroyed not merely the death pilots but the very culture that launched them.

4. "We are alone."

George Bush was said to have alienated the world, as if our friends in Eastern Europe, Britain, Australia, and a billion in India did not matter. Yet the same was said in 1941 when Latin America, Asia, and Africa were in thrall to the Axis. Neutrals like Spain, Argentina, and Turkey wanted little to do with a disarmed United States that had unwisely found itself in a two-front war with the world's most formidable military powers.

By the 1950s we seemed to have defeated Germany and Japan only to have subsequently "lost" China and Eastern Europe once more. Much of Asia and Latin America deified the mass-murdering Stalin and Mao while deriding elected American presidents. The Richard Clarks and Joe Wilsons of that age lectured about a paranoid Eisenhower administration, clumsy CIA work, and the general hopelessness of ever defeating global Communism, whose spores sprouted almost everywhere in the form of Nasserism, Pan-Arabism, Baathism, Castroism, and various "national liberationist" movements.

5. Why?

Why do Americans do all this to themselves? In part, the nature of an open society is constant self-critique, especially at times of national elections. Our successes at creating an affluent and free citizenry also only raise the bar ever higher as we sense we are closer to heaven on earth ? and with a little more perfection could walk more like gods than crawl as mere men.

There are also still others among us who are impatient with the give and take of a consensual society. They harbor a secret admiration for the single-mindedness of the zealot in pursuit of a utopian cause ? hence the occasional crazy applause given by some Americans to the beheading "Minutemen" of the Sunni Triangle or the "brave" "combat teams" who killed 3,000 on September 11.

Finally, the intellectual class that we often read and hear from is increasingly divorced from much of what makes America work, especially the sort of folk who join the military. They have little appreciation that the U.S. Marine Corps is far more deadly than Baathist diehards or Taliban remnants ? or that a fleet of American bombers with GPS bombs can do more damage in a few seconds than most of the suicide bombers of the Middle East could do in a year.

It is wise to cite and publicize our errors ? and there have been many in this war. Humility and circumspection are military assets as well. And we should not deprecate the danger of our enemies, who are cruel and ingenious. Moreover, we should never confuse the sharp dissent of the well-meaning critic with disloyalty to the cause.

But nor should we fall into pessimism, when in less than four years we have destroyed the two worst regimes in the Middle East, scattered al Qaeda, avoided another promised 9/11 at home, and sent shock waves of democracy throughout the Arab world ? so far at an aggregate cost of less than what was incurred on the first day of this unprovoked war. Car bombs are bad news, but in the shadows is the real story: The terrorists are losing, and radical reform, the likes of which millions have never seen, is right on the horizon. So this American gloominess is not new. Yet, if the past is any guide, our present lack of optimism in this struggle presages its ultimate success.

A final prediction: By the end of this year, formerly critical liberal pundits, backsliding conservative columnists, once-fiery politicians, Arab "moderates," ex-statesmen and generals emeriti, smug stand-up comedians, recently strident Euros ? perhaps even Hillary herself ? will quietly come to a consensus that what we are witnessing from Afghanistan and the West Bank to Iraq and beyond, with its growing tremors in Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, and the Gulf, is a moral awakening, a radical break with an ugly past that threatens a corrupt, entrenched, and autocratic elite and is just the sort of thing that they were sort of for, sort of all along ? sort of...
Title: NYT Newspeak
Post by: buzwardo on March 17, 2005, 01:10:11 PM
It's always amusing when Hitchens takes on newspeak contradictions.

This Was Not Looting
How did Saddam's best weapons plants get plundered?
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Tuesday, March 15, 2005, at 5:29 AM PT

Once again, a major story gets top billing in a mainstream paper?and is printed upside down. "Looting at Weapons Plants Was Systematic, Iraqi Says." This was how the New York Times led its front page on Sunday. According to the supporting story, Dr. Sami al-Araji, the deputy minister of industry, says that after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, "looters systematically dismantled and removed tons of machinery from Saddam Hussein's most important weapons installations, including some with high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms."

As printed, the implication of the story was not dissimilar from the Al-Qaqaa disclosures, which featured so much in the closing days of the presidential election last fall. In that case, a huge stock of conventional high-explosives had been allowed to go missing and was presumably in the hands of those who were massacring Iraqi civilians and killing coalition troops. At least one comment from the Bush campaign surrogate appeared to blame this negligence on the troops themselves. Followed to one possible conclusion, the implication was clear: The invasion of Iraq had made the world a more dangerous place by randomly scattering all sorts of weaponry, including mass-destruction weaponry, to destinations unknown.

It was eye-rubbing to read of the scale of this potential new nightmare. There in cold print was the Al Hatteen "munitions production plant that international inspectors called a complete potential nuclear weapons laboratory." And what of the Al Adwan facility, which "produced equipment used for uranium enrichment, necessary to make some kinds of nuclear weapons"? The overall pattern of the plundered sites was summarized thus, by reporters James Glanz and William J. Broad:

The kinds of machinery at the various sites included equipment that could be used to make missile parts, chemical weapons or centrifuges essential for enriching uranium for atom bombs.

My first question is this: How can it be that, on every page of every other edition for months now, the New York Times has been stating categorically that Iraq harbored no weapons of mass destruction? And there can hardly be a comedy-club third-rater or activist in the entire country who hasn't stated with sarcastic certainty that the whole WMD fuss was a way of lying the American people into war. So now what? Maybe we should have taken Saddam's propaganda seriously, when his newspaper proudly described Iraq's physicists as "our nuclear mujahideen."

My second question is: What's all this about "looting"? The word is used throughout the long report, but here's what it's used to describe. "In four weeks from mid-April to mid-May of 2003 ? teams with flatbed trucks and other heavy equipment moved systematically from site to site. ? 'The first wave came for the machines,' Dr Araji said. 'The second wave, cables and cranes.' " Perhaps hedging the bet, the Times authors at this point refer to "organized looting."

But obviously, what we are reading about is a carefully planned military operation. The participants were not panicked or greedy civilians helping themselves?which is the customary definition of a "looter," especially in wartime. They were mechanized and mobile and under orders, and acting in a concerted fashion. Thus, if the story is factually correct?which we have no reason at all to doubt?then Saddam's Iraq was a fairly highly-evolved WMD state, with a contingency plan for further concealment and distribution of the weaponry in case of attack or discovery.

Before the war began, several of the administration's critics argued that an intervention would be too dangerous, either because Saddam Hussein would actually unleash his arsenal of WMD, or because he would divert it to third parties. That case at least had the merit of being serious (though I would want to argue that a regime capable of doing either thing was a regime that urgently needed to be removed). Since then, however, the scene has dissolved into one long taunt and jeer: "There were no WMD in Iraq. Liar, liar, pants on fire."

The U.N. inspectors, who are solemnly quoted by Glanz and Broad as having "monitored" the alarming developments at Al Hatteen and elsewhere, don't come out looking too professional, either. If by scanning satellite pictures now they can tell us that potentially thermonuclear stuff is on the loose, how come they couldn't come up with this important data when they were supposedly "on the ground"?

Even in the worst interpretation, it seems unlikely that the material is more dangerous now than it was two years ago. Some of the elements?centrifuges, for example, and chemical mixtures?require stable and controlled conditions for effectiveness. They can't simply be transferred to some kitchen or tent. They are less risky than they were in early 2003, in other words. If they went to a neighboring state, though ? Some chemical vats have apparently turned up on a scrap heap in Jordan, even if this does argue more for a panicky concealment than a plan of transfer. But anyway, this only returns us to the main point: If Saddam's people could have made such a transfer after his fall, then they could have made it much more easily during his reign. (We know, for example, that the Baathists were discussing the acquisition of long-range missiles from North Korea as late as March 2003, and at that time, the nuclear Wal-Mart of the A.Q. Khan network was still in business. Iraq would have had plenty to trade in this WMD underworld.)

Supporters of the overdue disarmament and liberation of Iraq, all the same, can't be complacent about this story. It seems flabbergasting that any of these sites were unsecured after the occupation, let alone for so long. Did the CIA yet again lack "human intelligence" as well as every other kind? The Bush administration staked the reputation of the United States on the matter. It won't do to say that "mistakes were made."

Article URL:
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 25, 2005, 11:45:36 AM
Woof All:

The classy Peggy Noonan was a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan (e.g. his 40th Anniversary of Normandy speech and many others) and the author of "When Character was King" (stellar biography of Reagan) and other works.  IMHO a great writer.



In Love With Death
The bizarre passion of the pull-the-tube people.

Thursday, March 24, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

God made the world or he didn't.

God made you or he didn't.

If he did, your little human life is, and has been, touched by the divine. If this is true, it would be true of all humans, not only some. And so--again, if it is true--each human life is precious, of infinite value, worthy of great respect.

Most--not all, but probably most--of those who support Terri Schiavo's right to live believe the above. This explains their passion and emotionalism. They believe they are fighting for an invaluable and irreplaceable human life. They are like the mother who is famously said to have lifted the back of a small car off the ground to save a child caught under a tire. You're desperate to save a life, you're shot through with adrenaline, your strength is for half a second superhuman, you do the impossible.

That is what they are trying to do.

They do not want an innocent human life ended for what appear to be primarily practical and worldly reasons--e.g., Mrs. Schiavo's quality of life is low, her life is pointless. They say: Who is to say it is pointless? And what does pointless even mean? Maybe life itself is the point.

I do not understand the emotionalism of the pull-the-tube people. What is driving their engagement? Is it because they are compassionate, and their hearts bleed at the thought that Mrs. Schiavo suffers? But throughout this case no one has testified that she is in persistent pain, as those with terminal cancer are.

If they care so much about her pain, why are they unconcerned at the suffering caused her by the denial of food and water? And why do those who argue for Mrs. Schiavo's death employ language and imagery that is so violent and aggressive? The chairman of the Democratic National Committee calls Republicans "brain dead." Michael Schiavo, the husband, calls House Majority Leader Tom DeLay "a slithering snake."

Everyone who has written in defense of Mrs. Schiavo's right to live has received e-mail blasts full of attacks that appear to have been dictated by the unstable and typed by the unhinged. On Democratic Underground they crowed about having "kicked the sh-- out of the fascists." On Tuesday James Carville's face was swept with a sneer so convulsive you could see his gums as he damned the Republicans trying to help Mrs. Schiavo. It would have seemed demonic if he weren't a buffoon.

Why are they so committed to this woman's death?

They seem to have fallen half in love with death.

What does Terri Schiavo's life symbolize to them? What does the idea that she might continue to live suggest to them?

Why does this prospect so unnerve them? Again, if you think Terri Schiavo is a precious human gift of God, your passion is explicable. The passion of the pull-the-tube people is not.

I do not understand their certainty. I don't "know" that any degree of progress or healing is possible for Terri Schiavo; I only hope they are. We can't know, but we can "err on the side of life." How do the pro-death forces "know" there is no possibility of progress, healing, miracles? They seem to think they know. They seem to love the phrases they bandy about: "vegetative state," "brain dead," "liquefied cortex."

I do not understand why people who want to save the whales (so do I) find campaigns to save humans so much less arresting. I do not understand their lack of passion. But the save-the-whales people are somehow rarely the stop-abortion-please people.

The PETA people, who say they are committed to ending cruelty to animals, seem disinterested in the fact of late-term abortion, which is a cruel procedure performed on a human.

I do not understand why the don't-drill-in-Alaska-and-destroy-its-prime-beauty people do not join forces with the don't-end-a-life-that-holds-within-it-beauty people.

I do not understand why those who want a freeze on all death penalty cases in order to review each of them in light of DNA testing--an act of justice and compassion toward those who have been found guilty of crimes in a court of law--are uninterested in giving every last chance and every last test to a woman whom no one has ever accused of anything.

There are passionate groups of women in America who decry spousal abuse, give beaten wives shelter, insist that a woman is not a husband's chattel. This is good work. Why are they not taking part in the fight for Terri Schiavo? Again, what explains their lack of passion on this? If Mrs. Schiavo dies, it will be because her husband, and only her husband, insists she wanted to, or would want to, or said she wanted to in a hypothetical conversation long ago. A thin reed on which to base the killing of a human being.

The pull-the-tube people say, "She must hate being brain-damaged." Well, yes, she must. (This line of argument presumes she is to some degree or in some way thinking or experiencing emotions.) Who wouldn't feel extreme sadness at being extremely disabled? I'd weep every day, wouldn't you? But consider your life. Are there not facets of it, or facts of it, that make you feel extremely sad, pained, frustrated, angry? But you're still glad you're alive, aren't you? Me too. No one enjoys a deathbed. Very few want to leave.

Terri Schiavo may well die. No good will come of it. Those who are half in love with death will only become more red-fanged and ravenous.
And those who are still learning--our children--oh, what terrible lessons they're learning. What terrible stories are shaping them. They're witnessing the Schiavo drama on television and hearing it on radio. They are seeing a society--their society, their people--on the verge of famously accepting, even embracing, the idea that a damaged life is a throwaway life.

Our children have been reared in the age of abortion, and are coming of age in a time when seemingly respectable people are enthusiastic for euthanasia. It cannot be good for our children, and the world they will make, that they are given this new lesson that human life is not precious, not touched by the divine, not of infinite value.

Once you "know" that--that human life is not so special after all--then everything is possible, and none of it is good. When a society comes to believe that human life is not inherently worth living, it is a slippery slope to the gas chamber. You wind up on a low road that twists past Columbine and leads toward Auschwitz. Today that road runs through Pinellas Park, Fla.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "A Heart, a Cross, and a Flag" (Wall Street Journal Books/Simon & Schuster), a collection of post-Sept. 11 columns, which you can buy from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Thursdays.
Title: With friends like these...
Post by: SB_Mig on March 28, 2005, 01:53:13 PM
Fortunately, you also have guys like this on Ms. Schiavo's side:   :roll:

Christian activist Randall Terry has reappeared in the news in recent days as the spokesman for the parents of Terri Schiavo. Terry, founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and the Society for Truth and Justice, appeared on Fox News at least four times in the past four days -- on the March 18 edition of Hannity & Colmes, and during live coverage of the Schiavo case on March 20 and March 21. But Terry has a controversial past that was not fully disclosed in any of his Fox News appearances or on the March 19 edition of National Public Radio's Weekend Edition, which aired a brief clip from Terry. In all but one of those instances, Terry was identified only as the Schindler family spokesman.

Only when Terry appeared on a March 21 "Fox News Alert" did another guest -- Fox News contributor and Democratic strategist Susan Estrich -- point out that Terry was "involved in the anti-abortion movement" and with Operation Rescue, which "operated outside the law."

On his own website, Terry noted that he "has been arrested over forty times for peaceful opposition to abortion," but he neglected to mention the details of his anti-abortion activities with Operation Rescue in the 1980s and 1990s. In an April 22, 2004, Washington Post article, staff writer Michael Powell summarized some of Terry's anti-abortion actions:

In 1988, Terry and his legions started standing in front of local abortion clinics, screaming and pleading with pregnant women to turn away. They tossed their bodies against car doors to keep abortion patients from getting out. They waved crucifixes and screamed "Mommy, Mommy" at the women. When Terry commanded, hundreds went jellyfish-limp and blockaded the "death clinics."

In 1989, a "Holy Week of Rescue" shut down a family planning clinic in Los Angeles. More than 40,000 people were arrested in these demonstrations over four years. Subtlety wasn't Terry's thing -- he described Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger, as a "whore" and an "adulteress" and arranged to have a dead fetus presented to Bill Clinton at the 1992 Democratic National Convention.

Additional evidence suggests that actions by Terry and Operation Rescue may have provoked violence at abortion clinics. As the New York Times reported on July 20, 2001, "One of his [Terry's] most avid followers in Binghamton was James E. [sic: C.] Kopp, now charged in the 1998 murder of a doctor who performed abortions in Buffalo [New York]." Kopp was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. A November 6, 1998, Times report further detailed Terry's connection to Kopp:

In July 1988, when Randall Terry drove through the night from his home in Binghamton, N.Y., to Atlanta to start the series of anti-abortion protests that would finally put his new hard-line group, Operation Rescue, onto America's front pages, James Charles Kopp was in the van riding alongside him, said former leaders of Operation Rescue.

And when Mr. Terry was arrested on the first day of Operation Rescue's "Siege of Atlanta," Mr. Kopp followed him into jail, said the leaders, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Along with more than 100 other Operation Rescue members, according to some people who were there, Mr. Kopp remained in jail for 40 days and adhered to Mr. Terry's orders not to give a real name to the police or courts.

After his release, Mr. Kopp returned to Operation Rescue's Binghamton headquarters, and was there working alongside Mr. Terry as the group's power and influence in the anti-abortion movement surged in late 1988 and 1989, according to the former leaders of Operation Rescue.

Further, the Miami Herald reported on March 20 that Operation Rescue's "sympathizers continue to make an impact, some serving for the Bush administration."

As CNN noted on March 4, 1998, Terry was named in a lawsuit -- seeking to "force anti-abortion leaders to pay for damages caused in clinic attacks" -- which was filed by the National Organization for Women (NOW) under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, and Terry settled with NOW out of court. The New York Times reported on November 8, 1998, that Terry "filed for bankruptcy last week in an effort to avoid paying massive debts owed to women's groups and abortion clinics that have sued him." As the Los Angeles Times reported on February 28, Terry's use of bankruptcy law to avoid paying for the judgments against him helped prompt Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) to propose an amendment to the bankruptcy bill recently passed by Congress that "specifically would prevent abortion opponents from using the bankruptcy code to escape paying court fines," although it was not included in the final version of the bill. Versions of that amendment appeared in earlier versions of the bankruptcy bill, which stalled action on it in 2002 and 2003 when "a core of House Republicans balked" at the provision, the Los Angeles Times noted.

According to a June 14, 2003, report by the conservative World Magazine (no longer available online, but reprinted on the right-wing bulletin board Free Republic), Terry solicited donations by declaring on his website that "The purveyors of abortion on demand have stripped Randall Terry of everything he owned," but failed to disclose that the money would be used to pay for his new $432,000 house. The report noted Terry's defense: "Terry told World that he wanted a home where his family will be safe and where 'we could entertain people of stature, people of importance. I have a lot of important people that come through my home. And I will have more important people come through my home.' " World noted that the same month he paid the deposit on his new home, a court ruled that Terry, who divorced his first wife and has remarried, "was not paying a fair share of child support." In an article on his website, Terry denounced the World report as "journalistic trash, a 'hit piece' of malice and misinformation."

Terry's words and personal life have also stirred controversy. As the Fort Wayne (Indiana) News Sentinel reported on August 16, 1993, at an anti-abortion rally in Fort Wayne, Terry said "Our goal is a Christian nation. ... We have a biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism. ... Theocracy means God rules. I've got a hot flash. God rules." In that same speech, Terry also stated that "If a Christian voted for [former President Bill] Clinton, he sinned against God. It's that simple." According to a March 18, 2004, press release, Terry declared on his radio program that "Islam dictates followers use killing and terror to convert Western infidels." As The Washington Post reported on February 12, 2000, in his 1995 book The Judgment of God Terry wrote that "homosexuals and lesbians are no longer content to secretly live in sin, but now want to glorify their perversions." In a May 25, 2004, interview about his gay son with The Advocate, Terry stated that homosexuality is a "sexual addiction" that shouldn't be rewarded with "special civil rights."

According to the February 12, 2000, Washington Post report, Terry was censured by his church, the Landmark Church of Binghamton, New York, for a "pattern of repeated and sinful relationships and conversations with both single and married women." Terry denies the accusation.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 07, 2005, 11:28:43 PM

'We Want God'
When John Paul II went to Poland, communism didn't have a prayer.

Thursday, April 7, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

Everyone has spoken this past week of John Paul II's role in the defeat of Soviet communism and the liberation of Eastern Europe. We don't know everything, or even a lot, about the quiet diplomatic moves--what happened in private, what kind of communications the pope had with the other great lions of the 1980s, Reagan and Thatcher. And others, including Bill Casey, the tough old fox of the CIA, and Lech Walesa of Solidarity.

But I think I know the moment Soviet communism began its fall. It happened in public. Anyone could see it. It was one of the great spiritual moments of the 20th century, maybe the greatest.

It was the first week in June 1979. Europe was split in two between east and west, the democracies and the communist bloc--police states controlled by the Soviet Union and run by local communist parties and secret police.

John Paul was a new pope, raised to the papacy just eight months before. The day after he became pope he made it clear he would like to return as pope to his native Poland to see his people.

The communists who ran the Polish regime faced a quandary. If they didn't allow the new Pope to return to his homeland, they would look defensive and frightened, as if they feared that he had more power than they. To rebuff him would seem an admission of their weakness. On the other hand, if they let him return, the people might rise up against the government, which might in turn trigger an invasion by the Soviet Union.

The Polish government decided that it would be too great an embarrassment to refuse the pope. So they invited him, gambling that John Paul--whom they knew when he was cardinal of Krakow, who they were sure would not want his presence to inspire bloodshed--would be prudent. They wagered that he would understand he was fortunate to be given permission to come, and understand what he owed the government in turn was deportment that would not threaten the reigning reality. They announced the pope would be welcome to come home on a "religious pilgrimage."

John Paul quickly accepted the invitation. He went to Poland.

And from the day he arrived, the boundaries of the world began to shift.

Two months before the pope's arrival, the Polish communist apparatus took steps to restrain the enthusiasm of the people. They sent a secret directive to schoolteachers explaining how they should understand and explain the pope's visit. "The pope is our enemy," it said. "Due to his uncommon skills and great sense of humor he is dangerous, because he charms everyone, especially journalists. Besides, he goes for cheap gestures in his relations with the crowd, for instance, puts on a highlander's hat, shakes all hands, kisses children. . . . It is modeled on American presidential campaigns. . .  Because of the activation of the Church in Poland our activities designed to atheize the youth not only cannot diminish but must intensely develop. . .  In this respect all means are allowed and we cannot afford any sentiments."
The government also issued instructions to Polish media to censor and limit the pope's comments and appearances.

On June 2, 1979, the pope arrived in Poland. What followed will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it.

He knelt and kissed the ground, the dull gray tarmac of the airport outside Warsaw. The silent churches of Poland at that moment began to ring their bells. The pope traveled by motorcade from the airport to the Old City of Warsaw.

The government had feared hundreds or thousands or even tens of thousands would line the streets and highways.

By the end of the day, with the people lining the streets and highways plus the people massed outside Warsaw and then inside it--all of them cheering and throwing flowers and applauding and singing--more than a million had come.

In Victory Square in the Old City the pope gave a mass. Communist officials watched from the windows of nearby hotels. The pope gave what papal biographer George Weigel called the greatest sermon of John Paul's life.

Why, the pope asked, had God lifted a Pole to the papacy? Perhaps it was because of how Poland had suffered for centuries, and through the 20th century had become "the land of a particularly responsible witness" to God. The people of Poland, he suggested, had been chosen for a great role, to understand, humbly but surely, that they were the repository of a special "witness of His cross and His resurrection." He asked then if the people of Poland accepted the obligations of such a role in history.
The crowd responded with thunder.

"We want God!" they shouted, together. "We want God!"

What a moment in modern history: We want God. From the mouths of modern men and women living in a modern atheistic dictatorship.

The pope was speaking on the Vigil of Pentecost, that moment in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit came down to Christ's apostles, who had been hiding in fear after his crucifixion, filling them with courage and joy. John Paul picked up this theme. What was the greatest of the works of God? Man. Who redeemed man? Christ. Therefore, he declared, "Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe, at any longitude or latitude. . . . The exclusion of Christ from the history of man is an act against man! Without Christ it is impossible to understand the history of Poland." Those who oppose Christ, he said, still live within the Christian context of history.

Christ, the pope declared, was not only the past of Poland--he was "the future . . . our Polish future."

The massed crowd thundered its response. "We want God!" it roared.

That is what the communist apparatchiks watching the mass from the hotels that rimmed Victory Square heard. Perhaps at this point they understood that they had made a strategic mistake. Perhaps as John Paul spoke they heard the sound careen off the hard buildings that ringed the square; perhaps the echo sounded like a wall falling.
The pope had not directly challenged the government. He had not called for an uprising. He had not told the people of Catholic Poland to push back against their atheist masters. He simply stated the obvious. In Mr. Weigel's words: "Poland was not a communist country; Poland was a Catholic nation saddled with a communist state."

The next day, June 3, 1979, John Paul stood outside the cathedral in Gniezno, a small city with a population of 50,000 or so. Again there was an outdoor mass, and again he said an amazing thing.

He did not speak of what governments want, nor directly of what a growing freedom movement wants, nor of what the struggling Polish worker's union, Solidarity, wanted.

He spokeof what God wants.

"Does not Christ want, does not the Holy Spirit demand, that the pope, himself a Pole, the pope, himself a Slav, here and now should bring out into the open the spiritual unity of Christian Europe . . .?" Yes, he said, Christ wants that. "The Holy Spirit demands that it be said aloud, here, now. . . . Your countryman comes to you, the pope, so as to speak before the whole Church, Europe and the world. . . . He comes to cry out with a mighty cry."

What John Paul was saying was remarkable. He was telling Poland: See the reality around you differently. See your situation in a new way. Do not see the division of Europe; see the wholeness that exists and that not even communism can take away. Rhetorically his approach was not to declare or assert but merely, again, to point out the obvious: We are Christians, we are here, we are united, no matter what the communists and their map-makers say.

It was startling. It was as if he were talking about a way of seeing the secret order of the world.

That day at the cathedral the communist authorities could not stop the applause. They could not stop everyone who applauded and cheered. There weren't enough jail cells.

But it was in the Blonie Field, in Krakow--the Blonia Krakowskie, the fields just beyond the city--that the great transcendent moment of the pope's trip took place. It was the moment when, for those looking back, the new world opened. It was the moment, some said later, that Soviet communism's fall became inevitable.
It was a week into the trip, June 10, 1979. It was a sunny day. The pope was to hold a public mass. The communist government had not allowed it to be publicized, but Poles had spread the word.

Government officials braced themselves, because now they knew a lot of people might come, as they had to John Paul's first mass. But that was a week before. Since then, maybe people had seen enough of him. Maybe they were tiring of his message. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

But something happened in the Blonie field.

They started coming early, and by the time the mass began it was the biggest gathering of humanity in the entire history of Poland. Two million or three million people came, no one is sure, maybe more. For a mass.

And it was there, at the end of his trip, in the Blonie field, that John Paul took on communism directly, by focusing on communism's attempt to kill the religious heritage of a country that had for a thousand years believed in Christ.

This is what he said:

Is it possible to dismiss Christ and everything which he brought into the annals of the human being? Of course it is possible. The human being is free. The human being can say to God, "No." The human being can say to Christ, "No." But the critical question is: Should he? And in the name of what "should" he? With what argument, what reasoning, what value held by the will or the heart does one bring oneself, one's loved ones, one's countrymen and nation to reject, to say "no" to Him with whom we have all lived for one thousand years? He who formed the basis of our identity and has Himself remained its basis ever since. . . .
As a bishop does in the sacrament of Confirmation so do I today extend my hands in that apostolic gesture over all who are gathered here today, my compatriots. And so I speak for Christ himself: "Receive the Holy Spirit!"

I speak too for St. Paul: "Do not quench the Spirit!"

I speak again for St. Paul: "Do not grieve the Spirit of God!"

You must be strong, my brothers and sisters! You must be strong with the strength that faith gives! You must be strong with the strength of faith! You must be faithful! You need this strength today more than any other period of our history. . . .

You must be strong with love, which is stronger than death. . . . When we are strong with the Spirit of God, we are also strong with the faith of man. . . . There is therefore no need to fear. . . . So . . . I beg you: Never lose your trust, do not be defeated, do not be discouraged. . . . Always seek spiritual power from Him from whom countless generations of our fathers and mothers have found it. Never detach yourselves from Him. Never lose your spiritual freedom.

They went home from that field a changed country. After that mass they would never be the same.

What John Paul did in the Blonie field was both a departure from his original comments in Poland and an extension of them.
In his first comments he said: God sees one unity of Europe, he does not see East and West divided by a gash in the soil.

In this way he "divided the dividers" from God's view of history.

But in the Blonie field he extended his message. He called down the Holy Spirit--as the Vicar of Christ and successor to Peter, he called down God--to fill the people of Poland, to "confirm" their place in history and their ancient choice of Christ, to confirm as it were that their history was real and right and unchangeable--even unchangeable by communists.

So it was a redeclaration of the Polish spirit, which is a free spirit. And those who were there went home a different people, a people who saw themselves differently, not as victims of history but as strugglers for Christ.

Another crucial thing happened, after the mass was over. Everyone who was there went home and turned on the news that night to see the pictures of the incredible crowd and the incredible pope. But state-controlled TV did not show the crowds. They did a brief report that showed a shot of the pope standing and speaking for a second or two. State television did not acknowledge or admit what a phenomenon John Paul's visit was, or what it had unleashed.

The people who had been at the mass could compare the reality they had witnessed with their own eyes with the propaganda their media reported. They could see the discrepancy. This left the people of Poland able to say at once and together, definitively, with no room for argument: It's all lies. Everything this government says is a lie. Everything it is is a lie.

Whatever legitimacy the government could pretend to, it began to lose. One by one the people of Poland said to themselves, or for themselves within themselves: It is over.

And when 10 million Poles said that to themselves, it was over in Poland. And when it was over in Poland, it was over in Eastern Europe. And when it was over in Eastern Europe, it was over in the Soviet Union. And when it was over in the Soviet Union, well, it was over.

All of this was summed up by a Polish publisher and intellectual named Jerzy Turowicz, who had known Karol Wojtyla when they were young men together, and who had gone on to be a supporter of Solidarity and member of Poland's first postcommunist government. Mr. Turowicz, remembering the Blonie field and the Pope's visit, told Ray Flynn, at the time U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, "Historians say World War II ended in 1945. Maybe in the rest of the world, but not in Poland. They say communism fell in 1989. Not in Poland. World War II and communism both ended in Poland at the same time--in 1979, when John Paul II came home."
And now he is dead. It is fitting and not at all surprising that Rome, to its shock, has been overwhelmed with millions of people come to see him for the last time. The line to view his body in St. Peter's stretched more than a mile. His funeral tomorrow will be witnessed by an expected two billion people, the biggest television event in history. And no one, in Poland or elsewhere, will be able to edit the tape to hide what is happening.

John Paul gave us what may be the transcendent public spiritual moment of the 20th century. "We want God." The greatest and most authentic cry of the human heart.

They say he asked that his heart be removed from his body and buried in Poland. That sounds right, and I hope it's true. They'd better get a big box.
Title: No Prisoners!
Post by: buzwardo on April 29, 2005, 10:15:53 AM
VDH takes no prisoners. . . .

April 29, 2005, 8:03 a.m.
On Being Disliked
The new not-so-unwelcome anti-Americanism.
Victor Davis Hanson

Last year the hysteria about the hostility toward the United States reached a fevered pitch. Everyone from Jimmy Carter to our Hollywood elite lamented that America had lost its old popularity. It was a constant promise of the Kerry campaign to restore our good name and "to work with our allies." The more sensitive were going to undo the supposed damage of the last four years. Whole books have been devoted to this peculiar new anti-Americanism, but few have asked whether or not such suspicion of the United States is, in fact, a barometer of what we are doing right ? and while not necessarily welcome, at least proof that we are on the correct track.

The Egyptian autocracy may have received $57 billion in aggregate American aid over the last three decades. But that largess still does not prevent the Mubarak dynasty from damning indigenous democratic reformers by dubbing them American stooges. In differing ways, the Saudi royal family exhibits about the same level of antagonism toward the U.S. as do the Islamic fascists of al Qaeda ? both deeply terrified by what is going on in Iraq. Mostly this animus arises because we are distancing ourselves from corrupt grandees, even as we have become despised as incendiary democratizers by the Islamists. Is that risky and dangerous? Yes. Bad? Hardly

At the U.N. it is said that a ruling hierarchy mistrusts the United States and that a culture of anti-Americanism has become endemic within the organization. No wonder ? the Americans alone push for more facts about the Oil-for-Food scandal, question Kofi Annan's breaches of ethics, and want investigations about U.N. crimes in Africa. If we are mistrusted for caring about those thousands who are inhumanely treated by a supposedly humane organization, then why in the world should we wish to be liked by such a group?

EU bureaucrats and French politicians routinely caricature Americans, whipping up public opinion against the United States, even as they fly here to profess eagerness to maintain the old NATO transatlantic ties. Is it to our discredit that what Europe has now devolved into does not like the United States?

Mexico, we are told, is furious at the United States. Mexico City newspapers routinely trash Americans. Vicente Fox usually sounds more like a belligerent than the occasional visitor at the presidential ranch. That is not so bad either.

In short, who exactly does not like the United States and why? First, almost all the 20 or so illiberal Arab governments that used to count on American realpolitik's giving them a pass on accounting for their crimes. They fear not the realist Europeans, nor the resource-mad Chinese, nor the old brutal Russians, but the Americans, who alone are prodding them to open their economies and democratize their corrupt political cultures. We must learn to expect, not lament, their hostility, and begin to worry that things would be indeed wrong if such unelected dictators praised the United States.

The United Nations has sadly become a creepy organization. Its General Assembly is full of cutthroat regimes. The Human Rights Commission has had members like Vietnam and Sudan, regimes that at recess must fight over bragging rights to which of the two killed more of their own people. The U.N. has a singular propensity to find flawed men to be secretary-general ? a Kurt Waldheim, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, or Kofi Annan. Blue-helmeted peace-keepers, we learn, are as likely to commit as prevent crimes; and the only thing constant about such troops is that they will never go first into harm's way in Serbia, Kosovo, the Congo, or Dafur to stop genocide. Even worse, the U.N. has proved to be a terrible bully, an unforgivable sin for a self-proclaimed protector of the weak and innocent ? loud false charges against Israel for its presence in the West Bank, not a peep about China in Tibet; tough talk about Palestinian rights, far less about offending Arabs over Darfur. So U.N. anti-Americanism is a glowing radiation badge, proof of exposure to toxicity.

The EU is well past being merely silly, as its vast complex of bureaucrats tries to control what 400 million speak, eat, and think. Its biggest concerns are three: figuring out how its nations are to keep paying billions of euros to retirees, unemployed, and assorted other entitlement recipients; how to continue to ankle-bite the United States without antagonizing it to the degree that these utopians might have to pay for their own security; and how not to depopulate itself out of existence. Europeans sold Saddam terrible arms for oil well after the first Gulf War. Democratic Israel or Taiwan means nothing to them; indeed, democracy is increasingly becoming the barometer by which to judge European hostility. Cuba, China, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah ? not all that bad; the United States, Taiwan, and Israel, not all that good. Personally, I'd rather live in a country that goes into an anguished national debate over pulling the plug on a lone woman than one that blissfully vacations on the beach oblivious to 15,000 elderly cooked to well done back in Paris.

Mexico, enjoying one of the richest landscapes in the world, can't feed its own people, so it exports its poorest to the United States. Its own borders with Central America are as brutal to cross as our own are porous. Illegal aliens send back almost $50 billion, which has the effect of propping up corrupt institutions that as a result will never change. Given its treatment of its own people, if the Mexican government praised the United States we should indeed be concerned.

Who then are America's friends? Perhaps one billion Indians, who appreciated that at a time of recession we kept our economy open, and exported jobs and expertise there that helped evolve its economy.

Millions of Japanese trust America as well. Unlike the Chinese, who on script vandalized Japanese interests abroad in anguish over right-wing Japanese textbooks, Americans ? who at great cost once freed China ? without such violence urge the Japanese to deal honestly with the past. After all, the Tokyo government that started the war is gone and replaced by a democracy; in contrast, the Communist dictatorship that killed 50 million of its own and many of its neighbors is still in place in China. At a time when no one in Europe seems to care that Japan is squeezed between a nuclear North Korea and a nuclear China, the United States alone proves a reliable friend. The French, on spec, conduct maneuvers with the ascendant Communist Chinese navy.

Eastern Europeans do not find the larger families, religiosity, or commitment to individualism and freedom in America disturbing. Apparently, millions in South America don't either ? if their eagerness to emigrate here is any indication.

It is the wage of the superpower to be envied. Others weaker vie for its influence and attention ? often when successful embarrassed by the necessary obsequiousness, when ignored equally shamed at the resulting public impotence. The Cold War is gone and former friends and neutrals no longer constrain their anti-American rhetoric in fear of a cutthroat and nuclear Soviet Union. Americans are caricatured as cocky and insular ? as their popular culture sweeps the globe.

All that being said, the disdain that European utopians, Arab dictatorships, the United Nations, and Mexico exhibit toward the United States is not ? as the Kerry campaign alleged in the last election ? cause for tears, but often reason to be proud, since much of the invective arises from the growing American insistence on principles abroad.

America should not gratuitously welcome such dislike; but we should not apologize for it either. Sometimes the caliber of a nation is found not in why it is liked, but rather in why it is not. By January 1, 1941, I suppose a majority on the planet ? the Soviet Union, all of Eastern Europe, France, Italy, Spain, and even many elsewhere in occupied Europe, most of Latin America, Japan and its Asian empire, the entire Arab world, many in India ? would have professed a marked preference for Hitler's Germany over Churchill's England.

Think about it. When Europe orders all American troops out; when Japan claims our textbooks whitewash the Japanese forced internment or Hiroshima; when China cites unfair trade with the United States; when South Korea says get the hell off our DMZ; when India complains that we are dumping outsourced jobs on them; when Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians refuse cash aid; when Canada complains that we are not carrying our weight in collective North American defense; when the United Nations moves to Damascus; when the Arab Street seethes that we are pushing theocrats and autocrats down its throat; when Mexico builds a fence to keep us out; when Latin America proclaims a boycott of the culturally imperialistic Major Leagues; and when the world ignores American books, films, and popular culture, then perhaps we should be worried. But something tells me none of that is going to happen in this lifetime.

? Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His website is
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 19, 2005, 04:15:33 PM
May 17, 2005, 1:07 p.m.
The Smug Delusion of Base Expectations
Count me out of the Newsweek feeding frenzy.

We're in the grips of a pathology. And it's not media bias.

Here's the late-breaking news (you'll want to be sitting down for this): The mainstream media is ideologically liberal and instinctually hostile to George W. Bush, U.S. foreign policy, and the American military.

No kidding. Really. If you want to throw the off-switch for the cognitive part of your brain- as many conservatives seem only to happy to do this week- then, by all means, that is the story you want to run with in this latest media scandal.

Newsweek, in reckless pursuit of a scoop that might score the daily double of embarrassing the Bush administration while heaping more disrepute on the Left's favorite punching bag, Guantanamo Bay, falsely reported a martial toilet-flushing of the Koran. Oops, I'm sorry, I mean the Holy Koran- after all, I don't want to be left out of the new, vast right-wing "we can be just as nauseatingly pious as they can" conspiracy.

The false report, according to the New York Times, instigated "the most virulent, widespread anti-American protests" in the Muslim world since...well, since the last virulent, widespread anti-American protests in the Muslim world- particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where at least 17 people have been killed.

That's right. The reason for the carnage is said- again and again, by media critics and government officials- to be a false report of Koran desecration. The prime culprit here is irresponsible journalism.

Is that what we really think?

Here's an actual newsflash- and one, yet again, that should be news to no one: The reason for the carnage here was, and is, militant Islam. Nothing more.

Newsweek merely gave the crazies their excuse du jour. But they didn't need a report of Koran desecration to fly jumbo jets into skyscrapers, to blow up embassies, or to behead hostages taken for the great sin of being Americans or Jews. They didn't need a report of Koran desecration to take to the streets and blame the United States while enthusiastically taking innocent lives. This is what they do.

