Sean's Blog

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Saturday, April 05, 2003

I refuse to watch the movie after reading reviews like this because it would just piss me off and that won't do me any good. Anyway, Dave Koppel does an extensive study of Michael Moore's documentary Bowling For Columbine (mockumentary, as Koppel puts it) and does the best analysis yet of the movie. Here's just one example of how Moore makes movies:

"We return to Flint, Mich., for a long segment on Kayla Rowland, a six-year-old girl who was fatally shot in school by a male classmate the same age. Moore blames Michigan's requirement that welfare recipients work at a job. Because the killer's mother, Tamarla Owens, commuted to work in a shopping mall 70 hours a week, and because she still could not pay her rent, she was about to be evicted. She thus moved in with her brother, and then her unsupervised son found a handgun, brought it to school, and killed Kayla Rowland.

Actually, Owens earned $7.85 an hour from one job ($1,250 a month, almost entirely tax-free), plus at least the minimum wage from her second job, and received food stamps and medical care. Her rent was $300 a month. Michigan had rent-subsidy and child-care programs too, but Owens apparently did not know about them. So, contrary to the impression created by Moore, Michigan's welfare-to-work program is generous: Even without the rent subsidy, Owens earned more than enough to pay the rent. Perhaps Owens's caseworker should have told her about the available subsidies, but the caseworker's mistake hardly means that the Michigan system is the Dickensian horror portrayed by Moore.

Moore tells the audience that Ms. Owens and her son were living with Owens's brother. He doesn't tell the audience that their home was a crack house, or that the stolen gun was received by the brother from one of his customers, in exchange for drugs.

"No one knew why the little boy wanted to shoot the little girl," says Moore. Actually, the killer was the class bully; said that he hated everyone at school; had been suspended for stabbing a child with a pencil; and, subsequent to the shooting, stabbed another child with a knife."

Koppel has many more examples of Michael Moore's distortions and outright lies. And to think that Moore won the Oscar for Best Documentary says a lot about Hollywood.

Andrew Sullivan on the moral equivalence the left sees for the American government and the Iraqi regime:

"This lazy form of moral equivalence is not rare among the radical left in this country. But it is based on a profound moral abdication: the refusal to see that a Stalinist dictatorship, that murders its own civilians, that sends its troops into battle with a gun pointed at their heads, that executes POWs, that stores and harbors chemical weapons, that defies twelve years of U.N. disarmament demands, that has twice declared war against its neighbors, and that provides a safe haven for terrorists of all stripes, is not the moral equivalent of the United States under president George W. Bush. There is, in fact, no comparison whatever. That is not jingoism or blind patriotism or propaganda. It is the simple undeniable truth. And once the left starts equating legitimate acts of war to defang and depose a deadly dictator with unprovoked terrorist attacks on civilians, it has lost its mind, not to speak of its soul."

So she was shot? Yes? No? Yes?

"Later examination would show Lynch had broken legs, a broken arm, gunshot wounds and a fractured disc."

Yes, she was shot and this report says "gunshot wounds."

Coalition forces enter Baghdad.

I have to say this again: Here's the link to a page that graphically shows that the U.S. was not responsible for Iraqi arms, directly refuting one of the left's basic truths. Hell, I even thought it was true. I certainly thought that we surely had a large percentage of the sales, but the fact is that the 10 biggest suppliers to Saddam Hussein sold that regime something like 98% of all the weapons they have. We sold them as a percentage of total sales a mere 1 or 2%. We sold Saddam 1 or 2% of all the weapons he has.

We did not arm Saddam nearly to the extent that the left taught people to believe. The nations that sold that brutal man his arms are the same nations that opposed enforcement of any U.N. resolution that would have jeopardized any of the other highly lucrative joint ventures such as the oil contracts that France and Russia had.

Victor Davis Hanson has a typically brilliant piece for National Review Online:

"And so where does all that leave us? Unlike the conventional rhetoric of pessimists (e.g., “the world hates us”), we may well be in a stronger position than ever before. Russian arms, German bunkers, and French contracts will become known in Iraq and will be weighed against America’s use of overwhelming force for a moral cause in a legal and human fashion against a barbaric regime. The Middle Eastern claim that we won’t or can’t fight on the ground is a myth. And America, not the Orwellian Arab Street, is the catalyst for democratic reform. Looming on the horizon are Iraqi archives, the evidence of weapons of mass destruction, and a happy liberated populace that Europe would have otherwise left well enough alone to profit from its overseers."

