Sunday, November 30, 2003

Walking on Broken Glass - - I also wrote an extensive and link heavy article that is posted at tonight. It is a long look at the media through by reviewing the new film “Shattered Glass”. I hope you enjoy.

Earlier this week the President of the United States managed to pull the wool off the eyes of the press corps. While many of the press gladly would have gone along for the ride some thought this was a tragic precedent to set.

"That's just not kosher," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. "Reporters are in the business of telling the truth. They can't decide it's okay to lie sometimes because it serves a larger truth or good cause."

That kind of outrage by the press is often bewildering and mostly just boils down to a major case of the “superiorities”. That’s why the new film “Shattered Glass” is such a horror for most journalists. The keepers of integrity in public life and the shapers of so much opinion can never be seen as infallible or corruptible or worse just plain wrong. [Read the Whole Article here]

One Car Caravan - - My review of Walter Shapiro’s new book “One Car Caravan” has just been published over at ESR tonight. I liked the book and think it is a good look at the early days of the presidential race.

“Long before the real action of the Presidential election there lies an incredible part of the democratic process. This is a time before the race really starts cooking, before normal people even think about tuning in, and where those ambitious enough to run for president pander to crowds at pancake breakfasts and make speeches in living rooms to crowds of thirty or less. It happens all across New Hampshire and Iowa in a time author Walter Shapiro calls the "Invisible Primary".” [Read the whole thing here!]

Grab bag: Kind of a Crazy News Sunday - - There is just a huge amount of interesting stuff breaking this evening. And since I have, once again, accomplished only portions of what I planned mostly due to seeing a few choice movies and such. Rest assured that yes, I finished and reviewed Walter Shapiro’s new book and the review should appear in the spanking brand new issue of ESR later this evening. I’m almost done “Boys on the Bus” and that review may be 24 hours away. Expect something on Blogcritcs tonight on something and expect some dispatches in ’04 Journal form throughout the week. Possibly as soon as the morning. Don’t worry I’ll let you know. Until then here’s few things I’ve found interesting this afternoon:

The news that suddenly people are coming to the conclusion that the US Congress is spending money like a drunken sailor shouldn’t come as a surprise. As William Safire said on Meet The Press this morning of course it’s true, but it probably gives drunken sailors a bad name. And yes this is all terrible news. But it is not the sort of “sky-is-falling” story that it’s being reported as.

Then Drudge (who has a slew of things going on right now) is reporting that Time Magazine has a story breaking tomorrow on how Howard Dean is in regular contact with former President Jimmy Carter.

The news in Canada is of the $200,000 spent to protect the President of France as he was vacationing in Quebec this past summer. Canadian tax dollars at work…

Slate’s Mickey Kaus has some great opinions on the Hillary in Iraq news. “The problem is she smarmily wanted to have it both ways, pretending her trip was in part a morale-building visit to the troops while she griped about the mission the troops were on.”

I’ve been reading John F. Burn’s stuff regularly (more so ever since Andrew Sullivan called him this generation’s Orwell and earlier this week I saw his excellent interview on Charlie Rose). So read this one too. He seems to capture some really good stuff.

And while we are on good stuff. Earlier this week there was a very good article by David Ignatius. It’s a great article and I did drop him a short email saying as much, and he sent an equally nice and sincere email back.

Repelling Attacks - - U.S. Forces repelled attacks by Saddam loyalists in the city of Samarra today. By the sounds of the reports it was a pretty successful battle in our favor although 5 troops were wounded. It also appears to have been the largest attack the forces had seen. This may be both troubling and heartening at the same time.

On the one hand the attack was successfully beaten back. On the other hand the attack was a very bold and large-scale attack. Either way, and in fact both may be true, the situation is not easy. But let’s pose this argument: the attacks are growing in number (which may or may not be true) and in size (seems reasonable). The more they grow in size by coordination and numbers involved the easier it will be for the traditional superiority of the military to deal with. Did they try to get the U.S. to abandon Iraq like they did Somalia only to find out they needed more firepower and larger attacks? Hard to say really but the larger attacks can only be less successful.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Bush’s Thanksgiving Trip to Baghdad - - It will absolutely pain every single oped and editorial writer who’s bread and butter is paid for by Bush Bashing that President Bush took the opportunity of a national holiday to secretly fly to the center of Iraq and have dinner with the troops.

Worth noting from Bush’s short and good speech: “You're engaged in a difficult mission. Those who attack our coalition forces and kill innocent Iraqis are testing our will. They hope we will run. We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq, pay a bitter cost in casualties, defeat a brutal dictator and liberate 25 million people only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins.

We will prevail. We will win because our cause is just. We will win because we will stay on the offensive. And we will win because you're part of the finest military ever assembled. And we will prevail because the Iraqis want their freedom.”

When I heard it while listening to streaming radio at work this morning, I was completely stunned, and not in a bad way. I’ve said before that Bush needs to get out there more. Clinton used to be on television all the time, Bush doesn’t crave the spotlight like that, but he is good when they let “Bush be Bush”.

More: Richard Brookhiser has some predictions at NRO on how this will be covered when Bush’s critics stop stuffing themselves with turkey and stuffing and get back to work: “How right that he went; how heartened I am that he saw the rightness. Enjoy the moment. Tomorrow, Maureen Dowd will tell us it was a glitzy, glammy secret sideshow; Paul Krugman will explain that it distracted from the good economic numbers, which are really bad economic numbers; Frank Rich will compare it to some old TV shows; John Kerry will say that the troops should have stayed home in the first place, and by the way, he went to Vietnam. Whatever W's limitations with the talkoisie, he does seem to know how to talk to the Armed Forces.”

Here’s another take.

More II: Andrew Sullivan likes what he sees too. And Thomas Friedman has a Memo to Bush (as written by Saddam Hussien) today. “So far, I feel pretty good. As isolated as I am in my bunker, I know that my view of this war — which is that you Americans have come here to put the Arabs down and steal our oil — still dominates Arab public opinion. I am bolstered by the fact that ill-qualified, intolerant Arab religious educators, spiritual leaders and "intellectuals" — who have long dominated our schools and mosques because tyrants like me found them useful — still feed this view to our youth. They think the only reason we are backward is because you put us down.”

Except that today, one of the two leaders of the two forces showed his face in Baghdad. I hope you have a great thanksgiving 10 floors below Tikrit on a cold cement floor tonight Saddam. Friedman is right that this is a major battle. And the President going to visit the troops right in the middle of it, even if for only a few short hours, is more than Saddam’s done since his statue fell six months ago. And that is something we can all be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving - - Well it’s not a holiday here in Canada, but I’m probably going to take a few days off from blogging anyway. My laptop computer is still functioning about as effectively as a Communist State circa 1970. But I digress…

So posting may come to a standstill this weekend. But on the other hand, for the first time in weeks and weeks, I don’t have any damned social engagements to attend. So I’m going to actually get time to do a bunch of other writing, and more reading too! Look for a review of the first 2004 Campaign book “One Car Caravan” which the publishers were kind enough to send to me. I am also probably going to combine that with a look at the ”The Boys on the Bus” which looks back on the 1972 campaign for Blogcritics. So there’s that. And I'll be working on a few "'04 Journal" Columns looking all the good stuff coming and going in the 2004 election. They not appear until next week, but there we are.

Until then, have a safe, happy and turkey filled Thanksgiving, even if you’re Canadian. We should really think about “Thanksgiving II”. There just isn’t enough times for Turkey, Stuffing, and the inevitable turkey sandwiches. Check out my archives and the other people I link to down the blogroll. Cheers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Glad to see Naomi Klein’s still on the case, NOT - - Here is the new talking point for the anti-globalization left from Naomi Klein: “The FTAA Summit in Miami represents the official homecoming of the "war on terror". The latest techniques honed in Iraq - from a Hollywoodised military to a militarised media - have now been used on a grand scale in a major US city.” (From Sullivan who gives it the requisite Sontag Award)

Hey Naomi, 1999 called, they want you to come back and talk about the good old days.

