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No Blog for You

Looks like the CIA wants to shut down George W. Bush’s blog. Or maybe not. The Onion reports, you decide.

Hat tip: Layne.

Welcome to Memphis

How embarassing is this?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Iraqis visiting on a civil rights tour were barred from city hall after the city council chairman said it was too dangerous to let them in.

The seven Iraqi civic and community leaders are in the midst of a three-week American tour, sponsored by the State Department to learn more about the process of government. The trip also includes stops in Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago.

[...]

Elisabeth Silverman, the group’s host and head of the Memphis Council for International Visitors, said Brown told her he would “evacuate the building and bring in the bomb squads” if the group entered.

If the visiting Iraqis learn anything useful from their Memphis experience they’ll use it as an object lesson for what not to do back home. Somehow I don’t think that’s what the State Department had in mind. My experience with Arab hospitality tells me they didn’t need to learn such a lesson in any case.

I sure hope someone official apologized to these people for the idiots in our country who manage to get themselves into positions of power yet still don’t know how to behave.

Fallujah Strikes Back

Here’s some good news from Fallujah of all places.

BAGHDAD, Iraq – In an extraordinary assault, gunmen in the city of Fallujah stormed a kidnappers’ lair and forced the overmatched militants inside to flee, freeing four Jordanian truck drivers held captive, local officials said Wednesday.

Notice how the journalist uses the word “militants” to denote the kidnappers. This old and silly game is shown to be the farce it is in the very next paragraph.

They [the Iraqis] called the kidnappers “terrorists” and outsiders.

The word terrorist appears in quotation marks. Now, granted, the word was an actual quote. The punctuation doesn’t have a sneer on its face in this particular case. Still, if Iraqi leaders in Fallujah are calling these punks a bunch of terrorists I’ve got to wonder who the Associated Press is worried about “offending” with this supposedly loaded and controversial noun.

Oh, and just for the record, this hostage rescue wasn’t carried out by the army. The anti-terrorists in this particular battle were ordinary Iraqis – basically a posse of pissed-off locals.

Sheik Haj Ibrahim Jassam, a tribal leader, said he received word late Tuesday that the men were being held in a house on the edge of the city. Local leaders gathered together armed residents, who raided the house, freeing the hostages and chasing out the kidnappers, he said.

This is huge. Terrorists are now getting their asses kicked by the locals in the biggest hotbed of violent activity in Iraq. They are not Mao’s famous fish who swim in the “sea” of the people. They are hunted by the people.

Terror Alerts Part Two

On the other hand, this makes the Bush Administration look truly ridiculous.

Ken Layne:

After getting through the insane security at CitiBank Headquarters — caused by four-year-old Evidence of Terror Plans released Sunday to scare the bejesus out of you — you get to say “Hi” to Laura Bush in the lobby! That’s neat.

It’s neat when schedules work out that way.

Oh, and the Immediate Alert Scary-Ville terror info? Now they’re saying it actually refers to an attack planned for Sept. 2. You know, the last day of the Republican Convention in New York, when Bush gives his big speech?

This stinks. Go ahead and say, as Tom Ridge did this morning, “This is not about politics. It’s about confidence in government.” If you have to deny it’s about politics — while your party is actively campaigning in the locked-down buildings of New York City filled with teevee cameras and photographers and frazzled employees who wonder if today’s Terror Day — then you have done a Poor Job of showing us otherwise.

I’m not about to romp off to moonbat land, but this doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Who is the bright bulb behind this stunt, anyway?

Do I think the Bush Administration made up a bogus terror alert to get a jump start on the convention? No. Keep your Kool Aid. But they sure are trying to score points off it, aren’t they? Say hello to Laura Bush in the target building’s lobby. Please.

Kerry got no bounceno bounce – from his own convention. If I were advising either Kerry or Bush I’d tell both of them to be quiet and stay away from the cameras. Quit bugging the bejeezus out of everybody. People aren’t voting for in this election, they’re voting against.

A Crime Against Iraqis

Omar at Iraq the Model has an anecdotal report on his country’s opinion of the bombing of four Christian churches over the weekend.

I’ve tried to ask as many Iraqis as I could about their feelings and all Iraqis I met showed anger, contempt and bitterness about what happened but noone gave signs of despair. I’ve watched many reactions on the internet and I found that many people considered what happened an aggression against Christians (and that this is what the terrorists want) while we in Iraq see it as a crime against Iraqis and this reaction is the last thing they want.

As much as these terrorists (not militants) try to make this into a religious war, they’re having a hard time making the rest of us think about it that way.

Terror Alerts

I’m tired of terror alerts.

The government has to warn us if they think something’s afoot, obviously. The very fact that a warning is given at all may deter an attack in the works, especially in cases like the one over the weekend where specific buildings in Washington, New York, and New Jersey were singled out. Any Al Qaeda nut with a blueprint and a bomb is likely to hold off if a red flag is raised.

Still, every time a “false” alert goes out I’m slightly less interested in the next one. That’s just the nature of these things, and there’s not a lot the federal government can do to change that dynamic.

It would help, though, if alerts weren’t raised based on information that precedes the attacks on September 11.

Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday.

Well, doesn’t that just make the government look like an ass. Maybe, just maybe, they might have told everyone that in the first place.

Not only does this sort of thing make most of us shrug off the next warning, it encourages the less stable among us – like Howard Dean for instance – to pop off about “politically motivated” terrorist warnings.

If Howard Dean really thinks terrorist warnings are just thrown out there by the Bush Adminstration to keep all of us hiding under the bed and voting Republican, then Al Qaeda must not be much of a threat after all. And if that’s true, the Bush Adminstration has done a pretty fine job beating it back, wouldn’t you say? I’m sure that’s not the point Howard Dean is trying to make, but it is a logical end point of such thinking.

Meanwhile, John Kerry dismissed Dean’s ravings the way a picnicker treats a fly buzzing around his barbecued chicken.

“I don’t care what he said. I haven’t suggested that and I won’t suggest that,” Kerry said. “I do not hold that opinion. I don’t believe that.”

If John Kerry manages to pull off this election I’ll be interested to see what Dean and his flock will do next. Will they accuse the Kerry Administration of creating a “climate of fear” whenever suspected terrorists are pulled off the streets and when alerts hit the papers?

Thought at the Meridian

Here’s a new blog I discovered today: Thought at the Meridian. It’s written by a guy named Frederick who describes his blog this way:

Politics and culture from a centre-left perspective. Libertarian. Egalitarian. Antitotalitarian.

There’s something there for everyone. Welcome to the blogosphere, Fred.

Garden State

Huh. Dan Drezner is right. This trailer for Zach Braff’s film Garden State is addictive and hypnotic. It’s as much a music video as it is a movie trailer.

Dan watched it over and over again. I didn’t think I would even after I watched it myself. But I do find I’m drawn back to it. The actual movie had better deserve that trailer…

PS – For those who don’t think Dan and I are whacked, here’s another trailer for the same movie. This one is less cool and hip and hypnotic, but it’s also more of a normal trailer and has some actual dialogue in it.

Bad Econ

The economic case against George W. Bush is straightforward, and Matthew Yglesias nails it in three sentences.

Kerry can be maddeningly vague at times, but in a broad sense one knows where he stands — the government should spend more money in a variety of areas in order to try and solve various problems and tax rates should be set at a level adequate to matching those expenditures. An alternative philosophy would hold that tax rates should go down and then spending reduced to bring expenditure in line with revenue. Bush, though, doesn’t hold this latter belief.

There is more to it than that, obviously, but when you boil it all down to essentials that’s basically what we’re left with.

UPDATE: Matt (briefly) responds to my post and makes more good points here.

The Speeches

Okay, so I failed to keep my promise to myself. I did watch at least part of the Democratic Convention. I saw the speeches by both Edwards and Kerry.

Man. There has got to be some buyer’s remorse in the Democratic Party right now. I can still hardly believe they actually picked Kerry. (And I still can’t believe the GOP picked Bush instead of McCain.)

Not only is John Edwards recognizably a human being, he’s also inspiring. He reminds me why I became a Democrat in the first place. He’s upbeat, optimistic, and wants to help people out. Michael Moore he is not. Watching John Edwards after reading some of Moore’s vile screeds is like visiting a political spa. It’s especially nice, considering my views of the peaceniks, to hear Boy Wonder say “We are at war” and “We will destroy you” and hearing the audience erupt with applause. I guess tough-talking Southerners are only “cowboys” if they’re Republicans. Ah, but I knew that all along. It was the liberals and the left who taught me militant anti-fascism. Not the conservatives. It’s been politically fun and convenient to wallow in pacifism lately if you’re a Bush-hater. I’m glad Edwards can make them knock if off for one minute.

John Kerry hurts me. I yelled at him on the TV tonight. (I mean I yelled at my TV, not that my yelling was broadcast on the…oh, you know what I mean.) It annoyed my wife tremendously, but I yell at Bush, Kerry, and hack pundits on the TV so I don’t have to do it here and annoy all of you. (Sorry, Shelly. You hear it so everyone else doesn’t have to.)

John Kerry is a Politician. I’d give him a 50-50 grade on the content of his speech. Only trouble is he’s such a self-contradictory phony parsing his speech isn’t worth any effort. He says he won’t let any nation veto our foreign policy. Excellent. Glad to hear it, John! So what, exactly, was the point of your 18-month whine-fest because Bush more or less stuck to your promise?

Ah, why bother even wading into it that far? It’s only worth arguing with somebody if I have at least a flickering notion they take their own words seriously. Maybe Kerry is serious about not letting Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin veto our foreign policy. I certainly hope so. But how am I supposed to know? I was the intended audience for that line, and of course I know he could be trying to sucker me. Then again, maybe his 18-month whine-fest was a way to sucker the left and maybe it worked.

I do not know. But I do know that I do not like him. It’s a good thing for Kerry he’s running against George W. Bush. Because I can think of plenty of other Republicans who could easily mop the floor with his head.

The Real Iraqi Resistance

Meet the new Iraqi fascism. Same as the old Iraqi fascism.

