Wednesday, March 03, 2004

The Best Argument Yet For Gay Marriage

According to the Hitch, it'd drive the mullah's mad.
When I become bored or irritated by the gay marriage battle--and I do, I sometimes do--I like to picture the writhing faces and hoarse yells of the mullahs and the fanatics. Godless hedonistic America, not content with allowing divorce and pornography, has taken from us our holy Taliban and our upright Saddam. It sends Jews and unveiled female soldiers to our lands, and soon unnatural brotherhood will be in the armed forces of the infidels. And now the godless have an election where all they discuss is the weddings of men to men and women to women!

And then I relax, and smile, and ask my [gay] neighbors over, to repay the many drinks and kind gestures that I owe them."


=)

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Thinking Passionately

Perhaps enough has been said of Mel Gibson's The Passion. I have been a bit torn by all the hoopla; I must admit that when those fellow members of my Tribe, whose politics happen to lie left of center, start talking about Jew-hatred (they, of course, would never use such a term), I not only doubt their intuitions, but get that hunch that nothing good will come of it. I think in this case I may have been both wrong and right. Their intuitions may have been right, but the PR bonanza that Mel garnered at our expense has been enormous and I have to wonder if Abe Foxman is getting some of the royalties.

A couple of interesting articles, on both sides of the equation, are floating out there right now. One by Zev Chafets, conforms more to my instincts. His basic point is that the story that Mel is telling is largely faithful to the account in the New Testament and that the movie really was not made for Jews or is really about Jews; and that we shouldn't be telling him or Christians how to interpret their text. Also, he points out that it is implicitly pro-israel. As he says:
"Lately, Yasser Arafat has taken to declaring that the original inhabitants of Israel were Palestinians. But there are no Palestinians in Gibson's Jerusalem, just as there were none in the Gospels. Jesus and his disciples are as Israeli as Ariel Sharon. The Arabs are still 600 miles and 600 years from the Holy Land.
If the Anti-Defamation League were smart, it would stop bugging Mel Gibson for an apology and ask instead for a couple hundred copies of the movie.

Well, I understand his general point and I like his tone, but it is clear Mel had some choices in how he interpreted scripture and those choices went decidely against the Judeans. But his point that we shouldn't be giving interpretative advice is off-point, if only because the interpretation is NOT the real point here. But I will get to that in a second. First, let me point out Hitchens latest. Our Man holds no punches, and in fact gives Mel a flailing consistent with what is witnessed in the Passion. After recounting stories of Mel Gibson as a joke-telling homophobe, he notes that:
"I think that it's a healthy sign for our society that so many Jews have decided to be calm and unoffended by the film, and that so many Christians say they don't feel any worse about Jews after having seen it. We have a social consensus where Jews feel more secure and Christians less insecure. Good. But this does not alter the fact that The Passion is anti-Semitic in intention and its director anti-Semitic by nature. Some people including myself think that Abe Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League are too easily prone to charge the sin of anti-Semitism. But if someone denies the Holocaust one day and makes a film accusing Jews of Christ-killing the next day, I have to say that if he's not anti-Jewish then he's certainly getting there."
.
He then recounts the interview with Peggy Noonan:
"Noonan asked him a question that he must have known was coming, and which he must have prepared for, and she asked him in effect to "make nice" and agree that the Holocaust actually had occurred. His answer was, to all effects and purposes, a cold and flat "no." A lot of people, he agreed, had died in the last war. No doubt many Jews were among the casualties. It's one of the most frigid and shrugging things I have ever read. You would not know from this response that the war was begun by a fascist ruling party that believed in a Jewish world conspiracy, and thus that all of those killed were in part victims of anti-Semitism."

