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Kerry's Momentum
 Can Bush Stop It?
- Sunday Times, (October 9, 2004)


Out of It And Pissy
 Bush Loses The Debate
- Sunday Times, (October 2, 2004)


Media Wars
 The Other Election Battle
- Sunday Times, (September 12, 2004)

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Saturday, September 13, 2003
 
EMAIL OF THE DAY: "I'm not sure how the 'Flypaper' strategy strikes most readers, but to me it looks like the latest variation of a strategy dating back millennia to Sun Tzu where I believe it was described as taking something of great value from your enemy and holding it.  Julius Caesar employed it in a campaign in Asia Minor were his army aggressively took control of the local food and water supply and switched to the defense and ultimately slaughtered a desperate enemy.  In our own history, the Confederacy's last hope at Gettysberg was broken when Lee with little choice attempted and failed to take the Little Round Top, a hill he could not permit the Union forces to hold.
 In more modern times it is described as being strategically aggressive and tactically defensive.  No strategy always works, but historically forces that employ this one tend to survive better than those upon whom it is employed.  Perhaps among your readers there is someone with amore expansive knowledge of military history who can expond in more detail.
 Meanwhile, I for one am convinced that who ever is behind the 'Flypaper' strategy knows his stuff." - more reader feedback on the Letters Page.

MORE CONSERVATIVES AGAINST THE FMA: Here's a shocker: some federalists and conservatives actually don't believe that states should be denied the right to decide for themselves what is and is not a marriage. Here's the link to the open letter to Senator Cornyn. Money quote:
The proposed amendment interferes with the rights of states, rights that have been consistently recognized since the founding of our Nation. Under our federal system of government, family law has long been the province of the states. A basic principle of American democracy and federalism is that government actions that control a citizen’s personal life and liberty -- such as government actions that control people’s decisions about whom to marry -- should be made at the level of government closest to the citizen, rather than by the U.S. Congress or by the legislatures of other states.
States already actively regulate marriage; for example, 37 states specifically prohibit marriage between same-sex couples. That is a choice that they are now free to make. The Amendment will wrongly deny those states -- which is to say, the states’ citizens and their representatives -- this choice.
But the religious right is not interested in people or states having the ability to decide for themselves! Where would that leave us? They might disagree with the fundamentalists. Here's another interesting follow-up from Eugene Volokh. And a simple reality check: at the height of the summer backlash, before any real public discussion of the matter, the polls showed only 50 percent support for the FMA. That's barely enough to credentialize a law, let alone an amendment to the Constitution.

THE PERILS OF PAKISTAN: Bernard-Henri Levy lays out the case for suspicion.
- 3:34:36 AM

Friday, September 12, 2003
 
CONGRATS, DAN: Another excellent blog reaches its one-year anniversary.

- 3:33:26 PM
 
THEY GET IT: Why can't most of the Democratic candidates see how Iraq and 9/11 are deeply connected?

ARIANNA: Chatting with an English friend on the phone yesterday, she reminded me of what they used to say about Arianna Stassinopoulos at Cambridge University: "the most upwardly mobile Greek since Icarus." Keep an eye on the Pacific Ocean.
- 2:42:34 PM
 
THE GREAT DIVIDE: My friend Lawrence Kaplan had a terrific little piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Terrific because it put its finger on how quickly a cultural and political divide emerged in the war on terror. By and large, the Democratic party is now opposed to continuing this war, as currently envisaged, and want to wind it down as fast as possible, seeking diplomacy over force, denying the nexus of terror in the Middle East, eager to undo the new mechanisms law enforcement has to prevent future terrorist attacks, while engaging in Dowd-like attempts to embarrass and infantillize the men and women with the dreadful responsibility for our security. Listening to the Democratic debate earlier this week, I was amazed at how few had any strategic plans for taking the war to the enemy, how the very concept of 'enemy' seemed to unnerve and embarrass them. Similarly, the New York Times, a paper that witnessed first-hand the terror, now prefers to use the occasion of the anniversary for a classic piece of moral equivalence, comparing the murder of 3,000 innocents to the U.S. complicity in a coup in Chile thirty years ago. For these people, the first instinct is always, always, always, that the United States is morally suspect. They haven't changed. The moral clarity after 9/11 terrified them. They wanted it to go away so badly so they could switch the conversation back to the faults and evils of America.

CLARITY FATIGUE: And they have, of course, partly succeeded - not because they managed to inflate, say, Enron's collapse into the greater event (though that was one of the more comic Raines-Krugman gambits). They succeeded in the end not by argument but by the effect of sheer fatigue. No democracy wants to believe it is under dire threat; no one wants the abnormality to endure; no one wants to absorb the truth that the war is still in its infancy and that greater atrocities lie ahead, unless we act forcefully to pre-empt them and build the kind of societies in the Middle East that are alone guarantees of our and their future peace and stability. I have made plenty of criticisms of this president; and will do so again. But he's currently the only leader in this country who actually gets the depth of our predicament and the need for innovative, enterprising and ruthless action to improve it. The paradox is that the more he succeeds and the more the threat of terror recedes, the more his opponents will take the calm as evidence that nothing much has to be done, that nothing much has been done, that America, by acting, is the real source of world conflict, and that retreat and amnesia are the cure-alls. I don't think most Americans believe this. I think they are still angry and still afraid and still determined. But they will suffer more than a thousand cuts from the September 10 brigades in the coming months and years. I remember thinking two years ago that support for the war was easy then; but the real test would be in a few years when forgetfulness would set in and complacency revived. Which means, of course, that the real test of our mettle is now. So the question is not, once again: what have we done wrong? It is: Where are we going to hit those bastards today?
- 3:30:22 AM
 
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "How much I must criticize you, my Church, and yet how much I love you! You have made me suffer more than anyone, and yet I owe more to you than anyone. I should like to see you destroyed, and yet I need your presence. You have given me much scandal, and yet you alone have made me understand holiness. Never in the world have I seen anything more compromised, more false, yet never have I touched anything more pure, more generous, or more beautiful. Countless times I have felt like leaving you, my Church; and yet every night I have prayed that I might die in your warm, loving arms." - Carlo Carretto, 1910 - 1988.
- 3:29:41 AM
 
BAATHIST BROADCASTING CORPORATION I:

"Blair Gets A Pass from Iraq Intelligence Panel" - New York Times.

