The Stupidity Continues

Speaking of people whose continued employment by major American newspapers is inexplicable, we have Mary McGrory of the WashPost.

She still doesn't like our foreign policy:

At a glance it would seem as if the warlords in the White House are as clueless as the frustrated police pursuing the shooter who has been rampaging through Washington's suburbs for the past 2 1/2 weeks.

George W. Bush, who had been doing a credible imitation of Alexander the Great conquering the known world, was stopped in his tracks by North Korea.

Excuse me? While "warlords" is just precious, and the Alexander the Great ref is hilarious, what, exactly, have we conquered?

Has not the President gone to Congress to seek authorization for the use of force? Has he not gone before the United Nations? Do his State Department minions not even now negotiate with France and Russia to hammer out a UN resolution acceptable to all?

In short, Mary, what the hell are you talking about?

Yes, representatives of Pyongyang's demented leader told a State Department envoy, they are working on a nuclear bomb.

Despite promises bought from them by appeasement as dictated by BIll Clinton and brokered by Jimmy Carter.You'd think that such a complete and utter failure of precisely the policy she advocated would at least cause McGrory a moment's pause. You'd be wrong.

Iraq, Bush's obsession, has been six months away from a nuke for years, and Bush wants to bomb, invade and occupy it. But here's North Korea's Kim Jong Il, who fits perfectly Bush's description of Saddam Hussein as "a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction."

Bush doesn't want to raise a finger against him.

"We seek a peaceful solution," said he.

We do?

How come?

Um...because Kim Jong Il has a couple of million men on the border with South Korea, and tens of thousands of artillery pieces within range of Seoul, which is only 40 miles from the border, and which is the capital city of an ally, and which contains several million civillians? Did you ever consider that, Mary? That an attack on North Korea will be orders of magnatitude more costly in terms of both U.S. military casualties and allied civillian casualties than an attack on Iraq?

Just wondering.

It is true that there is a difference between Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il. Hussein is power mad; Kim is mad -- certifiably so, which could make him even more dangerous. And his nuclear program -- aided and abetted by our principal ally in the war against terror, Pakistan -- is farther along than Iraq's. Moving into the broken-promises area, North Korea has been no piker: Hussein has broken more U.N. resolutions, but Kim violated the all-important 1994 agreement on nonproliferation.

Signed by whom, Mary?

As for mass murder of their own people, they are twins. The president has been telling us of the crimes of Hussein, the gassing of the Kurds and the cruelties toward his real and official family. Kim has chosen another means of exterminating his citizenry. In the wake of flood and drought, North Korea faced famine, and some think as many as 2 million died. Kim manipulated humanitarian aid programs and starved people he deemed nonessential.

Bush has no comment.

What would you have him do, Mary? What is your policy? You've been writing this crap since the early 70's. Surely you must have some ideas of your own.

Oh, never mind. I forgot who I was talking about.

What has been drained off his crusade for sending the bombers over Baghdad is the moral imperative of regime change. If Hussein has to be removed because he is so loathsome, why not Kim? You had to go to the small tent city outside police headquarters in Rockville, where frustrated cops brief press from all over the world about what they don't know, to find a more flummoxed crew than the White House warlord. The most recent shooting was of a 47-year-old woman who had survived cancer; she was felled by a single shot as she and her husband loaded their car with Home Depot purchases. The horrible event was thought to have a redeeming feature -- a harvest of clues and eyewitness accounts. But it all vanished. Chagrined officers and officials said the cream-colored van, the olive-skinned man and the broken taillight were imagined and not seen.

Fuck you, Mary. There's no more polite way to say it.

Your gloating over the fact that our nation and our leader has had an awful, intractable, horribly dangerous problem dropped in our and his lap is disgusting. This is not about politics, or about scoring cheap points, or about stupid namecalling. This is about potentially millions of lives.

Bush is moving fast these days. The commander in chief spends all his time waging war on Democrats. He should perhaps pause long enough to explain to those in Congress why he withheld the news about North Korea's nuclear program from them for 12 days, making sure that the war resolution was safely passed without any distracting revelations. Democrats who voted for the resolution, particularly those who railed against it while doing so, might find an explanation to mitigate their embarrassment. They were prodded to a roll call by Bush's hard sell about the importance of every minute; they were also being hammered on the right for being "appeasers." Democrat Paul Wellstone, despite a stiff Republican challenge, bucked the tide and voted against the war. He is so far not paying any price. Even pro-war voters have commended him for showing guts.

Gasp! the President, a Republican, wants to help his party win, and help defeat members of the opposition party. Let's impeach the bastard!

Voters have long been accustomed to living with a double standard from both parties in dealing with troublesome foreigners. Little Cuba is still caught in a 40-year-old embargo because of its Communist dictator, while humongous China, with its brazen human rights violations, religious persecution and ruthless repression, is a partner.

There is a reason for that. You might remember the Cold War, Mary? It is, perhaps, time to change our policy towards China, but there were valid reasons for our behavior towards them.

But as we barrel down the road to war with Iraq, maybe we ought to quiz our unilateralist president about why it is necessary for us to bomb, invade and occupy Iraq while North Korea gets the striped-pants treatment. Is it because North Korea has a million men under arms? Is it because Kim Jong Il never threatened to kill Bush's father, or because he has no oil, or is not a Muslim? Maybe we should ask the advocates who dreamed for 10 years of invading Iraq. Do Richard Perle, Richard Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz believe in equal opportunity for tyrants? Their leader seems to be pointing the other way.

As noted above, Mary, since you're so goddamn ignorant - or willfully blind - our ally South Korea has a big say in the matter, since they will take thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands of casualties, if there is war with the North.

Maybe the President is not quite the evil "warlord" you'd like to believe he is, Mary, and he's not prepared to sacrifice thousands of South Korean lives simply in order to placate you.

Well, She's Gone Off the Deep End

I'm not even going to link to Mo Dowd's column today. It's an entirely psychotic rant, which, as Josh Chafetz puts it, is "a precipitous plunge into utter incoherence."

That's really the only description. And, again, it amazes me that even with Howell Raines' anti-Bush agenda, that such drivel is considered fit commentary to appear in the nation's Newspaper of Record.

The Eye of the Beholder

Ombudsgod discusses the controversial "Boondocks" comic strip and its "edgy" creator, Aaron McGruder, in response to columns from the Chicago Tribune and the WashPost.

The background is that McGruder last week penned a strip unfavorably contrasting President Bush to Hitler. The Trib ran the strip, resulting in numerous complaints from readers; the WashPost did not, instead running an old, substitute strip in its place.

The Trib's ombudsman said:

As to McGruder's being allowed to say the things he says only because he is black, it would probably be more accurate to say that he is able to see the things he sees because he is black. Loath though many Americans are to accept it nowadays, having a different historical experience--whether it be slavery and segregation for blacks; pogroms and Holocaust for Jews; Communist totalitarianism for Eastern Europeans; extermination and reservations for Native Americans, or whatever it is we'll eventually call what's happening now to people who look Middle Eastern--gives one a different perspective on life and issues.

And that perspective, while not the sole determinant of a person's point of view, will assert itself in ways and places both expected and unexpected--even, sometimes, on the funny pages.

In other words, it's acceptable to be racist if you're black.

WashPost ombudsman Michael Gettler calls "Boondocks" "clever and edgy," but otherwise merely quotes the Trib and doesn't bother to add any actual thoughts of his own; it can be inferred, I think, from his presenting the Trib's words without commentary that he agrees with them.

I suppose to a certain mindset, saying inflamatory, racist, potentially slanderous things and falling back on the excuse that "it's a black thing" is what passes for clever these days.

As with today's "Boondocks" - which compares McDonalds french fries to heroin. McGruder draws one of his hateful and hate-filled characters watching a TV news report, which states:

"Following the lead set by McDonalds with their new "healtiher" french fries, the organization of worldwide heroin manufacturers announced that a new "low calorie" version of the popular narcotis would hit the streets by January. A spokesperson for the organization said: "Like McDonalds, we have learned that just because your product is highly addictive and deadly, doesn't mean you have to kill your customers off quickly. Healthier heroin is just good for business."

Yes, that's clever and edgy. McDonalds = heroin. Fried potatos are equivalent to a heavily addictive drug. McDonalds wants to murder its customers.

Well, that is a worldview, that's for sure. And it is a different persoective, no doubt one stemming from McGruder's "historical experience." Of course, it's also a perspective that is flat-out nuts.

But, hey, McGruder's great-great-great granddad might have been a slave, so of course he'll see things that I, as a child of White Opporessor Priviledge cannot see.

Yeah, that's really clever and edgy.

Or maybe it's just stupid, paranoid and hateful. I think that's a lot more likely.
Legacy? Here's a Legacy!

The usually irritating E.J. Dionne of the WashPost doesn't fail to disappoint today (well, techinically, tomorrow, since this piece is from the Sunday paper).

He writes about the former Narcissist-in-Chief, and his seeming omnipresence in the current campaign season.

