Friday, January 31, 2003

Today Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter both attacked President Bush. In a sense, this is a peak moment for the President--anyone who is despised by both the worst President of the 20th Century and the most overrated man of the 20th Century must be on the right track. As between Mandela, the Communist cop-killer, and Carter, the weak-kneed President and treasonous ex-President, there is little to choose. I guess I would say Carter is less contemptible, if only because his wife never burned anyone alive, with his apparent approval.

To expunge the unclean feeling caused by contemplating these two individuals, here is a nice photo of George Bush and Tony Blair. Some of you may rembember the picture we posted a few weeks ago of President Bush standing next to Mt. Rushmore, looking like the 5th enshrined President. And maybe I'm crazy, but I suspect that before he is finished, Tony Blair might a candidate for Mt. Rushmore as an honorary American hero. His original persona as a Clintonesque "third way" slickster is long gone.
Last fall we watched with dismay as Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee did a number on Miguel Estrada, President Bush's outstanding nominee to the United States Court of Appeals. Now, the Washington Post, which called Estrada's confirmation an easy decision, reports that the Judiciary Committee has approved Estrada's nomination by 10-9 vote on pure party lines. The nomination will go to the full Senate, where Democrats will continue their smear campaign. What is Estrada's sin? As Senator Schumer explains it in the Post article, Estrada hasn't provided enough information to validate Democratic suspicions that he is "outside of the mainstream."
Amen, Deacon. By the tortured logic of Kinsley and other Democratic apologists, it would have been impossible to fight against Germany in 1942--what about Japan?--and equally impossible to fight against Japan--what about Germany? When Iraq has been dealt with--very, very soon--we will turn our attention to North Korea. Needless to say, these same critics will then have new objections to interpose. How can we go after North Korea when Iran is still an oppressive state? Well, Iran's turn will come. In the meantime, the Democrats' objections to action on any front are, in Kinsley's words, "morally unserious."
The Administration will apparently pull out a lot of the stops--certainly not all--to make an impression on the U.N.'s Security Council next week. According to Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, the evidence to be unveiled by Colin Powell will include National Security Agency intercepts of Iraqi officials plotting to evade the U.N.'s inspectors. I guess this is a good thing, but I have to wonder: is there anyone who doubts that Saddam and his minions are developing prohibited weapons and hiding that development from the inspectors? Does even the Evil Weasel, Tom Daschle, doubt this? I don't think so. So it is a little unclear what exactly is being accomplished by jumping through this hoop. One suspects that more hoops will inevitably appear.
The Washington Post got one column for the price of two today. Michael Kinsley and E..J. Dionne turned in basically the same pettifogging piece about President Bush's State of the Union address. Both were troubled by Bush's comments about the evil nature of Saddam Hussein's regime. If this is why Bush wants to attack Iraq, they wonder, then shouldn't we also attack a host of other oppressive regimes throughout the world? It is astonishing that the Post would pay for even one column that makes such an argument. Iraq, of course, is at the top of a very short list of countries that, in addition to oppressing and torturing its citizens, (1) are extremely hostile to us and (2) have developed weapons of mass destruction, but not to the point that the cost of attacking them may be prohibitive. Indeed, Iraq may be the only country on that list. If not, then we can consider our options after we deal with Iraq.

Kinsley and Dionne argue, though, that Bush was wrong (indeed, "morally unserious" in Kinsley's view) to discuss Iraq's human rights record, if the danger that Saddam will develop and use weapons of mass destruction is sufficient reason to remove him. In that event, Kinsley asks, what does torturing children have to do with it? Here, Kinsley is outlawyering himself. Would FDR have been morally unserious if, in defending World War II to the American people, he had mentioned the death camps? Serious leaders know that the most just wars are ones that defend one nation's security interests while liberating another's oppressed population. Bush sounded just the right note when he explained to the American people why our action against Iraq will be such a war. Apparently, it was more than Kinsley and Dionne could stand.
The Washington Post on the "war dilemma'" facing Democratic presidential hopefuls. Dan Balz captures the dilemma nicely: "The Democratic candidates are struggling to balance their desire to appeal to next year's primary voters -- a majority of whom oppose going to war with Iraq -- and their determination to establish their credentials as future commanders in chief, and their own records urging action to confront the Iraqi leader." Yes, I can see how it would be a struggle to balance these desires. No wonder John Kerry and his rivals end up sounding like hack lawyers.
Thomas Sowell dissects the New York Times's claim that tax cuts "shower benefits" on the wealthiest taxpayers.
I am again reporting live (courtesy of the Heritage Foundation's mobbed Internet Row) from the thirtieth annual Conservative Political Action Conference, a conference at which President Reagan spoke seventeen times. This is the first time I have attended the conference, and it is an eye opener. It appears to be oversubscribed by about thirty percent. During the standing room only presentations this afternoon by Oliver North and Ann Coulter, hundreds of mostly younger audience members stood three or four deep at the back of the large hotel ballroom that is the conference's main venue.

I have been stuck by the stellar quality of the speakers of all stripes--elected officeholders such as Senator James Inhofe and former Governor James Gilmore, public policy intellectuals such as Frank Gaffney and Michael Ledeen, and scholars such as Professor Richard Vedder of Ohio University. Ted Nugent has been prowling the halls throughout the conference promoting his new book, Kill It and Grill It (I might be a little off on the title). He is dressed in a magnificent navy blue suit and looks like a million bucks; thanks to Deacon, however, I can't get the song "Cat Scratch Fever" out of my head. By far the hottest of the hot button issues addressed at the conference are border control and immigration. Michelle Malkin has not yet appeared at the conference, but the mere mention of her name in the context of these issues draws riotous applause.

Ann Coulter just gave a hilarious talk on "the treason lobby," i.e., the Democrats. It was fun to see her appear before a friendly audience; she was greeted like a culture hero. She was witty, warm, and relatively relaxed. I couldn't take notes fast enough to keep up with her; virtually every line would be worth quoting. While she was just getting warmed up, however, I did note her statement that, for the treason lobby, "the evidence is in on global warming, but we don't have enough evidence yet to act on Iraq...They once had enough evidence, but that was a long time ago, before the November election."
The following colloquy between Judge William Young and Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, took place immediately after Judge Young pronounced sentence yesterday. It is worth reading:

"This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and a just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Let me explain this to you.

"We are not afraid of any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect.

"Here in this court where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals, as human beings we reach out for justice.

"You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist.

"And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists.

"We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

"So war talk is way out of line in this court. You're a big fellow. But you're not that big. You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders.

"In a very real sense Trooper Santiago had it right when first you were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and you said you're no big deal. You're no big deal.

"What your counsel, what your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing.

"And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you. But as I search this entire record it comes as close to understanding as I know.

"It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose.

"Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely.

"It is for freedom's seek that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their, their representation of you before other judges. We care about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties.

"Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms.

"Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure. Here, in this courtroom, and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done.

"The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

"See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag still stands for freedom. You know it always will. Custody, Mr. Officer. Stand him down."

REID: "That flag will be brought down on the Day of Judgment and you will see in front of your Lord and my Lord and then we will know." (Whereupon the defendant was removed from the courtroom.)
Italian police, apparently executing a "routine sweep against illegal immigration," arrested twenty-eight Pakistakis--all apparently living in a single apartment--after finding:

"800 grams (28 ounces) of explosives, 230 feet of fuse and various electronic detonators crammed behind a false wall.
Islamic religious texts, photos of 'jihad' (holy war) martyrs, piles of false documents, maps of the Naples area, addresses of contacts around the world and more than 100 mobile telephones were also found in the run-down lodgings, police said."

The explosives were said to be enough to blow up a three-story building. The Naples-area maps had a number of targets designated, including NATO's Southern Command headquarters.

I like the reference to "addresses of contacts around the world." While I have no basis to challenge the report that this was a routine sweep, this is the latest in a series of al Qaeda arrests in Europe (including Italy) that began with the ricin arrests in London, and I wouldn't be surprised if this one is related.
The idea of a White House event honoring Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson sounds to me like a great one. But American poetasters with Euroweenie envy effectively killed it: "Forum called off after poets plan to protest." From the evidence presented in the article, I believe that should be "poets."
The awesomely clear-sighted Charles Krauthammer seems a tad optimistic to me this morning, but I love the sentiment: "UN, RIP." The column acutely describes the Orwellian nature of the United Nations without quite getting to the heart of the matter. The heart of the matter seems to me to lie in the charter of the UN; like Rosemary's baby, the organization is misconceived. Krauthammer's column nevertheless provides a lot of evidence to support the proposition. The column appears in this morning's Washington Post, which also carries Robert Kagan's "Politicians with guts." Like Krauthammer's, it's a good one. But the best column today is Tom Wolfe's tribute to the Manhattan Instittute: "Revolutionaries." (Courtesy of RealClearPolitics.)