Minimal Posting - - My primary robot is having some sort of digital equivalent of a strike this past 24 hours. It works for a few minutes, then everything becomes not responding. Stupid Robot. Now I’m blogging from my backup robot which is a bit like the Commodore Vic 20. Okay, that is exaggerating the case slightly. It works, and yes I do have 2 computers. That still doesn’t tell me what’s wrong with mine! I’ve run all the virus checks and system checks and it still is acting like an ingrate. It is probably more akin to Voyager – living longer and doing more than anyone ever expected. Or perhaps it is the Millennium (“Hold together baby”) Falcon. Damn you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Howard Dean…Call your office - - The U.S. economy grew at a sizzling 8.2 percent in the third quarter revised up a full percent from about a month or so ago.

More: A Mason Dixon poll in Florida finds Pres. Bush beating Joe Lieberman 56%-36%; he beats Howard Dean 59%-36%; and he beats Wesley Clark 56%-33%.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Monday’s Stupid Canadian Defense Department News - - We must have some remarkable and kick butt troops even to fathom joining up given the regular reports of utterly useless management and equipment.

Today’s dose seems to be a last ditch effort by the Chretien government to make itself look foolish (congrats buddies it worked). The government, pulling the procurement equivalent of “the dog ate my homework” simply didn’t get out the word about the $3.1 billion contract to replace the aging death cans known as the Sea King helicopters.

“The government had planned to release at the end of the summer what is called a request for proposals, or RFP, the formal outline of what it wants in a new chopper, according to documents obtained by the Citizen. That request, however, was never issued to aerospace companies and military officials now say they're working to get it out as soon as possible.”

Playing politics with necessary military equipment…brought to you by the Liberal government of Canada again.

“The Sea King replacement has turned into what many in the military community believe is the longest-running defence procurement program in Canadian history. The Forces started the process of replacing the choppers in the early 1980s, and some military documents suggest the new choppers won't be delivered until 2008.

The 40-year-old Sea Kings were supposed to be retired in 2005, but the Forces have spent more than $50 million replacing engines and parts on the machines to keep them flying safely.”

Here’s more from the Globe and Mail.

Imagine that Chretien managed his entire 10-year reign as Prime Minister without doing anything about this. Imagine.

Worst. Toy. Ever. - - Well, that’s an overstatement if I ever said one. But Mike Browne points out that there are brisk sales of Sir. John A. Macdonald dolls, a new fad sweeping the nation, winning the hearts and minds of Canadians.

Not surprisingly there is no “kung fu grip.” I was only surprised I didn’t hear this from Brock Stephenson who always keeps me abreast of these situations.

Stupid Canadian Defense Dept News - - My god, every single time I read an article on the Canadian Military I shudder to think what I will find. Is it me or is this story completely outrageous and disheartening? Are we the only nation in the world who would do this: “The Canadian Forces has decided to take delivery of $750,000 worth of unsafe grenades, but will only use the devices in the event of war because of the potential they could inadvertently detonate.”

This is completely disgraceful: “The army ordered more than 3,000 of the grenades knowing that there were safety problems and that the device's fuse design was outdated, according to a report produced last September for the defence minister's office and obtained by the Citizen. Military officials had hoped that the problems could be solved, but later determined that the required safety fixes would cost more than $400,000.”

The military spokesman suggests that the defects are bad, but not having the grenades is even worse? They knew they were defective and now they are taking them anyway, and will only use them when our forces need them most. What a joke and as the article points out, we paid for these death traps in 1998. And are only now getting around to collecting them. Shocking.

Why we fight - - The backdrop of today’s posts will point to the savage attacks in Iraq. Two American soldiers were shot, then possibly still alive when they were dragged out of their vehicle and beaten to death in Mosul today by Iraqi teens. Other reports suggest that their throats were also cut.

One blogger, Atrios, suggests that it is “not a good sign.” Jeff Jarvis wonders, “Not a good sign of what? Of the morals of our opponents? Of the depths to which our opponents will stoop? Of the evil of the people who ruled Iraq, whom we ousted?”

I think there is going to be plenty of tough talk and plenty of talk about this being another Somalia, this week in response. Steve Martinovich, the faithful editor of Enter Stage Right gets the ball rolling this evening. “I don't want to sound bloodthirsty but I would have used this as an opportunity to teach Mosul the story about what Rome did to Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War.”

It is completely heart wrenching stuff and the fact that teenagers are capable of doing such a thing goes to show just what a long hard slog we truly are in for. But the fact that some teenagers in Baghdad are even capable of this reveals just what a hateful and disgusting pool of evil we are fighting. And that, more than anything else, must be why we need to fight on.

Related: I think Tom Friedman strikes just the right note on how it is that these attacks must be dealt with. “Which is why Israelis insist that any bus stop blown up by suicide bombers be rebuilt by the next day. Message to suicide bombers: You're dead and we're not afraid. That is the best deterrence.” The rebuilding in Iraq must continue and the rebuilding of places bombed must be doubly quick to be rebuilt and fixed.

More: The other thing about these teenagers and what they have been taught. When the young people are being sold a bill of goods based upon the glorification of terrorizing the Western World then the killing of two U.S. soldiers in such a brutal manner shouldn’t surprise anyone. But the fact that we have come to expect this says something about the nature of our enemies doesn’t it?

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Another Bombing in Iraq - - Suicide bombers killed at least 14 people in Iraq today at two separate police stations.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Go James Go - - Don’t make him angry, you won’t like him when he’s angry. James Lileks unloads, and when I say unloads picture a huge Navy warship launching all of its guns at once, on Jacko, Nightline, American TV producers, Baghdad blogger Salam Pax who some called the Anne Frank or Elvis of the war, and more. It’s definitely a must read today.

Jacko: “Michael Moore is right. There are many Americans who are ignorant of the world around them. And they’re all TV news producers. Two big bombs in Istanbul, and what’s the big story of the day? Following around a pervy slab of albino Play-Doh as he turns himself into the police. I was stunned to discover last night that Nightline not only covered the Jackson case in detail, but bumped coverage of the Whitehall speech, which was the most important speech since the Iraq campaign began and arguably the most important speech of the war, period.”

Nightline: “Nightline, supposedly the Thinking Person’s Late Night Show, was split about whether a repudiation of 50 years of foreign policy was slightly more important than the arrest of a washed-up, crotch-grabbing yee-hee! squeaking nutball who was probably the horrid pedophile everyone already thought he was.”

There is plenty more and well worth the read. The world needs more James Lileks’ out there to help drop the veneer of faux journalism and replace it with logic, passion, and make it worth reading once again.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Bombings in Turkey, Kirkuk - - Another horrific day of bombings in Turkey this morning. 25 are dead, including the British Consul-general, and 400 are wounded. The bombs went off near the British Consulate and at the headquarters of British bank HSBC.

Jack Straw, England’s Foreign Secretary, was already implicating Al Qaeda in the attacks.

And another at the Kurdish political party office in Kirkuk killing 5 and wounding 40.

Tony Blair: “Once again we must affirm that in the face of this terrorism there must be no holding back, no compromise, no hesitation in confronting this menace, in attacking it wherever and whenever we can, and in defeating it utterly.”

“It should not lessen in any way our commitment to Iraq. On the contrary, it shows how important it is to carry on until terrorism is defeated there as well.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2003 Why is Master and Commander so good? - -

Times change. The movie Master and Commander has already been ably discussed by many writers here at Blogcritics. But the thing that was most interesting about the film was just how much of a different world it was in the early 1800’s.

Sure the stirring film is about honor and duty during war but other than discussing its realism and authenticity the film hasn’t taken on the same Saving Private Ryan reflection. After people saw Spielberg’s “Ryan” many of the discussions were how did they do that. And not how did the film makers do that, but how did the soldiers go over than do that. But even in Saving Private Ryan, there were things you could recognize about the 1944 world. Radios, machine guns, landing crafts, aircraft, and telephones among others.

But in Master and Commander there is no Global Positioning system, no laptops, no cell phones, no pagers, no blackberries, no internet, or no 24 hour a day news. No real hint of the shear simplicity of 2003-the things you just don’t have to think about. The complete dearth of communication, for one, is both awesome in its minimalism and frightening at the same time. No Blogcritics too! No spam!

Note: This was an expansion on some themes from the film Master and Commander and my weekly column from Enter Stage Right. You can read the whole article over at

“The Three Pillars” President Bush in London - - I’ve only read it, but by the text I’ve read Mr. Bush was “on.” The speech will go down as the three pillars speech. Clifford May notes: “President Bush's "Three Pillars" speech at Whitehall Palace today may have been the most significant of his presidency. What's more, he was almost as eloquent as Tony Blair. It must be something in the British water - or tea.”

