Thursday, March 31, 2005

Michael Schiavo Makes Me Glad I Switched Sides

In a truly hideous move that allows me to feel much, much better about switching to the "pro-feeding tube" crowd earlier this week,
Michael Schiavo did not allow Terri's Parents to be in the room when she died. They'd been requesting for a while that they be allowed in, and he refused. Now, yeah, there was bad blood between them, but to deny access to someone's child who is about to die? That's fucking awful, if you pardon the language. Also, because of various court rulings and Florida law, they had to ask him for permission to visit with her every time they wanted to see her. That's sick and wrong. Lord help me, I was wrong about this whole thing. I hope Michael Schiavo rots because of this.

Terri Shiavo Died Today, but Not Before I Have A Change of Heart

According to MSNBC Terri Schiavo has passed on. I would hope that everyone who said anything about this ever will now pause and reflect on her passing, pray for her family, and be dignified as she is laid to rest.

Also, I came to a conclusion the other day after I wrote my long response to Kang that, in the end, I wanted Ms. Schiavo to live, and that I was incorrect. Not legally, mind you, from a strict point of view, but from a moral standpoint. We are a Nation of laws, but we are not infallible, and I think we should err on the side of life when there is any doubt as to the person's final intentions. It's not too much to ask, and I think we could do worse things to the seperation of powers. Not a perfect argument, but this issue should never have been strictly "legal". I was wrong. I'm sorry she's dead. I think we failed her. Now if only we could leave the whole family in peace and debate the larger issues. That's not going to happen, but we can hope.

As to why I changed, don't think for a second that Kang had anything to do with it. I'm not going to give him that satisfaction. What happened was I looked at who was on "my" side, what they were saying, and what they in general believed in, and then I looked at the other side, which seemed a more diverse lot, from Sen. Lieberman to the President to even Jesse Jackson, and I felt that my side had no moral ground to stand on, and that the legal ground was too shaky for my conscience. I don't like to have to agree with people like Randall Terry and I wish that Tom DeLay would resign his seat,but I'll take them over MOST of the "let her die" crowd. I still like Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Reynolds, and others, but reading every day and trying to agree with them on it made me physically ill. So there you go. Rest in Peace, Terri.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

What Challenge? How about an honest exchange of ideas and opinions.

If the measuring stick of this so-called challenge is length and bluster, I concede ;-)

Let’s start here:
The reason this argument didn't work in the courts and why it doesn't work for you, is that after 15 years, 19 judges, and more billable hours than you can shake a stick at, it really is impssoble to say that Terri Shiavo is being deprived of anything without due process of law. If Ms. Shiavo's family was not given a day in court and appeals were ignored, then the federal government could claim that the State of Florida was denying her due process. But that's simply not the case. The State was not derlict in it's duty and the 14th Amendment simply does not apply to this case.
For all of your ranting, you seem to have completely missed the point of the 14th Amendment as it relates to due process (especially for someone who makes an exclusively legal argument the rest of the way). The due process question in the Schiavo cases concerns the right to a federal appeal, which is also afforded to criminals. And she was finally granted a federal appeal, albeit a strict procedural review. Unfortunately, she lost. But I fail to see how the 14th amendment argument "didn't work" or how you "dispensed" with it?

The alleged overreaching by congress was acting to ensure that she got this appeal. The jurisdiction for that congressional action is the 14th amendment. Is the crux of your "states' rights" argument that the federal government dramatically overstepped its bounds by ensuring that Schiavo got the same right to due process as a death-row criminal?

I'll get the rest of that diatribe later, but I'm really curious about your opinion on this specific point which forms the basis for your slander of many “so-called conservatives”.

Monday, March 28, 2005

A Challange Met - And When Did WFB Become a "Paleocon"?

