Monday, August 30, 2004

Age of Damaged Info Provides Bush-Hating Complicity Theory An excellent piece on the new Conspiracy Industry around 9/11.

Nobody likes hard, bitter truths that condemn one to a lifetime of unease, if not terror. However large and dark the conspiracy that Complicity Theory posits, one thing it means is that we don’t REALLY have to fear "terrorists" at all: We did it to ourselves. We can even vote the culprits out of office (unless they pull another 9/11 to cancel the election). Evil as George Bush may be, he’s not as scary on some level; "Bush did it" is comforting.

Another comforting aspect of Complicity Theory, at least on the left, is that if Osama and Al Qaeda didn’t do it, one doesn’t have to be hostile to a Third World person. In addition, one doesn’t have to implicate oneself in the ethically complex acts of exacting vengeance on the mass murderers. One doesn’t have to become Hamlet; one just has to get Bush out of office. A sense of ethical complexity is noble, although, as Hamlet demonstrates, it can also be paralyzing.

My friend Mark Horowitz, the magazine editor, has a theory about Bush hatred that was recently given some exposure on Virginia Postrel’s blog ( Essentially, it suggests that a certain kind of Bush hatred (not Bush criticism, but frothing, obsessive hatred) stems from a kind of sublimated fear, especially here in New York City, still traumatized by the wounds of the 9/11 attack, still targeted for the next one. A fear so unbearable that it must somehow be transferred, projected upon someone more under our control: the Daddy who didn’t protect us. If we vote Mr. Bush out of office, we can be nicer to the terrorists and they won’t interrupt our beautiful lives.

Death and the maiden in Iran The Religion of Peace claims another victim. This is from the London Daily Telegraph about the Iranian girl hanged for supposedly having sex.

That disgraceful and disgusting "punishment" has excited a great deal of condemnation in Iran among the reformists. As far as I can see, it has not produced any comment here. Amnesty International issued a statement expressing outrage at the execution (the tenth of a child in Iran since 1990) - but no British newspaper or television station has reported this.

Why not? The two extremes of pro- and anti-Muslim sentiment in Britain are now united in not expecting even the most minimal ethical standards from Islamic countries such as Iran: the pros because they think that Islamic laws should not be criticised for fear of giving offence; the antis because they think all Muslims are just a bunch of irredeemable barbarians.

Those two extreme views have infected media coverage. What would be headline news if it happened in America (can you imagine the response if a 16-year-old girl was executed for having sex in Texas?) is, because it happens in an Islamic state, apparently too banal to count.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

I can tell that I'm getting busier at work. This is the first article I've posted since Tuesday. Of course it's Mark Steyn, talking about the coming GOP convention and the state of the campaign.

Bush isn't a great orator but he can rise to the occasion, and I expect he will this week, with an optimistic forward-looking speech that stands in contrast to Senator Kerry's weird up-the-Mekong-without-a-paddle routine. Bush's speech will also have jokes.

He tells jokes pretty well, though he could do with easing up on the old self-satisfied smirk after the punchline. But smirk-accompanied jokes are still better than Kerry, who had no jokes at all except a leaden clunker about the destiny-freighted detail of having been born in a hospital's "west wing" - wouldja believe it? and how many wings does a hospital have anyway? and doesn't this communicate Kerry's sense of entitlement rather than his sense of humour - formal confirmation that he believes he was literally born to be president?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Kerry: strange, stuck-up... and stupid. Mark Steyn again. Great as always.

After going around huffing and a-puffing that, if Bush wanted a debate about Vietnam, "Here is my answer: BRING. IT. ON," he's now gone to ground and is demanding Bush call it off. Meanwhile, his lawyers are threatening suits and the campaign's complained to the Federal Election Commission to get the Swift vets taken off air.

His hagiographer Douglas Brinkley, after an intriguing interview with the Telegraph's David Rennie, seems to have entered the witness protection programme. If this campaign were any more inept, Michael Moore would be making a documentary claiming Kerry's a Republican plant secretly controlled by Karl Rove and the House of Saud.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Today in Investor's Business Daily they take on Kerry and the bias of the mainstream media.