Right on, brother. The Man is getting to THE point. He recognizes, what so few do, the disease that anti-semitism is, and how ALL of civilized democratic society is its victim. And he recognizes that Mel doesn't get that. And then he finishes with this:
"Gibson announced a few weeks ago that he had cut the scene where a Jewish mob yells for the blood of Jesus to descend on the heads of its children (a scene that occurs in only one of the four contradictory Gospels). Gibson lied. The scene is still there, spoken in Aramaic. Only the English subtitle has been removed. Propagandists in other countries will be able to subtitle it any way they like. This is all of a piece with the general moral squalor of his project. Gibson's producer lied when he said that a pope Gibson despises had endorsed the film. He would not show the movie to anyone who might object in advance. He will not debate any of his critics, and he relies on star-stricken pulp interviewers to feed him soft questions. Now, as the dollars begin to flow from this front-loaded fruit-machine of cynical publicity, he is sobbing about the risks and sacrifices he has made for the Lord. A coward, a bully, a bigmouth, and a queer-basher. Yes, we have been here before. The word is fascism, in case you are wondering, and we don't have to sit through that movie again." (emphasis added).

Wow. Maybe he is right. And this gets to THE point which I believe Chafets missed. It isn't about interpreting scripture .... the scripture is pretty clear and Matthew takes a decided view on who is to largely blame for the cruxifiction. Although liberties are taken, the story is the story (as Chafets himself points out). I have no doubt whatsoever that the suffering of Jesus as depicted in this story is an incredibly meaningful and ultimately redemptive account for Christians and as such, they should feel free to embrace it. And Mel should feel free to celebrate it. The issue, however, is that this story has been used for centuries as a justification for the persecution of Jews and that is something that Mel has chosen to ignore. If he had come out and said something to the effect that 'this is a very central story to my faith and it is an ultimately positive story, but one that has been abused by others over time to persecute Jews, and my point is to change that dynamic/distortion', it would have been a completely different result. Instead, he acts surprised by those who would challenge him, defending his movie simply as not anti-semitic. Not even Foxman is saying it is anti-semitic, but it can and has been used for those purposes, and Mel is no where on that issue (I think his point is that it is a pure story, and is what it is, and if people don't get it, that is their problem ... to deny more is to imply that there is something wrong with it in the first place). Either he is ignorant, or not very smart, or so blinded by his story that he can't understand the issue. Or, it is something far more nefarious, and the Hitch is on to it.

I remember I once knew an artist that wore a swastika as an earring. I asked him about it and he defended it rigorously, saying that in India and other places, it is a sign of peace. He happened to be right, as I found it in abundance when I went to India. But my point to him was that while that may be the case, here, in the world we live in, that symbol has become one of the most horrible symbols of hate and death to ever exist, and if wants to redeem it, he will need to take responsibility for the feeling he hurts along the way when he proudly displays it.

The bottom line for the Passion, is that Mel avoided his responsibility to humanity. This powerful story, so central to many Christians, has been abused historically in spite of the very love of human-kind that Gibson professes to uphold. When he mass distributes it to hundreds of millions of people worldwide, he needs to assume responsibility for how that message will be delivered and the impact it has. One would think that, having publicly embraced the positive aspects of this story's message, he would zealously protect it from those who, as in the past, would use it as an instrument of hate. That he hasn't even tried, makes me more than a little nervous.

Friday, February 27, 2004

The so-called International Court of "Justice."

Paul Greenberg tries to put the Kafka-esque travesty occurring at the International Court of Justice Jew-bashing into perspective.

As he notes:
The Jewish state is the only one of the UN's 100-some-odd members, and some are very odd indeed, to be excluded from serving on its Security Council.

In passing its annual resolution condemning religious intolerance, the U.N.'s General Assembly deliberately excludes any mention of anti-Semitism.

. . . .

As Yasser Arafat tried to tell Bill Clinton at Camp David, just before rejecting still another Israeli peace offer, the Jews have no historical connection to the Temple Mount. (Which would have surprised King David.)

Martin Luther King Jr. called Zionism the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. In 1975, the General Assembly of the United Nations called it an international crime.

No one says it out loud: A lynch mob in black robes is still a lynch mob.


As Bob Dylan sings in "Neighborhood Bully":
The neighborhood bully he just lives to survive
He's criticized and condemned for being alive
He's not supposed to fight back, he's supposed to have thick skin
He's supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land
He's wandered the earth an exiled man
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn
He's always on trial for just being born
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized
Old women condemned him, said he could apologize
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad
The bombs were meant for him. He was supposed to feel bad
He's the neighborhood bully.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Why are these people our allies?

The official Saudi Arabian tourism website lists the people who will not be issued visas:
An Israeli passport holder or a passport that has an Israeli arrival/departure stamp.