Kang, Kang, Kang. I don't know where to begin. Let me first dispense with your 14th Amendment argument as that is really the crux of your case. The reason this argument didn't work in the courts and why it doesn't work for you, is that after 15 years, 19 judges, and more billable hours than you can shake a stick at, it really is impssoble to say that Terri Shiavo is being deprived of anything without due process of law. If Ms. Shiavo's family was not given a day in court and appeals were ignored, then the federal government could claim that the State of Florida was denying her due process. But that's simply not the case. The State was not derlict in it's duty and the 14th Amendment simply does not apply to this case. Now, I know you hate the courts, and I'm not their biggest fan either, but I don't think that 19 judges, the 11th Court of Appeals, or the Supreme Court having had a shot at this can be interpreted as a "runaway jury" of judicial activism subverting the Constitution, the 14th Amendment, or their duties.

As to the charge that this is essentially murder. The Styen argument. Steyn is not ALWAYS right, Kang. He is almost correct in his assessments of foreign policy, but that's because he's been to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places. He's talked to the people. In the Schiavo case, he's just another commentator in a chorus of commentators. He may have a better grasp on the subject than some, but he seems as unfamiliar with the particulars of the case as Fred Barnes was on FOX this past week. I usually like Barnes alot as well, but he has his facts mixed up. Either way, I'll take William F. Buckley over both of them if forced to choose. But I'll get back to him in a moment. First, the murder vs. death argument. I'm not a "right to die" advocate, as in legalizing assisted suicide. And this is, in the end, not a right to die case, at least, on it's merit's it wasn't originally. It may have morphed into one, but legally it's not. Let's take a look at the woman, Ms. Terri Shiavo. Have you seen the CAT scans of her brain? The ones that show the parts of the brain that show higher function are essentially liquid? She's not operating at 5% brain capacity. She's not operating at all. What this comes down to is intent of the patient and who decides what. By all accounts, Terri wasn't a hard-core Catholic. Her parents were, she wasn't. Secondly, Michael Schiavo, who under Florida law has the final say in his wife's stead, did not sudddenly decide to kill her. He took her all over the country to find treatment. He himself refused to accept the reality of the situation, as her parents are now doing: that she is gone. People have ascribed many negative things to Mr. Schiavo, things that are not backed up by the facts. He was not the only one to say that Terri wouldn't want to live in a persistive vegatative state. The courts would not have taken his voice alone on that after 7 years. Others did. They were friends of his (and Terri's), but I don't think he could have gotten them to ALL say that she did. Think about this-he could have walked away from all of this. Divorced her. Said to the parents, "She's your responsiblity, good luck". He didn't. It was initally said by supporters of the parents that he's holding out for the insurance, or the lawsuit money, but that was mostly gone before he asked about removing the feeding tube. I look at him and I think that he really believes he is carrying out his wfe's wishes. The parents, and I feel for them, I do, need to realize that they are simply deluding themselves when they say that Terri is "talking" to them, and that she responds to them. People see what they want to see, and if I were in their position, I might just see what they do, but that no one else does. So is it murder? No, it is essentially the final part of a DNR request being carried out. If this were a simple matter of a plug being pulled, this case never would have made headlines. It is, rather, the unfortunate fact that her feeding tube has been removed and that she will starve/die of thirst. This is what has driven emotions and pushed reason out of the way.

People are taken off feeding tubes all the time in this country. Their ventillators are removed even more often. Yet we don't call it "murder" when this happens. Because it's not. If Terri Schiavo were fully aware but needed a ventialltor/and or a feeding tube and the courts said "no", I would be down their feeding her myself. But she's not aware. Her brain is gone. As science stands now, we know that brain cells don't grow back. She has no real brain, she just has the simple roots of one that perform her bodily functions. Calling this murder actually cheapens the word and may allow a true "culture of death" to take root. Had this case not become a circus, their would be no larger worries about Steyn's precieved "culture of convenient euthenasia" because quite simply this is NOT a case of convenience, not euthenasia, and Steyn and you are wrong to suggest it is and are probably doing damage to people who are trying to stop that culture from really coming about. This is simply not the state taking a life or allowing a life to be taken. This is a private matter, arrived at after consultation with hundreds of doctors, that is not taken lightly by anyone involved. This, again, in the end of a DNR order that the legal system, not lightly, has decided was this woman's wish because in her current Vegitative state she has no wishes of her own to make.

