July 03, 2003

HAVE A HAPPY FOURTH!

I plan to barbecue, eat some hot home-made salsa (made it myself, and it's viscious), maybe fire off a firecracker or two and just enjoy the freedom to be.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

YET ANOTHER REASON I'M NOT A DEMOCRAT

They're liars. They preach Diversity! till our ears fall off, but they don't practice it at all.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:23 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

PSSST! WANNA MAKE SOME QUICK CASH ON EBAY?

Then get yourself a really big french fry.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SAUDIS PUTTING JIHAD ON ICE

They're asking: Where did Wahabism go wrong?

Saudi leaders are planning to revise the ruling Wahabi ideology said to have spawned Al Qaida and related insurgency movements.

On Tuesday, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz cited what he termed extremist ideas among young Saudis for the emergence of the Al Qaida network in the kingdom. Prince Nayef said these ideas have deviated from mainstream Islam and led to the attacks in Saudi Arabia, Middle East Newsline reported.

...Western diplomatic sources said the Saudi royal family have discussed the prospect of removing elements of Wahabi doctrine taught in mosques and schools around the kingdom. They said Saudi security and intelligence agencies have concluded that Wahabi teachings were exploited to launch insurgency operations against the kingdom.

So far, up to 1,000 Saudi clerics regarded as being linked to Al Qaida have been either dismissed or restricted in their activities, the sources said. They said Riyad has also drafted regulations that would restrict the references to jihad, or holy war, in radio and television broadcasts.

Interesting update to this post on the rise of "Mahdi-ism."
Posted by Chris Regan at 09:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

THREE DOWN

Turki Nasser al-Dandani, the top suspect in the Riyadh bombing, blew himself up today as Saudi police closed in on him. He managed to take two of his terrorists cronies with him. No reports of other casualties.
Posted by B. Preston at 07:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

ANOTHER REASON I'M NOT A DEMOCRAT

From Democrats.com's newsletter, on the eve of July 4th:

On Sunday July 13th please join us for drinks, dinner and discussion at the highly praised French restaurant Lavandou, 3321 Connecticut Avenue, NW, in Washington, which is near the Cleveland Park Metro stop. We will honor the French resistance to the war in Iraq with a selection of French wines starting at 5:00 and have a lively discussion about Internet-enabled political action. Dinner will start around 6:30 and costs just $40 per person, which includes one button and one bumper sticker with our smash hit slogan "Re-Defeat Bush." If you can only attend the reception but cannot stay for dinner the cost is just $15, also including your complimentary button and bumper sticker. Of course, there will be more buttons and bumper stickers on hand to purchase as well as lawn signs with the same slogan. (emphasis mine)

They're calling the celebration "Bastille Day," which is actually on the 14th. I get their notices every day, and have seen nothing about July 4th celebrations. Democrat activists would rather celebrate Bastille Day, the beginning of the awful, bloody, anti-democratic and anti-Christian French Revolution, than Independence Day. I think that says all we need to know about them.

MORE: If you haven't been to their site lately, scoot on over there. They have a banner up depicting President Bush as a leggy, high-stepping drum major marching over the graves at Arlington. Another banner proudly promotes the Bastille Day celebration. There's also a blurb of a story defending Cynthia McKinney (who's still an idiot). Must be seen to be believed.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:19 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

July 02, 2003

NORTH KOREA MAY BE MINIATURIZING ITS NUKES

Contrary to the assertions of Dem-leaning pundits, North Korea's nuclear program never really went away. As early as the late 1980s, North Korea was believed (by US and international intel agencies, as well as the IAEA) to have developed at least two crude nuclear devices. Devices--not weapons. North Korea has never tested any nuclear device, and has never had the technology to place any of its nuclear devices on a missile.

That, according to the CIA, may be about to change:

U.S. intelligence officials now think North Korea is developing the technology to make nuclear warheads small enough to fit atop the country's growing arsenal of missiles, potentially putting Tokyo and U.S. troops based in Japan at risk, according to officials who have received the intelligence reports.

In the assessment, which they have shared with Japan, South Korea and other allies in recent weeks, CIA officials said that U.S. satellites have identified a sophisticated new nuclear testing site, called Youngdoktong.

At the site, equipment has been set up to test conventional explosives that, when detonated, could compress a plutonium core and set off a nuclear explosion. Some intelligence officials think the testing range is evidence that the country intends to manufacture much more sophisticated weapons that would be light enough to put onto its medium-and long-range missiles.


If true, the significance of the North Korean threat cannot now be overstated. Pyongyang could menace any capital in the region, or any US base in Japan or South Korea. If true, our room for manuever against Kim Jong-Il just shrank, while Kim's ability to blackmail us, our allies and even China and Russia just grew.

So I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I don't think it's true--I don't believe that North Korea is yet capable of miniaturizing its nukes. It has never even tested them. I believe it's a ruse designed to cow Japan, intimidate South Korea and blackmail the US and China. But if pundits such as Fred Kaplan get their wish, we'll try to buy Kim off. Again.

