The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


              Personal Business

The aforemanetioned personal business...her name is Maia
|| Nudnik 6:57 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Sunday, September 26, 2004


              Duty Calls
No blogging for the next few days, as I will be away on personal business.
|| Nudnik 8:51 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Friday, September 24, 2004


              General DeLong
The Command Post has a fascinating interview with General Michael DeLong, the former deputy commander of the US Central Command. He was second in command there, and helped plan the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Reading the statements of a person who was so intimately involved in the War on Terror shows just how inane the arguments of John Kerry and the Left really are.
|| Nudnik 3:46 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Winning Friends and Influencing People
John Kerry continues to say that one of the cornerstones of his Iraq policy will be to bring in allies and internationalize the reconstruction. His idea of allies, of course, is France and Germany. The others just don't count; they are "bribed and coerced". Charles Krauthammer takes Kerry to task for his campaign's (in the form of his sister) recent attempts to influence the upcoming election in America's historically most steadfast ally, Australia.
Of all our allies in the world, which is the only one to have joined the United States in the foxhole in every war in the past 100 years? Not Britain, not Canada, certainly not France. The answer is Australia.
[...]
The terrorists' objective is to intimidate all countries allied with America. Make them bleed and tell them this is the price they pay for being a U.S. ally. The implication is obvious: Abandon America and buy your safety.

That is what the terrorists are saying. Why is the Kerry campaign saying the same thing? "John Kerry's campaign has warned Australians that the Howard Government's support for the US in Iraq has made them a bigger target for international terrorists." So reports the Weekend Australian (Sept. 18).
[...]
This snide and reckless put-down more than undermines our best friends abroad. It demonstrates the cynicism of Kerry's promise to broaden our coalition in Iraq. If this is how Kerry repays America's closest allies -- ridiculing the likes of Tony Blair and John Howard -- who does he think is going to step up tomorrow to be America's friend?
As I have said before Kerry's - and the Democrat's - foreign policy is simply not serious. More importantly, it is dangerous and counterproductive to our War on Terror. Just yesterday, Kerry and a number of Democratic Senators went out of their way to insult the Prime Minister of Iraq, to call him a liar. Doesn't Kerry realize that if he is elected (God forbid) he will have to work with this "liar", and those "bribed", "coerced", and "fictitious" allies?
|| Nudnik 10:51 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Thursday, September 23, 2004


              The Media's Hopes
Ryan Lizza's article in The New Republic perfectly points out the MSM's attempts to push Kerry back into the race for President. As was anticipated by many, the MSM wants to engineer a comeback for Kerry by putting out articles saying that his campaign is turning the corner, and things are now getting better. Lizza tries desperately to try to convince his readers that Kerry's NYU speech on Iraq was "the strongest and most effective he has delivered in this campaign." Of course, he is then confronted with the unpleasant fact that the speech was "descriptive rather than prescriptive"; another way of saying that it was all rhetoric with no plan. Yes, Kerry accused the Bush administration of every evil imaginable, with the explicit goal that "[T]o the extent voters are pessimistic about Iraq's future, Kerry can be optimistic about his." In other words, Kerry wants more soldiers and civilians to be killed in Iraq because that helps him. And as a letter from an Army Captain in Iraq posted at Captain's Quarters makes clear, Kerry's speeches of gloom and doom promising withdrawal, encourage the insurgents to commit more depravities and discourage our troops.
I also wonder if Senator Kerry realizes that he is partially responsible for the recent upswing in violence. This, by the way, is not speculation... this is straight from one of my interpreter's mouth.

When Senator Kerry said that, if elected, he would pull us out of here in four years, the insurgent leadership had a rousing round of celebratory automatic weapons fire. The insurgents can easily hang out another four years, taking 10 casualties here, 3 there and they know it. And they know that a massive upswing in violence with resulting casualties will make President Bush look really bad and increase the Senator's chances of election.
The only prescription that Kerry did have in his speech was that he would bring in more allies - meaning, presumably, France and Germany. Of course, as Mark Steyn points out this is inane simply from any logical and factual standpoint.
But I can't see the message itself - "We're losing anyway, so I'll surrender faster" - having much appeal to the American people. "We must make Iraq the world's responsibility," he says. But, if it's an American quagmire, why should anyone else get stuck in it? Even if Kerry's deft nuanced touch with the Franco-German outreach is as effective as he insists it is, it's asking a lot to expect them to pick up the slack for what he calls "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time". "Why, Jean, you're right, mon brave," Mr Chirac will say. "Your men have died in vain there. It's only fair that ours should, too." And, even if you accept the dubious logic that Franco-German troops would be less provocative to Baathist dead-enders than Anglo-American ones, has Kerry done the math? Say there are 140,000 US troops in Iraq when he takes office. He announces plans to bring home 10 per cent within two months. By what stretch of the imagination does he think the French and Germans are capable of producing 14,000 troops to replace them?
Kerry's plan is simple: stability, no matter how dangerous or murderous, is preferable to taking a chance to improve the lives of millions and change the very malfunctioning dynamics of the Arab world that produced the terrorists in the first place - withdraw into fortress America, and hope we aren't hit again.
|| Nudnik 4:10 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Who Cares?
Victor Hanson looks at what the UN has become, and why the American people simply don't care about it anymore. By all their actions over the last 20 years, the UN has made itself irrelevant.
Our own problems with the U.N. should now be viewed in a context of ongoing radical change here in the United States, as all the previous liberal assumptions of the past decades undergo scrutiny in our post 9/11 world. There are no longer any sacred cows in the eyes of the American public. Ask Germany and South Korea as American troops depart, Saudi Arabia where bases are closed, and the once beaming Yasser Arafat, erstwhile denizen of the Lincoln Bedroom, as he now broods in his solitary rubble bunker.

Deeds, not rhetoric, are all that matter, as the once unthinkable is now the possible. There is no intrinsic reason why the U.N. should be based in New York rather than in its more logical utopian home in Brussels or Geneva. There is no law chiseled in stone that says any fascist or dictatorial state deserves authorized membership by virtue of its hijacking of a government. There is no logic to why a France is on the Security Council, but a Japan or India is not. And there is no reason why a group of democratic nations, unapologetic about their values and resolute to protect freedom, cannot act collectively for the common good, entirely indifferent to Syria's censure or a Chinese veto.

So Americans' once gushy support for the U.N. during its adolescence is gone. By the 1970s we accepted at best that it had devolved into a neutral organization in its approach to the West, and by the 1980s sighed that it was now unabashedly hostile to freedom. But in our odyssey from encouragement, to skepticism, and then to hostility, we have now reached the final stage--of indifference. Americans do not get riled easily, so the U.N. will go out with a whimper rather than a bang. Indeed, millions have already shrugged, tuned out, and turned the channel on it.
|| Nudnik 1:28 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Going Left
John Kerry's has definitely (at least for the time being) chosen his position on Iraq. Its hard to tell if this is his real position, or just more political angling. Clearly by going anti-war, he has decided to appeal to the left-wing of his base in the Democratic Party. Dick Morris sees a huge problem in this approach.
Liberals will cheer Kerry's new-found decisiveness, but it opens the way for Bush to deal him a counterstroke that can all but end this election and finish off Kerry for good.

Kerry's right flank is now gapingly vulnerable to a Bush attack. According to Scott Rasmussen's tracking polls, 30 to 40 percent of Kerry's voters disagree with his new leftward tilt on Iraq.

That is, even as the Democrat condemned the war in Iraq as a "diversion" from the central mission of the war on terror, a large minority of his own voters disagrees and sees it as "integral" to the battle to respond to 9/11.

Kerry has moved to the left, leaving about one-third of his vote behind. Bush can now move in and peel off Kerry's moderate supporters.
The key for Bush, going forward, is to make sure that people continue to see Iraq as part of the War on Terror. Kerry has staked his whole candidacy on people divorcing these two issues, having in effect conceded the issue of the economy to Bush.
|| Nudnik 11:47 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Aid and Comfort
Ralph Peters gives a stinging indictment of Kerry's statements on Iraq.
IMAGINE if, in the presidential election of 1944, the candidate opposing FDR had insisted that we were losing the Second World War and that, if elected, he would begin to withdraw American troops from Europe and the Pacific.

We would have called it treason. And we would have been right.

In WWII, broadcasts from Tokyo Rose in Japan and from Axis Sally in Germany warned our troops that their lives were being squandered in vain, that they were dying for big business and "the Jew" Roosevelt.

Today, we have a presidential candidate, the conscienceless Sen. John Kerry, doing the work of the enemy propagandists of yesteryear.

Is there nothing Kerry won't say to win the election? Is there no position he won't change? Doesn't he care anything for the sacrifices of our troops in Iraq?
[...]
As for the United Nations, any day now we'll see a huge banner hanging from its Manhattan headquarters: Dictators For Kerry.

Even if I detested everything about President Bush, I'd vote for him just to rub it in the faces of the Germans, the French and all of the tyrants rooting for the Iraqi people to slip back into despotism. We Americans choose our own presidents, and we don't take orders from Europeans or from any of Kerry's other Swiss boarding-school pals.

I think it's great that Kerry speaks fluent French. I wish he'd go to France where he could speak it all the time.
Kerry's foreign policy proposals have been less than serious throughout the entire campaign. And at this point, even if he does want to be serious about an issue like Iraq, he has nothing to say because he has said everything already.
|| Nudnik 10:56 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Wednesday, September 22, 2004


              New Level of Mendacity
Senator Kerry, at a forum with voters, brought up the possibility that a military draft could be reinstated if Bush were re-elected. The level of this mendacity is simply stunning. Every Republican and military official has completely ruled out a draft; in today's military it simply does not make sense - given the technological complexity of the military, it's too expensive and inefficient to draft someone and spend a long time training them only to have them leave as soon as their term is up. The only ones advocating a draft are prominent Democrats like Rep. Charles Rangel. This is pure desperation on the part of the Kerry campaign. Being so far back, they now need to scare people with outright lies.

