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A Threat

Iraq war opponents of the Bush lied! variety like to cite weapons detective David Kay to bolster their case. His post-invasion report doesn’t ratify what the Bush Administration said before the war.

Here he is in an interview with Tom Brokaw:

TB: Intelligence report says … “Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with range in excess of U.N. restrictions. If left unchecked it probably will have a nuclear weapon within this decade.”

DK: Well, I think it’s got elements that we have certainly seen are true. The area that it’s probably more seriously wrong in is in the nuclear area.

TB: But as you know, the vice president and, to a lesser degree, the president of the United States, raised the nuclear threat as a reason that the United States had to go to war against Iraq.

DK: I think the weight of the evidence — was not great.

But the anti-warriors might not want to make him their poster child just yet.

TB: David, as you know, a lot of the president’s political critics are going to say, “This is clear evidence that he lied to the American people.”

DK: Well, Tom, if we do that, I think we’re really hurting ourselves. Clearly, the intelligence that we went to war on was inaccurate, wrong. We need to understand why that was. I think if anyone was abused by the intelligence it was the president of the United States rather than the other way around.

TB: The president described Iraq as a gathering threat — a gathering danger. Was that an accurate description?

DK: I think that’s a very accurate description.

TB: But an imminent threat to the United States?

DK: Tom, an imminent threat is a political judgment. It’s not a technical judgment. I think Baghdad was actually becoming more dangerous in the last two years than even we realized. Saddam was not controlling the society any longer. In the marketplace of terrorism and of WMD, Iraq well could have been that supplier if the war had not intervened.

There’s more.

TB: But as you know, the administration and its supporters, not just suggest, but insist that there was a real connection between Saddam Hussein and terrorist organizations that would be a threat to the United States.

DK: Look, I found no real connection between WMD and terrorists. What we did find, and as others are investigating it, we found a lot of terrorist groups and individuals that passed through Iraq.

Jihad

Islamist thugs are murdering Buddhist monks in Thailand.

It’s not because Buddhist monks are “colonialist oppressors,” nor is it because Buddhists drive the engine of corporate globalization. And it’s not because Thailand is a superpower that deserves to be brought to heel. Thai Buddhists don’t need to ask “why do they hate us?” It’s because Buddhists are “infidels.” And that’s that.

As Omer Bartov put it this week in The New Republic:

[W]e still do not seem to have learned a simple crucial lesson that Hitler taught us more definitively than anyone else in history: some people, some regimes, some ideologies, some political programs, and, yes, some religious groups, must be taken at their word. Some people mean what they say, and say what they will do, and do what they said.

(Via Exit Zero.)

Martian Crater

NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity sends photos from the inside of an impact crater at Meridiani Planum.

mars_hill

mars_slope

Edwards or Bush

All Democrats All the Time is the new nightly news fixation. (I’ll take it over All Michael Jackson any day.) I’ve spent more time watching Democratic candidates for president on television in the past few days than in the previous two months combined.

John Edwards impresses me. He’s Bill Clinton without the sleaze. (At one point Bill Clinton was also Bill Clinton without the sleaze, but I see no reason to believe Edwards will follow him down.) He’s smart, articulate, decent, and convincing. It helps that my own views line up with his rather nicely. But I also actually like him. I rarely like politicians as people even when I like what they say and do.

It’s also nice that Edwards is the only one, aside from Joe Lieberman, who doesn’t come across like a hectoring leftist. He doesn’t wallow in Bush-hatred, nor does he attack the other candidates. He is optimistic, cheery, and focused on the future instead of the past.

He hardly utters a peep about foreign policy. And I think I know why. His authentic hawkishness is a liability in the primary. Maybe this will change if Joe Lieberman drops out and he can run as the only real liberal hawk in the bunch. But for now he sticks to other subjects. That is probably wise.

