Day By Day

Friday, June 30, 2006

Irey on FOX

It's a bit late, but I am still learning how to do this blogging thing. Here's a clip of Diana Irey's appearance on FOX News responding to Mad Jack Murtha's comments on Haditha.

Lee Siegel Is An Ass

And a pretentious one at that. Here he is writing in TNR:

There are few places on earth, as far as I'm concerned, where the light, especially in late afternoon, in summer, is more beautiful than on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It's a river light, soft and gently diffused. It gets delicately soaked into the sides of buildings, splashes the windshields of the yellow cabs coasting down Broadway, washes up against the green wall of the park that runs along the Hudson.

Come evening, everyone pours into Riverside Park from the Upper West Side's hybrid neighborhoods: older couples from the squat elegant buildings on West End Avenue, students from Columbia's carefully patrolled Morningside Heights, Hispanic kids and young couples from Amsterdam Avenue's brightly awned streets, young professionals recently moved into the new luxury high-rises that have sprouted up along the Upper West Side's left-liberal alley--the glassy new buildings like lost guests who've wandered into a noisy party meeting instead of the stiff, reserved dinner party they were headed to. And everyone covered in golden light in the green park. You feel the possibility of naturalness in humanity, and of humanity in nature. You feel at ease.

And then you go to a nice restaurant and sit down next to some troglodyte wearing... A BASEBALL CAP.

Oh how I hate these things...

When I see someone wearing a baseball cap in a movie theater, I want them to bring back the guillotine.

Read the whole thing here.

Note how this left-liberal culture critic finds it appropriate to end on a note of unrestrained imagined violence directed against those who don't share his exquisitely refined sensibilities.

All too often we find disaffected progressives adopting attitudes commonly associated with supporters of the ultra-reactionary Comte d'Artois [later Charles X]; "Off with their heads" indeed! Or perhaps the more appropriate reference is to Robespierre's use of terror in an attempt to impose his "Republic of Virtue." What is perhaps most bizarre is the fact that this terminally confused sartorial snob thinks that he is striking a blow against hierarchy.

Sad..., so sad, and more than a bit disturbing.

James Wolcott, another insufferable snob, but at least one with a soupcon of humor, responds to Siegel's madness here.

More Mumia Madness in Paris

Der Spiegel reports on the decision of French communists to name a street in suburban Paris after convicted Philadelphia cop killer, Wesley Cook, AKA Mumia Abu-Jamal. Led by Rick Santorum, many Pennsylvanians are understandably upset by the gesture, but Paris authorities are defiant.

Here's a description of Wesley's street:

a single-lane, freshly paved street between an empty low-income housing building and a warehouse slated for demolition.

It's in an area of crumbling facades, construction cranes and lots covered in wild plant growth -- a typical example of a neighborhood in need of urban renewal in the outlying Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. Its 95,000 residents are mosly black and arab immigrants for Africa.

Sounds appropriate.

To the loons of the left Cook's conviction and imprisonment symbolizes and provides an opportunity to demonstate against so many of the things they love to hate.

With so many issues at stake -- race, the death penalty, a faulty trial, America -- it comes as no surprise that the case has attracted so much attention at home and abroad. Some US civil rights activists, opponents of globalization and old-school leftists revere Abu-Jamal as a "voice of the voiceless" and see his case as evidence of the excesses of a racist judicial system.

Read about it here.

Apparently the decision to rename the street was in response to Rick Santorum's call, inspired by earlier "free Mumia" protests, for a boycott on French products.

The image keeps recurring in my mind of small children taunting each other on a playground.


Pictured: a 2000 Mumia rally in Paris.

How VDH Spent Saturday

Victor Davis Hanson spends a day at a lake in the High Sierras and notes one of the great glories of American culture -- the fact that people of widely different circumstances, political affiliations, and backgrounds can share public space peacefully, productively and happily.

I was at a crowded central Sierra Nevada lake last weekend. The recreation scene there was a good example of how well the United States works as a cohesive society despite radically different public tastes.

The California Alpine lake was full of powerboats. Then later in the afternoon it was the site of a sailboat regatta. And that same Saturday the lake also served as a transit stop for a marathon bike race from Fresno to the crest of the Sierras — while at the same time Central Valley motorcyclists made their annual group ride along the same route.

Forget that there were all ethnic groups, races, and religions getting along fine without the need of law enforcement — something impossible in the Middle East, most of Africa , or the Balkans. A brown skin, Mormonism, or speaking Punjabi were of no interest and would hardly determine what people did or whom they were with. There were no fistfights between motorcyclists and bicyclists, no jet-skiers chasing catamarans.

Far more interesting than our singular civility, however, were the apparent distinctions in recreational choices that tell us even more about the stability of America....

Read it here.

Stop for a second and think about the underlying factors that allow all this to work.

1) A Toquevillian freedom of association made possible by our rigidly maintained civil culture of equality. We tolerate vast differences in material circumstances, but insist, almost obsessively, on public displays of respectful adherence to the principle that "all men are created equal."

2) Easy mobility made possible by the automobile and affordable energy which allows such a diverse assemblage of groups to come together in a single place for their varied purposes. Even the pedal pushers had to drive to the embarkation point for their climb.

3) Rampant consumerism, made possible by an abundance of disposable time and money.

4) Open public access to and the commercial exploitation of physically desirable properties.

Note that these are all things that left wing culture critics and reformers denounce and would deny us.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Check it out -- you won't believe it! Makes you wonder just how he first discovered this talent. Now that I think of it, though, it's about what you'd expect from a Glaswegian. I've tried to catch him palming the objects, but can't.

Endgame in Iraq?

The heavyweight contributors over at Counterrorism Blog note that serious negotiations aimed at ending the Iraq conflict are progressing quite well -- something that has been generally missed by the American and European MSM.

Walid Phares, discussing PM Maliki's proposal, notes that it is the result of months of negotiations among major players and contains a number of institutional mechanisms for resolving problems and promoting national unity. He writes:

The formation of a council for reconciliation, as a first item, indicates that negotiations among the main parties on this strategy have taken place for months. The text announced by PM Maliki thus is a result of discrete dialogue and has the consent of major players in the country. The conference of pro-government clerics to issue counter-fatwas in the near future is a powerful tool against the Jihadists. A proposed "Congress of heads of tribes against terrorism," is another tool, and the stipulation calling for support to "civil society groups" is also helpful.

Phares also notes that US media commentators and politicians have generally misrepresented the amnesty provisions of Maliki's proposals.

[T]he contentious plan for amnesty is not really a general amnesty. There will be special committees to determine who didn't participate in war crimes, terrorism, etc., and there are special conditions for all those who would apply for amnesty, including a commitment for non-violence and support for elected government. The text asks Coalition forces to establish a mechanism to address human rights abuses. The program also addresses the problems of the victims of the Hussein regime, of the terorrists, and the war.
Read it here.

Bill Roggio notes that the terms offered by Sunni insurgents in response to Maliki are a good indication that they are willing to deal seriously and in good faith.

The demands issued by the eleven groups, specifically the end to the bans on Saddam era Army officers and Baathist participation in the government, indicate a significant portion of the Baathist/Saddamist insurgency is searching for a negotiated settlement to end their involvement in the fighting.

One of the demands of this insurgent block is already being met. The Iraqi government has released 450 detainees on June 27th, and over 2,500 total are scheduled to be released "through a series of 200 – 500 person releases throughout the month." While the loyalties of those released has not been made public, the releases are likely being targeted at the eleven insurgent groups as a sign of good faith. At the same time, the Central Criminal Court of Iraq continues to try members of the insurgency for violating the laws of Iraq. The ten latest members of the insurgency have been convicted of non-violent crimes such as "possession of illegal weapons, passport violations and illegal border crossing," and several will be likely eligible for pardon.

