Saturday, February 26, 2005
You Heard it Here First - BTK Serial Killer Caught
Thursday, February 24, 2005
The Best Post on Terri Schiavo on the Web to Date
The first major question has to do with Terri’s physical and mental condition....Nurses who tended to Terri Schiavo…have stated in affidavits provided by her family that the 41-year-old has exhibited clear-cut behavior indicating she is conscious and aware of her surroundings.These observations explain why her parents are seeking further medical tests of Terri before any action to starve her to death is taken. Terri’s husband and the judge have been blocking these testing requests.
In stunning testimony, one nurse, Heidi Law, a certified nursing assistant who took care of Terri when she was at Palm Gardens Nursing Home in Largo, Florida, in 1997, said that the severely disabled woman formed words such as "mommy, "momma," and most hauntingly, "help me."
"While it is true that those patients will flinch or make sounds occasionally, they don't do it as a reaction to someone on a constant basis who is taking care of them, the way I saw Terri do," claimed Law in a formal deposition…
The testimony…contradicts widespread perceptions that Terri is a nearly brain-dead or comatose woman living in a vegetative state…
An overview of medical observations on Terri over the last 15 years can be found here....
...The second big question is whether her husband’s past behaviors and current intentions are ethical....
The main evidence comes from a bone scan taken on March 5, 1991…Michael Schiavo denied her family access to Terri’s records, the results of which were not made available until November 2002. This scan indicated numerous broken bones in various stages of healing, including compression fractures, a broken back, pelvis, ankle, bone bruises and ossifications. [this is one reason why The Senescent Man is a little aghast at the report at Free Republic that insinuates Schiavo is the victim of anorexia or boulimia, not through possible foul play].
It ends with a bang. Don't read this next part if you don't want me to give away the ending...
But you've got to read the whole thing. This should be made mandatory reading.
Holocausts do not begin with operational concentration camps; they start on a smaller scale and steadily break down our resistance while many people plead that they are "too busy" to pay attention and get involved.
The stakes are enormous here and there is no neutral ground. Not to decide is to decide. The fight for Terri’s life is another battle to determine whether we are to live in a culture of life or a culture of death.
The Captain Speaks on Behalf of Terri Schiavo
He asks some good questions:
I'd advise that you read the whole thing.
When did life get so cheap? When were humans reduced to commodities?
If people want to save Terri Schiavo and others like her, that's where we should start. We need to get a definition of life that makes sense and honors its sacred nature. If we cheapen life to simply its utilitarian value, we run the risk of losing not just one Terri but all of the Terris who struggle for life and the tender touch of their families.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Wrangling with Rangel
Let's see. Islamic? Yes. Terrorist? Yes.
So, what's the problem?
Anyway, Congressman Rangel apparently questions whether there really is such a thing as Hizballah. LGF's Charles Johnson goes to the trouble of locating a recent (February 18) video of Hizballah shouting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America." These guys are not swilling beer at a football game. You have to read this. Here is an excerpt:
[Hizballah Leader Shiek] Hassan Nasrallah:
Israel is our enemy. This is an aggressive, illegal, and illegitimate entity, which has no future in our land. Its destiny is manifested in our motto: “Death to Israel.”
Death to Israel
Death to Israel
Death to Israel
Death to Israel
Death to Israel
The American administration is behind Israel. I must clarify that when I say ‘America’ I do not mean the American people, most of whom are distant and ignorant of what is going on in the world, and of what its government and army are doing in the world. Nevertheless, we consider the current administration an enemy of our [Islamic] nation and of the peoples of our nation, because it has always taken a position of aggression, of occupation, and of supporting Israel with weapons, airplanes, tanks, money, as well as political support, and unlimited protection.
We consider it to be an enemy because it wants to humiliate our governments, our regimes, and our peoples. Because it is the greatest plunderer our treasures, our oil, and our resources, while millions in our nation suffer unemployment, poverty, hunger, unmarriagability, ignorance, darkness, and so on. America... This American administration is an enemy. Our motto, which we are not afraid to repeat year after year, is: “Death to America.”
Death to America
Death to America
Death to America
Death to America
Death to America
Death to America
The reLigious Left?
Is Peter Jennings Nuts?
The answer? In a word, yes, he is.
The Bad Guys are Winning
The 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland denied Bob and Mary Schindler's motion to delay an order that is now set for 1 p.m. Tuesday. That order is expected to allow Terri Schiavo's husband, Michael, to remove the feeding tube.
The Schindlers are asking Pinellas Circuit Judge George. Greer for a stay to allow them to appeal to higher courts, but he said he couldn't deal with the request until Wednesday afternoon.
David Gibbs, attorney for the Schindlers, said he hoped the tube would not be removed until Greer rules Wednesday. George Felos, the attorney for Michael Schiavo, would only say it would be possible to remove the tube late Tuesday.
Schiavo, 40, collapsed from a chemical imbalance 15 years ago and suffered brain damage.
Courts have consistently ruled Schiavo is in a permanent vegetative state. Michael Schiavo has testified his wife had told him that if she became dependent on artificial devices, she would want them removed.
The Schindlers don't believe she ever made that request.
UPDATE: Terri Schiavo is granted ONE DAY of reprieve:
Attorneys for the Schindlers have just been notified that Judge Greer has granted their Emergency Motion for a Temporary Stay. The new Stay will hold over until after tomorrow's hearing and by its terms will remain in effect until 5:00 pm, February 23.
2nd DCA Issues MANDATE Without Further Instructions
As expected, the 2nd District Court of Appeals issued its Mandate this afternoon at 1:00. The stay protecting Terri's life has now expired by its own terms. A motion for a new stay is set to be heard by Judge Greer tomorrow at 2:45. [more]
Attorneys for the Schindlers have been advised that Judge Greer is in possession of the 2nd DCA's Mandate and their Emergency Motion for a Temporary Stay, and that he intends to rule on that motion this afternoon as soon as possible.
In the meantime, Terri is being fed. Her family is with her and she is doing well.
Monday, February 21, 2005
There He Goes Again
The centerpiece of Chafee's plan, the Clean Air Planning Act (Carper/Chafee) is a significant reduction in carbon dioxide levels.Read the whole thing.
Chafee claims that he is "committed to addressing this serious problem with sound environmental regulation of the power industry while striking a balance among public health, the economy, and energy efficiency." But his plan would achieve its goals at high economic cost. I tried to explain why in an op-ed for the February 18 edition of the Newport Daily News:
Sunday, February 20, 2005
What's the Big Deal?
Why Wead felt compelled to tape the conversations is not completely clear, though he claimed they were for posterity - he is writing a book - and that "history trumps a personal relationship" - I wonder. The chronology of events seems to indicate that he may have been a little intimidated into sharing the tapes in order to lend veracity to his statements about Bush in his book drafts. I am sure the blogosphere will have at this subject in the coming days.
Okay, so there's a courseness about the way Bush reflects on his past behaviors. If someone were to be publicly probing my past behaviors, they would be met with an even fiercer courseness, I assure you.
