Monday, February 28, 2005

Denial is a river in Cautious Optimism

I nearly fell out of my chair last week when I read an excerpt from a Der Spiegel article (sorry, no link) covering Bush’s European charm offensive which briefly pondered whether Bush might actually be right about his Middle East policy.

In Monday’s Washington Post, Jackson Diehl wrote the following:


As thousands of Arabs demonstrated for freedom and democracy in Beirut and
Cairo last week, and the desperate dictators of Syria and Egypt squirmed under
domestic and international pressure, it was hard not to wonder whether the
regional transformation that the Bush administration hoped would be touched off
by its invasion of Iraq is, however tentatively, beginning to happen.
Why was he trying hard not to wonder about the regional transformation? Is that supposed to be unthinkable? It certainly is to Maureen Dowd who refused to answer a question posed by Tim Russert on Sunday’s Meet the Press. When asked if Bush’s policy my have actually started the chain of events, Dowd dodged and parried as best she could:

MR. RUSSERT: Maureen Dowd, "on a roll"--there were no weapons of
mass destruction, which was the primary rationale for the war, but would you now accept the fact that, because of the invasion of Iraq, there is a possibility of
democracy in Iraq and perhaps that may spread through the Middle East?


MS. DOWD: I think Bill and Tom are right. It's so 20th century to go to war because you have to. Now, we go to war because we want to. But the problem with that is that kind of moral absolutism gets you into a lot of ends-justify-the-means traps. And that's what we saw in Europe and with Putin, because Putin can also say, "Well, our ends justify our means." And look at us, and we're torturing people and we're outsourcing torture. The administration is trying to throw journalists in jail and basically trying to replace the whole press crew with ringers, including male escorts. I mean, even Nixon hated the press, but he never tried to
actually do an "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" thing with them. So as Tom
has pointed out, it's a Pandora's box. There are good spirits and evil
spirits that we've unleashed.

Sadly, that seems to be the default fall back position for much of Bush’s detractors. Not only does her response fail to cede the obvious, but it replaces an answer with a red herring. Does anyone actually buy the moral absolutism “ends-justify-the-means traps” argument that she regurgitates? Does she actually think that Putin is using our actions to form his own? He wouldn't have clamped down on the Russian press if Bush hadn't done the same here? The episode she alluded to was a recent back and forth between Bush and Putin about freedom of the press. The intercourse was remarkable because it showed just how oblivious Putin was in the Rathergate affair when the Russian president accused Bush of firing the old CBS goat. Putin’s astonishing ignorance could be the subject of a whole other post, but to someone like Dowd, who believes the administration is trying to throw journalists in jail and replacing the press pool with ringers (never miss an opportunity to point out the male escort) Putin’s charge seems perfectly natural. But I digress, the question was whether Bush’s policies have led to the recent rash of elections in the Middle East. And Dowd pleads the fifth.

There may be the rare columnist here or there that might actually admit that Bush’s detractors were wrong and that Bush was right, but on the whole, I think the kind of response we can expect from the usual suspects can be summed up by the following line from Diehl’s piece:

“It also won't be entirely Bush's creation: The tinder for ignition has been
gathering around the stagnant and corrupt autocracies of the Middle East for
years.”

And perhaps that’s even too generous for some, because it suggests that Bush had something to do with the recent events and I’m sure that we all know a few people that will simply not let such an assumption stand. I suspect every effort will be taken to shift the credit away from Bush and put it on any other possible contributing factor that presents itself. No doubt squirming will be involved as democrats and leftward pundits adapt to the new reality of an increasingly free Middle East, but it will mainly be detectable to those that supported the war from the beginning. Those that opposed it still wish to live in their remarkably durable bubble that withstood that giant prick of November 2nd and continues withstand the pricks of good news on a repeated basis.

And there’s the cautious optimism set, formerly known as the freedom-is-good-but-inaction-is-better group – like Thomas Friedman. His recent talking point of "tipping points" sounds a little more upbeat that his January 6th take on the elections, which, he thought, would pave the way for an Iraqi civil war. On October 3rd, Friedman wasn’t sure about what was salvageable there. I wish I’d saved all the gloomy columns I’d read from the NYTimes, because many of them treated any positive news with kid gloves. This was good, but….and then a litany of all the bad stuff that could still go wrong. Still, even though it’s getting harder to be pessimistic about Iraq, Friedman is duty bound to remain worried that the tipping points don’t tip the wrong way.