The bias is pervasive. As the Media Research Center, a media watchdog, pointed out, ABC, CBS and NBC did 75 stories on charges Bush was "AWOL" from the National Guard. They did nine on claims Kerry fibbed about his war record. Biased might be too kind a description.

The major media in this country are overwhelmingly liberal and refuse to ask the questions that need to be asked. They do their viewers and readers — and Kerry for that matter — a disservice.

If Kerry thinks he's being slandered, he should answer with facts —not with insults, threats and lawsuits.

We have questions, senator. We're ready for your answers.

Friday, August 20, 2004

A good piece from the WSJ I just hope I can stay this composed if a similar discussion occurs around here.

"Speaking for myself," the Philly wife declared, "any news that helps defeat Bush makes me happy." Hubby nodded, as did a couple of others swinging on the veranda.

"So let me get this straight: Without offering a remedy for perceived economic woes, or a plan to win the war in Iraq, it's OK with you if a couple hundred thousand additional Americans are unemployed, let's say for a year or so. Your liberal 'scales of justice, of humanity' say that's a beneficial scenario--presumably because it's their sacrifice, not yours. And if we continue to move slowly in Iraq, costing additional American lives, not to mention the lives and freedom of Iraqi's, you will be satisfied as long as President Bush isn't re-elected?"

"You're a fascist! We're leaving!" the husband shouted.

"Your freedom of speech, to preach hatred of President Bush and to hope for American setbacks, even if it costs Americans their lives and livelihoods, is fine," I said to their backs, "but my questioning of your shallowness is offensive, right? Enjoy your trip back to the City of Brotherly Love. I'm sure your neighbors will be happy to see you return."

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Iranians plan to attack America, at least according to the things they say in their mosques.

“Time bombs within America” is how Iranian lawmaker Hamid-Reza Katoziyan described Muslims within America, who could be behind future terrorist attacks here. Speaking on Iranian TV channel Jaam-E-Jam 2 on July 27, Mr. Katoziyan warned: “The whole group of people belonging to the Arab community and…Muslims living in the U.S. are currently, in my opinion, in a special situation. Perhaps they do not walk the streets with weapons in their hands or attach bombs to themselves in order to carry out a suicide operation, but the thought is there.”

Just as statements from Iranian religious and political leaders, as well as TV programs, have focused on attacking America, so has the print press. An editorial in the July 6 edition of the Iranian daily Kayhan, the conservative paper affiliated with Mr. Khamenei, issued another warning for the future: “…the White House’s 80 years of exclusive rule are likely to become 80 seconds of hell that will burn to ashes…That very day, those who resist [Iran] will be struck from directions they never expected. The heartbeat of the crisis is undoubtedly [dictated by] the hand of Iran.”

The report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States asks: “September 11 was a day of unprecedented shock…The nation was unprepared…How can we avoid such tragedy again?”Taking seriously Iran’s threatening words and actions is an important first step.

Do you want to sing Waterloo or fight it? Another great Steyn column with too many good lines to quote.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Retired Army Major Ralph Peters slams the Administration. Not for fighting the war, but for not fighting to win.

A point may come soon when it just won't be worth risking the lives of our troops any longer. If we cannot fight to win, we're foolish to spend our soldiers' blood for nothing. If Iraq lacks the will to save itself, our troops won't be able to save it. And then there is the bogus issue of mosques, which our leaders approach with superstition, not sense. While Najaf's Imam Ali shrine truly is a sacred place, the fact is that there are mosques and there are mosques.

Our unwillingness to target even a derelict neighborhood mosque packed with ammunition, weapons and terrorists is not only militarily foolish — it's based upon the assumption that Muslims are so stupid that they don't know the rules of their own religion. That's nonsense. They know that mosques aren't supposed to be used as bunkers. But they're not going to shout it from the rooftops to help us out.

Were we to destroy a series of local mosques used by terrorists throughout Iraq, there would be an initial outcry — which the media would exaggerate. But it would blow over with remarkable speed. The only lasting effect would be to put the terrorists on notice that we won't let them make the rules any longer.