"UK Parliament Clears Blair Over Iraq Arms" - Financial Times.

"Blair 'overrode terror warnings'" - BBC News.

BAATHIST BROADCASTING CORPORATION II: This recollection from a reader who only just avoided a car accident:
Here's a BBC classic, heard while driving on September 11 listening to BBC World Service in car... Sorry couldn't write down exact words. Was around 10.25 Greenwich Mean Time - roughly 6.25 in USA...:
"At the one extreme you have George W Bush, at the other Osama Bin Laden.."
Just as I was choking on this one the presenter went on to say and...in the middle, President Musharaff is pointing out that relations with the Muslim world have deteriorated since 9.11 etc etc...
Ah, yes. Bin Laden and Bush. Just as bad. Aren't they, Noam?
- 3:28:54 AM
 
THE BEST 9/11 COMMENTARY: I found this section from London blogger "Belgravia Despatch" very moving.

SQUANDERING SYMPATHY?: Blog-Irish scans the Irish press two years ago for evidence of the huge amount of sympathy and support for the U.S. after 9/11. Not much there. The U.S. was hated and resented before 9/11. And America's effrontery in fighting back had an absolutely predictable response. How can we be expected to please people who refuse to be pleased?

EMAIL OF THE DAY: "Why bother with Iraq? Why fight terrorism? Try this from Richard Hillary's classic WW2 autobiography written after months of surgery following being shot down.
In a train compartment on the way to Scotland Hillary asked Peter Pease, another young pilot, his reasons for fighting. 'Well, Richard,' he said, 'you've got me at last, haven't you?'
'I don't know if I can answer you to your satisfaction, but I'll try. I would say that I was fighting the war to rid the world of fear - of the fear of fear is perhaps what I mean. If the Germans win this war, nobody except little Hitlers will dare do anything... All courage will die out of the world - the courage to love, to create, to take risks, whether physical or intellectual or moral. Men will hesitate to carry out the promptings of their heart or brain because, having acted, they will live in fear that their action may be discovered and themselves cruelly punished. Thus all love, all spontaneity, will die out of the world. Emotion will have atrophied. Thought will have petrified. The oxygen breathed by the soul, so to speak, will vanish, and mankind will wither.' Peter Pease was killed in action.
Richard Hillary returned to the RAF and was killed in a plane crash during night training. He was 23." - more feedback on the Letters Page.
- 3:28:23 AM

Thursday, September 11, 2003
 
MORE ANTI-AMERICAN HATE IN FRANCE: Check out this cartoon in Le Monde. Nice timing, huh?
- 2:19:22 PM
 
IT'S CREOLE: Here's a translation of Howard Dean's favorite song. It's in Haitian creole (my bad). The full lyrics ( Marie Scala Louis, Andrew Madhere & Shamaha Richemond) are:


This is what the world was waiting for
Wyclef who came from the Fugees
Jeremie, Haiti, Port-au-Prince, Flatbush...

Jaspora doesn't respect Jaspora (repeat 4 x)

Ever since I was little, I left Haiti
There's some that went to Brooklyn there's some that
went to Miami
Why do Jamaicans always say they are Jamaicans,
But Haitians are afraid to say they are Haitians?
Why? Are you scared to say your name is Samuel?
Why? Are you scared to say you're with Israel?
Why? Every night you are sleeping with Jezebel!
You're scared to say Haitian girls are beautiful!
Beautiful girls are beautiful...

I respect your name just like I respect the angel
Gabriel
Here, Diaspora men want to take you to hotels,
Start talking English, turning to playboy channel
They do not respect Israel.

Diaspora do not respect Diaspora
If you are a Diaspora I am going to give you to sharks
Diaspora do not respect Diaspora
If you are a Diaspora tonight we're going to disarm
you

Diaspora ha ha o, put your hands up!
I am going to take them and throw them in prison
I will make them know who is Toussaint
I will make them know who is Dessalines
After, we will let them go and send them back to
Brooklyn
So he could go to his mother who is cooking in the
kitchen
His mom looked at him and said "Man, you've changed"
She said I changed because I am Haitian
They taught me a lesson, they put me in prison.

I see Diaspora women and Diaspora men
There are people who are not going to make it because
they will sleep with the fishes
They lost their knowledge just like a priest without
religion

Diaspora do not respect Diaspora
If you are a Diaspora I am going to give you to sharks
Diaspora do not respect Diaspora
If you are a Diaspora tonight were going to disarm you

Port-au-Prince do not respect Diaspora again
Men Flatbush do not respect Diaspora
Men Canada do not respect Diaspora
Men Miami do not respect Diaspora

Pa Kayos do not respect diaspora
Papa Djoume do not respect Diaspora
Refugees do not respect Diaspora
Men Florida do not respect Diaspora
Wrong things done are going to finish worse
If you disrespect native-born
Done wrong things are going to finish worse
Disrespect Haitians you will get hit...

Jaspora has to respect Jaspora
Jaspora has to respect Jaspora
Reads like a screed against assimilating Haitian immigrants to me; and theatens violence against those who assimilate a little too thoroughly. This is Howard Dean's favorite song?