Dionne writes that the Left is using Clinton to energize their base, and the Right is using his vile spectre to similarly energize theirs (as, frex, in North Carolina, where Liddy Dole's campaign ads tie opponent Erskine Bowles to the loathsome Clinton whom he served).

But of course it's not actually about control of Congress, as Dionne notes with what sounds frightening like approval, it's about Bill. It's about Bill's Legacy. Dionne compares Clinton to other forner Presidents, and decides that the only ones who really compare (in terms of age, health and political engagmenet post-White House) were Herbert Hoover and Teddy Roosevelt:

Unlike T.R. and Hoover, Clinton can't run again. So if there is a genuinely illuminating post-presidential comparison -- and neither left nor right will like this -- it is with Reagan. Why? Because like Reagan, Clinton's obvious legacy is political. That's why it matters to Clinton, really matters, that Democrats prosper.

After Reagan left office, his followers sought to build a usable and powerful past that could inspire another generation of success for the Republican right. The peripatetic conservative Grover Norquist formed an organization which he called, unapologetically, the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project.

Clinton, too, hopes to create a political legacy that would celebrate a move back to the center-left after the Reagan interlude. If you understand this, all his current political activity falls into place.

Well, E.J., President Reagan's legacy was the collapse of the Soviet Union and the freeing of hundreds of millions of people from Communism. It was also a rebuilt military capable of handling any challenge the world could throw at it. And it was a strong economy.

Clinton's legacy is a weakened military, nuclear weapons in the hands of North Korea, al Qaeda terrorists running free and slaughtering Americans, a recession that began in early 2000 and that continues to this day, not to mention debates over the meaning of "is" and pardons of fugitives who bribed their way to freedom at Bill's hands.

Yes, we can certainly see the comparison.

But of course E.J. still likes the old "comeback kid," which he actually calls Bill in the article. It's an embarrassing love note to a man who disgraced hiself, disgraced his office, and did harm to the country that we will spend the forseeable future trying to repair.
Why Are We So Angry All the Time?

We here in the Empire are, it might seem to some readers, very angry at a lot of people, a lot of the time.

This is not an incorrect observation.

It is probably worthwhile to explain one of the important principles which underpins the thinking here in the Empire. Stated simply (and with apologies to Stan Lee), with great power comes great responsibility.

Whether we're discussing the FBI, or the Senate, or the White House, or the Catholic Church, the principle is the same. The people whom we criticize are not in the positions they're in by accident. They are there because they have actively sought out power, be it in an agency, or by elective office, or in the Church, or elsewhere. They want the ability to write laws, to carry a gun and badge, or to take responsibility for the spiritual health of thousands (or millions, in a big archdiocese) of people.

And they claim, either explicity (as with our political class, who call themselves "public servants") or implicitly (as with the Catholic hierarchy) to be servants of the public rather than masters. They promise to put the good of those they claim to serve ahead of their own interests (or the interests of their organization).

We here in the Empire take them at their word; and our ire is raised when that word is broken, when the trust we give to these servants is betrayed. Because we both expect and demand that they will truly behave like servants, and that they will prove worthy of the power and responsibility they have sought out.

In short, we expect them to be better than we here in the Empire are. Because we here in the Empire do not seek the power to write laws, or to carry a badge and gun, or to be responsible for the spiritual health of a flock of millions. We know that we do not want such responsibility.

But the people who do want it must be held to the highest possible standards of behavior. They must put the good of those they serve ahead of their own interests.

This is obviously a high standard, but we believe that such a standard is the price for the power that is granted to those in such positions; and that only people capable of meeting such a standard ought to be in such positions in the first place.

When the standard is not met, as for example at the State Department with the ongoing saga of visa issuance; or the Catholic Church with the sexual-abuse matter, we here in the Empire believe it is not just right, but required that we cry out to the heavens about the failures of those who claim to serve, until they are removed from the positions of power they occupy. We believe that to do otherwise is to implicitly condone the behavior of these people, and that is unacceptable.

We admit that this is a simplistic view of the world. But sometimes things really are simple. Sometimes wrong and right are very clear. And we will keep crying out until such time as we deem it not to be necessary.

We suspect we won't be out of a job anytime soon.


More on the Vatican

The NY Times reports today on reaction from the American Catholic Church to the Vatican's decision not to endorse the "zero tolerance" policy adopted by American bishops in Dallas earlier this year.

Needless to say, this is appalling. There is a singluar lack of recognition, or understanding, or concern that sexual abuse is a crime. It is a motherfucking felony! It destroys lives!

It is not simply a matter for church law.

According to the article:

many bishops, priests and even some laypeople privately breathed a sigh of relief.

They said they welcomed the Vatican's decision as a corrective measure that will put the brakes on a policy that many of them now say was adopted at the American Roman Catholic bishops meeting in Dallas in June with too much haste, with too much attention to the pain of victims and not enough to the rights of priests accused of abuse.

Well, excuse me for being vulgar here, but if the church hadn't sat on its goddamn ass for the past 30 years while report after report of abuse came out; or, worse, if bishops and other church officials hadn't actively covered up abusers and even enabled their further predation on children, then there wouldn't have been a goddamn problem, and there would be no need to worry about the rights of priests accused of abuse, now would there?

Right now, the pain of the victims, and the removal of the victimizers ought to be the only priority of the church. Anything else is a direct slap in the face of both the victims and the lay membership of the church generally.

The article also notes:

Many victims' advocates and even some church officials observed that yesterday's terse Vatican letter would now give bishops who never intended to implement the Dallas policies the perfect excuse to delay doing so now. Some bishops have been hesitating to take some of the steps called for in the Dallas policy, especially permanently removing from ministry all priests with credible accusations against them. Dozens of the nation's 195 dioceses have even disregarded other measures required by the Dallas policy, such as setting up lay boards to review abuse cases, or appointing a diocesan coordinator to handle accusations.


Maybe it's time to take matters out of the hands of the church. Actually, scratch "maybe" - there's no question. Crimes have been committed. The authorities need to be arresting priests who are credibly accused of abuse, as well as the bishops and other officials who have sheltered them and obstructed investigation of their crimes. People like Cardinal Law and others of his ilk need to be behind bars for their criminal and destructive actions.

I could keep on, throwing around words like "disgraceful" and "criminal" and so forth, but those don't begin to do justice to this situation, or to the unforgivable conduct of the church officials who care more for covering the asses of accused priests than for the lives and souls of the people they have pledged to shepherd. In the end, all I can really say is that I hope that they burn in hell, and I'm confident that if there is such a place, that's exactly what will happen to them.
Also in the Times

The editorial board of the NY Times (hello, Gail!) tells us lwhat lessons we should learn from North Korea's revelation of a massive nuclear weapons program, which they had explicitly forswore back in 1994:

North Korea has stunned the world by acknowledging that it has been working to produce nuclear bomb fuel despite a 1994 agreement with the United States to freeze nuclear weapons development.

Well, it did not shock those of us who didn't believe that North Korea would honor the agreements it signed; who believed that the giveaway of aid and technology to the Stalinist government of Kim Il Jong was nothing less than appeasement on the part of former Narcissist-in-Chief Clinton and deal broker Jimmy Carter.

People on both sides of the Iraq debate will use this alarming news to prop up their views. Hawks will say this demonstrates the futility of treaties with megalomaniacal dictators, while doves will say this gives the lie to the administration's argument that Iraq is uniquely dangerous. But the one lesson we should have learned from the murky and frustrating tussle over Iraq is that there is no single approach to foreign affairs. North Korea's weapons pose an acute problem that must be dealt with on its own terms. Tough multilateral diplomacy is the right first step, as Washington understands.

Um..."tough multilateral diplomacy" is what, we were told, got us the 1994 agreement. It's also that the farce currently playing at the UN is being called. It abjectly failed with North Korea.

There can be no justifying what North Korea has done, and no minimizing its seriousness. Besides the 1994 agreement with the United States, Pyongyang committed itself by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and a joint declaration with South Korea not to develop nuclear weapons.

Well, we agree with this paragraph, at least.

When caught, North Korea neither denied the program nor promised to end it. Instead it declared that supposed American actions had ``nullified'' the 1994 agreement, and asserted that it had even ``more powerful'' unconventional weapons. It is not known whether the North has actually produced nuclear bombs yet, but it is within reach. Having recently opened channels of discussion with Tokyo and Washington, North Korea's leaders are now less isolated than before. But they have again shown themselves to be erratic and untrustworthy. A nuclear-armed North Korea could threaten South Korea, the nearly 40,000 American troops stationed there, and Japan as well. It would also be a highly unsettling neighbor for China and Russia.

They've been erratic and untrustworthy all along; some of us recognized that. Others (such as, say, some Democratic ex-Presidents and a lot of writers at the Times) did not.