We have been down this road before, most recently with the 1994 Agreed Framework that promised North Korea economic, food and technology aid in exchange for halting its nuclear program. As is well known now, the North Koreans never really intended to live up to that agreement, and by 1998 at the latest secretly restarted its nuclear weapons program.

So we can't reliably buy Kim off. He can just take the money and run. Whether he is close to miniaturizing his nukes or not, we have to treat the situation as though he is. We can't pull an Israel and drop a few bombs on the Yongbyon reactor and be done with the problem--Kim has too many troops with too many weapons poised within striking distance of Seoul. If he miniaturizes his untested nukes, he can also menace greater Tokyo's 28 million plus residents. The situation is untenable in the long run.

Regime change is what we need, but to what and by whom? Americans seem ready to strike Iran's nuclear program out of existence, but that's probably because most Americans understand that it can be taken out from the air without sparking a regional war that isn't already to some extent going on. Ask the mullahs if you don't believe me--Iraq is a regional war at least philosophically. Iran is also teetering on the brink of revolution. In fact, the day of the next general strike, July 9, would be an excellent day for the US to come up with a general strike of its own and take down those Iranian nuclear plants. It's doubtful that Americans would support invading North Korea without some clear provocation that threatens not our allies, but our homeland. With the CIA's credibility hanging in the Iraq balance, it's doubtful that we even should go to war based solely on its intelligence reports.

South Korea will not act to wipe out Kim's odious regime--it's embroiled in an appeasement scandal the dimensions of which aren't yet known. Much of its government was likely bought into the "Sunshine" policy that created the false detente of the 90s and triangulated America into the Korean Peninsula's main heavy. South Koreans overwhelmingly support reunifification with the North, just not by force. Japan could strike, but won't--too much history there. It is quite hawkish on North Korea but constitutionally unable to attack unless its new spy satellites spot a missile on the pad and ready to strike it. Even then, Japan couldn't strike without our help to re-fuel its attack aircraft, opening the war instantly to a regional scale, putting Seoul in the crosshairs. Russia has neither the will nor the ability to deal with North Korea. It is content to let the problem fester, since the US is having to deal with it.

Which leaves China. Beijing wants above all stability across the North Korean border, and its increasing economic ties with the South and Japan are jeopardized by its Kim coddling. China furnishes about 80 percent of North Korea's energy, and has long been its big brother on the world stage. China alone could act against North Korea, unilaterally, without creating a regional war and enact regime change without firing a shot. It could apply economic pressure, subvert Kim's legitimacy under Communist dogma, and supplant its own puppet in his stead. It would take a while, but could be done if China had the will and was encouraged to do so by the US and its allies. In doing so, China would keep US troops off its doorstep and increase its influence throughout the region. We and our relevant allies could promise aid to help defray the cost of China's occupation--the same aid that some want to just give Kim in return for empty promises today; China gets a nuclear monkey off its border. Its rule in comparison to Kim's would be less brutal; North Korean civilians might actually get to eat something other than grass for the first time in years. For China, the risks of inaction are in some ways more daunting than the risks of action.

It's not a perfect solution, but it doesn't constitute endorsing the spread of Communism either--North Korea is already Communist. If done with finesse (a quality the Chinese Communists lack, to be sure) Chinese-led regime change wouldn't spark a regional war that could go nuclear and kill millions. But China occupying North Korea is truly distasteful, and smacks of realpolitik like nothing else we've done in recent memory. Do we have the stomach, knowing what we know about China, to propose such a thing? Knowing that it could save millions in the region and thousands of American troops, would President Bush's political opponents even let him try?
Posted by B. Preston at 08:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

WHAT IS THE MILITARY FOR?

The answer apparently depends on whether you're a blue-state liberal or a red-state conservative. During the Clinton years, the left largely supported US interventions in a host of places where America's national security was not threatened. From Haiti to Somalia to Kosovo, the left was for the most part either silent or supportive of the decision to put young Americans in harm's way.

In the wake of 9-11, the further left your politics, the less likely you were to support intervening in Afghanistan or anywhere else. It mattered very little who ruled in Afghanistan or what they did--to the left the Taliban's brutality paled in comparison to President Bush's "perfidy." He stole the election. He planned 9-11, or allowed it to happen so he could build an oil pipeline. Osama bin Laden's murderous schemes to kill Americans didn't matter, because to the very hard left he'd killed the right kind of Americans on 9-11--stock brokers, lawyers, military officials. They were, in the words of Osama bin Laden and more than one lefty, legitimate targets because they pay the taxes that support the government.

It goes almost without saying that most of the left didn't and still don't support our intervention in Iraq. Human rights abuses had been a fixture of that country for decades, where a bloody tyrant killed anyone who became inconvenient. He hated America, hated our power, hated everything about us. He also, according to the consensus of such right-wing bodies as the United Nations Security Council, failed to comply with binding resolutions aimed at depriving him of horrible weapons he could use to kill or blackmail people in Israel, Europe and America. But none of that mattered to the left--they didn't support intervention, even when the pre-war argument that our very national security was at stake was compelling. If we find more evidence of Saddam's illegal weapons programs, the national security case for war will be iron-clad, but the left will never admit it was wrong.