- 1:54:24 PM
 
THE CASE FOR ANGER: On this anniversary, the tritest thing to feel is mere grief. Not that grief isn't justified. But grief is a natural response to unforeseen tragedy, to random events, to things beyond human control. And what happened two years ago today wasn't merely tragedy. It was a conscious atrocity, an act of war. The free West was attacked by a pathological ideology that still holds a whole region of the world in its grip. And the very forces that tried to destroy us then are still trying to destroy us - as that grotesque videotape yesterday only underlined. Any attempt to hide that fact, minimize it, gloss over it, or complicate it into vagueness is an insult to memory. In an attempt to recall the rage of that day, I went back to this blog's second entry - at 9.46 pm on September 11, 2001 - to revisit the emotions that this massacre unleashed:
I have been unable to think of anything substantive to write today. It is almost as if the usual conventions of journalism and analysis should somehow remain mute in the face of such an event. How can one analyze what one hasn't even begun to absorb? Numbness is part of the intent of these demons, I suppose. So here are some tentative reflections. It feels - finally - as if a new era has begun. The strange interlude of 1989 - 2001, with its decadent post-Cold War extravaganzas from Lewinsky to Condit to the e-boom, is now suddenly washed away. We are reminded that history obviously hasn't ended; that freedom is never secure; that previous generations aren't the only ones to be called to defend the rare way of life that this country and a handful of others have achieved for a small fraction of world history. The boom is done with. Peace is over. The new war against the frenzied forces of what Nietzsche called ressentiment is just beginning. The one silver lining of this is that we may perhaps be shaken out of our self-indulgent preoccupations and be reminded of what really matters: our freedom, our security, our integrity as a democratic society. This means we must be vigilant not to let our civil liberties collapse under the understandable desire for action. To surrender to that temptation is part of what these killers want. And the other small sliver of consolation is that the constant American temptation to withdraw from the world, entertained these past few years by many, will perhaps now be stifled. We cannot withdraw; we cannot ignore. We live in a world where technology and hatred accelerate in ever-faster cycles, and in which isolation is not an option. Evil is still here. It begets evil. When you look at the delighted faces of Palestinians cheering in the streets, we have to realize that there are cultures on this planet of such depravity that understanding them is never fully possible. And empathy for them at such a moment is obscene. But we can observe and remember. There is always a tension between civilization and barbarism, and the barbarians are now here. The task in front of us to somehow stay civilized while not shrinking from the face of extinguishing - by sheer force if necessary - the forces that would eclipse us.
War began that day. We didn't choose it. But we are still waging it.

WAGE WAR: When you remember this thoroughly, you might still want to argue and debate about the accuracy of WMD intelligence in Iraq or the merits of the post-war reconstruction in Afghanistan or the nuances of U.N. and U.S. control in post-Saddam Iraq. Those kinds of fights are what democracies relish and do well. And it's equally true that anger is not an emotion that lasts. Human beings simply cannot live with that kind of fear or that kind of fury for very long. But we can still nurture what might be called the cold rage of reason: the calculated and calm recollection of what was done and what we can still do to prevent it again. And the key resolve I felt that day was not to let this act of war become in our minds an isolated occurrence, separate and apart from all the regimes that foster Islamo-fascism and seek to harm the West. In fighting back, we had to stop the defensiveness and ad hoc approach of the late twentieth century (both in the Clinton and early Bush administrations) and go on the offensive, tackle this nightmare at its roots, get our hands dirty, risk failure and aim for real success. That's the difference between police work and war. That's why the astonishingly humane wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are just the beginning of a long attempt to bring the Middle East out of the dark ages. Some are now arguing that there is a dimmer light at the end of this tunnel. They're wrong. We have accomplished a huge amount, both in weakening al Qaeda, destroying Saddam and bringing flickers of democracy and pluralism into a region long victimized by tyranny and theocracy. These are real achievements. They are the platform for the next phase: in building a free society in Iraq, toppling yet more tyranny in Iran, removing the Saudi dictatorship, and bringing some kind of settlement to Israel. We cannot disengage now. And standing still is to move backwards. Wars are dynamic; and we are in a war. Still. Two years later. With work to be done.
- 2:16:47 AM
 
SONTAG AWARD NOMINEE: "Biden says we must win the war. This is precisely wrong. The United States must learn to lose this war – a harder task, in many ways, than winning, for it requires admitting mistakes and relinquishing attractive fantasies. This is the true moral mission of our time (well, of the next few years, anyway)." - Jonathan Schell, saying out loud what many on the Left believe, and have long believed. Good that some of them are finally being more honest about their loathing of the West.

MORE REVISIONISM: Here's Harold Meyerson, another left-liberal who seems to have become unhinged by the Bush administration:
So much for American unilateralism. As our strategic doctrine of choice, unilateralism had a one-year run, from one Labor Day to the next. A year ago the administration announced we had both the right and the might to run the world free from the constraints of entangling alliances or multinational accords.
A year ago, in fact, the president went to the U.N. to bring that world body into a multilateral attempt to prevent terrorism. Does Meyerson remember nothing?

HOW THE FRENCH SEE 9/11: Another sick excuse for bashing the United States and free trade.
- 2:15:42 AM
 
POSEUR ALERT: "One you've never heard of. 'Jaspora' by Wyclef Jean." - Howard Dean, when asked what his favorite song was. Here are the lyrics, from the lead singer/rapper for the Fugees. Is this some sort of Jamaican slang? Can someone translate for me? It could be really interesting. I'm sure Joe Lieberman would love to find out what "Yo pa respekte Izrayèl" might mean.