Make no mistake: It's our folly and moral cowardice that encouraged our enemies to make widespread use of mosques. We created this monster, as surely as our timidity inflated Sadr. Prime Minister Allawi may yet summon the courage lacked by President Bush (and certainly by that human weathervane, John Kerry). But if Allawi folds and lets Sadr walk again, it means our troops are merely pawns in a game we're determined to lose. Our troops deserve better. We need to let them win.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Saddam agents on Syria border helped move banned materials Why does this story only appear in the Washington Times? Why doesn't the Bush Administration make more of it?

Air marshals cover only a few flights Can the federal government do ANYTHING right? Ever? They don't want pilots to be armed and they don't put marshals on planes. Yet when the next attack happens they'll insist that they did everything humanly possible. Why does Norman Mineta still have a job? And this is such a perfect example of government think that I'm speechless:

With fewer planes being protected by air marshals, many in the ranks are riled over recent incidents that further have blocked marshals from protecting aircraft.
Two marshals were yanked from a Southwest Airlines flight from Cleveland in July for not adhering to a strict dress code that required them to be wearing sports coats. The flight continued without marshal protection.
A third marshal was grounded last week in Las Vegas, during the current high terrorist alert level, on suspicion of leaking disparaging memos from the Federal Air Marshal Service to journalists. He is washing government cars as punishment.
"Morale is low," one air marshal said.

They yanked them off the flight for not following the dress code.

The Olympics and Islam. Oh boy are these people screwed up.

Last year, the Tehran Municipality presented a plan to provide sports facilities for women. It proposed amendments to 37 laws and ordinances that discriminate against women. It also unveiled a plan to develop women-only sports grounds. A model stadium was set up with 12-foot-high walls to make sure that no one could see the women from the outside. The stadium was to operate with an all-female staff, including coaches and administrators.

The plan was scrapped last February, when critics claimed that the proposed stadium was located close enough to an airport that women in the stadium might be seen by men flying above them in jetliners and helicopters.

Taking the Measure of John Kerry Chris Hitchens here on John Kerry.

If Kerry is dogged and haunted by the accusation of wanting everything twice over, he has come by the charge honestly. In Vietnam, he was either a member of a ''band of brothers'' or of a gang of war criminals, and has testified with great emotion to both convictions. In the Senate, he has either voted for armament and vigilance or he has not, and either regrets his antiwar vote on the Kuwait war, or his initial pro-war stance on the Iraq war, or his negative vote on the financing of the latter, or has not. The Boston Globe writers capture a moment of sheer, abject incoherence, at a Democratic candidates' debate in Baltimore last September:

''If we hadn't voted the way we voted, we would not have been able to have a chance of going to the United Nations and stopping the president, in effect, who already had the votes and who was obviously asking serious questions about whether or not the Congress was going to be there to enforce the effort to create a threat.''

And all smart people know how to laugh at President Bush for having problems with articulation.

He still gives, to me at any rate, the impression of someone who sincerely wishes that this were not a time of war. When critical votes on the question come up, Kerry always looks like a dog being washed. John McCain was not like this, when a president he despised felt it necessary to go into Kosovo. We are looking at a man who would make, or would have made, a perfectly decent peacetime president.

"He looks like a dog being washed." Has there ever been a better line to describe an uncomfortable politician?

Friday, August 13, 2004

James Lileks on Sudden Bush Hatred Fatigue Syndrome (SBHFS)

It's hard to tell how SBHFS will affect the vote. This group could go either way.

They could so weary of the incessant hysteria that they'll be willing to reward the frothers, if only to shut them up. If I vote for John Kerry, will you be happy? Will that do it?

The answer would be Yes! That'll do it!

Well, that, and nationalized health care, tax hikes on small businesses, the Kyoto treaty, fealty to the United Nations, shipping nuclear fuel to the Iranians to make them act nice, leaving Iraq ASAP and ushering in what Kerry calls a more "sensitive" war on terrorism. (We will use marshmallow bullets, perhaps.) All that plus vast federally funded embryo farms, and they'll be happy. For a while. Then we'll have to do something about that "In God We Trust" nonsense on the coins.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Bush-Haters Speak Loudly, And in Unlikely Venues Here's a good one on the Bushitler crowd.

There is a left which wants America to lose, whatever the war, whoever the enemy. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, they were still. They began to creep out during the slow-seeming start of the Afghan war, until the sudden fall of Mazr-i-Sharif, and the spectacle of men playing music and women lifting their veils shut them up once more. But they are a permanent feature of life in all free countries.

