Monday, January 31, 2005

The people of Iraq have spoken

We, too, born to freedom, and believing in freedom, are willing to fight to maintain freedom. We, and all others who believe as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on receiving the degree of Doctor of Civil Law from Oxford University, June 19, 1941

Millions of Iraqi citizens demonstrated their position on democracy and freedom yesterday, braving threats of car bombs, mortar attacks, and outright murder to travel - on foot - to polling centers across the country.

At present, precise turnout figures for the 14 million eligible Iraqi voters are unavailable, but the Associated Press reports that election officials said the turnout was higher than the anticipated 57 percent. That means that at least 8 million Iraqi citizens ignored not only the threats to their lives made by "freedom fighters," but also the messages sent by the insurgencies leaders.

"We declare a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it," Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said in a Jan. 23 Internet recording. "Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion, [and that] is against the Rule of God."

Osama bin Laden declared that anyone who took part in the Iraqi elections "are apostates who should not be prayed over upon their deaths. They cannot inherit, and they must not be inherited from [after their deaths]. Their wives are divorced from them, and they must not be buried in Muslim cemeteries."

These leaders of the violent anti-American faction in Iraq - who have been called insurgents, freedom fighters, rebels, terrorists - have been disavowed by the citizens of Iraq. Regardless of the long struggle ahead required to nurture a democratic Iraq into stability, the people have spoken: theirs is a love of freedom, not fascism. No longer can bin Laden and Zarqawi be considered the heads of the "populist resistance" or the "minutemen" of Iraq. Instead, the people’s overwhelming support for the democratic elections has cast them into a very different - and much more accurate - light: they are terrorists.

Not grassroots organizers of a movement against American imperialism, not the voice of the people who want to throw off the yoke of American expansionism. Their goals are diametrically opposed to the goals of the Iraqi people.

And yet, there are still those who refuse to see the success of the Iraqi elections for what it is. Writers on our own shores feel the need to trivialize what so many Iraqis risked life and limb to accomplish yesterday, to turn it into yet another machination of the Big Bad Bush conspiracy theory.

Take The Nation's John Nichols, for example. In this article, he claims that the entire election has been a "charade." To wit:

That democracy has been denied in Iraq is beyond question. The charade of an election, played out against a backdrop of violence so unchecked that a substantial portion of the electorate-- particularly Sunni Muslims--avoided the polls for reasons of personal safety, featuring candidates who dared not speak their names and characterized by a debate so stilted that the electorate did not know who or what it is electing.

Nichols, of course, ignores the fact that an amazing number of Iraqi voters did turn out for the election, and in doing so slights the risks that they took in order to cast their vote for democracy.

A brief tour through the comments sections of the Democratic Underground reveals even more unconscionable defeatism (however, you've got to be fast, since site moderators are quick to delete "embarrassing" comments or anything from the "opposition"). Thanks to Instapundit for the tip.

For some, no outcome in Iraq will ever be good enough, and no step taken by the current administration will be above reproach.

But in the end, the crying and gnashing of teeth from the western left will amount only to a heap of wasted words and hot air, since the Iraqis themselves have told the world what they want. Every Iraqi citizen with a finger stained in indelible purple ink has stood up against the glorified insurgents and spoken in support of a new era of freedom in Iraq - freedom that has been a direct result of the United States' willingness to give people the ability to rise from their knees and shake off tyranny.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Seymour Hersh - the Sluggard's Bob Woodward

It always warms my heart to hear the rantings of someone who's become so caught up in their own notoriety that they've become unable to say anything coherent.

Take Pulitzer Prize-winning "journalist" Seymour Hersh, who appeared on a Democracy Now! radio broadcast, raving about how the United States has been taken over by cultists.

