Saturday, December 20, 2003

The facts coming out surrounding Ghadafi's renunciation of Libya's WMD plans would seem to give the U.N. an opportunity to pressure the remaining members of the Axis of Evil to do likewise. I'm all for the U.N. doing something, if only to rebut the assumption that it is a do-nothing money sump, but nobody should hold their breath.

Went to see Return of the King last night. I think it was about as good as any movie of the books could be. I had my own quibbles, but I felt that some allowances had to be made for those who haven't read the books. In the end, I disagreed with this review by Jonathan V. Last on the Weekly Standard website. I particularly found the suggestion that there are homoerotic overtones in the relationship between Frodo and Samwise. The closes thing to perversion in these films was the hold the Ring had on all who possessed it.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Fouad Ajami proves prophetic:
Bashar Al-Assad, may insist that what happened in Iraq is no concern of his; but he knows better. The fate of Saddam is a crystal ball in which the rulers and the rogues in the region might glimpse the danger that attends them.
The first out of the gate is Moammar Gadhafi. I think Assad could save himself a bunch of trouble if he gets tough with his own Ba'athists and gets out of the WMD business. He may not have any, but he'd do better with his new neighbors if he shows that he is not harboring Saddamists.

"The Fourth Estate is independent and should remain so. As news providers, we should go there and see for ourselves." That's WBZ-TV news director Peter Brown, commenting on what is described as "a Bush administration plan to transmit news footage from Iraq for local TV outlets in an attempt to supplement media coverage from that war-torn country."

That's fine, but it presumes that the Fourth Estate has been reporting real news. They have the right to go there and see for themselves, but they don't have the right to a monopoly on the news.

There's a difference between Freedom of the Press and the kind of constitutional status so many journalists arrogate to themselves. They are free, not sacrosanct, nor are they above the law of the market. They pay lip service to the idea that they need the trust of their audience, but they don't seem to understand that they can't just ignore a major story like the success of our troops in Iraq and not lose that trust.

Here's the kicker, Charles Kravetz, vice president of news at the regional cable news outlet NECN says "I think the government has no business being in the news business." If the media were doing their jobs, there wouldn't be anything different for government to broadcast.

Linked at Instapundit: The chairman of a federal commission looking into the Sept. 11 attacks concludes "We have no evidence that anybody high in the Clinton administration or the Bush administration did anything wrong."

That's not to say that nobody expected 9/11, since FBI Deputy Director John O'Neill, had fought within the system for years trying to wake up the bureau to the threat, but encounter so much resistance and resentment that he resigned on August 11, 2001 and a month later died in the attacks on the WTC. How can we ever rid ourselves of the bureaucratic inertia that afflicts all branches of government, including the military, and leaves us surprised and unprepared when disasters happen? Is it even possible to expect any organization to be on alert continuously, or to protect us when so many elected officials and judges seem so determined to whittle away the powers they need to do the job?

I'm fully aware of the failures such as Ruby Ridge and Waco, although these were failures to deal with illegal activities in a measured way and prevent escalation into violence. Nevertheless, these cases are not grounds for disarming our security apparatus in a world where people celebrate over events like 9/11.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

It appears that the Democrats are getting worried about Howard Dean's gaffes. The Washington Post:
The former Vermont governor has compiled a disturbing record of misstatements and contradictions on foreign policy; maybe he will shift yet again, this time toward more responsible positions.
I find that last bit (maybe he will shift yet again) so revealing of the Post's bias. Can anybody imagine them adding a hopeful note to a lambasting of the Republicans? I can't.
It is Mr. Dean's position on Iraq, however, that would be hardest to defend in a general election campaign. Many will agree with the candidate that "the administration launched the war in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with inadequate planning, insufficient help and at unbelievable cost." But most Americans understand Saddam Hussein for what he was: a brutal dictator who stockpiled and used weapons of mass destruction, who plotted to seize oil supplies on which the United States depends, who hated the United States and once sought to assassinate a former president; whose continuing hold on power forced thousands of American troops to remain in the Persian Gulf region for a decade; who even in the months before his overthrow signed a deal to buy North Korean missiles he could have aimed at U.S. bases. The argument that this tyrant was not a danger to the United States is not just unfounded but ludicrous.
The italics are mine.

