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October 31, 2005

Cicero Articles

Two recent articles concerning the relationship between Iran and al Qaeda, printed in the new German magazine Cicero, got the attention of the German government. Authorities raided the magazine's offices to try to determine the source of the classified documents quoted by author Bruno Schirra .

Dan Darling, writing at The Fourth Rail, presents these articles in what he believes is their first appearance in the English media. They highlight the high degree of support and coordination between the (Shiite) Iranian regime and the (Sunni) al Qaeda network (just one more thing that the CIA was wrong about), and feature the terror career of Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, referred to by the author as "The World's Most Dangerous Man".

In the excerpts from the second Cicero piece, the author comments on the rise to power of the man who may have recently taken that dubious honor from al-Zarqawi: the new President of Iran, Mahmud Ahmadinejad:

...from Iran itself come completely open and very warlike tones. They tell of the return of Iranian state terrorism in and the eighties and nineties of the last century. In just one year during a series of hostage takings and murders of western foreigners in Lebanon more than sixty people fell victim. As both the US Marine barracks and those of the French peacekeeping forces were blown into air, hundreds of people died. The culprit: the Lebanese Hezbollah. The planners and backers originate from the leadership circles of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards...

...Western security agencies now fear a repetition of this episode of global terror. In view of a large newspaper advertisement, which appeared in August in the newspaper Partow-e Sokhan, a realistic prospect—especially should the controversy between Iran and the West over the Iranian nuclear weapon program escalate further. The ad text itself reads as follows: "martyr attacks are the highest virtue and the highest courage." The "command of the voluntary martyrs" stands responsible for the text. Behind them the Ansar Hezbollah, the most radical Islamic death squad of the Islamic republic. Moham Madresa Jafari, the commander in chief of the "command of the voluntary martyrs", threatens the global use of suicide attackers. 50,000 fighters have already been already recruited. In the USA and other NATO countries suicide attackers keep themselves operational at all times...

...Behind the Ansar Hezbollah and the potential suicide assassins stands a man: the owner of the newspaper Partow-e Sokhan. Ayatollah Mesbah Yasdi, the most radical hard liner of the Islamic republic and the man who organized from the background the triumphant selection battle of Mahmud Ahmadinedschad. Mesbah Yasdi’s political deftness led Ahmadinedschad to the presidency. Ayatollah Yasdi, proponent of global suicide assassination attempts, praises Achnmadinejad’s administration as "the first Islamic administration in the history of the Islamic republic".

A credible threat of force, which could become real for western safety experts in the near future. Because Ahmadinedschad openly threatens the West in the nuclear controversy with the next stage of escalation. Specifically, the resumption of all enrichment activities.

Read Dan Darling at his blog Regnum Crucis and also at Winds of Change.

Peter Brookes has a related piece at RCP, as does Michael Ledeen at NRO.

October 29, 2005

Stand For Something

A little self-diagnosis on the left by David Sirota at In These Times. Sirota identifies an ailment among progressives that he calls "Partisan War Syndrome".

The first major symptom of Partisan War Syndrome is wild hallucinations that make progressives believe we can win elections by doing nothing, as long as the Republican Party keeps tripping over itself. You can best see this symptom each time another GOP scandal comes down the pike. The scandal hits, Republicans respond with a pathetic “I am not a crook” defense, and both Democratic politicians and grassroots activists/bloggers berate a “culture of corruption.” Yet, then these same critics largely refuse to demand concrete solutions such as public funding of elections that would actually clean up the system, and would draw a contrast between the left and the right. We see hallucinations of a victory in the next election as long as we just say nothing of substance, as we have for the last decade. But like a mirage in the desert, it never seems to materialize.

These hallucinations are the only logical explanation as to why the Democratic Party remains without an official position on almost every major issue in Congress. Just look at the last year: Democrats have no clear party position on Iraq, energy, bankruptcy, trade, tax cuts, Supreme Court nominees or corruption, other than to criticize Republicans.

Sirota bemoans the obsessiveness among liberal activists, the base, which includes influential bloggers, with rhetoric, "packaging", and narrative, all at the expense of ideas. Unions, environmental groups and others who are "fighting the good fight" on substance are drowned out by those afflicted with this syndrome. It's an honest look at what troubles the left today, and acknowledges that the conservative grassroots movement is driven more by issues and by an overarching belief system than its liberal counterpart as it exists today.

(via aldaily.com)


A couple of recommendations for the Supreme Court nomination that make a lot of sense to me:

Quin Hillyer makes the case for Christopher Cox, and R. Emmett Tyrell the case for Ted Olson. Neither man has been consistently appearing on the "short lists" of the experts, but they are respected by members of both parties as men of integrity and intelligence, and their legal qualifications are beyond serious dispute.

Still, a lot of the smart money is on Samuel Alito.

Lots more at:


Bench Memos

October 28, 2005

NYT Blog-Busted

Another example of the "before-blogs-they-used-to-get-away-with-this-stuff" phenomenon, from the New York Times, via Michelle Malkin.

The IHC Story

Digging deeper into the maze of commerce and corruption that was the contracting and procurement system of the Oil-For-Food program, Claudia Rosett tries to track down the principals behind IHC Corp, an entity that benefited from hundreds of millions of dollars worth of U.N. contracts.

What next might turn up in the IHC saga depends on a number of investigations. But in an era when many authorities are worried about the transit of millions across borders and the enforcement of good governance, it appears the U.N. has been serving as a bazaar in which corruption, conflicts of interest and shadowy financial networks have found ways to set up shop. Behind the maze, who was the real owner of IHC during its nine years of doing big business with the U.N.? The U.N. won't say, and quite possibly does not even know. Its policy, in fact, was not even to ask.

October 27, 2005

Roggio Going To Iraq

Excellent post on the al Qaeda attack on the Palestine Hotel by Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail. Bill explains how it could have been a lot worse but for a couple of screw-ups by the al Qaeda guys. In response, Reuters at least, has shown that they'd rather remind readers of that other incident at the Palestine Hotel, than condemn by name the perpetrators of this coordinated attack.

Bill is heading to Iraq's Anbar province, by special invitation, and will continue his reporting from there. He's also going to have a new web outlet soon, at ThreatsWatch.org. Best of luck, Bill, and thanks.

Corporate Takeover


These were the contest directions:

Everywhere you turn there is another Starbucks, McDonalds or GAP popping up whether it's the logo, store or actual ad you see. In this contest you're going to take corporate takeovers of society to the extreme. Put ads, logos and/or stores in the most unexpected areas you can think of (i.e. the Sphinx in Egypt wearing RayBan sunglasses, or a Taj Mahal McDonalds). The rules of this game are thus: Depict the world completely overrun by logos, advertisements and stores in the most unexpected places.

And here are the best of the entries at Worth1000.com.

October 26, 2005

Schadenfreude On Stilts

Christopher Hitchens devastates George Galloway, as the evidence against the MP becomes overwhelming. Read it all. His last line alone is a classic. And be sure to look at the accompanying pdf document , which is a good primer on the Oil-For-Food program in general, and also a conclusive summation of the evidence against Galloway and Benon Sevan. Clip and save. Here's a sample from Hitchens:

The critical person in Galloway's fetid relationship with Saddam's regime was a Jordanian "businessman" named Fawaz Zureikat, who was involved in a vast range of middleman activities in Baghdad and is the chairman of Middle East Advanced Semiconductor Inc. It was never believable, as Galloway used to claim, that he could have been so uninformed about Zureikat's activities in breaching the U.N. oil embargo. This most probably means that what we now know is a fraction of what there is to be known. But what has been established is breathtaking enough. A member of the British Parliament was in receipt of serious money originating from a homicidal dictatorship. That money was supposed to have been used to ameliorate the suffering of Iraqis living under sanctions. It was instead diverted to the purposes of enriching Saddam's toadies and of helping them propagandize in favor of the regime whose crimes and aggressions had necessitated the sanctions and created the suffering in the first place. This is something more than mere "corruption." It is the cynical theft of food and medicine from the desperate to pay for the palaces of a psychopath.


David Blair's Telegraph story

Harrassees Speak Out

Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick will be touring the Clinton Library in Little Rock this week, in part to draw attention to the lessons that they say the Clintons have taught to victims of sexual harrassment and assault. In their words...

Bill and Hillary Clinton are teaching rape and sexual harassment victims that if your assailant is popular and politically powerful, you will be punished more for daring to report the assault than for keeping silent. They are teaching perpetrators of violence against women that as long as you are pro-abortion enough to have the political support of the National Organization for Women, any crimes you commit against women in your “personal life” will be overlooked.

Dems I talk to tend to assume that conservatives are still hung up on the Lewinsky affair. But it was never the consensual stuff that bothered me.

October 25, 2005

On Prosecutorial Discretion

In The Corner, Mark Levin compares the prosecutor's treatment of Bill Clinton's perjury in the Lewinsky matter to the decision that Fitzgerald may be forced to make in the Wilson/Plame matter on a possible perjury charge for Libby or Rove:

... he helped Monica Lewinsky write a false affidavit denying sexual relations with him; he intended the false affidavit to be used during his deposition, and in fact his lawyer (Bob Bennett) did use (unwittingly) the false affidavit to try to convince the judge overseeing the deposition (Susan Webber Wright) to limit questions to Clinton during the deposition; Clinton himself confirmed the accuracy of the false Lewinsky affidavit during his deposition; and Clinton lied repeatedly during the sworn deposition about his relationship with Lewinsky. There were no problems with bad recollections or unintended omissions. As Judge Wright ruled in her contempt holding against Clinton, Clinton made "intentionally false" statements. Clinton also enlisted others to lie for him. And considering the Jones lawsuit was about sexual harassment, and Jones's lawyers were trying to establish a practice and pattern of sexual misconduct to win their civil suit, this was no side issue. And yet, Clinton was not indicted. Robert Ray, the last of the independent counsels in the case, settled the case.

Left To Right

I don't believe I ever self-identified as a liberal, so I can't claim to have experienced anything like the political evolution of the well known left-to-right apostates that I have since come to read and admire. But I've always been fascinated by their stories, as much for the insight into the basis of their early utopian dreams as for the principled stands they took when the collectivist impulse finally demonstated to them the tyranny of which it is capable whenever men and governments set about to enforce it.

Although there are others, I speak mainly of Whittaker Chambers, Norman Podhoretz and David Horowitz, three men who became intellectual heroes, and who have undeniably shaped my worldview here in mid-life. Chambers' Witness and Horowitz' Radical Son cemented my conservatism as much anything else I can specify. And while I came later to read Podhoretz, Ex-Friends was as much an eye-opener into the mindset of the Left as were the two autobiographies.

More recently, prominent leftists Christopher Hitchens and Ron Rosenbaum have publicly departed the movement, in large part owing to disgust with the reaction of many of their brethren to the 9/11 attacks, where America was drawn as the villain, and a Taliban regime that oppressed women, stoned gays, and executed dissidents at home while murdering innocents abroad, was spared condemnation. It was illogical, knee-jerk anti-Americanism that drove away Hitchens and Rosenbaum.