The outpouring of righteous indignation against Newsweek glides past a far more important point. Yes, we're all sick of media bias. But "Newsweek lied and people died" is about as worthy a slogan as the scurrilous "Bush lied and people died" that it parrots. And when we engage in this kind of mindless demagoguery, we become just another opportunistic plaintiff-- no better than the people all too ready to blame the CIA because Mohammed Atta steered a hijacked civilian airliner into a big building, and to sue the Port Authority because the building had the audacity to collapse from the blow.

What are we saying here? That the problem lies in the falsity of Newsweek's reporting? What if the report had been true? And, if you're being honest with yourself, you cannot say-- based on common sense and even ignoring what we know happened at Abu Ghraib-- that you didn't think it was conceivably possible the report could have been true. Flushing the Koran down a toilet (assuming for argument's sake that our environmentally correct, 3.6-liters-per-flush toilets are capable of such a feat) is a bad thing. But rioting? Seventeen people killed? That's a rational response?

Sorry, but I couldn't care less about Newsweek. I'm more worried about the response and our willful avoidance of its examination. Afghanistan has been an American reconstruction project for nearly four years. Pakistan has been a close American "war on terror" ally for just as long. This is what we're getting from the billions spent, the lives lost, and the grand project of exporting nonjudgmental, sharia-friendly democracy? A killing spree? Over this?

In the affirmative-action context, conservatives have written trenchantly about the "soft bigotry of low expectations" - the promotion of a vile dependency-ethos that says "you don't need to strive for better," as a result of which many people who might, don't. Our cognate sense of the Islamic world has become the smug delusion of base expectations.

Someone alleges a Koran flushing and what do we do? We expect, accept, and silently tolerate militant Muslim savagery and lots of it. We become the hangin' judge for the imbeciles whose negligence "triggered" the violence, but offer no judgment about the societal dysfunction that allows this grade of offense to trigger so cataclysmic a reaction. We hop on our high horses having culled from the Left's playbook the most politically correct palaver about the inviolable sanctity of Holy Islamic scripture (and never you mind those verses about annihilating the infidels - the ones being chanted by the killers). And we suspend disbelief, insisting that things would be just fine in a place like Gaza if we could only set up a democracy - a development which, there, appears poised to empower Hamas, terrorists of the same ilk as those in Afghanistan and Pakistan who see comparatively minor indignities as license to commit murder.

"Minor indignities? How can you say something so callous about a desecration of the Holy Koran?" I say it as a member of the real world, not the world of prissy affectation. I don't know about you, but I inhabit a place where crucifixes immersed in urine and Madonna replicas composed of feces are occasions for government funding, not murderous uprisings. If someone was moved to kill on their account, we'd be targeting the killer, not the exhibiting museum, not the "artists," and surely not Newsweek.

I inhabit a world in which my government seeks accommodation with Saudi Arabia and China and Egypt, places where the practice of Christianity results in imprisonment...or worse; in which Jews have been driven from almost every country in the Middle East, and in which the goal of destroying their country, Israel, is viewed by much of the globe as legitimate foreign policy; and in which being a Christian, an animist, or the wrong kind of Muslim in Sudan is grounds for genocide ? something the vaunted United Nations seems to regard as more of a spectator sport than a cause of action.

In my world, militant Muslims, capitalizing on the respectful deference of others, have been known tactically to desecrate the Koran themselves: by rigging it with explosives, by using it to secrete and convey terrorist messages, and, yes, even by toilet-flushing parts of it for the nuisance value of flooding the bathrooms at Guantanamo Bay. Just as they have used mosques as sanctuaries, as weapons depots, and as snipers' nests.

There's a problem here. But it's not insensitivity, and it's not media bias. Those things are condemnable, but manageable. The real problem here is a culture that either cannot or will not rein in a hate ideology that fuels killing. When we go after Newsweek, we're giving it a pass. Again.

Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Wed May 18, 7:01 PM ET

When ace reporter Michael Isikoff had the scoop of the decade, a thoroughly sourced story about the president of the United States having an affair with an intern and then pressuring her to lie about it under oath, Newsweek decided not to run the story. Matt Drudge scooped Newsweek, followed by The Washington Post.

When Isikoff had a detailed account of Kathleen Willey's nasty sexual encounter with the president in the Oval Office, backed up with eyewitness and documentary evidence, Newsweek decided not to run it. Again, Matt Drudge got the story.

When Isikoff was the first with detailed reporting on Paula Jones' accusations against a sitting president, Isikoff's then-employer The Washington Post -- which owns Newsweek -- decided not to run it. The American Spectator got the story, followed by the Los Angeles Times.

So apparently it's possible for Michael Isikoff to have a story that actually is true, but for his editors not to run it.

Why no pause for reflection when Isikoff had a story about American interrogators at Guantanamo flushing the Quran down the toilet? Why not sit on this story for, say, even half as long as NBC News sat on Lisa Meyers' highly credible account of     Bill Clinton raping Juanita Broaddrick?

Newsweek seems to have very different responses to the same reporter's scoops. Who's deciding which of Isikoff's stories to run and which to hold? I note that the ones that Matt Drudge runs have turned out to be more accurate -- and interesting! -- than the ones Newsweek runs. Maybe Newsweek should start running everything past Matt Drudge.

Somehow Newsweek missed the story a few weeks ago about Saudi Arabia arresting 40 Christians for "trying to spread their poisonous religious beliefs." But give the American media a story about American interrogators defacing the Quran, and journalists are so appalled there's no time for fact-checking -- before they dash off to see the latest exhibition of "Piss Christ."

Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas justified Newsweek's decision to run the incendiary anti-U.S. story about the Quran, saying that "similar reports from released detainees" had already run in the foreign press -- "and in the Arab news agency al-Jazeera."

Is there an adult on the editorial board of Newsweek? Al-Jazeera also broadcast a TV miniseries last year based on the "Protocols of the Elders Of Zion." (I didn't see it, but I hear James Brolin was great!) Al-Jazeera has run programs on the intriguing question, "Is Zionism worse than Nazism?" (Take a wild guess where the consensus was on this one.) It runs viewer comments about Jews being descended from pigs and apes. How about that for a Newsweek cover story, Evan? You're covered -- al-Jazeera has already run similar reports!

Ironically, among the reasons Newsweek gave for killing Isikoff's Lewinsky bombshell was that Evan Thomas was worried someone might get hurt. It seems that Lewinsky could be heard on tape saying that if the story came out, "I'll (expletive) kill myself."

But Newsweek couldn't wait a moment to run a story that predictably ginned up Islamic savages into murderous riots in     Afghanistan, leaving hundreds injured and 16 dead. Who could have seen that coming? These are people who stone rape victims to death because the family "honor" has been violated and who fly planes into American skyscrapers because -- wait, why did they do that again?

Come to think of it, I'm not sure it's entirely fair to hold Newsweek responsible for inciting violence among people who view ancient Buddhist statues as outrageous provocation -- though I was really looking forward to finally agreeing with Islamic loonies about something. (Bumper sticker idea for liberals: News magazines don't kill people, Muslims do.) But then I wouldn't have sat on the story of the decade because of the empty threats of a drama queen gas-bagging with her friend on the telephone between spoonfuls of Haagen-Dazs.

No matter how I look at it, I can't grasp the editorial judgment that kills Isikoff's stories about a sitting president molesting the help and obstructing justice, while running Isikoff's not particularly newsworthy (or well-sourced) story about Americans desecrating a Quran at Guantanamo.

Even if it were true, why not sit on it? There are a lot of reasons the media withhold even true facts from readers. These include:

A drama queen nitwit exclaimed she'd kill herself. (Evan Thomas' reason for holding the Lewinsky story.)

The need for "more independent reporting." (Newsweek President Richard Smith explaining why Newsweek sat on the Lewinsky story even though the magazine had Lewinsky on tape describing the affair.)

"We were in Havana." (ABC president David Westin explaining why "Nightline" held the Lewinsky story.)

Unavailable for comment. (Michael Oreskes, New York Times Washington bureau chief, in response to why, the day The Washington Post ran the Lewinsky story, the Times ran a staged photo of Clinton meeting with the Israeli president on its front page.)

Protecting the privacy of an alleged rape victim even when the accusation turns out to be false.

Protecting an accused rapist even when the accusation turns out to be true if the perp is a Democratic president most journalists voted for.

Protecting a reporter's source.
How about the media adding to the list of reasons not to run a news item: "Protecting the national interest"? If journalists don't like the ring of that, how about this one: "Protecting ourselves before the American people rise up and lynch us for our relentless anti-American stories."
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 20, 2005, 09:14:18 PM
Related to the 'nuclear option' debate below is the question of which nominees are 'extremists', in a negative sense.

What Sens. Schumer and Reid call extremists are exactly the type of jurists that candidate Bush said he would appoint. Almost 55 Senators share a similar view. By definition, a nominee chosen by an elected President and favored by a majority of senators is not far out of the mainstream, but the critics might be (IMO).

This controversial speech is cited by both sides of the Janice Rogers Brown confirmation argument. She seems to favor a market economy over a big government, collectivist system.

"A Whiter Shade of Pale": Sense and Nonsense
The Pursuit of Perfection in Law and Politics

Speech of Janice Rogers Brown,
Associate Justice, California Supreme Court

The Federalist Society
University of Chicago Law School
April 20, 2000, Thursday

Thank you. I want to thank Mr. Schlangen (fondly known as Charlie to my secretary) for extending the invitation and the Federalist Society both for giving me my first opportunity to visit the City of Chicago and for being, as Mr. Schlangen assured me in his letter of invitation, "a rare bastion (nay beacon) of conservative and libertarian thought." That latter notion made your invitation well-nigh irresistible. There are so few true conservatives left in America that we probably should be included on the endangered species list. That would serve two purposes: Demonstrating the great compassion of our government and relegating us to some remote wetlands habitat where ? out of sight and out of mind ? we will cease being a dissonance in collectivist concerto of the liberal body politic.

In truth, they need not banish us to the gulag. We are not much of a threat, lacking even a coherent language in which to state our premise. [I should pause here to explain the source of the title to this discussion. Unless you are a very old law student, you probably never heard of "A Whiter Shade of Pale."] "A Whiter Shade of Pale" is an old (circa 1967) Procol Harum song, full of nonsensical lyrics, but powerfully evocative nonetheless. Here's a sample:

"We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
but the crowd called out for more.

The room was humming harder
as the ceiling flew away.
When we called out for another drink
the waiter brought a tray."

There is something about this that forcibly reminds me of our current political circus. The last verse is even better.

"If music be the food of love
then laughter is its queen
and likewise if behind is in front
then dirt in truth is clean...."

Sound familiar? Of course Procol Harum had an excuse. These were the 60's after all, and the lyrics were probably drug induced. What's our excuse?

One response might be that we are living in a world where words have lost their meaning. This is certainly not a new phenomenon. It seems to be an inevitable artifact of cultural disintegration. Thucydides lamented the great changes in language and life that succeeded the Pelopennesian War; Clarendon and Burke expressed similar concerns about the political transformations of their own time. It is always a disorienting experience for a member of the old guard when the entire understanding of the old world is uprooted. As James Boyd White expresses it: "n this world no one would see what he sees, respond as he responds, speak as he speaks,"1 and living in that world means surrender to the near certainty of central and fundamental changes within the self. "One cannot maintain forever one's language and judgment against the pressures of a world that works in different ways," for we are shaped by the world in which we live.2

This is a fascinating subject which we do not have time to explore more thoroughly. Suffice it to say that this phenomenon accounts for much of the near hysterical tone of current political discourse. Our problems, however, seem to go even deeper. It is not simply that the same words don't have the same meanings; in our lifetime, words are ceasing to have any meaning. The culture of the word is being extinguished by the culture of the camera. Politicians no longer have positions they have photo-ops. To be or not to be is no longer the question. The question is: how do you feel.

Writing 50 years ago, F.A. Hayek warned us that a centrally planned economy is "The Road to Serfdom."3 He was right, of course; but the intervening years have shown us that there are many other roads to serfdom. In fact, it now appears that human nature is so constituted that, as in the days of empire all roads led to Rome; in the heyday of liberal democracy, all roads lead to slavery. And we no longer find slavery abhorrent. We embrace it. We demand more. Big government is not just the opiate of the masses. It is the opiate. The drug of choice for multinational corporations and single moms; for regulated industries and rugged Midwestern farmers and militant senior citizens.

It is my thesis today that the sheer tenacity of the collectivist impulse ? whether you call it socialism or communism or altruism ? has changed not only the meaning of our words, but the meaning of the Constitution, and the character of our people.

Government is the only enterprise in the world which expands in size when its failures increase. Aaron Wildavsky gives a credible account of this dynamic. Wildavsky notes that the Madisonian world has gone "topsy turvy" as factions, defined as groups "activated by some common interest adverse to the rights of other citizens or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community,"4 have been transformed into sectors of public policy. "Indeed," says Wildavsky, "government now pays citizens to organize, lawyers to sue, and politicians to run for office. Soon enough, if current trends continue, government will become self-contained, generating (apparently spontaneously) the forces to which it responds."5 That explains how, but not why. And certainly not why we are so comfortable with that result.

America's Constitution provided an 18th Century answer to the question of what to do about the status of the individual and the mode of government. Though the founders set out to establish good government "from reflection and choice,"6 they also acknowledged the "limits of reason as applied to constitutional design,"7 and wisely did not seek to invent the world anew on the basis of abstract principle; instead, they chose to rely on habits, customs, and principles derived from human experience and authenticated by tradition.

"The Framers understood that the self-interest which in the private sphere contributes to welfare of society ? both in the sense of material well-being and in the social unity engendered by commerce ? makes man a knave in the public sphere, the sphere of politics and group action. It is self-interest that leads individuals to form factions to try to expropriate the wealth of others through government and that constantly threatens social harmony."8

Collectivism sought to answer a different question: how to achieve cosmic justice ? sometimes referred to as social justice ? a world of social and economic equality. Such an ambitious proposal sees no limit to man's capacity to reason. It presupposes a community can consciously design not only improved political, economic, and social systems but new and improved human beings as well.

The great innovation of this millennium was equality before the law. The greatest fiasco ? the attempt to guarantee equal outcomes for all people. Tom Bethell notes that the security of property ? a security our Constitution sought to ensure ? had to be devalued in order for collectivism to come of age. The founders viewed private property as "the guardian of every other right."9 But, "by 1890 we find Alfred Marshall, the teacher of John Maynard Keynes making the astounding claim that the need for private property reaches no deeper than the qualities of human nature."10 A hundred years later came Milton Friedman's laconic reply: " 'I would say that goes pretty deep.'"11 In between, came the reign of socialism. "Starting with the formation of the Fabian Society and ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall, its ambitious project was the reformation of human nature. Intellectuals visualized a planned life without private property, mediated by the New Man."12 He never arrived. As John McGinnis persuasively argues:
"There is simply a mismatch between collectivism on any large and enduring scale and our evolved nature. As Edward O. Wilson, the world's foremost expert on ants, remarked about Marxism, 'Wonderful theory. Wrong species.'"13

Ayn Rand similarly attributes the collectivist impulse to what she calls the "tribal view of man."14 She notes, "[t]he American philosophy of the Rights of Man was never fully grasped by European intellectuals. Europe's predominant idea of emancipation consisted of changing the concept of man as a slave to the absolute state embodied by the king, to the concept of man as the slave of the absolute state as embodied by 'the people' ? i.e., switching from slavery to a tribal chieftain into slavery to the tribe."15

Democracy and capitalism seem to have triumphed. But, appearances can be deceiving. Instead of celebrating capitalism's virtues, we offer it grudging acceptance, contemptuous tolerance but only for its capacity to feed the insatiable maw of socialism. We do not conclude that socialism suffers from a fundamental and profound flaw. We conclude instead that its ends are worthy of any sacrifice ? including our freedom. Revel notes that Marxism has been "shamed and ridiculed everywhere except American universities" but only after totalitarian systems "reached the limits of their wickedness."16

"Socialism concentrated all the wealth in the hands of an oligarchy in the name of social justice, reduced peoples to misery in the name of shar[ed] resources, to ignorance in the name of science. It created the modern world's most inegalitarian societies in the name of equality, the most vast network of concentration camps ever built [for] the defense of liberty."17

Revel warns: "The totalitarian mind can reappear in some new and unexpected and seemingly innocuous and indeed virtuous form. [?]... t ... will [probably] put itself forward under the cover of a generous doctrine, humanitarian, inspired by a concern for giving the disadvantaged their fair share, against corruption, and pollution, and 'exclusion.'"18

Of course, given the vision of the American Revolution just outlined, you might think none of that can happen here. I have news for you. It already has. The revolution is over. What started in the 1920's; became manifest in 1937; was consolidated in the 1960's; is now either building to a crescendo or getting ready to end with a whimper.

At this moment, it seems likely leviathan will continue to lumber along, picking up ballast and momentum, crushing everything in its path. Some things are apparent. Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates, and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege; war in the streets; unapologetic expropriation of property; the precipitous decline of the rule of law; the rapid rise of corruption; the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit. The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible.

But what if anything does this have to do with law? Quite a lot, I think. In America, the national conversation will probably always include rhetoric about the rule of law. I have argued that collectivism was (and is) fundamentally incompatible with the vision that undergirded this country's founding. The New Deal, however, inoculated the federal Constitution with a kind of underground collectivist mentality. The Constitution itself was transmuted into a significantly different document. In his famous, all too famous, dissent in Lochner, Justice Holmes wrote that the "constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory, whether of paternalism and the organic relation of the citizen to the State or of laissez faire."19 Yes, one of the greatest (certainly one of the most quotable) jurists this nation has ever produced; but in this case, he was simply wrong. That Lochner dissent has troubled me ? has annoyed me ? for a long time and finally I understand why. It's because the framers did draft the
Constitution with a surrounding sense of a particular polity in mind, one based on a definite conception of humanity. In fact as Professor Richard Epstein has said, Holmes's contention is "not true of our [ ] [Constitution], which was organized upon very explicit principles of political theory."20 It could be characterized as a plan for humanity "after the fall."

There is nothing new, of course, in the idea that the framers did not buy into the notion of human perfectibility. And the document they drafted and the nation adopted in 1789 is shot through with provisions that can only be understood against the supposition that humanity's capacity for evil and tyranny is quite as real and quite as great as its capacity for reason and altruism. Indeed, as noted earlier, in politics, the framers may have envisioned the former tendency as the stronger, especially in the wake of the country's experience under the Articles of Confederation. The fear of "factions," of an "encroaching tyranny"; the need for ambition to counter ambition"; all of these concerns identified in the Federalist Papers have stratagems designed to defend against them in the Constitution itself. We needed them, the framers were convinced, because "angels do not govern"; men do.

It was a quite opposite notion of humanity, of its fundamental nature and capacities, that animated the great concurrent event in the West in 1789 ? the revolution in France. Out of that revolutionary holocaust ? intellectually an improbable melding of Rousseau with Descartes ? the powerful notion of abstract human rights was born. At the risk of being skewered by historians of ideas, I want to suggest that the belief in and the impulse toward human perfection, at least in the political life of a nation, is an idea whose arc can be traced from the Enlightenment, through the Terror, to Marx and Engels, to the Revolutions of 1917 and 1937. The latter date marks the triumph of our own socialist revolution. All of these events were manifestations of a particularly skewed view of human nature and the nature of human reason. To the extent the Enlightenment sought to substitute the paradigm of reason for faith, custom or tradition, it failed to provide rational explanation of the significance of human life. It thus
led, in a sort of ultimate irony, to the repudiation of reason and to a full-fledged flight from truth ? what Revel describes as "an almost pathological indifference to the truth."21

There were obviously urgent economic and social reasons driving not only the political culture but the constitutional culture in the mid-1930's ? though it was actually the mistakes of governments (closed borders, high tariffs, and other protectionist measures) that transformed a "momentary breakdown into an international cataclysm."22 The climate of opinion favoring collectivist social and political solutions had a worldwide dimension.

Politically, the belief in human perfectibility is another way of asserting that differences between the few and the many can, over time, be erased. That creed is a critical philosophical proposition underlying the New Deal. What is extraordinary is the way that thesis infiltrated and effected American constitutionalism over the next three-quarters of a century. Its effect was not simply to repudiate, both philosophically and in legal doctrine, the framers' conception of humanity, but to cut away the very ground on which the Constitution rests. Because the only way to come to terms with an enduring Constitution is to believe that the human condition is itself enduring.

For complex reasons, attempts to impose a collectivist political solution in the United States failed. But, the political failure was of little practical concern, in a way that is oddly unappreciated, that same impulse succeeded within the judiciary, especially in the federal high court. The idea of abstract rights, government entitlements as the most significant form of property, is well suited to conditions of economic distress and the emergence of a propertyless class. But the economic convulsions of the late 1920's and early 1930's passed away; the doctrinal underpinnings of West Coast Hotel and the "switch in time" did not. Indeed, over the next half century it consumed much of the classical conception of the Constitution.

So secure were the intellectual underpinnings of the constitutional revolution, so self-evident the ambient cultural values of the policy elite who administered it, that the object of the high court's jurisprudence was largely devoted to the construction of a system for ranking the constitutional weight to be given contending social interests.

In the New Deal/Great Society era, a rule that was the polar opposite of the classical era of American law reigned. A judicial subjectivity whose very purpose was to do away with objective gauges of constitutionality, with universal principles, the better to give the judicial priesthood a free hand to remake the Constitution. After a handful of gross divisions reflecting the hierarchy of the elite's political values had been drawn (personal vs. economic rights, for example), the task was to construct a theoretical system, not of social or cultural norms, but of abstract constitutional weight a given interest merits ? strict or rational basis scrutiny. The rest, the identification of underlying, extraconstitutional values, consisted of judicial tropes and a fortified rhetoric.

Protection of property was a major casualty of the Revolution of 1937. The paradigmatic case, written by that premiere constitutional operative, William O. Douglas, is Williamson v. Lee Optical.23 The court drew a line between personal rights and property rights or economic interests, and applied two different constitutional tests. Rights were reordered and property acquired a second class status.24 If the right asserted was economic, the court held the Legislature could do anything it pleased. Judicial review for alleged constitutional infirmities under the due process clause was virtually nonexistent. On the other hand, if the right was personal and "fundamental," review was intolerably strict. "From the Progressive era to the New Deal, [ ] property was by degrees ostracized from the company of rights.25 Something new, called economic rights, began to supplant the old property rights. This change, which occurred with remarkably little fanfare, was staggeringly significant. With the advent of "economic right
s," the original meaning of rights was effectively destroyed. These new "rights" imposed obligations, not limits, on the state.

It thus became government's job not to protect property but, rather, to regulate and redistribute it. And, the epic proportions of the disaster which has befallen millions of people during the ensuing decades has not altered our fervent commitment to statism. The words of Judge Alex Kozinski, written in 1991, are not very encouraging." 'What we have learned from the experience of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union ... is that you need capitalism to make socialism work.' In other words, capitalism must produce what socialism is to distribute."26 Are the signs and portents any better at the beginning of a new century?

Has the constitutional Zeitgeist that has reigned in the United States since the beginning of the Progressive Era come to its conclusion? And if it has, what will replace it? I wish I knew the answer to these questions. It is true ? in the words of another old song: "There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear."27

The oracles point in all directions at once. Political polls suggest voters no longer desire tax cuts. But, taxpayers who pay the largest proportion of taxes are now a minority of all voters. On the other hand, until last term the Supreme Court held out the promising possibility of a revival of what might be called Lochnerism-lite in a trio of cases ? Nollan, Dolan, and Lucas, Those cases offered a principled but pragmatic means-end standard of scrutiny under the takings clause.

But there are even deeper movements afoot. Tectonic plates are shifting and the resulting cataclysm may make 1937 look tame.

Lionel Tiger, in a provocative new book called The Decline of Males, posits a brilliant and disturbing new paradigm. He notes we used to think of a family as a man, a woman, and a child. Now, a remarkable new family pattern has emerged which he labels "bureaugamy." A new trinity: a woman, a child, and a bureaucrat."28 Professor Tiger contends that most, if not all, of the gender gap that elected Bill Clinton to a second term in 1996 is explained by this phenomenon. According to Tiger, women moved in overwhelming numbers to the Democratic party as the party most likely to implement policies and programs which will support these new reproductive strategies.

Professor Tiger is not critical of these strategies. He views this trend as the triumph of reproduction over production; the triumph of Darwinism over Marxism; and he advocates broad political changes to accommodate it.

Others do not see these changes as quite so benign or culturally neutral. Jacques Barzan finds the Central Western notion of emancipation has been devalued. It has now come to mean that "nothing stands in the way of every wish."29 The result is a decadent age ? an era in which "there are no clear lines of advance"; "when people accept futility and the absurd as normal[,] the culture is decadent."30

Stanley Rosen defines "our present crisis as a fatigue induced by ... accumulated decisions of so many revolutions."31 He finds us, in the spirit of Pascal, knowing "too much to be ignorant and too little to be wise."32

I will close with a story I like a lot. It's a true story. It happened on June 10, 1990. A British Airways jet bound for Malaga, Spain, took off from Birmingham, England. It was expected to be a routine flight. As the jet climbed through the 23,000-foot level, there was a loud bang; the cockpit windshield directly in front of the captain blew out. The sudden decompression sucked Captain Lancaster out of his seatbelt and into the hole left by the windscreen. A steward who happened to be in the cockpit managed to snag the captain's feet as he hurtled past. Another steward rushed onto the flight deck, strapped himself into the captain's chair and, helped by other members of the crew, clung with all his strength to the captain. The slipstream was so fierce, they were unable to drag the pilot back into the plane. His clothing was ripped from his body. With Lancaster plastered against the nose of the jet, the co-pilot donned an oxygen mask and flew the plane to Southampton ?approximately 15 minutes away ? and lande
d safely. The captain had a fractured elbow, wrist and thumb; a mild case of frostbite, but was otherwise unharmed.

We find ourselves, like the captain, in a situation that is hopeless but not yet desperate. The arcs of history, culture, philosophy, and science all seem to be converging on this temporal instant. Familiar arrangements are coming apart; valuable things are torn from our hands, snatched away by the decompression of our fragile ark of culture. But, it is too soon to despair. The collapse of the old system may be the crucible of a new vision. We must get a grip on what we can and hold on. Hold on with all the energy and imagination and ferocity we possess. Hold on even while we accept the darkness. We know not what miracles may happen; what heroic possibilities exist. We may be only moments away from a new dawn.

1 James Boyd White, When Words Lose Their Meaning (Univ. of Chicago Press 1984) p. 4.

2 Ibid.

3 F. A, Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (Univ. of Chicago Press 1994).

4 Golembiewski & Wildavsky, The Cost of Federalism (1984) Bare Bones: Putting Flesh on the Skeleton of American Federalism 67, 73.

5 Ibid.

6 Hamilton, The Federalist Papers No. 1 (Rossiter ed. 1961) p. 33.

7 Michael W. Spicer, Public Administration and the Constitution: A Conflict in World Views (March 1, 1994) 24 American R. of Public Admin. 85 [1994 WL 2806423 at *10].

8 John O. McGinnis, The Original Constitution and Our Origins (1996) 19 Harv. J.L.& Pub. Policy 251, 253.

9 Tom Bethell, Property Rights, Prosperity and 1,000 Years of Lessons, The Wall Street J. (Dec. 27, 1999) p. A19.

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid.

13 John O. McGinnis, The Original Constitution and Our Origins, supra, 19 Harv. J. L.& Pub. Policy at p. 258.

14 Ayn Rand, Capitalism the Unknown Ideal (New American Lib. 1966) pp. 4-5.

15 Ibid

16 Jean Francois Revel, Democracy Against Itself (The Free Press 1993) pp. 250-251.

17 Id. at p. 251.

18 Id. at pp. 250-251.

19 (198 U.S. at p. 75.)

20 Clint Bolick, Unfinished Business (1990) p. 25, quoting Crisis in the Courts (1982) The Manhattan Report on Economic Policy, Vol. V, No. 2, p. 4.

21 Jean Francois Revel, The Flight From Truth (Random House N.Y. 1991) p. xvi.

22 Id. at p. xxxvii.

23 348 U.S. 483.

24 Tom Bethell, The Noblest Triumph (St. Martin's Griffin, N.Y. 1998) p. 175.

25 Id. at p. 176.

26 Alex Kozinski, The Dark Lesson of Utopia (1991) 58 U.Chi. L.R. 575, 576.

27 Buffalo Springfield, For What It's Worth (1966).

28 Lionel Tiger, The Decline of Males (Golden Books, N.Y. 1999) pp. 21, 27.

29 Edward Rothstein, N.Y. Times (April 15, 2000) p. A l7.

30 Ibid.

31 Stanley Rosen, Rethinking the Enlightenment (1997) 7 Common Knowledge, p. 104.

32 Ibid.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 24, 2005, 10:15:56 PM

Leaving the left
I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity
Keith Thompson

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Nightfall, Jan. 30. Eight-million Iraqi voters have finished risking their lives to endorse freedom and defy fascism. Three things happen in rapid succession. The right cheers. The left demurs. I walk away from a long-term intimate relationship. I'm separating not from a person but a cause: the political philosophy that for more than three decades has shaped my character and consciousness, my sense of self and community, even my sense of cosmos.

I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.

I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.

My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.

Like many others who came of age politically in the 1960s, I became adept at not taking the measure of the left's mounting incoherence. To face it directly posed the danger that I would have to describe it accurately, first to myself and then to others. That could only give aid and comfort to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and all the other Usual Suspects the left so regularly employs to keep from seeing its own reflection in the mirror.

Now, I find myself in a swirling metamorphosis. Think Kafka, without the bug. Think Kuhnian paradigm shift, without the buzz. Every anomaly that didn't fit my perceptual set is suddenly back, all the more glaring for so long ignored. The insistent inner voice I learned to suppress now has my rapt attention. "Something strange -- something approaching pathological -- something entirely of its own making -- has the left in its grip," the voice whispers. "How did this happen?" The Iraqi election is my tipping point. The time has come to walk in a different direction -- just as I did many years before.

I grew up in a northwest Ohio town where conservative was a polite term for reactionary. When Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of Mississippi "sweltering in the heat of oppression," he could have been describing my community, where blacks knew to keep their heads down, and animosity toward Catholics and Jews was unapologetic. Liberal and conservative, like left and right, wouldn't be part of my lexicon for a while, but when King proclaimed, "I have a dream," I instinctively cast my lot with those I later found out were liberals (then synonymous with "the left" and "progressive thought").

The people on the other side were dedicated to preserving my hometown's backward-looking status quo. This was all that my 10-year-old psyche needed to know. The knowledge carried me for a long time. Mythologies are helpful that way.

I began my activist career championing the 1968 presidential candidacies of Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, because both promised to end America's misadventure in Vietnam. I marched for peace and farm worker justice, lobbied for women's right to choose and environmental protections, signed up with George McGovern in 1972 and got elected as the youngest delegate ever to a Democratic convention.

Eventually I joined the staff of U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio. In short, I became a card-carrying liberal, although I never actually got a card. (Bookkeeping has never been the left's strong suit.) All my commitments centered on belief in equal opportunity, due process, respect for the dignity of the individual and solidarity with people in trouble. To my mind, Americans who had joined the resistance to Franco's fascist dystopia captured the progressive spirit at its finest.

A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the pre-eminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.

When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil'" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport.

My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.

I look back on that experience as the beginning of my departure from a left already well on its way to losing its bearings. Two decades later, I watched with astonishment as leading left intellectuals launched a telethon- like body count of civilian deaths caused by American soldiers in Afghanistan. Their premise was straightforward, almost giddily so: When the number of civilian Afghani deaths surpassed the carnage of Sept. 11, the war would be unjust, irrespective of other considerations.

Stated simply: The force wielded by democracies in self-defense was declared morally equivalent to the nihilistic aggression perpetuated by Muslim fanatics.

Susan Sontag cleared her throat for the "courage" of the al Qaeda pilots. Norman Mailer pronounced the dead of Sept. 11 comparable to "automobile statistics." The events of that day were likely premeditated by the White House, Gore Vidal insinuated. Noam Chomsky insisted that al Qaeda at its most atrocious generated no terror greater than American foreign policy on a mediocre day.

All of this came back to me as I watched the left's anemic, smirking response to Iraq's election in January. Didn't many of these same people stand up in the sixties for self-rule for oppressed people and against fascism in any guise? Yes, and to their lasting credit. But many had since made clear that they had also changed their minds about the virtues of King's call for equal of opportunity.

These days the postmodern left demands that government and private institutions guarantee equality of outcomes. Any racial or gender "disparities" are to be considered evidence of culpable bias, regardless of factors such as personal motivation, training, and skill. This goal is neither liberal nor progressive; but it is what the left has chosen. In a very real sense it may be the last card held by a movement increasingly ensnared in resentful questing for group-specific rights and the subordination of citizenship to group identity. There's a word for this: pathetic.

I smile when friends tell me I've "moved right." I laugh out loud at what now passes for progressive on the main lines of the cultural left.

In the name of "diversity," the University of Arizona has forbidden discrimination based on "individual style." The University of Connecticut has banned "inappropriately directed laughter." Brown University, sensing unacceptable gray areas, warns that harassment "may be intentional or unintentional and still constitute harassment." (Yes, we're talking "subconscious harassment" here. We're watching your thoughts ...).

Wait, it gets better. When actor Bill Cosby called on black parents to explain to their kids why they are not likely to get into medical school speaking English like "Why you ain't" and "Where you is," Jesse Jackson countered that the time was not yet right to "level the playing field." Why not? Because "drunk people can't do that ... illiterate people can't do that."

When self-styled pragmatic feminist Camille Paglia mocked young coeds who believe "I should be able to get drunk at a fraternity party and go upstairs to a guy's room without anything happening," Susan Estrich spoke up for gender- focused feminists who "would argue that so long as women are powerless relative to men, viewing 'yes' as a sign of true consent is misguided."

I'll admit my politics have shifted in recent years, as have America's political landscape and cultural horizon. Who would have guessed that the U.S. senator with today's best voting record on human rights would be not Ted Kennedy or Barbara Boxer but Kansas Republican Sam Brownback?

He is also by most measures one of the most conservative senators. Brownback speaks openly about how his horror at the genocide in the Sudan is shaped by his Christian faith, as King did when he insisted on justice for "all of God's children."

My larger point is rather simple. Just as a body needs different medicines at different times for different reasons, this also holds for the body politic.

In the sixties, America correctly focused on bringing down walls that prevented equal access and due process. It was time to walk the Founders' talk -- and we did. With barriers to opportunity no longer written into law, today the body politic is crying for different remedies.

America must now focus on creating healthy, self-actualizing individuals committed to taking responsibility for their lives, developing their talents, honing their skills and intellects, fostering emotional and moral intelligence, all in all contributing to the advancement of the human condition.

At the heart of authentic liberalism lies the recognition, in the words of John Gardner, "that the ever renewing society will be a free society (whose] capacity for renewal depends on the individuals who make it up." A continuously renewing society, Gardner believed, is one that seeks to "foster innovative, versatile, and self-renewing men and women and give them room to breathe."

One aspect of my politics hasn't changed a bit. I became a liberal in the first place to break from the repressive group orthodoxies of my reactionary hometown.

This past January, my liberalism was in full throttle when I bid the cultural left goodbye to escape a new version of that oppressiveness. I departed with new clarity about the brilliance of liberal democracy and the value system it entails; the quest for freedom as an intrinsically human affair; and the dangers of demands for conformity and adherence to any point of view through silence, fear, or coercion.

True, it took a while to see what was right before my eyes. A certain misplaced loyalty kept me from grasping that a view of individuals as morally capable of and responsible for making the principle decisions that shape their lives is decisively at odds with the contemporary left's entrance-level view of people as passive and helpless victims of powerful external forces, hence political wards who require the continuous shepherding of caretaker elites.

Leftists who no longer speak of the duties of citizens, but only of the rights of clients, cannot be expected to grasp the importance (not least to our survival) of fostering in the Middle East the crucial developmental advances that gave rise to our own capacity for pluralism, self-reflection, and equality. A left averse to making common cause with competent, self- determining individuals -- people who guide their lives on the basis of received values, everyday moral understandings, traditional wisdom, and plain common sense -- is a faction that deserves the marginalization it has pursued with such tenacity for so many years.

All of which is why I have come to believe, and gladly join with others who have discovered for themselves, that the single most important thing a genuinely liberal person can do now is walk away from the house the left has built. The renewal of any tradition that deserves the name "progressive" becomes more likely with each step in a better direction.

Keith Thompson is a Petaluma writer and the author of "Angels and Aliens" and "To Be a Man." His work is at Contact us at

Page C - 1
Title: "Spoons Don't Make Us Get Fat"
Post by: buzwardo on June 01, 2005, 03:51:47 PM
On Target ? Gun Owners Against Violence

By John J. Cahill
May 30, 2005

There is no group organized as Gun Owners Against Violence. At least no group with that name was found in a web search. There is an obvious reason. At least a reason obvious to gun owners. No such group is needed because all gun owners are against violence. Gun Owners Against Violence would be a redundant nomenclature, like Mammals for Breathing.

Gun owners are categorically against violence in our communities because that is a natural position for law-abiding civic minded members of our society. Violence involving firearms is particularly repugnant because too often the result is an illogical condemnation of equipment. Some people get mad at guns.

Gun owners I know get confused by emotional responses to hardware. These are folks like myself that have been at shooting matches large and small and have never observed a gun act out violently. At the Winter Range shooting match near Phoenix I was with 500 or so shooters in an area of a few acres. Each had a minimum of four guns as required to compete in that SASS Cowboy Shooting event. Most had spare guns too. Hardware does break. Spare hardware is a good thing.

Every shooter had at least two hundred rounds of ammo for each gun. None of those many guns or that considerable ammo acted out violently. All were well behaved, for several days. If you believe some guns are good and some are bad then you might conclude that was an impressive gathering of quite well mannered good guns. I don?t ascribe human qualities to machinery, so I just saw some real fine hardware and noted the pleasant and polite people, and great costumes.

I worked in corrections many years. I worked juvenile, not adult, but officers pay attention to the whole business so I made observations on the adult side. I observed that when guns are removed from a community, completely and totally removed, violence does not end. In fact, the result is the highest murder rate per capita of any community in our nation. But how can this be true?

Violence follows individuals who have threaded violence into their lives. Prisoners who have no access to guns will kill each other with toothbrushes melted and shaped into thrusting weapons, or with any scrap of metal, plastic, glass, even wood that can be fashioned into a stabbing or slashing implement. They will kill and maim each other with tools designed for kitchen work, custodial work, manufacturing, or with their bare hands. There is much violence in that population group, inside or outside of a controlled community, with or without guns.

My conclusion is that violence resides in the individual. Circumstances and backgrounds affect the behavior of each and every person, for better or worse. But the individual makes the decision. Guns don?t make anybody kill, cars don?t make anyone speed or drive drunk, spoons don?t make us get fat.

Never doubt that gun owners are against violence, but please do allow doubt to form when you are told that eliminating guns will decrease violence in a community.
Title: Lionization Tamer
Post by: buzwardo on June 02, 2005, 02:13:11 PM
Whenever the MSM all start singing from the same hymnal I figure it's time to seek another opinion. Found this in my wanderings.