This is how Howard Dean defends his statement that the capture of Saddam has not made America safer:
I think the Democratic Party has to offer a clear alternative to the American people. The capture of one bad man doesn't mean the president and Washington Democrats can declare victory in the war on terrorism.
Huh? When did Bush or anyone in his administration "declare victory?"

What I heard them say was that this doesn't mean that violence is at an end. So Dean is using the Democratic sophistry of putting words in the mouth of his opponents and attacking those instead of the real positions of the president. So his "clear alternative" is offered to something that isn't in fact Bush's true position. More and more it appears that Howard Dean's whole candidacy is based on his blind, ignorant rage, which seems to be the mood of the Democrat true believers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Hooray for Gimli!

Via Andrew Sullivan, this interview with John Rhys-Davis who plays Gimli the dwarf in the LOTR films, and does the voice of Treebeard, shows that he understands why we must fight. Viggo Mortensen must be a better actor, though, because he's a moron when he's not acting. I don't know how someone could play that role and say the lines and not be touched or moved to serious thought by them, but Viggo has done it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I'm watching Monday's Brit Hume program. It's more impressive when Mort Kondracke goes postal on Howard Dean. Fred Barnes is reliably right wing. Mara Liasson is reliably the voice of NPR. Kondracke is the swing vote, and he hammered Dean's remark about America not being any safer because of Saddam's capture like a bongo. Of course, I was already primed after listening to Hugh Hewitt's show on Monday and today.

James Pinkerton has an analysis on TCS, which doesn't really say much other than that Dean's lock on the nomination may be weakening because of his recent blurts, but the real interest in is the Feedback page accompanying the article where some Dean supporters embarrass themselves. It's like a visit to the Bizarro World John Birch Society website. Keep it up, guys.

Also, I'm still puzzled by the failure of anybody to tie Jim Baker's mission to the announcement that none of the Axis of Weasels will be allowed to bid on rebuilding Iraq. I mean, if they insist on getting paid for building Saddam's terror state in the first place, why should they get to collect a second time?

Here's Andrew Sullivan again revealing the close parallel between Dean's criticism of Bush's policy and Hilllary Clinton's. The latter stated at the CFR:
It has been a continuing theme of my criticism and others that we would be further along, we would have more legitimacy . . . if we had been willing to move to internationalize our presence and further action in Iraq.
Huh? if we had been willing? I may be getting on in years but my memory isn't that bad. The Democrats who are always comparing modern society to Orwell's 1984 seem to be the ones who have adopted the Ministry of Truth approach to history.

Andrew Sullivan's letters from 12/15 has a great one taking exception to Sullivan's description of Saddam as looking like a hobo. The writer's grandfather was an immigrant from Greece who spent a couple of years as a hobo, which he maintained was an honorable way of life. He would have called Saddam "just a bum." It's a good point.

I heard a caller on Hugh Hewitt's radio program say that in the prison where he works, the prisoners were cheering the capture. "If they could vote, they be Bush backers!" Well, guys, thanks but no thanks.

President Bush has real manly appeal, in the sense of this essay about manliness, wimphood and barbarism. Bush I was a wimp as president. W was a barbarian, but he's achieved manliness with the help of a good wife. The U.N. is for wimps. The Axis of Weasels is governed by wimps. The U. S. military has a lot of young men who enjoy behaving like barbarians in their private lives, but they have been disciplined to act like men, and will, if they stay in long enough, emerge men through and through.

I keep telling myself that, despite all appearances to the contrary these days, there are some rational Democrats. And today, there is evidence.

Orson Scott Card is a believing Mormon, like myself, and so his basic principles preclude the Dean-Kucinich approach to national defense. Here's the scripture:
Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.

And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies.

And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defendnd your families even unbloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.

And it came to pass that when the men of Moroni saw the fierceness and the anger of the Lamanites, they were about to shrink and flee from them. And Moroni, perceiving their intent, sent forth and inspired their hearts with these thoughts´┐Żyea, the thoughts of their lands, their liberty, yea, their freedom from bondage.