Now, tiny and insignificant Liberia is embroiled in a civil war. It has been bloody, but by no means a threat to American security, and probably less bloody than the average day in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan or Saddam's Iraq. From the UN and elsewhere come calls for American intervention--from the same people who said we would fail in Afghanistan, the same people who didn't want us to use our military for its intended purpose of national self-defense.

And lefties such as Democrat presidential candidate Howard Dean support it. Dean says the US should send troops to get into an actual civil war, half a world away, in a country that is strategically unimportant.

Ironically it was a civil war, half a world away, in a country many considered strategically unimportant, that Dean's generation argued us into losing a few decades ago. They said we had no business fighting "argrarian reformers" from North Vietnam. They likened Ho Chi Mihn, the Communist who led a force that killed 50,000 Americans, to George Washington. In that civil war, though, we happened to have a strategic national interest, which was to counter the spread of Communism. The spread of Soviet-style Communism to southeast Asia, and eventually to core allies around Asia, was a legitimate threat. American politicians still argued over who lost China to the Communist jackboot. In Liberia, we may have historic ties and there may be a compelling humanitarian case for intervention, but there is no national security case to support it.

That is precisely why lefties like Dean support it. To them, the military isn't America's instrument of retribution for enemies of freedom, and national security is best left ignored. National security is anachronistic, and the military is just a heavily armed Peace Corps.
Posted by B. Preston at 07:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

THE ORIGINS OF MARRIAGE

Andrew Sullivan and others have shifted their tactics on gay marriage, arguing that it's not a religious ceremony or institution (they use the word "sacrament" in their arguments to separate it from Communion and other acts of worship) and thus religious teachings should carry no weight when defining it.

That's a curious position to take.

Did marriage originate with the Constitution? Or the Federalist papers? Or the Declaration of Independence? Nope. Marriage obviously existed long before any of those documents came to codify American values.

How about the Mayflower Compact? The Magna Charta? Nope. Marriage was around long before them too.

Marriage as an institution began, at least in written form relevant to our culture, in an explicitly religious context: The Bible.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
--Genesis 2:24


Genesis is about 5,000 years old, give or take a few centuries. The Western concept of marriage springs from this text--the Bible has defined Western morality for nearly 2,000 years and it defined morality for the Jews for thousands of years prior. Other cultures allowed and continue to allow for all sorts of other arrangements--multiple wives or husbands, concubines, etc, but the Biblical definition is one man and one woman joined forever. Many Biblical personalities defied this, which nearly always resulted in family conflict and chaos. The Biblical standard nonetheless is one man and one woman joined forever, and that standard is the basis for Western culture's understanding of marriage.

Before there was a Constitution or a Supreme Court, before there was even a "West" to have a culture, there was marriage, set out as a covenant between a man and a woman. The argument that marriage is purely a civil institute is bogus. Marriage was set out long before there was much distinction between civil and secular authority. The argument that it's anything other than a man-woman covenant is likewise bogus. Further, this one sentence from Genesis encapsulates much about marriage that we take for granted but seldom discuss. Leaving the parents' household, or leaving their authority, is part of marriage, but not everyone does it. How many marriages have been spoiled because the husband or wife refused to leave their parents (either in terms of moving to a new household or in terms of emotionally leaving behind that relationship to wholly devote themselves to their marriage)? How many family squabbles can be traced back to the simple idea that, once you're married, that relationship takes precedence over the old family ties? The failure to cut the strings from mommy and daddy's opinions and authority is often the root of marital conflict. And becoming one flesh--quickie, no-fault divorces have severely undermined that concept to the point that it's almost meaningless. But in the eyes of the law it still holds true to some extent. Husbands and wives can be held accountable for the debts incurred by their spouses. The concept of "community property" is derived from the "one flesh" idea. Children are literally and figuratively the result of the joining of the flesh, and in an ideal family they may look equally to the mother and father as one in terms of authority and instruction. Marital breakups usually even acknowledge the "one flesh" concept, else alimony and child support would not exist. They recognize that, though the marriage itself be dissolved, some obligations remain.

Gay marriage is, just by going back to the original source by which the institution is defined for our culture, a redefining of the institution and thus an alteration to our culture. It's hard to say how allowing it will affect society, but it will. The only question is to what extent.

We are a secular society, and that is for the most part a good thing, but this most basic institution springs from deeply religious roots. To say otherwise is to lie.

MORE: It isn't often that we have our darkest suspicions confirmed in an op-ed column, but it's happened today. Many, myself included, suspect that the gay marriage fight is really about destroying marriage and thus the family as an institution. In his Slate column today, pinhead pundit Michael Kinsley advocates abolishing marriage. He thinks it will settle the gay marriage debate once and for all. Perhaps, but in passing he alludes to the chaos that will undoubtedly follow such a move, trivializing it with a couple of hand waves.