For those who weren't around in those days in the mid-70s, there were a lot of spooky things going on. Back in my hippy days I hung with a lot of street worker and social activist types. Many of 'em had the special garbage truck show up to haul off their trash. A buddy of mine sent an unflattering cartoon featuring Richard Nixon to the National Lampoon; he was very proud of the letter he got back that basically said "Burn this thing, kid, or you'll end up on an enemies list so fast it'll make your head spin." I recall the Church hearings and remember being scandalized when some of the details of COINTELPRO were reported. In short I don't feel Felt is quite ready to be fitted with a halo. . . .

My Secret Life with W. Mark Felt
His agents probably broke into my office, and may have monitored my bedroom one night. Even as journalists hail the deeds of Deep Throat, no one should forget he was also an architect of the nefarious COINTELPRO spy program. The man truly knew a thing or two about illegal break-ins.

By Greg Mitchell

(June 01, 2005) -- I'll never know for sure, but it's possible that I was once on, ahem, fairly intimate terms with W. Mark Felt, the leak artist formerly known as Deep Throat.

Journalists and many others lionizing the former FBI official -- rightly -- for his contribution in helping to bring down Richard Nixon, should not overlook the fact that Felt was one of the architects of the bureau's notorious COINTELPRO domestic spying-and-burglary campaign. He was convicted in 1980 of authorizing nine illegal entries in New Jersey in 1972 and 1973 -- the very period during which he was famously meeting Bob Woodward in a parking garage. Only a pardon, courtesy of Ronald Reagan, kept him out of jail for a long term.

So the man knew a thing or two about illegal break-ins. COINTELPRO was the Patriot Act on steroids. And that's where I come in.

Back in the bad old/good old days of the early 1970s, a fellow I'll call "Stew" used to write, off and on, for a rather legendary magazine that I helped edit in New York City, before I went straight, called Crawdaddy. (We had plenty of other contributors, including Joseph Heller, P.J. O'Rourke, Tom Waits, Richard Price, William Burroughs, and Tony Kornheiser, to name a few.) Stew was a proudly left-wing guy, but from the fun-loving ex-Yippie side of the antiwar spectrum, as opposed to the violent Weatherman sector. By 1973, he had a bad ticker, and was pretty much retired from any organized political activity.

Stew had both the good and bad fortune to live in an isolated area of the Catskills, sharing a humble cabin on a hilltop near Hurley, N.Y., with his wife Judy (also a politico). Occasionally I spent a weekend with them there, or stopped by on the way to somewhere else.

In those days, at least one famous left-wing fugitive seemed to be on the loose at all times, ranging from Patty Hearst to Abbie Hoffman. Given their location, and backgrounds, Stew and Judy were, at least on paper -- or in the fertile minds of Mark Felt's FBI agents -- plausible candidates to, perhaps, shelter at least one of the runaways. So they'd joke about their phone being tapped, or spotting spooks hiding behind trees in the woods, or expecting to find a listening device installed somewhere in their house.

Well, as we used to say, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't watching you. Turns out all of those fears were justified, and then some, thanks to Mr. Deep Throat and the program he helped organize.

Our fears first spiked when someone broke into the Crawdaddy office on lower Fifth Avenue one night. The intruder busted the gate protecting our rear entrance, and opened a few drawers, but nothing of true value or embarrassment was missing. You might say, in the parlance of the time, that we were only "Felt up." Unfortunately, we had very little to hide, beyond Bruce Springsteen's home phone number.

Then, I got a call from Stew on a Sunday morning, Dec. 11, 1975. He had come out to his old car, parked in front of a friend's house in Greenwich Village, and noticed the band of grime on his rear bumper was brushed away in one spot. Investigating, he reached under the bumper -- and found a crude homing device, about the size of a pack of cigarettes, with a cute little antenna sticking out. He had no idea how long it had been there or who, exactly, had been following them.

Naturally, Crawdaddy's editor, Peter Knobler, called a photographer, and we published a story about the episode the following month, which drew national attention. Pardon my French, but I recall that we called the story, "Bug Up My Ass!" (Remember: I was still a boy.)

With this rather firm evidence in hand, the couple launched a lawsuit against the government. During the course of it, FBI documents were released, and we all learned that, indeed, G-men had hidden in the woods watching them -- and worse, had broken into their cabin at least half a dozen times. The feds also monitored all their mail at the local post office, and opened some of it. Of course, in my editorial duties, I had sent them many letters: Remember snail mail? They also perused the couple's bank records. What incriminating evidence did they find? Zip. Nada.

One of the agents, according to the documents, had the wonderful name of George T. Twaddle.

Oh, one more thing: A listening device had been planted in their bedroom. I used that bedroom at least once while I visited them -- with a girlfriend, no less.

This was all standard fare for many FBI agents at the time, when they weren't infiltrating, or even starting, lefty political groups. "There was no instruction to me," Felt later told Congress, "nor do I believe there is any instruction in the Inspector's manuals, that inspectors should be on the alert to see that constitutional values are being protected."

Stew and Judy managed to win a cash settlement from the government, though I forget the figure and the details. Still, I doubt if they are joining in the chorus of hero worship today for W. Mark Felt, who has good reason to prefer going down in the history books as Deep Throat, not Deep Doodoo.



Some of my fellow geezers may recall that the chief probe of COINTELPRO and similar lawless intelligence operations was carried out by the so-called Church Committee (headed by Senator Frank Church). It issued a chilling report in 1976 that briefly had tremendous impact. Here is one section that deals with Felt:

"Internal inspection at the FBI has traditionally not encompassed legal or ethical questions at all. According to W. Mark Felt, the Assistant FBI Director in charge of the Inspection Division from 1964 to 1971, his job was to ensure that Bureau programs were being operated efficiently...He could not recall any program which was terminated because it might have been violating someone's civil rights.

"A number of questionable FBI programs were apparently never inspected. Felt could recall no inspection, for instance, of either the FBI mail opening programs or the Bureau's participation in the CIA's New York mail opening project. Even when improper programs were inspected, the Inspection Division did not attempt to exercise oversight in the sense of looking for wrongdoing. Its responsibility was simply to ensure that FBI policy, as defined by J. Edgar Hoover was effectively implemented and not to question the propriety of the policy. Thus, Felt testified that if, in the course of an inspection of a field office, he discovered a microphone surveillance on Martin Luther King, Jr., the only questions he would ask were whether it had been approved by the Director and whether the procedures had been properly followed.

"When Felt was asked whether the Inspection Division conducted any investigation into the propriety of COINTELPRO, the following exchange ensued:

"Mr. FELT. Not into the propriety.

"Q. So in the case of COINTELPRO, as in the case of NSA interceptions, your job as Inspector was to determine whether the program was being pursued effectively as opposed to whether it was proper?

"Mr. FELT. Right, with this exception, that in any of these situations, Counterintelligence Program or whatever, it very frequently happened that the inspectors, in reviewing the files, would direct that a certain investigation be discontinued, that it was not productive, or that there was some reason that it be discontinued.

"But I don't recall any cases being discontinued in the Counterintelligence program."

Greg Mitchell is editor of E&P and author of, among other books, "Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady" (Random House, 1998).
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 07, 2005, 07:59:53 PM

The Motives of Deep Throat
June 07, 2005 17 56  GMT

By George Friedman

The United States (or at least its Baby Boomers) has been gripped by the
revelation that the fabled Deep Throat, the person who provided the
legendary Woodward and Bernstein the guidance needed to cover the Watergate scandal, was Mark Felt, a senior official in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In spite of the claims of some, Felt was never high on the
list of suspects. The assumption was always that Deep Throat was a member of the White House staff, simply because he knew so much about the details of the workings of the Nixon White House. A secondary theory that floated around was that Deep Throat was someone from the CIA -- that the CIA, for some unclear reason, wanted to bring Nixon down.

The revelation that Deep Throat was a senior FBI official -- in fact, so
senior that he was effectively J. Edgar Hoover's heir at the FBI -- is full
of historical significance. Even more, it has significant implications
today, when U.S. intelligence and security forces are playing a dramatically enhanced role in American life, and when the question of the relationship between the constitutional life of the republic and the requirements of national security is at a cyclical pitch. If Felt is Deep Throat, then the history and implications of this revelation need to be considered.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the question of Nixon's guilt. It has
been proven beyond doubt that Nixon was guilty of covering up the Watergate burglary, a felony that required impeachment, even if presidents before him had committed comparable crimes. It is not proven, but we are morally certain, that Nixon knew about and possibly demanded the break-in both at the Democratic National Committee headquarters and in Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office. There are too many hints of this in the famous Nixon White House tapes -- and in the existence of an 18-minute gap inserted into one tape -- to doubt that. Nixon was guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.

None of this, however, has anything to do with Mark Felt's motives in
leading Woodward and Bernstein to water and teaching them the fundamentals of drinking. Felt's motives are important regardless of whether Nixon was guilty because they tell us something about what was going on in the FBI at the time and how the FBI operated. That is what has to be thought through now.

Felt's position has been simply presented. He is portrayed as a patriot who was appalled by the activities of the Nixon White House. Having had Patrick Gray slipped in above him for the top Bureau job, Felt believed that resorting to the normal procedures of law enforcement was not an option. Gray, a Nixon appointee and loyalist, would have isolated or fired Felt if he tried that route, keeping Felt away from grand juries and the normal process of the legal system. The only course of action for Felt was, according to this theory, to leak information to the press. His selection of Woodward and Bernstein for the prize was happenstance. Felt needed national coverage, and that was provided by the Washington Post. Felt claimed a passing acquaintanceship with Bob Woodward, a very young and inexperienced reporter, and this became a convenient channel. In short, Felt was protecting the republic by the only means possible.

Let's consider who Felt was for a moment. He rose in the ranks of the FBI to serve as the No. 3 official, ranking behind only J. Edgar Hoover and
Hoover's significant other, Clyde Tolson. He reached that position for two
reasons: He was competent and, of greater significance, he was absolutely loyal to Hoover. Hoover was obsessed with loyalty and conformity. He expected his agents, even in the junior ranks, to conform to the standards of the FBI in matters ranging from dress to demeanor. Felt did not rise to be the No. 2 of the Hoover-Tolson team by being either a free-thinker or a gadfly. The most important thing to understand about Felt was that he was Hoover's man.

As Hoover's man, he had a front row seat to Hoover's operational principles.  He had to have known of Hoover's wire taps and the uses to which they were put. Hoover collected information on everyone, including presidents. It is well known at this point that Hoover collected information on John F. Kennedy's sexual activities before and during his tenure as president -- as he had with Martin Luther King -- and had used that information to retain his job.

Hoover stayed as head of the FBI for decades because he played a brutal and unprincipled game in Washington. He systematically collected derogatory information on Washington officials, tracking their careers for years. He used that information to control the behavior of officials and influential private citizens. Sometimes it was simply to protect his own position, sometimes it was to promote policies that he supported. At times, particularly later in his life, Hoover appeared to be exercising power for the sheer pleasure of its exercise.

One of Hoover's favorite tactics was the careful and devastating leak.
Hoover knew how to work the press better than just about anyone in
Washington. He used the press to build up his reputation as a crime fighter and to burnish the FBI's reputation. Reporters knew that maintaining good lines of communication with the FBI could make careers, while challenging the FBI could break them. In one famous case, Hoover leaked information to Life magazine that claimed that bodies were buried in the basement of a congressman who had angered Hoover. The rumor was that the congressman got Hoover to force Life to retract the story when the congressman threatened to go public about Hoover's homosexual relationship with Clyde Tolson. That part may or may not be true, but we know that the story was retracted.

In most Washington insider cases, Hoover was not interested in the grand
jury route. The information he collected frequently was less concerned with criminal behavior than embarrassing revelations. What Hoover wanted to do was shape the behavior of people to suit him. It was the threat of revelation -- coupled with judicious leaks to the press, proving that Hoover was prepared to go all the way with it -- that did the trick. Hoover perfected the devastating leak -- and Mark Felt did not rise to power in the FBI by failing to learn that lesson or by following ethical codes other than J. Edgar Hoover's.

The first point that is obvious is that Felt wanted to be director of the
FBI. When Hoover died and Tolson resigned, he expected to replace Hoover. When Nixon appointed Gray, it is clear from his book that Felt felt betrayed and angry. Gray was an outsider who, in his view, was loyal to the president and not to the Bureau. Now, forgetting for the moment that the president was Nixon, this raises the interesting question of whether the primary loyalty of a director of the FBI -- or any other security or intelligence organization -- ought to be to the organization he serves or to the president who appoints him. There are arguments on both sides, but when you take Nixon out of the equation, the elected president would seem to have prima facie status in the equation. Loyalty to an institution, not superseded by loyalty to democratic institutions, would appear to be
dangerous for a security force and a republic. On the other hand, insulation from politics might protect the organization, keeping it from being used as a political instrument. The question is complex. Felt chose to side with the institution.

One can debate the nature of the FBI. Felt himself admitted he was a
disgruntled employee. We can infer his loyalty to Hoover. What we have,
therefore, is a disgruntled FBI employee -- bitter at being passed over for
promotion, angry at having the legacy of his patron dismantled and running a covert operation against the White House. Within days of the Watergate Hotel break-in, Deep Throat -- Felt -- was telling Woodward of the role of E. Howard Hunt. That meant that Felt knew what had happened. He could not have known what had happened had he not inherited Hoover's mechanisms for monitoring the White House. It is clear that Gray was not given that mechanism, and it is clear that Gray didn't know about it -- since Nixon didn't know about it. But Felt did know about it. What the mechanism was, whether electronic eavesdropping or informants in the White House or some other means, is unclear, so we will refer to it as "the mechanism." What is clear is that Felt, without the knowledge of his director, was running an operation that had to precede the break-in. Hoover died in May 1972; the Watergate break-in occurred in August 1972. Felt did not have time to set up his own operation in the White House. He had clearly taken over Hoover's.

Felt could not admit that he had penetrated the White House. The No. 2 man at the FBI could have forced a grand jury investigation, but he did not force one because to do so, he would have had to reveal his covert mechanism in the White House. Felt didn't go to a grand jury not because he was boxed in, but because he could not reveal the means whereby he knew precisely what Nixon and his henchmen were up to. It is fascinating that in all the discussion of Felt as Deep Throat, so little attention has been paid to how Felt would have acquired -- and continued to acquire -- such precise intelligence. It has been pointed out that Felt could not have been the only Deep Throat because he could not personally have known all the things he revealed. That is true, unless we assume that Felt was the beneficiary of an intelligence operation run by Hoover for years deep into successive White Houses. If that is the case, then it makes perfect sense that Felt was the one and only Deep Throat.

Woodward and Bernstein, along with Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee,
didn't care, since they were being fed the goods. Nixon did care, and the
leaks further damaged him by triggering wild-goose chases in search of the source. In fact, one of the most important consequences of Felt's leaks was that the White House spasmed and started looking for the leak. It compounded Nixon's paranoia -- he really did have enemies. Indeed, the entire plumbers unit built to stop leaks in the White House has to be re-evaluated from the standpoint of the FBI operation and its leakages. It would be interesting to determine how many of the leaks Nixon was looking for originated with his suspects (people like Henry Kissinger) and how many were the results of Hoover's covert penetration. If we think of Hoover in his last days less as an ideologue and more as a megalomaniac, the notion that he was trying to cripple Nixon is not absurd.

However, what is clear is that the White House was deeply penetrated, and Felt was operating the mechanism of intelligence. It is also clear that Felt decided not to proceed with the legal route but instead to continue Hoover's tradition of controlling his environment by leaking information. For the leak, he chose a major newspaper with a great deal of credibility and two junior reporters sufficiently ambitious not to ask the obvious questions. That they were on the city desk and not the national desk was an added benefit, since they would lack the experience to understand what Felt was up to. Finally, Bradlee -- a close ally of the Kennedys and someone who despised Richard Nixon -- would be expected to fly top cover for the two minor reporters.

What is critical is how Felt managed Woodward and Bernstein. He did not
provide them with the complete story. Rather, he guided them toward the
story. He minimized what he revealed, focusing instead on two things. First, he made certain that they did not miss the main path -- that the scandal involved the senior staff of the White House and possibly the president himself. Second and more important, Felt made certain that the White House could not contain the scandal. Whenever the story began to wane, it was Felt who fed more information to Woodward and Bernstein, keeping the story alive and guiding them toward the heart of the White House -- yet usually without providing explicit information.

One consequence of this was John Dean. Felt, the veteran of many
investigations, knew that the best way to destroy a conspiracy was to
increase the pressure on it. At some point, one of the conspirators would
bolt to save himself. Felt couldn't know which one would bolt, but that
hardly mattered. As the revelations piled up, the pressure grew. At some
point, someone would break. It didn't have to be John Dean -- it could have been any of perhaps a dozen people. But Felt made certain that the pressure was there, treating the White House the way he would treat any criminal conspiracy.

What is most interesting in all of this is what Felt did not provide but had
to have known: Why did the White House order the break-in to Larry O'Brien's office? Why was the break-in carried out with such glaring incompetence? Consider the famous part in which a security guard removes a piece of tape blocking a door lock that had been placed horizontally rather than vertically, only to have it replaced by one of the burglars, leading to their discovery. If Felt had penetrated the White House and Committee to Re-elect the President deeply enough to be Deep Throat, then he had to know the reason for the break-in. And what else did he control in the White House? Were G. Gordon Liddy's people as stupid as they appeared, getting caught with revealing phone numbers on them? Could anyone be that stupid? Why was the break-in ordered, and why did professionals bungle it so badly?

This is the thing that Felt never gave to Woodward and Bernstein and which, therefore, Woodward and Bernstein never were able to explain. Yet Felt had to know it. The event wasn't random, and whatever else could be said about Nixon and his staff, they weren't stupid. They had their reasons, and it is hard to believe that Felt, who seemed to know everything about the conspiracy, didn't know this. We note -- in pure speculation -- that a covert operation not only uncover what is going on, but also can plant information that will trigger an action.

Richard Nixon was a criminal by the simplest definition of the term -- he
broke the law and tried to hide it. His best defense is that other
presidents were also criminals. Possibly, but that doesn't change Nixon's
status. His closest aides were also, in many cases, criminals. Woodward and Bernstein were lottery winners, selected by Felt precisely because they were easy to lead and asked few questions. Felt, the dispossessed heir of J. Edgar Hoover, played out the hand of his master. He used his position to bring down the president. That the president needed to be brought down is true. That he could have been brought down only by Felt's counterconspiracy is dubious.

There are three issues that must be raised here. One, does a senior FBI
official have the right to leak the fruits of a clandestine operation in the
White House to favored reporters in order to bring about a good outcome?
Two, does the press have a responsibility to report not only what is leaked to them but also to inquire about the motive of the leaker? Didn't the public need to know that Deep Throat was a senior FBI official -- and, at the very least, a disgruntled employee? Doesn't the manner in which the truth is known reasonably affect the public perception? Finally, and most  important, who will guard the guardians when all have agendas?
Title: Reporting's a Shell Game and the Truth's the Pea
Post by: buzwardo on June 08, 2005, 12:09:12 PM
This is a pretty inside baseball matter; few who live outside the DC area will give a hoot. Still in the context of the above, amazing, post it does shed some light on the Washington Post's journalistic ethics, or lack thereof.

June 07, 2005, 7:50 a.m.
Political Post
Was the Washington Post used by Democratic operatives in Maryland?

By Stephen Spruiell

Last week, Vanity Fair scooped the Washington Post when it revealed the identity of the Post?s legendary anonymous source Deep Throat. Once Vanity Fair had reported that Deep Throat was actually W. Mark Felt of the FBI, speculation began to circulate about his motives for feeding information to the Post. Bob Shieffer on Face the Nation Sunday argued that Felt?s motives were unimportant, because his actions had saved America from becoming ?a nation of men, not laws.?

Fair enough. Suppose, however, that Deep Throat had orchestrated the Watergate break-in and then leaked to the Washington Post in order to frame his co-conspirators. Would his motives matter then? Judging by the Post?s recent reporting on a political scandal in Maryland, the motives of anonymous sources feeding information to the paper are not important if the result is a chance to relive the Post?s glory days of Watergate, if only in some small way.

In October of 2004, a Maryland state employee named Joseph Steffen entered into a discussion on using the screen name ?NCPAC.? Another Free Republic user (or ?freeper?) using the screen name ?MD4Bush? engaged Steffen in a friendly way on the public message board. The two began exchanging private e-mails, in which they discussed longstanding rumors about the personal life of Baltimore mayor and likely 2006 Maryland gubernatorial candidate Martin O?Malley (D).
In early 2005, the e-mails were ?given? to the Washington Post by a source that remains unidentified in the paper?s reporting. Post reporter Matthew Mosk confronted Steffen, who verified that he had written them. When Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich (R) found out that the Post was planning to portray Steffen as part of a coordinated effort to spread rumors about O?Malley, Ehrlich had little choice. He accepted Steffen?s resignation.

February 8, 2005 ? hours before the Post?s story appeared online ? MD4Bush posted excerpts from the private e-mails to a Free Republic message board. MD4Bush had underlined damaging passages and only posted e-mails that NCPAC had written ? even though according to Free Republic spokesman Kristinn Taylor, posting such private e-mails (or ?freepmails?) without permission is a violation of Free Republic posting guidelines. MD4Bush then vanished from the site and has not posted since.

The most obvious explanation for this behavior is that someone who knew that Steffen was NCPAC set him up. The Post did not report this strange activity. Instead, on February 11 Mosk and David Snyder co-wrote a story headlined: ?Uproar brings focus on role of bloggers.? The first half of the article focused on Free Republic, its history and its nature as a place where people traffic in rumors and gossip. But the last half posted more of the exchanges between MD4Bush and NCPAC. The Post chose paragraph 12 to reveal that MD4Bush ?drew Steffen into a private conversation and appeared to coax him to share more details about his role in spreading the rumor.? The Post printed the following exchange at the end of the article:

A few weeks later, MD4BUSH contacted NCPAC again, asking, ?If some of my friends and I were interested in keeping the story floating, do you have suggestions for us on how best to do it??
Here, Steffen backed away: ?I am sure you will understand, I cannot and will not offer suggestions that may be considered unethical concerning what you should do, campaign-wise. This is especially true concerning [Mayor O?Malley?s] personal life.

(Mosk declined to comment on the placement of information in the article.)

The Post abruptly shifted the focus of its coverage of the Steffen matter to his relationship to Gov. Ehrlich and his role in Ehrlich?s administration. Meanwhile, several other reporters, including Dave Collins and Jayne Miller of WBAL TV in Baltimore, started to investigate some of the more curious aspects of the story. For instance, it seemed interesting, Collins said, that the story breaking when it did simultaneously solved a political problem for the mayor (rumors that had plagued him for years) and focused the blame for those rumors on someone connected to his chief political opponent.

Over the course of the following months, reporters for WBAL TV, WBAL Radio and the Maryland Gazette uncovered the following bits of information that the Post neglected in its reporting:

Real Source of the Rumors

Rival coverage: WBAL Radio reported on the existence of a story that appeared in March of 2000 in the Washington Post, in which Mayor O?Malley?s wife mentioned the rumors (?That he?s running around on me. That he has been running around on me for years.?) and attributed them to political opponents from O?Malley?s days on the Baltimore City Council.

Post coverage: In its initial coverage of the Steffen story, the Post reported that the rumors had been ?widespread? for at least 18 months. However, the Post did not report that these rumors, according to the Mayor?s wife herself, originated from local political opponents from O?Malley?s days as a councilman. This information could have provided context for O?Malley?s charges, aired in the Post, that for 18 months Ehrlich himself had overseen an orchestrated campaign to smear him. After WBAL Radio reported on O?Malley?s wife?s comments, the Post also did a story.

Nature of the Private E-mails

Rival coverage: WBAL TV posted more of the e-mail exchanges between MD4Bush and NCPAC, demonstrating clearly that MD4Bush had asked leading questions and trying to prompt replies from NCPAC that would look as damaging as possible.

Post coverage: The Post reported extensively on Steffen?s e-mails, even creating a webpage for some of them. However, the Post failed to report the extent to which MD4Bush attempted to put words into NCPAC?s mouth (compare the WBAL TV story to the Post?s most thorough treatment of this angle: the ?Uproar brings focus on role of bloggers? story).

Blackmail Attempt

Rival coverage: Collins and Miller of WBAL TV, Thomas Dennison of the Maryland Gazette and others noticed that a third person had been cropped out of a now-famous picture of Gov. Ehrlich with his arm around Steffen ? a picture that had been anonymously distributed to all the local news outlets including the Post. Curious, Collins asked Ehrlich?s office about the identity of the missing person. At first, the governor?s office refused to cooperate with Collins. Then, Dennison asked the governor about the photo in public. Ehrlich spokesman Paul Schurick said, ?We had been very reluctant to release that photograph, because we didn?t see any advantage to it, but once that horse got out of the barn, we decided to go with it.?

On March 24, the governor?s office revealed that the third person in the photograph was a former state employee named Michelle Lane. Further, Ehrlich revealed that Lane had sent his office an e-mail on February 12, accusing him of masterminding a ?whisper campaign? against her and threatening to release information about Joseph Steffen that she said would damage the administration. Collins and Miller started looking for more information about Lane. From their reporting, the following timeline emerges:

 Lane and Steffen were friends at one point. When both worked for Ehrlich, they became close and exchanged e-mails often. At some point, however, they had a falling out and stopped communicating.

 While working for the state of Maryland, Lane asked for a promotion three times. Instead, in July 2004 she was let go.

 Weeks after she was fired, Lane began meeting with key members of the O?Malley administration. In one e-mail, according to Miller, she wrote that she had ?potentially useful information to share.?

When Collins started reporting these facts, he began to receive calls from important state Democrats, who all sounded like they were reading from the ?same script,? he said. ??Why are you guys trying to expose Deep Throat?? They all asked me that. And I said, ?Deep Throat was a source of information, and MD4Bush was possibly an operative. Don?t you see the difference?? And [they] didn?t.?

As Collins and Miller were filing these reports, someone sent an anonymous letter to the Baltimore City Paper attacking Collins?s credibility as a journalist. ?I do find it coincidental that it occurred in the middle of our aggressive pursuit of who is MD4Bush and trying to answer the question, ?Was this an orchestrated effort??? he said.

Post coverage: The Post story focused on Lane?s attorney?s claim, supported by documents she produced, that she was fired for trying to draw the governor?s attention to the state?s broken foster care system. The next day, the Post ran a story headlined, ?Md. foster care draws scrutiny; Ehrlich?s challenge to media on former state worker backfires.? The headline referred to Ehrlich?s challenge to reporters to identify MD4Bush, which he made during the press conference. Instead of accepting the challenge, the Post wrote a fawning profile of Michelle Lane as a courageous whistleblower who was fired for daring to speak truth to power. To date, the Post has not reported on Lane?s rebuffed attempts to get promoted or her recently acquired ties to Democrats.

The Post continues to focus its coverage almost exclusively on items that reflect well on O?Malley and poorly on Ehrlich. The Post has focused primarily on two things: Democrats in the state legislature who complain about Steffen?s role in the hiring and firing of state employees; and Steffen?s personal eccentricities. In the 28 stories Mosk wrote or co-wrote about Steffen, only three stories mention MD4Bush. One is the aforementioned story that focused more on Free Republic than anything. The other two quote Ehrlich officials challenging reporters to find out who MD4Bush is ? a challenge the Post has thus far refused to accept.

None of this necessarily proves an anti-Ehrlich bias at the Post. However, it is increasingly clear that the Post has been used by political operatives to simultaneously help O?Malley and hurt Ehrlich, and that the Post doesn?t seem to care. When asked if he shared this view of things, Mosk said, ?The articles about Steffen?s behavior reported on the actions of a man long associated with Ehrlich?s campaign activities ? actions that weren?t previously known. The reaction of the governor was to fire the aide, and the reaction of the mayor was to express concern and ask for an apology.

?What the reporting did is what we were supposed to do as reporters,? Mosk said. ?The reporting exposed an area of government activity that was not previously known to the public. I feel comfortable that the reporting did a public service.?

This answer does not address the matter of what a newspaper owes its readers when it uses (or is used by) anonymous sources. Post editor Leonard Downie Jr. tried to articulate a policy on the use of anonymous sources when he wrote in March of 2004:

? we will try to explain to readers why a source is not being named. We also will strive to tell our readers as much as we can about why such a source would be knowledgeable and whether the source has a particular point of view? We want at least one Post editor to know the identity of each unnamed source cited in the newspaper, as was the case during Watergate, so that editors can help decide whether to use the source in a story.

When I asked Mosk how he could trust the source who gave him the private e-mails from Free Republic, he reminded me that Steffen had confirmed that he had written the e-mails. But this does not tell his readers anything about the way in which these private e-mails were brought to the attention of the Post in the first place. Isn?t that important for readers to know? Don?t readers deserve to know why this source wasn?t named? What does this source have to hide? And why hasn?t the Post made available to its readers the entire e-mail exchange between NCPAC and MD4Bush? Or told its readers about how MD4Bush posted excerpts of the e-mails on Free Republic on February 8 and then vanished? By failing to answer these questions, the Post has failed to live up to its own guidelines.

Who is MD4Bush? ?We will find out,? Dave Collins told me. ?I have full confidence it?ll come out.? In addition to the reporting of Collins and Miller, Joseph Steffen has retained a lawyer, who said he is attempting to get MD4Bush?s account information from Free Republic. Hopefully the truth will come out before it gets to that point.

Does the Post care about MD4Bush?s identity? Mosk would not tell NRO whether the Post is investigating. It would be in the Post?s best interest to do so. It has already been scooped on the identity of one anonymous source this year.

? Stephen Sprueill reports on the media for National Review Online's new media blog, which debuts today.
Title: The Guantanamo Bay Gripes
Post by: buzwardo on June 15, 2005, 09:25:36 AM
I dunno, this piece comes dangerously close to allowing logic and good sense into the discussion. . . .

June 15, 2005, 7:48 a.m.
Gitmo by Any Other Name?
?is still necessary.
Jonah Goldberg

There?s a lot I don?t understand about the current hysteria over our prison facility at Guantanamo Bay. At the top of the list is why no one has mentioned Louis Pepe or Mamdouh Mahmud Salim.

Salim, a reputed top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, was being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a high security federal jail in lower Manhattan. Pepe was a guard there. On November 1, 2000, Salim plunged a sharpened comb into Pepe?s left eye and three inches into his brain. Salim and a compatriot also beat Pepe savagely, in their effort to get the guard?s keys and orchestrate an escape for himself and two fellow terrorists awaiting trial. Believing Pepe was dead, the attackers used his own blood to paint a Christian cross on his torso. Pepe was an experienced correctional officer, a member of the elite MCC Enforcers Disturbance Control, and he weighed in at 300 pounds. He survived the attack with brain damage, crippling disabilities, and an unending stream of surgeries.

The reason Pepe and Salim are relevant should be obvious. There are good guys and bad guys in this story, and as much as it pains some to hear it, we are the good guys. We are not talking about confused teenagers caught up in events larger than themselves. We aren?t talking about mistaken identities. We?re talking about the cream of our enemy?s crop in the war on terror.

Critics of the Bush administration are fond of the argument that the war in Iraq is a distraction from the real war on terror. John Kerry, Howard Dean, and countless others have argued that Iraq diluted our efforts in Afghanistan, the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, and the worldwide consensus on the need to destroy al Qaeda. That?s an argument worth having ? and we have had it many times over. But if it were all true and we had never invaded Iraq, we would still have Guantanamo and the problem of what to do with hardened, dedicated terrorists like Salim.

Of course, we could close Guantanamo, but if you actually support the war on terror you must recognize that we would still need someplace like it. A rose by any other name and all that. We can?t summarily execute every al Qaeda member we capture. Not just because that would raise legitimate moral and legal problems, but because we can?t win unless we interrogate these guys.

Senator Joe Biden said that while we should close Gitmo and release the occupants, we should also ?keep those we have reason to keep.? Huh? This is the logical equivalent of Solomon saying, ?Hey, let?s cut the baby in half after all.? Imagine if, instead of Gitmo, the issue was the death penalty. ?The death penalty should be abolished, but let?s execute the folks there?s a reason to execute.?

If we kept the ones ?we have reason to keep? ? which would probably mean all 500 or so current detainees ? but closed Gitmo, we could bring them to the United States. But this would be a legal quagmire, as it isn?t clear what their rights would be on U.S. soil. And it would be a disaster to treat them like common criminals with all of the usual constitutional rights. Nobody read these murderers their rights when they were seized in Afghanistan, and it?s not like the cast of ?CSI: Kabul? or ?Kandahar PD Blue? collected all the necessary forensic evidence to build a case against them. Does that mean we should just let them go? We certainly can?t set them free on American soil. And if we send them back to Afghanistan or Pakistan, it would be like giving them a do-over.

Any new Gitmo would quickly gain the same reputation as the old one because a) al-Qaida is under strict orders to allege all manner of abuses for propaganda purposes, especially now that such tactics have proved so useful, and b) because the ?international community? and other lovers of runny cheese desperately want such allegations to be true, regardless of the evidence. That the head of Amnesty International could call Gitmo, where we spend more money on the care and feeding of detainees than we do on our own troops, the ?Gulag of our time? is all the evidence we need for that. Caving into such bullying would send the unmistakable message that American can be rolled.

Now, none of this is to say that the U.S. military should have carte blanche to torture or harass detainees. There must be rules, and it is perfectly fair to debate what those rules should be. But unlike the lawless calamity of Abu Ghraib, the evidence is sparse that Guantanamo is anything like the house of horrors depicted by its detractors. In other words, if there are abuses, remedy them. If allegations are propagandistic lies, rebut them as best you can.

But caving into a defamation campaign in order to please those who cannot be pleased and aiding those who must not be aided is no way to support the war on terror or prevent more victims like Louis Pepe.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 18, 2005, 07:12:28 AM have all the good spines gone? To Sea.
Mary Katharine Ham (archive)

June 17, 2005
Well, the crab season is officially over. And I will never look at an all-you-can-eat crab leg buffet the same again.

I've been watching 'Deadliest Catch' a Discovery Channel mini-series about the world's most dangerous profession: Alaskan crab fishing. The show follows a handful of fishing boats through the crests and troughs of a five-day crab season. Five days. Sounds easy, right? Not when there is a quota for the fleet and you're competing against hundreds of other boats to haul in your share before Fish and Game calls the end of the season over a crackling radio.

Not when there's 37-degree water, freak 45-foot waves, and nothing but an ice-slicked deck and railing standing between you and the Bering Sea.

The men work days-long shifts, grabbing two hours' pillow time here and there, maximizing the number of 800-lb. crab pots they can throw and reel in during the abbreviated fishery. The pots, made of what looks like rusty chain link, crash into the sea and settle heavily on the green, muddy bottom, zipping 300 feet of rope over the railing behind them. Get a foot caught in that rope and you're gone; hit that water without a survival suit and you're gone; find your ship sitting under a squall and you're quite possibly gone.

As you would imagine, the fishermen are gruff, nary a one without dirty facial hair and dirtier language.

And I like them. Sure, there's a glint of crazy in some of their eyes and more than a hint of a barfight in many of their smiles, but they're all men who do hard work at great risk, hoping to hit it big, and go home better off. They understand the risks they take, they know the reward that?s possible, they weigh the costs and benefits, and they cast off.

These days, it?s helpful to watch a show like 'Deadliest Catch' to remind you of what Americans can be: responsible, grimly determined, and just plain tough. Sometimes it's easy to forget, especially so in the past couple of weeks.

First came the preeners of the Great Compromise:

"Thank God for this moment and for these colleagues of mine," said Sen. Robert Byrd.

"We have reached an agreement to try to avert a crisis in the United States Senate," said Sen. John McCain.

In the Bering Sea, on a ship called the Maverick, men expend far fewer words on far braver acts than bucking one's party leadership.

After that, the Senate let me down again when a red-blooded red-stater indulged in some public parliamentary blubbering'over President Bush?s nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton. As James Taranto put it in Tuesday's Best of the Web:

Voinovich was blubbering because John Bolton, a man who is purported to be socially rough-edged, is about to become America's ambassador to the U.N. This is not something that would make a normal person weep.
Back on the Fierce Allegiance and the Lady Alaska, men honor a friend who slipped overboard and out of their lives with a stiff upper lip and a moment of silence.

So, what does the State Department have to offer? A pamphlet that reminds us that 'Real Men Moisturize,' with several different lotions, even. It?s a good thing I know plenty of real American men who counter the image of this product-centric creature. Unfortunately, the people this pamphlet is aimed at Arab youth don't know a lot of real American men. And the cause of building bridges with that community is probably not well-served by flaunting our pliable gender constructs.

But these are just pockets of prissiness, right? No, I'm informed that this really is the new man, and I better get ready for him:

"The masculine ideal is being completely modified. All the traditional male values of authority, infallibility, virility and strength are being completely overturned," said Pierre Francois Le Louet, the agency's managing director.

According to this article- dateline, Paris- the new man also has the 'guts' to trade in a traditional wife for something more along the lines of wife swapping. Luckily, father/blogger/columnist and regular American guy with guts, James Lileks, takes some time to explain the term for the new man.

I hate to break it to these theorists, but it does not take guts for a young man to want to have multiple sex partners. It takes guts to settle down and have a family and rein in the roaming libido.  Back in the Bering Sea, Capt. Pete Liske calls home to discipline one of his nine adopted kids over the radio.

But perhaps the most emasculating whining in the past couple weeks has come from folks who actually believe Gitmo is a 'gulag.' When dealing with the would-be 20th hijacker of 9/11, these folks believe that loud Christina Aguilera music, dripping water, exposure to females, proximity to dogs, and thorough medical care constitute ?torture.? Democrat leaders and weak-kneed Republicans are mewling about closing Gitmo altogether.

On the Bering Sea, water that drips instead of gushes from the heavens would be a luxury, sleep deprivation is a perpetual state, and exposure to women would most assuredly not be considered torture.

Luckily, there's another man with guts who will inject some sense into the debate:

"The important thing here to understand is that the people that are at Guantanamo are bad people," Vice President Dick Cheney said.

By 'bad people,' he means enemy combatants who scorn military uniforms to gain strategic advantage by blending in with civilians. He means enemy combatants who are not technically entitled to Geneva Convention protections, but who get them at Gitmo, along with their fried chicken dinners. Closing Gitmo as a response to this kind of criticism would be an admission that we are the pedicuring, Kleenex-carrying society we?ve looked like lately.

We can't afford such an admission. Many seem to forget that we are engaged in a fight with an enemy that wants us all dead. All of us?civilian and military alike?because we are a many-hued, many-faithed nation and we like it that way; because our citizens can treat flags and holy texts in any way they wish without being killed; and because we let the womenfolk write columns, among many other transgressions.

It is not mere understanding that will win this fight and keep us alive. It is most certainly not preening or crying, or moisturizing, or shutting down prisons that will do the trick either.

Thank goodness we have folks like this, and this, and this, and many more who are willing to show some spine in this fight. There is a deadly storm at sea. To get through it, we need grizzly fishermen at the helm, not scuttling invertebrates.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: buzwardo on June 22, 2005, 01:39:26 PM
How this story can be so uniformly ignored is beyond me. Maybe it's only interesting when the bomb actually goes off. . . .

Bauer: Major TV Networks Boycotted 'Hospital Bomber' Story
Wednesday, June 22, 2005 / 15 Sivan 5765

Despite the distribution of a video of the Arab suicide bomber who intended to blow up a hospital by the IDF, nearly all foreign news agencies chose to boycott the story altogether.

An outraged former undersecretary to US President Ronald Reagan and candidate for Republican Presidential nominee, Gary Bauer wrote a scathing critique of the world media?s decision to avoid the story.