All of that as setup to this FrontPage forum featuring several more modern day apostates, including Tammy Bruce, Phyllis Chesler and Keith Thompson relating their own stories of breaking with the Left. You'll need to pack a lunch, but it's good stuff. The common thread in these stories is the same as that of the Big Three above; principled people who experienced confusion or disillusionment of some sort when the actions of their Left came to conflict with its stated values. And to a person it seems, they have been denied much of that fabled liberal tolerance since their intellectual evolutions.

Read more from the native Ohioan Thompson in this interview on his site, as well as his essay "Leaving the Left".

UPDATE 10/27: More "second thoughts" reading from discoverthenetworks.org.

Touché , Mr. Kagan

Here's a much-needed reminder from Robert Kagan of the editorial positions of the New York Times and the Washington Post concerning Saddam Hussein's Iraq during the 2-3 years prior to the election of George W. Bush. The status quo was unacceptable. Bill Clinton knew it, and his publicly stated administration policy was regime change.

The Times and the Post knew it too, and regularly said so without reservation. Their justification of the need for action? Saddam's weapons programs, threats to neighboring countries, and possible nuclear proliferation. They were skeptical of the fecklessness of the United Nations, and warned that Russia and France were eager to lift sanctions for self-interested reasons. Even after Clinton bombed for four days in 1998 the Times warned that "future military attacks may be required to diminish the arsenal again."

The threat the Times saw then was Saddam's massive capacity for terror if the U.S. did not act and confront him forcefully. Do you suppose the editors themselves ever go back and read what they were saying seven or eight years ago? I am not excerpting the Kagan piece because it is in the "must reading" category, if you'll excuse the tired blog cliché.

(full text also available by clicking below) Thanks to Laurie Mylroie for the link.

It Wasn't Just Miller's Story

By Robert Kagan
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Judith Miller-Valerie Plame-Scooter Libby imbroglio is being reduced to a simple narrative about the origins of the Iraq war. Miller, the story goes, was an anti-Saddam Hussein, weapons-of-mass-destruction-hunting zealot and was either an eager participant or an unwitting dupe in a campaign by Bush administration officials and Iraqi exiles to justify the invasion. The New York Times now characterizes the affair as "just one skirmish in the continuing battle over the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq." Miller may be "best known for her role in a series of Times articles in 2002 and 2003 that strongly suggested Saddam Hussein already had or was acquiring an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction." According to the Times's critique, she credulously reported information passed on by "a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on 'regime change' in Iraq," which was then "eagerly confirmed by United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq." Many critics outside the Times suggest that Miller's eagerness to publish the Bush administration's line was the primary reason Americans went to war. The Times itself is edging closer to this version of events.

There is a big problem with this simple narrative. It is that the Times, along with The Post and other news organizations, ran many alarming stories about Iraq's weapons programs before the election of George W. Bush. A quick search through the Times archives before 2001 produces such headlines as "Iraq Has Network of Outside Help on Arms, Experts Say"(November 1998), "U.S. Says Iraq Aided Production of Chemical Weapons in Sudan"(August 1998), "Iraq Suspected of Secret Germ War Effort" (February 2000), "Signs of Iraqi Arms Buildup Bedevil U.S. Administration" (February 2000), "Flight Tests Show Iraq Has Resumed a Missile Program" (July 2000). (A somewhat shorter list can be compiled from The Post's archives, including a September 1998 headline: "Iraqi Work Toward A-Bomb Reported.") The Times stories were written by Barbara Crossette, Tim Weiner and Steven Lee Myers; Miller shared a byline on one.

Many such stories appeared before and after the Clinton administration bombed Iraq for four days in late 1998 in what it insisted was an effort to degrade Iraqi weapons programs. Philip Shenon reported official concerns that Iraq would be "capable within months -- and possibly just weeks or days -- of threatening its neighbors with an arsenal of chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons." He reported that Iraq was thought to be "still hiding tons of nerve gas" and was "seeking to obtain uranium from a rogue nation or terrorist groups to complete as many as four nuclear warheads." Tim Weiner and Steven Erlanger reported that Hussein was closer than ever "to what he wants most: keeping a secret cache of biological and chemical weapons." "To maintain his chemical and biological weapons -- and the ability to build more," they reported, Hussein had sacrificed over $120 billion in oil revenue and "devoted his intelligence service to an endless game of cat and mouse to hide his suspected weapons caches from United Nations inspections."

In 1999 Weiner reported that "Iraq's chances of rebuilding a secret arsenal look good." Hussein was "scouring the world for tools to build new weapons." He might "be as close to building a nuclear weapon -- perhaps closer -- than he was in 1991." In 2000 Myers reported that Iraq had rebuilt 12 "missile factories or industrial sites" thought to be "involved in Iraq's efforts to produce weapons of mass destruction" and had "continued its pursuit of biological and chemical weapons."

The Times's sources were "administration officials," "intelligence officials," "U.N. weapons inspectors" and "international analysts." The "administration officials" were, of course, Clinton officials. A number of stories were based not on off-the-record conversations but on public statements and documentation by U.N. inspectors.

From 1998 through 2000, the Times editorial page warned that "without further outside intervention, Iraq should be able to rebuild weapons and missile plants within a year" and that "future military attacks may be required to diminish the arsenal again." Otherwise, Iraq could "restore its ability to deliver biological and chemical weapons against potential targets in the Middle East." "The world," it said, "cannot leave Mr. Hussein free to manufacture horrific germs and nerve gases and use them to terrorize neighboring countries."

Times editorials insisted the danger from Iraq was imminent. When the Clinton administration attempted to negotiate, they warned against letting "diplomacy drift into dangerous delay. Even a few more weeks free of inspections might allow Mr. Hussein to revive construction of a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon." They also argued that it was "hard to negotiate with a tyrant who has no intention of honoring his commitments and who sees nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as his country's salvation." "As Washington contemplates an extended war against terrorism," a Times editorial insisted, "it cannot give in to a man who specializes in the unthinkable."

Another Times editorial warned that containment of Hussein was eroding. "The Security Council is wobbly, with Russia and France eager to ease inspections and sanctions." Any approach "that depends on Security Council unity is destined to be weak." "Mr. [Kofi] Annan's resolve seems in doubt." When Hans Blix was appointed to head the U.N. inspectors, the editors criticized him for "a decade-long failure to detect Iraq's secret nuclear weapons program before the gulf war" and for a "tendency to credit official assurances from rulers like Mr. Hussein." His selection was "a disturbing sign that the international community lacks the determination to rebuild an effective arms inspection system." The "further the world gets from the gulf war, the more it seems willing to let Mr. Hussein revive his deadly weapons projects." Even "[m]any Americans question the need to maintain pressure on Baghdad and would oppose the use of force. But the threat is too great to give ground to Mr. Hussein. The cost to the world and to the United States of dealing with a belligerent Iraq armed with biological weapons would be far greater than the cost of preventing Baghdad from rearming."

The Times was not alone, of course. On Jan. 29, 2001, The Post editorialized that "of all the booby traps left behind by the Clinton administration, none is more dangerous -- or more urgent -- than the situation in Iraq. Over the last year, Mr. Clinton and his team quietly avoided dealing with, or calling attention to, the almost complete unraveling of a decade's efforts to isolate the regime of Saddam Hussein and prevent it from rebuilding its weapons of mass destruction. That leaves President Bush to confront a dismaying panorama in the Persian Gulf," including "intelligence photos that show the reconstruction of factories long suspected of producing chemical and biological weapons."

This was the consensus before Bush took office, before Scooter Libby assumed his post and before Judith Miller did most of the reporting for which she is now, uniquely, criticized. It was based on reporting by a large of number of journalists who in turn based their stories on the judgments of international intelligence analysts, Clinton officials and weapons inspectors. As we wage what the Times now calls "the continuing battle over the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq," we will have to grapple with the stubborn fact that the underlying rationale for the war was already in place when this administration arrived.

Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, writes a monthly column for The Post.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

"Lofty Goals And Kindred Souls"

Thomas Sowell is "as cool as the other side of the pillow." *

A couple of excerpts - (ellipses mine )

Compromise and tolerance are not the hallmarks of true believers. What they believe in goes to the heart of what they are. As far as true believers are concerned, you are either one of Us or one of Them...

...Many crusades of the political left have been misunderstood by people who do not understand that these crusades are about establishing the identity and the superiority of the crusaders.

T.S. Eliot understood this more than half a century ago when he wrote: "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."...

...When economist Roy Harrod asked one of his friends whether she thought that disarming Britain would cause Hitler to disarm, her reply was: "Oh, Roy, have you lost all your idealism?"

In other words, it was not really about which policy would produce what results. It was about personal identification with lofty goals and kindred souls.

The ostensible goal of peace was window-dressing. Ultimately it was not a question whether arming or disarming Britain was more likely to deter Hitler. It was a question of which policy would best establish the moral superiority of the anointed and solidify their identification with one another...

... Yasser Arafat was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace -- not for actually producing peace but for being part of what was called "the peace process," based on fashionable notions that were common bonds among members of what are called "peace movements."

October 24, 2005

Galloway Gotcha

Sen. Norm Coleman says he has "smoking gun" proof that MP George Galloway profited from oil allocations that he received from the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. The Independent reports:

George Galloway, the British MP, was last night accused of lying by a US Congressional committee when he testified earlier this year that he had not received any United Nation food-for-oil allocations from the deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

In a report issued here, Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman and his colleagues on the Senate Subcommittee for Investigations claim to have evidence showing that Mr Galloway's political organisation and his wife received vouchers worth almost $600,000 (£338,000) from the then Iraqi government...

...Mr Coleman maintains that his evidence is based on bank records, as well as interviews with Tariq Aziz, the former foreign minister and deputy prime minister under Saddam, and with the former vice-president Taha Yasin Ramadan.

Mr Galloway's appearance before the panel, the Minnesota senator said, was "a lot of bombast". The MP was "anything but straight with the committee; he was anything but straight with the American people".

I can't wait to see this slimeball brought low once and for all. Next to actual murderers, among the planet's lowest life forms have to be guys like Galloway, who feigns concern for the Iraqi people while he enriches himself with money stolen from them, in return for defending the dictator who butchered them like cattle. He has also refused to allow the financial records of The Mariam Appeal, a fund set up ostensibly to help an Iraqi leukemia victim, to be subjected to audit, despite their claims to have been "cleared" of any wrongdoing. Sen. Coleman's report is said to show illicit Iraqi oil funds being channelled to this "charity" as well. Nice touch.

(via Drudge)

Right In The Room With You

Mark Steyn on Abraham Lincon, bird flu and Islamism. Don't think about it, go read it.

October 23, 2005

Rosett On Oil-For-Food #49

Claudia Rosett continues to follow the money.

Castro's Sox

Interesting piece about the White Sox' two Cuban-defector pitchers, and the embarrassment that their October visibility and success must surely bring to Fidel Castro. Heh.

October 22, 2005

Details, Details

Times Online - UN Office Doctored Report on Murder of Hariri

The United Nations withheld some of the most damaging allegations against Syria in its report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, it emerged yesterday.