BBC VERSUS THE JEWS: They never let up, do they? This report is even more biased than the Arab Times.
- 2:15:34 AM

Wednesday, September 10, 2003
 
SQUANDERING SYMPATHY? Thanks for your emails on the depressingly stale Fred Kaplan column in Slate. More to add. The notion that the Bushies were too arrogant - even though they went to the U.N. over Iraq and dealt multilaterally and with considerable patience in Afghanistan - comes down to something different. Some emailers said the Bush administration's mistake was to have made up its mind on Iraq before going to the U.N. Quelle horreur! Think about what this argument entails. What it argues is that when war has been declared on a country, when it cdredibly believes it is at risk from the nexus of WMDs and terrorism, it can only act if its friends (and envious rivals) agree. If that's Kaplan's view, he should say so more formally: that the U.S. can only conduct foreign policy if the French are part of the actual deliberation process. You think Paris would do the same for Washington? Second, a large part of the pro-American sentiment in the immediate wake of 9/11 was emotional, shallow and phony. Check out the irrepressible Fouad Ajami in Foreign Policy. He's particularly sharp about the most famous of all such sentiments: Le Monde's headline "Nous Sommes Tous Americains":
Much has been made of the sympathy that the French expressed for the United States immediately after the September 11 attacks, as embodied by the famous editorial of Le Monde's publisher Jean-Marie Colombani, "Nous Sommes Tous Américains" ("We are all Americans"). And much has been made of the speed with which the United States presumably squandered that sympathy in the months that followed. But even Colombani's column, written on so searing a day, was not the unalloyed message of sympathy suggested by the title. Even on that very day, Colombani wrote of the United States reaping the whirlwind of its "cynicism"; he recycled the hackneyed charge that Osama bin Laden had been created and nurtured by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Colombani quickly retracted what little sympathy he had expressed when, in December of 2001, he was back with an open letter to "our American friends" and soon thereafter with a short book, Tous Américains? le monde après le 11 septembre 2001 (All Americans? The World After September 11, 2001). By now the sympathy had drained, and the tone was one of belligerent judgment and disapproval. There was nothing to admire in Colombani's United States, which had run roughshod in the world and had been indifferent to the rule of law. Colombani described the U.S. republic as a fundamentalist Christian enterprise, its magistrates too deeply attached to the death penalty, its police cruel to its black population. A republic of this sort could not in good conscience undertake a campaign against Islamism. One can't, Colombani writes, battle the Taliban while trying to introduce prayers in one's own schools; one can't strive to reform Saudi Arabia while refusing to teach Darwinism in the schools of the Bible Belt; and one can't denounce the demands of the sharia (Islamic law) while refusing to outlaw the death penalty. Doubtless, he adds, the United States can't do battle with the Taliban before doing battle against the bigotry that ravages the depths of the United States itself. The United States had not squandered Colombani's sympathy; he never had that sympathy in the first place.
Just a little reality check. The French today do little intellectually but constantly circle the drain of complete ressentiment. They have no other guiding political philosophy but envy and regret. The notion that they would ever engage in a U.S.-led campaign against global terror (when they are close to the tyrants that spawn such terror and dedicated to the immiseration of Israel) is a presposterous fantasy. Far from being criticized for not being sympathetic to such opportunists and frauds, the Bush administration should be congratulated for trying to deal with them honestly at all.
- 2:56:20 PM
 
DEAN ON THE MIDDLE EAST: "Dean said he wouldn't withdraw any of the American troops now in Iraq. But, he said it was a mistake to go to war in Iraq, and Bush should have focused his energies on building democracy in the Middle East instead." And what does Dean think we're trying to do in Iraq? Does he think democracy could have been built with Saddam in power? Jeez.
- 3:08:40 AM
 
THE LATEST ANTI-BUSH SPIN: If there's one truly pathetic anti-war line being peddled right now, it is that the Bush administration tragically "blew" the world-wide sympathy for Americans in the wake of 9/11. How did they DO this? By allegedly refusing allied support in Afghanistan and Iraq, sidelining the U.N., acting all "unilateral," and ... well, you've probably listened to enough NPR to finish the sentence. Fred Kaplan in Slate lays it on with a trowel this week. After European sympathy two years ago, he claims,
the Bush administration brushed aside these supportive gestures — and that may loom as the greatest tragedy of Sept. 11, apart from the tolls taken by the attack itself.
Excuse me, but who exactly was excluded from helping us in Afghanistan? Or Iraq? Does Kaplan believe that Chirac and Schroder were just desperate to help America win the war on terror in Iraq and that if we'd been so much nicer they would have come around? Puh-lease. They cared more about their own petty prestige than about supporting the U.S. after the atrocities of two years ago. But then it's always America's fault, isn't it? Even when America has had war brought to its own cities and has the temerity to respond in kind. He goes on:
An American leader could have taken advantage of that moment and reached out to the world, forged new alliances, strengthened old ones, and laid the foundations of a new, broad-based system of international security for the post-Cold War era—much as Harry Truman and George Marshall had done in the months and years following World War II.
Blah blah blah. Does Kaplan mean that the administration didn't bend over backwards to win the support of, say, Pakistan? That it rejected peace-keepers and troops from many nations to help police Afghanistan? That it spurned British, Australian, Polish, Spanish, Italian support - militarily and diplomatically - in order to go it alone?