That chaos won't be trivial, not by a long stretch. Consider health benefits derived from employment. Corporations today operate their benefit plans according to commonly understood definitions of family. A husband or wife's benefits package is almost always extended to the spouse and children as well as anyone under their legal guardianship. Erasing the legal bond of marriage, as Kinsley proposes as a way of settling the gay marriage debate, confuses who may and may not receive such benefits. Corporations draw lines around potential coverage to keep a lid on costs. It's no stretch at all to imagine one partner in a three- or four-way polyamorous non-marriage attempting to force his employer to cover not only all of his partners, but all of their children as well--even those to whom the employee has no biological or legal bond. If parent-child bonds are dissolved in the wake of abolishing marriage, anyone could designate anyone else for coverage just by establishing some tenuous relationship. After one or two lawsuits demanding such coverage, corporations will conclude that they either have to cover anyone who demands it (because you can't prove that Jimmy isn't Gary's "wife" without dropping in on their bedroom or forcing them to undergo invasive physical examination, and they have no legal relationship because marriage no longer exists as a legal concept) or drop health benefit plans altogether. Corporations will most often choose the latter, especially in tight economic times. Which at least in the short run will force more people to rely on government services, which would in turn become confused as to who may and may not benefit from things like Social Security. Without marriage as a legal Framework, the same three- or four-way polyamorous "husband" may declare anyone as a beneficiary to his Social Security account, and may likewise cut off anyone who actually deserved the coverage with a simple declaration.

Without some legal frame of reference what should the state do if, for instance, a "husband" declares in his will that the woman he has lived with for 60 years, and with whom he has raised four children, is not in fact his "wife" and shouldn't get his remaining Social Security benefit or take possession of their shared estate which happens to be in his name on the books? She has no legally binding proof that he did anything other than copulate with her four times (and her proof is only legally acceptable if blood tests have been done to ascertain paternity), and no legal standing to claim anything that didn't already have her name on it. In the age of Photoshop, a lifetime of family photographs won't cut it--they could easily be fakes. Even circumstantial evidence won't work if he declares in front of any third party at any time that she isn't his wife--she will have no legal standing if marriage isn't itself a legal concept. A certificate from the local Wal-Mart won't have any legal standing either--the couple could have bought dozens of them during their non-marriage, but not a one will make a bit of difference in the eyes of the law if marriage is legally dead.

To put it bluntly, the state needs marriage, if for no other reason than to greatly simplify its dealings with citizens. Without legally recognized marriage, things could get extremely unstable and crazy in parent-child relationships. Today, the concept of a parent is understood in most instances to be both a biological as well as a legal bond. Parents--biological or adopted--have preeminent rights when deciding nearly all things concerning the minor children under their care, even over their children's own wishes. Where applicable, both parents have equal say over their children in the eyes of the law. But why should this be? If the marriage bond itself is no longer recognized by the state, what then should we do with biological bonds between parent and child? In the absence of consent, the only legally consistent thing to do would be to dissolve them too, because giving biological bonds preeminence without the child's consent discriminates against anyone who cannot naturally procreate in the normal course of their chosen relationship. Marriage would have been abolished to end the discriminatory practice of limiting it to its traditional man-woman definition. Consistency would demand we do the same to parent-child relationships.

Abolishing the family would also open yet another door for men to escape their obligations to the children they sire and the women with whom they sire them--don't petition for legal rights and you're not the father, even if you are the biological father (can't discriminate based on biology). Since you aren't and could never be the husband, you have no potential obligations to the mother unless you volunteer, or if you are automatically obligated then so is everyone else (it's only fair). For irresponsible men, it's abortion without the murder. Husbands or wives might have to adopt one another in order to maintain the family structure for the purpose of taxes, property and so forth. All of this makes the state supremely powerful in all aspects of life, at the expense of even our most intimate relationships.

What effect will this have? It's hard to say, but with respect to the state it would likely atomize society. Children would have no legal parental shield from the state, thus giving the state legal authority to do practically anything it wants with them. Parents, having no legal bond between them, would have to go through all sorts of crazy legal contortions--defining themselves as a "class" or some such--in order to jointly fight anything the state does or anything anyone does to them as a family. In today's climate, it's not hard to imagine one child directly suing another for bullying or sexual harassment on the playground, with the defendant's parents powerless to do anything about it. Adults could potentially sue children, too.

I've offered some strange, contorted scenarios, but in a marriage-free world they are all possibilities. Organizations like the Children's Defense Fund already attack parental rights as a matter of course, and the state already has great leeway to remove children from homes that it has deemed unfit for almost any reason. Abolishing marriage in order to keep from hurting a tiny minority's feelings would just exacerbate and energize these tendencies. Parenting and habitation could become little more than a square dance between partners, homes and "families" if marriage itself is abolished as a legal concept.

Kinsley's proposition to abolish marriage--born of the gay marriage debate--is so potentially destructive it's difficult to put into words. That he so glibly, thoughtlessly proposes it says much about his attitude toward society. He would tear it all down to appease a tiny minority. I suspect Kinsley is playing devil's advocate, offering up abolition as a red herring and then, when that is rejected, countering with gay marriage as a compromise. It's an extremely cynical tactic, but apparently nothing is out of bounds if you're dead set on legalizing gay marriage.

