Saturday, November 30, 2002

Deacon, I think there is a close relationship between the two stories you've just posted on. It seems to me that, viewing the war in a broad context, the Administration is guided by two basic principles: first, we cannot make war on the entire Arab world, let alone the entire Muslim world, simultaneously. If the war becomes Us vs. the Muslims (or the Arabs) it will be immeasurably harder to win. Second, no matter how successful we are in suppressing the immediate terrorist threats, the world cannot have peace in the long term unless Islam is reformed. I think these two principles--both clearly correct, in my opinion--influence everything the Administration does in the war.

I certainly do not believe that Islam is, at present, a religion of peace. On the contrary, I think it has been the source of much violence. But it is important, maybe essential, for our future security that Islam become a religion of peace, like Christianity and Judaism. So when President Bush keeps talking about Islam being peaceful, it is not because he is too dumb to notice that it is not peaceful at present, nor is it because he wants to be our theologian in chief. It is because he recognizes that we must do all we can to encourage the reform of Islam, and toward that end, the official position of our government must be that, in its essence, the Islamic faith is peaceful--even though the "real," peaceful Islam may not yet exist. So, as a matter of descriptive accuracy, I agree that Islam is not now a religion of peace; but as a matter of government policy, I think President Bush is right in taking the position that it is in essence, and must become in practice, a religion of peace.

Likewise, everyone knows that the Saudis are the prime financers of Wahhabism and terrorism; so why continue to pretend that they are our friends? Because we cannot fight the entire Arab world at once. We must prioritize our targets, and begin by destroying those who are most dangerous to us. We must also take the position that various Arab countries are our friends, no matter how suspicious of them we may be. The Saudis pose no independent threat; they support terrorists because they are being blackmailed. Unlike Iraq, they will never use weapons of mass destruction to shelter terrorists. So they can wait. Once al Qaeda has been destroyed and the Iraqi and Iranian regimes have been deposed, what happens in Saudi Arabia will be more or less irrelevant. In all likelihood the Saudi royal family will be overthrown, but either way, events in Saudi Arabia will not compromise our security.

What these two issues have in common is that it is not the job of the President to go around accurately describing the world. That is the job of a pundit. The President's job is to use all the means at his command to pursue objectives that will assure the country's security. If it furthers those objectives to take the position that Islam is a religion of peace, or to assure the Saudis that we value their friendship, so be it.
Here, courtesy of FrontPage Magazine, is a story from World Tribune.com about how the Saudis are still sending tens of millions of dollars to Al Qaeda. According to this article, the CIA has tracked the flow of funds from 12 Saudi businessmen into Al Qaeda and has provided the names to the Saudi government. However, the Kingdom took no action.
The Washington Post seems to take pleasure in reporting that "President Bush finds himself in a rare disagreement with conservatives in his party over his efforts to portray Islam as a peaceful religion that is not responsible for anti-American terrorism." Perhaps we can find a middle ground here. President Bush may have had good reason to make conciliatory statements about Islam in the past. But it seems to me he has made enough of them. Pat Robertson is right -- "Bush is not elected as theologian in chief." Perhaps it is time for him to stop opining on whether, or to what extent, is a peaceful religion. As to the merits of the case, I concur with the comments of Norman Podhoretz that appear at the end of the article.
I did not know until moments ago that Mark Steyn has a website: Steyn Online. Steyn has to be the world's most prolific, and funniest, political commentator. (Minnesota's Unfunny Humorist should take a lesson from him.) Check out Steyn Online.
I spent some time this morning cruising my usual news sources, but it's a pretty slow day. So rather than post on anything in particular, I want to recommend that you read Tim Blair. Tim is one of the best of the bloggers and is one of the leaders of the good fight in Australia. Check him out; he begins today by deconstructing the ravings of an Australian lefty. Funny how hard it is to tell their lefties from ours.
I know what you mean, Trunk. It drives you and I both nuts.
The Weekly Standard out this morning has a fascinating report by Stephen Hayes from the front lines of the Landrieu-Terrell race: "The Battle of New Orleans." The article contains a couple extremely harsh quotes from Terrell and her campaign attacking Landrieu. Hayes asks Terrell about each one, and she sounds remarkably reasonable and undefensive.

With respect to the publicized remark she made, in the course of a televised debate, about Landrieu's abandonment of her faith, for example, Terrell says: "Maybe it's an inappropriate comment. I don't know. But as a practicing Catholic, I just don't understand how she can reconcile being a Catholic with her support for federal funding of abortions on overseas military bases, or with distributing morning-after pills in school."

With respect to a fire-up-the-troops statement by one of her supporters suggesting that the race pitted the "righteous" versus the "wicked," Terrell says: "Well, you know, people have the right to characterize how they see it. There are major differences between Mary and I, big philosophical differences. I think people see things based on their own philosophies and their own view of life. I say what I believe, and even if people disagree with my philosophy, I think the voters know I'll work hard to promote Louisiana and Louisiana values."

My only quarrel with Terrell is her failure to use the objective form of the first-person pronoun, a kind of educated illiteracy that drives me nuts. In all other respects I think God's on her side.
Who the heck is Amir Taheri? All I can tell you is that he is the author of one brilliant column in today's National Post: "France must choose sides." (Another one we would have missed but for our friends at RealClearPolitics.)
The Jerusalem Post's editorial reflection on Thursday's attacks is a model of civilized deliberation: "Two attacks on freedom." (Courtesy of our friends at RealClearPolitics.) It would be piling on to ask you to compare and contrast it with the Star Tribune editorial on Tyesha Edwards' murder, but that is your assignment for today.
Mark Steyn's most recent National Post column coincided with Thanksgiving and we somehow missed it. But we wanted to see what he had to say about Morongate, and he didn't let us down: "All the Liberals have to offer are loose lips." Need I say that it is outstanding? (Thanks to the chairman of the Claremont Institute for the tip.)
Soul music fans of my age are familiar with Johnnie Taylor (not to be confused with Little Johnny Taylor), "the philosopher of soul." He was the artist who sang 1968's chart-topping rhythm-and-blues smash "Who's Making Love." But far and away his biggest success was 1976's across-the-board number one "Disco Lady," the first single ever certified platinum (which at the time meant sales of over two-million copies). (Thanks to the All Music Guide entry on JT for refreshing my recollection.)

Not to be confused with the wonderful Johnnie Taylor (or Little Johnny Taylor) is the convicted mass murderer John Taylor who shot up the Wendy's in New York City. This morning's New York Post carries William Tucker's irrefutable column on the wisdom of putting him to death: "Johnny Taylor should die."
Rocket Man, those of our readers who do not actually read the Star Tribune editorial you write about can have no idea how much pain you endured on their behalf. For myself, I thank you for withstanding the pain necessary both to read and to make sense of what the editorial is saying. I can't get much beyond the editorial's self-parody of liberal nostrums; you make much more sense of it than I could have.

But it is worth our attention. In 500 words the editorial distills the essence of nonsense that has brought Minneapolis to the verge of ruin. The Star Tribune editorial board has deliberated on the murder of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards and suggests the road to recovery begins with a viewing of "Bowling for Columbine." Amazing!

Friday, November 29, 2002

Many of you have read the Trunk's brilliant column on the recent murder of an 11-year-old girl by Minneapolis gangsters, "The Silence of the Liberals." Tomorrow morning, the Minneapolis Star Tribune weighs in with an editorial on the same topic. The editorial starts relatively well, but predictably veers leftward. In the Strib's view, the gangsters are apparently the real victims:

"But what next? How to prevent some of Tyesha's classmates from turning into those sullen young men standing around street corners with no jobs except selling drugs, with no greater ambition than to shoot guns at rival gangsters in a kind of nihilistic child's play?"

How indeed? The average citizen would no doubt assign law enforcement a prominent role in preventing young men from "shooting guns at rival gangsters." Law enforcement, however, is never mentioned by the Strib. Instead, the newspaper blames Tyesha's murder on......Ronald Reagan. You think I'm kidding?

"Minneapolis citizens, from City Hall to the kitchen table, must resolve that the downward spiral of the 1980's will not resume, that the heroic and successful work of rebuilding Powderhorn and other inner-city neighborhoods will continue."

This verges on the mind-boggling. The murder victim was not even born in the 1980's, and it is not clear what this reference is supposed to mean. In the last twenty years, it would be hard to think of a single Minneapolis politician who been elected without the Star-Trib's endorsement. The city's government has been exclusively in the hands of liberal Democrats throughout that time. City, county, state and federal spending on social programs has increased steadily. So what on earth is the Strib tallking about?

Of course, Minneapolis has experienced a "downward spiral" since the 1980's. The downward spiral has involved a welfare/crime explosion and has been the direct result of Minnesota's decisions to 1) pay far higher welfare benefits than surrounding states, and 2) refrain from punishing criminal activity wherever possible. These decisions have resulted in a rapid influx of welfare recipients and criminals (typically, the boyfriends of welfare recipients)--a fact which every resident of Minneapolis knows, but which the Strib never hints at.