Read it here.

In other words we are well down the path toward Iraqi national reconciliation and moving steadily toward a situation in which differences will be resolved within a coherent institutional framework.

Does this mean withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq? Probably not. Some presence will likely be maintained in a training and support role, if only as insurance against other foreign intervention, but the level of US involvement will be declining over time. It is increasingly beginning to look as though Bush will be able to pull off one of the great liberation efforts of modern times.

I've been trying to tell people for a long time -- this guy is potentially one of our greatest presidents, and more and more, it seems that the potential is being realized. I fully expect that at the end of his eight years in office George W. Bush will have left the nation and the world a much better place than it was when he was first elected.


Austin Bay provides some much-needed perspective on the past five years.

In 2001, bin Laden was promoting a “global caliphate.” The Islamist terror bombers who committed mass murder in Madrid (March 2004) intended to restore Spain (Al Andalus) to Islam. A week before Iraq’s historic January 2005 democratic elections, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declared a “fierce war on this evil principle of democracy.”

These statements– mad as they may seem– were statements of strategic intent.

Iraq now has a democratically-elected government. Bin Laden hides in a cave. Spain did remove its regimental contingent from Iraq –an operational political victory for Al Qaeda– and Spain remains subject to terrorist threat. However, Catalonian-led regional separatism is a far bigger political threat to Spain than Al Qaeda. Zarqawi is dead and Iraqi security forces continue to roll up his network.

So who is winning this war?

Gee, I would say Bush is. Unfortunately in the current political environment far too many people, especially opinion makers, have a vested interest in denying Bush any triumph or even credit.

Read the whole thing here.

And the Good Economic News Just Keeps Coming

AP reports:

WASHINGTON -- The economy sprang out of a year-end rut and zipped ahead in the opening quarter of this year at a 5.6 percent pace, the fastest in 2 1/2 years and even stronger than previously thought.

The new snapshot of gross domestic product for the January-to-March period exceeded the 5.3 percent growth rate estimated a month ago, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The upgraded reading _ based on more complete information _ matched economists' forecasts.

And, for my deficit obsessed correspondents there's this:

The stronger GDP figure mostly reflected an improvement in the country's trade deficit, which was much less of a drag than previously estimated.

Gross domestic product measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States and is considered the best barometer of the country's economic fitness.

Read it here.

The booming economy is rapidly reducing the budget deficit. When I pointed this out to some of my more dyspeptic correspondents, they immediately replied..., "well, what about the trade deficit." Now that seems to be diminishing too. What's left for them to complain about? Well, there's always the stock market. Yesterday one of the grumps actually said "if it weren't for Bush's policies it would be at 20,000 right now." Yeah, right! Even Larry Kudlow isn't making that claim.

There are a lot of beltway warriors who simply refuse to give the Bush administration credit for anything, no matter what. So tortured are their arguments that one wonders if there isn't something much deeper playing out here. Could it be Bush's determination to bring accountability to the federal bureaucracy?

Pennsylvania Politics -- Novak on Murtha

Robert Novak has a nice short summary of the situation in Pennsylvania's Twelfth District where Diana Irey is challenging incumbent Jack Murtha.
Rep. John Murtha (D.-Pa.) appears to be suffering "Daschle-itis," a figurative disease which makes entrenched incumbents become national celebrities and, in the process, risk alienating the voters that put them in office.

Since seizing his party's anti-war mantle, Murtha has become a great draw for Democratic fundraisers, helping his party boost its prospects for a congressional takeover. Naturally, this helps his party-leadership bid as well.

But at the same time, his outspokenness made him a huge target....

What originally seemed like a long-shot bid by Diana Irey (R.) to unseat Murtha has taken on new credibility as she raises money from the Internet and as Murtha makes more and more outrageous statements.
Read it here.

Novak rightly points out that Murtha's biggest mis-step was not his anti-war stance itself, but his outrageous assertions, made without any presumption of innocence, that US Marines engaged in a murder spree at Haditha. Those statements open Murtha to legal liability in any judicial action taken against those troops, are widely perceived to be inappropriate, and are widely resented within the core where many people have expressed the opinion that Murtha is a Blue Falcon.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pennsylvania Politics -- Santorum's and Casey's Commercials

Real Clear Politics has links to Rick Santorum's and Bob Casey's campaign commercials. Check them out here.

It is interesting to compare the themes of the two campaigns. Santorum is defiant, in fact the title of the spot is "Defying the Odds." More than half the commercial recounts the times he triumphed when the pointyheaded experts predicted he would be defeated. The message: "don't count me out yet." The last part stresses protecting our kids from predators of various kinds, actions he has taken to promote job growth, and more than anything reminds viewers of all the pork he has brought home to Pennsylvania. I know that national pundits decry such things as irresponsible, but protecting children resonates with young parents and as for the pork -- well..., we Pennsylvanians, we love our pork! Every elected official in the State knows that his first and foremost responsibility is to bring as much money home to his constituents as possible. Rick knows what he's doing by emphasizing his role as porkmeister.

Casey's themes are radically different from Santorum's. He's still pretty much of an unknown outside the northeast part of the State and this is an attempt to establish a sense of his character. The piece is titled "Meet Bob Casey." He emphasizes his father, a beloved political figure, and portrays himself as a sensitive, nurturing, loving Alan Aldaesque type of man. Time and again he talks about his experience as a schoolteacher and much of the commercial consists of testimony by a young black woman who says that Casey boosted her self esteem. His message..., "I'm a nice guy and I care." There are a few references to Democrat national themes. He pledges himself to integrity and fiscal responsibility and denounces extremism and ideologues. He is also anti-globalization because it threatens jobs. But these are just mentioned in passing. His main message is a return to the welfare state policies of the past and caring, caring, caring....

RCP feels that Casey's message resonates better with voters because he is ahead in the polls. I'm not so sure. That is certainly true in Philly, which is as reactionary a political culture as you will find in this country. But Santorum's weakness has little to do with specific policies or with George Bush, or with Congressional shenanigans, and everything to do with the revolt of the Republican right wing.

Interestingly, neither commercial mentions immigration, which is supposed to be the hot, hot, hot issue of our times.

What is perhaps most striking is the fact that in Pennsylvania both sides are pretty much ignoring the national party leaders, their themes and their schemes, and are affirming their solid belief that, as Tip O'Neill famously said, "all politics is local." Certainly, in an off-year election that is usually the case. Casey has even gone so far as to fire operatives placed on his staff by the National Campaign Committee and is running, not on national themes but on a replay of the messages that carried his father to victory in those storied days of yesteryear. If Casey wins, and right not it looks probable that he will, he will owe almost nothing to the national Party leadership.

Finally, one comes away from these commercials with a sense that Casey's campaign is really pretty weak and has little of substance to offer. There is no real message except nostalgia. If he wins, it will be less a result of his own efforts than of Republican disunity.

Maryland Politics -- Duncan's Departure

In some ways the gubenatorial race here in Maryland is getting downright weird; in others they are Maryland business as usual.

First the weird. For a while things looked pretty good for incumbent Republican governor Bob Ehrlich. He faced no opposition in his own party and enjoyed high approval ratings, while the Democrats seemed to be hopelessly divided between Baltimore's mayor, Martin O'Malley, and Dave Duncan. Duncan was rising in the polls, and O'Malley seemed to be afflicted with foot in mouth disease, making a seemingly endless series of gaffes that were rapidly undercutting his credibility. But then, on the 23rd of last month, everything changed.