Indeed, in the Middle East playground - as Friday's suicide bomb in Israel
reminds us - tipping points are sometimes more like teeter-totters: one moment
you're riding high and the next minute you're slammed to the ground.
We all recognized the gamble that we took by invading Iraq (including neocons, believe it or not), but what Friedman would rather not say is that any failure puts us back in a place similar to the previous status quo. Very little can emerge out of the old Middle East that is worse than what once was. At worse, we’ll find ourselves in the same position as we did in 9/11 but with a humiliating loss to siphon off any resolve we would have to be successful in the war on terror. But, if we lose, then that resolve never existed in the first place – so what’s the difference?

That means that Americans are divided into two and a half camps. There’s the camp that is forever haunted (or emboldened) by our failures in Vietnam and who believe we can’t win this war. There’s the camp that says we can and will win it. And finally, there’s the half camp that says we need to win but were doing it all wrong. The latter stakes their tent in the “we can’t” camp but refuses to say they live there. No doubt, that explanation is too simplistic to some (like Tom Friedman, I’m sure), but it roughly breaks down that way.

Part of the shortcomings in Friedman’s worldview can be seen in the following:

Thanks to eight million Iraqis defying "you vote, you die" terrorist
threats, Iraq has been reframed from a story about Iraqi "insurgents" trying to
liberate their country from American occupiers and their Iraqi "stooges" to a
story of the overwhelming Iraqi majority trying to build a democracy, with U.S.
help, against the wishes of Iraqi Baathist-fascists and jihadists.

Whereas Friedman may have just seen the story reframed into such terms, I’m sure Iraqis saw the story in the latter terms for quite awhile now. Unbeknownst to Friedman, the big tipping point happened a while back with Bush's decision to change the face of the Middle East. It turns out that that tipping point went the right way and the only reason we are even talking about the recent outbreaks of democracy, whether Shiites will be able to reach out to Sunnis or whether Mubarak is serious about election reform is because Bush made a decision a couple of years ago.

Back in 02’ and 03’ there was one knowable tangent regarding action in Iraq and that was this: opponents to the war will never fully acknowledge it as a success. For those of us on the right who are waiting for a “I told you so” moment, we will only be frustrated because such a moment will never happen. It wouldn’t have mattered if large caches of WMDs were found or if bin Laden’s cell phone was listed in Saddam’s little black book, the dye was caste when that monkey, Bush, thought he could nation build and no amount of success will justify the death of x number of dead U.S. soldiers. That the mere question would be raised that Bush may have been right, is farther than anything I would have expected. As Noemie Emery recently quoted John Stewart:

"Here's the great fear that I have," said comedian Jon Stewart once the Iraq
elections were over. "What if Bush, the president, ours, has been right about
this all along? I feel that my world view may not sustain itself, and I may, and
again I don't know if I can physically do this, implode."
Sadly, the comedian isn't joking.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

a critical analysis of condi's outfit

Bush fails, Egyptian President Imposes Democracy

"How is President Bush going to carry out his promise to invade dictatorships and impose freedom if they keep announcing changes like this?" said an unnamed Democrat Senator.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Curious date in history

Today is the anniversary of the 1993 WTC bombing and the 1984 Marine pullout from Lebanon (leaving it to Shi'ite militiamen).

Friday, February 25, 2005

Cute

LGF and Right Wing News on Ted Rall

I can see why Ted is so frustrated. He can't say anything anymore without it coming back on him. A case of too much free speech, I suppose.

Fascinating story about shrines in Japan

Thanks, Mr. Dzurinda

That’s funny, I was preparing to post a response to this Buchanan article when Mat made the previous post.

I’m always heartened when Buchanan is on the other side of an issue. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a smart guy, but I also think he is pretty consistently wrong.

One of the main differences I have with this particular article is his interpretation of mission creep. I’m not entirely sure how to interpret his reference to Lincoln. Is Buchanan saying that Lincoln didn’t see the Civil War as a war to save the union in the beginning? I think he did. I would have expected Buchanan to use the argument that abolition wasn’t the reason for the war until the emancipation – that would have been wrong also.

Next, Buchanan sited Wilson’s changed rhetoric from not understanding the reason for war in 1916 to proclaiming it a “war to end all wars” and “to protect democracy” in 1917. But I think Buchanan glosses over an underlying consistency in Wilson’s worldview that ran beneath both his pacifist and wartime positions that was tied to his evangelical background. The immediate catalysts for wars may have been tied to “lesser interests” but the big picture reasons for those wars was always present, even if the participants were not able to see it so defined. In other words, the contingencies that led Europe into the Great War (like the Schiefflin Plan) may be “lesser” things, but the rift between a more enlightened west and a more autocratic east (along with perpetual national interests) was the major issue that made that conflict inevitable, and it was present well before the war (and beyond, in this case). Likewise, slavery was the major issue surrounding the Civil War – and the fissure between north and south was present from the first slave ship landing in the colonies. All the other inequities between the two sides (i.e. industrial strength and economic output) were a result of this institution.