But note what the then future President said about some of these "hot" topics over which the MSM is salivating. Speaking of Christian activists, he says:
"As you said, there are some code words. There are some proper ways to say things, and some improper ways." He added, "I am going to say that I've accepted Christ into my life. And that's a true statement."
Note the last phrase -- "it's a true statement." So what's the big deal?
On smoking marijuana:
"I wouldn't answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried."
Again, a fair and honest answer, really. The alternative to this is to have people who are perfect in their nature campaigning to lead our country. Frankly, since no such person exists, what does one do when confronted with past indiscretions? Blab about them? Make light of them? No. Why? Because we don't want young, or old people for that matter, experimenting with behaviors we may have tried, regretted, wouldn't do again and are trying to discourage. We don't want to promulgate destructive behavior, whether we've made the mistake of experimenting with them or not. Bush's remarks, though a little course, were as off the cuff as such a conversation is expected to be, and refreshingly honest. So, what's the big deal??
On whether power corrupts absolutely (an excerpt from the NYT article):
When Mr. Wead warned him that "power corrupts," for example, Mr. Bush told him not to worry: "I have got a great wife. And I read the Bible daily. The Bible is pretty good about keeping your ego in check."
True, true. So what's the big deal here?
The TV MSM news blips on this story made it sound like Bush was anti-gay, and cozying up to Evangelicals and others opposed to so-called gay rights. But in private, casual conversation, Bush says something surprisingly tolerant (another excerpt):
Early on, though, Mr. Bush appeared most worried that Christian conservatives would object to his determination not to criticize gay people. "I think he wants me to attack homosexuals," Mr. Bush said after meeting James Robison, a prominent evangelical minister in Texas.
But Mr. Bush said he did not intend to change his position. He said he told Mr. Robison: "Look, James, I got to tell you two things right off the bat. One, I'm not going to kick gays, because I'm a sinner. How can I differentiate sin?"
Later, he read aloud an aide's report from a convention of the Christian Coalition, a conservative political group: "This crowd uses gays as the enemy. It's hard to distinguish between fear of the homosexual political agenda and fear of homosexuality, however."
"This is an issue I have been trying to downplay," Mr. Bush said. "I think it is bad for Republicans to be kicking gays."
Told that one conservative supporter was saying Mr. Bush had pledged not to hire gay people, Mr. Bush said sharply: "No, what I said was, I wouldn't fire gays."Incidentally, I consider Bush's view to be the authentic Christian view, that is, being gracious.
So, this is a mole hill. There is no mountain here. It's no big deal. Let's move on.
Van Gogh's Death was Bush's Fault
What is the conclusion of a report issued by the Norwegian Defence Research Institute on the murder of Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh?
”This report surveys in depth the available open source information about the ritualistic murder of the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh on the streets of Amsterdam on November 2, 2004. The report makes the case that the murder of Van Gogh was a terrorist attack implemented by an al-Qaida inspired radical Islamist group within the framework of global jihad, and not an act of religious violence by a lone fanatic. The report also argues that the invasion of Iraq was an important motivational factor for the assassin and his accomplices, in addition to grievances related to the Dutch government’s policies concerning immigration and Dutch counter-terrorism measures.”
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Newsday Picks Up Story on Terri Schiavo
An attorney for Bob and Mary Schindler said new medical technology could better assess Terri Schiavo's brain activity, and those tests should be done before her husband is allowed to remove the feeding tube keeping her alive.Tuesday's just around the corner.
With other legal options running out, the attorney, David Gibbs III, said he would file a motion Monday asking Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer to allow the tests. Also Monday, a hearing is scheduled at which Gibbs will ask the judge to extend a court-ordered stay set to expire Tuesday.
Barring any more court-ordered delays, the tube could be removed after Tuesday.
The Projo reported today, that: "Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the number two in the leadership of the majority Republicans, told a crowd of more than 125 at [a fund raiser at] the Hotel Providence that Chafee's reelection is crucial to keeping Republicans in power in Washington, and in giving Rhode Island some clout in a GOP-controlled capital."
The report went on to say that nearly every major RI Republican figure save one, Mayor Stephen P. Laffey of Cranston, attended the event and nodded reassuringly. Alright, the nodding part was just my wild immagination.
The Senescent Man, being very old, is able to remember a time when, in 1980, the same Republican stalwarts came out for George H. W. Bush's presidential nomination, only to be crushed by a phalanx of new Reagan Republicans.
Could it happen again?
I like Mitch McConnell. I think it's a brave thing he's doing. I suppose someone has got to try to protect the seat for the Republicans nationally, but I think they'd be better off dumping Chafee and seeking higher ground rather than trying to get that dog to hunt.
More to come.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
PBS: Who am I? What am I Doing Here?
Conservatives and Rivals Press a Struggling PBSIt was no accident that PBS found itself turning to Elmo, the popular "Sesame Street" character, to lobby on Capitol Hill this week. There were not many options.
Public television is suffering from an identity crisis, executives inside the Public Broadcasting Service and outsiders say, and it goes far deeper than the announcement by Pat Mitchell that she would step down next year as the beleaguered network's president.
RI - US Senate Watch Continued
If the race were held today, here is how the various contenders would stand.
At the moment, the inconsistent US Senator is on the ropes. His campaign spokesman Stephen Hourahan states that, well, when Chafee ran against pro-lifer Congressman Bob Weygand, the pro-abortionist Chafee won out.
Hourahan, who has contributed to Matt Brown's earlier campaign for Secretary of State (though a spokesman for Chafee -- this demonstrates the Senator's values) actually thinks that's why Chafee beat Weygand - not because of Chafee's father's good name.
That whooshing sound you hear is the sound of the Democrats taking back that seat in the US Senate unless Laffey revs it up. Stay tuned.
Three Stars at Opinion Journal dot Com This Morning
The first is by one of my favorites, Peggy Noonan. It's about the blog revolution and it begins:
UPDATE: Be sure to see Donald B. Hawthorne's post today at Anchor Rising for a full analysis of this piece by Noonan.
"Salivating morons." "Scalp hunters." "Moon howlers." "Trophy hunters." "Sons of Sen. McCarthy." "Rabid." "Blogswarm." "These pseudo-journalist lynch mob people."This is excellent invective.
The second is on the city of Baltimore and the running battle between the governor, Gov. Robert Ehrlich, and the Baltimore Sun. Fellow Senescent Man blogger Steve Graham has touched on this interesting issue in Maryland.
The third is a review by Michael Medved of the recent Clint Eastwood movie "Million Dollar Baby." Medved grapples with the issue of whether it is legitimate for conservatives to be unhappy with Eastwood's (himself known for his conservative - though more libertarian - views) Oscar nominated film:
In recent weeks, some of the nation's most influential cultural observers have chosen to concentrate their Academy Awards commentary on my harsh reaction on radio and TV about the deceptive packaging of Clint Eastwood's boxing-and-euthanasia epic, "Million Dollar Baby."Try to catch them all. The WSJ is a terrific paper.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Joni Eareckson Tada on Terri Schiavo
"Thousands of Americans with disabilities understand the gravity of Terri's situation. We know that if every last legal safeguard around this brain-injured woman is dismantled, if every option is exhausted, then all of us are exposed, all of us are left vulnerable. And all of us will have to swim against the mounting tide of public opinion that Terri's demise will reinforce, that one is 'better off dead than disabled.' We must not, we cannot let this happen." -- Joni Eareckson Tada, JAF International Disability CenterWe're running out of time. Follow the
Iran Threatens to Shoot Down Drones
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's intelligence chief on Wednesday accused the United States of flying spy drones over its nuclear sites and threatened to shoot down the unmanned surveillance crafts. Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi comments backed a report in The Washington Post on Sunday that quoted unidentified U.S. officials as saying the drones have been flying over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs.Ah yes, just checking for nukes.