MORE: Maybe Kinsley's abolition proposal is less of a tactical (as opposed to a principled) move than I thought. Reason's Hit & Run notes that libertarians got out ahead of him and proposed the same thing. And libertarians wonder why no one outside their movement really takes them seriously. Abolishing marriage has to be the singularly most idiotic proposal I've heard in a very, very long time.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:08 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

RATHER SUCKY RATINGS

Dan Rather's ratings sunk to their lowest level in 10 years last week. But Gunga Dan's boss isn't worried:

CBS News president Andrew Heyward told reporters: "I don't think it's something to be overly concerned about. ... It's an issue but not something I want to overreact to. I think the program itself journalistically is as good as it has ever been."


I wholeheartedly agree. Rather's program is just as journalistically sound today as ever. Which is to say, that it's rather biased.

What do the names Viola Quirion, Carolyn Swift, Claire Krulik, Eva Baer-Schenkein, Lyn Lovinger, and Lena Sanford mean to you? Probably not much, but they mean a lot to CBS News. As Ratherbiased.com documents, CBS has used them for "average person on the street" interviews in a range of stories on various political issues. But they're anything but average, and it's not a new phenomenon at CBS. Ratherbiased's research goes back at least three years, demonstrating that the six women mentioned above are all professional or semi-professional advocates of various lefty or liberal causes. But when their soundbites show up in CBS news stories, they're never identified as such, thus the viewer is given incomplete information to use in judging how much weight to give their comments.

CBS thus steps over the line from reporting and into propanganda. And they've been doing it for years.

So I agree with Heyward--Rather's and CBS' news products are just as "journalistically sound" now as they've been for a long time. But where Heyward sees this as a good thing, I see it as a problem.

(thanks to Hanks for the Ratherbiased link)
Posted by B. Preston at 11:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

HOW'S MY DRIVING? AWFUL, YOU STUPID COW!

I like this. Count me in. Disagree about Sears, though. It's underappreciated, especially by the younger set. I'd hate to see it go the way of Wards.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

POLITICAL THORNS IN 2004

With Hillary's Senate seat possibly being threatened by Guliani in 2006, and the prospect of facing the contrast of a "real woman" like Condi Rice in 2008, you have to wonder if Hillary is still thinking about 2004. If so, a "conservative" candidate like Wesley Clark might serve as her political assistant. He could be a hammer to soften up Bush in a GOP primary.

Former NATO Commander Gen. Wesley Clark said Tuesday that he hadn't ruled out running for president as a Republican.

Clark hails from Arkansas and was appointed to head NATO by Democrat president Bill Clinton, who praised him last week as someone who would make a good chief executive.

But Clark refused to be pinned down on his party affiliation

Unfortunately for Hillary, it looks like the Dems will be haunted in 2004 by third party candidates. If a Ralph Nader, Howard Dean or especially Al Sharpton runs as a third party candidate the Dems are in even deeper trouble:

"We sent out a white man to galvanize the African-American community in 2002 and get them to come to the polls. But he's not the leader of the black community! And his appeal fell flat. The African-American vote stayed home and the Democrats lost Congress as a result."

Enraged at the Party's failure to help Carl McCall in his race for Governor of New York in 2002 and angry that the Democratic Party takes the black vote for granted, Sharpton may want to teach the party establishment a lesson they have long forgotten - that a black candidate can run as an independent and cost them the White House. If Nader can turn the party upside down by getting three percent of the national vote, imagine the bargaining power Sharpton would have if he can demonstrate that he can win five or six percent - half of the black vote.

As for the leftward lurch of the Democrats, Ramesh Ponnuru points out:

...that those Republicans who are conservatives ought not to be so cheery about what's going on. Conservative and Republican interests converge quite frequently, but not entirely. The resurgence of the Democratic Left is one of the places where they don't.

...if Republicans are moving to the center and Democrats to the left, that means both parties are moving leftward-that the center of gravity of American politics is moving leftward. Isn't that, too, part of the story of 1972?

Looking back 30 years, is it really clear that the McGovernites would have achieved more of their agenda by not taking over the Democratic party? If you were a liberal who wanted to move the country leftward, should you really be backing someone like Joe Lieberman?

So it may be that 2004 is a strategic throwaway election for the DNC, where the goal is to radicalize American politics and move the entire nation left. In the meantime they will block progress and rely on the courts to actively implement their leftist agenda.
Posted by Chris Regan at 08:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 01, 2003

HU'S THE NEW BOSS? SAME AS THE OLD BOSS

China's new premier, Hu Jintao, isn't impressing anyone with any reformist agenda. He said in a recent address that the most important goal that the ChiComs should pursue is...the same old goals they were pursuing under the old premiere. So much for liberalization.

But the Times' story contains a howler. Here it is:

Mr. Hu did not mention the notion of introducing democratic elections within the Communist Party, an idea embraced by some left-leaning intellectuals as a way of enlivening the political process. (emphasis mine)


Left-leaning intellectuals? The standard political lexicon puts Nazis and fasicsts on the far extreme right, and Communists on the far extreme left. There isn't actually much difference in practice between a Nazi and a Commie--both are brutal, one-party systems that police thought and kill "undesirables" and political opponents. But that's how political forces are generally understood--you can't get to the right of a Nazi or to the left of a Commie. The Times' assertion that China's left-leaning intellectuals want democracy within the party seems to imply that the ChiComs who favor the status quo are to their right. Huh? Is the Times trying to reshuffle the political deck, to turn hardened Communism into just another vile right-wing ideology? Or am I missing something here?

