Monthly Archives: March 2007

Yuck!

View this sick Hamas tv video.

The No-State Solution

Are Buddhist Thais oppressing Palestinian Arabs? If not, why are Islamic “insurgents” murdering them? I referred in my last post to Mark Steyn’s piece on the subject. Click above to view the piece in its entirety.

An excerpt:

It was about three years ago that I began following events in southern Thailand – the old Sultanate of Pattani, to us Mad Dogs and Englishmen. It was the numbers at first: Muslim “insurgents” were murdering over a hundred people a month, which seemed rather on the high side. Then I started looking for the bloody details behind the statistics: the two Laotian-immigrant farm workers beheaded for …well, for what? The Thai government isn’t occupying Palestine or invading Iraq or stationing troops in Saudi Arabia. And for a while I took to citing the country’s southern provinces as a bit of list filler to demonstrate the splendidly ecumenical nature of the jihad: Muslims vs Jews in the West Bank, Muslims vs Christians in Nigeria, Muslims vs Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims vs Buddhists in Thailand.

Aside from bringing up the rear in my planetary generalizations, what’s going on? The International Herald Tribune, in a brief story on the daily barrage of bombings and beheadings, decided it made no sense:

The insurgency is all the more difficult to combat because it does not show its face. Unlike similar movements around the world, this one has not set out its demands or published a manifesto. It is a collection of violent groups without an identifiable central leadership.

You don’t say. Now why would that be? When the Herald Tribune refers to “similar movements around the world”, it seems to be harking back to the good old days of 1960s nationalist movements. Your old-school insurgent got into the insurgency game against the state because he wanted to be the state: the object was to have your flag fluttering from the palace and swear yourself in as President-for-Life. A generation or so back, there were such groups running around Pattani promoting a more or less conventional Malay-Muslim secessionist movement. But, as in other parts of the globe, the disaffected have become co-opted into something bigger. Who wants to settle for being Minister of Transport when you can be part of a new caliphate that overthrows the entire global order?

To modify the Palestinian peace-process cliches, these “collections of violent groups” are in favor of a no-state solution. In Thailand, they target the lowest officials of the kingdom – schoolteachers, policemen and municipal functionaries. The object is to emphasize that not only can these people not protect you but that associating with them is likely to endanger you, too. If the state reacts with a bloody crackdown on Muslims, that’s good news for the insurgents. If the state instead dithers uncertainly, that works, too. The Buddhist villages in the south are emptying out, week by week, remorselessly.

Big Sister

Obama whacks Hillary.

The New York Times Comics

I used to subscribe to the New York Times, but now only get in on Sunday. The only reason I continue to have it delivered on Sunday is so I can continue to peruse it online during the week.

When I had it delivered daily, I felt obligated to read the damn thing, which meant subjecting myself to Maureen Dowd, Bob Herbert and the execrable Paul Krugman. Now I just look at the headlines.

But still, I have to deal with that Sunday paper, which means the dreaded “week in review” section with the absurd Frank Rich and the self-righteous Nicholas D. Kristof.

Today’s “week in review” provides some good examples of how annoying the Times can be. First there’s a piece by Adam Liptak on the U.S. Attorney firings “scandal.” He writes:

Speaking to United States attorneys in 1940, Attorney General Robert H. Jackson, who later became a distinguished Supreme Court justice, said the power of the position is enormous and easily perverted.

“The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty and reputation than any other person in America,” Mr. Jackson said. That power, he said, must be shielded from politics and even from the Department of Justice.

Yes, I know Robert Jackson was distinguished. For example, he uttered the wise words, “The Constitution is not a suicide pact,” an idea that today’s “civil libertarians” ought to heed. But what I don’t get is if, as Jackson said, these prosecutors have enormous power over life, liberty and reputation (think Patrick Fitzgerald), then who’s going to restrain this power if not elected politicians who are at least answerable to the voters?

Frank Rich never fails to come up with just the right spurious tidbit. He quotes Bagdhad correspondent Richard Engel who now works for NBC, but must have been working for ABC at the time. Engel is one of the many thirty-something types who, after being thoroughly indoctrinated by their college teachers in post-60’s pacifism, now hold forth daily on the futility of war:

“Peter, I may be going out on a limb, but I’m not sure that the first stage of this Shock and Awe campaign is really going to frighten the Iraqi people. In fact, it may have just the opposite effect. If they feel that they’ve survived the most that the United States can throw at them and they’re still standing, and they’re still able to go about their lives, well, then they might be rather emboldened. They might feel that, well, look, we can stand a lot more than this.”

— Richard Engel, a Baghdad correspondent speaking to Peter Jennings on ABC’s “World News Tonight.”

I too may be going out on a limb, but despite the “shock and awe” label, the reality was a lot different. The fact is that the bombing campaign was a remarkable example of the surgical capabilities of the military and the administration’s desire to limit civilian casualties. The Times’ John Burns described going out after a night of bombing to find a building reduced to complete rubble next to another building without a window broken. The U.S. hardly threw “everything it had” at Iraq, which is why the war is still going on.