But the Strib isn't quite done. It also suggests that :

"Another constructive step would be to visit the Lagoon Theater in Uptown Minneapolis or the Southdale Center in Edina to see Michael Moore's powerful documentary film 'Bowling for Columbine.' Whether or not you like Moore's slant on politics, and despite his rather loose way of dealing with fact, the film overall is a gripping indictment of the fear and paranoia that produced and sustain America's gun culture."

Even the Strib recognizes that Moore is a liar. But never mind, see his movie anyway. It's against guns. Of course, the gangsters who murdered Tyesha weren't "fearful" or "paranoid." Those terms would describe the law-abiding citizens who cower indoors to avoid the gangs. (That didn't save Tyesha; she was shot inside her own home.) The gangsters are loose and confident, secure in the knowledge that Minneapolis' civic authorities are--if not precisely on their side--certainly not anxious to do anything that would interfere with their fun.

Fortunately, the Minneapolis Police Department--which knows perfectly well who the gangsters are--arrested the murderers before policemen had an opportunity to read the Strib's editorial. Otherwise, they might have been watching "Bowling for Columbine" instead of checking their own arrest warrants, which, coincidentally no doubt, included two of the murderers.
I am delighted to find a column that expresses my own total disdain for the United Nations, not in some crackpot publication, but in the New York Post, an organ that is within shouting distance of the mainstream press. Andrea Peyser's column "How Dare the UN Ask Us For Money" is terrific.

Great quote: "Next month, the 191-nation General Assembly, which held 'debates' - their word - on terror after the 9/11 attacks, will formally approve its request for the [$1.3 billion] loan [to renovate the UN's New York headquarters]. So when the United Nations comes begging, I hope officials, here and in Washington, do the right thing: Dump the United Nations in the river."
I think Fox tilts conservative even in its regular news shows. I don't watch enough news on the liberal networks provide a fully informed comparison between the Fox tilt and that of those networks. My sense is that the "tilt quotient" is about the same, but that the other networks put on a veneer of fake objectivity that Fox is less inclined to bother with. Referring back to Rocket Man's initial observation as to why Gore and Daschle have lashed out at the media, I think an additional motive may be to reduce the influence of Fox. I suspect that, unlike the Washington Times and many of the conservatives on the radio, Fox has a strong following among "swing" voters and moderates. They probably find it more interesting and entertaining than the news on other networks and don't feel it is any more biased. It is important for liberals to overcome that perception, and I suspect they are trying to do so by associating Fox with Limbaugh and the Washington Times.
I think Fox is balanced, but then I'm a conservative. The main people at Fox are conservatives--Brit Hume, Tony Snow, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly (admittedly, more a populist than a conservative). I think Fox tilts subtly to the right, much as CBS tilts to the left due to the fact that pretty much everyone there is a liberal.
Update: This is the Norm Coleman billboard in St. Paul that was defaced Wednesday night. See our post below.
Am I alone in thinking Fox News is actually fair and balanced? I think the distinction between it and the other outlets is that it not only holds itself out as being so, but actually is.
Good theory, Rocket Man. I suppose that, from the standpoint of Time, CBS, and some newspapers., the risk in taking off the gloves is that they will lose readers/viewers. I don't think the liberal base as a whole is interested enough in the news to sustain these media outlets in the style to which they have become accustomed, if they move to the left. They've already gone about as far as they can go. The Washington Post, I think, is an exception, but the Post seems pretty comfortable with where it is, being taken seriously by all of the players here in Washington. As to the networks, there may be room for one of them to move left. When I was more naive, I half expected one of the then-big three networks to start offering objective to mildly right-of-center news because it would have been such an obviously shrewd move. It never happened, and Fox exploited the vacuum. Right now, if one of the networks moved fairly hard left, it might find a niche (although not as cushy as the one Fox has) and could perhaps differentiate itself nicely from the other two networks (actually, for all the attention I pay to network news these days this might already be happening). But the underlying problem for the liberals won't disappear. Their constituents can't really sustain their media heroes. Just ask Phil Donahue. And, in the current war climate, their media heroes have great difficulty appearing heroic.
There has been a lot of head-scratching over what Tom Daschle, Al Gore, Paul Krugman and others have been trying to achieve with their attacks on "right-wing media bias" as exemplified by Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and the Washington Times. I actually don't think it's too mysterious. For years, Republicans have attacked the obvious liberal bias of the mainstream media, with great success. Organizations like the Media Research Center track and expose the left-wing orientation of the network news shows and other news outlets; writers like Bernard Goldberg have achieved best-seller status with books like Bias; and, most important, lively alternative media have developed to fill the vacuum left by the mainstream newspapers, magazines and television networks, all of which are liberal. First, conservative magazines like National Review and others sprang up. While far smaller in circulation than Time, Newsweek, and so on, they are much sharper in their analysis and have had an impact far beyond their circulation numbers. Next, talk radio developed. Once the medium was liberated by the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, conservatives came to dominate talk radio, which became an essential source of strength for Republican and conservative candidates. This was memorialized in 1994 when the newly-elected Republican House majority gave Rush Limbaugh a present--I think it was a gavel--that said, "Majority Maker." More recently, the internet became another source of conservative strength. With zero barriers to entry, liberal websites and blogs are welcome, but are gratifyingly few in number and popularity. Finally, Fox News came along to challenge the hegemony of the liberal networks; see my post below on Fox's increasing domination of the cable news market.

How does this relate to the attacks by Daschle et al. on "right-wing bias?" Are they trying to intimidate or influence all of these conservative news sources? Of course not. The Democrats understand that their monopoly on the news is gone and isn't coming back. What frustrates them is that "our" news sources are aggressive and openly partisan, while "their" news sources--the mainstream media--are shackled by their pretense of objectivity. It frustrates the Democrats that they don't get full value from their control over networks like CBS, magazines like Time, and newspapers like the Washington Post, because those sources are not as aggressively liberal as Fox News, the Washington Times and Rush Limbaugh are conservative. (There are, of course, aggressively left-wing journals like Nation, but no one reads them.) So I think the Democrats' real purpose here is to encourage "their" media to take the gloves off and become more openly liberal, following the model of the New York Times. If that happens, the Democrats believe their dominant media position will be restored. That's my theory, anyway.
Coincidentally, we blogged on the danger posed by shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons a few days ago. The New York Times has more on this threat. I really don't understand how the terrorists managed to miss the Israeli airliner yesterday, given the reported ease of hitting large, hot, slow-moving commercial airplanes on take-off or landing.
Mark Steyn in Jewish World Review is also less than sanguine about our progress in the war against Islamofascism. Steyn complains, for example, that the war against Iraq "keeps getting deferred, to the point where it's beginning to look like the Bush version of the Soviets' endlessly rolled-over Five Year Plans." He concludes with this wish: "Next, Ramadan, when the traditional calls for a bombing pause are issued, let's hope there's some bombing to pause."
This Jerusalem Post editorial on yesterday's terrorist attacks is an interesting counterpoint to the optimistic piece by Tim Hames in the London Times that Deacon linked to earlier today.
The Washington Post has a good article on the Paradise Hotel bombing, from the perspective of the Kenyans who worked there. Their admiration for the hotel's owner, an Israeli, is touching.
The hate campaign against newly-elected Republican Senator Norm Coleman continues. I have a feeling this could get very ugly; Garrison Keillor may have been only the beginning.
No wonder Al Gore and Tom Daschle are so anxious to bring down Fox News, along with other independent news sources. The latest Nielsen ratings show Fox as the number one prime-time cable network. Fox's prime-time viewership is up 17% over a year ago, while the Democrats' network, CNN, is down 31% and MSNBC is down 43%. Fox now has four of the five top-rated cable news shows, with O'Reilly and Hannity & Colmes ranking first and second.
Diana West of the Washington Times on attempts to describe Thanksgiving "as a time when families get together to celebrate their traditions and their heritage."
Don't miss Frank Schaeffer's "Thanking Our Troops" from the current Frontpage.
City Pages is a Minneapolis-based "alternative weekly" like the Boston Phoenix. A reader has kindly sent us a piece from the current issue on the Star Tribune's Minnesota Poll: "Poll Axed." (The reader, going under the nom de cyber "Lawdog" that he he earned in the Army's JAG Corps, turns out to be my colleague Peter Swanson, whom we thank for the tip.) The piece itself is completely clueless, but it's worth taking a look at to see what Rob Daves, the Minnesota Poll's director, has to say following the election in which his poll seemed to perform particularly poorly.

According to Daves, he did a fine job during the recent election season, including his final pre-election poll that showed Mondale leading Coleman by five points, although Coleman won by three: "Rob Daves, director of the Minnesota Poll, says he thinks his poll was accurate--at least within the 3.2-point margin of error. 'I'm convinced that the polls done late in the election were pretty good. What they showed, taken in total, was an incredibly volatile electorate. And if you've got a volatile environment, then a poll is just a snapshot in time,' says Daves."

The final pre-election Pioneer Press poll conducted by the Mason-Dixon polling organization covered the same period of time as the Minnesota Poll, but showed Coleman leading by six points, a result that was actually within the margin of error compared with the election-day results. The Minnesota Poll results and the Pioneer Press poll results cannot both have been accurate "snapshots," can they? As between the two, the Pioneer Press poll seems to have taken the accurate snapshot. But Daves never finds any ground on which to question his methodology or his results. The guy is impenetrable.

