Friday, April 23, 2004

Who's doing the PR?

If you were an Iraqi worried about the future, would knowing that this guy was in charge of building your new government calm your fears?

And then there's this example of the good press the Saudis are paying for in the U. S. Wouldn't it just be easier to overthrow these creeps and restore the Hashemites? I'm not sure the rest of the ummah would mind all that much. It might soften relations with the Iranians if we struck a blow against the Wahabis.

How long?

Glenn Reynolds points to the latest screwups by major media and observes: "In related news, over 200 million Americans were misidentified as people who trust the New York Times."


Andrew Sullivan posts:
QUOTE FOR THE DAY II: "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the president - should he be Catholic - how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote." - John F. Kennedy, the nemesis of theocons everywhere.
I can only suppose that this has to do with Andrew's wish that religious people would keep quiet about gay marriage. But for a church to tell its members whom to vote for is different from taking positions on moral questions that become political. Some religions are opposed to alcohol consumption. Do they not have the right to express opposition to attempts to lowering the legal drinking age or to support restrictions on sales of alcohol? Religion is a protected part of American life as much as a free press is. To suggest that churches should be muzzled in public debates is as unamerican as attempting silence any other speech. Kennedy's view is regularly disregarded today and has been for years among black congregations where Democratic candidates are endorsed from the pulpit and given speaking opportunities that would never be extended to Republicans. We've had many Reverends and even priests who have run for political office.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004


The House votes tomorrow on a bill which would expedite elections if more than 100 member of the body were to be killed in a terrorist attack. Democrats prefer to be allowed to appoint their own successors pending new elections. Zoe Lofgren was on Fox News claiming that the country couldn't go on without a working Congress for that long. Couldn't we at least try it?

The fetishization of stability

That's a phrase from Mark Steyn. I've been reading Stephen Schwartz's book The Two Faces of Islam, and if Saudi Arabia's version of Wahabism is like its roots, some instability wouldn't be a bad thing.

John Kerry is sure that there was no connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

Here's James Lileks:
Nowadays the idea that Saddam had anything to do with terrorism is regarded as proof of a mind that refuses to accept reality. This, despite the payments to the suicide bombers� families. This, despite the terrorists who had refuge in Iraq. This, despite the training camp. This, despite al-Ansar. This is something I�ve never understood: the belief that Iraq was somehow hermetically sealed off from the politics of the Arab world, as though it was actually located somewhere north of Turkey, as though it was immune to the temptation of using these transnational forces to its own advantage. At the very least you�d expect Saddam to buy these guys off, if only for insurance purposes. But no: Saddam was the one principled leader who refused to deal with terrorist organizations, because . . . he was secular? . . .

The electorate might want to inquire: who else don�t you suspect?

I�m waiting for the oil-for-food / oil-for-palaces / oil-for-TotalFinaElf /oil-for-terror story to go mainstream. And I don�t think it will. The big papers may do a round-up; the smaller papers may use a few grafs in their international coverage; USA Today might do something, but in the end it�ll be chalked up to bureaucratic fumbling and inefficiency.
And then there's this from Claudia Rosett:
As Oil-for-Food worked in practice, there were two glaring flaws that lent themselves to manipulation by Saddam. One was the U.N. decision to allow Saddam to choose his own buyers of oil and suppliers of goods � an arrangement that Annan himself helped set up during negotiations in Baghdad in the mid-1990s, shortly before he was promoted to Secretary-General. The other problem was the U.N.'s policy of treating Saddam's deals as highly confidential, putting deference to Saddam's privacy above the public's right to know. Even the Iraqi people were denied access to the most basic information about the deals that were in theory being done in their name. The identities of the contractors, the amounts paid, the quantity and quality of goods, the sums, fees, interest, and precise transactions involved in the BNP Paribas bank accounts � all were kept confidential between Saddam and the U.N.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Does the First Amendment mean that Muslim calls to prayer can be made with loudspeakers?

This story was also on Brit Hume's program today. It seems kind of idiotic to equate church bells with a chant in a foreign language which is basically an insult to other religions. These start at 5:00 a.m. and are played five times each day.

I have a hard time seeing a distinction between this and the use of bullhorns to "preach" to Mormons attending General Conference. If anything, the preaching is more offensive because it's in English and tells Mormons they're all going to hell.

A hole in SCO's Balloon

The company that helped fund SCO's war chest wants its money back. SCO has succeeded in its con well enough so far that it probably won't need the money, but could this be due to the rumored connection of Microsoft with the money?

Where can I donate for the memorial?

Michael Ledeen explains why the murder of Fabrizio Quattrocchi by his captors in Iraq wasn't shown on Al Jazeera:
The terrorists present the world with an endless supply of lies, which generally take the form of accusing us of what they do (and we don't). Many of their actions are staged precisely for the benefit of reporters (like the horror scene of the four dead American contractors a couple of weeks ago). They brought in the television cameras the other day to film the execution of an Italian hostage, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, but something went wrong. After forcing him to dig his own grave, they put a hood over his head and ordered him to kneel so he could be killed. He wouldn't go for it. He tried to remove the hood, and defiantly yelled at them "I will show you how an Italian dies." The scene was a propaganda disaster for them, and good old al Jazeera, the modern mother of lies, announced that they had the tape but wouldn't release it because it was too terrible to witness. It was terrible, but not in the way al Jazeera wanted us to think. It showed Western bravery, not Arab domination, so they couldn't show it.
Now that's an ally!

This is good news?

Peter S. Canellos writes in the Boston Globe under the headline, "Bad news for Bush boosts Kerry's standing":
Kerry, for his part, seems to have realized that his best hope is to run as the Default President, the place to which voters can connect when the regular president goes on the fritz.
I wonder if there are bumber stickers.