Michelle Malkin links to an article pointing out that a mass email is being sent to students in college warning them that they will be drafted as early as June of 2005.

I had thought that Kerry was basically a decent man, albeit a complete nothing, until the events of the past few weeks. Now I am convinced that he is complete shit. I wonder if these changes in his campaign tactics (i.e. outright lying) have anything to do with the Clinton operatives he brought on board. They, as we know, are well versed in this type of deceit.
|| Nudnik 4:43 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Why We Fight
As the time since the 9/11 attacks passes, more and more people forget the reason we are involved in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course, the MSM refuse to remind people, lest this make them vote for President Bush. Powerline links to a good Flash animation reminding us of the reasons why we must fight. There really is a war going on. The Republican Party understands that. The Democrats do not. Mark Steyn is right in saying
A serious party would have seen the war on terror as a major foreign policy challenge they needed to address credibly. But instead the Democrats looked on it in a shriveled, partisan Carvillesque way as a Bush wedge issue they needed to neutralize.
Understanding what this war is about qualifies Bush to be President. Kerry's inability to see this should disqualify him.
|| Nudnik 3:05 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Hamas and Iraq
Turns out that the Global War on Terror really is linked to Israel's War on Terror. The World Tribune reports that Hamas is now involved in the terrorist acts in Iraq.
|| Nudnik 1:48 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              JFK versus JFKerry
Tony Blankley makes some interesting comparisons between John F. Kennedy, and the man with the same initials.
Now, let's try a few more quotes. "Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction." "I hear it said that West Berlin is militarily untenable — as so was Bastogne, and so, in fact, was Stalingrad. Any danger spot is tenable if men — brave men — will make it so." Those were the words of John F. Kerry's hero, John F. Kennedy. It's amazing what a difference changing just four little letters in a last name can mean.

Jack Kennedy would "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe." For John Kennedy: "Only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it."

It is ironic that in this time and in this place, the direct descendent of those words, and the virile passions they convey, can be found coming from the mouth and heart not of the Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, but of his opponent, the Texas Republican George W. Bush.
|| Nudnik 11:47 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Blowing in the Wind
A new campaign ad from the Bush administration is up. Once again it is incredibly effective because it piles on to the already established view of Kerry as blowing in the wind. When even the mainstream liberals, like my sister, view Kerry as a wishy-washy, indecisive loser, Kerry is in real trouble.
|| Nudnik 11:36 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Tuesday, September 21, 2004


              Fighting...But For What?
John Kerry says he is in a "fighting mood" after delivering his ridiculous speech at NYU. This begs the question what is he fighting for? The answer seems to be pretty simple, he is fighting to surrender. That was the meaning of his NYU speech, nothing more.
I wish it didn't, but the fact is ... on Iraq, they haven't leveled with the American people and we deserve a president of the United States who looks Americans in the eye and tells you the truth.
He says. Which truth does he want to tell the American people? Is it the truth that the war was worth fighting, which was his initial position? Or is it that he would not have gone to war, which was his second position? Or was it that someone not realizing that with Saddam gone the US is safer doesn't have the judgment to be President? Or is it the "wrong war....."? Which "truth" does Senator Kerry wish us to believe?

The main truth is that this candidate is a joke. He is worse than Clinton in his prevarications; at least Clinton's were in a time and about relatively small things. Kerry is talking about life and death issues for tens of thousands of people, and the only idea conveyed by him is "I should be President because I was born in the west wing of a hospital". No ideas, just entitlement.
|| Nudnik 7:58 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              The Kerryness of Kerry
Mark Steyn, in a great article, once again brutalizes Kerry.
If it weren’t for the small matter of the war for civilization, I’d find it hard to resist a Kerry Presidency. Groucho Marx once observed that an audience will laugh at an actress playing an old lady pretending to fall downstairs, but, for a professional comic to laugh, it has to be a real old lady. That’s how I feel about the Kerry campaign. For the professional political analyst, watching Mondale or Dukakis or Howard Dean stuck in the part of the guy who falls downstairs is never very satisfying: they’re average, unexceptional fellows whom circumstances have conspired to transform into walking disasters. But Senator Kerry was made for the role, a vain thin-skinned droning blueblood with an indestructible sense of his own status but none at all of his own ridiculousness. If Karl Rove had labored for a decade to produce a walking parody of the contemporary Democratic Party’s remoteness, condescension, sense of entitlement, public evasiveness and tortured relationship with military matters, he couldn’t have improved on John F Kerry.
[...]
Primary season gives the party’s electorate a chance to rattle the leading candidate and make him a better campaigner. This time round the leading candidates – Dean, Clark – rattled the electorate and in their stampede to the fire exits they wound up sweeping the quintessential “None of the Above” man to victory. They made a very basic miscalculation: Howard Dean was a dull centrist governor pretending to be nuts, John Kerry is a nut passing himself off as a dull centrist.
[...]
These kinds of platitudes ring particularly empty from Senator Kerry. Americans do not begrudge a man making great wealth or inheriting it. But there is something vaguely icky about living the high life off the money of your wife’s first husband, especially when you give off the air that the good things that flow therefrom – the private jets, the luxury vacations homes, the $8,000 bicycle – are essential to your sense of yourself. Bush is rich but no-one would have a home in Crawford, Texas unless it really was his home: you don’t go there for haute cuisine or the jet set. If you prefer a less partisan comparison, take Governor Dean, a Park Avenue blueblood who found love, happiness and fulfillment in a materially modest life in Vermont. But Kerry’s expensive tastes seem central to his identity. And his preferred formulation for detaching his policy positions from his lifestyle is especially feeble: “That’s not my SUV, that’s the family’s SUV” – as if Teresa’s his Halliburton and he just happens to be enjoying some windfall profits, which, come to think of it, seems pretty much the case.
|| Nudnik 3:45 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Iraq and the Polls
Real Clear Politics has an excellent analysis of the state of the Presidential campaign. A number of state polls has come out recently showing Bush leading in a number of swing states. And despite things in Iraq seeming worse every day, Bush's numbers continue to improve.
Iraq has always been the defining issue in this campaign and despite John Kerry's best attempts over the last few months to turn it against Bush by attacking from every imaginable angle, it hasn't worked. Maybe that will change as the violence continues into October and Kerry sharpens his critique, but I wouldn't count on it.

The reason, I think, is very simple: America hates losers. I don't mean that John Kerry is a "loser" in the stylistic sense - though he does come off a bit that way when we see pictures of his gangly frame in spandex bike shorts, windsurfing or throwing a baseball.

What I mean is that when it comes to the biggest issue in this campaign, Iraq, John Kerry doesn't leave the impression with voters that he really wants to win the war. Everything we see, feel and know about John Kerry says his heart is not in this war, nor has it really been in any war.
Kerry in his speech yesterday, and his chief foreign policy adviser Richard Holbrooke have explicitly compared Iraq to VietNam. Besides the hardcore loony left base of the Democratic Party, Americans do not believe this and don't like those comparisons. His big, new, foreign policy speech - which promises to be the core of his campaign going forward - appeals to no swing voters. He is preaching to the converted, and when he hears the applause of these converted he and his advisers seem convinced that the rest of the country also thinks this way. They are wrong, and the polls are showing it every day.
|| Nudnik 11:16 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Attack Coming
Bill Gertz details US intelligence agencies assessments of the probability of a "spectacular" al-Qaeda attack on the US.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded recently that al Qaeda - fearing its credibility is on the line - is moving ahead with plans for a major, "spectacular" attack, despite disruptions of some operations by recent arrests in Britain and Pakistan.

Officials said recent intelligence assessments of the group, which is blamed for the September 11 attacks, state that an attack is coming and that the danger will remain high until the Nov. 2 elections and last until Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.
|| Nudnik 10:47 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Eurabia
Last week, in the German newspaper Die Welt, Bernard Lewis predicted (link for German speakers) that by the end of this century, Europe will be completely Islamicized. This very interesting interview with Bat Ye'or, details Europe's descent into dhimmitude. It is clear that no amount of negotiations with Europe will bring them aboard in the War on Terror. They have surrendered to the Arab world. The only question, at this point, is which European country will be the first to adopt Sharia.
|| Nudnik 10:28 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Good Question
Townhall's David Limbaugh has some excellent questions for John Kerry and his new Iraq policy:
Taking you at your word (an extremely charitable gesture, I might note) that you only voted for the Iraq war resolution based on your list of conditions and to give the president bargaining power against Saddam, I have another question.

If Iraq did not constitute a significant threat to the United States and did not have ties to Al Qaeda, Senator, as you also said in your speech, then precisely what did you think the president should threaten Saddam about? And if indeed Saddam was no threat, why did you insist on imposing all those meaningless pre-war conditions on the president? If, as you say, the war was a mistake, there is no purpose in those pre-war conditions or threats.
|| Nudnik 8:26 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Monday, September 20, 2004


              Kerry's New Iraq Plan
John Kerry has decided to make the final six weeks of this campaign all about Iraq. Given the many previous positions Kerry has taken on the war, this seems to be a bad political strategy. Clearly, every time Kerry says something about what should be done or what he would do, he will be hit with his own words advocating the exact opposite. In today's speech at NYU Kerry offered four things that he would do in Iraq:
-Get more help from other nations.
-Provide better training for Iraqi security forces.
-Provide benefits to the Iraqi people.
-Ensure that democratic elections can be held next year as promised.
Of these four "new" directions, three (the last three) are already in place. The fourth, his idea of getting more help from other nations, is simply a pipe dream. Does anyone still think that if Kerry is elected France and Germany will rush troops to Iraq? That proposition is simply inane. So what does Kerry really propose?

