Friday, July 02, 2004

Maybe Alma Should Be Worried

Colin Powell sang the Village People song YMCA at a meeting of high government officials in Jakarta, Indonesia. This is from AP, not Weekly World News:

JAKARTA, Indonesia - U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) donned a hard hat and tucked a hammer in his belt Friday, performing a version of the Village People's hit "YMCA" at the conclusion of Asia's largest security meeting.

Tradition dictates that the meeting wrap up with a night of song and dance, provided by the diplomats themselves.

In 1997 Madeleine Albright (news - web sites), then secretary of state, bowled over the ministers when she performed a musical skit dressed as Evita Peron.

On Friday, Powell danced alongside five other U.S. officials sporting costumes that included an Indian headdress.

The group blasted out a version of the 1970s disco classic, to the delight of foreign ministers from across the Asia-Pacific and Europe.

"President Bush (news - web sites), he said to me: 'Colin, I need you to run the Department of State. We are between a rock and a hard place," Powell and his colleagues sang to the tune of the disco classic.

The after-dinner show is an annual highlight of the ASEAN Regional Forum, a time for ministers to loosen up after discussing security issues.

The event is closed to the press, but reporters regularly go out of their way to get the scoop.

The Russian delegation, headed by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, sang a version of the Beatles "Yellow Submarine" as a woman waving a Russian flag ran around the dinner tables.

Maybe the Russian Foreign Minister's wife ought to be worried as well.

What's The Matter With Our World?

The flames of anti-Semitism are spreading out of control. Melanie Phillips has a post today about a writer for the London Times named Simon Jenkins and his lunatic theories about how the world works:

Jenkins seems to have fallen under the spell of a new book, 'America Alone' by Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke, which apparently avers that 'a small group of neoconservatives contrived to take the greatest nation on Earth to war and kill thousands of people'. And the reason? Their support for Israel. This is what Jenkins says Halper and Clarke are saying, with which he agrees:

'Their Iraq war is not about oil but about the agenda of a small group of Washington ideologues, whom they hold as traitors to the American conservative tradition. This group’s seizure of Washington (and London) after 9/11 makes a fascinating study in power. Known colloquially as the Vulcans, they embraced Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and the Pentagon architect of the Iraq occupation, Douglas Feith. Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush were their front men. Their first commitment was to the defence of Israel.

To which Melanie replies:

This pernicious theory is, of course, demonstrably ludicrous. The power of this tiny group of 'neocons' has been exaggerated out of all proportion. The idea that such a fragment of the US administration could somehow have reprogrammed the minds of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and all the rest belongs to the wilder shores of paranoid fantasyland. The idea that, almost overnight, these neocons vanquished the vast interests of big oil and that lobby's myriad connections with the US administration is jaw-droppingly asinine. The idea that they could have persuaded Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al to act in the interests of Israel and against the interests of America is simply bizarre.

It also ignores various contrary facts. Like the fact that Israel actually regarded the Iraq war as a diversion from what it sees as the number one threat, Iran. Or like the fact that Rumsfeld and Cheney themselves believed straight after 9/11 that Iraq had been involved in those attacks, and that whether they were right or wrong this and this alone is why Iraq was in their sights. No other explanation is necesary, certainly not a demented conspiracy theory which would do credit to the ravings of Saudi Arabia about the Zionist hand behind terrorism in that country.

But alas, actual facts are irrelevant here. For what we are seeing is a vicious prejudice which is simply impervious to reason. It is the resurrection of the vile and disgusting belief -- which we can now see has never gone away, however we in Britain and America may have deluded ourselves about our 'civilised' society -- that the Jews possess extraordinary and sinister power which they exercise in a covert way to advance their own interests and harm the rest of mankind. Thus, as in the passage above, the Jews have 'seized' Washington, are 'traitors' to the conservative tradition (hello, neocons have their roots in the liberal tradition) and by implication to America itself, 'disdain' law and diplomacy because they are crazed by power-lust and the desire to kill people, and so 'deftly' provided a new threat to terrify the world after communism -- a threat which doubtless is a figment of their war-crazed imagination and nothing whatever to do with the fact that an Islamist death-cult, financed, trained and supported by a network of rogue states and which has now fanned out across the globe, has declared war on the west and is busy pursuing that murderous objective.