From Wretchard:

America is potentially the most powerful media power on earth but it is not at war in Iraq, except with itself. The real tragedy in Iraq is not so much that men die but that we as a society have left them to die without even naming those with whom we are at war.

No hope for victory?

Joe Galloway says that we won't win this war because civilians don't have to sacrifice as they did in WWII. He may be right, but not for that reason. The real problem is that too many people today grew up in the Sixties and have no memory of what it was like in war time. The war in Vietnam was mishandled, both by the government and by the press, and it became easy to argue that it was an immoral war. After all, whom were we liberating? We were propping up a corrupt government and fighting a holding action.

Our media and one of our major political parties are still operating on the mythic assumption that all war is wrong, and doing everything they can to make sure this will prove a debacle for Republicans. If they succeed, it will be because we at home have become too self-involved and concerned about our personal wants to remember what it cost to get us to this level of freedom and prosperity. I've heard all my life that citizenship has obligations. I guess there aren't that many here who were taught that way or, if they were, still believe it.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Martha could have avoided all this.

Fox News reports that Imclone stock closed higher today than it was when she sold it on insider information. Some financial whiz.

Hugh Hewitt is playing clips from Kerry again.

The weirdest is his promise: "within weeks of being inaugurated, I will go to the U.N. and I will literally, formally rejoin the community of nations." He's been saying this as part of his stump speech.

That should be quite a sight, seeing him go before the General Assembly and do what? Ask to have our membership back? I was unaware that we had resigned, even if it's looking more and more like we were playing piano in a whorehouse.

Update: Tonight, on Brit Hume's program, he interviewed Kenneth Timmerman, who has just written The French Betrayal of America. From what he reports, France owes us an apology:
NRO: How close was the relationship between Saddam and Chirac?

Timmerman: Like lips and teeth.
He is confirming all our worst suspicions and more. He said that Chirac and DeVillepin promised Bush and Colin Powell that they would absolutely support the U.N. Resolution to authorize regime change in Iraq, and then sandbagged us. Some allies.

I looked for evidence that Timmerman is some kind of crank, but other than being published by Crown Forum I couldn't find anything. He seems to have excellent sources and long familiarity with French politics. Read the second link on his name.

I have to say that his reporting makes Kerry's plan look worst than stupid. If the press were as skeptical and adversarial to Kerry's promises as it is toward Bush, this alone would be enough to sink his candidacy. He looks like a cuckold going to his wife's paramour to ask when she can come home. Mr. War Hero, eh?

Blogger Smackdown!

Lileks takes issue with Andrew Sullivan's call for higher taxes on gasoline.

Is it just me, or is Sullivan starting to sound like Arianna Huffington? His argument against the regressiveness of such a tax is a side-step worthy of John Kerry:
In reality, it tends to affect the middle class more than anyone else, especially those in the suburbs with more than one car. The truly needy tend to consume less gas than their middle-class compatriots.
So loading another tax on the middle class is OK, because it doesn't hurt the "truly needy?" The question was whether it was regressive.
Others say it penalizes those in remote and rural areas. So what? Very few taxes are perfect, and our electoral system ? with its over-representation of big agricultural states in the Senate ? already pampers the rural. (I'd gladly exchange a gas-tax hike for abolition of agricultural subsidies. Any takers in Iowa?)
Or how about cutting social security benefits in exchange for a gas tax? Do you really think that he'd give up his support for new taxes if the government cut spending? That's not what he's proposing. The point of raising taxes on gas is to save the earth, reduce our dependence on the Saudis, etc. not to balance the budget. You don't achieve financial sanity in government by increasing taxes. He knows better than that.
Some conservatives say it's antithetical to the American Dream. Hooey. Conservatism in America rightly emphasizes personal responsibility alongside freedom.
What does raising gas taxes have to do with personal responsibility? He's proposing it precisely because he thinks we're not being responsible and must be punished to make us give up our "wanton consumption of gasoline."

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Filled with confidence?

Not if you consider Bill Safire's guesses about who would be in Kerry's cabinet.

The real story

Michael Smerconish calls attention to some penetrating questioning by Commissioner John Lehman of Condoleezza Rice during her testimony. It was, and apparently still is, the policy of the government "to fine any airline that was caught having more than two people of the same ethnic persuasion in a secondary line for line for questioning, including and especially, two Arabs."

He quotes Lehman further:
"because of this political correctness that became so entrenched in the 1990s, and continues in current administration. No one approves of racial profiling, that is not the issue. The fact is that Norwegian women are not, and 85-year-old women with aluminum walkers are not, the source of the terrorist threat. The fact is that our enemy is the violent Islamic extremism and the overwhelming number of people that one need to worry about are young Arab males, and to ask them a couple of extra questions seems to me to be common sense, yet if an airline does that in numbers that are more than proportionate to their number in particular line, then they get fined and that is why you see so many blue haired old ladies and people that are clearly not of Middle Eastern extraction being hauled out in such numbers because otherwise they get fined."
Smerconish writes:
I ran all of this by Herb Kelleher, the legendary chairman of Southwest Airlines. Kelleher confirmed it, and that it began during the Clinton administration. The Justice Department said it was "concerned about equality of treatment with respect to screening." Kelleher said, "The random element was put in...where you just choose people at random as opposed to picking them out for some particular reason, and that of course caused a great many more people to be screened."

"So we don't offend?" I asked.

"That was the root of it, yes," he said.
Of course, this has been exactly the complaint of a lot of people since 9/11 who wonder why so many obvious non-terrorists are being pulled out of line for extra inspection. Even when our lives are threatened, we can't seem to overcome the fear of being politically incorrect. How the mighty have fallen into stupidity.