Faithful readers will recall that we tried to blow the whistle on this operation in "The Trouble with Star-Trib Poll."

Thursday, November 28, 2002

A Swiss laboratory claims that the audio tape recently aired on Al-Jazeera is not the voice of bin Laden.
As expected, Haaretz reports that Ariel Sharon has won an easy victory against Benjamin Netanyahu in the Likud primary.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian poll says that 76% of Palestinians now support efforts to achieve a cease-fire with Israel. This is not based on newfound moral principles, apparently, as 53% support attacking Israeli civilians and 90% support attacks on Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza strip. The pollster interprets the results as indicating that "despite the fact that people still believe the intefadeh has been good, most believe that it is time to return to the peace process...." One is tempted to label this attitude as delusional, but it is worth remembering that if the Labor party were in power, the Palestinians' strategy of killing hundreds of Israelis, and then cashing in through negotiations, would work.
In the conflict between Nigerian Islamofascists and the Miss World pageant, I was naturally prepared to take the side of the pageant. Like Bret Stephens (see Deacon's post below), I have a healthy regard for the "prurient center." So I thought I would check the official Miss World site to see what the pageant has to say about being driven out of Nigeria, and about the hundreds of Christians and others who were murdered by marauding Muslims. To my astonishment, this is how the Miss World pageant responds to those events:

"The Miss World Organisation and all of the Miss World contestants were shocked and deeply saddened by the appalling comments made in the Nigerian Newspaper 'This Day' that led to such a tragic loss of life.

"Miss World brings together young women who are from many faiths.

"The views expressed in this article were offensive to all of us and caused considerable anguish, for all the Miss World contestants, crew and staff. Our deepest sympathies are extended to all those people who have been affected."

Affected, apparently by the "offensive" article, not by bloodthirsty rioters. All blame is assigned to the "This Day" reporter, who is now missing and whose fate is unknown. (The Muslim government of the state where the rioting took place called for her murder.) The Miss World people make Quisling look like a hero by comparison.
A couple days ago I tried to express my indebtedness to the Claremont Institute and my appreciation for its outstanding flagship publication, the Claremont Review of Books. I also posted my favorite review from the current issue that is available online (I understand the new issue is in the mail), Steve Hayward's review of the third volume of Robert Caro's gargantuan biography of LBJ, The Master of the Senate. Steve himself is the author of The Age of Reagan, the audacious life and times of the Gipper that will do for Reagan and conservatives what Schlesinger did for Roosevelt and liberals with The Age of Roosevelt. The first volume of Steve's projected two volumes came out in September 2001, and got a little lost in the news at the time, but the book is terrific and will be around for a long time. I mention Steve's book because in it he traces "the collapse of the old liberal order" to LBJ and the Great Society. Hayward on Caro is the review I wanted to read, and the Claremont Review delivered it.

I heard on the news this morning that The Master of the Senate has been awarded the National Book Award (or whatever it's called now) for nonfiction this year. So once more once, Hayward on Caro: "The Making of LBJ."
Here's the Fox News report on Al Gore's attack on the media that I mentioned late last night. It's worse than I thought. Gore says there's a conservative "fifth column" within the journalistic ranks, similar to the subversive journalists in the 1950s who injected pro-Communist reporting into the mainstream media. Anti-communism is always welcome, even if it comes decades late from Al Gore. But what foreign interests, I wonder, does Gore think Rush Limbaugh and Fox News are promoting? Limbaugh has this exactly right when he says, "[the liberals and the Democrats] had a free run for all those years with the mainstream press. . . and those days are over." No wonder Gore and Daschle seem to be suffering a meltdown.
Good posts from Nugent and Greenberg, Trunk. Both have made their contributions to our bounty, Nugent with songs like "Cat Scratch Fever" (I hope my memory is serving me well on this one) and Greenberg with his early warnings from Arkansas about "Slick Willie." Here is a more pedestrian, but still worthwhile, piece on what we have to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. It's from Donald Lambro of the Washington Times, who is thankful that "Al Qaeda terrorists are being killed or captured in growing numbers, the economy seems to be stabilizing, the bulls are back on Wall Street, and Congress is away for the rest of the year."
Two more terrific Thanksgiving columns to gild Ms. Kathryn's lovely lilly below: "America Rocks,"by Ted Nugent, for which we thank OpinionJournal, and "It's time to stop, look around and count our blessings," by Paul Greenberg, for which we thank the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Bret Stephens of the Jerusalem Post delivers this critique of postmodern feminism in the form of an update on the Miss World beauty pageant. After the violence in Nigeria, the pageant moved to London. Feminists there were appalled. They concurred with the Muslim clerics who saw the pageant as "commercial sex trading." They even found logic in the slogan used by many Muslim rioters, "Down with Beauty." Observing all of this, Stephens wonders "if bikinis are repressive, what then is liberating? One answer, of course, is modesty both in dress and manner, long the approach of Orthodox Jewish women and now enjoying something of a culture vogue in the U.S. A better answer -- something you'd think the feminist politburo would have thought of already -- is choice itself: the choice to wear bikinis, or burkas, or something in between." Stephens concludes that it is the rejection of choice that the feminist and Muslim critiques of beauty pageants have in common. Then Stephens gives us this gem of a line: "Between the extremes of antediluvian Islam and postmodern feminism, it's a good thing the prurient center holds."
Happy Thanksgiving to all from the Power Line crew.

On September 11 of this year, my six-year-old daughter watched a television program commemorating the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks. It seemed to be largely about the Religion of Peace, and she found it unsatisfactory. She said, "They should have used my Pledge of Allegiance book," and disappeared into her room for a while. When she returned, she had painted an American flag. Here it is; I thought it symbolizes pretty well what we at Power Line are thankful for this year: our country, our children, and our ability to raise our children in freedom.
Another terrorist outrage in Israel: Three gunmen opened fire on a Likud Party office in Beit Shean; the office was crowded with Israelis who were voting in the Likud primary, and four were killed. A witness described the scene: "I opened the window and I simply saw the terrorist standing, smiling, laughing and shooting in all directions....People were fleeing and falling."
The beautiful Michelle Malkin, an incandescent conservative who has said nice things about Power Line, offers a prayer for Thanksgiving. Michelle shares our taste in music:

"O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, we thank you this day for 'Proud to Be an American' and 'These Colors Don't Run,' for 'Let Freedom Ring' and 'Of Thee I Sing,' for 'Every Heart Beats True' and for 'Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.'

And in military units:

"For Purple Hearts and Bronze Stars, for Green Berets and Gold Stripes, for the 10th Mountain Division and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, for the KC-130 Crew and the 101st Airborne Division, for the soldiers and SEALS and special forces who made the ultimate sacrifice this year, and for all who continue to protect and to serve, we give thee praise."

We're thankful for people like Michelle Malkin, who fight passionately and uncompromisingly for freedom and justice.
David Horowitz's online magazine FrontPage has picked up our latest column: "The Silence of the Liberals." The Claremont Institute published and distributed the piece for us yesterday, and the folks at FrontPage must have thought highly enough of it to pick it up for their own publication. We are proud of the piece and hope you find it of interest. The piece is scheduled to appear in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Sunday, and we will post it one more time when it appears in the Pioneer Press.

We should add that we are a little late in expressing our gratitude to the Claremont Institute's invaluable Glenn Ellmers for editing the piece, and for our friend and Claremont Institute chairman Bruce Sanborn in expressing his enthusiastic support for our written work. But today is Thanksgiving, and we owe them our thanks.
While the New York Times reports the commencement of weapons inspections by the UN team in Iraq with a straight face, I think the New York Post gets a little closer to the mark in "UN Weapons Hunt Farce." For comparative purposes, the Times story is "Unhindered by Iraq Officials, Arms Inspectors Visit 3 Sites."
The latest al-Qaeda attacks targeted an Israeli-owned hotel and airliner in Kenya, the latter through the use of what must have been some kind of missile or rocket propelled grenade. The best accounts of the attacks at this time are in the Jerusalem Post: "Three Israelis among eight killed in twin Kenya terror attacks." The Post happened to have reporter Kelly Hartog on the scene, and she filed her own first-hand report: "'Post' editor's firsthand report of carnage at Kenyan beach hotel." The Post also has a separate story on the attack on the plane: "Arkia passenger: We heard an explosion on the left side of the plane."

Israeli Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows a thing or two about terrorism, and the Post has a separate article with his reaction: "Netanyahu: attacks are grave escalation of terror against Israel."

The Post's most recent updates report that two suspects have been apprehended: "Kenyan police arrest two suspects in connection with Mombasa bombing," and "Two of three attackers identified as an Egyptian, and a Kenyan Muslim."