…Friendly, light-hearted jabs at France:

“The last President to stay at Buckingham Palace was an idealist, without question. At a dinner hosted by King George V, in 1918, Woodrow Wilson made a pledge; with typical American understatement, he vowed that right and justice would become the predominant and controlling force in the world.
President Wilson had come to Europe with his 14 Points for Peace. Many complimented him on his vision; yet some were dubious. Take, for example, the Prime Minister of France. He complained that God, himself, had only 10 commandments. (Laughter.) Sounds familiar. (Laughter.)”

…The EU doesn’t have an answer for everything:

“It's been said that those who live near a police station find it hard to believe in the triumph of violence, in the same way free peoples might be tempted to take for granted the orderly societies we have come to know. Europe's peaceful unity is one of the great achievements of the last half-century. And because European countries now resolve differences through negotiation and consensus, there's sometimes an assumption that the entire world functions in the same way. But let us never forget how Europe's unity was achieved -- by allied armies of liberation and NATO armies of defense. And let us never forget, beyond Europe's borders, in a world where oppression and violence are very real, liberation is still a moral goal, and freedom and security still need defenders. (Applause.) “


"Yet the violence we are seeing in Iraq today is serious. And it comes from Baathist holdouts and Jihadists from other countries, and terrorists drawn to the prospect of innocent bloodshed. It is the nature of terrorism and the cruelty of a few to try to bring grief in the loss to many. The armed forces of both our countries have taken losses, felt deeply by our citizens. Some families now live with a burden of great sorrow. We cannot take the pain away. But these families can know they are not alone. We pray for their strength; we pray for their comfort; and we will never forget the courage of the ones they loved.

The terrorists have a purpose, a strategy to their cruelty. They view the rise of democracy in Iraq as a powerful threat to their ambitions. In this, they are correct. They believe their acts of terror against our coalition, against international aid workers and against innocent Iraqis, will make us recoil and retreat. In this, they are mistaken. (Applause.)"

It’s certainly uncontaminated by protestors - - Well at least there is no chance that Britain will “lay in ruin” as that old Monty Python bit once said. Or was it the one about the cheese shop (“It's certainly uncontaminated by cheese....”)? David Frum has a pretty awesome take on the protests that weren’t in London (As Glenn Reynolds reminds us the 1,200 or so that showed up and the promised 100,000 tomorrow are still far less than turned up to protest a hunting ban.) Basically, by the sounds of the people Frum talked to, nothing has changed:

“As slogans go, "Hands Off Nepal" has a lot to recommend it: it's simple, direct - and yet at the same time, touched with a certain exotic romance.

"What's going on in Nepal?" I asked one of the two compact men carrying the banner on which the slogan was painted.

From behind the cloth stepped a good-looking young man in a long blue coat. "A people's resistance movement is battling the Nepalese government." What's that got to do with Iraq and President Bush, I asked him. The United States, he replied, was backing the government.

Oh, I said: "Are you from Nepal?" He replied that he was from Turkey. What about him, I asked, jerking my thumb at one of the banner holders. "He's from Turkey, too."

"Are there, in fact, any Nepalese here at all?" I asked him. "Not as yet, but" - he hastened to assure me - "we are expecting some Nepalese friends later."”


The thinking man’s Cruz Bustamante - - Wow, Virginia Postrel simply unloads on Gov. Howard Dean and any libertarians who are seriously contemplating voting for him in this post. She labels Dean, “thinking man's Cruz Bustamante” for “calling for a sweeping "re-regulation" of the economy.”

She had me at hello until she kicked it up one more notch by suggesting that, “It will be interesting to see how--or if--self-described "libertarians for Dean" respond to his re-regulation campaign. Are they simply looking for an antiwar candidate, and accepting Dean as the best alternative on their top issue? Are they genuinely upset with Bush's less-than-stellar record on issues like free trade, in which case Dean would be worse and should be no more appealing? Or are they just trying to hang with the cool kids?”

Will the Libertarians for Dean jump ship to Lieberman?

Props: Virginia’s a must read and sometimes she simply outdoes herself. She even linked to me when I reviewed her latest book recently. Her publisher was courteous enough to promptly send me a review copy.

Welcome to Dispatches - - Darren Kaplan was nice enough to send his loyal readers over here to Dispatches in case they needed something extra while he was out for a day. Thanks for dropping by. I hope you enjoy.

So make sure you come back often. Thanks Darren. Much appreciated.

He also linked to this charming blog, “Murdoch Online” which seems to be named for the wonderful A-Team character, Howling Mad Murdoch and the interesting Blackfive: The Paratrooper of Love. So drink your milk and go check them out too fools!

Quote of the Day - - Great new Austin Bay article this morning. And if you’re not already reading him, you should be! Here’s the choice quote:

“Another theme isn't so important, but it's worth noting. The leftish teeth-gnashers will never get it. The figment utopias they tout can't be challenged by difficult facts. The green-cheese moons they detect orbit their own weightless imaginations, and the gravity of down-to-Earth decision, particularly when it comes to defending liberty, exerts little pull. Hence, the rhetorical hokum they spew that Bush is "more dangerous than bin Laden."

Ironically, the Euromissile Crisis proved to be the last big political battle of the Cold War. In 1989, the Berlin Wall cracked, and the communists' workers' paradise was exposed for the Red Fascist hell it always was.”

Related: As Bush meets in England with Tony B (that’s my new cool street cred name for Mr. Blair – You see “TB” wasn’t very cool, so Tony B it is. I also thought Tony British but that is longer than the orginal) there are some funny reactions in the Guardian.

“Dear President Bush,

I'm sure you'll be having a nice little tea party with your fellow war criminal, Tony Blair. Please wash the cucumber sandwiches down with a glass of blood, with my compliments.
Harold Pinter

Fool. Everyone knows that Bush likes Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches.

Good & Bad, High & Low - - There wasn’t any posting yesterday. Mostly because I was tired. On Monday night I had the pleasure of seeing my friend Chris’s band The Years play a absolutely rocking show. The “no punk, no indie” show was indeed all rock and roll. My friends from BKS-Crew Productions and filmmaking buddy Mark and his new friend Michelle all seemed to enjoy.

The only problem was that when I returned to my car later that evening, my driver’s side window had been smashed. Thankfully the stupid crack addicts didn’t take anything of value to me. My bag remained intact as well as my stereo and music. Nice work clowns.

It’s a good thing my car gets broken into about once a year it seems or might start getting soft on some issues. Like hard core drug legalization, or even the new “safe injection site” that started in Vancouver a month or so ago. I also get to appreciate that there is so many break ins of vehicles that now you don’t have to call the police or call the insurance company. Just go to a certified glass place. Glad that’s been made so simple, not. At least they should give the appearance of caring about this problem, shouldn’t they?

Monday, November 17, 2003

Here’s a typically useless editorial from the Toronto Star - - Headlined, “Curb Iraq's slide into total anarchy” this editorial is today’s big Toronto Star contribution to the war in Iraq.

“U.S. President George Bush promised Iraqis freedom, peace and prosperity when he decided to topple Saddam Hussein's regime. And some things are going right. Oil is flowing again. The lights are back on. Schools, hospitals, courts are functioning. So is a free press. The wreckage of war is slowly being cleared away.

But that is not nearly enough to show for a $150-billion invasion and occupation that cost the lives of 13,000 Iraqi and almost 500 allies. Saddam is still on the loose. Some 5,000 Baathist loyalists are harassing U.S. troops. And the country is sliding into anarchy and despair.”

I suppose it should be progress that instead of suggesting the war was wrong in the first place, it at least tries to be fair. But it is not. The entire country is not sliding into anarchy though. It’s certainly not as bad as this according to The New York Times’
John Burns who Andrew Sullivan calls “our Orwell.” (And upon reflection of reading both these pieces again, you can see that the editorial staff more than likely read this article, then voila here’s our editorial. Thanks for the effort…)

But if things are sliding into chaos, why do the Iraqi’s feel that true chaos will only come if the Americans leave?
“Gesturing toward the smoking hulk of the headquarters where at least 19 Italians and 13 Iraqis died, I asked the crowds if they thought America and its allies should pack up and go home. In the clamor that followed, I asked for quiet so that each man and boy could speak his mind. Unscientific as the poll was, the sentences that flowed expressed a common belief.

