Saturday, August 26, 2006

China cracks down on striptease funerals.

As I've been saying, . . .

Republicans need to show some leadership. That means they have to come out and make the case for Bush's policies, not distance themselves from him. They seem to have conceded the bad polls and the media spin are true when they are not. Jed Babbin seems to agree.

Changing Times

The Economist examines the state of the news media:
Even the most confident of newspaper bosses now agree that they will survive in the long term only if, like Schibsted, they can reinvent themselves on the internet and on other new-media platforms such as mobile phones and portable electronic devices. Most have been slow to grasp the changes affecting their industry—“remarkably, unaccountably complacent,” as Rupert Murdoch put it in a speech last year—but now they are making a big push to catch up. Internet advertising is growing rapidly for many and is beginning to offset some of the decline in print.
The piece is titled More Media, Less News.

Neo-cons forever!

Douglas Murray (pdf) argues not only that he, a Brit, can be Neo-conservative, but also that we all should be. In critiquing the left's response to the War on Terrorism he takes no prisoners:
But let’s look for a moment at what is being put forward to replace what had being, to only some extent accurately, described as the neo-conservative project. The declaration that Iraq may be failing causes barely disguised glee among some opponents of the war. A number of the most prominent left-wing columnists in Britain and America have expressed open delight at the prospect of President Bush and Tony Blair being taught a lesson. Evidently such moral people wishing the death of thousands of Iraqis is nothing besides giving Bush and Blair a bashing. At this stage, there is a branch of the left that is now subsumed by outright nihilism and support for violence. As Paul Berman charted in his recent brilliant book on Joschka Fischer, “They have ended up coming right round the other way.”

And then there are those who have decided, for instance, that the election of Hamas or the tortuous negotiations over the new Iraqi government demonstrate that these foreigners aren’t really keen on freedom, or don’t really want to have a say in the running of their own countries. You hear this one from right and left now, and it is – and the word is one which has been so overused that I hardly ever use it – but it is an idea which is, without any doubt, one of the most genuinely racist ideas I know. The election of Hamas is a problem we have with Hamas, not a problem we have with democracy. Likewise, the painfully slow forming of a new government and continued civil unrest in Iraq does not demonstrate, as many are now claiming, that Saddam kept a lid on things. This phrase I believe will go down in history alongside Mussolini and his train timetabling arrangements for sheer, unimaginative wickedness.
Read the whole thing.

Valerie can't get no respect.

Check out the ruling on her motion to excuse her from including her full residential address in her court filings. Apparently, she wasn't as covert as she claimed.

Valerie can't get no respect.

Check out the ruling on her motion to excuse her from including her full residential address in her court filings. Apparently, she wasn't as covert as she claimed.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Cult of Martyrdom

Apparently, Hezbollah's victory isn't being celebrated by everybody. A few more like this one and Lebanon could be depopulated. Shiites venerate true Martyrs, who were killed by enemies of their faith, like Imam Hussain, but when you initiate war, I don't think you can claim that.
Politically, however, Hezbollah had to declare victory for a simple reason: It had to pretend that the death and desolation it had provoked had been worth it. A claim of victory was Hezbollah's shield against criticism of a strategy that had led Lebanon into war without the knowledge of its government and people. Mr. Nasrallah alluded to this in television appearances, calling on those who criticized him for having triggered the war to shut up because "a great strategic victory" had been won.

The tactic worked for a day or two. However, it did not silence the critics, who have become louder in recent days.
If only there were more of them among the Muslims. This belief in not speaking ill of other Muslims is all well and good, but when they are damaging the entire religion by making them look like fanatics and murderers.

And, as if to emphasize the banality of their evil, Hezbollah is paying restitution to those who've had their homes destroyed in counterfeit U.S. currency. They call it the "Green Flood."

Shades of L&O:SVU!