Thursday, January 30, 2003

The Washington Post has a good, gritty, generally positive report on the terrorist-by-terrorist progress of the war.
Damn, I was thinking that was one of my better predictions. Easy come, easy go! If you can keep your kids' names straight, Deacon, your memory is better than mine. But we should keep listening to Dafydd ab Hugh--whether that's his real name or not (I've always assumed it is), he's generally right.

One comment on the Israeli political scene: what is striking to me is how few seats the two "major" parties hold. The reality of Israeli politics is that most Knesset seats are held by various "splinter" parties of the left or right, secular or religious. The central lesson I would draw from this election is that Likud (the "right-wing" party of American editors' rote recitation) now occupies the center of the landscape, flanked by a handful of moribund seats on the left, and a much larger number of fractious representatives on what can loosely be called the "right."
I'm not into the "corrections" thing, but when the same post contains two errors, it's time to come clean. Yesterday, in commenting on a fine article about the Israeli elections by Meyrav Wurmser, I suggested that, with the hit the Labor party took, Israel may no longer have a two-party political system. Of course, Israel never has had a two party system. I meant to say, as Wurmser did, that Likud's victory "changed the political map from a system dominated by two large parties to a system in which only one party -- Likud -- monopolizes Israeli politics."

To make things worse, I went on to attribute to Rocket Man the correct prediction that Sharon would be substantially helped by the fact that the Supreme Court pulled the plug on the Prime Minister's television appearance in which he tried to address charges of corruption. Had I checked the record instead of relying on an increasingly faulty memory, I would have found that the prediction came from a reader, "Dafydd ab Hugh," who, at the time, referred to this event as the "Paul Wellstone Memorial of the Israeli elections."
Tony Blankley wonders which of President Bush's enemies is more foolish, Saddam Hussein or Tom Daschle. Here's a hint, Tony -- it's Daschle.
To expand on my point below, I am not suggesting that the Democrats are balking over regime change in Iraq because they are thinking like lawyers. Rather, I believe they are talking like lawyers because it is the only way they can defend their unprincipled relunctance to support regime change. We know that this reluctance on the part of politicians like Tom Daschle is unprincipled because (a) they took a different position when Clinton was talking about war with Iraq and (b) they took a different position last fall, just before the elections. And because their position is unprincipled, they tend to resort to caviling. Thus, they sound more like hack lawyers than statesmen, or even respectable legislators. Considering the stakes, the American people are not likely to forgive this conduct quickly.
To reinforce Rocket Man's analysis as to why Colin Powell need not do an "Adlai Stevenson" in order to make the case for dealing with Iraq, here is George Will on the subject. There is something quite disturbing about the way the Democrats are analyzing this issue. I'm not sure I can articulate my concern, but it is as if the Dems want to impose common law style restraints on our ability to defend ourselves. In 1962, it was great that we were able to get pictures that Adlai could wave at the Soviets. But how did this become the standard of proof that must be met before we can deal with threats to our national security that our government believes exist? A lawlerly analysis of old precedents may be a good way to resolve tort claims. But it has no place in the war against terrorism. The Democrats will not regain the trust of the American people until they figure this out.
Having fluffed one campus civil rights issue -- race-based preferences in admissions -- President Bush now faces what I would have thought is a more politically difficult one -- "gender-equity" in college athletics, as called for by Title IX. Bush established an advisory commission to consider whether colleges should get some relief from the quota system that the Clinton Department of Education sought to enforce, under which a school's male-female athlete ratio is expected to be "substantially proportionate" to its male-female enrollment. Such an expectation is silly, at least absent evidence that male and female interest in participating in intercollegiate sports is equal. And the quota approach has resulted in the elimination of many male sports programs, including 400 men's college wrestling teams.

The Washington Post reports that President Bush's commission deadlocked on a proposal recommending altering the "proportionality" standard, and voted overwhelmingly not to eliminate that standard altogether. It also voted down a proposal to use "interest surveys" to set the proportionality standard at a given college. Having declined to recommend any real reform, the group is now focusing on such monumental issues as how the bean-counters should treat male "walk-ons" (i.e, non-scholarship students who are able to make a sports team, like Rudy at Notre Dame), and part-time students.

As far as I can tell, my solution never made it to the table. Rather than requiring colleges to prove compliance to federal bureaucrats at all, I believe that colleges should be allowed to run their athletic departments as they see fit, until it is proven that real-live students of one gender who genuinely want to play intercollegiate sports have less of an opportunity, as a group, to do so than similarly situated students of the opposite gender.
Ann Coulter goes after the "War-Torn Democrats." She quotes John Kerry's position on the war:

"(I)f you have a breach that, by everybody's standard, at least in the United States, those of us in the House and Senate, and the president, join together and make a judgment, this is indeed a material breach, and then others -- some of them can't be persuaded -- if we have evidence, sufficient to show the materiality of the breach, we should be able to do what Adlai Stevenson did on behalf of the administration, Kennedy administration, and sit in front of the Security Council and say, 'Here is the evidence. It's time for all of you to put up. We need to all do this together.' And that's what I think the resolution that was passed suggests."

Any hope we'll soon be seeing books mocking "Kerryisms"?

Ridicule aside, Kerry echoes Tom Daschle (who unites the Axis of Evil and the Axis of Weasels in a single persona, the Evil Weasel) in wondering why we can't just lay out U2 photographs that would conclusively prove Saddam's violations, as Adlai Stevenson did during the Cuban missile crisis. Two reasons: 1) Our intelligence doesn't come from airplanes, it comes from people on the ground. This is because a) Saddam doesn't allow U2s to fly over Iraq, and the U.N. hasn't pressed the issue, and b) the stuff we're looking for is much smaller than the Cuban missile installations of 1963. 2) A U2 can't have its tongue torn out. Therefore we did not hesitate to disclose that our photos came from a U2. In Iraq, if we disclose the sources of our intelligence--as in many instances we must, either explicitly or implicitly, if we release the intelligence itself--those sources will cease to exist in a manner that would strongly discourage others in Iraq or any other country from cooperating with us in the future.
I am reporting live from the thirtieth annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington which I am attending with Little Trunk. This morning before the conference formally convened we had the pleasure of meeting the proprietors of the invaluabe Web site RealClearPolitics, Tom Bevan and John McIntyre. They couldn't have been nicer.

The conference kicked off in glorious style with a keynote speech by Vice President Cheney. The vice president stated at the outset that 2003 is "going to be a consequential year in the history of our nation and in the history of freedom...We will answer every enemy of the United States."

He limited himself to reiterating each one of the themes of the president's State of the Union address and of course concluded with a summary of the administration's position on Iraq. The vice president stated that Iraq constitutes a continuing threat to the United States and that its disarmament is not a distraction, but is "absolutely crucial to wiinning the war on terror." He made it clear more or less expressly that the threat posed to the United States by Iraq post 9/11 is the existence via al-Qaeda of a delivery system for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. He concluded by comparing President Bush with President Reagan, stating that as President Reagan proved equal to the challenges of his years in office, President Bush was proving equal to the challenges of his.
The Daily News claims to have obtained a classified document indicating that Iraqi operatives from Canada were involved in the recent anti-war demonstrations in Washington and New York. The same document suggests that Islamofascists in Zimbabwe who linked to al Qaeda are planning attacks on American interests in the event of war with Iraq.

While I wouldn't doubt some Iraqi presence in the recent anti-war demonstrations, I would think they were more likely present as spies than as organizers--although the demonstrations' organizer, A.N.S.W.E.R., would not hesitate to collaborate with Iraqi intelligence.
And on a happier note, don't miss "Europe and America Must Stand United", by the leaders of Great Britain, Spain, Denmark, Portugal, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland:

"We in Europe have a relationship with the United States which has stood the test of time. Thanks in large part to American bravery, generosity and far-sightedness, Europe was set free from the two forms of tyranny that devastated our continent in the 20th century: Nazism and Communism. Thanks, too, to the continued cooperation between Europe and the United States we have managed to guarantee peace and freedom on our continent. The transatlantic relationship must not become a casualty of the current Iraqi regime’s persistent attempts to threaten world security."