Ask Dr. Abdullah
Let me say just that the answer ain't pretty.
...Your husband conditioned divorce on your going to the hair saloon, so if you go, divorce takes place according to the majority of the jurists, may Allaah have mercy on them, whether he intended divorce or intended something else.....You can read the entire verdict here.
Brooks on our Boys Being Back from the Battle
This was going to be a column exclusively about a trans-Atlantic security conference that took place in Munich last weekend. But on the way back, the U.S. delegation stopped for refueling at Shannon Airport in Ireland.
A bunch of us were milling about in the airport bar, holding little Irish coffees, when hundreds of marines started flooding into the terminal. This was their first chance at a beer after eight months of mayhem in the Sunni Triangle. They streamed in looking thick-necked and strong, but they also had wide-eyed, tentative expressions on their faces, like people trying to reacclimate to the manners of normal life.
This unit had lost 22 men, including several in the last weeks. I talked to one kid who had a craggy scar running across the side of his skull. He was proud of how Election Day went and said Iraqis were working harder to take care of their own streets.
I told a bunch of them some senators were on the other side of the bar if they wanted to shake hands. One of them was blasé, but the rest were pleased to go over - especially when they saw John McCain and Joe Lieberman. These were not guys grown cynical about their political leaders.
Read the rest here.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
And That Rhymes with P and That Stands for PROPOSAL
So am I.
My friend Michael is telling us that the Battle of Fallujah was more important than we have been led to believe by the media.
Our victory in Fallujah has had enormous consequences, first of all because the information we gathered there has made it possible to capture or kill considerable numbers of terrorists and their leaders. It also sent a chill through the spinal column of the terror network, because it exposed the lie at the heart of their global recruitment campaign. As captured terrorists have told the region on Iraqi television and radio, they signed up for jihad because they had been told that the anti-American crusade in Iraq was a great success, and they wanted to participate in the slaughter of the Jews, crusaders, and infidels. But when they got to Iraq - and discovered that the terrorist leaders immediately confiscated their travel documents so that they could not escape their terrible destiny - they saw that the opposite was true. The slaughter - of which Fallujah was the inescapable proof - was that of the jihadists at the hands of the joint coalition and Iraqi forces....
...What Brother Ledeen calls for in this article is a national referendum in Iran that asks a simple question: "Do you want an Islamic republic?" Fair enough. But how can such a thing be accomplished? Michael makes the following suggestions:
Send Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel to supervise the vote. Let the contending parties compete openly and freely, let newspapers publish, let radios and televisions broadcast, fully supported by the free nations. If the mullahs accept this gauntlet, I have every confidence that Iran will be on the path to freedom within months. If, fearing a massive rejection from their own people, the tyrants of Tehran reject a free referendum and reassert their repression, then the free nations will know it is time to deploy the full panoply of pressure to enable the Iranians to gain their freedom.
I will add one of my own. I think the blogosphere should devote itself to this, make the call for a democratic referendum in Iran one of our top priorities. We have been accused of late (falsely, I believe) of being a destructive force, of tearing things down like a mob. Surely, the call for a referendum in Iran is not that. It is the promotion of democracy at its purest. Bloggers on all sides of our political spectrum should be able to get behind that. I'm in.
Message to Jim Taricani
Court: Reporters Must Testify
Where's My Keyes
Monday, February 14, 2005
It seems we went into the fire from the frying pan after the very recent leadership changes in the Rhode Island Statehouse. Edward Achorn at the Providence Journal has been cataloging as well as watchdogging this issue, among others. God bless the man. He is phenomenal.
I'm not one to dwell very long on state of the state issues, but the state of the state isn't good at all - and the primary cause is a bunch of political punks who are walking all over the Bill of Rights - only either the people in Rhode Island don't know about it, don't care, or, knowing about it, are too much in the minority to have any impact.
I'm telling you folks, it is vital, absolutely vital, that we replace the Democratic law makers in the Rhode Island Statehouse - or at least provide enough Republicans in the House and Senate to give the people a fighting a chance.
Here is a litany of rights that have been or are about to be abridged by the new Democrat Leadership in the House under the management of newly elected Rhode Island Speaker William Murphy -- courtesy of Donald Hawthorn at Anchor Rising:
Possible changes in the House rules being run through mill RIGHT NOW are such ideas as:
- Shorten the time that lawmakers -- and the public -- have to scrutinize bills, including the multibillion state budget, before final votes.
- Ban anyone, other than a "recognized employee of a news organization," from videotaping or taking photographs of House sessions and House committee meetings "without the express permissions of the speaker." This proposed ban on the use of "video or photographic equipment" by anyone except "credentialed representatives of the news media,"...[led to a compromise]...the new ban would only apply to the use, by House members themselves [only], of video and still-cameras in the House chamber and committee rooms. [That leaves regular folk -- and bloggers -- out of the game.]
- Spare lawmakers from having to disclose on whose behalf they have introduced a bill, such as a special-retirement bill.
- "Free" committee clerks from having to keep minutes, including records of who testified pro and con...
- ...a proposal to give the majority leader, the minority leader and the speaker "voting rights" on every committee...
- ...raise the threshold from 30 signatures -- which comes close to matching the number that voted against Murphy's reelection as speaker -- to 42 of the 75 House members.
- The end-of-session maneuvering that has enabled state lawmakers to vote on major pieces of legislation -- without advance public notice or hearings -- could become the norm at the Rhode Island State House, rather than an exception, under new rules approved by a committee last night.
- Early in the session, House committees would still have to give the public 48-hour notice of their hearings on proposed legislation. But even that rule could be waived by "the consent of the majority." It would not apply, after a certain point, "to House bills returned from the Senate with amendment."
- And a committee could, by majority vote, consider bills "not previously distributed in print or electronically to its members."
- And from April 14 on, the 48-hour minimum-notice requirement that the legislature has imposed on all other government bodies, across the state, would go out the window. A one-day notice requirement would take its place and what that could mean is this: A bill approved by a House committee on a Tuesday afternoon could potentially be put to a vote by the full House the following day...
Last year's House rules had a similar provision, but it required "the unanimous consent" of those present -- not a simple majority -- for a committee to take up a previously unseen bill.... The Republicans also questioned the need to make anyone who wanted to know how a committee voted to put that request in writing...The full House is expected to vote on these rules very soon. Rhode Island readers: run don't walk to your telephone and call your State Representative, and tell him these rules are attrocious, and that you will personally see to it that he or she will be run out of town on a rail if he or she dared to support such Byzantine measures.