Finally, there’s Nicholas D. Kristof writing about Israel and quoting the Hashemite half-wit, King Abdullah of Jordan, addressing Congress this month:

“The wellspring of regional division, the source of resentment and frustration far beyond, is the denial of justice and peace in Palestine.” Though widely criticized, King Abdullah was exactly right: from Morocco to Yemen to Sudan, the Palestinian cause arouses ordinary people in coffee shops more than almost anything else.

Exactly wrong! As Mark Steyn pointed out recently, about a hundred Buddhists a month are murdered by Muslims in Southern Thailand. Yet there’s “no evidence” that the Thai government is currently occupying the West Bank. All around the world, it’s Muslims murdering Jews and Muslims murdering Christians and Muslims murdering Hindus and none of them (except for the Israelis) have anything to do with the plight of the Palestinians. But it is leftish dogma that “solving” the Arab-Israeli conflict is the key to world peace.

Now if we can only get some prosecutor, with the Javert-like zeal of Patrick Fitzgerald, to go after the New York Times for leaking classified information on NSA wiretaps – a far greater threat to national security than the “outing” of Vanity Fair Plame.

The Washington Rats

Despite the faggot line and the hair and the anorexic look, Ann Coulter is a terrific columnist.

The Suffocating Blanket

Times of London columnist Gerard Baker looks at the BBC (and the New York Times):

On a recent trip back to Britain, I happened to hear on the BBC an interview with Helen Mirren, shortly before her Oscars triumph. Amid the usual probing sort of questioning that is the currency of celebrity journalism (“How do you manage to look so young? Is there anyone since Shakespeare who has come close to matching your talent?”) one particular gem caught my attention.

Dame Helen was asked how difficult it had been to play such an “unsympathetic character” as the Queen, the eponymous heroine of her recent film. She replied, quite tartly, that she didn’t find the Queen unsympathetic at all and launched into her now familiar riff about how she thought Elizabeth II really, surprisingly, quite agreeable.

It was a little incident, a small crystal in the battering hailstorm of drivel that pours daily through the airwaves. And yet to my mind it signified something so large. It had nothing to do with politics or Iraq or America. It was so telling in its revelation of prejudices and presumptions precisely because it was on such a slight matter as the sensibilities of an actress.

It betrayed an absolutely rock-solid assumption that the Queen is fundamentally unsympathetic, and that anyone who might still harbour some respect for the monarch — or indeed for that matter, the military or the Church, or the countryside or the joint stock company or any of the great English bequests to the world — must be some reactionary old buffer out in the sticks who has not had the benefit of the London media’s cultural enlightenment.

More than that, the question — all fawning and fraternal and friendly — contained within it an assumption that, of course, every thoughtful person shares the same view.

You really do have to leave the country to appreciate fully how pernicious the BBC’s grasp of the nation’s cultural and political soul has become. The groupthink and assumptions implicit in almost everything broadcast by BBC News, and even less explicitly by much else of the corporation’s output, lie like a suffocating blanket over the national consciousness.

This is the mindset that sees the effortless superiority, at every turn, of benign collectivism over selfish individualism, exploited worker over unscrupulous capitalist, enlightened European over brutish American, thoughtful atheist over dumb believer, persecuted Arab over callous Israeli; and that believes the West is the perpetrator of just about every ill that has ever befallen the world — from colonialism to global warming.

… in the US this week, I was struck by an article on the oped pages of The New York Times, the very citadel of leftish political correctness. Written by an apparently completely sane professor at a prestigious US university and entitled “Biased Broadcasting Corporation”, it assailed the BBC’s Middle Eastern services for their consistently antiWestern tone and content.

When the editorial pages of The New York Times accuse the BBC of anti-Western bias it is worth taking notice. It is a little like Osama bin Laden accusing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of being a bit harsh on the Jews. It suggests that in other, even pretty unlikely, parts of the world, people are waking up to the menace to our values represented by the BBC. The British sadly, seem curiously content to remain in thrall to it.

Ask Hillary

Hillary knows all about mass firing of U.S. Attorneys.

A Wall Street Journal editorial provides a bit of historical context:

Congressional Democrats are in full cry over the news this week that the Administration’s decision to fire eight U.S. Attorneys originated from–gasp–the White House. Senator Hillary Clinton joined the fun yesterday, blaming President Bush for “the politicization of our prosecutorial system.” Oh, my.

As it happens, Mrs. Clinton is just the Senator to walk point on this issue of dismissing U.S. attorneys because she has direct personal experience. In any Congressional probe of the matter, we’d suggest she call herself as the first witness–and bring along Webster Hubbell as her chief counsel.

As everyone once knew but has tried to forget, Mr. Hubbell was a former partner of Mrs. Clinton at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock who later went to jail for mail fraud and tax evasion. He was also Bill and Hillary Clinton’s choice as Associate Attorney General in the Justice Department when Janet Reno, his nominal superior, simultaneously fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys in March 1993. Ms. Reno–or Mr. Hubbell–gave them 10 days to move out of their offices.

