Sean's Blog

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Opinion And Current Events

Friday, September 12, 2003

Regardless of what the Democratic presidential contenders say, this is mostly likely the truth about Osama bin Laden:

"The latest al-Jazeera tape notwithstanding, the best information available shows that Osama bin Laden died on December 5, 2001 in Afghanistan and buried the same day in an unmarked grave. At the time OBL's death was confirmed by the United Mujahedin Organization (UMO), the principal radical group that once supported him. In the past two years several members of bin Laden's extended family, always speaking on condition of anonymity, have confirmed his death."

But I doubt this will stop the Democrats from insisting that President Bush has failed in the war on terror because we haven't captured OBL.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Ann Coulter:

"After World War II, the United States ran the Japanese occupation unilaterally. Without the meddling of other nations, the Japanese occupation went off without a hitch. Within five years, Gen. Douglas MacArthur had imposed a constitutional democracy on Japan with a bicameral legislature, a bill of rights and an independent judiciary. Now the only trouble Japan causes is its insistence on selling good products to Americans at cheap prices.

By contrast, the German occupation was run as liberals would like to run postwar Iraq – a joint affair among "the Allies," the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union. It took 45 years to clean up the mess that created.

The Soviets bickered with the French, refusing to treat them as "allies" (on the admittedly sensible grounds that they didn't fight). While plundering their zone, the Soviets refused to relinquish any territory to France. Trying to be gallant, the U.S. and British carved a French zone out of their own sectors. The Soviets then blockaded Berlin, built the Berlin Wall, and Germany was split for the next 45 years.

The British made Germany's war-torn economy worse by trying to impose socialism in their zone (as well as in their country). Predictably, economic disaster ensued. Over the next five years, the U.S. was required to spend the equivalent of about $200 billion annually in today's dollars to bail out Western Europe under the Marshall Plan. I note that there was no need for a Marshall Plan in Japan."

Sheila O'Malley reminds me why I believe the things I do. She reminds me why I have such intense contempt for the people who insisted that we got what we deserved on 9/11:

"William Langewiesche, a journalist, said about the rainfall of paper:

'In all cases, an office fire is many things burning -- partitions, carpets in particular, computer cases -- but paper. Mostly paper. And if you look at the dynamics of the collapse, what you find is that in both cases it was the paper fire that was sustained long enough, because of the amount of paper in there, to cause the steel to weaken, to cause the collapse and the hammering down in both cases. I mean, paper on that day was a constant presence. It rained down on the city, as if in mockery of the kind of business that was done at the Trade Center. "Here, have some of the paper." And it burned, and it brought the buildings down.'

Now let's look at that quote again. 'It rained down on the city, as if in mockery of the kind of business that was done at the Trade Center.'

'As if in'. 'As if in'. Three little one-syllable words, but they can be so dangerous, when put in the wrong hands. Like the hands of Mr. Langewiesche.

'As if in mockery of the kind of business that was done at the Trade Center.'

There's so much that is wrong with that.

First off, Mr. Langewiesche is making an editorial comment, albeit in an esoteric above-the-fold way, letting us know what he, personally, thinks of "the kind of business that was done at the Trade Center".

Here's the deal, Mr. L: Paper burns. There was a massive fire from the jet fuel. The paper ignited. The paper flew over the city of Manhattan. THAT is what happened.

But the entire documentary had a subliminal message of "as if in..." throughout.

It had this feel:

The buildings rose. As if in defiance against a world who hated what they stood for.

The steel beams were hauled into the sky during construction, as if in consort with the forces of globalization, reaching its tentacles around the world.

The architects took a lunch break. As if in mockery of the starving masses working the sweat shops in Outer Mongolia.

Jesus Christ. (I mean, obviously, I made all that up, but the entire PBS special should have been called "As If In".)

A cigar is never just a cigar to some people. Burning paper was not just burning paper. The paper burned in mockery at the kind of business that was done at the Trade Center."