Hersh never fails to disappoint, at least not when it comes to packing as much bias, innuendo, and uncheckable "facts" into his articles. The radio interview - it's really more of a monologue or diatribe - is no different. To wit:

I can tell you one thing. Let's all forget this word 'insurgency'. It's one of the most misleading words of all. Insurgency assumes that we had gone to Iraq and won the war and a group of disgruntled people began to operate against us and we then had to do counter-action against them. That would be an insurgency. We are fighting the people we started the war against. We are fighting the Ba'athists plus nationalists.

This is wrong, of course. The people we began the war against were Iraq and the Iraqi Army and Republican Guard. America won that fight, and now the Iraqi Army and Republican Guard are being retrained and helping the United States in its efforts against Musab al-Zarqawi and his gang of thugs.

Michael Moore would call them "minutemen," but nothing could be further from the truth. Zarqawi, the bin Laden-appointed "prince" of al Qaeda in Iraq, recently had this to say: "We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology... Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion against the rule of God."

It's clear even back here at Fort Knox, Ky., that the war has changed dramatically - shifted gears, so to speak, from a ground war to a house-to-house police action, with occasional flare-ups of activity.

Since Knox is the Army's home of cavalry and armor, the command likes to emphasize the role of the M1-series Abrams main battle tank in the Iraq theater. I spoke about it with the public affairs officer, who wondered what we could do to get more tank photos into the paper. I suggested that it seemed to me that we were past the point where the Abrams would typically be used - namely, making large-front pushes to take over territory.

Tacticians will cite exceptions, of course, and it's true that America's heaviest ground-based weapons platform has been used since operations shifted to counter-insurgency. But generally speaking, the blitzkrieg mode is over, and now the "war" has changed. It doesn't involve maps of entire countries, with broad red arrows sweeping over hundreds of miles of terrain anymore - instead, major activities are establishing security and stability.

What I'm getting at is that we're no longer at war with Iraq - we're at war with Zarqawi and those others who would seek to prevent democracy from taking root in a country that's been traditionally absolutist. I think it's crucial that when the word "war" is thrown around vis a vis operations in Iraq that this distinction is understood implicitly.

So back to our friend Hersh and his desire to eliminate the usage of the word "insurgents" when it comes to who we’re fighting in Iraq. Since the blitzkrieg is over, and we’re finished fighting the nation of Iraq, and since the only Iraq that exists right now is the one whose infrastructure is being administrated by the United States, and since we’re fighting groups that seek to drive the United States out of Iraq, I’d say that by Hersh’s own definition of the word, we are fighting insurgents.

Hersh also lists a couple "facts" in his Democracy Now! interview:

On the other hand, the facts -- there are some facts. We can’t win this war. We can do what he's doing. We can bomb them into the stone ages.

Characteristic. To Hersh, "facts" are just whatever things he happens to believe.

And I’d venture to guess that it’s the same impulse that leads people to believe Hersh whenever he says anything: he makes statements that are convenient to believe if you’re in the Evil Government Conspiracy camp, so there’s no sense in checking facts – we wouldn’t want to weaken our belief system, would we?

Basically, Hersh is attractive to those who feel the need to believe in a dark corporate/cultists conspiracy that’s taking over our country. As Max Boot said in this commentary in the L.A. Times, speaking on comparisons of Hersh to Bob Woodward:

Hersh, on the other hand, is the journalistic equivalent of Oliver Stone: a hard-left zealot who subscribes to the old counterculture conceit that a deep, dark conspiracy is running the U.S. government. In the 1960s the boogeyman was
the ‘military- industrial complex.’ Now it's the ‘neoconservatives.’ ‘They overran the bureaucracy, they overran the Congress, they overran the press, and they overran the military!’ Hersh ranted at UC Berkeley on Oct. 8, 2004.

See, life is more exciting if there’s a Big Bad Wolf to be looking out for... and it’s also more convenient. When all problems can be blamed on a "neoconservative cabal" that’s overrun the government, well, not only can we group everyone who disagrees with us into that disparaging category, we can also paint ourselves to be the downtrodden and repressed – definitely an advantageous position to whine from.