He’s not a cipher on foreign policy, though. In September 2002 he wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post about the problem of Saddam Hussein. All hawks should read this and know where he stands. A year and a half later, he’ll still earn my vote for this as long as he doesn’t backpedal.

As for the rest of them:

I don’t particularly like Joe Lieberman. His sanctimonious moralizing is just too much. I’d take him over Bush even so. Not that it matters. He has little chance of winning the primary. He’s a protest vote.

John Kerry, for the most part, is a decent and reasonable man. I don’t loathe him and I doubt I ever could or will. He would be preferable to Bush in many ways. (The fact that he’s a so-called “Massachusetts liberal” is not a big deal for me.) Still, the only foreign policy ideas I’ve heard from his mouth can be boiled down to Bush lied and Bush was rude to France. I’m not getting behind anyone who thinks that’s a defense policy.

Kerry will earn credibility if he can address this problem seriously. But he needs to convince me in my gut that he can overthrow a tyrant while Europe screams. I don’t think he can do that, but he’s more than welcome to try.

Wesley Clark is just bizarre. He seems to be trying to prove he is a Democrat, but he comes across as a man who is conforming to a caricature because he doesn’t know how to be a real one.

Howard Dean is probably toast. I’ve moved on.

Dennis Kucinich is the Pat Buchanan of the Democrats. He doesn’t help the party’s image. But he’s out of the mainstream and can’t do any real damage. I do like the fact that a goofball like him can run for president.

Al Sharpton doesn’t deserve a response.

And so. While subject to change and revision, at this point in time I tentatively support John Edwards for president. Failing an Edwards win the primary, this blog in all likelihood will plug its nose and endorse George W. Bush – for reasons of national security.

Strong arguments for others will be considered. And I reserve the right to flip-flop as needed.

Why I Live in a Red State Now

Sean LaFreniere ably demonstrates just how out of touch George W. Bush is with Americans. He gets foreign policy right but on the rest of it, wow. His agenda is not popular. Yet he still slams every Democrat in the polls.

I think Dick Morris is right. Bush is Churchill. He’s ahead because of the war. (But unlike Churchill, Bush is not going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.)

The Democrats should be able to defeat Bush. But they have to get their act together. They have to be credible. They need to be Tony Blair. They can’t be the British Labor Party in the 30s and 40s.

UPDATE: Roger L. Simon comments.

[N]one of the leading candidates had the slightest interest in dealing with the issue that confronts civilization on an adult level. They didn’t even exhibit the capability.

I Live in a Red State Now

Tim Blair found an interesting Web site that projects the 2004 election using the most up-to-date polls. Looks like a total blowout for Bush.

2004_map.jpg

Metropoliticals

Jeff Jarvis explains what’s up with me, Roger L. Simon, and himself becoming more politically independent.

It makes us all biparty.

It makes us all flexible.

We are metropolitical.

I’ll tell you what I like best about being unattached to either political party. Democracy has more value to me now than it did before. I don’t actually know who I am going to support for president in November. In every previous election, that was unthinkable. I was always against the Republicans, period.

Now I don’t know. In some ways I like the Democrats, and in other ways I like the Republicans. This time around I’ll actually get to decide. I’ll actually make a choice. It isn’t predetermined by anybody, not even myself. Democracy is all about choice, and those who are rigid party supporters don’t get to know what that feels like. I feel more powerful having a choice, like what I say and think actually counts. I can think for myself in ways I only thought I could before. No one feeds me opinions with a spoon. No one I care about insists that since I believe X I must also believe Y. It was lonely for a while, but now it’s nice. I like it. I’m free.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan writes:

Well, I’ve never tried to please everyone with this blog but the torrent of abuse and mockery yesterday because of my criticisms of the SOTU caused me a little grief. According to many Republicans, I’m selling out to the “hard left.” According to some Democrats, I’ve finally seen the light, ha, ha, ha. How about applying principles to changing events and circumstances? It says something about what has happened to the Republican party that supporting fiscal responsibility is now the position of the “hard left.” And it says something about some Democrats that you either have to hate this president or love him unconditionally. Why can’t a grown-up have a complicated position?