Yesterday a new Osama bin Laden tape was released and played on Al Jazeera television. I know that the CIA and the U.S. government officially says that he's still alive, but until he gives some proof that he's still with us I will continue to believe that he's dead. The best proof would be him holding a relatively recent newspaper or magazine. Anything dated after the battle of Tora Bora will do. Until then, I think he's dead and Al Qaeda is simply using him to inspire the troops.

I know, Muslims love martyrs and his death would be a rallying cry, but his living has been much more a source of pride for Muslims who supported him.

I think the man's dead and the only thing that will change my mind is proof.

Rand Simberg features a brilliant piece titled, "Two Years On, A Weary Nation Takes Stock."

A must read.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

What media liberal bias? L. Brent Bozell gives several examples. He also makes the point that the "Foxanoids" don't seem to get:

"While 750,000 people are watching Fox News at any given time, 25 million watch the Big Three's evening newscasts."

Yea, Fox News Channel is an ideological behemoth who has taken over the airwaves.

As for the examples of the media's bias?:

"When George W. Bush was certified the winner in Florida, Mr. Rather repeatedly insisted the result was only as 'Florida's Republican Secretary of State . . . sees it and decrees it.'

These anchors love to advance liberal causes. ABC used to have a regular segment called "The American Agenda," which spent a lot of time explaining how government bureaucrats could fix your life--with things like socialized medicine--if only they had the power. Introducing one such piece, Mr. Jennings said 'the best child care system in the world . . is in Sweden. The Swedish system is run and paid for by the Swedish government, something many Americans would like to see the U.S. government do as well.'

The anchormen scorned Ronald Reagan's priorities. 'He gave the Pentagon almost everything it wanted,' Mr. Brokaw recalled during a 1989 NBC News special on the '80s. Then, as viewers saw pictures of homeless men in the streets, Mr. Brokaw condemned the conservative president: 'Social programs? They suffered under Reagan. But he refused to see the cause and effect.' As the anchors tell the story, big-spenders are good and budget-cutters lack compassion. 'If they cut food stamps, who doesn't eat?' Mr. Brokaw wondered in 1995 of the Gingrich-led Congress.

That's bad enough, but then people like Brokaw makes outrageous statements like this:

"'The idea that we would set out, consciously or unconsciously, to put some kind of an ideological framework over what we're doing is nonsense,' Mr. Brokaw once told a C-Span audience."

France Heat Wave Death Toll at 15,000:

"An estimated 15,000 people died in France's scorching heat wave last month, the country's largest undertaker said Tuesday, surpassing the official government estimate of 11,435."

Zogby International and the American Enterprise magazine recently conducted a poll in Iraq and some of the results are discussed in this Opinion Journal article:

The results are very interesting, but for me this was the most interesting answer to a question:

"Our interviewers inquired whether Iraq should have an Islamic government, or instead let all people practice their own religion. Only 33% want an Islamic government; a solid 60% say no. A vital detail: Shiites (whom Western reporters frequently portray as self-flagellating maniacs) are least receptive to the idea of an Islamic government, saying no by 66% to 27%. It is only among the minority Sunnis that there is interest in a religious state, and they are split evenly on the question."

Monday, September 08, 2003

The biggest difference between conservatives and leftists is that the left is so full of defeatism and hopelessness. This New York Times piece is a perfect example. Jeez, I'm ready to give up now after reading this horribly blight filled, depressing, and hopeless analysis. If I relied solely on The New York Times for my news I would be convinced that Iraq has been a complete disaster. But I understand that this is The New York Times and that it is a leftwing publication. Here's a taste:

"Every week events from Baghdad to Jerusalem seem to be spinning out of the control of a Bush team that, during the president's trip to the region in late May, seemed intent on demonstrating that it now had the power to transform the region."

It's been four months! (I imagine a leftist reading that and saying, "Yes, it's been four whole months. How much more time do you need?") I'm willing to give it much longer than four months. I think things will slowly improve in Iraq. I've noticed that infrastructure stories have dropped off the front pages and that CNN isn't leading with stories of how the power is not on.

Here's a link to a piece from a soldier who recently returned from Iraq.

Here's another Instapundit link that leads to another link filled post describing what's happening over there.

Here's a Max Boot first hand account of the progress that's taking place in Iraq.

