Sean's Blog

A Guide To Online
Opinion And Current Events

Thursday, September 25, 2003

I saw Condoleeza Rice last night on Bill O'Reilly and each time I see this lady I am convinced she could easily someday be our president.

Dick Morris followed her on the show and his first reaction was to say that she could be our president in '08. You could tell that he's very impressed with her and so am I.

Here's an unofficial Rice for president site that includes her biography and articles.

Tim Blair is another one of those must read bloggers. I'm going to add him to my list of favorite sites. Read the comments too.

Ann Coulter discusses David Limbaugh's book, "Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity" and provides several examples from the book:

In a public school in St. Louis, a teacher spotted the suspect, fourth-grader Raymond Raines, bowing his head in prayer before lunch. The teacher stormed to Raymond's table, ordered him to stop immediately and sent him to the principal's office. The principal informed the young malefactor that praying was not allowed in school. When Raymond was again caught praying before meals on three separate occasions, he was segregated from other students, ridiculed in front of his classmates, and finally sentenced to a week's detention.

Before snack time in her kindergarten class in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., little Kayla Broadus held hands with two of her classmates and recited this prayer: "God is good, God is great, thank you, God, for my food." The alert teacher pounced on Kayla, severely reprimanded her, and reported her to the school administration. In short order, the principal sent a sternly worded letter to Kayla's parents advising them that Kayla was not allowed to pray in school, aloud or with others.

The school board then issued a triumphant press release crowing about its victory over a kindergartner praying before snack time. Thus was creeping theocracy in Saratoga Springs stopped dead in its tracks! Kayla's mother brought a lawsuit, winning Kayla the right to pray out loud. But she was still prohibited from holding hands with others while she prayed. Hearing the G-word in kindergarten might interfere with the school's efforts to teach proper sexual techniques in the first grade.

Thanks to the vigilance of an alert teacher at Lynn Lucas Middle School outside of Houston, two sisters carrying Bibles were prevented from bringing their vile material into a classroom. The teacher stopped the students at the classroom door and marched them to the principal's office. (Maybe it was just the sight of public school students carrying a book of any kind that set off alarm bells.) The sisters' mother was called and warned that the school intended to report her to Child Protective Services. When the mother arrived, the teacher threw the Bibles in the wastebasket, shouting, "This is garbage!"

In another display of tolerance at Lynn Lucas Middle School, school administrators snatched three students' books with covers displaying the Ten Commandments, ripped the covers off, threw them in the garbage, and told the students that the Ten Commandments constituted "hate speech." (Also, it would be insensitive to expose the Ten Commandments to students who had never been taught to count to 10.)

After the massacre at Columbine High School, students and families were invited to paint tiles above student lockers. The school district had taken all reasonable precautions, immediately deploying an army of secular "grief counselors" with teddy bears to descend on the school after the attack. Nonetheless, some students painted their tiles with "objectionable" messages, such as: "4/20/99: Jesus Wept" and "God Is Love." This would not stand: The school removed 90 tiles with offending religious messages.

It's not organized religion that the left is opposed to. It's Christianity:

Not all mentions of religion constitute "hate speech." In Tupelo, Miss., school administrators methodically purged all Christmas carols of any religious content – and then led the children in a chant of: "Celebrate Kwanzaa!" At Pattison Elementary school in Katy, Texas, Christmas songs are banned, but students are threatened with grade reductions for refusing to sing songs celebrating other religious faiths.

In New York City, the chancellor of the Department of Education prohibited the display of Nativity scenes in public schools, while expressly allowing the Jewish menorah and the Islamic star and crescent to be displayed. Some would say that was overkill inasmuch as New York City is already the home of the world's largest public display built in commemoration of Islam: Ground Zero.

Between issuing laws prohibiting discrimination against transgendered individuals and running up a $38 billion deficit, the California Legislature mandated a three-week immersion course in Islam for all seventh-graders. A "crash course" in Islam, you might call it, if that weren't so ironic. Students are required to adopt Muslim names, plan a trip to Mecca, play a jihad game, pray to "Allah, the Compassionate" and to chant "Praise to Allah! Lord of Creation!"

The left is out of control.

Did I post this? I can't remember. It's a week or so old, but that doesn't matter. Now the New York Post has picked it up and is running it as an op-ed. I'll let the judge speak for himself:

We are not getting the whole truth from the news media.

The news you watch, listen to and read is highly selective. Good news doesn't sell. Ninety percent of the damage you see on TV was caused by Iraqis, not by coalition forces. All the damage you see to schools, hospitals, power generation facilities, refineries, pipelines and water supplies, as well as shops, museums and semi-public buildings (like hotels)was caused either by the Iraqi army in its death throes or Iraqi civilians looting and rioting.

The day after the war was over, nearly zero power was being generated in Iraq. Forty-five days later, one-third of the total national potential of 8,000 megawatts is up and running. Downed power lines are being repaired and were about 70 percent complete when I left. There is water purification where little or none existed before, and it is available for everyone.

