Friday, December 31, 2004

For FastEddie_Felson: a belated response

For those of you who aren't coming over to my humble blog from Gaijin Biker, a short synopsis of the debate I have been in with FastEddie. We got into a discussion (click on the Gaijin Biker link above) about whether or not the concept of torture can be applied to the conduct of U.S. armed forces and secuity personnel in Iraq, specifically Abu Ghraib. Among his arguments were the following points:

"Looking from the perspective of you and I who love our country, we should be unhappy when the principles of moral correctness that the U.S. stands for is disregarded. The psychological damage done to the Iraqi people, and what is trying to be accomplished in Iraq seems to have been high. I think it would have been much better if those pictures never came out, but what was happening stopped and those responsible punished.

Do you allow for bending of your morals for what ever cause you support? I can not and that was the point of my last posted comment. I can not excuse what happened to those prisoners by saying it was "overblown" and these things happen during wartime.

I hate the murder of innocents, such as the beheadings the insurgents have used to incite fear. Because the insurgents are dirty and evil we are allowed to lower our ideals too?

The torture of the prisoners was not beheadings, but it was not what I believe the U.S. stands for, it was evil.

I am not naive to believe that atrocities do not happen during war. War is defined by atrocities, hence my distaste. I can’t defend insurgents killing innocent people; I can’t defend torture of Iraqis or Afghanistanis, innocent or prisoners of war by American guards."

Good points all. I'm also guilty of not having checked my comments for the previous posting here at Langtry, so I feel honor-bound to feature, if you will, my response in its' own blog entry. I'll start with a tidbit of my response to FastEddie's note:

"Fast Eddie: To be perfectly frank with you, I do not understand the fetishization of Abu Ghraib, and I will not classify what took place there as torture. Humiliation, without a doubt: but torture? Only in a post-modern world where words no longer have any meaning would making state-sponsored rapists and murderers "feel like women" (a quote from one of those "tortured" as to what was the most horrifying aspect of having been an inmate at Abu Ghraib) qualify as torture. Let me also say that I believe you are sincere.

I know it disturbs you that we can't fight a war as the moral people we hold ourselves up to be: my response to you is to be realistic about the morals of those whom we are up against.

As I said before, I'll own that I possess a double-standard when it comes to the broad-based definition of torure that FastEddie advocates. My definition is more precise in that I don't include huimiliation as a constituent component of the concept of torture. Torture is having metal files pushed under your fingernails. Torture is having your arms tied together behind your back and being hung by same from a hook in the cieling, as was done to Sen. John McCain during his years as a P.O.W. in Viet Nam. Torture is having to witness your wife or daughter being raped, because you didn't respond to questions quickly enough. Torture is having your body crammed inside a crudely constructed (yet terribly effective ) "Iron Maiden" for the offense of having missed a goal in a soccer/football game. Torture is being paraded into a room in a large warehouse for the express purpose of seeing one of your friends fed, slowly, into an industrial shredding machine.

The last two atrocities I noted above were, in fact, committed by Sadam Hussein's son Uday, and members of the Fedayeen Sadam, in that order. The inmates being held at Abu Ghraib were, by and large, members of the Fedayeen Sadam, nefarious men who terrorized anyone who didn't have the priviledge of being among Sadam's Sunni minority, and who held all of the power in the government and society we (the U.S.) recently abolished. These were not poor saps who were forced at gunpoint to march with Saddam's militias and serve as frontline canon fodder. The inmates at Abu Ghraib were sadists, rapists, child molesters, grifters, "knee-cappers", and murderers. I'll gladly admit to a double-standard when it comes to acts of humiliation such creatures are be subjected to upon apprehension.

I say humiliation, FastEddie, because I do not yet know of any credible reports of soddomy, dog attack, electrocution, murder, and other incidents of terror having been committed by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib. You may be more up-to-date than me: as of this moment it still appears to be at the "He Said/She Said" phase, and I am more apt to believe our guys than Saddam's. More time needs to be allowed for an objective, and comprehensive, investigation of the allegations. Until I have more credible information, I'm sticking to my guns (I know, bad choice of words, lol).

Is this to say I support the likes of Lyndie England and her co-horts? Absolutely not. Those asshats, in an ideal world, would have been recognized as head cases and underachievers and discharged from the military before being shipped out to Iraq. As it stands, we needed the manpower, and their true natures would not be known until the publication of the pictures those mental midgets managed to take of themselves, let alone distribute to family and friends. I hope they spend many years in prison, as they have tainted the achievements of their more dedictated compatriots.

Getting back to the issue of whether or not the case of Abu Ghraib is synonymous with torture, I just can't equate humiliation with what I understand to be the true nature and scope of the act. In the New York Times article that broke the this story, what I remember most from the article was the admission, by many of the detainees quoted, that the worst aspect of what they endured at Abu Ghraib was not having wires attached to their scrotums, or being forced to pose for naked cheerleader-style pictures. It was being (for the first time in their lives) in an inferior postition of power and having no control over their situation. It was, as one inmate put it, "being made to feel like a woman." In other words, they felt psychic pain over being powerless, and having no recognized rights or privileges. That's not torture. That's justice.

I'm not making this point to be a smartass, although it first blush it might appear that way. I appreciate the fact, FastEddie, that you want the U.S. held to a higher standard, one that we, as a nation, profess to hold. As I said before, I believe that making a determination about whether or not what we currently know to have occurred at Abu Ghraib constitutes torture, we have to look closely at those making the accusations. In doing so, we may find that our concept of morality becomes more fluid, more Machiavellian, especially when the concept of morality is being defined by those whom are wholely unfamiliar with the concept.

These men are not, in my opinion, credible witnesses. In the twisted world they live in, being humiliated is the worst kind of offense, and therefore their braying is likely to be loud and lasting. They are experts at playing to the vast wellspring of inferiority the Arab world feels when they are compared to their Western counterparts, and adept at using our moral standards against us. They hate women, they believe Jews are at the root of a conspiracy to rob them of their rightful place in the world, and they are quite adept at using the superior morality of Western nations to undermine us. They are not like the enemies we have faced in the past. Therefore, we cannot presume that they hold the same values we do, or that they define torture in the same way we do. You can be sure, however, that they will exploit our moral "failings" in the court of public opinion, whether or not they believe in the veracity of their assertions. This is realpolitik and it's most cynical manifestation, and we cannot afford to back down in its' face.

It has been shown, long before September 11th, that radical Islamic extremists do not value life, and that they abhor achievement, especially the sort gained through sustained effort. They would rather their children grow up to wage jihad than study medicine, or law, or education. They are a culture whose well has been poisoned for decades; not at the hands of despotic Western powers, but rather their own so-called "Leaders", who would rather wage terror for their own personal gain than work towards peace and prosperity. Radical Islam is a different enemy, and our standards must change in acknowledgement of this fact. I wish we could be more moral in fighting this enemy, but adherence to such standards may hurt us more than if we adapt, and use the standards our enemies against them. This may involve doing some things that feel foreign, and quite possibly immoral: however, they must be done.

Monday, November 22, 2004

But for the lipstick on my teeth, I like this picture! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Curiouser and curiouser ...

The story about Sandy Berger "inadvertently" removing classified documents from their files during his preparations for his appearance before the 9/11 Commission is getting really weird.  Berger, Bill Clinton's former chief of the National Security Agency (NSA), claims that his souvenir taking was limited merely to his hand-written notes, along with  documents that he accidentally packed away in his binder. 
Perhaps this is indeed more innocent than it would appear, as former Republican strategist and one-time Clinton Adviser David Gergen asserts.  Perhaps.  But do you know anyone who "inadvertently" misplaces classified papers in their suit jacket, pants and socks? 
Neither do I.
Federal probe targets Clinton's national security adviser

"In a statement, Berger acknowledged that he removed his handwritten notes without first having them reviewed for sensitive information, and he also said he "inadvertently" removed some of the classified documents he had reviewed during his time at the Archives.  National Archives' policy requires that if someone reviews classified documents and wants to take their handwritten notes with them, those notes must first be cleared by archivists. 
In his statement, Berger said that "when I was informed by the Archives there were documents missing, I immediately returned everything I had, except for a few documents that apparently I had accidentally discarded."

"I deeply regret the sloppiness involved, but I had no intention of withholding documents from the commission, and to the contrary, to my knowledge, every document requested by the commission from the Clinton administration was produced," he said.

Fox News Online includes this critical tidbit:

"Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed the handwritten notes by placing them in his jacket, pants and socks, and also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio."
In the world I live in, that last statement is called Bulls$*t.  How do you knowingly place papers in your pants while inadvertently taking evidenciary papers in your portfolio?  It's clear to me that Berger wants to have it both ways, and with the precedent set for him by his former boss, I'm not surprised to see a reappearance of such bald-faced equivocation.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

This is an issue I hoped not to have to discuss on this blog ...

but Rosie O'Donnell has forced my hand.

Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows that I consider the War on Terrorism to be the preeminent issue of our time. In fact, if we fail against our enemies, it makes all other issues moot. Especially the issue of Gay Marriage.

Sorry if this offends my gay friends. I am not making a judgement about your commitment to your significant others, but rather the extreme insensibility of focusing on this non-issue, and demanding the same level of focus from our political leaders, when there is a struggle for the survival of our country, our civilization taking place. If you cannot see how, should the Islamist way of life prevail, there will be no possibility of your living your lives as homosexuals, let alone marrying your partner, then there is no sense in paying you any attention. Your assertions to the contrary speak of narcissism in its' worst possible form, and those who would capitulate to your demands are ambitious narcissists who do so only to gain your vote.

So what, you ask, did Rosie O'Donnell do?

Rosie Takes Shot At Bush During Gay-Friendly Cruise

On a chartered "Gay Cruise" to Key West, O'Donnell castigated the Bush Administration:

"O'Donnell, who is a strong advocate of gay marriage and adoption, railed against President George W. Bush and the administration, according to the report.

"It will be the first time, except for prohibition, that bigotry has been added to the Constitution," O'Donnell said. "That the prevention of rights and exclusion of rights takes paramount over some religious ideology. And, supposedly, that is what we are fighting in Iraq -- A religious extreme government that is not letting people live freely."

I got news for you, Rosie: Any country where you and 2,000 others like you can charter a ship and cruise with your families in the Caribbean IS NOT beholden to a religious ideology. Any country where you, and your partner, can live a as a family IS NOT extremist in nature. A government that allows you to flourish as an entertainer, a celebrity and a capitalist while persuing a secular life free of any religious affiliation IS NOT a theocracy.

Yes, the Bush Administration supports an ammendment to ban gay marriage. They have their reasons for doing so, and I will admit that it would be much more prudent for them to ignore the sentiment of the "Religious Right" at this time. It's an election year, however, and both sides of the political spectrum in this country are seeking to solidify their traditional bases. Get over it.

In the meantime, your political panderers of choice, John Kerry and John Edwards, are busy trying to make you think that they will speak up on your behalf: "Where Bush seeks to deny, we will provide," if you will. Perhaps they will do a better job at promoting your particular interests. I just happen to think it's unfortunate that you put your own unique interests above the interests of our country and its' survival, which is the point of my screed. Far be it for some gays to stand united with everyone in protecting our country from harm and preventing another 9/11.

No, your largely manufactured issue of discrimination against gays is so much more important than a little thing like that.

P.S.: Prohibition banned the posession and sale of alcoholic beverages. It had nothing to do with discrimination.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Kerry/Edwards: 60's Narcissism Comes to Friution

My father was born just before the "Baby Boomer" era, as was my mother. Eminently sensible they continue to be, while most "Baby Boomers" seem devoted to being anything but. Why bother? Sensibility means considering others as well as yourself, and that just gets in the way of relating everything to one's self - the "Baby Boomer" obsession.

I'm not saying every person between the ages of 45 - 60 years is self obsessed: however, a remarkable number of those men and women in that category are. "Baby Boomers" control the media (not "The Jews" as many half-wits believe), and every event is filtered through their perception of reality. Consider:

Quagmire ... Viet Nam ... The 60's ... John F. Kennedy

With all due respect, I for one am sick of everything being compared to Kennedy, Viet Nam, Peace, Make Love Not War, The Man, etcetera ad infinitum. Scores of things just as important have happened in every decade since man began to record history.

My generation has seen just as much of triumph and tragedy as yours: you hold no monopoly on moral imperative.

"Daniel Henninger" weighs in on today's most glaring example of generational dissonance: the John Kerry / John Edwards democratic ticket:

Ditto, Ditto:
Kerryedwards is the most narcissistic ticket in 55 U.S. elections.

"Another thing that is unfair to say but hard not to notice: This may be the most narcissistic ticket in 55 U.S. presidential elections. These two guys really radiate self-awareness.

The oft-seen footage of the two emerging from a car after the VP announcement looked like a ZZ Top video for "Sharp Dressed Man." John Kerry slides a hand down his already smooth tie and deftly buttons his suit jacket. John Edwards checks the flaps on his coat pockets. "Silk suit, black tie." Both of their heads are rotating like satellite dishes scanning for signals. Light is ricocheting off porcelain in every direction. Come November, these two Power Rangers may have just worn out the electorate."

We're in a battle for our civilization here, and yet that fact seems to be anything but self-evident in the Democratic Party. After all, John Kerry, the man who expects to be our next President, has made two gigantic blunders in as many days: riding a wave of flotsam and jetsam, Kerry asserted that voters consider "We've got better hair!" Couple that with his statement on last night's "Larry King Live" that he hadn't yet had time to sit for his terror briefing. His stop right after Larry King? A fundraiser where emcee Whoopie Goldberg made graphic double entendres about the current President's last name. Far be it for a child of the 60's to give up scatalogical sermons in order to focus on the greatest threat in our country's history.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Holocaust deniers are "Murderers of Memory"

Timothy Ryback, author of the book "The Last Survivor: Legacies of Dachau", has written a compelling essay (Wall Street Journal online edition) on the very real possibility that rock solid evidence of The Shoah, commonly known as the Holocaust, may one day cease to exist.

Reasonable people everywhere might surmise that "this couldn't really happen, could it?"

Time has a way of erasing all remnants of people, places and things: it does not discriminate. The threat to historical sites such as Auschwitz and its' physical connections to the atrocities committed there is very real: for this the deniers lay in wait and, if historical ambivalence prevails, will be the inevitable fate of of that which the world cannot afford to forget ...

Preserving Auschwitz: Forensic evidence of the Holocaust is the best answer to the deniers.

"Last month, Jarek Mensfelt, spokesman for the Auschwitz memorial site, announced plans to preserve the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria in the notorious death camp at Birkenau near the Polish town of Oswiecim. "This is an attempt to keep it as it is now--in ruins--but not let the ruins go," he said. "It was meant to be here forever as a warning."

In the coming weeks, as the Auschwitz preservationists begin their work, they should be guided by the knowledge that these heaps of dynamited concrete and twisted steel are not only historic artifacts but among the few remnants of untainted, forensic evidence of the Holocaust.

Of course, the historical and circumstantial evidence of a premeditated Nazi plan to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe is overwhelming. There are the watch-tower-girded enclosures of Nazi concentration camps and the extensive testimonials of Holocaust survivors, as well as the court protocols of Nazi war criminals, but there is little forensic evidence proving homicidal intent. The Nazis were scrupulous when it came to obscuring the "Final Solution" in bureaucratic euphemism and also dismantling or obliterating their machinery of death. The dearth of hard evidence has fueled a growth industry in Holocaust-denial.

The revisionists' plaint is simple: They demand a proverbial "smoking gun" to prove that the Nazis deliberately and systematically designed an industrial system of extermination. They do not deny that millions of European Jews died from malnutrition, exhaustion and disease. They do not even deny that Zyklon B gas was employed at Auschwitz, but they claim it was used for delousing rather than homicidal purposes. One French critic has denounced them as "assassins de la memoire"--murderers of memory.

Never Forget.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

David Brooks: Age of Political Segregation

Is the information age responsible for an increasingly polarized American society? In today's online edition of The New York Times, David Brooks asks this question, and provides compelling evidence for the affirmative:

"I've been writing about polarization a fair bit recently, and the more I look into it, the more I think I'll just move to Tahiti. That's because the causes of polarization — at least among elites — have little to do with passing arguments about the war, the Bush leadership style or the Clinton scandals. The causes are deeper and structural ... to a large degree, polarization in America is a cultural consequence of the information age. This sort of economy demands and encourages education, and an educated electorate is a polarized electorate.

As examples of this, Brooks offers the following points:

+ That's because college-educated voters are more ideological.

+ Once you've joined a side, the information age makes it easier for you to surround yourself with people like yourself. And if there is one thing we have learned over the past generation, it's that we are really into self-validation. * Editor's Note: This is so true! Why else do I blog?

+ We don't only want radio programs and Web sites from members of our side — we want to live near people like ourselves ... the political result is that Republican places become more Republican and Democratic places become more Democratic.

+ When we find ourselves in such communities, our views shift even further in the dominant direction. You get this self-reinforcement cycle going, which social scientists call "group polarization."

+ People lose touch with others in opposing, now distant, camps. And millions of kids are raised in what amount to political ghettoes.

Brooks is worth a regular indulgence for a multitude of reasons. Not only is he amazingly erudite, but he's eminently sensible and always a gentleman. That can't be said for his colleagues in Op-Ed at The Times. Go and read the whole of it.

TCS: "The Real Air War Has Now Started"

Tech Central Station online has an essay by James K. Glassman that everyone concerned with the affect of left-leaning non-profit media sites on the presidential election should read ...

" A free-market conservative organization -- called a "527 political organization" after a section in the tax code -- goes public on Friday with hard-hitting independent issue ads on television. It's about time.