Regarding the spread of democracy: I would say that as our world becomes more intertwined, we increasingly rely on the benevolence and freedom of other parts of the world to keep trade and prosperity open for everyone. Personally, I don’t care what the 9/11 hijackers were thinking when they were recruited into al Qaeda or when they crashed into our buildings. To me, the root cause of their actions was not the humiliation they felt because of a U.S. presence on holy land (though they may think so), but rather a closed society that blamed others for its own deficiencies, causing pent up frustration and inspiring radical actions because no other method of venting was available. True, the U.S. reliance on oil has fed that problem, but it didn’t cause it. And that reliance will not disappear by our recognition of it. It will take years and years for the U.S. to “invent our way out” as Kerry liked to say. What we can do is topple regimes like Saddam’s and work with the people to form a representative government where an Arab can vote with a ballot and not a belt bomb. To do nothing is to promote endless collisions. Consider the trend of terrorist attacks that led up to 9/11. With each inaction of ours, the terrorists became increasingly bold and their attacks became more deadly.

Also, the world has changed since our forefathers espoused the virtues of isolationism (never mind that Jefferson sent our navy to N. Africa to fight Barbary piracy). Our ocean buffers are not what they once were. Maintaining old friendships (as Buchanan later brings up as a reason for non intervention) is not always in our national interest – or, so thought Washington in his second inaugural address. I think Bush picks up on Washington’s point regarding alliances when, during his recent trip, he says that they must be based on shared values. The daunting task of fighting a seemingly endless war against terrorism is not dissimilar to the argument for pursuing a missile defense. What seems unattainable now will always be so if your do not work towards a goal. However, steadfast devotion to an end will make eventually make it attainable. We are not going to directly confront every autocratic nation and force democracy on them at once, since that is impossible. But, by taking the spread of freedom off the back burner and making it a central focus of our foreign policy, we will chisel away at the tyrannies of the world. Are we going to depose Musharraf because he isn’t elected and has postponed democratic reforms? No. Should we? No. Will we be able to push reforms on Pakistan after the swamps of radical Islam are drained from Afghanistan? Very possibly.

I must admit that I don’t understand Buchanan’s pessimism about the war on terror. Where he sees a wasted $200 billion and 1,400 lost American lives, I see something else. I see a budding representative government in Iraq where Shiites have to deal with Kurds to build a coalition government, where both of those groups seem willing to include Sunnis who sat out of the voting process. I see Lebanese protestors emboldened by Iraq and the Ukraine to march against Syrian occupation. I see the dynamics of Palestinian politics in a much needed flux instead of the decades old static cesspool, which Saddam supported, under Arafat. Sharon is gaining ground on a proposed pullout of the Gaza strip. I see the Israelis willing to complete their fence, which will improve the circumstances on the ground in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Who knows, it may set up a final phase for a permanent settlement. I see where 140,000 Saudis actually picked some leaders themselves and where anti Mubarak demonstrations were allowed to happen….these all bode well for the freedom of the region and they all stem from Bush’s foreign policy.

I think Buchanan’s isolationism is a major reason that the paleo-cons are becoming less and less significant in conservative circles.

An inaugural formula for endless war

some right-on highlights:

"Let it be said: This is a formula for endless collisions between this nation and every autocratic regime on earth and must inevitably lead to endless wars. And wars are the death of republics."

"For, in his inaugural, he describes 9-11 as the day 'when freedom came under attack.' But Osama bin Laden did not dispatch his fanatics to ram planes into the World Trade Center because he hated our Bill of Rights. He did it because he hates our presence and our policies in the Middle East."

"The invasion of Iraq has reaped a harvest of hatred in the Arab world, cost us 10,000 dead and wounded and $200 billion, and created a new training ground and haven for terrorists to replace the one we cleaned out in Afghanistan."

Is N. Korea getting closer to collapse?

Bush Drops Town Hall Meeting with Germans

you would think that since bush likes freedom so much he would welcome average germans to ask what questions they want. oh, and also, no journalists allowed.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Iowahawk has the goods on the Bush junta

The Truth is Out There: I corrected the link. Sorry.

Wead does the right thing

Bandying numbers

Rumsfeld and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez have a back n forth. (via Mudville Gazette)

Does Deep Throat exist?

I'm sure Dude is pretty well read on this subject and can weigh in better than I can, but this Jonah Goldberg piece brought up something that I had never really considered (which isn't saying much as I'm not a Watergate affecianado), it's easy to pin the Deep Throat tag on a dead guy.