It is not only an insult to our intelligence, it is an insult to our state that we would dare come this close to acquiescence in such backward and undemocratic measures.
Sunday, February 13, 2005
What's in the Chariho Drinking Water?
I don't know about you, but suddenly those (Alpert competitor) Cardi Furniture ads are looking awfully interesting to me. Go Nick, Ron, Pete!
In such a world, it's good to know we still have the guts to finger the real bad guys. Thus, when Chariho Regional High School art teacher Lynn Norton set her pupils the task of expressing an idea three-dimensionally, Jeffrey Eden immediately thought of a diorama comparing Bush to Hitler. You might think that ought to be disqualified on the grounds that characterizing Bush as Hitler is about as two-dimensional as you can get, and it's less of a diorama than the diarrhea of leftist rhetoric, as poured forth by millions of moveon.org drones and nude Marin County feminist protesters and European activist puppeteers. But there's always room for one more, and Jeffrey's schoolmarm was thrilled at the way he did it so cutely, draping a swastika on one side and the Stars and Stripes on the other, and putting in little plastic soldiers -- Nazi and American, though who can tell the difference, right? -- and then adding his own penetrating observations on both Bush (''Saddam had no affiliation with the Taliban'') and his predecessor as Fuhrer (''Hitler's own justification was his own hatred.'' Hmm. What a testament to the quality of Rhode Island's ''Social Studies'' curriculum).
Well, Jeffrey's 17. One day, with a bit of luck, he'll realize Bush isn't Hitler. If he were, Jeffrey would be in the Bush Youth doing patriotic exercises in shorts every morning and singing the special Texan lyrics to the Horst Wessel song, and he wouldn't have time to do dioramas of dissent. But what are we to make of everyone else in this sorry story? The art teacher who gave him an A. The 15 judges in the Rhode Island Scholastic Art Awards who awarded him their ''silver key.'' The proprietor of Alperts Furniture Showroom in Seekonk where the winning ''art'' work is proudly on display. Are there no grown-ups left in Rhode Island?
Could Zarqawi be close to capture?
From the Washington Times:
In Kirkuk in the north, police said they were hot on the trail of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist who has claimed responsibility for many of the worst attacks in Iraq, including the beheading of several foreign hostages.
"He came to Kirkuk from Mosul," a source in the Kirkuk police department told Reuters news agency, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "There's a possibility that he might be captured at any moment."
There was no immediate comment from U.S. or Iraqi officials on the report.
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Dem Dems do Dean
Picture borrowed from LGF
But I was raised in a typical New England home that was very naturally pro-Democrat. My father was the son of an immigrant, went to work before finishing high school surrounded by people who benefitted marginally by the presidency of FDR.
My Democratic roots are something I have in common, I'm proud to say, with my most favorite modern day president, Ronald Reagan. It was in the early 1970's that I found myself driven to admit something similar to what Reagan had announced after a time, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me."
It was a gradual devolution. And one would think that, after many a pitfall, apart from the hiatus of the Clinton years - an anamoly of sorts - that the Democratic Party would make an adjustment toward the center?
No way. Instead they are careening ever so directly leftward off a cliff from which they may never recover by having now annointed Howard Dean as chairman. It seems, now, the Democrats have their foot to the pedal, eschewing regular folk all the more, and leaning ever so obviously in favor of the elitist. Why no one opposed Dean is beyond me. So which is it? Dean Democratism or what?
From Ross Terrill in today's Boston Globe (HT: Instapundit):
DEMOCRACY IS FRIEND to the common man and authoritarianism is a crutch for millionaires with a villa in Italy -- right? Maybe no longer. Lady Liberty has acquired a new dancing partner. Politics in both Europe and the United States have unhitched the left from its trusted partner, democracy. American liberals now often spurn blue collar opinion that is democracy's fuel. They mostly reject global idealism that is liberty's post-communism vocation. This has allowed a Republican president to make democracy his cause. On the dance floor of the 21st century, the right embraces Lady Liberty....And so the forecast from our friends in the Democrat party is gloom with a greater chance of dark.
...Not least, the left cultural gate-keepers of our time in the media and academia have come to picture themselves as rivals of democracy. Telling us how we are going to vote (polls) and then why we voted (more polls) is a usurpation of democracy. Consider the arrogance of the exit poll; CNN announces the result before the result exists! For voters, the system is not theirs to infuse from below; it is the to reengineer from above.
What a strange moment for the left to lose faith in democracy. The Soviet Union and other Leninist dictatorships are gone in a puff of smoke. Democracy is taking root in Latin America. South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Mongolia, and Thailand are all newly democratic. Throughout the 20th century, war and authoritarianism were inseparable. For 30 years, democracy and free markets have surged and no war has occurred anywhere on the scale ofKorea and Vietnam, let alone World War I and World War II.
Seymour Hersh recently told "Democracy Now!" radio that America was in a bad way because "eight or nine neoconservatives" have "grabbed the government." Not mentioning that Bush was elected by 51 percent of the voters, Hersh did detect a ray of hope. One "salvation may be the economy," Hersh said regrettably, "It's going to go very bad, folks. You know, if you have not sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better do it quick."
A left that sees a lousy economy as political salvation and frets about stocks and a villa in Italy is not the idealistic, worker-respecting left anymore. Certainly it is not a believer in democracy.
They have done themselves a great disservice. Apart from the very few in the middle, the left most vocal chords will be speaking for the party for the time being, and that will cold work the temperament of the average citizen while while it secures many years of a Republican majority across this country's statehouses, legislatures, and of course, in Washington DC.
Friday, February 11, 2005
Night of the Long Knives
Thursday, February 10, 2005
RI - US Senate Race Watch, Continued
I agree with most of Marc's excellent analysis and most of his conclusions with one exception. I think one must keep an eye on Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey.
Laffey, a Republican from the grass roots rather than the blue blood roots, can come across as hard boiled. That is, in part, due to his persona, but also to the tasks he has taken on.
Although it would not surprise me if Laffey might have some difficulty attracting women votes, for example, he's nonetheless also proven himself to be very savvy. I could imagine him adjusting his style in a Senate campaign while leaning heavily on his indisputed accomplishments in Cranston, were he to take the plunge.
I don't see RI Governor Donald Carcieri going for this seat for a couple of reasons. One would be that, like most RI Republicans, he'd not be apt to upset the Chafee dynasty. The other is that he can run securely for another 4 years as governor. I think the seat belongs to US Congressman James Langevin if he shoots for it like many think, except if Laffey gets serious and throws his hat in the ring. And if he does, and my guess is that he will, this will become a very interesting and race and one that will be very visible nationally.
