Tuesday, August 24, 2004


As others have pointed out, it's a sign of how poorly the mainstream news organizations have been doing their job that the best political analysis to be found on television these days is on The Daily Show, a comedy program. This bit from last night's episode, via Atrios, nails the problem perfectly:

STEWART: Here's what puzzles me most, Rob. John Kerry's record in Vietnam is pretty much right there in the official records of the US military, and haven't been disputed for 35 years?

CORDDRY: That's right, Jon, and that's certainly the spin you'll be hearing coming from the Kerry campaign over the next few days.

STEWART: Th-that's not a spin thing, that's a fact. That's established.

CORDDRY: Exactly, Jon, and that established, incontravertible fact is one side of the story.

STEWART: But that should be -- isn't that the end of the story? I mean, you've seen the records, haven't you? What's your opinion?

CORDDRY: I'm sorry, my *opinion*? No, I don't have 'o-pin-i-ons'. I'm a reporter, Jon, and my job is to spend half the time repeating what one side says, and half the time repeating the other. Little thing called 'objectivity' -- might wanna look it up some day.

STEWART: Doesn't objectivity mean objectively weighing the evidence, and calling out what's credible and what isn't?

CORDDRY: Whoa-ho! Well, well, well -- sounds like someone wants the media to act as a filter! [high-pitched, effeminate] 'Ooh, this allegation is spurious! Upon investigation this claim lacks any basis in reality! Mmm, mmm, mmm.' Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me.

STEWART: So, basically, you're saying that this back-and-forth is never going to end.

CORDDRY: No, Jon -- in fact a new group has emerged, this one composed of former Bush colleages, challenging the president's activities during the Vietnam era. That group: Drunken Stateside Sons of Privilege for Plausible Deniability. They've apparently got some things to say about a certain Halloween party in '71 that involved trashcan punch and a sodomized piƱata. Jon -- they just want to set the record straight. That's all they're out for.

STEWART: Well, thank you Rob, good luck out there. We'll be right back.


Monday, August 23, 2004


Pepsi pitchman Bob Dole on John Kerry:

"And here's, you know, a good guy, a good friend. I respect his record. But three Purple Hearts and never bled that I know of. I mean, they're all superficial wounds. Three Purple Hearts and you're out."

Very classy, Bob. Speaking of America's most famous advocate for better living through chemistry, let's imagine the Republican response if a Democrat-funded group of WWII veterans had come forward in 1996 to question Bob Dole's version of the events which lead to his combat wounds. The oxygen would have been sucked out of the Earth's atmosphere from all the Republican gasps of indignation, and the streets would have run red with blood from all the Republican neck veins bursting in conniption. The editors of National Review would have called for an apology and an immediate reduction of the corporate income tax. John Ashcroft would have begun speaking in tongues and handling snakes. Newt Gingrich would have taken a fire-axe to the set of Meet the Press. George Will might possibly have experienced an emotion. I tell you, shit would have gotten crazy.

I doubt whether we'd have even gotten to the point of discussing whether or not the charges were true, as the conservative attack machine, with the requisite howls of "liberal media!", would have shut down the smear campaign by pointing out that questioning Dole's valor was despicable, and they'd have been right.

As it is, conservatives are still, hilariously, trying to play the "liberal media!" card by claiming that the SwiftVets, who can't seem to get a story straight between them, aren't getting enough attention. Or the right kind. Or something.


Sunday, August 22, 2004


Alice Cooper, in the Edmonton Sun

"If you're listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you're a bigger moron than they are. Why are we rock stars? Because we're morons. We sleep all day, we play music at night and very rarely do we sit around reading the Washington Journal."

Despite his strong insistence that rock has no place in politics, Cooper is one of just a handful of high-profile musicians who've proclaimed support for Bush.

I'm sure he appreciates the help, Alice, but I think Bush already has the moron vote pretty well sewn up.

