December 30, 2003

Really Important Column

Dave Barry asks a series of penetrating questions for which there are no answers. My favorite:

Can young people wear their pants any lower? Their waistbands are now at approximately knee level. Where will this trend end? The shins? The feet? Will young people eventually detach themselves from their pants altogether and just drag them along behind, connected to their ankles by a belt?

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 11:59 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

The Incumbent’s Advantage

I've never cared much for Dick Morris, but I have to give him credit. This piece in the New York Post makes a lot of sense.

An incumbent president tends to catalyze opposite reactions among the moderates and the extremists in the opposition party. Because he is adopting policies which help the nation and echo the demands of the broad center, he attracts moderates in the other party. But as he pursues the core policies of his own party, he generally triggers greater hostility from the true believers on the other side.

Thus, President Bill Clinton's policies of reforming welfare and balancing the budget attracted moderates among Independents and Republicans. But his position on core Democratic issues like gun control and abortion drove the right-wing extremists crazy.

Characters like Dick Morris are master manipulators. The Democrats, the wingnuts I should say, like the Clinton-haters before them, are letting themselves be played like flutes.
In the Clinton White House, we consciously used this theory to help the right dominate the Republican Party so that the centrists throughout America would vote to re-elect the Democratic president.
Karl Rove is a smart man. I'm sure he consciously uses this, too.

It only works because the leftists (like the right-wingers in the 1990s) go along with it.

angrydean.jpg

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 11:59 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Help Gary Farber

I don't generally link to blogging fundraisers, but I'm going to make an exception today.

Gary Farber is in danger of being evicted. If you're a fan of his blog, as I am, give him a hand. It's still (sort of) Christmas.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 3:54 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

December 29, 2003

Playing Dumb

Howard Dean is pretending to be stupid.

Here he is on the capture of Saddam Hussein:

"If we are safer, how come we lost 10 more troops and raised the safety alert" to the orange level, Dean said Sunday night in Ankeny, Iowa.
I don’t really think he’s that dumb. I could be wrong, perhaps I’m overestimating him. But he’s a successful governor and a doctor. You don’t get that far in life without smarts. What I really think is that Howard Dean thinks his supporters are stupid.

No one could possibly believe the capture of Saddam Hussein would make every single Baathist thug in Iraq lay down his arms and go home. No one could possibly believe that yanking Saddam out of a hole in the ground would make Al Qaeda quit the jihad.

I doubt there’s a single anti-war activist who thinks the hawks believe the Terror War is over all of a sudden. But Howard Dean thinks so and hopes his supporters will find his latest pop-off witty and clever. I think he’s mistaken. “Safer” doesn’t mean “safe,” and everyone knows it.

If George W. Bush said "We got Saddam, the War on Terror is over," then Howard Dean would have a point.

POST-SCRIPT: If, like me, you can't get enough of Howard Dean, check out Jonathan Chait's Diary of a Dean-o-phobe blog at The New Republic. Chait is a Bush-hating liberal who would rather plug away at Howard Dean on a regular basis. Dean just does that to people.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 11:08 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Notes on Iraq

So how goes the quagmire?

In the Washington Times Andrew Apostolou says the Iraqi insurgency is made up almost entirely of Sunni Arab Baathists, and that they most likely will fight to the finish.

It will be a tough slog, but they aren’t likely to win.

[T]he insurgents are probably a minority within a minority. The U.S. military estimates their numbers at around 5,000 men. There are more Sunni Arabs fighting with the coalition in the new Iraqi police force.
Once the insurgents are defeated, and they almost certainly will be, the prospects for a decent future look pretty good.
Asked to choose the form of government Iraq needed now, 90% of those interviewed - in their own homes - said an Iraqi democracy, and overwhelmingly rejected the idea that democracy was only for Westerners and would not work in Iraq.

[W]hen asked to suggest the best thing that could happen in the next year, fewer than 1% said an Islamic government.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 11:03 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Dean Goofs, Clarifies

In an interview with the Concorde Monitor, Howard Dean says a bunch of stuff that later has to be “clarified” on his blog. (Via Daniel Drezner.)

Dean said there was no evidence to suggest the Bush administration's use of force against Iraq had anything to do with Libya's move [to shut down its weapons of mass destruction programs].

"I have no way of knowing whether we could or could not have done it" before the Iraq war, Dean said.

