Friday, January 28, 2005


Sunday will be the start of something big: a democratic future for Iraqis. I'm praying for them. I've read countless heartwarming stories about Iraqi families planning to vote. Some are staggering their voting times - so if there's an attack at their polling place some members of their family will be sure to survive. Another family has decided to go to the polls all together; they want to vote together or DIE TOGETHER while voting: "democacy is that important to us - it is worth dying for."

God Bless them all - no matter how they vote. And may God Bless our troops.

Here's a very touching account by Iraqi blogger Mohammed of Iraq the Model (hat tip WINDS OF CHANGE):

Less than 48 hours left before the people of Iraq experience free decision making for the first time in their country's modern history. It's a moment of pure freedom but still surrounded by lots of dangers just like any beautiful rose surrounded by spikes. There is fear from the enemies of freedom who have their weapons already prepared to intimidate us and stop us from choosing our future. But at the same time we're full of hope as we know that we've put our feet on the right track and even if we make a bad choice once, we know that we will have the chance to reevaluate the situation again. No more tyrants ruling the country for decades.We're standing before a historic moment and I won't be exaggerating if I said that it's an important moment for the whole world; we're standing before a crossroads and everyone should watch and learn from the rebirth of Iraq. Regardless of the winners in the se elections, those who opposed the elections and resisted the change will have to deal with the new reality. In 48 hours from now, the dying dictatorships and their filthy tools, the terrorists, will find themselves facing an elected legitimate government in Iraq.

The tyrants nightmare is becoming reality, now they will have to deal with the scariest word in their dictionaries; THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE. The terrorists have challenged the bravery of the Iraqi people but they messed with the wrong people. The people have accepted the challenge; democracy and elections are not a luxury for Iraqis, it's an issue of life or death. And the terror brutal campaign has only made the people more determined to go on with the change. The results of some recent polls that have shown how determined Iraqis are to hold the elections might have surprised you, but they weren't a surprise for us; we're not the kind of people that kneel to terror and the sights of blood and beheadings. Saddam had tried all tools of oppression, killing and torture he could find against our people (including WMD's) but he failed to make the people believe in his hateful regime. And that's why the people abandoned him and now, he and his regime are just a bad old tale from the past. On Sunday, the sun will rise on the land of Mesopotamia. I can't wait, the dream is becoming true and I will stand in front of the box to put my heart in it. Mohammed.




John F. Kennedy's presidency is hard to evaluate because it was so brief, but he is best known for the soaring rhetoric of his 1961 Inaugural Address:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge--and more.

Kennedy's brother Ted, whose 15,423 days of service make him the second most senior U.S. senator, is best known for driving off a bridge and leaving a young woman to drown. His attitude toward America's role in the world is the opposite of his brother's; it's best summed up as an inversion of FDR: We have nothing to offer but fear itself. Here he is yesterday at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies:

The war in Iraq has become a war against the American occupation. . . . The U.S. military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution. . . . The first step is to confront our own mistakes. . . . No matter how many times the Administration denies it, there is no question they misled the nation and led us into a quagmire in Iraq. . . . As in Vietnam, truth was the first casualty of this war. . . . As a result of our actions in Iraq, our respect and credibility around the world have reached all-time lows. . . . Never in our history has there been a more powerful, more painful example of the saying that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. . . . The nations in the Middle East are independent, except for Iraq, which began the 20th century under Ottoman occupation and is now beginning the 21st century under American occupation.

And on and on and on. That last sentence we quoted is really something when you realize that the the 21st century began more than four years ago, when Iraq was under Baathist occupation. And the idea that "the nations in the Middle East are independent" really sums up the EMK worldview. Terror-sponsoring tyrannies are just peachy, suggests brother Ted, so long as America does not have to pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend or oppose any foe.

Such harangues are to be expected from the malignantly magniloquent Massachusettsan, but why now? "It's remarkable that Sen. Kennedy would deliver such an overtly pessimistic message only days before the Iraqi election," said Republican spokesman Brian Jones in a statement. "Kennedy's partisan political attack stands in stark contrast to President Bush's vision of spreading freedom around the world."