A young Austrian girl has escaped from her captor after eight years of being kept in a concealed "dungeor" by a stranger. The man educated her and apparently treated her well, but when she escaped, committed suicide.
It is not clear what the alleged kidnapper's motives were and whether Natascha was sexually abused during her captivity.
If not, this guy will be really be an odd case. His picture looks as weird as one would expect. It seems to be a fairly common part of the sexual fantasies of some people to keep sex slaves where they can be used again and again. Most such cases I've heard about, like that of Charles Ng and Leonard Lake, tortured their captives to death and then went out and found others.

I expect Law and Order: Special Victims Unit to feature an episode with a similar plot. In fact, it has already had one or two, and I watched an episode of Crossing Jordan the other night about a secret ring of pedophiles who bought or kidnapped young girls from Mexico whom they kept in a dungeon for their sexual pleasure. I wonder how many future sex offenders get ideas from such programs. Obviously, they don't turn people into criminals, but who knows what channels a persons mind into such strange places?

Allah at Hot Air has a great post on multiculturalism, which basically boils down to us apologizing for our society. That seems to be a big part of the liberal mindset these days. America can do nothing right.

Normally, that wouldn't worry me, but it's now in a position to deprive us of the ability to protect ourselves. Do we really need more 9/11s to learn the lesson?
When will be see some demonstrations where people burn the NYTimes, instead of bras, or draft cards? Every day brings more instances of repression in the name of multi-culti or political correctness by people who used to complain about their own freedom of speech being violated, or by people so afraid of the ACLU and its imitators that we fail to realize how many of our freedoms are being destroyed by it. Doing evil in the name of civil rights is true evil, and the fact that so many of us don't recognise it is frightening. As the saying goes, if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

The story the media aren't telling

It's a commonplace today that, if we had today's media during World War II, we'd have lost it. If the press were reporting on people like Mohammed at Iraq the Model I doubt that Americans would want to abandon that land. We've been told, or maybe we're telling each other that "these people can't handle democracy." The arguments against the war never made that much sense to me, and the longer it goes the more fevered and dishonest they become. There has never been a war that couldn't have been spun in this way. We have the lowest rate of casualties of any military operation ever, yet we're told that we didn't send enough men. It's as if Bush's opponents want more casualties to bolster their position.

Anyway, Mohammed has been in Egypt at a "seminar for bloggers and civil society activists that was sponsored by the Cato institute, American Islamic Congress and HamsaWeb, and it seems to have re-energized him to realize that so many others are focused as he is on make the Middle East more free, more peaceful and more prosperous. His post deserves to be reprinted on the front page of every newspaper in the country. Here are some excerpts:
The beautiful thing about the meeting is that everyone is looking forward to see the Iraq experiment unfold to something good that will reflect positively on all those who have accepted the Middle East to be their home.

On the other hand the destructive effect of the media-that abbreviated Iraq to a car bomb leaving away or ignoring the other good side of the story which is the birth of a democracy-was also clear. I was trying hard to clarify the blurred image asking the others not to judge something huge like the change in Iraq through events in a relatively very short time compared to the history of nations.. . .

It may sound a bit odd but that's really what I felt in Egypt that I don't feel in my war-torn city; for the first time in 3 years I felt the restrains of government…I told one of my colleagues I feel safe in Baghdad despite the dangers, I may feel afraid of terrorists or random violence but I never fear the government and that's not only how I feel, Iraqis are not afraid of expressing their differences with the authority because we in Iraq have more or les became part of that authority the day we elected our representatives while terrorists and militias are nothing more than temporary phenomenon that unlike constitution and elections have no solid foundations.

Of course our democratic foundations need a lot of work to meet our aspirations but we are walking this road and none of us is willing to go back and maybe the three thousands that were murdered last month tell that Iraqis are ready to pay the price and fight to preserve and improve our achievements. The magnitude of the change explains the confusion in some of our steps but we have not given up and we're not ready to surrender, not yet.
Read the whole thing. If only more Americans appreciated what Mohammmed is experiencing, and focused on the millions upon millions of Iraqis who are not in militias, not killing others over religious differences, trying to seize power by force, not kidnapping people for ransom. When you think about it, the numerical difference between the violence in Iraq and the criminal violence in California or Arizona or any major population center is in the thousands, out of many millions. So much of it is perception.

