Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Election

The 2004 election offers Christian, constitutionalist conservatives no natural choice for the presidency. In light of that, lets look at some of the options.

Option 1: Vote for Bush, then pray…a lot.

Call this the Pat Buchanan strategy. In his recent endorsement of the president, Buchanan argues that an election is at heart a visceral, tribal affair. And, Pat says, once the shooting begins, it is time to come home to our own.

Fair enough, many of us have pulled levers for Republicans before. But haven’t authentic conservatives been evicted from the house? This ostensibly "conservative" president working in tandem with a "conservative" congress has adopted the domestic policy of LBJ, the foreign policy of Wilson, and the revolutionary spirit of Robespierre.

Even in endorsing Mr. Bush, Buchanan calls the Iraq debacle the greatest strategic blunder of our lifetime and rightly condemns the Republican addiction to big government, free-trade, and open-borders immigration that is balkanizing the country, hollowing out what remains of our industrial base, and sapping our liberty. Buchanan writes that the Bush presidency has produced:

A guerrilla war in Iraq is dividing and bleeding America with no end in sight. It carries the potential for chaos, civil war, and the dissolution of that country.

Balkanization of America and the looming bankruptcy of California as poverty and crime rates soar from an annual invasion of indigent illegals is forcing native-born Californians to flee the state for the first time since gold was found at Sutter’s Mill.

A fiscal deficit of 4 percent of GDP and merchandise trade deficit of 6 percent of GDP have produced a falling dollar, the highest level of foreign indebtedness in U.S. history, and the loss of one of every six manufacturing jobs since Bush took office.

Nonetheless, Buchanan argues that Bush will select better judges and has conservative instincts on "values" issues. Considering that Republican presidents have appointed 10 of the last 12 Supreme Court justices, and given Bush’s history in Texas, Buchanan’s argument is spurious at best. Moreover, the president has endorsed civil unions and done nothing substantive to curtail the legalized slaughter of unborn children. Indeed, it is likely that the abortion rate has climbed during the Bush years.

To his credit, Buchanan at least recognizes that he Constitution Party and its candidate, Michael Peroutka, are closer to authentic conservatives in philosophy and policy prescriptions than are the Republicans.

Such even-handed and thoughtful analysis and rhetoric is completely absent on the Christian Right. Jerry Falwell said this week that evangelicals are behind the president "because of who he is and what he believes." Under Bush, according to Falwell, America is "on the way back" and Christian influence is unprecedented. (Makes me pine for rule by secularists!!) Earlier, Falwell had said, "For conservative people of faith [that about covers the religious gamut], voting for principle this year means voting for the re-election of George W. Bush."

Pat Robertson spouted that Bush would win in a landslide and then added, "The Lord has just blessed him. I mean, he could make terrible mistakes and come out of it. It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad, God picks him up because he's a man of prayer and God's blessing him."

Andrew Sandlin, president of the Center for Cultural Leadership, writes, "…we should work faithfully with the historical options God has granted us. He has not placed us in a historical situation that permits us to vote for the ideal candidate (and perhaps He never will). So, God expects us to vote responsibly and thoughtfully for the electable candidate that most accurately reflects Christian conviction. And in the upcoming Presidential election, that candidate is George W. Bush." Sandlin also, very thoughtfully, compares conservative critics of the administration to Maoist revolutionaries and wonders whether we "really have confidence in the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit."

Ken Gentry, a fine scholar who should stick to writing about Jerusalem in 70 AD, says that voting for a third party is inherently non-constitutional and violates the Biblical methodology of gradualism. Uh, yeah. For a thorough refutation of the incrementalist nonsense spewing forth from various sectors of Christendom, read this essay by William Einwechter.

If Republicans don’t care about Bush’s departures on life and homosexuality, not to mention the illegal, unconstitutional, and just plain stupid war in Iraq, you would think they might be troubled by the syncretistic idolatry propagated by the president. But then again, you would be wrong. Earlier this week on Good Morning America, the president said:

Good Morning America, October 26, 2004 ~

Charlie Gibson: Do we all worship the same God, Christian and Muslim?