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

I've just heard on Fox News that Al Gore has alleged the existence of a vast right-wing media conspiracy. The epicenter, apparently, is Republcan National Committee headquarters, where conservative talking points are developed. The Washington Times, Fox News, and influential talk show hosts then dutifully repeat the talking points. Next, I suppose, the bloggers chime in. But the best part is Gore's claim that all of this is the product of "post-modernism" and its hand-maids "narcissism" and "nihilism." Gore has promised to explain this intriguing claim in a future interview, presumably after whoever fed him this line has briefed him more fully. For a better understanding of the concepts he is tossing around, Gore could read my FrontPage Magazine piece, in which I argue that Clinton and Gore are both post-modernists, although Clinton is by far the superior one. In fact, Gore's latest bit of whining, though post-modern in a way, falls far short of what one would expect from Clinton (Mrs. Clinton is another matter). Stripped of its pseudo-intellectual content, it sounds a lot like another bitter politician's lament to the media, "You won't have Nixon to kick around."
I confess that I have not yet read Al Gore's new book, Joined at the Heart. Of course, I'm not alone. Al and Tipper's study of American family life currently ranks #1,018 on Amazon's bestseller list. And I have to suspect that most of those sales are institutional--gray-haired librarians in birkenstocks ordering copies for high school kids, and so on. It's hard to imagine a lot of actual people buying this book and reading it. Despite the Gores' massive media push and whatever institutional sales they can muster, it is heartwarming to see their book languishing far behind G. Gordon Liddy's When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country, #95, and of course Bob Woodward's Bush at War, #2. It is also fun to read the Amazon reviewers' comments on Joined at the Heart: "Poor Al, another blockbuster fizzled. I hope this guy can find employment somewhere." And: "Absolute nonsense! I tried very hard to finish this book but it was impossible! It would surely be a violation of the Geneva Convention to require anyone to read it." Most revealing, however, is Amazon's listing of other books bought by the people who purchased Gore's latest. This list is interesting because it is computer-generated rather than subjective. The books most commonly purchased by buyers, in addition to Woodward's book about the war, were Paul Begala's It's Still the Economy, Stupid: George W. Bush, the GOP's CEO; The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton, by Joe Klein; Vincent Bugliosi's The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose our President; and Jews for Buchanan: Did You Hear the One About the Theft of the American Presidency?, by John Nichols. In other words, the only people who actually shell out money for Al Gore's book are embittered, hate-filled, over-the-top, partisan Democrats. This doesn't bode well for Gore's effort at reincarnation.
Victor Davis Hanson on the latest conceit of the European eilites -- America as "hyperpower" and President Bush as Caesar. Hanson notes that ours is "a funny sort of empire." We haven't annexed anyone's soil since the Spanish-American War. When we have overthrown the likes of Noriega, Milosevic, and Mullah Omar, we have replaced them not with legates or local client kings, but with elected leaders. And, "instead of the much-rumored pipeline we supposedly coveted in Afghanistan, we are paying tens of millions to build roads and bridges so that Afghan truckers and traders won't break their axles." This article makes it clear that the criticism we are hearing from Europe is not friendly, or even rational. It is, in Hanson's words, the product of jealousy and envy on the part of "post-heroic and bored elites." As such, it should be ignored, as should the institution that does the bidding of these jealous and envious elites, namely the United Nations.
Ann Coulter contemplates the Religion of Peace: "Beauty Pageants Can Be Murder."
Michael Kelly's weekly column today also merits your attention: "Giving thanks for the truth." Kelly recounts a telling anecdote deriving from his lunch with a vacuous Clinton administration foreign policy official who sounds like Sandy Berger but obviously could have been many others. (Courtesy of our friends at RealClearPolitics.)
Mark Steyn's latest is a romp through James Bond movies that never were but should have been: "The Spies that Bond us."
Speaking of Saddam Hussein, Debka File reports that Saddam is negotiating with Osama bin Laden to join Osama in the Empty Quarter of the Arabian peninsula in the event of war. Skeptics question whether Saddam is still capable of living in a tent and riding a camel. I have gone back and forth on the reliability of Debka File during the last year, but right now, they're looking very good. Their analyses and predictions have been turning out well in recent months. So I am inclined to take this report seriously.
The London Times, citing an Arabic-language London newspaper, quotes an unidentified but "senior Iraqi official" to the effect that Iraq has used chemical weapons on several occasions, and will use them again in the current crisis if hard-pressed. This contradicts the heretofore official Iraqi position that it possesses no such weapons. My sense is that after more than twenty years of rule by the psychopathic Saddam Hussein, there are no normal, competent people left in the upper reaches of the Iraqi government. How could there be? So contradictions of this kind will abound until Saddam is finally overthrown. Hopefully soon.
No, Deacon, you're not. I read Rawls' Theory of Justice many years ago, but as I recall his theoretical construct, it was infinitely malleable. The conclusions he deduced from it depended entirely on his empirical assumptions. When he wrote his book, circa 1970, one could argue--as he did--that socialism or a liberal welfare state offered the best prospects for at least some members of any society. Thirty years of experience have dispelled that illusion. We know now that liberalism allows the rogues among us--Bill Clinton, Terry McAuliffe, whoever--to prosper, but its consequences for the most vulnerable are catastrophic. See our posts below about the eleven-year-old Minneapolis girl killed in the crossfire of rival gangs.
D.J. Tice's St. Paul Pioneer Press column seriously examines one of the reigning shibboleths of local politics and the welfare state: "affordable housing." His column is "It's not a housing shortage--it's an income shortage." Extending the theme that Doug touces on here, I wish some public official would advise folks who cannot afford to support a family not to get married or have kids. I hear that in the old days that was the rule of thumb and that such advice was unnecessary.
The Star Tribune's latest report on the murder of Tyesha Edwards identifies the three suspects and their gang affiliations: "Three charged with killing 11-year-old in Minneapolis."
Earlier today, Trunk discussed Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a book that was all the rage during his college days. In 1971, when Rocket Man and I were the pride of Dartmouth's philosophy department, a very different book was causing a stir. It was John Rawls' A Theory of Justice. Rawls died on Sunday, and the eminent University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein filed this appreciation with National Review Online. As I recall, the leading members of the Dartmouth philosophy department had reservations about Rawls' book, but those who knew the man had the greatest respect for him. This is about where Epstein comes down too. But he finds much more merit in the book than one would expect a conservative like Epstein to discern in a work that defends the welfare state and supports the redistribution of income. Epstein argues that Rawls' theoretical construct (the notion of impartiality, whereby the political philosopher must view matters as a disembodied spirit who has equal care and concern for the welfare of all individuals) actually supplies a strong intellectual foundation for a classical liberalism (as opposed to the modern welfare state version), with strong property rights and limited government. I'm not qualified to opine with much authority on Epstein's thesis. But it does strike me that what Epstein says of Rawls is true of much of modern philsophy. Often, the leading lights adopt, develop, or refine a particular approach (pragmatism, utiltarianism, or whatever) and develop a plausible construct for propounding theories of justice, morality, knowledge, etc. They then seem to pour their political prejudices into their construct and end up with some sort of trendy liberal/radical prescription. One thinks especially of the leading modern pragmatist, Richard Rorty. Am I being too cynical in thinking that the philosophy usually ends up being window dressing for the politics?
Rocket Man, I wouldn't know where to start in interpreting this AP report and what might be behind it. As far as who is "moderate," that's always in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. Which, of course, is why it's better for news agencies not to dole out this "accolade." In any event, I think the most objective analysis of Israeli politics right now would have to deem Sharon the moderate. He takes a tough line on terrorism, but says he conditionally supports the eventual creation of a Palestinian state. Thus, he stands between the Labor Party, whose leaders want to start making new concessions to Arafat even as the terror continues, and Netanyahu, who claims he will expel Arafat and never agree to a Palestinian state.
The Associated Press reports that Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat's PLO deputy, has released a transcript of a meeting he had last month with Fatah members. Abbas is quoted as saying that the last two years of attacks on Israel have been a mistake: "What happened in these two years, as we see it now, is a complete destruction of everything we built."