Saturday, August 21, 2004


from the New York Times

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 - The Bush administration, moving to lend political support to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at a time of political turmoil, has modified its policy and signaled approval of growth in at least some Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, American and Israeli officials say.

In the latest modification of American policy, the administration now supports construction of new apartments in areas already built up in some settlements, as long as the expansion does not extend outward to undeveloped parts of the West Bank, according to the officials.

Let me put this diplomatically: U.S. policy toward Israel and Palestine is fucked. It is immoral, irrational, and inconsistent with U.S. security. It refuses to recognize Israel's settlements for what they clearly are, for what the rest of the world recognizes them as: illegal instruments of expropriation, expansion, and control. They have nothing to do with Israel's security, as previously claimed, and have everything to do with taking control of the region's scarce water resources and arable land, and indulging the irredentist fantasies of religious fanatics.

Like the majority of this president's initiatives, the "roadmap" amounted to a photo-op, a signature, and little else. And as anemic a plan as the roadmap surely was, the president himself then bled it dry when he endorsed Sharon's Gaza pullout plan, which any fool could have predicted was and is merely a song and dance meant to distract from Sharon's larger goal of consolidating and increasing Israeli control over large portions of the occupied West Bank, a goal which has now apparently received the approval of the United States, in contravention of both international law and decades of U.S. policy.

It's impossible to square Bush's claims about changing America's image in the Middle East with his support for continued Israeli expropriation and expansion. Regardless of what hardline Israel supporters in the U.S. would have you believe, the question of Palestine is, in fact, the single most salient issue in the Arab world vis a vis the United States.

Here's a choice quote from Lieut. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, the Israeli army chief of staff:

The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.

My own observations during my visit to Palestine confirm Ya'alon's statement of Israel's intent. Palestinians, of course, understand this all too well, as they live with its effects everyday; the wider Arab world understands it, as Arab news media run stories, almost nonstop, detailing the daily brutalities and humiliations of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation. And then they see the United States aiding and abetting that brutality.

I want to believe that President Bush sincerely wants to move toward a negotiated peace between Israel and Palestine, but everything that he does suggests that he's more interested in appeasing his fundamentalist Christian-Zionist base. This new policy shift makes a bad problem worse.

Friday, August 20, 2004


The Daily Howler takes down the anti-Kerry Swift Boat gang. My feeling is that this little campaign of theirs will do more to hurt than help Bush among swing voters, not only because of the obvious contemptibility of the enterprise, but also because I think any attention, good or bad, paid to John Kerry's service in Vietnam does not reflect well on Bush, who, as we know, spent the Vietnam War courageously defending Texas from Mexico.

Somehow I doubt that Bush will have any of his own "brothers in arms" join him onstage at the GOP Convention but OH! imagine the stories they could tell...

(swooning patriotic music plays)
"I remember it like it was yesterday, the spring of '71, me and George were on a covert mission, as he called it, to the Piggly Wiggly to get us a couple cases of beer. We were standing in front of the beer cooler and I started reaching for this bottle of foreign beer, just cuz it looked purdy, and George, without even thinking of his own safety, grabbed me by the shoulder and said 'I don't drink that Yuro-peein shit, grab a case of Budweiser.' I don't know who I'd be today if George hadn't been with me that night...probably some kind of fancy-boy, handcrafted-beer-drinkin' librul. Thank you, George W. Bush."


"We all knew we could count on George in a pinch...to turn up with the best cocaine."


"If it wasn't for George W. Bush, I might've never been to a donkey show..."

or something.

So, am I insulting the National Guard by making these jokes? Nay. I have much respect for National Guardsmen and women, especially these days when National Guard service is no longer a reliable way to avoid combat, as it was back when George W. Bush was avoiding combat. And the reason that National Guard service is no longer a reliable way to avoid combat is that the incompetence of the Commander in Chief has required so many of them be called up and sent to Iraq.

Smell that? That's irony.