It is now clear (if that is possible with Kerry) that a President Kerry - or a President Gore, for that matter - would not have invaded Iraq. This, of course, is completely opposite to his statement that even knowing what we know today he would have made the same choice as President Bush. More important than Kerry's mutable position, is his display of a total lack of understanding of what this war is about and why we need to fight it. If Kerry still thinks that Iraq was invaded because of WMD or their connection to 9/11 then he is either deluded or lying. There are no other alternatives. Judging by Kerry's past record on defense and the Cold War, one must assume that he is not lying, that he is simply a deluded dove whose policies will endanger the US and the world in the same way that Clinton's did.

It is impossible to divorce the war in Iraq from the war on terror. They are both battles in in our war against the ideology of Islamofascism, be it religious or secular. To defeat it we need to show the Islamic world that their ideas are wrong. The Islamic world understands force, properly applied. My main criticism of the Bush Administration handling of Iraq is that they have not been forceful enough, and this has multiplied the problems; Fallujah should have been reduced to rubble after the lynching of US contractors there; al-Sadr should have been killed and his army destroyed, not released with their weapons. Either of those moves would have done a lot to end the insurgency. Kerry's statements about "bringing troops home" have the opposite effect - it shows the insurgents that they are winning, and that all they have to do is wait. With each public foreign policy pronouncement Kerry and his advisers demonstrate just how dangerous a Kerry presidency would be.
|| Nudnik 1:36 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Groundhog Day
The Opinion Journal's John Fund examines the similarities between this year's campaign, an one from a few years back.
Says one Democratic consultant: "I would have called you crazy if in 1989 you would have told me that a decade and a half later this party was going to nominate Dukakis's lieutenant governor--another aloof Massachusetts liberal who would overconfidently feel he would mop the floor with this clueless guy named Bush. But I fear I've seen this movie, and it's 'Groundhog Day.' "
[...]
Liberal journalists have started to pile on the Kerry campaign. "Kerry is Dukakis, after all," sighs Joe Klein of Time magazine. "Deadly dull, slow to respond, trapped in Democratic banality; he actually said he was for 'good jobs at good wages.' "
It seems the main problem of the Democratic Party is one of arrogance. They have convinced themselves that they are better and that anyone who does not recognize that is, in the words of Theresa Heinz Kerry, an "idiot". Turns out, people don't like being condescended to.
|| Nudnik 1:08 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Friday, September 17, 2004


              Still Flopping
Charles Krauthammer examines Kerry's multitude positions on the Iraq war.
If the election were held today, John Kerry would lose by between 88 and 120 electoral votes. The reason is simple: The central vulnerability of this president -- the central issue of this campaign -- is the Iraq war. And Kerry has nothing left to say.

Why? Because, until now, he has said everything conceivable regarding Iraq. Having taken every possible position on the war, there is nothing he can say now that is even remotely credible.
I'm not convinced that Iraq is the central issue in the campaign. To me the central issue is the war on terror, in general, of which Iraq is a small part. The central issue is how each of the candidates views the war on terror, i.e. from a 9/10 perspective or a 9/12 perspective. By Kerry's insistence on waiting to be hit again before the US would respond, and relying more on the law than on the military, Kerry places himself squarely in the 9/10 mindset.

Krauthammer's main point, I think, is that
These dizzying contradictions -- so glaring, so public, so frequent -- have gone beyond undermining anything Kerry can now say on Iraq. They have been transmuted into a character issue. When Kerry went off windsurfing during the Republican convention, Jay Leno noted that even Kerry's hobbies depend on wind direction. Kerry on the war has become an object not only of derision but of irreconcilable suspicion. What kind of man, aspiring to the presidency, does not know his own mind about the most serious issue of our time?
This lack of ability to take a position and follow through on it is an indication not just of what he would do in Iraq, but against terrorism in general.
|| Nudnik 1:38 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Thursday, September 16, 2004


              Defeating Terrorism
Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael Oren write about Israel's victory over Palestinian terrorism.
Meanwhile, life inside Israel has returned to near normalcy. The economy, which was shrinking in 2001, is now growing at around 4 percent per year. Even the tourists are back: Jerusalem's premier King David Hotel, which a few years ago was almost empty, recently reached full occupancy. All summer, Israel seemed to be celebrating itself, with music and film festivals and a nightly crafts fair in Jerusalem that brought crowds back to its once-deserted downtown. Everyone knows a terrorist attack can happen at any time. Still, Israeli society no longer lives in anticipation of an attack. The Beersheba bombing, which once would have seemed to Israelis part of an endless and unwinnable war, is now perceived as an aberration. Terror that no longer paralyzes is no longer terror.
Many on the Left, both in Israel and in the US have repeated the mantra that there is no military solution to terrorism. Yet, Israel has proven that this long-held belief is false. It is a long, hard struggle but one that can be won if there is the determination to triumph. Israel's fight against terrorism also has some lessons for the US.
Americans would be wise to study this final lesson, too: Perhaps the greatest danger in fighting terrorism is the polarizing effect such a campaign can have--not just internationally, but domestically. To avoid this pitfall, a strong political consensus for military action is necessary. That means the president must actively reach out to domestic opposition. But American leaders must also heed Sharon's other lessons. That means an ability to endure criticism from abroad and even to risk international isolation, a willingness to define the war on terrorism as a total war, and a commitment to focus one's political agenda on winning, not on divisive or extraneous concerns. Fulfilling those conditions does not guarantee success. But it does make success possible--as Israel is, at great cost, showing the world.
|| Nudnik 10:38 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              New Polls
A few new polls were released today showing that the race is once again tied. The Harris poll shows a lead of 1% point for Kerry, while the Pew poll shows a similar lead for Bush. These polls are asserting that Bush's post-convention bounce has disappeared. What is strange is that the AP will be releasing a new Gallup poll tomorrow (the results are buried deep within this article) that shows Bush widening his lead to 14%, 54%-40%. The discrepancy is huge and I'm not quite sure what to make of that. But given the fact that in a number of state polls (New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Florida) Bush is either widening his lead or narrowing Kerry's lead, it would seem that the Gallup poll is more accurate. Additionally, relying on the markets shows that on Tradesports the Bush contract is trading at 67.5, and on the Iowa Electronic Markets at 58, seeming to confirm the Gallup poll.

Update: It seems that both the Harris poll and the Pew poll were conducted over a weekend, when more Democrats are home to answer their phones than Republicans. This could account fore some discrepancy. Additionally, NRO's Kerry Spot discusses some other "weirdnesses" in the Pew poll.
|| Nudnik 10:04 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              The Market Shall Set You Free
"Memogate" has confirmed something that was first proposed by Friedrich Hayek and the Chicago School of Economics (of which I was a student) - markets work. Recently we have seen the creation of a number of "exchanges", like Tradesports, where individuals can bet on the outcome of any number of events ranging from sports contests to elections to the weather. Invariably, the "predictions" made by these "exchanges", in the form of pricing for each contract, have been more accurate than the predictions of any individual or small group of experts. Likewise, the Iowa Electronic Markets have been a more accurate predictor of elections than virtually any poll. The reason for this is fairly simple - large groups tend to gather and filter information better than small centralized groups. Hayek was one of the first to expound this theory (of course the absolute first was Adam Smith and his "Invisible Hand"), and at the time, it was revolutionary.
Hayek's work focused on how it is that complicated and reliable systems of cooperation come about without any centralized direction. When they do, they outperform systems of "command", systems that rely on central direction. Hayek was an economist and so his primary object of study was the market and how, seemingly counterintuitively, it can work without commands; and why it outperforms large scale centralized economies like the Soviet Union. It doesn't take a directive from Washington to get Apple Computers to make more iPods. Why? Because the market tells Apple how many will sell.
Blogs work in a very similar way. There are millions of them, and all have their particular knowledge, no matter how minute it may seem. When Dan Rather came out with those obviously forged memos, the blogging "marketplace" was able to refute them almost instantly because of the combined base of knowledge of millions of people, as opposed to the knowledge of a small and self-selected group at CBS.

The ease of communication has led to the democratization of information due. In this way, the market produces truth.
|| Nudnik 2:23 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Wednesday, September 15, 2004


              Shana Tova!
A happy, healthy and safe New Year to all!
|| Nudnik 4:45 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              More Signs of Collapse
You know its bad for the Kerry campaign when even top Democrats are attacking its incompetence.
Longtime Democratic insider Tony Coelho lashed out at the John Kerry presidential campaign, characterizing it as a campaign in chaos. With yet another appointment of a former Clinton administration staffer to Kerry’s team on Tuesday, Coelho argues the problem is worsening.

“There is nobody in charge and you have these two teams that are generally not talking to each other,” says Coehlo, who ran Al Gore's campaign early in the 2000 presidential race. As Coelho and other detractors see it, there is a civil war within the Kerry campaign.
|| Nudnik 1:25 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              The Ostrich's Ass
Jews have been voting for Democratic candidates since Roosevelt. Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder think that in this election, that needs to change for the sake of self-preservation.
It has been said that "Jews are the people of 'The Book.'" From what we observe today, "The Book" is not a survival manual and may end up being the Koran.

There are three things certain in life: death, taxes and anti-Semitism. Well, death is death, taxes are down, and anti-Semitism is up. Like some demon seed that lay dormant, sleeping, covered over or ignored, it has now sprouted once again. The hated symbols are scrawled across the gravestones in Jewish cemeteries and on the walls of the ancient capitals of Europe and the Near and Middle East. Jews are blamed for every thing from the destruction of the World Trade Center to the war in Iraq, and are called "baby-killers" in relation to the Palestinian problem, even while the world's media print the photographs of the arms of small slaughtered Jewish children hanging from the side of a bus that Palestinian terrorists had decided to destroy.