The ads ask viewers to imagine how Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass), the likely Democratic presidential candidate, would have reacted to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, especially considering his voting record of opposition to spending on measures to increase U.S. security.

The ads, which may provoke an uproar in the media because they show footage shot at the World Trade Center site after the attacks, contrast Kerry's likely reaction to the courage and determination shown by President Bush.

The new commercials, the work of the Progress for America Voter Fund, place conservative messages on a field that has been dominated, up until now, by the Left."

Of course, the LLL's are livid at the thought. (BTW: Don't bother trying to equate this with the Liberal's latest rant - that the media is controlled by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (VRWC), the proof of which can be found in the advertising embargo on Michael Moore's "FarenCrap: 9/11" - they'll never see the light of reality.) LLL's will also try to paint Progress for America as not being eligible for designation as a 527. This can be a dangerous tack for them to take, as the media/internet darling, a creation of the truly nefarious George Soros, is also a 527:

"According to press reports, liberal 527s, including the Voter Fund, the Media Fund, and Americans Coming Together (ACT) have had a huge head-start, fueled in large part by the donations of one person, the billionnaire George Soros, for whom defeating George W. Bush has become an obsession. Soros has given $2.5 million to MoveOn and $10 million to ACT.

Soros's spending makes a mockery of the intentions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which sought to bar large contributions. Critics of McCain-Feingold pointed out the loopholes, but the bill passed anyway, and groups backing Democrats immediately exploited it.

Through April 15, the latest reporting period, MoveOn had spent $15 million; the Media Fund, $10 million; and ACT, $11 million. MoveOn's commercials have been especially inflammatory. In January, MoveOn apologized for posting on its website two commercials that compared President Bush with Adolf Hitler.

The playing field is on its' way to becoming level, despite the early attempts by Soros and his ilk to prevent conservatives from being able to share the media pulpit. You can be certain there's a great deal of concern yonder the Democratic National Committee's way, as it would appear their media & internet advantage is short-lived.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Sarasota principle defends Bush from "Fahrenheit 9/11" portrayal Article

"Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11" criticizes President Bush for listening to Sarasota second-graders read a story for nearly seven minutes after learning the nation was under attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

But Gwendolyn Tose'-Rigell, the principal at Emma E. Booker Elementary School, says Bush handled himself properly.

"I don't think anyone could have handled it better," Tose'-Rigell told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in a story published Wednesday. "What would it have served if he had jumped out of his chair and ran out of the room?"

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

"If Bush is another Hitler, what words are left to describe Hitler?"

In today's Wall Street Journal online edition, Bret Stephens asks a question that, were this world (or at least its' media) sane, wouldn't even need to be asked. Yet it does, and should be shouted from the proverbial rooftop. In case you are unable to access it, I have reprinted it in its' entirety below.

Just Like Stalingrad:
If Bush is another Hitler, what words are left to describe Hitler?

According to Sidney Blumenthal, a onetime adviser to president Bill Clinton who now writes a column for Britain's Guardian newspaper, President Bush today runs "what is in effect a gulag," stretching "from prisons in Afghanistan to Iraq, from Guantanamo to secret CIA prisons around the world." Mr. Blumenthal says "there has been nothing like this system since the fall of the Soviet Union."

In another column, Mr. Blumenthal compares the April death toll for American soldiers in Iraq to the Eastern Front in the Second World War. Mr. Bush's "splendid little war," he writes, "has entered a Stalingrad-like phase of urban siege and house-to-house combat."

The factual bases for these claims are, first, that the U.S. holds some 10,000 "enemy combatants" prisoner; and second, that 122 U.S. soldiers were killed in action in April.

As I write, I have before me a copy of "The Black Book of Communism," which relates that on "1 January 1940 some 1,670,000 prisoners were being held in the 53 groups of corrective work camps and 425 collective work colonies. In addition, the prisons held 200,000 people awaiting trial or a transfer to camp. Finally, the NKVD komandatury were in charge of approximately 1.2 million 'specially displaced people.' "

As for Stalingrad, German deaths between Jan. 10 and Feb. 2, 1943, numbered 100,000, according to British historian John Keegan. And those were just the final agonizing days of a battle that had raged since the previous August.

Mr. Blumenthal is not alone. Al Gore last month accused Mr. Bush of creating "more anger and righteous indignation against us as Americans than any leader of our country in the 228 years of our existence as a nation." Every single column written by the New York Times' Paul Krugman is an anti-Bush screed; apparently, there isn't anything else worth writing about. A bumper sticker I saw the other day in Manhattan reads: "If you aren't outraged, you're not paying attention."

There are two explanations for all this. One is that Mr. Bush really is as bad as Sid, Al and Paul say: the dumbest, most feckless, most fanatical, most incompetent and most calamitous president the nation has ever known. A second is that Sid, Al and Paul are insane.

The best test of the first argument is the state of the nation Mr. Bush leads. In the first quarter of 2004, the U.S. economy grew by an annualized 4.4%. By contrast, the 12-nation eurozone grew by 1.3%--and that's their highest growth rate in three years. In the U.S., unemployment hovers around 5.6%. In the eurozone, it is 8.8%. In a recent column, Mr. Krugman wrote that the U.S. economic figures aren't quite as good as they seem. But even granting that, the Bush economy is manifestly healthy by historical and current international standards.

There is the situation in Iraq, where the U.S. has lost about 800 soldiers in action over the course of more than a year, as well as several thousand Iraqis. The fact that events have not gone well over the past two months is somehow taken as proof that they've gone disastrously. Yet in the run-up to the war, the German Foreign Ministry was issuing predictions of about two million Iraqi deaths, making the actual Iraqi death a very small percentage of that anticipated total. As for the American rate, the U.S. lost more than 6,000 soldiers in Vietnam in 1966, the year U.S. troop strength there was comparable to what it is now in Iraq. That's about nine times as many fatalities as the U.S. has so far sustained in Iraq.

There is the charge that, under Bush, the United States has qualified for most-hated-nation status. Maybe so. But it is not entirely clear why this should be so decisive in measuring the accomplishments or failures of the administration. President Reagan was also unpopular internationally back in his day. Nor is Israel an especially popular country. But that's no argument for Israel to measure itself according to what Jordanians or Egyptians think of it.

The point here is not that Mr. Bush has a flawless or even a good record or that his critics don't have their points. The point is that, at this stage in his presidency, Mr. Bush cannot credibly be described as some kind of world-historical disaster on a par with James Buchanan and Herbert Hoover, nor can he credibly be accused of the things of which he is accused.

This brings us to our second hypothesis, which is that his critics are insane.

This is an easier case to make. Mr. Blumenthal, for instance, is the man who described Bill Clinton's presidency as the most consequential, the most inspiring and the most moral of the 20th century, only possibly excepting FDR's. Mr. Krugman spent his first couple of years as a columnist writing tirades about how the U.S. economy was on the point of Argentina-style collapse.

What makes these arguments insane--I use the word advisedly--isn't that they don't contain some possible germ of truth. One can argue that Mr. Clinton was a reasonably good president. And one can argue that Bush economic policy has not been a success. But you have to be insane to argue that Mr. Clinton was FDR incarnate, and you have to be insane to argue Mr. Bush has brought the U.S. to its lowest economic point since 1932. This style of hyperbole is a symptom of madness, because it displays such palpable disconnect from observable reality.

If you have to go looking for outrage, the outrage probably isn't there. That which is truly outrageous tends to have the quality of obviousness.

So here is one aspect of this insanity: no sense of proportion. For Mr. Blumenthal, Fallujah isn't merely like Stalingrad. It may as well be Stalingrad, just as Guantanamo may as well be Lefertovo and Abu Ghraib may as well be Buchenwald, and Mr. Bush may as well be Hitler and Hoover combined, and Iraq may as well be Vietnam and Bill Clinton may as well be Franklin Roosevelt.

The absence of proportion stems, in turn, from a problem of perspective. If you have no idea where you stand in relation to certain objects, then an elephant may seem as small as a fly and a fly may seem as large as an elephant. Similarly, Mr. Blumenthal can compare the American detention infrastructure to the Gulag archipelago only if he has no concept of the actual size of things. And he can have no concept of the size of things because he neither knows enough about them nor where he stands in relation to them. What is the vantage point from which Mr. Blumenthal observes the world? It is one where Fallujah is "Stalingrad-like." How does one manage to see the world this way? By standing too close to Fallujah and too far from Stalingrad. By being consumed by the present. By losing not just the sense, but the possibility, of judgment.

Care for language is more than a concern for purity. When one describes President Bush as a fascist, what words remain for real fascists? When one describes Fallujah as Stalingrad-like, how can we express, in the words that remain to the language, what Stalingrad was like?

George Orwell wrote that the English language "becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." In taking care with language, we take care of ourselves.

Mr. Stephens is editor of the Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.

