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Conservative commentary served up in bite-sized bits.
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- Clayton Cramer
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Thursday, July 31, 2003
Steven Den Beste has an amazing overview of what is likely the Big Picture for the West in the Middle East, and in Afghanisan and Iraq in particular. It's an very in-depth look at what the root causes of the war on terrorism are/were, why the US is involved the way it is, what the possible responses by the US could have been (and their likely outcomes), the strategies, the results and the future. This is a big picture, and will take some time to read, but it's worth it.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Charles M. Brown, a former member of the anti-war protest group "Voices in the Wilderness", has written an incredible article about his return to reality after realizing how foolish the group was. There are a lot of good sections in this I could quote, but here are some of the best:
This one-dimensional depiction of life in Saddam's Iraq was pure Baath propaganda, and I (as well as other group members) knew it. As I came to see this as a complicity and collaboration with one of the most abusive dictatorships in the world, I tried to get the rest of my group to acknowledge that our close relationship with the regime damaged our credibility. I failed to persuade them, so I quit. Unfortunately, it seems that my former colleagues have regarded this decision as a kind of political "defection," and it has cost me several friendships, which were apparently contingent on my continued willingness to toe the (Baathist) line.
(And liberals accuse Ashcroft of crushing dissent.)
Voices preached by its actions—more particularly, by conducting regular trips to Iraq to deliver medical and other supplies, all in violation of the U.N. sanctions regime as well as several U.S. laws and presidential executive orders. The quantity of aid we brought to Iraq was always a paltry, symbolic amount, but the real emphasis of Voices was to have group members "witness" the detrimental effects of sanctions for themselves, by visiting Iraqi hospitals, schools, and other areas—always in the presence of official "minders" of the Iraqi regime. These orchestrated trips provided the grist for group members, who returned home to educate their communities on the horrors of the U.S.-imposed sanctions. In my case, the propaganda fed to me in Iraq by regime spokespersons was my primary source of information on sanctions, which I then imparted to audiences all across the United States. The same was true of my colleagues.
More examples of why taking the word of a murderous dictator is never a good idea. But then, most thinking people know this already.
Voices' arguments about sanctions were straightforward—and utterly simplistic. In retrospect, I am embarrassed to think that I propagated them. Voices held that sanctions were violence that the U.S. government committed against Iraq, through the exercise of raw power. The Iraqi regime was entirely helpless and passive and had no ability to respond to the economic pressure the U.N. had put on Iraq since 1990. Voices was oblivious to deliberate Iraqi obfuscation on disarmament and to Saddam's domestic policies, designed to maintain his iron grip over the Iraqi people for as long as possible. It was our stubborn view that the regime had little or no ability to control or direct Iraq's destiny. We saw the U.S.-sponsored sanctions as the primary cause of violence in Iraq and so overlooked (or denied) Saddam's decades-long legacy of severe repression.
I think the key word in this paragraph is "simplistic". I've seen video of a blogger interviewing people at an anti-war demonstration, and while they can "talk the talk", they can't seem to "think the think", to coin a phrase. When they were asked simple questions about the situation or what their alternate solutions were, they fell back on prepackaged mantra or outright falsehoods (or a simple "I don't know"). Their anti-war sentiments are knee-jerk at its finest; all reaction and feeling, no thought. Simplistic.
Because of our collective ignorance of Iraqi history and politics, we were largely unaware of the service we rendered to the regime. Not only did Voices members meet senior Iraqi officials (including Tariq Aziz), but the group was publicly thanked for serving as an official channel of information from the Iraqi regime to the American people by Saddam Hussein himself. We had no interest in Iraqi dissidents, exiles, and opposition groups, who had documented Saddam's past aggression, genocide, and flaunting of U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. Voices simply parroted Baathist propaganda, and the regime learned to use us (and other peace movement groups) for just that purpose.
Many anti-war protestors insisted that they were not pro-Saddam, as they were sometimes labelled. However, their actions were in practice, if not intent, bolstering Hussein's position. As I've said before, Hussein used these groups for his own ends, whether or not they knew it. Many of us outside the anti-war crowd knew it, if course. Their ignorance, however, was no excuse.