Note also the sneer by Jenkins at the idea that there is antisemitism at work here. What else are we supposed to call an attitude which irrationally singles out a tiny group of Jews for exercising superhuman powers they patently do not possess, to influence people with real power who did not need to be influenced, to support a country which did not seek this kind of support but thought it might be a distraction from more urgent considerations, and in a way that makes them deeply disloyal and traitorous to their own country because they actually display a higher loyalty to another?

Actually, I wouldn't call this antisemitism, a word invented by an antisemite. I'd call this straightforward Jew-hatred. Alas, its open expression is now a commonplace. Only this week, I was told by a prominent and distinguished opponent of the war in Iraq that he had been stopped from writing about it in sections of the British press by 'the Jewish lobby in America', and that Bush had gone to war in Iraq because 'he had Ariel Sharon's hand up his back'.

But then, of course, any protest at such loathsome attitudes is held up as triumphant proof of the Jewish lobby at its sinister work. Well, to hell with that. This abomination must be called by its proper name, and fought wherever it rears its ugly head.

Thanks Melanie.

United Nations To Monitor U.S. Elections?

From Agence French Presse comes this article:

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Several members of the House of Representatives have requested the United Nations (news - web sites) to send observers to monitor the November 2 US presidential election to avoid a contentious vote like in 2000, when the outcome was decided by Florida.

Recalling the long, drawn out process in the southern state, nine lawmakers, including four blacks and one Hispanic, sent a letter Thursday to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) asking that the international body "ensure free and fair elections in America," according to a statement issued by Florida representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, who spearheaded the effort.

"As lawmakers, we must assure the people of America that our nation will not experience the nightmare of the 2000 presidential election," she said in the letter.

"This is the first step in making sure that history does not repeat itself," she added after requesting that the UN "deploy election observers across the United States" to monitor the November, 2004 election.

The lawmakers said in the letter that in a report released in June 2001, the US Commission on Civil Rights "found that the electoral process in Florida resulted in the denial of the right to vote for countless persons."

The bipartisan commission, they stressed, determined "that the 'disenfranchisement of Florida's voters fell most harshly on the shoulders of black voters' and in poor counties." Both groups vote predominantly Democratic in US elections.

The commission also concluded, the lawmakers added, that "despite promised nationwide reforms (of the voting system) ... adequate steps have not been taken to ensure that a similar situation will not arise in 2004 that arose in 2000."

Thirty-six days after the November 7, 2000 presidential election, after several state court interventions and vote recounts in numerous Florida counties, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Republican George W. Bush, awarding him all of Florida's 25 electoral votes.

The ruling tipped the balance against Democratic contender and then vice president Al Gore (news - web sites), who with 267 electoral votes lost to Bush's 271, only one more than the minimum 270 needed to clinch the presidential election.

Do you think Kofi Annan will respond? If so, will he start preparations to send a team? If he does will Democrats in the House and Senate attempt to put an end to this? Or will they leave it to the Republicans? If they do, will the Republicans then unilaterally reject the help of the UN? If they do, then will that be seen as another example of Bush attempting to steal power?

Where is this going?

I can see a few possible outcomes? One of them being the beginning of the end of the UN.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Nader Cuts Loose

Ralph Nader is an anti-Semitic nut:

On Tuesday, as broadcast on the American cable network C-Span, independent presidential candidate and environmental crusader Ralph Nader said the following:

“What has been happening over the years is a predictable routine of foreign visitation from the head of the Israeli government. The Israeli puppeteer travels to Washington. The Israeli puppeteer meets with the puppet in the White House, and then moves down Pennsylvania Avenue, and meets with the puppets in Congress. And then takes back billions of taxpayer dollars. It is time for the Washington puppet show to be replaced by the Washington peace show.”

Thanks to LittleGreenFootballs for the information.

Women Are Slaves posted an important interview, this morning, with
with Eleanor Burkett. The subject is how women are treated in the world of pristine Islamofascist morality:

In Afghanistan, I found it difficult to walk down the street because I didn't understand that women always scurried around in their burqas because they were always expected to get out of the way of any man on the sidewalk. I met a woman who'd been crippled by a beating from the Vice and Virtue Police because - unaccustomed to seeing out of a burqa - she's tripped on the street and exposed a little ankle. I interviewed extraordinary women who'd been active professionals before the rise of the Taliban who'd endured their confinement by addicting themselves to sedatives or by abusing their husbands and kids.