Oil is 95 percent of the Iraqi GNP. For Iraq to survive, it must sell oil. All the damage to the oil fields was done by the Iraqi army or looters. Today, the refinery at Bayji is at 75 percent of capacity. The crude pipeline between Kirkuk and Bayji has been repaired, although the Ba'athists keep trying to disrupt it.

By my sample, 90 percent of Iraqis are glad we came and the majority don't want us to leave for some time to come.

It should be noted that the judge says he was "vehemently opposed to the war" until he visited Iraq and saw for himself the brutality of Saddam Hussein.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

President Bush spoke to the U.N. yesterday and the consensus seems to be that he wasn't at all conciliatory. Clifford May in National Review:

Speaking at the United Nations on Tuesday, President Bush wasted no time and minced no words. The world today, he said, faces "an unfinished war." That war is being fought in such places as Baghdad, Bali, Bombay, Mombassa, Tunis, Casablanca, Riyadh, Jakarta, and Jerusalem. And in this global conflict, "there is no neutral ground. All governments that support terror are complicit in a war against civilization."

This is not what the president's critics, adversaries, and enemies wanted to hear. They hoped he would sound apologetic and chastened. But he wasn't even particularly conciliatory. Terrorists, he admonished the U.N. General Assembly, "those who incite murder and celebrate suicide...have no place in any religious faith, they have no claim on the world's sympathy, and they should have no friend in this chamber."

The president's opponents won't like that kind of talk. They'll call it arrogant. They'll say it is bruises the tender sensibilities of the distinguished representatives of the international community. But speaking frankly and truthfully to the members of the U.N. — as Jeane Kirkpatrick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to do — is a tradition worth reviving.

The Dixie Chicks are no longer a country band or at least that's what they are saying.

Jonathan Last examines the reasons for the decision in more detail:

The first, and kindest, is that they're simply sore losers. In the Spiegel interview Maguire says, "We had in the United States this year the most successful tour in country music, the best selling album, as well. The song 'Travelin' Soldier' was at the top of the Billboard charts. Nevertheless, for the next country music awards, we were only nominated (for the CMAs) in two categories. We did not receive any awards (at ACMs) and during the ceremony, we were booed. That says everything."

The second is that this is the endgame in a calculated marketing shift. After complaining about George W. Bush last March, the Dixie Chicks lost a sizable chunk--though by no means all--of their audience; many country radio stations took them off their play lists. Alan Sledge of Clear Channel called the blowup "a classic example of maybe the Dixie Chicks not knowing their constituency." In Entertainment Weekly, Chris Willman speculated that "They may need all the rockers they can get. The simple truth is that the Chicks' careers as country-radio hitmakers may be over." And in an interview with Willman, the band foreshadowed the shift, saying that from now on they "probably won't be showing up" at country awards shows.

THE THIRD EXPLANATION is that the Dixie Chicks have decided they don't like the people who buy their records. A scan of their press clippings suggests that when they blame the country music "industry" for driving them out of the format, they really mean country music "listeners." After all, radio stations have quietly worked their singles back into the rotation and while Maguire complains that the group hasn't received enough support from other country artists, Merle Haggard, Vince Gill, and Faith Hill have stood up for them.

Even more reports are coming in from people who are in Iraq and people who have recently returned from that country. I'll let them speak for themselves.

First up, Democratic representative Jim Marshall:

But there will be more Blumbergs killed in action, many more. So it is worth doing only if we have a reasonable chance of success. And we do, but I'm afraid the news media are hurting our chances. They are dwelling upon the mistakes, the ambushes, the soldiers killed, the wounded, the Blumbergs. Fair enough. But it is not balancing this bad news with "the rest of the story," the progress made daily, the good news. The falsely bleak picture weakens our national resolve, discourages Iraqi cooperation and emboldens our enemy.

During the conventional part of this conflict, embedded journalists reported the good, the bad and the ugly. Where are the embeds now that we are in the difficult part of the war, now that fair and balanced reporting is critically important to our chances of success? At the height of the conventional conflict, Fox News alone had 27 journalists embedded with U.S. troops (out of a total of 774 from all Western media). Today there are only 27 embedded journalists from all media combined.

Throughout Iraq, American soldiers with their typical "can do" attitude and ingenuity are engaging in thousands upon thousands of small reconstruction projects, working with Iraqi contractors and citizens. Through decentralized decision-making by unit commanders, the 101st Airborne Division alone has spent nearly $23 million in just the past few months. This sum goes a very long way in Iraq. Hundreds upon hundreds of schools are being renovated, repainted, replumbed and reroofed. Imagine the effect that has on children and their parents.