George W. Bush: I think we do.

CG: Do Christians and non-Christians and Muslims go to heaven in your mind?

GWB: Yes, they do. We have different routes of getting there...

This is merely the latest public utterance or act of idolatry by the president. Yet, other than Doug Wilson, I have seen no prominent Christian publicly chastise the president’s implicit universalism and unitarianism. Wilson’s comments are on point. He writes:

The problem is idolatry. George Bush is not a proposed law, or a referendum. He is a man who has a responsibility to worship God through Jesus Christ. And this he does, as a baptized and confessing Christian. He is like Solomon, and is a covenant member. But, also like Solomon, he is doing something else. George Bush, in a disciplined and principled way, has supported and advanced syncretistic idolatry. He was central in that abominable National Cathedral worship service after 9-11. The National Cathedral really has become a National Pantheon. He had the Islamic holy month of Ramadan honored in the White House. He paid religious honor at a Shinto shrine in Japan…
So the central problem is that our national evangelical leaders who support Bush show no signs of any willingness to confront the central problem here, which is that of syncretistic idolatry. In fact, all the indicators are that our evangelical leaders are complicit in this sin, or have accommodated themselves to it in some fashion. Who is the evangelical leader, who has the president's ear, who has confronted him about this? And a private confrontation doesn't count -- these are high profile public sins, and the confrontation needs to be as public as the sin.

Further, this illustrates that incrementalism
is a two-way street. Who is more likely to get politically-involved Christians to participate in idolatrous worship services? Bush or Kerry? Who is more likely to get Christians to timidly occupy their assigned corner in the National Pantheon? Bush or Kerry? Who is more likely to get conservative Christians to go along with some generic "people of faith" approach? Bush or Kerry? Given the zeal with which many Christians support Bush (despite such glaringly obvious problems) I think we already have our answer. Incrementalism doesn't work if you sell your soul along the way

.…it really distresses me that among our national Christian leaders, there has been no one willing to play the role of a faithful prophet and friend. George Bush is a layman, and he could always excuse himself by pointing to all the evangelical leaders, like Billy Graham, who follow this same approach. Who will tell the president to stop including the idols, and in doing so, make it a fundamental issue? Billy Graham? Jerry Falwell? World magazine? Again, the problem is the Church, and the fact that the position I am arguing is controversial shows that their incrementalism is working far better than ours is.
One other item that Wilson fails to adequately address is the Bush administration infatuation with the idolatry of statism. That our security comes from the regime, that you are "with us or against us" in the war on terror, that there is "wonder working power" in state-funded "faith-based" social programs are all lies propagated by the administration, and point to the state rather than God as the author of every good and perfect gift.

This is not the record of a man that Christian conservatives can support. Which brings us to…

Option 2: Punish Bush, vote for Kerry.

Several stalwarts on the political right are taking this tack. Paul Craig Roberts writes that:

…the only way Bush can be held accountable for Iraq is to be voted out of office.

However unappealing the alternative candidate, if the electorate fails to hold Bush accountable for invading Iraq on false pretenses and multiplying the recruits to al-Qaeda, American democracy will have failed.

In a powerfully written and reasoned polemic in defense of voting for John Kerry, Scott McConnell offers a similar observation. He writes:

It is, instead, an election about the presidency of George W. Bush. To the surprise of virtually everyone, Bush has turned into an important president, and in many ways the most radical America has had since the 19th century. Because he is the leader of America’s conservative party, he has become the Left’s perfect foil—its dream candidate.

George W. Bush has come to embody a politics that is antithetical to almost any kind of thoughtful conservatism. His international policies have been based on the hopelessly naïve belief that foreign peoples are eager to be liberated by American armies—a notion more grounded in Leon Trotsky’s concept of global revolution than any sort of conservative statecraft. His immigration policies—temporarily put on hold while he runs for re-election—are just as extreme. A re-elected President Bush would be committed to bringing in millions of low-wage immigrants to do jobs Americans "won’t do." This election is all about George W. Bush, and those issues are enough to render him unworthy of any conservative support.