Just in case you thought no one in Europe remembered.
Check out "The French: Why do they hate us?" by Chris Suellentrop in Slate. Suellentrop reminds us that the French have been contrary on Iraq for a while, quoting Clinton State Department spokesman James Rubin in 1999: "We do find it puzzling and passing strange that France would spend so much energy and focus so much attention on the danger to them of a strong United States rather than the dangers that we and France together face from countries like Iraq."
It was reported a couple of weeks ago that Norm Coleman was one of a group of eleven Democratic and Republican Senators (Olympia Snowe, the Missing Linc, et al.) who were meeting to develop a tax cut plan that would be an alternative to the Bush proposal. This "moderate" proposal would not have included dividend tax relief. This article is from a California newspaper, but the same report appeared in the Minnesota papers. This news must have prompted an outcry from Coleman's Minnesota supporters, virtually of whom thought it was unseemly--to say the least--for Norm to betray the President who was mainly responsible for his election within a matter of days after taking office.

This constituent feedback (along with whatever pressure was exerted by the Administration) seems to have been effective. The Minnesota Republican Party produces a twice-weekly email newsletter called GOP Newsline that goes out to several thousand of the party faithful. Yesterday's GOP Newsline included a long statement by Coleman, enthusiastically endorsing the Administration's tax cut proposal, including the elimination of double taxation on dividends; Coleman's statement said in part:

“The single greatest way to get our economy moving again is to cut taxes. The single greatest way to get investors investing again is to ensure confidence in the stock market through corporate reforms and reducing or eliminating the double-taxation of stock dividends....The President’s plan, including provisions that would reduce or eliminate taxes on stock dividends, has the potential to reignite our national and world economy....With that in mind, I have been working with members on both sides of the aisle to find a way to secure the votes necessary to pass a strong tax relief package that will be signed by the President – and to avoid the kind of watered down compromise that will make the stimulus plan less effective."

My own guess is that dividend tax relief will wind up on the cutting-room floor, but if that happens, it should be bargained away, not given away. If we get the rest of the President's package, it will be a huge victory. It is good to see the Administration, together with the party's voters, enforcing some discipline.

Get your Axis of Weasels merchandise here. Shirts, coffee mugs, lunch boxes, picture frames and--no kidding--thong panties. (Via Tim Blair.)
Oregon, like many states faced with budget deficits, took a novel approach when its legislature was unable to decide whether to raise taxes or cut spending: it left the choice to the voters, via a referendum. The alternatives in the referendum were a three-year tax increases and pre-identified spending cuts. The spending cuts were apparently selected to discourage people from voting for them: "halting medical benefits to 12,000 elderly or disabled people, laying off more than 100 state troopers and closing public schools from a few days to six weeks ahead of schedule," as reported by the Washington Post. (Sort of like when voters in my school district didn't pass a tax increase, the district left teachers' pensions and all administrative expenses intact, but terminated all bus service.) No matter. By a 54-46 margin, the voters of Oregon chose spending cuts. Now the pressure will be on legislators to find alternatives to the first spending cut that went into effect: "The fallout began yesterday in Portland, where Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto freed 114 inmates whom he said the county cannot afford to incarcerate without state aid."
The Washington Times colllects poll data on the State of the Union speech in this article, "Bush's speech resonates with public, polls show." We had most but not quite all of these data in Power Line yesterday. Most interesting to me is that the audience for the President's speech is estimated at 62 million, up, surprisingly, from 52 million last year.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Rocket Man, you are largely correct that the American media have failed to acknowledge the extent of European support for our policy on Iraq. Here is an exception, though -- a column in the Washington Post by Anne Applebaum. She lists the same countries cited by the Daily Telegraph as supporting President Bush. She also notes that these are all countries that have undergone, or are undergoing, economic liberalization, privatization, and labor market reforms, and countries that resent French and German domination of Europe. Applebaum does not deny that there is substantial anti-American sentiment in most of these countries, but she still views them as a counter-weight to Germany and France, and concludes that the strident language emanating from the "Axis of Weasels" may be a sign of waning influence, rather than growing strength.
I don't know, maybe I missed it, but I don't think the American media have acknowledged the extent to which European countries support the U.S. on Iraq, as reported by the Daily Telegraph:"Europe split as leaders back US on Iraq." The Telegraph says: "The split in Europe over America's readiness to go to war against Iraq deepened last night when leaders of seven European nations joined Tony Blair in calling for the Continent to stand united with President George W Bush....The appeal by the leaders of Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic is a boost for Mr Blair who has sought to build a European coalition of support for Mr Bush."

The Telegraph concludes: "The prospects of Britain and America fighting a lonely war against Iraq have been laid to rest by the willingness of other European nations to pledge support."

Watch for it in tomorrow's New York Times.
The Administration has pointed out that Iraq is in line to take over as Chairman of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament in May. Someone please remind me why we need permission from these people to defend ourselves.
The Associated Press headlines "U.S. Fails to Sway Allies on Iraq" , referring to today's 11 to 4 vote in the U.N. Security Council to allow more time for weapons inspections in Iraq. The AP notes that "neither the largely negative reports from weapons inspectors this week nor Bush's address altered the positions of some of America's key allies, including France." Putting aside for the moment the absurd claim that France is a "key ally" of the United States--to be a key ally, it is at a minimum necessary to imagine a situation in which a country could be useful--this story is typical of conventional reporting in that it portrays countries like France, Russia, Syria, Cameroon etc. as objective judges of American foreign policy, occupying a higher plane than America and acting on purer motives, waiting patiently to be "swayed" by our still-inadequate arguments. The conventional media never breathe a hint of the truth, which is that countries like France and Germany are cowards. They would be delighted if the United States liberates Iraq; truth be told, they would be greatly relieved if we exterminated all Muslims, especially the ones living within their countries, of whom they live in a state of constant fear. The only reason why countries like France pretend that they are not yet convinced by the power of our arguments is that they are hoping to deflect Islamic terrorism away from themselves onto us and our real allies. They are, in short, cowards, motivated by the most craven sort of self-interest, calculating that in the end we will do what is right without exposing them to Islamofascist revenge. It is sickening to see our own media accord them a position of moral superiority.
Here, from National Review Online, is an analysis by Meyrav Wurmser of why Israel's left suffered such a crushing defeat in Tuesday's elections. The rival Likud party was rocked by financial scandals and had presided over a weak economy while experiencing only mixed success in combatting terrorism. Nonetheless, Labor suffered a defeat so resounding that, for now at least, it is difficult to view Israeli politics as a two-party system.

Wurmser cites three reasons for this. The first and most obvious is that Labor is still viewed as responsible for the failed Oslo accords and subsequent decline in personal security. This is because Labor has been unable to re-examine its world view in light of the collapse of Oslo. Instead, the only soul-searching that Labor engages in is over how quickly to return to the negotiating table. As Wurmser notes, "the majority of Israelis view this internal debate with a mixture of anger and disbelief."

A second reason for Labor's crushing defeat was the fact that when Prime Minister Sharon went on television to defend himself against corruption charges, his speech was forced off the air by a Supreme Court judge. As Rocket Man predicted at the time, this caused a significant backlash. It was the "Wellstone death rally" moment of the campaign.

The third reason, which is related to the first two, was the electorate's sense that the Israeli left hates not only the government but the concept of Israel itself. Wurmser quotes the celebrated left-wing author Amos Oz as follows: "Among some of the radical intelligentsia in Israel today I see hatred not only for the religious, but also for the settlers, the Right, and the nationalists. I see sweeping hatred for the architecture, for the music, the folk songs, the memories -- for everything. For the streets on which people walk. For the buses on which people travel."

There may be a lesson in this for our politics. Our left, arguably as influential in Democratic politics as Israel's left is in Labor, has not re-examined its assumptions in the face of September 11. And its hatred of Americana may be approaching the hatred that Oz describes. Because Americans do not experience terrorism on a daily basis, the Democrats do not presently incur voter wrath to the extent that the Labor party does, nor am I predicting that they will. But there are enough similarities that the possibility that the Democrats will experience a Labor party type melt-down cannot be dismissed.
I ran across this astonishing story this morning on NewsMax. A south Florida radio personality named Neil Rogers commissioned and repeatedly played a racist song about Condoleezza Rice; sung to the tune of "Mona Lisa," it calls Rice a "neo-facist black-haired token schwarze dog" and includes lyrics like "Does they like how you shine their shoes, Condoleezza...But then he make you clean all the White House bathrooms. The public sink, the toilet and let's scrub the floors." Rogers repeatedly played the song on the radio, which prompted a complaint to the local NAACP chapter. The NAACP, however, "decided not to complain on behalf of the top black Bush official." Rogers' radio station (but not Rogers himself) has now apologized as a result of complaints by a Chicago radio personality.