The Associated Press, like Reuters, constantly imbues its purportedly factual reporting with a liberal perspective. If you read to near the end of this article, you will see that the AP describes Likud's competition in the upcoming election as "the moderate Labor Party." From a purely neutral and factual perspective, it would be more accurate to refer to "the deeply deluded Labor Party." Suffice it to say that you won't be reading about "the moderate Likud Party" in the AP's news reports.
Real Clear Politics has the latest polls on the Terrell/Landrieu race. They are all over the map, and it is not clear that any of them are especially reliable. I continue to think that Terrell will win; her main risk was that voters would size her up as a lightweight, and that doesn't seem to have happened. Also, as of November 17, campaign finance disclosures indicated that Terrell had twice as much money in the bank as Landrieu--a surprising position for a challenger to be in. If the race is close, President Bush's visit on Tuesday should put Terrell over the top.
The Claremont Institute has published our column on the murder of Tyesha Edwards in Minneapolis this past Friday, "The Silence of the Liberals." If you have had any interest in our previous posts on this subject, please take a look and let us know what you think.
This piece from the excellent Tony Blankley in the Washington Times is called "Nix Blix." The article isn't really about the Swedish diplomat per se. Rather, it's about how, in this dangerous world, we need to "get about the business of killing our enemies." In this regard, though, Blankley finds Blix to be a "lethally foolish little man." According to Blankley, "the problem is not that [Blix] is not a premier member of world's diplomatic corps -- it's that he is." Blankley is confident that President Bush will ignore "fretting diplomats" like Blix and he takes the occasion of the coming holiday to be thankful for Mr. Bush. We can also be thankful for journalists like Tony Blankley.
Calev Ben-David in the Jerusalem Post on how most Israeli's have "learned to stop worrying and love Ariel Sharon." As Ben-David notes, Sharon, once the biggest risk-taker in Israeli politics is now correctly perceived as the most reassuring figure on the political landscape. Sort of like that "ignorant cowboy" George W. Bush.
The great Hugh Hewitt has again done us the unbelievable kindness of linking to us in his new WorldNetDaily column: "My name is Hugh, and I'm a talk-show host..." Hugh's readers and listeners (like us) are a fantastically loyal bunch; we can see the referrals rolling in to our site already this morning. We are deeply grateful to Hugh for his support. In real life, as on his show, he is a remarkably generous man, not quite like anyone we have ever met before in his position.
Deacon's brilliant "The Cheating Heart of the Democratic Party" is still available under the "Recent Articles" posted on FrontPage. Deacon, I think they like your piece; it is listed second right after yesterday's symposium that you wrote about. The column's pride of place among the featured pieces has been taken by another brilliant piece, Professor Steven Plaut's "When a 'terrorist' is a 'militant' and why."
Here's the Star Tribune's full story on yesterday's arrest of the suspects in the murder of 12-year-old Tyesha Edwards: "Several people arrested in killing of Tyesha Edwards." The Minneapolis police seem to be familiar with the friends of the suspects: "The shooting of Tyesha involved the Rolling 30s Bloods and Family Mob gangs, whose members are mostly concentrated in south Minneapolis, authorities said."
This morning the Star Tribune editorial page brings us DFL consultant Randy Schubring on Senator Wellstone. Schubring is inspired by the fact that on the day before he died Senator Wellstone recommended James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men to a reporter covering him: "A final assignment from Prof. Wellstone." Talk about a time warp! We are now entering Mister Peabody's famous "wayback machine" from the incomparable "Rocky and Bullwinkle" show of our youth.

On this trip back to our youth with Mister Peabody and his pet boy Sherman, the Power Line trio recalls the iconic sixties paperback version of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men as one of the accessories we displayed prominently in our college room to exhibit our deep soulfulness, especially to visiting members of the opposite sex. We seem to recall that Agee idealized the poor Southerners he covered on assignment from Fortune, bathing them in poetic prose that was the perfect accompaniment to Walker Evans' hagiographic photographs. In Agee's prose, those poor people somehow never got around to rendering their views on social issues where they may have departed from the views of Manhattan liberals, and in Evans' photogaphs, those were the cleanest poor people in the history of the world. I give Evans' photographs the edge in realism, but Schubring's view of the book has made him weepy again about Senator Wellstone. It's made me weepy about my lost youth.
More on Minnesota's Angry Humorist: The Star Tribune is only a couple weeks late joining the fun, but this morning they let Gary Larson, one of the unfunny one's University of Minnesota classmates, observe that the unfunny one has gone off the deep end, seething with hatred of us Lake Wobegoners who made him rich: "Tantrum shows disain for Minnesotans." Larson notes that the unfunny one will be 72 when Senator-elect Coleman completes his second term.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

FrontPage Magazine's symposium on Europe is well worth reading. The issue is whether there is a coming "clash of civilizations" between America and Europe. For what it's worth my take on this is as follows: (1) there is no impending clash in the strong sense -- intense mutual hatred, warfare or the constant threat of warfare, etc. but (2) a major rift is developing and it will get worse if America remains true to its values. The rift is the result of a European project that is socialist and internationalist in character. It is the internationalist quality that is problematic. If Europe wants to be socialist, that's bad news for Euopeans but no major concern of ours. But, perhaps sensing that a pacifist/socialist Europe cannot effectively compete with the U.S., the Europeans want to dictate to us on issues ranging from air pollution control to the death penalty. Most of all they want to constrain our military power and they want us to submit to their version of international law. If we resist this package (and it is far from clear that we will -- we probably won't if the Democrats obtain control), then the rift will grow and, though not amounting to a clash of civilizations, will be quite significant. It should not, however, impede our efforts in the real clash of civilizations -- the one with the Islamofascists. The Europeans will have plenty of incentive to cooperate in exchanging intelligence and (as long as we retain control of our own foreign policy) we will be able to do the real fighting with or without the Europeans. Our key allies in the fighting will be non-western European nations. And the key battleground in our rivalry with the old western Europe will be the new eastern Europe. In the short term, we should at least hold our own in the struggle for those "hearts and minds" (see the photos that Rocket Man posted this weekend of President Bush's trip to Eastern Europe). In the long run, Europe has the advantage if it can make its socialist project succeed. But in the long run, it is doubtful that this project will succeed. As most of the FrontPage symposium members agree, the EU process will be a bumpy one, and even if it goes smoothly the resulting bloated socialist monolith is unlikely to deliver well enough to sustain itself over the long haul.
In the second year of its return to life, the Claremont Review of Books has become my favorite periodical publication, period. The Review is published by the Claremont Institute and shares the central aim of the Institute--the restoration of the founding principles of the United States to their rightful place in our public life. (Our friend and faithful reader Bruce Sanborn is the chairman of the Institute.) As a publication, the Review aims to play roughly the same role for the conservative movement today that the New Republic did for the progressive movement in the early twentieth century. The Review is edited by Professor Charles Kesler, preeminent professor of political science of the younger generation of philosphically oriented scholars. Charles teaches at Clarmont McKenna College and is a fellow of the Institute.

Much of the Review's fall issue is now available online at the Web site of the Claremont Institute. One of my favorite pieces in the issue is the estimable Steve Hayward's review of Robert Caro's current installment of his LBJ biography: "The Making of LBJ."
Minnesota Republican Governor-elect Tim Pawlenty has named a 16-person transition team full of friends of ours. The St. Paul Pioneer Press account is particularly astute: "Pawlenty fills transition team with moderate, conservative Republicans." The article notes the connections of several of the transition team members to Minneapolis's conservative think tank, the Center of the Amerian Experiment. Rocket Man is the immediate past chairman of the Center; both he and I are current members of its board. Mike Wigley, a member of the transition team who is a Center board member with us and who is also a member of the board of the Minnesota Taxpayers League, is simply a ferocious, take-no-prisoners conservative stalwart and advocate of limited government. He is only one of the sixteen, but on average, and despite the tenor of the Pioneer Press account, this is a very conservative transition team. May it be an omen!
More on the Wellstone death rally: The St. Paul Pioneer Press carries the AP's interesting retrospective on the Wellstone death rally: "Wellstone memorial was political theater almost from the start."
We are delighted to report that the Minneapolis police have made arrests in connection with the murder of 12-year-old Tyesha Edwards. The Star Tribune has posted its account as "Police make arrests in Tyesha Edwards shooting." We have written a column prompted by the Edwards murder that is critical of the mayor, the chief of police, the Democrats who have ruled Minneapolis for the past 20 years, and the Star Tribune, all of whom have remained silent as gangs have taken over poor Minneapolis neighborhoods such as the one in which Tyesha Edwards lived. At this moment, however, we offer the Minneapolis police our thanks for their dogged legwork in tracking the suspects down and our sincere congratulations for what appears to be the prompt apprehension of the individuals involved.
In addition, there is this Washington Times editorial on the Louisiana Senate race. The Times makes the essential point that Mary Landrieu's voting record is not that of the "independent voice for Louisiana" she claims to be. Unlike her colleague Senator Breaux, Landrieu consistently votes with Tom Daschle and against President Bush. And, though she is certainly independent of the president, she is quite dependent on the trial lawyers, and they in turn can depend on her. It is the job of Landrieu's opponent, Susan Terrell, to expose Landrieu's liberal record to the voters of Louisiana. Terrell seems to be doing an effective job of this. In doing so, she opens herself up to charges of "negativity." But that is a price well worth paying, given the dynamics of this race.
In contrast to the Post, the Washngton Time's editorial section is, as usual, full of valuable material. For example, here is Frank Gaffney's fine piece about Saudi Arabia. As Gaffney explains, whatever was the case with the Saudi ambassador's wife, there is simply too much Saudi money being funneled into the Islamofascist cause. Gaffney cites the following ominous enterprises that benefit from Saudi largesse: prison recruitment programs aimed at transforming American felons into radical Islamists; recruitment of Wahhabist chaplains into the U.S. military; Wahhabi indoctrination efforts on more than 500 college campuses; and the pursuit of a virulently anti-American agenda in U.S. mosques. As Gaffney concludes, "with friends like Saudi Arabia, who needs enemies?"
There's not much of value in the Washington Post's editorial section today, although Trunk and Rocket Man may want to take a shot at this latest attempt to wage class warfare by our pet target E.J. Dionne. And the letters section contains this from Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League about Egyptian television's anti-semitic blockbuster. The Egyptian Ambassador apparently has claimed that the show contains only a few anti-semitic references. Foxman refutes this rather lame defense.
I know I should be happy today, what with FrontPage publishing my piece (thanks for all your help, Trunk). However, it's hard to stay upbeat after reading Amir Taheri's piece for National Review Online about French anti-Americanism. The depressing thing is not the anti-Americansim, it's the fact that we have permitted a knee jerk anti-American nation to influence our approach to Iraq. In the past, I have suggested that France is to the war on Islamofascism as India was to the Cold War -- a sanctimonius irrelevancy. It's time to recognize that fact and take away France's seat at the table.
David Horowitz's terrific online magazine FrontPage features a brilliant column by our own Deacon--"The Cheating Heart of the Democratic Party." It is this morning's must-read column, although it appears on FrontPage in impressive company including columns by Daniel Pipes and Ronald Radosh as well as a symposium with Angelo Codevilla, Radek Sikorski and Joel Mowbray. Great quote: "[K]ey Democratic leaders now regard issues and rules not as serious things in themselves, but as playthings to be manipulated almost without limit for political purposes. It is not so much that the Democrats try to hide the ball; most politicians do that. Rather, for the likes of Clinton and Gore, it is not clear that there is any ball to hide."