Those who don't abide by the Saudi traditions concerning appearance and behaviors. Those under the influence of alcohol will not be permitted into the Kingdom.

There are certain regulations for pilgrims and you should contact the consulate for more information.

Jewish People

Well, they really put it right out there! No Jews!

Of course, even the non-Jewish bulldozer-diver Rachel Corrie would find it difficult:
If a woman is arriving in the Kingdom alone, the sponsor or her husband must receive her at the airport.

Every woman must have confirmed accommodation for the duration of her stay in the Kingdom.

A woman is not allowed to drive a car and can therefore only travel by car if she is accompanied by her husband, a male relative, or a driver.


(hat-tip: James Taranto's Best of the Web)

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Time Suck Alert...

Yet another roadblock in the path of efficient work, Whatever Happened To... is a site which tells you, well, whatever happened to former celebrities and others whose 15 minutes are up.

Animal Rights.

Cox & Forkum, once again, get right to the point.

Animal "rights" activists don't love animals. They hate people.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

When you've won, what do you protest?

In a scene out of P.C.U., a group of University of Oregon students have protested Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, a play that has evidently sparked a global feminist movement, for not being "inclusive" enough.

I miss college. I miss hearing sentences like:
"Know that what you are seeing tonight is not the result of an inclusive process,"

and
"Know that this space was not one where honest questions and concerns about race were tolerated."


This is evidently what happens when activists actually get what they wanted. The women's movement was successful. Women have equal legal rights, women may enter any profession, and more overtly run the world. (They ran it before, also, but had to let the men pretend they were in charge.)

So what's the problem with the Vagina Monologues?

Well, evidently, there was a "lack of representation of different kinds of women in "The Vagina Monologues" production." It seems that "Women of ' variety of skin colors, body sizes, abilities and gender expressions'were not adequately represented."

It's a shame, really. Because "this could have been a more diverse cast, but a safe and welcoming environment was not created for people that [the protester] consider[s] to be 'underrepresented.'" Specifically, she noted, "only one other woman of color remained in the show. 'Plus size' and queer women were also not well-represented, she said." Apparently, when advertising for the woman-only cast, they didn't put up a sign, "free milk and cookies for fat black lesbians." (And by the way, why is "Plus size" in euphemism quotes but not queer?)

The director of the show (who I'd wager is not a George W. Bush supporter) tries gamely to defend herself with logic:
[The director] said about 85 people auditioned for the show and there wasn't a large pool of "visible" people of color to choose from. She said it is also not always possible to tell one's ethnicity or sexual orientation just by looking at the person, adding that she does not usually ask people what their sexual orientation is at an audition.


Which is good, because that wouldn't really create a safe space, would it? "Hey, you, audition-chick! You a lesbian?" Seems to me that would invite a similar protest.

I'd also expect a protest over the Oregon Daily Emerald headline on this related story, "Tensions explode at 'Vagina' discussion."

Ahem.

Update: Thanks, Professor Volokh!

Allahpundit

For those who have not feasted yet on what is probably the funniest political website by any blogger, do yourself a favor and checkout Allah Pundit. He is completely irreverent and often vulgar (some of you might find his stuff at times a bit over the top). But he is incredibly witty and well-read and ... I happen to agree with his politics (to many, including followers of Islam, he will be anywhere from mildly to extremely offensive). Often he takes the voice of radical islamist (hence the site name), finishing many of his sentences with the arabic put-down 'kufr' (which technically means "to show ungratefulness to Allah and not to believe in Him and His religion.")

I first read him when he wrote a parody of Tom Friedman. I still laugh out loud when I read it. He captures that glib smuggness combined with informed-idiocy masquerading as intelligence. You should read the whole thing and also read the actual Friedman articles that Allahpundit links to (it shows you how well he captures him).

This guy also covers regular politics and has been all over Dean for months with some outrageous 'cartoons'. But today, with Edwards showing some surprising strength in Wisconsin, he put up a few mock campaign posters that had me on the floor. A must see.

I have to say, .... he is on to something. The Democrats want a winner. Period. They don't care who...just someone to beat Bush. And anyone who leans that way might even think this way.

Anyway, enjoy Allah. He is a hoot.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Can you pass the Third Grade?

Let's see.