As to state's rights. That is the argument I used to say that the US Congress should not be involved. Conservatives, from Buckley to Reagan to probably Steyn have long held this up as an important part of the movement. To keep the larger federal government from having jursidiction over our lives. There are cases where the federal government should be involved, mostly spelled out in the 14th Amendment(which, again, does not apply here), but in other places in the Constitution as well. However, all Conservatives, and Republicans since the 1930's and '40's, Do not think that an invasive Federal government making new laws for specific indivduals is a good idea. As a matter of law, what Congress passed in the Schiavo case is a poorly worded disaster that simply makes the GOP look bad and prolonged the hideous farce this case has become. State's rights are as essential to the Conservative movement as smaller government and low taxes. They should not be thrown away when Congress feels like it. In the very important debate about the grotesque "right" to die, Congress must speak from the moral and legal authority that comes from consistancy, not political expediency.

This entire case has brought out the worst in both sides. Democrats have overreacted in a rather insane way to this (Jesse Jackson used the word "facisim" in relation to this the other day), and Republicans have come off looking hypocritcal and ideologically beholden to the nutjob religious right. Both sides have shifted positions with the whims of their base and this is not good for anyone.

Finally, I want to ask Kang when William F. Buckley became a paleocon? I mean really? He supported the invasion of Iraq, and has always stood by the principles of Conservatisim first. He's never been a fan of the original Paleocon, Pat Buchanan. He is not a partisan, and he is probably the most intellectually consistant person I've ever read. He is a Conservative, no prefix required. Calling him a Paleocon is absurd, and If I didn't know Kang was trying to bait me, I would rip him a new one for suggesting it.

Let me finish with an answer to Steyn's rhetorical question about a living will kit that keeps the courts off your back if you're in an accident: you can get one. In your living will, say "In case I am incapacitated and am only kept alive by machines and cannot communicate, keep me alive". That would do just fine, I think.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Devil's Advocate - Schiavo

You're right Burnsy, let's just let the runaway jury that is this country's judiciary continue unchallenged. Are you serious? Maybe I could make a case that, based the previous post, you are using less than 5% of your brain and perhaps I could get a court to forcibly remove food and water from you. By your logic, that would not be murder right?

OK, ok, ok. Absurd example. But aggressively denying food and water is MURDER. It perverts the meaning of the word to exempt what happened to Schiavo. Removing medical equipment that performs critical functions as a surrogate for the body is one thing, denying food and water is entirely different. And for all of the moral-equivalists that see no difference and claim that we unplug people all the time, I say (out of pity, not scorn): May G*d have mercy on your souls.

Getting back to the judiciary in this country. I'm not well versed in Florida law (and mind you, neither is William F Buckley), so I will abstain from a point/counterpoint on the nuances of the law. The abuses of the courts are clear on a more fundamental level. Quoting Steyn, who sums it up beautifully:

This is not a criminal, not a murderer, not a person whose life should be in the gift of the state. So I find it repulsive, and indeed decadent, to have her continued existence framed in terms of ''plaintiffs'' and ''petitions'' and ''en banc review'' and ''de novo'' and all the other legalese. Mrs. Schiavo has been in her present condition for 15 years. Whoever she once was, this is who she is now -- and, after a decade and a half, there is no compelling reason to kill her. Any legal system with a decent respect for the status quo -- something too many American judges are increasingly disdainful of -- would recognize that her present life, in all its limitations, is now a well-established fact, and it is the most grotesque judicial overreaching for any court at this late stage to decide enough is enough. It would be one thing had a doctor decided to reach for the morphine and ''put her out of her misery'' after a week in her diminished state; after 15 years, for the courts to treat her like a Death Row killer who's exhausted her appeals is simply vile.