Link to Article

Monday, June 21, 2004

Safire Assails 9/11 Commission Posturing

In his op-ed piece entitled The Zelikow Report, New York Times columnist William Safire (one of the few reasons to read The Slimes nowadays) assails the swiftness with which major media outlets jumped on the report of what the Commission stated was a 'lack of connection between Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Regime and the perpetrators of 9/11.

Did you know that the report detailing these findings was not the final report on the matter? Did you also know that contradictory information came out within twenty-four hours of this interim report? Not if you didn't read beyond the headlines of the Washington Post, the Times, or the Associated Press reports that headlined many of the world's front pages, you didn't.

Friday, June 18, 2004

A Unique "Eye" on Chicago

Chicago Sun-Times WeatherCam

This webcam is situated atop the Chicago Sun-Times building at Wasbash Avenue and the Chicago River. It's panoramic and fully controllable through a unique (I've never seen one like it) feature located below the live-updated image. Catch it while it's still there, folks, because come October 2004 the Sun-Times will be moving out so that The Donald can move in and build his latest phallic substitute (I'm kidding, as I kinda like Trump and his limitless chutzpah). It's his "Apprentice", Bill Rancic that I can't stand. Go to work, already!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Anti-Zionism Does Equal Anti-Semitism

From Little Green Footballs comes a must read:

Because They Are Jews:
Enemies of Israel insist their hatred has nothing to do with Israel being a Jewish state. Can this be true?

In BeliefNet online, Rabbi David Wolpe clearly and concisely outlines the reasons why those who claim to be Anti-Israel / Anti-Zionist but not Anti-Semitic are deluded at best, amoral at worst. One could call this essay "The LLL Alternate Universe for Dummies". The Rabbi tells it like it is. During the darker moments where I consider what it means to be an American and what it means to be an Isreali (and in the 21st Century they mean exactly the same thing - the alchemy of envy, hatred and intolerance made terrifyingly whole in terrorism), I really do think that God is testing the world. Not Jews and Americans, specifically, but those who would target and murder them.

"It may be happenstance that people who live in countries where Jews were hated for millennia are saying that only Jews should not have a country, or criticize that country exclusively, or ignore atrocities perpetrated by other countries, or have deep understanding of those who are moved to murder Jews. It may shows nothing but a sensitivity bordering on paranoia to be troubled at the juncture of ancient, enduring hatreds with modern censure. Criticism of Israel across Europe surely has nothing to do with the searing observation by David Cesarani in London's Guardian that "Indeed, the 'final solution of the Jewish question' was probably the only genuine pan-European enterprise of the 20th century." The last thing all Europe agreed upon was the elimination of Jews, and now it agrees on the unredeemable savagery of Israel. To assume a relation between the hatred that was and the vilification that is risks being called "a Zionist propagandist" one of those phrases designed not to describe, but to strangle discussion.

I know people in Israel whose children have been killed. Not because someone else was the intended target, not because of clumsiness or the heedless use of great force, but because the children were deliberately targeted. After all, the murderers last month of the Hatuel family stopped a pregnant woman and four children in a Jeep, and systematically shot each of them. Neither the mother nor the little children were armed. They were merely Jews. Imagine if it were done on the streets of a major American city. Here such a person is called Charles Manson; in the halls of the Hague, they are fighters for freedom.

Are Jews always the victims? Certainly not. Israel is in a grip of mutual despair with Palestinians who have suffered much, and their plight is intolerable. That is why more than 150,000 people showed up to demonstrate in Israel on May 15 in favor of a Gaza pullout, the only country in the area where such a demonstration could peaceably take place."

Read it all, and emerge with enough intellectual arms and armor to debunk any and all who would attempt to spew anti-semitic hatred as anything but.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

From the "That's News To Me" department ...

In a deposition regarding sexual harassment of females by University of Colorado football players, the University of Colorado President, Elizabeth Hoffman claims (President)says slur can be "term of endearment" . Hoffman, a Medieval History scholar, asserts that the "C-word" (used to refer to a woman's private parts) hasn't always been a pejorative one. Perhaps this was so in 500 - 1400 AD, but there's no positive connotation in the 21st century:

In the deposition, Hoffman was asked whether the "c-word" is "filthy and vile."

She said she knows the word is a swear word, but "It is all in the context of what--of how it is used and when it is used."

She was asked, "Can you indicate any polite context in which that word would be used?"

Hoffman answered, "Yes, I've actually heard it used as a term of endearment."

Clearly, President Hoffman runs in a far racier crowd than I do.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Tammy Bruce in President Reagan Changed Me

I haven't written yet about former President Reagan's passing, and for good reason. Reagan was President during my formative high school & college years, and during that time there was a certain degree of indoctrination that had taken hold in my still-forming socio-political psyche. It wasn't considered compassionate, or particularly intelligent, to allign oneself with an unabashed conservative. My views of feminism, as practiced at my small womens' Catholic college, caused me to think most of its' adherents were zealots of the 'Man Haters 101' ideology, but I still held hopes of its' being redeemed as a source of self-reliance. It was easy to think that the world, and the people who lived in it, could be perfected. I have changed since then, profoundly so.

Many of those memories I've reconnected with today have come as a result of reading Tammy Bruce's President Reagan Changed Me in today's online edition of Townhall. It's an especially compelling piece when you consider that Ms. Bruce, ten years ago, was the President of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

"Ronald Reagan was hated, and still is, in the feminist-establishment circles in which I grew up. That milieu subsists on enemies and hatred. I took my cues from the women around me, women I admired. They were strong and confident, and they knew. They knew who was out to get us. They knew who was determined to throw us back into the Dark Ages. They knew Reagan was evil.

I tell you this not as an excuse for my past actions but as a further illustration of what I’ve been discussing ... the way malignant narcissism is spread. You see, the seed of my politics, the politics I espouse now, were already manifested in my voting for President Reagan 10 years earlier. I liked him, and I believed he had the best interests of Americans in mind. During my involvement with NOW, however, what took over was my need to be accepted, the romanticization of my “victimhood,” and the power I could achieve by following the models of the women at the top. Those women were happy that Reagan was sick, so I would be, too.

The conditioning of the Left Elite works so well partly because the people attracted to that camp are looking for family, they are looking to belong; consequently people like that – people like me – are easy pickings. My emptiness compelled me to cheer when a decent man who followed his principles was struck down by an unforgiving assailant. Alzheimer’s had done what many feminist leaders fantasized about doing themselves, if only they could get away with it.

It's a long yet worthwhile essay, and I admire Tammy Bruce's ability to be true to her core beliefs, incl. stem cell research, and the right of a woman to choose an abortion, even if I do not agree in principal with those beliefs.

Why? Because she is able to do so, at least now, without the need to eviscerate the reputation of a those on the other side, be they politician, public figure, or a plebian like me who disagrees with her. She seems to be someone with whom I could engage in a sober and civil discussion about important issues we disagree upon.

Maybe that is what strikes me about this essay, not just her admitted admiration for Ronald Reagan or her political transformation. It's that so much of our political discourse has devolved into shrill and nihilistic raging from The Left, who regard all conservatives as "Right Wing Religious Fanatics". This is met by The Right, to whom much of The Left looks increasingly out of touch with reality. Civility is gone, and all differences are reduced to life and death struggles.

I would argue that most Neo-Cons (myself included), believe not in the sovreignty of the bible in all personal and political matters, but rather in the need to support existing democracies while establishing new ones where they are most needed as the only effective way to deal with the problem of terrorism. Many of us started out as Democrats, may still grudgingly call ourselves so, but the Democratic Party of the 21st Century, with it's continued obeisance to group-think and divisivenes, and its' continued denial of the threat we are facing, is not the one we grew up with.

Thinking about these matters, however, requires introspection into areas that are challenging, and scary, too. Humility is required, as well as listening to others whose views we have been conditioned to think of as foreign and therefore distrustful. Tammy Bruce went looking anyway, and her story is deserving of our attention.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Peggy Noonan on Today's College Graduates

It's commencement season, readers (all 3 of you, lol!), and Peggy Noonan takes an optimistic yet measured look at the next generation in today's online Opinion Journal:
Big Mike, No Message: Sizing up college grads, secular Europeans, antismoking zealots and John Kerry.

In this first portion of the piece, she remarks how struck she is by the number of young Ivy League graduates planning to go into television and journalism. What concerns her is their desire to be communicators, when they are unable to convey just what it is they want to communicate.

A short aside before you click on the link ... Peggy is an amazing writer, probably the best speech writer in the business (she wrote one of Ronald Reagan's most eloquent speeches - the one he delivered at the eulogy for the space shuttle Challenger astronauts), but she can sometimes wax a bit loony, as she does here when she writes: "I have been paying attention to the graduates of Ivy League universities. Every one I see the past few weeks is beautiful. They are tall and handsome and gay-spirited; they are strong and laughing and bright." Sometimes you have to take the goofy with the great, and her stuff is often times the latter:

I see no sign they are going to start thinking anything truly unusual for their time and generation--that religious conversion can be a wholly beneficial and life changing event, for instance, or that breaking with liberal orthodoxy might be the beginning of wisdom.