In Iran, I got on a bus one afternoon and was directed to the back of the bus, which is where women are expected to ride. In Turkmenistan, I heard about arranged marriages to uncles, about women who refused to agree to such marriages being driven out by their families. In Kyrgyzstan, I learned about hymen replacement surgery - surely an amazing symbol of the plight of young women caught between modernization and tradition. If these women couldn't produce bloody sheets on the night of their weddings, they would, as a minimum, be shunned, at a maximu, be killed. In Iraq, urban women had watched as Saddam became more religious, and as short-sleeve dresses disappeared from the stores and women were pushed out of public life.

So when I came home, I fully expected the feminist movement to be up in arms, demanding that the U.S. government do more to defend these women, marching on the United Nations in defense of their sisters.

Instead, I found NOW working on its annual Love Your Body Day. And if I didn't hit a wall earlier, I hit it several weeks ago during the March for Women's Lives. Whoopi Goldberg declared that "there's a war going on, a war against women." I agreed. Unfortunately, we were talking about different wars.

The marchers insisted that George W. Bush is the world's greatest threat to women. What I'd seen and heard during a year's travels was that Muslim fundamentalists were the world's greatest threat to women. That's certainly what the women I met - on the street, in the market, in the classroom, on buses and during interviews - told me. They weren't worried about access to abortion. They were worried about access to jobs, about the right to work, about the right to run to the store without having to cover themselves, about the right to select their own husband, the right to educate themselves and their daughters.

And a march focused on George Bush and access to abortion belittled their situations and their struggles. How can you care about women, as the feminists insist they do, and not care about the actual threats to their lives?

Yesterday I posted a quote from a Mark Steyn article about Michael Moore's Farenheit 911, wherein a "pacifist" said Bush was a bigger "asshole" than Bin Laden. It is important to understand that the reality which Eleanor Burkett describes is Bin Laden's ideal world.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Steyn Sums Up Moore

Mark Steyn sums up Michael Moore's Farenheit 911:

Here's the way it works: if Bush is wearing the blue boxer shorts, they're a suspicious personal gift from Crown Prince Abdullah. If Bush is wearing the red boxer shorts, it's a conspiracy to distract public attention from the blue ones he was given by Crown Prince Abdullah. If he's wearing no boxer shorts, it's because he's so dumb he can't find his underwear in the morning.

Midway through the picture, a "peace" activist provides a perfect distillation of its argument. He recalls a conversation with an acquaintance, who observed, "bin Laden's a real asshole for killing all those people". "Yeah," says the "pacifist", "but he'll never be as big an asshole as Bush." That's who Michael Moore makes films for: those sophisticates who know that, no matter how many people bin Laden kills, in the assholian stakes he'll always come a distant second to Bush.

My thoughts? Well, maybe Michael Moore doesn't really hate Bush. Maybe he's doing some sort of sophisticated irony schtick wherein he's really just parodying "pacifists" and the "Bush is Hitler" crowd. He's on the record denying that his movie is supposed to taken too seriously. "It's comedy," he said when challenged on a particular. I mean, what could he possibly have stood to gain in argumentation from including that "pacifist."

No reasonable person could really believe Bush is a bigger "asshole" than Bin Laden. Bin Laden and his Wahabbi ilk are the ideology behind the Taliban which is the most backward, repressive regime I can imagine. Women were literally slaves in Afghanistan, as were men in another sense. Burkas, honor killings, public beheadings for the crime of heresy, stoning for the crimes of adultery and homosexuality, were the order of their "civilization."

How could Bush be more of an "asshole" than that?

Have you ever watched kids play house?

"Ok, you be the daddy and I'll be the mommy and it's time for you to go to work."

"Ok, and my job is to climb trees and throw dirtclods."

"Yes, and I'm going to knit a quilt now."

Great. Right?

These "pacifists" and "Bush is Hitler" people are on the same order as children playing house. They do not understand how things really work, so they imitate reason-ability. They imitate a political world.

"Ok, now we're going to play war and I'll be the good guy and you be the bad guy. You run around and blow up stuff and I'll stand here and say 'shame, shame, shame on you."

They are not really participating in society.

Tom Brokaw Is A Big Fat Idiot

Thanks to LittleGreenFootballs for making me aware of this Tom Brokaw interview with Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi:

Brokaw: As long as the United States military remains a conspicuous presence in your country working hand in glove with the new Iraqi government, won’t you always be seen really as an instrument of the U.S. military and therefore of America?

First off, great question, Tom. Why don't you go ask that question of Gerhard Schroeder considering seeing as how the American Military has a conspicuous presence in Germany as well?

