Saturday, October 25, 2003

"Leave him alone"

Krauthammer on Easterbrook.

Friday, October 24, 2003

New Hampshire Primary results

Dean wins! Folks, the new Zogby poll shows that it's over. Dean is at 40% and Kerry is second with 17%. Kerry really might as well drop out now, becaue it's going to be near-impossible for him to win New Hampshire unless Dean says something really stupid.

So the next question is how this impacts the race. Dean and Gephardt are still basically tied in Iowa. If Gephardt wins there, I think we'll end up with a Gephardt vs. Dean race. On the other hand, if Dean can win in Iowa, nobody's going to stop him. After winning the first two states, Dean will have substantially more money and volunteers than anyone else -- he'll be a steamroller at that point.

UPDATE: On the hand, maybe a new candidate could win the race.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Boykin update

Hugh Hewitt smells a rat, and Collin Levey also has some excellent thoughts, while Clifford May echoes my own thoughts from Tuesday about who Boykin was calling an idol.

Partial-birth boost?

Howard Fineman is right to point out that, though it has received only a moderate level of media attention, the ban on partial-birth abortions is a huge political victory for the President. Because Democrats are divided and the ban is popular with everyone except hardcore leftists, there's obviously a natural advantage here for President Bush. The larger effect, though, is that of strengthening his hand among social conservatives. The President needs a big turnout from his base next year to win, and he's making sure that he keeps conservatives strongly on his side.
North Korea

Andrew Sullivan alerted me to yet another article on the horrors of living in North Korea.

I read about North Korea with a personal interest, as my mother-in-law was born there. Her family fled to the South during the war, but she had aunts and uncles that ended up on the other side of the line and, of course, haven't been heard from since.

That's why this editorial is so particularly frustrating. Max Boot, in postulating the possibility of peaceful regime change in the North, is engaging in wishful thinking. North Korea is not the Soviet Union in the 80's. There is no Gorbachev pursing a policy of glasnost. We can no more achieve peaceful regime change there than we could in Cuba or Iraq.

It's hard to know what the best policy in North Korea is. One policy risks the destruction of Seoul and the deaths of many thousands of people in South Korea. The other risks a nuclear weapon ending up in the hands of terrorists. It's important to understand, though, that this problem isn't going to go away on its own.
President Bush strong with college students

Tom Bevan has some great posts up over at RealClear Politics. Here, he points out a new poll that shows President Bush's approval rating is at 61% among college students, almost 10 points higher than among the general public. As Bevan points out, college students are typically more liberal than the general public, so this is a great sign for the GOP, because these kids are going to be voting for the next 60 years on average -- best to get them started on the "right" track.

Why is the President scoring so high with this group? Bevan notes that the polls' authors statement that students vote more for leadership than ideology and adds his own observation than 9/11 may have had a significant forming influence on today's college students. I think both of these explanations are correct, and I'll also add that these kids are now mostly more than a generation removed from Vietnam. Unless they have old parents, their parents were to young to fight in that war -- all the liberal "quagmire" and "Vietnam" characterizations of our current conflict have no more meaning to them than a comparison to the Civil War might, because it's all ancient history.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Wictory Wednesday

When I first saw this idea, I thought it was good -- but I didn't plan to participate because I wanted my blog to stay clear of direct campaigning because so that I'd still be free to criticize the President when I saw fit. Now, I've realized how silly that is and I've decided to join. I'll be making a weekly post encouraging you to volunteer or donate to the 2004 campaign. So go do it. Here's a list of bloggers participating:

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

A day in the life of a reservist in Iraq

This is a pretty good photo journal that accurately depicts the good work our soldiers are doing. I'm surprised that the BBC put it up.


A 12-year-old student who brought his unloaded gun to a firearms-safety course at his public school was met with a surprise when administrators and instructors intercepted him in enforcement of the district's new "zero-tolerance policy."

You couldn't make this kind of thing up if you tried.

Salam Pax is back

And he has a lot of new posts up -- very interesting stuff.
My favorite bit:

This is another thing I would like people to pay some respect to. Iraqi Police kick major ass. Much respect. Wherever you go now and open up that subject you will see a lot of sympathy with those brave men and women and a total incomprehension to what this so called resistance is doing. They are killing Iraqis now. They say Jihad against the Infidel Occupier and they go kill those Iraqi police men. The Baghdad Hotel, the Turkish embassy and many more. It is not the Infidel the attackers are killing but Iraqis and this just might be good because the general sentiment now is “what the fuck do the Jihadis think they are doing?”. I wrote or said some time ago that most Iraqis are just sitting on the fence, well the last couple of attacks are tipping the balance against the Jihadis because they are killing all those Iraqis, they are putting bombs in streets and in front of schools, threatening to bomb banks where Iraqis are standing in line waiting to get their new Iraqi Dinars. So as we say here [biha saleh – something good will come out of it] maybe the people who are dying in those attacks are helping us understand that what those saboteurs are doing is just pure evil, telling people they are Muslim Jihadis doesn’t cut it anymore because they are killing civilians indiscriminately.
Easterbrook and Boykin

Gregg Easterbrook and Gen. William Boykin have a lot in common. Both have had recent remarks dealing with religion taken out of context and used as a cudgel against them to argue that they are bigoted and should not keep their jobs.