Thursday, August 19, 2004


Writing on NRO's the Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez thinks she's found another Kerry flip-flop:

Don’t be shocked, but John Kerry has taken both sides of an issue: this time it is troop deployment. YESTERDAY, TO THE VFW:
"Finally, I want to say something about the plan that the President announced on Monday to withdraw 70,000 troops from Asia and Europe. Nobody wants to bring troops home more than those of us who have fought in foreign wars. But it needs to be done at the right time and in a sensible way. This is not that time or that way."

BUT here's what he said at AN APRIL 14 PRESS CONFERENCE:
"The overall effort of a president right now ought to be really to try to find ways to reduce the overexposure, in a sense, of America's commitments," Kerry said then. "A proper approach to the Korean peninsula, for instance, should include the deployment of troops, the unresolved issues of the 1950s and ultimately, hopefully, could result in the reduction of American presence, ultimately."

What was that he was saying to GQ? “But I don’t have to [pick one]. And that’s the glory of life. I play them both. I do! I play them both." We believe you, Senator, we really do!

Now read those two Kerry quotes again. Are they contradictory? Of course they aren't. The April 14 quote acknowledges that troop withdrawal from the Korean peninsula should be the ultimate goal (that is, in the future) of the U.S.'s Korea policy. The August 18 quote points out that it's not realistic to withdraw those troops right now, as the president has proposed. The rest of the Kerry quote, which Lopez (for some reason...) chose not to include:

Let’s be clear: the President’s vaguely stated plan does not strengthen our hand in the war against terror. And in no way relieves the strain on our overextended military personnel. And this hastily announced plan raises more doubts about our intentions and our commitments than it provides real answers.

For example, why are we unilaterally withdrawing 12,000 troops from the Korean Peninsula at the very time we are negotiating with North Korea – a country that really has nuclear weapons? As Senator John McCain said, “I’m particularly concerned about moving troops out of South Korea when North Korea has probably never been more dangerous than any time since the end of the Korean War.” This is clearly the wrong signal to send at the wrong time.

The nuance of Kerry's (correct) position shouldn't be that hard to understand, even for Lopez (who's always been a bit slower to the punch than her fellow Cornerites), but it seems that willful obtuseness and aversion to complexity are requirements for conservatives these days. To illustrate this, I've written a short play.

We should support research into interstellar travel. Eventually we will be able to explore planets in other solar systems.

I'd like to announce that I am building a space ship with a faster-than-light drive, and I am sending astronauts to explore Planet X. It's going to cost $450 trillion dollars, which will be paid for by tax cuts.

But we don't currently possess faster-than-light technology, the cost is too high, and tax cuts won't begin to pay for it. I'm saying we should make interstellar travel a goal for the future, and not pimp it out as an election year treat.

LOPEZ (carrying water)
John Kerry flip-flopped again!


UPDATE: Steve Clemons at the Washington Note has a great post on this issue.


from the New York Times

For the first time in decades, foreign affairs and national security issues have emerged in the American presidential campaign as greater concerns among voters than economic matters, according to a new survey.

The survey released Wednesday by the independent Pew Research Center, found that 4 in 10 Americans now cite international and defense issues as the most important problems confronting the country. Only 1 in 4 mentioned economic concerns.

"War is God's way of teaching Americans geography."
-Ambrose Bierce


Elmer Bernstein is probably not a name that's immediately familiar to many. He's not a "celebrity" film composer like John Williams or Danny Elfman, but to film junkies like myself Bernstein is a major figure. He's been attached to more great movies than any composer I can think of, and by "great" movies I don't just mean "important" movies, I mean movies that, whether considered high-, low-, or middlebrow by people who consider those things, helped define their era. Just check out this resume to get some sense of the scope of the man's work.