Allawi: Iraq, as everybody knows, is the front state now

Probably not the best choice of words for Western consumption. I can see the Michael Moore's of the world going nuts with that one. But, oh well, you can't expect Mr. Allawi to know our colloquilisms.

— as the main theater to oppose and fight terrorism. And, with the help of international community and with the help of the region and with the help of the Iraqi people, we are going to win. We are going to prevail.

Brokaw: I know that you and others like you are grateful for the liberation of Iraq. But can’t you understand why many Americans feel that so many young men and women have died here for purposes other than protecting the United States?

Jeez, Tom. What are you trying to do make him feel ashamed of himself? Seriously, think about the entirety of the scenario. Limosine jounalist Tom Brokaw rolls up in one of his $4000 suits sits down in his Western effeminate pose and fires off that question to a man who is trying to restore order and dignity to a country of people that have been ravaged by one of the most brutal dictators of the 20th century

Allawi: We know that this is an extension to what has happened in New York. And — the war have been taken out to Iraq by the same terrorists. Saddam was a potential friend and partner and natural ally of terrorism.

Brokaw: Prime minister, I’m surprised that you would make the connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq. The 9/11 commission in America says there is no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and those terrorists of al-Qaida.

What the hell?

Doesn't Brokaw read the newspaper? It has been indisputably established that Saddam had links with terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda. The question is whether he was part of the 9/11 plot.

Allawi: No. I believe very strongly that Saddam had relations with al-Qaida. And these relations started in Sudan. We know Saddam had relationships with a lot of terrorists and international terrorism. Now, whether he is directly connected to the September — atrocities or not, I can’t — vouch for this. But definitely I know he has connections with extremism and terrorists.

Mr. Allawi handled himself very well when you consider he was being asked questions by a big fat idiot.

A New Orifice For The Church Of England
Thanks to Melanie Phillips

Melanie Phillips points out the anti-Israel moral bankruptcy of the Church Of England:

The letter to the Prime Minister from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, backed by every diocesan, suffragan and assistant bishop in the Church of England, demonstrates once again the deep moral confusion and prejudice that has engulfed the church. It is not just that these church leaders are against the Iraq war...It is what they say about Israel which is so revealing, so disgusting and so intensely distressing.

For on this issue, they spectacularly depart from the principles of even- handedness which they commend ( their suggestion that Britain was ever an ‘honest broker’ in the Middle East is itself a gross distortion of history, given that it was Britain which betrayed its promises to the Jews under the Palestine Mandate, did its best to thwart the creation of the Jewish national home which it had solemnly undertaken to bring about and then turned a blind eye to mass Arab illegal immigration to Palestine while denying access to Jews fleeing the Holocaust; but let that pass). They expressly come at this solely from the perspective of Arab and Muslim opinion. There is no mention of the rights of Israel or the Jews as the principal victims of annihilatory aggression and prejudice. Instead, there is this:

‘Within the wider Christian community we also have theological work to do to counter those interpretations of the Scriptures from outside the mainstream of the tradition which appear to have become increasingly influential in fostering an uncritical and one-sided approach to the future of the Holy Land’.

This is an astonishingly revealing and disturbing paragraph. For in their coded attack on Christian Zionists —the one group which tells the truth about the Middle East and recognises that Israel is the historic and present victim of annhilatory terror, not its perpetrator —these Archbishops have sided with those in the church who promote instead an agenda of malevolent lies towards Israel and the Jews. Anyone who reads the venomously distorted, ahistorical diatribes about the Middle East put out by Christian Aid and other Christian charities or those Palestinian thinkers like Naim Ateek who are so lionised by the church hierarchy, or reads the remarks made about ‘Nazi’ or ‘apartheid’ Israel, and the resurgent claim within the church that the Jews are ‘excluded’ from God’s love and therefore their claim to the Promised Land, can see there is indeed an ‘uncritical and one-sided approach to the future of the Holy Land’ inside the church — but it belongs to the opposite camp, one that the Archbishops have now implicitly endorsed.

So what lies behind this? According to the Times, the Archbishops are worried by anti-Muslim feeling:

‘One of their main concerns is the damage caused by the conflict to community relations in Britain between Muslims and non-Muslims. Some of the strongest advocates for the letter were bishops from cities with large Muslim populations, such as Bradford. They are concerned by a rise in Islamophobia and fear that the September 11 attacks have desensitised emotions so that the treatment meted out to detainees no longer causes the moral outrage it should.’