Duncan suddenly withdrew from the race, saying that he suffered from "clinical depression." Some suspect that the real reason was that he was about to be tied to the Abramoff scandals.

Read about it here.

Duncan's departure spares O'Malley a bitter intramural fight and deals a serious blow to Ehrlich's chances. The latest WaPo poll shows him sixteen points behind O'Malley, up from eleven points before Duncan's dropout. [here] Ehrlich also faces a major problem with utility rates. Back in 1999 Democrats had capped utility rate hikes and over the years pressure for raising rates had built up. This year Constellation Energy proposed to raise electric rates by a whopping 72% and secured Ehrlich's approval for the boost. This gave the Dems a perfect populist issue.

The Democrat-controlled assembly recently passed a bill limiting rate hikes and Ehrlich vetoed it. The CW predicted disaster for him, but the WaPo poll doesn't show him slipping as a result of the veto. Instead the widening gap has been almost all the result of Duncan voters lining up behind O'Malley.

The CW is that, now that the situation is clarified, the campaign will start to get really down and dirty -- in other words a typical Maryland slimefest. Russ Smith, writing in the City Paper, predicts:
Both [candidates] will inevitably flood the airwaves with attack ads, and despite the public's purported dislike of such tactics, they usually work. And I doubt there will be much talk about "honor" and "decency" in the months ahead.
The other part of the CW now is that all O'Malley has to do to win is to keep his big mouth shut, but knowing Marty, that will probably be impossible. He's too much of a showboat to keep quiet.
Can Ehrlich overcome the disadvantages of his situation? Well, his approval rating is still high, despite the energy embroglio, and O'Malley is something of a wild card. Anything could happen.

Stay tuned....

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Leftist Lies and Global Warming

Jonah [Lucianneson] Goldberg, over at the Corner articulates one [but only one] of the problems I and many others have with the Green position on global warming:
One of my nagging problems with anti-global warming activists is that they seem to be using the problem as an excuse to smuggle in a lot of anti-capitalistic, anti-technology ideas which have endured close to the surface for generations. It seems the problem with fossil fuels is only partially their role in global warming. There's also all this rhetoric about how oil is the lifeblood of the global capitalistic system the left dislikes. When the Greens call for "weaning" the West off of oil, it often sounds like they're calling for the West to wean itself of a lot more than just oil. Also, some see global warming as a yet another excuse for empowering the state to make decisions the left doesn't want left to the market place. The story of economic debate for the last century and a half is largely a tale of a bunch of people greeting every new problem or challenge and saying "Aha! this proves the state needs to do more economic planning." These two motivations only loosely overlap, but uniting them somewhat is the general Green yearning for the West to shed capitalistic individualism, live more communally, and live in a more "natural" state.
Well said. It is no coincidence that the rise of the Greens ensued upon the heels of Marxian socialism's collapse. The organizational and institutional links between the two brutally utopian movements are unmistakable.

Read it here.


Jonah adds:

[So] America contributes more greenhouse gasses than other countries. Okay, guilty as charged. It's not like these greenhouse gasses don't have a context. The American economy sustains the planet, pulls millions out of poverty, keeps the sea channels open, develops most of the medical breakthroughs, provides most of the funding for international institutions (including the finger-waggers at the UN's environmental divisions), offers the best higher education to the world's leaders, and generally provides a blanket of security for much of the planet. I could go on, but you get the point.
Read it here.

International Law

There is a fascinating discussion going on over at the Volokh Conspiracy on the subject of International Law; what it is and isn't, what authority it represents, when and how it applies, etc.

Some excerpts:

What started it was David Berenstein's observation:
I've noticed in a variety of contexts that there are some rather well-educated, articulate individuals out there who have what seems to me to be a fanatical, quasi-religious belief in "international law", and the idea that it should trump any other conflicting consideration. In the constitutional law field, this is reflected in the argument that the president and the courts should ignore domestic law and the Constitution if they conflict with international law--even if the United States isn't a party to any binding international agreements on the particular subject at hand.
He is particularly upset by assertions that Israel has no right to exist because it is in violation of this or that aspect of "international law". He asks:
[W[hen and how "international law" gained such cult-like status that well-educated people believe that merely invoking it (or their interpretation of it) is sufficient to settle even the most nuanced and contentious debates, that it should always trump domestic law, etc.
Some responses:

I frequently see "international law" used as a mere cover for "those are my political preferences." I think it's just a desire to add a certain aura of legitimacy to what would otherwise just be someone's opinion. Why is it more prevalent now? Probably just a function of our neverending linguistic inflation in all kinds of areas, not just this one.


For conservatives, it's "originalism."
For libertarians, it's "the market."
For some on the left, it's "international law."


I must admit, I'm one who does, in many cases argue for the adherence to international law. And, I believe international law cannot be trumped by state law--international law IS domestic law. The real question is: what is meant by international law? There is no way, for example, to argue that one ought not follow a treaty as it is not law. The value of treaties as law is expressed in the Constitution, in fact the Federalist, I believe 63(?), explains the importance and value of treaty adherence. I believe treaties to be binding law-- unless the state rescinds their ratification. When it comes to Customary International Law, there are very few crimes that which actually fall under a category that mandates adherence, and these crimes have been considered such, with slight modification since the time of Grotious. Much of the rest of "international law" is not law, but rather is forward thinking suggestions as to how states ought to co-exist. These ought to be followed as much as possible, but there is no binding nature on a state to do--nor should there be.

There are many, many, more.

Check them out here. They'll make you think, and that, as a famous criminal mastermind says, "is a good thing."

More Movie Stuff -- Crouching Tarzan, Not So Hidden Meanings

Stanley Crouch has an excellent commentary on the recent release of the old Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films. His approach:
Not one of the six films in The Tarzan Collection (Warner Home Video) is very good, but the unit of adventures reveals much about our naive conception of "purity" as it arrives in popular culture, where "something wild" always offers an answer to the problems and dilemmas that attend modern living.
I have often argued that pedestrian entertainment, because it so closely mirrors the limitations and potentials of the culture that produced it, is far more interesting as a subject of historical inquiry than great art that transcends its times and speaks forcefully to people in all times and places. At the same time, no artistic representation, no matter how popular, can provide insight into more than a few small aspects of that culture. Crouch is well aware of both the power and limits of popular culture studies, and he does good work. Read him and learn.

Good News From Iraq the Model

Mohammed at Iraq the Model translates from al Sabah, some good news:
Seven militant groups announced their desire to join the political process in accordance with the reconciliation project and said they were ready to enter a truce and stop the violence.

MP Hassan al-Sinaid-whose close to PM Maliki-said third parties conveyed the message of the seven groups confirming that they were not involved in Iraqi bloodshed suggesting they're eligible to benefit from the initiative.

Al-Sinaid said it was possible that Maliki would meet representatives of these seven groups either directly or indirectly, because he's concerned about the success of the initiative and is keen to gather support for it. Al-Sinaid adds "al-Maliki believes in political measures now, and not only in military ones".

According to those third parties, the militant groups consider the initiative tempting which encouraged them to respond positively, and at the same time pointed out that it's possible to win other groups into the project as they will not find a good reason to say no.
Initial information indicates that the seven groups are: the brigades of the 1920 revolution, the army of Mohammed, Heroes of Iraq, the 4/9 organization, Al-Fatih brigades and finally the general command of armed forces.