The appropriate soundtrack with which to read Deacon's column is of course the Ray Charles crossover smash of Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart." Great line: "Your cheatin' heart will tell on you."

Monday, November 25, 2002

William Safire on the contest between Sharon and Netanyahu for leadership in the Likud Party. The winner of that contest will almost surely win the general election in January and lead Israel for the next few years. Safire clearly likes both but prefers Sharon. I'm inclined to agree. I like Netanyahu's harder line, but trust Sharon more. Keep in mind that Natanyahu wasn't such a hard-liner when he was in power. By all accounts, Sharon is well ahead. Here, the Washington Post reports that Netanyahu is trying to close the gap by comparing Israel's death rate from terrorism during his years in power with the rate under Sharon. This strikes me as a fairly misleading comparison for the reasons stated in the article.
After a not very glorious first two years, the Administration seizes the free-trade high ground with a dramatic proposal for all WTO countries to eliminate tariffs on manufactured goods by the year 2015. Can they pull it off? I don't know, but no one is doing very well betting against President Bush these days.
Late last night I saw what must have been the second debate between Landrieu and Terrell (it's not the case that someone from Power Line is always awake; it just seems that way). I must say that I thought Landrieu did well in that debate. She is more telegenic than Terrell and is a more confident speaker. Terrell comes across as far more negative, but I suppose that's normal in her role as the challenger. It certainly doesn't bother me and I have no idea of how it's playing in Louisiana -- it probably depends on whether Landrieu is well-liked. I think she's reasonably popular, that it is President Bush who's making Terrell a viable challenger. In that case, there may be a downside in going too negative. On the issues, neither one was blowing the other away, as far as I could tell. On the plus side for Terrell, she held her own and certainly did not appear to be in over her head. She also made what I thought was the most telling point of the debate when she said that Landrieu's voting record (measured on some unspecified percentage scale of liberalness) was much closer to Kennedy's than to Breaux's. If that's the one thing voters remember from the debate, and it could be, then Terrell will be in good shape. Landrieu seems to have distilled her message into the following: I will often side with Bush on particular issues, but I'm not going back to Washington to support Bush; I'm going back to be an independent voice for Louisiana. In this way, Landrieu gives voters a reason to vote for her instead of Terrell without appearing to be liberal or hostile to the president. Assuming that voters overlook Landrieu's apparently liberal voting record, the success of this message probably depends on just how popular Bush is in Louisiana. He's obviously popular, and if he's popular enough, Landrieu's message may defeat her.
Mark Steyn's latest is "A bombing pause--for 12 months?"
Michael Ledeen describes the "potentially earth-shaking events in Iran" over the last week. Ledeen notes that "Last Friday something like half a million Iranian citizens took to the streets to demonstrate their disgust with the regime of the Islamic Republic....Contrary to what little you have been able to read in the popular press, these demonstrations were not limited to Tehran, but spread all over the country, with amazing results." Ledeen thinks the Mullahs' regime may be close to collapse, and is impatient with the Administration for not doing more to help liberate the Iranian people. I agree with Ledeen that events in Iran are promising, and to some degree I share his impatience. But, while there are obviously good reasons to go after not only Iran, but also Saudi Arabia, North Korea and other states, I think the Administration is right to knock them off one at a time. The alternative, I guess, would be to launch an across-the-board assault on the Arab world, together with other non-Arab terrorist sponsors. This seems like a poor idea. While impatience is understandable, I see no reason to assume that the Administration is indifferent to events in Iran or anywhere else.
Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria on "why it's now or never with Iraq." Zakaria shows just how bad the U.N. resolution is. It is not enough to go to war, under the resolution, if Saddam Hussein makes a false or incomplete declaration regarding his weapons of mass destruction. Iraq must also fail to "comply and cooperate" in the inspection process through which the U.N. tries (but maybe not that hard) to find the weapons about which Saddam will have lied. So if Iraq does well enough in the cat and mouse game established by Colin Powell and the U.N., our standing to protect our national security interests will be compromised. Even if President Bush is able to make things come out right in the end, it is most discouraging that we have enlisted in the process Zakaria describes.
The Terrell/Landrieu race is heating up; today's Times-Picauyne story, reporting on the candidates' latest debate, is headlined: "Latest Debate Smacks of Brawl as Landrieu, Terrell Go On Attack." They're not kidding: Terrell's introductory statement blasted Landrieu as ineffective and accused her of voting with Ted Kennedy. Landrieu countered by expressing outrage at Terrell ads attacking Landrieu for buying a mansion in Washington, saying--in what seems to be a non sequitur--"I can't believe the negative campaign she has run about a working mother trying to be with her children when she is a mother herself." Terrell concluded with these comments on abortion: "I'm 100 percent pro-life. As a practicing Catholic, I did not leave my faith, as did Mary Landrieu." The Times-Picayune reports that Landrieu appeared "stunned." Well, one good thing is we shouldn't hear any more from feminists about how politics wouldn't be so nasty if there were more women involved.
Roll Call reports that Democratic Kentucky Congressman Ken Lucas is talking to Dennis Hastert and other Republicans about switching parties.
Jules Witcover of the Baltimore Sun covered politics during Nixon's pre-presidential days. He finds similarities and differences between the Nixon of that time and the Al Gore of today. Witcover's theme is one that I mentioned briefly when I first compared the two -- the post 1960 Nixon was cautous and highly disciplined, whereas Gore claims he is going to throw caution to the wind. I don't actually believe Gore will do any such thing, but I also doubt that he is capable of the kind of self-discipline Nixon was able to exercise.
This, folks, might ruin your day. A writer in Salon (via FrontPage Magazine) details the threat posed by shoulder-fired infrared-guided missiles, which can easily shoot down American commercial airliners. I had been vaguely aware of this threat, but had not realized that since the 1970's, shoulder-fired missiles have already hit at least 42 civilian aircraft in various countries. Some possible defenses exist, but at present, American civilian airliners are completely defenseless. The FBI has been warning against this danger since last May. According to this report, a recent CIA intelligence briefing advised top military and Administration officials "that terrorists have likely smuggled shoulder-launched missiles into the United States in recent months."
Studies in liberal governance: This morning's Star Tribune carries another story on the murder of 12-year-old Tyesha Edwards. The mayor feels the family's pain: "Mayor consoles Tyesha's family as police seek clues."
Oops. Now lawyers for September 11 victims are alleging that Princess Haifa al-Faisal, wife of the Saudi Ambassador, had at apartment in Washington, D.C. which was occupied in 1997 by one Mansour Majid. Majid then allegedly moved to Dearborn, Michigan, where he roomed with three men who were convicted of terrorist activity last August. They may have been part of a sleeper cell. Now, it is possible that Majid was a police informant rather than a terrorist sympathizer. It is also likely that his connection with the Princess was coincidental. Actually, I suspect that a high percentage of Saudi nationals living in the U.S. could be shown to have this kind of indirect connection to terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. It probably doesn't take six degrees of separation to get from a Saudi princess to al Qaeda. Whether this is a vindication or an indictment of the Saudis, you can judge.
Yesterday's Los Angles Times carried Professor Shlomo Avineri's "A Haunting Echo." Professor Avineri is a renowned teacher of political science at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I received a copy of his piece by e-mail via Laurie Mylroie's Iraq Newsletter. I am unable to link to the piece and am therefore taking the liberty of pasting it in below:

JERUSALEM -- Let me start on a personal note: Three of my grandparents perished during the Holocaust in Poland. This is why I find it an unspeakable obscenity that my three grandchildren, who live in Jerusalem, may one day be exposed to gas attacks by Iraq -- they have already been issued gas masks. I am not alone among Israelis in having such feelings.

Together with strategic considerations, thoughts like mine are ever present as Israelis contemplate the complex prospect of a U.S.-led military strike against Iraq.

During the Gulf War of 1991, Israel experienced 39 missile attacks by Iraq. So it's not surprising that today, most Israelis are deeply ambivalent about the prospects of military action against Saddam Hussein. On the one hand, they feel deeply threatened by Iraq and its development of nonconventional weapons. The elimination of a bloody and aggressive dictator like Hussein from the neighborhood would make Israel more secure, and so there is an almost unanimous support in Israel for toppling him, by force if necessary.