Jude Wanniski argues that if Bush is re-elected he will see it as vindication for his policies. Wanniski considers himself an internationalist, and will vote for Kerry because of the administrations mishandling of foreign policy. Wanniski says:

I will cast my first vote for the Democrat in a presidential contest since I pulled the lever for Lyndon Johnson in 1964. And I will do so with enthusiasm for the Senator's views on how to manage the world, having come to appreciate the way his mind works. It changes with new and better information. If he does win, he will have a Republican House and probably a Republican Senate to work with, finding acceptable common ground on important domestic issues. But most of all, I think he will little by little make the world a less dangerous place than it has become these last four years.

Wanniski may very well be correct that divided government is preferable to one-party domination. Indeed, the Republicans could undergo a spine implant in the face of a Kerry presidency and begin to reclaim legislative prerogatives from the overweening executive branch.

While gridlock may be the best alternative, and the desire to see Bush and the neocons punished is admirable, a vote for John Kerry is not the proper means of redressing the grievance. Kerry is pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, anti-gun, pro-big government, and a liberal internationalist to boot. He will do noting to seal our borders or protect our manufacturers from predatory trade policies. He is an unreconstructed leftist whose views are hostile to everything we believe.

So what about…

Option 3: Don’t vote, it only encourages them.

In The American Conservative, Kara Hopkins makes the case that sitting out the election is best among a series of awful alternatives. Hopkins writes:

But what value is participation if those who cast ballots go unrepresented? Is there virtue in the act if it allows no choice? Smash offending countries alone or invite friends along for the invasion? Tax-and-spend or tax-cut-and-spend? Open borders or open borders? Before herding to the polls because it’s What We Do—like fireworks on the Fourth or eggnog at Christmas—consider the possibility that voting has little to do with democracy and democracy is not the first cause of liberty.

In other words, there’s not a dimes worth of difference, so lets go fishin’. Hopkins argues that not voting is more effective than casting a ballot for a third party. Hopkins points to the four million evangelicals who stayed home in 2000 and have been assiduously courted as a result.

Hopkins makes a strong case, but ultimately, I’m inclined to agree with Gary North who wrote, "I love to do my share, no matter how small, to make some career politician unhappy. Voting for a third-party candidate makes no politician happy, and it makes at least one politician unhappy: a major party's loser, who did not get my vote. No politician is better off, and at least one politician is worse off." Moreover, if Mr. Bush loses, I’m quite eager to be blamed by Sandlin, Falwell, Robertson, and the rest for my "unchristian" vote.

Which brings us to..

Option 4: Vote for an explicitly Christian, constitutionalist candidate.

If one is a Christian, constitutionalist conservative, doesn’t it make sense to vote for a Christian, constitutionalist conservative? In 2004, that means casting a vote for Michael Peroutka and Chuck Baldwin. Read their platform, then spend a few minutes comparing the various platforms and ask yourself a few questions:

1) Will you continue to vote for candidates who do nothing to stop the abortion holocaust?
2) Will you continue to vote for candidates that unconstitutionally drag the country into illegal and unwise foreign wars?
3) Will you continue to vote for candidates that fail to enforce immigration law?
4) Will you continue to vote for candidates who won’t fight the culture war?
5) Will you continue to vote for candidates who by their words and deeds deny the Lordship of Jesus and the efficacy of His Word?

Well, will you? As William Einwechter says, "In voting, the question is not, ‘What makes the most sense to me?’ but rather, ‘What does God’s Word require of me?’" To vote for the "lesser of two evils" still means voting for evil. It is time we gave up doing evil in the name of good, and voted with obedient, rather than expedient, hearts.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

One Week and counting. Hey, stop snoring

All the Bush blather about “marriage being between a man and a woman” was nothing more than a ruse to con gullible Christian voters and disguise the president’s personal support of civil unions. Just days before the election, Bush spoke approvingly of civil unions. I wonder if Focus on the Family, Concerned Woman for America, Robertson, Falwell, The Christian Coalition, and the rest of the lapdogs on the evangelical right will muster even muted criticism of Bush’s caving to the radical homosexualists. I won’t hold my breath. Here is the president in his own words:

"I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so. ...