Far more numerous, and far more important, are liberals, who can be dismayed by specific blunders or setbacks. To them, the Iraq war is a colossal example of both. The year-long occupation, and the fighting in Najaf even now, bodes endless failure. The possibility that the costs of the Iraq war have been slight in comparison to other wars means nothing to them; liberals panic in the presence of violence, even as conservatives panic in the presence of sex. War to them is what President Clinton’s penis was to us. The one-step-removed quality of the Iraq war also makes it repulsive to liberals. They were willing to fight if Saddam had germ-filled warheads sitting in a shed somewhere. They were not willing to fight if an anti-American despot refused to tell us whether he had them or not.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

No Extra Scrutiny for Middle Eastern Illegals at Mexico Border I guess avoiding willfull stupidity is too much to ask of our government.

U.S. government policy requires that young Middle Eastern men who are caught crossing illegally into the United States from Mexico be treated the same as illegal aliens from elsewhere in the world--meaning that if they don't have criminal records, don't appear on government watch lists and are not deemed to be suspicious by the federal law enforcement officers who interview them, they most likely will be released into the U.S. population.

All 19 of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers were young men from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. None of them had criminal records, not all were on watch lists, and few apparently raised significant suspicions among American border or visa authorities.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

I can't believe what I just saw on CNN. They just did a story about the Swift boat veterans' ad slamming Kerry, without running it of course, without explaining who did it or what they actually said, only including Kerry's response that it was all lies. And the only video of it they used was BLURRED! They deliberately blurred the video so you couldn't read the speaker's names nor the website address. And of course they included McCain's remarks criticising it, all the while running the crawl across the bottom of the screen that claimed that none of the men in it had served in Swift boats, which is clearly a lie. They were all his co-captains, 23 out of the 24 co-captains Kerry served with signed a letter in support of the ad and opposing Kerry for President as unqualified. I want to hear again how Fox News is biased.

Questions for Kerry This is great. Will did the same thing for Gore in 2000 and it's just as imposssible to answer.

The easily distressed abortion rights groups were distressed when you said that your faith teaches you what elementary biology teaches everyone: Life begins at conception. But you say personhood does not. Fine. When does it? What are its defining attributes? Does, say, an elderly person with dementia have it, and hence a right to life?

You oppose, on federalism grounds, a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. You say marriage law is traditionally a state responsibility. But so was abortion law for the Republic's first 197 years, until 1973. What is the difference?

When the pope said Catholic legislators have a duty to oppose gay marriage, you said he had "crossed the line" because "it is important not to have the church instructing politicians." Have you felt that way even when the church has instructed politicians to take liberal positions regarding economic justice, race and other matters?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The New Yorker here with one of the first articles like this I can recall in a mainstream media magazine. Long, but fascinating and here's the kicker:

One of the most sobering pieces of information to come out of the investigation of the March 11th bombings is that the planning for the attacks may have begun nearly a year before 9/11. I October, 2000, several of the suspects met in Istanbul with Amer Azizi, who had taken the no de guerre Othman Al Andalusi—Othman of Al Andalus. Azizi later gave the conspirator permission to act in the name of Al Qaeda, although it is unclear whether he authorized mone or other assistance—or, indeed, whether Al Qaeda had much support to offer. In June, Italia police released a surveillance tape of one of the alleged planners of the train bombings, a Egyptian housepainter named Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, who said that the operation “too me two and a half years.” Ahmed had served as an explosives expert in the Egyptian Army. I appears that some kind of attack would have happened even if Spain had not joined th Coalition—or if the invasion of Iraq had never occurred

“The real problem of Spain for Al Qaeda is that we are a neighbor of Arab countries—Morocco and Algeria—and we are a model of economy, democracy, and secularism,” Florentino Portero, a political analyst at the Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos, in Madrid, told me. “We support the transformation and Westernization of the Middle East. We defend the transition of Morocco from a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. We are allies of the enemies of Al Qaeda in the Arab world. This point is not clearly understood by the Spanish people. We are a menace to Al Qaeda just because of who we are.”

