Syria's Days Numbered?
Three Syrian security chiefs and the head of Lebanon's presidential guard were arrested yesterday in connection with the assassination of Rafik Hariri.
Anti-Syrian politicians in Lebanon including Walid Jumblatt have fled the country, fearing an assassination campaign by Damascus/Hezboallah/Iran. Hariri's son Saad has been in Paris for two weeks, fearing an attack if he returned to Lebanon.
The sophisticated and in-depth forensic investigation of Hariri's death is getting close to proving that Bashar Assad ordered his assassination. There are rumors of wiretaps proving that Damascus ordered the killing.
This is momentous - it is an act of war by Syria upon Lebanon.
John Batchelor had one question on his show regarding this situation: how long will it take Israel's 1st Armored Division to go from Eilat to Damascus?
Hither And Yon
Yeah, like Michael Yon has never heard that one before.
Being the laggard that I am, I did not discover who Michael Yon was until last week. I found his blog, and read it from beginning to end - maybe the best damn thing I have read on a blog yet.
The upshot: we are winning the war in Iraq.
Maybe if more journalists in Iraq emulated Yon and actually left the hotel bars once in a while, we would get a more realistic view of what is happening there.
Cindy Sheehan, Media Fake
Via LGF we find this tender and spontaneous moment between Cindy Sheehan and Al Sharpton . . .
. . . and a dozen or so of their closest friends in the media - is that David Duke somewhere in the background?
Need any more evidence that Cindy Sheehan is an utter fake? Well, check out this account from a conservative infiltrator at Camp Casey. Cindy Sheehan is not a grieving mother - she is a leftist media creature with handlers and her own public relations firm.
Rightwing Nuthouse also asks a great question: where are all the protestors?
5th Columnist Inside HuffPo
Great. After I completely bailed out on the Huffington Post, I discover that there was one blogger there worth reading.
This is some of the funniest stuff I ever read on a blog. This guy skewers and deflates a lot of the sanctimonious mediocrities posing as 'bloggers' on HuffPo (which is, basically, all of them) and for some reason Arianna puts up with it.
Greg's posts are always a twofer, because the tight-sphinctered comments by his detractors are nearly as funny as his posts.
I think Arianna hasn't gotten rid of this guy yet because she would be too embarassed to admit she made a mistake in handing him the keys to HuffPo.
Don't forget to check out his DOUBLE SECRET HIDDEN BLOG contained in his bio.
Men Smarter Than Women?
There is a new study claiming that men, on average, are five IQ points more intelligent than women.
I don't buy it. No doubt feminist groups will be working overtime to discredit the methodology of this study, and will attack even the possibility that men might be naturally smarter than women. But even if the methodology were proven sound, I would discount it.
We simply can't--and shouldn't--act as if one of the genders is smarter than the other. You never deal with an entire group of people in your life encounters, you deal with individuals one at a time. And individuals are just that, single souls with their own characteristics and personalities that are quite capable of lying anywhere along the bell curve. As a man it would not behoove you to treat any given woman you meet as less intelligent than you are just because of her gender, you would simply be cheating yourself and cheating her.
The ugliest possibility of this type of study, if proven true, is that there will be calls for some kind of remedial social engineering to level the playing field. Or calls for some kind of paternal legislation aimed at protecting our supposedly less acute sisters. The mind reels with all sorts of horrid reactions to this type of discovery, nothing good can come of it.
Run, Rudy, Run!
I voted in Patrick Ruffini's straw poll for Rudy Giuliani last month - and was surprised to see that George Allen was beating him (and everyone else) at the time. Ruffini has now closed his latest straw poll, and Giuliani has surged to take the lead with 30% of the votes.
Why vote for Giuliani? The guy has demonstrated that he can get the job done under pressure, and unfortunately I think the odds will be fifty-fifty that our next president will be called upon to display just such fortitude.
He is not ideologically pure. Far from being a detriment in his case, I think it makes him a pragmatist. He breaks with Republican ranks on issues when necessary, and not for the purpose of sucking up to the press as does John McCain.
He will win. I don't care who the dems put up against Giuliani - Rudy will beat them with natural charm, charisma, quick wit and well-tuned political ear. He was on his way to drubbing Hillary Clinton in the New York senate race when he had to pull out, and he will trounce her again if they face off in a presidential run.
As for Giuliani's 'baggage' - please. We live in the post-Clinton era, and Democrats have lost any right to harp on anyone's personal failings.