70 civilians who were going about their day were torn to pieces on the streets of Baghdad today by Michael Moore’s heroes of the so-called Iraqi “resistance.”

He described them this way:

The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow—and they will win.

I know very well what Moore means when he writes the word REVOLUTION. It’s not, you know, a bad thing, especially since he explicitly compares the jihad to the American Revolution. “Minutemen,” my foot. I think Mr. Mike is actually more revolting to me than even Ann Coulter — an impressive feat if that’s what you’re aiming for.

Those bastards running around the country cutting off foreigners’ heads have so far killed a lot more locals than they’ve killed anyone else. Heck, they killed more today than all the foreigners combined since the “resistance” got started. Most of the governments of the West shrug at all this. They’ll change their entire foreign policy regarding that country just to save one of their kidnapped civilians. I understand and respect the impulse. Really, I do. If I were kidnapped I would want my government to do something to save me. But I must say this: if in the process of saving me another country was left to the mercy of murderous totalitarians, the survivor’s guilt wouldn’t be worth it. I don’t want someone else’s country getting enslaved on my account.

Because that’s what these jihadists want to do – clear out the foreigners so they can stomp their boots on the locals. Shouldn’t that be obvious by now? They have already turned their knives, guns, and bombs onto the local population. The taped beheadings are more sensational, but less instructive.

There is no “resistance” in Iraq except that of the brave Iraqis who pick up rifles and face the jihadists.

UPDATE: Iraqi blogger Omar at Iraq the Model has a lot more to say on this subject. Hang in there, Omar. We’re still pulling for you over here.

What if Kerry Wins?

Dean Esmay has an important question for conservatives to think long and hard about.

Left Schism

One benefit of a John Kerry victory over George W. Bush is that liberals and radical leftists will no longer have a common “enemy.” They will stop pretending for tactical reasons they have anything meaningful in common.

KerryBushHitler.jpg

I’m still waiting for the liberals to kick these jerks in the ass. But it’s not going to happen with George W. in power. That by itself isn’t reason enough to vote for John Kerry, but it is one variable in the equation.

Hat tip: Centerfield.

Great Convention Blogging

I said I was going to tune out the Democratic Convention, mostly for my own good, and that’s pretty much what I’ve done so far. But, see, my friend Matt Welch is blogging it for Reason magazine, and I read Matt’s stuff because he’s good and because I like him. So I ended up getting stuck following the convention anyway. And that’s okay because Matt’s stuff is great. It transcends its convention-ness.

Oh, and Tim Blair is helping him out. He’s wicked funny as usual.

Go read.

Kerry: Stop Genocide in Sudan

So far, the supposedly anti-war candidate John Kerry has articulated the most forceful position yet against genocide in Sudan.

I believe in the value of American leadership in the world. Today, a massive humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Darfur, Sudan, where 300,000 people or more may die in the coming months. This administration must stop equivocating. These government sponsored atrocities should be called by their rightful name — genocide.

The government of Sudan and the people of Darfur must understand that America stands prepared to act, in concert with our allies and the UN, to prevent the further loss of innocent lives. The United States must lead the UN Security Council in sanctioning the planners and perpetrators of genocide and authorizing an international humanitarian intervention.

It’s probably a bit much to assume the United Nations would sanction a humanitarian intervention anywhere at any time. The UN did nothing to prevent Bosnian and Kosovo Muslims from being massacred by the hundreds of thousands at the hands of Slobo’s regime in Belgrade. The Clinton Administration, after several years of dithering, finally had to tell the UN to stuff itself and intervene “unilaterally” without even trying to get Security Council authorization to intervene. I expect Kerry would have to do something similar if he wins and gets serious about stopping genocide in Sudan or in any other place (Syria and Iran anybody?) ruled by tyrants who deserve some rough justice.

That would be all to the good. Human rights are incalcuably more important than the sovereignty of a genocidal regime. Besides, an intervention against the Sudanese government would fit rather nicely within the contexts of the Terror War. Sudan harbored Osama bin Laden, after all. Sudan’s absence in the Axis of Evil is either an oversight or a mistake to be corrected. But hey, there’s an opening now that Saddam is in a cage, and if Saudi Arabia isn’t going to fill the void Sudan might as well.

The Arab regime in Khartoum has killed millions of people for the “crime” of being Christian and black, and it continues to do so today, using the janjaweed death squads as spear points. The fact that this regime climbed into bed with the world’s most famous Saudi Arabian Islamofascist should shock no one.

Any government that treats its “own” people this way is at least a potential threat to nearly everyone else. If the examples of Hitler and Stalin are a little too aged, look no farther back than the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Kudos to John Kerry for taking a stand while most of the world shrugs.

Hat tip: Harry’s Place

UPDATE: I’ve been corrected in the comments. Most of the people killed by the Sudanese regime have been Christian or animist, but the black Sudanese in the Darfur region are actually Muslim. I’ve read quite a bit about what went on in the south, and assumed a similar story was taking place elsewhere. Sorry for goofing it.

It’s genocide in any case, and as far as I’m concerned the particular ethnic faultline is irrelevant. The fact that genocide occurs against anyone for any reason is all that matters.

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