The names of the brother of Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, and other members of his inner circle, were dropped from the report that was sent to the Security Council.

The confidential changes were revealed by an extraordinary computer gaffe because an electronic version distributed by UN officials on Thursday night allowed recipients to track editing changes...

...But the furore over the doctoring of the report threatened to overshadow its damaging findings. It raised questions about political interference by Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary- General, who had promised not to make any changes in the report...

...The deleted names represent the inner core of the Syrian regime. Maher al-Assad, President al-Assad’s younger brother, is a lieutenant-colonel and head of the Presidential Guard. He is known for his quick tem- per and six years ago was said to have shot his brother-in-law, General Assef Shawkat, in the stomach during an altercation.

Raise your hand if this deceit by Kofi Annan surprises you. According to the Jerusalem Post story...

Annan, according to speculations, was concerned that the harsh report could cause political instability in Syria, perhaps even leading to an overthrow of the Assad regime, and thus preferred a watered-down version of the report.

Ah, stability! So that's what we are trying to preserve in Syria. The U.S.- led coalition went and messed up the stability that Kofi was trying to preserve in Iraq, and he didn't want anything like identifying the actual Hariri murderers (the purpose of the investigation was what again?) to put a crimp in Bashar Assad's leadership gig in Syria. After all, even if we had evidence that Assad was responsible, the International Criminal Court in The Hague couldn't possibly try him until at least 2010, when the Milosevic trial should be wrapping up.

(via Ace of Spades HQ)

Will She Stop At Nothing?

A New York Observer headline reveals Mrs. Clinton's brilliant plan to grab the crucial male votes she needs...

"Hillary’s Chest Gets Bigger As ’08 Gets Closer"

(via Taranto)

It's "Legitimacy" They're After

I read the other day that the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, which has gone on for four years, is not likely to end until perhaps 2010, as Milosevic intends to call some 200 witnesses in his defense, dragged out by more lengthy delays owing to his ill health (poor boy!) The same kind of circus for Saddam Hussein would suit the internationalists just fine, they tell us. Here's David Tell for the editors of the Standard...

New York Times Baghdad correspondent John F. Burns noted last week that "Western human rights groups" and other "critics here and abroad" would have preferred that Saddam be tried before "an international tribunal of the kind that has spent four years hearing the case against the former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic." It was not Burns's assignment to elaborate on what this means, but we'll do it for him: The war-crimes tribunal in The Hague is an unmitigated fiasco. Its televised proceedings have made Milosevic more--not less--popular and influential back home in Serbia. His two most important, would-be codefendants, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, are still at large, though one of them, Karadzic, wanted for the massacre of some 20,000 Bosnians, is hardly bothering to hide at all, having just brought out a book of lyric poetry intriguingly titled Under the Century's Left Teat. Karadzic's successor as Serbia's president, Biljana "Iron Lady" Plavsic--the Yugoslav tribunal's one and only significant conviction to date--will soon be done with the modest sentence she's serving in Sweden's Hinseberg prison. That prison, by the way, is in a converted mansion overlooking a lake. There's a sauna, a place for piano recitals, en suite bathrooms, and a horse-riding paddock, too. The prison shop sells ice cream...

... but this is not what the great mass of Iraqi citizens have in mind for the man who butchered their fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers and daughters and sons by the hundreds of thousands for 35 years--crimes of which not even the noble souls at Human Rights Watch can bring themselves to presume Saddam innocent. The great mass of Iraqi citizens intend, instead, to watch as an Iraqi trial, of a deposed Iraqi dictator, unfolds in their Iraqi living rooms, gavel-to-gavel on Iraqi TV.

Mind if I pull up a chair?

October 20, 2005

The Disarray Blues

For the second week in a row the Browns are playing a team widely regarded by the national media to be "in disarray". Last Sunday the Ravens were 1-3 and fresh off of their embarrassing 21-penalty, multiple-ejection debacle of a loss to the mediocre Lions. All the pre-game talk was about how Coach Brian Billick had "lost control of his team", but it turned out that a home game against the Browns was just what the doctor ordered.

So this week along comes Michael Smith of ESPN.com with an assessment of those lowly Lions, just coincidentally this week's Browns opponent, that makes them sound like they're too screwed up to find their way to Cleveland:

The Lions are the NFL's sorriest franchise and there is no excuse for it. Not with a state-of-the-art stadium and a first-class facility and all the money the Ford family spends on free agents every offseason and all the so-called "great drafts" they've had with Millen at the helm. Detroit is 2-3 and tied for first place in the NFC North. The way the Lions have handled prosperity, I shudder to think what the locker room would be like if they were 1-4 or winless. And you thought the Vikings had problems? Minnesota is a disgrace. Detroit is dysfunctional...

...And the disarray in Detroit starts not with the quarterback who, no matter what the coaching staff does to help, can't get it right or the receivers who just don't get it, but with the coach whose job it is to keep it together and the exec who hired him. If the Lions players seem like they're out of control it's because -- word around the campfire is -- Steve Mariucci doesn't have control. Maybe he never had it to begin with. Funny thing about control: You never realize how little of it you had until you have none at all.

Stop, I've heard this one. Smith goes on to rip just about everyone, especially Herrington and his receivers. But if the Lions are " the NFL's sorriest franchise", what would that make the Houston Texans? They're 0-5, they look completely hapless, and guess what. They play the Browns next week.

Able Danger Intrigue

The DIA is acting increasingly desperate to smear Able Danger witness Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, and Rep. Curt Weldon is going increasingly ballistic over the situation, including threatening to resign if Congress refuses to investigate thoroughly. Now there's something you don't see a Congressman do every day. Michelle Malkin has it all wrapped in a neat little package for you.

XP Registry Edits

Saw this useful page of XP registry edits the other day, and noticed a couple that I wanted to use immediately. A bit off the beaten path for Wizblog, I understand, but I wanted to pass it along to anyone who stumbles through these parts. (via Curmudgeonly and Skeptical)

October 19, 2005

Pluto's Projections

I found myself agreeing with most of what Terry Pluto had to say about the 2006 Indians. I guess I hold out more hope than he does about our chances of signing Millwood. He thinks the guy's gone, and he's got more inside information than I do (more than none in other words) so that's not promising.

And he's OK with Peralta at shortstop, presumably for the long term. I have to agree that it makes little sense to move him to third base next year, because there isn't an obvious replacement shortstop in the system, but I still think he lacks range, especially to his left, and his long term future should be somewhere else on the infield. That relatively low total of 19 errors for a first year shortstop doesn't take into account all those balls hit up the middle that he never got close enough to to turn into fielding chances. I admit though, that I'm forever spoiled by Vizquel.

I think Pluto's absolutely right about the depth of the starting pitching coming up, although the ever-increasing pressure to win sooner instead of later means that Shapiro will go out and get a veteran starter if he loses Millwood. That means that guys like Fausto Carmona, Jeremy Sowers, Brian Tallet, Billy Traber and Jason Davis might not get the chance they probably would have had a year or two ago to show what they can do. I suspect a couple of them might be moved in a deal for a new right fielder. And Terry and I agree that we can't wait any longer to see Ryan Garko in the bigs. I suggested a year ago we should get him an outfielder's glove and start hitting him fly balls.

100 Best Non-Fiction

NR revisits its list of the 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the 20th Century, selected by an impressive panel. I admit that my count of those I have read comes to only ten, with another three sitting unread on my bookshelves. I hereby resolve...


This blog had me laughing out loud. Almost as funny as the blogger are the many people who just don't get it. I can't believe it's been around so long without my having seen it. (via Ace of Spades HQ)

October 18, 2005

You Got It, We Want It

Andrew Stuttaford in The Corner links to former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt's article backing continued U.S. control of the Internet, an issue we've touched on here before. Bildt pleads with the EU not to throw in with the decidedly unfree regimes of Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba and Iran by backing a measure to "internationalize" Internet control.

The Internet is as strange as it is important. Its evolution from its origins in American research labs has been carried forward by a global community of dedicated individuals. Gradually, its governance has evolved as a network of institutions that brings experts, stakeholders and public interests together in a system that is controlled by no one but open to everyone. It's an innovative, although not necessarily perfect, new approach to global governance of vital assets.

And it has worked. The Internet is fast becoming as important to our globalized economies and societies as water is to life. The fact that innovation, transparency and reliability have gone hand in hand in this revolution over the past decade shows at the very least that the governance structure of the Internet isn't deeply flawed.

It would be profoundly dangerous to now set up an international mechanism, controlled by governments, to take over the running of the Internet. Not only would this play into the hands of regimes bent on limiting the freedom that the Internet can bring, it also risks stifling innovation and ultimately endangering the security of the system.

Media Can't Celebrate

There is one man more responsible than any other single person for the successful Iraqi election, and it is because they can't bring themselves to give George W. Bush the credit he deserves that the media are compelled to downplay the immense significance of the moment. Ralph Peters says it beautifully:

Never before in the Arab world have a country's citizens been permitted to vote on the laws that would govern them. Even had the draft constitution been rejected, this would have been a historic moment in the Middle East and beyond.

Our media's response? The vote doesn't matter. The constitution's flawed. Iraq's Sunni Arabs will resort to civil war. Enormous problems remain.

Well, big problems do remain in Iraq. There's certainly a potential for more internal strife. The constitution isn't perfect.

But to suggest that at least 9 million Iraqis casting peaceful ballots don't matter is just sour grapes on the part of those journalists and editors who've have been relentless in predicting failure in Iraq — and who've been wrong every single time.

If the day comes when the last U.S. troops leave a peaceful, democratic, prosperous Iraq, the headlines will read: "FAILURE IN IRAQ: THREE SUNNIS STILL UNHAPPY. "

Iraq may yet fail as a unified state. Violence will continue. But what's frustrating is the determination of so many in our media to convince the American people that Iraq's a hopeless mess. It's an example of vanity, selfishness and spite virtually without precedent in the history of journalism.

The greatest tragedy imaginable for our "mainstream media" would be to have to admit that President Bush was right about Iraq.

I do so hope that we'll soon see the spectacle of our media being obligated to cover the unveiling of the statue, or tribute of whatever sort, that will likely be erected in Iraq by Iraqis to honor and thank George W. Bush. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there will be any crow eaten by chastened Bush-bashering media types at that time. I just want to watch them squirm.

Related: WSJ Feature on Iraqi Referendum

October 16, 2005

The Chisox Year

Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox for getting to the World Series for the first time since 1959. I started being a Chisox fan two weeks ago, the minute the Indians were knocked out. All I really wanted was the elimination of the east coast Evil Empire, but the Sox' impressive pitching performance against the Angels helps ease the pain of seeing Tribe bats go soft against them in those last three games. They've proved it was no fluke.

Missile Middle Man

From the Telegraph:

Former members of the Russian military have been secretly helping Iran to acquire technology needed to produce missiles capable of striking European capitals.