The demands of these groups can be summarized by: putting a timetable for withdrawing foreign troops, recognizing the acts of resistance as a legitimate right [still a controversial point with no clear definition or guidelines stated as of now], reviewing the deba'athification law, preserving the unity of Iraq, preventing foreign infiltration, releasing innocent detainees, providing jobs, respecting the citizens and compensating the affected and finally disbanding the militias.
Mohammed writes:

This announcement seems to have been preceded by a lot of work but a declaration of amnesty was the militants' condition to join the reconciliation project mostly to save face.

Read the whole thing here, and follow his link to see the perfidity of the the BBC reporting on the current situation in Iraq.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Iowahawk Channels Bill Keller

David Burge, the Iowahawk, takes on the editor of the New York Times. As usual it is hilarious and lethal.

A sample:
The press and the government generally start out from opposite corners in such cases. In the bad corner, weighing in at five trillion pounds, hailing from Washington DC, with a record of 17-1-1 and 14 knockouts, American "The Dissent Crusher" Governmennnnnnnnt. For example, some members of the Administration have argued over the past three years that when our reporters describe sectarian violence and insurgency in Iraq, we risk demoralizing the nation and giving comfort to the "enemy." On the other hand, some members of the insurgency have persuasively argued that we have not given enough coverage to violence. Who to believe? The Editors have steadfastly taken our default neutral position and present a careful balance of 50% Iraq violence, so that you - the uniformed cretin - are entrusted with the unbiased, balanced information you need to kayo this illegitimate glass-jawed Administration.
Read it here.

Ward Churchill is History

From Channel 7 News in Denver:
The University of Colorado announced Monday that it will dismiss controversial professor Ward Churchill. "Today, I issued to Professor Churchill a notice of intent to dismiss him from his faculty position at the University of Colorado Boulder," CU Interim Chancellor Phil DiStefano said Monday afternoon.
Read it here.

It's not quite final yet, there is a review and appeals process, but things are looking good for one university's [grudging] attempt to restore some degree of integrity to their small corner of the academic swamp. Maybe the cancer of corruption that has been spreading through the academic establishment for decades is not yet terminal.

Private SNAFU

In her quest to humiliate the New York Times Michelle Malkin has been digging up some really neat materials from WWII. Today's offering is from Project Archive's Wayback Machine [here] and features "Private SNAFU" a series of training films produced by the Army Signal Corps, created by Theodore Geisel [Dr. Seuss] and Phil Eastman, voice by Mel Blanc, music by Carl Stalling. [here]

Needless to say, that's some heavyweight talent. Also involved in the project were Tex Avery, Frank Capra [who dreamed it up], Chuck Jones, Frank Tashlin, Fritz Freleng, and Bob Clampett. Most of the talent came from Warners, but MGM was also involved.

There were cost overruns on the project and Warner executive, Leon Schlesinger was accused of padding the bills.

The title alone of this project, "Private SNAFU", should serve as a reminder to those who continue to insist on the peculiar incompetence of the current administration, that SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR* are all military slang for the expected state of affairs and indications that military operations are always messy. The Iraq adventure has been less messy than most.

SNAFU = Situation Normal All F***ed Up.
TARFU = Things Are Really F***ed Up.
FUBAR = F***ed Up Beyond All Recognition.

The free version at the Wayback Machine is the clean one. The uncensored versions are available on DVD here.

Christopher Dow's review of the series in Bright Lights Film Journal, is available online here.

The Failure of Appeasement

Mark Katz has an interesting and important discussion of recent Russian policy toward the Islamic world and its consequences.
One of Moscow's principal foreign policy aims has been to prevent opposition to Russian intervention in Chechnya from rising up in the Middle East and the broader Muslim world....

Moscow, especially under Putin, has assiduously worked to convince the Muslim world that, unlike America, Russia is its friend. When America insisted on intervening in Iraq, Russia strenuously objected -- both at the time of the intervention and ever since. When the United States called for democratization in the Middle East, Russia indicated its willingness to work with existing authoritarian governments as they are. When the United States calls for sanctions or other strong measures in response to the Iranian nuclear program, Russia calls for restraint and even sticks up for Tehran. When the United States refused to talk to Hamas after it won the Palestinian parliamentary elections earlier this year, Russia hosted a Hamas delegation in Moscow.

Numerous other examples could be cited. Part of Moscow's aim in taking these actions seems to be to convey to Muslims that Russia supports so many causes dear to them that they should not concern themselves over what is happening in Chechnya. Moscow would prefer that Muslims actually support Russian actions there, but will be grateful if they are merely indifferent -- just as long as they do not actively support the Chechen rebels.

Katz notes that this policy has largely succeeded with the despotic regimes of the Middle East which have for the most part refrained from discussions of the Chechen revolt while denouncing American policy regarding Israel, Iran and Iraq. But with the jihadists it is a different matter. They are completely indifferent to Russia's attempts to deflect Islamist rage by saying "Why pick on Russians when it is the Americans, not us, who are occupying your country?"

Read it here.

The contrast with the United States could not be greater. Reacting to atrocities in Moscow and Beslan, Russia chose the path of appeasement, currying favor with Middle Eastern tyrants an attempting to deflect the Islamists' attention toward the U.S. After 9/11 Bush went on the offense, projecting American power decisively into the heart of the Muslim world and engaging both the tyrants and the terrorists on their own turf.

To be sure, the cost of America's aggressive response has been great, but Bush has inflicted severe injury on those who would do us harm, but as the recent execution of Russian diplomats [here], and video [here] shows, appeasement is no deterrent against Islamist rage.

Cutting and running is not an option against monsters such as these because they will not be appeased.

And in case you were thinking that withdrawing and ignoring the jihadists while tolerating a certain "nuisance" level of terrorism was an option, think again.

The Jerusalem Post reports that al Aksa Martyr's Brigade is now claiming to have the capacity to manufacture WMDs. [here] The quest for state-level powers of destruction will never end for these guys, and once acquired we will be right in the cross-hairs.


Wretchard over at Belmont Club notes many of the same points I do, but expands his analysis to include Tony Blair's Britain, which in the wake of the London bombings has been cautiously treading the same path as did Putin. He writes:
It is [the Jihadists'] apparent invariance to appeasement or resistance that is so dismaying. If Russia, Israel and Britain can still be regarded as hostile to Islam despite every conciliatory effort then what do they do next? Is the solution to get tough on Islam or conciliate it even further, on the theory that the past outreach has not been enough? The New York Times describes how the British political establishment has attempted to solve this problem by simultaneously toughening certain dealings with Muslim communities while becoming more conciliatory in others.
And the result of such a policy? Severe restrictions on the civil rights of Englishmen! Acquiescence to Dhimmitude in the homeland of modern liberalism.
Tony Blair is willing to trade away the oldest and most cherished British freedoms in an attempt to please the Muslim community. Will he succeed? And if he doesn't what then?
What then, indeed!

Read it here.

I am reminded of the scene in Goldfinger where James Bond says "Do you expect me to talk?" to which the response is, "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!"

Bernard-Henri Levy on Guantanamo

Bernard-Henri Levy, ("je suis un superstar") the French "philosopher"/journalist and darling of the Manhattan literary set who has written many things (often silly but sometimes striking) about the United States, visited the US prison at Guantanamo last year. In the aftermath of recent suicides there he recounts his experience for Le Point.

Guantanamo is not, he notes, what Bush's critics have made it out to be:
"[It is] certainly not Auschwitz, and neither the number of inmates nor the conditions of their internment, nor the status of the majority in the large army of the international Jihad make it possible to turn it into an American gulag, as the Bush-opponents, in a Pavlovian reflex, try to do."