America's two most important allies in the region, Japan and South Korea, strongly favor a firm diplomatic response to North Korea's nuclear program. They can contribute to one by linking further help for the North to a complete and verified dismantling of its nuclear and other unconventional weapons programs. Russia and China, which also prefer diplomatic solutions, can usefully add to the pressure on Pyongyang by announcing a similar linkage. President Bush should urge such measures when he meets with the leaders of South Korea, Japan and China later this month. If Pakistan turns out to be the source of the uranium-enrichment equipment used by North Korea, as American intelligence agencies suspect, Washington must demand an immediate end to such reckless transfers.

Because North Korea has now violated solemn international weapons agreements, any new understandings will have to be verified unconditionally and highly intrusively. If there is one analogy appropriate to Iraq, it is this: Keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of dictators who want them requires more than signed agreements.

It does require more than signed agreements. That much is true. But what the Times means by that is "extra-serious signed agreements," not any real action.

It is interesting to note that nowhere in the piece are the architects of the failed and delusional 1994 agreement mentioned. I wonder why that is?
The Vendetta Continues

The NY Times' campaign against the Bush Administration continues today with yet another hit piece from the increasingly vile Paul Krugman.

Today he trots out Hitler; attacking Republicans for analogizing Democratic lies about the tax cut to Hitler's "big lie" tactics. Says Krugman:

As far as I know, in the past it wasn't considered appropriate for the occupant of the White House to declare that members of the opposition party weren't interested in the nation's security. And it certainly wasn't usual to compare anyone who wants to tax the rich — or even anyone who estimates the share of last year's tax cut that went to the wealthy — to Adolf Hitler.

But it was usual, Paul, for Democrats to compare then-candidate Bush and other Republicans to the Nazis for virtually everything they said or did back in the 2000 campaign, and after. It was usual for Democrats to accuse Bush of complicity in the racist murder of James Byrd because he opposed hate crime laws.

And as for the opposition party not being interested in the good of the nation, well, that sort of rhetoric has been thrown around by both sides for as long as the nation's been around.

Get off your high horse, Krugman; your side has no moral standing in this debate, nor do you personally, you dishonest creep.

The rest of the column is equally dishonest and offensive; which has been for a while now the tone of the Times' editorial pages.

Vive La France?

Emperor Misha (among others ) points out France's "crucial" role in shaping a new UN resolution on Iraq.

Misha is fairly blunt in his take on the matter:

If you're still in doubts whether the UN in general and the Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys in particular are about as useful as teats on a bull, consider this:

"Any kind of authenticity in the use of force will profoundly divide us," (the French Ambassador to the UN) said.

The only thing surprising is that they admit it.

Go to Hell, you useless pricks, and take your surrender culture with you!

We here in the Empire agree completely.


They Still Don't Get It

"They" in this case being the leadership of the Catholic Church, which apparently does not recognize the seriousness of priest sexual abuse.

The Vatican is not fully backing some of the American bishops' stricter prescriptions for punishing sexually abusive priests and has expressed deep concern that the bishops went too far in devising their abuse policy in Dallas last summer...

...the Vatican had reservations about several aspects of the bishops' zero-tolerance policy, which mandated the removal from active ministry of any priest who sexually abused a child, including its lack of a statute of limitations and its broad definition of child sexual abuse...

...the Vatican believes the policy may lead to the removal of some priests without due process. They said the Vatican also had qualms about the policy's requirement that American bishops report all sexual abuse claims to the police.

Well, that's just great.

The Vatican has made it abundantly clear what all Catholics know - the Church is not a democracy. What Rome says, goes. If parishioners don't like it, tough.

That's fine for internal church matters; it is most certainly not fine when it comes to allegations and evidence of felonious behavior by priests. The Vatican doesn't like the idea of reporting claims that priests have sexually abused parishioners to the authorities?

Too fucking bad. It's the law. Sexual abuse is a serious crime. It is not an internal matter for the Church. And if Church officials are unwilling to report allegations of sexual abuse when they become aware of them, then it's going to be up to the authorities, when such claims finally do come to light, to prosecute not only the abusers themselves, but the Church officials who failed to report the abuses. The phrases "obstruction of justice" and "aiding and abetting" come to mind here.

Even though I'm a "lapsed" Catholic, I still am a member of the Church, and I am disgusted by its attitude towards horrible, life-scarring criminal behavior on the part of its priests. The Church has - and continues - to display utter contempt for the parishioners it claims to shepherd, and that's unacceptable, not to mention entirely contrary to the teachings of Jesus that the Church claims to follow.

There will be a reckoning, whether in this world or the next, and the officials in Rome and elsewhere (hello, Cardinal Law!) who have such disregard for what is right, and care only for the "image" and procedures of the Church will not find that reckoning a pleasant one.
What Do Willy Wonka and Gordon Gekko Have in Common?

Check out this article from Forbes and find out...
Great Timing!

In a column he wrote yesterday for Salon, Robert Scheer writes that President Bush ought to behave more like Nobel "Peace" Prize winner Jimmy Carter.

He goes on and on about imperialism and blah blah blah, and ends with this:

While Carter has exhibited the patience of the peacemaker, a sweet Jesus for our time, willing to rebuke contemptible leaders while offering them a path for redemption, Bush has become a self-fulfilling prophet of war, delighting in the discovery of what he defines as immutable evil, thereby justifying an endless crusade against the infidels.

Jimmy Carter is a Jesus for our time. Amazing.

The beauty of this is that, in today's newspapers reporting North Korea's admission of a massive nuclear program that was entirely undeterred by the wonderful "deal" that Mr. Carter brokered back in 1994, we see the results of "the patience of the peacemaker."

We see how the "path for redemption" was followed.

We see what "rebuking contemptible leaders" without any intention to actually do anything about their behavior got us.

Yes, This Will Help

The NY Times opines today in favor of allowing released/paroled felons to vote.

They refer to the practice of disallowing those who have been convicted of felonies to vote as "felony disenfranchisement," as though the felons in question did nothing to earn such action; and also making the process sound like a crime in itself.

It's not, of course; people who have committed felonies should most certainly not be given back their right to vote; such is the wages of sin. If citizens do not wish to be "disenfrahcnised," they should not commit felonies which result in their arrest, conviction and imprisonment. Seems fairly straightforward to me.
The Fruits of Appeasement

Well, we got an unmistakable lession in what happens when you appease psychotic third-world tyrants yesterday; they lie, they cheat, and they develop nuclear weapons in direct violation of the agreements they make with you.

We have former Narcissist-in-Chief Clinton and exPeanut-Farmer-in-Chief Carter are directly responsible for this; Clinton with his urge to buy off Jim Jong Il, and Carter with his "help" in the diplomacy that led to the agreements which - we now know - Pyongyang flagrantly violated from day one.

I wonder if we'll hear about the role Mr. Carter played in this debacle, what with him being in the news for his Nobel Peace Prize and all?
Who Is the Snpier?

Instapundit posts abot the possibility that the DC sniper may be an islamic terrorost, a possibility that Jeff Durkin believes is not merely a possibility but pretty much a certainty.

Jeff's argument is that the authorities know much more than they're telling, and their refusal to release a composite sketch (as well as their dismissal of reports of partial license plate tags) is due to their knowing that it's a terrorist, and their belief that confirmation of same would spark outrage and demands for action that the authoriries are unwilling or unable to carry out.

I have to say that that argument makes a lot of sense to me.
Dickie Serves Up a Softball

As regular visitors to the Empire know, we are not big fans of WashPost columnist Richard Cohen.

In spite of our distaste for Idiot Richard, we've been forced to agree at least partially with a couple of his recent columns (which just goes to prove, as we say in the Empire, even a blind acorn finds a squirrel sometimes). Today, though, Richard is back in full Moron Mode:

Ever since the sniper first struck in the Washington area, the police -- not to mention every quasi-expert on early-morning television -- have been trying to come up with a profile of him. A more productive exercise might be to come up with a profile of a nation that is awash in guns and refuses to keep track of who has them. That's the profile of an idiot.

No, Richard. That's the profile of a country that actually (gasp!) lives by both the letter and the spirit of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. You know, the one you keep skipping over, in the hopes that if you ignore it maybe one day it'll disappear?

Lest you think that my own profile is of a gun-control zealot, you are wrong. I am not talking of outlawing guns, even pistols, or taking them away from people who use them for hunting or self-protection.

Well, Richard, I do think that you are a gun-control zealot, as well as a fool and a terrible writer.

I am talking instead of taking reasonable measures to track those guns and the ammunition used in them so that the authorities have a fighting chance to stop killers before, as has been happening over and over, they kill again. If the Constitution forbids such measures, then I ought to have the right to own an unregistered car and drive it without a license.

Well, if the Constitution spoke to your right to drive on public roads, you might have a point. As it doesn't, you don't.

I'd also point out that licensing of drivers and registraiton of automobiles is a state, not a federal matter. You might want to bone up on such concepts, Richard. You can probably find a copy of the Constitution online somewhere, or at least, I'm sure one of your interns could find one and read it to you.

