4/12/2003

Left in for the 8th with a 4-0 lead, Kerry Wood had 122 pitches today.

Dusty may know how to motivate, but can he count?

A disturbing trend, to say the least.
As the rain falls out here in the Bay Area washing out my plans for the day, I'm finally gotten a chance to see Nashville Star. Now from a pure entertainment standpoint, it's probably not as much fun as American Idol only because Simon adds so much (although I am a big Charlie Robison fan).
But in terms of talent, Nashville Star is miles beyond Idol. Not only are all contestants far superior singers to virtually everyone over on Fox, they are also great songwriters. Today's episode features their original material and, honestly, all the songs I've heard thus far are better than most of the stuff on country radio today.

And, in fairness, the show does have its share of quality dialog:

The lovely host, Nancy O'Dell asks the equally lovely Miranda Lambert:

"What makes women from Texas so special?"

Miranda responds:

"I dunno, big hair I guess."

Yeah, big hair.
Not only America's staunchest ally, but now a Simpson character (via Oxblog).

Very cool.
Slowly even the left is coming around . . .

The Beeb has a largely unbiased analysis by Frank Gardner of why the Arab world is upset by Hussein's demise. Although there are the usual tears for the Palestinians, they do admit that the Arab media is basically a bunch of liars:

The Arab media has made no attempt to be impartial. Coalition forces have been called 'aggressors', dead Iraqis are 'martyrs'. There's been a widespread acceptance in the Middle East that US warplanes deliberately targeted first civilians, and then journalists in Baghdad.
There's been little mention of the enormous lengths pilots have gone to, to avoid hitting residential areas.


No word though if Gardner includes the BBC's own Arabic service in this cabal of anti-Americanism.

4/11/2003

Senator Tom Harkin is the latest Democrat to make a stupid comment on Iraq. Read it and my comments on it over at CP.
Interesting article in NRO about the dangers that still face us in the world, and a frightening prediction of what might transpire if we take a certain course of action in Iraq.
We definitely need to make those "Iraq's Most Wanted" playing cards available to the public.

Think about how much better your weekly poker game will be once you can say things like "damn, I can't believe you had Qusay in the hole!"

Or you can curse your friends' hands information minister style with sayings like:

"Your infidel hand is committing suicide to my three of a kind!"
"I welcome your two pair with aces and shoes!"

"God will roast your straight in the stomachs of hell!"
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Francis Carroll has said the apparent "successful" outcome of the war does not alter the Bishops' doubts about its morality. The Canberra-Goulburn Archbishop said: "If the 'success' of this war leads to a greater acceptance of war as something more than a 'last resort' in resolving conflicts or removing unjust regimes, then it is a move in a very dangerous direction."

I posted this yesterday over on the Command Post's op-ed section as an example of the war in Iraq not being about Iraq at all to the anti-war crowd, but I wanted to make one additional comment.

Isn't one of the central tenants of both Catholic and liberal morality the idea that "the end does not justify the means"? Yet aren't moralists who are against this war arguing precisely that? Isn't the continued suffering of the Iraqi people simply the means to their desired end, the elimination of war as an accepted tool of international diplomacy? Aren't they saying that the continuation of the Hussein regime would have been an acceptable means to their more important end?

Isn't this in direct conflict with the Catechism's declaration that "the condemnation of an innocent person cannot be justified as a legitimate means of saving the nation"?
I've always been intrigued by the argument that, during times of war, partisan politics should be put on the back burner. This line of reasoning has appeared in conservative circles again with Nancy Pelosi's latest outburst. While I understand the right is also trying to score political points by attacking Pelosi's statement, it seems to me that questioning US foreign policy, even during a time of war, doesn't seem like a serious offense. Indeed, if Pelosi or a majority of her constituents honestly believe her statements, isn't it her obligation to speak up? Aren't voters entitled to know how the opposition party would run foreign policy if they decide to return them to power?

Consider the most criticized part of her statement:

"The cost in human lives, the cost to our budget, probably 100 billion. We could have probably brought down that statue for a lot less."

Now, if she presented a coherent plan, OK maybe not now after the war is won, two months ago how Saddam could be toppled more effectively, isn't it in America's best interest to hear it? Clearly we would not have wanted her to hide her brilliant plan to democratize the Middle East simply because we want our leaders to show unity on foreign affairs.