CIA -- Iraqi Rewards Program

Do you have any intelligence about Iraq? Well, please let the CIA know about it.

I assume they also have some less self-selected sources.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Tony Snow

I have exhausted all of my sources in attempting to learn why Tony Snow was suddenly disappeared from his Sunday program, and replaced by the terminally inadequate Chris Wallace. Usually, one can easily learn the behind-the-scenes stories behind these moves. However, I have been unable to learn one single thing. Fox has not responded to e-mails... nor has Tony Snow. If there is anyone reading this, and you have any ideas, please let me know.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Just Imagine if the World thought like Victor Davis Hanson...

.... we would be in good shape. But the world doesn't, so Hanson imagined what it would be like if it worked the way a variety of American, Middle Eastern, and European pundits said it did...or even if they believed it worked that way. If we believed in this make-believe world, then we could actually imagine that:
That when all the Israelis vacate the Gaza Strip and, like most of the Arab world elsewhere it is free of Jews, indigenous Palestinian consensual government will at last quickly bring peace and tranquility there to its own delighted native citizenry.

That Arab-Israeli communities near the border are agitating to be annexed by Palestine in order to join their brethren under the aegis of Mr. Arafat's non-Zionist utopia.

That with the promised two-state solution and a return to the so-called Green Line, a few thousand Jewish émigrés can choose to live in safety in newly autonomous Palestine in the same manner as hundreds of thousands of their Arab counterparts now do in Israel.

That Pakistan, Iran, and Libya, either in fear or out of admiration, bowed to pressure from the EU and the UN to release information about their WMD programs.

That Saudi Arabia is now hunting down al Qaedists due to belated sympathy and concern about 9/11.
.....
That had Mr. Carter been allowed to employ his patented Nobel-Prize winning Korean model of curbing nuclear proliferation with Muammar Khaddafi, Libya would now be free of nukes.


You get the idea. For awhile I was laughing, if only because Hanson captured that tortured, made-up reality so well. But many people think that way. And, actually, that is not so funny. Read the rest.


All the News that's Fit to Print in Gaza

Did you see the NYTimes this past Wednesday in their print version that showed Palestinians cowering during a battle with IDF forces? As usual, it made an impression. I couldn't find it on the NYTimes site, but rather found this:

You know, standard 'Israeli brutality' stuff. You get used to it.

But the Times didn't show this picture of Hamas getting ready for the battle and using the teens to shield their activity. Never would, would they. Same battle, different perspective.



Also, a remarkable picture... of a picture being taken, of a Palestinian woman crying. She may be grieving, I don't know. But it gives you perspective on the circus that is being played out there, and the manipulation of reality.



Pictures via Little Green Footballs.

What to Make of the Kerry Intern Rumor?

A couple of thoughts. First, do I really care? No, not really. I tend to not like all this stuff flying around... much rather stick to the issues. However, since the attacks dogs are doing anything BUT sticking to the issues with respect to Bush, I sort of have the feeling of "Hey, at least it levels the playing field." But so much for my unsophisticated, undeveloped and unprincipled thoughts. Others have brought up some interesting perspectives, which I would like to pass on.

First, there is Hugh Hewitt (via Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds) who mixed it up with The New Republic's Peter "I Hate Bush" Beinart (by the way, I am not extrapolating...Beinart wrote an article where he confessed over and over how he just hated Bush... so I think he would own up to that nomenclature). Hewitt's point, which is dead on correct, is the remarkable hypocrasy whereby the mainstream press would ignore the Kerry story (which perhpas is correct given the shaky grounds of the accusations) while going whole hog on the Bush AWOL charge (which rests on pure fabrication). But Beinart would not be reasonable. This is the blurb:

The New Republic's Peter Beinart and I mixed it up today, when after dancing around the fact that he and the staff at TNR had been discussing the Kerry allegations he chastised me for bringing up the DrudgeReport's allegations on air without any evidence for their veracity. Trap sprung. I asked Peter for the evidence supporting the allegations that Bush was a "deserter" or "AWOL", allegations that he and the TNR staff have been rolling about in for days. The only "evidence" he could cite was General Turnipseed's alleged charge.

Understand that Turnipseed has never alleged that Bush was AWOL or a deserter. Never. Four years ago he said he doesn't recall seeing him. On Tuesday he stated that Bush could well have been on the base, but that he just didn't see him.