But the Bush administration, fearful of the National Rifle Association, opposes what is known as "fingerprinting." Don't get me wrong. In the name of anti-terrorism, George Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft would fingerprint everyone in sight. But guns? Not a chance. This, though, is a scientific reality: Because every weapon leaves unique markings on the fired bullet, it is possible to store these markings in a national database so the cops would know what specific gun was used and -- maybe someday -- who owned it.

I wonder if anyone on the gun-control side ever considered the possibility that, maybe, just maybe, people who believe in the Second Amendment are not automatically wholly owned tools of the NRA, and that they came to that view on their own?

There are also many things wrong with ballistic fingerprinting as the wonderful solution tro all our gun-violence problems. They've ben discussed elsewhere in exhaustive detail, but, for Richard's sake, here's the highlights:

It's fairly easy to alter the fingerprint of a gun, which makes it untraceable.

Guns can be stolen, which stops the trail cold at the home of the person who was robbed.

It only works going forward, unless you plan to have every gun owner in America come forard and have their guns fingerprinted. How will that be enforced? Who will pay for it? And who will do the finterprinting of the tens of millions of legal guns? The fingerprinting elves?

It will not affect the tens of millions of illegal guns out there.

I wonder if Richard knows any of that? I wonder if he cares?

Science is one thing, politics another. At the moment, it's possible to buy a weapon in, say, the currently terrified state of Virginia -- the site of four of the shootings -- almost at will. A background check is required to weed out mass murderers and psychopaths, but there is no regulation of the secondary market -- private sales. As for ballistic fingerprinting, only two states -- Maryland and New York -- require it. That's not much help when the other 48 don't.

Well, Richard, how exactly would you regulate private sales? Police cameras in every home?

The NRA stands athwart such common-sense measures. It opposes almost all regulation, of course, and fingerprinting is no exception. As for George Bush, it's not quite clear where he stands. His spokesman, Ari Fleischer, was asked whether fingerprinting would have aided the police in the search for the serial killer, and he had this to say: "These are the acts of a depraved killer who has broken and will continue to break laws. And so the question is not new laws; the question is the actions here represent the values in our society."

The NRA opposes such measures because (1) they won't work, and (2) they are backdoor routes to registration and eventually confiscation of all guns.

Huh? The remark seems to put Fleischer in the company of the Revs. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who blamed gays, liberals, the ACLU, etc., for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. For the life of me, I cannot see what societal value the serial killer represents. Maybe he's a liberal.

On the other hand, I also cannot see the societal value of ammunition such as the .223 bullet the killer has been using. It shatters within the body, causing catastrophic trauma -- and leaves a gaping exit wound. I also cannot fathom the value to society of assault rifles, such as the Galil, which, again, is the weapon he may be using.

Except that it isn't. Witnesses say that the gun is an AK-74, which is not made (nor is it legally available for sale) in this country.

And "assault rifles" is a meaningless phrase designed to scare people, which, as used by Richard, is a substitute for logic or any sort of cohjerent argument.

I can understand the value, though, of restricting the sale of such ammo and weapons to those, like the police, who have a need for them. I can understand the value also of fingerprinting the guns so that when -- as is bound to happen -- some nut uses them to kill people at random, we can "dust" the bullet. Yet the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is only now getting some attention for its efforts to push this common-sense measure.

Maybe because, as noted above, it won't actually work?

Fleischer aside, the Bush administration is supposedly reviewing the matter of ballistic fingerprinting. This is undoubtedly a ploy, as the serial killer has presented the staunchly pro-gun president with an exquisitely awkward moment. But when Fleischer's "deranged killer" is caught, the White House will forget about the matter -- until, of course, the next deranged killer gets his hands on a weapon, locks and loads it with ammo meant for warfare, and goes on a killing spree.

Look, gun nuts, this is not about taking away your weapons. Increasingly, I have become less and less convinced of the efficacy of strict gun control -- the English experience has been just awful -- and at times, such as the night a burglar broke into my house, I hanker for a gun myself. All that I and others like me want right now is to make it harder to kill and harder to escape apprehension.

"Gun nuts?" Nice. The problem, Richard, if you'd bother to listen to what folks on the gun-control side say, is that it is about taking away guns, about subverting the Second Amendment. It's funny that a columnist who's acutely sensitive to the "slippery slope" argument and backdoor tactics of opponents when it comes to, say, abortion (and, funny, "abortion nuts" is not a phrase in common use. I wonder why?) is so tone deaf to the same ideas in the gun debate.\

Maybe it's because, despite his protests, he's for gun control after all. Or, more accurately, gun control for the unwashed masses, but not for him. sounds like another writer for the WashPost once upon a time, Carl Rowan. Or Senator Feinstein of California (who, as Mayor of San Francisco, had the only gun permit in the city). Rules are for other people, not for Richard.

That's our profile, Mr. Fleischer, Mr. Bush and the NRA. If we had our way, we might not need one for the killer.

Of course! Pass the magic new law and all problems go away!

Except when they don't, which Cohen would know if he bothered to read the newspaper he works for!

But that would be too much work, I guess.


I Wonder if We'll Hear This in a Campaign Ad?

Via Instapundit comes this little tidbit from Maryland. I wonder what gubenatorial candidate and sitting Lieutenant Governor Kathy Kennedy! Townsend has to say about it?

Hundreds of people with criminal records in Maryland may have been allowed to purchase guns illegally this year because the state temporarily stopped conducting background checks for the FBI, state and federal officials disclosed yesterday. . . .

Maryland's state archivists notified the FBI in March that they would no longer perform criminal background checks of people who had applied to buy firearms because budget cuts had left the agency shorthanded, documents show.

"We just didn't have the staff to do it," said Edward C. Papenfuse, the head state archivist. "We had been doing it quietly for free but we got to the point where everyone's budgets were being cut, and we couldn't do it anymore."

Papenfuse said his agency did not received any of the $6.7 million in federal funds allocated to Maryland since 1995 to modernize its criminal record-keeping and comply with federal gun control laws.

He said he wrote to Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) in March to ask for money to pay a staff member to perform the background checks for the FBI, but was told that no funds were available until July 1.

Kathy? Kathy? We can't hear you!
The Widow Speaks!

Via Midwest Conservative Journal, check out these wonderful comments from Jean Carnahan, the Merry Widow of Missouri:

"I'm the No. 1 target of the White House. Since they can't get Osama bin Laden, they're going to get me"

As everyone knows, the Merry Widow was appointed to the Senate after the accidental death of her husband, Senate candidate Mel Carnahan, only a couple of weeks before the 2000 election.

Carnahan is now campaigning to keep the seat she was handed for four more years, the remainder of the term. She's currently trailing in the polls (perhaps because the only real argument for her candidacy is: "I lost my husband, so I deserve a Senate seat to dull the pain of my terrible personal loss"), which perhaps explains her outrageous comment.

Since we're discussing the Merry Widow, whose only qualification for office is that she's a widow, I'll take this opportunity to once again promote my campaign to have my Mom appointed to the Senate.

She has the same basic qualification as Jean Carnahan (she's widowed)

She has the same political experience as Jean Carnahan did prior to her appointment (none)

And I'm willing to guarantee that she's a much nicer and more honest person than Jean Carnahan (my Mom would never make a comment as awful as Carnahan's quote above, for one thing)

My Mom would be willing to move to any state whose governor will appoint her to the Senate, and she'll even pay the moving expenses herself.

So get out there and contact your governor and let him or her know you want to see my Mom, Vilma DiBenedetto, appointed to the Senate. You'll be glad you did!
Left, Right and Center

Bill Quick points out this great piece by Ben Shapiro, concerning the problem the American Left sems to have with the "new media" - talk radio, Internet commentary, bloggers, etc.:

The American left can't restrict Internet usage or ban talk radio, so it de-legitimizes these news sources. Ripping alternative news sources as illegitimate is the left's only remaining option -- it cannot compete with the right wing in the new media.

Not that the left hasn't tried. Mario Cuomo attempted to parlay his political fame into a talk-radio gig; he was so badly received that his show was pulled off the air. Jerry Brown met with the same fate, as did Alan Dershowitz. Jim Hightower, a self-described progressive populist, passed through the talk-radio world without notice.

On the 'Net, liberal failure has been just as complete. While Matt Drudge's Web site receives nearly 5 million hits per day, liberal news sites are virtually non-existent. Salon.com is going the way of the dinosaurs, and Slate.com is a mere facade. The only liberal Web sites that get any hits are established television channels like BBC, CNN and ABC News. There are no major leftist commentary sites to compete with conservative monsters like Freerepublic.com and lucianne.com, where normal news followers can post their opinions on the story du jour. The left has been left behind on the Web.