"The world is upside down and we should expect some strange scenes of scrambling in the weeks ahead as side-glancing diplomats and nail-biting envoys flock to meet Mr. Powell in Washington, who — far from fearing those recent idiotic calls for his resignation — will in fact emerge as one of the most effective and powerful secretaries in recent history. Such are the ironies of war."

I had another reason to link to that Vedder story. There are a couple of quotes from Pearl Jam's official website by angry fans:

"Another, calling himself ProudYank, says, "You want to publicly deface your president? You want to encourage the Iraqi's [sic] to fight harder cause you make them think we are soft? Then go live somewhere else! You celebs think we are interested in what you think? ...We don't want your opinions on world peace, save the whales or whatever else you have the luxury to spend the time and money on cause you don't have day jobs like the rest of us. Enjoy your money, shut up and sing, thats [sic] why you are here. Or leave. And take the Dixie Chicks, Striesand [sic], Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn and all you other wealthy entertainers who think they need to tell us what to think. Your CD's [sic] have just become beer coasters."

I haven't mentioned the whole Natalie Maines/Dixie Chicks controversy because it pains me to see it happen. I was a fan.

Now it looks like Eddie Vedder has decided that he wants to choose sides. He has chosen the leftwing worldview and that more than anything is what most people are likely upset about. He would have fit right in with 1920's or early 1930's Europe. Vedder voted and campaigned for Ralph Nader and at the time it was considered almost noble to be supporting Ralph Nader. Vedder sacrificed himself, his vote and reputation, for what he truly believed in (Right on man! Power to the people!), but that was before September 11, 2001. That day did change everything. The course of world history was deeply affected by that day.

I was in Soapbox on September 11, 2001 and the days shortly thereafter and the one thing that I was most concentrating on was how this would affect our domestic politics. I began tormenting the leftists in that room that they were ideological and philosophical dinosaurs. I had seen the future and the opinion polls are my best indicator that I was correct, at least in the short term. Things might change tomorrow, but it's my belief that the leftism that Eddie Vedder believes in, votes for, and contributes to is a dying ideology. It's death started with the defeat of communism in the late 1980's and early 1990's. The problem is that liberal diehards are not convinced that it is dying and are fighting to keep the idea alive. The Cold War rages, if you will, even now.

Friday, April 04, 2003

Wow. Michael Kelly, the Washington Post columnist and editor of The Atlantic Monthly, was killed in Iraq yesterday.

He was a brilliant columnist and the online version of The Atlantic Monthly, Atlantic Online, is one of my favorite sites.

I love Dennis Miller as a political pundit (via The Corner):

"Dennis Miller on Jay Leno: sounds like Jonah.

Dixie Chicks might as well open world tour in Basra with "Walk Like an Egyptian"

Demonstrators who misuse Hitler: Bush is HItler, Ashcroft is HItler, Rumsfeld is Hitler. The only one who isn't Hitler is the foreign guy with a mustache who drops you if you disagree with him

Peter Arnett: How can I trust a guy with a combover like that? Dude, we know you're bald?

Michael Moore: How can such a big guy be such a small man? It is that stupd moron's right to be utterly completely wrong."

CNN is also reporting that Eddie Vedder was booed and dozens of fans walked out of his show.

I will wait and see if anyone complains that this is an infringement on Vedder's right to free speech.

CNN is reporting that Jessica Lynch was not shot or stabbed. She does have two broke legs and a broken right forearm. How did reports get out that said she was shot, stabbed, AND had two broken legs and a broken arm?

I wonder if this story from CNN will even make the war protesters, pacifists, Europeans, Democrats, and leftists blink:

"A walk through only about 20 percent of the warehouses in the complex revealed that tens of thousands of tons of supplies -- including huge quantities of baby milk -- were being stored in Iraq's second-largest city, which has been wracked by a food shortage.

There are vast amounts of food staples, tea, sugar, tires, car batteries and sewing machines in the warehouses.

Also found were large quantities of cash, weapons and documents relating to the food-distribution system. Coalition officials hope the documents will help them smooth out the distribution process.

A small force of Iraqis tried Wednesday night without success to retake the complex, which had been used by the U.N. oil-for-food program."