The point is, the Communists (ultra-left) rule. Any reformist who wants to open up democratic elections--even within the party itself, which is what these "intellectuals" apparently favor--would have to lean to the right of Communists who don't by definition. The farther left you go into Communism, the more authoritarian you are. If you move right even within the party, you see some room for intra-party democratic action. The Times' formulation has it all backward, to the extent that "left" and "right" even apply to the Chinese Communist party.

This reminds me of how the Times and other media outlets described the Communists who tried to overthrow Boris Yeltsin in the early 90s. They kept calling Yeltsin a "liberal," which was fine as far it goes I guess, but they annoyingly also constantly referred to the Communist insurgents as "conservatives." You could make the argument that they were "conservative" in the sense that they were trying to restore the old Communist order, but hardly anyone in the States would take it that way. To us, a conservative is perhaps the most reliable anti-Communist you can find, and a liberal tends to become more closely aligned on policy with socialism (and eventually Communism) as he moves left. Calling the Russian Communists "conservative" turned all that on its head, confusing the audience. I had more than one friend remark to me during those days that they'd run into people who were denouncing Rush Limbaugh because, as a conservative, he must also be a Communist.

Heck, you'd almost think that the Times does this sort of thing on purpose.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

BLIXIE TRICKS

Three weeks before leaving Unmovic, the commission set up to verify Saddam Hussein's complaince with 18 binding UN Security Council resolutions that he disarm, chief inspector Clouseau Hans Blix has some interesting things to say. On family:

The job has not been that stressful, he says. "It's just that it occupies you entirely. You don't do much else. There's been an advantage to having an old gentleman, like me, with no family around to do it."


I wonder what his wife, Eva, thought upon reading that he has no family.

On Iraqi disarmament:

What riles him most is that Iraq was not disarmed peacefully. He cups his head in his hands. "The lowest point was at the end when we realised it was not going to happen. That was very disappointing. The war cost a lot in destruction and lives."

As to whether Iraq still harbours weapons of mass destruction (WMD), he says he "remains agnostic". Only time will tell - although that is passing by "quite fast and instead of talking about [finding] WMD they're talking about the programmes.

"We know for sure that they did exist ... and we cannot exclude they may find something," he says. "I was always more prudent in my approach. I am a lawyer ... in a court things should be beyond reasonable doubt.


He knew for sure that Iraq's WMDs existed...yet wanted to reach beyond reasonable doubt, and didn't want action against Iraq unless such a standard could be met. Under that standard, the US would never have been allowed to go after Osama bin Laden. Saddam Hussein could have strung out the inspections game forever. It's an unsatisfiable standard in this case--a couple dozen inspectors cavorting around the Iraqi desert, stopping to look in on a few buildings and compounds can never reach any conclusions about Iraq's weapons that go beyond reasonable doubt. There would always be a reasonable doubt, on both sides of the question. Verification was meant to get at the best possible, knowable truth from the outside about Saddam's suspected weapons programs. Blix and his team weren't there to play lawyer and jury--their mission was to verify compliance or non-compliance and report to the UNSC. He either never understood this, or played the game to some extent himself. I'm betting on the latter:

Before he had set foot in Baghdad, Mr Blix was being accused of ineptitude and inefficacy by detractors in Washington who loathed him for being a Clinton appointee.

There were "enemies" dating from his days as a liberal student leader at Uppsala University; enemies in the form of disgruntled ex-employees closely connected to hawks in the US Pentagon...


It's not the Clinton appointee part that's illuminating, but the bit about his having been a liberal student leader. That's a euphemism for activist. Hans Blix is a lefty ideologue, and has been for decades. Also a creature of various international bureaucracies (which according to the story, have left him a wealthy man), Blix has been playing the international game for a lifetime. We would never have gotten a recommendation to punish Iraq from him. He was a human shield operating out of the UN.

Finally, there's this little tidbit, which confirms something pro-war types like me suspected:

"It's true the Iraqis misbehaved and had no credibility but that doesn't necessarily mean that they were in the wrong. It could have been bad brinkmanship. Saddam could have misjudged and read about the demonstrations in London, Paris, here and thought they won't dare to go after me."


I'll leave aside the "it doesn't necessarily mean they were wrong" part. Saddam was in the wrong. He kept power by agreeing to a set of conditions, and he never lived up to his end of the bargain. Blix is playing lawyer again, trying to split legal hairs when the truth of Saddam's behavior is pretty obvious. But I said I'm leaving that aside, to focus on the second and third parts. Prior to the war, I and many others argued that the anti-war demos around the globe--and especially in nominal US allied countries--must have warmed Saddam's murderous heart. We argued that they made war more likely, but giving Saddam reason to think he could outlast our will to get him.

Hans Blix, inadvertently it seems, agrees with us. The Communist ANSWER anti-war types, by trumping up division in the US and Europe over the war, may have made the war inevitable. You don't have to take it from me--Hans Blix suggests that that may be what happened.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

JIHAD TO BE PUT ON HOLD?