Fareed Zakaria foolishly pursues the strawman in a column in today's Post entitled "Rumsfeld's Crusader."

Over the past two years the general has given dozens of addresses to evangelical Christian groups in which, describing his battle with a Somali (Muslim) warlord, he has said: "I knew that my God was bigger than his God. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."


When confronted last week, Lt. Gen. Boykin claimed, of course, that his remarks had been taken out of context. When referring to the Somali warlord's God, he explained, he meant money and power. Untrue. In Boykin's original tale, he explained that the Somali warlord had bragged that the Americans would not capture him because his God, Allah, would protect him. "Well," Boykin continued, "my God was bigger than his God."

By his own logic, then, Zakaria apparently believes Somali warlords are true followers of Islam. These men routinely killed political opponents while getting high on khat every day with their followers. Zakaria amazingly seems to take the warlord's statement of faith in Allah at face value. So either his god was money and power -- or his actions can be justified as those of a true follower of Islam. Which is it?

His dissembling gets almost comic over another one of his comments. Boykin routinely told audiences that God elevated George W. Bush to the presidency. "Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him," he would say. "I tell you this morning that he's in the White House because God put him there." Boykin now explains that he believes God routinely decides American elections and has done the same thing for "Bill Clinton and other presidents." This is surely the first time a conservative evangelical has argued that Clinton's election was caused by divine intervention.

This is just plain stupid. Of course Gen. Boykin and I (and all Evangelicals) believe that Bill Clinton's election was part of God's plan, because all of history is part of God's plan -- how could it be otherwise? Of course we believe that (ultimately) God put Bill Clinton in the Presidency.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Gephardt biggest threat to President Bush?

With the strongest union backing and deepest roots in the politically important industrial Midwest, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) is emerging as the Democratic presidential candidate many prominent Republicans fear the most in the 2004 elections.

In interviews with nearly two dozen Republican strategists, lawmakers and state chairmen across the country, including several close to the White House, Gephardt was portrayed by a majority as the Democratic candidate best prepared and positioned to defeat President Bush in a head-to-head matchup next year. The reasons, they said: Gephardt consistently supported the Iraq war, enjoys unrivaled support among union leaders and hails from the Midwest, where many Republicans believe the presidential election will be decided. They also cited his health care plan, experience and discipline as key factors.

So says today's Washington Post. I tend to agree, but I also think that his proposal to revoke the tax cuts would be lethal, especially after Karl Rove spent $100 million on TV ads trashing it.

I think Gephardt's chances of getting the nomination have gone up considerably within the past month. First of all, when Wesley Clark entered the race, he became the media darling and ended the Howard Dean boom. Suddenly the anti-Washington Democrats also had someone else to vote for, and Dean's numbers have been coming down. Gephardt is still basically even with Dean in Iowa, and he will continue to hammer Dean over Social Security. An Iowa win would put Gephardt in the driver's seat to be the anti-Dean candidate.

He won't have as much money as Dean, but I think Gephardt still has a realistic chance of winning the nomination. Since his foreign policy is basically the same as the President's, Gephardt needs good news in Iraq and bad news on the economy (especially the job market). Bad news in Iraq works to Dean's advantage, because Dean was anti-war from the beginning.

Contrariwise, keep Rauch's rule in mind. This "lack of freshness" for Gephardt is the same problem that the GOP had in 1996 with Bob Dole.
More Christian-hating

Matthew Hoy has the transcript of NPR's Nina Totenberg making a Freudian slip and calling for the death of Gen. Boykin.

Personally, if being an Evangelical Christian were to make me an "extremist," then I would gladly be an extremist. However, no matter what liberals would like to pretend, the fact remains that we represent a very significant percentage of the population. We aren't extreme yet.

Clayton Cramer has some pertinent remarks on Boykin as well.

More on double standards

Best of the Web makes a salient point today, though it doesn't quite put it into these words. If you are a white writer and make remarks that some construe as anti-Semitic, then you are fired. If you are a Democratic black "reverend" who makes anti-Semitic remarks, then you are widely respected as a legitimate candidate for President by your party.
Time to get offended

Bryan Preston says that if we're going to start firing people who make ambiguous remarks that some people think might possibly be anti-Semitic, then it's time for Evangelical Christians to stand up against bigotry.

If you folks want to play this game, fine. I demand an apology from Andrew Sullivan and anyone else who has ever used the term theocrat or any other perjorative to describe evangelical Christians as a group. You folks who talk about us as though were some form of American Taliban may not realize it, but you sound far more bigoted than Gregg Easterbrook ever did. Really. So fess up, or I might just start chronicling your offenses. How would you like that?