But what about the rampant Judeophobia now on almost daily display in the malevolent and mendacious campaign to delegitimise Israel, and the corresponding resurgence of libels and prejudice against the Jews? On this, the Archbishops are totally silent. The Times also tells us that:

‘On Israel, the archbishops were expressing concerns among the bishops that the new steps towards a settlement should not be on Israel’s terms only’.

But the only reason a prospective settlement is currently being proposed on terms laid down by Israel is that the Palestinians have not stopped waging genocidal war against it. If they stopped doing so and showed they were really prepared to live in peace with a Jewish state, negotiations would re-open tomorrow. But they refuse to do so. The Archbishops are effectively saying that the perpetrators of this war against Israel should be given an equal right to lay down terms for a settlement. What astonishing moral bankruptcy from religious leaders. The Church of England is now squarely supporting the enemies of the west. It is high time other Christians rose up to denounce it and reclaim their religion for truth and moral decency.


Points Well Taken

Jack, over at Jack Of Clubs makes a few good points in response to my post on the importance of knowing and understanding Chomsky:

One of the beautiful things about our free, capitalist society (which Chomsky hates) is the division of labor in which we each have liberty to chose our pursuits and pastimes. I acknowledged in my original post that Benjamin Beersheva is "worth reading" and that he performs a "useful, perhaps necessary service". But there are other battles to be fought and, however influential Chomsky may be among the left (and only leftist sources are quoted above), his are not the only bad ideas that cry for rebuttal.

True. And there is this from Jack:

There are two ways of defeating bad philosophies. One is to attack them directly and refute them point by point. The other is to promote better and more attractive ideas of your own. We can call these the Military and Marketing metaphors, respectively (if you will pardon the alliteration). I make no secret that I incline to the Marketing approach, but both approaches have their virtues and each may be necessary in any given situation. There are certainly times when a knock-down, drag-out fight is called for, in intellectual arenas as well as physical ones. But one advantage of the Marketing metaphor is that it steals the initiative from the opponent and makes him react to you or risk becoming irrelevant. Though he has not been definitively defeated yet, I think Chomsky and all his ilk are on the verge precisely such an irrelevance in the face of the enormous success of the American vision.

And this:

I do want to make one more comment, in a non-controversial sort of way. I think the ultimate problem with Chomsky is not his irrationality, but his hatred of God which leads to a hatred of truth, liberty and all manner of other aspects of God's kingdom. The cure for such a hatred -- for Mr. Chomsky himself, if he will have it, but certainly for anyone else who may be influenced by him -- is the spread of the Gospel. This can be achieved through Apologetics or through Evangelism, thus reinvoking my Military and Marketing metaphors in somewhat less secular terminology. But again, there is no conflict between the two approaches: they are complementary.

Er, did I say non-controversial...?

You did.

The reason I have this fixation about Chomsky is because after 9/11 I started to hear all this lunacy come out of the mouths of my friends and family. I had a family member call from the U.K., on 9-11, and explain to me that the reason 9/11 happened was because the U.S. supports dictatorships all over the world. Another friend told me Afghanistan was all about an oil pipeline. And then there's the endless claptrap about the "Jewish lobby."

I have been surprised and horrified at the "blame America first" crowd. I have also been surprised and horrified at how often this crowd veers into kooky conspiracyspeak, and how the illogic always leads ultimately to the Jews.

After awhile I started to connect the dots and found they, when all connected produced a rather detailed rendering of the face of Noam Chomsky, right down to the Jew hatred.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

More On Clinton

Thanks to No Pasaran for making me aware of this John Vincour article from the International Herald Tribune:

PARIS: With Europeans lining up and shelling out to read Bill Clinton, he turns out to be a guy who insists on reminding people that two-thirds of the Democratic Party in Congress voted George W. Bush the specific powers he needed to make war in Iraq. Then, piling it on, he goes and says that France and Germany wrongly made light of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

For Der Spiegel, the Hamburg newsmagazine that has never found an American president subtle enough to match its tastes, this was clearly a problem as it completed its second installment of extracts. In its table of contents last week, it announced a conversation with the former president about "Bush's Iraq debacle."

In the headline over its interview, it promised Clinton's take on "the Disaster of the Bush Administration in the Iraq War."

As it turned out, the single time the word "debacle" came out of anybody's mouth in the Q-and-A, it belonged to the Spiegel people asking Clinton questions. The former president verbally sprinted in the other direction.