Excerpts from Bauer?s letter:

?If you don't get the Fox News Channel then you didn't see any of the dramatic footage of the Israeli army's arrest yesterday of a 21-year old, female Palestinian homicide-bomber, strapped with 25 pounds of high-explosives, just moments before she was to commit mass-murder by detonating herself inside an Israeli hospital. No other television network featured the story.

?Utterly ignoring the extraordinary video of the homicide-bomber's arrest, both the BBC and CNN focused extensively on how much ?damage? Israel's early morning arrest - for which there was no video - of 55 Fatah and Islamic Jihad terrorists, described by CNN as ?Palestinian activists,? would cause to today's scheduled ?summit meeting? between Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

?That only one network would air incredible footage of the seizure of a ticking human-bomb, just moments before she tried to murder hospital patients, means this story was not simply ignored by the mainstream media - it was boycotted by the mainstream media. Since nearly every aspect of this remarkable story contradicts everything the mainstream media has been trying to tell us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they just opted for the easiest way to handle it - denying it ever happened.


?Ignoring the story meant the networks didn't need to tell viewers that yesterday's homicide-bomber was not dispatched by terrorists of Islamic Jihad or Hamas, groups opposed to President Abbas, but was in fact working for the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, which is controlled by the political party Fatah, whose chairman is none other than President Abbas himself!

?Ignoring the story meant not having to reveal that the would-be-murderer had been traveling regularly to Israel for years on a valid medical pass, which granted the woman free treatment for burns she received in a home cooking accident, and was thus ruthlessly exploited by depraved terrorists whose shameless capacity to cynically manipulate goodness, in their pursuit of murder and death, knows no bounds.


?Ignoring the story meant not having to cover comments the female-terrorist made in a rare army supervised press conference in which she revealed what her mission was and who sent her. "I believe in death," she said on Israeli TV. "All my life I have been preparing to be a martyr. Mother, please forgive me for failing in [my] mission." Sentiments not exactly consistent with the line long peddled by the liberal media, and more recently even by the Bush administration, that Israel is the obstacle to "peace."
Title: No Fingerbowls at Gitmo
Post by: buzwardo on June 23, 2005, 08:59:19 AM
Guantanamo Loses 5 Star Rating

By: Ann Coulter

If you still have any doubts about whether closing Guantanamo is the right thing to do, Jimmy Carter recently cleared that up by demanding that it be closed. With any luck, he'll try to effect another one of those daring "rescue" attempts. Here's a foolproof method for keeping America safe: Always do the exact 180-degree opposite of whatever Jimmy Carter says as quickly as possible. (Instead of Guantanamo, how about we close down the Carter Center?)

Sen. Dick Durbin says it is reminiscent of the "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime ? Pol Pot or others." (He then offered the typical Democrat "if/then" non-apology: i.e., "if my remarks offended anyone," based on the rather remote possibility any sentient, English-speaking adult who didn't hate America could have heard them and not been offended.)

Amnesty International calls Guantanamo a "gulag." Sen. Teddy Kennedy says he cannot condone allegations of near-drowning "as a human being." And Sen. Patrick Leahy calls it "an international embarrassment," as opposed to himself, a "national embarrassment."

On the bright side, at least liberals have finally found a group of people in Cuba whom they think deserve to be rescued.

In the interests of helping my country, I have devised a compact set of torture guidelines for Guantanamo.

It's not torture if:

* The same acts performed on a live stage have been favorably reviewed by Frank Rich of the New York Times;

* Andrew Sullivan has ever solicited it from total strangers on the Internet;

* You can pay someone in New York to do it to you;

* Karen Finley ever got a federal grant to do it;

* It's comparable to the treatment U.S. troops received in basic training;

* It's no worse than the way airlines treat little girls in pigtails flying to see Grandma.

It turns out that the most unpleasant aspect of life at Guantanamo for the detainees came with the move out of the temporary "Camp X-Ray." Apparently, wanton homosexual sex among the inmates is more difficult in their newer, more commodious quarters. (Suspiciously, detainees retailing outlandish tales of abuse to the American Civil Liberties Union often include the claim that they were subjected to prolonged rectal exams.) Plus, I hear the views of the Caribbean aren't quite as good from their new suites.

Even the tales of "torture" being pawned off by the detainees on credulous American journalists are pretty lame.

The Washington Post reported that a detainee at Guantanamo says he was "threatened with sexual abuse." (Bonus "Not Torture" rule: If it is similar to the way interns were treated in the Clinton White House.)

"Sign or you will be tortured!"

"What's the torture?"

"We will merely threaten you with horrible things!"

"That's it?"

"Shut up and do as we say, or we'll issue empty, laughable threats guaranteed to amuse you. This is your last warning."

One detainee in Afghanistan told a hyperventilating reporter for Salon that he was forced to stand with his arms in the air for "hours." Doctor, I still have nightmares about the time I was forced to stand with my arms up in the air ...

Others claimed they were forced into uncomfortable, unnatural positions, sort of like the Democrats' position on abortion. Next, the interrogators will be threatening to slightly undercook the Lemon Chicken!

According to Time magazine, this is how the "gulag of our time" treats the inmates: "The best-behaved detainees are held in Camp 4, a medium-security, communal-living environment with as many as 10 beds in a room; prisoners can play soccer or volleyball outside up to nine hours a day, eat meals together and read Agatha Christie mysteries in Arabic."

So they're not exactly raping the detainees with dogs at Guantanamo. (I still think the gift shop T-shirts that said "My dad went to Guantanamo and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" goes too far.)

The only question is: Why do Democrats take such relish in slandering their country? If someone was constantly telling vicious lies about you, would you believe they supported and loved you?

"I love John Doe, and that's why I accuse him of committing serial rape and mass murder. Oh, he doesn't do that? Yes, but how dare you say I don't love John Doe!"

And now back to our regular programming on Air America ...
Title: Political Rants
Post by: buzwardo on June 25, 2005, 10:08:04 PM
Hanson's scope and sweep always amazes. . . .

The Politics of American Wars
Islamists have proved adept at winning liberal exemption from criticism.
Victor Davis Hanson

For all the talk of imperial America, and our frequent "police actions," we are hardly militarists. Protected by two oceans, and founded on the principles of non-interference in Europe's bloody internecine wars, the United States has always been rightly circumspect about going to war abroad. The American people are highly individualistic, skeptical of war's utility, and traditionally distrustful of government ? and wary of the need of their sacrifice for supposed global agendas.

So we go to war reluctantly. And being human, our support for war hinges on its being short and economical, and waged for professed idealistic principles. Wars that drag on past three years ? from the Civil War to Vietnam ? can often lead to demonstrations and popular disdain.

By the same token, some politics are more compatible with the American perception of the need to fight.

It was not only Lincoln's gifted rhetoric that got the Union through Cold Harbor and the Wilderness, but after the war's initial months of hard fighting, his reinvention of the North's very aims, from a utilitarian struggle to restore the United States to a moral crusade to end slavery and the power of the plantationists for good. In that effort, he was willing to suspend habeas corpus, sidestep the Congress, and govern large chunks of the border states through martial law.

Woodrow Wilson intervened liberally in Central America. He led us to war against right-wing Prussian militarism. His "too proud to fight" slogan in was no time scrapped for the Fourteen Points, a utopian blueprint for the nations of the world, handed down by a former professor from his high and moralistic Olympus.

Few worried that Franklin Delano Roosevelt not only waged a savage global struggle against Italian, German, and Japanese fascism, but in the process did some pretty unsavory and markedly illiberal things at home. It was no right-wing nut who locked up Japanese Americans without regard for habeas corpus or ordered German agents to be shot as terrorists.

To end the dictatorial and genocidal plans of Slobodan Milosevic, liberal Bill Clinton was willing to bomb downtown Belgrade, commit American forces to a major campaign without U.S. Senate approval, and bypass the United Nations altogether. Few accused him of fighting an illegal war, contravening U.N. protocols, or cowardly dropping bombs on civilians. In all these cases, public opposition was pretty much muted, despite the horrendous casualties involved in some of the conflicts.

Some general principles, then, can guide us in determining American reactions to war, and they transcend even the notion of comparative sacrifice and cost. Progressives such as Wilson and Clinton, who, we are assured, hate war, can intervene far more easily, and are more likely to receive a pass from a hypercritical elite media.

In the end, they always seem forced to fight by circumstances, since their very liberal natures are supposed to abhor optional conflicts. FDR's wartime criminal-justice apparatus trumped anything that John Ashcroft could imagine, but it has remained relatively unexamined even to this day: Liberals must have had very good reasons to put non-white people in camps, so contrary to their innate notions of social justice.

Second, the United States seems to be more united against right-wing fascism than left-wing totalitarianism, perhaps because our elites in academia, journalism, and politics feel authoritarian dictators from the right lack the veneer of egalitarian empathy for the poor. In any case, we are more prone even today to assume the 6-8 million Hitler slaughtered puts him in a category far worse than Stalin or Mao, despite the fact that the two combined did away with ten times Hitler's tally.

During World War II, here at home we experienced nothing like the Rosenbergs or Alger Hiss working for the Axis, even though Soviet-inspired global Communism would end up liquidating 80 million in Russia and China alone. Fighting North Korea or North Vietnam ? or even waging the Cold War ? was a far more difficult enterprise than opposing the Kaiser, Hitler, Mussolini, or Tojo. Our successes were often due to the efforts of strong anti-Communist democrats such as Harry Truman, who could assure our influential universities, media, politicians, writers, actors, and foundations of the real danger, and the fact that the president had little choice but to go to war.

In this context, many had some apprehensions about the present so-called war on terror. Ostensibly, the Islamists who had pulled off September 11 largely fit past definitions of fascism and so should have galvanized universal traditional American furor.

The tribal followers of bin Laden advocated a return to a mythical age of ideological purity uncorrupted by modernism, democracy, or pluralism. Islamism certainly held no tolerance for other religions, much less any who were not extreme Muslims. Sexism and racism ? remember bin Laden's taunts about Africans, ongoing slavery in the Sudan, and the genocide in Darfur ? were an integral part of radical Islamist doctrine. Al-Qaeda was not so much chauvinistic as misogynistic. Substitute bin Laden's evocation of "believer" for the old "Volk," and the crackpot rants about world domination, purity, and the anti-Semitic slurs of "apes and pigs" fall into the old fascist slots.

It is no accident that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf are still popular sellers among zealots in some capitals of the Arab world. Was our war on terror, then, going to be morally clear to even the most progressive utopian, since our enemies lacked liberal pretensions and the charisma of a Stalin, Ho, Che, or Fidel that so often duped the gullible?


Two factors explain the current growing hysteria over Iraq, and they transcend the complex nature of the war and even the depressing media reports from the battlefield. First is the strange doctrine of multiculturalism that has become one of our most dominant boutique ideologies of the last few decades, as the United States experienced unleveled prosperity, leisure ? and guilt.

All cultures are of equal merit; failure and poverty abroad are never due to indigenous pathology but rather Western colonialism, racism, Christianity, and gender bias. The Other is never to be judged by our own "biased" standards of jurisprudence and "constructed" bourgeois notions of humanity; those poorer, darker, non-Christian, and non-English-speaking are to be collectively grouped as victims, deserving condescension, moral latitude, and some sort of reparations or downright cash grants. Senator Patti Murray gave us the soccer-mom version of this pathology when she once talked of the need to rival bin Laden's supposed humanitarian projects in Afghanistan, while Senator Durbin assures us from a private e-mail that poor suspects in Cuba (no longer terrorists who plot to butcher more thousands) suffer the similar fate of Hitler's victims.

As September 11 faded in our collective memory, Muslim extremists were insidiously but systematically reinvented in our elite presentations as near underprivileged victims, and themselves often adept critics of purported rapacious Western consumerism, oil profiteering, heavy-handed militarism, and spiritual desolation.

Extremists who would otherwise be properly seen in the fascistic mold were instead given a weird pass for their quite public and abhorrent hatred of non-believers and homosexuals, and their Neanderthal views of women. Beheadings, the murder of Christians, suicide bombings carried out by children, systematic torture ? all this and more paled in comparison to hot and cold temperatures in American jails on Cuba. Suddenly despite our enemies' long record of murder and carnage, we were in a war not with fascism of the old stamp, but with those who were historical victims of the United States. Thus problems arose of marshalling American public opinion against the supposedly weaker that posited legitimate grievances against Western hegemons. It was no surprise that Sen. Durbin's infantile rantings would be showcased on al-Jazeera.

When Western liberals today talk of a mythical period in the days after 9/11 of "unity" and "European solidarity" what they really remember is a Golden Age of Victimhood, or about four weeks before the strikes against the Taliban commenced. Then for a precious moment at last the United States was a real victim, apparently weak and vulnerable, and suffering cosmic justice from a suddenly empowered other. Oh, to return to the days before Iraq and Afghanistan, when we were hurt, introspective, and pitied, and had not yet "lashed out."

If one examines the infomercials of a bin Laden or Zawahiri, or the terrorist communiqu?s sent to the Westernized media, they are almost all rehashes of the Michael Moore Left, from "Bush lied" to "Halliburton" to "genocide" and "Gulag." This now famous "Unholy Alliance" of radical anti-Americans and reactionary jihadists is really a two-way street: Islamists mimic the old leftist critique of the United States, and the Western Left hopes that they in turn can at least tone down their rhetoric about knocking walls over gays or sending all women into burka seclusion ? at least long enough to pose as something like disposed Palestinians minus the Hamas bombs laced with feces, rat poison, and nails.

The second problem was that not only were we no longer clearly fighting a right-wing extremist ideology, but Texan, twangy, and conservative President Bush was hard to repackage into the reluctant liberal warrior in the image of Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Harry Truman, or Bill Clinton.

So there was never much room for error in this war. We are not talking in this postmodern era in terms of a past Democratic president invading Latin America, interring citizens in high-plains camps, hanging terrorist suspects, nuking cities, or bombing pharmaceutical factories in Africa, but, at least from the weird present hysteria, something apparently far worse ? like supposedly flushing a Koran at Guantanamo.

In a leisured and liberal society, it is very difficult in general for a conservative to wage war, because the natural suspicion arises ? as a result of the conservative's tragic view of human nature and his belief in the occasional utility of force ? that he enjoys the enterprise far more than a lip-biting progressive, who may in fact order more destruction. George H. W. Bush barely pulled off freeing Kuwait, but only because he fought on the ground for only four days, used the aegis of the U.N., pulled back on televised images of the so-called "Highway of Death," and was able to avoid going to Baghdad and dealing with a murdering despot still in power.

In contrast, once the metamorphosis of the Islamists from fascists to victimized critics of the West was underway, and once a suspect conservative like George Bush eschewed the old League of Nations utopianism, the fireside chat, and the "I feel your pain" persona of traditional Democratic war leaders, I feared we would have real trouble finishing this war.

Contrary to all recent popular wisdom, the war in Iraq is not a disaster, but nearing success. It has been costly and at times tragic, but a democracy is in place, accords are being hammered out with Sunni rejectionists, and the democratic reformist mindset is pulsating into Lebanon, Egypt, and the Gulf. This has only been possible because of the courage and efficacy of a much maligned military that, for the lapses of a small minority at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, has been compared to Stalin and Hitler.

If President Bush were a liberal Democrat; if he were bombing a white Christian, politically clumsy fascist in the heart of Europe; if al Qaeda and its Islamist adherents were properly seen as eighth-century tormenters of humanists, women, homosexuals, non-Arabs, and non-Wahhabi believers; and if Iraq had become completely somnolent with the toppling of Saddam's statue, then the American people would have remained behind the effort to dismantle Islamic fundamentalism and create the foundations to ensure its permanent demise.

But once the suicide murdering and bombing from Iraq began to dominate the news, then this administration, for historical reasons largely beyond its own control, had a very small reservoir of good will. The Islamists proved to be more adept in the public relations of winning liberal exemption from criticism than did the administration itself, as one nude Iraqi on film or a crumpled Koran was always deemed far worse than daily beheadings and executions. Indeed, the terrorists were able to morph into downtrodden victims of a bullying, imperialistic America faster than George W. Bush was able to appear a reluctant progressive at war with the Dark Age values of our enemies.

And once that transformation was established, we were into a dangerous cycle of a conservative, tough-talking president intervening abroad to thwart the poorer of the third world ? something that has never been an easy thing in recent American history, but now in our own age has become a propagandist's dream come true.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 27, 2005, 04:05:30 PM
For the record, post WW2 Germans should be judged in their own right and not have the sins of their fathers visited upon them.

Sent: Monday, June 27, 2005 2:27 PM
Subject: Ralph "The Heckler" Peters


IN the bitter winter of 1077, Kaiser Heinrich IV, a vicious German politico, pursued the pope to a mountain castle to beg him to lift his excommunication. The pope let the emperor wait barefoot in the courtyard for three days before granting an audience.

When Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visits the White House today, our president should at least keep him waiting three hours. Extend that morning meeting with the Deputy Plumber's Guild of Peoria. Presidents have to prioritize.

Bush won't be rude, of course. Besides, he's got more on his schedule than a burnt-out German hack ? he's got to get the chancellor in and out. It'll be enough to watch Schroeder squirm as he crawls to the Oval Office, begging to be taken seriously again.

Schroeder's so pathetic these days that it's almost ? almost ? tempting to pity him. He was never a man of substance, just a populist slimeball who told more lies in public than Bill Clinton did in private. But the Herr Kanzler figured he could coast on the legacy better men had left behind in Germany. He never had a program, just ambition.

And Schroeder blew it on every single front. With his penchant for grandstanding and an appetite for licking Jacques Chirac's boots, he made a great show of "standing up to Bush" while defending Saddam Hussein. In doing so, he wrecked an alliance of a half-century's standing that had allowed Germany a voice in world affairs it never deserved.

Think Germany's been forgiven? Talk to any American general or diplomat off the record.

At home, Schroeder lacked the vision or courage to undertake anything beyond cosmetic reforms of Germany's gasping economy. The result: the highest level of unemployment since the end of World War II, with developing-world joblessness in his country's industrial heartland.

The children of the Auschwitz guards love to lecture us about human rights. But they won't even give their youth hope for the future. How can a society claim to be humane when it condemns its citizens to lifelong unemployment and the humiliation of the dole?

Under Schroeder, Germany's educational system continued to deteriorate, the country's brain-drain accelerated, industry shifted jobs abroad and the Teutonic reputation for quality craftsmanship went into free-fall (pretty grim when the reliability rating of Mercedes is below that of Hyundai . . . ).

Now Schroeder's lies have caught up with him. Germans want him out. And he's desperate to end his dying chancellorship on any faintly positive note he can. So the Windbeutel invited himself to Washington and our president graciously offered to buy him lunch.

What does Schroeder want? Besides a free meal?

First, he wants a photo op that lets him pretend he's still taken seriously by the most powerful man in the world.

Second, he'll get down on his knees and promise to be good, good, good as gold if only Bush will back Germany's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Bush would be as nutty as Howard Dean to agree. There are, indeed, a few countries deserving of a new reserved seat at the Security Council's Theater of the Absurd ? Brazil and India head the list ? but Germany's claim to a permanent chair falls somewhere between the aspirations of Liberia and Myanmar.

Why should a decaying, neurotic country with a recent history of massive genocide be granted a seat at the world's most exclusive table? Russia already fills that bill.

But Gerhard, having stabbed the American people in the back with a dull knife two years ago, is hoping against hope that our short historical memory will kick in and we'll forget that one of his favored parliamentarians compared Bush to Hitler ? and the chancellor didn't offer one word of apology.

Schroeder will blabber on about the long tradition of friendship between our two nations. Come again? We had to force democracy on the Germans at gunpoint. They sucked our strategic blood for 50 years and then chose Saddam Hussein over Uncle Sam.

Yeah, we're pals, Fritz. Here comes the big bratwurst.

Our president can afford to be gracious to the beggar on the South Lawn. Bush doesn't have to land any haymakers on the punch-drunk pol: Tony Blair, the British lion incarnate, is ripping off the chancellor's limbs in a diplomatic Monty Python skit.

Blair has given Chirac and Schroeder such a hammering over their refusal to reform the European Union's antiquated system of subsidies that even German newspapers have accepted that the Brit is right: The European Union can't heal itself without serious, painful changes.

Blair wants money moved from giveaway programs to research and development. Schroeder and Chirac want to keep rewarding Europe's unproductive and inefficient farmers and vintners for being unproductive and inefficient.

A week ago, Schroeder thought he saw an opening when Blair torpedoed the business-as-usual E.U. budget. Now he finds that even his longtime allies believe that Blair nailed it.

Justice doesn't always prevail in this complex, tormented world. But sometimes it does. It's lovely to see Chirac in the merde in France and Schroeder begging for mercy in D.C.

All we can hope is that President Bush doesn't succumb to one iota of pity: Don't forgive, don't forget. Schroeder's perfidy aided America's enemies. The chancellor should go home without so much as a souvenir fountain pen.

Bush should smile, listen, shake hands ? then let the "tin chancellor" suffer the consequences his duplicity brought down upon him.

Ralph Peters' is a retired Colonel.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 01, 2005, 08:09:28 AM
A Police Perspective On Gun Control & Political Correctness


Jim Mortellaro
Source: New York State Fraternal Order Of Police 6-29-00

It's amazing what one has to believe to believe in gun control:
That the more helpless you are the safer you are from criminals.

That Washington DC's low murder rate of 69 per 100,000 is due to gun
control, and Indianapolis' high murder rate of 9 per 100,000 is due to
the lack of gun control.

That "NYPD Blue" and "Miami Vice" are documentaries.

That an intruder will be incapacitated by tear gas or oven spray, but if
shot with a .44 Magnum will get angry and kill you.

That firearms in the hands of private citizens are the gravest threat to
world peace, and China, Pakistan and Korea can be trusted with nuclear

That Charlton Heston as president of the NRA is a shill who should be
ignored, but Michael Douglas as a representative of Handgun Control,
Inc. is an ambassador for peace who is entitled to an audience at the UN
arms control summit.

That ordinary people, in the presence of guns, turn into slaughtering
butchers, and revert to normal when the weapon is removed.

That the New England Journal of Medicine is filled with expert advice
about guns, just like Guns and Ammo has some excellent treatises on
heart surgery.

That one should consult an automotive engineer for safer seatbelts, a
civil engineer for a better bridge, a surgeon for spinal paralysis, a
computer programmer for Y2K problems, and Sarah Brady for firearms

That the "right of the people peaceably to assemble," the "right of the
people to be secure in their homes," "enumeration's herein of certain
rights shall not be construed to disparage others retained by the
people," "The powers not delegated herein are reserved to the states
respectively, and to the people," refer to individuals, but "the right
of the people to keep and bear arms" refers to the states.

That the 2nd Amendment, ratified in 1787, allows the states to have a
National Guard, created by act of Congress in 1917.

That the National Guard, paid by the federal government, occupying
property leased to the federal government, using weapons owned by the
federal government, punishing trespassers under federal law, is a state

That private citizens can't have handguns, because they serve no militia
purpose, even though the military has hundreds of thousands of them, and
private citizens can't have assault rifles, because they are military

That it is reasonable for California to have a minimum 2 year sentence
for possessing but not using an assault rifle, and reasonable for
California to have a 6 month minimum sentence for raping a female police

That it is reasonable to jail people for carrying but not using guns,
but outrageous to jail people for possessing marijuana.

That minimum sentences violate civil rights, unless it's for possessing
a gun.

That door-to-door searches for drugs are a gross violation of civil
rights and a sign of fascism, but door-to-door searches for guns are a
reasonable solution to the "gun problem."

That the first amendment absolutely allows child pornography and threats
to kill cops, but doesn't apply to manuals on gun repair.

That Illinois' law that allows any government official from Governor to
dogcatcher to carry a gun is reasonable, and the law that prohibits any
private citizen, even one with 50 death threats on file and a
million-dollar jewelry business, is reasonable. And it isn't a sign of
police statism.

That free speech entitles one to own newspapers, transmitters,
computers, and typewriters, but self-defense only justifies bare hands.

That gun safety courses in school only encourage kids to commit
violence, but sex education in school doesn't encourage kids to have

That the ready availability of guns today, with only a few government
forms, waiting periods, checks, infringements, ID, and fingerprinting,
is responsible for all the school shootings, compared to the lack of
school shootings in the 1950's and 1960's, which was caused by the
awkward availability of guns at any hardware store, gas station, and by
mail order.

That we must get rid of guns because a deranged lunatic may go on a
shooting spree at any time and anyone who owns a gun out of fear of such
a lunatic is paranoid.

That there is too much explicit violence featuring guns on TV, and that
cities can sue gun manufacturers because people aren't aware of the
dangers involved with guns.

That the gun lobby's attempt to run a "don't touch" campaign about kids
handling guns is propaganda, and the anti-gun lobby's attempt to run a
"don't touch" campaign is responsible social activity.

That the crime rate in America is decreasing because of gun control and
the increase in crime requires more gun control.

That 100 years after its founding, the NRA got into the politics of guns
from purely selfish motives, and 100 years after the Emancipation
Proclamation, the black civil rights movement was founded from purely
noble motives.

That statistics showing high murder rates justify gun control, and
statistics that show increasing murder rates after gun control are "just

That we don't need guns against an oppressive government, because the
Constitution has internal safeguards, and we should ban and seize all
guns, therefore violating the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments of that
Constitution, thereby becoming an oppressive government.

That guns are an ineffective means of self defense for rational adults,
but in the hands of an ignorant criminal become a threat to the fabric
of society.

That guns are so complex to use that special training is necessary to
use them properly, and so simple to use that they make murder easy.

That guns cause crime, which is why there are so many mass slayings at
gun shows.

That guns aren't necessary to national defense, which is why the army
only has 3 million of them.

That banning guns works, which is why New York, DC, and Chicago cops
need guns.

That the Constitution protects us, so we don't need guns, and can
confiscate them, thereby violating the 5th amendment of that

That women are just as intelligent and capable as men and a woman with a
gun is "an accident waiting to happen".

That women are just as intelligent and capable as men, and gun makers'
advertisements aimed at women are "preying on their fears."

That a handgun, with up to 4 controls, is far too complex for the
typical adult to learn to use, as opposed to an automobile that only has

That a majority of the population supports gun control, just like a
majority of the population used to support owning slaves.

That one should ignore as idiots politicians who confuse Wicca with
Satanism and exaggerate the gay community as a threat to society, but
listen sagely to politicians who can refer to a self-loading small arm
as a "weapon of mass destruction" and an "assault weapon."

That Massachusetts is safer with bans on guns, which is why Teddy
Kennedy has machinegun toting guards.

That most people can't be trusted, so we should have laws against guns,
which most people will abide by, because they can be trusted.

That a woman raped and strangled with her panties is morally superior to
a woman with a smoking gun and a dead rapist at her feet.

That guns should be banned because of the danger involved, and live
reporting from the battlefield, which can keep the enemy informed of
troop deployments, getting thousands of troops killed and perhaps losing
a war, is a protected act that CANNOT be compromised on.

That the right of online child pornographers to exist cannot be
questioned because it is a constitutionally protected extension of the
Bill of Rights, and the claim that handguns are for self defense is
merely an excuse, and not really protected by the Bill of Rights.

That the ACLU is good because it uncompromisingly defends certain parts
of the Constitution, and the NRA is bad, because it defends other parts
of the Constitution.

That police operate in groups with backup, which is why they need larger
capacity magazines than civilians, who must face criminals alone, and
therefore need less ammunition.

That we should ban "Saturday Night Specials" and other inexpensive guns
because it's not fair that poor people have access to guns too.

That guns have no legitimate use, but alcohol does, which is why we
issue cops beer instead of guns.

That police and soldiers are the dregs of society who were unfit to get
any real job, which perfectly qualifies them with the high moral
standards and keen intellects to handle these complicated tools and be
our guardians.

The article and other similar articles may be found at
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 12, 2005, 10:40:42 PM
"All kinds of hypocrisy remained unchallenged. In my world of liberal London, social success at the dinner table belonged to the man who could simultaneously maintain that we've got it coming but that nothing was going to come; that indiscriminate murder would be Tony Blair's fault but there wouldn't be indiscriminate murder because 'the threat' was a phantom menace invented by Blair to scare the cowed electorate into supporting him."


=============,6961,,00.html> Guardian
Sunday July 10, 2005

Face up to the truth

We all know who was to blame for Thursday's murders... and it wasn't Bush and Blair
by Nick Cohen

The instinctive response of a significant portion of the rich world's
intelligentsia to the murder of innocents on 11 September was anything but robust. A few, such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, were delighted. The
destruction of the World Trade Centre was 'the greatest work of art
imaginable for the whole cosmos,' declared the composer whose tin ear failed to catch the screams.

Others saw it as a blow for justice rather than art. They persuaded
themselves that al-Qaeda was made up of anti-imperialist insurgents who were avenging the wrongs of the poor. 'The great speculators wallow in an economy that every year kills tens of millions of people with poverty, so what is 20,000 dead in New York?' asked Dario Fo. Rosie Boycott seemed to agree. 'The West should take the blame for pushing people in Third World countries to the end of their tether,' she wrote.

In these bleak days, it's worth remembering what was said after September 2001. A backward glance shows that before the war against the Taliban and long before the war against Saddam Hussein, there were many who had determined that 'we had it coming'. They had to convince themselves that Islamism was a Western creation: a comprehensible reaction to the International Monetary Fund or hanging chads in Florida or whatever else was agitating them, rather than an autonomous psychopathic force with reasons of its own. In the years since, this manic masochism has spread like bindweed and strangled leftish and much conservative thought.

All kinds of hypocrisy remained unchallenged. In my world of liberal London, social success at the dinner table belonged to the man who could
simultaneously maintain that we've got it coming but that nothing was going to come; that indiscriminate murder would be Tony Blair's fault but there wouldn't be indiscriminate murder because 'the threat' was a phantom menace invented by Blair to scare the cowed electorate into supporting him.

I'd say the 'power of nightmares' side of that oxymoronic argument is too
bloodied to be worth discussing this weekend and it's better to stick with
the wider delusion.

On Thursday, before the police had made one arrest, before one terrorist
group had claimed responsibility, before one body had been carried from the wreckage, let alone been identified and allowed to rest in peace, cocksure voices filled with righteousness were proclaiming that the real murderers weren't the real murderers but the Prime Minister. I'm not thinking of George Galloway and the other saluters of Saddam, but of upright men and women who sat down to write letters to respectable newspapers within minutes of hearing the news.

'Hang your head in shame, Mr Blair. Better still, resign - and whoever takes over immediately withdraw all our forces from Iraq and Afghanistan,' wrote the Rev Mike Ketley, who is a vicar, for God's sake, but has no qualms about leaving Afghanistan to the Taliban and al-Qaeda or Iraq to the Baath party and al-Qaeda. 'Let's stop this murder and put on trial those criminals who are within our jurisdiction,' began Patrick Daly of south London in an apparently promising letter to the Independent. But, inevitably, he didn't mean the bombers. 'Let's start with the British government.'

And so it went on. At no point did they grasp that Islamism was a
reactionary movement as great as fascism, which had claimed millions of
mainly Muslim lives in the Sudan, Iran, Algeria and Afghanistan and is
claiming thousands in Iraq. As with fascism, it takes a resolute
dunderheadedness to put all the responsibility on democratic governments for its existence.

I feel the appeal, believe me. You are exasperated with the manifold faults
of Tony Blair and George W Bush. Fighting your government is what you know how to do and what you want to do, and when you are confronted with totalitarian forces which are far worse than your government, the easy solution is to blame your government for them.

But it's a parochial line of reasoning to suppose that all bad, or all good,
comes from the West - and a racist one to boot. The unavoidable consequence is that you must refuse to support democrats, liberals, feminists and socialists in the Arab world and Iran who are the victims of Islamism in its Sunni and Shia guises because you are too compromised to condemn their persecutors.

Islamism stops being an ideology intent on building an empire from Andalusia to Indonesia, destroying democracy and subjugating women and becomes, by the magic of parochial reasoning, a protest movement on a par with Make Poverty History or the TUC.

Again, I understand the appeal. Whether you are brown or white, Muslim,
Christian, Jew or atheist, it is uncomfortable to face the fact that there
is a messianic cult of death which, like European fascism and communism
before it, will send you to your grave whatever you do. But I'm afraid
that's what the record shows.

The only plausible excuse for 11 September was that it was a protest against America's support for Israel. Unfortunately, Osama bin Laden's statements revealed that he was obsessed with the American troops defending Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein and had barely said a word about Palestine.

After the Bali bombings, the conventional wisdom was that the Australians
had been blown to pieces as a punishment for their government's support for Bush. No one thought for a moment about the Australian forces which stopped Indonesian militias rampaging through East Timor, a small country Indonesia had invaded in 1975 with the backing of the US. Yet when bin Laden spoke, he said it was Australia's anti-imperialist intervention to free a largely Catholic population from a largely Muslim occupying power which had bugged him.

East Timor was a great cause of the left until the Australians made it an
embarrassment. So, too, was the suffering of the victims of Saddam, until
the tyrant made the mistake of invading Kuwait and becoming America's enemy. In the past two years in Iraq, UN and Red Cross workers have been massacred, trade unionists assassinated, school children and aid workers kidnapped and decapitated and countless people who happened to be on the wrong bus or on the wrong street at the wrong time paid for their mistake with their lives.

What can the survivors do? Not a lot according to a Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He told bin Laden that the northern Kurds may be Sunni but 'Islam's voice has died out among them' and they'd been infiltrated by Jews. The southern Shia were 'a sect of treachery' while any Arab, Kurd, Shia or Sunni who believed in a democratic Iraq was a heretic.

Our options are as limited When Abu Bakr Bashir was arrested for the Bali
bombings, he was asked how the families of the dead could avoid the fate of their relatives. 'Please convert to Islam,' he replied. But as the past 40
years have shown, Islamism is mainly concerned with killing and oppressing Muslims.

In his intervention before last year's American presidential election, bin
Laden praised Robert Fisk of the Independent whose journalism he admired. 'I consider him to be neutral,' he said, so I suppose we could all resolve not to take the tube unless we can sit next to Mr Fisk. But as the killings are indiscriminate, I can't see how that would help and, in any case, who wants to be stuck on a train with an Independent reporter?

There are many tasks in the coming days. Staying calm, helping the police
and protecting Muslim communities from neo-Nazi attack are high among them. But the greatest is to resolve to see the world for what it is and remove the twin vices of wilful myopia and bad faith which have disfigured too much liberal thought for too long.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 14, 2005, 08:09:50 PM
Message: July 14, 2005

Make No Mistake: It's a War of Civilizations
By Ed Koch

The events of 9/11 and 7/7 will dominate the lives of
Americans and the British for generations to come.

Even if no more terrorist attacks are perpetrated against us --
regrettably, there will be -- those two acts of mass murder
will long be remembered. On 9/11, we suffered 2,986 dead
and 2,337 injured; On 7/7, the estimate is that 52 died and
700 were injured. English law enforcement has not yet
determined which group was responsible, although the
speculation is that al-Qaeda was involved. (now confirmed of course- Marc)

According to the U.S. government, the al Qaeda organization
is active in Europe, and other terrorist organizations are
associated with Islamic fanatics who live in more than 60
countries worldwide.

The various terrorist organizations are overwhelmingly
Muslim. I believe they are supported by millions of Muslims
around the world who are bent on destroying both Western
civilization and those Muslims, Christians and Jews who
believe in the Western values of democracy and tolerance. Of
course, not every Muslim is a fanatic or terrorist, as pointed
out by Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, the general manager of the
Al Arabiya television station, who said, "It is a certain fact
that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and
exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims."
They are responsible for near daily suicide bombings in Iraq
that have deliberately murdered Iraqi police, military
personnel and thousands of innocent civilians -- men, women
and children.

We are truly in a war of civilizations. While the Muslim
fanatics do not have us on the run, they have won some major
victories. I count among those victories the submission of
France and Germany to the demands of Islamic fanatics, and
their refusal to stand with us in Iraq, despite the fact that we
are now there pursuant to a U.N. Security Council resolution
and at the request of the recently-elected Iraqi government.
Italy, which originally stood with us, has announced it will
leave Iraq by the end of the year. Prime Minister Berlusconi is
running for reelection and is worried that the Italian electorate
will throw him out of office as did Spanish voters to their
pro-Iraq war prime minister and his governing party after the
Madrid railroad bombings. The newly-elected Socialist
government in Spain withdrew its troops. Poland has already
withdrawn its troops.

The Secret Organization of al-Qaeda in Europe which issued
a statement taking responsibility for the London attack said
after berating Britain for its being in Iraq and Afghanistan,
"We still warn the governments of Denmark, Italy and all the
Crusader governments that they will meet the same fate if they don't pull their forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan."

Here we have it. For the Islamic terrorists, each and every one of their demands must be met by the Christian governments or they will suffer acts of terrorism. Every head of state has expressed outrage. For example, Chirac of France said, "I would like to express the full horror I feel at the terrorist attacks which bathed the British capital in blood this morning. I would like to express to all Londoners, to all of the British people, the solidarity, the compassion and the friendship of France and the French people."

What world leaders should have said is, "An attack upon any
one of us is an attack upon all of us and each of us now
pledges to send 10,000 troops to Iraq. We will not be
intimidated by terrorism."

Instead, they engaged in platitudes.

Today in Great Britain, George Galloway sits in the
Parliament, a former member of the Labor Party, who broke
away, joining the RESPECT party which ran in the last
election. Its major message is to blame Tony Blair for
supporting and joining forces with the U.S. in Iraq. Galloway
criticized Blair after 7/7 saying, "Tragically, Londoners have
now paid the price of the government ignoring such
warnings."  Galloway represents the vision of the Brits who
supported Neville Chamberlain in 1939. Blair, on the other
hand, represents the vision of Winston Churchill. Fortunately,
the British chose to reelect Tony Blair in the last election. Blair
understands the Islamic terrorists worldwide are bent on
killing Christians (Crusaders), Jews and Muslims who defy
them. In Iraq, they have killed thousands of innocent civilians
-- Shiites -- who recently voted for a democratic, tolerant

In 1941, when Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor and Hitler
declared war on the U.S. four days later, there were
opponents of the Roosevelt policy of supporting the survival
of a British government seeking to repel the pending Nazi
invasion. Many of them were allied with the America First
Committee led by Charles Lindbergh who sought to use
anti-Semitism to coalesce the country, blaming the Jews for
the world's ills. Under that umbrella organization, there were
Nazi supporters and others who sought to be neutral in what
was then clearly becoming a war of civilizations, pitting
European and American democracy against fascist

The America First Committee dissolved after December 7,
1941, and most of its adherents stood shoulder-to-shoulder
against the enemies of the U.S. and Western civilization.

In England, there were comparable groups and they too
dissolved. Will that happen now in England as a result of 7/7?
Has it happened in the U.S. as a result of 9/11? Regrettably,

Should we stand aside in Iraq and elsewhere and allow the
terrorists to impose their will in that country and elsewhere
throughout the world? I think not. I believe that countries not
yet involved and unwilling to expend blood and money like
Germany, France and others to protect our democratic values
will rue their desertions from the cause of liberty and

In a recent New York Times article, Tom Friedman pointed
out, "The Muslim village has been derelict in condemning the
madness of jihadist attacks. When Salman Rushdie wrote a
controversial novel involving the prophet Muhammad, he was
sentenced to death by the leader of Iran. To this day -- to this
day -- no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever
issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden."

Regrettably, our "friends" who are appalled by 7/7 are guilty as well by their absence from the battlefields of Iraq where the war between civilizations is now being waged.

Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 15, 2005, 10:28:35 AM
Provenance unknown.