Bernstein wasn't a show off, few of his film scores stand on their own (although his score for The Man with the Golden Arm is widely acknowledged as great modern jazz), but his music does what I think film music is supposed to do: subtly and effectively underscore the story without announcing itself. Okay, with that many films to his credit he's bound to have phoned it in a few times (The Three Amigos; would you say I have a plethora of pinatas?) but his throwaways are more than balanced by masterpieces such as The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, and the aforementioned Man with the Golden Arm, and the simply greats such as The Grifters, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Sweet Smell of Success.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Fareed Zakaria takes apart the nonsense charge that Kerry "flip-flopped" on Iraq:

The more intelligent question is, given what we knew at the time, was toppling Saddam's regime a worthwhile objective? Bush's answer is yes, Howard Dean's is no. Kerry's answer is that it was a worthwhile objective but was disastrously executed. For this "nuance" Kerry has been attacked from both the right and the left. But it happens to be the most defensible position on the subject.

...Bush's position is that if Kerry agrees with him that Saddam was a problem, then Kerry agrees with his Iraq policy. Doing something about Iraq meant doing what Bush did. But is that true? Did the United States have to go to war before the weapons inspectors had finished their job? Did it have to junk the United Nations' process? Did it have to invade with insufficient troops to provide order and stability in Iraq? Did it have to occupy a foreign country with no cover of legitimacy from the world community? Did it have to ignore completely the State Department's postwar planning? Did it have to pack the Governing Council with unpopular exiles, disband the Army and engage in radical de-Baathification? Did it have to spend a fraction of the money allocated for Iraqi reconstruction—and have that be mired in charges of corruption and favoritism? Was all this an inevitable consequence of dealing with the problem of Saddam?

Kerry's vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq was the correct one. It gave teeth, as they say, to the UN resolutions by showing Saddam that the U.S. military was standing by to enforce them. It certainly did not amount to a blanket endorsement of every fool decision undertaken by the Bush Administration subsequent to that vote.

Kerry's vote against the President's $87 billion request was also correct. This is the $87 billion that Kerry did vote for, which would have

provide[d] funds for the security and stabilization of Iraq by suspending a portion of the reductions in the highest income tax rate for individual taxpayers.

The President's version, which passed, leaves the financial mess for others to clean up. Imagine, John Kerry votes for the more fiscally responsible of two appropriations bills, and for that he is condemned by Republicans. Wow.

The Bush Doctrine: "With me or against us."

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


In his ongoing attempt to overtake Peggy Noonan as the country's most insipid pundit, Dick Morris muses

...the key issue is whether America is at war or at peace. And Osama bin Laden has more to say about that than any other person. If he ratchets up the terror threat to the United States and has us looking over our shoulders and thinking twice before we fly, we will feel at war and will back Bush. But if he lets up and backs off for the election, we will revert back to our peacetime posture and likely elect the Democrat.

Translation: Widespread panic breaks in favor of Republicans.

Something tells me the Republicans know this.

Also, this statement by Morris is in dire need of clarification:

It is not unusual in Israeli politics for the terrorists to hold the balance of power in the election in their hands. In 1996, the pro-peace process Labor Party led Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party until right before the election. Then, a wave of terror bombings, unleashed by Hamas and Hezbollah — likely with Yasser Arafat's blessings — torpedoed the chances of the doves and elected the hard-liners instead.

Unsurprisingly, Morris forgets to mention that, immediately preceding those terror bombings, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres launched a series of assassinations of Palestinian leaders in an attempt to shore up right-wing support for the upcoming election. Peres underestimated the intensity of the Palestinian reprisals, and thus Peres and Hamas effectively cooperated in bringing to power the disastrous Netanyahu government.

Monday, August 16, 2004


Interesting article by Ammar Abdulhamid, The Oxymoron of Illiberal Democracy.


Norman Podhoretz has an article in the current issue of Commentary which should be required reading for anyone interested in the future of the war on terror. I don't say this because the essay contains any new or particularly original arguments, but because, given the venerated place Podhoretz holds in the conservative pantheon, the points made in the essay are sure to be bouncing around the conservative echo chamber for the next few months and repeated ad nauseum in the right-wing press, so get 'em while they're hot.

