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|Needless Commentary from Small-Town America|
The Weblog at The View from the Core - Monday, December 15, 2003
Seven Hundred and Seventy-One
Spams so far since last Tuesday.
Down from last week's Eight Hundred and Twenty-Two.
At Least One Cynic?
Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode XLVI
This column, Faithful Reader, in today's Des Moines Register, is way too good to pass by.
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Borsellino: At least one cynic remains amid those cheering the capture
The phone rang about 5:30 Sunday morning. It was my friend Kim calling to let us know they'd caught Saddam Hussein. She sounded pumped, excited. Finally some good news out of Iraq.
I wasn't convinced. I hung up, turned on the TV, and the cynicism kicked in.
Are they toying with us again, lying like they did about the weapons of mass destruction and the Iraq-9/11 connection?
Can we believe them when they say it's Saddam Hussein, or did they dress up one of his look-alikes?
Did they really catch him now or were they holding him until Sunday morning so the Bush team could do the talk-show circuit?
Is this just one big stunt to raise Bush's poll numbers?
It's gotten to that point with me. I've been burned a few times and now I just don't believe these guys. It's not a particularly good feeling, but I know I'm not alone. I've talked to a lot of people who feel the same way.
Back in the summer, a friend admitted that she was actually taking comfort from the terrible news coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan. She'd hear about explosions, ambushes, the killing of U.N. officials, pro-American Iraqis, innocent children, and she was saddened by the deaths. But ultimately she thought it was a good thing. She'd thought that enough bloodshed and disaster would create a movement in this country, a demand to get our people home and save some lives. Maybe enough death would wake folks up to the fact that we have no business running around the globe killing people.
She felt terrible. As an American - someone who genuinely loves this country - she was horrified at her own reaction, embarrassed.
And she's not alone, but it's not the kind of thing people feel comfortable discussing.
So how do you get at the truth on something like this?
There's no problem finding folks who will tell you this is a wonderful thing. Folks like Doug Reichardt, who was having his Sunday-morning coffee at Zanzibar's and going on about how "this is a great day for America. We have caught a brutal dictator who raped and pillaged the men and women of his country."
That reaction is standard. You could find that anywhere.
But we've got something unique around here. A perspective you can't find in other states. Not yet.
I went by the various presidential campaign offices to talk with the workers, the people who have a vested interest in this kind of development. I made the rounds.
The Edwards office was locked and dark. So was the Kucinich office. Kerry's place was open and busy, but nobody wanted to talk. They couldn't. They might say something that would reflect poorly on their guy. Any statements would have to come from the press secretary.
I didn't want the party line. I wanted gut feelings, an honest response about what this means on the political front.
I went down the street to the Dean office and got pretty much the same thing. Nobody wanted to even talk on background, off the record. No schmoozing. Not even a wink and a nod. This is too delicate a subject at a time like this. But they did have a prepared statement from their guy.
I said thanks and headed out to West Des Moines to the Gephardt office.
His press guy, Bill Burton, sounded a lot like Doug Reichardt.
Said Burton: "This is a great thing. It makes the world a safer place and it makes the U.S. stronger."
But this helps the president. Doesn't this hurt your candidate?
"Not at all. The capture of Saddam is not enough to paper over the president's miserable record on the economy."
That's about as cynical as it got Sunday - a day when folks were trying to convince themselves that the capture of Saddam Hussein will be a defining moment.
I'm still not there.
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Mr. Borsellino, wherever you are: I think I'd feel much safer if you'd just stay right there.
P.S. David Hogberg skewers Borsellino and his editorial, at The American Spectator, Dec. 18:
.... It was certainly cynical, and also uninformed, paranoid, deceitful, and cowardly....
The Breaking Point and Beyond
Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode XLV
In another case of
This is the seventh time I've started and restarted this essay. It's about the war in Iraq, and it's the last thing I want to write about. Like most Americans, I want to believe that the war was/is necessary even though every reason given for it has turned out to be untrue. I want to believe that we are liberators, not occupiers. Good guys, not bad guys. I want to believe there is a way out of this that makes the world a better place than it was before.
And so, like most Americans, I keep quiet. I read the headlines but not the stories. I resist understanding the difference between Shiites and Sunnis. I can spell Tikrit and Mosul, but I refuse to remember which city is sympathetic to Saddam and which is not. I am the new antiwar protester. I carry angst, not placards. I march down the aisles of Wal-Mart, not down the streets of America. I am Hamlet, deciding whether to be or not to be, deciding nothing....