Rudy Giuliani is a candidate that will really get the Republicans fired up in a way none of the other candidates can, save Condoleeza Rice (Ruffini's 'fantasy candidate' winner) but - I believe Condi when she says she does not want to run. I don't think she will.
In the end though, choosing Rudy is really a gut thing for me. I just trust the guy.
Sad, Sad, Sad
While perusing Michelle Malkin's site, I noted three stories in a row - leftist protestors at Walter Reed Hospital, fake news stories about a fictional veteran, and beatings of two soldiers in Seattle.
What is the connection among these three sad stories? A complete and utter lack of respect for soldiers who protect our liberties.
I wonder when leftist psychos are going to start spitting on soldiers--it is probably only a matter of time now, just to complete the whole 'Iraq is Vietnam' thing, you know.
P.S., there should be heightened penalties for any assault or battery committed against uniformed soldiers or guardsmen.
Drudge Was Right, Unfortunately
I used to be a big fan of the Drudge Report--until he loaded up his site with so much crap that it started crashing my IE browser. Sorry, I am not switching to Firefox just for the privilege of being able to visit Drudge.
Anyway, beware to any unwary blogger that links to Drudge before his stories are proven true. I was disgusted by the possibility that this story, originally posted on Drudge a day or two ago, might be true.
Sadly, it appears to be.
Cindy Sheehan's Lib Logic
Get this: Cindy Sheehan has proclaimed that George W. Bush murdered her son.
Now, Cindy Sheehan has said that she bears no ill will towards whoever it was that actually killed her son. She told reporters during a conference call that she has "no animosity for that person at all."
Can it be any clearer that Cindy Sheehan is not from Planet Earth?
Flat Tax Cure For Oppression
I have always thought that the federal tax code 'disenfranchises' citizens by being so large and complex that no ordinary citizen could possibly take the time to properly understand it.
I don't mean literal disenfranchisment by being deprived of the vote, but a disenfranchisement of a citizen being alienated from their own governing process by a set of laws so impenetrable, that taxpayers must often hire a guru such as an accountant or tax lawyer just to figure out what to pay the government. In effect, you must pay an accountant or lawyer 'tax' just for the privilege of not screwing yourself over while figuring out what you owe. It is a form of minor oppression, but an oppression nonetheless, that puts a 'priestly caste' between the citizen and an understanding of their own government.
Take at look at the sheer size of the United States Code sometime. Or the CFRs, the Code of Federal Regulations. We live in a technically advanced society governed by the rule of law, and I understand that the size, breadth and depth of federal law is necessary. The downside of this is that it makes good citizenship harder and harder all the time, because it becomes harder and harder for the good citizen to even know what the rules are that governs his conduct.
Therefore the simplicity of the flat tax alone is a virtue sufficient to recommend it, regardless of what other disadvantages it may have. The tax process is the average citizen's most direct contact with the federal government - and so what a wonderful starting place for simplification it is.
Breaching the gap between citizen and government is only one of the myriad benefits of flat taxes, as explained in this analysis by Will Franklin.
Iraq Is No Bosnia
Via Dean Esmay, and via AMERICAblog we find some quotes of Republicans against the war in Bosnia collected by the Blog-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
This is somehow supposed to be a damning indictment of Republicans who are now hawkish on Iraq, committing the ultimate sin of hypocrisy. I am not sure this cuts in favor of the liberal opponents of the war however. These are much the same folk that were leading the cheers for Clinton's war - why are they any less hypocritical for now being anti-war? Isn't this list of quotes an admission that liberals now are no more honest about their concerns than Republicans were then? Isn't that tantamount to saying the entire thing is about politics and nothing else? They doth protest too much, and this list of quotes is also an admission that these types of criticisms are finding their targets.
Big, huge, whopping, critical difference between the Bosnian war and the Iraq war: the Iraq war is necessary for national security, economic and humanitarian interests, while the Bosnian war was of questionable value in saving lives and served absolutely no national security interests whatsover.
Not even the Europeans thought it worth lifting a finger over.
Ken Says: I was opposed to the air war in Bosnia because I didn't think it was our war to fight. At the very least our NATO buddies could have chipped in with a few goddam air strikes of their own - it still rankles me how useless the Europeans are when it comes to such things.
But, when the war started I shut the hell up, supported the troops and our President. Just what any decent American would or should do.
'Incurable Moral Cretinism'
James Lileks on Cindy Sheehan and her ugly ideology.
Who Hates Hillary?
Via Patrick Ruffini we find a Kos Kid poll, 'Who Do You Hate In '08' querying visitors about their least favorite dem candidate in '08.