Straight off, there are a few items that I have a problem with, such as Podhoretz's attempt to lump the PLO in with the broader fundamentalist Islamist movement (through the use of the imprecise term "Muslim terrorist"), when in fact the Palestinian liberation movement, derived as it was from Arab nationalism, was largely a secular movement and didn't begin to take on an Islamic flavor until the 1980s.

Typical of many conservatives, Podhoretz also treats Palestinian resistance and terror against Israel as if they occurred in a vacuum, refusing to acknowledge that Israel has maintained a brutal military occupation of Palestinian land and a policy of expropriation and ever-expanding settlements since 1967, or that these may contribute in any way to the problem of Islamist terror.

Podhoretz's contention that President Jimmy Carter had internalized and accomodated the idea of the inevitable decline of the United States is simply ridiculous, given that it was Carter who began the anti-Soviet military buildup that so many conservatives, Podhoretz included, now credit with winning the Cold War.

Finally, Podhoretz's complaint about the use of the term "neoconservative," that it is merely a code-word for "Jew," is tortured, tiresome, and rank, particularly coming from Podhoretz, who has in the past referred to himself and his companions as neoconservative.

I've only scanned the article, will make some more comments when I finish it entire.

Thursday, August 12, 2004


From the Daily Star

We appreciate that strange things happen during an American presidential campaign, but the weirdness meter is bursting through the roof in Washington this week - to judge by the Pentagon's proposal to Congress to provide $500 million to build a network of friendly militias around the world to purge terrorists from "ungoverned areas." The man who pressed this case before Congress earlier this week was Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a key architect of the Iraq war and the wider neoconservative ideology that underpins it. The rationale behind this idea is that conventional American armed forces - despite their impressive technical prowess, political will and human determination - cannot fight or win wars against small bands of irregular guerrillas or terrorists who find sanctuary in remote regions in lands like Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen. Smaller local militias, this thinking goes, would have a better chance of fighting such battles and winning such wars. (Never mind for the moment if Wolfowitz's list of remote, ungovernable regions that offer sanctuary and planning venues for terrorists include places like the suburbs of Newark, New Jersey and Buffalo, New York, or Madrid, Spain; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; or Hamburg, Germany, all of which generated serious terrorist activity).

Good god. Support for "a network of friendly militias"? This is an idea so monumentally stupid that I will be very surprised if it turns out not to have originated with this man.


from the New York Times

The improbable friendship between Tali Fahima, a 28-year-old Israeli woman, and Zacaria Zubeidah, one of the most wanted Palestinian militants, began last year with a telephone call made out of curiosity. Now she is under arrest on suspicion of helping to plan an attack against Israel, and her case is a front-page story in Israel.

Ms. Fahima, the daughter of Moroccan immigrants who was then a legal secretary with no history of political activism, sought out Mr. Zubeidah because she wanted to understand what motivated Palestinians to commit acts of violence against Israelis.

"I had to ask why a man goes ahead and does this," she said in a March interview with Israeli television. "There is a reason for this. A man doesn't wake up one morning and decide, 'O.K., I'm going to carry out an attack.' "

Ms. Fahima was arrested Monday as she was making her latest journey into the West Bank, to see Mr. Zubeidah in Jenin. As she was being led in handcuffs to a court hearing on Tuesday, she angrily defended him.

"He does not plan attacks," she said. "Even if he does, so what? They live under occupation. Do you even know what that means?"

"Don't worry, they are just trying to keep me away from friends I have there, from Zacaria," she continued. "I will never turn Zacaria in. He is a freedom fighter."


Jonah Goldberg writes

A few liberal readers seem horrified --or at least dismayed --- by my belief that voting should be more difficult. They ask, "What do you want, literacy tests?"

My short answer is yes. My slightly longer answer is, I haven't a clue what is wrong with literacy tests if you take the racial connotation out of the equation. What, exactly, is so bad about the idea of expecting a certain minimal degree of education before letting citizens vote? It seems to me that literacy tests are the bare minimum. Of course they would be a logistical nightmare to implement and wholly unpractical. But as an abstract standard I simply don't get why liberals are horrified by the idea (other than the fact that it might dissuade some of their voters).