King Solomon's Mines

is an incredible film! I remember seeing it way back when on a grainy UHF print and didn't think too much of it. But after just watching the new DVD, where it's been freshly shined and polished, I fell in love with it. The photography is wonderful and it has all the components of a perfect action story - a reluctant hero, good looking heroine, a perilous quest and a big map of Africa with a huge grayed out section in the center earmarked "uncharted," where reports of a hostile tribe scare away everyone with any sense - though that's exactly where Allen Quartermain (Stewart Granger) will lead the party. There's just enough 50's hokiness to satisfy the cheese lover and enough intrigue to make you forget your watching a movie.

Next on the Netflix list: The Ipcress File, El Cid and several Ozu films, beginning with Tokyo Story and ending with the Story of Floating Reeds. Though after watching King Solomon's Mines, I'm tempted to bump up Scaramouche just to see more of Stewart Granger!

Tim Blair

identifies the parties in the vast right wing conspiracy.

Too funny

Ted Rall is bent out of shape over the blogosphere:

Bloggers are ordinary people, many of them uneducated and with nothing
interesting to say. They're sitting in their rec rooms, regurgitating and
spinning what real journalists have dug up through hard work. They don't have
sources, they don't report, and no one holds them accountable when they make
mistakes or flat out lie. Yeah, there's a new sheriff in town. Unfortunately
he's drunk, he's mean, and he works for the bad guys.

Of course, everyone and their dog has a blog, including me and at one time, my cat, but Ted is off the mark to suggest that there's no accountability, no sources or no education among bloggers. The major right wing blogs - LGF, Instapundit, Powerline, Captain's Quarters, so on and so forth, are well educated, link-rich with sources and are very accountable from their readers. The above mentioned are quick to post corrections - much faster and willing that the Washington Post, CNN, LATime, NYTimes, etc.

As for having nothing interesting to say: then why the phenomenon?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Oops!

I meant to post something during lunch but got caught up adding movies to my Netflix queue. I have searched high and low for the Pacific University debate transcript between Howard Dean & Richard Perle. If anyone comes across it (I'm not sure one is out there) you should post it!

Monday, February 21, 2005

our porous southern border

'Minutemen' to Patrol Arizona Border

you would think that, considering the 100,000+ u.s. troops "fighting terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them here at home," bush would pay more attention to this little area of our homeland.

Can someone explain the Gannon frenzy to me?

I’m not sure I understand all the hubbub over the Jeff Gannon ordeal. Many lefty bloggers, including my old friend Jay whom I linked to previously, think that they need to harp on this story for the next few news cycles. Warning: that would be a mistake. I mean, where’s the story here? The closest thing to a story is Gannon’s access to the White House briefings – but hitherto all accusations that he was somehow in the employ of the administration are completely baseless. I haven’t even seen anything that hinted at such a conncetion, but apparently the outraged left thinks that politically baited questions are proof enough that one exists. As Powerline indicated in their response to the affair (which is much more rational and thoughtful than any of the left’s attack posts that I've seen) Gannon was more or less doing the same thing that Helen Thomas has always done, except in reverse.

Another Powerline post ask some questions based on angry lefty emails that have filled their inbox that I’m curious about too:

Why are liberals obsessed with the fact that Jeff Gannon was once a gay
escort? Beats me. Why does this character think that as conservatives, we are
duty-bound to hate gay escorts? Beats me. We've done close to 10,000 posts on
this site, and I doubt that we've ever mentioned gay escorts one way or another.
Would I want my son to be one? No. Do I think that having once been a gay escort should disqualify Jeff Gannon from becoming a reporter, or entering any other
occupation? No. Why do liberals find this so hard to understand? And how on
God's green earth does this make us "hypocrites"?

Of course, what we've criticized the left-wing blogs for is posting nude photographs of Gannon. How does the twisted "logic" manifested by these
emailers justify that contemptible practice? Once again: beats me.

SS Reform

I was actually disappointed that part of Clinton's '96 run was built on not touching SS, and I'm disappointed that the Dems' Congressional leadership is bent on preserving the New Deal, rather than proposing new initiatives to draw a larger marketshare at the ballot box.

I don't ever expect to see the $15,388 that I have paid into it so far in my lifetime, not to mention the $15,388 my employers have matched.

SS is a Ponzi scheme, and is therefore only sustainable as long as you have more suckers coming into the system than are cashing in on it. It was probably a good tool in the Depression years, but with a larger economy, plus the introduction of new retirement tools, such as IRA's and 401(k)'s, it's time to do serious reform. Even if it's not yet a crisis.