Terri Schiavo Responds
Kim Jong Il Fights for Our Attention
Well how about that? Kim Jong Il actually lied to Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Who would have thought it possible? [Ahem!] The problem with nuclear weapons nonproliferation agreements today is that they create the temptation to plan contingencies on the basis of intent rather than capability. North Korea is a case in point. The diplomatic approach toward North Korea depended not on its actual capability but on the perception of its capability. Nothing changed over 24 hours except the North Korean press release claiming the possession of nuclear weapons; yet the announcement, not the reality, made all the difference. The reason the fiction, if fiction it was, lasted so long is that so many desperately wanted to believe that WMDs could be contained, so that the music could keep playing and everyone could return to the old games of saving the whales, dancing in ethnic costumes and clapping their hands.In my humble opinion, the North Koreans just want our undivided attention. Kim Jong Il just doesn't like the fact that Iraq and Iran are getting all the attention these days. This Monster is growling that he's not getting enough. Well, I think we should give him our attention, just long enough to see to it that his barbaric regime is extirpated, and that Kim, himself, is relegated to the ash heap.
Leftist Attorney Found Guilty of Aiding Terrorists
Marguiles said, "I think lawyers need to be advocates, but they don't need to be accomplices."
Aide to MD Governor Ehrlich fired over rumors
"What can I say other than the Governor had no knowledge whatsoever of any postings on FR. For the record, I offered to resign before being asked to do so. And, no, I have not spoken directly with the Governor about any of this.
The Baltimore Sun will be running a piece on this as well on Wednesday. They called Tuesday night and were ready to pin the whole thing on the Governor, and I couldn't let that happen because it simply isn't true. The Governor had no knowledge of anything involving O'Malley or the "rumors."
The Maryland media, in particular the Baltimore Sun has been continuously going after Ehrlich with a vengeance, especially after Ehrlich announced that he would no longer allow his staff to talk to the Sun because of the constant attacks and lies that the paper wrote about Maryland's first republican Governor in over 30 years.
Of course, don't expect the MD media to do any actual fact checking on whether this rumor could have any truth to it, the MD MSM is historically extremely left-leaning, and O'Malley is considered to be the front runner in the challenge to Ehrlich in the next Governors race.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
We are Still the Country of Gettysburg
Some of them (paraphrased):
- The Enemy was shocked by the election
- The Iraqi people do not support the Insurgency
- We are still the country of Gettysburg; we are still the country of Iwo Jima.
- 40,000 to 50,000 four-five vehicle patrols over the least few months. Very few have encounted the enemy -- a better gage of the violence in Iraq.
- Here is the problem for the terrorist - the people know they are making their lives worse.
- Casualties steel our resolve to win this war rather than makes us want to leave Iraq
- I think that people ought to be free, and I am willing to fight for that.
Opens February 18
Mexico, the present. The desert. Two men in tattered clothes scrounge for loot in the dust. One changes positions. BAM! He’s staring down into a hole in the ground previously covered over with wood and sand. He reaches in and pulls out a Nazi flag, wrapped around a dagger, which looks valuable. Overjoyed with his good fortune, he gets up and begins walking, but we never discover where he is headed. BAM! A truck slams into him, smoke and dust swirl around him and we can barely him out in its density. Then suddenly, the camera zooms to his wrist, on which the glowing red imprinted shape of a circled cross appears and then vanishes again. The man gets up and begins to continue walking. We catch a glimpse at his face. His eyes glow red. Then everything goes black.
This is the opening scene of Constantine, a new film opening February 18 in theaters across the country that deals with the entities of Heaven and Hell and those who inhabit them – and the humans stuck in between. Keanu Reeves stars as John Constantine, a man born with a “gift,” who can see demons and angels on earth. According to the movie, a pact made between God and the Devil at the beginning of time demanded that neither demons nor angels could roam the earth of their own accord, but those who became half-human were allowed access to the world of humanity. These are the ones Constantine sees every day. Occasionally, these half breeds decide they want more, and upset the “balance” the pact creates by possessing humans and wreaking other forms of havoc. It is at these times that Constantine’s exorcism services are called for. He has devoted his life to this cause, though his reasons are not clear at first.
But his world is upset when he meets Angela (Rachel Weisz), a devout Catholic whose sister killed herself, which she cannot believe to be true, as her sister was a devout Catholic as well (though she was sent to a mental institution), and knew that if she committed suicide she was condemned to Hell (in accordance with Catholic theology). Angela wants help – she wants to find out who forced her sister to jump several stories to her death – and she does not take no for an answer. The grudging, “rude” Constantine agrees to help when Angela’s narrative brings angry demons to his neighborhood, and he begins to comprehend a trend in their behavior that goes against the tenets of the age-old pact he fights to maintain. Something is up, and Angela’s sister is, or was, involved in it.
The movie chronicles the adventures of these two souls from Hell to Heaven and back, as well as all of the characters they meet on the way, including the Prince of Darkness himself, played with genius by the great Peter Stormare in a white suit dripping with irony. One of the best things about the movie is that it never takes itself too seriously, as movies dealing with this kind of subject matter can often do, with tragic consequences. Instead, there is even a comedic thread that runs throughout, so that even when we follow Constantine into the depths of Hades, we can expect a cynical joke about it when he gets back.
One of the best inclusions in this story, though its justifiableness in accordance with Christianity is certainly up for debate, is the character of Gabriel, portrayed as one of the half-breed angels by amazing Tilda Swinton, who abandons her scrawny, sweaty, dead-eyed Young Adam character for a spicy, wild-eyed, even scheming angel whose interaction with the main characters has a huge impact on the film’s major conflict, especially toward the climax. These “lesser” characters serve to round out Constantine into a juicy whole, while another movie might be dry and flaky around the edges.
The theology in the movie is suspect, but the ideas put forth in the film are intriguing. And there is a meaningful layer to the film that is quite endearing to this reviewer. Constantine’s personal struggle with redemption – an action in his past keeps him from salvation, though he tries through actions to “make up for” this – is probably the most essential part to the movie, and has a profound effect on the film’s climax, which is, basically, the ultimate struggle between Constantine (humanity), Satan, and God, seemingly all for different desired results. This part of the plot is the essence of the movie, and what gives it an implication and purpose other than telling another “good versus evil” story on the silver screen. We have plenty of those already.
There are, of course, other details that keep the movie from being truly Christian at all. I find it difficult to accept that God would make a pact with the Devil of any nature, but God Himself is barely portrayed in the film, and never actually appears on screen. The focus is on defeating the powers of darkness, and not on defining or justifying God or any Divine Being. The climax of the film also puts forth an idea about the nature of angels that the Bible would never back up. But the ideas are still entertaining, and if nothing else, it is supremely interesting to see on screen some of the things Hollywood believes about the spiritual realm.
It may have no real spiritual merit, but darn if it isn’t fun to watch! I give Constantine 3 1/2 stars. The plot kept me intrigued entirely throughout, and that’s more than I can even say for Spiderman 2, that huge box office smash with the crazy-amazing special effects. ;) Oh yeah, I should mention that the effects in Constantine are excellent, too.
Three more much-appreciated members of the cast: Shia LaBeouf (from Holes) as Constantine’s neglected young sidekick; Djimon Hounsou as another “gifted” person, who tries to remain “neutral” in the war between the Heavenly and the Hellish; and Gavin Rossdale, frontman of the band Bush, who gives Keanu Reeves a run for his money as the suave, handsome human form of the half-breed demon Balthazar (not, in this case, synonymous with Satan himself).