It would be interesting to have some details to understand why the polls here are so negative about this war. One thing I'm sure of, though, is that the media have become too slanted and too powerful in this country and our people have lost the vision of what we are fighting for and what we have to lose. There is no better evidence that we're succeeding in Iraq than blogs like Iraq the Model.

If there's any question, the Israelis failed.

Amir Taheri argues that Hezbollah didn't win after all.
By controlling the flow of information from Lebanon throughout the conflict, and help from all those who disagree with U.S. policies for different reasons, Hezbollah may have won the information war in the West. In Lebanon, the Middle East and the broader Muslim space, however, the picture is rather different.
This is one of the catches when you have a superior military--if you clobber the enemy with your whole strength, you'll be accused of "disproportionate response," or bullying, but if you limit your efforts to avoid too many civilian casualties, you've lost the battle.

I favor swift and massive response, without limiting the fight just to Lebanon. At least, Syria should have been bombed. I suspect that, given the tendency of these groups to claim victory while running for cover and pleading for a cease fire, the voters of Israel agree.

Pluto Demoted

Yesterday, Hugh Hewitt and the Great Bleatist were bemoaning the reports that Pluto is no longer considered a planet. What actually happened was demotion of Pluto from full planet status to "dwarf planet." Hey, guys, Pluto is still there, but it really doesn't fit with the other 8 planets. Sorry.

Update: The BBC reports that this vote has stirred up a ferocious backlash. Talk about taking yourself too seriously.

The new definition of "planet" adopted by the International Astronomical Union is based on the discovery that Pluto so small that treating it as a full fledged planet would require that other newly discovered bodies orbiting the Sun be granted planet status. There have been hundreds of thousands of such bodies discovered beyond the orbit of Neptune, creating the prospect of an unending list of planets.
The IAU members gathered at the 2006 General Assembly agreed that a "planet" is defined as a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.
Our moon is far larger than Pluto and would meet that definition of "planet" if it were not orbiting Earth as its primary. There are lots of moons in the Solar System bigger than Pluto.

From now on Pluto will be considered a dwarf planet (or plutonian objects), the first of its kind to be identified, which preserves its claim to fame somewhat. There will be a class called Trans-Neptunian Objects, including Pluto, Sedna, Quaoar and 2003 UB313, the one nicknamed "Xena" by its discoverers and some which belong to the Asteroid Belt, such as Ceres. The rest of the asteroids, comets and meteoroids are called Small Solar System Bodies. These will be found in the Asteroid Belt, the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud.

It doesn't really matter much, since Pluto as the ninth planet has entered popular consciousness and will continue to be thought of affectionatley by most non-scientists. I watched a program on the Science Channel in which the director of The Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, Neil deGrasse Tyson showed all the mail he'd received from school children because he hadn't shown Pluto in the exhibits.

Fooled Again

Charles Krauthammer points out the problems with trusting in diplomacy in a world where nuclear weapons are proliferating.

If the U.N. is really going to work, it is going to have to recognize that most of its members are not committed to its ideals of equality, peace, tolerance, democracy and freedom. Rogue states see diplomacy as a technique for gaining time, while they complete what prohibited activity they're engaged in. Diplomacy with North Korea failed because we naively trusted in the honesty and good will of its regime. Iran has amply demonstrated that it is determined to develop a nuclear weapon, having obtained plans and instructions from the A. Q. Khan network, and only needs extra time to complete it, after which it will be free to ignore world opinion, since it will have its own deterrent.

Taking a matter to the U.N. is only worthwhile if we want to table it. When there is a problem like Rwanda, Bosnia, the Congo or Darfur what is needed is action not diplomacy. Millions of people have been murdered, raped, forced from their homes, etc. because the rest of the world has trusted the U.N. to "handle the problem."

The problem with the U.N. was built in at the beginning. By giving all states an equal vote, without regard to their form of government, their human rights records, their history of peacefulness with their neighbors, etc., democracies basically gave up the potential for good that the new organization might have had. Even when the U.N. does what's right, it fails to complete the job, as in Korea and Iraq in 1991.