On the other hand, Israel knows that if a military campaign is undertaken, Hussein may respond, once again, by launching missile attacks against the Jewish state.

Israelis understand the reluctance to go to war; it should always be the last resort. There is sympathy here for a Europe which, devastated twice by wars in the last century, prefers negotiations to force. Even German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's stated refusal to join a United Nations-sanctioned action against Iraq is, paradoxically, understood by many Israelis. They may criticize the political wisdom of such a stance, but they also believe a pacifist Germany is better than a belligerent one.

Ultimately, though, Israelis cannot forget what happened when a brutal and megalomaniacal dictator was ignored for too long during the last century. Hussein is obviously not Hitler, but there are some haunting parallels that cannot be overlooked. European appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s is today viewed almost universally as a strategic mistake and a morally bankrupt act.

Perhaps we should examine the lessons.

Imagine Europe in 1936. Nazi Germany had not yet attacked any country, but Hitler had:

* violated the Versailles Treaty, which limited Germany's military capabilities, and started rearming on a massive scale;

* publicly committed himself to reversing the territorial losses of Germany in World War I;

* reoccupied the demilitarized Rhineland, in blatant contravention of international agreements signed by Germany;

* abolished the democratic structure of the Weimar Republic and banned all political parties except his own;

* thrown tens of thousands of opposition members, Jews, Gypsies and gays into concentration camps;

* expelled Jews from public service, the professions, universities and schools and confiscated much of their property.

But because Hitler had not yet attacked any foreign country, his treatment of Jews and others was deemed an internal matter. Europe -- and the League of Nations, which Germany had in the meantime left -- ignored the catastrophe that was brewing. We now refer to that willful blindness as appeasement.

Imagine what might have happened had Britain and France followed a different path and launched a military strike against Germany, with or without a League of Nations mandate. Hitler's Germany, not yet the military power it would become in 1939, would have been quickly crushed. In the process, of course, numerous innocent Germans would have been hurt or killed, but Germany's later aggression against Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, which caused huge numbers of casualties, would never have happened. There would have been no World War II, no Nazi occupation of Europe, no Holocaust. Last and perhaps not least, some 12 million ethnic Germans who were expelled after 1945 from Eastern Europe would still live today in their ancestral lands.

Declaring war on Hitler's Germany in 1936 would have been the correct course of action, morally and strategically, for the European powers. European pacifists would have opposed military action, but they too would have been spared the agonies of the following years and of a devastating world war.

In a way, Hussein's record today is worse than Hitler's was in 1936. Hussein has already invaded two of his neighbors (Iran and Kuwait), attacked Israel with missiles and used poison gas against his own population. His treatment of the Iraqi Kurds is much worse than Hitler's treatment of the Jews was by 1936. And Hussein may possess weapons of mass destruction Hitler hadn't dreamed of. With all the understandable reluctance to launch a war, shouldn't Europe -- and the rest of the world -- be considering these parallels? Wouldn't the world be a better place today if the international community in 1936 had possessed the will to stop Hitler?

The question of what happens in Iraq after Hussein is legitimate, but it should not be used as an excuse for inaction. When Britain declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939, had the British planned for a "post-Hitler" Germany?

Would President Franklin D. Roosevelt have believed that U.S. troops would still be stationed in Germany 60 years after the U.S. entered the war?

Wars are unpredictable, even for the victors, and therefore should be waged only if all other avenues have been exhausted. But all who condemn the 1930s appeasement of Germany should reflect long and hard on whether a failure to act today against Iraq will one day be viewed the same way.

If Hitler had been stopped earlier, my three grandparents -- and numerous uncles, aunts and cousins -- would not have perished in the gas chambers. That's my personal story. But the "if only" that stems from the 1930s appeasement extends to tens of millions who lost family members, both civilians and soldiers, who might have been spared. A world without World War II would have been a better place. A world without Hussein will ultimately be a safer place, regardless of how he is brought down.
Stephen Schwartz is the guy we want to read on the latest revelations regarding high-level Saudi complicity with our enemies: "The real axis of evil."
The Washington Times reports that, in the wake of this month's elecoral victories, the Administration will introduce legislation accelerating the scheduled tax cuts, expanding IRA and 401(k) plans, and providing additional incentives to business investment. All of this will be billed as a stimulus package to boost economic growth. I think this is great on public policy and fairness grounds; how much it will boost the economy is debatable. But economic growth is almost sure to accelerate some time in the next eighteen months in any event, and these measures, even if their contribution is marginal, will allow the Administration to garner some of the credit. And it is absolutely necessary for the Administration to be seen as making a major effort to support the economy. If they are able to include drilling for oil in Alaska, they will be doing about all that can be done.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

National Review Online's Rod Dreher reports that a California-based Muslim legal group has filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Bar requesting disciplinary action against Alan Dershowitz. The essence of the complaint is that Dershowitz advocated war crimes in an op-ed piece in which he supported leveling Palestinian villages known to have harbored terrorists, after giving residents 24 hours to evacuate. Dershowitz denies that the Geneva Accords prohibit what he's advocating. However, it is not unlikely that the International Criminal Court would disagree if a case involving Israel were before it. Dershowitz proclaims, reasonably enough, that he is not frightened. He notes that the "Massachusetts bar lives by American law, not by Islamic law." However, the issue down the road is going to be the extent to which American institutions, including the Massachusetts bar, live by American law or by international law. If international law gains a foothold here, a future Dershowitz may have cause to be less sanguine.
Thomas Edsall of the Washington Post delivers one of the more thoughtful pieces I've seen on the "serious structural ailments" of the Democratic party. He identifies three main fault lines: (1) erosion of support among women due to concerns about terrorism and Republican gains on issues like education, (2) new tensions between black and white Democrats, this time pitting public-sector blacks and Hispanics against well-educated whites, (3) inability to connect with a cohort of 18-34 year-old voters who tend to be libertarian and favor the Republican approach to school choice and Social Security. Edsall does not anticipate the kind of pitched battle for the soul of the Democratic Party that we have seen in the past. Instead, he believes that we may simply see increasing defections among the ranks.
Shortly after the arrest of the D.C. area snipers, Rocket Man wrote that, next time, the police work will have to be better. Apart from that comment, there has been little public criticism of our local police chief, Charles Moose. However, here, a Maryland criminologist named Susan Paisner, writing in the Washington Post finds much to criticize in the Moose-led investigation.
Rocket Man, the person here in Washington whose opinion I trust most about the Senate (a former high-level staffer) says that Landrieu is a lightweight who has never created a "Senatorial" impression here. If Terrell is turning out not to be particularly lightweight, one can understand Landrieu's frustration. I don't know much about Terrell, but as far as I'm aware she has made it without the kind of assistance Landrieu received from her powerful political family.
Rocket Man, I enjoyed your blogs from last night about Kennedy and Nixon. As to Nixon's liberal domestic policy, I believe, based on what Leonard Garment and others have said, that Nixon didn't care much about domestic policy. He saw himself as a world figure and just wanted to do well enough in domestic affairs to stay in office, thereby maintaining his position as the primary actor on the world stage. The three liberal domestic programs we've been discussing -- wage-price controls, affirmative action, and guaranteed annual income -- can all be viewed as short-term measures to avoid problems (e.g., inflation and race riots) that could have hurt Nixon's political standing. That said, I don't think that Nixon saw any of these programs as particularly harmful. As I recall, Nixon had some involvement with wage-price controls during World War II and considered them an acceptable anti-inflationary approach in war time. As to affirmative action, Nixon's confidants have said that he imposed this program on the building trades in order to drive a wedge between two Democratic constituencies, blacks and unions. Historians agree that this was his motive. I've never been completely convinced. however, because it was the union members whose votes Nixon wanted most, and they presumably were less likely to vote for Nixon by virtue of his administration's imposition of quotas. And I agree with Rocket Man that Nixon had genuine sympathy for African-Americans and might well have thought that forced integration of the building trades was a valid measure at that time. Thus, the conventionally accepted story of Nixon and affirmative action may not be completely true. But I think it's true in spirit. Whatever Nixon did in the area of domestic policy was more likely to be motived by pure politics than by anything else.
Lately we've heard more from the Administration about disarming Iraq and less about regime change. I understand the forces pushing in that direction, but it would be a tragedy if Saddam Hussein were allowed to remain in power. In this article in yesterday's Toronto Globe and Mail, Margaret Wente describes the horrific reality of life in Iraq, through the eyes of an escapaee from Saddam's prisons. Colin Powell needs to read this. Warning: It is not for the faint of heart.
I didn't see the Terrell/Landrieu debate on CSpan, but PoliPundit did. He says that "Unlike her performance on Meet the Press, Terrell seems to be sure of herself. She's confident, holds her own against Landrieu and looks Senatorial." Maybe that explains Landrieu's post-debate meltdown. PoliPundit has much more interesting commentary.
One of our faithful readers is a California resident who recently visited the Twin Cities and has written us regarding the items I've posted on Minneapolis's gang presence. Deleting only his kind words about the Power Line, I'm posting his message in its entirety as follows:

"Concerning the comments of the Trunk concerning the silence as to gang violence in the Twin Cities. I live in central California in an area with alot of gang activity. One of the things that identifies gang members is the colors and markings of their clothes, mainly black, red, or blue. Many companies are selling hats in these colors. The L.A. Dodgers hats are blue, but recently, they have been coming out in a red style.