I'm sick of this too, and I'm glad to see Bryan pointing it out. He should have also mentioned the Boykin situation, which may end up producing a scandal of a different kind.

(thanks to Lead and Gold for noticing the update to Bryan's earlier post)
Conflicts of interest in media

The fact that Eisner ordered Easterbrook fired brings up another issue. Given that he's already done considerable work on the subject, I'm surprised Mickey Kaus hasn't already thought of it.

When otherwise objective journalists have permanent commentary gigs at more with more than one big media outlet, they risk becoming compromised. They either have to self-censor their commentary about their other employers, or they can be fired like Easterbrook. My guess is that the Easterbrook affair is going to have a chilling effect on speech as pundits take care to avoid stepping on certain toes.

The person most seriously compromised in this regard is Howard Kurtz, media writer for the Washington Post and host of CNN's Reliable Sources. As Mickey Kaus has explained, Kurtz has consistently ignored this conflict of interest in his reporting. Here's another example. Kaus also wrote a priceless parody of Kurtz interviewing himself.
I was right

Easterbrook was fired from ESPN for criticizing Michael Eisner, not for supposedly making anti-Semitic remarks. It seems that Eisner simply ordered ESPN executives to fire him. Worse, Eisner is now trying to destroy Easterbrook's life.

UPDATE: The email that The Power Line posted was a fake. My apologies to all.

UPDATE II: Maybe so and maybe not.

The Case for War

Jonah Goldberg absolutely nails it today.

So many in the media have become mesmerized by the question whether whether we supposedly fought the right war for the wrong reasons. Most of the media elites don't understand that most Americans put the case for war in very simple terms. Most Americans think that Saddam has had this war coming to him since 1991. He was a bad guy and he needed to go. There's nothing complicated about it, and that's why President Bush has maintained such a large well of support despite the never-ending negative press.
Real hatred

I usually enjoy getting email from readers, so I happily clicked on a website that a reader suggested as having "interesting commentary" on the Easterbrook situation.

That website, the so-called Vanguard News Network, turns out to be a racist site of the most vile hatred imaginable. Look at the video game that they are selling, called "Ethnic Cleansing." Also, be sure to read the article "Building White Community."

Normally, I would reject out-of-hand the idea of linking to any of this stuff, but I think it's important in our times to recognize that vicious racism and anti-Semitism are alive and well in America. We need to fight this stuff with everything that we have, while at the same time being very careful not to lump people like Gregg Easterbrook in with the "Vanguard News Network."

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Great first-hand reporting of Arab media bias

Here's an instructive piece from the new Iraqi blogger Zeyad:

Most of the attacks are overrated. I know this. The following story is an example:

One afternoon I had just got back from work and was going to change my clothes when suddenly *BOOM* The windows shattered all around me in pieces, there was a smell of something like gunpowder. I looked out but there was dust everywhere. I remembered that my brother was outside. I carefully opened the door, and to my surprise found 4 American soldiers in our garden, they were knocking on my grandmothers house door, I worriedly asked them what happened. They told me to stay away. I offered to open the door for them, which I did. They entered and went upstairs all the way to the roof, I stood in the hall with one of them who informed me that a bomb exploded behind their humvee just in front of the house, no one was hurt. They were suspecting someone attacked them from this house. The others came down, apologized to me and my grandmother (who didn't understand what was going on anyway) then left the house.
I went out to find a crater in front of the house. My god that was close. By a miracle nobody in the street was hurt. The idiots who planted that bomb were dumb enough to put it inside a sewers drainage which absorbed the shock of the blast. The only damage was the sound it made. Most of our windows were shattered.
After a while the soldiers left the place. Suddenly a reporter and a cameraman from Al-Arabiyah station appeared, they were so fast. I crossed the street to take a look. They were talking to some bearded guy who I hadn't seen before in the neighbourhood. He was enthusiastically talking about the humvee that flew in the air, and the 4 injured soldiers. I didn't see any of that. I was bewildered. Someone next to me told me that nothing like that happened at all. My brother and a couple of friends of his started to chant in front of the camera: LIAR, LIAR,... Everyone laughed at this, but the bearded guy started to swear by Allah. Someone pointed out that the bearded guy wasn't even in the area when the bomb exploded. Uh oh, I thought, he seemed to know about it before it happened. The cameraman violently shoved my brother and his friend aside telling them to shut up. I stepped forward and gave hime a push from behind. He almost fell over. I warned him that the camera he was holding would be in a thousand pieces if he dared touch my brother again. He backed up. A neighbour of ours hollered them to come and see the damage in their house. They refused to do so and left.
In the evening, Al-Arabiyah reported the following: 3 Americans badly injured and one Jeep damaged at .... in Baghdad. They showed the bearded guy talking and edited the rest of it.

Thats the way media in present day Iraq works.

It would almost make you think that Al-Arabiya knew about the explosion before it happened or something.

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