 What?s worse than crawling under your beloved house and seeing the foundations rotten with decades of termite damage?
NOT crawling under your beloved house and seeing the foundations rotten with decades of termite damage.

I?ve been away for a while, doing a little thinking. Usually, my thoughts for these past few years have started at home and then taken me to Iraq, and the war. Lately, though, I have been thinking about Iraq, and my thoughts turn more and more to home.

I started thinking along these lines six months ago, after a young Marine shot and killed a wounded Iraqi in a mosque in Fallujah

The ideas behind this little adventure we are about to embark upon have changed enormously since then. I have, quite frankly, been at a loss to know how to put so many wide-ranging snapshots together into this montage, this image, this idea of Sanctuary that I think holds the key to many of the problems we face today.

Stay with me -- our first stop is not our destination, but it is a necessary one. So let me first take you on that original journey, and show you how events in Iraq can show us how to fight and win a much wider and deeper conflict, right here at home.

Now to hear some fellers tell it, the entire idea of ?Unlawful Combatants? came to Sith mastermind Darth Rover in a vision, and he instructed his familiars Chimpy McBushitler and Torture Master Rumsfeld to use it as an excuse to begin the unjustified savagery that is such an essential part of the American character.

Absent from this worldview is?well?just about everything.

During the actual Major Combat Operations of Iraqi Freedom, US generosity and grace toward defeated elements of the Iraqi regular army was in the highest tradition of the US Military, which is justifiably well-known for its benevolence toward a defeated adversary on the battlefield. Surrendering Iraqi regular units were given rations and medical care, and their officers were allowed to keep their sidearms as a show of respect and authority. I have not seen or heard of a single case of anything less than exemplary conduct regarding enemy regular-army soldiers.

So why were the Taliban and Al Qaeda and Fedayeen insurgents treated so differently? Why the hoods and shackles? Why the humiliation at Abu Graib?

It is not because these men shot at US soldiers. Regular Iraqi units, NVA units, North Korean Units, Germans, Japanese, Confederates and Redcoats have shot at American soldiers and upon their surrender their treatment has been, on the whole, exemplary. Why are these different?

It is not because they are opposing us. It is ? to put it as bluntly as possible ? because they are cheating ? cheating in a way that none of the above ever did.

They have willfully and repeatedly broken the covenant of Sanctuary.


What is the obvious difference between an enemy Prisoner of War, and an Unlawful Combatant? Suppose two of them were standing in a line-up. What one glaringly obvious thing sets them apart?

That?s right! One is wearing a uniform, and the other isn?t.

And why do soldiers wear uniforms?

It certainly is not to protect the soldier. As a matter of fact, a soldier?s uniform is actually a big flashing neon arrow pointing to some kid that says to the enemy, SHOOT ME!

And that?s exactly what a uniform is for. It makes the soldier into a target to be killed.

Now if that?s all there was to it, you might say that the whole uniform thing is not such a groovy idea. BUT! What a uniform also does -- the corollary to the whole idea of a uniformed person ? is to say that if the individual wearing a uniform is a legitimate target, then the person standing next to him in civilian clothes is not.

By wearing uniforms, soldiers differentiate themselves to the enemy. They assume additional risk in order to protect the civilian population. In other words, by identifying themselves as targets with their uniforms, the fighters provide a Sanctuary to the unarmed civilian population.

And this Sanctuary is as old as human history. The first civilized people on Earth, these very same Iraqis, who had cities and agriculture and arts and letters when my ancestors were living in caves, wore uniforms as soldiers of Babylon. This is an ancient covenant, and willfully breaking it is unspeakably dishonorable.

Now, imagine you are involved in street-to-street fighting?

We should actually stop right here. No one can imagine street-to-street fighting. It is a refined horror that you have lived through or you have not, and all I can do with the full power of my imagination does not get to the shadow of it. Nevertheless, there are men who have peered around corners in Fallujah, and Hue, and Carentan and a hundred unknown places; places where the enemy?s rifle may be leveled inches away from your nose, awaiting the last split-second of your young life.

Most of the time, you do not have time to think. A person jumps up from below a window three feet away. If he is wearing a grey tunic and a coal-scuttle helmet, it?s a Kraut and you let him have it before he kills you and your buddies. But what if he is wearing street clothes? What if he is smiling at you?

For brutal soldiers ? like the Nazi?s those of the far left accuse us of being precisely equal to ? this is a moot point. The SS killed everything that moved. They executed prisoners in uniforms, partisans, hostages and children. They were animals.

Our soldiers are civilized, compassionate and decent citizens doing a tough, horrible job. That means when they see someone who might be a civilian, they hesitate. That hesitation can and has killed them. And some people wonder why enemy soldiers without the honor and courage to wear a uniform are treated less than honorably after being captured by men full of courage and restraint.

Worse ? worse by far ? than the artificial safety given to enemies not wearing a uniform is the additional horror such behavior will inevitably inflict upon their own civilian population.

And it doesn?t hurt to point out ? repeatedly ? that the people they are putting at infinitely greater risk are supposedly the very people these so-called Muslim Warriors claim be trying to protect: their own women and children. Michael Moore has called these ruthless cowards the moral equivalent of our revolutionary Minutemen. I would point out to Mr. Moore that when confronted by an overwhelming enemy force, our Minutemen grabbed their guns, put their elderly, their women and their children behind them, and went out to face their adversary as far away from the weak and vulnerable as possible. These people do precisely the opposite. Our Minutemen fought for Freedom and Liberty; these fight for repression, state torture, and the right to force everyone to behave as they see fit. Am I surprised that Michael Moore cannot see this difference? I am not. The man has not seen his own toes for two decades, and they are a good deal closer to him than the streets of Fallujah.

Do those protesters ever wonder why prisoners of war in World War II movies ? soldiers -- trying to escape in civilian clothes would be shot as spies? A soldier out of uniform, a soldier trying to hide in the civilian population is gaining a one-time personal advantage, but that not the real sin. The real sin is that he is endangering the non-combatants. He is using civilians as cover. He is breaking down the barrier between the armed and the unarmed, the threat and the non-threat. He is trying to have it both ways.

Whenever there is war and invasion, there will be terrified civilians trying to get from one place to another. In the very early hours of Operation Iraqi Freedom, when we expected to be fighting the same Army that in the Gulf War fully honored the idea of uniformed troops, our soldiers discovered large numbers of unarmed, military-aged men in civilian clothes making for the rear. Many of these men were let through, and promptly took up arms and caused immeasurable damage before blending back into the population.

But they did much worse. Because after a few suicide bombers in civilian vehicles drove up to checkpoints and blew themselves and honor-abiding Coalition soldiers to bits, we have found ourselves having to treat all speeding civilian vehicles as hostile. We simply have no choice anymore. We did not simply decide to open fire on civilians; rather the enemy, in a cold and calculated decision repeated many, many times over, decided to violate the Sanctuary given to civilians to wage war on an American and British Army playing by the rules. They have made the line between civilian and soldier nonexistent. They did this, not us. They did it. They gained the benefits from it, and it has cost us dear. And so perhaps, in a world with less ignorance and more honesty, Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena ? who sped at a US roadblock, weaving, at more than 60 mph and in violation of warning shots -- would be pointing her finger at the people who violated this Covenant of Civilization, and not those being forced to make terrible decisions in order to preserve it.

War is hell, and soldiers have to live there. It is an unbearable burden; unbearable in the sense that not a single man and woman who has been fully exposed to war has ever come back home. Someone else comes back home. Sometimes, it is a better person. Sometimes a worse one. But they are different, all changed in the horror and crucible of war.

And so from the beginning of war, there exists between soldiers a bond that cannot be described. There is the obvious connection of a soldier to his comrades, but there is too a strong sense of respect and kinship with the soldier on the other side of No Man?s Land, shivering in cold wet places just the same, under orders and doing his job, too ? just wanting to get the thing over with and go home.

Surrender is a mercy in such a place. The idea that certain death may be avoided, that one might be willing to simply give up fighting and still survive, is mercy of the deepest blue. Surrendering enemy soldiers are often greeted with a warmth and understanding that friendly civilians do not receive, for they have shared in the misery and hardship of war in ways that we comfortable and safe civilians can never know.

Surrender, in war, is perhaps the ultimate of Sanctuaries. It is a way out when hope and rescue have fled the field. Honorable surrender has never been treated with shame by any American unit I have ever heard of.

And so, when groups of un-uniformed enemy soldiers waving white flags suddenly drop and open fire on unsuspecting, generous and honorable Americans, then the masters of these men have made a terrible bargain. They have destroyed the Sanctuary of Surrender, and eliminated for their own men a deep and abiding refuge in the nightmare of the battlefield.

They have done this to their own men. Not us. We have known of the brutality of the Iraqi army regarding prisoners from at least as far back as those taken and beaten during the first Gulf War, and as far as improvements over the intervening years, we might perhaps call Jessica Lynch to tell us of any newfound magnanimity on the part of the Ba?athists.

False surrender as a weapon of ambush is an abomination. When it is repeated, it is obvious that is not an aberration; it is policy. It is, like the abandonment of the uniform, a tactic to gain a short-term advantage that leads to long-term hardship and misery for their own troops. It is a Devil?s bargain, and they have had the Devil to pay for it ? as have we.

They violate the Sanctuary of the Uniform. They violate the Sanctuary of Surrender. And the most reprehensible of all is the violation of the Sanctuary of Mercy.

Throughout the insurgency, and especially in places like Fallujah, enemy fighters with real or feigned wounds have called for aid. Not often does a soldier who has been in combat look down upon the wounded of either side without horror and sympathy. In places like Fallujah and Iwo Jima and Antietam it is an easy thing to see one?s own reflection in that grimace and that agony.

So when a soldier out of uniform, who may have faked surrender to kill unsuspecting Americans, calls for aid and then willfully kills medics with a concealed grenade? where does that leave us? What unplumbed depths remain? When mercy is used as a weapon against the merciful, what horrors and abominations remain unplayed?

THAT, dear left-wing Citadels of Conscience, is what we are up against. That is what you support against the decency, honor and kindness you mock in your own countrymen as they build schools and hospitals and, indeed, an entire democracy. That is the definition of ?Unlawful Combatant.? It is not a legal nicety, and it is not a rhetorical flourish. It is a pattern of ruthlessness, deception and murder. And regardless of your motive, it is the side you find yourself taking.

These are the kind of men in Guantanamo. Who controls such men? And when busloads of men from Afghanistan and Syria and Jordan and Egypt and Iran, men without uniforms, men not under the control of any officer, men who follow no code of conduct other than an oath to kill any American, anywhere ? who among us with a gram of understanding and perspective can be surprised when such men are hooded and shackled on air transports? And being left to sleep in the open air is one thing in Northern Germany in the winter of ?44, and something else entirely in the middle of the goddam Caribbean! I mean, for the love of God, some of the people screaming themselves into a lather over such an outrage will pay tens of thousands of dollars for the same privilege a few miles away on a catamaran anchored off the coast of Jamaica.

And when people acting on the stage of their own moral outrage wonder when such men will be released, what do we say to them? When Osama bin Laden officially surrenders Al Qaeda on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan? They have no government, they have no command structure, they have no objective but death. That is their great strength, and by God, it is also their weakness, and we would be fools ? absolute drooling idiots ? to let them have it both ways.

These fanatics have been rigorously coached to lie about mistreatment and torture, and despite this transparent fact, every utterance they make is breathlessly quoted and trumpeted by the press as absolute truth. The naked human pyramids, intimidation with dogs, sexual humiliation and threat of electroshock torture that marked a day or two of mistreatment at Abu Graib were the tools used by immature and untrained individuals precisely because the methods previously employed at that location ? removal of fingers and tongues and genitalia, electrified wire brushes, and the rape and murder of relatives before the eyes of the prisoner ? are so far beyond the horizon of what American interrogators are able to imagine doing that any comparison between the two betrays the moral blindness of those making the comparison.

Is humiliation the same as torture? It is not -- that's why the words are spelled differently. To get to the heart of the difference, assume you were a prisoner at Abu Graib, and your interrogator started to remove your fingers one by one with bolt cutters. How long would it take you to beg to be posed with women?s panties on your head? Yeah, I thought so.

This is not to excuse in any way the shameful behavior committed there by a few individuals who clearly are not fit to wear the uniform of the United States. They have disgraced us all and done incalculable damage. But if producing humiliation and fear is now to be defined as ?torture,? what international human rights organization will be appointed to help the surviving readers of The New York Times?

No system built on human behavior is perfect; they can only be good. What's a reasonable guess as to the number of sadistic, brutal and infantile Americans who so dishonored their uniforms at Abu Graib? Shall we say, perhaps fifteen? Fifteen who knew about what was happening, and countenenced it? So those fifteen, out of a total force of 150,000, completely negate the hard work, restraint, courage and compassion of the rest of the American presence in Iraq?

That is not ten percent bad apples. That is not one percent. That is not one-tenth of a percent. It is, in round numbers one percent of one per cent. What is the percentage of of criminals in the general population? A hundred times that? A thousand? Can college professors boast that kind of quality control? Can reporters? And yet this is all the press can obsess about, for over a year...the behavior of .0001 of the U.S. forces employed to liberate Iraq?

But remember, there is no bias in the media.

And by the way, has it not occurred to anyone that during the years since 9/11 there has not been a single terrorist attack on the United States? Do you think they simply stopped trying? Or have we been winning a secret war of information in dark rooms in Langley, Virginia? How many failed attempts have there been to kill you and your family in the past four years? Two? Twenty? One Hundred?

If we cannot use torture to get that information -- and we most emphatically should not and have not -- then what can we use? Anything? No intimidation? No sleep deprivation? No threats? No coersion? No drugs? What are we left with to persuade these killers to talk? The comfy chair?

It is not only possible, but likely, that many of the press elites who consider bright lights and harsh language as a form of ?torture interrogation? are alive today in places like New York and San Francisco precisely because of information gleaned from inmates at Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay. I have no doubt of this whatsoever. What would their response be, I wonder, if standing at the funeral of their friends and children they discovered that the information needed to save their lives could have been obtained not through torture, but through fear of torture, or through humiliation and intimidation?

As you sit here reading this, there are men and women working around the clock using information obtained ? not just without torture, but humanely ? to keep us safe at night. They do this without any recognition or fanfare. But there are no less than ten televised award shows each year honoring those who do the best job at playing make-believe, and more often than not, the heroes they pretend to be are the soldiers and intelligence agents and policemen they so spectacularly spit upon the second the camera stops rolling.

We worship the wrong people. More on that in a moment.

There is one final layer of atrocity, a violation of the very core idea of Sanctuary as a place of safe haven that the insurgents in Iraq practice with abandon.

These religious fanatics, who will form a mob and tear a person limb from limb if he (or especially she) so much as looks askance at a copy of the Quran, routinely and methodically have used mosques ? even their most sacred mosques ? as ammunition dumps, staging areas and firing positions, viewing our decency and restraint as foolishness and weakness.

These acts have been recorded so many times that it has become banal. It?s just a fact. It?s what they do.

If they had genuine respect for their own religions and holy places they would give them the widest berth available, not turn them into command bunkers, ambush sites and staging areas.

Here is a violation of Sanctuary written as plainly as the eye can see. They use safe havens -- hospitals, hotels and places of worship -- as military fortresses because they are counting on our decency and honor to spare them from retaliation.

Actually, it is deeper than that. I suspect what they are really counting on is that sooner or later, such provocations have to be answered. And then there will be armies of useful idiots with television cameras and microphones and Expensive Hair, who will rally the full weight of recrimination and guilt and defeatism and accomplish for a few bearded lunatics what entire armored divisions could not achieve for them on the battlefield: Victory over the Americans.  

But what has shocked and dismayed me, way beyond the sadness and regret of our losses, has been the willingness, even the eagerness, among many on the left who want nothing more than to see our side lose.

Our soldiers are fighting and dying to install what any sane person can see is a widely-representative democracy, heroically elected at great personal risk. Opposing them are a shadow army of former secret policemen, state torturers, and foreign invaders of every stripe who kill Iraqi policemen, behead innocent Iraqi cabdrivers, and detonate car bombs at the opening of new schools and children?s centers. There may be an explanation for this support I am not seeing. I, for one, can not get past the idea that millions of Western Progressives would rather see a nation re-enslaved, or erupt in civil war, or have twenty thousand of their countrymen come home in boxes than admit that they were wrong.

And they have the audacity, the unmitigated gall, to claim the moral high ground?

I am trying my level best to understand how and why someone who professes to be for freedom for artists, homosexuals and women ? not to mention unlimited personal expression of every stripe -- can take the side of 8th Century religious fanatics who brag about murdering writers, stoning women, beheading homosexuals and instituting moral policemen at every street corner with unquestioned authority to beat, jail or execute anyone suspected of being insufficiently pious.

I used to wonder why civilizations fell. No longer. I see it now before my eyes, every day. Civilizations do not fall because the Barbarians storm the walls. The forces of civilization are far too powerful, and those of barbarism far too weak, for that to happen.

Civilizations fall because the people inside the Sanctuary throw open the gates.

Look around. Tell me what you see. Look at how the entire idea of civilization is under attack. Abandoning the ideas of civilization and savagery is tantamount to throwing open the gates. Maintaining a civilization takes work ? savagery, not so much. If both are equal then what?s the point?

Don?t think there?s any difference? Then here?s a little show-and-tell for you, Scooter:

When Newsweek runs an unsubstantiated rumor about flushing a Quran down the toilet, entire nations erupt into riots that leave many dead and more, likely, to follow. That is savagery.

Trained teams of Islamic murderers hijack four airliners, slit the throats of their crews, immolate their passengers as flying bombs and destroy the heart of a city and worse, and the most powerful people the world has ever known sit patiently trying to identify the perpetrators and then sacrifices its own children to reform a diseased and despotic region with overwhelming restraint and discretion ? that is civilization.

Really, all I?m trying to do here is prevent the fall of Civilization. Now far be it from me to be so arrogant as to think I can prevent the fall of Civilization with a single essay! It may take several essays; in fact, if things are worse than I feared it might take an entire book.

Here?s my thesis: Civilizations fall because they become so successful that their citizens become, over many generations of increasing security and prosperity, further and further away from the reality of the human condition. The quest for ?better? becomes so successful that after a few generations of hard work and ingenuity we have nothing left but the quest for ?perfect.? More and more effort produces fewer and smaller results, because the quest for perfection is asymptotic. Perfection is unattainable.
Title: Pig Pen Security
Post by: buzwardo on July 19, 2005, 10:16:41 AM
Homeland Pork
?Unless we waste money, the terrorists will win.?
Rich Lowry

NORTH POLE, ALASKA ? As I was driving through this town of less than 1,600 people just outside of Fairbanks the other day, an overwhelming sensation came over me ? of safety. Or at least that's what Congress wanted me to feel. Thanks to a senseless, but sadly typical, formula for spending federal homeland-security dollars, North Pole, Alaska, has been awarded more than half a million dollars for homeland-security rescue and communications equipment. This just in case the terrorists decide to try to shut down Santa Claus Lane. Fortunately, I am in a position to make a frontline report ? all seems quiet.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is irritating certain U.S. senators by insisting that how federal homeland-security spending is allocated should have some relation to the risk of a terrorist attack in any given area. Where he has the authority to act on his own, Chertoff has pushed his department toward rationality. He moved, for instance, to limit the cities eligible for port-security grants to 66 from 366, thus eliminating Martha's Vineyard from the list (and exposing the extended Kennedy clan to attack by terrorist yacht). But Congress controls how homeland-security grants for first responders are doled out to the states, and its attitude is, "Unless we waste money, the terrorists will win."

Immediately after 9/11, Congress wrote a homeland-security spending formula into the Patriot Act, one of the provisions of that law that actually is a mistake. It says that every state gets .75 percent of the funding from two enormous federal grant programs that spend well over $1 billion a year. That eats up 40 percent of the funding. The other 60 percent is allocated on the basis of population, which is one risk factor for a terror attack, but only one. In other words, in a homeland-security effort that should be built on intelligence and risk analysis, Congress has created a system that is almost entirely random and beholden to the dictates of logrolling and pork-barrel spending.

This is a boon not just to North Pole, but to places like Wyoming. According to Veronique de Rugy of the American Enterprise Institute, the Equality State has only .17 percent of the nation's population, but gets .85 percent of federal homeland-security grants. That works out to $37.74 per capita for Wyoming, while New York state gets $5.41 per capita. De Rugy reports that Washington, D.C., is the only location that is both among the top 10 grant recipients and on a list of the 10 most at-risk localities.

Throwing around money in absurd fashion has resulted in, naturally enough, absurdities ? $18,000 for Segway scooters for the bomb squad in Santa Clara, Calif.; $30,000 in Lake County, Tenn., to buy a defibrillator to have on hand at high-school basketball games; $98,000 on training courses in Lenawee County, Mich., which no one bothered to attend. And on it goes. Billions of dollars in the grants haven't been spent on anything because they are gummed up in the bureaucratic pipeline, partly because some localities don't have the foggiest idea what to do with the money.

The House recently passed a bill to rationalize the funding formula, basing it almost entirely on risk-assessment by DHS. States would have to submit applications for grant money to address specific risks, and DHS would evaluate them accordingly. This is the basic approach advocated by the 9/11 commission. But the Senate has balked. Small-state senators have a disproportionate sway there, and last week they rejected the House approach, preferring a barely improved version of the status quo. These senators can't imagine any reason for being in Washington other than to shove lucre back to their home states ? for whatever reason.

If Congress can't straighten out the funding formula, maybe it will have to try a different approach, and relocate people from threatened urban areas to places like North Pole. We can be certain they would be well-secured here.

? Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years.
Title: Snark Hunt
Post by: buzwardo on July 21, 2005, 06:41:23 AM
In his inimitable way, Hitchens gets to the meat of the matter.

The poverty of our current scandal.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, July 18, 2005, at 1:10 PM PT

Writing to a friend in 1954, P.G. Wodehouse commented:
Are you following the McCarthy business? If so, can you tell me what it's all about? "You dined with Mr. X on Friday the tenth?" "Yes, sir." (Keenly) "What did you eat?" "A chocolate nut sundae, sir." (Sensation) It's like Bardell vs Pickwick.

Wodehouse of course was only affecting ignorance and making light of a ludicrously pompous and slightly sinister proceeding. But he was essentially correct in his lampooning of the McCarthy hearings, since even the most convinced anti-communist would not learn anything from the spectacle that he did not already know, and since the show trials managed to go on without producing either any evidence of any crime, or any evidence of any perpetrator, or any evidence of any victim.

It is the entire absence of the above three elements that makes the hunt for Karl Rove (who was once so confidently confused with I. Lewis Libby) so utterly Snark-like. In fact, in his column of July 17, Frank Rich was compelled to concede that the whole thing is absolutely nothing in itself, but is rather a sideshow to a much larger event: the deception of the Bush-Cheney administration in preparing an intervention in Iraq. I want to return to this, but one must first winnow out some other chaff and nonsense.

First, the most exploded figure in the entire argument is Joseph Wilson. This is for three reasons. He claimed, in his own book, that his wife had nothing to do with his brief and inconclusive visit to Niger. "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter," he wrote. "She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip." There isn't enough wiggle room in those two definitive statements to make either of them congruent with a memo written by Valerie Wilson (or Valerie Plame, if you prefer) to a deputy chief in the CIA's directorate of operations. In this memo, in her wifely way, she announced that her husband would be ideal for the mission since he had "good relations with both the Prime Minister and the former Minister of Mines (of Niger), not to mention lots of French contacts." If you want to read the original, turn to the Senate committee's published report on the many "intelligence failures" that we have suffered recently. I want to return to those, too.

Speaking to the Washington Post about the CIA's documents on the Niger connection, Wilson made the further claim that "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong." Again according to the Senate report, these papers were not in CIA hands until eight months after Wilson made his trip. He has since admitted to the same newspaper that he may have "misspoken" about this.

The third bogus element in Wilson's boastful story is the claim that Niger's "yellowcake" uranium was never a subject of any interest to Saddam Hussein's agents. The British intelligence report on this, which does not lack criticism of the Blair government, finds the Niger connection to be among the most credible of the assertions made about Saddam's double-dealing. If you care to consult the Financial Times of June 28, 2004, and see the front-page report by its national security correspondent Mark Huband, you will be able to review the evidence that Niger?with whose ministers Mr. Wilson had such "good relations"?was trying to deal in yellowcake with North Korea and Libya as well as Iraq and Iran. This evidence is by no means refuted or contradicted by a forged or faked Italian document saying the same thing. It was a useful axiom of the late I.F. Stone that few people are so foolish as to counterfeit a bankrupt currency.

Thus, and to begin with, Joseph Wilson comes before us as a man whose word is effectively worthless. What do you do, if you work for the Bush administration, when a man of such quality is being lionized by an anti-war press? Well, you can fold your tent and let them print the legend. Or you can say that the word of a mediocre political malcontent who is at a loose end, and who is picking up side work from a wife who works at the anti-regime-change CIA, may not be as "objective" as it looks. I dare say that more than one supporter of regime change took this option. I would certainly have done so as a reporter if I had known.

OK, then, how do the opponents of regime change in Iraq make my last sentence into a statement of criminal intent and national-security endangerment? By citing the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. This law, which is one of the most repressive and absurd pieces of legislation on our statute book, was a panicky attempt by the right to silence whistle-blowers at the CIA. In a rough effort to make it congruent with freedom of information and the First Amendment (after all, the United States managed to get through the Second World War and most of the Cold War without such a law), it sets a fairly high bar. You must knowingly wish to expose the cover of a CIA officer who you understand may be harmed as a result. It seems quite clear that nobody has broken even that arbitrary element of this silly law.

But the coverage of this non-storm in an un-teacup has gone far beyond the fantasy of a Rovean hidden hand. Supposedly responsible journalists are now writing as if there was never any problem with Saddam's attempt to acquire yellowcake (or his regime's now-proven concealment of a nuclear centrifuge, or his regime's now-proven attempt to buy long-range missiles off the shelf from North Korea as late as March 2003). In the same way, the carefully phrased yet indistinct statement of the 9/11 Commission that Saddam had no proven "operational" relationship with al-Qaida has mutated lazily into the belief that there were no contacts or exchanges at all, which the commission by no means asserts and which in any case by no means possesses the merit of being true. The CIA got everything wrong before 9/11, and thereafter. It was conditioned by its own culture to see no evil. It regularly leaked?see any of Bob Woodward's narratives?against the administration. Now it, and its partisans and publicity-famished husband-and-wife teams, want to imprison or depose people who leak back at it. No, thanks. Many journalists are rightly appalled at Time magazine's collusion with a prosecutor who has proved no crime and identified no victim. Far worse is the willingness of the New York Times to accept the demented premise of a prosecutor who has put one of its own writers behind bars.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: Author of America.

Article URL:
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 24, 2005, 09:56:44 PM

Much like a victim of spousal abuse,
The Left always seems to have an excuse
For barbarous behavior by terrorist thugs,
Their violence dismissed with self-blaming shrugs.
Oh, they just can?t help it, they just get so mad,
When we get them upset by behaving so bad.
It?s not really their fault that we suffer their blows;
We provoked them ourselves as everyone knows.

Like a cowering wife with her bruised blackened eye,
The Liberal defeatists just keep asking why;
What is it in us our tormentors despise?
What will gain us some favor in those angry eyes?
It must be our doing that sets them aflame;
Our own bad behavior that must bear the blame.
If we just appease them, we grovel and simper,
Perhaps we?ll avoid the mad wrath of their temper.

Battered wives learn what the Left cannot see:
Excusing brutal behavior will not set you free.
Appeasing these madmen just maddens them more,
Till someday they?ll come and kill three thousand more.
Quit making excuses for these murderous men,
You Liberal appeasers, who?d let terrorists win.
The only sure way to be free of their ire:
Defeat and destroy them; fight fire with fire.

Russ Vaughn is the Poet Laureate of The American Thinker
Title: What to Wear when you Come
Post by: buzwardo on August 01, 2005, 01:49:08 PM
"When you come for my guns?"

I guess I?m just tired of it all. Tired of the bogus definitions (see: "assault weapons" or "assault rifles") and the slanted or (far more commonly) just plain false statistics being quoted.

I guess I'm just tired of the endless attempts to find a "stealth" method to do away with all firearms ? most recently by the use of lawsuits aimed at bankrupting firearms manufacturers by holding them responsible for what some criminal does with their product.

Tired of the skewed reporting and glaring omissions in "news" stories.

Bet you didn?t know that, in the Appalachian Law School shooting of several years ago, the incident ended when two students got their guns and subdued the killer without firing a shot.

If you missed it, it?s not your fault. You see, in more than 200 reports, that little factoid was "conveniently" left out.

I?m tired of gun owners being portrayed as ignorant, gap-toothed simpletons whose only source of amusement is shooting anything that moves.

I?d be willing to stand a cross-section of gun owners up against any of the anti-gun crowd and bet hard money on which end of the IQ pool would be deepest. You see, I?ve sat around too many campfires listening to doctors, judges, airline pilots, business owners, teachers, and just plain hard working people talk. Most times, I decided to keep my mouth shut in order to not lower the level of discussion.

I?m tired of being told that the Constitution guarantees such things as abortions (nowhere mentioned), but does not recognize an individual?s right to "keep and bear" arms - even though those words can be read by all who care to do so.

I?m tired of hearing that we need just one more "reasonable gun law" when there are already thousands on the books that seem to be studiously ignored.

I?m tired of finding that most - if not all - of such proposed laws are nothing more than dishonest attempts aimed at the eventual confiscation of all firearms.

I?m tired of bringing reasoned and well-researched arguments to discussions of this topic only to be ignored or treated with polite contempt.

I?m tired of being told that I should take moral guidance on this issue from the likes of - let?s say - Ted Kennedy and others of his ilk. Sorry, I?ll have to check with Mary Jo Kopechne and get back to you on that one.

I?m tired of seeing concrete and obvious examples ignored.

Washington, D.C. and New York City have some of the toughest gun laws on the books. Their crime rates have been repeatedly shown to be (guess which) higher/lower than cities wherein gun ownership is less restricted.

I?m tired of being told that guns are the problem when, on any given day, I can turn on the news and hear about the latest atrocity we ? as a society ? have suffered. Therein, I inevitably find that: (1) it?s been perpetrated by some useless accretion of carbon with a "rap" sheet thicker than a telephone directory; and (2) said individual was still on the street because of a justice system that?s become more "system" than justice.

I?m a father, a former little league coach, an honorably discharged veteran, and a past president of the local PTA. I?ve been married to the same woman for 34 years. I?ve never been arrested and my last run-in with the law was a speeding ticket back in the mid-70?s.

I vote in every election. I give blood regularly. I have a degree in English Literature and another in Marine Biology. I spent a year in a Benedictine monastery studying to be a priest. However - because I choose to own firearms - to the major networks, liberal politicians everywhere, and the likes of Sarah Brady, I?m nothing more than a "gun nut."

I?ve finally accepted that there?s never going to be a balanced presentation of "my" side of the argument and I?m tired of that, too.

I guess I?ve finally reached the point where I?ve decided I will no longer be "reasonable" while the other side has never before, does not now, nor will they ever accord me the same courtesy. Therefore, I have a message for the anti-gun zealots out there. It?s from someone who?s perfectly normal and is basically your next door neighbor.

There used to be a bumper sticker that said: "You?ll get my gun when you pry my cold, dead fingers from the trigger."

You made fun of it and derided those who believed in the spirit of the idea it propounded.

Unfortunately, it?s not much seen any more and I?ve been unable to find one for my own use. Because of this, I?ve had to go out and make up one of my own.

It says: "When you come for my guns, bring yours. You?ll be needing them."

I think that about covers it.

Larry Simoneaux

Biography - Larry Simoneaux

Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy, and NOAA.
Title: Voter Suppresion Report
Post by: buzwardo on August 04, 2005, 01:45:24 PM
At the end of the last election there were a lot of charges made that Republicans worked to surpress voter turnout. Many of those charges were widely reported.

What follows is the American Center for Voting Rights examination of charges made against both Democrats and Republicans. I've posted the charges made against Democarts first.

Thinks it's worth noting that the most egregious charges are the least reported. You can find the report in total at:

Incidents Of Voter Intimidation & Suppression

(A) Five Democrat Operatives In Milwaukee Charged With Slashing Tires Of Republican Vans On Morning Of Election Day (60) (Exhibit E)

On Monday, January 24, 2005, five Democrat operatives were charged with felony counts of ?criminal damage to property? for slashing the tires of 25 get-out-the-vote vans rented by Republicans early on the morning of Election Day. The vans had been rented by Republicans to help transport observers and voters to the polls on Election Day. The five individuals charged in the case were all paid Democrat operatives. Two defendants in the case are the sons of prominent Milwaukee Democrats: U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore and former Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt, Chairman of the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Milwaukee. (61) The following is a list of the individuals charged with slashing tires on the morning of November 2, 2004, and their connections to the Democrat campaign in 2004:

Michael J. Pratt
Paid $7,965.53 by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in 2004
Pratt?s father is former Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt, who chaired the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Milwaukee
Sowande Ajumoke Omodunde (a.k.a ?Supreme Solar Allah?)
Paid $6,059.83 by Gwen Moore for Congress and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in 2004
Son of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Lewis Gibson Caldwell, III
Paid $4,639.09 by Gwen Moore for Congress and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in 2004
Lavelle Mohammad
Paid $8,858.50 by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and America Coming Together ($966 for canvassing work in June and July) in 2004
Justin J. Howell
Paid $2,550.29 in 2004 by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (62)
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, on the day before the election, DNC consultant Opel Simmons witnessed individuals at the Democratic headquarters in Milwaukee discussing a plan to go to the Republican campaign office and cover it with yard signs, placards and bumper stickers. They referred to their plan as ?Operation Elephant Takeover.? However, upon learning that there were security guards at the Republican headquarters, they called off the operation. (63)
According to the complaint, at about 3 a.m. on Election Day, several people at the Democratic headquarters were gearing up for another project. Some of them dressed in what was described as ?Mission Impossible? type gear ? black outfits and knit caps. Simmons asked them what they were up to and warned them about the security guard. One of them told Simmons, ?Oh, man, you don?t want to know, you don?t want to know.? They were laughing and joking and continued to tell Simmons that he did not want to know what they were going to do. (64)

About 20 minutes later, the group returned to Democrat headquarters very excited, saying things like:

?They won?t go anywhere now, man, we got ?em, we got ?em?
?Man, I walked right past the security guard. He didn?t even know anything was going on.?
?That?s ?cause, you know, I was acting all crazy, you know, I was acting crazy. I even let him watch me piss.? (65)
The group went on talking about the affair and described the sound of the air escaping the tires. There was apparently much bragging as they described their various roles in the escapade. Mohammad was the ?deception guy? who walked around acting drunk. According to the criminal complaint, when Simmons asked them what was going on, defendant Michael Pratt told him, ?We got ?em. We hit the tires.? Simmons told investigators that at some point on Election Day a staffer at Democrat headquarters pulled an article on the tire-slashing incident from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel?s website. Simmons said that upon seeing the article, defendant Lavelle Mohammad said he wanted to frame it and put it on his wall. Simmons said he did not talk to any of the other defendants about the tire slashing incident over the course of Election Day. (66)
While the Kerry-Edwards campaign and state Democrats denied knowledge of the plan to vandalize the Republican get-out-the-vote vehicles, the vehicle used by the defendants was rented by Simmons, a political consultant from Virginia working for the DNC in Wisconsin. According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, Simmons told police that he had rented the vehicle ?to be used by his workers for their campaign activities.? When questioned by police on the night of November 2, Simmons said he knew that five of his workers were involved in slashing tires at Republican headquarters early that morning, and identified all five defendants to police. (67)

In all, forty tires on 25 separate vehicles were slashed in the incident causing $4,192.35 of damage to the tires, plus $1,125 in towing charges. Since the damage exceeded the $2,500 threshold for a felony, the five were charged with felony ?criminal damage to property,? which carries a maximum punishment of 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The five defendants pleaded not guilty at their March 4 arraignments. (68) A trial was originally scheduled for mid-July, but has since been postponed until January 2006. (69)

(B) Court Issues Injunction Against Democrat Operatives Targeting Ohio Voters With Phone Calls Providing Deceptive Information to Voters

During the U.S. House Administration Committee hearings in March 2005, a common point of inquiry was the issue of phone calls made in an apparent effort to misdirect voters. The committee?s Ranking Member, Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA), stated that Ohio voters were ?disenfranchised? when ?voters were told ? that the presidential election would be on Wednesday the 3rd of November as opposed to November 2nd.? (70)

Ohio voters who had identified themselves as Republicans received telephone calls telling them that the election was to be held a day later than Election Day, that their polling locations had been changed and that they could only vote if they brought four separate pieces of identification to the poll. This information was intentionally deceptive and intended to direct voters to a polling place where they would not be able to cast a ballot.

The Marion County Common Pleas Court issued a temporary restraining order against the Marion and Greene County Democratic Parties, the Ohio Democratic Party and America Coming Together (ACT) enjoining them from making inaccurate and deceptive phone calls to targeted voters. (71) (Exhibit F) The judge originally assigned to the case recused himself because he had ?personally received a phone call? like the one described by the plaintiff in which incorrect information about date of the election and polling place was given, a point he noted in the Judgment Entry he signed effectuating his recusal. The Ohio Supreme Court appointed a visiting judge to hear the case who then issued a temporary restraining order against the county and state Democrat parties and against ACT. (72)

Judge David C. Faulkner ordered state and local Democrats and ACT to stop their calls ?misstating the date of the November 2, 2004 election? and ?directing [voters] to the wrong location to which they should report to vote.? (73) Faulkner?s restraining order specifically stopped the Democrats from the following activities:

?Any acts of interfering in any way with the rights of Ohio registered voters to vote in the November 2, 2004 election, including, but not limited to, telephoning or contacting in any way any such registered voters and misstating the date of the November 2, 2004 election, directing them to the wrong location to which they should report to vote, telling such voters that they must bring certain documentation to the polls in order to vote and suggesting to, telling or implying to said voters that there are procedural and/or documentary hurdles they must overcome in order to vote in the November 2, 2004 election.? (74)
The Marion County Democratic Party provided an affidavit in the case that explained its role in the matter. The affidavit, as completed by Cathy Chaffin, Chair of the Marion County Democratic Party, explained that Kerry-Edwards campaign staffers made the misleading phone calls blocked by Judge Faulker?s order. Chaffin stated in the affidavit that once she became aware that Kerry-Edwards staffers were using her office space to make calls giving ?the wrong polling location? to voters, she tried multiple times to get them to stop the calls, to the point of threatening to kick them out of the office if the calls did not stop. Below are the key points from Chaffin?s affidavit. (75)
The Marion County Democratic Party provided space to the Kerry-Edwards campaign for use as its campaign headquarters.
Ms. Chaffin became aware that Kerry-Edwards staffers were placing telephone calls to voters and giving out voting locations and ?that the wrong polling location was being given.?
Ms. Chaffin called Kerry-Edwards campaign staffer Jim Secreto and told him the activity must stop. She was assured that it would stop.
A few days later, Ms. Chaffin learned that the phone calls were continuing. She again told Mr. Secreto to stop and again was told that the activity would cease.
Finally, on Election Day, Ms. Chaffin learned that the telephone calls were still being made. At that time, she told Mr. Secreto that if the calls did not stop, he would have to leave Marion County Democratic Headquarters. (76)
The case is still pending before the Marion County Court of Common Pleas.
(C) Court Issues Injunction Against Democratic National Committee Ordering It To Stop Distributing Intimidating Materials To Republican Volunteers In Florida

On Election Day 2004, a Seminole County, Florida, court stopped the DNC and state Democratic Party from ?further intimidation? and dissemination of materials that were ?designed or intended to intimidate or unduly threaten the activities of poll watchers? organized by the Florida Republican Party. (77) (Exhibit G)

Florida law allows all candidates and political parties to have observers in polling places to monitor the conduct of the election. Both the Florida Republican Party and the state Democratic Party organized thousands of volunteers to participate in the election observers in polling locations across Florida. (78)

Under Florida law, the names and addresses of volunteer poll observers are filed with election officials in advance of the election. The DNC and Florida Democrat Partyic obtained these records on the identity of Republican poll observers and sought to prevent them from volunteering by sending them a letter threatening legal action against them personally. The letter, entitled ?IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE,? stated that each poll watcher receiving the document had ?now been provided notice of the law.? (79) (Exhibit H)

Individual volunteers who received the letter threatening legal action by the DNC went to court in Seminole County and obtained an injunction against the DNC and the Florida Democratic Party. (80) Seminole Circuit Judge Nancy Alley ordered the DNC, Florida Democratic Party and Democratic Executive Committee of Seminole County to stop ?further intimidation, further dissemination of these materials ? designed or intended to intimidate or unduly threaten the activities of poll watchers who are duly carrying out their responsibilities? granted under Florida law. The court ruled that the flyer constituted a ?misrepresentation of [poll observers?] legal rights and obligations.? (81) The DNC sought an emergency appeal of the trial court?s order to the Florida Appeals Court but was rebuffed. (82) (Exhibit I)

(D) Intimidating And Misleading Phone Calls To GOP Volunteers Made By President Bill Clinton And DNC General Counsel Joe Sandler In Florida

In addition to the intimidating letters sent by the DNC to Republican volunteers, the DNC paid for recorded phone calls to Republican poll observers? homes in Florida featuring the same message that the court in Seminole County found to be intimidating and misleading.