Let me just repeat this quote, since it obviously hasn’t gotten across.

Gaddafi himself said:

I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid.
Case closed.

Back to Howard Dean.

We've had six or eight justifications of why [Bush] went to war in Iraq
Reminding everyone that there is a long list of reasons for going to war in Iraq is a poor strategy for an anti-war campaign.

Here are six or eight justifications, the existence of which do not boost Howard Dean’s position.

1. Saddam Hussein was in violation of the cease-fire agreements that put the 1991 Gulf War on hold by firing at British and American airplanes in the no-fly zones.

2. Saddam Hussein was in violation of more than a dozen UN Security Council resolutions, including one that threatened the use of force if he did not immediatly surrender all relevant documentation to Hans Blix regarding the production of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

3. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator guilty of genocide and other crimes against humanity.

4. Saddam Hussein publicly threatened to finish Hitler’s job by destroying the state of Israel.

5. Saddam Hussein was an obstacle to long-overdue political liberalization and democratization in the Arab Middle East.

6. Saddam Hussein’s support for Palestinian terrorists made a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict impossible.

7. Saddam Hussein was an ongoing threat to Saudi Arabia, and due to Saudi support for Al Qaeda and Islamic fascism generally, the United States was not able to continue protecting the House of Saud indefinitely, nor could the world afford to have Saddam Hussein in control of Saudi oil and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina if we abandoned the Saudis to their fate.

8. In the post-911 era of apocalyptic terrorism, mass-murdering anti-American dictators who align themselves with terrorists and who have produced and deployed the weapons of genocide are too dangerous to be allowed to remain in power.

The Monitor asked: Where should Osama bin Laden be tried if he's caught? Dean said he didn't think it made any difference, and if he were president he would consult with his lawyers for advice on the subject.
Howard Dean needs a whole team of high-priced lawyers to tell him that the mass-murderer of Americans ought to be put on trial in America instead of in France or Saudi Arabia or Micronesia. This reminds me of the time when the first president Bush, while running for re-election, had no idea how much a gallon of milk costs. A president has to be at least slightly in tune with how normal people think and live, and must be able to demonstrate that he doesn’t live on a rarified plane in another dimension.
But wouldn't most Americans feel strongly that bin Laden should be tried in America - and put to death?

"I've resisted pronouncing a sentence before guilt is found," Dean said.

Osama bin Laden admitted to planning the September 11 attacks, then laughed about it on camera.
I still have this old-fashioned notion that even with people like Osama, who is very likely to be found guilty, we should do our best not to, in positions of executive power, not to prejudge jury trials.
Dean issued a clarifying statement on his blog.
I share the outrage of all Americans.
Then why the need to clarify? Bush, Gephardt, and Lieberman never have to issue statements like this.
Osama bin Laden has admitted that he is responsible for killing 3,000 Americans as well as scores of men, women and children around the world.
Then let’s not worry about prejudging jury trials. K?

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:10 AM | Permalink | Comments Off

Our Friends the French

At the request of the United States, France arrested seven men and then released them.

French authorities found nothing to suggest the men had terrorist links.
All seven were on a US terrorist watch list and were scheduled to fly on the same Air France flight from Paris to Los Angeles. An intercepted Al Qaeda email even singled out the flight number.

This isn’t evidence? It’s one heck of a coincidence then. We have their names. The French damn well better hope these guys don’t terrorize someone later.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:04 AM | Permalink | Comments Off

Jeff Jarvis Profiled

Norman Geras profiles Jeff Jarvis:

I called myself a pacifist early in the age of Vietnam and did not change my mind until September 11. There's an old joke that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. A hawk is a pacifist in the foxhole.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:03 AM | Permalink | Comments Off

The Emerging Mainstream

Young people may be more conservative than their elders in some ways, but not in every way.

A new poll has found that 79 percent of all Americans believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military.

In the 18-29 year age range, 91 percent said that gays should be allowed to serve openly. Those aged 30-49, 50-64, and 65 and over were 81, 74, and 68 percent respectively.

Full equality for gay citizens is going to happen.

The anti-gay position is simply disintegrating. Those who don't like it best get used to it. Because when my generation runs the country, equality won't be left-wing, it will be mainstream. (Via Kevin Drum.)

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:02 AM | Permalink | Comments Off
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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