No, the problem with her statement is that it exposes the intellectual bankruptcy of the left on foreign policy. She in fact doesn't have any plan to advance our goals internationally but she does know that Bush's way, despite our success, was the wrong path to take. And the fact that she thought that this hollow criticism would benefit her party politically should make moderates question the judgment of the vast base of the democratic party.

So let Ms. Pelosi speak - and make sure everyone's listening.
I love Karen Hall's take on America's relations with the Arab world:

"Here's proof of what Jesus knew: it's very confusing to your enemies when you do something nice for them."
Today's lead WSJ editorial reminds us of something that too often is forgotten in the current geopolitical debate:

That much was made plain earlier this week with Mr. Annan's ex cathedra declaration that only the U.N. possessed the moral imprimatur necessary to confer "legitimacy" on postwar Iraq. But legitimacy is not something that can be imposed by the United Nations--or the United States for that matter. Legitimacy derives from the consent of the governed: the people of Iraq.
It amazes me the concern many pundits are professing over the "riots" in Baghdad and other liberated cities. Now I'm not saying the civil disorder is a good thing and if in a couple of weeks we're still having problems keeping order, then I'll concede we might have a problem. But Americans riot if our team makes the World Series or Super Bowl, so please, let's get a little perspective on Iraq. They've just been freed from decades of oppressive rule, and Iraq's streets are still calmer than Oakland's after this year's Super Bowl.
Americans love a winner. Zogby says:

Three in four (75%) likely voters say they support the war in Iraq now [April 8-9], compared to 68% who said they supported it on March 24th. At that time, nearly a third (31%) said they opposed the war, compared to 22% today.

That 22% will likely be quite stable, as it materially matches the 19% of voters who say Bush is doing a "poor" job as President. But it also means that, despite watching the people of Baghdad celebrating their liberation, a large percentage of Democrats still don't think we should have overthrown Saddam.

4/10/2003

The logic of protesters:

Anti-war protesters vowed to go ahead with their planned demonstrations, refusing to allow a little thing like Saddam's complete defeat dampen their spirits.

"There is still a lot of fighting going on in Iraq," said A level student Henna Malik. "It should stop immediately."

Now wait a second - I thought liberals demanded that if we went through with our little adventure, we needed to make sure not to forget about Iraq after the war. Now they want us to leave Iraq, immediately after our triumph? Isn’t that what they were afraid we would do?
For those of you who aren't convinced by my assertion that anti-war critics don't give disprovable solutions but instead resort to "concerns," Philippe de Croy over at the V.C. has an excellent summary of the new liberal playbook:

State that of course you are happy for the Iraqi people -- those who weren't killed in the invasion -- but be careful never to end a sentence that way. Instead, always follow that sentiment with another that begins "but," or "; I only wish..." or "I only hope..." and then segue into other concerns -- the "diplomatic mess" we've created, or the "long term" picture, or "winning the peace," and so forth.
Talk a lot about things that "aren't clear" or that "remain to be seen." These sorts of assertions are good because they are hard to falsify. E.g.: "it's not clear how much of the excitement the Iraqis are showing is because Saddam is gone and how much of it is because of all the looting they are able to do." Or: "it remains to be seen whether the factions in the country can be governed in anything like the way the administration is imagining."
I hate to keep harping on this point, but Glenn Reynolds writes on the discrediting of the left:

"But not many people will listen to a crowd that has squandered its remaining moral and intellectual capital -- again."

This has been a recurring right-wing fantasy throughout this conflict: that the left, having been proven so inarguably wrong in their prescriptions for American foreign policy, will lose all credibility in the great American political debate. Unfortunately I fear this is simply not going to be true.

Now this is not to say that a large portion of American's don't recognize the stupidity of the left's anti-war position. Quite the opposite. The problem, however, is that most of these people saw the left's error even before irrefutable proof arrived yesterday. Therefore while the events that are unfolding in Baghdad certainly make many of us feel vindicated, it hasn't changed our view of the NY Times or Janeane Garofalo - we never listened to them in the first place.