Why did this outrageous racist incident prompt no reaction at all from the NAACP or the media's racial sensitivity police? Not because Rogers is inconsequential; he appears to be the top-rated radio personality in Miami, and Talkers Magazine Online rates him the 15th greatest radio talk personality all time, ahead of such stalwarts as Arthur Godfrey and Neal Boortz. Rather, it seems clear that Rogers got a pass because he is a leftist. Here is his web site. Rogers is a vicious critic of President Bush; he links to various anti-Bush articles and promotes books like David Brock's Blinded by the Right, Molly Ivins' Shrub, and something called Forbidden Truth, about "U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy." For this, he gets a pass from the NAACP and the mainstream media. More evidence that racism is unobjectionable as long as it is in the service of liberalism.
Here are Gallup's overnight poll data. Eighty-four per cent of viewers had an overall positive reaction to the speech. By a 67% to 30% margin, viewers thought the President made a convincing case for military action against Iraq. Bear in mind that more Republicans than Democrats watched the speech.
CBS News has poll data after last night's speech. The speech obviously went over well with viewers; the most significant finding is that support for military action against Iraq rose from 67% to 77% among those who watched the speech, compared to only 22% opposing military action.

Andrew Sullivan has posted his reaction to the State of the Union address, which he loved.
Terry Eastland has an outstanding evaluation of the president's State of the Union speech: "Next Stop: War." Eastland elaborates on several of the strands of the speech in a way that only magnifies respect for the might of the president's words. I myself have little to add to Rocket Man's and Eastland's evaluations of the speech except a point about President Bush himself.

Over the past 30 years as I studied Lincoln's life and speeches, I found myself liking Lincoln more and more as a person the better I got to know him--and it is possible to get to know him awfully well. It struck me that this reaction more or less replicated the experience of people (like Jack Armstrong and Joshua Speed, for example) who met Lincoln as an impoverished young man and became his fast friends and admirers. The better his acquaintances got to know him, the more they liked him. When he first ran for the state legislature at the age of 22, although he lost the election, he received the votes of 92 percent of the residents of New Salem, Illinois, to which he had moved only a year earlier.

I think a similar phenomenon applies to President Bush. Several of the most powerful strands of the speech last night, those where he wore his own feelings on his sleeve, were those that came out of his own heart and life. I think the more Americans get to know him--and he showed a lot of himself last night--the more they will like him as a person.

The opposite, on the other hand, might well be said of certain Democrats like Senator Daschle. Hugh Hewitt shows a high threshold for pain in memorializing, and doing justice to, Daschle's "prebuttal" in "Dashle's lowest blow." (Courtesy of RealClearPolitics.)

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Here is the Washington Post's report on the Israeli elections. Reader Joshua Sharf provided us with the following fine analysis of the Post's report:

The Washington Post article repeats all of the old bromides within the first few paragraphs: Likud is "hard-line," Sharon's "harsh military crackdown on Palestinians," Labor, which calls for unilateral surrender,and is completely beholden to the universal labor union, Histradrut, is "center-left," and, of course, "Sharon's tough military policies [are] aimed at destroying the Palestinian Authority." In reality, Likud is centrist, Sharon has been harsh to terrorists, not Palestinians in general, Labor left the center a long time ago, and Sharon could have destroyed the PA months ago if he had wanted to. He seems to be taking the "mend it, don't end it" line with the PA, and realizes that, in George Will's words, the West Bank is in dire need of de-nazification.

The article gives lip-service to the notion that Sharon, one of the last of the original generation of Zionists from 1948, would rather work with Labor than with the Orthodox parties. It then goes on for three paragraphs claiming that Labor, like the Democrats, suffer from not proposing an alternative. Perhaps because when your country is under assault, there is no reasonable alternative. The Post does mention that people don't trust Labor to negotiate successfully, and that even many traditional Labor voters have a Nixon-goes-to-China attitude; they remember that it took Begin to get Sadat to Camp David. The problem is not, as Labor would have it, that people think Labor compromised its principles in the last unity government; it's that Foreign Minister Peres, by taking every opportunity to publicly sabotage Prime Minister Sharon, showed that Labor still hasn't figured out that Arafat is evil.

Personally, I'd like to see Labor split. It would marginalize the irresponsible wing of the party, leaving them out of the government, while giving the Scoop Jackson Laborites the chance to form a responsible party, or rescue Labor's name.

Mr. Sharf's commentary on this and other issues appears here on his "viewfromaheight.blogspot" site.
Here, courtesy of the Washington Post and the blog No Left Turns, is President Bush's speech. In addition, No Left Turns has collected a few of the key quotations including my favorite by a wide margin -- "The course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others."
Rocket Man, I agree completely with your assessment of President Bush's speech. I've seen nearly all of the State of the Union addresses since John Kennedy's first (I missed Clinton's last two because it got to the point that I couldn't watch the man). I don't recall any this good.
This may be as good a time as any to announce an exciting development--a new and improved Power Line site. We started this blog on Memorial Day of last year. I'd heard about blogging, read Andrew Sullivan and InstaPundit, and thought it sounded like fun. It took me less than ten minutes to set up the site on Blogger; the biggest hang-up was the site's name, which a 13-year-old friend of my oldest daughter supplied in a moment of inspiration. Starting a blog is easy; obtaining readers is harder. Through a variety of efforts and lots of good fortune, we have developed a large and growing audience, to every member of which we are very grateful. While we are thankful for the start that Blogger gave us, and appreciate all of the many virtues of the Blogger software, we concluded a few weeks ago that we wanted a more powerful and flexible software, a more reliable hosting service--our biggest complaint is that frequently we are unable to post (usually only briefly) because we are cut off from our Blogger server--and a more attractive, professionally designed site. I resisted this conclusion briefly, as it was my minimal expertise at writing HTML code that accounts for the waving flag, the quotes and links, the power line graphic, etc. But I was quickly convinced that we would be better off in the hands of a professional web site designer. Some time in the next week or ten days, we expect to make the transition to a new site that will feature the same content but should be more attractive and more fun for us and our readers. Stay tuned; we will keep you posted as the new site is finalized.
Another phenomenal performance by President Bush tonight. His evident sincerity and resolve shone through once again; he is his own best weapon. His exposition of the Iraq situation was eloquent and compelling, and should shift the terms of the debate from here on. Even the domestic catalog was better than I expected--generally speaking, everything between tax cuts and foreign policy leaves me pretty much cold. But the African AIDS initiative, in particular, was very effective and, in truth, sounds like a good idea. The speech's conclusion did a beautiful job of linking our present situation both to America's heroic role in the history of the 20th century, and to the September 11 attacks. I think the President seized the initiative tonight, and there seems to be a fair prospect that he can hold it.

It is always interesting to watch as the cameras pan over the Democrats in the audience. Tonight, John Kerry seemed cadaverous and oddly unresponsive, almost catatonic. Hillary Clinton was jumping up to applaud at precisely the moments where applause would befit a 2004 Presidential candidate. But most enjoyable to me were the repeated shots of a sour-faced Tom Daschle, looking utterly dejected and defeated. On the whole, an excellent night for the forces of truth and justice.
Thanks to reader Curt Benson for catching the Trunk and me on the radio this morning. Unfortunately, his reaction is not exactly a rave review: "Ouch! Your interview on the radio this morning was awful." Wait, it gets a little better: "Not your fault--the host, whom I've never listened to before, was clueless." Yes, she was. She also was the Democratic candidate for Governor of New Hampshire a few years ago. The lines were clearly drawn; the Trunk and I argued that race discrimination is always a bad idea (not to mention illegal, in the context of a state institution like the University of Michigan); she argued that it all depends. It was a minor skirmish in the ongoing war, but it's good to know that at least a few people were listening.
James Robbins of National Review Online on how Hans Blix hopes to parlay his report, which finds violations that under the Security Council resolution require concerted action against Saddam Hussein, into a mandate for something quite different. It seems that Blix thinks the fine work his outfit has done in uncovering violations merits an expanded role in an endless inspections regime. In his mind, and in the minds of his masters, the leaders of the former Western Europe, the inspections were not about giving Saddam Hussein one last chance to prove his compliance, but rather about giving Blix and his inspectors a chance to prove their capabilities. Now, having given himself the highest marks, Blix is ready to carry on indefinitely.
Today our friends at the Claremont Institute have started their own Web log, The Remedy. For its contributors The Remedy boasts a stable of the best political thinkers and analysts in the country, all students (actual or putative) of the great Harry Jaffa, preeminent authority on the thought of Abraham Lincoln. Please take a look and add The Remedy to your list of favorites.
As expected, Likud has won a big victory in the Israeli election, and Labor is down to 18 out of 120 seats.
Now that Scott Ritter is out of commission, the left has dug up another former U.N. weapons inspector who, while acknowledging that Iraq undoubtedly possesses weapons of mass destructioin and is trying to fool the U.N., accuses the United States of "shocking double standards" in threatening action against Iraq.
The Associated Press is reporting what seems to be a change in the Administration's plans for the State of the Union speech tonight. Citing an anonymous senior Administration official, AP says that President Bush "will use one or two new pieces of recently unclassified intelligence to outline his case against Iraq" in the speech. The President previewed the speech for a group of conservatives yesterday, and I'm guessing he got strong input that he needs to have some new information in the address.
Real Clear Politics also directed us to this piece by Stuart Taylor on racial preferences at colleges and universities. Taylor claims that because de facto "resegregation" of state colleges and universities is unacceptable to the "body politic," the real choice on this issue is between Michigan style preferences and "other strategems," such as the Texas top ten percent plan, designed to preserve racial diversity. Taylor devotes the remainder of his column to describing how unpalatable both sets of alternatives are.