"I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between a union between a man and a woman.

"Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others," Bush told ABC's Charlie Gibson in an interview broadcast Tuesday on "Good Morning America."

"So the Republican platform on that point, as far as you're concerned, is wrong?" Gibson asked the president, to which Bush replied: "Right."

Speaking of Focus on the Family, in their ceaseless shilling for the president they are reporting that crime is down across the nation. Indeed, John Ashcroft says that "Americans are enjoying unprecedented safety." For another look at "disappearing" urban crime, check out this Nicholas Stix article.

Now the army wants woman in combat areas. Aren’t you glad you voted to restore honor and integrity to government? For more on the heresy that undergirds this nonsense, click here.

John Kerry is dumber than George Bush. I have no comment.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

A Retraction

An alert and thoughtul reader of Dow Blog wrote recently informing me that I may have been snookered Rather-style in an earlier post regarding Antonin Scalia. The London Guardian had reported that Scalia said in a speech at Harvard that "sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged."

Apparently, the Guardian picked up this story from the Harvard Crimson. Shortly thereafter, the Crimson issued this correction:
The Sept. 29 news story "Scalia Describes 'Dangerous' Trend" misquoted Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as saying that "I even take the position that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged." In fact, Scalia said, "I even accept for the sake of argument that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged."

Scalia has made similar statements, tongue firmly planted in cheek, to make the point that while judges can and do have personal moral judgments, it is not their role to impose them on citizens.

Too Much Faux News

A new report released by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) concludes something that was obvious to those who are paying attention--Bush voters are a blissfully ignorant bunch. According to the survey, 75% of Bush voters believe that Iraq had actual WMDs or a major program to develop them.

Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq provided material support to al Qaeda and 63% believe that clear evidence proving the linkage has been found.

Looks like these folks are getting too much Limbaugh and Faux News.

More on Bush and Abortion

Howard Phillips made an excellent point that I had forgotten about in his endorsement of Michael Peroutka in the latest issue of ‘The American Conservative.' Phillips wrties:

…most “conservatives” plan to vote for George W. Bush. Some say the reason they plan to vote for Bush is judicial appointments. But that argument lost its validity when President Bush intervened to prevent the nomination of Congressman Pat Toomey over pro-abortion Sen. Arlen Specter in the recent Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary. If Senator Specter is re-elected on Nov. 2 and the GOP holds its majority in the U.S. Senate, Specter will become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, situated to act in collaboration with his liberal Democrat soul mates to prevent the confirmation of pro-life judicial nominees—and positioned to argue to Bush, if he is re-elected, against the appointment of judges who are comprehensively opposed to abortion. For these reasons and others, it is specious to vote for George W. Bush on the basis of supposed advantages for our side with respect to judicial confirmations.

I had completely forgotten about the intervention of George Bush, and his Svengali Karl Rove, in the Pennsylvania senate race. Rather than stay neutral in a party primary battle between the senator and a respected member of congress, the administration came down hard in support of Specter.

Remember that this is the same Arlen Specter who torpedoed Robert Bork because Bork’s reading of the constitution was “narrow” and Bork, in Specter’s words, did not appreciate it as “a living, growing document.”

How much more evidence is needed to impeach Bush's "pro-life" credentials, anyway?

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The American "Conservative"

From PJB:

The Constitution Party is the party closest to this magazine in philosophy and policy prescriptions, and while one must respect votes for Michael Peroutka by those who live in Red or Blue states, we cannot counsel such votes in battleground states.

Pat goes on to say this:

Because, while Bush and Kerry are both wrong on Iraq, Sharon, NAFTA, the WTO, open borders, affirmative action, amnesty, free trade, foreign aid, and Big Government, Bush is right on taxes, judges, sovereignty, and values. Kerry is right on nothing.

Now there is a ringing endorsement! I feel much better about Mr. Bush now!

Pat has been a champion of unpopular causes for years and has received my votes, money and energy in the past three election cycles. But Pat is just plain wrong on several fronts.

On sodomy and abortion, Bush has proven little better than his predecessors. There is no indication that George Bush understands the nature of the cultural threat we are facing, and he certainly does not have the stomach to wage that war effectively. Moreover, his positions on immigration and trade are, if anything, likely to be worse than John Kerry.

Pat also believes that a civil war is coming in the GOP and that conservatives need to remain in the game if they are to influence the future course of the party. Buchanan says:

There is a rumbling of dissent inside the GOP to the free-trade fanaticism of the Wall Street Journal that is denuding the nation of manufacturing and alienating Reagan Democrats. The celebrants of outsourcing in the White House have gone into cloister. The Bush amnesty for illegal aliens has been rejected. Prodigal Republicans now understand that their cohabitation with Big Government has brought their country to the brink of ruin and bought them nothing. But if we wish to be involved in the struggle for the soul of the GOP and if we intend to be there we cannot be AWOL from the battle where the fate of that party is decided.

I have offered thoughts on Pat's irrational optimism elsewhere, but Sam Francis has written a thoughtful assessment of Buchananism in the latest issue of Chronicles. Francis argues that:

If the kind of right that Pat Buchanan and most other real conservatives want is going to survive, it has to get out of, and away from, the Republican Party. Whatever conservatives remain within the party today have no discernible influence on its leadership, and, if that leadership is reconfirmed this month, it will have even less reason to pay them attention than it had in the administration's first term. There already has been a struggle for the heart and soul and future of the Republican Party, and the man who led that struggle for the right - through no fault or flaw of his own - lost. If the heart and soul of the party are going to survive, they need to ditch the political cadaver in which they are now trapped and start building a new body to animate. The long march toward creating one needs to begin now.

Indeed, the time has come for a new strategy. There is precious little of the old republic to conserve, and the sooner we come to that realization, the better. The time has come to challenge the elites rather than accommodate them, negotiating for a few scraps from the imperial table. The time has come for our own march through the institutions, and as Francis says, that march needs to begin now.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

On Immigration, it's Tweedldee and Tweedledum

Both major presidential candidates are more interested in pandering to ethnic lobbies (i.e., “Hispandering) than defending the border. The Washington Times reported recently that a group of Chechen terrorists entered the U.S. through the porous border with Mexico.

In the face of the threat, what was the response of the defenders of the “homeland?” Asa Hutchinson, who is the nation’s “border czar,” says it is simply “not realistic” to think law-enforcement can round up or deport the illegals that threaten us:

It's not realistic to say we're going to reduce that number. We don't set goals like that. Our goal is to enforce the law as we see violations of the law. But I don't think America has the will. I think they have too much compassion to tell our law-enforcement people to go out there and uproot those 8 million here — some of whom might have been here 8 or 12 years, who got kids here that are American citizens — and to send them out of the country.

Hutchinson went on to defend the Bush amnesty proposal, but he isn't the only one. Homeland Defense Secretary Tom Ridge said in late 2003 "We have to come to grips with the presence of 8 to 12 million illegals, afford them some kind of legal status some way." Does Ridge care that they have broken American law? Or is he more interested in harassing his countrymen as they travel via airplane from Louisville to Las Vegas?

Such lawless and politically foolish talk by the administration should have allowed John Kerry an opportunity to get to the right of George Bush on an important issue. But in a speech to the National Council of La Raza, Kerry managed to deride Bush's amnesty plan as not generous enough. To wit, Mr. Kerry said, "It is time to fulfill the promise of America, so that those who work hard and take responsibility and build a better life for them and their families, and live by the rules, and pay their taxes and raise their families have a right to share in America and its citizenship in the fullest."

Isn't it time we elected a president who more concerned defending American interests than protecting the borders of South Korea and Iraq?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

In the News

David "Axis of Evil" Frum is a liar! I know, I know, you're shocked! Frum, who is neither an American (actually, he may now be a citizen) nor a conservative, became famous in recent years for being a mouthpiece for Mr. Bush and an accuser of the paleoconservatives. Frum called Buchanan, Novak, Fleming, Francis, Raimondo, and the rest, "unpatriotic conservatives." The problem, you see, is that they were all prophecying disaster in Iraq while Frummer Boy and the rest of those barrel-chested neocons were predicting a cakewalk or, like Michael Ledeen, trying to drum up their own little war.

Frum, Ledeen and the rest have never gotten close to war themselves, unless you count those games of Risk they are playing over at the American Enterprise Institute. Hence, they might really be surprised to read that the US faces a complex insurgency in Iraq!

It's always nice to see Pat Robertson in the news. Not so long ago Pat told everyone that God had given him a good word that the smart money was on a Bush blowout in November. Now, Brother Pat has gone to Israel, where he criticized the president and seemed to be arguing that Ariel Sharon hasn't been quite tough enough on those Palestinians. Robertson said that that if Mr. Bush made any concessions on Jerusalem that evangelicals would desert the Republicans and form a third-party. It's great to know that evangelical leaders are reeeaaalllly concerned about diplomacy in the Middle East, even if they don't care about compromise on abortion, sodomy, statist education, lying to drag the country into war, etc.

Keeping Busy

My blogging has taken a back seat to some other priorities. I've been re-working some earlier stuff and posting over at Blogs for Peroutka. So if you have recently stumbled across my little corner of the Net, please visit there. By the way, there are some fine bloggers posting there, besides me, of course. So you will not be disappointed if you visit.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Where Have All the Good Guys Gone?

Antonin Scalia is without a doubt the most intelligent and capable justice on the Supreme Court. So I was a bit taken aback to see this article. Scalia endorsed orgies as a means of eliminating social tensions. I guess this speaks for itself. Is this what Republicans mean when they say we need more judges like Scalia? Doesn’t it also make you wonder what might be going on in chambers?

The writer of the Guardian article mentions “The Ice Storm,” a fantastic film by Ang Lee. Lee is one of my favorite directors. He made a marvelous movie about the Civil War (“Ride With the Devil”), “Sense and Sensibility,” "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and more. Since I’ve been shamelessly plugging my website, please visit my movie page, too.

Moving from judges who have lost their morals to an evangelical leader who has lost his mind, we have the strange case of Charles Colson. Colson, formerly an aide to Dick Nixon, and the founder of a wonderful ministry to prisoners, recently had this to say about the debate over homosexual marriage:

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to take part in this telecast to churches across the country about what is to me the most urgent, cultural question in America today: the question of same sex marriage and the federal marriage amendment.

This is the “mother of all culture war battles.” This is the one that decides what kind of a country we’re going to be … this is a fundamental question. How should we live?How do we organize our society and every society through the millennia?

Every society in history has recognized heterosexual marriage as the normative arrangement for people for very good prudential reasons. Let me make one caution to those of you who are going to be carrying this fight forward through our neighborhoods and through our civic associations and through our communities and through our churches—and eventually to the halls of political power in America.

The Bible is all truth, it is God’s truth, it is revealed propositional truth without error. But you can’t argue from that when you’re arguing the question of marriage in society.
So it turns out that the Bible is not complete, is not sufficient, is not enough to answer our critics. Since our countrymen don’t like the answers that God’s Word provides, we invent something different that “works.” But as Protestants, ought we not to affirm that the Bible is the one fixed and unchangeable thing in our midst? Is it not our concrete universal? Once the Bible is abandoned as the only source of unrevised stability in a world of unceasing change, then men have nothing to stand on. We will be toossed to and fro like a wave on the sea (James 1:6).

I have to admit that I lost a lot of respect for Colson when he became a shill for the war party. Here is what Colson had to say elsewhere before the war in Iraq began:

If America decides to go to war with Iraq, and we have gone through all the diplomatic stages, depending on the factual case made by the President of the United States, and the U.S. military and intelligence and the British Government, depending on the factual case, war can be morally justified under the Just War Doctrine.

Augustine's original formulation, which is now 1,600 years old, never contemplated the pre-emptive strike because wars weren't fought that way when the Just War Doctrine was originated. There were armies who would invade neighboring countries, and so this is a unique situation. But, there's a precedent. The Israelis took out the Iraqi nuclear plant in 1982 with an air raid -- and well that they did -- and the factual situation is such that Saddam Hussein gives evidence of having weapons of mass destruction and the disposition to use them. If that's the case then we would be justified in attacking to prevent a greater disaster if he would use weapons of mass destruction.

Again, just today we saw another report putting to death the lie that Saddam was packing WMDs:

The government's most definitive account of Iraq's arms programs, to be released today, will show that Saddam Hussein posed a diminishing threat at the time the United States invaded and did not possess, or have concrete plans to develop, nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, U.S. officials said yesterday.

The officials said that the 1,000-page report by Charles A. Duelfer, the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, concluded that Hussein had the desire but not the means to produce unconventional weapons that could threaten his neighbors or the West. President Bush has continued to assert in his campaign stump speech that Iraq had posed "a gathering threat."

Nevertheless, 42 per cent of Americans still believe that the former Iraqi leader was involved in the attacks on 9/11, and 32 percent believe that Saddam planned them in person (Not getting their news from Dow Blog, evidently). So now that the verdict is in, will Colson and his evangelical compatriots admit they were wrong? I won't be holding my breath.

Don't Watch the Debates, Get on the Net

As I pound away on my keyboard, the incessant chatter of the idiot box is ringing in the background. Kathy deftly navigates from channel to channel via the remote control. “The Surreal Life,” a rerun of “The Apprentice,” something on ‘E’ about “Murder and the Media Machine,” health, wealth and prosperity over on TBN, baseball on Fox, George Lopez, etc. Ugh! That rust you feel on your feet is the bottom of the cultural barrel.

Of course the big event of the night is the titanic clash between Dick “The Bruiser” Cheney and John “Pretty Boy” Edwards. Already, the pre-debate hype is barreling out of the ignorance box.

Personally, I’m going to skip the debate. Let’s face it, this ain’t exactly Lincoln-Douglas. Since I won’t be voting for either Tweedledee or Tweedledum, I don’t see much point. My time is valuable. You are free to disagree.

If Cheney and Edwards were going at it in a steel cage match, I might be inclined to stay around. Wouldn’t that be more entertaining, and for that matter, more informative?

Some time ago, I read Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” Postman makes a compelling case that we are lingering on a Huxleyan precipice. "Television," says Postman, "serves us most usefully when presenting junk-entertainment; it serves most ill when it co-opts serious modes of discourse--news, politics, science, education, commerce, religion--and turns them into entertainment packages. We would all be better off if television got worse, not better. 'The A-Team' and 'Cheers' are not a threat to public health. '60 Minutes,' 'Eye-Witness News' and 'Sesame Street' are."

I concur with Postman, and, I might add, televised political debates don't raise the bar, either. A onetime news junkie, I had overdosed on the “The McLaughlin Group,” “The Capital Gang,” “Hardball,” and all of the other talking-heads shows. Now the Internet is my primary source of information. Being an active reader is better than being a passive listener. Moreover, the variety of news sources online is far broader than the narrow range of “acceptable” opinion shoveled to the masses via television and talk radio.

In that spirit, I offer the services of Dow’s Digest, my website. You can visit my news links for a wide range opinion and information. I will update the page soon to include weblogs, too. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Week That Was, or Wasn't, in Iraq

The Wall Street Journal has become the house organ for open-borders, free-trade, big-war conservatism. You know the type, they carry on about "social engineering" at the same time that they editorialize in favor of eliminating the border or praise the "remaking" Islamic civilization. Journal editorials have become grist for the pro-war mill. Paul Gigot, a he-man if ever there was one, never saw a war he didn't like.

Therefore, I as amused to see the unvarnished, unedited thoughts of Journal correspondent Farnaz Fassihi, who has the honor of covering the war rather than watching it on CNN while sipping cocktails at tony parties on the Upper West Side or having wine and cheese in Georgetown. Fassihi sent an email to friends which is now making its way over the information superhighway (God Bless the Internet).

In the little note, which you may read in its entirety here, she painted a picture of a strategic disaster:

Iraqis say that thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for insecurity. Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any day, even if it means having a dictator ruler. Despite President Bush's rosy assessments, Iraq remains a disaster. If under Saddam it was a 'potential' threat, under the Americans it has been transformed to 'imminent and active threat,' a foreign policy failure bound to haunt the United States for decades to come.

Fassihi also discusses the dangers of trying to cover the war:

Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days is like being under virtual house arrest. Forget about the reasons that lured me to this job: a chance to see the world, explore the exotic, meet new people in far away lands, discover their ways and tell stories that could make a difference.

Little by little, day-by-day, being based in Iraq has defied all those reasons. I am house bound. I leave when I have a very good reason to and a scheduled interview. I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news stories, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't. There has been one too many close calls, including a car bomb so near our house that it blew out all the windows. So now my most pressing concern every day is not to write a kick-ass story but to stay alive and make sure our Iraqi employees stay alive. In Baghdad I am a security personnel first, a reporter second.

In a moment of candor, Donald Rumsfeld said that it may not be possible to hold elections in Janary. This bleak assessment was immediately criticized by, among others, Colin Powell, who nonetheless admitted that the insurgency in Iraq is getting worse and that the U.S. occupation there has increased anti-American sentiment in Muslim countries. I don't know about you, but I'm shocked by such a conclusion! Colin Powell is obviously undermining the war effort.

Allawi and Bush recently assured the assembled lackeys and lickspittles in the White House press corps that most of Iraq was under control. Indeed, they assured us, there are only a few provinces where violence is raging. But according to a report from Kroll Security:

Over the past 30 days, more than 2,300 attacks by insurgents have been directed against civilians and military targets in Iraq, in a pattern that sprawls over nearly every major population center outside the Kurdish north, according to comprehensive data compiled by a private security company with access to military intelligence reports and its own network of Iraqi informants.

The sweeping geographical reach of the attacks, from Nineveh and Salahuddin Provinces in the northwest to Babylon and Diyala in the center and Basra in the south, suggests a more widespread resistance than the isolated pockets described by Iraqi government officials.
To counter this flood of bad news, which is obviously just a product created by pinkocommyleftybigmediaelite journalists, the Pentagon has devised a remedy to the problem--censorship and propaganda!

USAID said this week that it will restrict distribution of reports by contractor Kroll Security International showing that the number of daily attacks by insurgents in Iraq has increased. On Monday, a day after The Washington Post published a front-page story saying that "the Kroll reports suggest a broad and intensifying campaign of insurgent violence," a USAID official sent an e-mail to congressional aides stating: "This is the last Kroll report to come in. After the WPost story, they shut it down in order to regroup. I'll let you know when it restarts."

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's office has sent commanders of U.S. military facilities a five-page memorandum titled "Guidance to Commanders." The Pentagon, the memo says, is sponsoring a group of Iraqi Americans and former officials from the Coalition Provisional Authority to speak at military bases throughout the United States starting Friday to provide "a first-hand account" of events in Iraq. The Iraqi Americans and the CPA officials worked on establishing the interim Iraqi government. The Iraqi Americans "feel strongly that the benefits of the coalition efforts have not been fully reported," the memo says.

The memo says the presentations are "designed to be uplifting accounts with good news messages." Rumsfeld's office, which will pay for the tour, recommends that the installations seek local news coverage, noting that "these events and presentations are positive public relations opportunities."

One ludicrous example of the attempt to suppress dissent is the case of Al Lorentz, an Army Reserve staff sergeant from Texas who recently penned a little essay on Lew Rockwell's website. Lorentz gave away no classified data, but he did proffer the opinion that the situarion in Iraq is unwinnable. Such subversion cannot be tolerated, and Lorentz is facing 20 years in prison for his "crime."

Of course a key element of success was the potential "Iraqization" of the fighting forces. But the BBC--those libs!--tell us that Tony Cordesman (oops, he's not a lib) says that this process is going very slowly and might not be accomplished until 2006.

Have we turned the corner yet?