Shapiro points out that the problem is that, in the New Media, the audience can talk back, and challenge the received wisdom presented to them by their betters in the intelligentsia:

The left cannot survive criticism. It is easy for liberals to air their views when the audience cannot challenge them. Network news is a perfect example -- when Peter Jennings sympathizes with Palestinian suicide bombers, viewers can kick their televisions and scream at Jennings, but Jennings cannot hear them. If Jennings had a talk show, though, he'd have to deal with the views of his audience. Print media is similar. Maureen Dowd can write nasty things about President Bush but would be hard pressed to respond to a reader's challenge.

Since it can't compete, the left turns to degrading the opposition. NBC's Lisa Meyers attributes the success of conservative talk-radio hosts to their portrayal of the world as "black and white -- and revolving around them." The left demonizes Rush Limbaugh, calling him an extremist and hoping that his popularity will diminish. His audience numbers continue to climb. They call Matt Drudge a muckraker and a yellow journalist. His hit count continues to rise.

Bill Quick adds:

I've often felt that the intellectual left functioned much as the priesthood did in medieval Europe, where the priests were unassailable interpreters of God's word, in large part because most of the populace was illiterate, and even if they hadn't been, copies of the bible were harder to come by than chicken's teeth. But the printing press appeared in 1440, and less than a 100 years later, along came the Protestant Reformation.

Not a bad analogy at first glance. So who's the Martin Luther of the New Media Reformation, and what are his or her 95 theses?

Well, What Would He Do?

Leon Fuerth former national security adviser to Al Gore (and therefore someone whose views are automatically suspect) opines in the WashPost this AM about post-Iraq plans:

According to recent news stories, the Bush administration may have decided that if the United States ultimately invades Iraq, it will establish a military government under the control of an American military officer who will simultaneously run and redesign the country, on the model of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Japan after World War II. Whether this turns out to be the policy of the Bush administration, the fact that consideration of such an approach has reached this level warns us that there may be a dangerous intoxication with American power, and a serious loss of judgment as to its limits, among the most senior persons in our government.

Why is this? Because:

We apparently would not conduct this operation under U.N. auspices, and therefore it would be a direct and unilateral extension of American military power. We would betray the Iraqi National Congress, which the Republicans championed in Congress, by making it clear that it would not be the next government of Iraq. We would take responsibility for suppressing Kurdish national ambitions, so as to keep Turkey calm. We would take control over decision-making for Iraq's oil resources, which would raise problems for Vladimir Putin, who would be seen to have lost Russia's stake in Iraq to the United States. We would have U.S. troops in all sorts of interesting places, including on the border with Iran. We would have assumed responsibility for the costs of reconstruction in Iraq. We would presumably be trying, convicting and punishing persons we deemed guilty of war crimes or crimes against humanity in courts of U.S. jurisdiction, most likely military, not before international tribunals.

And this is bad because:

it could well be a step toward a debacle, and a giant step at that. The United States will be seen as having decided to establish its security on the basis of empire. Few will believe that we will be able to successfully withdraw from this kind of occupation; many will believe that this administration does not intend to withdraw rapidly as a matter of policy. It will be assumed that this occupation is intended to be of long duration, or that if it is to give way, what follows is meant to be a puppet government beholden to Washington.

And what would be better is:

One can imagine that if the president takes his time, plays out his hand with the United Nations, allows inspectors to return to Iraq and awaits the inevitable demonstration of bad faith by Saddam Hussein, he might be able to deal with Iraq with meaningful, rather than nominal international support; and he might then also be able to deal with the aftermath of a change of regime in the same way.


Because the UN has done such a good job with nation-building and guaranteeing of security, and promotion of human rights and democracy.

It's interesting that Fuerth mentions Japan, which is (if the "recent news stories," which Fuerth doesn't cite, of course) are correct the model for this policy. Most people, I think, would agree that the occupation of Japan and reconstruction of its government under our direction was a great success.

Certainly there's an argument to be made that there are significant differences between post-WW2 Japan and a post-Saddam Iraq and that the same strategy would not work; but Fuerth does not make that argument. Instead, he whines about imperialism, as the President's critics have taken to doing lately.

He also talks wistfully of the Iraqi National Congress, which most opponents of acting against Iraq have dismissed as ineffective at best; and he whines about the Kurds, who are going to be an issue no matter what is done about Iraq, and who will have to be dealt with regardless of whether Saddam is removed by force, or by natural causes a decade from now.

And of course he champions the UN and multilateral action; because, of course, there's just so damn much support around the world for Saddam's removal, or for a peaceful and democratic Iraq.

As noted yesterday when writing about Jimmy Carter, good intentions and wishful thinking are a dangerous and deluded way of running a foreign policy, and that's what Fuerth is proposing. It's madness.

Perspective, Please!

Mo Dowd of the Times writes this morning about the DC sniper, and manages to repeat all the conventional wisdom we've heard for two weeks without saying anything new. Still, some of what she says needs to be addressed:

Chief Moose says he's looking for "closure." I wish he'd simply look for sniper.

Closure is a chimera, if not a canard. And Fussy Charlie, who hates giving out any information about what he delicately calls "the situation," even whether the shooter's van is beige or white, makes one long for Dirty Harry.

Does anyone seriously think he's not doing his job?

The media's response to him is amazing; they treat his dislike of the press as nearly as grave a crime as the shootings themselves.

Chief Moose ludicrously objected that the Virginia police revealed Monday night that the sniper's white van had a faulty left taillight. He still seems to be coming to grips with the idea that we're in the era of instant communication, Amber Alerts and police scanners.

Some freak has been driving around the Washington suburbs in a van popping people for two weeks and we still don't know much of anything.

Well, that's not true; there are, apparently, a lot of clues (at least from the most recent shooting), which Mo would know if she, say, read her own newspaper. They just haven't all been given to the press.

We know that Virginia's governor, Mark Warner, is bucking to be the Rudy Giuliani of the crisis; Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is trying to capitalize on her personal history with tragic gun killings to save her limp gubernatorial bid; Democrats in Congress tried to capitalize by rushing to pass a small-bore gun control measure that was going to pass anyway; President Bush and the G.O.P. are still taking dictation from the N.R.A.

Ari Fleischer leaped from abstruse to absurd, explaining why the president opposes an urgently needed proposal for a computerized system of tracing bullets to gun owners: "Certainly, in the case of the sniper, the real issue is values." Certainly, in the case of the president, the real issue is N.R.A. cash for the G.O.P.

It could be, Mo, that "ballstic fingerprinting" is not the wonderful solution that its proponents make it out to be; that it's - at best - a placebo, and at worst a backdoor ploy for registration of all firearms, which is not a good thing.

The sniper has outsmarted the police. It takes just one minute for him to pull the trigger, once, and then hit the exit ramp and vanish. On Monday night it took the police 20 minutes to set up roadblocks on all the main highways in Virginia, causing gridlock for hours. But by then the sniper was probably already at home, savoring it all on TV.

Well, gee, Mo, I'm sure the police are sorry that they're not precognitive; that they don't have cars and officers pre-placed near the scene of the shootings. Considering the time from the first report of the shooting, to getting the info to the police, to it getting up the chain of command, to getting police forces where they need to be to set up roadblocks, 20 minutes really doesn't seem that terrible.

Usually, fear in this affluent grid of shopping malls and subdivisions focuses on whether the zoning regulations are strict enough and whether property taxes have been kept in check.

One of the biggest fears here, pre-sniper, was getting caught in the terrible traffic jams. It is surreal that the sniper is the only one who's figured out how to navigate them.

I was a reporter in Montgomery County for five years, when fracases among the fox-hunting set and sexually perverse dentists passed for big news. The most heinous case I covered was the Murder Most Fowl, when a golfer at Congressional Country Club became so infuriated by a honking goose that he bludgeoned him to death with his putter. In those days the top cop had an even more unfortunate name, Chief Crook.

You have to love the snide and pointless aside here; there's - almost - a tone of "these obnoxious rich folks kind of deserve to be hunted like animals" coming through here.

Americans, once insulated and carefree, are not used to being the hunted. Since 9/11 they have struggled with looking over their shoulders at unseen predators, with weapons both invisible and catastrophic, waiting for the next strike that the government assures us is coming.

Celebrities had stalkers. But now average Americans have stalkers too, who might smash their lives while they are going about some mundane task like opening mail or pumping gas or shopping at Home Depot.

These shootings are unique in method. But killings that sow fear in the populace are not unique. Does no one remember the Son of Sam, just for one?

The difference here (other than that it's a sniper) is that the victims are apparently random, while David Berkowitz killed only young women. But I'm sure women in New York City in the summer of 1977 felt every bit as hunted as folks in DC do right now.

I'm not belittling what's happening, but to say that the fear is something new and unique in American history is just wrong.

Hell, we've had plenty of serial killers hunting people; we just don't know it until after the fact. The people who lived near Ted Bundy, to name one, were targets every bit as much as people who live in fear of the sniper; they just had no idea that they were being sized up for murder.

Osama and Zawahiri still lurk, and Al Qaeda is still incinerating innocents. The anthrax killer, whose deadly letter was received by Tom Daschle's office a year ago yesterday, is still hovering.