But that's exactly the point. A succcessful election in Iraq will be a triumph for the Bush doctrine and the strongest rebuke yet to those Democrats who learned from Vietnam that America is a force for ill in the world. Ted Kennedy is, as The Wall Street Journal puts it today, "cheerleading for America to fail" because his ideology leaves him unfit to cope with American success. If he has his way, democracy in Iraq will suffer the same fate as Mary Jo Kopechne.

RTWT EVERYDAY! SUBSCRIBE! http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/

Progress or Regress?

Will the fact that they'll now have to actually self-govern in a transparent way and deliver services moderate them, or will it poison the system?

I'm not sure, but I am optimistic.

I do know that there are many other instances of this sort of thing (of "institutional change: and wondering what's it's impact will be: wheter it strengthens or weakens institutions) - maybe that's an indication of how things will likely go, and why:

(A) Gay marriage - does it represent the embourgeoisification of homosexuality, or the destruction of a basic and ancient and important social institution? (B) Democracy in the Islamosphere - will it radicalize Muslim nations or moderate them? (C) Privatization of Social Security - will it destroy retirement benefits or strengthen them?

I believe that how we answer these questions reflects what we believe about humanity.

Universalists believe that people are basically good, and basically the same all over the world. Genetics pretty much backs this up. This would mean that ALL three of my examples would lead to GOOD results: empowering individuals to take responsibility for their own lives - in the private and public domains - is inherently good because personal autonomy is basically good.

On the other hand: there MUST ALWAYS be checks and balances - without checks and balances a few bad players can ruin anything. Checks and balances is basically what makes the USA work so well (it's not who we are ethnically or any other way; it's that we have separated the powers of the state so thoroughly).

IOW: we should be as libertarian as possible, but NEVER expect that a completely unfettered and unchecked authority - by any individual or group or any state - will lead to anything good.


Well, gay marriage? ... maybe... in some form... in some states if they want it; sure. Democracy in the Islamosphere? ... yeah... good; even if it leads sometimes to reactionaries attaining power - as long as their governments have checks and balances, and the public has recourse for recalls and elections. Privatization of social security? ... DEFINITELY: personalization and ownership and personal responsibility is a good thing, but let's make sure it is VOLUNTARY.

And Hamas??? Well... We'll see; I hope when they have to deliver services to their own people (instead of genocide) that they will reform. The test will come when it's time for them to disarm (just as in Northern Ireland with the IRA). I'm praying...


Putin is becoming a very bad actor:
At home.... with YUKOS.
In his backyard... with the UKRAINE.
Globally... with Syria. (Yeah SYRIA: apparently the missile deal is NOT dead!)
It's time that the folks who aided the democrats in Serbia and Georgia and the Ukraine started aiding the democrats in Russia. (And Iran. And North Korea. For STARTERS!) And not just for their sake: because - as Bush said in his inaugural - liberty at home depends more and more on liberty abroad.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


From THE AMERCIAN THINKER: Human shields

Where are the human shields? You remember the Westerners who flocked to Iraq to "protect" it from America. Now that democracy itself is under attack, why aren't they pouring into Iraq to protect the polling places? Two possible answers:

(a) Because they think the jihadis, unlike the Coalition, will actually try to kill them.

(b) They were willing to risk their lives to save Saddam but not to make a democratic election possible.....

Clarice R. Feldman 1 27 05

All of the above. The same thing goes for the Human Shields and Israel: they volunteered to "protect" Arafat, but NEVER to sit in an Israeli bus or pizzeria or cafe...

As great men have often said: "they're not for peace; they're on the other side!" (See HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and ESPECIALLY HERE and then HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.)

YEAH: 13 links to the Blogfather; think he'll notice the shameless plea for an instalanche!? Heh! Only kidding: each link is relevant and deserved, after all he virtually coined the expression - "... they're on the other side!"


From the front page of the Jerusalem Post:

Sharon: 'We are on verge of historic breakthrough' By HERB KEINON AND JPOST STAFF As PA begins deployment in south Gaza, Sharon says Israel willing to go a long way. Related Stories:

Rice to visit region next week

Mubarak phones Sharon, praises positive atmosphere

These stories come on the heels of the coordinated USA/Israeli isolation of Arafat (which helped make clear that his path would not succeed), elections in the Afghanistan, the occupied territories, and soon - VERY SOON - an election in IRAQ. All made possible by Bush's bold and resolute policies.