These phone calls were recorded by former President Bill Clinton and DNC General Counsel Joe Sandler. The call from Sandler said, ?Please be advised that any challenge to a voter must be stated in writing, under oath, and that you must have direct and first-hand knowledge of the voter?s ineligibility. Interfering with a citizen?s right to vote is a serious offense and swearing out a false statement is a felony. Violations will be referred to federal and state prosecutors.? The recording finished by noting, ?This call is paid for by the Democratic National Committee,, not authorized by any candidate.? (83) (Exhibit J)

(E) Court Orders To Cease Voter Intimidation And Harassment In Ohio

On Election Day, individuals in Franklin County, Ohio, were threatened and harassed at their polling places by agents of after being asked about their voting preference and revealing their intention to vote Republican. Similar situations are alleged to have occurred elsewhere around the state and prompted a lawsuit filed in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court. Voters were intimidated by in an attempt to dissuade them from voting for George W. Bush or in an attempt to harass them after they voted. (84) (Exhibit K)

Examples of such intimidation include one plaintiff who arrived at his polling place and was called over to a table operated by that promised ?Free Coffee.? The plaintiff asked for a cup of coffee, was asked if he would voter for Kerry, and responded that he would not. The person at the table refused him a cup of coffee. The plaintiff then noticed that particular individual and others standing near the plaintiff?s car. When he exited the polling place, the table was placed in front of his car, blocking his exit. When he asked them to move, the individuals harassed him, took his picture and recorded his license plate. (85)

Another voter noticed a loud and boisterous gentleman at her polling place wearing a ?Voting Rights Staff? badge and standing well within 100 feet of the polling place. In fact, he stood right outside one plaintiff?s voting booth and told her that she only had a few seconds left and needed to make her final vote. These plaintiffs sought, and received, a temporary restraining order against The complaint has subsequently been amended to include allegations of similar acts by agents of that occurred elsewhere in the state. (86)

(F) Ohio Court Ordered Democrat Polling Place Challengers To Remove Deceptive Arm Bands and Badges

On Election Day, several Lucas County voters brought suit against the Lucas County Board of Elections and Democratic challengers in the polling place who were wearing armbands and/or badges identifying them as ?Voter Protection Staff,? ?Voting Rights Staff,? and other similar terms. The Lucas County Court of Common Pleas granted the temporary restraining order prohibiting the use of such intimidating insignia. (87) (Exhibit L)

(G) Violence Against Republican Volunteers In Philadelphia On Election Day

Philadelphia has a long history of vote fraud and intimidation. (88) According to press and police reports filed on November 2, this past election was no different. Reports indicate that Republican volunteers in Philadelphia were violently intimidated by Democrat activists on Election Day 2004.

One Republican activist, working as a Bush campaign legal volunteer to monitor the vote in Philadelphia, was ?cornered in a parking lot by roughly 10 large men, whom the police later identified as ?union goons.?? The men tried to tip over the minivan the Republican attorneys were sharing, ?punching it relentlessly, breaking parts off and failing to drag us out, they chased us in and out of the dense urban traffic.? It took ?a frantic 911 call and a police roadblock? to stop the assault, and the GOP volunteers ?had to be secreted out of town to safety by a police escort.? (89) (Exhibit M)

According to police reports filed after the incident, the union members? SUV was a rental vehicle. (90) (Exhibit N) On Election Day, rental vehicles were used all over the city ?primarily by the parties ? for transporting voters and election monitors.? (91)

(H) Union-Coordinated Violence And Intimidation Against Republican Campaign Offices And Volunteers

On October 5, a Bush-Cheney campaign volunteer in Orlando had his arm broken when trying to stop union activists from storming the campaign office. This incident was part of a series of simultaneous demonstrations coordinated by the AFL-CIO against Bush-Cheney campaign offices in 20 cities, intimidating campaign volunteers with violence and vandalism. In Orlando, AFL-CIO members stormed and ransacked the Bush-Cheney field office as part of what one local newscaster called a ?coordinated attack against the Bush-Cheney campaign.? Protesters also defaced posters of President Bush and dumped piles of letters on to the floor of the office. Several protesters in Orlando faced possible assault charges as a result of the incident. (92)

As part of the 20-city anti-Bush protest, more than 100 AFL-CIO members ?stormed? the Bush-Cheney campaign?s Miami office and ?pushed volunteers? inside. Three dozen union members rushed a campaign office in Tampa, shaking up elderly volunteers. (93) Union members staged an ?invasion? of the Republican campaign office in West Allis, Wisconsin, where police were called after 50 activists ?marched right in? and ?took over the place for about 30 minutes? with bullhorns and chanting. (94)

(I) Violence And Other Incidents of Intimidation

In 2004, Republicans were subject to an aggressive and sometimes violent campaign of harassment and intimidation orchestrated by Kerry supporters. At least three Bush-Cheney offices were shot at during the election season. A swastika was burned into the front yard of a Bush-Cheney supporter in Madison, Wisconsin. Other incidents included offices burglarized, windows smashed, tires slashed and other property damage. The following is a timeline of documented election-related violence and intimidation against the Bush-Cheney ?04 campaign and Republicans in 2004.


September 2, 2004: Gun Shot Fired Into Huntington, WV, Republican Headquarters. (95)

September 3, 2004: Windows Broken, Anti-Bush Messages Scrawled At Gallatin County, MT, Republican Headquarters. (96)

September 6, 2004: Huntington, WV, Republican Headquarters Egged. (97)

September 13, 2004: Swastika Drawn On Duluth, MN, Resident?s Lawn, Signs Also Defaced With Words ?Nazi? And ?Liar.? (98)

September 16, 2004: Community College Professor In Florida Punched Republican County Chairman In Face. (99)

September 22, 2004: West Elmira, NY, Resident Found Swastika Drawn On Bush Campaign Sign In His Yard. (100)

September 23, 2004: Office Ransacked During Break-In At Vilas County, WI, Republican Headquarters, Obscene Words And Graphic Pictures Sprayed On Campaign Signs. (101)

September 26, 2004: Windows Smashed And Signs Stolen At Oxford, MS, Bush-Cheney ?04 Headquarters. (102)

October 1, 2004: Laptops Of Executive And Field Director Stolen From Bush-Cheney ?04 Headquarters In Seattle, WA. (103)

October 1, 2004: Swastika Burned Into Front Yard Of Bush-Cheney ?04 Supporter In Madison, WI. (104)

October 2, 2004: Collinsville, OH, Resident Chains Down Bush-Cheney ?04 Signs After Several Signs Stolen And One Was Replaced With Kerry Sign. (105)

October 3, 2004: Burglary At Thousand Oaks, CA, Victory 2004 Headquarters Where Bush-Cheney ?04 Banner Was Stolen From Outside Premises. (106)

October 5, 2004: Gun Shots Fired Into Knoxville, TN, Bush-Cheney ?04 Office, Shattering Office?s Glass Front Doors. (107)

October 8, 2004: Two Men Were Caught On A Hidden Camera Tearing Down And Urinating On Bush-Cheney ?04 Sign In Akron, OH. (108)

October 9, 2004: Oxnard, CA, Supporter Placing Bush-Cheney ?04 In Yards Verbally Abused, Knocked Down And Had Signs Stolen. (109)

October 9, 2004: Bush-Cheney Signs Near Vail, CO, Cut In Half And Burned In ?Ransacking.? (110)

October 10, 2004: Office Windows Broken And Field Director?s Laptop Bag and Purse Stolen In Burglary At Canton, OH, Victory Office. (111)

October 11, 2004: Windows Broken, Petty Cash Stolen And Computers Tampered With In Burglary At Spokane, WA, Victory 2004 Headquarters. (112)

October 13, 2004: Walls And Windows Of York, PA, Victory 2004 Headquarters Vandalized With Pro-Kerry Spray-Paint And Signs Outside Destroyed. (113)

October 13, 2004: Window Smashed At Laconia, NH, Victory 2004 Headquarters. (114)

October 13, 2004: Kerry Supporter Caught Stealing Bush Sign In Cape Girardeau, MO, Pulled Knife On Sign?s Owner And Was Arrested. (115)

October 15, 2004: Someone Destroyed Large Plywood Bush-Cheney ?04 Sign, Then Tried To Smash Debris Though Glass Door Of Santa Fe, NM, Republican Party Headquarters. (116)

October 15, 2004: Someone Lined Window Sill With Bullet Casings At Littleton, NH, Republican Headquarters. (117)

October 16, 2004: Unknown Suspects Vandalized Large Bush-Cheney Campaign Sign In Hollister, CA, With Obscenities. (118)

October 17, 2004: Stickers Placed Over Windows Of Gettysburg, PA, Victory 2004 Headquarters. (119)

October 18, 2004: Eggs Thrown At Keene, NH, Victory 2004 Headquarters. (120)

October 18, 2004: 21 Protesters Arrested At Bush-Cheney ?04 Campaign Headquarters In Arlington, VA. (121)

October 20, 2004: Rocks Thrown Through Windows At Multnomah County, OR, Republican Party Headquarters. (122)

October 21, 2004: Bomb Threat Made Against Lake Havasu, AZ, Republican Party Headquarters. (123)

October 21, 2004: Windows Smashed At Multnomah County Republican Party Headquarters In Portland, OR. (124)

October 22, 2004: Break-In Discovered At Cincinnati, OH, Victory 2004 Headquarters. (125)

October 22, 2004: Break-In Discovered At Flagstaff, AZ, Victory 2004 Headquarters. Perpetrators gained entry by throwing a cinder block through a plate glass window. (126)

October 22, 2004: Chunk Of Concrete Tossed Through Glass Door Of Republican Headquarters In Santa Cruz, CA. (127)

October 23, 2004: Two Kerry Supporters Arrested After Stealing Pro-Bush Signs From Activist And Pushing Police Officer At Edwards Rally In St. Petersburg, FL. (128)

 Return To Index

Incidents Of Voter Intimidation & Suppression
(A) Charges Of Long Lines Orchestrated By Republicans To Suppress The Minority Vote
On June 2, 2005, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean charged that Republicans caused long lines at polling places on Election Day to suppress the minority vote. Dean stated:
?The Republicans are all about suppressing votes: two voting machines if you live in a black district, 10 voting machines if you live in a white district. ? You know, the idea that you have to wait on line for eight hours to cast your ballot in Florida there?s something the matter with that. ? Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that because a lot of them never made an honest living in their lives.? (7)

Dean was just the latest Democrat leader to make this charge. In January 2005, the Rev. Jesse Jackson charged that ?blatant discrimination in the distribution of voting machines ensured long lines in inner-city and working-class precincts that favored John Kerry, while the exurban districts that favored President Bush had no similar problems.? (8) The Democrat staff of the House Judiciary Committee, led by Ranking Member Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), alleged in a January 2005 report that ?the misallocation of voting machines [in Ohio] led to unprecedented lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters.? The Conyers report specifically cited Franklin County, Ohio, as an area in which Republicans intentionally misallocated voting machines in order to cause long lines and disenfranchise minority voters. (9)

However, Democrat election officials in Franklin County and the U.S. Department of Justice have refuted this allegation. During the recent U.S. House Administration Committee hearing held in Columbus, William Anthony, Chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party and County Board of Elections, flatly rejected the allegation that long lines were part of some effort to disenfranchise minorities and/or Democrat voters. Anthony further testified that long lines were not limited to minority and Democrat communities. Anthony stated under oath:

?Some have alleged that precincts in predominantly African American or Democratic precincts were deliberately targeted for a reduction in voting machines, thus creating the only lines in the county. I can assure you Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, both as a leader in the black community and Chairman of the local Democratic Party and a labor leader and Chairman of the Board of Elections, that these accusations are simply not true.? (10)

Anthony stated that ?on Election Day I spent several hours driving around the county in the rain and observed long lines in every part of our county, in urban and suburban neighborhoods, black and white communities, Democrat and Republican precincts.? He referred to those who made claims about long lines and disenfranchisement as ?conspiracy theorists? and ?Internet bloggers.? (11)

Anthony noted that the entire process for allocating voting machines in the county was controlled by a Democratic supervisor. (12) He cited three reasons for the long lines in Franklin County on Election Day 2004: increased voter turnout, static resources and an exceptionally long ballot. (13) Finally, Anthony was ?personally offended? by these allegations. As he told The Columbus Dispatch, ?I am a black man. Why would I sit there and disenfranchise voters in my own community? ? I feel like they?re accusing me of suppressing the black vote. I?ve fought my whole life for people?s right to vote.? (14)

In July 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that its investigation of Franklin County found that the county ?assigned voting machines in a non-discriminatory manner.? As to charges of racial disparities in voting machine allocation, the Justice Department found that ?the allocation of voting machines actually favored black voters because more white voters were voting on each voting machine than black voters.? The Department reported that white precincts averaged 172 voters per machine, while black precincts averaged 159 voters per machine. Noting that elections in Franklin County ? and everywhere in Ohio ? are run by a six-member Board of Elections equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, the Department concluded that ?long lines were attributable not to the allocation of machines, but to the lack of sufficient machines to serve a dramatically enlarged electorate under any allocation.? (15) (Exhibit B)

(B) State Rep. John Pappageorge?s Statement That Republicans Needed To ?Suppress? The Detroit Vote
In the 2004 campaign, Democrats repeatedly cited a quote by 73-year-old Michigan state Rep. John Pappageorge as evidence of Republican plans to suppress the minority vote. In July 2004, Pappageorge was quoted by the Detroit Free Press as saying, ?If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we?re going to have a tough time in this election.? Detroit is 83 percent African American. (16)
When questioned about his statement, Pappageorge said the quote was misunderstood and then apologized to every Detroit legislator in the state House of Representatives. Pappageorge stated, ?In the context that we were talking about, I said we?ve got to get the vote up in Oakland (County) and the vote down in Detroit. You get it down with a good message.? (17) Pappageorge immediately resigned from his position as a chairman of Michigan Veterans for Bush-Cheney. (18)

We have found no evidence of any plan by Pappageorge or others to suppress the minority vote in Detroit. In fact, minority voter participation in the presidential election in Michigan was up in 2004. (19) Voter turnout in Detroit increased in 2004 from 2000, and African American voters reportedly voted 95 percent for John Kerry. (20) Statements such as those by Pappageorge are highly inflammatory, even in the absence of any corresponding effort to suppress voter turnout. No political party, candidate or campaign should premise its success on a strategy of suppressing the participation of any class or group of voters, whatever that group of voters? racial or demographic characteristics. Rather, the political process works best when the parties, candidates and their campaigns focus on delivering a message that encourages their support and seeks to persuade voters to support their position.

(C) Charges That Republicans Spread Misinformation On Date of Election And Polling Places
In the weeks leading up to Election Day 2004, there were scattered reports of misinformation being spread about where and when the vote would take place. In Ohio, there were reports of fliers being distributed that said Republicans were to vote on Tuesday (November 2) and Democrats on Wednesday (November 3). Callers to nursing homes reportedly told senior citizens that the elderly were not allowed to vote and other callers directed people to the wrong polling places in African American neighborhoods or said voters who owed back child support or had unpaid parking tickets would be arrested if they came to the polls. (21)
No paid Republican operative has been linked to these misinformation efforts. A review of such incidents linked to paid Democrat operatives appears in the next section of this report. While we found no evidence that GOP operatives were responsible for these heinous acts, both the Republican and Democrat parties and law enforcement should be fully committed to investigating and prosecuting all reported efforts to misinform voters, or any effort to intentionally misdirect a voter so the voter will be denied the opportunity to participate in the election. What follows is a review of incidents in which it was charged that Republicans misinformed Democrat voters in 2004.

News reports indicate that in Franklin County, Ohio, a bogus flier was distributed telling Democrats to vote on Wednesday, November 3, the day after Election Day. The flier falsely claimed to be from the Franklin County Board of Elections. Republican operatives were never linked its distribution, and the Chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party ?didn?t think it was a ploy by his Republican counterparts.? Election officials took action to counteract this false information. (22) Franklin County Elections Director Matthew Damschroder, a Republican, held a press conference to warn voters about the fraudulent flier and reemphasize that the election was indeed on November 2. The county Elections Board also mailed a post card to each of the more than 800,000 registered voters in the county informing them of their correct precinct and voting location at a cost of over $250,000 to the county. (23) These efforts by election officials to respond quickly to reports of voter misinformation are commendable and illustrate responsible action in response to this issue.

In Lake County, Ohio, some voters reportedly received letters on fake election board letterhead telling them that if they were registered by certain Democrat groups they would be unable to vote on Election Day. (24) The letter, headlined ?Urgent Advisory,? said that no one registered by NAACP, America Coming Together (ACT), or the John Kerry and Capri Cafaro campaigns would be able to vote because the groups had registered voters illegally. (25) ACT spokesman Jess Goode charged that the letter was ?proof positive that the Republicans are trying to steal the election in Ohio. They know they can?t win if all legitimate Ohio voters cast their ballots, so they?re kicking up a storm of voter intimidation and suppression.? (26) The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Lake County Sheriff Dan Dunlap was investigating the matter. We could find no evidence that any paid Republican operative was linked to these letters in Lake County.

In Milwaukee, a flier from the fictional group ?Milwaukee Black Voters League? was reportedly distributed in African American neighborhoods inaccurately telling voters they were ineligible if they voted previously in the year or if they had been convicted of any offense, no matter how minor. (27) The flier also warned, ?If you violate any of these laws, you can get ten years in prison and your children will get taken away from you.? (28) A spokesman for the Wisconsin Republican Party denounced the flier as ?appalling,? and a Bush-Cheney ?04 spokesman said the campaign would ?not tolerate any effort to suppress or intimidate voters.? (29) We were unable to find any reports of Republican operatives linked to the Milwaukee fliers.

At least some of the misleading information on voting locations came from the Kerry campaign itself. On Election Day, The Columbus Dispatch reported that hundreds of Columbus voters received directions to the wrong polling places after Kerry campaign canvassers ?mixed up the precincts in several Columbus neighborhoods.? While the Dispatch reported that the affected neighborhoods were ?predominantly pro-Kerry,? some residents were extremely unhappy after receiving directions to the wrong polling place. Dawn M. McCombs, 37, ?who complained to the Ohio Democratic Party about the error,? said ?This just really makes me mad ? It?s just stupid.? Columbus resident Yolanda Tolliver, who received one of the Kerry campaign fliers, was concerned about how the mistake might affect the area?s elderly and poor residents. ?We have people who have to work, and people who don?t work at all. They?re used to being discouraged. What happens is when they get frustrated, they won?t vote at all,? Tolliver said. Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matthew Damschroder said that while he didn?t think the distribution of the incorrect poll information was ?malicious,? it ?could disenfranchise a voter.? (30)

(D) McAuliffe Letter Alleging RNC-Funded Disenfranchisement
On October 13, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe sent a letter to RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie accusing Republicans of ?systematic efforts to disenfranchise voters ? to impose unlawful ID requirements in New Mexico, to throw eligible voters off the rolls in Clark County Nevada and to deprive voters of their rights to vote a provisional ballot in Ohio, among other examples.? The letter argued that while Republicans claimed to combat vote fraud, ?it is actually the Republicans who are engaging in vote fraud in Nevada, Oregon and potentially other states.? McAuliffe cited the example of a voter registration organization paid by the RNC that was accused of ?ripping up Democratic voter registration forms? in Nevada. (31)
McAuliffe?s reference to ?ripping up Democrat voter registration forms? was a reference to the charges leveled by a former employee of the voter registration firm Sproul & Associates. These charges were, however, later found to be without merit. In October 2004, former Sproul & Associates employee Eric Russell claimed to have witnessed his supervisors tearing up Democrat registration forms. Russell, who admitted to being a disgruntled employee upset about not being paid for work he claimed to have done, said he witnessed his supervisor shred eight to ten Democratic registration forms from prospective voters. (32)

On the basis of these allegations, the Nevada Democratic Party sued the state of Nevada to reopen voter registration only in Clark County. A state court judge rejected the suit, saying that Democrats? thin evidence of registration forms actually being destroyed did not justify reopening the registration process. (33)

In late October, Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller announced that a state investigation of Eric Russell?s claims against Sproul found ?no evidence of an organized or concerted effort which would influence or impact the result of the elections in Clark County based on these allegations.? (34)

Allegations were also made that Sproul & Associates was registering Republicans exclusively and tearing up registration cards in Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. (35) While the Secretary of State and Attorney General launched investigations of Sproul?s activities in Oregon, there are no reports indicating any indictments or other legal actions taken against Sproul or its workers in these states. (36) The mere fact of these allegations and the other documented abuses of the voter registration process and incidents of voter registration fraud detailed in this report support reforming the process by which third-party groups participate in voter registration efforts and call for more accountability and oversight of third party voter registration efforts by election officials.

(E) Charges That Republicans Targeted Minority Precincts For Polling Place Challengers In Jefferson County, Kentucky
Prior to and since the 2003 elections, Democrats and their allies alleged that the Jefferson County, Kentucky, Republican Party?s placement of challengers in Democrat precincts was an attempt to suppress the African American vote by illegally targeting precincts in the county based on race. (37) Days before the 2003 gubernatorial election, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit accusing the county Republican Party of singling out minority Democrat precincts for intimidation through vote challengers. (38)
On November 4, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Thomas Wine denied the ACLU?s effort to ban GOP challengers from the polls and determined that their allegations of racial targeting were not supported by the evidence. Judge Wine found that Republicans placed challengers in county precincts without regard to any racial criteria. The judge ruled that the county Republican Party used a ?racially neutral? method of placing challengers, choosing those precincts ?with the highest percentage of registered Democratic voters vis-?-vis Republican.? Judge Wine noted that ?speculation alone? by the ACLU and Democrats about the challengers? placement was ?not sufficient? to merit a restraining order. According to Judge Wine?s order, state law entitled Republicans to have challengers at the polls on Election Day and barred such challengers from disrupting the election process by ?intimidating or harassing verbally? any voter, under penalty of being removed from the polling place. (39) (Exhibit C)

Despite the charge that Republicans were seeking to suppress the African American vote through their poll watcher program, the results of elections in 2003 and 2004 showed the opposite effect. In 2003, African American turnout actually increased in key county precincts targeted by Republicans for monitoring, and elections officials reported ?no problems? with the Republican poll watchers. (40) President Bush actually lost Jefferson County by a larger margin in 2004 than he did in 2000. John Kerry won the county by 5,592 votes in 2004, while Al Gore won it in 2000 by 4,849 votes. (41)

(F) Ohio Challenger Allegations
In the weeks leading up to the 2004 election, the issue of partisan challengers at polling places in Ohio became a lightning rod for charges voter intimidation and suppression. Ohio law allows observers who have been properly registered and credentialed by boards of election to be present at polling locations to observe the conduct of election. The observers are supervised by election officials and have a narrowly defined role. Ohio law allows each party, as well as candidates and issue campaigns, to appoint these observers, denominated as ?challengers? in the statutes. Both Republicans and Democrats applied to have thousands of challengers monitor the vote across Ohio on November 2. (42)
Republicans said they wanted challengers in polling places because of concerns about fraudulently registered voters in Ohio. (43) Democrats said they registered challengers only to watch the GOP observers, who they accused of trying to intimidate minority voters. The Rev. Jesse Jackson called the Republican challenger effort ?Old South politics, a type of intimidation.? (44)

Democrats ?filed lawsuits accusing the GOP of trying to suppress turnout and intimidate black voters? through their challenger program. One lawsuit, filed by civil rights activists Marian and Don Spencer, asked U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott of Cincinnati ?for an emergency restraining order barring partisan challengers from polling stations? in Ohio on the grounds that such challengers would ?intimidate black voters.? (45) Another lawsuit brought by Summit County Democrats asked U.S. District Judge John Adams of Akron to ?to declare unconstitutional a decades-old Ohio law that allows challengers to sit in polling places and challenge voters.? (46) Both Judge Dlott and Judge Adams held that the Ohio statute providing for challengers was unconstitutional and barred challengers from the polls on Election Day. (47) Neither Dlott or Adams ruled that the Republican challengers were intended to suppress minority voter participation. During the hearing before Judge Dlott Republicans were questioned extensively about the Republican challengers and the evidence established that the determination of which polling places Republican challengers observed was made without regard to any racial characteristic of the precincts in which challengers participated.

However, early on the morning of Election Day, a three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati overturned the lower courts? rulings to allow challengers in Ohio polling places. The court ruled that the presence of Election Day challengers was allowed under state law, and that while registered voters should be able to cast ballots freely, there is also a ?strong public interest in permitting legitimate statutory processes to operate to preclude voting by those who are not entitled to vote.? (48) The Plaintiffs appealed the 6th Circuit?s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Associate Justice John Paul Stevens declined to hear the case, and thus refused to block the election challengers. Justice Stevens wrote that while the accusations leveled by the Plaintiffs were ?undoubtedly serious? time was too short for the court to render a proper decision. Stevens also expressed faith in local election officials in declining to hear the case by writing, ?I have faith that the elected officials and numerous election volunteers on the ground will carry out their responsibilities in a way that will enable qualified voters to cast their ballots.? (49)

Allegations that Republican challengers in the polls would ?intimidate and suppress the black vote? in Ohio in 2004, were spectacularly unfounded. African American turnout was up in predominantly black precincts in Ohio. In Cleveland, ?turnout was up nearly 22 percent [from 2000] and it went higher in some black wards.? In 2004, President Bush doubled his support from Ohio?s black voters from 2000. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, ?Black voters may have given President Bush the edge in Ohio.? (50) The paper also reported that the ?most feared delays of the election ? from Republican challengers questioning the validity of voters at the polls ? never materialized.? (51) According to the New York Times, ?there were no reports that large numbers of voters were being challenged or denied a ballot [in Ohio].? (52)

On April 28, 2005, U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott issued an order denying a second motion for preliminary injunction against Republicans, holding that no voter?s due process rights are violated by Ohio?s polling place challenger rules. Judge Dlott ruled that there was no evidence to support giving the plaintiffs any relief on any of their claims. (53) (Exhibit D)

The plaintiffs in the case had claimed that the procedures established by the Republican Secretary of State would deprive properly registered voters of the opportunity to vote. They asserted that a voter whose qualifications to vote were challenged would be denied rights because they might fail to fully answer questions put to them by the precinct judges. According to Judge Dlott, the plaintiffs ?failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits of claims and have not shown that any irreparable injury has resulted or will result from the [challenge] procedures.? Judge Dlott held that the plaintiffs ?produced no evidence at the hearing that any eligible voter was wrongfully denied a ballot under [the Ohio challenger rules] in the November 2004 election or that such a voter would be denied a ballot in any future election.? Judge Dlott reasoned that ?while the magnitude of the burden of having one?s properly registered right to vote revoked is great, there is no evidence that it has happened or will happen in May?s primary.? (54)

It has been noted that it is not difficult to convince the winner of an election that the result was proper and the election was fair and honest. The difficulty is to assure the losing candidate and party that the election was legitimate. Providing openness and transparency in the conduct of elections is an important means to assure that voters and the participants in the election (the candidates and political parties) ? especially those who sought a different outcome - have confidence that the election has been conducted in a fair and honest manner and that the result is a legitimate expression of the will of the voters. The presence of observers in polling places deters attempts at vote fraud and also provides assurance that there was no misconduct by election officials. All political parties and candidates should have appropriate means to have observers in polling places. State law should allow a role for observers and should provide them a meaningful opportunity to monitor the conduct of the election without interfering with the lawful conduct of the election. As the Ohio and Kentucky litigation illustrate, the mere presence of observers in polling places also invites legal challenge that such a presence is in some manner discriminatory. The outcome of the Ohio and Kentucky litigation and the actual participation in the respective elections by minority voters suggests that claims of observers lawfully monitoring the conduct of the election does not deter participation by minority or other voters.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 29, 2005, 04:38:29 PM
A War to Be Proud Of
From the September 5 / September 12, 2005 issue: The case for overthrowing Saddam was unimpeachable. Why, then, is the administration tongue-tied?
by Christopher Hitchens
09/05/2005, Volume 010, Issue 47


LET ME BEGIN WITH A simple sentence that, even as I write it, appears less than Swiftian in the modesty of its proposal: "Prison conditions at Abu Ghraib have improved markedly and dramatically since the arrival of Coalition troops in Baghdad."

I could undertake to defend that statement against any member of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, and I know in advance that none of them could challenge it, let alone negate it. Before March 2003, Abu Ghraib was an abattoir, a torture chamber, and a concentration camp. Now, and not without reason, it is an international byword for Yankee imperialism and sadism. Yet the improvement is still, unarguably, the difference between night and day. How is it possible that the advocates of a post-Saddam Iraq have been placed on the defensive in this manner? And where should one begin?

I once tried to calculate how long the post-Cold War liberal Utopia had actually lasted. Whether you chose to date its inception from the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, or the death of Nicolae Ceausescu in late December of the same year, or the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, or the referendum defeat suffered by Augusto Pinochet (or indeed from the publication of Francis Fukuyama's book about the "end of history" and the unarguable triumph of market liberal pluralism), it was an epoch that in retrospect was over before it began. By the middle of 1990, Saddam Hussein had abolished Kuwait and Slobodan Milosevic was attempting to erase the identity and the existence of Bosnia. It turned out that we had not by any means escaped the reach of atavistic, aggressive, expansionist, and totalitarian ideology. Proving the same point in another way, and within approximately the same period, the theocratic dictator of Iran had publicly claimed the right to offer money in his own name for the suborning of the murder of a novelist living in London, and the g?nocidaire faction in Rwanda had decided that it could probably get away with putting its long-fantasized plan of mass murder into operation.

One is not mentioning these apparently discrepant crimes and nightmares as a random or unsorted list. Khomeini, for example, was attempting to compensate for the humiliation of the peace agreement he had been compelled to sign with Saddam Hussein. And Saddam Hussein needed to make up the loss, of prestige and income, that he had himself suffered in the very same war. Milosevic (anticipating Putin, as it now seems to me, and perhaps Beijing also) was riding a mutation of socialist nationalism into national socialism. It was to be noticed in all cases that the aggressors, whether they were killing Muslims, or exalting Islam, or just killing their neighbors, shared a deep and abiding hatred of the United States.

The balance sheet of the Iraq war, if it is to be seriously drawn up, must also involve a confrontation with at least this much of recent history. Was the Bush administration right to leave--actually to confirm--Saddam Hussein in power after his eviction from Kuwait in 1991? Was James Baker correct to say, in his delightfully folksy manner, that the United States did not "have a dog in the fight" that involved ethnic cleansing for the mad dream of a Greater Serbia? Was the Clinton administration prudent in its retreat from Somalia, or wise in its opposition to the U.N. resolution that called for a preemptive strengthening of the U.N. forces in Rwanda?

I know hardly anybody who comes out of this examination with complete credit. There were neoconservatives who jeered at Rushdie in 1989 and who couldn't see the point when Sarajevo faced obliteration in 1992. There were leftist humanitarians and radicals who rallied to Rushdie and called for solidarity with Bosnia, but who--perhaps because of a bad conscience about Palestine--couldn't face a confrontation with Saddam Hussein even when he annexed a neighbor state that was a full member of the Arab League and of the U.N. (I suppose I have to admit that I was for a time a member of that second group.) But there were consistencies, too. French statecraft, for example, was uniformly hostile to any resistance to any aggression, and Paris even sent troops to rescue its filthy clientele in Rwanda. And some on the hard left and the brute right were also opposed to any exercise, for any reason, of American military force.

The only speech by any statesman that can bear reprinting from that low, dishonest decade came from Tony Blair when he spoke in Chicago in 1999. Welcoming the defeat and overthrow of Milosevic after the Kosovo intervention, he warned against any self-satisfaction and drew attention to an inescapable confrontation that was coming with Saddam Hussein. So far from being an American "poodle," as his taunting and ignorant foes like to sneer, Blair had in fact leaned on Clinton over Kosovo and was insisting on the importance of Iraq while George Bush was still an isolationist governor of Texas.

Notwithstanding this prescience and principle on his part, one still cannot read the journals of the 2000/2001 millennium without the feeling that one is revisiting a hopelessly somnambulist relative in a neglected home. I am one of those who believe, uncynically, that Osama bin Laden did us all a service (and holy war a great disservice) by his mad decision to assault the American homeland four years ago. Had he not made this world-historical mistake, we would have been able to add a Talibanized and nuclear-armed Pakistan to our list of the threats we failed to recognize in time. (This threat still exists, but it is no longer so casually overlooked.)

The subsequent liberation of Pakistan's theocratic colony in Afghanistan, and the so-far decisive eviction and defeat of its bin Ladenist guests, was only a reprisal. It took care of the last attack. But what about the next one? For anyone with eyes to see, there was only one other state that combined the latent and the blatant definitions of both "rogue" and "failed." This state--Saddam's ruined and tortured and collapsing Iraq--had also met all the conditions under which a country may be deemed to have sacrificed its own legal sovereignty. To recapitulate: It had invaded its neighbors, committed genocide on its own soil, harbored and nurtured international thugs and killers, and flouted every provision of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United Nations, in this crisis, faced with regular insult to its own resolutions and its own character, had managed to set up a system of sanctions-based mutual corruption. In May 2003, had things gone on as they had been going, Saddam Hussein would have been due to fill Iraq's slot as chair of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament. Meanwhile, every species of gangster from the hero of the Achille Lauro hijacking to Abu Musab al Zarqawi was finding hospitality under Saddam's crumbling roof.

One might have thought, therefore, that Bush and Blair's decision to put an end at last to this intolerable state of affairs would be hailed, not just as a belated vindication of long-ignored U.N. resolutions but as some corrective to the decade of shame and inaction that had just passed in Bosnia and Rwanda. But such is not the case. An apparent consensus exists, among millions of people in Europe and America, that the whole operation for the demilitarization of Iraq, and the salvage of its traumatized society, was at best a false pretense and at worst an unprovoked aggression. How can this possibly be?

THERE IS, first, the problem of humorless and pseudo-legalistic literalism. In Saki's short story The Lumber Room, the naughty but clever child Nicholas, who has actually placed a frog in his morning bread-and-milk, rejoices in his triumph over the adults who don't credit this excuse for not eating his healthful dish:

"You said there couldn't possibly be a frog in my bread-and-milk; there was a frog in my bread-and-milk," he repeated, with the insistence of a skilled tactician who does not intend to shift from favorable ground.
Childishness is one thing--those of us who grew up on this wonderful Edwardian author were always happy to see the grown-ups and governesses discomfited. But puerility in adults is quite another thing, and considerably less charming. "You said there were WMDs in Iraq and that Saddam had friends in al Qaeda. . . . Blah, blah, pants on fire." I have had many opportunities to tire of this mantra. It takes ten seconds to intone the said mantra. It would take me, on my most eloquent C-SPAN day, at the very least five minutes to say that Abdul Rahman Yasin, who mixed the chemicals for the World Trade Center attack in 1993, subsequently sought and found refuge in Baghdad; that Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, Saddam's senior physicist, was able to lead American soldiers to nuclear centrifuge parts and a blueprint for a complete centrifuge (the crown jewel of nuclear physics) buried on the orders of Qusay Hussein; that Saddam's agents were in Damascus as late as February 2003, negotiating to purchase missiles off the shelf from North Korea; or that Rolf Ekeus, the great Swedish socialist who founded the inspection process in Iraq after 1991, has told me for the record that he was offered a $2 million bribe in a face-to-face meeting with Tariq Aziz. And these eye-catching examples would by no means exhaust my repertoire, or empty my quiver. Yes, it must be admitted that Bush and Blair made a hash of a good case, largely because they preferred to scare people rather than enlighten them or reason with them. Still, the only real strategy of deception has come from those who believe, or pretend, that Saddam Hussein was no problem.

I have a ready answer to those who accuse me of being an agent and tool of the Bush-Cheney administration (which is the nicest thing that my enemies can find to say). Attempting a little levity, I respond that I could stay at home if the authorities could bother to make their own case, but that I meanwhile am a prisoner of what I actually do know about the permanent hell, and the permanent threat, of the Saddam regime. However, having debated almost all of the spokespeople for the antiwar faction, both the sane and the deranged, I was recently asked a question that I was temporarily unable to answer. "If what you claim is true," the honest citizen at this meeting politely asked me, "how come the White House hasn't told us?"

I do in fact know the answer to this question. So deep and bitter is the split within official Washington, most especially between the Defense Department and the CIA, that any claim made by the former has been undermined by leaks from the latter. (The latter being those who maintained, with a combination of dogmatism and cowardice not seen since Lincoln had to fire General McClellan, that Saddam Hussein was both a "secular" actor and--this is the really rich bit--a rational and calculating one.)

There's no cure for that illusion, but the resulting bureaucratic chaos and unease has cornered the president into his current fallback upon platitude and hollowness. It has also induced him to give hostages to fortune. The claim that if we fight fundamentalism "over there" we won't have to confront it "over here" is not just a standing invitation for disproof by the next suicide-maniac in London or Chicago, but a coded appeal to provincial and isolationist opinion in the United States. Surely the elementary lesson of the grim anniversary that will shortly be upon us is that American civilians are as near to the front line as American soldiers.

It is exactly this point that makes nonsense of the sob-sister tripe pumped out by the Cindy Sheehan circus and its surrogates. But in reply, why bother to call a struggle "global" if you then try to localize it? Just say plainly that we shall fight them everywhere they show themselves, and fight them on principle as well as in practice, and get ready to warn people that Nigeria is very probably the next target of the jihadists. The peaceniks love to ask: When and where will it all end? The answer is easy: It will end with the surrender or defeat of one of the contending parties. Should I add that I am certain which party that ought to be? Defeat is just about imaginable, though the mathematics and the algebra tell heavily against the holy warriors. Surrender to such a foe, after only four years of combat, is not even worthy of consideration.