Seriously, the argument for letting ex-cons vote is that it encourages them to rejoin society as stakeholders and citizens. Okay, well, wouldn't letting only the literate vote encourage citizens, including ex-cons, to learn to read? And, isn't an informed/educated electorate better on the whole than an uninformed/uneducated one?

First off, let me just say that Jonah's contention that prohibiting less-educated people from voting would break in favor of conservatives rather than liberals doesn't even pass the laugh test.

I agree that an educated electorate is better on the whole than an uneducated one, but the place to deal with that is in public education, not at the voting booth, where you would essentially be penalizing people because they had the bad luck of being born poor and had to go to crappy schools.

It seems to me that focusing on literacy rather than, say, civics or economics, seems intentionally designed to target immigrants, many of whom vote Democratic. But really, if we're going to require tests for voting, why not an economics test? What sense does it make to require someone be able to read George W. Bush's economic plan if they don't have the knowledge of basic economics to understand that it's complete nonsense?

Monday, August 09, 2004


Via Jim Gilliam, here's a full transcript of last weekend's Paul Krugman-Bill O'Reilly debate, moderated by Tim Russert. I don't know if the video is available online yet, but it's worth looking for. It's a masterpiece.

There are a few highlights, such as O'Reilly attempting to do battle with Krugman on matters economic and Krugman batting him away with a yawn, or O'Reilly attributing various claims to Krugman which Krugman then disputes and which O'Reilly then drops and moves on to his next bit of nonsense, or O'Reilly equating Media Matters to the Ku Klux Klan. You read that right.

The best bit has to be when O'Reilly calls Krugman a pseudo-socialist. Yes, one of the most plain-spoken and reasoned public defenders of neo-liberal economics of the past 50 years, a pseudo-socialist. Right. I've been reading Krugman since before his NYT column, and while he may be a partisan liberal bomb-thrower at times, it takes a special brand of ignoramus to call the man a socialist.

As it happens, Bill O'Reilly is just that brand of ignoramus. Though I have to admit that I find his red-faced cabdriver schtick mildly entertaining from time to time, I never really realized until seeing this debate how thin-skinned the man is, or how completely out of touch he seems to be with the place that he actually occupies in the media landscape. The way he presumes to demonstrate the diversity of Fox News, or the way he boastfully refers to his own analysis of the news suggests that the man is either completely unhinged or a great damn actor. I'm gonna go with both.

The debate was a good representation in miniature of politics in America right now as I see it: the liberals act squirrely even while they have the better arguments; conservatives get in people's faces, shout very loud, and are mostly full of shit; and the press sits in the middle and tries to pretend both sides are equally reasonable, which they clearly are not.


From the Center for Public Justice:

In the spring of 1999, flush with "victory" in the war with Serbia, President Clinton announced the Clinton Doctrine: never again would a people suffer from ethnic cleansing if the U.S. could do something about it. From now on, no national leader could hide behind sovereignty while slaughtering innocent people...

In the 2000 presidential election campaign, candidate Bush argued that the U.S. should not be the world's policeman by intervening in places that did not directly affect the vital interests of the U.S...

Ironically, as the Bush administration's reasons for invading Iraq last year have melted away one by one, it has been reduced essentially to justifying its action by adopting the basic rationale of the discarded Clinton Doctrine. Since the administration has found no weapons of mass destruction and no credible link to Al Qaeda--the primary reasons for going to war--it has focused almost exclusively on a humanitarian justification. As the argument goes, we have freed the Iraqi people from a sadistic dictator who murdered thousands of his own people.

Apparently, the Clinton Doctrine of humanitarian intervention is now not only acceptable but a central focus of the post 9/11 foreign policy of the Bush administration. The administration has seemingly adopted full-blown neo-Wilsonian moralism. But, just as quickly as the administration has recast its foreign policy moorings, its humanitarian credentials, like its earlier conservative-realist ones, have crashed ignominiously--this time in the sands and heat of western Sudan rather than in the sands and heat of Iraq.