Constantine is based on characters from the DC Comics/Vertigo Hellblazer Graphic Novels.
Terri Schiavo Parent's Foundation Harrassed
Florida officials are investigating the foundation set up by parents of Terri Schiavo, used to raise funds for legal costs to keep her alive.Why do the people who oppose life harrass those who wish to preserve it?
The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation, created by Robert and Mary Schindler, seeks donations to "offset some of the expenses associated with protecting Terri," says the Web site, terrisfight.org.
Terri Schiavo has been kept alive for 15 years by a feeding tube. Her husband says she would not want to be kept alive by artificial means.
The Schindlers face a $1,000 fine and could be ordered to stop collecting donations on the Web site because they have failed to file paperwork with the state of Florida, the Palm Beach Post reported Tuesday.
The majority of the Schindlers' attorney's costs have been paid by two anti-abortion [i.e., abortion abolitionist] groups -- the Life Legal Defense Foundation and the Alliance Defense Fund, said the Schindler's attorney, Barbara Weller.
Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, said he has received about $340,000 in legal fees, from a $1.2 million medical malpractice settlement awarded to Michael Schiavo on his wife's behalf.
Secretary Rice to Iran: "Go Ahead...Make My Day"
BRUSSELS — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put Iran on notice earlier today (Wednesday) that it cannot use a European diplomatic initiative to delay indefinitely accountability for a suspected nuclear weapons program."I know what you're thinking, were there 5 bullets or 6..."
"The Iranians need to hear that if they are unwilling to take the deal, really, that the Europeans are giving ... then the Security Council referral looms," she said in an interview with FOX News.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Here Comes the Tabloidization of MSM Newspapers
Here is an excerpt.
The rest can be found here.
As consumers have increasingly turned to television and the Internet for news, the circulation of paid newspapers has declined—by 2 to 4 percent annually for more than a decade in most developed markets. The trend is set to continue, particularly as growing broadband penetration encourages the wider use of online media. In addition, free commuter tabloids, available in many big European and US cities, have lured away some paying customers. As a result, the revenues and profits of traditional newspapers are under intense pressure.
Newspapers have fought back with free subscription trials and other promotions, with advertising platforms such as new or expanded feature sections, and with better home and newsstand distribution. But struggling publishers often seek the quickest method to cut costs and increase circulation without harming ad revenues. Many, particularly in Europe, see their salvation in changing formats: they believe that switching to a more compact one, such as the tabloid format, may lift circulation by attracting disaffected newspaper readers, particularly teens and women. Higher circulation, in turn, stimulates demand for advertising, so newspapers can raise their ad rates. In some cases, the price of the newspapers can rise as well.1
Monday, February 07, 2005
You know you are getting their attention when........
Joseph Newcomer, a Microsoft programming teacher with expertise in typesetting, was the individual that made the recent assertions regarding CBS and President Bush's National Gaurd service. One of those attacking him was Corey Pein, of the Columbia Journalism Review:
"Sure enough, "Blog-Gate," by Corey Pein, a CJR assistant editor, said Newcomer was a "self-proclaimed" expert whose resume "seemed" impressive. His conclusions were "bold bordering on hyperbolic." Newcomer's font analysis, posted on his Web site, www.flounder. com., was "long and technical, discouraging close examination."
You can always tell when a liberal is getting scared, because facts and analysis quickly give way to name calling.
Read the story here.
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Our Coverage Begins: RI - US Senate Watch
Since his unusual pronouncements (e.g., I will not vote for George W. Bush, etc.) he's begun shlepping his way back to the Republican base in RI. Even though RI Republicans tend to be more toward the Left of mainstrean Republicans, Chafee's attempts to recenter himself may be to little avail. He's a marked man, his eccentricities making him a vulnerable target in 2006.
This week, RI Secretary of State, Matthew Brown, announced his candidacy to get a jump on a long queue of other prominant RI Democrats lusting after the seat. He has nearly instantly raised over $200,000 after his announcement. Brown is an obsequious, grab-the-vomit-bag liberal Democrat, a relative new-comer, who has held his Secretary of State seat for only 2 years. He's expected to see a ferocious opposition by moderate Democrat Congressman James Langevin. Langevin is pro-life, pro-military Democrat with a heart for those with debilitating conditions, himself the first quadriplegic to enter the halls of Congress.
Conservative Republicans have interest in Chafee's seat as well. Successful Mayor Stephen P. Laffey, who transformed the financial wreckage left by Democrat predessessors in his city of Cranston, is considered a possible and formidable primary opponent of Chafee's.
But there are some heavy duty conservative Republicans currently in the US Senate who are attempting to lend aid to the wobbly Chafee campaign. Mitch McConnell for one, who is helping him raise some dough. One can only speculate that these Republicans are only trying to bring theit lost brother back to the fold.
But Chafee is more than just eccentric. His record is outright liberal. His ADA rating as of June 2004 was a high 70% (ACU, a low enough 47%). A big abortion proponent, he has been supported by "pro-choicers" from around the nation. But abortion proponents know that their bread is always buttered on the Democrat side, so we learned today, in the column of M. Charles Bakst in the Providence Journal, that "Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, a hero in the world of abortion rights" has already contibuted richly to Brown's (not Chafee's) campaign.
Ah, the justice of poltics - not too dissimilar from that of the Mafia.
Today, The Senescent Man begins its "RI - US Senate Watch." We'll keep an eye on trends and coming attractions for this particular race in RI.
Those interested in the Chafee - Langevin - Brown - Laffey - ???? race, we urge you to stay tuned. Much more fun to come.
From today' (Sunday's) Meet the Press on NBC.. Rummy tucks it to Tim Russert (and the MSM in general):
MR. RUSSERT: One of the Iraqis said this--he's the head ofthe Constitutional Monarchy Party [one of the gajilion or so political parties in Iraq]: "Americans are in for a shock," adding that one day they would realize, "We've got 150,000 troops here protecting a country that's extremely friendly to Iran."And earlier in the same interview:
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: You know, I could go to the [MSM] press, and I could pull out a quote on almost any side of every issue. And your question is: What do I think about that particular quote? First of all, I don't think it's representative. Second, I'm always amazed at the things that can happen in the world, and I don't doubt for a minute that there are going to be some surprises for everybody. Third, let's face it, Afghanistan has Iran as a neighbor, and they talk to each other. Most countries do talk to their neighbors. And that's a very different thing from suggesting that the model that Iran has is necessarily going to be the model for Iraq. I don't believe it is. I think the Shia in Iraq are Iraqis first and Shia second. And just as in Afghanistan, you don't see Mr. Karzai fashioning a government that's a replica of one of his neighbors. He's got an Afghan solution to his problems.
You've got to admire his forthrightness.
MR. RUSSERT: But when they say that they would like to have a constitution which says that daughters would get half the inheritance of sons, do you find that troubling for all the bloodshed we have spilled for Iraq?
SEC'Y RUMSFELD: The first thing we have to begin with is that Iraq belongs to the Iraqis. And the Iraqis are going to have a solution for Iraq that's Iraqi solution. They're not going to have an American solution or an Afghan solution. And the wonderful thing that's taking place is that the great sweep of human history is for freedom. And we're seeing it in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in the Palestinian Liberation Authority, in the Ukraine, in Indonesia, and what's happening is healthy. It's good.