Antaeus was able to draw strength from the earth every time an antagonist wrestled him to the ground. A reverse mythology has been permitted to take hold in the present case, where bad news is deemed to be bad news only for regime-change. Anyone with the smallest knowledge of Iraq knows that its society and infrastructure and institutions have been appallingly maimed and beggared by three decades of war and fascism (and the "divide-and-rule" tactics by which Saddam maintained his own tribal minority of the Sunni minority in power). In logic and morality, one must therefore compare the current state of the country with the likely or probable state of it had Saddam and his sons been allowed to go on ruling.

At once, one sees that all the alternatives would have been infinitely worse, and would most likely have led to an implosion--as well as opportunistic invasions from Iran and Turkey and Saudi Arabia, on behalf of their respective interests or confessional clienteles. This would in turn have necessitated a more costly and bloody intervention by some kind of coalition, much too late and on even worse terms and conditions. This is the lesson of Bosnia and Rwanda yesterday, and of Darfur today. When I have made this point in public, I have never had anyone offer an answer to it. A broken Iraq was in our future no matter what, and was a responsibility (somewhat conditioned by our past blunders) that no decent person could shirk. The only unthinkable policy was one of abstention.

Two pieces of good fortune still attend those of us who go out on the road for this urgent and worthy cause. The first is contingent: There are an astounding number of plain frauds and charlatans (to phrase it at its highest) in charge of the propaganda of the other side. Just to tell off the names is to frighten children more than Saki ever could: Michael Moore, George Galloway, Jacques Chirac, Tim Robbins, Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson . . . a roster of gargoyles that would send Ripley himself into early retirement. Some of these characters are flippant, and make heavy jokes about Halliburton, and some disdain to conceal their sympathy for the opposite side. So that's easy enough.

The second bit of luck is a certain fiber displayed by a huge number of anonymous Americans. Faced with a constant drizzle of bad news and purposely demoralizing commentary, millions of people stick out their jaws and hang tight. I am no fan of populism, but I surmise that these citizens are clear on the main point: It is out of the question--plainly and absolutely out of the question--that we should surrender the keystone state of the Middle East to a rotten, murderous alliance between Baathists and bin Ladenists. When they hear the fatuous insinuation that this alliance has only been created by the resistance to it, voters know in their intestines that those who say so are soft on crime and soft on fascism. The more temperate anti-warriors, such as Mark Danner and Harold Meyerson, like to employ the term "a war of choice." One should have no problem in accepting this concept. As they cannot and do not deny, there was going to be another round with Saddam Hussein no matter what. To whom, then, should the "choice" of time and place have fallen? The clear implication of the antichoice faction--if I may so dub them--is that this decision should have been left up to Saddam Hussein. As so often before . . .

DOES THE PRESIDENT deserve the benefit of the reserve of fortitude that I just mentioned? Only just, if at all. We need not argue about the failures and the mistakes and even the crimes, because these in some ways argue themselves. But a positive accounting could be offered without braggartry, and would include:

(1) The overthrow of Talibanism and Baathism, and the exposure of many highly suggestive links between the two elements of this Hitler-Stalin pact. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who moved from Afghanistan to Iraq before the coalition intervention, has even gone to the trouble of naming his organization al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

(2) The subsequent capitulation of Qaddafi's Libya in point of weapons of mass destruction--a capitulation that was offered not to Kofi Annan or the E.U. but to Blair and Bush.

(3) The consequent unmasking of the A.Q. Khan network for the illicit transfer of nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.

(4) The agreement by the United Nations that its own reform is necessary and overdue, and the unmasking of a quasi-criminal network within its elite.

(5) The craven admission by President Chirac and Chancellor Schr?der, when confronted with irrefutable evidence of cheating and concealment, respecting solemn treaties, on the part of Iran, that not even this will alter their commitment to neutralism. (One had already suspected as much in the Iraqi case.)

(6) The ability to certify Iraq as actually disarmed, rather than accept the word of a psychopathic autocrat.

(7) The immense gains made by the largest stateless minority in the region--the Kurds--and the spread of this example to other states.

(8) The related encouragement of democratic and civil society movements in Egypt, Syria, and most notably Lebanon, which has regained a version of its autonomy.

(9) The violent and ignominious death of thousands of bin Ladenist infiltrators into Iraq and Afghanistan, and the real prospect of greatly enlarging this number.

(10) The training and hardening of many thousands of American servicemen and women in a battle against the forces of nihilism and absolutism, which training and hardening will surely be of great use in future combat.

It would be admirable if the president could manage to make such a presentation. It would also be welcome if he and his deputies adopted a clear attitude toward the war within the war: in other words, stated plainly, that the secular and pluralist forces within Afghan and Iraqi society, while they are not our clients, can in no circumstance be allowed to wonder which outcome we favor.

The great point about Blair's 1999 speech was that it asserted the obvious. Coexistence with aggressive regimes or expansionist, theocratic, and totalitarian ideologies is not in fact possible. One should welcome this conclusion for the additional reason that such coexistence is not desirable, either. If the great effort to remake Iraq as a demilitarized federal and secular democracy should fail or be defeated, I shall lose sleep for the rest of my life in reproaching myself for doing too little. But at least I shall have the comfort of not having offered, so far as I can recall, any word or deed that contributed to a defeat.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: Author of America. A recent essay of his appears in the collection A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq, newly published by the University of California Press.


? Copyright 2005, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.
Title: Quelling Civil Disturbances
Post by: buzwardo on September 01, 2005, 03:55:26 PM
Possibly better posted under "Homeland Security." In the wake of social  pathologies emerging after hurricane Katrina, National Review Online republished the following:

September 01, 2005, 1:16 p.m.
A Riot Primer
The importance of using force to control the spread of urban riots.

By Eugene H. Methvin

EDITOR'S NOTE: This piece appeared in the June 10, 1991, issue of National Review.

Do we have to relearn every couple of decades ? at high cost in blood and treasure ? the ABCs of riot ignition and suppression?

Two recent outbursts of urban mass violence suggest we may be in for a chain reaction of anti-police rioting like the ones that erupted in Harlem and five other cities in 1964, followed by the bloody "long hot summer" riots in Watts, Newark, Detroit, Washington, and many other cities in 1965-68. Following the vicious Los Angeles police beating of Rodney King on March 3, police attempts to arrest street drunks, a routine occurrence, produced a minor riot in Houston and major violence in Washington, D.C.

In a drug-and-gang-infested neighborhood in Houston, on Saturday night, May 4, a solo policeman came upon a man who appeared intoxicated. The officer told the man he would have to go to jail. The man refused and shoved the officer. "At that time I noticed another man standing behind me with a video camera, filming the whole thing. It was an obvious setup," said Officer J. R. Deugenio, who wisely beat a retreat. A crowd of some 75 to 100 people gathered, and bottles and rocks rained down on his patrol car before he could escape. He reported hearing four or five shots. Two similar incidents had occurred in the same neighborhood on Saturday, April 20. In each case an officer's car was pelted with rocks, sticks, and bottles, and he was forced to yield a prisoner. Houston Police Chief Elizabeth M. Watson ordered her cops not to enter the area, less than a mile west of downtown, without backup.

In Washington, D.C., on Sunday, May 5, a black female police officer attempted to arrest a Hispanic man who was drinking and unruly on a street in the Mount Pleasant area, heavily populated by recent Central American immigrants. The man drew a knife and advanced, the officer reported, whereupon she shot and severely wounded him. The rumor spread that he was dead, shot while handcuffed. A flashfire of violence erupted as hundreds of youths set fire to police cars, smashed windows, and looted. Washington's new mayor, Sharon Pratt Dixon, at first ordered police to disperse crowds but make no arrests. The second night, running gangs of youths fought a thousand policemen, burning and looting as they spread out. Mayor Dixon then declared a curfew and ordered arrests, whereupon the violence subsided. Police made 230 arrests in three days.

City officials said no more than six hundred youths were involved and claimed a great triumph since no one died, in contrast to the 1968 riots, in which 13 people died. But merchants and residents in the area bitterly criticized the initial police inaction.

Mayor Dixon's no-arrest order precisely replicated the initial blunders of 1968. If other mayors and police chiefs follow her example, the nation will be in for a "long hot summer" indeed. For the lesson of history is plain: In riot situations, the earlier the police make arrests, and the more arrests they make, the lower will be the toll in life, limb, and property. And the cop on the street will not act decisively unless he feels he has the support of his superiors ? principally his chief and mayor.

The social phenomenon is well documented, but the books lie on library shelves, dusted off only once a generation or so by mayoral or presidential commissions. We need only look at Atlanta in 1905; East St. Louis in 1917; Charleston, Chicago, Washington, Boston, and Knoxville in 1919; Harlem in 1935; Detroit in 1943; and Harlem to Watts to Washington and nearly everywhere else in 1964-68.

Moral Holiday
In a nutshell: Riots begin when some set of social forces temporarily overwhelms or paralyzes the police, who stand by, their highly visible inaction signaling to the small percentage of teenaged embryonic psychopaths and hardened young adults that a moral holiday is under way. This criminal minority spearheads the car-burning, window-smashing, and blood-letting, mobbing such hate targets as blacks, or white merchants, or lone cops. Then the drawing effect brings out the large crowds of older men, and women and children, to share the Roman carnival of looting. Then the major killing begins: slow runners caught in burning buildings and-as civic forces mobilize-in police and National Guard gunfire.

The books are on the shelf- let the responsible authorities in city hall and police headquarters check them out.

The time to halt a riot is right at the start, by pinching off the criminal spearhead with precise and overwhelming force. The cops will usually be caught flat-footed (no pun intended) by the initial outbreak. But they need to spring into a pre-arranged mobilization that should always be as ready in every major city as the fire-department or hospital disaster-response program.

While Detroit Burned
In the worst urban riots of the 1960s ? Watts, Newark, Detroit, and Washington ? the police did nothing or next to it for the first several hours. Deaths and property destruction soared. Contrast what happened in Toledo 36 hours after Detroit's outburst.

There, five hundred young men began breaking windows along a six-block stretch. The fourth police cruiser arriving radioed: "Do you want us to observe?" That such a question should even have been asked was damning proof that Americans had let years of extreme court rulings and hysterical "police brutality" propaganda paralyze our last line of defense against criminal anarchy.

Yet in Toledo the answer snapped back steely and clear. Police Chief Tony Bosh happened to be monitoring the radio and he barked: Arrest every lawbreaker you can ? and meet illegal force with legal force!"

Just as quickly, Toledo's mayor requested and Ohio Governor James Rhodes called in five hundred National Guardsmen to stand behind police in reserve, with well-publicized orders to kill if necessary to maintain order. They were never needed. Toledo's police arrested 22 people (nine for possessing firebombs) in the first three hours. That was almost triple the number Detroit and Newark police arrested in the same period.

Chief Bosh laid out for a Senate committee the criminal records, "some as long as your arm," of the rioters jailed in his city's three-day eruption. Of the 126 adults a startling 105 had prior arrests, averaging six apiece. Every single one of the 22 young adults jailed in the first three hours had criminal records; they averaged only twenty years old and three prior arrests apiece. The twenty young men jailed on firebomb charges averaged four apiece.

The result of the quick arrest policy: Toledo's trouble hardly earned the name "riot." No one died ? not one person, looter, policeman, or innocent bystander. The will that Toledo's civil authorities displayed, like a heavy rain on a kindling forest fire, made the difference between "incident" and "insurrection." They withdrew the one essential ingredient for a major riot: implied official permission for criminals and rowdies to coalesce and rebel.

As Santayana said, those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 04, 2005, 02:51:51 PM
by Robert Tracinski

It has taken four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can't blame them, because it has also taken me four long days to figure out what is going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.

If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city's infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild.

Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists--myself included--did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.

But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.

The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong.

The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over the past four days. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.

The man-made disaster is the welfare state.

For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency--indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.

When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).

So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?

To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story:

"Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on.

"The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gunfire....

"Last night, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 300 Iraq-hardened Arkansas National Guard members were inside New Orleans with shoot-to-kill orders.

" 'These troops are...under my orders to restore order in the streets,' she said. 'They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.' "

The reference to Iraq is eerie. The photo that accompanies this article shows National Guard troops, with rifles and armored vests, riding on an armored vehicle through trash-strewn streets lined by a rabble of squalid, listless people, one of whom appears to be yelling at them. It looks exactly like a scene from Sadr City in Baghdad.

What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate them, causing the drivers to drive away, frightened for their lives? What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at the Super Dome?

Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying to help them?

My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage last night on Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Chicago, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks away from the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise public housing projects in America. "The projects," as they were known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.)

What Sherri was getting from last night's television coverage was a whiff of the sense of life of "the projects." Then the "crawl"--the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the screen on most news channels--gave some vital statistics to confirm this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated before the hurricane, and of the 300,000 or so who remained, a large number were from the city's public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then gave me an additional, crucial fact: early reports from CNN and Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city's jails--so they just let many of them loose. There is no doubt a significant overlap between these two populations--that is, a large number of people in the jails used to live in the housing projects, and vice versa.

There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit--but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals--and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep--on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.

All of this is related, incidentally, to the apparent incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. But in a city corrupted by the welfare state, the job of city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare recipients and patronage to political supporters--not to ensure a lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency.

No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American "individualism." But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism.

What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them. They don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.

But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don't, because they don't own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them.

The welfare state--and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages--is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.

Source: TIA Daily -- September 2, 2005
Title: Political Rants
Post by: buzwardo on September 04, 2005, 10:45:35 PM
Get Off His Back (Updated)
By Ben Stein
Published 9/2/2005 11:59:59 PM

A few truths, for those who have ears and eyes and care to know the truth:

1.) The hurricane that hit New Orleans and Mississippi and Alabama was an astonishing tragedy. The suffering and loss of life and peace of mind of the residents of those areas is acutely horrifying.

2.) George Bush did not cause the hurricane. Hurricanes have been happening for eons. George Bush did not create them or unleash this one.

3.) George Bush did not make this one worse than others. There have been far worse hurricanes than this before George Bush was born.

4.) There is no overwhelming evidence that global warming exists as a man-made phenomenon. There is no clear-cut evidence that global warming even exists. There is no clear evidence that if it does exist it makes hurricanes more powerful or makes them aim at cities with large numbers of poor people. If global warming is a real phenomenon, which it may well be, it started long before George Bush was inaugurated, and would not have been affected at all by the Kyoto treaty, considering that Kyoto does not cover the world's worst polluters -- China, India, and Brazil. In a word, George Bush had zero to do with causing this hurricane. To speculate otherwise is belief in sorcery.

5.) George Bush had nothing to do with the hurricane contingency plans for New Orleans. Those are drawn up by New Orleans and Louisiana. In any event, the plans were perfectly good: mandatory evacuation. It is in no way at all George Bush's fault that about 20 percent of New Orleans neglected to follow the plan. It is not his fault that many persons in New Orleans were too confused to realize how dangerous the hurricane would be. They were certainly warned. It's not George Bush's fault that there were sick people and old people and people without cars in New Orleans. His job description does not include making sure every adult in America has a car, is in good health, has good sense, and is mobile.

6.) George Bush did not cause gangsters to shoot at rescue helicopters taking people from rooftops, did not make gang bangers rape young girls in the Superdome, did not make looters steal hundreds of weapons, in short make New Orleans into a living hell.

7.) George Bush is the least racist President in mind and soul there has ever been and this is shown in his appointments over and over. To say otherwise is scandalously untrue.

8.) George Bush is rushing every bit of help he can to New Orleans and Mississippi and Alabama as soon as he can. He is not a magician. It takes time to organize huge convoys of food and now they are starting to arrive. That they get in at all considering the lawlessness of the city is a miracle of bravery and organization.

9.) There is not the slightest evidence at all that the war in Iraq has diminished the response of the government to the emergency. To say otherwise is pure slander.

10.) If the energy the news media puts into blaming Bush for an Act of God worsened by stupendous incompetence by the New Orleans city authorities and the malevolence of the criminals of the city were directed to helping the morale of the nation, we would all be a lot better off.

11.) New Orleans is a great city with many great people. It will recover and be greater than ever. Sticking pins into an effigy of George Bush that does not resemble him in the slightest will not speed the process by one day.

12.) The entire episode is a dramatic lesson in the breathtaking callousness of government officials at the ground level. Imagine if Hillary Clinton had gotten her way and they were in charge of your health care.

God bless all of those dear people who are suffering so much, and God bless those helping them, starting with George Bush.

**** UPDATE: Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005, 2:13 p.m.:

More Mysteries of Katrina:

Why is it that the snipers who shot at emergency rescuers trying to save people in hospitals and shelters are never mentioned except in passing, and Mr. Bush, who is turning over heaven and earth to rescue the victims of the storm, is endlessly vilified?

What church does Rev. Al Sharpton belong to that believes in passing blame and singling out people by race for opprobrium and hate?

What special abilities does the media have for deciding how much blame goes to the federal government as opposed to the city government of New Orleans for the aftereffects of Katrina?

If able-bodied people refuse to obey a mandatory evacuation order for a city, have they not assumed the risk that ill effects will happen to them?

When the city government simply ignores its own sick and hospitalized and elderly people in its evacuation order, is Mr. Bush to blame for that?

Is there any problem in the world that is not Mr. Bush's fault, or have we reverted to a belief in a sort of witchcraft where we credit a mortal man with the ability to create terrifying storms and every other kind of ill wind?

Where did the idea come from that salvation comes from hatred and criticism and mockery instead of love and co-operation?
Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on September 07, 2005, 01:32:50 PM
An Imperfect Storm
How race shaped Bush's response to Katrina.
By Jacob Weisberg
Posted Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2005, at 12:59 PM PT

With the exception of Secretary of State Condi Rice, nearly every black person I've seen quoted in the press or on television?and most every white liberal?believes that African-Americans suffered disproportionately from government neglect in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Those being pulled from waist-deep corpse water sometimes put the case much more bluntly.

But what is the evidence that race itself?as opposed to such determinants as poverty, bad luck, geography, bureaucratic incompetence, and daunting logistics?deepened the misery of African-Americans in New Orleans? In that city, as in many others, blacks as a group were more prey to harm of many sorts because of the historic legacy of slavery, segregation, and discrimination. But those who, like me, think race was a factor in other ways as well ought to be able to give some account of how racial bias made the catastrophe worse.

At the heart of the matter is the racial pattern of American constituency politics. I don't think Kanye West can support his view that George W. Bush just doesn't care about black people. But it's a demonstrable matter of fact that Bush doesn't care much about black votes. And that, in the end, may amount to the same thing.

Blacks as a group have voted Democratic since the 1930s. The GOP has not courted them in any real way since the 1960s, focusing instead on attracting white constituencies hostile to civil rights and African-Americans in general. Even many conservatives now accept blame for this ugly, recent history. In July, Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, apologized ( to the NAACP for those in his party he said had been "looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization."

Yet the underlying racial dynamic of party politics hasn't changed at all under Mehlman's boss. Though he appointed the first and the second African-American secretaries of state, Bush seldom ( appears before black audiences. Beyond his interest in education, he has little to say about issues of social and urban policy. Bush has never articulated an approach, other than faith-based platitudes and tax cuts, to bettering the lives of African-Americans. And indeed, has not bettered them. The percentage of blacks living in poverty (, which diminished from 33 percent to less than 23 percent during the Clinton years, has been rising again under Bush. In 2000, Bush got 8 percent of the black vote. In 2004, he got 11 percent. Because African-Americans constitute only 12 percent of the population, it's possible for Republicans to neglect them and still win elections. Indeed, as Mehlman indicated, neglecting them has often helped Republicans win.

Because they don't see blacks as a current or potential constituency, Bush and his fellow Republicans do not respond out of the instinct of self-interest when dealing with their concerns. Helping low-income blacks is a matter of charity to them, not necessity. The condescension in their attitude intensifies when it comes to New Orleans, which is 67 percent black and largely irrelevant to GOP political ambitions. Cities with large African-American population that happen to be in important swing states may command some of Karl Rove's respect as election time approaches. But Louisiana is small (9 electoral votes) and not much of a swinger these days. In 2004, Bush carried it by a 57-42 margin. If Bush and Rove didn't experience the spontaneous political reflex to help New Orleans, it may be because they don't think of New Orleans as a place that helps them.

Considered in this light, the actions and inactions now being picked apart are readily explicable. The president drastically reduced budget requests from the Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen the levees around New Orleans because there was no effective pressure on him to agree. When the levees broke on Tuesday, Aug. 30, no urge from the political gut overrode his natural instinct to spend another day vacationing at his ranch. When Bush finally got himself to the Gulf Coast three days later, he did his hugging in Biloxi, Miss., which is 71 percent white, with a mayor, governor, and two senators who are all Republicans. Bush's memorable comments ( were about rebuilding Sen. Trent Lott's porch and about how he used to enjoy getting hammered ( in New Orleans. Only when a firestorm of criticism and political damage broke out over the federal government's callousness did Bush open his eyes to black suffering.

Had the residents of New Orleans been white Republicans in a state that mattered politically, instead of poor blacks in city that didn't, Bush's response surely would have been different. Compare what happened when hurricanes Charley and Frances hit Florida in 2004. Though the damage from those storms was negligible in relation to Katrina's, the reaction from the White House ( instinctive, rapid, and generous to the point of profligacy (,0,6697347.storygallery?coll=sfla-news-utility). Bush visited hurricane victims four times in six weeks and delivered relief checks personally. Michael Brown of FEMA, now widely regarded as an incompetent political hack, was so responsive that local officials praised the agency's performance (

The kind of constituency politics that results in a big life-preserver for whites in Florida and a tiny one for blacks in Louisiana may not be racist by design or intent. But the inevitable result is clear racial discrimination. It won't change when Republicans care more about blacks. It will change when they have more reason to care.

Jacob Weisberg is editor of Slate and co-author, with Robert E. Rubin, of In an Uncertain World.
Title: The Racial Gong
Post by: buzwardo on September 07, 2005, 02:33:30 PM
Though the usual suspects are beating the racial gong, a look at the numbers suggests the the equation is a lot more complex than the race baiters would have it. I'd argue underwriting failure with tax dollars had a lot more to do with the pathologies emerging in New Orleans than any putative racist policy. The following underlines those points.

September 07, 2005, 8:29 a.m.
A Fuller Picture
Beginning to understand what we are seeing in New Orleans.
Michael Novak

There has been something askew in the reporting from New Orleans. It has bothered me for a week now. Finally, when I took a look at the 2000 census data on New Orleans, a lot became clearer.

According to the Census, the population of New Orleans in 2000 was 485,000 of whom 326,000 were black, 136,000 white, and the remaining ten thousand or so each, Asian or Hispanic.

If 75-80 percent of the population evacuated the city safely before the storm hit, as everybody is reporting, that means that far more than half the black population escaped safely before the storm slammed into the city. Even if all those who did not evacuate were black ? and that is manifestly not true ? 25 percent of the total population is only 121,000. Twenty percent is 96,000. By far the majority of blacks in New Orleans, who numbered as the storm began some 326,000, evacuated in advance.

Even they lost much, maybe everything, but at least they were not caught in the roiling water.

Secondly, I have heard ever since reading about Huey Long of the 1930s that Louisiana is one of the most corrupt and dependency-prone states in the Union. Of all the cities in the south, New Orleans seems the one most welfare-oriented, least entrepreneurial, most state-dependent, and least economically dynamic. More than any other southern city, it is "Old South" rather than "New South." That, of course, is part of its charm. It refuses the modern bustle, says "Slow down, Be easy." It lulls. Its charm seduces. And it is also the prototypical, old-time welfare-state city.

The Census report shows what that means in vivid detail. In 2000, there were only 25,000 two-parent families in New Orleans with children under 18. By contrast, there were more than 26,000 female householders with children under 18, and no husband present. In other words, slightly more mothers all alone with children than married-couple mothers.

In addition, there were more than 18,000 householders who were more than 65 years old and living alone. Of these, most would normally be female.

If you add together the 26,000 female householders with children under 18, no husband present, and the 18,000 householders more than 65 years old and living alone, that is an estimated 40,000 female-headed households. That explains the pictures we are seeing on television, which are overwhelming female, most often with young children. The chances of persons in this demographic being employed full-time, year round, and with a good income, are not high. The chances of them living in poverty, and without an automobile, are exceedingly high.

In the future, city planners should carefully count in advance the numbers of persons who fall in this demographic when they formulate evacuation plans. Female householders all by themselves with children or over 65 are statistically likely to be severely disadvantaged in thinking about options for the future, disadvantaged in not having the means to determine their own destiny, and disadvantaged with respect to the habits of mind that accustom them to taking charge of their own future. Special provision will need to be made for helping them. They are likely to be accustomed to being taken care of by the state.

The younger mothers among them have been abandoned by those they should have been able to count on, the males in their lives. The over-65s (in urban areas) are likely to be totally dependent on Social Security and other government benefits, without private pensions or homeownership of their own. In emergencies, such persons need someone else to take care of them. It is wrong to throw them, at this point, solely on their own resources. Some will be able to manage that, but by no means all.

Is this not what our eyes are showing us among those who failed to evacuate in time? To be sure, thousands of those taking refuge are men, and some are married couples, and some are white, Hispanic, or Asian. More research could show that my own hypotheses ? and even visual observations ? are wrong. But the Census data helps explain to me what my eyes are seeing.

Another question that bothers me: I would also really like to know what happened to the better-off blacks and whites of New Orleans, who escaped before the storm hit. How many have lost their homes? How many have loved ones still unaccounted for?

What are things now like in those lovely suburbs around New Orleans?

It is not only those who did not evacuate in time that seem to have suffered horribly. I would love to see more reporting about the middle class ? and sympathy for them, too. They are Katrina's victims, too.

Is it possible that many of them will not receive the insurance payments they are counting on, in order to get their lives started up again at a level not too far below where they were before the storm hit? Have they taken a permanent hit? How will many cope with that?

The poor may suffer worst of all, but they are not the only ones to taste bitter ashes in times of calamity, and to find their souls tested. Those of the middle class who worked hard (maybe even worked their way out of poverty), played by the rules, and set aside some resources for times of trouble, also deserve our help. Especially just at that exact moment when everything they made so many sacrifices to attain has been taken from them.

It was just then that Job was tried. So might we all be.

? Michael Novak is the winner of the 1994 Templeton Prize for progress in religion and the George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute. Novak's own website is
Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on September 07, 2005, 03:46:28 PM
Excellent article.

I heard an economist on the radio the other day saying that while in terms of human cost Katrina was a catastrope, most people don't realize what an economic disaster the storm caused. He pointed out that in looking at New Orleans' general population:

Middle class victims will become lower middle/lower class

Lower class will become working poor (if they can find jobs)

Working poor will likely become homeless/destitute

Not to mention the burden put on the states taking in refugees.

We're all in for a long haul...
Title: Political Rants
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 09, 2005, 09:23:51 AM

Oil for Food as Usual
The U.N.'s worst critics couldn't invent what the Volcker report shows.

Friday, September 9, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

"The scandal, quote, unquote, is, in my view, nonsense." Thus did Denis Halliday, a former United Nations Assistant Secretary General, opine in November 2004 on the U.N.'s Oil for Food program. With the release Wednesday of Paul Volcker's fourth report on Oil for Food, we have the clearest account yet of what this quote-unquote scandal is really about.

Let's begin with what this scandal is not about, at least not fundamentally. It is not about the dubious business practices of the Swiss Inspections company Cotecna, which was improperly awarded a multimillion-dollar Oil for Food contract while employing Secretary-General Kofi Annan's son Kojo, although this taught us something about the nepotism that typifies U.N. dealings. Nor is it about Kofi Annan's personal probity, which had been called into question by evidence that he was aware of, and tried to influence, the Cotecna bid. Mr. Volcker has found no conclusive proof on this score.

In other words, Oil for Food is not about some isolated incidents of perceived or actual wrongdoing during the course of a seven-year effort to maintain sanctions on Iraq, monitor its oil flows and feed its people. Oil for Food is a story about what the U.N. is. And our conclusion from reading the 847-page report is that the U.N. is Oil for Food.

To better understand the scandal, it helps to distinguish its political and managerial components. Responsibility for administering the program fell primarily to the U.N. Secretariat, which established the Office of Iraq Program (OIP) under the direction of Benon Sevan.

But the program itself was designed by members of the U.N. Security Council following protracted negotiations with the government of Saddam Hussein. It was the Security Council, for example, that approved Saddam's right to choose the companies, contractors and middlemen with whom Iraq would do business, and through which the entire program was corrupted. The Security Council also ran its own supervisory "661 Committee," named after the 1990 Security Council resolution that imposed sanctions on Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait.

The result of this bifurcated structure was that real responsibility for overseeing Oil for Food fell between two stools--and into the lap of Mr. Sevan and his staff. Mr. Volcker's previous reports tell us that Mr. Sevan was in the pay of the Iraqi government.

The current report adds to our knowledge of what the Iraqis got for their money. For example, Mr. Sevan and his staff failed to inform the Secretariat and the 661 Committee of the extent of Iraq's various kickback schemes--involving as many as 2,500 companies--and dismissed media reports about them as "groundless allegations, provocative suggestions and factual mistakes." Mr. Sevan also fought tooth-and-nail the Bush Administration's successful attempt to impose retroactive pricing standards on the sale of Iraqi oil, which helped curb some of Saddam's abuses.

However, part of the reason Mr. Sevan was able to get away with his malfeasance was that neither the Secretariat nor the 661 Committee showed any appetite to exercise their fiduciary obligations. Mr. Annan testified to the Committee that Mr. Sevan worked directly for the 661 Committee. Yet as the report acidly notes, "the difficulty with the Secretary-General's view is that he appointed Mr. Sevan and he created OIP in the first place." Maybe former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay should call Mr. Annan to testify as an expert witness at his trial.

This is an excerpt from the latest report of Paul Volcker's Independent Inquiry Committee on the United Nations' Oil for Food program. Benon Sevan, the former director of the Office of Iraq Program (OIP) that oversaw Oil for Food, has been accused by the Committee of taking nearly $150,000 in bribes from Iraq. "The 38th Floor" refers to Secretary General Kofi Annan's offices at U.N. headquarters. The "661 Committee" was a U.N. Security Council body, outside of Mr. Annan's Secretariat, which helped oversee the Oil for Food program.

"When interviewed by the Committee, the Secretary General, the Deputy Secretary-General [Louise Frechette] and [Chief of Staff Iqbal] Riza each struggled to rationalize the role of the 38th Floor in overseeing OIP. Instead, they offered conflicting views of their own responsibilities as well the functions of Mr. Sevan vis-a-vis the program. These inconsistencies demonstrate a basic confusion within the highest offices of the Secretariat. . . .

"When interviewed by the Committee, the Secretary General insisted that the program was "a very transparent operation"-"one of the most transparent programs [he has] seen" in terms of the process it required for reports to be made by the Secretariat to the Security Council. However, significant information was routinely withheld from the 661 Committee. Despite mounting evidence of a widespread kickback scheme, the Secretary General's quarterly reports never mentioned the emerging problem. . . .

"To be sure, the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General were apparently not aware of the full scope of evidence that OIP had accumulated and, clearly, Mr. Sevan bears responsibility for withholding information. . . . But the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General (and Mr. Riza) were aware of the kickback scheme at least as early as February 2001. The Secretary General discussed the kickback allegations and other sanctions violations with Mr. Sevan on numerous occasions. . . .

"In the final analysis, Mr. Sevan ran a $100 billion program with very little oversight from the supervisory authority that created his position and OIP. Through a combination of an unclear reporting structure, a lack of supervision by the 38th Floor, and a general unwillingness to recognize and address significant issues on the part of the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Sevan had substantial autonomy to shape the program's direction. He failed to resist and challenge the Iraqi regime's rampant sanctions violations through which the regime diverted billions of dollars away from the humanitarian effort."
Mr. Annan is also on record telling the Committee he viewed Oil for Food as "a very transparent operation." Yet as the report shows, Mr. Annan was himself complicit in covering up Iraqi violations of the sanctions regime. Specifically, Mr. Annan was aware of the kickback issue from at least February 2001, yet "the Secretary General's quarterly reports never mentioned the emerging problem." (See the report excerpt nearby.)

Why Mr. Annan chose to see no evil on Iraqi sanctions violations, much less use his bully pulpit to denounce it (as he later denounced the Iraq war as "illegal"), is an interesting question. Our sense is that the U.N. Secretariat as a whole took the view that the sanctions regime was immoral and that Saddam was within his rights to break free of it.

Whatever the case, the Secretariat had a more than willing partner in the 661 Committee, and for reasons that are more easily comprehended. Iraq regularly steered contracts to Security Council members it believed were friendly to its political interests. Russian companies, for instance, did $19 billion in oil deals with Iraq, and French companies sold Saddam $3 billion in humanitarian assistance (much of which, the report notes, was diverted for Iraqi military purposes).

It's no coincidence, comrade, that France and Russia, as well as China (which did its own thriving business with Saddam) consistently downplayed the kickback allegations and pushed to have the sanctions regime eased. Only the U.S. and Britain made any effort to monitor Oil for Food for fraud, although even these efforts were lackluster until the Bush Administration came to office. We should also note the U.S. was itself guilty of looking the other way when it came to Iraq's oil smuggling through allies Jordan and Turkey.

So it was that the largest fraud ever recorded in history came about. Press reports often cite the overall size of Oil for Food at $60 billion, but Mr. Volcker's report makes clear that the real figure was in excess of $100 billion. From this, Saddam was able to derive $10.2 billion from illicit transactions. But the important point is that he was able to steer 10 times that sum toward his preferred clients in the service of his political aims.

None of this happened by accident. Mr. Volcker's report is replete with examples of incompetent U.N. oversight and tales of political wrangling among the permanent members of the Security Council. But the abiding fact is that it was the Western powers, not Saddam, who wanted Oil for Food at virtually any cost, because it offered the appearance of a meaningful policy in the absence of a real one, namely regime change. And it was the political convenience of this chimera that led the U.S. and the U.K. to tolerate, and the rest of the Security Council to feast on, the opportunities for corruption that were inscribed in the very nature of the program.

As for the U.N., it proved its worth to Saddam as the one hall of mirrors in which such shenanigans could take place. Yet even now we are told that "at least" Oil for Food fed the Iraqi people when they were on the edge of starvation, and this is accounted a U.N. success. That is false. Oil for Food offered a lifeline of cash and influence to a regime that was starving its people. The program did not corrupt the U.N. so much as exploit its essential nature. Now Mr. Annan wants to use this report as an endorsement of his "reform" proposals. Only at the U.N. could he dare to think he could get away with this.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on September 09, 2005, 11:15:05 AM

1. Bush: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees"

On the September 1 broadcast of ABC's Good Morning America, President Bush told host Diane Sawyer, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that protected New Orleans from flooding. Sawyer did not challenge Bush's claim, despite numerous, repeated warnings by government officials, experts, and the media that a major hurricane could cause levee breaches resulting in catastrophic flooding. A September 2 New York Times front page article repeated Bush's false claim without challenge -- even though a Times editorial ( the same day declared, "Disaster planners were well aware that New Orleans could be flooded by the combined effects of a hurricane and broken levees."

A September 5 article ( reported that Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff falsely told reporters that "planners" did not predict a breach of the levees that would flood the city. As reported, Chertoff said, "That 'perfect storm' of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight." But unlike the Times, noted that "officials have warned for years that a Category 4 [hurricane] could cause the levees to fail." The article added that in an August 31 interview ( on CNN's Larry King Live, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Michael Brown said, "That Category 4 hurricane caused the same kind of damage that we anticipated. So we planned for it two years ago. Last year, we exercised it. And unfortunately this year, we're implementing it." But in the same Larry King Live interview, Brown responded to complaints that rescue efforts were not moving quickly enough by insisting, "And I must say this storm is much, much bigger than anyone expected."

Additionally, as journalist Joshua Micah Marshall noted ( in his Talking Points Memo weblog, National Hurricane Center director Max Mayfield "talked about the force of Katrina during a video conference call? to President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas" on August 28 [St. Petersburg Times, 8/30/05 (]. The Washington Post quoted Mayfield ( on September 6: "They knew that this one was different. ... I don't think Mike Brown or anyone else in FEMA could have any reason to have any problem with our calls. ... They were told ... We said the levees could be topped."

2. Chertoff strained credulity in defense of Bush, claimed levee breaks and massive flooding came as a surprise -- more than 12 hours after local media reported them

On September 4, Chertoff appeared ( on NBC's Meet the Press and attempted to explain Bush's discredited claim ( that "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." After host Tim Russert asked Chertoff how the president could "be so wrong, be so misinformed," Chertoff suggested that Bush had been referring to newspaper reports the morning after the storm that New Orleans had "dodged a bullet" because the eye of the storm had passed to the east of the city. But more than 12 hours before the appearance of those headlines in print, a post on the weblog of the New Orleans Times-Picayune -- dated August 29, 2 p.m. CT -- reported, "City Hall confirmed a breach of the levee along the 17th Street Canal at Bellaire Drive, allowing water to spill into Lakeview." This initial report on the Times-Picayune weblog was followed ( throughout the afternoon and evening of August 29 by reports of other levee breaks and massive flooding.

While Chertoff said he recognized that the city's levee system failed sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning -- in fact, the first breaks occurred earlier, as noted above and as Think Progress noted in its detailed Hurricane Katrina timeline -- he insisted that "it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap and that essentially the lake [Pontchartrain] was going to start to drain into the city." According to Chertoff, this "second catastrophe really caught everybody by surprise" and was a major reason for the delay in the government's emergency response.

Questioning Chertoff further, Russert pointed out that the Times-Picayune published a five-part series ( in June 2002, in which it warned ( that if a large hurricane hit New Orleans, the city's levees would likely be topped or broken -- resulting in catastrophic flooding and thousands of deaths. Russert added that "last summer FEMA, who reports to you, and the LSU Hurricane Center, and local and state officials did a simulated Hurricane Pam in which the levees broke. ... Thousands drowned."

Chertoff then clarified, "What I said was not that we didn't anticipate that there's a possibility the levees will break. What I said was, in this storm, what happened is, the storm passed and passed without the levees breaking on Monday. Tuesday morning, I opened newspapers and saw headlines that said 'New Orleans Dodged the Bullet,' which surprised people. What surprised them was that the levee broke overnight and the next day and, in fact, collapsed. That was a surprise."

Even accepting as true Chertoff's incredible suggestion that he -- the secretary of Homeland Security -- and the president of the United States relied on the print media for their information on the situation in New Orleans, as Think Progress points out (, had administration officials "bothered to read the full text of the three articles they found with favorable headlines, they would have realized that federal government help was needed immediately." Moreover, while Chertoff did not indicate which headlines ( he was referring to, many newspapers -- in addition to the Times-Picayune -- did report on broken levees and significant flooding. For example, on August 30, the Los Angeles Times reported (,0,7918696.story) that a levee break had occurred by late morning August 29, with water from the break "spill[ing] through the area, flooding the town's two main shelters and swamping the local National Guard armory, leaving even public safety officials homeless."

Or Chertoff could have turned on the television. On the August 30 broadcast of NBC's Today, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams reported at 7:05 a.m. ET, "There has been a huge development overnight ... the historic French Quarter, dry last night and it is now filling with water. This is water from nearby Lake Pontchartrain; the levees failed overnight."

Indeed, Chertoff's and Bush's professed ignorance notwithstanding, the federal government was well aware of the continuing threat of the levees breaking. Just hours after the storm passed on Monday, August 29, FEMA director Brown confirmed that the potential for catastrophic flooding remained. In an interview with Brown, NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer noted, "In New Orleans, in particular, they're worried about the levees giving way or the canals not holding, and they're worried about toxic runoff." Brown responded that even though the storm had weakened, there was still a 15- to 20-foot storm surge causing "the water out of Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf and the Mississippi continue to converge upon Louisiana." Brown added, "So we're still ready for a major disaster."