The Russians are acting as go-betweens with North Korea as part of a multi-million pound deal they negotiated between Teheran and Pyongyang in 2003. It has enabled Teheran to receive regular clandestine shipments of top secret missile technology, believed to be channelled through Russia.

What diplomatic or economic price or international sanction will there be for Russia for helping two rogue states get together to increase the killing capacity of the one partner that has already stated its intention to nuke Israel, presumably as soon as they can? Thought so.

Hayes' Wilson/Plame Primer

There goes Stephen Hayes, practicing journalism again. Check out his detailed timeline of events leading up to Plame's so-called "outing" as a CIA agent, which makes clear the key truth which has been consistently avoided in mainstream media accounts of the affair, but which is nevertheless pretty well documented by now. And that is that Joseph Wilson is a liar.

He claimed in his NYT op-ed that his trip to Niger had turned up no evidence to support the previous intelligence reports that Iraq had sought to purchase "yellowcake" uranium from Niger. At best a distortion, if not an outright lie, as his CIA debriefing would later show. He claimed his wife had nothing to do with him getting the Niger gig. A lie. He even claimed to have had a role in debunking a set of documents that turned out to have been forged. De-bunk.

It should be clear by now that the only one telling flat-out lies was Joseph Wilson. Again, Wilson's trip to Niger took place in February 2002, some eight months before the U.S. government received the phony Iraq-Niger documents in October 2002. So it is not possible, as he told the Washington Post, that he advised the CIA that "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong." And it is not possible, as Wilson claimed to the New York Times, that he debunked the documents as forgeries.

That was hardly Wilson's only fabrication. He would also tell reporters that his wife had nothing to do with his trip to Niger and, as noted in the New Republic article, that Vice President Cheney's office had seen the report of his findings. Both claims were false.

It seems that very few people paid attention to the CIA's report on Wilson's trip to Niger. And those who did found that his account--particularly his revelation of the meeting between Mayaki and the Iraqis in 1999--supported the original reporting that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger...

...the bipartisan Senate Select Intelligence Committee released a 511-page report on the intelligence that served as the foundation for the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq. The Senate report includes a 48-page section on Wilson that demonstrates, in painstaking detail, that virtually everything Joseph Wilson said publicly about his trip, from its origins to his conclusions, was false.

October 14, 2005


Che Guevara: hobo, murderer, coward, dupe, failure, T-shirt icon. A wonderful profile of the man by Humberto Fontova at FPM. Pack a lunch.

Common Sense For Democrats

Two Democratic Party activists engage in a study of their party, and make recommendations for its improvement. Makes sense to me. Unfortunately, as this Dallas Morning News article points out, "...several of their key prescriptions collide with the political realities of 2005." That's a nice way saying they refuse to do what would be good for them.

David Gelernter has examples of how the Left is instead actively engaged in political pursuits that reek of insincerity and phoniness, such as the Bill Bennett controversy:

Our willingness to traffic in such nonsense shows a dangerous tendency to disregard reasoning, logical context, the meaning of words. How else to understand the latest Bill Bennett story? It reads like science fiction — live from the planet Bozo, a man whose enemies know by magic that he actually means the exact opposite of what he says. (via RCP)

I would add to Gelernter's list the recent example of the embarrassingly transparent partisan prosecution of Tom Delay. Then you've got the divisive class warfare rhetoric, the bizzare antagonism toward the private economic sector which feeds the leviathan government they love, and the cynical race obsession that they somehow feel makes them look good and serves their party's interests.

And yet the Republicans are still engaged in a fairly close contest to see who can be the most politically tone-deaf.

October 13, 2005

A New Low?

Stephen Schwartz on the Nobel Prize for Literature

... like a pack of lemmings drunk on home-made aquavit, the Stockholm snobs have continued their rush to fully discredit the literature Nobels, by selecting Harold Pinter as their 2005 laureate. Pinter is an exhausted English playwright whose sole and obvious current qualification for the prize is his strident participation in the America-baiting, Israel-hating protests against the liberation of Iraq.

Pinter himself admitted that his career no longer has anything to do with literary aspirations. Notified of his good fortune, since the prize includes a $1.3 million payout, he snarled today, "I have written 29 plays and I think that's really enough. I think the world has had enough of my plays." He then declared that he has given up playwriting altogether.

Given that Pinter has produced no significant work for the stage in 40 years, one should perhaps admire the candor of his self-criticism. But viewed from another perspective, the Swedes have written a new chapter in ignobility, presenting the world's top literary honor to an author who considers his own work irrelevant.

But what has the Nobel really meant since Yasser Arafat won the Peace Prize?

UPDATE 10/13: Roundup = Malkin

Rosett on Oil-For-Food #48

This time Ms. Rosett tells the tale of Jean-Bernard Merimee, former French Ambassador to the U.N. A key assistant and advisor to Kofi Annan, Merimee was arrested in connection with the Oil-For-Food investigation. His name appears on documentation of Saddam's bribes to cooperative diplomats and officials, paid with oil allocations that could be resold for cash. Just another bureaucrat who didn't give a shit about the Iraqi people, but used his position to enrich himself with oil dollars that belonged to them. Maybe he's the guy who will finally roll over on Kofi Annan. Hey, I can dream.

Bill Bennett's Self-Defense

Bill Bennett calmly reminds his critics that his life's work effectively refutes what they are saying about him, even if they are unwilling (or simply too dim) to read and understand what he actually said on his radio program. And he challenges them not only to "engage in serious conversations about serious matters", but also to put forward their own plans to deal with the problems of the black community, or to demonstrate how they have been actively engaged in trying to solve those problems, as he clearly has been.

The supreme irony in all of this is that many of the race-baiting publicity hounds who rushed to condemn Bennett's admitted "abhorrent hypothetical" about "aborting all the black babies", would presumably have no problem whatsoever with that reality, as long as that happened to be the "choice" of every mother of a black baby. Bennett thinks "we can do better", and he has lived that creed. No amount of cheap demagoguery by self-righteous poseurs can change that. Here are some excerpts:

I have been slandered, defamed, misrepresented and libeled. I will not stand for it. I will not go away, or go meekly and quietly into that good night. Nor will I withdraw from the discussion. My entire career has been one of taking on serious issues, I have taken brickbats for that. I will continue to. Those who do not engage in serious conversations about serious matters can lob their shots at me. I can take them...

...although I cannot apologize for what I said and meant, which when understood in context ought not be objectionable, I regret that people have misrepresented my views so that they have been the cause of hurt, controversy, and confusion. What was presented in some of the media as my opinion would shock me as well; so I cannot blame many people for being mad as hell at what they heard. But such characterizations of my statements and views are not a fair, accurate, or true picture of either what I believe or what I said. In my conversation, I was raising an abhorrent hypothetical—and said so—an idea contrary to everything I believe, and contrary to the record of my life, my work and my writings, including 17 books.

Could I have said it better? Maybe. But my position, one of moral condemnation, could not have been clearer. “Morally reprehensible” are the words I used immediately, in the same breath and thought as this ugly hypothetical. What do my critics not understand about the meaning of the words “morally reprehensible”? Do they think it means approval?...

...In the end, let me point out that at the heart of the controversy this last week were abortion, black children, and crime. These are tough, explosive issues in American life, but we have to address them. We cannot flinch from them. But let me be as clear as I can on this controversial combination of all three issues. I am pro-life – I am unalterably and categorically opposed to any plan, idea, or scheme to promote widespread abortion of black children (or white children, or Latino American children), whatever its effect on the crime rate, the growth rate, or the GDP. I abhor such a notion. Today more than 1,000 black children will be legally aborted in this country. I grieve, as we all should, at those numbers, and I know people and programs that offer a better way. Do my critics? Do they abhor this calamity? If they really do, let me offer them some words they can use about the widespread abortion of black children, words of mine from the radio show a week ago: “ridiculous, impossible, and morally reprehensible.” Those were my words. Now they can try them on.

A final thought on this: If the very prospect of the widespread abortion of black babies is as obnoxious and horrible to my critics as they are saying it is, then perhaps they can join me, my wife, my colleagues, friends, supporters, churches – and address not simply the prospect of widespread abortion, but its reality. We can do better.

October 12, 2005

Gushing Over Grady

Grady Sizemore came a long way between April and October. He was scheduled to start the season in AAA Buffalo, and instead put up a big league performance that had White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen calling him the best player in the AL Central Division. At 23 he's already a baseball star, and along with the talent comes the humility, the good looks, the hustle, and the personality to complete a package that a baseball team can market as an "attraction". The ABJ had a profile of Sizemore in Sunday's paper that's worth a look for any baseball fan.

Part of the attendance problem in Cleveland this past year was the lack of established players that the average fan knew about and followed game to game. Even though Travis Hafner, Coco Crisp, and Victor Martinez had established themselves as good players in 2004, they weren't exactly household names, even in Cleveland, until this year. Now you can add Jhonny Peralta and Sizemore to that group of familiar names in the Indians lineup, and they won't have that same issue next season.

More Tribe Stuff...

I'm heartened to see that the Indians front office doesn't share the public's pessimism about the prospects of signing Kevin Millwood, even taking the Scott Boras Factor into consideration. It is Dolan's first opportunity to prove that he can and will compete in the open market to retain his own quality players. Millwood cost the team $7 million this past year, and it will probably take every bit of 3 years and $33 million to sign him, but that still raises the payroll by only $4 million for 2006.

Just as heartening are Millwood's statements that he likes the city, doesn't have any particular attraction to playing in New York, and knows that if he's here in Cleveland, the team will be in contention for the postseason.

And just maybe Dolan has caught a whiff of the fans' distaste for his "first you come to the ballpark, and then we'll spend more money on payroll" attitude. Dolan might also take a look at his marketing and ticket sales operations, which obviously underperformed for him this year based on the product they had on the field. Someone call Angels owner Arte Moreno and ask him what they're doing out there.

By the way, the Indians payroll in 2005 was $41.8 million. Here are the 2005 payrolls of the eight playoff teams:

Atlanta - $85.1 million
Houston - $76.8 million
San Diego - $62.8 million
St. Louis - $92.9 million

Boston - $121.3 million
Chicago - $75.2 million
Los Angeles - $95 million
New York - $205.9 million

The lowest of the eight, the Padres' 62.8 million would seem to be a decent benchmark for Dolan to consider as the price of entry into Major League Baseball's postseason. But I'd be surprised if the Indians 2006 payroll is more than $55 million. That's an educated guess based on some of the team's public statements. So the practical question is whether they can succesfully upgrade the team at first base, right field and possibly third base given the regrettable but real salary constraints.

It will be interesting to see if Shapiro and Wedge remain committed to Aaron Boone at third base, on the hook as they are to pay him $3-4 million in 2006. Maybe they expect that one full season removed from his long injury season off, he'll recapture his old offensive form. I just hope they'll keep in mind what that old form was. In Boone's best years of 1998-2001, when he averaged hitting about .284, he still averaged only 16 homers and just over 50 RBI. In 2002, his best power year, he had 26 homers and 87 RBI, but batted only .241. So what you saw offensively in 2005 (.243, 16 HR, 60 RBI) is about what you're going to get from the guy, even if he's "all the way back" physically. My guess is they'll bite the bullet and stick with Boone for one more year, continue the development of 24-year olds Pat Osborn (.287, 10 HR, 63 RBI at AA Akron) and Kevin Kouzmanoff (.339, 12 HR, 58 RBI in 68 games at AAA Kinston) and look to make a change in 2007. Peralta may well end up here as well. As much as I like Peralta as a hitter and as much as I like his soft hands, I think he showed this year that he doesn't have the range to ever be a top-level defensive shortstop, and I think his future is at third.