Given that we can't scrap it and give employees a 6.2% raise (and employers an equal cut in payroll expenses), I would do the following:

Change the link from the rise in wages to the rise in prices, which do not inflate as quickly as wages. Basically, it would be saying the purchasing power in 2005 would be the same in 2050.
Raise the cap on income for the payroll tax (currently $87,900), so it's not so regressive and so that it generates more revenue to cover expenses.
Implement means testing, so that we're not giving Donald Trump an extra source of revenue when he retires. I could drop this one as long as the cap on payroll tax was raised.
Allow for private accounts. However, I don't understand Bush wanting to limit how you could invest private accounts. If I want to take higher risk with money from my paycheck, I should be able to do so.
Expand IRA's and 401(k)'s to raise the caps, and perhaps to encourage to contribute more to employees' accounts and accelerate the vesting period.

Of course, the transition to private accounts would have been better served by the surplus funds Bush had before tax cuts than by borrowing more money. And that is money that will come from Japan and China, our 2 largest creditors. I don't mind borrowing from Japan so much, as they have proven a consistent ally. However, going into hock to China, a country whose economy is projected to surpass ours in size in the next 20 years, isn't good financially or politically. Financially, interest rates at home will go up. Politically, we lose some of the leverage we currently have with them.

On a related note, David Brooks notes that by 2015, half of all government spending will go to those 65 or older. ("In the Midst of Budget Decadence, A Leader Will Arise", NY Times, 2.19.2005). I'm not sure where he got that number from.

The politics of Green (more)

So it's the tactical proposals, not the strategic, that you disagree with.

You suggest passing an energy bill would alleviate the situation. What specifics would you recommend?

Did I write Krugman? I meant Friedman.....My apologies to both.

I don't think either Friedman or I suggested Bush is a bonehead for not considering Friedman's proposals.

Had you noticed the oxymoron in "force democracy on them so that they can control their own destiny"?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide

He shot himself Sunday. Via Drudge.

It's not too early to be thinking about 2008

So long as you don't overlook 2006.

Some of the reasons on the site are silly, but I'm all for the drafting part. Apparently Bush's pet name for Condi these days is "44".

Guaranteed to make a Bush hater wince and scream bloody murder…

AKA: I have got a great wife. And I read the Bible daily. The Bible is pretty good about keeping your ego in check.

The excerpts from recently released “private” conversations are sure to confirm the worst fears of Bush’s opposition, though there’s really nothing new. Mr. Wead’s motives are curious and I can’t imagine them being well intentioned. “If I was on the telephone with Churchill or Gandhi, I would tape record them too.” says Wead….classy. What isn’t in doubt is the motives of the old gray lady.

For a Bush lover, like myself, I’m ever more endeared to the man.

One particular thing that caught my eye was Bush’s attitude towards gays. An old friend of mine, Jay, has his own blog up Seattle way called Nonfamous where he rants and raves about that dirty “Gaybasher-in-Chief” Bush. After months of reading his blog, its hard to fathom that such childish behavior is the product of an Ivy league mind like Jay’s. Of course, Bush isn’t a gay basher or even a gay hater – but don’t bother telling that to Jay – his mind is slammed shut tighter than a steel trap. Bush’s “off the record” comments about gays:

Early on, though, Mr. Bush appeared most worried that Christian
conservatives would object to his determination not to criticize gay people. "I
think he wants me to attack homosexuals," Mr. Bush said after meeting James
Robison, a prominent evangelical minister in Texas.


But Mr. Bush said he did not intend to change his position. He said
he told Mr. Robison: "Look, James, I got to tell you two things right off the
bat. One, I'm not going to kick gays, because I'm a sinner. How can I
differentiate sin?"


Later, he read aloud an aide's report from a convention of the
Christian Coalition, a conservative political group: "This crowd uses gays as
the enemy. It's hard to distinguish between fear of the homosexual political
agenda and fear of homosexuality, however."


"This is an issue I have been trying to downplay," Mr. Bush
said. "I think it is bad for Republicans to be kicking gays."


Told that one conservative supporter was saying Mr. Bush had
pledged not to hire gay people, Mr. Bush said sharply: "No, what I said was, I
wouldn't fire gays."



On drugs:

Mr. Bush, who has acknowledged a drinking problem years ago, told Mr.
Wead on the tapes that he could withstand scrutiny of his past. He said it
involved nothing more than "just, you know, wild behavior." He worried, though,
that allegations of cocaine use would surface in the campaign, and he blamed his
opponents for stirring rumors. "If nobody shows up, there's no story," he told
Mr. Wead, "and if somebody shows up, it is going to be made up." But when Mr.
Wead said that Mr. Bush had in the past publicly denied using cocaine, Mr. Bush
replied, "I haven't denied anything."


He refused to answer reporters' questions about his past
behavior, he said, even though it might cost him the election. Defending his
approach, Mr. Bush said: "I wouldn't answer the marijuana questions. You know
why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried."



A perfectly reasonable position. Most grown ups, even serious Christians, don’t care that much about someone’s past if they feel that person has moved on.