COME OFF IT: To put it bluntly, Kaplan's piece amounts to a series of wild stretches and utter fabrications. The U.S. did everything to win the support of as many countries as we could for a war which many, frankly, do not have the stomach to fight. And militarily speaking, there wasn't much the Big Europeans could have done anyway. Kaplan claims the Prague NATO summit wasn't deferent enough to the allies; and the U.S. should not have been so determined to go to war against Iraq. But he surely knows that deference to Germany and France would have meant one thing: no war. He surely knows that it was the French who scuttled any chance for a compromise on Iraq in the last days at the U.N. He knows that the Bush administration did everything it possibly could to bring the U.N. around. So how can he say the following:
Over the past couple of weeks, as the fighting persists in Baghdad, as the Taliban attempts a comeback in Afghanistan, as Saddam and Osama Bin Laden remain on the prowl—in short, as the light glows dimmer, the tunnel stretches longer, the budget piles higher, and the desert-swamp gets deeper—President Bush seems to have realized he took a wrong turn back at the 9/11 junction. He has been persuaded to go back to the much-loathed United Nations, for assistance and legitimacy... He has extended his hand a bit late in the game.
Almost a year ago this week, the president extended his hand to the U.N. Or doesn't that count? It makes you wish that the Bush of Kaplan's fevered imagination had simply ignored the U.N., gone into Iraq a few months after Afghanistan, given Saddam much less chance to prepare, and our rivals in Europe less of a chance to keep the terror-masters informed. At least then Bush would have deserved some of this now fashionable obloquy. But no good strategy goes un-attacked, does it? A useful lesson, this, about some foreign policy liberals. Ignore them: they'll attack you. Do what they want: they'll attack you anyway. If it means a grotesque distortion of history, so be it.
- 3:08:18 AM
 
INSTA-INSTA-INSTA-INSTA-PUNDIT: After over 32 separate entries and even more links in a single day over fourteen hours, Glenn Reynolds announces at 9.20 pm: "Sorry for the light blogging." I think that's a cry for help.
UPDATE: Between writing and posting this item, Glenn has added four more posts. Intervention, anyone?

BLAMING THE LAITY: Well, they tried blaming the homos. Now Cardinal Dulles goes after even alcoholics and gossips:
The immoral behavior of Catholics, both lay and clergy, is a cause of scandal and defections. Under this heading I would include not only sexual abuse of minors, which has been so extensively publicized in recent years, but sex outside of marriage, abortion, divorce, alcoholism, the use and marketing of drugs, domestic violence, defamation, and financial scandals such as falsification of records and embezzlement. The morality of Catholics all too often sinks below the standards commonly observed by Protestants and unbelievers.
Anything to distract from the real scandal, I guess. Dulles' proposals for reform of the Church amount entirely to greater obedience to Rome, subservience to ecclesiastical authority, maintenance of the existing structures, and penance from the laity. I.e. more power for him. Funny how that happens, doesn't it?
- 3:07:11 AM
 
ARNOLD AND GAYS: The left-wing gay groups and Stonewall Democrats are doing what they can to highlight the Terminator's use of the word "fag" in the past to paint him as a bigot. He's obviously nothing of the kind. The man was comfortable with gay men long before the culture was; he backs civil unions; he's loathed by the anti-gay religious right. Matt Welch nails it pretty convincingly here.

REPUBLICANS FOR DEAN: Extreme rhetoric, maybe, but legit. One Dennis Sanders runs the site. He's so far out there he's barely a Republican, but, hey, I'm for a big tent, aren't I? Still, what's a Republican doing writing for TomPaine.com?

CONASON ON SULLIVAN: He errs, alas. Are you as tired as I am of these hysterical partisan screeds? Given the best-seller lists, I guess I'm the exception rather than the rule.

EMAIL OF THE DAY: "To me the real lesson of September 11 is something that came out almost immediately - that the reason our airport security failed was because it was oriented toward detecting dangerous objects rather than dangerous people. Muhammad Atta and company were able to pierce our defenses because they had no "weapons". But they didn't need any - THEY were the weapons. Now apply that lesson to the broader world. Possession of dangerous objects (WMD's) by Iraq was not what made Iraq dangerous - a lot of countries have WMD's. What made Iraq dangerous was the dangerous person - Saddam Hussein - who ruled it. Saddam had definitely possessed WMD's in the past, had definitely used them in the past, had attacked his neighbors without provocation in the past, was implacably hostile to the U.S., and friendly to terrorists and terrorism in general. Some evidence (inconclusive) indicated he might have a relationship with al-Qaeda. But most of these Middle Eastern terrorist groups have common or compatible goals, and formal and informal channels of communication. Saddam didn't need to be tied directly and irrefutably to al-Qaeda to make him dangerous to the U.S."
- 3:06:38 AM

Tuesday, September 09, 2003
 
REPUBLICANS FOR DEAN?: I saw this coming, didn't I? Howie Kurtz buys into it today. But a close look reveals this site to be mighty suspicious. It's full of far-left rhetoric, extremist Bush-hating, and generally lacks any real conservative or Republican philosophy. It calls the Bush administration a "failed regime." If these guys are real Republicans, I'm a hetero. Someone should check who's really behind this site.

BEEB-WATCH: Another media meme pioneered in part on this site. Good for the Telegraph.

RECOGNIZING IRAQ: File under "slow but measurable progress."

WHAT EVIL? Disturbing last sentence in this story from the Washington Times. Hard-right Catholics were yesterday busy lobbying the hierarchy to retain vigilance against any Catholics who dissent from some of the Church's teachings. Fair enough for this group, I guess. But then we get this quote from Robbie George, Princeton's leading proponent of "natural law" theology:
These bishops showed "no resistance," Mr. George said, to conservatives' pleas to "call the evil by name" in terms of the clergy's sexual-abuse crisis.
What does he mean? I think we know. The oly way to deflect attention away from the Church's responsibility for these abuses is to find an "other" that is really responsible. The medieval campaign to elide all distinctions between gay people and child-abusers is now back in full swing. How full of the spirit of Jesus, no?
- 3:46:26 PM
 