It must leave them finding it a challenge to speak of their beliefs in an interesting way. They often seem to fall back on attitude--wit, irony, poking fun at the thick-witted--in place of sustained thought, or meaning. And still they want to communicate for a living. I think of this problem as "big mike, no message." They are trained in the finest points of communication, but when they turn on the microphone, they have nothing serious to say.

I'd be interested to know if you are in agreement with her general sentiment, as I am.

The Onion comes to the rescue with Tornado Safety Tips!

A little humor as we head into the first weekend in June - Yippee!

Sorry to admit that I am clueless about photo-hosting for the site, so I will have to link up to my favorite The Onion infographic in many moon: Tornado Safety Tips

My personal favorite?

"In the event of a tornado, lie down in a ditch. If you are already lying in a ditch, do not attempt to sit up."

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Walter Williams: "Three Cheers for the Cos"

In today's columnist Walter Williams weighs in a the controversy surrounding Bill Cosby's recent statements at a service commemorating fifty years since the landmark "Brown v. Board of Education" decision. Williams provides a good intro:

" May 17 saw several gatherings commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court school desegregation decision in Brown vs. Board of Education. But the event held in Washington, D.C.'s Constitution Hall will be the one to be remembered because of Bill Cosby's remarks, which won him scathing criticism from some in the black community.

For years, I've argued that most of the problems many black Americans face today have little or nothing to do with racial discrimination. For the most part, the most devastating problems encountered by a large segment of the black community are self-inflicted. Bill Cosby mentioned several of them, such as black parents who'll buy their children expensive clothing rather than something educational, poor language spoken by many children and adults, and criminals who prey on the overwhelmingly law-abiding residents of black neighborhoods."

Many in the audience apparently agreed and laughed and applauded at Cosby's chutzpah. The reaction of the NAACP leaders, however, was one of horror. Horror that Bill Cosby would make statements outside of what the NAACP deems appropriate and acceptable.

In a recent column, my colleague Thomas Sowell explained, "Bill Cosby and the black 'leadership' represent two long-standing differences about how to deal with the problems of the black community. The 'leaders' are concerned with protecting the image of blacks, while Cosby is trying to protect the future of blacks, especially those of the younger generation."

Go and read it. It says a lot about why the NAACP and other orgnaizations that claim to represent black americans are probably those least suited to alter the landscape of the black working-class / innercity experience.

Just when I think I can't take my job anymore, some little thing makes it all worthwhile ...

Yes, I work in a hospital. No, it's not very interesting work, as I am not a clinician (medical staff). Once in while, though, the comedic value of this place outweighs all other considerations. Case in point?

This morning the caffiene intake from my morning joe isn't proving sufficient, so I head over to the vending machines in the Emergency Room waiting area to grab a Diet Coke. To get to the machines, I circumvent the security check-in, where a young man is removing all metal objects from his pockets. Smells like an ash tray. So far, nothing new.

However, his T-Shirt caught my eye. It's caption:

Will Work For Weed

I kid you not.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Jose Padilla is right where he belongs

Seems like a fairly strong emotion for someone I do not know personally, hmmm? After all, say the LLL's, I am affected more by his denial of civil rights than his murderous plans. To hyper-intellectualized (or perhaps dissociated is a better word) asshats, this may be true; to me, Jose Padilla is a direct threat that's been neutralized, and that's a very good thing.

U.S.: 'Dirty bomb' suspect planned to blow up apartments

``Padilla and the accomplice were to locate as many as three high-rise apartment buildings which had natural gas supplied to the floors,'' the government summary of interrogations revealed. ``They would rent two apartments in each building, seal all the openings, turn on the gas, and set timers to detonate the buildings simultaneously at a later time,'' the papers alleged. The documents said al-Qaida officials were skeptical of Padilla's ability to set off a dirty bomb but were very interested in the apartment operation. Top al-Qaida officials ``wanted Padilla to hit targets in New York City, although Florida and Washington, D.C. were discussed as well,'' the summary said.

I find little comfort in the fact that he apparently intended to target buildings on the East Coast. As some of you may remember, Padilla (a Chicago native) attempted to enter Chicago's O'Hare International Airport via Pakistan, not Mexico or Puerto Rico, as the Chicago Tribune article states. How do we know that Chicago apartment buildings were to be spared? We don't, and that makes me angry and scared.

I'm not angry at the Bush administration, nor the Department of Homeland Security or the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). They did their difficult job well, and caught this former Humboldt Park gangbanger-turned-terrorist creep before he could carry out his (and Al Qaeda's nefarious plans). I'm angry at the people who continue to pretend that we aren't in a fight for our very lives, and sad for myself and my friends who live in apartment buildings here in Chicago and throughout the US. These apartment buildings are our homes, and it is where we live with our loved ones, be they spouses, boyfriends, children or pets. I take it personally when someone means to do us in.

So should the LLL's.

Friday, May 28, 2004

A little note of explanation ...

I have been a bit remiss in making sure to post at least one article each day, I'll be the first to admit. To be frank, I have been trying to remain a little detached from the goings on of this contentious day and age. The level of vitriol in this country, especially among those who occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum, is not only disheartening to me, it's astonishing. I know all of the reasons and rationales, but it still shocks me when I buckle in and dive down in the trenches of what constitutes contemporary discourse.

I firmly believe that each of us has an obligation to be aware of what is going on here, and I'm not saying the LLL's (Looney Leftist Liberals) aren't doing just that. It's what they do with that awareness; the filtering of fact that when rendered in no way resembles what it once was. Organized political disinformation has created a cluster bomb from a model airplane, if you will.

Some might say that this is payback for Republican harassment of former President Clinton, and "payback's a bitch", ad infinitum, ad nauseum. There is some truth to that, but I am not convinced that what President Bush faces today is a fair approximation of that which beset President Clinton. The Republicans who made it their life's work to muckrake all and sundry aspects of Bill Clinton's life were few in number: they were vocal and determined, but they never constituted a majority of the party. Those Democrats who dog President Bush, however, are manifold. And they are financed in a way that would have made Trent Lott, Dan Burton and their ilk salivate like an english mastiff. Not a pretty image: forgive me.

Part of this blame goes to the Internet. There are no fact checkers at Indymedia, a site whose stated purpose is that of being a "alternative news source" (started by the truly odious Bill Moyers, a devil in parson's clothing if one has ever existed). Indymedia is in fact a site where the most bizarre and nefarious rumors can be posted as established fact, and in some instances these stories have made their way into mainstream media such as the New York Times and CNN.

George Soros' and its' affiliate PAC (Political Action Committee) is used as a legitimate news source by a surprising number of print and television media outlets, and no admission as to the nature of MoveOn and it's mission is made at any of these points of publication. It's a pretty damning indictment of conventional media, but everyone seems to be looking the other way. Except my fellow bloggers, of course.

When I look at the weblogs of of truly accomplished bloggers, such as LGF's Charles Johnson, Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit, Bill Whittle's Eject!Eject!Eject!, and Roger L. Simon's eponymous site, I am humbled and a little intimidated at even attempting to imitate what they do far better than me.

But I must also admit that I am encouraged by the "upstarts", newbie bloggers who thrive when presented with the challenge inherent to publishing one's thoughts and opinions on the 'net:
Colt's "Eurabian Times", the inimitable humor that is Iowa Hawk", or the unique military perspective of former Air Force officer Baldilocks". Each of these people, and countless more, are changing how I look at goings on in America, Europe and the world at large. If by tiny chance you have made it here to my blog, take special care to make sure you also look at theirs, as I cannot promise to be as productive nor as articulate as they are.

But I'll sure as hell try.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Zachary Selden in WSJ's Opinion Journal: What Europe Doesn't Understand

What Europe Doesn't Understand: Neoconservatism is neither neo nor conservative. It's just American.

A portion of this wise and illustrative essay ...

Although there are notable exceptions, many European commentators and much of the public are resorting to conspiratorial theories to explain the direction of U.S. foreign policy and somehow overlook the fact that American public opinion runs in favor of the president's handling of foreign affairs. Perhaps more important, however, they overlook the deep historical roots of the current direction of American foreign policy. It is not driven by a "neocon cabal." Rather, it is that certain individuals associated with the neoconservative label have been particularly articulate in expressing a set of policies that flow from two ideas that resonate deeply in American public opinion. The first is a belief that the United States has a responsibility to spread its vision of individual liberty. The second is that the primary and perhaps exclusive task of the federal government is to protect its citizens from external threats. Whatever the actual causes of U.S. action in any particular instance, those principles loom large in the public debate and shape how and when the United States becomes involved in other countries' affairs.