Taylor's piece illustrates, first of all, why the Bush Administration briefs were so unfortunate -- they give the impression that true colorblindness is politically unacceptable and thus not part of what Taylor calls "the real choice confronting the Court and the nation." If the Administration's briefs had advocated true colorblindness, Taylor would have looked foolish had he claimed that this option is off-the-table.

I am aware of no pursuasive evidence that a colorblind approach is unacceptable to the American people. The fact that states have resorted to race-conscious strategems when told by the voters to abandon preferences shows only that the elites oppose colorblindness. Taylor says that "most of us would be highly distressed to see a drastic drop in the number of black and Hispanic students at our top universities." I believe that nearly all Americans would be distressed by "re-segregration." But there is no evidence that this would occur. A "drastic drop" from artificial levels imposed by university bureaucrats would probably be less distressing to most. In any case, since when does the constitutionality of racial discrimination turn on what "distresses most of us"?
Courtesy of Real Clear Politics and the New York Post, here is Daniel Pipes on "why Europe balks." Pipes borrows from an essay in the Weekly Standard by Yale professor David Gelernter, who finds that the former Western Europe, forged by World War II, has been replaced by the Old Europe of post-World War I vintage. Pipes agrees with Gelernter that 1920s-style self-hatred is now a dominant force in Europe, and that appeasement fits this mood perfectly, "having grown over the decades into a worldview that teaches the blood-guilt of Western man, the moral bankruptcy of the West, and the outrageousness of Western civilizaion's attempting to impose its values on anyone else."

Monday, January 27, 2003

Bob Woodward has a balanced article in tomorrow's Washington Post about the Administration's decision to begin releasing classified information on Iraq's concealment of banned weapons of mass destruction. Woodward nicely articulates the competing considerations: desire to persuade doubting Americans and Europeans, ambiguity in much of the evidence, and fear of compromising intelligence sources that will be crucial if and when war begins. Today Tom Daschle--who has a remarkable record of being wrong about virtually every public issue at every point in his career--called on the Administration to disclose what it claims to know about Iraq's violations. The problem with this, obviously, is that the Iraqis are not stupid, and disclosing what we know now--weeks or maybe months before we are in a position to do anything about it--will enable the Iraqis to figure out what our intelligence sources are, and hide their weapons more effectively over the coming weeks. This is really very obvious, so you can decide for yourself whether Daschle's challenge is issued in good faith.
The Daily Telegraph joins in the praise for Hans Blix's report to the Security Council in this article titled "The Damning of Saddam." It includes a good brief summary of the failings on the part of Saddam's regime that are itemized in the inspectors' report. The Telegraph says:

"Hans Blix, the chief United Nations weapons inspector, stated unequivocally last night that Saddam Hussein had failed to disarm, greatly strengthening the American and British case for war."
For readers in Minnesota, the Trunk and I will be on FM radio (I think the number is 107; correct me if I'm wrong, Trunk) tomorrow morning at 7:20. We will be talking about our article (mostly Trunk's) in the St. Paul Pioneer Press this morning, on the University of Michigan cases. We linked to the article this morning. One caveat: the show's producer warned us our segment could be pre-empted.

Update from Trunk: Rocket Man has it right. We'll be on KSTP's FM talk radio outlet, KFMP 107.1, in Minneapolis-St. Paul at 7:20 am for one segment. My caveat: the host (New Hampshire's Democratic former candidate-for-all-offices Deborah "Arnie" Arneson) doesn't see the difference between racial preferences and legacy preferences. I'm not confident we can do the job in 20 minutes.
My nine-year-old daughter Alexandra is a kid who, like her dad, leans Republican. When her fourth grade teacher gave her class an assignment requiring the students to write biographies of figures of the students' choosing, she chose to write about President Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes. As part of my daughter's project, she wrote Mrs. Hughes two weeks ago and sent her a set of questions seeking information on important issues such as her favorite food and her favorite color.

You might say my daughter caught Mrs. Hughes at a bad time. For the past week she has been in Washington helping the president with tomorrow evening's State of the Union address. She nevertheless made time to respond to Alexandra's questions, and Alexandra has agreed to share her answers with us as a Power Line exclusive.

Mrs. Hughes prefaces her answers to Alexandra's questions by saying, "I’m sorry I couldn’t go into more detail – I’m in DC working with the President on the State of the Union address." I think we understand.

In response to Alexandra's question about why she decided to help then-Governor Bush in the presidential campaign, Mrs. Hughes states: "I couldn’t say 'no' – he is such a wonderful man – trustworthy, kind, compassionate and honest. I thought he would make an excellent President of the United States. I respect him and admire him more each day."

Mrs. Hughes responded to Alexandra's request for a message to the members of her fourth grade class as follows: “I want young people to think of themselves as public servants leading lives that balance family and their careers. Too many people go into the workforce thinking only about money and belongings. You need devote time to your families and your community. Spend as much time as you can with those you love.”

It doesn't get much better than that, and admirers of President Bush have frequently taken his measure in part by the kind of people with whom he surrounds himself. But Vikings fans will be pleased to know that Mrs. Hughes identifies her favorite color as purple.
Israel's Knesset election is tomorrow, and Haaretz reports that Labor is virtually conceding defeat:

"'We will support Mitzna after the elections. We will accept the verdict handed down by the voter, and we will deduce the message sent to us,' Ramon [Labor's public relations directir] said at a press conference at the party's headquarters.... He also expressed confidence that no one at the top of the Labor brass would try to settle accounts with Mitzna. 'Reports on dismantling the Labor party were very premature.'"

American newspapers showed a brief glimmer of interest in Israel's election a couple of weeks ago, when polls showed Labor closing on the heavily-favored Likud party. But now that a conservative victory appears assured, interest has dropped to near zero. But, whether American newspapers wish to acknowledge the fact or not, the reality is that Likud--nearly always described as "right wing" in American press reports--now represents the center of the Israeli electorate. Labor is moribund on the left, and the most vigorous alternatives to Likud are on that party's right.
This column by Jackson Diehl in the Washington Post on the upcoming Israeli elections demonstrates the usual Post bias in favor of the Labor Party and its peacenik candidate. However, the column is noteworthy because it chastises the Europeans for failing to follow through on promises to insist on Palestinian reform and to promote new Palestinian leadership. But, of course, the Europeans are no more interested in the emergence of such Palestinian leadership than they are in findng evidence that Saddam Hussein is developing weapons of mass destruction.
Another issue that President Bush will not be discussing tomorrow night, according to Michelle Malkin, is the parlous state of our borders. Malkin adds that the Republicans avoid this issue even in RNC national mail order surveys, where it is not listed among important national issues.
The Associated Press is reporting that President Bush will discuss Iraq in broad terms in his State of the Union speech tomorrow night, but will not offer new evidence of Iraq's possession of banned weapons or of links between Iraq and al Qaeda. If this is true, a lot of people will be disappointed. The plan, apparently, is to assign the task of revealing such evidence to Colin Powell, probably early next week. It appears that the principal focus of the President's speech will be domestic policy.
We'll be commenting on the Blix and ElBaradei reports when we have had time to digest them, but in the meantime, here is the BBC's take:

"The report of the chief UN weapons inspector Dr Hans Blix was not so much the 'mixed bag' he had promised as the sandbagging of Iraq...What he said enabled the United States to increase the intensity of its diplomatic assault on Iraq, which might soon become a physical assault. This was the key test - whether the United States would moderate its language. It did not. It has plenty of ammunition from Iraq's 'missing munitions.'"