This is something interesting you probably haven't seen anywhere else. It was written a few months ago in the Jerusalem Report, but is relevant today:

In the quiet, internal dialogue the Arab world holds with itself, usually away from the newspaper headlines and the TV screens, a new and interesting phenomenon has come to the fore in recent weeks: A revival of the belief that the messiah -- or the Mahdi, in the Islamic version -- is waiting right around the corner.

This new "Mahdi-ism" has not captured the minds of the public at large, but remains in the domain of the Islamic radicals who are bound to extremist thinking. Within the fundamentalist ranks, though, Mahdi-ism is now the last word. No more do they pray for miracles produced by Osama Bin Laden...Nor is the approach any longer one of patience, of slowly winning over the hearts of the people, as the Muslim Brotherhood has been preaching for generations. Gone is the anticipation of some kind of political revolution that will steer the train of history off its current track, onto a collision course between Islam and the West.

On the contrary, contemporary Mahdi-ism in its very essence reflects a resigned acceptance of the conclusion that Bin Laden cannot restore the caliphate to its former glory; that the systematic "Da'wa," or call, to return to a purer, more exact form of Islam cannot overcome the secular Arab regimes in whose shadow it is forced to live.

...The edict of the sheikhs is for a measure of passivity, a period of waiting without action, in contradiction to the cries for jihad on behalf of Iraq or for Al-Qaeda-type attacks on the United States. The new approach is simply to wait for the finger of Allah.

...So even within the most devout Islamist circles, there are streams who are prepared to help President Bush by not hindering him. They have already convinced themselves that he is the one that will open the door to the Mahdi in our own days, even in the coming year.

More here, including the eventual death of 81 year-old Saudi King Fahd being seen by some as a trigger for the Mahdi's appearance in 2004 -- the Mahdi would be the "Twelfth Imam" according to Shia doctrine. After appearing, he would supposedly rule over the Middle East and battle the non-Muslim world -- 'Harmagadun' in Arabic.

It's interesting that they also believe Jesus will later return to destroy a false messiah -- they just don't recognize Jesus as divine. Of course they don't consider that someone appearing as the Mahdi might be that false messiah. Doh!

Seriously though, that last link is pretty creepy. It's the site for the someday-soon-to-appear-in-public, New Age "World Teacher" Maitreya, and his "spokesman" Benjamin Creme.
Posted by Chris Regan at 10:15 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

BALI BOMBER ARRESTED

His arrest may be a sign that Osama bin Laden is dead, or that the US move to freeze his financial assets is working:

One of the most wanted Bali bombing suspects has been arrested after attempting a bank robbery to fund a new terrorist attack, Indonesian police said yesterday.

Idris, also known as Joni Hendrawan, was picked up in Medan in Sumatra nearly three weeks ago after he and 10 other suspected members of Jemaah Islamiah killed three bank employees during a bungled hold-up, the head of the Bali investigation team, General I Made Pastika, told the Herald .

"The reason for the robbery was to get money for the next operation," General Pastika said. Police had yet to find out what new terrorist operation the 11 members of the robbery gang had been planning.


The robbers apparently netted more than $20k in the robbery, to buy explosives and vehicles (another truck bomb then, from the sound of it). Multimillionaire OBL can't afford to cough up a measely 20 g's for his gang's next great attack on the West? One of our JDAMs costs more than that, and we dropped hundreds of them in Iraq.

OBL is clearly feeling the pinch, if he can feel anything at all.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:08 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

THE SUPREME COURT OF OPRAH

We have a trend developing as the Court joins the culture war.

Supreme Court decisions increasingly read like transcripts from the Oprah Winfrey show. Justice Antonin Scalia notes the court's "famed sweet-mystery-of-life" howler: "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and the mystery of human life."

...If the passage has any meaning, as Scalia says, it will be the passage that "ate the rule of law."

...We are losing real liberties while the Supreme Court invents bogus ones. To deprive a community of the liberty of preserving traditional laws is a monstrous distortion of the framers' work and an act of judicial despotism which should outrage the public.

Mark Steyn notes that the vacuous word "diversity" has now become the law of the land:

Whether or not you dig it as a personal philosophy, ''diversity'' makes a poor legal concept. It was not intended to be precisely defined, but instead woozy and fluffy and soft-focus. It makes a fabulous bumper sticker: ''Celebrate Diversity.'' But it makes a poor legal concept to enshrine at the heart of the U.S. Constitution, which is where Swingin' Sandra's vote put it last week.

The correct term is ''racial quotas,'' but that's too bald, too clear. So its proponents came up with the coy evasion of ''affirmative action.'' But over the years that also became tarnished. Hence the invention of ''diversity.'' Who could be against ''diversity''? Who wouldn't want to celebrate it? It's the perfect enlightened vapidity.

...As Swingin' Sandra put it, approvingly, the Law School (like Sandra) ''engages in a highly individualized, holistic review . . . flexible, non-mechanical . . . soft variable . . . nuanced judgment . . . potential to enrich . . .'' Zzzzzzzz.