Now we know that the U.N. has become infested with venality, greed and power grabbing, as people from third world nations infiltrate its bureaucracy and don the mask of diplomacy, while enriching themselves with graft or through rich and prestigious prizes and awards. And what can anybody do about it? Only sit and watch while protesting, but not too loudly, for that would be undiplomatic.

It is a good thing to resolve problems through discussion and compromise. That is one of the marks of a civil and advanced society. However, it must be recognized that there are people who only participate in such efforts as a pretense, to avoid discovery and punishment of crimes or to hamper the application of justice. You can supply your own examples. In such cases, the moral result must involve force, but the U.N. is toothless.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Wal-Mart is fascist?

That's what Erin Aubry Kaplan writes in the L.A. Times, based on its success in fighting unionization. If that's what makes you a fascist, Ms. Kaplan must be a Communist.

Bush's legacy.

Mario Loyola:
[R]ecall the presidents this country has known (and will know) who were obsessed with their own popularity. Think of the many times Bill Clinton allowed polling data and political advisers to shape military strategy. Imagine how horrifying it would be right now to have a John Kerry or Al Gore as president — no clear statements of policy, military decisions transparently shaped by "how it's going to look", a White House that smells to high heaven of vacillation, weakness, and even corruption. Imagine all of this for a second . . ..

Bush has virtually never in his political career made a decision that he didn't think was the right thing to do and the right way to do it. Conservatives who are piling on the anti-Bush bandwagon should consider that this trait—which makes the Bush family historically great—is a historical rarity to be treasured.
We're used to kicking our presidents around. Lincoln was widely reviled until he was murdered, when people began to remember what he had accomplished, and he became a martyr. Despite the conventional wisdome that Bush is a liar and a moron, history will be far kinder to him than to Clinton, because history looks at character, not the next election. It will be seen that this war was declared in the early '90s, but we did not begin to fight back until 9/11, and that when we did, the Democrats first approved the war, but then changed their minds and reverted to the anti-war lunacy of the late '60s and early '70s, harassing and denouncing the President for the next 8 years, with the help of liberal judges and the vast majority of the media.

I can't agree that the the Bush family has been great, but W. has made tough decisions and stuck by them when his father started grandly but allowed Saddam to remain in place, because he believed in the New World Order and trusted the U.N.

Embedded with Hezbollah?

[T]hanks to the unprofessional reporters abroad, and their disingenuous chiefs back home, the world never saw the killers who sent the rockets nor many of their civilian victims on the ground in Israel. Nor did the reporters apprise their audience of the different landscapes in which they worked: candor in Israel might win loud disagreement; truth in Lebanon meant death. It would be as if Reuters, AP, or the New York Times embedded its reporters within the Waffen SS, beaming daily reports back home about the great morale and noble suffering of the Wehrmacht as it advanced into the snowy Ardennes.

Catch '06

Cass Sunstein counsels Democrats to keep reports of terrorist activity out of the news. And guess who just happens to have a near monopoly on the news media?

They've been telling us how things are getting worse in Iraq all the time, when actual statistics tell a different story. Now Sunstein tells the ixnay on the errortay. But if they don't tell it right, it could give the impression that Bush is successful.

The sad thing is that nobody really doubts the willingness of the press to tailor the news to favor the Democrats. Even pollsters seem to be distorting the prospects for the fall elections. Of course, the anti-war movement has always claimed more support than it really has, so when they lose, they turn to conspiracy theories to explain it, marginalizing themselves even further.

This is not a defense of the Republican Party, though. Maybe controlling Congress just corrupts people, or maybe they really don't believe their own principles. Either way, the only reason for conservatives to support incumbents is that they're not as bad as Democrats on national security, and that's a pretty lousy state of affairs. The Speaker claims that they haven't really overspent and that they've actually cut the requests, noting that it's the entitlements that are out of control. That's a lousy excuse, given their cowardice about supporting the modest reforms the President proposed. If the Democrats win this fall, they'll probably only assure a loss in 2008, but they can still do a lot of damage at a critical time.