Adding to this sickening decadence is the "state's rights crowd" with whom Monsieur's Buckley and Burns happily align themselves. They attack anyone as being a hypocrite or not-a-true-conservative if that person does not feel that the federal government overstepped it bounds by demanding a federal appeal (something granted to criminals). Hey fellas, want to get off your high horse for a sec and explain away this little gem I found in some obscure document called THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AMENDMENT FOURTEEN:

Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [Emphasis mine]

Agree or disagree, the federal government had jurisdiction. And to Burns in particular, who seems to think Schiavo and steroids are not worthy of Congress's time: If you so fucking smart, let's see you post a full calendar for Congress filled with all the important stuff that Congress should be doing in lieu of these 'trivial' matters. Otherwise, knock off this brand of useless and unproductive cynicism. It's beneath a person of your intellectual capacity. Let's debate these items on their merits.

To lionize Buckley as the father of modern conservatism is to get still another thing wrong. Buckley , for all of the wonderful things that he has contributed to the conservative movement, is still an unabashed paleo-con. Paleo-conservatives, like liberals, have gotten just about EVERYTHING wrong since 9/11. So in the parlance of poker, I gladly see your Buckley and raise you a Steyn, a Barnes and a Kristol.

To quote Joe Lieberman, a democrat who understands morality, and about everyone else with a sane point of view: We should error on the side of life. When there are material questions of about the medical diagnose and disagreement amongst the next of kin, we should error on the side of life. That was not done in this case and it is WRONG. Do have a problem with the federal government standing up to wrongdoing in matters of life and death? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

To close, here is Steyn's common sense take on the so-called "states' rights" issue:
...which is more likely? That Congress will use this precedent to pass bills keeping you -- yes, you, Joe Schmoe of 37 Elm Street -- alive till your 118th birthday. Or that the various third parties who intrude between patient and doctor in the American system -- next of kin, HMOs, insurers -- will see the Schiavo case as an important benchmark in what's already a drift toward a culture of convenience euthanasia. Here's a thought: Where do you go to get a living-will kit saying that in the event of a hideous accident I don't want to be put to death by a Florida judge or the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals? And, if you had such a living will, would any U.S. court recognize it?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

WFB Sums Up My Schiavo Case feelings

The Terri Schiavo case is a tragedy for the parties involved, both her parents and her husband, and especially Terri herself. Of course, now it's become something of a national travesty as well, and certainly a travesty for traditional small-government conservatives like myself. Congeress has been out of control recentlely, sticking it's nose in places it doesn't belong (Steroid heraings, I'm looking at you) and creating massive deficits with too much spending. Ronald Reagan, who Congressional Republicans keep claiming to admire, is probably doing 360's in his grave out in California for what these so-called "Conservative Republicans" are doing. Never in a million years did I think that a Republican-led Congress would intervene in the muddled yet sad case of one poor woman who is, for all anyone can really tell, beain dead. That is simply an area in which the Federal Government need not intercede, as the State of Florida is allowed to set it's own laws on the subject, free from Federal interference. The Republican response to charges that they are stomping on state's rights is to give half-baked assessments of the case not based entirely in fact. Tom DeLay, who was responsible for the Republican ascendency and may also cause it's fall, is just scummy enough to have no right to call Michael Schiavo, who in the final analysis seems to be a normal, if not perfect, human being, names and accuse him of insensitivity. It's been 15 years since Terri went away, and he didn't say "kill her" immediately, he waited until every doctor said there was no hope, and then did what he believed she wanted. That's Florida state law, and the Congress of the United States should have stayed far away.

Of course I feel for the parents and family of Mrs. Schiavo as well, the Schindlers. They claim that Terri communicates and that she understands them. But as every reputable doctor in the case disagrees, one gets the impression that they are seeing what they want to see in their daughter, not what is actually there. They are also devout Catholics, and the Church opposed assisted suicide, and while this is not quite a right-to-die case, the starvation aspect of Terri's demise make it an emotional hot plate. But at a certain point, the Schindler's are going to have to accept that theit beloved Terri is really gone. It seems that after 15 years and 19 judges, the law is clear and the doctors are mostly unanimous in saying she is gone and not coming back.