‘No, no!’ one man said. ‘If the Americans go, it will be chaos everywhere.’ Another shouted, ‘There would be a civil war.’”

I don’t want to simplify things, but that is the sense I get. That things are bad, better in the area outside the Sunni Triangle, there is hope, and that the only thing that will guarantee a slide into anarchy will be the absence of U.S. troops. But who could have thought otherwise?

Some problems when waging major war today - - One theme I tried, clumsily to be sure, to spell out in my new ESR Column was that waging war today is especially difficult. Why? Well, before you can even finish, the situation and rules change, quickly.

Victor Davis Hanson makes the case slightly better than I: “This rule of postmodern war? Before the cameras, the auditors, and the UN converge, before terrified fleeing soldiers are reborn as emboldened terrorists, before embedded reporters leave and investigative journalists arrive, and before victorious and unapologetic soldiers are asked to be peacekeepers, sociologists, and humanitarians, the military must finish the destruction of enemy forces in the unforgiving minute. After all, a colonel who blows apart an Iraqi Baathist in April might win a medal, but if in October he shoots a round off near a terrorist suspect's head to save the lives of his men, he can expect a court martial.”

And he has plenty more to say too.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Movie themes continue - - Last week I wrote about the “Michael Moore Matrix” so it is only fitting that this week I write about “Master and Commander”. My Enter Stage Right column this week, “Far Sides of the World”tries to bridge some territory between the film and what it’s like to rebuild Iraq in today’s world.

“The first thing you notice in the new film "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" is that the faceless, ruthless, and treacherous enemy is none other than the good ole French. Isn't it always the French these days? But it is just a film after all.

The film isn't just about the French. Yet while watching the movie one starts to wonder what the world of author Patrick O'Brian would have looked like had it included a few Michael Moores, the U.N., pesky international law, the modern Press Corps, France, and everything else that makes the situation in Iraq seem terribly difficult today.” [Read More]

The big story non-story - - Andrew Sullivan is all over this leaked memo story that The Weekly Standard is covering detailing the connections between Saddam and al Qaeda. It very interesting stuff, and is already being dismissed by some. This should be big news this week. Comments to follow.

Bush in London Quote of the day - - You knew it was coming. A Mark Steyn reference. And he has a doozy in his new column about the Bush visit, and the welcome party the protestors are planning on rolling out: “As to the derangement of the crowd, they are impervious to reason. After two years of warnings from clapped-out Arabists that the incendiary "Arab street" was about to explode in anti-American rage across the Middle East, it remains as unrousable as ever. Instead, it is the explosive European street that remains implacably pro-Saddam, pro-Yasser, pro-jihad, pro-Taliban misogynist homophobes, pro-anyone as long as they are anti-American.”


Double standards abound - - At least one person is rolling out the red carpet as President Bush visits London. David Aaronovitch is kind of all over the map in the oped, but there are some choice parts:

“The double standards here are obvious but worth a reminder. During the week anti-Bush protesters will, we're told, be splashing red paint to symbolise the spilled blood of the people of Iraq. No such red paint was splashed around London after Halabja, after the 1991 Shia and Kurdish uprisings or during the Iran-Iraq war, almost as if that were not real Iraqi blood. Blood, after all, is only blood if Americans spill it.

No crimson splotches were created during the state visit of Romanian tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu in 1978, a visit which - because of Romania's semi-dissident position in the Soviet bloc - suited both cold warriors and sections of the Left. Earlier this year the Chechnya-enmired President Putin escaped almost any kind of demonstration.”


“But our enemy is not America. It isn't America that gives the most effective support to Sharonic intransigence - it's Israeli insecurity that does that. It isn't America that sends ambulances to blow up aid workers or Istanbul synagogues. It is America, above all, that is bearing the cost of helping to create a new Iraq - a new Iraq which, despite the violence, is being born in towns such as Hilla and cities such as Basra. And yet some of our writers and protesters - betraying their own professed ideals - identify with bombers and not teachers, administrators and policemen who are building the country.

Where is the red paint to protest against the blasts at Najaf, of the UN in Baghdad, of the Red Cross, of the synagogues, of the Bali night-club, of the Arab-Jewish restaurant in Haifa? Where are the 'No Suicide Bombings' posters in the Muswell Hill windows? Or do you really believe we can save ourselves by constructing a huge wall around these islands, or around America, and painting it with smileys? That maybe then the ills of the world will leave us alone?”

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Tonight’s Required Four-Star Reading - - If you read one thing this week make a date to read Austin Bay’s latest. It is the best defense for all the self doubt about the war this week. Basically get over it:

“Winning a war is difficult. Ask the World War II generation.

Every experienced strategist understands warfare is, at its most basic level, a clash of human wills. The motive will of a man who spends years preparing to smash a jet into a skyscraper is large in big letters. His cohorts are betting that America is a sitcom nation with a short attention span. We'll change channels, cut and run.

Mature Americans recognize that everyone has a leadership role, especially in times of crisis. The cooperation and common trust demonstrated by Americans evacuating the World Trade Center not only saved thousands of lives, it was indicative of America's capacity for individual leadership.

Self-critique is one thing, the acid of self-doubt spurred by lies is something else. It's time for every American to be a leader, to bury these lies -- from unilateralism, to quagmire, to "no one told us" -- and get on with the hard business of winning the War on Terror.”

This is cutting and running? - - Oliver Willis who clearly is an excellent and entertaining writer should maybe think about sticking to the good fun stuff and leave the big issues to people who’s judgment isn’t clouded by rabid anti-Bush Deanism.

From this AP story, Willis jumps to “It appears to me that President Bush is about to make the worst and most dangerous decision of his administration. My read on the sudden push to have the Iraqis run things themself screams "exit strategy". The problem is, in no way have the Iraqis demonstrated that they are able to run things for themself, and we haven't exactly done such a great job with our heavy-handedness.

Isn't cutting the amount of troops in Iraq giving the Saddam loyalists/rebels/insurgents exactly what they want? It's sort of like how we plan to move soldiers out of Saudi Arabia, which was one of Bin Laden's demands of us.”

“Under the pressure of increasing U.S. deaths in battle, President Bush said Thursday the United States wants Iraqis to take more responsibility for governing their troubled country and said coalition forces are determined to prevail over terrorists.”

I don’t get it. Did we read a different AP report? Are things going badly? Maybe. Are they difficult, tough? Yes. Should we be giving the Iraqis a bigger stake in this? Absolutely.

A few weeks ago, it was that we weren’t handing over power fast enough. Now that the administration is pushing it, they call it cutting and running. It’s an outrageous bait and switch.

First, wasn’t it just yesterday that Willis was suggesting that so-called war bloggers and chicken hawks are incapable of supporting this war. “Here's the point, and it doesn't take a brain surgeon to get it: the people who are supporting and encouraging a war of first-strike aggression are the same people who didn't/aren't serving. Do you have to have been in the military to support or oppose war? No. But the usual way things go in America is that we don't attack and invade others. The desk jockey warrior class thinks its okay to upend this - and why not? It's not like they have to go fight it. That one or two or five of the warbloggers actually serve or have friends/family that serve does not change the thrust of this concept.”

You know, we should all be enlisting. But if I can’t comment or endorse this war, then he shouldn’t be able to make comments on exit strategy or troop strength. If the Pentagon says they have enough, or need less, or different troops they probably know best. And as Lileks breaks it down this whole attitude is nonsense. “I was worried that if I did write about the war, and urge courage and steadfastness, I would be branded one of those chickenbloggers, a phrase that’s going around the blog-world once more. Really? I have to fight before I can express my opinion? That’s like saying I have to live in Antarctica to draw penguins.” Amen.

What we have to assume from here on out is that no matter what happens, no matter what we do, no matter how we do it. There will be people who will undermine it at every opportunity. Reality or no, they want to see Bush fail. I want to see him and the Iraqi people win, and if I have to give criticism sometimes then so be it. But let's just try to offer informative and useful criticism for a change.