American Jews are peculiarly disconnected from these happenings, and apparently are determined to make their lack of interest in unfolding world events evident by supporting the Democratic candidate for President. An ostrich buries its head in the sand, and in so doing leaves another part of its anatomy vulnerable. American Jews should take heed and perhaps consider emulating the eagle, rather than the ostrich.
[...]
In the Greenberg poll, when the Jews being polled were asked, "Which area [out of a given list] would be MOST important to you in deciding how to vote for a candidate for President?" only 15 percent mentioned Israel. Unfortunately there are six million reasons why they are wrong.
|| Nudnik 1:02 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              The Last Word
Bret Stephens is stepping down as Editor-in-Chief of the Jerusalem Post. Here is his last column.
|| Nudnik 11:45 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Kerry's Desperation
More and more, it seems, the sounds emanating from the Kerry campaign are ones of desperation. With the exception of the Investors Business Daily, all the polls are showing a lead for Bush from 4% to 11%. The Iowa Electronic Markets and Tradesports are showing prices for the Bush contract (i.e. Bush winning the election) at 3 month highs. State by state polls are even less encouraging for the Kerry campaign. Polipundit points to a new Qunnipiac poll showing that even in New York, Kerry's lead has fallen from 18 points to 6 points, while another poll shows a 51%-46% Bush lead in Florida.

Seeing these polls the Kerry campaign has decided to go on the offensive, attacking Bush on Iraq and on the economy. Even with things looking grim in Iraq the past few days Bush maintains a lead on that issue, having successfully linked it to the War on Terror where his lead over Kerry is in the high teens. This does not seem like an issue that Kerry will be able to win on.

Kerry is thus left to attack Bush on the economy, where Bush's lead is pretty slim. But even here, Kerry runs into problems. By all measures, the economy is doing pretty well; unemployment is at 5.4% and more people are employed than ever, as judged by the household survey (a more inclusive survey than the commerce dept's payroll numbers); homeownership is at all-time highs; and even the deficit - the main avenue of attack for Kerry - will be smaller than originally forecast, validating Bush's economic plan of cutting taxes to stimulate growth, which in turn increases government revenue (maybe Arthur Laffer was actually correct about the Curve bearing his name).

What then is Kerry to do? That Air National Guard issue doesn't seem to have panned out for him, and if it is shown that those documents came from the DNC or Kerry campaign, there will be a tremendous backlash. Kerry is left to rant in a vein reminiscent of post-meltdown Al Gore. This may energize his base, but will turn off the swing voters.

There is still seven weeks to go, and the debates start in two weeks. But according to Dick Morris, even these will probably not help Kerry for the simple reason that nobody likes him.
But worse, the poll shows that Kerry must face a basic problem: His own voters don't like him very much.

The Fox News poll asked Kerry supporters if their vote for the Democrat could best be described as motivated by support for Kerry (41 percent) or by opposition to Bush (51 percent). By contrast, Bush voters emphatically say, by 82-13, that they are voting for the president rather than against the challenger.

This puts Kerry in a tough position in the coming debates. He has no real base of support and any attenuation of the dislike his voters feel for Bush will weaken him substantially. All Bush has to do is to persuade a few Kerry voters to stop disliking him, and he can get their votes. There is no residual affection for the Democrat to get in the way of their switching to the president.
A few more weeks of Bush being able to maintain this lead, and this race is over. The Democrats have run one of the most incompetent campaigns in recent memory.
|| Nudnik 10:47 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Tuesday, September 14, 2004


              Kerry Simplified
Rich Lowry gives a clear, concise analysis of John Kerry's beliefs.
|| Nudnik 4:45 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Hurricanes and Global Warming
Every time there are disturbances in the weather, we inevitably start hearing the chorus of environmental alarmists whining about how this is all caused by global warming and that its all Bush's fault for abandoning Kyoto. And once again, with the third large hurricane approaching Florida we are starting to hear the familiar refrains. But if one actually looks at the science behind it, it turns out that neither the magnitude nor the frequency of hurricanes has increased over the last century. In fact, it has been exactly the opposite.
|| Nudnik 1:56 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              The Canary in the Coal Mine
Much has recently been written about the "root causes" of terrorism. The main reasons brought up by the Left are US policies in the Middle East, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They are correct about these two issues being the main drivers of terrorism, but the reasons that these two are root causes are exactly the opposite that the Left gives. Evelyn Gordon reviews the reasons.

Most of the tactics of terrorists were tried and perfected against Israel. Despite the protestations of many that these were just isolated acts and had to do with the Palestinians' attempts to win themselves (another) homeland, it turns out that what worked against Jews is now being employed against everyone else.
It was the PLO that invented airline terrorism, with a wave of hijackings in the 1970s; it was Hamas that turned suicide bombings into standard practice; even the grisly Chechen takeover of a school in Beslan this month aped the PLO's takeover of a school in Ma'alot in 1974.
But even more important than the pure tactical side, is what the strategic responses to terrorism have been.
When the PLO was founded in 1964 – with the goal, incidentally, of a Palestinian state instead of Israel, which did not yet have the territories – no one was talking about such a state. Even after Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza from Jordan and Egypt, nobody advocated a Palestinian state in those territories; the world expected Israel to keep part of this land (that is why, according to its drafters, UN Resolution 242 demands the return of "territories" rather than "the territories") and return the rest to Jordan and Egypt.

Forty years later, a Palestinian state in every inch of the West Bank and Gaza has become an international consensus. And this achievement was not in spite of Palestinian terror but because of it: Many peoples with equal or better claims to statehood, from Tibetans to Iraqi Kurds, have sought independence without resorting to terror; yet their aspirations at best elicit lip-service support from the world, and often outright opposition. The Palestinians' success lay in persuading the international community that peace depends on meeting their demands.
This is the key to the spread of terrorism - the almost constant appeasement of Arab terrorists over the last 40 years. It would be astonishing if they did not learn from these experiences that terrorism pays. The terrorists in Iraq, as well as those in Chechnya have seen that if they adopt Palestinian tactics, their demands - like the demands of the Palestinians - will be appeased.
Only by proving that terrorism does not pay can the US and Russia reverse this eminently logical conclusion. And they can do this only by finally penalizing Palestinian terror rather than rewarding it. Otherwise, expect to see ever more terrorism worldwide – because that has proven to be the winning tactic.
|| Nudnik 11:15 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Monday, September 13, 2004


              The "Mainstream Media"
Way back when, news organizations actually took responsibility for their reporting. Now it seems, with the growing "memogate" scandal, the "mainstream media" no longer feels that this is necessary. Stanley Kurtz, at NRO, has an interesting theory on why CBS will most likely not take responsibility for airing forgeries, and Dan Rather will probably not be forced to resign or even admit error.
Why were we so wrong? Why did Dan Rather and CBS News, against all expectations, impeach their own credibility to defend the authenticity of memos that are almost certainly forgeries? The obvious answer is that they did it to save the faltering Kerry campaign from a final and decisive blow. If CBS were to admit that the documents were forgeries, it would have no grounds for protecting its sources.
[...]
we may well be seeing the initial signs of a profound realignment of the media along more strictly and openly partisan lines. The mainstream media as a whole may be larger than the alternative outlets, but the mainstream audience itself is segmented. Looking at the CBS News audience alone, we are probably talking about the most self-consciously liberal part of the network audience pie. True, nowadays all the network newscasts are liberal. But CBS has had that reputation longer than the rest. Gradually, with the exit of moderates and conservatives to other networks and the alternative media, CBS's audience is probably now composed largely of liberal Democrats. In the middle of the most divisive presidential election in years, we have to assume that the CBS audience itself is far more interested in helping John Kerry than in getting to the bottom of the forgery issue. So as the country increasingly divides into two media camps, the "mainstream media" is becoming more openly partisan. And it's the audience that's driving this — not only, or even primarily, the journalists, liberal though journalists may be.
|| Nudnik 1:04 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Hero
This weekend Nudnikette and I went to see Hero. The movie is beautifully made, and halfway through the movie I turned to Nudnikette and said that this is simply eye-candy without anything else. However, in the final quarter of the movie I was disabused of that notion, and walked out of the movie appalled by it. Here is Nudnikette's review:

Hero, a film by Zhang Yimou - China's celebrated supposed dissident filmmaker - is mind numbingly beautiful. Its formal appeal however, is, indeed mind numbing. Lacking anything but a simplistic plot, it makes up for complexity in its trendy post-modern flashback narrative and altering view-points, Hero's progress is ruled by vivid, visually stunning tableau-vivants, orchestrated with rather obvious and heavy-handed color symbolism, and possessing the uncanny distinction of instant freeze-up quality: stop the rolling film at any point and you have yourself a gorgeous, if somewhat meaningless, poster. Not so much vivant, but mostly tableau-morts, then. And dying is what your brain does while being inundated by the onslaught of repetitive waves of pure formalist delight. Once the denouement of the movie arrives the spectator is so caught up in the web of gently billowing fabric (a constant leitmotif) that the real agenda is all but veiled.