Over at national Review Online, where there has been a vigourous debate on both sides of the coin, William F. Buckley, the Dean o modern Conservatism, says that enough it enough. That Terri should be allowed to die, and that the state is not killing her, something I totally agree with. He decries the politicization of the issue, by both sides now, though the damn GOP leadership started it with that stupid memo. I think we all wish this had never happened, and that Terri and Michale Schiavo both had a long happy marriage. But it didn't happen. For so-called "Conservatives" to abandon the principles of States rights because it didn't, and to insert the Federal Government into an area where it does not belong risks turing the tragedy of one family in the destruction of what was once a powerful political force, the small-government Conservative. Congressional Republicans should be ashamed. And I pray for the Schindlers and the Schiavos. That's all we can do, and that's all we should do.

Devil's Advocate - Steroids

Milhouse - MLB enjoys a unique exemption from this nation's anti-trust laws. In exchange for special treatment, accorded to baseball because of its perceived importance as our national pastime, is it wrong for Congress to ask baseball to hold itself to higher standard than just "entertainment"?

We don't tell Hollywood how to make movies or rock groups how to make noise because open market forces give the audience the power of the dollar to determine what they like and don't like. And to some degree, we do tell Hollywood/Rock Groups how to make movies/noise since indecency laws put limits on the artistic freedoms of these entertainers.

But Baseball is legally exempt from competition. If I don't like Brittany Spears, then I can listen to something else. If find Ben Affleck movies unwatchable (and I do), I don't have to stop watching movies altogether, I have other choices. If enough people agree with me, Brittany Spears would soon be a Vegas showgirl and Ben Affleck would be pumping gas because their noise/movies wouldn't make any money.

By contrast, if I don't like Jose Canseco and his ilk directly and indirectly encouraging my kids to take steroids, then I have to turn off baseball altogether. If enough people agree with me, then baseball simply dies. That's the difference.

I'm not for Congress wasting time, but last week we had the Full Committee Hearing on Drinking Water in the Nation's Capital. I think steroids as a public safety issue is at least as important as that!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Does Congress have nothing better to do

than to investigate whether baseball players have been using steroids? For the life of me I cannot understand how this is any of Congress's business, let alone that of the Government Reform Committee. Don't they have, you know, a government to reform or something? If the Major Leagues have decided to ban steroids, and players are cheating, why isn't that up to the Major Leagues to discover, and to discipline the infringers as they see fit? Perhaps sue them for breach of contract, and get back the millions they've been paid. And conversely, if the Major Leagues decide that discretion is the better part of valour, and that this particular rule should not be enforced too rigorously, isn't that their decision to make? For that matter, maybe the Leagues should just come right out and permit steroids (or legal substitutes that have the same effect, since I gather that steroids have, for some reason, become illegal); isn't that their decision to make? Or are our esteemed legislators next going to investigate foul balls and pitching action, and possible inconsistencies in umpiring?

Get over it, people, it's entertainment! You don't tell Hollywood how to make films, or rock groups how to produce noise, why are you telling the sporting world how to run their business?

Andre Norton RIP

Andre Norton died this morning. In my teens I think I read every single book she had written. Years ago I saw a comment by a reviewer, that Norton had never written a really great book, but she'd also never written a bad one, and that was a better acheivement than most writers could boast of, especially if they'd written as many as she had. May the pleasure and inspiration she brought to millions stand her in good stead.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Eat an Animal for PETA Day

I forgot all about Eat an Animal for PETA Day, and very nearly let the day pass in a vegetarian state. That would never do. Luckily, at about 10pm, having been home all day and not having had dinner yet, I decided to go out for a nice chicken cutlet. Then I came home and found other people's reports of EAPD, and was glad of the impulse that sent me out in search of flesh.