Lileks always gets his man – - Thankfully James Lileks got around to dealing with Michael Moore this evening. Thank goodness. First he has some thoughts on Ted Rall:

“Eh. The French have a saying: his head, it is filled with urine. Or they should have such a saying; I’m sure it would sound elegant and dismissive. These people aren’t the loyal opposition anymore; they’re just the opposition. They may say they love America, but they love some idealized nonexistent America that can never exist as long as there’s individuality and free will. They’re like people who say they love women and beat their wife because she doesn’t look like the Playboy centerfold. I’m sick of the lot of them.”

Then Michael Moore gets a few choice shots across his bow:

“Show Michael Moore a man in jeans holding a rake and a man in a suit with a briefcase, and he will not only automatically side with the guy who has the rake, he will assume that the briefcase contains plans to move the rake factory to Mexico, as well as documents that prove the company knew that its rakes gave people painful splinters at a rate 150% above EU standards. That’s what Moore sees. Could be true. Or the guy with the briefcase could be someone who runs a lawn-care company, and the guy with the rake is a parolee who did six years for murder, found Christ, and got hired when he met the CEO in the church basement for coffee after services. Could be true. But even if the latter is true in the specific example, Moore is sure it’s wrong in the greater sense.”

Damn he’s good.

What was the war about? - - Andrew Sullivan has a great comparison on the rationales for war today:

"President Bush sketched an expansive vision last night [at his American Enterprise Institute speech] of what he expects to accomplish by a war in Iraq. Instead of focusing on eliminating weapons of mass destruction, or reducing the threat of terror to the United States, Mr. Bush talked about establishing a 'free and peaceful Iraq' that would serve as a 'dramatic and inspiring example' to the entire Arab and Muslim world, provide a stabilizing influence in the Middle East and even help end the Arab-Israeli conflict. The idea of turning Iraq into a model democracy in the Arab world is one some members of the administration have been discussing for a long time." -- New York Times editorial, February 27, 2003.

"The White House recently began shifting its case for the Iraq war from the embarrassing unconventional weapons issue to the lofty vision of creating an exemplary democracy in Iraq." -- New York Times editorial, today.

I’ll tell you what won’t help matters - - Last night I was pretty grumpy about the situation. But after reading the columns and stuff in my last post I am more sure than ever that the situation is again being completely misunderstood by the media, and the anti-war crowd who could care less about what happens in Iraq.

This morning’s New York Times editorial is more of the same. “A much better way to manage the process would be to transfer political authority to a newly created United Nations administration. Constitutional development and election supervision are areas where the U.N. has built-in legitimacy and experience. Creating a U.N. administration for Iraq could also help attract more international peacekeeping troops to relieve America's overstrained forces — a need made even more urgent by yesterday's attack on the Italians. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has never had much support at home for keeping troops in Iraq and may now face calls for withdrawing the more than 2,000 Italians in Iraq.”

This is the last thing the Iraqis need. The UN is no ultimate panacea here, and where would these magical international troops come from? It is clear that the opposition forces in Iraq don’t care who they bomb –Americans, Italians, Iraqis, the Red Cross, the UN- since they only want to return Saddam to power, or worse set up a terrorist state anew.

As an aside, one of the reasons I’m not as gloomy as I was yesterday is that things are not that bad. Michael Ubaldi has a wonderful round-up of ideas about the situation, what reconstruction in Japan was like, and why the CIA report which was revealed yesterday is yet another probable example of the problems of intelligence. “The continuing attacks by secular and fundamentalist terrorists are frustrating, destructive and disheartening, but the recent CIA report that's sure to be waved in the president's face for days to come is drenched in the same systemic bigotry that our intelligence agency has always harbored. To wit: Third World peoples will take violence, poverty and tyranny over a good job in a nice neighborhood any day of the week. Unquestionably, the problem of terrorists themselves gaining confidence from insufficient Allied pressure is obvious even to a layman like myself, and being corrected.”

It’s really good stuff. And the situation, like reconstructions before Iraq, is messy as hell. The American troops are paying an intolerable price, and baring a huge burden. But they are the most qualified force in the world, to do the hard hunting for Saddam, to fight the insurgent forces and growing threats. One thing I think Bush should start doing is giving foreign policy stump speeches all over the world. He should start by going through Europe, and then into the heart of the Middle East. They need to hear his words, the greater plans for freedom and their power. None of what I’m saying is denial. Denial is wishing we never went to Iraq.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly - - I wasn’t going to get around to anything tonight. Everywhere I turned there were long lists of things that sparked my interest, but that I didn’t think I could add anything to the debate. Well that ends, now.

When James Lileks leaves scarcely coded messages that apparently only Michael Moore is supposed to be capable of translating. Too bad Mr. Moore is too busy talking about how wonderful his round the world trip was on his website, or how popular his new book is. I really thought the Patriot Act or some Ashcroft provision was supposed to silence this guy?

“All over America, this is what I saw on the tour: Tens of thousands of average Americans who don't like their commander-in-chief lying to them in order to start a war. Not a night went by where I didn't have parents or siblings of soldiers in Iraq coming up to me, many of them in tears, pleading with me to "do something" to help bring their loved ones home from this war without end. It was heart-wrenching, and I never knew quite what to say except to tell them that they were not alone and that all of us are doing our best to get rid of George W. Bush. But that's a year away. How many more of our children will be sent to their deaths for another no-bid multi-billion dollar Halliburton contract in the next 12 months?”

Well at least we finally know what the people who bought Mikey’s new book think about the war. I wasn’t clear about it. Glad he set that straight. In other news, Michael Moore’s ghost of Christmas Past (as played by Gore Vidal) was trying out his new Moore routine in an interview with LA Weekly.

Q: “So if George W. Bush or John Ashcroft had been around in the early days of the republic, they would have been indicted and then hanged by the Founders?”
GORE: “No. It would have been better and worse. [Laughs.] Bush and Ashcroft would have been considered so disreputable as to not belong in this country at all. They might be invited to go down to Bolivia or Paraguay and take part in the military administration of some Spanish colony, where they would feel so much more at home. They would not be called Americans — most Americans would not think of them as citizens.”

Or you could read Ted Rall’s latest for the deeper insight of what Mr. Moore is really talking about. I read this earlier and I turned my laptop off. That doesn’t happen very often, perhaps ever.

“It is no easy thing to shoot or blow up young men and women because they wear American uniforms. Indeed, the soldiers are themselves oppressed members of America's vast underclass. Many don't want to be here; joining America's mercenary army is the only way they can afford to attend university. Others, because they are poor and uneducated, do not understand that they are being used as pawns in Dick Cheney (news - web sites)'s cynical oil war. Unfortunately, we can't help these innocent U.S. soldiers. They are victims, like ourselves, of the bandits in Washington. Nor can we disabuse them of the propaganda that an occupier isn't always an oppressor. We regret their deaths, but we must continue to kill them until the last one has gone home to America... In this vein we must also take action against our own Iraqi citizens who choose to collaborate with the enemy. Bush wants to put an "Iraqi face" on the occupation. If we allow the Americans to corrupt our friends and neighbors by turning them into puppet policemen and sellouts, our independence will be lost forever. If someone you know is considering taking a job with the Americans, tell him that he is engaging in treason and encourage him to seek honest work instead. If he refuses, you must kill him as a warning to other weak-minded individuals... To victory!”

Now see what I’m talking about? This wasn’t a pleasant piece. Say what you will about what we are doing in Iraq, but encouraging no one to try to work to build a better Iraq is absolute insanity. Andrew Sullivan doesn’t think much of Ted Rall and his little buddies either:

“After 9/11, I was roundly criticized for daring to suggest that there were some people in America who wanted the terrorists to win. But if you read Ted Rall and others, there can be no mistake. There is a virulent strain of anti-Americanism in this country. Some, like Rall, are now urging the murder of American troops in defense of Islamist terrorists and the acolytes of one of the most brutal dictators in history. Ann Coulter couldn't invent something this depraved. That's where parts of the left have now come to reside. It's as sad as it is sickening.”

Couple these three deeply entrenched people in the Michael Moore Army with the onslaught of bad news coming out of Iraq you’d probably want to throw your poor laptop out the window. (Shhhh…I didn’t mean that Laptop buddy…)

David Adesnik echoes closely what I’m feeling. “For the first time in six months, the news coming out of Iraq has given me that bad feeling in my gut. Above all, I am dismayed by the apparent conclusions of a top secret CIA report which asserts that the people of Iraq are losing faith in America's commitment to stay the course, thus creating a more secure base of support for the Ba'athist insurgency.”