CONTRA SALETAN: My friend Will Saletan rails against the Bush "flypaper" speech in Slate. Will is no starry-eyed liberal or anti-American lefty. But I still think he's wrong, for a couple of reasons. First off, he argues that Bush's case for fighting in Iraq - it's part of the war on terror - is phony. Why? Because Iraq had no more connections to international terrorism pre-9/11 than, say, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Syria. But the point about Iraq was not that it was uniquely involved in terrorism, but that it was far more doable than any of the others. It was already in violation of umpteen international resolutions; no one could defend the regime (which was more brutal even than its neighbors); and the WMD issue was a real worry (one that has turned out in retrospect to be far less scary than we were led to believe). So, in the context of a truly aggressive war on terror, we went after the Saddam dictatorship first. We had to start somewhere. Sitting back, doing intermittent global police-work, playing legal niceties with terrorists, schmoozing with the French - all this, after 9/11, would have been a loud signal to the terror-masters that we were weak and worth going after even more. Will then says that we should have handed Iraq over immediately to the French after the war:
Having done the part of the job others refused to do — ousting Saddam — we should return the rest of the job to the Security Council. That means surrendering authority as well as responsibility...
Gee. And you think today's chaos is bad? How about one eighth of the armed forces, a U.N. authority that had long protected Saddam, allies that bankrolled the Baathist dictatorship calling the shots, and on and on? Will cannot be serious, can he? Does he remember the joys of U.N. control in Bosnia? Saletan then tackles the post hoc, propter hoc notion that tyranny begets terror and therefore we have to counter tyranny. Such a notion, Saletan argues,
justifies any war in which, as a result of our actions, terrorists attack our troops. Imagine an invasion of Cuba, whose dictator has long rankled Bush and would be easier to topple than Saddam was. No doubt al-Qaida and other terrorist groups would send agents to try to kill the occupying troops. Bush could then defend the occupation as part of the "war on terror." The second argument is equally fraught with implications. Yes, tyranny breeds terrorism. But if the "war on terror" requires us to overthrow tyrants just because they're tyrants, we'll be at war for the rest of your life.
Wrong again. Cuba - now that its Soviet sponsor has collapsed - cannot be seen as in any way as big a threat as the nexus of Islamist terror-tyrannies in the Middle East. And the terrorists now flocking to Iraq are not doing so as some sort of opportunity. They are doing so because they understand what a huge blow a stable and democratic Arab country would be to their ideology and power. Al Qaeda has to fight back in Iraq or they will lose even more thoroughly than they are losing now. So what are we waiting for? I hate to break it to Will but we have indeed been at war against tyranny for most of our lives. We thought we were at peace in the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviets, but we now know that our new enemies were preparing and waging war, supported, as always, by the tyrannies that spawn and protect them. There is, in fact, no such thing as peace - merely arrested conflict, and the wars that arise when democracies get complacent. After 9/11, I'm amazed anyone could now advocate such complacency and withdrawal. But they still are.
- 3:58:54 AM
 
EVEN NPR COMES AROUND: Yep, even their ombudsman cannot manage to defend the BBC's "sexed-up" reporting about the Blair Iraq dossier. No sense that he gets that it was ideological liberal bias that was behind the black eye, of course. Bias? Nous? But at least we get this concession:
While many journalists around the world are quickly rallying around the BBC as an example of a grand old institution that remains the gold standard for all, this incident has unnerved many in the public broadcasting community -- certainly in North America. Some colleagues have said that it shows that investigative journalism will always fail against a government or an industry with superior resources. Others say that the BBC was right to go after the Blair government. But by not being cautious enough, the BBC bungled it and brought the institution into disrepute. But the BBC, like The New York Times in the Jayson Blair scandal, may have succumbed to hubris and to the self-inflicted delusion that since it is the BBC (or The New York Times), it may allow itself to cut corners. This is an arrogant delusion and one that may have ill-served the BBC's listeners while emboldening the BBC's political enemies on Fleet Street and in Parliament.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: privatize the BBC.

WHAT BUSH SAID: "You falsely claim that Bush "gave the impression the war was over" by his landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln. I guess, like the carrier's namesake said, the world has little noted what he said there. Here's a segment:
We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated.
We are helping to rebuild Iraq where the dictator built palaces for himself instead of hospitals and schools.
And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by and for the Iraqi people.
The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done and then we will leave and we will leave behind a free Iraq.
By any historical standards, the 70 or so combat deaths in the four months since that speech is small (insert mandatory disclaimer that each death is a tragedy, etc.). It is tantamount to hysteria to claim at this point that this effort is failing, or that these deaths are excessive and out of line with expectations. I expected more than have died thus far in the ENTIRE WAR to have died in the first week. Didn't everybody?" - more insight on the Letters Page, newly updated by Reihan Salam.
- 3:57:12 AM
 
THE CHRISTIAN LEFT: What happens when a fundamentalist Christian wants to keep an idolatrous rock in the courthouse? Wall-to-wall coverage. What happens when a fundamentalist Christian uses the Gospels to advocate redistributing income from rich to poor? No-one bothers to write about it. Gregg Easterbrook has a point. And a new blog too. Welcome, Gregg.

KEYNESIAN BUSH: A decent defense of the president's economic policies - so far. I agree that circumstances merited some increase in debt; that the tax cuts so far are no big deal; and that some spending increases might be justified on Keynesian grounds. I think Bush has engineered about as rosy an employment situation as possible for his re-election. The real issue is the long-term outlook. On that, the prognosis is horrifying; and the president doesn't seem to mind.