In other words, there is no evidence whatsoever to support Terry McAuliffe's slanderous charge that was repeated in Congress yesterday by a Democratic congressman and by countless pundits including the increasingly repugnant Begala, and widely read websites of the left like Joshua Marshall's.

But while Beinart and his colleagues of the left have no problem covering the Bush story and shifting coverage from the lack of evidence for the charges leveled at Bush to their dissatisfaction with the completeness of the Bush denials, they are feigning shock that a report from Matt Drudge on alleged Kerry infidelity should be mentioned outside their newsrooms.

The timing of the new allegations is wonderful especially because it throws such a defining light on the bias of the Washington media --ever ready to carry the water of the Democrats and dismayed that they might be obliged to cover some nasty business about the front-runner from the left.

One of the many reasons why this long-time reader of TNR is no longer, despite my affection for Martin Peretz and others. Honesty, integrity and reasonableness is not much to ask for from the media. It really isn't. Yes, we all have our biases, but some jobs demand that we rise above them, or at least try to. And by the way, the Boston Globe, which has largely spearheaded these Bush charges, is now backing off. Read this if you are interested.

Next thoughtful point, and really thoughtful at that, is Jimmy-boy Lileks, who actually says that infidelity can matter, as does any issue of one's past. And he is absolutely right. His point is that "it’s not necessarily the affair that disqualifies someone, it’s the behavior that surrounds it, and the context, and the response." And he articulates that with thought's on Kerry's past:
"I don’t care what Kerry said 30 years ago; I care what he says today about what he said 30 years ago. In other words, what he said 30 years ago is of interest to me if he still believes it.

Someone could probably dig up a tape of George Bush shouting “Jesus Christ, I haven’t been this F#*$&in’ drunk in a week!” Does that somehow alter the fact that he’s a devout abstainer today? No. People change. So if you ask Kerry whether he believes US troops should be stationed around the world only under the auspices of the UN, he has several possible responses.

1. "I believed that then, but I was wrong, and let me explain."

2. "Yes, I still believe that, and let me explain."

3. Complex, evasive response that has it both ways – e.g., “while I will never surrender American sovereignty to an international body, I believe strongly in the need to consult our allies and work with the international institutions that have served us so well for all these years,” etc.

What would be wrong with someone actually saying you know, I used to hold that opinion, but I’ve changed my mind. It would be refreshing.

The same holds true for a Kerry affair, if one took place. It tells you something, but you do need to look at the context. And if it is that he cared that little to put his wife through that, it tells you a lot. Read the rest....I can't do it justice.

Finally, Roger Simon goes back to his theme. Given what we all went through unfortunately in the 90's with Bill, if Kerry did do this, it goes again to his level of seriousness. It suggests that "a strong part of him didn't want the job."

Wow. All this on a rumor. But why not. If it turns out to be nothing, I will treat it that way and still think the guy would be horrible as President. And if it is true, it helps set the groundrules for how to think about it.

And by the way, an important footnote on Kerry's wife. David Horowitz' site has a remarkable article on her, where it is disclosed that she has given millions of dollars to the secretive Tides Foundation—a far left group that funds, among other “anti-war” efforts, MoveOn.org and Indymedia. Part of the article underwhelmed me, in all honesty. A bit too vague and way too frothy. Let's just say that the case at times seems unsubstantiated. But what caught my eye was that Tides gives money to both CAIR (Council for American Islamic Relations) and National Lawyers Guild, groups that have taken radically anti-American and anti-Israeli (semitic) positions. Maybe we shouldn't believe everything we read, BUT, we should keep our eyes open.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

My e-mail to Josh

Thank you for your film. Congratulations. Your bride is adorable.
I have been married for 36 years. Now that my wife has seen this film... my life will never be the same.
I will know no peace.

THANKS A LOT!!!!
/Stuart Kaufman
Great Neck, NY

The Girl In The Picture

In honor of Valentine's day, here is a link to a guy that makes the rest of us look bad. This guy, Josh wanted to propose to his wife in a romantic fashion. So he made a silent movie, got his intended to the theatre under the ruse of going to see a Buster Keaton movie and showed her his film instead.