Perhaps that overstates it. The Italians got their first taste of the terrorist nexus today in Iraq, and Saudi Arabia is getting it now too, well at least as only our “friends” the Saudi’s can. But there is good news if you’re willing to find it.

Operation Iron Hammer is taking the fight right to the terrorists in Baghdad with vengeance. And plenty of other stuff from the Winds of Change Iraq Briefing today.
And Bob Arnot reporting all week for MSNBC’s “Hardball” is striking and a good way to wrap this long, long post.

“Arnot: “Chris, from what you see on TV from Baghdad, you’d think that, with the mortars and rockets, that this was a city under siege. Nothing could be further from the truth in many neighborhoods. Look at this. They’ve even painted the flower and tree boxes by the side of the street. They have late-model Mercedes and BMWs. Traffic is not much of a problem right here, right now. But during the day, they actually have a million more cars on the streets. You have lots of trucks coming in from Kuwait and Jordan with all kinds of products, some of it just fresh here out on the street. The latest model shoes, fashionable ones. They have posters here of all the rock stars. You can get a parka. A nice-looking shirt for your kids here. And look at the quality of the shops. Now, gold you can get here for a very reasonable price. This is 21-karat gold. And they have beautiful necklaces, bracelets, rings here, high-quality. Security is good enough that they can leave this window open the way that it is. Watches, some of them even from Switzerland, some of the latest models here.”

'04 Journal: Managing Kerry Down the Stretch - - "Is it safe to assume that at least one Democratic Presidential hopeful has probably jumped the shark already? Sen. John Kerry’s campaign for president is a walking and talking metaphor for near imminent failure. Phrases like “on life support” and “rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic” are heard early, and seemingly often. The campaign is in such a complete state of turmoil that it might even give states of turmoil a bad name." [Read More here.]

Update: Already John Kerry is trying to get tough.
The Arizona Republic has this juicy quote: "If I saw someone burning the flag, I'd punch them in the mouth because I love the flag, but the Constitution that I fought for preserves the right of free expression." Is this a case of letting Kerry be Kerry? Time will tell.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

coverVimy - -

Chapter 1: “Ten Thousand Thunders”

It is probable that with the exception of the Krakatoa explosion of 1883, in all of history no human ears have ever been assaulted by the intensity of sound produced by the artillery barrage that launched the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917.

In the years that followed, the survivors would struggle to describe that shattering moment when 983 artillery pieces and 150 machine guns barked in unison to launch the first British victory in thirty-two months of frustrating warfare. All agreed that for anyone not present that dawn at Vimy it was not possible to comprehend the intensity of the experience. The shells and bullets hurtling above the trenches formed a canopy of red-hot steel just above the heads of the advancing troops – a canopy so dense that any Allied airplane flying too low exploded like a clay pigeon. At least four machines were destroyed that morning by their own guns.

The wall of sound, like ten thousand thunders, drowned out men’s voices and smothered the skirl of the pipes – the Highland regiments’ wistful homage to a more romantic era. It was as if a hundred express trains were roaring overhead….

Chapter 2: “A Ribbon of Deadly Stealth”

Even in 1985, old men in their nineties, veterans of Vimy, asked to describe the mud and the lice, the filth and the rats, could only shake their heads and say, “You had to be there. It’s not possible to describe it to somebody who wasn’t.”

You could, if you wished, recreate something approaching the trench life in Flanders during those years. You could dig in your backyard a ditch about eight feet deep, fill it during a rainstorm with two feet of thick clay mud, and then crouch in it, day and night, for a week, living on tinned bully beef, a few slices of mouldy bread or hardtack, and plum jam. Yet even if you filled the ditch with live rats and infested it with so many lice that your shirt crawled, it would still be pale counterfeit of the real thing. The ceaseless rumble of guns, the crack of bullets overhead, the crump of trench mortars, the stench of mangled bodies, and the command on certain nights to emerge from your filthy hole and crawl in terror across No Man’s Land – these cannot be simulated.

Nor can the uncertainty. Any healthy young man can survive a few days in a ditch, but four years? A week in a ditch, a week out, bored to death, committed to back-breaking toil, with only a little leave, no chance of seeing home and family and no idea when it would all end – this was the lot of those who survived. Small wonder that they did not attempt to describe the indescribable….

These are exerpts from Pierre Berton’s excellent book, Vimy. My father and I have been reading, and rereading, this book for years. The book details the Canadian Corps victory at Vimy and answers the question of. "How could an army of civilians from a nation with no military tradition secure the first enduring victory in thirty-two months of warfare with only 10,000 casualties, when the French had lost 150,000 men in thier unsuccessful attempt?" See more on Vimy, here. And has a good site here.

More Remembrance Day - - The Globe and Mail does a fairly good job of squaring the past and present. And The Ottawa Citizen is excellent today:

“The young men and women who went to war nearly 90 years ago did not think of what they were doing as nation-building, of course, but that was indubitably the result. And for that reason alone we must never forget them, or those who fought and died in the Second World War, the Korean War -- of which this year marks the 50th anniversary of its end -- or any of our post-war conflicts, including Afghanistan. It matters not that the Great War veterans have nearly passed into the pages of history because, in a certain sense, they remain alive as long as we remain a nation.

That, finally, is why we must remember them -- not simply to honour them for their sacrifice, but to remind ourselves that there is more to being a citizen than paying taxes, and much more to a nation than being a nice place to live.”

Also check out Mark Steyn today. “In our time, mass slaughter occurs only in places where the West refuses to act - in the Sudan or North Korea - or acts only under the contemptible and corrupting rules of UN "peacekeeping", as at Srebrenica. In Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere, technological advantage changes the moral calculus: it makes war the least worst option, the moral choice. At the 11th hour of the 11th day, we should remember those who died in the Great War, but recognise that it could never be "the war to end all wars" and never should.”

Meanwhile Damian Penny picks up on Claire Hoy’s oped today detailing the charming actions of some university students who have banned Remembrance Day ceremonies from campus.

Here’s Hoy: “How dare they? Do they never wonder how it is they enjoy the privileges they do? Does it not occur to them that without the Pte. Berrys of this world, they would not be free to demonstrate their appalling ignorance to the world without serious consequences from the state?

Can we not expect university students, of all people, to understand the difference between glorification and respect? On the positive side, however, a few students, who do understand what previous generations sacrificed, openly defied the ban and staged their own Remembrance Day ceremony.

It used to be that every school child in Canada was taught to respect Remembrance Day. Not now.”

What a joke! And Penny adds, “For the past few years - long before September 11, really - we have been at war with people who are not just indifferent toward dying, but openly want to die for their twisted religious beliefs. They are the real warmongers, and they will not stop until the entire world is living under their vision of a pure, "Islamic" state. If I had a choice in the matter, I'd wish they'd all just disappear so we wouldn't have to fight them. But that's not going to happen, not even if we acede to every single one of their current demands. (Such appeasement, of course, would lead to the second anti-Jewish Holocaust in six decades, and unprecedented totalitarianism. Some might be okay with that, but I'm not.)”

Remembrance Day 2003 - - It's early here on the West Coast, and the preparations for today's Remembrance Day ceremony down in Victoria Park across from here the preparations are already underway. Remembrance Day is day to remember all those who have given their lives in past wars, those who fough, survived and came home, and those who are serving today. With so many troops throughout the world fighting today, it is very important to remember. It seems everytime around the 11th people wonder if we do still Remember, and there are probably people who do not.

World War I (1914-1918) - More than 600,000 soldiers volunteered to go overseas. As of November 2003, Veterans Affairs Canada reported that only 11 of these soldiers were still alive. By the end of the war, 69,000 Canadian soldiers had died and 172,000 were wounded.

World War II (1939-1945) - "More than one million men and women from Canada and Newfoundland served in combat in the army, air force and navy. More than 45,000 men and women did not come home from that battle for freedom. As of November 2003, 293,000 veterans from this world war were alive, with an average age of 81."

Korean War (1950-1953) - 26,791 Canadians served and 516 died.