The cheap answer to the situation at first base is to platoon Ryan Garko (.303, 19 HR, 77 RBI, .498 SLG at AAA) with Ben Broussard and get Garko's solid right-handed bat into the lineup against all those Central Division lefthanded starters. I have no idea what the organization thinks of Garko's ability to play a passable defensive first base at the big league level, and I haven't seen him enough to have any opinion on that. The club had to be hoping that Michael Aubrey was the first baseman of the future, but he was able to play in only 28 AA games this year because of back and other physical problems. 1B/DH Ryan Mulhern made an impression on the team brass in 2005, splitting time between Class A Kinston and AA Akron in 2005 and hitting a combined .315, with 32 HR and 94 RBI. And I didn't see him in Akron this year so I can't speak for his glove either. Too bad for these promising prospects that for the Indians, the future is now.

In right field, the Casey Blake experiment just has to be over. He played a better brand of defense out there than I had dared to hope for in April, but he looked lost and hopeless at the plate all year, especially so in the last month of the season, and a playoff team shouldn't have to live with a rightfielder who bats ninth. The team doesn't have another Grady Sizemore in the minor league system to plug into a corner outfield position in 2007, so I'm hoping that this is where Shapiro tries to make his other key move of the offseason (after signing Millwood) either through trade or free agency. If he has to part with some of his good young pitching prospects to get a proven run-producing outfielder, so be it.

The good news of course is that the first six spots in the batting order are set and signed for multiple years into the future. Signing Sauerbeck, Elarton and Howry along with Millwood will assure that the pitching staff will remain strong.

Think how hungry the Indians will be next year.

If I remember correctly, the pain goes away in time.


2005 Cleveland Indians Complete Minor League Statistics (pdf format)

Baseball America's 2005 Minor League All Star Teams

October 11, 2005

Et Tu, Laura?

Hugh Hewitt's emailers take down the "elitism" charges, and it's pretty obvious that Miers' detractors would have welcomed the nomination of any one of numerous other female candidates, so the sexism charges ring especially hollow. As Ed Morrissey shows, there were a number of remarkable women being considered, and Bush's critics are entitled to point out that he seems to have selected a rather unremarkable one by comparison without being tarred as sexists or elitists, by the White House no less.

Bad Sports

Must read Michael Ledeen

October 10, 2005

Chinese Activist Murdered

Here's the Guardian story about the brutal murder of Lu Banglie, a Chinese democracy activist...

I had only met him that day. He was to show me the way to Taishi, the hotspot of the growing rural uprisings in China. It felt like heading into a war. Taishi is under siege, I was warned. The day I arrived a French radio journalist and a Hong Kong print journalist were rumoured to have been beaten somewhere around Taishi...

....We arrived on the outskirts of Taishi, just as the dirt roads start. There were 30 to 50 men - angry, inebriated, bored men. Most looked like thugs...

...The men outside shouted among themselves and those in uniform suddenly left. Those remaining started pushing on the car, screaming at us to get out. They pointed flashlights at us, and when the light hit Mr Lu's face, it was as if a bomb had gone off. They completely lost it. They pulled him out and bashed him to the ground, kicked him, pulverised him, stomped on his head over and over again. The beating was loud, like the crack of a wooden board, and he was unconscious within 30 seconds.

They continued for 10 minutes. The body of this skinny little man turned to putty between the kicking legs of the rancorous men. This was not about teaching a man a lesson, about scaring me, about preventing access to the village; this was about vengeance - retribution for teaching villagers their legal rights, for agitating, for daring to hide.

They slowed down but never stopped. He lay there - his eye out of its socket, his tongue cut, a stream of blood dropping from his mouth, his body limp, twisted. The ligaments in his neck were broken, so his head lay sideways as if connected to the rest of his body by a rubber band...

Gateway Pundit has a good roundup post on this story, including pictures of some other victims of the protest-oriented violence by government enforcers.

I just finished reading Arthur Waldron's piece in the October Commentary called Mao Lives. Waldron takes on the question of why China has never repudiated Mao, despite his responsibility for the murder of tens of millions of innocent Chinese, and why his reputation in the West has never suffered the same fate as those of his fellow mass murderers Stalin and Hitler.

Do go read it all, but it came to mind in the context of the story of Lu Banglie's murder, because Waldron also tells of the release of a new book that the Chinese government is doing all it can to suppress within China itself. Waldron explains why...

No American textbook of Chinese history classes Mao with Stalin, or with Hitler. Nor has any foreign leader since the 1960’s ever spoken out against the evils of Chinese Communism with anything like the forthrightness showed by some toward the Soviet Union. Today, though Mao’s legacy is still very much in evidence in China, the European Union is eager to end the trade embargo put in place after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 and to begin selling advanced weapons systems to the Communist regime. Israel has long been a supplier of weaponry to Beijing (though this may be changing). American companies, including Loral, Boeing, and Microsoft, have provided important assistance to China’s military programs and to its suppression of free speech and access to information on the Internet. Although the overwhelming majority of the world’s unfree people live in China, ordinary visitors, cocooned in its luxurious new hotels, are largely unaware of the brutality around them, or, if they are aware, console themselves with the thought that, repressive trends notwithstanding, commerce and trade will eventually transform things for the better.

They need to think again. Luckily, to aid their thinking, they can now turn to Mao: The Unknown Story, a bombshell of a book that quickly soared to first place on the best-seller lists of England and that has recently been released here. Its author is Jung Chang (born in China in 1952), writing in collaboration with her husband Jon Halliday (born in Ireland in 1939). Halliday, an excellent stylist, is proficient in Russian and other languages and was for a brief time the editor of the British New Left Review...

...Mao: The Unknown Story is no ordinary book. Reaching for comparisons, one looks inescapably to Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. His was not the first negative account of Soviet Communism, and Mao is not the first book to present Mao and his collaborators as criminals. But like the Gulag, Mao, while factual, is much more than that; resting on a mass of evidence, overwhelmingly accurate and well-supported, it conveys its story in the voice not of the bloodless scholar but of the novelist and the moralist. Already Beijing is terrified of this book, going so far as to ban an issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review that contained an account of it. But we can be certain that pirated copies will soon be circulating in China, if they are not doing so already. Chang and Halliday may not be the first to expose Mao’s crimes, but their work, even with its limitations (of which more below), cannot be ignored. Like Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, it delivers a death blow to an entire way of thinking.

The point Waldron makes so well near the end of the piece is the same one punctuated by the murder of Lu Banglie. China hasn't ever repudiated the mass murdering career of Mao, and despite outward appearances of modernization and prosperity, it's the same police state that it was under his rule...

Given the bloody morass through which Chang and her husband lead us, it would be comforting in the extreme to know that the evil in Mao died with his body, and that China has been freed from it. But that is emphatically not the case. Mao died in 1976. Thirty years on, there is still no happy ending. To be sure, China has changed—in appearance, feel, atmosphere, economic condition, and so forth. Maoist and post-Maoist China are admittedly very different. But they are also profoundly similar...

...Rule in China is as arbitrary and capricious as ever under Mao. The only difference is that a single man is no longer in total charge; what is theoretically still the absolute power of the party is now divided among perhaps twenty people, all lacking Mao’s intelligence and skill and most working at cross purposes with each other. China is not ruled by its constitution or by its laws, nor do courts actually resolve disputes, even in the realm of commerce with foreign countries.

None of today’s Chinese leaders has been chosen according to the rules of the constitution, or even according to the rules of the Communist party. Hu Jintao is in charge because Deng Xiaoping named him to follow Jiang Zemin, himself selected after the June 4, 1989 massacre to replace Zhao Ziyang, who was illegally removed and placed under strict house arrest (lasting until his death earlier this year). And how did Deng become leader? By means of a military conspiracy that ousted Mao’s designated and party-approved successors.

Like Mao, today’s rulers are hypocrites, proclaiming concern for the poor and disenfranchised even as they steal state assets and live lives of luxury. But now the parasitical class of Chinese Communists is much larger than in Mao’s day, and so is the gap between their lives and the lives of ordinary Chinese, whether rural or urban. While desperate poverty and exploitation remain widespread, party members enjoy a privileged existence comparable only to Mao’s, even as they send their children and grandchildren, along with their ill-gotten assets, overseas for safekeeping...

...Violence continues in today’s China: everyday killings by police and untold numbers of deaths in prisons and camps, the victims rarely named and never officially mourned. Censorship, too, remains very tight, with newspapers, radio, and television owned and operated exclusively by the government and the party. Vast sums have been spent on advanced equipment to read and track Internet traffic and block sites of which the dictators do not approve. Surveillance by closed-circuit television and the tapping of telephones is blanket in Beijing. Overseas, extensive networks of secret police monitor not only dissidents, students, and others but also Internet and telephone traffic in North America and elsewhere. Indoctrination, now stressing xenophobic nationalism rather than Mao’s version of Communism, is still rampant.

October 8, 2005

A Storm On The Right

Ed Morrissey is in the Washington Post, with a piece on the reaction of the right to the Harriet Miers nomination.

Dilfer Gets His Due

ESPN.com's Bill Simmons:

Trent Dilfer is better than you think. Did you know he made the Pro Bowl in 1997 and even won a playoff game? Did you know his postseason record is 5-1? As he showed during Baltimore's Super Bowl season, he's a big guy who can throw deep, absorb a pounding and keep his team in games. Now he's one of the few reliable veteran QBs in the league. Maybe he won't carry an offense, but you can certainly compete with him. And you know what? Half the teams in the league would kill to have him.

and later in the same article...

...I was thinking about this whole Browns thing, since it appears they could end up being somewhat frisky this season. When I was working at Kimmel's show, someone came up with a theory that just hanging out in the same room with Adam Carolla every day raised our comedy IQ by about 5-10 points. In a roundabout way, we all became funnier by osmosis. Well, except for Rick Rosner. So here's my question: Do you think this happens with the coaches who work with Bill Belichick? And if it does, wouldn't that make Romeo Crennel a little more dangerous than we initially realized? We might have to reconsider the 2005 Browns. I'm not saying we're at that point; just keep an eye on it.

Bush Speech

If you didn't hear the President's speech yesterday on the war (who did?), it's well worth your time to go read it. Bush's speeches are always better if you don't have to listen to him deliver them. Here once again, for the umpteenth time, Bush lays out in no uncertain terms the existential threat we are facing in this war. He names Syria and Iran by name as enablers of Islamic terrorism, and rips the Arab media for incitement of hatred and anti-Semitism. Wonderful stuff. I wonder what percentage of American citizens even know that Bush gave a speech, much less heard any portion of it. Please go read it all. Full text also posted at the link below.