The entire story, along with the movie itself, can be seen here.

Josh should know, however, that all of us who are now going to hear "See! Why can't you do things like that?" are gunning for him.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Steyn on Kerry

Mark Steyn, writing in The Telegraph, has a very good response to Kerry's constant bleating about his service in Vietnam:

The only relevant lesson from Vietnam is this: then, as now, it was not possible for the enemy to achieve military victory over the US; their only hope was that America would, in effect, defeat itself. And few men can claim as large a role in the loss of national will that led to that defeat as John Kerry. A brave man in Vietnam, he returned home to appear before Congress and not merely denounce the war but damn his "band of brothers" as a gang of rapists, torturers and murderers led by officers happy to license them to commit war crimes with impunity. He spent the Seventies playing Jane Fonda and he now wants to run as John Wayne.

Vietnam was a "war of choice". But, once you chose to go in, there was no choice but to win. America's failure of will had terrible consequences. The Seventies - the Kerry decade - was the only point in the Cold War in which the eventual result seemed in doubt. The Communists seized real estate all over the globe, in part because they calculated that the post-Vietnam, Kerrified America would never respond.


And Kerry wants to head back to those days. Which is why, even taking into account Bush's blunders, like steel tariffs and the pathetic "healthcare" debacle, I'm still voting for Bush.

Memo From the TrollHunter General:

I just noticed this older post from the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler. An Automated Reply From The Bull**** Detector is a good response to reflexive pro-Palestinian raving on message boards.

"Well, at least you could say you were married..."

In a testament to the macabre, a woman in France (where else?) has married a dead person.

Dressed in a demure black suit, a 35-year-old Frenchwoman has married her dead boyfriend, an exchange of vows that required authorization from President Jacques Chirac.
. . . .

Demichel told LCI television she understood "it could seem shocking to marry someone who is dead," but her feelings for him had not dimmed. His body was not present for the ceremony.

Such marriages are legal if the living spouse can prove the couple had intended to marry before the other died. The French president must also authorize it.


I think the most interesting thing about this story is that evidently French law has contemplated it. Apparently, in France, it's not that unusual to marry a dead guy.

UPDATE: Professor Volokh has graciously linked!

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Thomas Sowell on the intelligence issue

Tom Sowell, always a good read, writes in today's Town Hall about the apparent intelligence failures that are now being used to try and make the point that the Iraq war was a mistake.

He makes an extremely cogent point as to why this is extremely important:

Having a President of the United States lie us into a war is not only a disaster when it happens, it is a lasting catastrophe for future presidents and for the country, because a president's credibility is a whole nation's credibility in the world. We have still not recovered from President Lyndon Johnson's lying us into the Vietnam war.


I think those of us in favor of the war make a mistake by underestimating the fact that we haven't found the WMD. I never thought the WMD was the reason to go to war, but by the same token, it was the reported presence of WMD that was used to silence critics (for whom the fact that Saddam Hussein tortured his own people was somehow not a valid reason to remove him from power). And I think, unfortunately, that the public emphasis on the WMD has come back to bite Bush on the butt (alliterative though that clause might be).

I also think an examination of the intelligence capacities of the US is overdue. But as Sowell notes:
[M]any, if not most, of those in Congress who are now complaining loudly about intelligence failures are people who voted repeatedly to cut the budgets of the intelligence agencies and to restrict their operations. Senator John Kerry is just one of those who crippled these agencies and now complain that they were not effective enough.

Intelligence is a dirty business. War is a dirty business. And both are necessary so that good people can go on and live their lives.

Sowell's final point?

Among the things that we know now is that you get cooperation in the Middle East after you have demonstrated your willingness to use force. Would Libya have revealed and dismantled its weapons of mass destruction if the Qaddafi regime had not seen what happened in Iraq? Would Syria and Iran have taken a more conciliatory attitude if they had not seen what happened in Iraq?

Negotiations are not a substitute for force. When international negotiations work, often it is because aggressors know what is going to happen if it doesn't work.

Remembering the President's Words, Redux

Well, I'm not the only one who recently looked back at what Clinton had to say about Iraq and WMD. Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit posted a screed from James Lileks, who looked back at Clinton's 1998 speech and US policy then. The bottom line, but for the name Bush, nothing has changed. But we knew that. Good though to see a man of Lileks' wit and rage as well as Reynold's popularity (I think his is the most highly viewed weblog) to be on the point.