Other topics covered:

Being a Christian:
Preparing to meet Christian leaders in September 1998, Mr. Bush told Mr.
Wead, "As you said, there are some code words. There are some proper ways to say things, and some improper ways." He added, "I am going to say that I've accepted Christ into my life. And that's a true statement."

Cockiness:
"It's me versus the world," he told Mr. Wead. "The good news is, the world
is on my side. Or more than half of it."


On the political shift in Texas:
"The top three offices right below me will be the first time there has been
a Republican in that slot since the Civil War. Isn't that amazing? And I hate to
be a braggart, but they are going to win for one reason: me."

Report: U.S. in Secret Talks with Iraqi Insurgents

here is the article. does bush still think insurgents are terrorists? Are we negotiating with terrorists? Are we yielding to their tactics of violence?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The politics of green

Paul Krugman makes a good case for pushing energy conservation. Namely that reducing our dependency on foreign oil would reduce the economic and political power of undemocratic regimes in Iran, Saudia Arabia, Sudan and Russia (which has been stepping back from democratic reforms as of late).

I would go one step further than Krugman to say not only is conservation necessary to strengthen our hand, but also the increase of domestic production (ANWAR - the oil field, not the assassinated Egyptian leader).

On a related note, NPR had piece recently on how oil-producing countries will be able to start selling more to China to avoid reform pressure from the U.S.

Bush has no plans to invade Iran

Of course, he had no plans to win the peace in Iraq, either.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

TCS Set of Two

First, I'm still thrilled at the return of Lee Harris. In this article he distinguishes between "empire" and "hegemony." A distinction that celebrated linguist Noam Chomsky is apparently unaware of.

This second article concerns the shady science behind the Kyoto Treaty and reinforces a previous point I made about how the scientific community is too caught up in its moral crusade to pay attention to dissenting views (an argument I've been on the receiving end of regarding the war). From a quote in the story:

'The unmitigated exposure to prophecies of imminent ice ages, looming hell
fire, mass starvation, mega-droughts, global epidemics and mass extinction is an
experience I would not recommend to anyone with a thin-skinned disposition
(although the news media couldn't get enough of it). But such was the spectacle
of pending disaster that anyone who dared - or was allowed - to question whether the sky is really about to fall on us (and there were at least half a dozen of
moderate anti-alarmists present), was branded a 'usual suspect' ....'

What happened to Disney?

You might think the broader question would be “what’s happened to Hollywood?” After all, during the war effort in the 40’s, some of our finest directors were in the war theaters shooting film, big stars had enlisted and the studios were churning out propaganda to mobilize the home front. The nearest Hollywood can muster now is Sean Penn and some second unit directors bringing back footage for Michael Moore, and they’re against the U.S. But after getting caught up in the frenzy of 02’ and 03’ where rightwing pundits and heartlanders were paying attention to which star said what and where, I resigned myself to the fact that an actor is an actor, his primary function is to entertain. Regardless of what I might think of the political views of Sean Penn or Danny Glover, Streisand or Susan Surandon, I still enjoy their acting. Okay, maybe nothing they’ve done lately, but I do appreciate their collective bodies of work. Why ask more from them?

The question of what happened to Disney came upon me while I was watching Walt Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines, Animation from 1941-45. Like the rest of the vault Disney collections, this was a goldmine of animation. Some of the cartoons were made for the general public and stared one of the Disney regulars like Goofy or Pluto. Others were training films, like the timeless short, Four Methods of Flush Riveting, a riveting tale about riveting tails. Still others covered the history of certain topics, like corn in The Grain That Built a Hemisphere.

The entertainment value of Disney hardly needs to be mentioned. Likewise, the educational virtues of Disney don’t need to be explained to those of us who remember Walt Disney Presents, regardless of whether we still believe lemmings plunge to their death en masse or not. But the Disney animators were also quite deft with technical training, as the flush riveting short demonstrates. The methods were explained in the simplest and most effective possible way. In an age before Power Point, the Disney animators created the ultimate Power Point presentation. Another short, Stop That Tank, is a brilliant introduction to the M-1 tank rifle – how it worked, how to maintain it and how to use is against German armor.

What a gift to the military to have the film medium taken care of by a professional studio.

And this cooperation from Disney, as well as other studios, was not the result of any effort to nationalize the industry or forcing cooperation via government edicts, though a level of censorship existed. Walt Disney believed in the war effort enough to devote his animation team to making an ambitious animated feature called Victory Through Air Power (1943), which argued for the need of a long range bombing capability.