To be perfectly frank, we were less concerned with the suffering of the Iraqi people than we were in maintaining our moral challenge to U.S. foreign policy. We did not agitate for an end to sanctions for purely humanitarian reasons; it was more important to us to maintain our moral challenge to "violent" U.S. foreign policy, regardless of what happened in Iraq. For example, had we been truly interested in alleviating the suffering in Iraq, we might have considered pushing for an expanded Oil-for-Food program. Nothing could have interested us less. Indeed, we even regarded the paltry amounts of aid that we did bring to Iraq as a logistical hassle. When it suited us, we portrayed ourselves as a humanitarian nongovernmental organization and at other times as a political group lobbying for a policy change. In our attempt to have it both ways, we failed in both of these missions.
As Limbaugh has often said, liberals care more about appearances and intentions than actual results; it is only important that you be seen caring than actually doing it. Here is another classic example.
What happens when a thinking person realizes they're caught in this mire of feeling instead of thinking, ignoring reality in pursuit of political aims, and then returns from the wilderness? They write articles like "Confessions of an Anti-Sanctions Activist". These excerpts, lengthy as they are, do not do the full article justice. Definitely worth reading, and keeping in mind when those in the press accept claims from groups like "Voices in the Wilderness" unchallenged.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
What liberal media? According to Bob Kohn, it's all in the name.
When the news was good, they [the New York Times] were sure to identify President Clinton by name. When the news was bad, you couldn't find Clinton's name in the story.
Since Bush showed up, of course, the pattern has worked in reverse; blame on "Bush" but credit to "administration officials". Kohn's case study is the recent release of the 9/11 report. Bush is mentioned by name, but Clinton's moniker is nowhere to be found, even when dates in the report clearly fall within his administration.
When can we expect to see a Times news analysis on how much our intelligence capabilities have improved since Bush took office? Or how much these improvements will benefit Bush's re-election bid? Or how much this "scathing" congressional report will weigh on the much-vaunted Clinton legacy? The questions are rhetorical - we all know the answers.
Hold not thy breath.
Monday, July 28, 2003
WORLD magazine has a great article detailing the whole California governor recall petition drive. From the use of talk radio and the Internet, to the unconstitutional shenanigans that the Davis administration kept pulling, it's an intriguing read.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Attacking Iraq to prevent the further development of their weapons of mass destruction, going it alone if we have to, and using more than just a few cruise missiles, but making Saddam pay a grave price in currency he understands and values are ideas you'd expect you have heard from George W. Bush before the war. Except that they were said in 1997 by current Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry, who is now saying that the evidence for going after Saddam is all suspect and should have been more carefully pored over.
What a difference an administration makes.
A significant number of Germans (about 1/3 under 30 years old, about 20% overall) think it possible that the United States ordered the Sept. 11 attacks itself.
With friends like these, who needs Yemenis?
Thursday, July 17, 2003
What liberal media? Take this NY Times headline, please. "In Ohio, Iraq Questions Shake Even Some of Bush's Faithful". (Requires free registration to read.) And now here's report James Dao's summary:
In conversations here with nearly three dozen voters, the vast majority said they generally like President Bush and believe he is doing a good job. Many people said they remained convinced that Iraq posed a threat, even though no chemical or biological weapons have been found. And there was a broad consensus that the result of the war — the ousting of a brutal dictator — was good for Iraq as well as the United States.
Disconnect? Bias? (Yup.)
(Pointer from Taranto, again. His daily E-mail is a must-read.)
Mark Steyn, as quote by James Taranto's "Best of the Web Today":
One reason why the President . . . is all but certain to win re-election is the descent into madness of his opponents. They've let post-impeachment, post-chad-dangling bitterness unhinge them to the point where, given a choice between investigating the intelligence lapses that led to 9/11 and the intelligence lapses that led to a victorious war in Iraq, they stampede for the latter. Iraq was a brilliant campaign fought with minimal casualties, 11 September was a humiliating failure by government to fulfill its primary role of national defence. But Democrats who complained that Bush was too slow to act on doubtful intelligence re 9/11 now profess to be horrified that he was too quick to act on doubtful intelligence re Iraq. This is not a serious party.
Mark's second-to-last sentence is all that needs to be said on liberal hypocrisy with respect to national security. As much as they whine about other people playing politics with the war/foreign policy/taxes/etc., they certainly practice it extremely well themselves.