Guess who is winning/losing? That's right - Her Majesty, Hillary Clinton.
What a dilemma for poor Hillary. She has a choice of either alienating the Democratic base and the 'grassroots' folk who actually raise a lot of money, or embracing a liberal ideology that doesn't have a chance in hell of actually winning.
Ruffini also points out Hillary's new alliance with Rupert Murdoch of all people, which has another Kos Kiddie all upset too, quoth - "Hillary, the pro-war neocon (see her speech to AIPAC; it's on her website) is nothing less than Joe Lieberman in a pants suit."
Hillary is a 'neocon'? Compared to Noam Chomsky, maybe.
Carnival Of Revolutions
'Revolution' no longer means trading in the old tyranny for a new tyranny. Nowadays, it means glorious democracy. However, the path to democracy often leads to dead ends, false turns and steps backward. Sometimes big steps backwards such as developments this week in Iran.
For those of you keeping score at home, I present this week's Carnival of Revolutions:
A Step Forward.
A Step Forward.
Gateway Pundit reports that Lech Walesa has given Belarus, the 'most repressive state in Europe', a piece of his mind.
Georgia and Ukraine
A Step Forward.
Krikorian also tells us about the growing democratic solidarity between Georgia and Ukraine, and their further orientation toward the West.
A Step Backward.
The Sharpener gives us coverage of some disturbing developments, following up on revelations of a fundamentalist takeover of Basra as reported by the late Steven Vincent.
A Step Backward.
Different River compares the impending Israeli pullout from Gaza to the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia.
A Step Forward.
Kirk H. Sowell brings us an interview that uncovers some surprising Syrian arab views regarding America. Is the term 'Syrian arab' redundant? Hardly. The main thrust of the interview deals with Syrian Kurds.
A Step Backward.
Jane continues her important coverage of unfolding events in Yemen. President Saleh moves to improve his image, while at the same time possibly giving refuge to Iraqi ex-Ba'athists in al-Qaeda run training camps. Not new this week, but I cannot help but also post to the dramatic photos of Yemeni riots at WILLisms.com.
All in all, not the best week for democracy.
Thanks to Will Franklin at WILLisms.com for the privilege of hosting this week's Carnival of Revolutions.
Insults, North Korean Style
Via The Scotsman (is there a cooler name for a newspaper anywhere?) we discover the NK News Database of North Korean Propaganda.
It even includes the KCNA insult generator!
If you have ever read the priceless diatribes at KCNA, the official propaganda arm of the North Korean government, you know that what the Scotsman article says is true - the North Koreans routinely issue unintentionally hilarious nonsense.
NARAL Succumbs To Truth
Apparently NARAL is withdrawing its repugnant ad attacking Judge Roberts.
This, my friends, is a victory for the Factual Revolution.
Not so long ago, this ad would have gone unchallenged. The most a conservative could do in protest was write a letter to the editor of their paper hoping it gets published, or hope that lone conservative pundit George Will talked about it on tv.
Now, blogs and talk radio can call down a firestorm of outrage against the lying demagoguery that liberal interests so routinely engage in. Such protests get results, because now Democrats can no longer duck the question of whether they agree with such messages.
This will not prevent fringe groups like NARAL from trying such tactics again. They have no other tactics. Other more reasonable tactics, such as telling the truth, are anathema because the truth is not exactly helpful to their cause.
Heroes On The Right
. . . and heroes on the left.
Betsy Newmark posted her 12 favorite people on the right 'including politicians, pundits, bloggers and media people.'
How about your favorites from the right and left, of all time?
Mine goes something like this - righties:
. . . and uncategorizable:
. . . and my favorite of all time is Abraham Lincoln. But is he right, or left? I haven't even tried to add the collective Founding Fathers to this list - they are not mere mortals to me anyway.
The commone themes for me here are courage, genius or cojones. Thus, Lincoln is first followed by Reagan because they had the most of all three.
Able Danger Overture
According to Curt Weldon (R-7th Dist., PA), the feds had Mohammed Atta and three other 911 terrorists under surveillance and failed to pursue them in any meaningful manner because Bill Clinton feared another Waco-type backlash. Using data mining techniques, a special Pentagon unit named 'Able Danger' uncovered the 911 terrorist cell, tried to have them taken out, and were stopped by Clinton administration lawyers.
This story is just really getting started, and already it stinks to high heaven:
911 Commission members are now admitting that they were briefed on Able Danger - which they had all denied up until now. The Commissioners knew about Able Danger and left it out of their report. Does not pass the smell test.