I could go on and on and on, but I think you get the point. The media, including Fox News, is not presenting a balanced view of what's happening in Iraq. Death and destruction brings viewers. Progress brings yawns. It's not exciting to lead with news that oil is flowing and production is more than 1.4 million barrels a day. It's not exciting to report that infrastructure is getting better each day.

Things are improving in Iraq and if we can get other nations to contribute the progress will accelerate. This is the left's worst nightmare. If only they could do something to stop it they would. Many have to be pinning their hopes on Al Qaeda.

My favorite football team, The Carolina Panthers, won a very exciting game yesterday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It was the sort of game they usually lose and at one point it looked like that nightmare was happening all over again. But, in the end, the Panthers won and in the process maybe they have broken the trend of losing the close ones in the final minutes.

Amir Taheri has a new piece in The New York Post that describes the effects of Iraq's liberation in the Arab world:

"* In Syria, President Bashar Assad has announced an end to 40 years of one-party rule by ordering the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party to no longer 'interfere in the affairs of the government.' The party is planning a long-overdue national conference to amend its constitution and, among other things, drop the word "socialist" from its official title.

Assad has also liberated scores of political prisoners and promised to hold multiparty elections soon. In July, a petition signed by over 400 prominent Syrians offered a damning analysis of Ba'athist rule and called for political and economic reform. The fact that the signatories were not arrested, and that their demands were mentioned in the state-controlled media, amount to a retreat by Syrian despotism.

'What we need is a space of freedom in which to think and speak without fear,' says a leading Syrian economist. 'Bashar knows that if he does not create that space, many Syrians will immigrate to Iraq and be free under American rule.'

A similar view is expressed by Hussein Khomeini, a mid-ranking mullah and a grandson of the late Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic in Iran.

'I decided to leave Iran and settle in Iraq where the Americans have created a space of freedom,' Hussein Khomeini says. 'The coming of freedom to Iraq will transform the Muslim world.'

Hussein Khomeini is one of more than 200 Iranian mullahs who recently moved from Qom, the main centre of Iranian Shiism, to Najaf and Karbala, in central Iraq, to escape 'the suffocating atmosphere of despotism in Iran.'

* Saudi Arabia is also feeling the effects of Iraqi regime change. Last month King Fahd ordered the creation of a Center for National Dialogue where 'issues of interest to the people would be debated without constraint.' The center will be open to people from all religious communities, including hitherto marginalised Shi'ites. More importantly, the gender apartheid, prevalent in other Saudi institutions, will be waived to let women participate.

Encouraged by the current state of flux, Saudi women have organized several seminars in the past few weeks, in which they called for equal legal rights.

The Iraq effect has also been felt in the Saudi media. Newspapers now run stories and comments that were unthinkable last March. Words such as reform (Islahat), opening (infitah) and democracy (dimuqratiah) are appearing in the Saudi media for the first time.

* Both Kuwait and Jordan have just held general elections in which pro-reform candidates did well. The new Kuwaiti parliament is expected to extend the franchise to women and to over 100,000 people regarded as "stateless." In Jordan, the new parliament is expected to revise censorship laws and to relax rules regarding the formation of political parties.

* In Egypt, the state-controlled media are beginning to break taboos, including reporting President Hosni Mubarak's refusal to name a vice president, as required by the constitution, and to end the tradition of single-candidate presidential elections.

Some non-governmental organizations are also testing the waters by raising issues such as violence against women, street children and, above all, the state's suffocating presence in all walks of life.

* In a recent television appearance, Col. Muammar Khadafy (whose one-man rule has been in place since 1969) told astonished Libyans that he now regarded democracy as "the best system for mankind" and that he would soon unveil a package of reforms. These are expected to include a new Constitution to institutionalize his rule and provide for an elected national assembly."

Taheri makes the point that all of this may be so much window dressing, but I'm not so sure. I think the Arab world is on the verge of great change if only we will see this to the end.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Jay Nordlinger in National Review:

"I have harped on the New York Times sports pages before — they are amazingly politicized, and the columnists are usually knee-deep into race (and needlessly so). Last week, Harvey Araton — commenting on Larry Bird's firing of Isiah Thomas as coach in Indianapolis — wrote, '. . . here came Bird, in his first bold move as the Pacers' general manager, to fire an African-American legend, intending to replace him with Rick Carlisle, his very white friend and former occupier of space at the end of the Boston Celtics' bench.'