At the time, President Clinton presented the move as something perfectly ordinary: “All those people are routinely replaced,” he told reporters, “and I have not done anything differently.” In fact, the dismissals were unprecedented: Previous Presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, had both retained holdovers from the previous Administration and only replaced them gradually as their tenures expired. This allowed continuity of leadership within the U.S. Attorney offices during the transition.

Equally extraordinary were the politics at play in the firings. At the time, Jay Stephens, then U.S. Attorney in Chicago, was investigating then Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, and was “within 30 days” of making a decision on an indictment. Mr. Rostenkowski, who was shepherding the Clinton’s economic program through Congress, eventually went to jail on mail fraud charges and was later pardoned by Mr. Clinton.

Also at the time, allegations concerning some of the Clintons’ Whitewater dealings were coming to a head. By dismissing all 93 U.S. Attorneys at once, the Clintons conveniently cleared the decks to appoint “Friend of Bill” Paula Casey as the U.S. Attorney for Little Rock. Ms. Casey never did bring any big Whitewater indictments, and she rejected information from another FOB, David Hale, on the business practices of the Arkansas elite including Mr. Clinton. When it comes to “politicizing” Justice, in short, the Bush White House is full of amateurs compared to the Clintons.

Increasing Cloudiness

Chuck Schumer, a la Patrick Fitzgerald and Time Magazine, is effluviating meteorologically about increasing clouds over the White House caused by this week’s “scandal”: the firing of 8 U.S. Attorneys.

Powerline separates the reality from the hype.

Fabricating Facts at the New Yorker

I think it was Pat Moynihan who said people are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. Moynihan didn’t live to experience the Scooter Libby trial.

A couple of weeks ago, Nicholas Lehmann, who I believe is the dean of Columbia University’s School of Journalism, stated in the New Yorker (famous for its fact checking) that the White House sent Joe Wilson to Niger, a notion conceded to be false by even the most rabid Bush haters. Lehmann also stated that leaking Valerie Wilson’s name was “unlawful,” another dubious assertion.

This week we have the magazine’s legal correspondent Jeffrey Toobin claiming:

The investigation arose… after the C.I.A. sent Joe Wilson, a former Ambassador to Gabon, on a mission to Niger, in 2002. He went to look into reports that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium yellowcake, which is used in the production of nuclear weapons, in that country. Wilson found no such attempt by any Iraqis, and said nothing publicly about his trip for more than a year. (my emphasis)

Thus Toobin, a graduate of Harvard Law School, contradicts the findings of a bipartisan report of the Senate Intelligence Committee which found that Iraq had taken steps to purchase yellow cake uranium from Niger and that Wilson had reported that to the CIA. (At least Toobin didn’t repeat the canard about the White House sending Wilson.)

As Mark Steyn wrote yesterday:

So much of the current degraded discourse on the war — ”Bush lied” — comes from the false perceptions of the Joe Wilson Niger story. Britain’s MI-6, the French, the Italians and most other functioning intelligence services believe Saddam was trying to procure uranium from Africa. Lord Butler’s special investigation supports it. So does the Senate Intelligence Committee. So Wilson’s original charge is if not false then at the very least unproven, and the conspiracy arising therefrom entirely nonexistent.

Scooter and Bill

Are folks like me hypocritical in urging Bush to pardon Scooter Libby? The argument goes that those who wanted to impeach Bill Clinton and remove him from office for lying under oath are now excusing Libby for doing the same thing. I don’t think the comparison is valid.

Clinton was at the time president of the United States, the chief law enforcement officer, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Thus it is much more significant when the president lies under oath than when an assistant to the Vice President lies under oath. If the Senate had voted to remove Clinton from office, he would have gone home and resumed the life of a free man.

Libby, on the other hand, was prosecuted in a criminal trial and now faces years in prison if he is not pardoned. Unlike Patrick Fitzgerald, Robert Ray, the independent counsel in Clinton’s case, refused to prosecute him.

The bottom line: Clinton was impeached (a political indictment) and “acquitted” by the Senate; Libby was criminally indicted and convicted by a jury willing to believe Tim Russert rather than him. With Clinton, the Republican Senate preferred to engage in a willing suspension of disbelief (reasonable doubt) in order to avoid installing Al Gore in the White House.

They used to say that perjury is hard to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt,” because it’s impossible to read a person’s mind, which is exactly what Fitzgerald asked the jury to do.

I would, I think, find it difficult to send someone to jail based on conflicting memories, especially when the defendant is not accused of any underlying crime. But I would be more willing to believe the prosecutor’s argument in a similar situation if the penalty weren’t time in prison.

Ann Coulter, despite her entirely gratuitous use of the word faggot in describing John Edwards, is still a terrific columnist. She provides some comparative history of Republican versus Democratic prosecutions.