It was this kind of whoosh: Clinton said his successor was now moving toward a turnaround in Iraq that might take two to five years to achieve. In Clinton's view, sovereignty was being returned to the Iraqis, a new UN resolution had been passed, and the Iraqis were freeing the Americans from having to decide on everything.

"I believe that's good," he said. "Maybe our government has really learned that it's better that way."

Although you couldn't tell from the magazine's promotional material or headlines, Clinton also took pains to recall why the Democrats had backed Bush's request for war powers and, with it, to criticize the French and German attitude at the time, which he said would not have supported the use of force even if Saddam had refused to cooperate with the United Nations.

Clinton told Spiegel that whatever the state of the Iraqi Army, he didn't agree "with the German and French position that Saddam never did anything that he wasn't forced into" and "didn't constitute a threat." Clinton said: "If he did have chemical and biological weapons reserves, he would have been a danger. He could have passed them to someone else or sold them."

... for Europeans irritated these days by anything that sounds like an American's support for a non-capitulationist view of the United States' self-interests, Clinton's approach may have come as disappointingly as John Kerry's when he pounced on José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero's Spain for pulling its forces out of Iraq, and urged the Europeans to share the mission's risks and burdens.

The issue here is not Bush, whose admirers in Europe are squad-sized rather than legion. It is rather that Clinton's bottom line on America's world role - like that, as well, of virtually all the mainstream foreign policy players in Washington - may not jibe with the America that Spiegel, or Le Nouvel Observateur in France, another investor in his memoirs, or many of their readers, say they want to love.

"Bill Clinton was a great president," the French magazine wrote. "A cool president for a cool epoch. When the Net-economy propelled growth and melted unemployment. When the American hyperpower didn't deviate into autistic unilateralism."

In fact, Clinton specifically told Spiegel that when it must, America has to be able to deal with events alone (although acting in cooperation with friends is obviously preferable). Because there is considerable concern among European politicians and the media of being seen as anti-American rather than anti-Bush, which is as easy here as kicking a can, the publication of the memoir looked to some as a good chance, via Clinton, to be publicly counted among the Friends of a Well-Behaved America.

(French Foreign Minister, Hubert) Vedrine rejected Clinton's assertion accompanying the book's publication that Yasser Arafat's unreliability had been the essential cause of the failure of the Camp David accords between the United States, Israel and the Palestinians.

"Clinton is loading this on Arafat because, however brilliant Clinton is, he remains an American politician," Vedrine said. "He's a bit constrained on this point."

Nudge-nudge. Vedrine is not only saying that dark forces, which he is too discreet to name, run American Middle East policy,
but that Clinton was not being forthright about a critical moment of recent history.

Hee hee hee hee hee. That's funny. We've Clinton over there setting those Euros straight. You know, they really should have known him by his cowboy accent.

I'm telling you, Bill Clinton doesn't get enough credit.

That's The Fact, Jack

I recently sent an email to Jack, over at Jack of Clubs, to let him know about the Anti-Chomsky website. I thought he'd find an interesting resource. Well, he blogged about it anyway:

Pastorius sent me a link to this relatively new blog with the comment that I might find it interesting. I do in the same morbid way that picking at a scab is interesting. Definitely worth reading, if you find analysis of Chomsky's intellectual pus worth bothering about. Personally I find him beneath my notice, so I don't spend a lot of energy lancing that particular boil.

Still, he has an influential voice, so I suppose someone has to do it. It's a useful, maybe even necessary, service.

Influential voice? Yes, I should say so. He's at the top of the Canon of our age. In the Bloomian sense, we can't help but wrestle with. From Keith Windshchutte's New Criterion article:

... the liberal news media around the world has sought him out for countless interviews as the most promi- nent intellectual opposed to the American response to the terrorist attacks. Newspaper articles routinely open by reminding readers of his awesome intellectual status. A profile headlined “Conscience of a Nation” in the English daily The Guardian declared: “Chomsky ranks with Marx, Shakespeare, and the Bible as one of the ten most quoted sources in the humanities—and is the only writer among them still alive.” The New York Times has called him “arguably the most important intellectual alive.”

Chomsky has used his status, originally gained in the field of linguistics, to turn himself into the leading voice of the American left. He is not merely a spokesman. His own stance has done much to structure left-wing politics over the past forty years. Today, when actors, rock stars, and protesting students mouth anti-American slogans for the cameras, they are very often expressing sentiments they have gleaned from Chomsky’s voluminous output.