And there have been thousands serving in various spots around the globe since the end of Korea, including those currently on duty in Afghanistan today.

See more over at the The Memory Project

Monday, November 10, 2003

A Mighty Wind - - Posting will be light until later tonight, then down right massive in the next 24 hours. But first, tonight, I am going to check out the live version of “A Mighty Wind” here in town. Eugene Levy live, can there be anything better? There will be a full review later both here and at Blog Critics, so stay tuned!

Sunday, November 09, 2003

ESR is back! Get the new Issue while it’s hot! - - Well friends, Enter Stage Right after a brief shortage is back with a vengeance. I have two articles in this week’s issue and there is plenty of great content so feel free to go hither and read all about it.

If you like what you see, please make a donation to ESR through the Paypal on the website today! The more you donate the more secure and lively ESR will become. I don’t ask for cash very often so please feel free to give generously! Donate Early and Often!

Start off with my two new articles:

”Iraq is not Vietnam” was originally written last week and is now online! “If the last couple of weeks are any indication it is going to be a very bumpy ride transforming Iraq into the Middle East's first true birthplace of freedom outside of Israel. The truth is that there are many people who are trying to prevent Iraq from becoming free and democratic. There are many more, including the U.N., who are ready to cut and run at the first sign of danger long before the job is finished…” [Read the whole article]

Then you can check out my new piece ”Fighting the Michael Moore Matrix” “If you willed yourself to see the new Matrix film this past week you'll probably wonder what happened to the franchise. Why in the words of Matt Feeney, writing in, did, ‘The Wachowski brothers, moved by some inscrutable nerd-muse, apparently decided that the one glaring flaw of the original Matrix, besides the whole superfluous Matrix thing, was that it didn't feel enough like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.’
If you think I included that quote because it not only sums up the fatal flaw of the once promising trilogy but drops a quaint Star Trek reference you're almost right. But there is a point.” [Read the whole article]

Seriously, Star Trek and Matrix references! Hello! Donate and help out the ESR team. Thank you! The more you donate the more I’ll ramble on about things totally unrelated to politics while still talking politics.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Bush’s Mid-East Vision - - President Bush’s speech today outlining the broader vision of the future of the Middle East was nothing short of incredible.

“Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe - and in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty." [Read the whole speech here]

More Coverage: Daniel Drezner’s post on the speech with plenty of reactions from his readers.

Jonah Goldberg likes what he saw too. “How many millions of people had no idea that Churchill's speeches to Parliament in the 1930s would be so historic? How many millions were oblivious to the Four Freedoms speech? Or the Gettysburg address? Whether you think his ideas are monstrous or monumental, one thing's assured: your children will be reading about this speech in school. Mark my words. The rudder of the American ship of state has moved sharply, changing the direction of world history. I believe for the better.”

Darren Kaplan adds, “This is new and what Bush is saying is that bringing democracy to the Middle East is now the primary foreign policy goal of the United States. Forget all those who claimed the concept of "preemption" as the Bush strategy against terror. Bush has now fully embraced freedom and democracy as the only thing worth fighting for in the Middle East. He’s also signaling to Europe and the rest of the world that some of them are on the wrong side of this fight and that they need to lead, follow or get out of the way.”

Double Secret Extra Special Bonus: I think this bunch of comments and ideas at Instapundit this afternoon are worth a serious look too. “What year is it? Well, really, of course, it's 2003, and historical analogies are of only so much use. But everyone keeps talking as if it's 1946. But what if it's, in a sense, 1943? What if the Iraq war is just the opening phase? After all, Saudi Arabia is the true source of worldwide Islamist terror. And -- like Germany and Japan in 1943 -- it hasn't been invaded yet.”

The Heavies - - Start with Mark Steyn who proclaims that Europeans are “worse than cockroaches.”

The simply enjoy that Mickey Kaus has found a wonderful new project, “Krugman Gotcha Contest can begin. A prize, to be announced, for the kf reader who comes up with the gloom-and-doom opinion from the fabled Princeton economist's recent writings that now looks the most embarrassingly wrong.” What fun that will be…

And you simply have to catch up with Christopher Hitchens. “We are fighting for very large principles, in other words, and for extremely high stakes. And yes, part of the proof of this is the horror and terror and misery involved. Only a few months ago, the first elected president of Serbia, Zoran Djindjic, was shot down in the street by the alliance of mafiosi and ethnic fascists who constitute the legacy of Slobodan Milosevic. That gruesome reverse took place years after Milosevic himself had been put under arrest (and only a short while after the corpse of his murdered predecessor, Ivan Stambolic, had been finally unearthed). But do you want to try and imagine what former Yugoslavia would look like now if there had not been an international intervention (postponed and hobbled by the United Nations) to arrest the process of aggression and ethnocide?”

Task Force 121 - - News that the U.S. has a special covert commando unit whose sole mission is to hunt for Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and other key terrorists throughout the region.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Meanwhile South of the border… - - On Howard Dean patrol is Byron York wondering if the Gov’s Confederate flag comments will be a footnote in a Dean nomination, or the point where he jumped the shark.

Here’s a wonderful summation of the best attack on Dean for this last night, by Dan Conley (via Political Wire): “These debates are always an eye of the beholder phenomenon, but I think the Sharpton-Edwards tag team was piece of tactical genius by those guys. Sharpton attacks from the black point of view, Edwards has the back of the sick-of-the-Hee-Haw slurs Southern whites.”

Plus Conley adds, “I have no idea who might have ‘won’ this thing, but I did come away from it with a more favorable impression of Wes Clark, despite that Presidential candidate from Star Trek outfit he had on.” (Extra double props for the Trek reference!)

More: Rich Lowry is on the “Deanwatch” too after he outlined the Dean foreign policy, a glimpse of the ‘Dean Doctrine’, as Dean going to Paris to apologize for toppling Saddam. He’s gotten a mailbag full of emails calling him a media whore.

Here’s the source Mr. Lowry is using: “Before I am inaugurated I will go to Europe and begin the process of healing the wounds caused by this president's ineptness and rudeness,” Dean told AFP during a campaign swing through Iowa. “We're not going to have a healing of the trans-Atlantic alliance as long as this president is in office,” the former Vermont governor said, adding that he would also go to “other key capitals around the world."

There you are, the ‘Dean Doctrine’.

NRO Debating Future of Right in Canada - - Over at National Review Online National Post Editorial Board Member Adam Daifallah and Windsor Star Editorial Writer Michael Taube have a debate about the possibility of a merger between Canada’s two conservative parties.

I read them both. Whether they merge, or don’t, one thing is clear from this locale way, and I mean way, outside of the Ottawa beltway. Paul Martin should be the next Prime Minister. (For those of you not familiar he ain’t got nothing to do with the conservatives – but the fact that he probably loathes our current P.M. more than most conservatives is worth noting). Neither argument mentioned leadership. It’s the only thing that matters since we don’t really elect anyone but a two-bit King here. The axiom for the new party should be, “It’s the leadership, stupid.”

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

The Democratic Rock the Vote Debate - - One more post tonight. I’m watching (fine listening) the repeat of the debate. Here is your, in honor of rockn’ the vote, really bad Haiku debate talking points. What a bleeding fiasco. A debate? Hardly. Read if you dare. Haiku ain’t my strong point but it’s as useful as the Rock the Vote Debate.

“Crackpot Talking”
Kucinich talking
What in the hell’s he talking about?
Cut and run from Iraq.

“Shooting Ketchup”
Dean just said ‘buck shot’
Ketchup Kerry eats what he kills
Someone needs high heat.

“Gone but not forgotten”
Never thought I’d say
Debate without Gephardt
And I missed him.

“Party On”
Nine kids on the stage
Who would you want to party with
Kerry’s wife and Al.

Billions and Billions and “exabytes?” - - I was out with a couple of dudes this evening, so my grandiose plans for posting was, er, put on the back burner. But this article by Timothy Noah was just plain interesting:

“OK, ready? The total volume of information saved in 2002—most of it on hard disks—is 5 exabytes (i.e., 5,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes). Per capita, that's 800 megabytes saved—imagine a stack of books 30 feet high—for every person in the world.

But that's peanuts compared to the 18 exabytes of information communicated electronically—most of it by telephone—during the same period. All told, then, we can account for at least 23 exabytes of information communicated one way or another in 2003.