Monday, March 14, 2005

60 Minutes On Theo Van Gogh-Almost Exactly What You'd Expect

Anyone in the political blogosphere (plogosphere?) could probably tell you who Theo Van Gogh was. The Dutch filmmaker and provocatuer was murdered in cold blood as he rode his bycicle in Holland by an enraged Muslim extremist in protest of his short film "Submission", which was written by a Muslim woman, that declares that Islam can be abusive to woman and featured some images of passages of the Koran written on a woman's body. He was killed because it offended the sensibilities of the extremist and others like him. Van Gogh's murder touched off a massive, sometimes violent debate in Holland about how the world's most tolerant, open culture should deal with the culture of extreme Islam that tolerates nothing and permits no free speech. This murder occured five months ago. On the sidebar of this page we have a picture of Mr. Van Gogh. The blogs and some conservative outlets were the ony ones in America to note his passing, as mainstream newspapers and TV pretty much ignored it. At the Oscars, Van Gogh didn't even get a moment "In Memorium". I'm sure when he dies, child rapist Roman Polanski will get an ovation. But that is not the point here.

The point is that last night 60 Minutes finally ran an extended piece on Van Gogh's murder, Holland's reaction, and the first interview with the very brave woman who wrote the screenplay for the film, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She is a member of Dutch Parliment, is Somali by birth, was raised Muslim and still believes in her faith. She is under constant guard and threats come in all the time aimed at her, yet she retains her belief in what she has written. I was impressed a great deal with her, more so after the rather awful interview conducted by Morley Safer. The conservtaive film blog LIBERTAS »Libertas has some of the interview transcribed and it seems that Morley Safer ans CBS are more concerend that extremist Muslim population of Holland should not be offended than Ms. Hirsi Ali's right to free speech and life. Look to the transcript at some of the questions the Safer asks. He sounds like he's accusing her of trying to make the poor Islamists mad and that they should be free to beat their wives. He almost seems to be asking Ms. Hirsi Ali is she thinks Van Gogh got what he deserved.

Libertas also has up a response to the interview from the American Jewish Congress that sums up the awfulness of Safer's report. It is rather sick, and Hirsi Ali's resoutleness in the face of not just the awful questions but the accusatory tone of the interview is remarkable. She stood by every one of her beliefs and refused to be baited by Safer. In America it seems that we always have a new free speech cause celeb, usually someone who says thoughtless offensive things that are meant to get people angry, but not to think. This woman is a true hero of free speech. She provokes to provoke thought and discussion, to focus attention on problems and get her country to change it's ways. People want to kill her to silence her. Free speech has found a new hero in this woman, a real hero, and more's the pity that 60 Minutes seemed to think she should be silent.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Ward Churchill

I really have very little interest in the whole Ward Churchill brouhaha, apart from the obligatory schadenfreude at the self-destruction of yet another leftie bastion, but if you really want to know all the sordid details, Denver's Radio 630 KHOW has more than you ever wanted to know about the fellow.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Someone At the NYTimes Must Have Read his Column...

Frank Rich, the "Arts Editor" of The New York Times is being moved to the Op-ed Page of the old, rusty death-like grey Lady. Rich, who I don't recall ever writing his page 1 arts column on anything other than how much he hates Republicans, is a voice of hysteria and poor logic, but will probably make more sense than Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd on any given day. I wonder if now that Rich is on the op/ed page, he'll start writing about art again. He has to be better at that than he is at politics.

Personal kudos to Kang for keeping me up to date on politics, basketball, and whatnot during my recent stay in the hospital. I'm trying to find something fun to rant about, but I will say this-I have never been happier to live in a country without socilized medicine. If this were Canada, not only would I still be in the hospital, they wouldn't have even gotten around to admitting me yet. Thanks to all my docs, and the very nice, professional nursing staff at Virginia Medical Center. If I never see them again, it'll be too soon.

Who is a hacker

George Orwell wrote in 1946 that 'the word "fascism" has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable"' (Politics and the English Language). The word 'hacker', which used to be a compliment, and still is in the circles I move in, long ago became a term of abuse in the general community, a synonym for 'cracker'.

But 'cracker' too has a meaning, it signifies someone who performs a particular kind of malicious activity, rather than merely 'something not desirable to do with computers'. Or so I used to think. The word seems to be rapidly moving away from that situation, and towards being just another meaningless term of abuse. Gary McGath blogs on the latest example of this deplorable trend.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The World Gone Nuts or: How I Learned to Stop Ranting and Agree With the Guardian

I read this in the editorial pages of the Guardian [emphasis & shock mine]:

This leaves opponents of the Iraq war in a tricky position, even if [Tony Blair] is not about to rub our faces in the fact. Not only did we set our face against a military adventure which seems, even if indirectly, to have triggered a series of potentially welcome side effects; we also stood against the wider world-view that George Bush represented. What should we say now?