"Two weeks ago I was in the Rosedale Mall in the Twin Cities, and happened to be in a sporting goods store that specialized in hats and jerseys. I was shocked at their new line of hats that represented the gang lifestyle, i.e. black with an 'N' on the front or similar designs. When I asked the clerk if she knew she was selling gang style clothing, she denied it and told me that they didn't have any gang problems in the cities.

"As a high school teacher, it bothers me that companies look to make a fast buck selling kids this kind of merchandise. The bad news for you is that if I could tell that the merchandise was being marketed to gangbangers, then you have a very serious problem in your area. A few years ago didn't they call it Murderapolis? [As noted by the New York Times, they did indeed, and will again.--ed.]

"Next time you are in a local mall, go in and check out what items are being sold in the sports apparel section. If you see a Twins hat in black, then they are in on it too."
Don't know how we missed Mark Steyn's latest: "Hey, Roeper! I was right." (Courtesy of our friends at RealClearPolitics).
When it broke, we posted on the story about the Saudi princess, wife of the Ambassador to the U.S., who paid $2,000 a month into the bank account of a man who later gave financial assistance to two of the September 11 hijackers. Over the last day or two, this story has been the occasion for considerable hysteria in the blogosphere, as various critics have excoriated the Administration and the FBI for not pursuing this money trail aggressively enough, and, more generally, for defending the Saudis as our allies when in fact, as everyone knows, they are the prime financial supporters of Wahabbism and their money has funded various terrorist groups and causes, both directly and indirectly. This morning the Saudi princess' generosity was discussed on various news programs; here, the Toronto Star reports on anti-Saudi comments by John McCain, Joe Lieberman and others made earlier today.

As to this particular incident, the princess claims that she supported a large number of Saudi people and causes; here, she was aiding a Saudi woman living in America who asked for her help paying for medical treatment. Two thousand dollars a month sounds like a lot for medical treatment; then again, the Saudis have a lot of money. My guess, for what little it's worth, is that this particular trail won't lead anywhere. If the Saudi royal family wanted to aid terrorists, it would be hard to think of a worse way than to have one of their own--the wife of the U.S. ambassador, no less--write easily-traced checks, even to an intermediary. (Of course, she could be a renegade al Qaeda supporter operating independently of her husband and the Saudi government, but this seems highly unlikely.) More broadly, this episode may be useful in keeping the pressure on the Saudis until their turn comes, probably several years from now. This is most likely what McCain et al. had in mind.
Trunk, thanks for posting Schickel's piece about Sam Fuller. Schickel is right that Fuller was a great critic of middle-class hypocrisy, and never more so than in The Naked Kiss, which I consider his best film. However, Fuller was no Hollywood leftist. In fact, he delivered a superb anti-communist film during the 1950s with Richard Widmark and Thelma Ritter. I don't remember the name of the movie, but it has a great scene where Ritter realizes that this man she liked is a communist. He says, sneeringly, "What do you know about communists?" Ritter replies, "Not much; I know I don't like them." Unlike so many in Hollywood at that time, Fuller stood up for the common sense of the American people and was never ashamed of our perceived lack of sophistication.
The Indonesian police (with help from the Australians) are rounding up the Bali bombers, and in the process are gaining a great deal of information about their operation, especially since the leader of the group, Imam Samudra, was captured. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that bin Laden videos and tapes have been found in the plotters' homes. More troubling is the claim by Samudra that one of the bombs--the one that destroyed Paddy's Irish Pub--was not a car bomb, but was carried by a suicide bomber. Indonesian authorities say that the forensic evidence seems compatible with this claim, and are carrying out DNA tests and other investigations to try to verify it. Although there have been many bombings by Indonesian Muslims in recent years, none have been carried out by suicide bombers. Indonesian and Australian authorities are expressing great concern about the possible spread of this tactic outside of the Middle East.
One more shaft of sunlight to pierce the weekend darkness: Hey, it's the holiday season. Some Web site--I believe it may have been the fine folks at No Left Turns--steered me to the site of the The Richard Nixon Library Museum Store. I have never seen a museum store quite like it, one with a great sense of humor. The humor is especially evident to me in the World Famous Nixon and Elvis T-shirt, the one that (according to the museum store) caused the media to go wild when they introduced it.
After reading the Times-Picayune article on the aftermath of the Landrieu/Terrell debate, I would say Landrieu can see the handwriting on the wall and is becoming unhinged, like a number of other Democrats--Tom Daschle, Bill Moyers, Garrison Keillor et al.
The fallout continues from Friday's Powderhorn Park neighborhood murder of the 12-year-old caught in the crossfire of a couple of Minneapolis's finest gangbangers. The Star Tribune devotes more page-one coverage to "Friends and family gather to mourn and remember Tyesha" while the St. Paul Pioneer Press story "My heart was just torn apart" is relegated to the paper's metro section. Although both stories place the murder in the context of neighborhood crime, the great silence in these stories is the transformation of Minneapolis into a haven for gangbangers, a transformation that the city has silently and passively endured.
Before "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers," the best movie ever made about World War II was Sam Fuller's The Big Red One. If you've never heard of Fuller or The Big Red One, please take a look at the review of Fuller's posthumous autobiography (sort-of) A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking. The review is from the Sunday Times Book Review and is by the film critic Richard Schickel: "From Tabloid to Celluloid."
Matt Drudge has posted an interesting account by the Times-Picayune of Saturday's debate taped for broadcast today between Mary Landrieu and Suzi Terrell: "Candidate debate has unfriendly end." I leave the interpretation to Rocket Man.
And here is one last photo from Bush's trip, showing him addressing the crowd in Bucharest with the Romanian and American flags on banners around the square.
Analysis of President Bush's trip to Eastern Europe has been spotty. Here, the New York Post offers a concise and positive summary of the President's accomplishments over the past five days.
On its Web site, the New York Times carries a package on President Bush's speeches in Lithuania and Romania yesterday that includes Elisabeth Bumiller's story on them, the full text of the Bucharest speech, and a one minute video excerpt of the Bucharest speech. One click takes you to the package under Bumiller's story, "Bush appeals to new allies on Iraq plans."

According to Bumiller, in Bucharest Bush spoke to "tens of thousands" of Romanians and, according to me, he gave an eloquent, moving speech that expresses the heart of the man and his statesmanship. Do take a look.
George Will sees a sunny future for the Republicans in the Senate.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

As to Kennedy, I think on the whole he was a good President. I also think it is fortunate that he served for less than three years. That, really, is the remarkable thing about Kennedy--how short his presidency was, for all that has been said and written about it since. I read somewhere, long ago, that had Kennedy not been murdered, his administration would surely have come crashing down in scandal. I think that is right. With his poor health, his reliance on multiple drugs and shady physicians to get through each day, his extraordinarily indiscreet sexual escapades--multiple nude women in the White House swimming pool, minutes before his wife arrived on the scene, with the Secret Service telephoning warnings to clear out the girls--a disaster was sure to happen sooner or later. And in the 1960's such a scandal would not have met with the sympathetic reception that Bill Clinton got in the 1990's. So my assessment of Kennedy is that he was a pretty good although not especially interesting President, but it is a good thing that he was President so briefly.
I agree that there is a psychological kinship between Nixon and Gore. I think it is this: both are (or were) by nature private, closed-in people who had difficulty relating easily to others and were therefore fundamentally bad politicians. But both were more or less consumed by a craving for acclaim or approval that could only be satisfied by the Presidency. This obsession drove both to overcome (more or less) their lack of natural political ability, but in the course of doing so they exposed themselves nakedly and rather clumsily to the public, so that watching them was often appalling, like a train wreck in slow motion. By rights, Al Gore's career should be over, but I wouldn't bet a nickel against him; like Nixon, he will persevere and he may yet be rewarded.

Nixon was probably an opportunist in some ways, but I wouldn't be so sure he didn't believe in affirmative action and a guaranteed income. He once told an interviewer (during his wilderness years) that his mistake was starting out in politics as a Republican; he should have been a Democrat. I think he may have justified both of these policies on pragmatic grounds; quotas as the most direct way to help minority groups for whom he felt genuine sympathy, and a guaranteed income as a way to abolish, with one stroke, the whole welfare system whose effects he rightly considered to be harmful--doing the maximum practical good for poor people at the least possible cost. (Nixon knew that we spend far more money on poverty programs than it would take to "abolish" poverty if the same money were simply given to poor people, and he had no attachment to social workers.) What I find harder to understand is how he justified price controls, since he had some understanding of economics. But Nixon came of political age in an era that is now long gone, when a fierce anti-communism was often combined with what would now be considered very liberal domestic policies. I don't think Nixon's politics were very different from Scoop Jackson's or even, perhaps, Harry Truman's. But he survived into an era in which conservatives were anti-Communist and liberals were not, and in that era his politics often seemed puzzling. Whether his foreign policy initiatives made sense I'm really not sure, but with detente substituted for anti-Communism, there wasn't much conservatism left.