Look at our Constitution when it was first fashioned. Look what it did with respect to women not voting. Look what it did with respect to blacks and the way they were counted in the population. So you don't get from where they were to where they're going on a feather bed, as Thomas Jefferson said. You get there through tough discussion, trials, error, mistakes, good things, and they're on that path. And I think people ought to step back and say, "Isn't that amazing? Isn't that a wonderful thing for that region?"
Saturday, February 05, 2005
Is that "Nuclear" or "Nukular?"
According to Robert Novak, senate Republicans will not wait for President Bush to nominate a replacement for the Supreme Court, before they try out their "Nuclear Option". The "Nuclear Option" will make it so that senate Democrats will not be able to block anyone who does not fit their agenda, like they did with Estrada.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Lardball MC "Chris Matthews suggested that the powerfully moving hug between Safia Taleb al-Suhail, who recently voted in the Iraqi elections, and Janet Norwood, mother of a Marine who died in Iraq, was staged. Matthews sneered that fellow MSNBC host Pat Buchanan was being 'naive' for arguing otherwise."
But the mother of the Marine hero said: no, it wasn't staged.
Send Matthews back to WBZ.
The Paradox of Andrew Sullivan
An excerpt to whet the proverbial appetite:
"...conservatives have generally appreciated his steadfast advocacy for a vigorous prosecution of the war on terrorism. The niche that he has claimed, however, has made Sullivan an especially influential advocate for a cause with which many of them do not agree: same-sex marriage. In his various expositions of the case for same-sex marriage over the years, Sullivan has trapped himself in a series of opportunistic contradictions — which may tell us something about the contradiction at the heart of his cause."
Catch the whole piece.
Fact Checking? None. Zippo. Zilch. Nada.
"...we contacted Eric Ringham, commentary editor of the Star Tribune, and asked whether the newspaper had asked these obvious questions of [the article's author] Ms. Gage. To our amazement, Ringham stated that no one at the newspaper had asked Gage to explain the basis for her claims. In fact, the Star Tribune’s editors did no fact checking whatsoever before they ran Gage’s column accusing us of failing to check facts. None. Zippo. Zilch. Nada."Check out the whole thing.
The Usual Ugh!
Okay, but is anyone noticing how the MSM continues to gripe and jab. They keep nagging now about Social Security reform. Oh, there's not going to be enough money for people to retire if you fiddle with SS. Oh, the system is sound. After all, even the Social Security Administration says the President is wrong about 2042. It won't be bankrupt by then, it will still be able to distrbute three-quarters of what it will be obligated to distribute then. See, everything is right with the world.
Come on! This is a golden moment. Where are the couragous politicians? Where are the visionaries? Look, I'm 53. I'm in between the category of those 55 and over who get everything as it was, and those who are much younger who get the better deal, and I'm not complaining. In fact I'm applauding this.
The subject has got people scrambling for data (by the way, an excellent piece in the WSJ earlier this week explains the situation succinctly). This is a good thing. People need to get educated. The more information that's out there, the less the rhetoricians can scare us.
Let's get some reform going here. Democrats: you are commiting suicide if you keep up your rhetoric. Liberal Republicans on the fence, and you know who they are: Don't blow it. Reform is needed. Don't mess with our kids' futures. They need this change.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
No Rest for the Weary and No End to Jihad
Looks like we're entering a period similar to the one described by Whitaker Chambers, only the new enemy is Islam-ist instead of Commun-ist.
CT: On what basis could America have peace?
OBM: Peace could come if America withdrew its forces from the Muslim world, stopped exploiting Muslim resources such as oil, have decent relationships with Muslims, and stopped supporting the Zionist aggressors and Muslim puppet governments. In other words, "Hands off Muslim lands!" Muslims did not attack the USA—the reverse is true. 9/11 was an act of retaliation. As Bin Laden said, peace will come when the U.S. withdraws from the Muslim world.CT: You have talked about the Islamic flag flying over Downing Street, and I have seen a hadith on your website saying that the end would not come until the White House is captured. How do you envisage these goals being achieved?
OBM: "The final hour will not come until the Muslims conquer the White House" is a hadith related by Tabarani, a great Muslim scholar. How?
The Khilafah is necessary for offensive jihad, though it could occur if Muslims warred to liberate captive Muslims. Realistically, it will probably occur through intellectual da'wah [Islamic missionary activity].
CT: How would a Caliphate operate?
OBM: Under the Khilafah, authority is centralized, but not administration. The Caliph appoints ministers, judges, governors, army commanders, etc. Constitutionally, although all analogies are imperfect, the Khilafah is closer to the U.S. presidential system than to the U.K. parliamentary system with a Prime Minister, although the major difference is that the Caliph operates under a divine mandate.
There could be no non-Muslim judges. Effectively, the Qur'an and Sunnah [practice and narrations of Muhammad related in Hadith] are the Constitution, Shari'ah is the law. The Caliph is chosen by Muslims, whether by popular election, or selection by Majlis as-Shura [Consultative Assembly]. Non-Muslims can enter the Majlis to represent their own community.
CT: What would be the rights of Christians in a restored Caliphate?
OBM: As citizens, in terms of welfare and security, education, etc., they will be equal. They will be exempt from national service, although they can volunteer. They will pay the Jizya poll-tax for security and signifying that they submit to Islamic law, except if they join the army. This need not be levied with humiliation. Nor is it levied on women, children, clergy, elderly, etc., only on mature, working males.
No private schools will be allowed, and there will be an Islamically influenced national curriculum. No new churches will be permitted, but existing ones will be allowed. Private consumption of alcohol will be permitted, but not its public sale. All state officials must be Muslims, save for the Caliph's assistants to advise him about relations with non-Muslim citizens. Muslims could not convert to Christianity on pain of execution. Evangelistic campaigns would be forbidden, but people would be free to present Christianity on TV, in debates, etc.
Oh, I Thought it was the "Estate of the Unions"
"Did any of your parents play the piano?"
"No, but my father was a piano mover ."
I'm thinking I just might want to change the name of this blog to either "The Senile Ol' Man" or "The Silly Ol' Goat." When I read that Bush was planning to "press his agenda" in the Washington Times, I was wondering whether or not he had a steam iron and an ironing board resting on the presidential podium. B'dum ching .
But seriously folks, ...predictions on tonights State of the Union:
- No brainer: what to do about Social Security? Look as old as I am, I would still benefit from even a little privatization, though if the Congress takes years to ratify any changes, well, then I'm out of the running, but maybe my kids won't be.
- What to do about the Axis of Evil? Iran will come up. So will N. Korea. I hope he's in the face of the mullah's in Iran. And that he refers to the little dictator Kim Jong-il of North Korea as a "punk."
- Taxes: the president will want a plan on his desk within the year that greatly simplifies the 1040 form, and does not punish middle class folk.
- He will recognize an Iraq war hero in the audience.
- He will make gracious remarks about members of the Democrat party, possibly even his former opponent(s).