Now, a sweet letter to the editor in The Oregonian, today, from Edgar T. Numrich, Oswego:
With seemingly everyone, including Howard Dean, rushing to acclaim the capture of Saddam Hussein, it must not be forgotten that America was led there by lies and deception by President Bush.
We went to war in Iraq because of its weapons of mass destruction whether nuclear, chemical, or biological and reputed efforts to buy fissionable material from Niger. These rationales were promoted before the United Nations, in the State of the Union speech, and before congressional committees.
None of these reasons has proved to be legitimate. Yet, much of America applauds.
Any celebration of Saddam's capture must be tempered by the fact that America's leadership just doesn't get the fact that the people of the Middle East don't think like we do, nor are they going to just because our leadership wants to spray-paint democracy in the desert sand.
Saddam Hussein rose to power and brutal control by exploiting the historic differences among the "Iraqi" people. Others likely will follow him, in time.
No opponent of George W. Bush in 2004 will carry the day unless the president's attitude of "My way, or the highway," together with his blatant lying, environmental manipulation and fiscal Monopoly, are debunked in the eyes and hearts of America's voters.
So far, that person has yet to come forward, and too many Americans just want to look the other way. Meanwhile, none of us should luxuriate in finding a tyrant in a hole as some latest version of "Mission Accomplished." Our troops are still dying over there.
And a letter to the editor in The Globe & Mail (a Canadian newspaper), from Ronald O. Richards, Los Angeles:
The capture of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein does nothing to change the fact that he was no threat to the United States, that he had no weapons of mass destruction, that his brutal regime was for years supported and armed by the United States and that the government of President George W. Bush out and out lied to the American people about the reasons for going to war.
It does nothing to change the fact that Mr. Bush went to war in violation of international law, and that Mr. Bush, as a result of this, is as much of a war criminal as Mr. Hussein, former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, and other such thugs who trample on international law as they attempt to goosestep their way toward geopolitical domination.
If Mr. Hussein is put on trial, then the trials of Mr. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Joseph Lieberman and other supporters of this illegal war of aggression should follow in short order.
Finally, comments from the Democratic candidates for president, courtesy of NYT today.
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CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN The capture of Saddam Hussein is good news for the people of Iraq and the world. But it does not change the fact that our troops remain in harm's way, and we are no closer to bringing them home.
WESLEY K. CLARK I could not be prouder of the men and women of the U.S. armed forces for capturing this horrible despot. This is a testament to their courage and determination. I'd also like to congratulate Lieutenant General Sanchez and the intelligence community for the crucial role they played. We've been due good news from Iraq, and the world is a safer and better place now that he is in custody.
HOWARD DEAN This is a great day of pride in the American military, a great day for the Iraqis, a great day for the American people and, frankly, a great day for the administration. This is a day to celebrate the fact that Saddam's been caught. We'll have to wait to see what happens to the campaign later.
JOHN EDWARDS Our military leaders have accomplished a great success. I hope President Bush will use this opportunity to chart a course in Iraq that will bring in our allies in a meaningful way to achieve a democratic and peaceful Iraq.
RICHARD A. GEPHARDT It's a great day for our troops, for this administration, for the people of Iraq. My hope is that this will decrease the violence our troops will have to face.
JOHN KERRY If we had done this with a sufficient number of troops, if we had done this in a globalized way, if we had brought more people to the table, we might have caught Saddam Hussein sooner. We might have had less loss of life. We would be in a stronger position today with respect to what we're doing.
DENNIS J. KUCINICH With the capture of Saddam Hussein, the administration's stated goal of removing him from power has been accomplished. The United States must seize this moment and end the occupation of Iraq.
JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN On the question that we're celebrating today, Howard Dean throughout this campaign has said he wasn't sure that Saddam really represented a threat to us. At one point he said, "I suppose the Iraqis are better off with Saddam Hussein gone." I would say this, and this is a choice the voters have to make in the primaries. If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would be in power today, not in prison.
AL SHARPTON Now that they have achieved the capture of Hussein, they should appeal to the U.N. to come in with a multilateral redevelopment plan. This is all the more reason this war should come to an immediate end.
