WHOSE SIDE ARE THEY ON?

Congressman Jim McDermott has just accused president Bush of wilfully lying to the American people about national security threats from Saddam or Al Qaeda. He said this not on the floor of the House or in his district – but in Baghdad, the capital city of a despot who is on the brink of war with the United States. At a time when the U.S. government is attempting some high-level diplomatic maneuvers in the U.N., when Saddam is desperate for any propaganda ploy he can muster, these useful idiots play his game. I think what we’re seeing now is the hard-core base of the Democratic Party showing its true colors, and those colors, having flirted with irrelevance and then insouciance are now perilously close to treason. Here’s a section of the New York Times story on these people:

Speaking of the administration, Mr. McDermott said, “I believe that sometimes they give out misinformation.” Then he added: “It would not surprise me if they came up with some information that is not provable, and they’ve shifted. First they said it was Al Qaeda, then they said it was weapons of mass destruction. Now they’re going back and saying it’s Al Qaeda again.” When pressed for evidence about whether President Bush had lied, Mr. McDermott said, “I think the president would mislead the American people.”

So at a crucial juncture in American diplomacy, this Democrat is saying that Bush is a liar and a cheat – and in Baghdad! The only word for this is vile. Then there’s David Bonior, formerly second-ranking Democrat in the House, who said the following: “We’ve got to move forward in a way that’s fair and impartial. That means not having the United States or the Iraqis dictate the rules to these inspections.” Let’s be clear here. This guy is saying that we should be neutral between the demands of the United States and Iraq over weapons inspections. Neutral. Between his own country and a vicious military despot with weapons of mass destruction, Bonior cautions neutrality. It seems to me that in the coming elections, this has to be a key issue. Do you want to elect Congressmen who are neutral between Iraq and the U.S. or those who would always put the interests of the U.S. first? Now that the Democrats have upped the ante in this way, I see no reason why the Republicans cannot call them on it.

WHOSE SIDE IS SHE ON?: “But W., who was always the Roman candle and hatchet man in the family, has turned his father’s good manners upside down x97 consulting sparingly, leaving poor Tony Blair to make the case against his foes for him, and treating policy disagreements as personal slights.” – Maureen Dowd. Jay Nordlinger noticed this astonishing slip. For Dowd, Saddam is not a threat to us or his own people. He’s not our foe, he’s the president’s foe. She has so forgotten, if she ever absorbed, the gravity of this crisis that the only thing she can see is petty personal vendettas. Memo to MoDo: stop projecting.

LEDEEN ANSWERS BACK: “And as for that bet, you’re on. I’ll bet you that we get a good, functioning democracy in Iran at a minimum. And if we play our cards well, we should get a decent Iraq, moving toward democracy, and maybe even a decent Palestine, at peace with its neighbors, and committed to being a normal little country, and quite a good Lebanon. Maybe Beirut can regain its nickname, the Paris of the Middle East. And without the more unpleasant aspects of French civilization…” – Michael Ledeen, answering Book Club questioners one after another, in the Book Club today.

UNHITCHED FROM THE LEFT: “As Hitchens looked around him, even in the days after the atrocity, he found something rather different. He found that a deep and lingering hatred of America over-powered some leftists’ objection to mass murder. He found excuses for totalitarian hatred. He saw exactly what Orwell had seen in the leftist intelligentsia of his own time: not simply a passivity in the face of evil, but almost an admiration for it. And he was disgusted. Since those first days of shock, the hard Left has merely redoubled its assault on a free society’s right to self-defense. The endless series of rationalizations, the opposition to any war to fight terror, now the sad and pathetic moral abdication of those who see president Bush as more of a threat to world order and peace than Saddam Hussein – all these responses, under-written by a simpering, barely concealed anti-Semitism, would be enough to turn anyone’s stomach, let alone a good liberal’s. At some point, when you look around and see that this is the quality of one’s ideological allies, you have to break ranks, if only for the sake of personal moral hygiene.” – from my latest column, posted opposite.

GIVE BLAIR THE ISRAEL DOSSIER: Why not make Tony Blair the mediator for a post-Iraq-war attempt to come up with a settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs? For once in my life, I agree with something in the Guardian.

SONTAG AWARD NOMINEE: The anti-war movement is not only misguided, in some of its manifestations, it’s simply obscene.

WHY YOU CAN’T CONTAIN SADDAM: A useful broadside against the latest argument for appeasement.