If you really want to understand where neoconservatives are coming from, and I count myself among those who accept the label, this piece will help you to understand the principles that form the basis of neoconservatism. It's worth the read, and written in an accessible way that most people can understand.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Bill Cosby's Right

First of all, I will admit that I am a white, upper-middle class woman. I didn't grow up in the concrete jungle, but I am the product of one of the most racially mixed suburbs in the Chicago area, so I know at least a little bit of whence I speak. I also spend one night a week working with teen girls who are incarcerated in the juvenile detention system, so I'm at least clued in to Ghetto: its' culture, its' code of honor, its' priorities, if my connection to these young women counts for anything. And it's left me agreeing, albeit amazedly, with Bill Cosby's comments, spoken at a Washington DC rally commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, are right on the money:

As Cos tells it, we ain't learnt nothin' yet

"Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal," he said Monday night. "These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids - $500 sneakers for what?

"And they won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.' ...

"They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English," he said. "I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't.' 'Where you is.' ... And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. ... Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. ... You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!"

Of Course, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and NAACP legal defense fund head Theodore Shaw were present at the event, and Shaw made the pointed comment (to paraphrase) "that most people on welfare are not African-American, and many of the problems his organization has addressed in the black community were not self-inflicted".

It should be noted that at no point in the speech did Cosby specifically claim that blacks alone were those he saw fit to admonish.

The girls I volunteer with are Black, Caucasian and Hispanic, and they are the first to acknowledge that screwed up priorities are colorblind, and that the things their parent(s) by them, if they buy them anything, are often impulse purchases. This would seem to bear out Cosby's claims. Gifts are bought to satisfy a temporary need or to soothe hurt feelings, not to foster intellect or encourage ambitions beyond sports stardom (this goes for all groups).

Secondly, if the NAACP thinks that the problems in the black community are not, at least in part, self-inflicted, then their purpose is in fact a ruse.

Dr. Martin Luther King spoke and wrote very movingly about the role of racism in holding blacks back.

* He did not absolve Americans, regardless of color, of their own transgressions or failures in race relations.

*He did not absolve whites of judging others on the color of their skin: he implored us to look at who people were and what they made of themselves, first and foremost.

*He did not absolve black men, women and children of their part in creating the characters upon which they would, in a just world, be judged.

This is how I understood his speeches and writings, and Mfume and Shaw's statements lead me to wonder how out-of-touch the organization he once headed has become.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Christopher Hitchens is a man you want on your side ...

Unfortunately, for the LLL/anti-war/root-causes crowd, he's not in their camp. The man is playing on our team, and he's batting .1000:

Christopher Hitchens/Slate: What Went Wrong - The flaw in Seymour Hersh's theory, and lo and behold Michael Moore makes a cameo appearance:

I ask this because, in the news cycle that preceded the Iraq atrocities, the administration was being arraigned from dawn until dusk for the offense of failing to take timely measures against the Taliban and al-Qaida. I hardly need to recapitulate the indictment here. We had our chance to see it coming, and to see where it was coming from, and the administration comprehensively blew all these chances, from the first warnings of suicide-hijacking to the cosseting of Saudi visa applicants. I might add that I completely agree with all these condemnations and wrote about many of them (including the spiriting of the Bin Laden relatives out of the country during a "no-fly" period imposed upon the rest of us) at the time.

But there is no serious way of having this cake and scarfing it. I remember a debate I had with Michael Moore—the newly crowned king of the Cannes Film Festival—at the more modest location of the Telluride Film Festival in 2002. Ridiculing the Bush administration's policy, he shouted that it had gone into Afghanistan to get Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar. "Mission NOT accomplished!" he added, to roars of easy applause. I asked myself then, and I repeat the question now: Would the antiwar camp have approved the measures necessary to ensure those goals? If they will the end, will they will the means? Would they taunt that lawyer in Tampa, as they taunt the supporters of regime change, with living a quiet life at home while others die in the field? Isn't the refusal to take out the leaders of al-Qaida a bit of a distraction from the struggle against al-Qaida?

Read it all: it's worth it.

Michael Moore & The Politcs of Entertainment

I think Rachel Lucas had it right in her opinion of Michael Moore:

Have I made it clear how I feel about Monsieur Moore? Good.

In today's Opinion Journal: Daniel Schwammenthal exposes the less-than-honest goings-on of the porcine mockumentary director at Cannes, the post-Oscar festival of self-aggransizement that takes place in the south of France:

WSJ: Michael's Manipulations: Moore of the same at Cannes.

CANNES, France--On his way to the next film-festival interview, movie maker Michael Moore, self-declared champion of the downtrodden, lent his support to protesting show-biz workers on the Croisette, Cannes's beachwalk. He took a megaphone, screaming "a job is a human right, a living wage is a human right." Never mind that the protests were about neither jobs nor wages but small cuts to France's generous welfare checks for artists. He hasn't become a millionaire filmmaker by being too fussy with the facts.

We all know that the winner of Cannes' grand prize, the
Palme D'Or
, was decided before any films were actually screened: as Schwammenthal deftly illustrates, the glitterati will once again consume itself in a conflagration of anti-Americanism and award the Golden Palm to "Fahrenheit 9/11".

The LLL's will of course trample themselves to see it when it opens here in the US.

Monday, May 17, 2004

A Little Fun & Games ...

Too much going on to do much in the way of blogging, so I'm putting in a friendly diversion to pass the time.

Back soon!

What Color is Your Brain?

brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, May 10, 2004

Barbara Amiel Kicks Some Media Ass

The inimitable Barbara Amiel, one of my heroes, has written yet another sharp-focused and insightful (or perhaps, to the British LLL's "inciteful") Op-Ed piece on the manipulation of public opinion and scandal-mongering inre: Abu Gharaib ...

The Telegraph: "War is a minefield for any democratic government"

This week's Economist cover screams, "Resign, Rumsfeld". With the tide of condemnation over American mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and the charge that it will be a "permanent stain on America for years to come" (sic), the events at Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad seem a story judged.

The admonition of the Economist leader that "the pictures of abuse, especially the one… of the hooded man wired as if for electrocution, stand an awful chance of becoming iconic images that could haunt America for years…" shows how news organisations are doing their damnedest to make sure just that happens. The iconic photo takes up the entire cover of the Economist.

From "The Pot Calling the Kettle Black" files, a New Entry!

Poor little Tommy Daschle.

Mainstream US politics have become "too mean". From the Aberdeen (SD) News comes: Senate minority leader sees 'startling meanness' in politics

The money quote is this one:

"There are things that matter more than political parties," Daschle said. "There are lines we should not cross regardless of the advantage we think it may give our party at times."

He continued: "Demonizing those with whom we disagree politically does not serve the interests of democracy. It does not resolve differences."

Granted, senator, but where's does recognition of your own behavior fall into this statement?

Repeatedly filibustering senate sessions, participating in smear campaigns on federal judicial nominees, and perpetuating the destructive lie that George Bush "stole" the presidency does not constitute "dirty politics", but legitimately defeating a democrat senator (Max Clelland) who just happens to be a triple-amputee is. Then again, I don't think Daschle gets it, and I hope South Dakotans go for the double and defeat Daschle in his next re-election campaign.

And by the way, senator: citing as a left-wing example of mean politics won't gain you any favor with me. That one's so obvious it doesn't count as insight. Fish in a barrell, I say.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Jury's Requests Don't Bode Well for Jayson Williams

Williams Jury Hears Testimony Readback

As the jury in Jayson Williams' manslaughter trial continues its' second day of deliberations, his attorneys are likely trying to convince the New Jersey Net to accept a plea bargain ... that is, if the prosecutors are even offering one. This case is, and I use this term precisely, a "Slam Dunk". Williams' documented arrogance likely precludes recognizing just how bad the situation is for him, and how likely he is to end up in prison at the conclusion of this trial. I don't envy his attorneys in their efforts to get Williams to accept the inevitable.

The jury has thus far requested the transcipts of two witnesses, each of whom testified as to whether or not Williams tried to get them to lie to police and cover up the shooting death of Costas "Gus" Christofi. This jury knows exactly what it is looking for, and their request would seem to indicate a belief that Williams likely encouraged witnesses to lie about exactly where Christofi was shot, and whether or Christofi had in fact committed suicide:

"Williams, a former New Jersey Nets player, was playing with one of his shotguns in his bedroom when the weapon fired ... Williams, 36, faces eight charges, the most serious of which is aggravated manslaughter. To convict Williams on that charge, the jury must unanimously find that he recklessly caused Christofi's death "under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life."

He is also charged with trying to make the shooting look like a suicide by wiping down the shotgun and putting Christofi's hands on the gun. Prosecutors said he also instructed his guests to lie to authorities."

I wrote about Williams' rage in the archives of this blog ("I've had it with the NBA"), and it's something he lets loose with on those who are either weaker than or beholden to him. Christofi was Williams' chauffer and sometime fellow partier.

His crime on the night he died? Rolling his eyes at one of Williams' jokes.