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Wow. Some of them actually make good sense.
"Joy to the World"
Wise words from Peggy Noonan, at OpinionJournal yesterday, on the Capture of Saddam Hussein:
.... What do we learn? Well, as Samuel Johnson said, "Man needs more to be reminded than instructed," so what are we reminded of through the happy ending of this story?
That human agency works and is an active force in history. You don't have to sit back and accept; you don't have to continue to turn a blind eye; you don't have to sit and do nothing, because all action involves choice and all choice invites repercussion. You can move forward. You can take action. You can go in and remove a threat to the world. You can make the world safer. You can help people. Just because they live in Iraq and we don't bump into them every day doesn't mean they don't merit assistance and even sacrifice.
We are reminded, all of us, that patience is necessary, that nothing big can be accomplished without it. America and Iraq searched day and night for Saddam Hussein for eight months. And for some time they searched for a man half of them thought had already been obliterated in the early days of the war. But they didn't know and they had to find him if he was alive. They had to find him even if he was surrounded by a thousand troops and explosives. So there was their patience, and there was the patience of Washington: political patience. If he's there, we will find him. The administration's foes had attempted to embarrass them for eight months. The administration simply said: If he's there, we will find him; we won't give up until we do. Good for them for not spinning it but simply having faith in the troops and being patient.
And we are reminded that when you do what is right, you can be rewarded. When you summon the guts to take a controversial stand, and accept the price of that stand, and the price comes in every day, you can win. And that victory can make things better....
Ten Days Until ---------
Columns from America, Canada, and Britain.
From Jon Ham in the Durham Herald-Sun, Dec. 11:
.... Using the word Christ seems to be completely out of bounds for us these days. I watched a rerun of a "Friends" episode last week in which Ross wanted to teach his "half-Jewish" son about Chanuka. So while he taught him "The Dredle Song" and explained the "Festival of Lights," his "Christmas" education consisted of Chandler dressing as Santa. No discussion of Mary or Joseph and the Baby Jesus. Just Santa.
The stripping of Jesus from the celebration of Christmas is a result of the same pressures that have turned Thanksgiving into a national guilt fest. The ACLU and others who claim the "separation of church and state" means that religion should be banished from every corner of American public life, have forced the sterilization of Christmas as well. Schools now have "winter holidays" instead of Christmas holidays, just like we have "spring holidays" rather than Easter holidays.
Our public celebration of Christmas these days has more in common with the Druids than it does the Christians. Worship your tree but for goodness sake don't celebrate the birth of Jesus....
And from Dave Ryan in the Calgary Sun, Dec. 10:
It's that time of year again when everyone is made to feel guilty for uttering that offensive phrase "Merry Christmas." ....
Renaming Christmas probably causes me to ice over more than any other politically correct song and dance we are expected to do these days.
Unlike countries that do not uphold religious freedom, Canadians are not forced to practise a religion. Canada is a country where we accept different beliefs with tolerance. Forcing those who celebrate Christmas to be politically correct is not tolerant.
Canadians are not offended the rest of the year when they reap the rewards of living in a free and democratic society founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Why would they be offended when these principles are celebrated at the end of every year?...
And from Katie Grant in The Scotsman, Dec. 8:
.... Whether our secular leaders like it or not, Britain is a Christian country, because Christian belief has underpinned all the societal developments of which we are proud (education, charity, individual conscience) and some of which we are not proud (intolerance, bigotry, arrogance). It would be nice to get rid of the latter, but we cannot do this by pretending that Christianity never existed. It will be achieved only by learning more about it and how to express it in its best form so that everybody, not just those brought up as Christians, can have some understanding of what the whole thing is about.
It is a load of bilge to suggest that because Britain is now a multicultural society, it is only polite for Christianity to fade away. Equally, just because it is 2,000 years old, it is nonsense to suggest the Christian faith has somehow run out of steam and is, you’ve guessed it, "irrelevant to our modern lives". Great faiths do not run out of steam. They are never irrelevant.
How old do all Christianity’s detractors think Hinduism is? Or Buddhism? They wouldn’t dare be dismissive of these religions for fear of being branded "insulting". Well, as a Christian, I feel insulted. I have the greatest respect for other faiths. I just wish that our leaders had more respect for mine....