And this mentality is by no means confined to Sy Hersh and his disciples. If I hear the words "librul media’s agenda" one more time, I can’t promise I’ll be able to keep from becoming violent.

As I said, people create these groupings because it’s convenient. The only reason the word "agenda" exists in terms of politics is because of laziness.

Okay, that’s definitely enough for now. Stay tuned!


Friday, January 14, 2005

Geneva Conventions?

Hah... some perspective on the torture vs. Geneva Conventions debate from ScrappleFace:

Bin Laden Seeks Geneva Ruling on Beheadings

by Scott Ott

(2005-01-07) -- Al Qaeda chief executive Usama bin Laden today requested a formal ruling from the U.N. Human Rights Commission on how to conduct beheadings of civilian and military prisoners in ways that comply with the Geneva Conventions.

"Al Qaeda seeks the global credibility that comes only from adherence to the Geneva Conventions," Mr. Bin Laden wrote. "Specifically we want to know what kind of cutlery is permissible, guidelines for videotaping the beheading and any advice about dealing with crowds as they burn, hang and mutilate the corpses of the infidels."

Sen. Ted Kennedy, on the day after he sharply questioned Attorney General nominee
Alberto Gonzales, welcomed Mr. Bin Laden's gesture and suggested that the Bush administration would "do well to emulate Al Qaeda's respect for international protocols on prisoner treatment."

Flushing the Mets' budget

Hey folks. Again, I've neglected this blog in favor of insanity at work and the occasional screed on the tBlog site.

In any case, here's the sports commentary I did for this week's Turret.

The Mets are Flushing their payroll

In the great city of New York, right in downtown Queens at the foot of Long Island, there’s a place called Flushing. It’s a bit ironic, because the name is also a good word for what the township’s Major League team, the New York Mets, are doing to their payroll: flushing it down the toilet.

Their first great move this off-season was to sign Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez. When it happened, I questioned his ability to pass the physical examination administered by the Mets’ new doctor. Apparently, the $52 million they signed him for spoke louder than the bum shoulder that’s kept him off as much as on the active roster for the past several years.

If Martinez does anything worthwhile for the Mets, I’ll eat my beret. It isn’t going to happen.
Weighing in with a hefty seven year, $119 million contract is the former Astros center fielder Carlos Beltran, who’s getting a signing bonus of $11 million.

"I hope Houston fans understand, because I’m very grateful to them," Beltran told ESPN.
I almost got coffee up my nose when I read that today. Sure, Carlos. You sound grateful. Just not THAT grateful, right?

I guess being the toast of the town in Houston isn’t quite as valuable as being the tenth player ever to be worth over $100 million.

Beltran is also pegged to be the "face of the Mets" from now on... whatever that means.

But Beltran and old Pedro aren’t the only newcomers to the greater New York City area.

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson is moving to the Bronx. This is probably much more upsetting for Red Sox fans than it is for me, but I find it worth noting that Johnson – who looks a bit like a country boy who’s just found himself in the Big City – is already running into "fitting in" problems.

On his way to a physical required for the trade, he grabbed the lens of a photographer who was taking his photo on a downtown Gotham sidewalk.

But we’ve got plenty of time to think about baseball. Right now, it’s really time to think about the NFL playoffs, right?

In the shocking and appalling section, we’ve got the Vikings’ Randy Moss being held to the flames over an end zone stunt in which he pretended to "moon" the audience. He’s probably going to receive a $5,000 fine, which is a little steep considering the fact that he didn’t actually do anything.

But of course, when you consider the fact that he’s making $5 million this season, I suppose it’s not a big deal.

So far, the Vikings have crushed Green Bay, the Colts humiliated the Broncos, and the Jets will be heading to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers this Sunday. Meanwhile, I predict Peyton Manning will take the Colts to New England, where they’ll suffer a withering defeat.
Happy playoffs!