Jamie Gorelick, architect of the inane 'wall' that protected Atta & Co. from law enforcement, was one of the 911 Commissioners charged with investigating why Atta & Co. were not stopped.
Sandy Berger may have been trying to cover up Able Danger by stuffing notes into his socks.
I have a feeling we are going to be hearing a lot more about Able Danger in the near future. Kinda reveals the Plame affair as the complete non-story it is by comparison.
Bipartisan Victory: Lots O' Pork
The only thing that seems to unite Republicans and Democrats: bringing home the bacon.
Today, in Montgomery Illinois (just a few potholes away from where I am writing) President Bush signed the new highway bill, which weighed in at a monstrous $286.4 billion.
Bush said he compromised Congress down from $400 billion!
Is anyone else out there annoyed by this violation of first principles by 'fiscally conservative' Republicans?
Ken Says: I dunno why but I feel like I gotta explain myself on this. I am socially liberal, so one of the main reasons I support socially conservative Republicans is because they believe in fiscal responsibility. Or so they say. If they knock this pillar out from under me, it blows away a whole bundle of reasons why I support them. It is much more than an issue of balanced budgets. Limiting the size of government is the best check we have on creeping socialism. It is the best way to keep the free play of markets and entreprenership going strong. A smaller government must, by necessity, be less powerful and thus more deferential to liberty. The only thing that competes with limited government for space on my political radar screen is national security. I hope the Republicans don't take it away from me or, god forbid, the Democrats appropriate it. Not much danger of that, but the Dems have to wise up one day, don't they?
I am kinda dense in a lot of ways and so I missed the Conservative Blog Taxonomy when it came out, oh, nearly a WEEK ago.
But I gotta respond to it because of a few things that are just wrong with that notorious post.
First off, Volokh gets criticised for 'flashes of viciousness'. News to me. The guy seems sober as a judge and not given to fly off the handle. My guess is that I read Volokh more regularly than this blogger, and I have yet to see him write anything remotely 'vicious'. Note too that fellow Volokhian David Bernstein posts about the Conservative Blog Taxonomy also, but not to defend Volokh, but rather to point out the rather brusquely intolerant way Michelle Malkin was treated, complete with reference to her anatomy.
And then there is the part about Dean:
Dean Esmay is popular among right-wingers as one of those centrists who just happen to hate liberals and Democrats. A proud dry drunk, he works out his unresolved childhood issues of being raised in a union household by writing about his crackpot theories on HIV/AIDS, feminism, and capitalism."First off, a moonbat blogger complaining about another blogger's 'crackpot theories' is a bit rich don't you think? And note this disturbing new trend among 'tolerant' liberals toward harping on the perceived personal weaknesses of those they would otherwise defend (such as those in addiction recovery, or ahem, such as protecting the sexual identity of homosexuals - unless they are conservative journalists).
I don't think Dean hates liberals and Democrats. He would tell you if he did - he posts on the concept of hatred itself and he admits he does hate. Dean is the most intense blogger I know, on a wide range of subjects. Go forth, and participate: I think Dean also has the best comments in the blogosphere.
Update: Gah, no sooner do I post this, than I see that Dean himself is responding to these ridiculous attacks on him.
War On Terror A 'Total War'?
The War on Terror is a new kind of total war. It is not Sherman's March to the Sea, the Siege of Leningrad or even the Tet Offensive in terms of military scale or involvement.
Yet it is a total war, in that it requires a total concentration of the proper resources to fight this war, with human intelligence, international cooperation, law enforcement, and bribery, assassinations and perhaps even extra-constitutional means of extracting information all put to proper use. We need to be even more asymmetrical than our asymmetric enemy. We still need the military option, but it is only one weapon among many. The Pentagon had the right idea in deemphasizing the 'war' aspect of the GWOT because it plays up too much on the military as the solution. Much of the ridicule this concept received was unjustified.
It is cliché, but true: if we change the way we live, the terrorists have won. Prior worldwide conflicts such as World War II demanded huge changes in lifestyle for the people. Paradoxically, in the War on Terror the people maintain their morale by not changing their lifestyle, which would be an admission to the enemy that they can really affect us as a group. Nor is there as much need to even change the status quo on the homefront, this conflict is not nearly as intense or extensive as World War II, Korea, or even Vietnam. I am sure that the World War II generation felt that conflict was far more intrusive into their lives than this War on Terror.