Next, Jay Hallen presents his view of how things are going in Iraq:

The Iraqis I've met are extremely gracious and supportive of us. But then again, any Iraqi that I, as a CPA person, would come in contact with probably would be (unless he's throwing a grenade at me, of course). But seriously, they are a great people, and maybe it's the naivete of being here less than a week, but I have very high hopes for this country. The reconstruction effort is thriving, so many incredible initiatives going on at once that never get any publicity. The Americans and other coalition people are so dedicated to the cause, and they are very talented and accomplished people, and the Iraqis I've met are very supportive and eager themselves. I was very impressed with the securities dealers I met today, who are very well-educated and eager to work with us 100% of the way.

It's been a new experience living among the military personnel. They outnumber us civilians by quite a bit, and I've gotten to know a bunch of them. It's sobering to think how the soldiers at the table next to me are the ones you hear about on the news at home, being shot at during their patrols of the city. What I can't get over is how young they all are. 80% of the soldiers -- from all countries, male and female -- are younger than I am, in the 18-22 range. And they are unbelievably mature for their age, all with impeccable manners, doing a job that most of us would absolutely loathe. What I'm doing is really nothing compared to what they do every day. It's hard to imagine that the people defending America are in high school and college, but they are.

And finally, via Glenn Reynolds, here's a view from a musician who's touring that region:

There simply was no hostility towards us AT ALL, compared to last year. I remember seeing Amanpour on CNN while I was in Aleppo, telling someone she was interviewing (maybe they were interviewing her, given her desire to throw in subjective statements of her own devising) that "The Iraqis just want the U.S. out of there Right Now!" This struck me as odd given that I had just spoken with a guy in the band I was travelling with's mom (an Iraqi) who had come that day from Baghdad, and had been in Erbil and Mosul, and who said that ALL the Iraqis-- while they grumble about things being better under Saddam-- have NO desire to see the US go.

She says because of the heat and the discomfort, for many Iraqis it's a bit like someone going on a camping trip and having it rain-- they'll say they "never" want to go camping ever again or some such thing, but that doesn't mean anything more than that they are just fed up. She said (and she speaks fluent Arabic and is Iraqi by birth) that there are two groups of people-- the people who are glad the US is there, and are mildly optimistic (despite what they tell the reporters who turn up for a day trip), and those who got Mercedes, and jobs, and pensions and villas from Saddam. According to her talks with Iraqis it is ONLY the latter group, and a large smattering of foreign fighters who are doing all the fighting against the US. She drove all the way from Baghdad to Damascus in a single car with just a driver and no bodyguard-- and no problem.

One of the State folks was telling me about that big story early in the war when the Iraqis claimed that the US had blown up a busload of Syrians trying to leave Iraq and get back into Syria. Turns out it was a busload of Syrian fighters trying to get INTO Iraq to fight. She said that she used to walk home at night at 10pm and see them all chanting away, lining up to get on the buses to go to Iraq (the Iraqi embassy is right next to the US one in Damascus). Assad was overjoyed to get rid of these fundamentalists, and Saddam was happy to get them, and throw them all on the front lines. Apparently they are the only ones who did any real fighting and they got totally wiped out. That explains why the Syrians never made much noise about a busload of their "civilians" being killed--
but all the Western media ran the story and never ran the retraction.

Another thing that she said is that ALL the Iraqis are done with the idea of Arab Unity. They hate all the other states except for Syria. They believe Saddam gave so much money to these other states, and none of them offered any support. They are particularly hateful now to the Palestinians; ordinary Iraqis were sometimes moved out of their own homes to house them, and they got jobs and pensions-- and she said that the new Arabic graffiti on the walls of Baghdad University is "Palestinians go home. The free ride is over."

In any case, this tour was a lovefest compared to the last one, so god only knows what the reporters are all going on about. Another thing I heard is that 90% of all the attacks have happened in the Sunni Triangle, which if you look on a map represents all of about 1/8 of Iraq maybe (Ramadi, Fallujah, Baghdad-- I don't have a good map to do the math with), so you have a country 7/8 calm. This guy's Iraqi mom (from Mosul) also said that the power is now on regularly in Baghdad but no one is reporting that.

If CNN hasn't gotten it, it appears that Assad in Syria has. The cabinet change was a big thing even though many hoped/expected that Assad would choose a non-Baathist over Otri. Still, they think a few of the new guys will be non-Baathists which would have been unthinkable before.

So, as you can see things are not exactly as the CNN's and New York Times of the world are reporting. No, things aren't perfect either, but the view we've been getting is that Iraq is a quagmire. A hopeless quagmire. The Democratic presidential contenders have been slamming President Bush over Iraq; calling it a disaster and a miserable failure. That's just politics. But the major media have been complicit in this. Except for a few, they have been functioning as foot soldiers for the Democratic party; doing their level best to lend legitimacy to the claims of the Democratic contenders.

I'm happy to be able to share what I've read and I hope more people will realize that the view from Iraq is not nearly as bad as we've been told.