Yes, and anyone who believed that we'd have utterly eradicated Al Qaeda in a little more than a year was nuts. Did no one listen to the President, or Don Rumsfeld, or anyone in the Administration, when they came out and said that this would be a long struggle, that it would take years, that our enemy was a shadowy force that would be terribly difficult to root out because of its dispersed and decentralized nature?

Well, no one who writes for the Times' editorial page did, obviously.



Others have commented about the Iraqi election today, but I have to say a few words about this NY Times article.

The crowds gathered in Tikrit appeared to be in a trance, transported by their worship of Mr. Hussein, and by their contempt for President Bush, from the grim realities of everyday life in Iraq to a state of bliss.

Women carrying pins punctured their fingers so they could mark their "yes" votes in blood. Men followed suit, using the blunt edges of paper clips as makeshift knives to start the blood flowing.

This is, simply, insane. I mean insane as in "let's all drink the Kool-Aid together" insane.

The respectful, almost worshipul tone of the reporting is equally insane; is this really what the Times has come to?

Much about the occasion seemed Orwellian, at least to those accustomed to Western-style democracies. In 1995, the first time such a referendum was held, official results gave Mr. Hussein a 99.96 percent "yes" vote, on a voter turnout of 99 percent. With nine million voters, that meant, taken literally, only about 3,600 Iraqis, give or take, spoiled their ballots or voted no.

"at least to those accustomed to Western-style democracies."

Yeah, those places where loyalty is not enforced by the secret police; where the laws do not mandate a one-candidate election; pesky little things like that.

On the face of it, it might seem hard to believe that any exercise so plainly lacking in the basics of democracy as practiced in other parts of the world — no opposition candidate, no election campaign, no public appearances by the secretive Mr. Hussein, and no semblance of secrecy in the balloting procedures — could be regarded as anything but the illusionism of a profoundly authoritarian state.

But Iraqis approached the voting with a deadly earnestness, for many reasons, not least the importance of registering their loyalty to Mr. Hussein.

A distant comparison would be China during the Cultural Revolution 30 years ago. While the crowds then were vastly greater, the messianic fervor appeared to be much the same.

In Mao, China's Red Guards found a leader whose every word was the graven truth, and whose actions, however harsh, were embraced with unquestioning zeal.

That's wonderful. How many millions of lives were destroyed in the Cultural Revolution?

Interesting that the piece doesn't mention the consequences of that little episode in the history of the People's Republic. And "harsh" is hardly a reasonable description of actions that, over the course of his rule, resulted in tens of millions, possibly as many as a hundred million deaths.

This is just shockingly bad - contemptible is not too strong a word for it. Yet another sign of Howell Raines' Times spiralling into the gutter.
Ballistic Fingerprinting

I was going to write something about the sudden mania for some sort of "ballistic fingerprinting" program, and why it really doesn't make any sense, and would not be of any use in catching the DC sniper, but Rachel Lucas beat me to it, so I'll just point y'all her way rather than rehash the excellent points she's made.
Answering His Own Question

Byron York at NRO this morning asks: "Is Patrick Leahy a liar?"

The answer, of course, is yes.

Last week, committee Republicans Strom Thurmond and Orrin Hatch appeared in the Senate to denounce Leahy for reneging on a promise to hold a vote on the federal appeals-court nomination of Dennis Shedd. Both Thurmond and Hatch suggested, but did not explicitly say, that Leahy had lied to them. "Chairman Leahy assured me on numerous occasions that Judge Shedd would be given a vote," Thurmond said. "I took him at his word." "Senator Leahy promised me," Hatch said. "We operate under the presumption that a senator's word is as good as gold."

Leahy did not deny that he lied; instead, in response to the Republican complaints:

Democratic whip Harry Reid spoke on Leahy's behalf, saying the committee simply needed more time to consider the Shedd nomination, given the level of opposition to Shedd among African-American groups.

Leahy also complained that the Republicans were pushing against the limits of Senate Rule 19:

"No senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator."

Which may well be true, since it's impossible to discuss the tactics Leahy and his fellow Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have employed in dealing with recent judicial nominations without imputing unworthy motives to them.

Regardless, it's clear that Leahy has been utterly dishonest, and, worse, he's going to get away with it. Which just proves, one more time, that, just like election laws, the truth is something that Democrats feel is optional, and can be dismissed as needed
He's Almost Right!

Glenn Reynolds notes today's Richard Cohen column, and comments that even regular Cohen critic Charles Austin will have trouble criticizing Mr. Cohen today.

I have two things to say to that. First, Charles isn't the only one who's a regular watcher and commentator on Mr. Cohen, and second, we'll see about that...

Richard writes today about the awarding of he Nobel Peace Prize to former Peanut-Farmer-in-Chief Jimmy Carter:

It would have been asking too much of Jimmy Carter -- or anyone else, for that matter -- to have told the Nobel committee to take its Peace Prize and stuff it. But the committee, which used Carter to criticize George W. Bush, not only cheapened the prize, it distracted from the very good reason Carter was so deserving of the honor: his lifelong commitment to peace.

It most certainly would not be asking too much of anyone who was truly worthy of the award to refuse to accept it. Honestly, any person who really merits an award dedicated to peace should refuse to accept it until the committee revokes Yasser Arafat's award from a few years back.

But we all know that there'll be figure skating in Hell before that happens.

Mr. Cohen also praises Carter's "committment to peace." Well, he's demonstrated that committment by sucking up to some of the most vile people our species has ever produced: Castro, Arafat, and a whole colleciton of other horrendous dictators, most of whom are also steadfastly opposed to America and our interests.

In their official announcement, the Norwegians -- the Peace Prize is the only one not awarded by the Swedish academy -- contrasted Carter's approach to the Iraq crisis to Bush's and then, as if no one got the point, its chairman, Gunnar Berge, told a reporter he was "unequivocally right" when he asked if the prize represented "a kick in the leg" to Bush. Unequivocally wrong! The kick was aimed a bit higher than that.

Well, Cohen is right here. Broken clocks and all that...

I have some questions for Berge. What if Bush is right on Iraq and Carter is wrong? What if the president's seemingly steadfast march to war mobilizes the rest of the world to finally do something about Saddam Hussein's concurrent march to acquire weapons of mass destruction? What if Bush actually gets the United Nations to enforce resolutions demanding that Iraq abide by the agreements it has signed? Who then will deserve the Peace Prize?

Almost a good point here, but Cohen ruins it. "Hussein's concurrent march?" Hussein has been seeking nuclear weapons since at least the early 1980's (remember Osirak, Richard?). It is not some kind of pissing contect between George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein, no matter how much you'd like to believe and imply that it is, Richard.

Or, to put it another way, what would you say, Mr. Berge, if the United States and its allies did nothing and Hussein got his hands on a nuclear weapon? What if he was then able to intimidate his neighbors or obliterate Israel, a nation where most of the population lives in two metropolitan areas? What would you say then, Mr. Berge?

Considering the atittude of most of the European governments and press towards Israel, I doubt they'd shed a tear.

In honoring Carter, the committee evoked the smugness of little powers -- the many nations whose role is to carp from the sidelines while America does the necessary business of protecting them from their own folly. In this regard, it will be a minor miracle if next year's prize does not go to French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who criticized the United States last week for its "simplistic vision of the war of good against evil."

"Young countries," Raffarin told the National Assembly, "have the tendency to underestimate the history of old countries." Oui! But old countries are sometimes world-weary and cynical, urging a "realism" that is sometimes a misnomer for the moral corruption they know so very well. I will take the idealism of the young any day.

Wonder of wonders! Two whole paragraphs that I agree with more or less completely.

Iraq is a hard one. The threat is not immediate and it is not directed at the United States. I happen to support Bush, but only because he now seeks international support and has given Saddam Hussein a chance to come clean. But the latter is not likely to happen. The "mediation and international cooperation" for which the Nobel committee lauded Carter has already been tried with Hussein. He has been uncooperative, downright truculent. It just could be that this time Carter, who has vocally opposed the president's approach to Iraq, is wrong.

But Cohen loses it again here. He's obviously back on the meds - remember last week that he was ready to go to war? Now, apparently, he's ready, kind of, but only because the President went to the UN. I know that "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," but is it too much to ask that a columnist for the WashPost not go back and forth every four days on what he says he believes?

More's the pity then that the Nobel committee used Carter's award to whack Bush. All by himself, the former president eminently deserved to be honored -- and not just for arranging the Camp David peace between Egypt and Israel. He stands in contradistinction not just to the incumbent president, but to all living former presidents. To a man, they seem to have dedicated their lives to the unselfish pursuit of golf and whopping honorariums.

And here's where he goes off the rails completely. Jimmy Carter is a nice guy. Fine. He has good intentions. Fine.

But good intentions are not enough! Good intentions married to a hopelessly wrongheaded view of the world and America's place in it are a very dangerous thing, as Carter's embrace of Yasser Arafat (to the point of writing speeches for him) proves.