These are hopeful times, indeed. I pray that people of peace and freedom in the occupied territories and Iraq succeed in defeating the forces of tyranny and genocide, and are able to achieve democratic self-rule.

CHENEY: genocide a perennial evil which must be confronted

"The story of the camps remind us that evil is real and must be called by its name and must be confronted," Cheney said at a forum in Krakow, where he spoke before attending an anniversary program at the concentration camps here. "We are reminded that anti-Semitism may begin with words but rarely stops with words and the message of intolerance and hatred must be opposed before it turns into acts of horror." While he didn't draw the comparison directly, the subtext of Cheney's message melded with the theme of President Bush's Inauguration Day speech about freedom versus tyranny as well as one of his previous State of the Union addresses when he called Iraq, North Korea and Iran the "axis of evil."

Cheney and Bush "GET IT" - and are proactively confronting evil more effectively than even FDR did (and almost as well as Churchill, and with just about the same number of allies, too!). Which should remind everyone: when it comes to the battle between good and evil, Old Europe is HARDLY (and harldy ever was) the best barometer of good.

Philip Johnson

Roger Kimball of The New Criterion wrote a fabulous and comprehensive obit/review of Johnson's life; click HERE and RTWT. You might be surprised to find out that Johnson's life included a prolonged involvement with NAZISM, and other pernicious creeds.


GUARDIAN/(AP): Amid constant harangues that "Iraq is Bush's Vietnam," Teddy Kennedy has now explitictly called for the immediate "withdrawal" of US troops from Iraq. What he means is he wants the USA to surrender and accept defeat.

This is hardly surpising: the lefty Democrats forced the premature withdrawal of our troops from Vietnam in 1973, and then suspended financing of the South Vietnamese government in 1975. What happened as a result? The North invaded, the South fell, 500,000 were sent to "re-education" camps, 1 MILLION "boat people" fled the Marxist tyranny - half a MILLION died fleeing, Cambodia fell to Marxists and 3 MILLION more died on the altar of Leftist utopianism there as a result. You see: the Domino Theory was correct, after all. (More HERE and HERE and HERE.)

A similarly bad result will certainly occur in Iraq - and the Middle East - if we abandon the Iraqis as they battle the neobaathists (who - like Ho Chi Minh are socialists), and the neojihadists - both of whom want to re-establish xenophobic tyrannies.

Perhaps Teddy has appeasement in his genes: his poppa - the Wall Street thief, Joe Kennedy - advocated letting another socialist tyrant - Hitler - have all of Europe. (Though I suspect that JFK and RFK would want us to defend our allies and fellow democracies; at least it's pretty to think so).

Perhaps Teddy thinks the Iraqis don't deserve democracy or aren't up to it? Or maybe he thinks our troops are more needed elsewhere, like to storm and shut-down power plants in the USA in order to save us from the menace of global warming!?

It matters not why Kennedy advocates surrender; it matters only that the majority of Americans see him for what he is: a man who has ALWAYS appeased tyrants opposed to US interests, and who has always opposed using force to spread and defend democracy and liberty - from Vietnam to Nicaragua, to Cuba, to Panama and Granada - yea: even in our relations with the old- REPEAT OLD (and defeated) - USSR - Kennedy has ALWAYS advocated giving-in to anti-American tyrants.

Either Kennedy thinks peace is too dear, or that liberty and democracy are worth nothing: no battle; no war. He is wrong. Many things are worth fighting for, and the fight against tyranny and for liberty in Iraq is one of them.

UPDATE: Welcome POLIPUNDIT readers! Please take a minute and check out a few other "NO NUANCE" posts. AND: I think Lorie's point - that the timing of Teddy Jo' remarks only adds more horror to them - is totally RIGHT ON! It's a few days before the landmark election and Teddy Jo and the Left are heaping scorn and defeatism upon our bold efforts and brave sacrifices and those of the brave Iraqi people. As we all know - and this only further proves: Teddy Jo and the Left have no shame!

More HERE at Common Sense and Wonder.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


If you missed Bush's press conference today you missed an INCREDIBLY great performance. He was glib, warm, forceful and communicated effectively on every issue on every question. There was none of the halting un-loquaciousness which he's become famous for. Not that loquacity is paramount for the job of president, but it helps - (if loquacity was job #1, then we'd elect slick, used-car salesmen!).