It is unfortunate, but true, that our society hates itself so much that a man like Chomsky is one of the defining voices of our time. We may disagree with the guy, but if he's right up there with the Bible and Shakespeare as a quoted source, then we must be aware of him. We must lance the boil and take a culture of the pus.

Just as it's a good idea to familiarize oneself with the various syllogism's of logic so that one may analyze arguments, we must also understand the rules of illogic posited by Chomsky, so that we may recognize the source material of the Wests collective suicide note. Noam Chomsky is the totem of left. He is the monolith around which the apes gather and bash their clubs.

We must understand him. Well, maybe not understand him. But, we must recognize him. There's a power in naming the demon. Thank God for Anti-Chomsky.

Krauthammer (and Pastorius) On Clinton

Charles Krauthammer has written, I believe, a near great summation of Bill Clinton and his Presidency:

Clinton was the fox. He knew -- and accomplished -- small things. His autobiography is a perfect reflection of that: a wild mish-mash of remembrance, anecdote, appointment calendar and political payback. The themeless pudding of a million small things is just what you would expect from a president who once gave a Saturday radio address on school uniforms.

Small, but not always unimportant. Clinton did conclude NAFTA and did sign welfare reform. His greatest achievement was an act of brilliant passivity -- he got out of the way of one of the largest peacetime economic expansions in American history. And though he takes personal credit for all the jobs created -- a ridiculous assertion to make about the decade of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates -- he does deserve credit for not screwing things up. Presidents often do. He easily could have.

His great failing was foreign policy. Viewing the world through the narrow legalist lens of liberal internationalism, he spent most of his presidency drafting and signing treaty after useless treaty on such things as biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. All this in a world where the biggest problem comes from terrorists and rogue states for whom treaties are meaningless.

Like the 1920s, the '90s were a golden age permeated by a postwar euphoria of apparently endless peace and prosperity. Both decades ended abruptly, undermined ultimately by threats that were ignored as they grew and burrowed underground. Clinton let a decade of unprecedented American prosperity and power go without doing anything about al-Qaeda, Afghanistan or Iraq (where his weakness allowed France and Russia to almost totally undermine the post-Gulf War sanctions). And although al-Qaeda declared war on America in 1996 and, as we now know, hatched the September 11 plot that same year, it continued to flourish throughout the decade.

Looking the other way was largely a function of the age -- our holiday from history, our retreat from seriousness, our Seinfeld decade of obsessive ordinariness.

One is inevitably reminded of the quite unbelievable image of the president of the United States on the phone with a congressman discussing Bosnia while being simultaneously serviced by Monica Lewinsky.

What was always staggering to me about this scene was not what it says about Clinton's sexual practices -- I couldn't care less one way or another -- but about his unseriousness.

I never hated Clinton. On the contrary, I often expressed admiration for his charm and for the roguish cynicism that allowed him to navigate so many crises. Nor was I scandalized by his escapades. What appalled me then, a feeling that returns as Clinton has gone national revisiting his own presidency, is the smallness of a man who granted equal valence to his own indulgences on the one hand and to the fate of nations on the other. It is the smallness that disturbs. It is that smallness that history will remember.

I partially agree with Krauthammer. However, the smallness is not the moral failing many of his critics claim. Clinton's vision was as large as the time required. George Bush, whom I also like as a President came into office with a small vision. I recall the Presidential Debates of 2000 and the endless tedium about Prescription Drugs. I recall George Bush stating repeatedly that he was not into "nation-building." George Bush's vision grew because of Sept. 11th. In my opinion, George Bush has grown into a possibly great President on the order of magnitude of Reagan and Roosevelt. However, it remains to be seen.

I will not claim that Clinton would have grown as Bush did when challenged. We just don't know. Truthfully, I doubt it. However, I will claim this. Clinton just might be the greatest President we've ever had who was not challenged by a major event or set of events.

His legacy will lie in NAFTA and the economy for which Krauthammer rightly gives him the credit he deserves. However, there are two other larger, but subtle, things for which Clinton commonly does not get the credit he deserves. One Krauthammer mentions, but does not truly acknowledge. That is welfare reform. Krauthammer comments that Clinton "signed" the welfare reform bill. You will often hear conservatives make the claim that Clinton did not want to sign the bill. In fact, if I am not mistaken, he did not sign it the first two times it was presented to him.