First, we ought to admit that the dark cloud of the Iraq war may have carried a silver lining. We can still argue that the war was wrong-headed, illegal, deceitful and too costly of human lives - and that its most important gain, the removal of Saddam, could have been achieved by other means. But we should be big enough to concede that it could yet have at least one good outcome.

Second, we have to say that the call for freedom throughout the Arab and Muslim world is a sound and just one - even if it is a Bush slogan and arguably code for the installation of malleable regimes. Put starkly, we cannot let ourselves fall into the trap of opposing democracy in the Middle East simply because Bush and Blair are calling for it. Sometimes your enemy's enemy is not your friend.

This may seem painfully self-evident to many, but lots of Democrats in this country haven't figured it out yet. More from the Guardian [different article]:

What is happening on the streets of Beirut is not a result of the invasion of Iraq, nor does it retrospectively justify that invasion. But it does, obviously, have something to do with American policy. The truth is that, starting with the shock of September 11 2001, Washington has groped its way, by a process of trial and error, to a strategic position which it is entirely possible for democrats in both Europe and the Arab world to engage with. A key part of that groping was the realisation in Iraq that, while the United States could win any war on its own, it could not win the subsequent peace; and that democracy would not come overnight, out of the barrel of a gun. If we Europeans do not stand for the long haul to democracy, by peaceful means, what do we stand for?

By George, I think they've got it! As Jonah Goldberg keeps reminding us - we on the political right got far too much wrong about Iraq for any serious 'I told you so' talk. But the Cedar revolution seems to have validated the basic tenants of the Bush doctrine without forcing the opposition on the left to agree with the Iraq war or the man himself. All of us, except the insane absolutist fringes (cough)Democratic Underground(cough), can agree that we we're all wrong about certain aspects of the War on Terror and we all got a bit overheated with the rhetoric, but we all agree one the important stuff which is that bringing Democracy to the greater Middle East is both possible and desirable.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

One Man, One Gloat

Steyn is at his best with his latest column. It kicks off at the expense of the Leftists, who still insist war was all wrong, but (begrudgingly) the outcomes are pretty good. Steyn predicts that when the revisionist historians get around to interpreting the events of today, Bush will get the same dismissive treatment that Reagan received after they rewrote the Cold War:

Oh, the Soviet bloc [the Middle East thugocracies] was bound to collapse anyway. Nothing to do with that simpleton Ronnie Raygun [Chimpy Bushitler]. In fact, all Raygun [Chimpy] did was delay the inevitable with his ridiculous arms build-up[illegal unprovoked Halliburton oil-grab], as many of us argued at the time: see my 1984 column 'Yuri Andropov, The Young, Smart, Sexy New Face Of Soviet Communism' [see the April 2004 Spectator column 'Things Were Better Under Saddam: The coalition has destroyed Baathism, says Rod Liddle, and with it all hopes of the emergence of secular democracy' and yes, that really ran in these pages, on 17 April, not 1 April.]
Then after he kicks around the Not-In-Our-Name crowd, he finishes with:

The other day I found myself, for the umpteenth time, driving in Vermont behind a Kerry/Edwards supporter whose vehicle also bore the slogan 'FREE TIBET'. It must be great to be the guy with the printing contract for the 'FREE TIBET' stickers. Not so good to be the guy back in Tibet wondering when the freeing thereof will actually get under way. For a while, my otherwise not terribly political wife got extremely irritated by these stickers, demanding to know at a pancake breakfast at the local church what precisely some harmless hippy-dippy old neighbour of ours meant by the slogan he'd been proudly displaying decade in, decade out: "But what exactly are you doing to free Tibet?" she demanded. "You're not doing anything, are you?" "Give the guy a break," I said back home. "He's advertising his moral virtue, not calling for action. If Rumsfeld were to say, 'Free Tibet? Jiminy, what a swell idea! The Third Infantry Division go in on Thursday', the bumper-sticker crowd would be aghast."