Victory Through Air Power is a magnificent history of aviation. It has Disney’s humor and uncanny way of explaining things in a poignant shortened way. But it achieves something rare in that it delves into military theory in a way that few other cartoons do. Apparently Churchill had watched it and, while visiting the White House, discovered that FDR had not yet seen it. He sang the praises of the film to the President and had his copy of the film sent to Washington for FDR to watch. I would dare call the film a masterpiece.

Other notable shorts include Der Fuhrer’s Face, remembered now chiefly for the title song in it, (it’s hard to watch Donald playing a Nazi); Education For Death, which chronicles the development of a young lad into a hardened Nazi; and Food Will Win the War, a riotous and inventive look at our agricultural output.

The whole set is superb and definitely worth renting.

To answer the question of what happened to Disney, I must conclude that Walt died and along with him, his vision.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Continued from the “scientific” “theory” of intelligent design thread

I’ve no answer to Steve’s question regarding the possibility of our creator being a bug-eyed alien. There’s so many variables in the topic of creation that it is hard for me to give it much thought one way or another. I’m content being a God fearing Christian who satisfies his appetite for understanding our creation with a little Bible reading here and there and the occasional Discovery channel show I can roll my eyes at. Ultimately, I can’t say that I understand the battle between evolution and the Bible beyond the social or political implications that evolution (and other scientific ideas) have on the church. While I see no real apparent contradiction between Darwin and Genesis (I wouldn’t know where to begin as science and religion talk in two different languages even though they may say the same thing) I can understand the Church’s desire to maintain its authority over such issues in this earthly realm, regardless of whether it is right or wrong to do so. You can see the scientific community doing the same thing now in regards to global warming as well as evolution.

Lee Harris is not dead

Since his last article from May of last year, Mr. Harris fell of the face of the earth. He's back at TCS, though he's still being haunted by his strong man theories.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Steyn Online is Back!

After a 3+ month hiatus. It's a nice Valentine's present from the greatest conservative political writer. His V-Day post, though, isn't political. UPDATE: but this one is.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Eason's resignation pretty well answers the question

about what he actually said. I would assume that this means CNN won't be releasing the tapes?

"I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces
accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or
believed otherwise," Jordan said in a memo to fellow staff members at CNN.


It must've been pretty bad.

Friday, February 11, 2005


If the North Koreans do not want us over there, then why does their flag look like an inviting Texaco sign? Posted by Hello

Buddha sleeping under the covers?

Poppy crop down?

S Korea is uneasy with their northern defectors

"When I came to China, I learned that people in North Korea eat worse than a pig in China," said a 34-year-old North Korean woman who revealed only her surname, Moon.

Carter breaks silence regarding the Iraqi elections

One of the pillars of Bush's domestic agenda is off to a good start

Tort reform, often talked about but rarely passed, has gone through the Senate handily and will likely breeze through the House. Those opposed to this legislation (among others): Kerry, Kennedy, Boxer, Biden, Byrd, Clinton, Leahy, Levin and Reid.

Question for Dude: prior to the election, you posted a series of reasons that you did not support Bush. One of those reasons was that Bush & Cheney were both part of the oil industry. Considering that Kerry voted nay on tort reform and, had Edwards been able to, he would have done the same; is having a ticket with two lawyers the same as having two oil men?

nationmaster

i know nationmaster sounds like a most supreme and incredible metal band but check it out. . .

http://www.nationmaster.com

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Damn Taiwan, Full Speed Ahead

France and Germany's intent to end the EU arms embargo with China gives a pretty clear picture about how much they care about human rights. While they were reaffirming their intent, China was suppressing media coverage of the recent death of pro-Democracy leader, Zhao Ziyang. The most promising thing Mr. Jintao can boast of regarding how his government handled Ziyang's death is that the population didn't erupt into pro-democracy movements like those in 1989. Some accomplishment.

And that's just in the mainland. The EU has effectively jumped the Taiwan ship as well as compromising the security of Japan and S. Korea. Perhaps the U.S. should consider an arms embargo for European countries that engage in trading arms with China.

UPDATE: Regarding the general topic of the arms trade, this story is slightly frustrating. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, many complained that we essentially created Saddam Hussein and gave him weapons. I firmly disagree. While we have made mistakes in deciding on who to offer arms to and why, I would say on the whole that the U.S. is the model of restraint and sound judgement when compared to any other country.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Weekend pundit shows

I missed Meet the Press with Rumsfeld this weekend, but thought this dialogue was interesting.

Incidently, I did catch a rebroadcast of Chris Matthew's weekend show where he had Hugh Hewitt on as part of his panel (along with the Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel and two others.) Hewitt was in a different class when it came to talking points and facts. At the end of the segment, where Chris asks each member of the panel to tell him something he doesn't know, Hewitt predicted that the Eason Jordan story would finally break this week. Astonishingly, the look and response from Chris was that he hadn't heard about Mr. Jordan's ridiculous and baseless charges that the US military was targeting journalists. It's mind boggling that after about a week and a half of this story catching fire on the blogs, that Chris Matthews was unaware of it. Did CBS Memogate teach him anything?