I think about how much more these people would have had to endure before the ideological leftists would have agreed that war was justified. How much more would these people have had to put up with before the war protesters, pacifists, Europeans, Democrats, and leftists would say, "Okay, now that's where we draw the line." Where would that be? Say, after Los Angeles gets nuked?

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Allied forces are within 4 miles of Baghdad.

Professor Nicholas De Genova told a group of students at a campus teach-in last Wednesday that he hoped America would "suffer a million Mogadishu's." I had heard the story and normally I would have blogged something about the event, but I either forgot or was simply too busy to include it here.

Well, the story continues so it gives me a chance to mention it. As I said, Professor Nicholas De Genova is as anti-American as they come. He is quoted as saying, "The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military" and other such hateful things about the nation that protects his right to say such things. The backlash against this jerk's comments have reached the point where De Genova had to go into hiding because of death threats.

Death threats are over the line, but De Genova may have crossed an ethical line that permits Columbia University to fire him. That's still up in the air. The Peter Kirstein affair showed that although professors do have the right to free speech they also have a special moral and ethical responsibility that is laid out in an academic code of conduct. I don't know if De Genova has crossed a line or if he is a signatory to that sort of a document, but if it's determined that he has broken a trust then he should be terminated. I leave it to Columbia University and I hope they do the right thing.

Fox News is reporting that Jessica Lynch fought the Iraqis before she was captured.

I have to admit that I'm surprised by her. I wouldn't have blamed her at all if I found out that she had simply surrendered without the least resistance, but Fox News says according to the Washington Post, "that the 19-year-old Army supply clerk shot several Iraqi soldiers during the March 23 ambush that resulted in her capture. She kept firing even after she had several gunshot wounds, finally running out of ammunition, the newspaper said, citing unidentified U.S. officials."

I am so proud of her.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

One thing before I go to bed. Glenn Reynolds has some really cool photos (links to the photos actually) from space that show some of the devastation in Iraq.

Jessica Lynch was rescued yesterday.

Can you imagine how her family and friends must feel?

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Damn Blogger.

This is a great piece by Mark Steyn:

"Which country is engaged with the world and which is the irrelevant backwater? The one sending Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships with food and supplies up the mined Shatt al-Arab? Or the one that wants to stick with Hans Blix even after he's quit and gone back to Sweden? Who are the real internationalists and humanitarians? The young men and women of the British Army? Or the masturbatory poseurs of the Canadian Liberal Party who refuse to lift a finger to stop Saddam from feeding his subjects feet first into industrial shredders but noisily insist on their right to participate in the "humanitarian" work afterwards because everyone knows Canada's indispensable? Sorry, folks. The humanitarian work's going on right now, and you chose to sit it out."

What a devastating line: "Sorry, folks. The humanitarian work's going on right now, and you chose to sit it out." Canada should be ashamed for what they've done.

I have to say two things. First, if we wanted oil, if this whole Iraq war was because we wanted their oil, then I would like everyone who thinks that to notice what is happening in that region right now. We have this massive military machine in Kuwait and Iraq, and we're adding soldiers and equipment everyday. If all we wanted was their oil, we could have it all. That's right, we have the means to take all the oil in the Middle East and no one could stop us. If we chose, after the Iraq war is over, we could turn our attention to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, and the other oil producers in that region. We could have all that oil if all we wanted were oil. But that's a lie spread by the left. They say that's all we're after. I'll say it again. We could have all that oil if we chose. Watch what we do. We'll free Iraq and then we'll come home. We aren't after their oil.

The second point I want to make comes from the dead tree version of National Review. William F. Buckley does the math and if this war is about oil then we made a bad bargain. One of the Soapbox regulars made this point more than a couple of weeks ago. Here's how Buckley puts it:

"Using round figures, Iraq is producing 2 million barrels of oil every day, which at $30 per barrel brings in 60 million. If all the restraints that survive the 1991 war were eliminated, the rise in production of Iraqi oil is projected to 4 million barrels per day. Assuming the same value per barrel, that would mean an increase to $120 million per day. Dwell on something so inconceivable as to occur only to French fantasists: The United States a) confiscates Iraq's oil reserves, b) proceeds instantaneously to increase production to the maximum, c) actually pocketing a net of $30 per barrel--we'd be talking about $40 billion per year. The estimated cost of the U.S. military offensive is $100 billion. So that even assuming such oil confiscation/production/sale were effected, it would still require more than two years merely to reimburse the cost of the military action. We today purchase about a half-million barrels of oil per day from Iraq. $15 million. To invest $100 billion to protect a $15 million daily investment would require a zaniness difficult to ascribe to such as Messrs. Bush and Rumsfeld , who have been men of affairs."