This is not to say that the War on Terror is a trifle compared to past wars. Unlike those wars, our very home is now threatened. And threatened no less by the possibility that the most dread force of all, nuclear weapons, might be detonated here in America. The threats posed to us, the nature of its delivery system, the origin of the threat, the selected targets--everything is different about this war.
Our new enemy is an elusive shadow, not an army of mechanized divisions, and he must be fought in the shadows. If we can't find the shadow, we must remove his hiding places among the reactionary middle eastern states that harbor him. Our best weapons are ballot boxes, the spread of information and, seriously, protest babes. And so not only are the challenges of this new war quite different, the solutions are different as well, and not the old-style 'total war' sledgehammer approved of by some. This war requires a scalpel instead. We are, after all, defending ourselves against a cancer.
Peter Jennings R.I.P.
Plame Game Who's Who
Kevin Aylward at Wizbang is taking a lot of grief from newly-minted liberal security hawks over his posting on Joe Wilson's "Who's Who In America" entry.
The entry of the 2003 edition lists Valerie Plame as his wife, but fails to mention that she worked for the CIA. Ergo, it is irrelevant to the case, or so the Bush opponents say.
Or is it? It seems odd that a 'covert' operator would use either her married name or her maiden name - not much of a cover really. Add this to the fact that she drove through the gates of CIA headquarters every day to go to work, yes, at a desk. Link her name to a former ambassador (through the Who's Who, of course) and you have pretty much uncovered Steed and Mrs. Peale.
What the die hard believers in the "Rove is a criminal" camp fail to see here is that this entry in the Who's Who is not dispositive of anything by itself. It is but another brick in the wall of shame Joe Wilson has built for himself. However, Wilson's grandstanding may well have brought someone, who knows who, to investigate Wilson and do a little background research on him. If they come across the ubiquitious Who's Who In America, the entry there has his wife's full maiden name, along with their anniversary date. A little investigation into her, then, and it apparently becomes very easy to find out she works for the CIA, judging by the number of people without security clearances in Washington that knew this long before Novak ever 'outed' her.
In any event, a listing like this in such a common book is more inculpatory than exculpatory as far as Wilson's integrity goes. Why link your 'covert operator' wife's name to yours, if you are an ambassador? Ambassadors and the CIA are often considered to be the same thing . . . why erase all doubt?
Ken Says: I think the vociferous nature of the comments on Kevin's post really shows how much the left has invested in this whole thing. Watch out for Post-Non-Indictment-Stress Syndrome among a lot of people if Fitzgerald doesn't deliver something.
A Pitfall For Saudi Tyranny
The Opinion Journal today features excellent insights into Saudi succession by Simon Henderson.
Henderson's piece is called 'Saudi Brezhnevs', and it is an apt title on several levels. Henderson points out the importance of weighing the age and seniority versus the relative infirmity of the Saudi princes in gauging who will rule Saudi Arabia in the coming years. Henderson rightly predicts a quick succession of aged kings resembling the fast turnover of Soviet leadership post-Brezhnev.
That is not the only similarity with the Brezhnev progeny. The Saudis now face this problem for the very same reasons the Soviets did: their polity is a tyranny where seniority and Machiavellian power plays count for more than winning support directly from the people.
Add this to the roster of institutional advantages democracies have over tyrannies: vigor in mind and body are prized in our candidates for office, who can be replaced when they lose these attributes. Not that physical problems are a disqualification - FDR conquered nazism from a wheelchair. But he was able to maintain the energy necessary to the tasks up to the very end of his tenure (some say it killed him early) and of course he had his wits about him.
In a tyranny however, physical and even mental impairments are no bar to rulership - anything goes. One likes to think that Darwinian principles applied to political systems will weed out such structural weaknesses, and that the demonstrably inferior model of tyanny will wither away in favor of democracy.
Much as the Soviet Union did.
As you may have noticed, my blogging here is a haphazard and sporadic thing at best.
You might also notice that I have no ads here, and so my interest in blogging is strictly personal, with no pecuniary gain at stake. Thus I feel no pressure to blog unless necessary.
I decided a while back that I would not blog unless the mood hits me - I am opposed to blogging just for blogging's sake - and so you will see many blank days here where I have no new posts.
Lately I have not been posting much because nothing really outrages me. I am still surrounded by outrages, that never really changes, but nothing really strikes me as being a blogworthy outrage. Venting is my usual motivation for creating my famous bloviating rants, and so absent the outrage, no rant.
This is just a little statement of purpose here, and an explanation to those who think I am lazy (I am that too) and those who are disappointed that I blog so infrequently (there must be one or two of you out there).
Just my blogging style, that's all.