Looks like part of what Eason Jordan was saying was right

Combatants are targeting journalists. Only, it's just the other side.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Staying the course

Fareed Zakaria is one of my favorite political columnists, because he seems very non-partisan. In this one, he discusses when Bush has actually changed course, despite saying that he is staying the course, and why that has ultimately been good for our Iraq policy. And yes, there's the inevitable Lincoln comparison.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

It has been duly noted

Chomsky speaks. History will prove him wrong.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Re: naysayer quotes below

The post below reminds me a little of a portion of Bush’s State of the Union address where he lists some Democrat ideas on fixing Social Security. Of course, now, almost every Democrat is vehemently opposed to fixing Social Security. The difference between the two issues is that the Democrats' change in tone cannot be rationally defended because it is driven primarily by Bush hatred and partisanship and not by any change in the condition of Social Security. This is why Democrats cheered Bill Clinton when he mentioned investment of Social Security funds in 1999 but booed Bush over the same idea last Wednesday. On the other hand, the circumstances around the liberation of Iraq have changed drastically after 9/11.

Regarding the quotes below: I firmly believe that the present Bush is a much greater leader and far more consequential president than Bush, Sr. And hindsight proves that Bush Sr. was wrong to put the coalition of the 1st Gulf War above the liberation of the Iraqi people. Back then, before 9/11, the priorities were different. I can understand that. Why can’t Bush haters? Cheney’s quote is a little more problematic, but essentially true: if we toppled Hussein, we would be in Iraq for quite a spell. And Baker’s quote is likewise true.

Finally, what was Eisenhower talking about in his quote? War with Russia, I believe. His assessment was as dead on in regards to the Cold War as the Bush Doctrine currently is towards the War on Terror.

The difference between Bush Sr. and the Democrat leadership in Congress is this: Bush Sr. learned the lessons of his mistake and now supports the war in Iraq (as do Cheney and Baker), Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Robert Byrd, Nancy Pelosi et al have learned nothing.

some more naysayer quotes on invasion and occupation

"We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect rule Iraq. The coalition would have instantly collapsed. ... Going in and thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations mandate would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different - and perhaps barren - outcome.''
- George H.W. Bush, 1992

"Now, you can say, well, you should have gone to Baghdad and gotten Saddam, [but] I don’t think so. I think if we had done that, we would have been bogged down there for a very long period of time with the real possibility we might not have succeeded."
- Dick Cheney, 1996

"Even if Hussein were captured and his regime toppled, U.S. forces would still have been confronted with the specter of a military occupation of indefinite duration to pacify the country and sustain a new government in power. Removing him from power might well have plunged Iraq into civil war, sucking U.S. forces in to preserve order. Had we elected to march on Baghdad, our forces might still be there.''
- former Secretary of State James Baker, 1996

-------------------

"A preventive war, to my mind, is an impossibility. I don’t believe there is such a thing, and frankly I wouldn’t even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing."
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Steve

I remember a quote you used quite a while ago & just now saw were it was from (via Professor Bainbridge). The quote: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Attributed to Voltaire.

It takes a noble man to do this

But I'm glad the president turned him down.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

the "scientific" "theory" of intelligent design

"It's another way of saying God did it. It isn't a model of change; it isn't a theory that makes testable claims."

with goodness and decency restored in office this we-think-the-universe-sits-on-top-of-a-giant-turtle belief will probably coexist with the theory of evolution in the science textbooks. here's a good pop up-filled article on it:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6884904/site/newsweek/

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote

this is interesting--

"United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 percent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong. A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam."

- Peter Grose, in a page 2 New York Times article titled, 'U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote,' September 4, 1967.

Bush Critics (Temporarily) Silent After Iraqi Elections

It may take a little while for them to find the cloud through the silver lining, but I'm confident they will do it - Kerry and Kennedy have already done so - to the best of their ability.

Question: what is the role of the Carter Center? To me it seems that they don't have much to say about an election unless there's a socialist to back.

Soros is just about as mad as a hatter. He seems all for spreading democracy until some actual tries to spread it.

Mr. Soros said he agrees with Mr. Bush's goal to spread democracy around the
world, "and [I] have devoted the past 15 years and several billion dollars of my
fortune to attaining it," but accused the president of "Orwellian doublespeak."
I wonder if he is including the money he spent on the last election.

UPDATE: See Huffington huff. Without giving Bush his due, I predict that years and years from now Ariana will have very little understanding of the War on Terror - what it was about or how it was won.