Last Wednesday I noted that was reporting that it wasn't the U.S. that armed Iraq. Here's a graphical breakdown of which nations armed Saddam.

Between 1973 and 1990, the U.S.S.R., France, China, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Brazil, Egypt, Romania, Denmark, and Lybia all had more weapons sales to Iraq than the U.S. did. Please, someone take this to Soapbox and stick it in the nearest leftist's face. According to them, one of the reasons we shouldn't be at war with Iraq is because we armed them. Whatever that means. But the facts are that the U.S. did not arm Iraq according to the common wisdom of the left.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

The same thing that happened before the war started is still happening. Jonah Goldberg in The Philadelphia Enquirer:

"I must say," declared U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday, "I'm getting increasingly concerned by humanitarian casualties in this conflict. We just had the report that a missile struck a market in Baghdad, and I would want to remind all belligerents that they should respect international humanitarian law and take all necessary steps to protect civilians. Besides, they are responsible for the welfare of the civilian population in the area."

"........the astounding chutzpah of Kofi Annan and the rest of the Al-Jazeera-watching world. Annan's comments were intended - and received - as a rebuke of the United States. After all, Annan had said exactly zero when the Iraqis used human shields in Nasiriya or when hard evidence emerged of Saddam using a hospital as a military base."

Before the war started, the anti-American left (war protesters, France, Germany, Russia, the U.N. etc.) placed all the blame for the whole conflict on the U.S. We never once saw a march anywhere in the world where the protesters were demanding that Saddam disarm for peace. Not once. And even now Goldberg makes the point that it's still happening. The U.S. is held to a very high standard and not a word has emerged from France, the U.N., Germany, or the war protesters to the Iraqis demanding that they respect basic human rights. Not one word. That's why I hate the U.N. Not only is it corrupt, bloated, and inefficient, it's also an anti-American institution.

Wow. Ralph Peters has a very good article in The New York Post. It's titled, "Tragedy of the Arabs."

I've heard this sort of argument before. The thinking goes that Arabs are deeply humiliated as much by our success as by their own failures as a people to do anything more than to live off oil revenues. Here are some examples from Peters' article:

"* It does not produce a single manufactured product of sufficient quality to sell on world markets.

* Arab productivity is the lowest in the world.

* It contains not a single world-class university.

* The once-great tradition of Arab science has degenerated into a few research programs in the fields of chemical and biological warfare.

* No Arab state is a true democracy.

* No Arab state genuinely respects human rights.

* No Arab state hosts a responsible media.

* No Arab society fully respects the rights of women or minorities.

* No Arab government has ever accepted public responsibility for its own shortcomings.

This is a self-help world. We can't force Arab states to better themselves. If Arabs prefer to dream of imaginary triumphs while engaging in fits of very real savagery, they're their own ultimate victims."

I recommend reading the whole thing.

It looks like China is taking a firm hand with North Korea.

It was just a few weeks ago when the left was raising hell about President Bush's North Korean policy. They said that North Korea was more of a threat than Iraq and that we should leave Saddam alone and deal with N.K. Well, well, well. How things have changed. It seems that China finally understands that North Korea is more of a threat to them and that THEY should be the ones to deal with that situation. I couldn't agree more. President Bush's whole N.K. policy was a multilateral approach. He refused to make it N.K. versus the U.S. and to hold direct talks with the N.Korean regime. It's beginning to look like President Bush had exactly the right approach.

As a side note, has anyone noticed that the South Koreans stopped their anti-American protests nearly the same day that Secretary Rumsfeld suggested removing U.S. troops from that ungrateful nation?

"Nevertheless, Rumsfeld's comments will be interpreted by some in Seoul as a U.S. effort to "discipline" incoming President Roh Moo Hyun with an implied threat to scale down the U.S. presence at a time of heightened tension with the North. "Rumsfeld was putting down a marker: 'You don't want us there, we'll leave,'"

Hmmmm. It's very interesting how those protests just stopped. In fact, I haven't heard a peep since Rumsfeld suggested that South Korea was doing well enough economically to defend themselves.

The Republican party has also seen a shift within it's ranks. David Frum wrote a long essay for National Review in which he shows that a split has occurred between the paleo-conservatives and neo-conservatives.