Not Carter. Wherever there is a miserable little war, some hot and muggy place where room service amounts to little more than a creaking ceiling fan, there you can find Carter -- and, often, his wife, Rosalynn. It is a little thing, I grant you, but I once saw Carter shake hands with everyone on a New York-to-Washington air shuttle -- because, you see, he was their ex-president, still doing their work. He told me he was going down to the State Department to be briefed on some obscure war.

And he's nearly always on the side that opposes freedom, democracy, and American interests when you do find him.

In the past, the Nobel committee has honored Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho for (not) making peace in Vietnam, Yasser Arafat for (rejecting) peace in the Middle East and Rigoberta Menchu Tum for (not) writing a book about experiences she may (not) have had.

You would think that with a record like that, the committee would show some humility and acknowledge that Norway, unlike, say, France, does not have a monopoly on wisdom. Instead, it arrogantly used the award to take a swipe at Bush. In so doing, it diminished the honor to Carter and the prestige of the award itself. The committee had lousy aim. The foot it aimed at Bush wound up in its own mouth.

Well, Cohen is right here. This is, at least, far better and closer to sanity than his usual drivel, but it's still pretty far divergent from reality.

I guess, though, with Cohen we have to grade on a (very) steep curve.


Those Wacky Kennedys

History shows us that there isn't a Kennedy who can pass up the opportunity to take advantage of someone else's tragedy to advance their own awful agenda. So it is with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and her new campaign ad, as Henry Hanks points out.
Normal Service Has Been Resumed

Just a note...it's nice to see PostWatch back and, well, posting regularly again. He's always worth reading; give him a look.
Our Friends the Palestinians

Chris Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal writes about a little-discussed topic; the treatment of Christians who live in the "Occupied Territories" by the Palestinians and their leadership.

As one might expect, it's not a pretty picture. Here's a small sample:

And there is general, day-to-day abuse:

Anti-Christian graffiti is not uncommon in Bethlehem and neighboring Beit Sahur, proclaiming such things as: "First the Saturday people (the Jews), then the Sunday people (the Christians)." The same has often been heard chanted during anti-Israel PLO/PA rallies. Accused of wearing "permissive" Western clothing, Bethlehem Christian women have been intimidated. Finally, rape and abduction of Christian women is also reported to have occurred frequently (especially in Beit Sahur), as was the case in Lebanon.

Christian cemeteries have been defaced, monasteries have had their telephone lines cut, and there have been break-ins to convents.

In July 1994, the Wall Street Journal reported that Palestinian Moslems would not sell land to Christians and that Christian facilities and clubs had been attacked by Moslem extremists. Christian graves, crosses, and statues had been desecrated; Christians had suffered physical abuse, beatings, and Molotov cocktail attacks.

And these are the peace-loving people whom the rest of the world feels so sorry for. It's illuminating to see how they treat a religious minority in their midst.

And we want to give them their own state why, again?

There isn't anything I can say about the horrifying bombing in Bali that hasn't already been said by others, so I'm going to just let them say it:

Clayton Cramer writes:

Some of you are probably wondering: why would al-Qaida launch this attack in Bali? There were apparently Americans killed, but the vast majority of the dead are likely to be Australians. Why attack Australia? While it is allied with the U.S., it has not been particularly loud in its support for the U.S. actions against terrorists, or Iraq, nor has it been noticeably pro-Israel. These sort of attacks, if anything, are likely to strengthen support for the U.S. desire to clean out Iraq and other outlaw nations that are believed to have an interest in supporting al-Qaida.

A few weeks back, I warned that al-Qaida and the broader Islamfascist movement was looking to get the West as upset as possible--that theirs is an apocalyptic vision, one that believes that in a battle between Islam (with them leading, of course), and the degenerate post-Christian West, that Islam's morality purity will give them victory over our purely materialist advantages. This attack makes sense as part of a campaign to get the Australians good and angry. The attack against a French oil tanker a few days ago makes similar sense (though the French seem to be doing their best to not let this little matter disturb them excessively). I would expect an attack against Britain next.

Wake up. There is something terribly sick going on in the Islamic world--a dangerous movement that deludes itself that its moral purity (murdering non-combatants) makes it immune from our moral resolve and technological superiority. This group of fanatics need to be informed that they are incorrect. An example needs to be made of brutal thugs like Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden--an example that will remind people throughout the world that brutality and savagery will be dealt with accordingly.

Steven den Beste writes:

This attack didn't happen in Australia. It happened in Indonesia. It didn't happen because Australia is a belligerent in the war; it happened because Indonesia refused to become one.

This attack was a failure in the shadow war, but it happened because Indonesia refused to fight it. It happened because security in Indonesia was lax, and because the government there refused to make an active effort to seek out and eliminate terrorists. It happened because the government of Indonesia hoped that by wishing really hard they could make the war happen somewhere else, and that by pretending there was no threat there actually would be none.

Australian blogger Tim Blair writes a lot of important and insightful things about the attack at his site; too many to quote here, so just go there and see for yourself.

And of course from the appeasement-and-surrender side comes this disgraceful rant from Robert Fisk, which I can't allow to go without comment:

Why? Yesterday's crime against humanity in Bali provoked an almost identical reaction to the atrocities of 11 September 2001. Everyone wanted to know who had planted the bombs – almost certainly a satellite of al-Qa'ida – and everyone wanted to know how the killers planned their massacre.

We know precisely why. Because Al-Qaeda and its allies despise the West, despise Western civilization, and want to see it destroyed. They have made that clear; their goal is nothing less than an entire world living under Sharia law, under their domination. They want a general war between Islam and the West, a war that they believe they will win because Allah will grant them victory.

But no one – neither the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, nor Tony Blair nor Jack Straw – wanted to talk about motives. "Terrorism" was the all-important word (an accurate one too), which was used to smother any discussion about what lay behind the crime.

It was not a "crime." It was an act of war. It was an act of war against tourists partying in a nightclub. It was an act of war against civilization. To treat it as anything else is madness.

Entirely aside from that, if the cowardly animals who planned this bombing wanted us to know their "real" motives, they certainly have the avenues to tell us; Al Qaeda has not been shy about getting its message out when it wants to. But their motives are clear from the act itself; slaughter as many innocent people as possible; shatter the sense of normality and security that our civilization has created for us.

Australians were the principal victims and their murderers must have known they would be. So why were they targeted? John Howard has been among President Bush's toughest supporters. Australia lined up to join the "war on terror" within 24 hours of the attacks on New York and Washington last year. Australian special forces have been operating with American troops in the Afghan mountains against al-Qa'ida. It's a fair bet that yesterday's savagery was al-Qa'ida hitting back.

Ah. So the political actions of the Australian Prime Minister justify the deliberate targetting of tourists in a nightclub. If the leader of your country supports George Bush, you deserve to die. This really is beneath contempt.

The French have already paid a price for their initial support for Mr Bush. The killing of 11 French submarine technicians in Karachi has been followed by the suicide attack on the French oil tanker Limburg off the coast of Yemen. Now, it seems, it is the turn of Australia.

Yes. It's all because of George Bush. Of course.

Fisk, terrorist-sympathisizer that he is, cannot see that the deliberate slaughter of innocent people by a shadowy trans-national group that doesn't actually speak for anyone, is wrong. In his mind, it's simple: if you're part of the West, you deserve random death delivered to you by Islamic sociopaths.

If the group which set off the three bombs in Bali is one of the "Islamist" movements on the edge of al-Qa'ida, the choice of target was familiar: a nightclub, a place associated in the mind of Islamists with sex, alcohol and immorality – the same type of target Palestinian suicide bombers have struck in Israel.

Ah. So what should they do? Close down all the nightclubs? Throw out the tourists? Impose Sharia law? I'm sure Mr. Fisk would approve of that; at least until they got around to him.

If millions of Muslims are revolted at the Bali massacre, few will approve of nightclubs. The usual moral slippage can be employed; the bombing was terrible, but ... Or so the murderers will hope.

The victims were largely young civilians, just as innocent as the thousands who died in the World Trade Centre. Civilians get no quarter in this war, whether they are investment brokers in New York, Afghan families or Australian honeymooners.

Nice addition there of Afghan families. The difference, of course, is that our forces made a deliberate effort to avoid civillian casualties, often at the cost of military effectiveness. Our enemies targt civillians deliberately. Anyone who cannot see a fundamental difference there is beyond reason; which of course Fisk is.

So who is next? When is Britain's turn? Where are Britons most at risk? Alas, they are scattered across the globe in embassies, on holidays, on every airline of the world. Our support for the United States – an infinitely closer alliance than any support from France – makes Britain the most likely candidate for attack after the US. Then there are the small, more vulnerable nations that give quiet assistance to the American military; Belgium, which hosts Nato HQ; Canada, whose special forces have also been operating in Afghanistan; Ireland, which allows US military aircraft to refuel at Shannon.

And the answer, obviously, is to tell the U.S. and the Evil Bush to go to hell, and withdraw all support.