But you know, I've been wrong before.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
On This Groundhog Day Eve...
David Brooks on the Iraqi Election.
As I watched the images of Iraqis lining up to vote, even in the face of terrorists who threatened to wash the streets with blood, I couldn't help thinking of Whittaker Chambers.Check out the whole thing here. (free online subscription required)
Chambers broke with the Communist Party in 1938, testified against Alger Hiss in 1948, and then emerged as a melancholy but profound champion of freedom. Chambers once wrote a letter to William F. Buckley in which he explained that a former Communist has certain advantages in understanding the truly evil nature of his foe.
"I sometimes feel," he wrote, "that it takes a tainted mind to understand - to really understand - the threat of Communism. To really understand Communism is to have touched pitch: one's view of man is forever defiled. To understand Communism means to understand the terrible capacity of man for violence and treachery, an apprehension of which leaves one forever tainted."
André Malraux read Chambers's work and wrote to him, "You are one of those who did not return from hell with empty hands."
I thought of Chambers when I heard reporters in Iraq observe that beneath the joy and exhilaration that came with voting last Sunday, Iraqis showed something grimmer: a stern determination to not let evil triumph.
These Iraqis are people who, like Chambers, have spent their lives in hell and cannot have been unaffected by it. They have touched pitch and witnessed or participated in man's capacity for violence and treachery. They must be both damaged and toughened.
Is Europe Finally Coming Around?
But check out the whole thing (unfortunately, a paid online subscription is required - but worth it) for the rest of the story.
Last year's murder of Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh seems to have been a watershed moment that has awakened Europe to the danger. A radical Muslim of Dutch-Moroccan heritage has been charged with the crime, and in a pre-trial hearing last week the prosecutor told the court, "The murder made it clear that terrorism, inspired by an extreme interpretation of Islam, is a reality in our country."
And sure enough, in recent weeks police in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands have rounded up dozens of terrorist suspects. According to intelligence reports, security services have thwarted a dozen major terrorist attacks in Europe since September 11.
Intelligence experts believe Europe is targeted for two reasons: ideology and opportunity. Despite the political disagreements some European countries have with the Bush Administration, Islamist terrorists still consider Europe part of the hated and infidel West. In addition, Islamic terrorists -- some of whom carry European passports -- can hide and move about much more easily amid Europe's large Muslim and Arab populations than they can in the U.S.
Consider Spain, where the government thought that withdrawing its troops from Iraq after last year's Madrid train bombings would take it off the terrorist target list. No such luck. Security services have since foiled Islamist attacks against such targets as the main criminal court and Madrid's soccer stadium. Last year, the Spanish arrested more than 130 suspected Islamist terrorists. Also last year, terror suspects were arrested in Britain and France for planned poison gas attacks.
Embarrassment over finding some of their nationals among the terrorists killed by U.S. forces in Iraq has also led governments in Europe to step up efforts to stop the recruitment in their countries of suicide bombers for the jihad in Iraq. After a 19-year-old Frenchman was killed during an American bombardment of Fallujah in July, the French began an investigation that led last week to the arrest of a cell of 11 people who allegedly were recruiting terrorists for Iraq.
Will Europe really come around? Stay tuned.
Optimism Doesn't Sell
• NBC: Low turnout in insurgent city
• NW: Joy in Baghdad • Mich., too
• Handicapped child a suicide bomber?
These headlines make me think. If voter turnout is as high as Jenn said, why is there so much bad news from that area of the world? I decide to read the articles.
First, the “good news.” Joy in Baghdad! But wait – the actual headline, once the link is clicked, reads thus: “The Cities Were Not Bathed in Blood.” Oh good. So for this one day of the year, the streets of Baghdad didn’t run with the blood of its citizens and the U.S. troops sent there to protect them. What are the American public supposed to infer from a headline like that? Here we have the first example of optimism that is really pessimism/cynicism at its worst.
The sad thing is, once you get past the harrowing headline, the rest of the article is informative, honest, and even encouraging. Newsweek’s Rod Nordland, a reporter embedded in Iraq, goes through the day of the election in Iraq, describing the citizens’ doubts and fears, as well as their courage and momentous joy. He talks of how an Iraqi man proudly tells Nordland that his wife voted, too, for a different candidate than he had voted for, “and that was her right too.” But you wouldn’t know this from the headline. It turns out the headline chosen comes from a quote taken from Independent Iraqi Elections Commission spokesman Fareed Ayar, featured on the last page of the article. A little farther down the same page, an independent monitoring group, the Iraqi Election Information Network, issues this statement: "Today, Iraqis have shown both insurgents and the world that they are ready to join the international community of democratic nations.” Not enough undermining of the article’s actual theme? Smack dab in the middle of the last page, a “Related Article” is hyperlinked in blazing, bold red: “Washington: A Grim March Of Missteps; U.S. forces went into Iraq with no coherent strategy to run an occupied country—or defeat an insurgency.”
So that “good news” was not really good news at all. What about Michigan? Thankfully, the news in Michigan is much better. Iraqi-Americans, who voted via absentee ballots – though the article makes sure to note less than 10 percent of those eligible actually cast those ballots – are truly full of joy over the election. The article’s subtitle reads: “‘I’m so proud, so excited, so happy, it is a big joy for me,’ Iraqi says.”
Good, good. But what about these other two, not-so-encouraging articles listed on the MSNBC front page? The first one leads to an article titled, “Marines put best face on 'no-shows' in Ramadi: Few Iraqis brave threats in main city of Sunni-dominated province.” The rest of the article is pretty straightforward, detailing the lack of voters in the city of Ramadi, which has been a major target for insurgent threats and violence. To be fair, this article contains information of which the American public should be made aware. It is completely irrational to ignore the power of the insurgency in Iraq over the people there. However, it is just as irrational to pretend nothing good is happening there at all. Fortunately, this particular article relents in the end, naming other cities – including Fallujah – in the province that had higher voter turnout during the course of Election Day.
We are now brought to the final article in our little study – “Handicapped child a suicide bomber?” This last article is different. It is concise, to the point, and contains no obvious spin. It simply states the horrific facts. In this instance, grief in the face of the facts is, without a doubt, warranted. In an attack at a polling place, insurgents strapped a bomb to a little boy who allegedly had Down’s Syndrome. What else can be said? The citizens of Iraq are up against people who place no value on human life – people who do not care about what is right or wrong. The danger is real.
The important thing to remember is that the atrocities committed by the insurgents in Iraq are not the fault or result of the Iraqis’ desire for freedom, democracy, and free elections. The media will have you believe that the U.S. efforts in Iraq are failing, or that the attempts of the U.S. to aid the democratization of Iraq are causing the violence there. But the Iraqis themselves will tell you otherwise – just find the direct quotes in those articles you read! Democracy is not the evil, the insurgency is. The elections – and their unpredicted success – brought great hope to the citizens of Iraq. The insurgency was unable to stop over 60 percent of Iraqi citizens from voting last Sunday, despite its best efforts. There is something to be said for the bravery and determination of the Iraqi people. There is something to be said for optimism, for faith, in victory over a malevolent foe.
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