A blatant political propaganda, Hero disguises its motive by lulling the viewer into believing that the rapture of beauty is not the means but the end, while the end is actually a celebration, a justification, and an endorsement of a dictatorial regime. Hero operates with the hallmarks of totalitarian cinematic propaganda, easily comparable to high Stalinist culture of the Soviet 1930s:

- amalgamation of pseudo-folkloric elements and modern stylistic language to create a seamless hybrid of doubled affirmation, both from past and present

-a personalization of the tyrant as a father figure that seeks to do the best for the country, while paying a high personal price for his efforts

- displacement of execution of punishment from the tyrant to 'the people' or 'the advisors' who serve as proxies to take responsibility for his cruelty

-the elevation of a nameless commoner to a hero status to celebrate the achievements of the regime

Hero, in short, is no art film. It is vile and insidious propaganda, nothing more than a postcard from beautiful China, an advertisement of its prosperity. And it is all the more insidious because so few critics have caught on. The New Republic was one of the first, in a nuanced and cogent review. FrontPage, a little heavy handed and much more direct also weighed in.
|| Nudnik 9:56 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Sunday, September 12, 2004


              The Terrorism to Come
Last week Bush was derided by the chattering classes and the nuance-ridden members of the Democratic Party after saying that the war on terrorism can not be won. IN saying this he a deeper understanding of this conflict than the self-described intelligencia who pounced on him. Walter Laquer, one of the foremost experts on terrorism, looks at the common misconceptions about terrorism, and the possible future course of this conflict.
|| Nudnik 9:30 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Losing Strategy
Drudge reports that this week the Democrats will once again attack Bush's National Guard record. Undoubtedly the "mainstream media" will play up these stories, just like they ignored the stories about Kerry's VietNam experience. This is about as stupid of a political strategy as possible. First, this story has been brought out so many times, that it lacks any kind of power to shock or persuade. With the growing "memogate" scandal, the Democrats risk being identified with this fraud and such a connection would effectively end the Kerry campaign. Third, a military record is trumpeted by a candidate to show what kind of leader he would be, despite the fact that it is rarely relevant. Bush's record is the last 3 years of wartime leadership; he doesn't need to enhance that by talking about his VietNam duties nor will he be hurt by any revelations of that duty short of evidence of court-martial. Obviously this does not apply to Kerry who has absolutely no record to run on. Finally, if the democrats continue to bring up VietNam, they will find Kerry's post-VietNam activities much more prominently displayed. This is undoubtedly not something that they want. The over-riding hatred of Bush seems to have caused outright derangement among the Democratic Party to the detriment of the Kerry campaign.
|| Nudnik 9:07 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Friday, September 10, 2004


              The Limits of Soft Power
Two articles today highlight the limits of running a foreign policy on "soft power", i.e. persuasion as opposed to force. Bill Gertz, in the third excerpt of his book Treachery, shows how the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been completely unable to stop the proliferation of nuclear technology.
The United Nations also failed to confront the nuclear threat from Iran, which, like North Korea, used the NPT to acquire equipment and materials to make nuclear bombs.

When Iran's weapons work was discovered, showing that the Iranians knowingly ignored obligations to their treaty partners, the IAEA essentially ignored the violations. The agency sought only an additional "protocol" from Iran as a new safeguard.

"This is a good day for peace, multilateralism and nonproliferation," ElBaradei declared after Iran signed the protocol. "A good day for peace because the [IAEA] board decided to continue to make every effort to use verification and diplomacy to resolve questions about Iran's nuclear program."
Sounds a lot like Chamberlain's "peace in our time".

Amir Taheri, meanwhile, writes about the attempted "soft-power" approach to Syria and its occupation of Lebanon.
ONE of the charges leveled against President Bush on Iraq is that he circumvented the United Nations, ignored allies and acted unilaterally. The theory is that an OK from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and French President Jacques Chirac is the surest guarantee of success for U.S. foreign policy, especially in the Middle East.

That theory was put to the test earlier this month — and proved to be not only false but counter-productive, at least for the time being.
[...]
The resolution passed 9-0, with six abstentions, indicating unusual U.N. consensus. French diplomats were in seventh heaven: They had proved they could do through diplomacy what the "Cowboy" Bush insists on doing through force.

But what happened next was less idyllic: Far from bowing to the "collective will of the international community," Syria decided to ignore the Bush-Chirac alliance and reacted by, in effect, abolishing the Lebanese state.
There seem to be two key lessons here: "soft power" does not work without the explicit threat of "hard power", and that trusting rogue regimes to adhere to law or agreements is simply inane. The problem with the first lesson is that Europe does not believe in using "hard power" because it does not have it; and allowing the US to use it would mean acknowledging that the US is the "hyper-power" without which Europe can not survive, not something they are keen to do. And this leads into the second lesson - they have to rely on adherence to agreements because there is nothing else they can do.
|| Nudnik 1:40 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Taking it For the Team
Looks like Dan Rather is going down with the ship (or is it Swiftboat?). Looks like this could be the end of his career...if the "old media" actually investigates this story.
DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: I know that this story is true. I believe that the witnesses and the documents are authentic. We wouldn't have gone to air if they would not have been. There isn't going to be -- there's no -- what you're saying apology?
Having his career ended like this - for such a terrible candidate, and for such a stupid lie, would be the ultimate dishonorable discharge.
|| Nudnik 1:21 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Abetting Terrorism
It is clear that the "anti-war" demonstrations in the lead-up to the Iraq war were indications (incorrect it turns out) to Saddam that the West was divided and would never attack him. Now comes direct proof that the Israeli Left encourages the continuation of suicide bombings.
Yissocharov outlined the general consensus among Hamas leadership he had interviewed for the book: “The Israeli left-wing and your ‘peace-camp’ are what ultimately encouraged us to continue to carry out suicide bombings. We tried, through our attacks, to create fragmentation and dissention within Israeli society, and the left-wing encouraged us in that regard. When we heard about the ‘Pilot’s Letter,’ the refuse-niks and the elite soldiers refusing to serve [in Judea, Samaria and Gaza –ed.] it strengthened our confidence in the effectiveness of the suicide bomber.
This was obvious to everyone except the Left. Is there any chance that the Israeli, as well as the world-wide Left will realize this and stop supporting terrorists? Unlikely.
|| Nudnik 11:09 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Hearts and Minds
The Left believes that the way to win the War on Terror is by winning the "hearts and minds" of the Arab world, by waging a more "sensitive" war. Victor Hanson disagrees.
Some insist that this war is only against a few "crazy" extremists and that it cannot be won by force. That is half true. In fact, millions of young Middle Easterners are watching Islamic fascists to learn whether to applaud or condemn them — and that decision in places like Najaf, Fallujah, Kandahar, Madrid, Grozny, and Ramallah sadly hinges as much on resolute force as it does on "sensitive" understanding. There are millions we must help, but there are also thousands of wannabe Osama bin Ladens and Mohammed Attas who have neither minds nor hearts that anyone would want to win over.

In a war against such killers, it is the proverbial "Them or Us." Islamic fascists are not crazy — however crazy they sound — but evil, as their evil work confirms. We do not need more lectures about the impossibility of winning a postmodern conflict, about al Qaeda's not following the laws of Clausewitz or being immune to our way of war. In fact, we can and have defeated them. Keep doing that and the "hearts and minds" of others in the region, whom we are already helping, will mysteriously prove more open to dialogue.

Fail again like we did on September 11 — and the entire United States Treasury could not buy the good will of an Islamic Street once more gone mad with delight for having felled the Great Satan.
|| Nudnik 9:58 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Fraud Exposed
The documents CBS used in its 60 Minutes segment attacking Bush have at this point been thoroughly discredited. Powerline led the way in exposing this fraud, proving once again that "new media" is kicking the crap out of the "old media". In its zeal to elect Kerry, the "old media" seems to not be above anything. Captain's Quarters has an excellent analysis of this scandal, linking to a report from The Prowler alleging that the Kerry campaign was actually the ones who provided these documents to CBS.
Not only does it paint the entire Democratic party machine from Kerry and Terry McAuliffe down as completely dishonest, but also incredibly incompetent. How long would it have taken to have a document specialist verify the memos, especially given that even the campaign had its doubts? Voters who manage not to be completely put off by the dishonest have to ask themselves whether they want the country run by people this flat-out stupid. And fair or not, the whole mess winds up in John Kerry's lap. It's yet another case of misfiring a grenade, only this time the wounds won't be superficial.
This is undoubtedly the most incompetent political campaign in recent memory.

On the other hand, The Commissar has proof that Kerry actually did spend Christmas in Cambodia.
|| Nudnik 9:06 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Thursday, September 09, 2004


              New Poll
The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll has just been released, showing a 52%-43% lead for President Bush. More interesting is the internals of the poll. On virtually every issue Bush has significant leads over Kerry; terrorism - Bush +22, Iraq - Bush +16, taxes - Bush +10, Supreme Court - Bush +10, relations with other countries - Bush +5, economy - Bush +4. On character traits, Bush also leads by impressive margins; clear stand - Bush +27, strong leader - Bush +27, appealing personality - Bush +22, honesty - Bush +13, vision for future - Bush +9.

Clearly the Republican Convention was a huge boost for Bush, as on many of these questions Kerry was leading, sometimes significantly. Its possible that this post-Convention bounce will dissipate as the month progresses, but by doing such an effective job defining Kerry, I think that Bush will be able to maintain most of these leads. Every Islamist atrocity is a reminder that terrorism continues to be a key concern, and this helps Bush. Additionally, at this point, the Kerry campaign has shown itself to be completely incompetent. Almost every day they are trying to patch up another self-inflicted wound. If these type of numbers continue for a couple of more weeks, the election will be basically over, barring any major exogenous event.
|| Nudnik 9:18 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Do We Get It?
Three years after 9/11 Mark Steyn doesn't think so.
‘He is sedated,’ said Bill Clinton’s heart surgeon on Tuesday. ‘But he is arousable.’ I’ve never doubted it.