"But Steve," you're thinking, "what about that part of America that did take the left's views - or at least those of the NYT -seriously? Won't they stop listening to Raines and company?" Maybe, but unlikely. Much of this center-left crowd, because of both Vietnam and a modern distaste for warfare, has a natural inclination to believe in the possibility of peace and the futility of war. The left was wrong about Iraq, but in the next conflict liberal pundits will reiterate their concerns why this time American action will turn into a quagmire or turn the whole world against us unless we get UN authorization. Remember, with the exception of the far left who carries no moral weight anyway, the moderate anti-war crowd generally doesn't make specific charges, but instead claims how "troubled" they are by the current course of action and expresses concerns about what might happen.

And for a large portion of America, this will once again resonate because they want to be troubled by military action. This group will, I predict, forget about how wrong dire predictions about Iraq were and once again give credence to the anti-war position because they can't bear to reject these concerns entirely.

I'm afraid we're doomed to continue to repeat the history of this debate because, for much of middle America, the anti-war position is not one of logic but one of emotion. And that's not something that can be easily defeated, no matter how overwhelming the evidence.
I found this interesting. According to a Zogby poll released Tuesday on the 2006 New York Gubernatorial race:

Attorney General Elliot Spitzer would beat Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary, 39% - 28%. When 335 likely voters in a Democratic primary (margin +/- 5.5%) were asked to choose between Spitzer and Cuomo, who withdrew from the 2002 race, nearly four in ten (39%) picked Spitzer, while 28% would cast their vote for Cuomo. Nearly three in ten (29%) are unsure at this point.

And:

Facing three term Governor George Pataki, who has not indicated whether he will seek a fourth term in 2006, Spitzer would receive 39% of the vote compared to Pataki's 46%. The governor would be slightly stronger against Cuomo, winning 48% - 37%.

But:

[F]ormer New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani would beat Spitzer by more than a two-to-one margin, 59% - 29%. More than four in ten (42%) Democrats would support Giuliani, as would 82% of Republicans and 62% of independents.
The Cranky Professor noticed this site, a collection of the Iraqi Information Minister's "greatest hits."

Funny, funny stuff. My favorites:

"The authority of the civil defense ... issued a warning to the civilian population not to pick up any of those pencils because they are booby traps," he said, adding that the British and American forces were "immoral mercenaries" and "war criminals" for such behavior.
"I am not talking about the American people and the British people," he said. "I am talking about those mercenaries. ... They have started throwing those pencils, but they are not pencils, they are booby traps to kill the children."

"Please, please! The Americans are relying on what I called yesterday a desperate and stupid method."

"My feelings - as usual - we will slaughter them all."

"Our initial assessment is that they will all die."


and, of course:

"There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!"
Thought this was some interesting, no-so-subtle bias from the Jordan Times:

"The flow of Iraqi oil to Haifa was suspended in 1948 with the end of the British mandate and the creation of the state of Israel on Palestinian land."

4/09/2003

OK, I know Instapundit linked to this so most everyone has already seen it, but this post by Tim Blair is one of his best ever, and that's saying a lot:

I SHOULDN'T be so happy. After all, I'm a right-wing deathbeast, and the end (or near end) of a war should upset me, because we conservatives lust for war all the time. Except when we have to fight it ourselves, of course. Being chickenhawks and all.
And the toppling of a fascist dictator should have me all weepy and nostalgic for Hitler. Because I'm a fascist, according to much of the mail I receive.
Those Iraqis dancing in the streets? That should really piss me off, because I want to oppress them and steal their oil. Why are they even able to dance? I was promised 500,000 murders, yet thus far only 1,000 or so innocents have died.
So why am I so damn happy? I really can't explain.
I'd go and ask some oppression-hating anti-fascist peace activists about it, but for some reason they're all incredibly depressed.
Mark Prior is incredible. Complete game shutout. No walks, 12 Ks, just 4 hits.

But one question for Dusty: why didn't Prior come out in the 9th? 113 pitches - for no reason! I realize you want to win and Prior was pitching well, but this is your franchise's future on the mound. Don't take chances like this with a 3 run lead!
Found this line from today’s Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal article on prenups amusing:

“Prenups also are growing pricier in some places, as attorneys sometimes raise their fees to cover rising malpractice-insurance premiums.”

So lawsuits are now making business more expensive for lawyers themselves?