[Guantanamo n'est certes pas Auschwitz ; ni le nombre de ses détenus, ni leurs conditions de détention, ni surtout ce que l'on sait, pour la plupart d'entre eux, de leurs états de service dans la grande armée du djihad international, ne permet d'en faire, comme le voudraient les anti-Bush pavlovisés, l'équivalent d'un goulag américain]
However, he writes that the facility should be immediately closed because it constitutes a "zone of non-justice" [zone de non-droit] -- a judicial "no man's land." The mere existence of this facility, operating outside the scope of both national and international law has "something deeply shocking about it, for the prisoners hopeless and for the image of the USA, disastrous." ["quelque chose de profondément choquant, désespérant pour les détenus, ruineux pour l'image de l'Amérique et indigne"]

He demands:
Il faut fermer d'urgence Guantanamo, voilà la vérité.
All in all a much more balanced treatment than I would have expected from Levy, and it contains some good advice. The ambiguous status of Guantanamo cannot be allowed to remain indefinitely. There are many in the administration, inluding President Bush, who share Levy's sentiments and Bush has often expressed his desire to close the facility. Unfortunately, such things are easier said than done.

English excerpts in Sign and Sight here.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A View From The Other Side

Michelle Malkin has a long post on the NYT's troubling habit of printing classified information during wartime. It is the usual Malkin screed, but is interesting because she includes several WWII era posters [altered to fit the current situation] making the point that "loose lips sink ships." Those posters are remnants of a world so different from today in so many important ways that our elite standards and beliefs would have been inconceivable to those who fought that greatest of modern conflicts.

Historians customarily treat WWII as a great dividing point -- a watershed in our national development, and so it is in many ways, but "post-war America" was a far from unitary experience. Certainly the changes in our political culture accompanying the great crises of Vietnam and Watergate are as great as any that took place during the great mid-century conflict. Today we stand on the far side of a great divide separating us from the world of the 1940's. Viewing these posters reminds us of just how profound that gap is.

The fact that leading journalistic instititutions (including one that seeks to be known as "the paper of record") would defy the wishes of leading government figures of both parties to publish classified information that arguably could compromise important wartime initiatives against the enemy is an indicator of just how broad the gap between then and now and a reminder of just how profoundly disaffected are today's cultural elites.

The years that separate today's NYT from those posters are the years of my life and experience. I am old enough to remember the forties and viewing Malkin's faux posters my mind turns back to those days of my youth. Suddenly I feel very old, and very much a stranger in a strange land.

At times the land seen through the distorting lens of the NYT editorial board is not one I easily recognize, and as I read I hear sounding faintly in the background David Bowie singing, "this is not America."

McNickel on Santorum

Colin McNickel sticks a fork in Rick Santorum's corpse and declares the race over. Bobby Casey wins. It's not just that the polls are bad, it's that they show that a lot of voters would choose anyone over Santorum. That includes not just the usual lefty loons, but also many, many disillusioned Republicans who see Rick as an unprincipled opportunist.

Read it here.

The Republican Party in Pennsylvania is not just falling apart, it has already dissolved into warring factions, and all the King's horses and all the King's men won't put Humpty together again, at least not in time for this year's elections.

And somewhere Pat Toomey smiles.

Murtha Madness Escalates

Message to Jack Murtha....

Stop the madness! Stop it now! Just stop it! Shut your pie hole!

From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
Murtha says U.S. poses top threat to world peace

MIAMI — American presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea or Iran, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said to an audience of more than 200 in North Miami Saturday afternoon.

Murtha was the guest speaker at a town hall meeting organized by Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, D-Miami, at Florida International University's Biscayne Bay Campus....

Murtha also has publicly said that the shooting of 24 Iraqis in November at Haditha, a city in the Anbar province of western Iraq that has been plagued by insurgents, was wrongfully covered up.

The killings, which sparked an investigation into the deadly encounter and another into whether they were the subject of a cover-up, could undermine U.S. efforts in Iraq more than the prison abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib in 2004, Murtha said.

"(The United States) became the target when Abu Ghraib came along," Murtha said.
Read the whole thing here.

Web Commentary:

Darleen says "Absofuckinglutely unbelievable" [here].
Sweetness and Light chimes in: Murtha is insane in his hatred for the United States." [here]
PrairiePundit calls it "Murtha's Descent to the Absurd" [here]

Ah, Johnny, we hardly knew ya -- we who now regret ever having voted for you.

It's time for you to go.


It appears that Murtha claims to have been misquoted in the news report. He covered himself by saying that he was actually citing the results of a Pew poll rather than stating his personal views. It's a standard journalistic/political dodge -- get the idea out there but if challenged attribute it to someone else, that way you avoid personal responsibility.

This Day in History -- Khobar Towers

Louis Freeh, writing in the WSJ, reminds us -- Americans died and Clinton lied:

Ten years ago today, acting under direct orders from senior Iranian government leaders, the Saudi Hezbollah detonated a 25,000-pound TNT bomb that killed 19 U.S. airmen in their dormitory at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The blast wave destroyed Building 131 and grievously wounded hundreds of additional Air Force personnel. It also killed an unknown number of Saudi civilians in a nearby park.

The 19 Americans murdered were members of the 4,404th Wing, who were risking their lives to enforce the no-fly zone over southern Iraq. This was a U.N.-mandated mission after the 1991 Gulf War to stop Saddam Hussein from killing his Shiite people. The Khobar victims, along with the courageous families and friends who mourn them this weekend in Washington, deserve our respect and honor. More importantly, they must be remembered, because American justice has still been denied.


The aftermath of the Khobar bombing is just one example of how successive U.S. governments have mishandled Iran. On June 25, 1996, President Clinton declared that "no stone would be left unturned" to find the bombers and bring them to "justice." Within hours, teams of FBI agents, and forensic and technical personnel, were en route to Khobar. The president told the Saudis and the 19 victims' families that I was responsible for the case. This assignment became very personal and solemn for me, as it meant that I was the one who dealt directly with the victims' survivors. These disciplined military families asked only one thing of me and their country: "Please find out who did this to our sons, husbands, brothers and fathers and bring them to justice."

It soon became clear that Mr. Clinton and his national security adviser, Sandy Berger, had no interest in confronting the fact that Iran had blown up the towers. This is astounding, considering that the Saudi Security Service had arrested six of the bombers after the attack. As FBI agents sifted through the remains of Building 131 in 115-degree heat, the bombers admitted they had been trained by the Iranian external security service (IRGC) in Lebanon's Beka Valley and received their passports at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria, along with $250,000 cash for the operation from IRGC Gen. Ahmad Sharifi.

We later learned that senior members of the Iranian government, including Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Intelligence and Security and the Spiritual Leader's office had selected Khobar as their target and commissioned the Saudi Hezbollah to carry out the operation. The Saudi police told us that FBI agents had to interview the bombers in custody in order to make our case. To make this happen, however, the U.S. president would need to make a personal request to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.

So for 30 months, I wrote and rewrote the same set of simple talking points for the president, Mr. Berger, and others to press the FBI's request to go inside a Saudi prison and interview the Khobar bombers. And for 30 months nothing happened....

Upon being advised that our investigation now had proof that Iran blew up Khobar Towers, Mr. Berger's astounding response was: "Who knows about this?" His next, and wrong, comment was: "That's just hearsay." When I explained that under the Rules of Federal Evidence the detainees' comments were indeed more than "hearsay," for the first time ever he became interested--and alarmed--about the case. But this interest translated into nothing more than Washington "damage control" meetings held out of the fear that Congress, and ordinary Americans, would find out that Iran murdered our soldiers. After those meetings, neither the president, nor anyone else in the administration, was heard from again about Khobar.