That seems as appropriate a thought as any with which to consider the state of the new war three years on. Like former President Clinton, much of the West is sedated. But is it arousable? On the eve of this week’s anniversary, hundreds of children were murdered in their schoolhouse by terrorists. Terrible. But even more terrible was the reaction of what passes for the civilised world, the reluctance to confront the truth of what had occurred. The perpetrators were ‘separatists’, according to the Christian Science Monitor — what, you mean like my fellow Quebeckers? They were ‘commandoes’, according to Agence France-Presse — you mean like the SAS?
[...]
Three years after September 11, the Islamist death cult is the love whose name no one dare speak. And, if you can’t even bring yourself to identify your enemy, are you likely to defeat him? Can you even know him? He seems to know us pretty well.
As the third anniversary of the attacks approaches, how much have we really accomplished? Yes, we have taken down the Taliban and Saddam, but little has changed in the way we think (or are told to think) about the world. Most don't understand that there truly is a war going on, and that the enemy really does want to destroy us.
[E]ven in America, while one party is at war, the other party is at war with the very idea that there is a war. And even the party committed to war presides over a lethargic unreformed bureaucracy, large chunks of which are determined to obstruct it.
Yet most can't even clearly say who the enemy is. Most will answer that question by saying "al-Qaeda". But what is al-Qaeda?
There isn’t an ‘al-Qa’eda’ in the sense of an organisation one can enter into formal peace talks with, as Mo Mowlam advises. There are local terror groups sharing the same aims and methods from Algeria to Indonesia and, like crime families, they all know who to go to if they happen to find themselves in Chechnya, or Kosovo, or Sudan, or Colombia.
But even more than that, we are not fighting an organized crime syndicate, but an idea - Islamism. Just as in the Cold War (World War III) we fought an evil ideology, so now too we battle a theological dogma. This dogma has infected millions around the world, because the governments under which they live understand that it is easier to point the finger at America and Jews than it is to give their citizens a decent life. And now this disease has spread. It took more than a generation for this ideology of hate to take hold, and it will take as long or longer to heal those contaminated by it, and unfortunately the main cure is from the barrel of a gun.
|| Nudnik 8:25 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Zawahiri Video
A new al-Qaeda video was released today. Most likely the video will be found to be recent and authentic, once again raising questions of where is bin-Laden and why did he not appear in the video. More importantly, these videos have preceded attacks by al-Qaeda. With the anniversary of 9/11 coming up, this is fairly ominous.
|| Nudnik 6:03 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Bush's Military Record
In the past few days a number of stories have once again come up about Bush's service in the National Guard. Surprisingly (or maybe not), the media picked up on these stories pretty quickly, as compared to how long it took them to pick up on stories questioning Kerry's VietNam experience. Continuing to bring up VietNam era records seems to be a pretty dumb strategy for the Dems. At this point, enough doubt has been established about Kerry's military record and his credibility about that record that by continuing to bring up that era, even in the form of questions about Bush's record, all the Dems are doing is reminding people of Kerry's exaggerations. This is also the third time in the last 4 years that we are hearing the same stories; if people didn't buy them the first two times, what makes the Dems think that the third time people will react to them.

More interestingly, the memos that this "new" information on Bush is based (on the CBS site, and in the Boston Globe story), could very well be forgeries. Powerline makes a pretty convincing case that they could not have been written in the early 70's. If this does turn out to be the case (not that I would expect the "mainstream" media to investigate that), there could be a tremendous backlash against the Dems.
|| Nudnik 1:17 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Jews for Bush
One of the key constituencies this year, especially in swing states, is Jews. Bush has actively gone after these votes, while Kerry seems to be taking them for granted. Historically, Jews have voted for Democrats and even though the Democratic Party has this year aligned itself with the anti-Semitic loony left, it looks like the majority will still vote for them. But as Joel Mowbray points out Bush doesn't need to get the majority of the Jewish vote to help swing key states.
Voting Democrat has always been something a Jew just does. But not anymore.

None of this is to say that Bush will clear 50% of the Jewish vote. The high water mark for Republicans in recent times was set by Ronald Reagan, garnering almost 40%. But given that Bush captured less than 20% of the Jewish vote four years ago (and his father managed just 11% in 1992), simply scoring 35% would mark a huge improvement. Especially in Florida, which has roughly 500,000 Jews.

In a state he won by 537 votes, Bush obviously doesn’t need to win a majority of Jewish votes to change the electoral calculus substantially.
The New Republic had an article a few days ago about the importance of the Orthodox Jewish community in this election.

Bush has undoubtedly been one of the friendliest Presidents towards Israel ever. And given Kerry's foreign policy advisers, it is almost certain that his policy towards Israel will mean pressure on Israel, and Arafat once again sleeping in the White House.
|| Nudnik 10:48 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Wednesday, September 08, 2004


              The Curse
Being a Red Sox fan (and a conservative), I found this article very promising - at least in part. One can only hope (and pray) that the Red Sox and Kerry prospects are negatively correlated. If they truly are, it will be either a great autumn or one of the most depressing in recent memory.
One thing we do know is that the two baseball rivals will settle their differences well before the two candidates. The Yankees and Red Sox play six times over the final two weekends in September. Bush and Kerry will meet three times, at most, in October. Odds are the two candidates won't engage in a bench-clearing brawl, as did the two baseball teams on the afternoon before Kerry visited Fenway Park. Then again, the presidential stakes aren't as high.

Just ask any Red Sox fan. They belong to a party that's been out of power since 1918.
|| Nudnik 3:42 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Kerry's Foreign Policy Mutterings
Kerry gave a speech today in Cincinnati, billed as a major speech on Iraq. From what I have heard and read of it, it was more of the latest Kerry position on Iraq. (I'm guessing this latest position will last two weeks, before we have another "adjustment" to his nuanced thinking.) Bill Kristol thinks the speech was incredibly weak, but at least it now gives voters a clear choice, and he has some very good questions for the Senator.
Fine. Now we have a clear choice in the presidential election. Bush went to war to remove Saddam. Kerry, it now appears, would not have. This means the choice is between the world we have now, and a world with Saddam still in power. For the meaning of saying we fought the wrong war at the wrong time, is that we would have been better off leaving Saddam in power. If John Kerry were president, Saddam would still be in power.

So Kerry has to answer this question: Would we be safer with Saddam still in power? Would the world? What would such a world look like? Surely we couldn't have left 150,000 troops in the nations bordering Iraq for two years. Surely, then, the inspectors would once again have been expelled. And the sanctions regime was collapsing. Does Kerry then believe Saddam would not
have moved to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction? Would that have been acceptable? Does Kerry believe pro-American, anti-terror forces in the Middle East, to say nothing of the forces of reform in that region, would be stronger or weaker if Saddam were still in power? What would have been the global effect on American credibility if we had authorized the president to use force, as Kerry voted to do, and then backed off? And what would a Kerry administration do now? How could a President Kerry ask any young American to be the last one to die for a mistake?
|| Nudnik 11:48 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              International Treason
Bill Gertz, the defense and intelligence reporter for the Washington Times, has just published a new book detailing the military connections between France and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. An excerpt, the first of three, appears today in the Washington Times. Gertz shows that transfers of advanced weapons and systems continued until just a few months before the US invasion.
The intelligence reports showing French assistance to Saddam ongoing in the late winter of 2002 helped explain why France refused to deal harshly with Iraq and blocked U.S. moves at the United Nations.

"No wonder the French are opposing us," one U.S. intelligence official remarked after illegal sales to Iraq of military and dual-use parts, originating in France, were discovered early last year before the war began.
[...]
France's government tightly controls its aerospace and defense firms, however, so it would be difficult to believe that the illegal transfers of equipment parts took place without the knowledge of at least some government officials.
Of course the man most responsible for France's close ties to Iraq is the present President of France, Jacques Chirac.
French aid to Iraq goes back decades and includes transfers of advanced conventional arms and components for weapons of mass destruction.

The central figure in these weapons ties is French President Jacques Chirac. His relationship with Saddam dates to 1975, when, as prime minister, the French politician rolled out the red carpet when the Iraqi strongman visited Paris.

"I welcome you as my personal friend," Chirac told Saddam, then vice president of Iraq.
The article goes on to detail the numerous, and fresh, French weapons in Iraq. Is it really any wonder why France opposed the war? And this is whom John Kerry calls our allies.
|| Nudnik 11:11 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Tariq Ramadan
Jointly written with Nudnikette

Monday night, driving home from the beach we happened to catch The Connection, a radio program on one of the local NPR radio stations. The guest on that show was Tariq Ramadan. Ramadan recently had his visa to teach at University of Notre Dame revoked by the Department of Homeland Security. He was introduced by Dick Gordon, the host of the show as one of "Europe's most influential Islamic thinkers. Revered by the Muslim youth on the continent, his unique brand of contemporary Islam is quickly gaining ground in the U.S." The only thing that was mentioned about his background was that his family moved to Switzerland in the mid 1950s. He was referred to as one of the "moderate" Muslims. He was politely questioned, never pressed on any issue, sharing a comfortable camaraderie with his interviewer. He spoke softly, gently and with the prerequisite academic lingo. The cloud of suspicion over his visa denial seemed unjust, unexplainable. But there was a huge, glaring omission. Fouad Ajami, in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (alas, for subscribers only, so here are excerpts that can’t do justice to the fullness of his writing) sets the record straight:
Tariq Ramadan [is] no ordinary academic, and the people who authorized this appointment at Notre Dame no doubt knew that. In the world of New Islamism, Mr. Ramadan was pure nobility. He was the maternal grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the Supreme Guide and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, who lit the fuse of this religious radicalism back in 1928. Banna… was struck down by an assassin… in 1949. A village boy and a chameleon, a plotter who preached [a] simple but deadly doctrine… Banna made his appearance when a fragile modernism was struggling to take hold in Egypt. His targets were the classic themes of nativism…the moral pollution of modernism…His favorite disciple and son-in-law, Said Ramadan, made it to the safety of Switzerland, when the Nasser regime, in the mid-1950s, launched a brutal campaign of suppression against the Brotherhood. It was in Switzerland, with the help of Saudi money and patronage, that Said Ramadan… stayed true to the legacy of Banna, and raised to sons, Hani and Tariq, who would stay with the family business – the intersection of religion and politics… and the call to faith.
Daniel Pipes, a few weeks ago, in his matter of fact but no less effective style fills in these gaps in the real life of Tariq Ramadan:
He has praised the brutal Islamist policies of the Sudanese politician Hassan Al-Turabi. Mr. Turabi in turn called Mr. Ramadan the "future of Islam."