You can, Andrew. Grown-ups don’t give you a hard time for it.

The New PC

A few years ago I would have been absolutely certain that an article titled “The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism” would appear in a right-wing magazine. No left-wing magazine would dare touch that.

But The Nation just published it.

Roger L. Simon does a fine job tackling it, and I only want to add one thing.

The Nation is suffused with political correctness. That’s annoying, but I’ll take it any day of the week over the deliberate whitewashing of racism on the rise. Jews just aren’t protected by political correctness anymore. Who would have thought, before September 11, that this would happen? Certainly not me.

Liberals in Iowa

I’ve been awfully hard on the Democrats lately, and the Iowa caucus (or the Iowa Carcass as Tim Blair calls it) has restored a bit of my formerly warm feelings for them.

Those who fear and loathe the left, but who also know they could be a little more understanding, would do themselves a favor by reading the new column by David Brooks in the New York Times.

It takes a great deal of integrity to write about the opposing political party the way David Brooks does it. My hat is off to him. This is great work.

A Friend Makes the Big Time

David Hogberg, an Iowa political blogger who writes Cornfield Commentary, is an old friend of mine. He must have been born conservative. I don’t think I’ve once heard a liberal peep from him. But, hey, he’s a good guy all the same, and he published his first National Review Online piece yesterday. It’s about (who else?) Howard Dean. Congratulations, David!

Remixed Dean

This is just precious.

James Lileks remixes Howard Dean on mp3.

I’ll be impressed, I mean really impressed, if Howard Dean has the cojones to play this song at a rally in New Hampshire and dance to it.

(Via Jeff Jarvis.)

UPDATE: Dean’s Screech as interpreted by Lileks made MTV.

Upset in Iowa

I am very surprised.

Six months ago, I wouldn’t have been. But today I really am.

John Kerry took Iowa. And John Edwards took second place.

Dean trailed a distant third. He earned that.

I’m not a fan of John Kerry’s. I wouldn’t say he’s Dean-lite, but on the most important question of our time, he’s a fish. He flip-flops all over foreign policy. He’s incoherent, indecisive, and I flat-out don’t trust him. Would he stand down a ruthless dictator? I doubt it. And I don’t like that. At all.

John Edwards, though. He came in second. And he isn’t a foreign policy goof. If all the energy spent in the last year on anti-war fervor were spent instead on promoting John Edwards, my entire blog output would have been radically different than it is.

I am not going to try to predict who will ultimately win the Democratic primary. I figured all along it would be Dean, and recently thought it might be Clark.

If it turns out to be Edwards, I will significantly revise my recently revised opinion of the Democratic Party. And if it turns out to be Kerry, I’ll revise it by half.

(My view of radical leftists, however, won’t budge an iota.)

The only thing (at this point) that worries me about an Edwards victory was spelled out last week by Mickey Kaus:

As a non-Bush-hating centrist, I’m suddenly worried that a candidate I like, John Edwards, will win Iowa and the nomination. Why worry? Because Edwards will probably still lose the election, which will enable the hating left-wingers to say “See, you ran another Clinton and he lost.” If the Democrats are going to lose anyway, they might as well run a paleolib hater and let that wing of the party have nobody to blame.

(But you didn’t say if you would vote for John Edwards – ed.) Well, lately I’ve assumed I would have no choice but to split my ticket and vote for Bush and a Democratic Congress. But if it turns out to be Edwards, let’s just say I’ll have to rethink that.

UPDATE: James at Outside the Beltway says, in response to my considering a vote for Edwards:

I wouldn’t go quite that far

Well, I am a registered Democrat. I didn’t vote for Bush last time, and I haven’t exactly been jazzed about voting for him this time either. I’ve defended him against asinine charges, but I’m not his cheerleader.