HYSTERICAL KURTZ: Culture warrior Stanley Kurtz is all exercized by the fact that a hearing that reviewed the Defense of Marriage Act didn't get much publicity. He fails to mention that only one Republican senator bothered to attend the entire proceeding; another one dropped by for a few minutes. The key question is: if even Republicans cannot be bothered to show up, why should the media cover it? This was a sop to the base. They got the message. So did the press.
- 3:56:21 AM

Monday, September 08, 2003
 
WHY I'M STILL IN PTOWN: Words fail me. But this is where I was yesterday afternoon.

Beach Day

- 9:37:03 PM
 
FLYPAPER: The strategy came out of the closet last night. My take opposite.

MAGDALENE, AGAIN: I should add, I suppose, that the Church in which I grew up - mercifully post Vatican II - never demonstrated cruelty, barbarity or abuse, at least in my experience. Part of my anger - and I'd say that of many fellow Catholics - is due to our own dismay at our naivete and ignorance, helped in part by the deference that was second nature to us. And it's important to note that the evils that we are now discovering are the sins of men and women, not of the faith itself. Here's a more critical review of the movie. I disagree with it in some respects - I do think that Geraldine McEwen, for example, showed precisely how a nun came to choose brutality, rather than simply demonstrate it. On another angle, this letter to the Irish Times last Friday shows how this slave labor was also a way to enrich the Church financially:
It is also interesting to consider the unfair trading situation which pertained for most of that time. Ordinary commercial laundries throughout Ireland paid their largely female workforce the going rate of pay, and published annual accounts which were filed in the Companies Office. But they had to compete with Magdalen laundries run on slave labour which, as registered charities, had accounts closed to public inspection. And for those charities that may also have been limited companies, a special section of Irish company law allowed religious orders to file their annual audits at the Companies Office without any disclosure of turnover, profits or capital assets. This special exemption is still in place and used by a number of RC organisations.
Much has been made of the selfless devotion of the individual nuns who worked in these institutions, but even they would surely admit that they did so voluntarily as part of their religious vocation and could have left at any time, unlike the unfortunate women who ended up in their care. It was a sickening final insult that the High Park nuns, having sold the land for a considerable fortune, did not even grant these women individual graves: they were institutionalised even in death.
We can only speculate on what happened to the accumulated profits generated by these businesses, but one can be reasonably certain that the canny and able administrator nuns invested in buildings and land.
Perhaps some of it will now be used to compensate the hundreds and thousands of children abused and destroyed by the church hierarchy for so long.
- 3:20:45 PM
 
DEAN AND DEFICITS: It may be a con. But when Stephen Moore and the Cato Institute can be wowed by Howard Dean's claims to fiscal conservatism, you know that Bush is vulnerable. Rove doesn't care about deficits and doesn't care about debt. Voters should, do and will. Money quote:
The word Vermonters use most often to describe Dean is "frugal." Coming into office amidst the early 1990s recession, he cut formerly sacrosanct welfare spending to keep the state out of debt. The Cato analysis shows that during Dean's first four years in office, Vermont's budget grew much more slowly than other states'. He cut income tax rates across the board (much as President Bush did). Although he raised overall business taxes, he approved millions of dollars' worth of incentives to lure smoke stacks back into the Green Mountain State. It was during these early years that the head of the state's powerful Progressive party called him "a very right-wing Democrat." And during a time when President Bush has been piling up mountains of debt in Washington and 47 governors face record budget deficits of their own, Dean admirably left Vermont with a $10.4 million surplus when he left office this past January--which would certainly be one of his trump cards against Bush. If Dean were ever elected president, I'm convinced he would be monomaniacal about balancing the budget--though certainly not in ways that would please conservatives.
Moore is right. But how does Bush begin to rein in his profilgacy now?
- 2:43:51 PM
 
BAATHIST BROADCASTING CORPORATION I: The Scotsman has the goods on how the BBC hack deliberately misled Parliament.

BAATHIST BROADCASTING CORPORATION II: "Saddam must be gloating in his hiding place over the irony that the United States, which toppled him in the name of fighting terror, has now had to concede that Iraq has become a 'battlefield' in the war on terror - a magnet for Muslim militants who want to wage war on America." - Caroline Hawley, BBC's Baghdad correspondent, spinning for the Baathists.
- 2:42:03 PM
 
INSTA-PUNDIT: It was a good speech, well delivered. The only unnerving feeling I got was when the president said he didn't want or need more U.S. troops. I remain unconvinced - but, hey, I'm open to persuasion. Max Boot says we need more civilians instead. Fine. Let's have more civilians. But we need to be told exactly what the problem is and how we're going to fix it. The president didn't exactly do that. What he did do was lay out the broad objectives of the war on terror, explain better how Iraq is a central part of it, and with a request for $87 billion, showed that he means business. That was overdue and refreshing. Again, the speech would have seemed far less defensive if Bush hadn't given the impression months ago that the war was over. If there's been some public wobbling, I think it's partly because of post-war hubris by the administration itself. But I think the White House understands that now. Critics will say that the Iraq-terror connection, brutally outlined in the Washington Post yesterday, is a result of the war and didn't exist beforehand. They're wrong. The links between Baathist remnants and al Qaeda are obviously stronger now than the links between al Qaeda and the Saddam regime a year ago - but they all always had a common goal: the prevention of the liberalization of the Arab world and the defeat of Western interests through terror, both state-sponsored and otherwise. We've flushed them out but we haven't yet destroyed them. Now we have a chance to go in for the kill. If Bush can successfully persuade people that violence in Iraq is a) unavoidable and b) an opportunity, then he will be far more persuasive in the coming months. And we all need him to be.