But Lileks also went further than the speech to see what the GOP reaction was as well as our friends at the UN. Some interesting foretelling of the reaction today.

One interesting thing I found, was that when I searched for Clinton's speech, I found a host of articles, mostly from the far left, but also from the far right, that bashed Clinton in much the same way that Bush has been bashed. The real difference then however, was that it was the fringe. So, not a lot of attention was paid to those views. Also, Clinton bombed only for 4 days, so the opposition never got terribly mobilized (although, in those 4 days, we dropped more tonnage of bombs than in the whole 1991 Gulf War, which is remarkable). Now, however, some of those fringe views have become mainstream Democrat positions. And that really is the subtext to Lileks' piece.... the blatant hypocrisy is somewhat amazing. Anyway, here is what he said:
"Okay, well, outtakes: went back to the microfilm today to February 1998, when the Clinton adminstration was making the case for attacking Iraq. How things change. Clinton was arguing that Saddam not only had WMD, but that one day he might want to make more WMD, and this wasn’t acceptable. Interesting to read between the lines - the Clinton administration seemed to be arguing that the potential for future production was itself a valid reason to strike. Military force is never "the first answer,' Clinton said, “but sometimes it’s the only answer.” “It Saddam isn’t stopped now,” the AP story said, quoting Clinton,“’He will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And someday, someway, I guarantee you, he’ll use that arsenal.’” Thus spake Clinton in 1998. He went on to note that the strikes planned could not possibly destroy Saddam’s arsenal, because A) they didn’t know where everything was, and B) they didn’t want to kill Iraqis by unleashing clouds of toxins. And it gets better: a sidebar noted that this war plan – Desert Thunder – had been prepared weeks before, in case Saddam stiffed in the inspectors.

Bill Clinton had a plan to go to war before the crisis flared! What does that tell you? Obviously, he was looking for any excuse! Halliburton! We all know about the ties between Clinton and Halliburton – he gave them a sweet no-bid contract after his Balkans war, you know.

Anyway: it's deja vut all over again. You want to talk imminence? WMD? Democratic concern and conviction? Go back to the papers of 1998; it’s all there, right down to the terrorist links: Hezbollah, for example, swears it will strike Israel if the US attacks Iraq. (A poll of Palestinians showed that 94% supported Iraq, and 77% wanted Iraq to kill Jews if the US attacked Iraq.) Bob Dole was quoted as supporing the strikes but urging Clinton to seek Congressional Authorization. A story on Bush 41’s reaction said that the former president would completely support Clinton if he decided to attack, but noted that Bush 41 urged Clinton to get more international support - which was lacking at the time.

And indeed, Kofi struck a deal. Which fell apart by summertime. Which lead to cruise missile strikes. Which lead to boredom and disengagement. Which lead to half a decade of Saddam on the throne and the dissidents in the shredders and the tots in the gulag and dead people heaped in ditches and oil-for-palaces deals and Uday and Qusay pleasuring themselves in Rapeland Incorporated and Abu Nidal putting his feet up in a Baghdad apartment, pouring a nice cool glass of tea, and thinking: ah. This is the life.

I’m so old I actually remember when the Democrats cared about Iraq."

Monday, February 09, 2004

Oh, the Places You Will Go

Inspired by David, I thought I would see what the world map looks like with my footprints in it. More red than I would have thought, though I must say, it is amazing what visiting two cities in Russia and one in China (Hong Kong, so not even the mainland) will do for the visuals!:

create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

The site also gave the option to map out the states I've been to here at home. So, the result looks like this:



create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide


What I found interesting was that I have been to 34 countries and 34 states. I'm not sure what that means other than I have reached some wierd state of equilibrium. Dare I travel again?

Let's be serious

I think that is a good way to think about who to vote for in the upcoming elections.... by asking the question "Who is serious?" Roger Simon, the playwrite, life-long liberal Democrat and popular blogger, looked at John Kerry and much to my delight made the following observation:
"We live in serious times and this is, despite his fancy suits and seeming gravitas, a fundamentally unserious person. I don't trust him at the controls.