Mr. Ramadan was banned from entering France in 1996 on suspicion of having links with an Algerian Islamist who had recently initiated a terrorist campaign in Paris.

Ahmed Brahim, an Algerian indicted for Al-Qaeda activities, had "routine contacts" with Mr. Ramadan, according to a Spanish judge (Baltasar Garzón) in 1999.

Djamel Beghal, leader of a group accused of planning to attack the American embassy in Paris, stated in his 2001 trial that he had studied with Mr. Ramadan.

Along with nearly all Islamists, Mr. Ramadan has denied that there is "any certain proof" that Bin Laden was behind 9/11.

He publicly refers to the Islamist atrocities of 9/11, Bali, and Madrid as "interventions," minimizing them to the point of near-endorsement.

Intelligence agencies suspect that Mr. Ramadan (along with his brother Hani) coordinated a meeting at the Hôtel Penta in Geneva for Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy head of Al-Qaeda, and Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh, now in a Minnesota prison.

Mr. Ramadan's address appears in a register of Al Taqwa Bank, an organization the State Department accuses of supporting Islamist terrorism.
Fouad Ajami eloquently expands on Ramadan's true views and shows that they are decidedly not ones that are in accord with a liberal society or ones that promote a peaceful coexistence with the Muslim world.

Why does The Connection not mention any of this? Why does it bill him simply as an important academic? This is part and parcel of our inability, or unwillingness to make judgments and define our enemies; all viewpoints are permitted because they are all equal.

Ajami explains to the reader held in the dark by such "investigative reporting" as witnessed on NPR why, beyond the ominous facts presented by Pipes, Ramadan’s visa denial is imperative (emphasis mine):

Pedigree was only one weapon in Tariq Ramadan’s remarkable odyssey. He had come of age when Islam in Europe was taking hold… Charismatic and telegenic, he had taken to the TV and the Web. Even after allowing for repetition, the 20 books and 700 articles and 170 audiotapes attributed to him are a testimony to the man’s drive and missionary impulse. The new Islamists were practitioners of the art of taqiyya (dissimulation: you never owe the truth to unbelievers), and this extraordinarily talented man had this art down to perfection. There was pluralism in the West, and he would use it for his purposes. His big theme was the fate of Islam in the new lands of the West; not for him the theme of assimilation. His was a different prescription, artfully stated: The Muslims would live the life of faith within Europe, for Islam, he maintained, had always been a fact of Europe’s life. France was zealously republican and lacité, secularism was its civil religion. The Muslims of France had not been parties to that secularism, and they ought to be free to challenge its basic canons.

But there was a limit to this artful way. A struggle erupted in France over Israel and the Palestinians, over the Iraq war, the Jews of France had become increasingly unnerved by the open displays of anti-Semitism…Mr. Ramadan had stepped into the breach. Some old family atavisms, and the requirements of leadership… were to bring him into open combat with some of France’s leading intellectuals: Bernard-Henri Lévy, Alain Finkelkraut, Bernard Kouchner, Alexandre Adler, Andre Glucksmann. Mr. Ramadan was now done with subtlety: He saw those “new philosophers”… to become apologists for Israel, and practitioners of “communitarian politics”. Put starkly, these public intellectuals were no longer men of the French republic of letters, but Jews above all… No wonder Bernard Kuchner, the founder of Doctors Without Borders, dubbed [Ramadan] a “most dangerous man.”

We have nothing in the public record that would explain why Mr. Ramadan has chosen to make his way to the American heartland… Nothing in his writing reveals an appreciation of America or a real knowledge of its culture… In my most favorite, and most exquisite piece of unintended irony – in an essay he published on the Web site Oumma.com on Aug. 30 – he wrote that he makes a distinction “between equitable trade and commerce of the World Trade Organization or McDonald’s, between [Victor] Hugo and Dallas,“ and that he opposes “economism, individualism, imperialism.” This piece of irony is priceless: The man condemning McDonald’s was coming to an academic institute funded by an endowment granted by McDonald’s heiress, Joan B. Kroc. A chip of the old block is Tariq Ramadan: His grandfather has sought and obtained the largesse of the Suez Canal Company for his Brotherhood even as he agitated against the foreign “defilement” of Egypt.

It would be fair to assume that French intelligence and the French Ministry of Interior have weighed in on the decision to deny Mr. Ramadan entry to the U.S… The liberty of an open society can never be a suicide pact, and the freedom of the academy is never absolute.
Ajami ends his piece with a cautiously optimistic projection of the future of Islam in the USA:
Would it be too irreverent and heretical to suggest that the Krocs can rest easier, now that Me. Ramadan has been spared an association with the “deleterious worldwide effects” of their empire. He can and will no doubt continue his work while the Muslims in North America cast about for a measure of peace in this new world. For them, there is a path of assimilation. It was, after all, the legacy of Hassan al-Banna that pushed them to these shores.
Whether or not this optimism is founded, Ajami's op-ed, his narration of the biography of Tariq Ramadan not only contains in embryonic form the history of the Islamic revolution that occurred in the 20th century, but warns against the dangers inherent in an open society. What happens if one of the designated watch-dogs in a democracy, the press, decides to sleep on its watch, as the routinely slumbering NPR?
|| Nudnik 10:40 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Tuesday, September 07, 2004


              Kerry's Foreign Policy
Throughout the campaign, Kerry has been very vague on what his foreign policy stance is. The primary reason for this seems to be that his idea of foreign affairs has been so thoroughly discredited, that articulating it would ensure defeat. Victor Hanson, in this excellent article, shows what the Kerry policy actually is - neo-Carterism.
Kerry, then, is the mellifluous Siren that appeals to beleaguered sailors. In lieu of the "neoconservatives" provoking rogue nations and terrorist sponsors, Kerry's subtlety, erudition, and nuance would charm others to address the "more important" (but less confrontational) problems of the environment, globalization, and drug smuggling. To win these "wars" we need not isolate an Arafat, ram democracies down the throats of Afghans and Iraqis, embarrass the Europeans, or talk of embedded pathologies within the Arab world. In short, Kerry has no foreign policy other than the Siren song that if George W. Bush would just go away, things would be so much quieter, people would be so much nicer, and we would be so much better liked. And all this might just work, until we hit the shoals.
|| Nudnik 4:49 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              European Weakness
Sen. Kerry and others of the leftist ilk have been proposing, or actually demanding, that we get the Europeans militarily involved in the War on Terror. I think its clear that the Bush Administration would like increased participation from Europe. But judging from their past performances, especially their recent performance in Afghanistan, Europe is not to be counted on.
Afghanistan has been left with peacekeeping done on the cheap. Major European powers such as France, Italy, Turkey and Spain have coughed up only a few hundred troops each for duty in the country. The Germans have been more generous, but even their contingent tops out at just 2,000 troops. The Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, a Kabul-based think tank, calculated that the Afghanistan mission (including the U.S. troops under separate command) is orders of magnitude weaker than recent missions to Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti and East Timor. In Kosovo there was one international soldier for every 50 citizens; in Afghanistan there is one peacekeeper for every 1,000 Afghans.
[...]
Unless European leaders are dissembling, they understand the significance of the transition underway in Afghanistan. They understand that failure will have strategic consequences for the West and terrible human consequences for the Afghan people. Disturbing enough on its own, Europe's performance in Afghanistan has even darker implications: It suggests that the hands-off policy in Iraq may be little more than military impotence and political weakness masquerading as principle.
|| Nudnik 2:13 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Death Cult
The terrorist outrage in Russia last week and over this past weekend clearly displayed a number of things. The first, as if we had already not learned this from the hundreds of attacks in Israel, is that Islamofascists, like the Nazis that preceded them seek to specifically target children. After the slaughter of more than 150 children in a few hours, does anyone still doubt that these mass murderers are capable of doing anything? Each massacre is worse than the last. And what is the point of these attacks? Do these people really think that governments and people will be more amenable to their demands because of these murders? Of course there is the usual chorus from the left blaming ourselves for these acts of violence, and thus encouraging the terrorists. David Brooks addresses some of these questions.
This cult attaches itself to a political cause but parasitically strangles it. The death cult has strangled the dream of a Palestinian state. The suicide bombers have not brought peace to Palestine; they've brought reprisals. The car bombers are not pushing the U.S. out of Iraq; they're forcing us to stay longer. The death cult is now strangling the Chechen cause, and will bring not independence but blood.

But that's the idea. Because the death cult is not really about the cause it purports to serve. It's about the sheer pleasure of killing and dying.

It's about massacring people while in a state of spiritual loftiness. It's about experiencing the total freedom of barbarism - freedom even from human nature, which says, Love children, and Love life. It's about the joy of sadism and suicide.
And yet, we refuse to see what this is about. And the Arab world refuses to confront their own degeneracy. We call them "militants", or "separatists" or other euphemisms, not bringing ourselves to use the words that would make us fight them.
I remember a couple of days after September 11 writing in some column or other that weepy candlelight vigils were a cop-out: the issue wasn't whether you were sad about the dead people but whether you wanted to do something about it. Three years on, that's still the difference. We can all get upset about dead children, but unless you're giving honest thought to what was responsible for the slaughter your tasteful elegies are no use. Nor are the hyper-rationalist theories about "asymmetrical warfare".
[...]
The reality is that the IRA and ETA and the ANC and any number of secessionist and nationalist movements all the way back to the American revolutionaries could have seized schoolhouses and shot all the children.