I think you should watch the 46 minute exchange. You'll come away very VERY impressed. Here's a link to C-SPAN; they have the presser available. right now.

You know what impressed me the MOST!? Bush said - in response to a question about Social Security that "Now is the time to act!"

This may best sum up what kind of president he has become since 9/11: one who acts - boldly and with a firm feel for the basic UNIVERSAL values that must underpin bold actions - in the domestic and international realms - if they are to serve humanity well in the long-term.

I came away with the renewed belief that Bush firmly believes that he must act boldy and be willing to confront tough problems with tough solutions if he is to fulfil his responsibility as president; Bush will NOT slough off problems onto future presidents or future generations, (as many previous presidents have done - with DISASTEROUS results).

Such has been the case with the GWOT: We were attacked repeatedly starting in 1979 by neojiahdists, and only really responded effectively after 9/11. Bush learned the 9/11 lesson well, and is applying it to everything on his plate. He will not let problems grow to the point of disaster. He is a bold and brave and resolute president. If he has some good successes, we will owe a debt to him for generations.


Rice was confirmed by the Senate 85-13. McCain spoke well on the floor about the rancorous confirmation process (AP via DRUDGE):

On the Senate floor Wednesday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., suggested Democrats are sore losers. Rice had enough votes to win confirmation, as even her Democratic critics acknowledge, McCain said. "So I wonder why we are starting this new Congress with a protracted debate about a foregone conclusion," McCain said. Since Rice is qualified for the job, he said, "I can only conclude that we are doing this for no other reason than because of lingering bitterness over the outcome of the election."

The same bitterness and extremism has polluted the confirmation of Gonzales. If the Democrat Party continues down this road they will go the way of the Whigs: obstructionism and reactionary policies (which run counter to the basic principles of our Nation's founding) are a dead-end.

I suggest that the Democrats stop paying attention to their extreme Left-wing base (people like Boxer and Kennedy and Kerry and Shaprton and Jackson and Kucinich) and move to the center FAST. This means that they have to get over the election - as McCain suggests - and their anti-Bush obsessive-compulsive disorder: BDS (Bush derangement Syndrome). In other words: they need a dose of REALITY.

More HERE.

UPDATE (NYTIMES): "Those who voted against Ms. Rice, besides Mr. Jeffords and Mr. Dayton, were Senators Barbara Boxer of California, Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts, Carl Levin of Michigan, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Evan Bayh of Indiana, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Tom Harkin of Iowa."

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Carson was GREAT! 30 YEARS - wow! What a run. God Bless him; may he Rest in Peace.

Now that the well-deserved TV tributes have slowed a little I'll toss in my two-cents: I think he was sharp, quick, puckish, curious, and MOST IMPORTANTLY he was almost never snide, and almost never told a joke at the expense of his guest; he never went for the cheap laugh if it would make them look bad. That's very different from what's the norm now; now snarky snide rank-out/put-down humor passes for wit. YUP: In our world today, snideness and cynicism pass for satire just as easily as notoriety passes for celebrity, and slutiness for sexiness.
Oh well. Things change.

Here's one of my favorite Carnac answers:


What's the question? (see comments for answer.)

Then go HERE (hat tip POWERLINE) and HERE for insightful recollections by Larry Miller and Steve Martin.


The UN is butting in again, this time to criticize the USA for having two big deficits that they claim are hurting the world's economy: the annual federal budget deficit and the trade deficit. (Click HERE for the NYTIMES article on this.)

Well this is ALL BUNK!

First of all, the budget deficit is NOT large by ANY historical measure. In WW2 it was 50% of GDP, and as recently as 1990's it was more than 5% of GDP. Now, it is less than 5% - and shrinking. Further proof that it is NOT too big is the fact that interest rates have remained low; if the federal government was putting too big a strain on the world money supply - "crowding out" other potential borrowers - then rates would go higher. They have not; they have remained as low as they have ever been!


And Americans would have to pay more for things than they pay now. (I think that's the part that the anti-Americans at the UN REALLY LIKE!)

If we bought less from China, for example, then all the economic tigers of Asia would suffer: the South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and China economies - all of'em - would collapse!