And when the barbarians still attack and slaughter civillians, Fisk will no doubt say that it was caused by the historical support for the U.S.; there is no outrage tha the cannot explain away or justify in his hatred for his own civilization and his desire to excuse terrorists for their atrocities.

Bali only emphasises what the last year should have taught us: that individual innocence no longer protects us, that we are living – whether we know it or not – in a terrifying new age.

An age that people like you, Mr. Fisk, with your willingness to excuse, justify or even approve of such atrocities, have helped lead us into. Thank you so very, very much.


Hypocrites of the First Order

Another point in the NY Times article previously mentioned about the disgusting ingratitude of Kuwaitis towards the United States that needs to be raised is this.

One of the big reasons, we're told, for their hatred of the United States is:

anger over the treatment of Palestinians by Israel, which many Muslims consider an American puppet.

If they were so fucking concerned about the Palestinians, then why did Kuwait expel over 300,000 of them from Kuwait after the Gulf War?

Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is apparently the worst crime in the whole history of humankind, a rallying cry for every Arab, or so we're told.

But the ethnic cleanising of them en masse from Kuwait (and Saudi Arabia) isn't even a blip on the screen. Funny that none of these oh-so-thoughtful folks quoted in the Times article about their contempt for the U.S. don't have anything to say about it.

It's sickening.
Who Our Friends Are

They are not the folks in Kuwait, at least not according to this article from yesterday's NY Times.

Here are some choice words from Muhammad al-Mulaifi, head of the information department at Kuwait's Ministry of Islamic Affairs:

When asked about the September 11th attacks:

"I would be lying if said I wasn't happy about the attack," he said, sitting on the floor of his air-conditioned home office, a carpeted, cushioned oasis amid the harsh heat of this small, dry country. Mr. Mulaifi said that many Kuwaitis were delighted about what had happened to the United States and that he had attended parties held in celebration.

"Only then did we see America suffer for a few seconds what Muslims have been suffering for a long time," he said.

Indeed. Parties held in celebration. Fucking barbarians. For this we restored their country a decade ago.

More about Mr. Mulaifi:

He himself is a study in the radical change in attitudes toward the United States since the gulf war. After Mr. Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, Mr. Mulaifi spent three months in Iraqi prisons, accused of being a spy because he was caught with a camera in his car. His family bought his release with bribes to Iraqi judges, and he was back home by the time the war began.

Though he was 18 at the time, Mr. Mulaifi did not join in the fighting against Iraq, because "it was not an Islamic war."

After the war, he said he felt "love for America." One reason he cited for his change in attitude was America's support for Israel and that country's control of Jerusalem, one of Islam's holiest cities. He also quoted Muhammad's command to "drive the infidels from the Arabian peninsula."

At home this week, he stood leafing proudly through his private archives of Qaeda material, housed in a small, locked room with an electric sliding door. He pointed out Mr. bin Laden's signature on some documents. He showed off photographs of Mr. bin Laden's spokesman, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, visiting his home.

Mr. Mulaifi says he is not a Qaeda member, but is "close to Al Qaeda thought." He is cagey on whether he remains in contact with the group ("That's a C.I.A question," he said), but claims knowledge of its plans.

He said the network had postponed a major attack that would surpass Sept. 11, so that it would occur just after any American invasion of Iraq, when a strike against the United States would win the most support in the Arab world.

Wonferful. And this guy is an official in the Kuwaiti government, supposedly an ally. In a sane world, we'd have troops dragging this bastard out of his nice home, and bringing him somewhere where the CIA could interrogate him about his friends in Al Qaeda and his knowledge of planned attacks against the United States.

So much for our "friends" in the Arab world.

Didn't He Used to Be a Grownup?

He being Tommy Friedman of the NY Times. He's got an especially whiny and stupid column today.

Writing about the sniper attacks in the DC area, Friedman says:

There is something about these shootings that is touching deeper nerves in us all.

The fact that the president speaks only about Iraq, while his neighbors down the street speak only about the shooter, reinforces the sense that this administration is so obsessed with Saddam it has lost touch with the real anxieties of many Americans. Mr. Bush wants to rally the nation to impose gun control on Baghdad, but he won't lift a finger to impose gun control on Bethesda, six miles from the White House.

Um...because the President's job includes the duties of Head of State and Commander in Chief, and not local police chief or state legislator? Could that be why?

In any case, as has been discussed many other places, gun control is not the answer, and anyone using these attacks to push that agenda is simply lying.

Maryland, where most of the attcks have taken place, has several hundred gun laws, as discussed here a couple of weeks ago. Many of them are useless, or, worse, counter-productive, resulting in consequences that the writers of the laws never intended. But of course, More Laws! are the answer. As always. Thanks, Tommy.

Personally, I'm glad Mr. Bush is focused on disarming Iraq's madman and tracing Iraq's Scud missiles and weapons of mass destruction. It's a worthy project. I just wish he were equally focused on disarming America's madmen, and supporting laws that would make it easier to trace their .223-caliber bullets and their weapons of individual destruction. A lot of us would like to see more weapons inspectors on the streets here, and in the gun shops here, not just in Baghdad.

To hell with the 2nd, 4th and 5th Amendments, so long as Tommy feels safer!

Why is it that all these folks who can talk forever about civil liberties, and who say "those who would trade freedom for security end up with neither" are willing to throw all that away the moment the word "gun" is mentioned?

By gunning down people pumping gas, mowing lawns and walking to school, the shooter is making America's capital area squirm. That's power. No wonder the note he apparently left said, "I am God."

And no wonder the Bethesda Gazette, which normally covers school board meetings, carried a big headline that I never thought I'd see in my local paper. It said, "In the Grip of Terror," and the article included little bios of all the people killed. It could have been The New York Times on 9/12: "A County Challenged."

It doesn't help that every single columnist is writing page after page about the attacks, and speculating about the sniper and his motivations. Maybe if every media outlet in the country wasn't feeding the sniper exactly what he wants, and deliberatley magnifying the sense of fear and panic people feel, people might be a little more rational about all of this.

After all, while these attacks are frightening, the odds of any particluar individual in the DC area becoming a target are infintesimal. 8 people have died; that's horrible. But it's 8 people out of several million in the metro DC area. The chances of dying at the hands of, say, a drunk driver, are higher - and while this sniper can be in only one place at a time, there might be hundreds or even thousands of drunk drivers on the roads at any given time.

The paranoia that has been instilled because of these attacks is irrational, and columns such as this do not help at all.

whether or not this shooter is a twisted copycat, he is part of a larger post-9/11 trend. That trend is the steady erosion of our sense of security, our sense that while the world may be crazy, we can always crawl into our American cocoon, our sense that "over here" we are safe, even if "over there" dragons live.

Well, "over here" is starting to feel like "over there" way too much. Over there, they just shot up U.S. marines guarding Kuwaiti oil fields, but over here, when I filled my car with gas the other day, I ducked behind a pillar so no drive-by sniper could see me; others hide in their back seats. Over there, Saddam terrorizes his people, but over here, my kids are now experts in the fine distinctions between Code Blue and Code Red. Code Blue means they're locked in their public school building because a potential shooter is in the area, and Code Red means they are locked in their classroom because there may be a gunman in the building.

Frankly, I don't want to hear another word about Iraq right now. I want to hear that my president and my Congress are taking the real steps needed in this country — starting with sane gun control and sane economic policy — to stop this slide into over here becoming like over there.

Thank you so much, Tommy! You want the President to "feel your pain", and, what, tuck you into bed at night too?

Short of throwing out the Seconjd Amendment entirely, and instituting house-to-house searches of every residence in the country to find every gun, there is no gun control law that would prevent these attacks; and even that wouldn't work anyway.

But that doesn't matter - Tommy wants "sane" gun control, which I have to assume means more laws that will inconvenience law-abiding citizens while doing nothing to inhibit criminals.

And then, of course, he throws in "sane economic policy", entirely unsupported, just to get another cheap shot at the President. What's that mean, Tommy? Ran out of space to tell us? I think we can guess - more taxes, more free ice cream from the government that will please Democratic voters like Tommy.

Thanks but no thanks.

Why don't you go back to writing about foreign policy, where you're at least vaguely qualified to speak with some degree of knowledge?

The Difference Between Us and Them, Part LXVII

A District Court judge has ruled that an Arab-American airline passenger can sue United Airlines for discrimination.

The passenger, Assem Bayaa of Irvine, California, was removed from a United Airlines flight last December 23rd

because the crew wasn't comfortable having him aboard.

If that was the sole reason; if there was no reason to worry about Mr. Bayaa other than his ethnicity, then, yes, I think he's got a good case. The more important point here is that, despite the screaming about throwing civil liberties to the winds, and racist hatred of Arabs, the judge's decision shows that all is not lost yet.

Compare this to what would happen if a Christian or Jewish citizen of Saudi Arabia was removed...oh, right. There aren't any of them. Never mind.