3. Brown: "We've provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they've gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day"

On the September 2 broadcast of NBC's Today, FEMA director Brown told host Katie Couric, "We've provided food to the people at the [New Orleans' Morial] Convention Center so that they've gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day." Couric did not challenge this statement.

But on September 1, NBC News photojournalist Tony Zumbado reported ( on MSNBC Live:

ZUMBADO: I can't put it into words the amount of destruction that is in this city and how these people are coping. They are just left behind. There is nothing offered to them. No water, no ice, no C-rations, nothing, for the last four days. They were told to go to the convention center. They did, they've been behaving. It's unbelievable how organized they are, how supportive they are of each other. They have not started any melees, any riots. They just want food and support. And what I saw there I've never seen in this country. We need to really look at this situation at the convention center. It's getting very, very crazy in there and very dangerous. Somebody needs to come down with a lot of food and a lot of water.

4. Chertoff: "Apparently, some time on Wednesday, people started to go to the convention center spontaneously"

On the September 1 edition of CNN's Paula Zahn Now, Brown claimed, "Every person in that convention center, we just learned about that today [Thursday, September 1]." During a September 4 interview with Chertoff on CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, host Blitzer replayed Brown's comments. In response, Chertoff said:

CHERTOFF: Well, I mean, this is clearly something that was disturbing. It was disturbing to me when I learned about it, which came as a surprise. You know, the very day that this emerged in the press, I was on a video conference with all the officials, including state and local officials. And nobody -- none of the state and local officials or anybody else -- was talking about a convention center. The original plan, as I understand it, was to have the Superdome be the place of refuge, of last resort. Apparently, some time on Wednesday, people started to go to the convention center spontaneously.

Chertoff's claim that hurricane survivors sought refuge in the convention center under their own initiative echoed his September 4 Meet the Press interview, in which he suggested, "We became aware of the fact at some point that people began to go to the convention center on their own, spontaneously, in order to shelter there." Chertoff's statements were false, but neither Blitzer nor Russert challenged them.

Though scenes of thousands of hurricane victims awaiting water, food, and buses at the convention center were not broadcast on television until Thursday, September 1, Chertoff and Brown would have had access to media reports about the convention center before then. As early as August 29, Times-Picayune staff writer Bruce Nolan wrote an article for the Newhouse News Service in which he reported, "City officials said they might open the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center as a temporary refuge to shelter an estimated 50,000 people made homeless by the storm." Nolan's article ( appeared in the Times-Picayune on August 30.

Beginning August 31, other reports of survivors at the convention center emerged:

Knight Ridder, August 31: "Derwin DeGruy had been kicked out of two hotels, the first on Sunday right before the storm hit, and the second one on Tuesday morning after it hit. He and about 50 other people found makeshift shelter on a ramp leading to the mall and parking garage at the New Orleans Convention Center. They rigged places for people to go to the bathroom, pooled their water for the babies, placed some blankets on the concrete and decided to wait and see what happened."

Associated Press, August 31: "The 37-year-old banker -- who admitted to looting some food from a nearby supermarket -- said the hotel guests were told they were being taken to a
convention center, but from there, they didn't know."

Associated Press, August 31: "After several hours, a small fleet of rented moving trucks showed up to take the people to the downtown convention center so they could be taken out of the city. Police herded people up metal ramps like cattle into the unrefrigerated boxes."
By September 1, when Brown claimed FEMA first learned about the situation at the convention center, TV networks were broadcasting footage of thousands of survivors waiting for water, food, and evacuation buses. Despite Chertoff's later insistence that New Orleans residents "spontaneously" converged on the convention center, the September 1 broadcast of ABC's Nightline included footage of a law enforcement official instructing survivors to go there:

SURVIVOR: Ain't nobody helping us.


SURVIVOR: No, ain't nobody doing anything for us.

LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL: Y'all got to go to the convention center.

5. Chertoff pointed fingers: "New Orleans officials and the state officials ... called for the Superdome to be the refuge of last resort"

In his September 4 interview on NBC's Meet the Press, Chertoff attempted to place blame for the conditions at the Superdome solely with state and local officials. Chertoff asserted, "My understanding is, and again this is something that's going to go back -- we're going to go back over after the fact -- is the plan that the New Orleans officials and the state officials put together called for the Superdome to be the refuge of last resort."

But this claim is misleading at best. As The Washington Post reported on September 3 ( , a FEMA official acknowledged participating in meetings in which the plan to use the Superdome as a shelter for thousands of evacuees was discussed:

Brown, the agency's director, told reporters Saturday in Louisiana that he did not have a sense of what was coming last weekend.

"I was here on Saturday and Sunday, it was my belief, I'm trying to think of a better word than typical -- that minimizes, any hurricane is bad -- but we had the standard hurricane coming in here, that we could move in immediately on Monday and start doing our kind of response-recovery effort," he said. "Then the levees broke, and the levees went, you've seen it by the television coverage. That hampered our ability, made it even more complex."

But other officials said they warned well before Monday about what could happen. For years, said another senior FEMA official, he had sat at meetings where plans were discussed to send evacuees to the Superdome. "We used to stare at each other and say, 'This is the plan? Are you really using the Superdome?' People used to say, what if there is water around it? They didn't have an alternative," he recalled.

Moreover, the plan to use the Superdome as a shelter for evacuees was widely known. The 2002 Times-Picayune series on the potential for a catastrophic hurricane reported ( that of the estimated 200,000 New Orleans residents who would likely remain in the city, "ome will be housed at the Superdome, the designated shelter in New Orleans for people too sick or infirm to leave the city."

6. Chertoff falsely minimized federal government's role in Katrina response as subordinate to states

The Bush administration has responded to criticism of its role in the Katrina disaster by attempting to deflect blame onto state and local officials in Louisiana [The New York Times, 9/5/05 ( ]. One way they are doing that is to claim that the federal government's role in a natural disaster of this magnitude is to provide support to state and local governments and work at their behest. Conservative media figures immediately fell into line, echoing the administration's claim that the federal government's role was subordinate. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security's December 2004 National Response Plan clearly indicates that in these situations, the federal government will pre-empt state and local efforts and provide immediate assistance to the affected area.

On September 1, two days after the levees were breached, Chertoff, at a press conference announcing the start of "National Preparedness Month 2005," characterized the federal role in response to Katrina as that of providing support to state and local officials: "The Department of Homeland Security will continue to work with federal, state and local partners to support efforts on the ground in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. We are working tirelessly to make sure that federal resources are being applied where they are needed all across the Gulf" [Federal News Service, 9/1/05]. But on September 2, Chertoff told reporters that the situation had changed and that federal agencies would now take over the primary role: "The fact of the matter is, this set of catastrophes has broken any mold for how you deal with this kind of weather devastation, and so we're going to break the mold in terms of how we respond. The federal government is not going to play merely its customary role in giving all necessary support to first responders. The federal government is going to step up and take a primary role, working with state and locals to deal with the outcome of this tragedy." [National Public Radio, 9/3/05]

But Chertoff's September 1 statement ignored the administration's own homeland security response plan, which directed the federal government to act on its own authority to quickly provide assistance and conduct emergency operations following a major catastrophe, pre-empting state and local authorities if necessary. According to DHS' December 2004 National Response Plan (NRP) (, "catastrophic events," such as what occurred in New Orleans, call for heightened and "proactive" federal involvement to manage the disaster. The response plan listed "guiding principles" to govern the response to these major events. The "Guiding Principles for Proactive Federal Response" ( make clear that, in these "catastrophic" cases, the federal government will operate independently to provide assistance, rather than simply supporting or cajoling state authorities:

The primary mission is to save lives; protect critical infrastructure, property, and the environment; contain the event; and preserve national security.
Standard procedures regarding requests for assistance may be expedited or, under extreme circumstances, suspended in the immediate aftermath of an event of catastrophic magnitude.

Identified Federal response resources will deploy and begin necessary operations as required to commence life-safety activities.

Notification and full coordination with States will occur, but the coordination process must not delay or impede the rapid deployment and use of critical resources. States are urged to notify and coordinate with local governments regarding a proactive Federal response.

State and local governments are encouraged to conduct collaborative planning with the Federal Government as a part of "steady-state" preparedness for catastrophic incidents."
The NRP also says that, when responding to a catastrophic incident, the federal government should start emergency operations even in the absence of clear assessment of the situation. "A detailed and credible common operating picture may not be achievable for 24 to 48 hours (or longer) after the incident," the NRP's "Catastrophic Annex" ( states. "As a result, response activities must begin without the benefit of a detailed or complete situation and critical needs assessment."

A September 5 Los Angeles Times article quoted former FEMA chief of staff Jane Bullock saying that "[t]he moment the president declared a federal disaster [on Aug 29], it became a federal responsibility. ... The federal government took ownership over the response." Moreover, DHS' own website declares that DHS "will assume primary responsibility on March 1st [2005] for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort."

7. Wash. Post, Newsweek, Gingrich falsely claimed that Blanco did not declare a state of emergency

In recent days, two news articles falsely reported that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco had failed to declare a state of emergency, which had supposedly hampered the federal response. An article in the September 13 edition of Newsweek claimed that "Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco seemed uncertain and sluggish, hesitant to declare martial law or a state of emergency, which would have opened the door to more Pentagon help." Likewise, a September 4 Washington Post article incorrectly claimed that "As of Saturday [Sept. 3], Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency," citing an anonymous senior Bush administration official. (The Washington Post's article was later corrected, although Newsweek has yet to correct its article.) Fox News political analyst Newt Gingrich repeated the point on the September 5 O'Reilly Factor, saying, "As you [O'Reilly] point out, the governor [Blanco] failed to call the emergency. And initially, it was the governor who had to call an emergency." In fact, as the Post later noted, Blanco declared ( a state of emergency on August 26.

8. Gingrich falsely claimed that Nagin could "have kept water pumped out" of city had he ensured that pumps worked

On the September 5 O'Reilly Factor, Gingrich also claimed that if New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin had been able to keep the New Orleans pumps working, the flood waters could have been pumped out of the city. "[F]irst of all, the mayor of New Orleans had a real obligation to make sure the four pumps could work. Three of them didn't. It would have kept water pumped out." In fact, New Orleans has 22 "notoriously fickle" pumping stations, according to an August 31 New York Times article. The Times also reported that, according to Dr. Shea Penland, a coastal geologist, "When the pumping systems are in good shape, it can rain an inch an hour for about four to six hours and the pumps can keep pace. More than that, the city floods." The Times also noted that "[e]fforts to add backup power generators to keep [the pumps] all running during blackouts have been delayed by a lack of federal money." A June 2002 Times-Picayune article, part of a series exploring the probable consequences of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans, indicated that New Orleans' pumps would have been overwhelmed by the rapidly rising floodwaters:

Soon waves will start breaking over the levee.

"All of a sudden you'll start seeing flowing water. It'll look like a weir, water just pouring over the top," [Louisiana State University engineer Joseph] Suhayda said. The water will flood the lakefront, filling up low-lying areas first, and continue its march south toward the river. There would be no stopping or slowing it; pumping systems would be overwhelmed and submerged in a matter of hours.

"Another scenario is that some part of the levee would fail," Suhayda said. "It's not something that's expected. But erosion occurs, and as levees broke, the break will get wider and wider. The water will flow through the city and stop only when it reaches the next higher thing. The most continuous barrier is the south levee, along the river. That's 25 feet high, so you'll see the water pile up on the river levee."
Title: Triaging Blame
Post by: buzwardo on September 09, 2005, 02:36:07 PM
As fun as it is to whup on Bush--accusing him of all manner of nefarious schemes when not naming him an utter dunce--my take is that there is plenty of blame to go around. Think Krauthhammer does an effective job of blame triage here, though I'd move his final point about the American people up a notch or two.

Assigning blame
Charles Krauthammer

September 9, 2005

WASHINGTON -- In less enlightened times, there was no catastrophe independent of human agency. When the plague or some other natural disaster struck, witches were burned, Jews were massacred and all felt better (except the witches and Jews).

     A few centuries later, our progressive thinkers have progressed not an inch. No fall of a sparrow on this planet is not attributed to sin and human perfidy. The three current favorites are: (1) global warming, (2) the war in Iraq and (3) tax cuts. Katrina hits and the unholy trinity is immediately invoked to damn sinner-in-chief George W. Bush.

     This kind of stupidity merits no attention whatsoever, but I'll give it a paragraph. There is no relationship between global warming and the frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes. Period. The problem with the evacuation of New Orleans is not that National Guardsmen in Iraq could not get to New Orleans, but that National Guardsmen in Louisiana did not get to New Orleans. As for the Bush tax cuts, administration budget requests for New Orleans flood control during the five Bush years exceed that of the five preceding Clinton years. The notion that the allegedly missing revenues would have been spent wisely by Congress, targeted precisely to the levees of New Orleans, and reconstruction would have been completed in time, is a threefold fallacy. The argument ends when you realize that, as The Washington Post notes, ``the levees that failed were already completed projects."

     Let's be clear. The author of this calamity was, first and foremost, Nature (or if you prefer, Nature's God). The suffering was augmented, aided and abetted in descending order of culpability by the following:

     1. The mayor of New Orleans. He knows the city. He knows the danger. He knows that during Hurricane Georges in 1998, the use of the Superdome was a disaster and fully two-thirds of the residents never got out of the city. Nothing was done. He declared a mandatory evacuation only 24 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit. He did not even declare a voluntary evacuation until the day before that, at 5 p.m. At that time, he explained that he needed to study his legal authority to call a mandatory evacuation and was hesitating to do so lest the city be sued by hotels and other businesses.

     2. The Louisiana governor. It's her job to call up the National Guard and get it to where it has to go. Where the Guard was in the first few days is a mystery. Indeed, she issued an authorization for the National Guard to commandeer school buses to evacuate people on Wednesday afternoon -- more than two days after the hurricane hit and after much of the fleet had already drowned in its parking lots.

     3. The head of FEMA. Late, slow and in way over his head. On Thursday he says on national television that he didn't even know there were people in the Convention Center, when anybody watching television could see them there destitute and desperate. Maybe in his vast bureaucracy he can assign three 20-year-olds to watch cable news and give him updates every hour on what in hell is going on.

     4. The president. Late, slow and simply out of tune with the urgency and magnitude of the disaster. The second he heard that the levees had been breached in New Orleans, he should have canceled his schedule and addressed the country on national television to mobilize it both emotionally and physically to assist in the disaster. His flyover on the way to Washington was the worst possible symbolism. And his Friday visit was so tone-deaf and politically disastrous that he had to fly back three days later.

     5. Congress. Now as always playing holier-than-thou. Perhaps it might ask itself who created the Department of Homeland Security in the first place. The congressional response to all crises is the same -- rearrange the bureaucratic boxes, but be sure to add one extra layer. The last four years of DHS have been spent principally on bureaucratic reorganization (and real estate) instead of, say, a workable plan for as predictable a disaster as a Gulf Coast hurricane.

     6. The American people. They have made it impossible for any politician to make any responsible energy policy over the last 30 years -- but that is a column for another day. Now is not the time for constructive suggestions. Now is the time for blame, recriminations and sheer astonishment. Mayor Nagin has announced that, as bodies are still being found and as a public health catastrophe descends upon the city, he is sending 60 percent of his cops on city funds for a little R&R, mostly to Vegas hotels. Asked if it was appropriate to party in these circumstances, he responded: ``New Orleans is a party town. Get over it.'
Title: Let's Plant some Axioms and Watch them Grow
Post by: buzwardo on September 09, 2005, 07:28:53 PM
Not sure anything Buckley says can be construed as a rant, but this is as close as he gets to one.

September 09, 2005, 1:33 p.m.
Post-Katrina Doublethought
William Buckley

The war against stable thought blazes on, the objective being to put the blame on the Bush administration for what happened in New Orleans.

Thomas Friedman of the New York Times personalizes even further. The administration has a "tax policy . . . dominated by the toweringly selfish Grover Norquist ? who has been quoted as saying: 'I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.?" You would think that Mr. Friedman would leave a little place in life for hyperbole ? what would he do with the political poets who speak of the "end" of hunger and disease? But he hangs onto the metaphor: "Mr. Norquist is the only person about whom I would say this: I hope he owns property around the New Orleans levee that was never properly finished because of a lack of tax dollars. I hope his basement got flooded." Planted axiom: the unrepaired levee in New Orleans is the result of a shortage of federal dollars.

Across that editorial page we have the argument placed a little differently. Not that Maureen Dowd will neglect an opportunity to anthropomorphize Katrina. No, she explains, the tragedy was the result of the Bush political family, Dick Cheney being the next in line. What was he doing when Katrina struck? He was "reportedly . . . shopping for a $2.9 million waterfront estate in St Michael's" ? which is a ?retreat in the Chesapeake Bay where Rummy" ? the Secretary of Defense ? "has a weekend home."

"As the water recedes," Dowd explains, "more and more decaying bodies will testify to the callous and stumblebum administration response to Katrina's rout of 90,000 square miles of the South." Another planted axiom. It is that the Bush Administration, to return to the language of Mr. Friedman, "has engaged in a tax giveaway since 9/11 that has had one underlying assumption: There will never be another rainy day."

The gravamen against Bush becomes plain: The Bush administration insisted "on cutting more taxes, even when that has contributed to incomplete levees and too small an army to deal with Katrina, Osama, and Saddam at the same time.?

The proposition that the Federal Government under George W. Bush has been shortchanging welfare is in astonishing conflict with the figures. Under Bush, federal spending increases have been at the fastest rate in 30 years. Non-defense discretionary spending under Bush has grown by 35.7 percent, the highest rate of federal government growth since the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson.

Again, the planted axiom is that the New Orleans levee has been for years a national pustule that George Bush refused to lance because he didn't want to drain the money needed by Dick Cheney to buy his waterfront estate. If New Orleans was conspicuous for its vulnerability, why hadn't the city?s articulate mayor, or his fellow Democrat the articulate governor, said something about it? Why did it not figure in the demands of the Democratic party at its convention in Boston? How explain the silence on the subject of candidate John Kerry?

It is tempting to weigh directly the cost of repairing the levee, and the size of the tax cuts. But what is going to pay for all the ounces of prevention we could contingently use on all the frontiers of national vulnerability? To single out the levee is on the order of blaming the destruction of the Twin Towers on the architects who situated them where they were. The first-level threat to America is a nuclear bomb, then biological and chemical weapons. What preemptive precautions should be taken against the development of such weaponry? What Republicans are objecting to federal expenses on those fronts?

We have been promised reports on Katrina from almost every official body, legislative and executive. It diminishes confidence in purposive thought to lose oneself in polemical theater. Grover Norquist uses his own language. But he could be using that of John Adams, who warned that the government seeks to turn every contingency into an excuse for amassing power in itself. Or that of Woodrow Wilson, who said that the history of liberalism is the history of man's efforts to restrain the growth of government. If New Orleans is a land doomed by nature, then nature's reach needs to be tamed, or else yielded to. The critics have not yet charged that movement away from New Orleans was prohibited by George Bush.
Title: Glenn Beck is an idiot...
Post by: SB_Mig on September 10, 2005, 11:43:04 AM

Who is this jackass!?

From the September 9 broadcast of The Glenn Beck Program:

BECK: Let me be real honest with you. I don't think anybody on talk radio -- I don't think anybody in their right mind is going to say this out loud -- but I wonder if I'm the only one that feels this way. Yesterday, when I saw the ATM cards being handed out, the $2,000 ATM cards, and they were being handed out at the Astrodome. And they actually had to close the Astrodome and seal it off for a while because there was a near-riot trying to get to these ATM cards. My first thought was, it's not like they're going to run out of the $2,000 ATM cards. You can wait! You know, stand in line. Maybe it's because I'm the kind of guy, when I go to a buffet, I either have to be first in line, or I'm the very last. Because I know there's going to be extra food, and I just won't stand in the line. I'll wait until all the suckers go get their food, and then I'll go get mine. Or if I'm really hungry, I hate to admit this -- and really, I don't even have to be really hungry. If I'm really being a pig, I will kind of, like, hang out around the buffet table before the line is -- you know, chat with people right around the table: "Oh, they just opened the line! Let's go!" And then you're first in line.

When you are rioting for these tickets, or these ATM cards, the second thing that came to mind was -- and this is horrible to say, and I wonder if I'm alone in this -- you know it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims' families? Took me about a year. And I had such compassion for them, and I really wanted to help them, and I was behind, you know, "Let's give them money, let's get this started." All of this stuff. And I really didn't -- of the 3,000 victims' families, I don't hate all of them. Probably about 10 of them. And when I see a 9-11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, "Oh shut up!" I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining. And we did our best for them. And, again, it's only about 10.

But the second thought I had when I saw these people and they had to shut down the Astrodome and lock it down, I thought: I didn't think I could hate victims faster than the 9-11 victims. These guys -- you know it's really sad. We're not hearing anything about Mississippi. We're not hearing anything about Alabama. We're hearing about the victims in New Orleans. This is a 90,000-square-mile disaster site, New Orleans is 181 square miles. A hundred and -- 0.2 percent of the disaster area is New Orleans! And that's all we're hearing about, are the people in New Orleans. Those are the only ones we're seeing on television are the scumbags -- and again, it's not all the people in New Orleans. Most of the people in New Orleans got out! It's just a small percentage of those who were left in New Orleans, or who decided to stay in New Orleans, and they're getting all the attention. It's exactly like the 9-11 victims' families. There's about 10 of them that are spoiling it for everybody.
Title: Political Rants
Post by: rogt on September 12, 2005, 11:10:47 AM
Yeah, Glenn is pretty &*@%ing hateful.  

Another of his ilk, Michael Savage, was also going off last week about the ATM cards.  His issues were 1) people could somehow manage to get more than one card and 2) by just handing out cash to "these people" we run the risk of them spending it on crack and marijuana.  Gee, how anybody could think this was racist is beyond me.

With all of these multi-million dollar "reconstruction" contracts being given out like Halloween candy to W's corporate buddies, I don't think I've heard a single right-wing loudmouth complain that executives might spend the money on scotch and hookers instead rebuilding that Iraqi hospital.

Title: Political Rants
Post by: SB_Mig on September 13, 2005, 09:19:55 AM

Newsweek, Sept. 19, 2005 issue -

It's a standing joke among the president's top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? Warm and hearty in public, Bush can be cold and snappish in private, and aides sometimes cringe before the displeasure of the president of the United States, or, as he is known in West Wing jargon, POTUS. The bad news on this early morning, Tuesday, Aug. 30, some 24 hours after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New Orleans, was that the president would have to cut short his five-week vacation by a couple of days and return to Washington. The president's chief of staff, Andrew Card; his deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin; his counselor, Dan Bartlett, and his spokesman, Scott McClellan, held a conference call to discuss the question of the president's early return and the delicate task of telling him. Hagin, it was decided, as senior aide on the ground, would do the deed.

The president did not growl this time. He had already decided to return to Washington and hold a meeting of his top advisers on the following day, Wednesday. This would give them a day to get back from their vacations and their staffs to work up some ideas about what to do in the aftermath of the storm. President Bush knew the storm and its consequences had been bad; but he didn't quite realize how bad.

The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.

How this could be?how the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness," as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century?is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace.

President George W. Bush has always trusted his gut. He prides himself in ignoring the distracting chatter, the caterwauling of the media elites, the Washington political buzz machine. He has boasted that he doesn't read the papers. His doggedness is often admirable. It is easy for presidents to overreact to the noise around them.

But it is not clear what President Bush does read or watch, aside from the occasional biography and an hour or two of ESPN here and there. Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him. Bush can ask tough questions, but it's mostly a one-way street. Most presidents keep a devil's advocate around. Lyndon Johnson had George Ball on Vietnam; President Ronald Reagan and Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, grudgingly listened to the arguments of Budget Director Richard Darman, who told them what they didn't wish to hear: that they would have to raise taxes. When Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the resources to cope, couldn't act without a declaration from the president overriding all other authority.

The war in Iraq was a failure of intelligence. The government's response to Katrina?like the failure to anticipate that terrorists would fly into buildings on 9/11?was a failure of imagination. On Tuesday, within 24 hours of the storm's arrival, Bush needed to be able to imagine the scenes of disorder and misery that would, two days later, shock him when he watched the evening news. He needed to be able to see that New Orleans would spin into violence and chaos very quickly if the U.S. government did not take charge?and, in effect, send in the cavalry, which in this case probably meant sending in a brigade from a combat outfit, like the 82nd Airborne, based in Fort Bragg, N.C., and prepared to deploy anywhere in the world in 18 hours.

Bush and his advisers in his "war cabinet" have always been action-oriented, "forward leaning," in the favorite phrase of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They dislike lawyers and sometimes brush aside legalistic (and even sound constitutional) arguments. But this time "Rummy" opposed sending in active-duty troops as cops. Dick Cheney, who was vacationing in Wyoming when the storm hit, characteristically kept his counsel on videoconferences; his private advice is not known.

Liberals will say they were indifferent to the plight of poor African-Americans. It is true that Katrina laid bare society's massive neglect of its least fortunate. The inner thoughts and motivations of Bush and his top advisers are impossible to know for certain. Though it seems abstract at a time of such suffering, high-minded considerations about the balance of power between state and federal government were clearly at play. It's also possible that after at least four years of more or less constant crisis, Bush and his team are numb.

The failure of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina worked like a power blackout. Problems cascaded and compounded; each mistake made the next mistake worse. The foe in this battle was a monster; Katrina flattened the Gulf Coast with the strength of a vengeful god. But human beings, beginning with the elected officials of the City of New Orleans, failed to anticipate and react in time.

Congressional investigations will take months to sort out who is to blame. A NEWSWEEK reconstruction of the government's response to the storm shows how Bush's leadership style and the bureaucratic culture combined to produce a disaster within a disaster.

Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, didn't want to evacuate. New Orleanians have a fatalistic streak; their joyful, jazz-blowing street funeral processions are legendary. After many near misses over the years since Hurricane Betsy flooded 20 percent of the city in 1965, longtime residents prefer to stay put. Nagin's eye had long been on commerce, not catastrophe. A former executive at Cox Communications, he had come to office in 2002 to clear out the allegedly corrupt old guard and bring new business to the city, which has not prospered with New South metropolises like Atlanta. During Nagin's mayoral campaign, the promises were about jobs, not stronger floodwalls and levees.

Bush and his advisers in his "war cabinet" have always been action-oriented, "forward leaning," in the favorite phrase of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They dislike lawyers and sometimes brush aside legalistic (and even sound constitutional) arguments. But this time "Rummy" opposed sending in active-duty troops as cops. Dick Cheney, who was vacationing in Wyoming when the storm hit, characteristically kept his counsel on videoconferences; his private advice is not known.

Liberals will say they were indifferent to the plight of poor African-Americans. It is true that Katrina laid bare society's massive neglect of its least fortunate. The inner thoughts and motivations of Bush and his top advisers are impossible to know for certain. Though it seems abstract at a time of such suffering, high-minded considerations about the balance of power between state and federal government were clearly at play. It's also possible that after at least four years of more or less constant crisis, Bush and his team are numb.

The failure of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina worked like a power blackout. Problems cascaded and compounded; each mistake made the next mistake worse. The foe in this battle was a monster; Katrina flattened the Gulf Coast with the strength of a vengeful god. But human beings, beginning with the elected officials of the City of New Orleans, failed to anticipate and react in time.

Congressional investigations will take months to sort out who is to blame. A NEWSWEEK reconstruction of the government's response to the storm shows how Bush's leadership style and the bureaucratic culture combined to produce a disaster within a disaster.

Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, didn't want to evacuate. New Orleanians have a fatalistic streak; their joyful, jazz-blowing street funeral processions are legendary. After many near misses over the years since Hurricane Betsy flooded 20 percent of the city in 1965, longtime residents prefer to stay put. Nagin's eye had long been on commerce, not catastrophe. A former executive at Cox Communications, he had come to office in 2002 to clear out the allegedly corrupt old guard and bring new business to the city, which has not prospered with New South metropolises like Atlanta. During Nagin's mayoral campaign, the promises were about jobs, not stronger floodwalls and levees.

Bush and his advisers in his "war cabinet" have always been action-oriented, "forward leaning," in the favorite phrase of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They dislike lawyers and sometimes brush aside legalistic (and even sound constitutional) arguments. But this time "Rummy" opposed sending in active-duty troops as cops. Dick Cheney, who was vacationing in Wyoming when the storm hit, characteristically kept his counsel on videoconferences; his private advice is not known.

Liberals will say they were indifferent to the plight of poor African-Americans. It is true that Katrina laid bare society's massive neglect of its least fortunate. The inner thoughts and motivations of Bush and his top advisers are impossible to know for certain. Though it seems abstract at a time of such suffering, high-minded considerations about the balance of power between state and federal government were clearly at play. It's also possible that after at least four years of more or less constant crisis, Bush and his team are numb.

The failure of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina worked like a power blackout. Problems cascaded and compounded; each mistake made the next mistake worse. The foe in this battle was a monster; Katrina flattened the Gulf Coast with the strength of a vengeful god. But human beings, beginning with the elected officials of the City of New Orleans, failed to anticipate and react in time.

Congressional investigations will take months to sort out who is to blame. A NEWSWEEK reconstruction of the government's response to the storm shows how Bush's leadership style and the bureaucratic culture combined to produce a disaster within a disaster.

Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, didn't want to evacuate. New Orleanians have a fatalistic streak; their joyful, jazz-blowing street funeral processions are legendary. After many near misses over the years since Hurricane Betsy flooded 20 percent of the city in 1965, longtime residents prefer to stay put. Nagin's eye had long been on commerce, not catastrophe. A former executive at Cox Communications, he had come to office in 2002 to clear out the allegedly corrupt old guard and bring new business to the city, which has not prospered with New South metropolises like Atlanta. During Nagin's mayoral campaign, the promises were about jobs, not stronger floodwalls and levees.

But on Saturday night, as Katrina bore down on New Orleans, Nagin talked to Max Mayfield, head of the National Hurricane Center. "Max Mayfield has scared me to death," Nagin told City Councilwoman Cynthia Morrell early Sunday morning. "If you're scared, I'm scared," responded Morrell, and the mandatory order went out to evacuate the city?about a day later than for most other cities and counties along the Gulf Coast.

As Katrina howled outside Monday morning and the windows of the Hyatt Hotel, where the mayor had set up his command post, began popping out, Nagin and his staff lay on the floor. Then came eerie silence. Morrell decided to go look at her district, including nearby Gentilly. Outside, Canal Street was dry. "Phew," Morrell told her driver, "that was close." But then, from the elevated highway, she began seeing neighborhoods under eight to 15 feet of water. "Holy God," she thought to herself. Then she spotted her first dead body.

At dusk, on the ninth floor of city hall, the mayor and the city council had their first encounter with the federal government. A man in a blue FEMA windbreaker arrived to brief them on his helicopter flyover of the city. He seemed unfamiliar with the city's geography, but he did have a sense of urgency. "Water as far as the eye can see," he said. It was worse than Hurricanes Andrew in 1992 and Camille in 1969. "I need to call Washington," he said. "Do you have a conference-call line?" According to an aide to the mayor, he seemed a little taken aback when the answer was no. Long neglected in the city budget, communications within the New Orleans city government were poor, and eventually almost nonexistent when the batteries on the few old satellite phones died. The FEMA man found a phone, but he had trouble reaching senior officials in Washington. When he finally got someone on the line, the city officials kept hearing him say, "You don't understand, you don't understand."

Around New Orleans, three levees had overtopped or were broken. The city was doomed. There was no way the water could be stopped. But, incredibly, the seriousness of the situation did not really register, not only in Washington, but at the state emergency command post upriver in Baton Rouge. In a squat, drab cinder-block building in the state capital, full of TV monitors and maps, various state and federal officials tried to make sense of what had happened. "Nobody was saying it wasn't a catastrophe," Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu told NEWSWEEK. "We were saying, 'Thank you, God,' because the experts were telling the governor it could have been even worse."

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a motherly but steely figure known by the nickname Queen Bee, knew that she needed help. But she wasn't quite sure what. At about 8 p.m., she spoke to Bush. "Mr. President," she said, "we need your help. We need everything you've got."

Bush, the governor later recalled, was reassuring. But the conversation was all a little vague. Blanco did not specifically ask for a massive intervention by the active-duty military. "She wouldn't know the 82nd Airborne from the Harlem Boys' Choir," said an official in the governor's office, who did not wish to be identified talking about his boss's conversations with the president. There are a number of steps Bush could have taken, short of a full-scale federal takeover, like ordering the military to take over the pitiful and (by now) largely broken emergency communications system throughout the region. But the president, who was in San Diego preparing to give a speech the next day on the war in Iraq, went to bed.

By the predawn hours, most state and federal officials finally realized that the 17th Street Canal levee had been breached, and that the city was in serious trouble. Bush was told at 5 a.m. Pacific Coast time and immediately decided to cut his vacation short. To his senior advisers, living in the insular presidential bubble, the mere act of lopping off a couple of presidential vacation days counts as a major event. They could see pitfalls in sending Bush to New Orleans immediately. His presence would create a security nightmare and get in the way of the relief effort. Bush blithely proceeded with the rest of his schedule for the day, accepting a gift guitar at one event and pretending to riff like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business."

Bush might not have appeared so carefree if he had been able to see the fearful faces on some young police officers?the ones who actually showed up for roll call at the New Orleans Second District police headquarters that morning. The radio was reporting water nine feet deep at the corner of Napoleon and St. Charles streets. The looting and occasional shooting had begun. At 2 o'clock on the morning of the storm, only 82 of 120 cops had obeyed a summons to report for duty. Now the numbers were dwindling; within a day, only 28 or 30 officers would be left to save the stranded and fight the looters, recalled a sad and exhausted Capt. Eddie Hosli, speaking to a NEWSWEEK reporter last week. "One of my lieutenants told me, 'I was looking into the eyes of one of the officers and it was like looking into the eyes of a baby'," Hosli recalled. "It was just terrible." (When the AWOL officers began trickling back to work last week, attracted in part by the promise of five expense-paid days in Las Vegas for all New Orleans cops, Hosli told them, "You've got your own demons to live with. I'm not going to judge you.")

At emergency headquarters in Baton Rouge, confusion raged. Though more than 100,000 of its residents had no way to get out of the city on their own, New Orleans had no real evacuation plan, save to tell people to go to the Superdome and wait for buses. On Tuesday, the state was rounding up buses; no, FEMA was; no, FEMA's buses would take too long to get there ... and so on. On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Blanco took her second trip to the Superdome and was shocked by the rising tide of desperation there. There didn't seem to be nearly enough buses, boats or helicopters.

Early Wednesday morning, Blanco tried to call Bush. She was transferred around the White House for a while until she ended up on the phone with Fran Townsend, the president's Homeland Security adviser, who tried to reassure her but did not have many specifics. Hours later, Blanco called back and insisted on speaking to the president. When he came on the line, the governor recalled, "I just asked him for help, 'whatever you have'." She asked for 40,000 troops. "I just pulled a number out of the sky," she later told NEWSWEEK.

The Pentagon was not sitting idly. By Tuesday morning (and even before the storm) the military was moving supplies, ships, boats, helicopters and troops toward the Gulf Coast. But, ironically, the scale of the effort slowed it. TV viewers had difficulty understanding why TV crews seemed to move in and out of New Orleans while the military was nowhere to be seen. But a TV crew is five people in an RV. Before the military can send in convoys of trucks, it has to clear broken and flooded highways. The military took over the shattered New Orleans airport for emergency airlifts, but special teams of Air Force operators had to be sent in to make it ready. By the week after the storm, the military had mobilized some 70,000 troops and hundreds of helicopters?but it took at least two days and usually four and five to get them into the disaster area. Looters and well-armed gangs, like TV crews, moved faster.

In the inner councils of the Bush administration, there was some talk of gingerly pushing aside the overwhelmed "first responders," the state and local emergency forces, and sending in active-duty troops. But under an 1868 law, federal troops are not allowed to get involved in local law enforcement. The president, it's true, could have invoked the Insurrections Act, the so-called Riot Act. But Rumsfeld's aides say the secretary of Defense was leery of sending in 19-year-old soldiers trained to shoot people in combat to play policemen in an American city, and he believed that National Guardsmen trained as MPs were on the way.

The one federal agency that is supposed to handle disasters?FEMA?was dysfunctional. On Wednesday morning, Senator Landrieu was standing outside the chaotic Superdome and asked to borrow a FEMA official's phone to call her office in Washington. "It didn't work," she told NEWSWEEK. "I thought to myself, 'This isn't going to be pretty'." Once a kind of petty-cash drawer for congressmen to quickly hand out aid after floods and storms, FEMA had improved in the 1990s in the Clinton administration. But it became a victim of the Iron Law of Unintended Consequences. After 9/11 raised the profile of disaster response, FEMA was folded into the sprawling Department of Homeland Security and effectively weakened. FEMA's boss, Bush's close friend Joe Allbaugh, quit when he lost his cabinet seat. (Now a consultant, Allbaugh was down on the Gulf Coast last week looking for contracts for his private clients.) Allbaugh replaced himself with his college buddy Mike Brown, whose last private-sector job (omitted from his official resume) had been supervising horse-show judges for the International Arabian Horse Association. After praising Brown ("Brownie, you're doing a heck of job"), Bush last week removed him from honchoing the Katrina relief operation. He was replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen. The Coast Guard was one agency that performed well, rescuing thousands.

Bad news rarely flows up in bureaucracies. For most of those first few days, Bush was hearing what a good job the Feds were doing. Bush likes "metrics," numbers to measure performance, so the bureaucrats gave him reassuring statistics. At a press availability on Wednesday, Bush duly rattled them off: there were 400 trucks transporting 5.4 million meals and 13.4 million liters of water along with 3.4 million pounds of ice. Yet it was obvious to anyone watching TV that New Orleans had turned into a Third World hellhole.

The denial and the frustration finally collided aboard Air Force One on Friday. As the president's plane sat on the tarmac at New Orleans airport, a confrontation occurred that was described by one participant as "as blunt as you can get without the Secret Service getting involved." Governor Blanco was there, along with various congressmen and senators and Mayor Nagin (who took advantage of the opportunity to take a shower aboard the plane). One by one, the lawmakers listed their grievances as Bush listened. Rep. Bobby Jindal, whose district encompasses New Orleans, told of a sheriff who had called FEMA for assistance. According to Jindal, the sheriff was told to e-mail his request, "and the guy was sitting in a district underwater and with no electricity," Jindal said, incredulously. "How does that make any sense?" Jindal later told NEWSWEEK that "almost everybody" around the conference table had a similar story about how the federal response "just wasn't working." With each tale, "the president just shook his head, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing," says Jindal, a conservative Republican and Bush appointee who lost a close race to Blanco. Repeatedly, the president turned to his aides and said, "Fix it."

According to Sen. David Vitter, a Republican ally of Bush's, the meeting came to a head when Mayor Nagin blew up during a fraught discussion of "who's in charge?" Nagin slammed his hand down on the table and told Bush, "We just need to cut through this and do what it takes to have a more-controlled command structure. If that means federalizing it, let's do it."

A debate over "federalizing" the National Guard had been rattling in Washington for the previous three days. Normally, the Guard is under the control of the state governor, but the Feds can take over?if the governor asks them to. Nagin suggested that Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the Pentagon's on-scene commander, be put in charge. According to Senator Vitter,