Good for Roger. I couldn't agree more, and I extend that view to the entire field of Democratic candidates. Their is something incredibly unserious about the way they ALL have trashed Bush, taken more positions on the war than than could possibly exist, excite crowds with anger and hatred (I will exempt Lieberman and to some extent, Edwards, from that last one) and generally play the "Dean" card. I just don't believe them and fear that it will be business as usual with any of them in the White House. No more plain, straight talk. Back to nuanced, multi-lateral, moral equivocal and ambiguous bullshit. More "I met the enemy, and it is us" crap.

But when I read a guy like Simon, that gives me hope. And when I read Our Man Hitchens, I get simply giddy. He was asked by Slate magazine "Whom should the Democrats nominate?". His essay is simply a delight to the serious-minded. And to that point, he has words of advice for Democrats:
"Party-mindedness is an enemy in itself, if only because it makes intelligent people act and think stupidly. But the belief in the candidate's "program" is hardly less of a trap. I hate to say it, but a successful contender for office can change his mind on, say, universal health care. What he cannot change is his personality. If he's a money-grubbing, narcissistic, and approval-seeking psycho at the start, he will not doff these qualities in the Oval Office. One ought therefore to begin by eliminating all those who are running for some kind of therapeutic or Oedipal reason. (This doesn't cost much: It would only have deprived us of Kennedy, Nixon, Hart, and Clinton in the recent past, and superior candidates from both parties were readily available in all those instances.)

One Dean he says:
"I claim no prescience for predicting the implosion of Howard Dean: He was obviously very lucky to get as far as the governorship of Vermont. A man who will say anything to any audience if he thinks it will raise the roof is a candidate to be shunned: It should have been all over when he trashed his Hippocratic oath to invent a story about an incest victim from his physician's office. Think of all the money he raised and squandered: It would have been far better spent donated to the reconstruction of Iraq. His entire campaign was, to borrow one of his sillier slogans, a distraction from the hunt for al-Qaida."

On Clark:
"But there's something bizarre about a conceited man in uniform who now can't remember which regime-change he favored or why, which party he belongs to, or which "faith-based" community he espouses. He also has a weakness for half-cooked conspiracy stories and gets snappish when he's questioned on the last weird thing he said. Again, beware of those who run to pacify their internal demons."

On Kerry he saves his best:
"John Kerry should decide whether he's a moral hero for fighting in a futile and filthy war against the Vietnamese revolution, or for protesting against that war. Can I guess from his demeanor which of the two was his "noble cause"? No. Shouldn't I know by now? Yes, I should, since it's not evident at this relatively late date whether or not he's proud of voting to remove Saddam Hussein. As with most senior Democrats, Kerry's revolving-door record with lobbyists and donors is one to make Cheney and Bush look like amateurs."

He actually likes Edwards, who has known for awhile and believes is serious. He even says that an Edwards-Kerry ticket is the best of the mix since it would at least be made of serious people. I don't know about that (or I find it irrelevant since unless the people at the top are serious, the other serious people tend not to matter much), but liked that he hedged himself by saying that Edwards would have to be the head of the ticket in order for him to find it appealing. Nonethless, he comes out with his own view, in case as he put it, anyone was interested:
"I'm a single-issue person at present, and the single issue in case you are wondering is the tenacious and unapologetic defense of civilized societies against the intensifying menace of clerical barbarism. If in the smallest doubt about this, I would suggest a vote for the re-election of George Bush, precisely because he himself isn't prey to any doubt on the point. There are worse things than simple mindedness—pseudo-intellectuality, for example. Civil unions for homosexuals, or prescription-drug programs, are not even going to be in second or third place if we get this wrong. And presidents can't make much difference to the stock market or the employment rate or to income distribution. But they can and must uphold their oath to defend the country. So, having said that "issues" are only tangential to campaigns, the best estimate I can make is one about the seriousness of individuals. I was open-mouthed at the idea that anyone would even consider entrusting the defense of the United States and its Constitution to Howard Dean, but that problem appears to have taken care of itself, even if only through the sort of voter-intuition that one is ultimately forced to recommend. Make up your own mind, is my own best recommendation, and put "electability" (once a Dean property, for heaven's sake) to one side."

Yep. Read the man.