UPDATE 10/8: Michael Barone reacts, and this observation is on the money:

I am struck by the sublime indifference of most critics of Bush's Iraq policy to the fate of the Iraqi people. They are totally unexultant about the overthrow of a vicious dictatorship and seem to have no interest at all in what would happen to Iraqis if we leave suddenly. Hitchens has argued persuasively that no one deserves the label of liberal who is so indifferent to whether others live in freedom or under tyranny. In this passage Bush reminded Americans more hardheadedly about our own self-interest. But of course many of his critics are more interested in hurting Bush than they are in preventing the emergence of an anti-American tyranny in Iraq.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you all. Please be seated. (Applause.) Thank you for the warm welcome. I'm honored once again to be with the supporters of the National Endowment for Democracy. Since the day President Ronald Reagan set out the vision for this Endowment, the world has seen the swiftest advance of democratic institutions in history. And Americans are proud to have played our role in this great story.

Our nation stood guard on tense borders; we spoke for the rights of dissidents and the hopes of exile; we aided the rise of new democracies on the ruins of tyranny. And all the cost and sacrifice of that struggle has been worth it, because, from Latin America to Europe to Asia, we've gained the peace that freedom brings.

In this new century, freedom is once again assaulted by enemies determined to roll back generations of democratic progress. Once again, we're responding to a global campaign of fear with a global campaign of freedom. And once again, we will see freedom's victory. (Applause.)

Vin, I want to thank you for inviting me back. And thank you for the short introduction. (Laughter.) I appreciate Carl Gershman. I want to welcome former Congressman Dick Gephardt, who is a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy. It's good to see you, Dick. And I appreciate Chris Cox, who is the Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and a board member for the National Endowment of Democracy, for being here, as well. I want to thank all the other board members.

I appreciate the Secretary of State, Condi Rice, who has joined us -- alongside her, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld. Thank you all for being here. I'm proud, as well, that the newly sworn-in Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the first Marine ever to hold that position, is with us today -- General Peter Pace. (Applause.) I thank the members of the Diplomatic Corps who are here, as well.

Recently our country observed the fourth anniversary of a great evil, and looked back on a great turning point in our history. We still remember a proud city covered in smoke and ashes, a fire across the Potomac, and passengers who spent their final moments on Earth fighting the enemy. We still remember the men who rejoiced in every death, and Americans in uniform rising to duty. And we remember the calling that came to us on that day, and continues to this hour: We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won. (Applause.)

The images and experience of September the 11th are unique for Americans. Yet the evil of that morning has reappeared on other days, in other places -- in Mombasa, and Casablanca, and Riyadh, and Jakarta, and Istanbul, and Madrid, and Beslan, and Taba, and Netanya, and Baghdad, and elsewhere. In the past few months, we've seen a new terror offensive with attacks on London, and Sharm el-Sheikh, and a deadly bombing in Bali once again. All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random and isolated acts of madness; innocent men and women and children have died simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane.

Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Jews and Hindus -- and also against Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.

Many militants are part of global, borderless terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, which spreads propaganda, and provides financing and technical assistance to local extremists, and conducts dramatic and brutal operations like September the 11th. Other militants are found in regional groups, often associated with al Qaeda -- paramilitary insurgencies and separatist movements in places like Somalia, and the Philippines, and Pakistan, and Chechnya, and Kashmir, and Algeria. Still others spring up in local cells, inspired by Islamic radicalism, but not centrally directed. Islamic radicalism is more like a loose network with many branches than an army under a single command. Yet these operatives, fighting on scattered battlefields, share a similar ideology and vision for our world.

We know the vision of the radicals because they've openly stated it -- in videos, and audiotapes, and letters, and declarations, and websites. First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions. Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicate, quote, their "resources, sons and money to driving the infidels out of their lands." Their tactic to meet this goal has been consistent for a quarter-century: They hit us, and expect us to run. They want us to repeat the sad history of Beirut in 1983, and Mogadishu in 1993 -- only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences.

Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. Now they've set their sights on Iraq. Bin Laden has stated: "The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries. It's either victory and glory, or misery and humiliation." The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.

Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation.

Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. Well, they are fanatical and extreme -- and they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed. As Zarqawi has vowed, "We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life." And the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously -- and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.

Defeating the militant network is difficult, because it thrives, like a parasite, on the suffering and frustration of others. The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization, in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution. They exploit resentful and disillusioned young men and women, recruiting them through radical mosques as the pawns of terror. And they exploit modern technology to multiply their destructive power. Instead of attending faraway training camps, recruits can now access online training libraries to learn how to build a roadside bomb, or fire a rocket-propelled grenade -- and this further spreads the threat of violence, even within peaceful democratic societies.

The influence of Islamic radicalism is also magnified by helpers and enablers. They have been sheltered by authoritarian regimes, allies of convenience like Syria and Iran, that share the goal of hurting America and moderate Muslim governments, and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West and America, and on the Jews. These radicals depend on front operations, such as corrupted charities, which direct money to terrorist activity. They're strengthened by those who aggressively fund the spread of radical, intolerant versions of Islam in unstable parts of the world. The militants are aided, as well, by elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories and speak of a so-called American "war on Islam" -- with seldom a word about American action to protect Muslims in Afghanistan, and Bosnia, Somalia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Iraq.

Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions of our coalition in Iraq, claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals. I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001 -- and al Qaeda attacked us anyway. The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse. The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet the militants killed more than 180 Russian schoolchildren in Beslan.

Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence -- the Israeli presence on the West Bank, or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, or the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of the killers -- and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.

On the contrary: They target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory. (Applause.)

The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, "what is good for them and what is not." And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that his -- that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life. We've seen it in the murders of Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg, and Margaret Hassan, and many others. In a courtroom in the Netherlands, the killer of Theo Van Gogh turned to the victim's grieving mother and said, "I do not feel your pain -- because I believe you are an infidel." And in spite of this veneer of religious rhetoric, most of the victims claimed by the militants are fellow Muslims.

When 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing, or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school, or hospital workers are killed caring for the wounded, this is murder, pure and simple -- the total rejection of justice and honor and morality and religion. These militants are not just the enemies of America, or the enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and the enemies of humanity. (Applause.) We have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before, in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags, and the Cultural Revolution, and the killing fields.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth they have endless ambitions of imperial domination, and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves. Under their rule, they have banned books, and desecrated historical monuments, and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, and to control every aspect of life, and to rule the soul, itself. While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing for a future of oppression and misery.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples, claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent. Zarqawi has said that Americans are, quote, "the most cowardly of God's creatures." But let's be clear: It is cowardice that seeks to kill children and the elderly with car bombs, and cuts the throat of a bound captive, and targets worshipers leaving a mosque. It is courage that liberated more than 50 million people. It is courage that keeps an untiring vigil against the enemies of a rising democracy. And it is courage in the cause of freedom that once again will destroy the enemies of freedom. (Applause.)

And Islamic radicalism, like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure. By fearing freedom -- by distrusting human creativity, and punishing change, and limiting the contributions of half the population -- this ideology undermines the very qualities that make human progress possible, and human societies successful. The only thing modern about the militants' vision is the weapons they want to use against us. The rest of their grim vision is defined by a warped image of the past -- a declaration of war on the idea of progress, itself. And whatever lies ahead in the war against this ideology, the outcome is not in doubt: Those who despise freedom and progress have condemned themselves to isolation, decline, and collapse. Because free peoples believe in the future, free peoples will own the future. (Applause.)

We didn't ask for this global struggle, but we're answering history's call with confidence, and a comprehensive strategy. Defeating a broad and adaptive network requires patience, constant pressure, and strong partners in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and beyond. Working with these partners, we're disrupting militant conspiracies, destroying their ability to make war, and working to give millions in a troubled region of the world a hopeful alternative to resentment and violence.

First, we're determined to prevent the attacks of terrorist networks before they occur. We're reorganizing our government to give this nation a broad and coordinated homeland defense. We're reforming our intelligence agencies for the incredibly difficult task of tracking enemy activity, based on information that often comes in small fragments from widely scattered sources, here and abroad. We're acting, along with the governments from many countries, to destroy the terrorist networks and incapacitate their leaders. Together, we've killed or captured nearly all of those directly responsible for the September the 11th attacks; as well as some of bin Laden's most senior deputies; al Qaeda managers and operatives in more than 24 countries; the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, who was chief of al Qaeda operations in the Persian Gulf; the mastermind of the Jakarta and the first Bali bombings; a senior Zarqawi terrorist planner, who was planning attacks in Turkey; and many of al Qaeda's senior leaders in Saudi Arabia.

Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted at least ten serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th, including three al Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States. We've stopped at least five more al Qaeda efforts to case targets in the United States, or infiltrate operatives into our country. Because of this steady progress, the enemy is wounded -- but the enemy is still capable of global operations. Our commitment is clear: We will not relent until the organized international terror networks are exposed and broken, and their leaders held to account for their acts of murder.

Second, we're determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation. The United States, working with Great Britain, Pakistan, and other nations, has exposed and disrupted a major black-market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan. Libya has abandoned its chemical and nuclear weapons programs, as well as long-range ballistic missiles. And in the last year, America and our partners in the Proliferation Security Initiative have stopped more than a dozen shipments of suspected weapons technology, including equipment for Iran's ballistic missile program.

This progress has reduced the danger to free nations, but has not removed it. Evil men who want to use horrendous weapons against us are working in deadly earnest to gain them. And we're working urgently to keep weapons of mass destruction out of their hands.

Third, we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror. The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they're equally as guilty of murder. (Applause.) Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization. And the civilized world must hold those regimes to account.

Fourth, we're determined to deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and a launching pad for terror. For this reason, we're fighting beside our Afghan partners against remnants of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. For this reason, we're working with President Musharraf to oppose and isolate the militants in Pakistan. And for this reason, we're fighting the regime remnants and terrorists in Iraq. The terrorist goal is to overthrow a rising democracy, claim a strategic country as a haven for terror, destabilize the Middle East, and strike America and other free nations with ever-increasing violence. Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power -- and so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq.

Our coalition, along with our Iraqi allies, is moving forward with a comprehensive, specific military plan. Area by area, city by city, we're conducting offensive operations to clear out enemy forces, and leaving behind Iraqi units to prevent the enemy from returning. Within these areas, we're working for tangible improvements in the lives of Iraqi citizens. And we're aiding the rise of an elected government that unites the Iraqi people against extremism and violence. This work involves great risk for Iraqis, and for Americans and coalition forces. Wars are not won without sacrifice -- and this war will require more sacrifice, more time, and more resolve.

The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we've ever faced. They're unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity, or by the rules of warfare. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight.

Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It is not justified. With every random bombing and with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots, or resistance fighters -- they are murderers at war with the Iraqi people, themselves.