Ironic, ain't it?
Rereading the BBC’s denial that it receives government funding, I found it an illuminating example the difference between American and European perceptions of the state:

The BBC is, and has always been, independent of government. Independence and impartiality are the cornerstones of the BBC's remit and are values the audience trusts us to maintain and protect, particularly at times of war and conflict.
The BBC is not state-funded. We are publicly funded through a license fee paid by every household in the United Kingdom. The British public, not the government of the day, owns the BBC, and it is to the British public we are accountable.


In America, for most of us, this distinction would be impossible; America, as Lincoln said, has a government “of the people.” Americans, speaking generally, view the state as a necessary evil, a tool with which to advance the interests of the population at large. If it weren’t for the realities of economics and human nature, American would have no need for Washington, and yet America would still be America.

In contrast, although certainly a number of Europeans would be in the American camp, the old world sees government not only as a tool but as an end onto itself. As this BBC rebuttal shows, they really do see a difference between popular and governmental control, a distinction foreign to Americans.

What does this mean? Often not that much. Leaders are still largely democratically elected in Europe and are thus still dependent on the people for job security, making this distinction more psychological than practical. Yet you do see occasions when this ideology has profound implications, with the most important recent example being the French drive for a United States of Europe. The push for unity has been exceedingly undemocratic, a fact hasn’t bothered the main advocates of unification. You see, they are not creating a government of the people of Europe, but instead are building something bigger than merely a collection of the masses – an independent and towering monolith that can finally act as a counterweight to America.

Can you ever imagine Americas creating a government specifically for this purpose?
On a sad note, I heard a rumor on the radio this morning that Ben Affleck is interested in making a remake of Casablanca. I make no promises as to the accuracy of this story, but I pray it's not true.
Incredible - even the BBC is getting it:

They're calling their photo series of recent events "Euphoria in Baghdad."
What an incredible way to start a morning - watching Hussein's statue come tumbling down while his former subjects cheer. Some of the most powerful TV I've seen since East Berliners climbed their wall.

Just . . . wow.
Carnival of the Vanities is up over at Solonor's Ink Well.

4/08/2003

As a big fan of Country music, I wanted to add my thoughts to Eric Muller's comments on Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten." Eric argues:

The "argument" of the song is that a person who opposes the war in Iraq must have "forgotten" about 9/11. Part of the refrain goes "And you say we shouldn't worry 'bout bin Laden/Have you forgotten?" I suppose Worley gets a couple of style points for managing to find a rhyme for "bin Laden." But who, exactly, has been arguing that we shouldn't "worry 'bout bin Laden" since 9/11?

This is something I've been thinking about since I first heard the song, which, despite its pro-war theme I'm not musically a huge fan of. My first reaction, like Muller's, was difficulty in drawing the connection between the war on Bin Laden and the war on Hussein. While I do see them as part of the same war on Islamo-facism, I don't know if one should draw that direct of a line between the two, as Worley does. Muller's right that even those opposed to war haven't forgotten "'bout bin Laden."

But maybe with his bluntness, Worley has unfortunately obscured his larger point. Look at the opening verse to the song:

I hear people saying we don't need this war
I say there's some things worth fighting for
What about our freedom and this piece of ground
We didn't get to keep 'em by backing down
Now they say we don't realize the mess we're getting in
Before you start your preaching let me ask you this my friend


What if, instead of taking forgetting "'bout bin Laden" as literally about the man, we consider it short-hand for the Islamo-facist desire to eradicate America? Anti-war critics have argued that peaceful means could bring resolution to the threat posed by Saddam and his WMD. But 9/11 proved that terrorists can neither be deterred nor negotiated with, they can only be destroyed. Maybe this is what Worley thinks we've forgotten. Inspectors and negotiations are tools effective against rational leaders, but have we forgotten that 9/11 taught us that many of the leaders in that region aren't rational?


On a completely separate note, despite arguing against two of his comments over a two day span, I've really enjoyed Muller's guest-blogging over at The Volokh Conspiracy. Definitely check him out.