Read the whole thing here.

Simply disgusting.

Pennsylvania Politics -- Swann Diving

The latest Quinnipiac Poll [here] has no joy for Swann supporters. It shows him trailing Ed Rendell by 24 points, 55% to 31%. The one ray of hope for Swann is that half the electorate still says they don't know enough to have an opinion about his suitability for office.

What is most striking is that 27% of Republican voters are supporting Rendell, a clear indication of the extent to which State Republicans have been disaffected.

They are not coming back.

The key to all of this was a Rovian decision to back Specter against Toomey two years ago. It looked good at the time, insuring that the Republicans would keep that seat and that Arlen would cooperate in getting conservative judges through the Judiciary committee. But, though the move was successful in that regard, it sowed the seeds of today's discontent. Republican conservatives are determined to punish the Party leadership and that is an obstacle neither Swann nor Santorum [who betrayed Toomey] seem to be able to overcome.

Somewhere Pat Toomey is smiling.

Rove may well have gained two supreme court justices at the expense of losing Pennsylvania to the Republicans for a generation.

Surber Takes On The Times

Don Surber, a proud member of the MSM, has a good commentary on the NYT and LA Times stories revealing how the government tracks terrorists' financial dealings here. The money quote is:
June 23, 2006, was an ugly day for American print journalism. It showed a once proud industry in its last throes burning years of hard-won credibility just to make a president look bad.

Adidas Baroque

And they say that US culture is too commercialized! This fresco, by Adidas, of soccer stars ascending to the firmament adorns the Koln bahnhof. My oh my, things have changed along the Rhine since I used to hang out there.

Thanks to Tim for the picture.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Blogging Diana Irey

Lane Core, Jr., over at The Blog From the Core has a nice biographical piece on Diana Irey, who is attempting to unseat Jack Murtha in Pennsylvania's twelfth congressional district. A few salient points:

She has been a Washington County Commissioner since 1995.

She is originally from Ohio and grew up as a Democrat, but as an adult and a mother found herself more philosophically attuned to the GOP.

She describes herself as an independent-minded conservative.

Her decision to run was prompted by Murtha's comments on the military and the war.

She is taking a strong stand against illegal immigration and opposes amnesty.

Read the whole thing here.

I have a feeling that regional sentiments are going to be important in this election. Murtha's district extends over a considerable area -- from the mountains of Cambria County through the Laurel Highands and Pittsburgh suburbs, to the Mon Valley towns all the way down to the borders of West Virginia. Murtha's support in the Johnstown area seems to be solid -- he's one of them and can do no wrong. Irey seems to be gaining most of her support in the Mon Valley. Talking with people in Westmoreland and Somerset Counties I get the impression that most aren't really focusing much on the race yet and are of the opinion that Murtha has been good for the area [translation: he's a porker, and that's what they want]. I don't really have a feeling for the far southwest. Right now it looks as though Diana has a tough row to hoe, but if Murtha keeps on mouthing off in front of microphones that could change.

I wish her luck. She's going to need it.

Note that she decorates her office with pictures of her family and Rick Santorum.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

And They Laughed When Santorum Predicted Man Dog Sex

From Stuart, Florida
A mixed-breed dog was being placed in foster care Tuesday after being rescued from a transient Indiantown man who was allegedly having sex with the puppy.

A witness called a Martin County deputy who arrived to find Junio Trenta, 31, having anal intercourse with the dog amid the woods in the 3200 block of Southeast Dixie Highway about 12:11 p.m. Monday.

Upon being seen, Trenta said, "It's my dog," and, "What's the problem?" The male dog ran and hid behind the deputies, according to a report released Tuesday.

Trenta, a Mexican citizen working as a laborer, was charged with one count of felony sexual bestiality and one count of felony animal cruelty. He was also charged with one misdemeanor count each of giving a false name to deputies, exposure of sexual organs and possession of paraphernalia after a marijuana-smoking pipe was found in his pocket, according to the report.

What's the problem? I can think of a few.

Read it here.

Coming Soon to a Town Near You -- Super Rick Santorum

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Super Rick!

Rick Santorum is everywhere and trying to be everything to everyone. There he is, in South Philly, ordering a cheesesteak at Geno’s…, in English! And now…, he’s inside, flipping steakums [well excuse me…, “shaved beef”] on the grill, waving at supporters outside. No question where he stands on the immigration issue…, he’s foursquare behind ordering cheesesteaks in English. None of that Mexcun lingo here! This is Amurica, by God!

And in case you missed the point he’s on the air, running ads charging that Bob Casey has “joined with Ted Kennedy [boo…, hiss] and other liberals in supporting a bill that grants amnesty to millions who have entered our country illegally!!!” [here]

Whoops…, there he is again, speaking to a group of women at Central Pennsylvania College in Cumberland County [funny, I never heard of the place and I used to live in Carlisle]. He’s being really, really sensitive and caring and trying to convince them that, no matter what they’ve heard, he’s strong on women’s issues. He is strong, he says, on education and on support for small businesses, many of which are run by women. [here] Heck, he even has a website devoted to testimonials from women on what a great guy he is --

And there he is at Haverford College [now that one I’ve heard of] meeting with Natan Sharansky and Daniel Pipes to demonstrate his continued support for Israel. And now he’s on the Senate floor defying the administration and trying to amend a defense authorization bill to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. It must be working. Rick ranks tenth among legislators in contributions from pro-Israel groups. [here]

And now he’s trying to convince moderate Republicans that he is not the wild-eyed religious zealot some have said he is. He has joined with Arlen Specter [Arlen Specter!!!] to propose a compromise on the stem-cell research issue. See guys, he really is flexible…, he can compromise even on religiously sensitive issues. No fundamentalist he! [here]

And of course there’s the big one. Super Rick has actually done it! He has found the missing WMDs in Iraq! Well…, maybe he didn’t exactly find them, but he has forced the administration to admit that more than 500 shells filled with sarin gas have been found. Here he is talking to Hugh Hewitt about it. He has singlehandedly [almost] pulled the administration’s butt out of the fire on that old “Bush lied” canard, and for that he is all over the TV screens getting oodles of free publicity.

What’s going on here?

Isn’t it obvious?

The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Santorum trailing Casey by eighteen points, up from thirteen points last month. Worse, Casey is now over the 50% mark for the first time, and Rick has not put a dent in him, not at all. And he can’t blame Bush’s unpopularity any more. Bush is rising even as Rick is falling in the polls. What’s more, Rick is polling particularly poorly among women and in the Republican-leaning Philly suburbs. [here]

Hence the recent emphasis on women’s issues and on displaying moderation on religious issues.

Can Super Rick pull it off? Can he radically transform his image in a few short months? Can he begin to put a few dingers in Bob Casey’s cool?

One thing’s sure – if he does lose in November it won’t be for lack of effort.

Stay tuned…, Rick's not dead yet. This thing can still get interesting.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Remembering Brudnoy

Rick Brookheiser over at the Corner writes a nice tribute to David Brudnoy, the greatest of the radio talkers.

"An interview with David was so much an element of the gold standard of author tours that it made its way into the fiction of John Updike.... David was smart, witty, prepared, informed—the perfect questioner."
Read the whole thing here.

It brought back memories of long evening drives between Pennsylvania and Maryland when "She Who Must Not Be Named" and I would tune in to Boston's WBZ and listen to Brudnoy. When he died none of the other talent could replace him and we drifted away. Now we listen to books on tape..., well, actually books on an I-pod we hook up to the radio.