Of course, nearly all of it was worthless. But it's comforting to imagine that somewhere in those 23 exabytes lies a Great Idea.”

I can probably almost certainly guarantee you that the great Idea isn’t hiding here. Or is it?

Monday, November 03, 2003

cover cover
Media: RWN interview with Bernard Goldberg - - Excellent interview between RWN’s John Hawkins and former CBS news dude and now author Bernard Goldberg. Too much interesting stuff to talk about. But anytime you get a reference to WWE’s Mick Foley into a serious debate about media criticism we call that a home run.

The 9/11 Election - - Andrew Sullivan is particularly inspiring tonight too. (Hell, you should probably just bypass Dispatches tonight, go directly to Sully and Jarvis, do not pass go, do not collect $200) What, you’re still here? Okay fine. Let me break down a few items for you.

Okay, very funny people what happened to Rep. Gephardt? They guy has seriously found his mojo during this campaign. I don’t agree with him on everything but increasingly he is sane and surprisingly good on the war.

“We have to prevail," Mr. Gephardt told reporters. "We have to bring democracy to Iraq. We cannot fail. If you think Afghanistan was a terrorist training camp, you wait. If you leave Iraq, it will be a terrorist training camp the likes of which would make Afghanistan look simple. In our own deep self-interest, to prevent future acts of terrorism, we have to succeed."

Sure that quote was preceded by requisite Bush criticism, but I think I’ll go out on a limb and say Gephardt gets it. Sullivan is predicting a horse race between Dean and Dick. See Dick Run. Run Dick Run. Beat Dean.

Sullivan also has an excellent letter and response on the increasing Democrats for Bush and what the next US election might be about. .

“The issue next November will not be: were we wrong to go after Saddam? It will be: what would either candidate do now? How do we maintain pressure on the threats that beset us? Do we decide that Bush's policy is fundamentally mistaken, that we are not as much at risk as we thought, that we can return to what John Kerry has called a "law enforcement" approach to terror, rather than outright warfare against both terrorism and its sponsoring states? Or do we stick with the guy who led us in those terrible post-9/11 months and won our trust at the time? Maybe memories will have faded by then - but I still think they won't have faded enough for a Dean-style isolationism or Kerry-style legalism to do well. This presidential election will be the first since 9/11. It will be about 9/11. And it will be critical.”

I bet they didn’t say this about Ho Chi Minh - - There’s a lot of Iraq is Vietnam talking points out there these days. Let me give you one reason that this is completely different. Read this passage from an interesting New York Times piece:

"The case of this girl, this pure-hearted girl, has been living with me for 20 years," said Mr. Diwan, who was the eldest of 10 children of whom Hanaa was the youngest. "If I catch Saddam, I won't kill him. That won't be enough. I'll suck his blood. And if he escapes, I'll follow him to the ends of the earth."

Rage of such intensity courses through Iraq, where the dead, the maimed and the missing consume the thoughts of the living.

I would think we would have been less likely to hear that sort of thing about Ho Chi Minh. See the difference. The majority of people in Iraq don’t want Saddam back, they don’t want a new Saddam, they don’t want anything short of ruling themselves.

Jelly-filled donuts for Bush? - - Jeff Jarvis is especially amusing tonight – mostly since he is incredibly irritable. It’s a nice edge. Read why he’s going back to drinking too much coke rather than watch the Starbuck’s twit make an iced coffee.

Then read why he isn’t quite ready to endorse Bush in 2004. “Just because I'm willing to support the president in this war on terrorism, that doesn't mean that I'm ready to turn into a damned jelly-filled donut like Zell Miller. You have to admit: His valentine to Bush would make a Hallmark writer gag.” Perhaps, but given the choices…

And last but not least read is a great rebuke of those who are claiming some PC ownership over what you mean by the word terrorist.

"The killers in Iraq today are trying to stop the nation from achieving order so as to defeat America in a larger war that has nothing to do with Iraq. I dare you to call the families of the Red Crescent workers and tell them that their loved ones were killed by "insurgents" with a cause. I dare you to call the families of the 16 Americans killed on their way to R&R and tell them their young ones were killed by "guerillas." I dare you to correct them if they dare use the unPC word "terrorist."

It's terrorism, boys. It's terrorism."

Comic Relief - - I thought I would begin this evening with a quick post bound to either horrify, or amuse. Actually it may do both. Jonah Goldberg sends readers to this horrifyingly amusing throwback look at really, and I mean really, bad album covers. Rock on “Devastating Dave.” Rock on buddy.

Time to toughen up? - - Michael Ledeen is asking this morning if we need to toughen up and re-double efforts in the War on Terror. “We don't have a war cabinet, and we are once again giving our enemies time and opportunity to figure out how to kill us. Faster, anyone?”

There is plenty of interesting things in the article about Iraq, Iran, and why you should never stay in a hotel in Baghdad these days. Already some are convinced that an article like this demanding more action shows the unraveling of the Neo-con Hawks. “The Neocon Excellent Adventure is falling apart and they're lashing out trying to blame someone.”

Strange. I don’t get that impression at all. The feeling I get, especially with Ledeen, is a dynamic and adaptable approach to the war.

More on this later, until then read this excellent profile of Dep. Sec. of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. It too demands a toughing up: “Now that the going is difficult in Iraq, the Bush administration needs to think more with its head and less with its heart. The idealists can win this war, but only if they act with brutally honest pragmatism.”

Smells like teen spirit: Birth of a 9/11 Generation - - Andrew Sullivan is analyzing the most recent poll numbers for Bush and ends up finding a possibly really big story.

“The other remarkable thing to me is that Bush's strongest ratings come among the younger generation. Even on Iraq, the 18 - 30 year olds give him a big vote of support - more than any other age group and the reverse of the over 60s. Bush has a 66 percent general approval rating among the young, compared to 51 percent among the old. How to explain it? My theory is that we're witnessing the emergence of the 9/11 generation - a demographic cohort bigger than the boomers whose defining experience was the terrorist attack of two years ago. They are also immune to the Vietnam fixation of the boomer editors and reporters of the mainstream media. South Park Republicans? We may have a genuine phenomenon here.”

And I think he may be on to something. While the many vocal members of the under 30 crowd expose themselves to be supporters of Michael Moore and Howard Dean it would seem the real majority understands the current environment than you would think.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Terrible News, tragic day - - Certainly the worst day in the war in Iraq since the statue of Saddam fell. 15 U.S. service members killed when a Chinook Helicopter was evidently shot down by a surface to air missile.

It was no overstating of the matter when Rumsfeld suggested this was going to be a long hard slog. That much is clear. When there are messages written on walls stating, “By God, this is a warning we will cut off any hand waving to the American soldiers" thinking differently than this is but a chimera. But none of this should deter the coalition from winning this war.

As Paul Bremer suggested in his Ramadan message said:

“You must not lose hope because you have seen the evil one go.

You, the Iraqi people, whom the evil one was bound to protect, he instead tortured, he instead murdered.

You, the Iraqi people, whom the evil one was bound to feed, he instead starved.

You, the Iraqi people whom the evil one was bound to lead in peace, he instead led into foolish wars, wars which poured your blood into the sand.

When the people of the world asked the evil one to stop he sneered.

When the people of the world demanded that the evil one stop, he threatened them and fought them.

And when the evil one fought them, he fought them in your name, with your money and your blood and the blood of your fathers, your mothers and your children.

But when the enemies of the tyrant drew close, he took your money and he fled your justice like a common thief and coward.

The end of tyranny gives you a future of hope”

That's why this fight must continue. It is a hard long slog. And nobody wants the loss of any life, but this war in this theatre must be won and there can be no retreat. As Charles Krauthammer writes, "The war in Iraq now consists of a race: The United States is racing to build up Iraqi police and armed forces capable of taking over the country's security -- before the Saddam loyalists and their jihadist allies can produce that single, Beirut-like car bomb that so discourages Americans (and Iraqis) that we withdraw in disarray.

Who wins the race? If this president remains in power, the likelihood is that we do. "

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Tea Time at the Ottawa Coral - - What was the Prime Minister doing with the free-spending princess of Canada? Was he just “having tea”? Or is he preparing to step down early? Or was it just the celebration of 10-years of uninspiring Chrétien rule? 10-years, my god where does the time go?