KRUGMAN WATCH: Interesting dialogue between Robert Novak and Paul Begala on Crossfire last Friday:

NOVAK: Last week, Paul Begala’s “Political Alert” cited Paul Krugman’s “New York Times” column suggesting former Enron executive Thomas White should be fired as secretary of the Army. Krugman’s whole case: an alleged Enron e-mail by White saying, “Close the bigger deal. Hide the loss before the first quarter.” One problem: White says he never wrote that e-mail or even saw it. Krugman’s source was California writer Jason Leopold, who never contacted White. I asked Leopold for a copy of the e-mail. Guess what? No response to my fax or phone call.
BEGALA: Well, you ask me to judge the credibility between Paul Krugman, a professor of economics at Princeton and a distinguished columnist for “The New York Times,” and Thomas White, an executive for disgraced Enron, I know who I’m going with.

How about between Paul Krugman, former advisory board member for disgraced Enron, versus Thomas White?

“FROM HIS OWN LIPS”You can get some truly weird information from the New York Times <a href = website.

THANKS: Last week was our best ever: 230,000 unique visits in seven days.

WHAT THE ANTI-WAR CROWD RISKS

An ultimatum from Saddam.

REPEAT AFTER ME

HE WAS GAY: The New York Times works itself into a pretzel on the sexual orientation of father Mychal Judge, whose spiritual heroism is rightly seen as a shining moment on that terrible day of 9/11:

Many Roman Catholics find in him a positive, indeed shining, example of a priest at a time when the priestly image is suffering from the sexual abuse scandal in the Church. His Irish-American friends celebrate his Irishness. Firefighters across the country have embraced him as the chaplain of chaplains. Another group has publicly sung Father Judge’s praises since his death: gay rights advocates. Some have spoken openly about what they say was his homosexual orientation, and the former New York City fire commissioner, Thomas Von Essen, said that Father Judge had long ago come out to him.

“What they say was his homosexual orientation”? Judge was gay; he told others; many others knew. This is not a debatable matter, even if it offends some people. And why on earth should it offend people? Is it Catholic doctrine now that gay people cannot be heroes and saints? The notion that bearing witness to his orientation is somehow “using” his memory is equally offensive. It was a part of his life and soul. It’s not the only thing, or even the main thing, about his life and work. But it matters. In the current church, where Rome is clearly moving toward a purge of gay priests, the example of this one great gay priest is a severe problem for the reactionaries. Perhaps Judge’s posthumous sanctity will be shown in resisting the forces of darkness and intolerance that are now circling the heart of Rome.

THE TIMES AND POLLS: It’s gotten to the point now that I always check the actual poll when reading the New York Times’ version. This particular story is from the AP, so I’m not sure where the bias lies. But the Times headline is a complete distortion of the poll numbers. The Times’ story reads: ‘Poll: Support For Iraq Action Drops.” The poll itself shows that on the generic question of supporting military action against Iraq, those supporting it numbered 59 percent in June and 64 percent today. Those opposing it dropped from 34 percent to 21 percent. Lies, damned lies, and the New York Times!

SONTAG AWARD NOMINEE

“Soviet-style communism failed, not because it was intrinsically evil but because it was flawed. It allowed too few people to usurp too much power: 21st-century market-capitalism, American-style, will fail for the same reasons.” – Arundhati Roy in the Guardian.

THE DEATH OF THE GAY LEFT

Check out the always-reliable gay reporter and journalist, Rex Wockner, in the current PlanetOut. Rex is no conservative by any means. He just isn’t a lock-step leftist and he’s sick of major gay organizations, like the Leninist and anti-male national Gay Lesbian Task Force, having the gall to claim to represent anything but a fraction of us. Here’s the money quote:

The screeching, dogmatic leftoids who long dominated American gay public discourse are not merely in retreat, they have become mostly irrelevant. Witness the obsolescence of the inflexibly leftist National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), once the dominant force in American gay activism. I was moved to reflect on this by a comment Ann Donahue made in the Oct. 1 Advocate. Ann is the writer and executive producer of the hit TV series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigations.” “It’s interesting to me how people think that if you’re gay, you’re left-wing, and it’s like, ‘No, each one of us is different,'” she said. “I’m still against abortion. … Do you think I’m not for the death penalty?”

As a gay guy with non-leftist convictions, I’ve never felt less alone.

THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM? “Our ability to create democracy, an extraordinarily evolved and delicate balance of political, social, economic and cultural forces that represents several hundred years of Atlanticist European development, is about as great as the ability of your Apple tech support phone rep to teach you in ten minutes how to create your own operating system. Why do we retain such illusions? I suppose we’re prisoners of our extraordinary success with Germany and Japan. What we forget is that each of those countries was utterly, brutally destroyed by its conquerors – in Germany’s case, nearly an entire generation of young German women was raped and millions of other German civilians were killed (read R. Conquest’s latest book on the former); and of course, we nuked Japan. The establishment of democracy in these two postwar regimes was a bizarre fluke that has not been and will not be repeated. If even Argentina can descend so rapidly into economic and political chaos, then what chance is there that Iraq, Iran, Saudi or Syria will become both orderly and democratic in our lifetimes? Fess up, Andrew

would you bet a substantial sum of your retirement funds on such an unlikely outcome? If not, then why on earth should this nation’s policy be predicated on this longshot of all longshots?” – Just one of many stimulating letters in the Book Club today. Don’t miss it. Ledeen will respond again Monday.

GORE AND REVENGE

As usual, a really sharp comment from Virginia Postrel on Gore’s speech. She cites the passage where Gore says

that we ought to be focusing our efforts first and foremost against those who attacked us on September 11th and who have thus far gotten away with it … I don’t think we should allow anything to diminish our focus on the necessity for avenging the 3,000 Americans who were murdered and dismantling the network of terrorists that we know were responsible for it. [Emphasis added.]

Virginia comments:

This is a very interesting way of framing the task at hand: not to prevent future attacks on Americans but to avenge the deaths on September 11. Now there’s no question that many Americans, myself included, have entertained the desire for vengeance. But the only reason to act on that impulse is to make it clear that future attacks will be costly for the attackers. Vengeance for vengeance’s sake is just blood lust. It might feel good, but (leaving aside any humanitarian considerations) it doesn’t solve the fundamental problem. Vengeance may even make matters worse, by escalating blood feuds without eliminating threats. Gore’s pooh-poohing of the administration’s Iraq policy depends in large measure on his definition of the problem. If you want to prevent further attacks, you have to worry about state-sponsored weapons programs. If you just want to get revenge, you don’t.

I think that’s a brilliant insight. In his pathetic attempt to find a way to attack his nemesis, Gore has actually reverted to the kind of bellicose hysteria we usually associate with the far right. In fact, I think Gore’s speech is essentially what happens when a man takes his emotion and tries to find reasons – any reasons – for it. If the Democrats follow him, it will be into a political wilderness.

THE ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACK IN L.A.: More results from AS.com. My reference to an anti-Semitic assault in West Hollywood finally got a report in the L.A. Times and now the Forward. The Forward adds some new details:

Jimmy Delshad, an Iranian Jew and former president of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, which has many Iranian Jewish members, said the two communities have enjoyed a warm relationship. Even so, some Iranian Muslim youngsters have lately fallen under the influence of “Palestinian-like propaganda, which makes Jews responsible for everything,” he said. “Youth – especially at universities, who are very much against Israel and Jews – are very influenced and take things upon themselves,” said Delshad, who added that he believes these misguided youth were not targeting Iranian Jews specifically, but Jews in general.

My italics. Notice how our universities are now becoming incubators for anti-Semitic hate. Another triumph for the pomo-Left.

“A MENACE TO ITSELF AND TO MANKIND”: The Carnegie Endowment’s Anatol Lieven laments the emergence of a radical right-wing clique in combination with a moronic and solipsistic electorate to make America a threat to peace and democracy everywhere. If you want to read an unfettered and clarifying account of what many on the Left now believe, check out his essay in the current London Review of Books. Here’s his equation of today’s Americans with the war-frenzied Germans on the eve of the First World War:

[T]he intense solipsism of [the American] people, its general ignorance of the world beyond America’s shores, coupled with the effects of 11 September, have left tremendous political spaces in which groups possessed by the fantasies and ambitions sketched out here can seek their objectives. Or to put it another way: the great majority of the American people are not nearly as militarist, imperialist or aggressive as their German equivalents in 1914; but most German people in 1914 would at least have been able to find France on a map.

At some point, I’d better get a deeper understanding of why some find American power so deeply deeply frightening. Even to the extent that they’d prefer to uphold the tyranny in Iraq than invoke the forces that could end it. I don’t get it; and perhaps I never will.

WHO ARE YOU CALLING POODLE? An irate reader objects to Tony Blair’s being compared to a certain breed of dog:

While I enjoy the rhetoric – “So-and-so is someone’s poodle” – my poodle, black, seventy pounds and large of fang, is not amused. He asked me to inform you of all the domestic dogs, poodles are the closest to wolves by DNA analysis.

Point taken, ok?