- 2:39:33 AM
 
THE SUCCESS WE FORGET: Here's a lefty terror expert on a liberal website, describing the Bush administration's global campaign against al Qaeda:
You can either have Al-Qaeda as this small group I'm talking about, this hardcore around bin Laden, that evolved very late on in the development of modern Islamic militancy, and to my mind has now disappeared. Since 2001, I would say that their role in what is happening today, or their role in the threats and various bombs there have been, is negligible. Bin Laden is peripheral. His practical ability to commission or organize terror has been minimized. Many of those operatives who were drawn to him in the late 1990s have been killed or imprisoned. Others have had their efficiency vastly curtailed by the hugely enhanced monitoring by various secret services and cooperation between security authorities. So the hardcore Al-Qaeda…defined in that narrow sense, is over effectively as a really powerful force in modern Islamic militancy.
He doesn't argue that the terrorist threat is over, just that its more organized and deadly forms have been stymied. And here's another piece that puts together more of the good work the government is doing to combat terrorism across the globe. Useful and necessary perspective.
- 2:37:34 AM
 
THE ANTIDOTE: "Sports Eye for the Gay Guy." Read the whole week's strip. The boyfriend ("The Cubs are in first place! The Cubs are in first place!") will doubtless be offended at the notion that all gay guys are clueless about sports. Just me, dude. Just me. And a few million others.
- 2:36:42 AM
 
SONTAG AWARD NOMINEE: "Was this inaction simply the result of key people disregarding, or being ignorant of, the evidence? Or could US air security operations have been deliberately stood down on September 11? If so, why, and on whose authority? The former US federal crimes prosecutor, John Loftus, has said: 'The information provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so extensive that it is no longer possible for either the CIA or FBI to assert a defence of incompetence.' ... The conclusion of all this analysis must surely be that the "global war on terrorism" has the hallmarks of a political myth propagated to pave the way for a wholly different agenda - the US goal of world hegemony, built around securing by force command over the oil supplies required to drive the whole project." - Michael Meacher, Blairite minister from 1997 - 2001, reiterating the kookiest conspiracy theories about how the U.S. engineered the massacre of 3,000 innocents. Meacher is not a fringe figure - he was a senior member of Blair's government until recently. And you wonder why Blair is beleaguered.
- 2:36:03 AM
 
MORE MOORE LIES: Just a revealing throw-away, caught by blogger, Anthony Cox. As an afterword to his predictably inane ramblings on his website, Michael Moore links to a story he describes thus: "And sadly, an 11 year old British anti-war activist takes his own life after being tormented in school for his views." The piece he cites argues no such thing. If anything, this bullied and probably gay kid in Britain, who killed himself at 11, found some solace in his "anti-war" campaigning. Will Moore use even a completely unrelated, dead 11-year old to advance his bile? You bet he will.
- 2:34:51 AM
 
THE MAGDALENE SISTERS: If you're wrestling with whether to remain a Catholic any more, then you probably shouldn't go see "The Magdalene Sisters." It's a gut-wrenching account of how the Irish Catholic church policed sexual morals in the last century in part by removing up to 30,000 "errant" young women - with the consent of their families - into penitential workhouses. Young girls could be sent away for flirting or getting pregnant or, in some cases, even getting raped - in a "Christian" version of the misogeny and sexual repression of fundamentalist Islam. It's a simply horrifying tale - and, so far as I have been able to research, completely true. What you see is how the Gospels have been turned by some into a mechanism not of liberation and love but of social control and sexual panic. The brilliance of the movie is in showing how this system of extirpating human pleasure is perpetuated by those already victimized. In these Catholic gulags, women who themselves have internalized the idea that all sex is evil proceed to impose that system on girls and women with a brutality made all the more intense by their own misery. The cruelty enacted by those in the name of Jesus, the folly of attempting to extinguish the simplest sexual and emotional needs of the human heart: here you see it all. It resonated for me partly because part of my own family came from exactly that Irish-Catholic atmosphere. Women especially were inculcated with sexual self-hatred, traumatized in many cases by the prospect of eternal damnation if they so much as expressed interest in boys or men. (My mother was disciplined severely once at school for shining her shoes too brightly. Boys might be able to see reflections of what was up her skirt! My grandmother - one of thirteen dirt-poor kids, who eventually found work as a servant for priests - viewed all sex with a mixture of horror and disgust.) And all the while, of course, many of the men who controlled the institution were raping boys and girls with abandon and impunity. How is it possible to describe an institution constructed in this fashion as anything but fundamentally sick? Or, dare I say it, "objectively disordered?"
- 2:31:21 AM

Sunday, September 07, 2003
 
FLYPAPER - IT'S WORKING: Fascinating new details on how closely linked the war in Iraq is to the war against al Qaeda:
The al Qaeda network is determined to open a new front in Iraq to sustain itself as the vanguard of radical Islamic groups fighting holy war, according to European, American and Arab intelligence sources. The turn toward Iraq was made in February, as U.S. forces were preparing to attack, the sources said. Two seasoned operatives met at a safe house in eastern Iran. One of them was Mohammed Ibrahim Makawi, the military chief of al Qaeda, who is better known as Saif Adel. He welcomed a guest, Abu Musab Zarqawi, who had recently fled Iraq's Kurdish northern region in anticipation of the U.S. targeting of a radical group with which he was affiliated, Arab intelligence sources said. The encounter resulted in the dispatch of Zarqawi to become al Qaeda's man in Iraq, opening a new chapter in the history of the group and a serious threat to American forces there. "The monster is already near you," said one Arab official who is familiar with the intelligence and who spoke on condition that he not be identified by name or nationality. "I don't know if you can kill it." The official added: "Iraq is the new battleground. It is the perfect place. It will be the perfect place."
If this pans out, then the Bush administration really will have pulled off something important: taken the war to the enemy, taken it out of the West, and given us a chance for military victory. What Bush must tell us tonight is that the war in Iraq, far from having ended, is now entering its most critical phase. That's why we need more troops, more resources and more focus. Now.
- 3:47:07 PM


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