A couple of questions: Why can't Isiah Thomas just be a legend, instead of an 'African-American legend'? And why is Rick Carlisle 'very white' — not just white (if he has to be a color, instead of a person or coach, at all)? And would Harvey Araton, or any other New York Times sports columnist, or any other human being, ever, ever write the phrase 'his very black friend'?"

Ah, but leftists are allowed double standards. Everyone knows this. As long as your politics are leftwing you can say the most outrageously racist things and no one will make a peep. Ask Condoleeza Rice and Clarence Thomas. They've been the focus of vicious racial attacks and nothing was ever said. But let the attacker be a conservative and the NAACP, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson will raise holy hell.

Victor Davis Hanson asks if we are at war or are we at peace?:

"If we are still in a state of war after the attack on 9/11/01, then the past two years have proven remarkable in our efforts to put al Qaeda on the run, avoid another disaster on the scale of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, and rid the world of the Taliban and Hussein tyrannies.

But if we feel the fighting is, or should be, over and we have arrived at peace, then the loss each week of Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq appears intolerable. That crude dichotomy of perception sums up the current conundrum over the daily news from Baghdad: encouraging amid a long and continuing war, but depressing and abnormal in a time of peace."

Hanson's piece is more about how the critics and supporters view events.

The critics:

"On one side is a large minority who (albeit privately) say that 9/11 was largely a criminal matter. The proper response, in this view, should have been to hunt down those individuals (not states) who helped the terrorists and let the criminal-justice system deal with the guilty — the policy, in other words, of the Clinton administration that more or less did not equate a series of terrorist murdering with an all-out war against the United States.

In this way of thinking, Afghanistan and Iraq especially were both impulsive overreactions, costing too many American lives and polarizing the Islamic world needlessly, since the agents of our destruction were individuals who were not representatives of any real Middle Eastern ideology at large. The more-extreme critics of this war would further add that rather than envisioning a conflict between civilization and fundamentalist and autocratic Middle East barbarism, we should look inward — asking ourselves why the bin Ladens and Saddam Husseins of the world hate us so. Their obvious solution to preclude the anger of the "oppressed" would then be to learn to be more sensitive to the feelings of others and to listen rather than shoot."

The supporters:

"In contrast, supporters of the response after 9/11 in both Afghanistan and Iraq see our efforts as long overdue. Military operations are indeed eleventh-hour, even desperate correctives for a dangerous decade of appeasement, one that emboldened terrorists and rogue states that both in complementary ways sought to harm the United States. In this school — mostly those in the military, conservatives, and members of the present administration — we are in a real war consisting of various theaters against several belligerents, all united by their terrorist methods, shared hatred of the West, and desire to trump the killing of September 11 and thus eventually to emasculate the United States."

I think Hanson has it exactly right.

Why is the U.S. the only country raising hell about Iran's nuclear weapon program?:

"Although Mr al-Baradei admits that the Iranians have deployed a variety of delaying tactics to prevent UN inspectors gaining access to secret nuclear facilities, he believes that they should be given more time to comply with their obligations under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

American officials fear that many Europeans on the IAEA's 35-member board of governors, some of whose countries have lucrative trade ties with Teheran, will back Mr al-Baradei's position."

The U.N. is a disgusting, unprincipled, and corrupt organization in serious need of reform.

The U.S. will significantly increase aid to Afghanistan. By how much? The report doesn't say.

The Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas, stepped down yesterday and the media are all portraying THIS as a failure for President Bush's "Roadmap to Peace."

That's ridiculous. The roadmap has been a failure and will continue to be a failure until the Palestinian people stop supporting Hamas and the other terror outfits killing women and children in their name.

The Palestinian people support terror. That is a fact. The reason they support terror is because the U.N., Europe, and until recently the U.S., have negotiated with and sympathized with Palestinian terror. Yasser Arafat was received in European capitals and at the White House. Terror was recognized for years as a legitimate form of resistance.