UPDATE: An Instapundit reader notes that this song really isn't about Iraq. I've inclined to believe him, but I don't think that was Muller's larger point. I think his bigger objection, and the point I tried to address, is the contention that we've "forgotten . . . 'bout bin Laden."
James Carroll's "column" in today's Boston Globe proves, I think, the durability of the left's opposition to future military action, regardless of how successful we are in Iraq. Instead of presenting an actual, you know, argument or stating real positions as editorialists usually do, he presents a long series of questions directed at, I'd guess, the vast majority of Americans backing the war. These he boils down to a final three:

Was this war necessary at the start? Is it a just war now? If the one heartbreaking answer were somehow to lead America to change course, away from war toward law and life again, would the dead have died in vain?

Obviously he answers the first two very differently than most Americans. The third is, well, ridiculous. If we were to stop the war now and put Saddam (or a reasonable, non-dead, facsimile) back into power, would American deaths be in vain? Of course! That's why we're not going to stop!

But the larger issue is why Carroll seems afraid to make this case. Does he really believe that, possibly having killed Saddam, largely captured Iraq's two biggest cities, and after finally being greeted by cheers from the Iraqi people, that we should "change course"? Certainly he can't make that argument. Therefore he masks this position with questions like "Could America, for that matter, so ruthlessly maul an army mainly of draftees who have no choice?" and "Will the short-term definition of victory in Iraq survive its long-term global consequences, when ''disarmament'' and ''liberation'' become common justifications offered by other nations for aggression?"

These are important questions and, to Carroll's credit, he has directly argued - unpersuasively - these points in the past. So what is the purpose of today's column? Simply to keep these arguments alive, while avoiding directly making any claims that, through the lens of our military's amazing success thus far, have been proven spectacularly wrong. Instead he's furrowing his brow and showing good left-wing concern about the things we cowboys ignored in our rush to war.

This isn't going away, people.
The Red Sox picked up Pedro's 2004 option this morning. While his health is always a worry, given how he's looked thus far - 12 Ks, 1 BB, and a .60 ERA - it's hard to argue that he's a bad investment.
Because of the war this has gotten far too little play, but the Supreme Court's ruling limiting punitive damages could turn out to be one of its more important recent decisions.
One of the interesting postwar questions will be the degree to which the anti-war movement is discredited. Andrew Sullivan asks today:

"Has any large protest movement been this much of a failure so soon?"

But what does this failure mean? Will America, as many of us hope, finally once and for all turn our backs on the idiocy of the Vietnam mentality and embrace the world as it is, not as we think it should be?

Honestly, I'm pessimistic.

Now I'm not talking about protestors trying to prevent humanitarian supplies from being shipped from the Port of Oakland to Iraq or the anti-Semites in France, Germany, and San Francisco. They are beyond help and, like professors who still think Communism can work under the proper leadership, will never be convinced of the absurdity of their arguments. I'm speaking of the still liberal but theoretically rational part of the anti-war movement, from Teddy Kennedy to John Kerry, who, I predict, will react in exactly the same manner in the next crisis.

Somewhat paradoxically, the reason we will be forced to hear these same arguments repeated is their fundamental lack of substance. If you think back over the past 6 months, most critics of the President have noticeably avoided advocating specific solutions, instead urging Bush to simply "work with" the international community and noting how "troubled" they were by the President's actions. But no alternatives were suggested.

No platform means nothing to be proven wrong.

Because honestly what in their argument can be rejected? During the next crisis, as conservatives actively try to solve the world's problems, liberals will pase pensively, issuing cryptic comments about the need for allies and the need to think through all options - essentially what they said in the lead up to Iraq. After all, none of these vague generalities have been disproved and, because of that, we're doomed to hear them repeated again and again.

4/07/2003

Too bad about al Saa restaurant. Supposed to be a good place.
Interesting analysis of Scalia's most interesting point during the recent affirmative action oral arguments by Eric Muller:

The one exceptional moment, though, came from Justice Scalia. He asked the lawyer for the University of Michigan’s law school a question that I thought was just plain fascinating. The Court’s precedents require that an affirmative action plan be in the service of a state interest that is “compelling” (rather than merely “legitimate” or “important.”) There is precious little law out there on the question of what makes an asserted interest rise to the level of “compelling.” Scalia's thrust went as follows: The state of Michigan has decided that it wants to have not just a law school, but an elite law school—on a par with schools like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Chicago, Columbia, NYU, Penn, Stanford, Berkeley, and the University of North Carolina. (OK, OK, I included that last one in case my dean is reading.) So, argued Scalia, while a state might have a “compelling” interest in racial diversity at some law school it runs, the State of Michigan does not have a compelling interest in diversity at this particular law school. At this particular law school, Scalia was implying, the only genuinely compelling interest should be its interest in achieving “academic excellence.”
This was something new, at least to my ears. I liked the fact that Scalia was pushing for clarity on the “compelling interest” piece of the analysis. For far too long, I think, the Court has been simply asserting that a particular state interest is compelling without telling us why, and I think some clarity and guidance here are overdue.