Frum says that the paleo-conservatives are comprised of people like "Patrick Buchanan and Robert Novak..... Llewellyn Rockwell, Samuel Francis, Thomas Fleming, Scott McConnell, Justin Raimondo, Joe Sobran, Charley Reese, Jude Wanniski, Eric Margolis, and Taki Theodoracopulos."

The neo-conservatives are people "who had cast their first Republican ballot in 1980."

Frum shows how the paleo wing of the Republican party, since 2001, has more closely resembled the far left wing of the Democratic party what with their common cause with and support for the likes of "John Pilger, Robert Fisk, Noam Chomsky, Ted Rall, Gore Vidal, Alexander Cockburn, and other anti-Americans of the far Left." Frum also gives other ways the paleo-wing has, for all intents and purposes, become just like the far left wing of the Democratic party. He says that the paleos are in terror denial, that they espouse defeatism, make excuses for terrorists, embrace ridiculous conspiracy theories, and that they yearn for an American defeat.

One of the strongest ties between far left and far right is their contempt, mistrust, and yes, hatred for Jews. The far left and far right say nearly the exact same things: They blame America's involvement in the Middle East on Israel. They say that all of our involvements in that region of the world, from the first Gulf war to this latest crisis, is for, by, and of the Jews. Here's a quote from Frum's piece that makes the point:

"In August 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded and annexed Kuwait. Iraq plus Kuwait and prospectively Saudi Arabia would possess the world's biggest reservoir of oil. With this vast new oil wealth, Saddam could at last acquire the nuclear weapons he coveted — and thus dominate the entire Middle East. President George H. W. Bush quickly decided that the conquest of Kuwait "will not stand" and assembled a global coalition against Saddam. The paleoconservative repudiation of the Gulf War would be their first major independent ideological adventure.

Three weeks after the invasion, Pat Buchanan declared his opposition to war in one of his regular appearances on The McLaughlin Group: "There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East — the Israeli defense ministry and its amen corner in the United States."

As far as I'm concerned, the far left and far right deserve each other. Maybe they can fuse their hatreds, conspiracy theories, and their desire for American defeat into a new political party. Personally I don't worry about the influence of the far left and far right. I think the events of the past couple of years has shaped political opinions for at least a generation and perhaps farther in time. This shaping of opinion will ultimately be a repudiation of leftwing and paleo-conservative politics. At least I hope so.

Even before the war does end and the punditry resumes there are some things that we do know. For instance, we know that shifts have taken place within the Democratic and Republican parties.

Bill Kristol has written an article for The Weekly Standard entitled, "The War for Liberalism" and in this article Kristol makes the argument that the Democratic party has basically split between "the Dick Gephardt liberals and the Dominique de Villepin left."

Kristol says that the Gephardt liberals includes, "Joe Lieberman liberals..... Hillary Rodham Clinton, probably a majority of Senate Democrats, less than half of the House Democrats, Democratic foreign policy experts at places like the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations, and a smaller number of liberal commentators and opinion leaders--most notably the Washington Post editorial."

Kristol says that the other side, "...... includes the Teddy Kennedy wing of the Senate Democrats, the Nancy Pelosi faction of the House Democrats, a large majority of Democratic grass-roots activists, the bulk of liberal columnists, the New York Times editorial page, and Hollywood. These liberals--better, leftists--hate George W. Bush so much they can barely bring themselves to hope America wins the war to which, in their view, the president has illegitimately committed the nation. They hate Don Rumsfeld so much they can't bear to see his military strategy vindicated. They hate John Ashcroft so much they relish the thought of his Justice Department flubbing the war on terrorism. They hate conservatives with a passion that seems to burn brighter than their love of America, and so, like M. de Villepin, they can barely bring themselves to call for an American victory."

I hope the Teddy Kennedy wing pays a steep price for their behavior during these past couple of years.

Between watching the war and my normal daily routine I haven't found much time to post to my blog. Actually, I'd say the reason I haven't posted has been the war. That's where I'm spending my time lately.

I look forward to the examination of these events. The analysis will follow the war and, to me, that's when the fun starts. The pundits will be taking the time after the conflict to study what happened. The historical record will be examined in detail and the lessons that we've learned will have to be sorted out. We won't see what has happened, what the net effects of the past 2 years have been, until some time in the future. The debate has lulled since the start of the war, but it'll be back, hotter than ever after the conflict is over.