Good article, though it only implies what I think should be said outright: Clinton actually believed what he said about humanitarianism, whereas Bush is only using it as a last refuge.

It's yet another tragic consequence of Bush's crotch-grabbing approach to international diplomacy ("Hey, UN, resolve this!") that, even if he were so inclined to take action to stop the slaughter in Sudan, which I doubt he is, acting against the Arab Sudanese militias at this point would only lend more credence to those who would cast the U.S. as anti-Arab and anti-Muslim.

It's worth pointing out that, in Kosovo, the U.S. acted in defense of a Muslim minority against their Christian rulers, and that this is another legacy which Bush has squandered, much as he squandered international goodwill after 9/11.

The Clinton Doctrine was roundly criticized by conservatives at the time as too high-minded, too moralistic, and just too damn liberal. On the other side, some progressives condemned it for being too militaristic and hegemonic:

Herein lies the essence of what might be termed the Clinton Doctrine--the proposition that the best way to maintain stability in the areas that truly matter to the United States (like Western Europe) is to combat instability in other areas, however insignificant it may seem, before it can intensify and spread.

My reading of the right- and left- interpretations of the Clinton Doctrine is that it strikes a reasonable balance between liberalism and realism. The U.S. should consider a broader rationale for intervention not only because human life is worth protecting, and often it is only the U.S. with the means to do so, but also because smaller conflicts have a way of growing and destabilizing larger regions, becoming open-air markets for small arms trade, and often becoming breeding and training grounds for terrorist groups which will threaten the U.S.

As Meyer points out, it is ironic that the Bush Doctrine has essentially evolved into a half-assed version of the Clinton Doctrine, perhaps even quarter-assed, because Bush, like many conservatives, simply doesn't apprehend the necessity of multilateralism in maintaining credibiblity for the U.S. among foreign voting publics, and thus among foreign democratic governments, and in upholding international norms which the U.S. presumes to enforce.

Can we get the adults back in charge, please?

Friday, August 06, 2004


To me, the only thing sadder than an aged Marxist is a young conservative. At least the Marxist is (desperately) holding on to some idealism, whereas a young conservative is starting out with none. But just as I often find myself sucked into those police chase shows, just waiting to see the inevitable crash, I couldn't turn away when I came across National Review editor Rich Lowry, positively exuding Greg Marmalard-ness, addressing Young America's Foundation on C-SPAN yesterday. (I couldn't find a transcript, but here's the link if you want to watch for yourself.)

Lowry's speech consisted of the typical conservative boilerplate, snide digs at liberals, a skepticism of multilateral institutions bordering on paranoia, a worship of American power that crossed over into the religious, etc., and was delivered to an audience that was about as diverse as an Andy Williams concert.

Then, on my rounds today, I came across this on NRO's The Corner:

Regarding the young conservative group that Rich addressed last night (on CSPAN), I happened to tune in during question and answer session. It was impossible to miss the young female questioners who had fallen under his spell, as if Lowry had exchanged "mojo" with the Hollywood hunk of the week.

Particularly the blonde junior from Furman...Rich tried to squirm out of her question (and her batting eyes) ASAP.

Wait, I've got it....he is the Bono of the young conservative movement!!!

...which tells you all you really need to know about the young conservative movement.

Thursday, August 05, 2004


Here's compendium of information on the bizarre, and disturbingly widespread, at least in America, phenomenon of Apocolyptic Christian Zionism. These are fundamentalist Christians who support the state of Israel not out of any solidarity with persecuted Jews or any real belief in Jewish nationalism, but because they believe that Jewish control of the land of Israel, as described in the Bible, is a necessary precondition for the return of Jesus Christ.