I hope he gets convicted, and the judge maxes his sentence.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Atrocities Against Muslim Women & Girls Pooh-Pooh'ed by Left-Leaning-Lunatics ... er, Peaceniks

Pamela Boone has the LLL's sussed out in The Age: The enemy is not America. In spite of numerous instances where women and girls have been villified, dehumanized, and terrorized by misogynist Islamist cultures, many Feminists, and The Left in general, see America and its' military as the oppressors. This fundamental disconnect is something that fascinates me(that is, until I quickly find myself disgusted), in the same way that I might find fascinating the screaming, babbling, obviously unmedicated guy who paces in front of Water Tower Place here in Chicago. Why would one choose to be so blind to the obvious, so patently miserable, when the answer is right in front of you?

"No, the US didn't go into Iraq, or Afghanistan, to liberate women. Indeed, by the standards of the region Iraqi women were not badly oppressed - notwithstanding the hundreds who were executed by Saddam's son, Uday, for "dishonouring" their country (which meant speaking out about corruption in government). Nothing was done by Western governments to help the women of Afghanistan until Osama bin Laden became a threat. While South Africa was subjected to years of sanctions over the oppression of blacks, no sanctions are applied to countries because they condone or promote the oppression of women.

Yet if there is ever going to be a peaceful world there are few things more important than lifting the status of women. The hatreds of bin Laden and his kind will not be assuaged; but in general, fundamentalism wanes as prosperity increases. . And as a United Nations report notes, a large part of the reason so many countries in the Middle East are overpopulated, economic basket cases is the repression of women ... . (i)f there's a war on, we should be clear about who is the real enemy of civilisation. Despite the reservations any liberal would feel for some policies of the present Administration (and the doubts about its competence), the enemy is not America.


Monday, April 26, 2004

From the "Pot Calling the Kettle Black" files ...

Bill & Hillary Clinton's rabid hound, DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe is screaming "No Fair!"

McAuliffe Defends Kerry After Cheney Rap

"Call off the republican attack dogs," McAuliffe howled, castigating the Vice President Cheney for a speech he has yet to make.

"It's time for Dick Cheney to call off the Republican attack dogs. The American people have better things to do with their time than listen to more misleading attacks from a man who has been misleading them from the day he took office," McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe seems to forget that he and his lone patrons (Bill & Hillary) in the DNC were the architects & fomentors of the "politics of personal destruction", and that turnabout is fairplay. Rest assured, the Bush-Cheney administration was well-prepared for McAuliffe's hypocritical pronouncement:

A spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign, Steve Schmidt, responded that McAuliffe has "a staggering lack of credibility" on the issue.

"During the height of the Cold War John Kerry advocated canceling the critical weapons systems that helped win the Cold War and are still being used to win the war on terror," Schmidt said. "After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Vice President Cheney helped transform the military from the Cold War era to the 21st century military that serves America today."

John Kerry Should Have an Honorary PhD in Double Talk

John Forbes Kerry continues to engage in mind-numbing double talk, and frankly my brain is fried from trying to make sense of the reasoning behind statements made to "Good Morning America this AM. As is clear from this GMA Transcript of Kerry, the democratic candidate for President is unable to adequately explain why, after years of claiming that he had thrown his medals over the White House fence in protest over the Viet Nam war, he must now insist otherwise. Why this is so is clear from Kerry's own justification of his action of that day 30+ years ago.

At first, Kerry claimed that he had thrown his own medals away in protest; when confronted by organized labor (upon his entry into the Massachusettes senatorial race) about this disrespect, Kerry justified his actions by claiming that he had sent someone else's medals over the White House fence. Now that the story has resurfaced, and the public is reexamining his actions on that day in 1971, Kerry is trying, desperately, to have it both ways. Witness the latest attempt to spin this telling story:

GIBSON: 1984, senator, to the present. you have said a number of times, as brian pointed out as recently as friday with the ""los angeles times,"" have you said a number of times that you did not throw away the vietnam medals themselves. but now this interview from 1971 shows up the in which you say that was the medals themselves that were thrown away.

KERRY: no, i don't.

GIBSON: can you explain?

KERRY: absolutely. that's absolutely incorrect. charlie, i stood up in front of the nation. there were dozens of cameras there, television cameras, there were -- i don't know. 20, 30 still photographers. thousands of people and i stood up in front of the country, reached into my shirt, visibly for the nation to see, and took the ribbons off my chest, said a few words and threw them over the fence. the file footage, the reporter there from the ""boston globe,"" everybody got it correctly. and i never asserted otherwise. what i said was and back then, you know, ribbons, medals were absolutely interchangeable . senator simmington asking me questions in the committee hearing, look ad at the ribbons and said what are those medals? the u.s. navy pam let calls the medals, we referred to them it is a symbols, representing medals, ribbons, countless veterans through the ribbon -- threw the ribbons back. everybody did. veterans threw back dog tags. they threw back photographs, they th rew back their 14's. there are photographs of a pile of all of those things collected on the steps of the capitol. so the fact is that i have -- i have been accurate precisely about what took place. and i am the one who later made clear exactly what happened. i mean, this is a controversy that the republicans are pushing , the republicans have spent $60 million in the last few weeks trying to attack me. and this comes from a president and a republican party that can't even answer whether or not he showed up for duty in the national guard. i'm not going to stand for it.

GIBSON: senator, i was there 33 years ago and i saw you throw medals over the fence and we didn't find out until later -

KERRY: no, you didn't see me throw th. charlie, charlie, you are wrong. that's not what happened. i threw my ribbons across. all you have to do -

GIBSON: someone else's medals, correct in?

KERRY: after -- excuse me. excuse me, charlie. after the ceremony was over, i had a bronze star and a purple heart given to me, one purple heart by a veteran in the v.a. in new york and the bronze star by an older veteran of world war ii in massachusetts. i threw them over because they asked me to. i never --

GIBSON: let me come back to the thing just said which is the military --

KERRY: this is a phony -- charlie, this is a phony controversy.

GIBSON:the military makes no distinction between ribbons and medals but you are the one who made the distinction. in 1984 --

KERRY: no . we made no distinction back then, charlie. we made no distinction.

Kerry knows there is no distinction between ribbons and medals. And yet he chose, very precisely, I might add, to keep his own medals, as they might prove useful later in a political campaign. Countrary to his repeated assertions, he did make a distinction: one bourne of a curious combination of disdain for combat and those who engage in it, intermingled with a craven desire for grasping the political opportunities said medals could bring about. As is his wont, he is attempting, quite transparently, to have it both ways.

Note also that as he is trying to explain his own actions, he predictably brings up the subject of Bush's Air National Guard service (unlike Kerry, Bush has made all military records pertinent to his service available to the press: Kerry has yet to meet the standard of full disclosure). He blew this interview with Charlie Gibson, and his handlers have to know it. They must be hoping that the "anyone but Bush" sentiment is so strong that no amount of truth applied to Kerry's public persona could penetrate it. With the diehard LLL's this is so: but in key swing states like Ohio, where God, Family and Country form a triumverate that trumps liberalism, people see the distinction. Kerry's insisting otherwise is wishful thinking.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but could we in fact be witnessing the "YEEEEAAAAAGGGGHHHH!" moment of John Forbes Kerry?

Friday, April 23, 2004

Bringing a Marine Home

From BIG, a poster at Little Green Footballs (see post #220) comes this story of a US Marine named LtCol Strobl, who accompanied the body of Marine PFC Chance Phelps home to Wyoming. It's an incredibly moving story and one that is especially fitting as we are mourning Pat Tillman and the other soldiers who have died in order that we might never see another September 11th.

Taking Chance

Be forewarned: read this when you have either a strong heart or a box of tissues nearby ...

"Chance Phelps was wearing his Saint Christopher medal when he was killed on Good Friday. Eight days later, I handed the medallion to his mother. I didn't know Chance before he died. Today, I miss him."

Peggy Noonan on Pat Tillman

Privileged to Serve

Privileged to Serve: In this war, not only the sons of the poor are enlisting.

Friday, July 12, 2002 12:01 a.m.

Maybe he was thinking Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. Maybe it was visceral, not so much thought as felt, and acted upon. We don't know because he won't say, at least not in public. Which is itself unusual. Silence is the refuge of celebrities caught in scandal, not the usual response of those caught red-handed doing good.

All we know is that 25-year-old Pat Tillman, a rising pro football player (224 tackles in 2000 as a defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals, a team record) came back from his honeymoon seven weeks ago and told his coaches he would turn down a three-year, $3.6 million contract and instead join the U.S. Army. For a pay cut of roughly $3.54 million dollars over three years.

On Monday morning, Pat Tillman "came in like everyone else, on a bus from a processing station," according to a public information officer at Fort Benning, Ga., and received the outward signs of the leveling anonymity of the armed forces: a bad haircut, a good uniform and physical testing to see if he is up to the rigors of being a soldier. Soon he begins basic training. And whatever else happened this week--Wall Street news, speeches on the economy--nothing seems bigger, more important and more suggestive of change than what Pat Tillman did.

Those who know him say it's typical Tillman, a surprise decision based on his vision of what would be a good thing to do. When he was in college he sometimes climbed to the top of a stadium light tower to think and meditate. After his great 2000 season he was offered a $9 million, five-year contract with the St. Louis Rams and said thanks but no, he was happy with the Cardinals.