The BBC is clearly unhappy to see Baghdad "sandbagged," and it sets out its own summary of the "Evidence Against Iraq" and the "Evidence For Iraq." The BBC's final point of Evidence For Iraq is that "Iraq says that 'missing material' was all lost or destroyed," and it concludes with the age-old conundrum: "Is the glass half-full or half-empty?" The BBC's view, apparently, is that if half of Iraq's toxic material is accounted for but the other half isn't, the U.S. and Great Britain should view the glass as "half-full" and stop making trouble.
Reuters reports that Colin Powell told an Italian interviewer that the U.S. will, "in the next week or soon after," make public "a good part of [the] material... which come[s] from the work of our intelligence that show[s] Iraq maintains prohibited weapons." Powell also said: "The war is not on for tomorrow but the longer we wait, the greater the possibility that this dictator, who has clear links to the al Qaeda terrorist group, will move his weapons or technology elsewhere." I hope that when our intelligence information is disclosed, it reveals "clear links to al Qaeda" as well as banned weapons.
Michael Ledeen for National Review Online explains why Jacques Chirac is no Charles De Gaulle. The article arguably paints a somewhat flattering picture of De Gaulle, but is spot-on when it comes to Chirac.
Paul Wolfowitz addressed the Council on Foreign Relations last Thursday; here is the text. Wolfowitz' speech is a masterly exposition of the history of the Iraq situation and the uses and limitations of weapons inspectors. His detailed recitation of the ways in which Iraq had frustrated the inspections process over a period of years is infuriating. Wolfowitz makes the case for destroying Saddam's regime brilliantly. Let's hope President Bush does as well tomorrow night.
Hadley Arkes for National Review Online notes that Colin Powell has "put himself through one of the priciest ventures in adult education as he was sandbagged last week by the French, and discovered that his scheme of working through the United Nations was not only a path leading nowhere, but a path leading off course." Arkes recommends that President Bush give a "Sam Spade" style State of the Union address, to the effect that, since Al Qaeda has killed, and continue primarily to target, Americans, we are the ones who must do something about it.
This morning's St. Paul Pioneer Press runs Rocket Man's and my take on the University of Michigan cases pending before the Supreme Court: "'Affirmative action' and 'diversity' are misleading terms for gross discrimination." Steve Dornfeld of the Pioneer Press editorial page invited us to submit the piece as the counterpart to a pro-affirmative action piece by Joe Bollettieri: "President Bush has the right words but the wrong actions on affirmative action."

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Deborah Orin in The New York Post reports that the Democrats are concerned about Al Sharpton's campaign for the presidency. This piece by J.D. Cassidy in FrontPage Magazine shows why they should be.
The editors of the Washington Post once again call on the United Nations Security Council to "follow the resolution." That means declaring Iraq in material breach and forcing Iraq to disarm. The Post notes that there is no way to square ongoing inspections with the terms of the Security Council resolution. By claiming otherwise, says the Post, Paris and Berlin are undermining the credibility of the United Nations and handing over the enforcement of global order to the United States. To which I say, thank you Paris and Berlin.
E.J. Dionne is at his most fatuous in this piece from today's Washington Post. Dionne's thesis is that President Bush can be "a commanding and unifying leader who rallies the country behind the war on terrorism and major foreign policy endeavors" or he can be "a partisan ideological leader who tries to transform domestic policy and politics" but "he cannot succeed at both." But why not? Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan all rallied the country behind major foreign policy endeavors and transformed domestic policy. The only evidence Dionne enlists for the proposition that Bush cannot do both is public opinion polls showing that support for Bush is declining. But Dionne knows, and pretty much acknowledges, that these polls are meaningless. If we are successful in a war against Saddam Hussein, if the economy improves, and if terrorist successes are minimal, then this success will be reflected in the polls, and Bush will join the ranks of Wilson, Roosevelt, and Reagan.

Dionne notes, however, that things may not go well for President Bush on all of these fronts. He feigns concern that, by polarizng the country, Bush has left "no political net below him if something should go wrong." But under what circumstances would Bush have a political net below him if his policies fail? Short of switching party affiliation, I can't think of any. The notion that by not proposing tax cuts Bush could immunize himself from Democratic criticism in the event of problems with the war on Iraq or the war on terrorism is silly even by Dionne's standards. The first President Bush tried to play the game that Dionne is prescribing for the second. The Democrats devoured him. Dionne's real grievance is that this President Bush refuses to play the chump.
The high temperature today in Minneapolis was below zero, so this cartoon, which recently appeared in a Montreal newspaper, seemed appropriate. It applies equally to Minnesota, and has considerable resonance in the Rocket household.

To all you Power Line readers in Southern California, all I can say is, eat your hearts out!
Today's London Times reports that police found "protective suits designed for use during a chemical warfare attack" in last week's raid on the Finsbury Park mosque, but Scotland Yard did not disclose the discovery for fear that such publicity "could inflame racial tensions." The suits also could be used for protection while formulating chemical or biological weapons.

Meanwhile, as a result of the ricin arrests in London, five al Qaeda terrorists who had been squatting in a farm house in Italy were arrested. Among the items found in the farmhouse was a stack of photographs, including this one:

Just a bunch of wild and crazy terrorists.
The World Economic Forum is going on in Davos, Switzerland, and it has drawn the usual cranks protesting under the banner of "anti-globalization," or, to put it more accurately, "keep the Third World poor in hopes they'll turn Communist." For some reason, masks are very big with these protesters. Here is a bus full of them wearing identical masks; this same mask shows up often, but I have no idea what it depicts.

President Bush was the principal focus of the protesters' wrath, which I guess proves he must be doing somthing right. Here is a protester in a Bush mask, making an eloquent and articulate argument with the message on his flag:

Comparing President Bush and other anti-totalitarian, anti-genocide leaders to Hitler is very common. Here is a photo of Bush with a Hitler mustache; very clever:

And here the Hitler analogy is explicit; Bush, Blair and Sharon are the Hitlers of today:

The pro-torture demonstrators keep calling other people "Hitler," but they're the ones who pin yellow stars on their enemies. Here is an anti-Semitic slur, protesters wearing Ariel Sharon and Donald Rumsfeld masks, followed by a golden calf. About that yellow star: is Rumsfeld Jewish? Do the demonstrators think he's Jewish? I guess so. It would be possible to do something more contemptible than this, but it wouldn't be easy.

Of course, no self-respecting demonstration would be complete without burning some American flags:

This one is even worse. On InstaPundit and other sites earlier this morning, there was speculation about the three bloody stars, and whether they represent the three states in which al Qaeda murdered Americans on September 11. I haven't heard any alternate theory:

Another pro-Communist festival is going on in Brazil, timed to coincide with the Davos conference. It's good to see that Latin American leftists aren't mired in the past, re-living the fantasies of forty years ago:

The Latin American leftists are unmasking the war on terror. Whatever that means:

And, once again, the ritual burning of the American flag:

Note the flag they're flying instead of burning: the hammer and sickle. These people--"anti-globalists," "peace" marchers, whatever euphemism they may be going by at the moment--are the same vicious totalitarians who worked throughout the Cold War to subvert freedom and promote tyranny.
Along with George Will's column on "diversity," Mark Steyn's Sun-Times column this morning is one of today's best: "It's not just Saddam, but the system that's got to go."
Here is a Washington Times headline that we hope is right: "Class Warfare Said Not to be Working for Democrats." The Times quotes James Zogby, himself a Democrat, if I'm not mistaken, as follows:

"The Democrats are dead wrong about class warfare. Remember, 66 percent of likely voters in a general election are investors. They have a vested interest in making sure that the stock market is sound and corporations healthy."

The poll data on this are interesting. When asked, a great many people say that the Bush tax cuts favor the rich. But I think that many people, when they say in a poll that something is "true," mostly mean that it sounds familiar. Thus, when asked whether the tax cuts favor the rich, they say Yes, because that's what they keep hearing. But other data suggest that relatively few people care much.
Friday's Boston Globe carried an AP story reporting the striking results of a study of children in single-parent families that was published in the medical journal Lancet: "Single-parent homes studied." (Courtesy of No Left Turns.) The study tracked a million children for 10 years, into their mid-20's.
Today's New York Times magazine carries a lengthy article by Bill Keller comparing Presidents Bush (43) and Reagan. The article seems to acknowledge that the liberal punditocracy has "misunderestimated" (to use President Bush's term) both of them: "Reagan's Son." (Courtesy of the Rocket Prof.) Also worthy of your attention is another Times magazine article portraying the dying singer-songwriter Warren Zevon (composer of "Lawyers, Guns and Money," "Tenderness on the Block," and many other fine songs): "In His Time of Dying." Zevon is dying of mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lining of the lung that is essentially untreatable and invariably fatal within an average of six months from diagnosis.
Mark Steyn summons all of Britain's poets, past and present, to a kind of "We are the World" session aimed at producing the "savage indictment of American imperialism to end them all." He recounts the results in his latest column: "Stanza to reason."
George Will is not impressed by the University of Michigan's argument that its admission policies promote "diversity." Deacon will not only ace the quiz Will formulates for a real "diversity" policy, I'm pretty sure Deacon will in turn grade this column an "A": "A Quiz for U. Mich."