He was invariably polite, knowledgable, astute, and well-informed even when dealing with the most inflammatory subjects and callers. As the Boston Globe put it,
Mr. Brudnoy's show [was] an island of idiosyncrasy on the airwaves. Favoring cerebration rather than shouting, he was the talk-radio host for listeners who didn't like talk radio. Mr. Brudnoy emphasized ideas and issues over personalities and name-calling.
In the midst of today's shouters, as we witness the coarsening quality of political discourse in this most miserable of election years, it is good to remember back to a day, not so long ago, when a civilized conservative voice could dominate a major media market.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Pennsylvania Politics -- Malkin Mauls Murtha

Michelle Malkin unloads on Jack Murtha over at Hot Air. It's a good one, and it also features comments by Diana Irey, Murtha's opponents. Check it out here, and stick around to see Michael Steele's internet ad. He's running on a promise to shake things up in the Senate and to fight corruption in both parties. Interesting tack. I don't believe he even used the word "republican."

What To Do About Immigration? -- Dueling Letters

I note the nearly simultaneous release of two "Open Letters" on the subject of immigration.

The first was organized by John Fonte of the Hudson Institute and is signed by several conservative scholars and civic activists including
William Bennett, Robert Bork, William F Buckley, Ward Connerly, Newt Gingrich, David Horowitz, David Keene, John Leo, Herbert London, Rich Lowry, Daniel Pipes, Phyllis Schlafly, and Thomas Sowell among others.
The letter advocates:
...what Newt Gingrich has described as “sequencing.” First border and interior enforcement must be funded, operational, implemented, and proven successful — and only then can we debate the status of current illegal immigrants, or the need for new guest worker programs. We are in the middle of a global war on terror. 2006 is not 1986. Today, we need proof that enforcement (both at the border and in the interior) is successful before anything else happens. As Ronald Reagan used to say “trust, but verify.”
Read the entire letter here.

The second is an open letter organized by David J. Theroux of the Independent Institute and signed by more than 500 economists, demographers, and other scholars with demonstrated expertise in the subject of migration studies. The signatories include five Nobel Laureates.

This second letter argues:
“Immigration is the greatest anti-poverty program ever conceived. Not just because the immigrants are much better off but also because they send billions of dollars of their own money back to their home countries—a form of truly effective foreign aid.”

notes the economic benefits of immigration, but puts them in context. For instance, “Overall, immigration has been a net gain for American citizens, though a modest one in proportion to the size of our 13 trillion-dollar economy.”

Similarly, the signers also acknowledge that “immigration of low-skilled workers may have lowered wages of domestic low-skilled workers,” but also note that the resulting wage reductions for high school dropouts is estimated to be from eight percent to as little as zero percent.

In addition, the Open Letter points up connections that sound immigration policy can make between the political values on both sides of the debate, balancing, for instance, compassion for those low-skilled workers seeking jobs with the power of freely competitive markets to create those jobs: “Immigrants do not take American jobs. The American economy can create as many jobs as there are workers willing to work so long as labor markets remain free, flexible and open to all workers on an equal basis.”

“Public fears of lost jobs are unfounded and most workers will not experience any negative impact on their wages. Congress would do well to recognize the benefits of immigration and pass a reform that allows greater numbers of legal workers into America....”

Read it here.

Three points to note:

1) This is a classic confrontation between political figures and academic specialists. The first group is concerned with how to address a political problem -- the public demand for immigration restriction that might have immense political consequences for both major parties. The second group is concerned with defining the social, economic, and humanitarian context within which political choices must be made. You paid your taxes, now you takes your choices, but both positions need to be heard and seriously considered.

2) The positions advocated by both groups of signatories are not mutually exclusive. A stepwise approach that emphasizes border security before undertaking the horrendously difficult task of rewriting immigration law is in no way incompatible with the eventual emergence of a humane and economically beneficial migration system.

3) On one thing both sides are in total agreement. The current system is a mess and must be replaced. There is a good reason why our immigration laws have been largely ignored for four decades-- they are bad laws.

On a personal note, I am a signatory to the Independent Institute Letter and endorse fully the positions laid out in it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Pennsylvania Politics -- Diana Irey Gets Some National Notice

Diana Irey, who is running against Jack Murtha, was interviewed on FOX News. You can watch it here. The link is through Hot Air, which is a well-traveled site, and has been noted by Don Surber, another well-known blogger, but the big prize is the fact that it was linked on Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit. That should bring in a lot of hits, and as Surber notes, maybe even some money.

Let's hope so.

Check out the videos at Vets4Irey here.

Chung's Farewell

Warning..., not for the faint of heart. This is the stuff of nightmares. You have been warned.

Check it out here..., if you dare.

Remembering Haditha

At the height of the Haditha hype I wrote this, but with one thing and another, forgot to post it. This morning I was cleaning out files on my hard drive and ran across it. Here are my somewhat belated thoughts on the matter.

Wretchard over at the Belmont Club makes an acute observation:

From a purely academic point of view future historians will find this period an interesting example of how manipulated perceptions struggled obstinately with suppressed reality for the center stage of the policy debate. Some of the questions that will be asked fifty years from now are: what was Scooter Libby really charged with? Is that all? How come millions of people could die in Darfur without anyone noticing? Why were people obsessed with the possible criminal behavior of a handful of Marines in Iraq and uninterested in why their wonderful universities and high schools could produce kids who would be interested in blowing up buildings, spreading poison gas, or maybe shooting down airliners with surface to air missiles. And the most interesting thing about this period is that for a brief time, the manufactured perceptions almost looked like winning. Until reality weighed in.

Read the whole thing here.

I hope he’s right in that last statement. In this election year, considerations of actual governance go by the board as all concerned jockey for political advantage. In the US both Democrats and Republicans are behaving shamelessly, twisting and distorting serious policy issues, moving marginal issues like gay marriage and the alleged Libby leaks to the center of the political stage while suppressing and ignoring matters of immense importance. The sheer irresponsibility of it all is staggering.

As horrible as Haditha may be, and we don’t know at this point just what happened there, the willingness, even eagerness of the MSM to apply the My Lai template and to focus obsessively on this latest attempt to shoehorn Iraq into the Vietnam experience is shameful, especially when a real and present danger, such as the terror plots recently uncovered in Toronto, London, and elsewhere, are being shoved to the side.

Wretchard is perfectly right to ridicule the ridiculously PC response of Luc Portelance, CSIS’s assistant director of operations. Such exquisite attention to irrelevant forms constitutes nothing less than criminal ineptitude in the face of real danger.

For two election cycles, the bulk of the American public has resisted the shameful and determined efforts of political pros to divert them from the important issues of our day. Once again in this election year our friends and enemies around the world wait with bated breath to see whether or not the American people will allow themselves to be distracted from serious purposes.

We can only hope that once again the wisdom of the American people will prevail over the affectations of an irresponsible and self-absorbed elite.

Lileks on the Guthrie

James Lileks has a wonderful little critique of the "International Style" of architecture as exemplified by the new Guthrie theatre in Minneapolis.

Here's the part I liked best:

[W]hat annoys me about the thing, really – aside from its inscrutable façade, ham-fisted massing, coy little smokestack marquees and shuttlecraft bridge. This is where the city began: the waterfront, the falls, the mills. Washington Avenue, now in the midst of a remarkable rebirth, has a mix of old and new, but the new knows enough to defer to the old concrete giants, the stone-walled warehouses, the tumbled ruins. The old world was hand-made, brick by brick. It’s possible all the old mills and warehouses would have been made of blue glass if they’d had enough of the stuff. But would it have been too much to ask of the architect to make the Guthrie looked like it belonged on this ancient plot?