And it came to pass that they turned upon the Lamanites, and cried with one voice unto the Lord their God, for their liberty and their freedom from bondage.

And began to stand against the Lamanites with power; and in that selfsame hour that they cried unto the Lord for their freedom, the Lamanites began to flee before them; . . ..
I don't know what the theological basis of Dean's antiwar position is. He's supposed to be an atheist, so I doubt he has one. But there is no logic or morality to what he seems to be advocating, nor to the Clinton administration's limp response to terrorist attacks.

The high water mark for anti-war was Vietnam, but too many people have not thought critically about that war. If the last century means anything, it's that delay in standing up to evil costs lives and untold misery and far more dollars that early intervention. It also shows that making allies of convenience with brutal regimes is best avoided. It is a shame to the U. S. that we provided any aid to Saddam or any other dictator. Lastly, as we consider the outcome of the Korean War and Vietnam, it seems more doubtful whether we fought those wars properly. Patton was right about the Russians.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Here is a collection of comments from around the world.

Senator Jay Rockefeller is quoted:
"Given the location and circumstances of his capture, it makes it clear that Saddam was not managing the insurgency, and that he had very little control or influence. That is significant and disturbing because it means the insurgents are not fighting for Saddam, they're fighting against the United States."
However, this AP story says that
Interrogations of Saddam Hussein and documents in his personal briefcase, seized with him, have led to the arrest of several prominent regime figures in Baghdad, a U.S. general told The Associated Press on Monday.
There have been several car bombs since the capture, but I think that the fear in the minds of Iraqis has been dealt a fatal blow. I expect a swell of new intelligence and cooperation from the people.

Still, the AP reporter feels a need to end with a little spin:
But some residents of Adwar recalled fondly how Saddam used to swim in the nearby Tigris River and bemoaned the downfall of the leader who donated generously to area residents.

"This is bad news to all Iraqis," said Ammar Zidan, 21. "Even if they captured Saddam Hussein, we are all Saddam Hussein. We want freedom and independence from the Americans."

James Lileks is eloquent as usual about the capture of Saddam. It seems that comparisons, like the verses from Isaiah I quoted below, are coming to a lot of people. From being a builders of palaces feared by everyone in his country, he is reduced to hiding in a hole in the ground, with $750,000 in cash. That's what convinced Rumsfeld that it wasn't one of his doubles.

Now Saddam is 'Sharky," the alter-ego of Saruman the White. He's the witch crushed by Dorothy's house. Can't you hear the munchkins celebrating? How many comparisons are out there, I wonder? How about a contest on Instapundit or Best of the Web.

Eric Alterman the "Wrongway" Corrigan of pundits is grousing about how the capture of Saddam, while good news, "does little to justify what remains a dishonest, self-destructive, hubristic adventure that continues to undermine our security and the stability of the region with each passing day, but there it is."

I think Eric needs a little quiet time to himself, while the rest of the country celebrates.

Could it be that there's a link between the dispatching of James Baker to discuss settling Iraq's debts to the Axis of Weasels and the announcement that none of those nations will be allowed to bid on reconstruction contracts? The press treats them as unrelated stories, but it seems reasonable to me to hold out eligibility to bid as an inducement to settle old debts made with Saddam's regime.

From Best of the Web:
The liberal belief in the United Nations can no longer be said to have any basis in reality; it has entered the realm of pure superstition.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

This quote from Joe Lieberman was linked on Instapundit. It's certainly true that the policies Dean is advocating would have left Saddam in power, but Lieberman's claim that "This is something that I have been advocating and praying for for more than twelve years, since the Gulf War of 1991," is belied by his candidacy for Al Gore's VP. That's the same Al Gore who calls the war in Iraq the worst foreign policy mistake in history. Lieberman is probably the most rational of the Democratic candidates, but he would represent a party which believes fervently that we should withdraw our troops, and surrender our sovereignty to the U.N. Why vote for one of these guys, when we can re-elect George W. Bush?

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;

That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

Isaiah 14:12-17