Thing is, when Jesus returns this time, so the story goes, it will not be the peaceful, loving Jesus that we've seen in various films and made for TV movies, it will be an angry, vengeful Jesus. He's back, and He's is a smiting mood. He's going to kill a whole lot of non-believers, including many Jews, while the good Christians wil be taken up to heaven, where I guess they will stand upon clouds and look down and point and laugh as the rest of us are smoted.

Here's a great example of the level of "thinking" that goes on with these folks:

"The land of Israel was originally owned by God," said Gary Bauer, president of American Values and a Republican presidential contender in 2000. "Since He was the owner, only He could give it away. And He gave it to the Jewish people."

Didn't know God was in the real-estate game? Yes, that's how he made most of his money, allowing him to retire to Heaven, which is why we haven't heard from him much lately. I joke because, in addition to being completely biblically insupportable, it's just so fucking absurd. You are right to clutch your skull. It's silly enough that people expect to be taken seriously when appealing to the authority of millenia-old land deals with ancient, genocidal tribal deities, but when they use that as justification for the ongoing disposession and oppression of an entire people, the Palestinians, it strikes me as religious and political perversion of the highest order.

The phenomenon of Apocolyptic Christian Zionism has serious implications for the struggle against jihadism. The plight of the Palestinians, and the U.S.'s almost completely unquestioning support for Israel, is a major source of resentment in the Arab and Muslim world. Rational people understand that moving towards a negotiated settlement between Israel and Palestine is imperative for the future stability of the region, but Christian Zionists believe that any agreement which requires Israel to give up any of their biblical kingdom is against God's will, and thus Christian Zionists, quite openly, oppose any negotiated peace.

Now, I don't know whether Bush actually buys this crap, but frankly it's disturbing enough to me that people who do are given an ear by his administration.

Fundamentalism: it's a hoot!


from the New York Times:
The Bush administration said Wednesday that the United States and its allies had begun a campaign to disrupt terrorist operations around the world, including the arrest of a suspected senior member of Al Qaeda in Britain.

The suspected Qaeda operative was among 12 men being questioned by the British authorities after raids prompted in part by the same intelligence information that led the administration to elevate the terror threat level in the United States over the weekend, including detailed reports about buildings housing major financial institutions in New York, New Jersey and Washington. The Qaeda member, referred to as Abu Moussa al-Hindi or Abu Eisa al-Hindi, was of intense interest to the United States, a senior American official said.

Intelligence gathering, international cooperation, police work. In a phrase: Law enforcement. Yes, it's a lot less grandiose than conservatives would prefer, and will probably require fewer triumphant speeches aboard aircraft carriers, so the flag humpers will have to get their rocks off as Civil War reenactors, or by cuddling up to the latest issue of Soldier of Fortune.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


Great article from In These Times collecting the various misrepresentations of the Bush Gang regarding Iraq's WMD.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


On Iraq casualties from Rob at Lawyers, Guns, and Money.


Taking advantage of the U.S. election year, Ariel Sharon announced the construction of some 600 new homes in the illegal West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, in direct contravention of every agreement the Israeli government has signed since Oslo. This, of course, comes as a surprise to no one who is familiar with Israeli policy, as settlement construction, and the expropriation of Palestinian land and destruction of Palestinian homes which it requires, has been ongoing since 1967, regardless of anything which any Israeli government official might say to the contrary.

I visited Maale Adumim when I was in Israel and Palestine last year. Here's a picture of what Ariel Sharon refers to as "natural growth." Not pictured are the huge swimming pools which settlers build for themselves in one of the most water-scarce regions in the world.

I don't know how I can say this any more clearly: these settlements are, in addition to being illegal, illegitimate, and immoral, directly contradictory to Israel's security. The bitterness and hatred which they create among the displaced Palestinian population is immeasurable. There is no strategic reason for them other than to facilitate the annexation of Palestinian land, and, in the case of Maale Adumim, to consolidate Israel's control over Arab East Jerusalem.

Furthermore, there is simply no moral, legal, or strategic justification for the U.S.'s consistent acquiescence to Israel's blatant expansionism, other than, I suppose, electoral politics, which Sharon is exploiting.