Now, I, obviously, am not a historian. I am a bit of a goofball. But, I do have a pretty decent memory. And, one thing I remember (but am unable to find on Google) is that in 1992 Clinton gave an interview to Rolling Stone magazine wherein he outlined his plans for Welfare Reform, including an idea he called "workfare" which meant that people would be exected to contribute something in return for the "hand-up" they were being given. The bill that Clinton eventually signed was almost identical to what he outlined in the interview.

It is my opinion, based upon my recollection of the Rolling Stone Interview, that, when Clinton did not initially sign the Welfare bill, he was playing the fox with Congress. Clinton knew that Congress would want to pass something even more stringent than what he wanted so he negotiated by offering something less stringent than he wanted. In the end, he got what he wanted.

That's a pretty darn good President, even if it isn't huge vision.

And, by the way, only under a Clinton Presidency could such a Welfare Reform bill been enacted. And that is because of the other, more important, legacy of the Bill Clinton Presidency. And this legacy he will probably not be given credit for for some years to come, because it had nothing to do with policy instead it had to do with his personality, and his vision, and how they fit, and shaped, the zeitgeist of our nation.

Bill Clinton was the first American President who truly believed that all people who are citizens of America were truly equal human beings, whether they were black, brown, yellow, or white.

Clinton did have an unspoken equality intiative. His appointments to his cabinent included blacks, Hispanic, Jews, etc. However, that would have looked like a service to the politically-correct era if it had not been for the fact that Clinton clearly looked comfortable with all these different people. (Oops, I said "these people") He actually like them (oops, there I go again) not because of the color of their skin, but because of the content of their character.

While Clinton's equality initiative did not have a direct effect on public policy the power of his initiative can not be overstated, however rarely it is acknowledge. Similarly, Ronald Reagan had a powerful impact on the attitude of the country. Reagan gave us hope, where there had been malaise. Just as with Clinton, this was not a matter of policy, but a matter of his personality and his vision.

Why is it that commentaries on Reagan always acknowledge this aspect of his Presidency, yet Clinton's impact of racial equality is not acknoledged?

I think there are several reasons. One, is that the preponderence of people, who are white, believed that they, as a people, had already left racism behind. However, feeling "uncomfortable" with whole groups of people because of their skin color effects the way one treats those groups of people. It effects decisions of employment and marriage and friendship. That amounts to racism in effect, if not intention.

Another reason, Clinton's Equality Initiative is not acknowledged is, I believe, a residual momentum of the trivialization and hatred of Clinton which was fomented during his Presidency.

Clinton got a lot of bad press, almost as if there had been a vast right-wing conspiracy to bring down his Presidency. I recall Rush Limbaugh running commercials for a video explaining Clinton's closeness to the mysterious deaths of dozens of people. I recall Rush Limbaugh giving lip service to such ideas. That's some mainstream hatred.

I think it needs to be acknowledged that George Bush is getting similar treatment now, with all the "Bush is Hitler" propoganda. Almost as if there is a vast left-wing conspiracy to bring down his Presidency.

Bill Clinton actually moved two mountains during his Presidency. The Welfare Reform Act, with it's stipulation that one could only collect welfare for two years, reversed the momentum of increasing benefits and changed the way Americans view welfare. Welfare is a "hanup, not a handout." In addition, Clinton, with his openess and yes, "feeling", helped Americans redefine the way we view and treat people of color.

America is a much better place because of Bill Clinton's Presidency.

Monday, June 28, 2004


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Power Transferred Over to Iraqi Government
What The Heck?

Yahoo posted this Reuters report about the transfer of power to Iraq's new government. But there's something strange in the report:

Journalists had been hastily summoned for what was billed as U.S. administrator Paul Bremer's last news conference before a handover not due until Wednesday, but the confusion and tight security suggested that something extraordinary was afoot.

Two days early, Bremer was to dissolve the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), end more than 14 months of U.S.-British occupation and turn over control to an Iraqi interim government led by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

An explosion echoed over Baghdad about 90 minutes before the ceremony in the heavily fortified Green Zone compound, which contains CPA headquarters and some Iraqi government offices.

There in a small room sat Allawi, Interim President Ghazi al-Yawar, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih and Iraq's top judge, Medhat al-Mahmoud, sipping tea or coffee with Bremer and his deputy, British special representative David Richmond.

On a table between Bremer and Allawi, both in dark suits, stood the Iraqi flag, inscribed 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greatest) in Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s handwriting, along with a vase of flowers.

Is that a typo? A miscommunication? Did they mean that the old Iraqi flag was there as a demonstration of what the Iraqi's have overcome with the help of U.S. forces?

I hope this gets clarified.