But for those of us on the arrogant unilateralist side of things, that's not how it works. 'FREE AFGHANISTAN'. Done. 'FREE IRAQ'. Done. Given the paintwork I pull off every time I have to change the sticker, it might be easier for the remainder of the Bush presidency just to go around with 'FREE [INSERT YOUR FETID TOTALITARIAN BASKET-CASE HERE]'. Not in your name? Don't worry, it's not.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Jon Stewart-The Last Sane Liberal?

I've always been a fan of Jon Stewart. Even though I mostly avoided "The Daily Show" during and after the election, I've come back to it, as Stewart seems to have accepted the Bush won, and also because he and his news crew seem to think that Howard Dean was a really bad choice to be Dem chairman. Also, Stephen Colbert is the second funniest correspondent ever(First is a tie between Steve Carrell and Brian Unger(The Kilborne days, my friends). Anyway, ever since the Iraqi election, Stewart has been quite honest in his enthusiaism that real change might be on the way in the Middle East. He's even honest enought o temper his enthusiam for his honest misgivings about the war from the start. But he saw those lebanses in the street and he saw the purple finger raised, and he hoped that good will happen there. He even admitted to Fareed Zakariah after the election that his misgivings aside, when you see peple vote in an honest election, liberals are supposed to be happy with it.

Now, a lot of liberals were very upset. Democratic Underground, Juan Cole, every hard core leftist I can think of(though not most mainstream Washington Dems I know, the poor saps who tried so hard to make the rest of the party beat down the Dean invasion). Stewart, who is a comic first and political anaylst second(how can i say this? All good comics are beholden to the truth, because good comics know that the truth is always funnier. Not so with political analysts) was bubbly last night on his show about the anti-Syrian protesters. His guest, in an odd bit of irony, was former Clinton State Department official and Republican-hater Nancy Soderberg, author of "The Superpower Myth: The Use and Misuse of American Power. She was, apparently, to tell Stewart why the "neocons" were such horrible screw ups. What followed, and I admit I missed it as I turned it off when I heard the title of her book, was captured by James Taranto at Best of the Web. Stewart, enthused by the revolt in Beruit, would not come around to her style of thinking and challenged her on her points. Go read it. It's mesmerizing and funny, and I've got to watch the rerun tonight. Frankly, I have to applaud Jon Stewart. As the left goes nuts, he's still intellectually honest with himself and he's got the guts to speak his mind in a leftist culture that does NOT tolerate dissent, ie Bush Evil! Bravo, Jon.
(Hat tip: the Instapundit Himself)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Tom Paine, over at Silent Running, is at it again:
President Chimpy McSmirk's lame-brained Crusade for Oil enters its fourth ill-advised year, and it's easy to see how prescient the leftist commentariat have been about how disastrious the entire war would be. Lets run through the checklist of disaster and see how well the Chomskys, Pilgers and Rathers have been, shall we?
Is there a word for an operation to extract a tongue from a cheek and put it back where it belongs?

Theo Van Gogh And the Oscars

The Oscar's were broadcast the other night, and since I have issues I had to watch them. Pretty dull. I liked it when Chris Rock went after some of the "lesser" Hollywood "stars", like Colin Farrell especially, I man who gets good parts simply because the industry seems to THINK he should be a star, talent or not. I think Jude Law's a better actor than Rock gave him credit for, but I'm glad he made the joke because now the whole world can know just how humorless Sean Penn is. God, what a dick.

Anyway, K-Lo over at the corner wondered why Theo Van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker murdered by Islamic radicals in the name of jihad didn't get his name in with the rest of the "In Memorium" crowd. They had room for the guy who wrote Rambo: First Blood Part II, but not this guy? And don't tell me it's because he's foreign, because Leni Reifinstahl, head filmmaker of the Nazi's, get a clip last year. Why the silence, Hollywood? Still, I mean?