But they didn't. Because, if they had, there would have been widespread revulsion within the perpetrators' own communities. To put it at its most tactful, that doesn't seem to be an issue here.

So the particular character of this "insurgency" does not derive from the requirements of "asymmetrical warfare" but from . . . well, let's see, what was the word missing from those three analyses of the Beslan massacre? Here's a clue: half the dead "Chechen separatists" were not Chechens at all, but Arabs. And yet, tastefully tiptoeing round the subject, The New York Times couldn't bring itself to use the words Muslim or Islamist, for fear presumably of offending multicultural sensibilities.
Until we call Hamas terrorists and not "militants", or see these Chechens as murderers and not "separatists", we are consigned to fight the phenomenon of terror as opposed to the terrorists themselves.
|| Nudnik 10:41 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Friday, September 03, 2004


              Gone Fishin'
Happy and Safe Labor Day. Blogging will resume Tuesday.
|| Nudnik 6:44 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              The Friend of My Enemy is My....
One can judge a person by who he associates with. One can judge the same of countries, and by this measure, France is surely not a friend of the US. Diana West points out the friends of France.
Of course, a French hostage crisis in Iraq was never supposed to happen — or so thought the French. Wasn't France, as head, if not head scarf, of the emerging Eurabian bloc, the Arab-Muslim world's best friend? From dictators, including Saddam Hussein, to terror kingpins, France has long been the good, Ol' European to count on. Not that dictators and — even more revealingly — terror kingpins haven't come through for France in this, her darkish hour. From Hezbollah's Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, to the Palestinian Authority's Yasser Arafat, to henchmen of Najaf renegade Muqtada al-Sadr, a roster of what passes for character witnesses in the best terrorist circles has signed on to attest to the bona fides of France and its kidnapped journalists.

Maybe the Muslim Brotherhood, probably the world's largest sharia-advocacy group, put it best: The group demanded freedom for the Frenchmen, and particularly because "they were participating in exposing the occupation [in Iraq] and its practices." In other words, these were good (anti-American) French eggs. The killers of Islamic Jihad praised France as a whole for having "distinguished itself, compared to other European nations, in its position on the American occupation of Iraq." The killers of Hamas lauded France's opposition to "the totally partial American support of the Zionist entity," adding that the release of the hostages would "increase the isolation of hostile American and Israeli attitudes toward the Arab and Muslim nations, and would boost French support for our aspirations."
|| Nudnik 6:15 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Protesters Without Ideas
Daniel Henninger looks at the idea-less protesters in New York.
|| Nudnik 6:05 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Guns and Crime
There is a strongly held belief among liberals that one of the main contributors to violent crime is the abundance of guns among the general population in the United States (see Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine). It is taken almost as a given that this is the case, and any evidence to the contrary is simply ignored. John Lott of the American Enterprise Institute has actually studied the statistics behind gun ownership, and he has shown that the data do not support those conclusions.

Britain recently has banned all handguns, as well as restricted the ownership of shotguns and other weapons. And the results? Violent crime has skyrocketed.
Crime was not supposed to rise after handguns were banned in 1997. Yet, since 1996 the serious violent crime rate has soared by 69%: robbery is up by 45% and murders up by 54%. Before the law, armed robberies had fallen by 50% from 1993 to 1997, but as soon as handguns were banned the robbery rate shot back up, almost back to their 1993 levels.

The 2000 International Crime Victimization Survey, the last survey done, shows the violent-crime rate in England and Wales was twice the rate in the U.S. When the new survey for 2004 comes out, that gap will undoubtedly have widened even further as crimes reported to British police have since soared by 35%, while declining 6% in the U.S.
Looking at the US, it turns out that states that have liberalized their gun laws have seen a sharp drop in violent crime.
Thirty-seven of the 50 states now have so-called right-to-carry laws that let law-abiding adults carry concealed handguns once they pass a criminal background check and pay a fee. Only half the states require some training, usually around three to five hours' worth. Yet crime has fallen even faster in these states than the national average. Overall, the states in the U.S. that have experienced the fastest growth rates in gun ownership during the 1990s have experienced the biggest drops in murder rates and other violent crimes.
Lott acknowledges that there are other factors that influence crime, but it is stunning how closely correlated gun ownership and decreases in crime are.
|| Nudnik 5:52 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              New Poll
Time Magazine has just released a new poll of likely voters conducted from August 31st to September 2nd showing Bush opening up a lead over Kerry 52%-41%. Clearly The Republican Convention was more successful than the Democratic Convention, actually producing a bounce for Bush.

The internals show Bush with overwhelming leads on the issues of Iraq (12%), handling the war on terrorism (21%), providing strong leadership (19%), commanding the Armed Forces (15%), and tax policy (9%). Kerry leads on the healthcare (6%), understanding the needs of people like themselves (3%).

There's still 2 months to go, but this is the first time since March that either candidate has been able to open up such a large lead.
|| Nudnik 3:43 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Gaza Withdrawal
Yossi Klein Halevi writes in the Jerusalem Post about the much talked about plan for removing Jewish settlements from Gaza. Like many, he has many doubts about the wisdom of this move, but in the end he believes that it needs to be done.
Unilateral withdrawal holds one clear gain for Arafat and Hamas leaders: the chance to prove to their own demoralized people that terror works. But it also holds one potentially devastating disadvantage: If Gaza implodes after Israeli withdrawal, the Palestinian national movement could self-destruct.

Nor are the Palestinians oblivious to the political gains Israel may achieve from withdrawal. The very promise of withdrawal has already won Israel a historic American concession: The recent administration decision to accept Israel's building in settlement blocs - the first time since 1967 that America has endorsed Israel's right to build over the Green Line - is a direct result of Sharon's withdrawal initiative.
I think he is right that in some ways withdrawal will be politically useful for Israel, especially if the US then recognizes Israel's right to parts of Judea and Samaria.

On the other hand, this argument is not persuasive:
And if missiles start falling on Ashkelon and we need to return to Gaza? Then we will hit back - state against state, rather than occupying army against an occupied people.
Does he really think that Europe et al. would allow this? The reaction to Israel's retaliations would be similar to today's EU statement that Israel should not threaten Syria. The settlements in Gaza will need to be removed at some point, I'm just not convinced that now is the best time to do it.
|| Nudnik 2:59 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Double Standards
Russia slams "double standards" in dealing with terrorism
MOSCOW. Sept 3 (Interfax) - Russia said on Friday "double standards" were "unacceptable" in dealing with terrorism.
Is Russia going to apply this argument to the Palestinian terrorists attacking Israel??? Or is that a third standard?

|| Nudnik 2:49 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Clinton Heart Attack
The New York Times is reporting that Bill Clinton had a heart attack and is in emergency bypass surgery.

Update: Not a heart attack, and no emergency surgery. But he will be having surgery on Tuesday.
|| Nudnik 1:21 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              What We Can Look Forward To
Victor Davis Hanson examines what we have to look forward to in the coming months and years, and while it will be "momentous", it will certainly not be pretty.
The summer and fall have been and will be momentous: national political conventions, elections slated in Afghanistan and here at home, the Olympics, high gas prices, and near cultural hysteria, whether measured by Fahrenheit 9/11 or the Swift-boat ads. But brace yourself — this is only the beginning.

We should expect not only the dirtiest election in years, but also some real challenges the United States has not experienced since 1941.
[...]
We should also accept that the terrorists have finally caught on to just how fragile the world’s oil supply is. The global economy is recovering. India and China are becoming voracious energy importers. The United States will neither tap all of its own ample reserves nor embark on a new round of fuel-efficiency standards. Global speculators and investors are hypersensitive to even the slightest disruption in supply.
[...]
The furor over North Korea convinces Teheran of the attention — and bribery — to be had by threatening to go nuclear. America will soon have to face the fact that while we were hypnotized over Kerry’s medals and George Bush’s National Guard service, Iran quietly and methodically created and hid away enough bombs to threaten the world’s oil supply and much of the West itself. And the president who confronts a nuclear Iran will be demonized by the global Left in a manner that makes the present Bush-hatred look tame.
[...]
So get ready for another Moore belly-flop into the American political cesspool. It is too late to make another propaganda film before the elections, but we will see his hand in a variety of media, with his characteristic allegiance to untruth, hysteria, and malice.
[...]
Thus if the Democrats lose the next election, they must confront the bitter fact that the House, the Senate, the presidency, and soon the Supreme Court are lost — and lost mostly to the dominant influence of their most vocal and wealthy supporters in Hollywood, the universities, the media, and the foundations who have privileged an agenda that is out of touch with most of those whom they never see nor wish to see.

It might have been neat the last two years to read of Soros money pouring into anti-Bush movements or the various theatrics of Answer, Not In Our Name, and Moveon.org. But most Americans who channel-surfed their televised rallies were disgusted by the hate and the weird fringe groups that showed up to trash the United States. Witness the protests at the recent convention in New York: Again, guerrilla street theater juxtaposed with sailing off Nantucket are not the images Democrats wish to convey while Islamofascists blow up and behead innocents in Russia, Israel, Kabul, and Iraq.
[...]
We are not at the end of history, but rather at its new beginning. All the old truths — conventional warfare, the Atlantic alliance, petroleum-based affluence, conventional political debate, etiquette, principled disagreement, and the old populist Democratic party are coming under question. And the only thing that is clear from what will follow is that it will all be loud, messy, full of surprises — and occasionally quite scary.
|| Nudnik 1:06 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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