And that’s my problem, of course. I have quaint notions about architecture. Context may not be king, but it’s not the king’s fool, either. Symmetry keeps a building from flying apart into a heaped-up mess, and helps the brain make sense of what it’s seeing. The occasional dose of historicity – and I don’t mean publicity photos etched into the glass like trapped ghosts – binds a building to the era that preceded its conception.

Read the whole thing here.

Check it out, and learn something about how to "read" a building, even one so vacuous and nondescript as the New Guthrie.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Hero For Our Times -- Meet Sabine Herold, Classical Liberal

As France sinks deeper into decrepitude, one strong voice is speaking out clear and strong against the decline.

The Times reports:

AN ambitious young Frenchwoman whose fight against trade unions has earned her the nickname Mademoiselle Thatcher is to stand for parliament at the start of a political career which she hopes will revolutionise France.

If elected next year, Sabine Herold, the darling of the French right, will become the country’s youngest MP so far at the age of 25.

In March, Herold helped to launch Liberal Alternative, a political party that already has representatives in 150 French towns and cities. She hopes that it will soon have several MPs.

“People are hungry for change,” she said in an interview last week. “But none of the traditional parties on the left or the right offers any prospect for a break with the past. We want to create a new generation of politicians to be able to change France.”

Read about her here.

Here she is in her own words on the subject of higher grounds to which individual freedom must be subordinated.

There is no such thing as these “superior grounds” to which some people think individual liberties should be subordinated. Let's not get fooled, they have no real foundations. Theses so called “superior grounds” have invariably led to massacres, arbitrariness and social failures. They were mere means for some to increase their own power and hence caused disasters. There is no unique good that can suit anyone at anytime. The highest ground is the individual.
Read it here.

Ah, liberte, cherie. Well said!

Joel Shepherd has interviewed her and writes about it here and here.

The Origins of Agriculture

The Jerusalem Post reports some interesting findings from the Jordan Valley regarding the early development of agriculture in the area. Usually the process has been presented as unidirectional, proceeding from a single source through through the gradual accumulation of more and more crops. The new finds, however, present a much more plausible scenario.

It now appears that domestication of plants took place in a number of places widely separated by distance and time, and that the process was not unidirectional. Some crops, like rye and oats, appear to have been successfully cultivated in some places and then abandoned, to be recultivated elsewhere at other times.

Until now, the general assumption has been that agriculture was begun by a single line of human efforts in one specific area. But the BIU researchers found a much more complicated effort undertaken by different human populations in different regions, drawing a completely new picture of the origins of agriculture.

Agriculture, the BIU researchers suggest, originated through human manipulations of wild plants - sometimes involving the same species - that took place in various spatially and temporally distinct communities. Moreover, some of these occasions were found to be much earlier than previously thought possible....

According to the researchers, it was not a particular individual or community who changed the way we live our lives today, but rather many human groups scattered throughout the world who manipulated several different local wild plants. Some of these groups failed in their attempts and some succeeded. Some plants were domesticated and some were abandoned.

Moreover, some of the plants abandoned during the Neolithic Period were later domesticated in other parts of the world.

Read it here.

Multiple origins, mixed successes and failures, gains and retreats -- as I said, a much more plausible scenario than a simplistic model of continuous and irresistable human achievement usually presented.

Can we finally bury the concept of a "neolithic revolution" once and for all?

Al Qaeda Plot Against NY Subways: This is Really, Really Scary Kids

Time reports:
Al-Qaeda terrorists came within 45 days of attacking the New York subway system with a lethal gas similar to that used in Nazi death camps. They were stopped not by any intelligence breakthrough, but by an order from Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman Zawahiri. And the U.S. learned of the plot from a CIA mole inside al-Qaeda....

U.S. intelligence got its first inkling of the plot from the contents of a laptop computer belonging to a Bahraini jihadist captured in Saudi Arabia early in 2003. It contained plans for a gas-dispersal system dubbed "the mubtakkar" (Arabic for inventive). Fearing that al-Qaeda's engineers had achieved the holy grail of terror R&D — a device to effectively distribute hydrogen-cyanide gas, which is deadly when inhaled — the CIA immediately set about building a prototype based on the captured design, which comprised two separate chambers for sodium cyanide and a stable source of hydrogen, such as hydrochloric acid. A seal between the two could be broken by a remote trigger, producing the gas for dispersal. The prototype confirmed their worst fears: "In the world of terrorist weaponry," writes Suskind, "this was the equivalent of splitting the atom. Obtain a few widely available chemicals, and you could construct it with a trip to Home Depot – and then kill everyone in the store."

[A US informant inside al Qaeda] identified the key man as Bin Laden's top operative on the Arabian Peninsula, Yusuf al Ayeri, a.k.a. "Swift Sword," who had been released days earlier by Saudi authorities, unaware that al-Ayeri was bin Laden's point man in the kingdom.
Read it here.

For Newsweek's take on the same story go here.

And here's the AP version.

The story is being reported uncritically by the MSM because it comes from a respected source -- Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter. The Bloggy masses are not so trusting.

James Joyner writes:
I can’t help being a bit dubious of this level of detailed intelligence being in the hands of a reporter, kept secret long enough for him to write a book, combined with the lack of an attack in the subsequent three years. [here]
Good point.

Allahpundit is also suspicious, noting that the main figure in the whole matter was first released by the Saudis and then killed by them and cannot be questioned on the matter. [here]

He closes writing:
The point to take away: Al Qaeda has crude WMD capabilities. Have a great evening!
These guys are right to be suspicious. There's a lot here that doesn't add up. I don't doubt that Suskind has been true to his sources, but those sources, obviously, are rising up from the fever swamp that is the intelligence community where people, relying on insufficient information and rumor, are connecting dots that may or may not exist in all sorts of fantastic ways.

I remember a conversation I had once with a high ranking member of that community who said that the constant stream of alarming information, both hard and dubious, crossing your desk does affect your perception of the world in unhealthy ways. That could be the problem here -- professional paranoia being broadcast through the MSM.

Blue Crab Boulevard writes:
From Time magazine comes a handy little guide on how to kill lots of people. Oh, and a signed death warrant for an informant. They explain what ingredients are needed and give a hint on the device you need to make it work. Gee, thanks, Time.
Read it here.

Powerline notes:
If nothing else, the story highlights the fecklessness of the Democrats, who have just published their plan for "A New Direction for America" that never mentions al Qaeda, terrorism, or any aspect of national security.
Read him here. He also raises the question of whether Suskind is publishing classified information that compromised the al Qaeda mole and can be prosecuted for doing so. My sense is that the mole is old news and has long been out of play or possibly dead.

What strikes me about all of this is that Suskind's story represents the unhealthy conjunction of two bizarre fantasy worlds -- the apocalyptic imaginations of the intelligence professionals who make their livings speculating about doomsday scenarios; and the determined refusal of the MSM to actually accept the idea that this is not 1970, that Bush is not Nixon, and that the exigencies of wartime might in any way require them to act in a responsible manner. The result -- sensational scare stories that, upon close examination, don't quite add up.

Formula for the new binary weapon: wild-eyed intelligence insiders plus criminally irresponsible journalists equals catastrophe.

One important point to note: This information is three years old and in those years there have been no successful attacks. So, either the Bushies have been playing spectacular defense, or the original story is more than a little flawed. Probably both.