I'm sure somebody, somewhere, thinks all this is so much hate speech.
Hollywood and the Reasonable Liberal
Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode XLIV
Brent Bozell takes a look at Hollywood's Vacuumheads, at TownHall, Dec. 5:
.... Let's recall a few ridiculous snippets of the Hollywood left's geopolitical genius:
1. In an HBO interview with Bob Costas, filmmaker Michael Moore insisted that Osama bin Laden is currently being hidden by the U.S. government: "He's back living with his sponsors (in Saudi Arabia) ... I think our government knows where he is, and I don't think we're going to be capturing him or killing him anytime soon."
2. In an MSNBC interview before the war, actress Janeane Garofalo was asked who was more of a threat to world peace, President Bush or Saddam Hussein. She found no moral difference between them: "They are both very threatening to world peace, and to deny that is to be incredibly naive." In August, as she guest-hosted on CNN, filling in for Begala (and how appropriate was that!), she asserted that "Team Bush is more radically corrupt than Richard Nixon ever tried to be ... It is, in fact, a conspiracy of the 43rd Reich."
3. In the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, actor Sean Penn suggests Britney Spears should reconsider her words of support for President Bush, since the war was waged only for "3,000 white elderly males!" (Which ones? Who knows? Who cares?)
Not since the 1992 campaign has Hollywood been so eager to enter the political arena. The difference between then and now is that in '92, Hollywood's liberals were comprehensible; the crowd grabbing the headlines today astounds in its ignorance....
Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode XLIII
Daniel Henninger notes, at OpinionJournal, Dec. 5, a trend among the Democrats:
.... The Medicare fight was revealing. The federal prescription drug benefit for the elderly has for years been the great white whale of the party's Ahabs. But then the Republicans put the blood of competition in the water, proposing that private insurers' plans be allowed to "compete" with Medicare. Compete? Eeeek!
The Democrats tried to blow up the bill, including the drug benefit, to avoid exposing Medicare to the softest breeze of "competition." Even the traditional Democratic motif of competition with regulatory restraints was unacceptable. When the private-sector clause passed, Sen. Hillary Clinton said, "The needs of people are trumped in this town time and time again by interests who have money."
Any given issue can toss up dire rhetoric like that, but the Democrats' impulse to fence off their--and our--world from competitive forces has become reflexive.
The public schools are now shrines to the new non-compete doctrine. Neither the schools, their teachers, their unions nor custodians may ever be exposed to competitors, even those who have virtually no money, such as the nation's financially strapped Catholic schools. The party and teachers unions have spent millions ("interests who have money"?) to thwart even pilot alternatives. The Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C., broke ranks to support a choice plan for the District's collapsed, non compos mentis school system, and has been vilified for it by the no-compete crowd. (Mayor Anthony Williams' support for a voucher system along with that of many black D.C. parents suggest there are Democratic outliers who do want the chance to compete.) ....
"Vegan Computer Geeks For Dean"
Democrats in Self-Destruct Mode XLII
THE COVER STORY in this week's New York Times magazine described Howard Dean's hardcore support as consisting primarily of impotent nosepickers hoping to make some friends and unsuccessful auditioners for Gap commercials. That is to say, the followers (as opposed to leaders) of tomorrow.
Their passion for Dean was aptly summarized by 24-year-old Lauren Popper – the "official representative" at a Dean campaign office one particular night. Though she "broke into tears several times while trying to explain" the allure of the Dean campaign, Popper managed to convey that she was first attracted to Dean based on his policy of having a state social worker visit every new mother in Vermont (not to be confused with the Arkansas policy from the 1980s in which the governor would visit every woman who was hoping to become pregnant). Not that I'm trying to privatize anything here, but in my home state of Connecticut, a new mother is traditionally visited by her own mother.
Popper added that Dean's becoming president was "a side effect" of the Dean campaign. Cold comfort to the candidate, I imagine. Rather, she said: "This campaign is about allowing people to come together and tell their life stories."
With quotes like that, it's not going to be easy to tone down the Republicans' overconfidence in the coming presidential campaign. But lately I've noticed that a lot of Democrats are comparing inevitable nominee Howard Dean to George McGovern and wearily predicting a landslide for Bush. That's not the fighting spirit we expect from the party that will go to the smallest town in North Dakota to remove the Ten Commandments!...
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