UPDATE: Nathan Hamm feels more or less the same way I do about this.

UPDATE: Anne Cunningham says me too.

Hate Pundits

There’s an awfully big market these days for cheap political hack screeds. Michael Moore, Michael Savage, and Ann Coulter have all cranked out polarizing polemics against the Bad People.

It looks like Sean Hannity decided to try his hand at the genre.

I hate to review a book by its cover, but look at that title. Deliver us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and…Liberalism?

I’m sure it’s fun to lump dictators, terrorists, and libruls™ together into one happy and convenient evil ball. It’s got to be even more satisfying to ask the Lord to come down and deliver us from such a horror. My far-left friends know all about it. You know – Republicans hate black people, adore Hitler, throw Muslims into concentration camps, and kill Arabs for oil.

From the looks of these books you might think we’re gearing up for our own American version of the Spanish Civil War. It’s the commie-loving Democrats against the jackbooted GOP.

Millions of people buy into this line of thinking. These books are best-sellers.

I admit to not having read Hannity’s book, and perhaps he “clarifies” his position on the evil of liberalism in its pages. He does sit there every weekday for an hour on his Fox News show with his liberal counterpart Alan Colmes. They seem to get along well enough, better than if his co-host were Charles Manson. But he is playing the evil card to get people to buy his book. Right-wing hate works as a sales pitch whether or not that’s what the book is really about.

We are not going to have a civil war. Yet at risk of seeming to undermine that sentence, I do want to say something about this mentality.

Writing off your political opponents as evil isn’t just stupid and rude – it’s only a step away from yearning for tyranny.

Sean Hannity, at least on his cover, equates liberals with dictators and terrorists. And here’s the problem: If you ask me what’s the best way to deal with terrorists and dictators, I’ll tell you straight up to put them in a cage or put them in the ground. Sometimes dictatorships reform themselves under pressure: witness Chile and South Africa. Other times you have to wait them out: See Soviet Union. For the most part, though, as far as I’m concerned, the answer is revolution or invasion. Dictators have no right to exist.

Terrorists? Jail ’em or shoot ’em. That’s it. Negotiating, cutting deals, appeasing, or feeling their pain only enables them.

So if liberals belong in that same nexus of evil…what’s to be done about liberals?

The answer, of course, is nothing. Liberals aren’t evil. They aren’t guilty of treason. Unless Hannity reverses himself in the text, the premise of his book is bogus on its face. He doesn’t mind using hate as a marketing tool either way.

It isn’t nearly good enough to acknowledge that the other political party isn’t evil. In a liberal democracy (there’s that word again) with two major parties, each party, each overall governing philosophy, brings something to the table and gets some things right. They balance. Liberals are the gas, and conservatives are the brakes. (Or is it the other way around this year?) Yin, yang, Venus, Mars, and all that. And each party gets some things flat out wrong. It’s just not possible to split a reasonably healthy political culture into halves and end up with one side completely right and the other side utterly wrong.

If you’re a partisan for one side and you truly believe in your bones that the other side is evil or wrong on all counts, it really does logically follow that you’d prefer a one-party state. If the other party has no merit and causes nothing but trouble, everything would be solved if everyone became a Republican. Or a Democrat. Or whatever. And so democracy, from this point of view, is pointless and even dangerous.

If our hate pundits followed their logic to its conclusion, they would demand that we cancel elections.

Liberal Hawk Watch

Here is a new blog by a fellow left-to-center traveler like myself. And hey, he lives in Portland too. Welcome to the blogosphere, Peter.

Liberal Reconsideration

Two days ago I quoted Thomas Friedman in Slate’s mini-series Liberal Hawks Reconsider the Iraq War.

British liberal Oliver Kamm joins the discussion on his own web log.

I am a liberal; I have reconsidered my support for the war in Iraq; and I have to tell my readers that I was right in every respect.

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