Which is the point. The court's message is: As long as we don't see how the sausage is made, you're OK. Take your ''soft variables'' into the smoke-filled room. Worse, the court has dignified ''diversity''--a flag of activist convenience, a wily obfuscation--as a compelling state interest, and on its promoters' terms.

''Diversity'' doesn't extend to, say, some dirtpoor piece of fundamentalist white trash. Her presence wouldn't ''enrich'' anyone. ''Diversity'' means ''more blacks.'' That's why traditional African-American colleges are exempt from its strictures: As 100 percent black schools, they're already as diverse as you can get.

...But one purpose of a court of last resort should be to reject the seduction of euphemism, to demand plain language and clear meaning.

''Diversity'' narrows the mind, it pigeonholes us into identity-group stereotypes, some approved, some not, but all so limiting that Maureen Dowd's ''diversity'' can't even grapple with the concept of a ''black conservative.'' Indeed, a ''diverse'' culture can't even be honest about its racist past.

Lester Maddox, Georgia's last segregationist governor and a white restaurateur who closed his business rather than be forced to serve blacks, died last week, and neither ABC, CBS nor NBC could bring themselves to tell viewers that this man was (gasp!) a Democrat. Imagine that: a racist Democrat.

We also weren't told that Strom Thurmond was only able to reach his full racist potential as a Dixiecrat/Democrat.

(via Country Store)
Posted by Chris Regan at 09:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

UNBORN MOTHERS?

It looks like we're opening Pandora's Box O' Ethical Nightmares without a great deal of care or thought. Scientists in the UK, and presumably in the US and elsewhere, are trying to harvest and fertilize eggs from aborted baby girls.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 30, 2003

YOUR TAX DOLLARS--PROMOTING JIHAD AMONG THE U.S ARMED FORCES

File this one under "diversity run amok."

Until recently, the Air Force chaplain corps' web site linked to a site that promotes radical Islamist writings and material.

Somebody needs to keep a closer watch on the 12 Muslim chaplains in the USAF, apparently. One or more of them either isn't careful in selecting "informational" web sites...or there's something more disturbing going on.
Posted by B. Preston at 07:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

THE BIGOTED PROFESSOR

Andrew Wilkie, the Nuffield professor of pathology and a fellow of Pembroke College, is is an anti-Israeli bigot. Racist, demagogue, buffoon and fool to boot.

The bigoted prof has an email address, and here it is:

awilkie@molbiol.ox.ac.uk

He should be aware that, even in the ivory tower, bigotry has consequences--such as an inbox filled with mail rationally opposing his racism. I'm tempted to enroll him in every SPAM scheme under the sun, but that would be mean.

(thanks to Michael Paranzino)

UPDATE: Wilkie has apologized.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 29, 2003

MORE ON THE WELLSTONE THURMOND DEATH CELEBRATION

Those wacky liberals will get punch drunk over the death of both right and left-wing U.S. Senators, while most conservatives and humans will react with shock out of respect for the dead in both political parties.

Even Tom Daschle shows he's one of the human Democrats:

Thurmond ``was in many respects a legend. He was a governor, a presidential candidate, a soldier, a father, a citizen.'' - Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

``Sen. Thurmond was symbolic of the Old South, but his willingness to change over time set an example for many South Carolinians.'' - U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.

When Thurmond was 98, he had to be taken out of the Senate chamber by medical personnel: ``They had him on a stretcher. Later that afternoon, he was back on the job and served another two years. That showed the kind of man he was.'' - Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.

He must have been a pretty good soldier when he was young if he was that tough at 98 years old. Additional commentary on the death-loving faction of the left here, with a couple of links that rundown the general media reaction. Right Wing News is also noting several celebratory posts besides those by Andrew Sullivan.

Some liberals are so delighted they're excusing themselves for their death ecstasy by comparing it to right-wingers being happy about the demise of a long list of totalitarian Socialist mass-murderering dictators.

Also compared: People who said a pro-terrorist activist, Rachel Corrie, was asking to die for her cause by standing in front of an armored military bulldozer in a war zone.

Both are extremely weak comparisons that refute themselves. Strom did not deserve to die, nor did he invite his own death by being a human shield for terrorists in a war zone. He was only guilty of being born in 1903, and acting like a dirty old Bill Clinton with the ladies -- except he was more respectful and avoided using his position of power to assault and rape women.

As far as race, let's put Strom Thurmond's recent helpful actions and attitude toward blacks in his state and offices up against Bill Clinton's cabinet and the Democrat's recent record in hiring blacks and promoting black politicians. Who's been cynically manipulating African-Americans to keep their political power under tight control -- even in 2003? Democrats.

You can also bet that if Clarence Thomas were to die, you wouldn't be able to wipe the smile off Bill Clinton's face without putting a camera in front of it.

Let me add for contrast that, if Bill Clinton were keel over, I would be nostalgic for a tough political foe who, though amoral, unrepentant and a user of the n-word along with his brother, is always good for an loony anti-American headline or a "Baghdad Bob"-style whopper every week. Most supposed "Clinton haters" don't hate him, don't want to see him dead and would not applaud if he dies.
Posted by Chris Regan at 12:00 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack