It doesn't qualify for the fucking police blotter that is the mainstream media today, but Syria is "redeploying" its troops in Lebanon. So I especially like this observation over at the Captain's Quarters:
Syria has been pressured for years to end its occupation of Lebanon, but has resisted closing out its second front against Israel. Since the American invasion of Iraq, however, Syria has learned that the politics of the region have changed rather dramatically. With George Bush's re-election, the Syrians understand that the forward strategy of engagement will continue for at least another four years.
The likelihood of a continued American military presence in western Iraq makes the Ba'athist regime in Damascus realize that after Iraq stabilizes, the US can act in one of two directions next to continue its war on terror. It appears that Bashir Assad just nominated Iran for that role.
I'm old enough to remember whole Presidencies during which time the received wisdom was that we Westerners dared not interfere with the tyrannical arrangements of the Middle East for fear of creating a "power vacuum." Even the Gulf War itself was essentially fought to return everything to the status quo ante. But no more. Iraq is on the road to democratic control. The Palestinian intifada has largely been defeated. Khadafi has been chastened. The Saudis are facing some long-term changes brought on by necessity. And Iranian people seem ready to make their own bid for legitimate popular sovereignty. These are exciting times, folks. Dangerous, but exciting, times.
Mudville Gazette: Former Saddam Loyalist Looking to Start Singing Career The Mudville Gazette has brought to my attention the very interesting news that a former Saddam loyalist is "looking to start a singing career."
Yeah, okay. I fell for it, too.
Former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz was the sophisticated, intelligent face of a thuggish regime. He was known for his elegant English suits and a fondness for Cuban cigars.
But photos, obtained exclusively by NBC News, for the first time show Aziz as he lives now, in custody. It's a strikingly different image -- Aziz appears frail in orange prison garb and plastic handcuffs.
David Kay -- a former U.S. adviser in Iraq -- spent months questioning Aziz and others. He says Aziz quickly turned on Saddam and could testify at any trial.
Oh, yeah, baby...This is going to get good. Pop a top and grab some peanuts.
NBC News has learned U.N. investigators probing corruption in the U.N. oil for food program were scheduled to question Aziz last week. That session was delayed for security reasons.
The U.N. investigation -- led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker -- is looking into Saddam's alleged diversion of oil money that was supposed to go for food to U.N. officials and politicians in key countries.
U.S. officials say Aziz already has implicated the French and others, claiming payoffs were made with the understanding that recipients would support Iraq on key matters before the U.N.
I know it'll never happen, but wouldn't it be amazing if Big Media actually made it a point to televise for us these upcoming trials in Iraq? There is so much for us to learn and ponder about Saddam's crimes that the new Iraqi government is now to set to prosecute. Which is why the anti-war Leftist tools in Big Media here won't dare show any of it: it would reveal to the average American just how far they went (as CNN did, the miserable bastards) to minimize the Saddamites' atrocities and, thereby, undercut the reasons for us to have gone to war in Iraq.
I mean, this stuff isn't as juicy and wonderful as goddamned Scott Peterson, but it might be of interest to some of us... Whattya say, Courageous Dan and Comrade Jennings? We're big boys. We can handle it. Even with subtitles.
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 6:37 PM CST
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Updated: Saturday, 18 December 2004 6:45 PM CST
Tilly the Golden Eagle Mood:
Courtesy of Cold Fury here's a link to a really cool Animal Planet online preview of a special featuring Tilly the golden eagle ---flying around with super-light video cameras.
Some beautiful sights. And what a serious face on Tilly! Swing, baby! You're platinum! Heh, heh. Enjoy.
Data Mining ACLUniks
With a big tip of the hat to Professor Reynolds, here's a story in today's New York Times about the ACLU being a bunch of spying hypocrites.
The American Civil Liberties Union is using sophisticated technology to collect a wide variety of information about its members and donors in a fund-raising effort that has ignited a bitter debate over its leaders' commitment to privacy rights.
Some board members say the extensive data collection makes a mockery of the organization's frequent criticism of banks, corporations and government agencies for their practice of accumulating data on people for marketing and other purposes.
I don't care what any of you losers say: the single greatest threat to this country is when municipalities allow Nativity scenes to be displayed on public property. Thank God there's prinicpled organizations like the ACLU out there to crush this obviously fascistic practice.
Rafael Peralta, American
Courtesy of The Mudville Gazette, here's a story from Oliver North about Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta, a true American hero.
As Sgt. Rafael Peralta lay near death on the floor of a Fallujah terrorist hideout, he spotted the yellow grenade that had rolled next to his near-lifeless body. Once detonated, it would take out the rest of Peralta's squad. To save his fellow Marines, Peralta reached out, grabbed the grenade, and tucked it under his abdomen where it exploded.
The Weekly Ass-Kicking
Be sure to go read Victor Davis Hanson's weekly ass-kicking of the Left. This time out, the good professor is wondering about the Left's lack of moral coherence:
What is preached in the madrassas on the West Bank, in Pakistan, and throughout the Gulf is no different from the Nazi doctrine of racial hatred. What has changed, of course, is that unlike our grandfathers, we have lost the courage to speak out against it. In one of the strangest political transformations of our age, the fascist Islamic Right has grafted its cause onto that of the Left's boutique "multiculturalism," hoping to earn a pass for its hate by posing as the "other" and reaping the benefits of liberal guilt due to purported victimization. By any empirical standard, what various Palestinian cliques have done on the West Bank -- suicide murdering, lynching without trial of their own people, teaching small children to hate and kill Jews -- should have earned them all Hitlerian sobriquets rather than U.N. praise.
There's certainly no longer a place for me at the table of a liberal Democratic Party. They do not put first things first and, instead, have made an intolerable pact with the forces of anti-Americanism, both foreign and domestic. Thus, my own convictions about a smarter approach to the so-called war on drugs and full recognition of gay rights and reproductive rights and a dozen other important areas of social concern are buried in the noise of the Democrats' outrageously stupid anti-war rhetoric. Nor will I associate myself with an institution that is very obviously in the grips of what the Right has termed the Bush Derangement Syndrome. It actually makes news if a prominent Democrat steps outside of his party's circus tent to concede a point or to show support for this President. But how often is that happening in the context of this war against the terrorists? Almost never. By default, George W. Bush cannot make a good choice; therefore, by default, a Democrat must oppose anything the President does.
The modern Democratic Party has absolutely abandoned its Truman-era resolve in fighting the forces of totalitarianism. And when you will not stand up to do the right thing against those who would do evil, what does that make you?
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 7:51 PM CST
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Updated: Friday, 17 December 2004 7:52 PM CST
Midhusband Now Playing: "Cirkus" by King Crimson
I'm thinking of a line of poetry I once wrote. Not particularly well-worded, but the idea it expressed astonished even me with its complete lack of human feeling. You know the one? The feeling, I mean.
Nuts! Now Playing: "Swan Swan H" by R.E.M.
One of my Daddy's favorite movies about the Second World War was The Battle of the Bulge (1965) with Henry Fonda and Telly Savalas and a whole bunch of other big names. Daddy knew a man from work who had been in the actual Battle of the Bulge and he always found that very impressive, as did I.
Today, let us remember the 60th anniversary of this massive battle ---one of the true turning points in the history of the Twentieth Century--- and read Paul Greenberg's excellent column marking the day.
According to the German battle plan, Bastogne was to be overrun on the second day of the operation; it never was. General Anthony McAuliffe's one-word response to the German commander's surrender terms would become a classic summation of American defiance: "Nuts!"
Forced to split up and go around isolated pockets of American resistance, the German advance slowed. Unlike 1940, there was no breakout. Methodically, the Allied command drew up new defensive lines, then held. And to the South, Patton was turning the whole Third Army on a dime and hurtling to the rescue . . . .
Before it was over, the Battle of the Bulge would involve three German armies, the equivalent of 29 divisions; three American armies, or 31 divisions; and three British divisions augmented by Belgian, Canadian and French troops.
More than a million men would be drawn into the battle. The Germans would lose an estimated 100,000 irreplaceable troops, counting their killed, wounded and captured; the Americans would suffer some 80,000 casualties, including 19,000 killed - that's a rate of 500 a day - and 23,554 captured.
Reading such figures should bring to mind the absolute importance of remembering just how massive our military's sacrifices have always been.
Sixty-three divisions going at it in one of the harshest European winters in living memory. Jesus Christ!
I, too, cringed when I heard Donald Rumsfeld's remarks last week in Kuwait when he said to the troops "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." I'm still not too sure whether he was referring to the Army as people or as an organization comprised of materiel, but it was still an incredibly unfortunate remark, especially coming from a man who could moonlight as a grammarian.
Anyway, the crowd calling for his removal is growing, most notably among Republicans. Bill Kristol at The Weekly Standard has joined the fray, dismissing Rumsfeld as a glib and arrogant buck-passer. I understand that view as a personal perception, but I still have a fondness and a respect for Rumsfeld. Maybe it's because I am too ignorant of the extent of his influence or of just how much he can do with such an enormous institution as the Department of Defense, but surely he has been the most consequential SECDEF since Robert McNamara ---and greatly burdened with putting together a machine to wage such a widescale war against a new kind of global enemy.
I don't suppose Rumsfeld will last too much longer in his current role, but I, for one, think he has been an asset to our country.
The Savage Fortnight
Courtesy of The Belmont Club, here is an excellent piece from Austin Bay on the revolution in the Middle East.
Toppling Saddam also toppled the myth of the "Arab strongman," a point unfortunately missed by critics of the Iraq war. The Arab strongman was a romantic, Superman story of militant rescue and revenge, but it was also a justification for dictatorial rule. The armed strongman would drive the Israelis into the sea. The strongman would restore Arab prestige, at the point of a sword or the blast of a nuclear weapon. But these bloody miracles, permanently scheduled for the near future, required submission to tyranny. To advocate liberty, to promote free trade, to critique the corrupt, to demand a voice in governance -- these acts of weakness undermined the strongman and thus undermined "the Arab cause."
I'll say it again, comrades: you can take a dump on George W. Bush all day long for certain of his domestic policies and I wouldn't care less. But for what he's doing to move the Middle East into the modern age? Your great-grandchildren will know this President as one of the most important leaders of the Twenty-First Century.
The Manufacture of Dissent
Over at the Captain's Quarters, you can read about he ongoing attempts of the Democrats and craphounds like Jesse Jackson to overturn the election in Ohio.
Jackson wants the court to throw out the election results because of an exit poll -- later shown to be preliminary -- predicted that John Kerry would get 52% of the vote. In other words, Jackson wants to give more legal weight to the few hundred people approached on their way out of polling booths than the actual votes cast in the election. While the ruling today leaves open the possibility of the complaint being refiled, it deserves more to be buried in a landfill.
I read a comment recently by another of the Kerrion claiming that they're only pursuing this recount nonsense for the sake of accuracy. Right. And here I was thinking that they're only doing it to perpetuate their martyr complexes as the disenfranchised victims of the Bu$hitler War Machine, Inc. (a subsidiary of Halliburton).
All Too High School
I have it in mind right now to suggest something that is, in the context of a friendship I share with a certain person, either with or without very great consequence to the one involved. That is to say, it just occurred to me that this old friend of mine is very probably so pissed at me for the direction of my politics and over the outcome of this recent election ---I mean mandate--- that he will not willingly speak to me. As in only one other regard ever between us, he may very well have taken it all to heart ---and all too hard. The other possibility is that he just doesn't like me anymore and would rather not communicate because of the Indifference That Eventually Overshadows All.
Now, the experiment I have in mind just now is to leave this burning sack of emotional dog shit on the stoop of my own hovel ---here--- and sit back and see whether he comes out and stamps on it. I don't even have to ring the doorbell; he either ruins his stylish footwear or not.
I suppose I could have the stones to ask him directly which of the two possibilities discussed here is the right one, but this way is much more entertaining.
Especially to one who traffics in the Grand Ideas of the Times ---and does so without any regret, see, because these are the things that command my attention most, regardless of whether such fascination is of any commercial value.
Sure, it's a poisonous route to take because it might upset or annoy a friendship that only persists through the careful cultivation of the obvious, but what else is there to do?
I don't know. Maybe it's something I said.
If there was ever anything of value that we saw in each other, I will be the one most surprised to learn that it has been lost. I'm not talking about the sentimental things; I'm talking about what it was that made either of us important to the other.
No matter. It is cold and there is television to be watched.
"We must accept that it is a cornerstone of Mexican foreign policy to export illegally each year a million of its own to the United States to avoid needed reform at home and to influence American domestic policy." ---Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, 27 June 2003
With that wonderfully succinct observation in mind, this story in the Arizona Republic seems to me quite interesting:
MEXICO CITY - For the first time, Mexicans would be able to vote in the United States for the president of Mexico under a bill nearing approval in that country's House of Representatives.
If the measure becomes law, it will likely set off a fierce battle for millions of potential voters in Arizona and other states and will allow Mexican presidential candidates to campaign in the United States.
Mexicans would be able to register to vote in the United States and cast their ballots at polling stations, probably set up in consulates around the country.
It's all really coming together, isn't it?
Currently, there is no absentee voting for Mexicans who leave the country, and any Mexicans who wish to vote must return to Mexico to cast a ballot.
I don't know what significance all of this bears for us here in America, but when one considers that Mexico's largest source of foreign exchange revenue is remittances from its citizens living abroad (estimated by the Banco de Mexico to be $17 billion this year), it may be that the influence of our Mexican friends here among us may be about to grow exponentially. Which means that Mexico's own government and its domestic policies will now face the approval (or not) of a very large group of better paid and relatively better educated compatriots who have seen the other side of the fence.
Of course, if the millions of Mexicans who live here in America had wanted to participate in the affairs of their own country, I suppose they would have stayed home and done so. Still, it's an interesting development.
Here's a brief story from KXAN.com about the protesters who showed up at the Capitol yesterday (emphasis mine):
Although for most people it's considered a done deal, some aren't ready to let go of this year's presidential election.
About 100 people rallied on the steps of the capitol yesterday to protest the election. They called on state and federal lawmakers to investigate so-called rampant voter fraud. They also want a nationwide, citizen-supervised manual recount of the vote.
"Besides suppression of the vote and intimidating voters, they had all sorts of wrong things happening with the electronic voting system with the OPSCAN technology in Florida," David Raybuck, election protestor, said, "there were a lot of places where the voter turnout, the exit polls didn't really match with the final turnout."
You'd be surprised at how many of these moonbats put more store by the exit polls than by the actual vote tallies. What the fuck is that all about?
Well, in the late morning hours on Election Day, Big Media was reporting that the exit polling data was looking good for Kerry. I remember that very well because it was depressing the hell out of me. But that's also what these idiots are remembering ---and their feeble little minds are stuck in that gear. "But...but...CNN said that Kerry was doing good! Waaahhhhh!!!"
Remember, ladies: governments hold elections, not media-funded polling companies. You may not understand how certain elections can end up in a near-tie, but you can at least concede that the vote totals in an open society like ours are somewhat more likely to reflect the choice of the electorate than informal, non-binding questionnaires put to people leaving a voting station.
A Hell of a Story Mood:
Steve Hayes of The Weekly Standard accompanied Vice President Cheney to Hamid Karzai's inauguration last week and tells the story. Hayes also notes:
The Washington Post played Karzai's inauguration on page A-13, a placement that suggested it was relatively less important than Eliot Spitzer's decision to run for governor of New York or the decision of the U.S. government to import flu vaccine from Germany.
This is an embarrassment. The foreign policy of George W. Bush will likely be remembered for two highly controversial decisions: (1) to eliminate not only terrorist networks but also the regimes that sponsor them, and (2) to cultivate democracy in the region of the world long thought least hospitable to it.
So why isn't there more of a sense of our accomplishments in Afghanistan? After all, as Hayes reports Karzai's words:
"Whatever we have achieved in Afghanistan--the peace, the election, the reconstruction, the life that the Afghans are living today in peace, the children going to school, the businesses, the fact that Afghanistan is again a respected member of the international community--is from the help that the United States of America gave us. Without that help Afghanistan would be in the hands of terrorists--destroyed, poverty-stricken, and without its children going to school or getting an education. We are very, very grateful, to put it in the simple words that we know, to the people of the United States of America for bringing us this day."
It may be that George W. Bush will have to wait another fifty years before he can claim the credit for such achievements. But for now? It's all about Abu Ghraib and Halliburton.
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 5:49 AM CST
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Updated: Tuesday, 14 December 2004 5:50 AM CST
Google, the operator of the world's most popular Internet search service, plans to announce an agreement today with some of the nation's leading research libraries and Oxford University to begin converting their holdings into digital files that would be freely searchable over the Web.
It may be only a step on a long road toward the long-predicted global virtual library. But the collaboration of Google and research institutions that also include Harvard, the University of Michigan, Stanford and the New York Public Library is a major stride in an ambitious Internet effort by various parties. The goal is to expand the Web beyond its current valuable, if eclectic, body of material and create a digital card catalog and searchable library for the world's books, scholarly papers and special collections.
Google - newly wealthy from its stock offering last summer - has agreed to underwrite the projects being announced today while also adding its own technical abilities to the task of scanning and digitizing tens of thousands of pages a day at each library.
This reminds me somewhat of a plan announced by the BBC last year to make its entire archives available for free over the Internet, although I haven't heard much about it lately.
Getting It Straight
On Thanksgiving 2003, President Bush made his famous unannounced visit to the troops in Iraq. While there, he was photographed presenting a turkey in the serving line. I don't know how it happened, but the myth that this bird was fake got started ---and has never abated. Probably because there's some irresistable metaphorical value in such a tale for the President's detractors. Or, maybe it's just because Democrats are goddamned liars who never let the facts contaminate their beliefs.
In any event, our man Patterico managed to get the Los Angeles Times to acknowledge that their columnist Joel Stein was wrong in referring to the "fake" turkey in a recent story.
Yeah. Not a huge victory in the annals of factual accuracy, but whether such small truths are acknowledged is a useful measure of a person's intellectual honesty.
"There are some who call me...Tim?" Mood:
If you're a Monty Python fan, be sure to read this great new article in The New Yorker about our favorite ensemble of British comedians and what they're up to these days. Eric Idle, for one, is doing up a major Broadway musical called Spamalot ---a new interpretation of the group's 1975 masterpiece Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I doubt I'd even walk across the street to see it now, but I'm glad the old guys are still having so much fun.
If you go to SnapToSell.com, they are selling prints of some newly-discovered negatives of Marilyn Monroe from the 1950s, taken by a local photographer (now retired and in ill health) named Joseph H. Coudert. Saw the story about it on Fox7 News yesterday.
They have some lo-res images at the site above and they are really beautiful.