Saturday, January 25, 2003

This Q&A about next week's Israeli elections by Jonathan Tobin for Jewish World Review strikes me as sensible and, at times, insightful. In passing, Tobin notes that "for the first time since Washington noticed that Israelis elected their leaders, it has not tried to impose a left-wing government." For that, we can thank President Bush.
The headline in the Washington Post proclaims "FBI Taps Campus Police in Anti-Terror Operations." My first reaction was amusement, caused by thinking about the Dartmouth campus police of my day, which had the misfortune of being located under the Dartmouth Forensic Union where Rocket Man and I hung out. My second reaction was relief -- one would hope that, with terrorists having entered the country on student visas, the FBI would be communicating with campus police. But the Post reports that the reaction of some faculty leaders, student groups, and Muslim activists is that this represents a threat to academic freedom. They argue that "U.S. colleges and universities are unique places devoted to the exchange of ideas and even the hint of surveillance by government authorities taints that environment." This claim might have more force if our colleges and universities were consistently devoted to the free exchange of ideas, rather than the promotion of a politically correct liberal agenda. These same "faculty leaders" are probably the ones who cause or condone the exclusion from campus of critics of Islamic fundamentalism, such as Daniel Pipes.

In any case, the notion that FBI communication with the campus police would "taint" even an idealized college environment is implausble. If one makes it to the end of this over-heated article, one will finally encounter some common sense. Thus, Barbara O'Connor, chief of police at U. Mass (any relation to our own beloved Proctor O'Connor, Rocket Man?), says "I think we have a responsibility as a major university to contribute to the safety of the region, despite the political pressure that's been brought to bear. I understand people's concerns about civil liberties, but this is part of making sure people aren't harming citizens." And Sheldon Steinbach, general counsel for the American Council on Education, adds "Much of the concern expressed at the moment is speculative and anticipatory. It's ascribing sinister motives to the FBI before anything remotely akin to that has been proven."

The Post story is also interesting for its invocation of the FBI's COINTELPRO program of the 1960s, which monitored the campus radicalism of that era. As a student activist of that time, I would have to question any suggestion that the FBI was able to chill or significantly affect the course of student activism. And while I don't condone every tactic the FBI might have used, I think it was altogether appropriate that the FBI was keeping track of campus radicalism, given my first-hand knowledge of what many radicals of that time had in mind for America.

UPDATE by Hindrocket: It would be sweet to think that she is our O'Connor's daughter, Deacon, but I doubt it. It's probably hard for our readers to grasp how far we both have come in thinking that it is entirely appropriate and reasonable that the FBI should keep an eye on campuses to keep us safe from enemies of our country. I will say that academic freedom has little to fear from the FBI, and much to free from Islamofascists and their PC allies.
We are going through a period in which our elites have become hysterical about the fact that the Republicans have more or less taken over the federal government, and history is proceeding without any apparent regard for their preferences. This has a lot of consequences; one minor effect is that it is impossible to get straightforward reporting about poll data. This New York Times/CBS poll is being widely touted as showing drastic declines in public support for the Bush Administration in general, and the President's policies on taxes and Iraq in particular. Given the unanimous, daily drumbeat of criticism, it would hardly be surprising if these claims were true. But as usual, if we look at the actual raw data generated by the Times/CBS poll, the picture gives little comfort to the Democrats and their allies in Baghdad and the press. In particular, consider these findings:

When asked, "How much confidence do you have in George W. Bush's ability to make the right decisions about the nation's economy--a lot, some, not much, or none at all?," the results were: a lot: 39%; some: 42%; not much: 13%; none: 5%.
When asked, "Are you generally optimistic or pessimistic about the next two years with George W. Bush?," the responses were: Optimistic--64%, Pessimistic--31%.
When asked, "Do you think the Bush Administration has made a lot of progress, some progress, not much progress, or no progress at all in improving the nation's economy?," the answers are: A lot--6%; Some--45%; Not much--27%; None-- 20%.
By a 21% to 11% margin, respondents say the 2001 tax cuts have helped the economy, with 65% saying they made no difference.
When asked, "Do you approve or disapprove of the United States taking military action against Iraq to try and remove Saddam Hussein from power," 64% approve and 30% disapprove.
Finally, this poll is being cited as showing broad support for affirmative action and a rejection on the Administration's position in the Michigan cases. Here is the key question that was asked: "Do you think affirmative action programs in hiring, promoting, and college admissions should be continued, or do you think these affirmative action programs should be abolished? " The responses: Continue, 54%; Abolish, 37%. The key here, of course, is the wording of the question. "Affirmative action" is an infinitely flexible term that many people construe to mean inoffensive outreach measures. This poll did not ask the logical follow-up question about quotas; most polls don't. The results on that question are not in doubt. It is interesting, nevertheless, that the percentage saying they want to "continue" affirmative action programs was 50% in December 1996, 41% in December 1997; and 54% in this 2003 poll. It is hard to say whether these fluctuations mean anything. Possibly the constant attacks on the President's position over the last two weeks affected the responses somewhat.

The main point, I guess, is that you can't trust news stories about polls; you have to read the data yourself to draw any conclusions.
This piece in the Washington Times by Tony Blankley is interesting on several counts. Blankley notes a report from London's Daily Telegraph that the U.N. inspectors have uncovered documents that demonstrate ongoing work by Iraqi scientists to develop nuclear weapons. However, Hans Blix failed to mention these documents during discussions with Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac. Under the Security Council resolution, such information is to be reported immediately to the Council, which is then to convene immediately. Blankley notes that, in the unlikely event that Blix reported the information as required, the Security Council has not convened in response. Thus, either Blix or the Security Council is in violation of the resolution.

But the best thing about the article is the commentary by Blankley (an Englishman by birth, I believe) on the former Western Europe. Says Blankley, "We call them our European cousins -- but I demand a DNA test." As for the French, "their principles have been carefully crafted over the centuries to leave France free to be odious, cowardly, ungrateful, preening, greedy and untrustworthy -- as anyone who reads the newspaper can see on an almost daily basis." Based on this description, Blankley concludes that, at the end of the day, "France's greed for oil contracts will lead her to vote with us in the Security Council."
Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan have an excellent editorial in the issue of the Weekly Standard out this morning. The editorial makes the case for the clarifying effect of the emergence of the Axis of Weasels: "Merci, M. de Villepin." Claire Berlinski has an equally fine article that constitutes a kind of companion piece to the editorial: "Mrs. Euro's Mideast Adventure."

The bottom-of-the barrel lying, cowardice, rapacity, and treachery put so prominently on display by the Axis of Weasels has once again reminded me of an unforgettable passage from Stephen Ambrose's marvelous book, Band of Brothers. Ambrose's book provides a memorable account, as the book's subtitle concisely has it, of "E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne, from Normandy to Hitler's Eage's Nest."

One of the heroes of Company E is a soldier who survived, but just barely. Former Corporal Walter Gordon was horribly wounded at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. He recovered, went to law school, and became a successful entrepreneur in the oil business in Louisiana. In December 1991 Gordon saw a story in the Gulfport Sun Herald. The story related that the mayor of Eindhoven, Holland had declined to meet with General Norman Schwarzkopf "because he had too much blood on his hands." According to the mayor, Schwarzkopf was "the person who devised the most efficient way possible to kill as many people as possible." The mayor's statement made Gordon angry.

Ambrose recounts that Gordon wrote the mayor as follows: "On September 17, 1944 I participated in the large airborne operation which was conducted to liberate your country. As a member of company E, 506th PIR [parachute infantry regiment], I landed near the small town of Son. The following day we moved south and liberated Eindhoven. While carrying out our assignment, we suffered casualties. That is war talk for bleeding. We occupied various defense positions for over two months. Like animals, we lived in holes, barns, and as best we could. The weather was cold and wet. In spite of the adverse conditions, we held the ground we had fought so hard to capture.

"The citizens of Holland at that time did not share your aversion to bloodshed when the blood being shed was that of the German occupiers of your city. How soon we forget. History has proven more than once that Holland could again be conquered if your neighbor, the Germans, are having a dull weekend and the golf links are crowded.

"Please don't allow your country to be swallowed up by Liechenstein or the Vatican as I don't plan to return. As of now, you are on your own."
This cartoon by Brian Fairrington of the Arizona Republican is a nice complement to our commentary on the Michigan cases:
This is a remarkable news story, which I just picked up from Yahoo's News Photos but have not seen reported anywhere else. The photo below is of an "unidentified Iraqi man holding some files" who jumped into a U.N. van as it was leaving for inspections in Baghdad earlier today. The picture shows him inside the van, with his files held close to his chest, being tugged on by an Iraqi guard.