In the meantime, factcheck their butts!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"Useful Word-bombs"

Cathy Seipp looks at the hypocrisy of the liberal "cognoscenti" who turn to know-nothings when confronted, especially bookstores who refuse to carry books like An Army of Davids or anything by conservative authors and excuse themselves with epithets.

It reminds me of the Borders in Provo, Utah, which is about as solidly Mormon as it gets, maintaining a section for erotica and gay literature. They could stock those shelves with Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Hugh Hewitt, etc. and turn them over once a month. But they'd rather waste their shelves on stuff few Provoans would even dare look at in public. Utah was also where the CleanFlicks company discovered a market for videos and DVDs of popular films with the sex, nudity and profanity edited out. It did good business until the producers of the films sued to prevent the practice, even though they themselves provide edited versions to be shown on TV and airplanes and refuse to allow these versions to be sold or rented. They reject "censorship." Another useful word-bomb.

Nasrallah's Pyrrhic victory

You'd think the people whose hearts bleed for the poor Palestinians and Lebanese would realize that who is really to blame for Lebanon's suffering, especially since they're so quick to claim that the U.S. created Saddam and Al Qaeda by supporting them in fights against our common enemies.

Generally, it's not a good idea to attack a country with an air force if you don't have one, and it's worse to assure that the battleground will be on your own territory. Hitler was winning when he invaded Poland and France and was launching buzz bombs on England, but when the Allies were able to bomb German cities, everybody knew the jig was up. Hezbollah did for Lebanon what Hitler did for East Germany. Not only was it hammered by the enemy, it ended up unliberated for the next forty five years.

Now we're being told that we should do the same for Iraq by pulling out our troops and leaving the way open for Iran to move in. This "peace movement" seems determined to make sure that our allies and those we have liberated end up worse off for our having helped them. They never count the corpses in Vietnam caused by our withdrawal and unwillingness to support the South when the North violated the treaty that ended the war.

But, Glenn, if the culprit was Armitage who is a critic of the war, and not the mastermind of Republican victories, who cares about Valerie Plame anymore?


Arnold Kling notes the growing gap between us and our elites:
I suspect that the popular frustration is widespread. My guess is that popular sentiment is turning against elite opinions like these:
* The world's Muslims share our desire for peace and democracy.

* Equal-opportunity passenger screening at airports is a better policy than profiling.

* The United Nations is the world's conscience and policeman.

* The "international community" will deal with Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.

* It is possible for the United States to bring about a constructive transformation of Middle East politics, either through diplomatic or military initiatives.

There are other ways in which elites have lost credibility. President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert are both guilty of exaggerating the success of military operations.

Excess partisanship in a time of war is very frustrating to the public. How can it be that essentially all Republican officials agree with the Bush Administration policies and procedures for monitoring phone conversations and essentially all Democrats disagree? Would a Democratic President really be following policies that are very different?

Finally, anyone who believes that "French co-operation" is anything but an oxymoron is an incurably senseless elitist. French peacekeeping forces in Lebanon were decimated without firing a shot. (Actually, it's worse than that. To be decimated is to lose ten percent of one's soldiers. France's expected contribution of 2000 soldiers was reduced by ninety percent; in addition, the French proceeded to deny that the UN resolution means what it says when it calls for the disarming of uninformed militias.)
Let's hope that politicians who are willing to say these things publicly and go on offense against the media bias that afflicts us win and win big. Rightwing bloggers tend to be just this kind of populist and are fond of making the same points Kling addresses. The failure of the MSM to state the obvious is contributing to their decline, but it seems to be maddeningly slow. For example, why do a majority of American Jews still support the Democrats?

Democrats trending downward.

The Roe Effect is real. Liberals have more abortions and fewer children than conservatives. Hence,
Democratic politicians may have no more babies left to kiss.
In fact the disdain for children is rising among the more narcissistic on the left, which would probably militate against politicians having anything to do with babies.