Now Muller ultimately disagrees with Scalia's seeming claim that diversity and academic excellence are mutually exclusive:

The State of Michigan, of course, contends just the opposite; its position is that racial diversity is one crucial component of elite-level academic excellence. I’m inclined to agree; my own personal experience of teaching for four years at a racially homogeneous law school (the University of Wyoming) and now at a racially integrated one (UNC) tells me that racial diversity does in fact contribute importantly to full and rigorous discussion and debate in a law school classroom. So at the end of the day, I guess I disagree with Scalia.

The problem with this, as I see it, is that the Bakke distinction, as Scalia notes, demands that compelling interest be present in order to skirt constitutional demands for equal-protection. Muller is saying that race is an important criteria in the overall excellence of a school. Yet for this position to stand, we would not only have to claim that academic excellence is a compelling interest - not a hard arguement to make - but also the much more difficult proposition that only through diversity can a school be truly excellent.
Therefore, even if we accept the logic that diversity improves the academic quality of a school, we are still saying that constitutionally questionable means can be used not only to achieve a compelling end, but also to achieve a means to a compelling end. A small distinction, to be sure, but I think the more steps we need between a perversion of the constitution and the noble ends, the more dubious the proposition becomes.
I found this interesting:

Peace Corps Suspends Program in China

Washington, D.C. April 5, 2003 – Today, Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced the temporary suspension of the Peace Corps program in China.
“The health and safety of Peace Corps volunteers is the highest priority of the Agency. After a thorough assessment of growing concerns with regard to the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), it was determined that it would be in the best interest of the volunteers to temporarily suspend the program in China,” stated Director Vasquez. “We will continue to monitor developments and look forward to returning Peace Corps volunteers to China when conditions permit.”


I tend to think this is the right decision as there's no use sense in placing our volunteers at undo risk. Yet I wonder if this will further fuel the panic over SARS that, at least in America thus far, seems to be a greater danger than the disease itself.
I caught the replay of the Book TV interview with Bernard Lewis last night. A very worthwhile 3 hours for anyone really wanting to understand the region. As he's done so many times before, he effectively debunked many of the supposedly "pro-Islam" stereotypes such as its incompatibility with modernity. Lewis doesn't have an agenda, unlike an Edward Said, for example, but simply lays out history as it actually occurred.

4/06/2003

I have to say that watching our troops stand on Sadaam's Presidential Palace live on FNC about 10 minutes ago was one of the proudest moments for Americans in a long while. In 18 days we have almost entirely freed the Iraqi people and done so with such little collateral damage that every American should be proud to have our military so incredibly well trained and professional in doing what they have been trained to do.
Drudge has a great list of the other leftists who have called for a "regime change" in Washington.

Among the luminaries expressing this view:

ActressSingerMotherDirectorCitizenWife Barbra Streisand Has Called For Regime Change. At a fund-raising concert for House Democrats last October, Ms. Streisand called for a "regime change" in Washington and said, "I find bringing the country to the brink of war unilaterally five weeks before an election questionable -- and very, very frightening."

Louis Farrakhan: "I am crying out to the American people to rise up because your president is the world's threat to peace. When you talk about a regime change in Iraq if this man continues like this there must be a regime change in America. Our president is drunk with the power of the United States of America." [October 9, 2002]


And, last but not least:

Michael Moore: "The regime change ought to begin at home." [Nov. 10, 2002]

This was exactly my point yesterday - the problem with Kerry's "regime change" comment is that it shows his willingness to repeat the sentiments of the far left. Responsible foreign policy leadership? Not from anyone who sees Michael Moore as an intellectual inspiration.