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Hopefully this lie can be put to bed for good. Palestinian sources have confirmed to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs that only 52 (not hundreds or thousands) Palestinians died in the battle with Israelis at the refugee camp there, and that most were fighters (not civilians).
However, while the lie can be put to bed, let's not forget who put forth that lie, and who can (or can't) be trusted in the whole Middle East situation.
This will be my one and only post that will be dedicated to this "tempest in a teapot" issue; the Iraq-Niger uranium intelligence, and whether or not Bush lied in his State of the Union address about it. Here's the line causing all the nattering:
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Points to note:
At some point in the future, if the British intelligence turns out to be bogus, only then would it be worth questioning if Bush & his staff knew that it was prior to the SOTU address. Until then, what he said is true on its face and does not require the parsing of individual words. In spite of what many news pundits are trying to do to the sentence, it does not depend on what the meaning of the word "British" is.
If you really want to go after Bush for lying, call him on his promise about only being in Bosnia for 12 months. Oh...wait. That was Clinton (and his Secretary of Defense William Perry, and his Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, and his Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Peter Tamoff).
At the NAACP convention's presidential candidates forum, Bob Graham was asked if Bush lied when he said Iraq had been trying to purchase uranium from Africa.
"I would not use the three-letter word," the Florida senator told reporters. "I would use the five-letter word: deceit. That he deceived the American people by allowing into a State of the Union speech at a critical point when he was making the case for war with Iraq, a statement that he either knew was wrong or should have known was wrong."
Except that "deceit" has six letters. No big deal? Yeah, it's a yawner. Except that had it been George W. Bush or Dan Quayle, a story like that would've hit the ground running and liberal pundits would be all over it for weeks.
Let's see what sort of legs the press & pundits put on this story.
Monday, July 14, 2003
What liberal media? Well, how about CBS news, that repeatedly, over the course of years, interviews the same liberal activists, implying that they're some "man/woman-on-the-street" interviews. They interviewed one woman, Eva Baer-Schenkein, 3 times since 1999 (the most recent in May of this year) complaining about different ailments and that the Republican prescription drug program wouldn't work. The website "www.RatherBiased.com" also found that they have gone to the same seven in this debate 23 different times over the course of the debate. And again, nary a label of or reference to their liberal activism.
Remember, bias is found in both what is covered and how it's covered. In this case, it's presenting one side of the story, told by the same people, over and over.
What liberal media? The Pew Research folks have done a media poll, and one of the results is that Americans see a liberal bias, and although where you stand seems to affect what you see, even more Democrats see a liberal tilt than a conservative one.
Republicans see the press as more liberal than conservative by nearly three-to-one (65%- 22%). Among independents, the margin is two-to-one (50%-25%). And while a third of Democrats say there is a conservative tilt to the American press, a slight plurality (41%) says the press is more liberal than anything else.
Overall, by a 2-to-1 ratio, Americans see a liberal bias vs. a conservative bias. What's more revealing is the percentage that think the press is truly unbiased: only 14%. That doesn't speak well at all for journalists who supposedly do all they can to scrub their reports clean of bias. Yeah, we all see through our own lenses, but...14%?
Friday, July 11, 2003
Quote: "The most widely accepted study of sexual practices in the United States is the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS). The NHSLS found that 2.8% of the male, and 1.4% of the female, population identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual."
These numbers are, of course, far lower than gay rights activists have been quoting for decades (I've personally heard some people estimate as high as 20%). Anyone who's ever said those numbers were 3% or less was considered homophobic at the very least. Therefore, where do you think the above quote is from:
A - Pat Robertson
B - Jerry Falwell
C - The Christian Coalition
D - A small footnote on page 16 of an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court in the recent "Lawrence v. Texas" sodomy case on behalf of 31 groups including Human Rights Campaign, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the People for the Way Foundation.
I'll let you look it up.
Stanley Crouch, writing in the NY Daily News, points out the hypocrisy of the civil right establishment in how they are reacting to Bush's Africa trip.
On his first day in Africa, he gave a speech in Senegal from Goree Island, where slaves were gathered and sold to Europeans after being captured by other Africans (something self-righteous Negro Americans ignore at every turn). The speech shocked many because no Republican President since Lincoln has ever seriously addressed slavery or its consequences with such direct eloquence and depth of vision.