In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress -- from tyranny, to liberation, to national elections, to the writing of a constitution, in the space of two-and-a-half years. With our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with every passing month. At the time of our Fallujah operations 11 months ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today there are more than 80 Iraqi army battalions fighting the insurgency alongside our forces. Progress isn't easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny, or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.

Some observers question the durability of democracy in Iraq. They underestimate the power and appeal of freedom. We've heard it suggested that Iraq's democracy must be on shaky ground because Iraqis are arguing with each other. But that's the essence of democracy: making your case, debating with those who you disagree -- who disagree, building consensus by persuasion, and answering to the will of the people. We've heard it said that the Shia, Sunnis and Kurds of Iraq are too divided to form a lasting democracy. In fact, democratic federalism is the best hope for unifying a diverse population, because a federal constitutional system respects the rights and religious traditions of all citizens, while giving all minorities, including the Sunnis, a stake and a voice in the future of their country. It is true that the seeds of freedom have only recently been planted in Iraq -- but democracy, when it grows, is not a fragile flower; it is a healthy, sturdy tree. (Applause.)

As Americans, we believe that people everywhere -- everywhere -- prefer freedom to slavery, and that liberty, once chosen, improves the lives of all. And so we're confident, as our coalition and the Iraqi people each do their part, Iraqi democracy will succeed.

Some observers also claim that America would be better off by cutting our losses and leaving Iraq now. This is a dangerous illusion, refuted with a simple question: Would the United States and other free nations be more safe, or less safe, with Zarqawi and bin Laden in control of Iraq, its people, and its resources? Having removed a dictator who hated free peoples, we will not stand by as a new set of killers, dedicated to the destruction of our own country, seizes control of Iraq by violence.

There's always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it's not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday's brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory. We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory. (Applause.)

The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East. This is a difficult and long-term project, yet there's no alternative to it. Our future and the future of that region are linked. If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery, while radicals stir the resentments of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger, and for our generation and the next. If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and by their participation as free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow, and eventually end. By standing for the hope and freedom of others, we make our own freedom more secure.

America is making this stand in practical ways. We're encouraging our friends in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to take the path of reform, to strengthen their own societies in the fight against terror by respecting the rights and choices of their own people. We're standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes, because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow. We're making our case through public diplomacy, stating clearly and confidently our belief in self-determination, and the rule of law, and religious freedom, and equal rights for women, beliefs that are right and true in every land, and in every culture. (Applause.)

As we do our part to confront radicalism, we know that the most vital work will be done within the Islamic world, itself. And this work has begun. Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing Chapter 5, Verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all of humanity. After the attacks in London on July the 7th, an imam in the United Arab Emirates declared, "Whoever does such a thing is not a Muslim, nor a religious person." The time has come for all responsible Islamic leaders to join in denouncing an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends, and defiles a noble faith.

Many people of the Muslim faith are proving their commitment at great personal risk. Everywhere we have engaged the fight against extremism, Muslim allies have stood up and joined the fight, becoming partners in a vital cause. Afghan troops are in combat against Taliban remnants. Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing to defeat al Qaeda in their own country. These brave citizens know the stakes -- the survival of their own liberty, the future of their own region, the justice and humanity of their own tradition -- and that United States of America is proud to stand beside them. (Applause.)

With the rise of a deadly enemy and the unfolding of a global ideological struggle, our time in history will be remembered for new challenges and unprecedented dangers. And yet the fight we have joined is also the current expression of an ancient struggle, between those who put their faith in dictators, and those who put their faith in the people. Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision -- and they end up alienating decent people across the globe. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure -- until those societies collapse in corruption and decay. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that free men and women are weak and decadent -- until the day that free men and women defeat them.

We don't know the course of our own struggle -- the course our own struggle will take -- or the sacrifices that might lie ahead. We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice. We do know the love of freedom is the mightiest force of history. And we do know the cause of freedom will once again prevail.

May God bless you. (Applause.)

October 7, 2005

Sycophantic Or Sincere?

I thought Taranto was on top of his game today, you know, in that other league he plays in. Lots more after his comments on the Miers nomination:

When President Bush nominated Harriet Miers on Monday, we saw it as a missed opportunity. It left us underwhelmed, not appalled. But having spent last evening communing here with some 1,000 conservatives at National Review's 50th anniversary dinner, we see a political disaster in the making.

We talked to quite a few people, and we heard not a single kind word about the nomination from anyone who wasn't on the White House staff. A couple of our soundings led us to think that such support as it has received has been more sycophantic than sincere. One putative proponent privately distanced himself from his public praise of Miers. Another person, whose employer has strongly backed the Miers nomination, told us, "Of course, I disagree wholeheartedly."

The White House seems genuinely befuddled by the intensity of conservative opposition, and especially stung by the harsh words of George Will and Trent Lott. The White House position seems to be that Bush gave the Supreme Court an excellent leader in Chief Justice John Roberts (on this point, of course, we agree wholeheartedly), and that what the president was seeking in his second pick was not someone with "sharp elbows" but a reliable "conservative" vote.

This is similar to the left's description of Clarence Thomas as a mere follower of Antonin Scalia. If the White House adopting this invidious caricature as its ideal, conservatives have every reason to be angry.

Conventional wisdom still has it that Miers is a shoo-in for confirmation. We're not so sure. From what we saw last night, the right is furious at President Bush for appointing someone they see as manifestly underqualified and for ducking a fight with the Democratic left--a fight that, in their view (and ours), would be good for the country, the conservative cause and the Republican Party.

Bush may be getting a fight anyway. And while he can laugh off the Angry Left, which would never support him no matter what he did, the Angry Right is a force he'd be a fool to misunderestimate.

October 6, 2005


Multiculturalism run amok in Great Britain. Some local government employees are no longer allowed to risk offending Muslims with this kind of insensitivity...

...employees were told that they were no longer allowed to have any representations of pigs at their desks. Some had little porcine porcelain figurines. Others had toys or calendars of cute little pigs. One had a tissue box depicting Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. All of this had to go...

I understand this. If you allow a cartoon of Piglet on a tissue box, the next thing you know they'll be serving BacoBits at the salad bar.

UPDATE 10/8: Cartoon courtesy of Cox and Forkum


Obstacle Course

At least one potential Able Danger witness is getting the runaround about scheduling his testimony for congressional committees. And the Armed Services oversight committees haven't expressed much interest at all in hearing what Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer has to say. Ed Morrissey reports.

October 5, 2005

Al Qaeda Org Chart

As usual, Bill Roggio's The Fourth Rail is on top of the day's events in the war effort, today updating the organizational chart of al Qaeda in Iraq. In an earlier post Roggio says

"the coalition "has the initiative along the Euphrates and is exploiting this with raids in Baghdad. Al Qaeda and the insurgency are prepping to disrupt the referendum on the constitution that will occur in less than two weeks.

As the charter continues to gain support among the Iraqi populace, even among Sunnis, al Qaeda extols Iraqis to reject it by boycotting the election; “By going to the noxious elections centres you would enable the crusaders ... to decide your fate as they please…Do not participate in legitimising the infidels' attempts to slaughter you.”

al Qaeda is being pressed hard militarily in its former dominions in western Anbar, and is attempting to thwart the election with pleas, threats and violence. al Qaeda failed to prevent the election last spring, and could not even muster the strength to conduct more than a few attacks on a polling stations. The Iraqi people will show up to vote on the draft constitution, and al Qaeda, despite its threats and actual acts of brutality, will be powerless to stop them. The campaign along the Euphrates not only threatens al Qaeda’s main base of operations and its precious ratline from Syria to the Iraqi heartland, but it will make al Qaeda’s attempts to cower the Iraqi people all the more difficult.

One More Thing

Some people think that Apples latest "One More Thing" is a video iPod:

Appleinsider, a website that Apple threatened to sue because it was so accurate, said that the company "has begun production of a new version of its iPod digital music player that will be capable of playing videos".

According to the website, the new gadget was "similar to Apple’s 60 gigabyte photo player, but several millimetres thinner". But the familiar thumb-dial on the face of the music player has been replaced by a click wheel on the side, allowing the video iPod to have a larger screen.

Stephen Green has other ideas:

Most observers are predicting a "video iPod" that will play back video on a hand-sized device. Not me. I'm predicting not a video iPod, but rather an "iFlicks" service (they may or may not use that name) enabled by a new Airport-Express-on-steroids wireless widget with a video out, as well as a snazzy Apple remote control...for iTunes and iFlicks.

All this will enable Mac G5 owners to download high-resolution (but not HD, not yet) movies from Apple to their hard drives and play them back on televisions in another part of the house. G4 Macs won't have enough horsepower, this is intended partially to drive G5 iMac sales (so there goes the Mac Mini as an HDPC theory, at least for now), but mostly to establish Apple as the primary source for legal movie downloads.

In other words, Apple makes a bid to become the Blockbuster and Netflix combined of the 21st Century, without the inventory, bricks-and-mortar overhead, or shipping hassles.

At the moment, I'm not sure what video exists that I would need to take with me wherever I'm going, so I could watch it on a mini-screen. Maybe someday. Not soon.

Stolen In The U.S.A.

From the Boston Globe

The FBI's counterterrorism unit has launched a broad investigation of US-based theft rings after discovering that some of the vehicles used in deadly car bombings in Iraq, including attacks that killed US troops and Iraqi civilians, were probably stolen in the United States, according to senior government officials...

The inquiry began after coalition troops raided a bomb-making factory in Fallujah last November and found a sport utility vehicle registered in Texas that was being prepared for a bombing mission...

...Investigators believe the cars were stolen by local car thieves in US cities, then smuggled to waiting ships at ports in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Houston, among other cities. From there they are shipped to black-market dealers all over the world, including in places like Syria where foreign militants fighting in Iraq are thought to be transiting from countries across the region and where they gain critical logistical support.

(via Jihad Watch)

October 4, 2005

On Miers

I have read dozens of articles and blog posts by now on the Miers nomination, and I think this one by John Podhoretz fairly reflects my general sense of things.

....There is only one person on the planet who would have made this selection — the person whose personal lawyer Miers was, whose staff secretary she was, as well as, for less than a year, his chief White House counsel.

Without the patronage of George W. Bush, Harriet Miers is nothing more than a fairly obscure lawyer from Texas who served as president of a relatively minor law firm and served in state government on a lottery commission for five years.

They are the kind of credentials that might, under other circumstances, get someone a post as assistant secretary of labor, or even (in an administration's second term after a productive stint in the White House) a minor Cabinet post. These are not credentials for the U.S. Supreme Court, whose nine members essentially preside over the third co-equal branch of the federal government. ..

... Harriet Miers might be a very fine person. She might be a good lawyer. Her boss, President Bush, certainly thinks a lot of her work as staff secretary and policy aide.

But it is highly unlikely that she will be a good Supreme Court justice, because there is no indication in her 35 years in professional life that she has intellectual interests, that she has committed herself to the study of Constitutional theory and practice or even that she can write a decent English sentence. And it beggars reason to think that a person at the age of 60 can suddenly emerge as an intellectual powerhouse.