IOW: the UN plan is a recipe for WORLDWIDE ECONOMIC COLLAPSE - a one-way ticket to serfdom.

The reason much of the Third World is poor is because of the EU's, China's and Japan's protective trade barriers.

If the UN wants to improve the living standards of people in the Third World then they need to make the EU AND CHINA AND JAPAN CONSUME MORE; NOT MAKE THE USA CONSUME LESS!

Even arch-liberal/NYTIMES columnist Kristoff has admitted that free trade has been the best route to end world poverty, (hat tip Radley Balko).

So. the UN should just shut up, already! And get out of the way!

The UN is now complaining that the US has too high a budget deficit and if it doesn't cut the budget there could be a shock to the world economy. I am all for balanced budgets, especially through reducing in government spending (instead of increased taxation, which can actually reduce tax receipts if it causes an economic slowdown). However, I think the UN comments are a bit over the top (and are pretty funny considering they just called us "stingy", but I guess they think it is okay if we throw money at UN approved projects).

If you look at this historical data from the OECD, both the US and Europe have had deficits much larger, as a percentage of GDP, than what we have today. Here are some key points:

- In 2004, the budget deficit as a % of GDP was 4.4%. The OECD average was 3.5%. While most countries had deficits lower than the US, some, like Japan (with a deficit equivalent to 6.5% of GDP) had far high levels.

- If you look back to 1993, the OECD average was a deficit equivalent to 5% of GDP, with the UK at 7.9%, Canada at 8.7%, France at 6%, Greece at 13.4% (!!!!), Italy at 10.3%. The US deficit was 4.9%.

In other words, our current deficit is not the end of the world.

Yes in absolute terms it is big, but as a percentage of GDP, it is not out of the ordinary. In fact, both the US and EU were running higher deficits just 10 years ago. And the world didn't end, in fact, it got much better (I'm not arguing the virtues of deficits, I'm just saying that despite predictions of catastrophe, things turned out alright).
I also think its funny how you still hear people complain about the Reagan budget deficit and how he spent enormous amounts of money. But you never hear anyone complain about European deficits and how they were spending like there was no tomorrow. Well, according to the OECD, in 1987, the US deficit was 4.3% of GDP, while deficits were 4.5% of GDP in Europe. And they didn't even have the excuse of a massive military buildup! - (Max Jacobs CS&W).

So....... if ya REALLY wanna help the Third World: CONSUME MORE! Every thing you don't buy is another hungry person goin' without a meal somewhere in the Third World.

IRAQ: who is attacking whom, and why?

INSTAPUNDIT linked to a posting at The Corner by Rich Lowry who cited a good article by the NYTIMES about the violence leading up to the Iraqi elections (and then Glenn updated to a post on the same subject at CAPTAIN'S QUARTERS).

Check'em out.

And also keep this FACT in mind: violence is principally being used by neobaathists and neojihadists against Iraqi citizens, the Iraqi Army, and Iraqi Police, and Iraqi election officials.

What does this FACT tell us about the state of affairs in Iraq, and their chances of establishing a democracy? I think it tells us their chances are very good. Here's why:

If the majority of Iraqis did not want elections - and wanted a return of a Saddam-like regime (neobaathism) or a theocracy like they had in Afghanistan (neojihadism), then the neobaathists and neojiahdists would not have to use violence and intimidation; they could win at the ballot box or they could mobilize non-violent mass-demonstrations (like those in Serbia or Georgia or Ukraine).

Their use of violence proves that the bad-guys KNOW that they cannot win any other way. They know that without intimidation they cannot gain power or authority anywhere - Iraq included. The bad guys seek to gain, by intimidation, what they cannot win through passionate appeals to people's hearts and minds.

I have faith in people - that includes the Iraqis. I had faith in the Afghanis, (and I have guarded hope in the Palestinian Arabs). I believe that they can all rule themselves democratically. I believe they can all succeed in establishing democratic self-rule in spite of the ruthless thuggery of those who support tyranny of one sort or another.

Bottom-line: If we are not intimidated by the ruthless minority (who think they're an all-knowing elite destined to construct utopia, but who are in fact no different than the KKK), then we cannot lose.

UPDATE: for a detailed analysis by another OPTIMIST click HERE and read Belgavia Dispatch.