And coverage of all this in the major media is pitiful. When I watched ABC News last night, the only coverage on the Africa trip was a short mention of the AIDS relief package and video of the Bush entourage happening across a pair of mating elephants. Nothing about a ground-breaking speech, although they did spend about 5 full minutes on a single sentence in his State of the Union address from months ago that was based on possibly bad intelligence.
Eric Alterman (author of "What Liberal Media?"), call your office.
Update: You can find a copy of the text of the speech here.
Thursday, July 10, 2003
The Village Voice has an article by Noah Shachtman describing a system called "Combat Zones that See" or CTS. It's a surveillance system using off-the-shelf parts that would be used for urban warfare and the like, but the folks bidding on creating it (and it ain't that far off) say that there's definite homeland security applications, and in fact that may be the intended ultimate use of it.
As currently configured, the old-line cameras speckled throughout every major city aren't that much of a privacy concern. Yes, there are lenses everywhere-several thousand just in Manhattan. But they see so much, it's almost impossible for snoops to sift through all the footage and find what's important.
Is this supposed to make me feel more secure in my own country? We're continuing to see the truth to the statement that those who give up a little liberty for a little security will wind up with neither.
Monday, July 07, 2003
Oh, now this is rich! A story about two guys starting their own "Government Information Awareness" web site.
Annoyed by the prospect of a massive new federal surveillance system [
And here's an interesting feature:
The site also takes advantage of round-the-clock political coverage provided by cable TV's C-Span networks. McKinley and Csikszentmihalyi use video cameras to capture images of people appearing on C-Span, which generally includes the names of people shown on screen. A computer program "reads" each name, and links it to any information about that person stored in the database. By clicking on the picture, a GIA user instantly gets a complete rundown on all available data about that person.
More power to 'em.
Thursday, July 03, 2003
Democrat presidential hopeful Howard Dean says we should intervene in Liberia to head off a human rights crisis. How does this square with his opposition to the Iraq war?
"The situation in Liberia is exactly the opposite," Dean said. "There is an imminent threat of serious human catastrophe and the world community is asking the United States to exercise its leadership."
An "imminent threat", which is "exactly the opposite" of an actual threat that had existed in Iraq for decades? Well gee, good thing Liberian President Charles Taylor hasn't already started gassing his own people. Then the Democrats would consider him untouchable.
Back in my BBS days ("Bulletin Board Systems", for the uninitiated, where you'd dial in to another computer and have discussion groups and could download files) I'd had discussions with folks about marijuana legalization, and why I thought that it was simply the first step to legalizing stronger drugs. Those who were for legalization always insisted that it would all stop with marijuana and go no further (to heroin, crack, etc.), ignoring centuries of human behavior that showed that when one barrier was removed, it never stopped there.
One of their reasons for placing marijuana in a separate class of drugs was that it wasn't nearly as bad for you as the harder drugs. "There has never been a case of a marijuana-induced crime spree" was how one fellow put it. Perhaps not, but how about inducing schizophrenia?
Speaking at the Royal College of Psychiatrists' annual conference in Edinburgh, [Professor Robin Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry in London] said: "In the last 18 months a number of studies have confirmed that cannabis consumption acts to increase later risk of schizophrenia. This research must not be ignored."
Cannabis users were found to be 6 to 7 times more likely to develop psychotic symptoms or schizophrenia within 3-15 years following heavy use.
Professor Murray said these findings had been largely ignored.
Well of course. That would simply delay legalization.
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
Ralph Peters (retired Army officer) had a great editorial in the NY Post yesterday dealing with sensationalism winning the day on reports coming out of Iraq.
Our troops are doing remarkably well - but the headlines make it sound like a disaster. Last weekend, almost as many Americans died in a residential balcony collapse in Chicago as have been killed by hostile fire in "postwar" Iraq.
On our worst day last week, when two convoys came under attack, more than 600 other U.S. convoys didn't hear a single shot. Two patrols got into firefights. The other 500 patrols didn't even get hit with a water balloon.
Of course the same folks who predicted massive military and civilian casualties are the same folks predicting we'll lose the peace. The same ones who didn't blink at the long periods of time we took for nation-building in Somalia and Haiti are carping already at the short time we've been working on rebuilding what we had to break in Iraq getting rid of Saddam. You don't suppose that it's all a matter of who's sitting in the Oval Office, do ya'?