The brief news report accompanying the photo says that the man was "taken from the car and led away by Iraqi officials." No word on what became of his files. No indication that the U.N. "inspectors" tried to prevent the man from being hauled away and shot (if he's lucky). No indication of any concern by the "inspectors" over their inability to talk to the man, obtain his files, and find out what he knew. No suggestion of any protest by the U.N. or its inspectors. No indication that the U.N. viewed the man's jumping into their van and trying to tell them something--we'll never know what--as anything but an annoying interruption of their effort to cover up for Saddam and keep him in power. I would have said that my opinion of the U.N. couldn't get much lower, but if we don't see some serious follow-up on this, I'll be proved wrong. Unbelievable.

Update: CNN has a little more, but not much. They add this picture of U.N. security guards and Iraqi policemen dragging the man away to be killed:

CNN adds that the man appeared "agitated and frightened," and yelled "save me, save me" as he jumped into the U.N. vehicle. CNN also describes the U.N. "inspector" who, "watched from the passenger seat, unfazed" as the Iraqi guards dragged the man out of the vehicle. So now we'll never know whether the man was a nut or someone with valuable information to offer. The U.N. had no interest whatever in finding out what he had to say. And now any other Iraqis who might be thinking of approaching U.N. "inspectors" with information that might interfere with the U.N.'s pro-Saddam agenda will know better.
Our reader Peter Swanson has a letter to the editor in this morning's Star Tribune. Peter takes issue with the Star Tribune's editorial endorsing the University of Michigan's race-based "affirmative action" admissions policy:

"Your Jan. 24 editorial suggests that the University of Michigan's affirmative action policy is an 'honest' and 'straightforward' way of achieving racial diversity. The problem is that the details of the point system only came to light when a professor obtained the policy under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act. Clearly, the university did not have as much confidence and pride in its affirmative action policy as the Star Tribune does."
I've read all the columns posted on RealClearPolitics this morning, and there are several good ones (I recommend Peter Brown's on the proclivity of Democrats to cite "world opinion" to constrain the United States and Ruben Navarette's on the liberal support for affirmative action). But the best I have found on the Web today is Emperor Misha I's dialogue commentary "We really weren't going to do this" on Bill Clinton's most recent attack on the Bush administration.
Rocket Man, I think you came up with a lame excuse to post pictures of women in bikinis. (Incidentally, Rocket Man, can you explain to me what the bikini women on the left and on the right are looking at?) As for boosting readership, we have already obtained a fair amount of evidence from Google that "Michelle Malkin nude" would do the trick.

Update by Hindrocket: As Doonesbury said many years ago, "Guilty, guilty, guilty." And, now that you mention it, no, I can't. Speaking of cheap ways of boosting our hit totals, I've often wondered--given what we now know about the magnetic appeal of the beautiful Michelle Malkin and the somewhat fetching Mary Landrieu--what would happen if we did a post that included the words "Anna Kournikova nude never before published." I don't know, maybe we'll try it some time.
Earlier today, while traveling to Switzerland, Colin Powell made some comments to reporters that, as reported by Haaretz, sound consistent with den Beste's analysis of the Iraq situation.

Powell said that "at least a dozen" countries would support an attack on Iraq without further U.N. action, but that a decision on whether to pursue military action will not be made before President Bush and Prime Minister Blair meet on January 31. Powell also chided Europeans who voted for the U.N. resolution threatening Iraq with "serious consequences," but now are leery of military action: "We can't be afraid to go down this road because the going's going to get tough or hard. You should have realized that was a possibility when you signed on and became a partner to (UN resolution) 1441." Finally, Powell confirmed that President Bush will "lay out more of the case" for disarming Iraq by force in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
The Daily Telegraph has more on the al Qaeda arrests in Spain.
Steven den Beste has an optimistic view of the current slow-walk on Iraq:

"Blix and El Baradei will make their report next week and it will say, more or less, that Iraqi cooperation could be better but it's been good and there's no cause for war and instead they just need more time for the inspections to work.

"All of which will confirm what was evident from the very beginning: the inspectors have always seen their prime purpose as preventing an American attack. But just as attacking too soon is a mistake, so is delaying when you're ready. We are, now, and from this point forward any delay actually makes our situation worse. Bush isn't going to fall for it.

"So our ambassador to the UN will announce that the US thinks Iraq is in violation of Res 1441; the Europeans will say that it's too soon to tell that and more time is needed; nothing will happen in the UN, and Bush and Blair will announce hostilities on the 30th or 31st in a joint speech in Washington."

Den Beste's view is based in part on the assumption that President Bush doesn't have to pay attention to falling support in the U.S., constant yammering in the press, the lack of U.N. support or anything else, since a successful campaign, together with the horrors that will be revealed when Saddam falls, will justify his policy and moot the arguments of his critics. He also thinks the liberation of Iraq will be a turning point in history, in part because it will mark the end of the U.N. as an institution that anyone respects.

Here's hoping his predictions prove true. Especially the one about what happens at the end of the month.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Tomorrow's Washington Post appears to confirm that "the Bush administration will acquiesce to continued U.N. inspections [in Iraq], at least for the next several weeks." According to the Post, the Administration's willingness is based in part on the fact that it will, in any event, take several more weeks to prepare for military action. The Administration's stance is being presented as consistent with past policy; a source is quoted as saying: "We never said we would cut off inspections on Jan. 27. . . . We also have never shown any interest in allowing them to go on for four or five months."

The Post also claims that "British and U.S. officials believe it will become increasingly apparent to a council majority that, even without the discovery of an Iraqi 'smoking gun,' continued inspections will serve no useful disarmament purpose." Why that should be any more apparent than it already is after a few more weeks (or months) of inspections is beyond me.

It thus appears that we will endure more weeks or months of inaction, during which America's opponents in the Arab world, Europe and the Democratic Party continue to chip away at the consensus that once supported decisive action against terrorism. As President Bush once memorably said--and, I hope, has not now forgotten--time is not on our side.
It appears circulation may be down at the venerable National Geographic. I suspect this could be related to the magazine's unrelenting political correctness over the last two decades. Amazingly enough, given that history, National Geographic is now resorting to that well-known circulation booster, a swimsuit issue. You think I'm kidding? Here's the cover:

And here is a nice photo of three pro surfers in Hawaii from the National Geographic Swimsuit Issue:

Guys, National Geographic's example does give me some ideas...do you think we could boost Power Line's readership by coming up with some lame excuse to post pictures of women in bikinis? We'll have to think about it.
It appears that great progress is being made in rolling up al Qaeda networks in Europe. Sixteen al Qaeda suspects were arrested today in Spain. Their apprehension apparently is connected to the recent arrests in England in connection with the ricin plot, as well as to recent arrests in France and Italy. Given the obvious international threat posed by this network, it is hard to understand why any European government would fail to support efforts to prevent them from getting access to more destructive weapons. Of course, most European governments do. Shown below is one of the Spanish al Qaeda members being led away after his arrest.
Yeah, Deacon, several readers have already written in to say I'm losing faith too quickly. Thanks to Scott Lewis (who, like Deacon, referred to the Krauthammer piece), Dafydd ab Hugh (who said, "how can you take seriously a miraculously convenient tale of imminent collapse from an anonymous source 'reported' by the Associated Press?"), and Frank Martin (who said, "Just keep in mind that two weeks ago every one was ready to say that Bush would not take a stand on the University of Michigan affirmative action case. On the Friday news cycle, that was the 'general consensus'. on the following Monday morning, he set his own agenda, leaving the 'general consensus' to play 'catch-up basketball.'") OK, I feel better now. I hope to God you're right.
Let's not get too alarmed yet by that AP story quoting a "senior U.S. official" about the "weighing of options" that supposedly is occurring. There is no reason to suppose that the logic of the situation, as set forth in this piece by Charles Krauthammer, is lost on President Bush.
Breaking news from the Associated Press:

"The head of the U.N. nuclear agency will tell the Security Council next week that his inspectors need more time in Iraq, but that Saddam Hussein gets 'quite satisfactory' grades for his cooperation, an agency spokesman said Friday. 'Their report card will be a B,'' International Atomic Energy Agency spokesman Mark Gwozdecky told The Associated Press."

Meanwhile, "a senior U.S. official said the Bush administration is weighing the option of extending U.N. weapons inspections in an effort to placate European allies and Russia."

I can imagine worse news, but it isn't easy. If the Administration knuckles under now, its support will bleed away. With tens of thousands of men en route for the Gulf, I don't understand how we can accede to months more of inspections. Moreover, the inspections process is obviously endless, and if we admit the principle that war can be triggered only by the recommendation of the inspectors, we may as well bring the troops home now and forget about it. If this report is true, it's a dark day.