For all I know, President Bush has done something politically brilliant. For all I know, he has this thing wired, and Miers will sail through the Senate. For all I know, she will end up a popular choice, and his poll numbers will rise and Republicans who are disgruntled today will be kind of, well, gruntled tomorrow.

None of that will change the basic fact, which is that Miers was and is an unbecoming choice for one of the most important and influential jobs on this earth.

The selection is deflating for me, I guess because it is the opposite of the John Roberts nomination, which was an occasion to be proud of George Bush. While this nomination is by no means on the same level of cynicism and arrogance as Bill Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich, it has that same "because I can" flavor to it. OK, that comparison is over the top, but you take my point. It plays like a harp to the cronyism critics. And I don't care if she is secretly sworn to do conservatives' bidding till death do us part, the whole thing, including Harry Reid's initial reaction, smells like a backroom deal, done to avoid a fight instead of to select the best qualified candidate. Now the fight may well come from the right. Starting now...

This article by George Will is just now starting to hit the blogosphere, and it blisters the President. Do read it all. Will is on fire.

Senators beginning what ought to be a protracted and exacting scrutiny of Harriet Miers should be guided by three rules. First, it is not important that she be confirmed. Second, it might be very important that she not be. Third, the presumption — perhaps rebuttable but certainly in need of rebutting — should be that her nomination is not a defensible exercise of presidential deference to which senatorial discretion is due. It is not important that she be confirmed because there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court’s tasks. The president’s ‘‘argument’’ for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.

He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their prepresidential careers, and this president, particularly, is not disposed to such reflections.

Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Miers’ nomination resulted from the president’s careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers’ name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.

In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution. The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech...

...It is important that Miers not be confirmed unless, in her 61st year, she suddenly and unexpectedly is found to have hitherto undisclosed interests and talents pertinent to the court’s role. Otherwise the sound principle of substantial deference to a president’s choice of judicial nominees will dissolve into a rationalization for senatorial abdication of the duty to hold presidents to some standards of seriousness that will prevent them from reducing the Supreme Court to a private plaything useful for fulfilling whims on behalf of friends.

The wisdom of presumptive opposition to Miers’ confirmation flows from the fact that constitutional reasoning is a talent — a skill acquired, as intellectual skills are, by years of practice sustained by intense interest. It is not usually acquired in the normal course of even a fine lawyer’s career. The burden is on Miers to demonstrate such talents, and on senators to compel such a demonstration or reject the nomination.


The Darfur Holocaust

Here's Johann Hari's sobering essay on the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Read it all. (via Andrew Sullivan)

U.N. Reform?

When Kofi Annan cited "real progress" as a result of the recent U.N. Reform Summit, Anne Bayefsky posted this Editor's Note at the website Eye On The U.N. Here is part of what she had to say:

Kofi Annan said the Summit was a "revolution in international affairs"; its Outcome document "made real progress on terrorism, human rights, democracy..."; the detailed language [on the Human Rights Council] developed in the lead-up to the Summit...enjoyed the support of the overwhelming majority of Member States"; and "The Summit contains...an unqualified condemnation by all Member States of terrorism..."

Every one of those statements is false.

The Summit was closer to a nail in the coffin of UN-led multilateralism than to its resurrection. The Outcome document:

* failed to adopt a definition of terrorism (the ultimate "qualification" of any condemnation of terrorism)
* urged upon us the image of the terrorist as victim
* tied down democracy to development and not the other way around
* refused to identify any universal constituent elements of democracy
* and exhibited very little support for any serious conditions for joining the UN's primary human rights body, (along with the many other detailed proposals for a new Council).

Mr. Annan took exception to Bayefsky's remarks, and asked her to post his reply, which of course she did. Bayefsky then proceeded to detail her case in an article entitled U.N. "Reform" Sham. On the matter of the "real progress" made on the issue of human rights, and the creation of a new U.N. "Human Rights Council" to replace the current dysfunctional Human Rights Commission, here is Bayefsky's response:

The Secretary-General's correspondence states: "The Secretary-General is accurate in saying that the Summit made "real progress" - ...on human rights (...agreement on the need for a new Human Rights Council, even without the details of how that Council will operate). On the Human Rights Council, the Secretary-General made clear that there is still a lot of work to do to put the agreement to create the Council into practice. He said on 17 September: "...negotiations should resume on the basis of the detailed language developed in the lead-up to the Summit, which enjoyed the support of the overwhelming majority of Member States."

The rhetorical subterfuge here is astonishing.

The Summit document states: "We resolve to create a Human Rights Council." Still a lot of work to do? Just a matter of putting the agreement into practice? Not a single further detail is provided.

The detailed language in the lead-up to the Summit enjoyed the support of the overwhelming majority of states? The penultimate draft was full of directly inconsistent proposals in square-brackets. Thirty-two bracketed texts in three paragraphs.

Agreement on the need for a "new" Human Rights Council? The Non-aligned Movement (NAM) never abandoned the following positions on the nature of the Council: refusal of the suggestion to make the Council a standing body, continuation of the status of the Council as a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, 53 members, elected by a simple majority, refusal of any criteria for membership other than geographic distribution, and rejection of a mandatory review process for members. If all of the NAM proposals were adopted, the "new" Human Rights Council would have only one "new" feature – a name change from Commission to Council. That is the sole extent of the agreement surrounding a Human Rights Council that emerged from the Summit.

October 3, 2005

NK Criminal Empire

There was a sort of Axis of Evil update the other day at FPM, a damning account by Patrick Devenny of the vast criminal enterprise run by the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-Il. I was aware that NK traded in missiles and nuclear technology, but was unaware of the large counterfeiting operation (in U.S. $100 bills) and the large-scale manufacture and sale of heroin, a particularly cynical strategy in that thousands of acres of arable land are devoted to poppy cultivation in a country where millions have starved, and a generation is chronically malnourished. Perhaps thinking wishfully, Devenny says that the way to eventually bring down the Kim tyranny may be to try undermining his criminal operations, cutting off the primary source of the foreign currency that funds the regime. Worth a click.

New To The Blogroll

Doing a little blog housekeeping tonight and that starts with updating the Blogroll at right.

In the category of "It's About Time":

Beldar Blog , QandO , The Agitator, Patrick Ruffini, and Wizbang, a blogosphere mainstay of longstanding that has never once been confused with this place.

A few relatively new blogs that cried out to be listed here:

Jack Kelly's Irish Pennants, The Counterterrorism Blog , Pejman's new place A Chequer-Board of Nights and Days , and Anne Bayefsky's Eye On The U.N..

And the rest, just because I saw something I liked, and wanted to go back:

The Word Unheard, The Anchoress, Porkopolis , Whymrhymer 101 , and Hubris

Never Mind

Andrew Sullivan had an Emily Litella moment this morning when he mistook a reference to Exodus Ministries in Harriet Miers bio, for Exodus International, an organization that purports to "cure" gays through Christian conversion. So he went from sputtering fit to an apology for the "sudden panic". So does he apologize for the crack about the "Southern Strategy"?


I'm planning to keep a count of the number of friends and acquaintances who ask me this week what happened to my Indians. It never fails. More when the fog lifts.

Swallowing Bilge

Retired media superhero Dan Rather was asked on Larry King's show the other night to comment on the media coverage of Katrina. Mark Steyn weighs in:

...Hurricane Dan professed himself delighted with his successors. "They took us there to the hurricane," he told Larry. "They put the facts in front of us and, very important, they sucked up their guts and talked truth to power."

Er, no. The facts they put in front of us were wrong, and they didn't talk truth to power. They talked to goofs in power, like New Orleans' Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Chief Eddie Compass, and uncritically fell for every nutso yarn they were peddled. The media swallowed more bilge than if they'd been lying down with their mouths open as the levee collapsed. Ten thousand dead. Widespread rape and murder. A 7-year-old gang-raped and then throat-slashed. It was great stuff -- and none of it happened. No gang-raped 7-year-olds. None.

Most of the media are still in Dan mode, sucking up their guts and congratulating themselves about what a swell job they did during Katrina. CNN producers were advising their guests to "be angry," and there was so much to get angry about, not least that no matter how angry you got on air Anderson Cooper was always much better at it. And Mayor Nagin as well. To show he was angry, he used a lot of profanity. "That... Superdome," he raged. "Five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

But nobody got killed by a hooligan in the Superdome. The problem wasn't rape and murder, but the rather more prosaic lack of bathroom facilities. As Ben Stein put it, it was the media that rioted. They grabbed every lurid rumor and took it for a wild joy ride across primetime. There was a real story in there -- big hurricane, people dead -- but it wasn't enough, and certainly not enough for damaging George Bush.

More vintage Steyn, if you read it all.

October 2, 2005

Torture Issue Building

Andrew Sullivan continues to draw attention to the issue of torture by U.S. forces in Iraq with todays column in the Sunday Times on the case of Ian Fishback. U.S. torture policy, and the responsibility of the Bush administration leaders involved in its formulation, has been a recurring theme for Sullivan, and coverage of the story in the most popular conservative blogs has been conspicuous by its absence, at least by my reckoning.

Widespread discussion of the issue may soon become unavoidable as Fishback's story gains exposure and the remaining Abu Ghraib photos are released, even for those who have been generally supportive of Bush's conduct of Iraq policy. The idea that conservatives should avoid discussion of policies that reflect badly on the administration because Bush's political enemies will do enough of that themselves should take a back seat to some bipartisan moral outrage if the torture situation is as out of control as it seems. Capt. Fishback is currently sequestered and under interrogation for exposing torture and abuse by American soldiers that was directed and sanctioned by their superiors.

I am not at all sure that the U.S. should hold itself to all Geneva Convention guidelines in this war against an enemy which is not a signer, much less an adherent to those guidelines. And I admit to being not well-read enough on the topic even to know if the "documented 36 deaths in interrogation" cited by Sullivan, and other claims of torture and abuse are disputed, or even acknowledged, by the Pentagon. But as much as I support the liberation of Iraq, I have to applaud what Sullivan is doing to draw attention to the Fishback case and the U.S. torture policies in general. As a country, we have to be better than this if we are to claim to be a force for good.

Read Fishback's letter to Sen. John McCain, and give some thought to supporting a soldier who is trying to do the right thing. You can email your message to supportfishback@aol.com. As far as I'm concerned, the message from America to the White House should be that we will not stand for the kinds of torture and abuse that are occurring, and that our policy on such matters should be public, clear, and enforced by the entire chain of command.

Sullivan has repeatedly called for Rumsfeld's resignation, and as much as that would delight and embolden Bush's political enemies, I must say that I am now inclined to agree. I fear that this issue could be debilitating to the war effort for years to come. Bush could seize the initiative and perhaps minimize the political damage if he addressed the issue forcefully, and demonstrated his sincerity to the nation and to the world by holding Rumsfeld accountable.

The Meaning Of Life

I'm taking Andy McCarthy at his word that there was actually a headline in today's N.Y. Times reading "To More Inmates, Life Term Means Dying Behind Bars." McCarthy suspects it's the first in a series. If true, is this a lamentable development, according to the Times?

UPDATE 10/3: Here's the article.