Wal-Mart, the bete noir of the left is being targeted because it has out competed other businesses and hasn't provided its employees the welfare state benefits the left thinks it should. Microsoft, on the other hand is just fine, despite its monopoly and having driven smaller companies out of business, because it has made many of its employees millionaires. And the biggest, richest of all the Microsoft fortune is being poured into a foundation along with most of Warren Buffet's fortune to lavish on the third world. I wonder if they've teach third worlders how to build their economies through monopoly and get rich like Bill Gates. Not likely.

In other words, the left doesn't believe in free enterprise, no matter how much it benefits consumers. That, by itself, is enough reason to keep it out of power. Wal-Mart hasn't done anything illegal or immoral. it's been fair to its customers and was able to deliver assistance to New Orleans when government was baffled. Its enemies are the snobs who don't shop there, don't like its stores in their neighborhood and object to its efficiency and selling products from countries without our standard of living. These are the people who will always find reasons and excuses to interfere in our lives in the name of environment, aesthetics, taste or in the name of the poor.

Peace in our Time

Cameron Abadi in Der Spiegel reports a survey of Iranian popular opinions. I'd be a shame to have to kill these people. Far better to assist them in throwing off their Islamofascist rulers. It would be good if we could help them clear their air, but I don't think that allowing them to acquire nuclear weapons would bring that about.

Iran's government has basically told the E.U. and us where to stick our "carrots." Next comes isolation, and the hope that trade with China, Russia and a few other Muslim states will not be enough to keep their people happy and that they won't be able to oppress them all for very long.

What International Community?

Yet another complaint about the failures of the "international community." Pardon me, but "community" means, does it not, a group with something in common? It ought to have occurred to us that we have less and less in common with our European cousins, the Germans, French, Russians, etc., or the Chinese, Arabs, Pakistanis, Africans and so forth, except the fact that we live on the same planet. Our only real community consists of the U.K., the former vassal states of the Soviets, Australia, Japan and Israel. They are about the only ones left who remember what freedom is all about.

The U.N. is largely a way for those not in our community to snooker us repeatedly. They are the Lucy and her football to our Charlie Brown. The sooner we figure that out and play with someone else, the better. Israel seems to be going wobbly, which is disquieting, but it is too close to annihilation to play that game very long.

Here's my solution to the problems of the International Community: Get real! Pray hard and don't trust the left.

More deja vu

Thomas Sowell offers an exceptionally clear and cogent view of our situation. Are we nearing the point of no return?
The endlessly futile efforts to bring peace to the Middle East with concessions fundamentally misconceive what forces are at work.

Hate and humiliation are key forces that cannot be bought off by "trading land for peace," by a "Palestinian homeland" or by other such concessions that might have worked in other times and places.

Humiliation and hate go together. Why humiliation? Because a once-proud, dynamic culture in the forefront of world civilizations, and still carrying a message of their own superiority to "infidels" today, is painfully visible to the whole world as a poverty-stricken and backward region, lagging far behind in virtually every field of human endeavor.

There is no way that they can catch up in a hundred years, even if the rest of the world stands still. And they are not going to wait a hundred years to vent their resentments and frustrations at the humiliating position in which they find themselves.

Israel's very existence as a modern, prosperous western nation in their midst is a daily slap across the face. Nothing is easier for demagogues than to blame Israel, the United States, or western civilization in general for their own lagging position.
Hence, we cannot hope to assuage their hatred with talk. They see that as evidence of our decadence.


Very ominous.

Inside the Islamic group accused by MI5 and FBI

Thousands of young Muslim men are attending meetings in east London every week run by a fundamentalist Islamic movement believed by western intelligence agencies to be used as a fertile recruiting ground by extremists.

Tablighi Jamaat, whose activities are being monitored by the security services, holds the tightly guarded meetings on an industrial estate close to the area where some of the suspects in last week's terror raids were arrested.
Tablighi Jamaat? I just learned to spell Ahmadinejad. It sounds like Pentacostal Islam. Not encouraging.

Mine eyes have seen the coming of the Coming of the Lord. I just hope it's not the Twelfth Imam.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Shia Rising

On BookTV, yesterday, I saw a lecture by Vali Nasr about his new book, The Shia Revival. It was very impressive. I understand better now the nature of the sectarian violence in Iraq. It's an expression of pent up rage and hopes released by our overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

He is a very lucid speaker, and a professor of Middle East and South Asia politics at the Naval Postgraduate School. I ordered his book and am hoping it is as well written as his lecture was spoken. I have read a number of books about Islam and the Middle East, but they have given cursory treatment to the Shia. This book will fill that gap.