But it was clear to those who knew Mr. Tillman that after September 11 something changed. The attack on America had prompted a rethinking. Len Pasquarelli of ESPN reported last May that the "free-spirited but consummately disciplined" starting strong safety told friends and relatives that, in Mr. Pasquarelli's words, "his conscience would not allow him to tackle opposition fullbacks where there is still a bigger enemy that needs to be stopped in its tracks." Mr. Tillman's agent and friend Frank Bauer: "This is something he feels he has to do. For him, it's a mindset, a duty."

"I'm sorry, but he is not taking inquiries," said the spokeswoman at Fort Benning. She laughed when I pressed to speak to someone who might have seen Mr. Tillman or talked to him. Men entering basic training don't break for interviews, she said. Besides, "he has asked not to have any coverage. We've been respecting his wishes. And kinda hoping he'd change his mind." Mr. Tillman would, of course, be a mighty recruiting device. The Army might have enjoyed inviting television cameras to record his haircut, as they did with Elvis. But Mr. Tillman, the Fort Benning spokesman says, "wants to be anonymous like everyone else."

Right now he has 13 weeks of basic training ahead of him, then three weeks of Airborne School, and then, if he makes it, Ranger School, where only about a third of the candidates are accepted. "It's a long row," said the Fort Benning spokesman, who seemed to suggest it would be all right to call again around Christmas. Until then he'll be working hard trying to become what he wants to become.

Which I guess says it all.

Except for this. We are making a lot of Tillmans in America, and one wonders if this has been sufficiently noted. The other day friends, a conservative intellectual and his activist wife, sent a picture of their son Gabe, a proud and newly minted Marine. And there is Abe, son of a former high aide to Al Gore, who is a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy, flying SH-60 Seahawk helicopters. A network journalist and his wife, also friends, speak with anguished pride of their son, in harm's way as a full corporal in the Marines. The son of a noted historian has joined up; the son of a conservative columnist has just finished his hitch in the Marines; and the son of a bureau chief of a famous magazine was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army last month, on the day he graduated from Princeton.

As the Vietnam-era song said, "Something's happening here." And what it is may be exactly clear. Some very talented young men, and women, are joining the armed forces in order to help their country because, apparently, they love it. After what our society and culture have been through and become the past 30 years or so, you wouldn't be sure that we would still be making their kind, but we are. As for their spirit, Abe's mother reports, "Last New Year's, Abe and his roommate [another young officer] were home and the topic came up about how little they are paid [compared with] the kids who graduated from college at the same time they did and went into business.

"Without missing a beat the two of them said, 'Yeah--but we get to get shot at!' and raised their beer bottles. No resentment. No anger. Just pure . . . testosterone-laden bravado."

The Abes and Gabes join a long old line of elders dressed in green, blue, gray, white, gold and black. Pat Tillman joins a similar line, of stars who decided they had work to do, and must leave their careers to do it. They include, among others, the actors Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable and Tyrone Power in World War II; sports stars Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio in the same war; and quarterback Roger Staubach in Vietnam. It is good to see their style return, and be considered noble again.

And good to see what appears to be part of, or the beginning of, a change in armed forces volunteering. In the Vietnam era of my youth it was poor and working-class boys whom I saw drafted or eagerly volunteering. Now more and more I see the sons and daughters of the privileged joining up.

That is a bigger and better story than usually makes the front page. Markets rise and fall, politicians come and go, but that we still make Tillmans is headline news.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal. Her most recent book, "When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan," is published by Viking Penguin. You can buy it from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays.
Copyright © 2004 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Pat Tillman, an American Hero, is Dead.

Pat Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinals football player (and the subject of several posts here, as Pat has been one of my heroes for some time) who gave up a multimillion dollar salary to enlist in the Army and defend our country, has been killed in a firefight in Afghanistan.
(ABC NEWS) In the Line of Duty: U.S. Army Ranger and Ex-NFL Player Pat Tillman Killed in Afghanistan

A former member of the Arizona Cardinals, Tillman, along with his brother Kevin, enrolled with the U.S. Army Rangers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

According to a Pentagon source, Tillman was killed in action when his Rangers patrol was attacked by small arms fire and mortars during a coordinated ambush in eastern Afghanistan.

One enemy combatant was killed, and Tillman was the only U.S. soldier killed during the ambush, said Pentagon sources. His brother, Kevin, is in the same platoon.

My heart is too heavy from sadness and bewilderment to write any more about this right now.

God Bless Pat Tillman, and the other soldiers who have lost their lives protecting us from the scourge of terror. And may God protect the other soldiers who fight on in his stead.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

For those who take their freedom for granted, a must read ...

Roger L. Simon points the way to a poignant and powerful essay by Mohammed, one of the two brothers (Omar being the other) who write the blog Iraq The Model. In today's piece, titled "A Routine Day in Iraq", Mohammed tells of his wishes for an Iraq free of the fears and violence of Saddam's regime, and how, on his birthday, he fears that his liberators may have more courage to stay the course than he does:

"The hardest thing is that I have to fight more, and I will, but God, please give me the strength. Why should I be strong while watching others run away; Spain, Honduras, Thailand, human organizations, the UN and all the others who want (and it’s their right I must say) to avoid the dangers. But why did they disappoint us? Why abandon us in this moment when we really need them? Will they come back when conditions improve? Most likely, but who will need them then!!? We don’t need doctors and engineers. We have enough of those and large numbers of Iraqi doctor, teachers and engineers are working abroad. We do export minds, and some of those have returned and are doing their job and some are on their way back. We need political, financial and military support, and once we get rid of the terrorists, WE will show you what we can do, and we will not forget those who helped us, they will remain as friends and allies, that’s from a political point of view. As for me, they will remain as my real family, my brothers and sisters.

One of our friend (sic) was angry when he saw the former slaves burn the flag of their liberators (and he has all the right to feel so), but I saw my country being destroyed for 35 years and I’m not desperate because I have faith that it will be rebuild one day. Still, why am I supposed to be the 'superman' who is never allowed to feel angry, sad or frustrated?"

I'll be thinking of Mohammed and Omar as I cast my vote for President Bush this November. We cannot turn our backs on them.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

From the "Doesn't Government Have Better Things To Do?" file ...

State, County May Require Condoms in Adult Films

Don't get me wrong; preventing the spread of AIDS is an important issue. But if a group of adults is determined to engage in unsafe behavior, esp. when such behaviors can be rendered (relatively) harmless with minimal effort on their part, is it not a waste of government's finite resources to attempt to change their mind? Such is the problem in La-La Land:

After almost a year of urging the adult-film industry to require actors to wear condoms during sex scenes, state and county officials say the recent HIV infection of two porn stars has given them the leverage they need to force change. State and Los Angeles County health officials said Monday they believed existing regulations gave them the authority to require adult-film actors to use condoms, and the state Division of Occupational Health and Safety plans to begin inspections this week, marking the first time Cal/OSHA has investigated the adult-film industry ... some industry officials say pornographic movie production would move out of state if condom use were required.

Although a few California adult-film producers have voluntarily switched to condom-only productions, the majority of producers and distributors have balked at doing so. It is conventional wisdom within the multibillion-dollar industry, which employs more than 6,000 people in California (including about 1,200 performers), that using a condom doesn't pay.

"It's market forces," said Mark Kulkis, president of Kick Ass Pictures, a production company based in downtown Los Angeles that specializes in fetish films. "The bottom line is, customers don't like [to see] condoms."

I'm all about the market forces - but if you are stupid enough to go along with this caveat, all I can say is you'd better have iron-clad private insurance, 'cause the State of California has no business paying for your healthcare when you come down with AIDS. That's what the legislature ought to be doing - protecting the state's finances from people who are determined to give the term "Career Suicide" a literal interpretation, not trying to legislate common sense in an industry filled with, pardon the expression, headcases.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Melanie Phillips: The Hard Lessons of Terror

A regular op-ed columnist for London's Daily Mail, Melanie Phillips is one of the most rational journalist in Europe. On the heels of Israel's pre-emptive strikes on the '"spiritual" and "political" leadership palestinian terror group Hamas, Phillips argues that Europe is not ready, not is it willing, to face the truth about Islamist terror, and may pay the price for its' policy of appeasement:

The danger lies in not recognising that terrorism is encouraged by weakness, not strength. Al Qaeda attacked America because it perceived the west was decadent and so assumed it was not prepared to fight. It made a big mistake over America, but it got Europe (with the exception of Tony Blair over Afghanistan and Iraq) dead right.

The history of modern terrorism is a history of appeasement. From the first Palestinian plane hijacking in 1968, the response of the west was to assume there were legitimate grievances that had to be addressed. From that point, terrorists had every incentive to continue.

Read it all, and you will understand why pulling our troops from Iraq is not an option, and why negotiations with terrorists (such as is going on in Fallujah with the Iranian puppet Al-Sadr) will only lead to further bloodshed.