An Oil-for-Food Connection? Interesting article on whether Saddam was funding Osama through the oil for food program.

Both Saddam and bin Laden were, in their way, seasoned businessmen. Both had a taste for war. Both hated America. By the late 1990s, Saddam, despite continuing sanctions, was solidly back in business, socking away his purloined billions in secret accounts, but he had no way to attack the United States directly. Bin Laden needed millions to fund al Qaeda, which could then launch a direct strike on the United States. Whatever the differences between Saddam and bin Laden, their circumstances by the late 1990s had
all the makings of a deal. Pocket change for Saddam, financial security for bin Laden, and satisfaction for both--death to Americans.

Now let's talk facts. In 1996, Sudan kicked out bin Laden. He went to Afghanistan, arriving there pretty much bankrupt, according to the 9/11 Commission report. His family inheritance was gone, his allowance had been cut off, and Sudan had confiscated his local assets. Yet, just two years later, bin Laden was back on his feet, feeling strong enough to issue a public declaration of war on America. In February 1998, in a London-based Arabic newspaper, Al-Quds al-Arabi, he published his infamous fatwa exhorting Muslims to "kill the Americans and plunder their money." Six months later, in August 1998, al Qaeda finally went ahead with its long-planned bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Bin Laden was back in the saddle, and over the next three years he shaped al Qaeda into the global monster that finally struck on American soil. His total costs, by the estimates of the 9/11 Commission report, ran to tens of millions of dollars. Even for a terrorist beloved of extremist donors, that's a pretty good chunk of change.

The commission report says bin Laden got his money from sources such as a "core group of financial facilitators" in the Gulf states, especially corrupt charities. But the report concludes: "To date, we have not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attack. Al Qaeda had many sources of funding and a pre-9/11 annual budget estimated at $30 million. If a particular source of funds had dried up, al Qaeda could easily have found enough money elsewhere to fund the attack."

Looks to me like he found a major source of cash. Too bad there aren't any links to Halliburton. Then the mainstream media would be all over it.

Monday, August 02, 2004

I don't know what to make of DEBKA. It has a reputation of being something of the supermarket tabloid of Middle East reporting, but it also has some real scoops sometimes. This is a good one.

According to data gathered by our experts, from December 2002, three months before the US invasion of Iraq, al Qaeda began issuing a stream of fatwas designating its main operating theatres in Europe. Spain was on the list, but not the first.

1. Turkey was first. Islamic fundamentalists were constrained to recover the honor and glory of the Ottoman caliphates which were trampled by Christian forces in 1917 in the last days of World War I.

2. Spain followed. There, al Qaeda set Muslims the goal of recovering their lost kingdom in Andalusia.

3. Italy and its capital were third. Muslim fundamentalists view Rome as a world center of heresy because of the Vatican and the Pope.

4. Vienna came next because the advancing Muslim armies were defeated there in 1683 before they could engulf the heart of Europe.

Italy has been warned before and on Sunday, August 1 it was warned again, although it is not alone: the United States is constantly in al Qaeda’s sights.

As for item four, guess what day in 1648 the Muslim armies were defeated at the gates of Vienna? September 11. What a coincidence, huh? Um, no.

He was complacent, arrogant and humourless. How they loved him Sometimes this blog consists of little more than Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldberg and James Lileks, but so what? They seem to be able to say it so much better than anyone else. Like this, for instance, on Kerry:

In another perilous time - 1918 - Lord Haig wrote of Lord Derby: "D is a very weak-minded fellow I am afraid and, like the feather pillow, bears the marks of the last person who has sat on him." It's subtler than that with Kerry: you don't have to sit on him; just the slightest political breeze, and his pillow billows in the appropriate direction. His default position is the conventional wisdom of the Massachusetts Left: on foreign policy, foreigners know best; on trade, the labour unions know best; on government, bureaucrats know best; on defence, graying ponytailed nuclear-freeze reflex anti-militarists know best; on the wine list, he knows best.

Sometimes these default positions have to be recalibrated to take account of various political pressures - hence his current kinky Vietnam macho nostalgia, after two decades of voting against every important weapons system for the US military. But there's no sense - other than the blurry abstract nouns he shoveled off the stage on Thursday - of what Kerry stands firm on.