I understand more clearly now why we must no pull out of Iraq. The reason is that it must not be allowed to be overrun by Syria and Iran. The latter is poised for a move to dominate the entire region and the latter is its toady. The Israeli incursion into Lebanon wasn't just a fiasco--it could be a disaster if we don't move to undo the impression we gave that Hezbollah is equal to the vaunted IDF. I think that we must do all we can to prevent Iranian weapons from entering Lebanon. And destroying Syrias military assets wouldn't be a bad thing either. I, for one, would like an answer to whether Saddam's WMD are stashed there. Iran is clearly dangerous for more than its hoped for nuclear capability. It has produced high tech weaponry like the anti-ship missiles that nearly sank an Israeli ship. And if Hezbollah gets guided weapons the next go round will kill far more Israeiis than the Katyushkas did.

Even the New York Times sees what's happening, although I doubt it will change its spin. The challenge over the next few years including the next presidency is going to outweigh the Iraq War and the campaign in Yugoslavia. If we let our distaste for finishing things in Iraq overrule wisdom, this things could go pear-shaped in a hurry. We are terribly short of strong leadership right now, and the Democrats are busy purging what little they have, so I'm not county on help from that quarter.

The case needs to be made strongly, loudly and courageously, because if we fail, a lot more people, Iraqis, Iranians, Israelis and Americans are going to die. We can't run or hide or expect the U.N. to do anything constructive.

I think that it is futile to expect the Iraqis to share power. That's why they're sending out militias to kill each other. We need to guarantee the Kurds a modicum of autonomy, but require them to share the oil found in their region as a national resource. We ought to grant the Shiites the democratic power their numbers warrant, and if the Sunnis don't like it they can emigrate to whatever nation will take them.

There is a huge pent up desire for payback among the Shiites, but their Ayatollah Sistani is a more traditional voice than the Mullahs in Iran and he can rein them in if we stand with them. In the meantime, a lot of hotheads will kill each other and we will not be able to stop it completely, nor should we try. Only to make sure they're killing each other and not the innodents who only want law and order.

Remember the outrage over the practice of newscasts using video clips provided by businesses and government agencies that look like news reports? Well, the Palestinians have learned to do something similar with shaky video, as did the Lebanese stringers who sold doctored photos to Reuters.
Big Media are airing faked video made by Palestinians to demonstrate their suffering and the cruelty of the Israelis.

Think of how much money and how many lives could be saved if all Middle East violence was phonied up like this! If we could get the Iraqi militias and insurgents to use these techniques, Al Jazeera would be happy and nobody would need to die. They just need to learn how to use squibs and fake blood more effectively, and a bigger special effects budget. But why quibble with what's been working?

"Sixty Minutes" seems as gullible as ever, or is it just complicit in the fraud? Maybe not consciously, but their biases are seen and exploited by the PA PR dept. And they took it at face value. Would they have done that for the Israelis? No, because they're sophisticated and have modern technology. Who would think these "wogs" could be so smart? Or that The Tiffany Network could be so dumb? I guess it's another example of the soft bigotry of low expectations, or a refusal to hold terrorists to the same standard as democratic societies.

Sex change for JonBenet killer? Sure. Can we neuter him?

What do these names have in common?

Bruce Willis, Bernie Mac, Danny DeVito, Eric Braedon, Dick Donner, Sumner Redstone, James Woods, Larry Gelbart, Dennis Hopper, Don Johnson, Vivica A. Fox, William Hurt, William Friedkin, Michael Chiklis, Sir Ridley Scott, Serena Williams, Stephen Dorff, Ivan Reitman, Michael Douglas, Pat Sajak, Michael Mann, Sam Raimi?

Here's a hint: Nicole Kidman is on the list, as are many others It's good to see that common sense is still to be found in Hollywood.