When and if the Palestinian people adopt the non-violent resistance of Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, AND decide that they will live side by side with the Israelis, they will have no greater support than from the people of the United States. Unfortunately, the Europeans and Americans have, over the years, reinforced the idea that terrorism is a noble and accepted form of diplomacy.

I have said this several times: We must be careful to not do too much for the Iraqi's or the Afghani's because they will begin to expect us to do everything for them. When that Shiite cleric was killed in Najaf recently, the brother of the man killed blamed the U.S. for not providing security. But the truth is that the Shiites didn't want us near the mosque where the car bomb went off. They should have taken steps on their own to protect the man.

Now, Donald Rumsfeld and Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez are scolding the Iraqis for not doing more to help themselves:

"'Instead of pointing fingers at the security forces of the coalition, ... it's important for the Iraqi people to step up and provide information,' Mr. Rumsfeld said at a news conference."

"Accompanying Mr. Rumsfeld during the secretary's three-day visit to the occupying American forces, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, held to his position that more American troops are not needed. 'There is no risk at the tactical, operational or strategic level,' Gen. Sanchez said at the same news conference. 'The only way we will fail in this country is if we decide to walk away in Iraq and fight the next battle on the war on terrorism in America. A platoon out of any one of my battalions could defeat the threat, readily. I don't need any more forces. We need the Iraqi people to help us and give us the intelligence we need.'"

Wow. Amir Taheri has an op-ed in the New York Post that explains how Europe has dealt with terrorist activities on that continent:

"The mullahs' anger at Britain is partly understandable. After all, on many occasions, EU states have ignored their laws to let Iranian suspects escape police arrest. In 1996, a Berlin court issued an arrest warrant for Ali Fallahian, a mullah who was the Islamic Republic's Minister for intelligence and Security at the time. Fallahian had been charged with participation in the murder of four Kurdish dissidents in Berlin in 1992. At the time the warrant was issued, Fallahian was visiting Germany at the invitation of his counterpart, Brend Schmidbauer. Learning of the warrant, the German authorities arranged for the mullah to fly back to Tehran before the police arrived.

The French have done even better. In 1994, Prime Minister Eduarad Baladur ignored a Swiss demand for the extradition of two Iranians charged with political murders in Switzerland and helped them fly back to Tehran - first class.

Before that, in 1986, President François Mitterrand allowed Tehran's key terror agent in Europe to return home without answering any questions by the French government's own anti-terrorist judges.

Even earlier, the Italian government ignored the fact that Tehran's embassy in the Vatican had become a center of terrorism in Europe. Four Iranians involved in a series of assassinations in Italy were never troubled, although they had been called in for questioning by Italian courts.

Britain's own record wasn't so bright. John Major's government allowed an Iranian agent, convicted by a British court of murdering two Iranian dissidents in London, to return home after serving half of a three-year prison term. The man was received as a hero in Tehran and, when he became a candidate for parliament, based his campaign on his success in "eliminating two evil anti-Islamic elements" in Britain. There are similar cases concerning other European countries.

BETWEEN 1979 and 2000, Tehran's agents murdered 46 Iranians, 17 of them in France, and killed more than 80 non-Iranians in various terrorist operations in the European Union. On each occasion, the European country concerned made some angry noises, and, in some cases, gestures such as closing the embassy and recalling the ambassador. In the end, however, they all ended up eating humble pie at the hand of the triumphant mullahs.

The Islamic Republic exerted pressure on the Europeans in a number of ways. These included kidnapping their citizens on fake charges and releasing them in exchange for Iranian officials arrested in Europe. The Islamic authorities also organized raids on various European embassies, beating up staff, seizing documents and setting parts of the buildings on fire. In one case, the French ambassador, Guy Georgy, was held hostage until France allowed an Iranian terror mastermind to leave Paris before he could be arrested."

What great examples of European diplomacy. No wonder the Arabs are convinced terror works. The Europeans are a bunch of spineless cowards whose principles have crumbled in the face of terror again and again and again.