QUOTE OF THE DAY

“May god keep Bush and Allawi, because Bush threw out Saddam and Allawi will give us safety and security.” – Kathem Moula Asim, 75, retired but working as a local guard in the market. The BBC found several Iraqis and asked for their opinions about the new government. They were all positive. If the BBC reports this – they must have scoured Baghdad for hostile quotes – things may be looking up in Iraq.

THE LOOMING REPUBLICAN WAR: The current tussle in the Congress over the budget is just a precursor to what I think will be outright Republican civil war after this election. If Bush wins, it will cripple his ability to get anything done. If he loses, the recriminations will get vicious. The fiscal conservatives will be fighting the “deficits-don’t-matter” crowd. The realists will be out to topple the neocons. The Santorum-Ashcroft axis will continue to wage war on any Republicans not interested in legislating either the Old Testament or the dictates of the Vatican. (The FMA battle now looks more and more like an attempt by Santorum to identify Republican social moderates so he can use primary hardliners to challenge them in the future.) The battle lines are deep and sharp – and the future of American conservatism is at stake. Bush has proven himself unable to unite a party that includes Tom DeLay as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain and Bill Frist. Whether the coming civil war is about who lost the election, or who will exploit the victory, it’s going to be nasty and enduring. No single party can be both for individual liberty and for theologically-based social policy; both for fiscal balance and drunken-sailor spending; both for interventionism abroad and against moralism in foreign policy. The incoherence is just too deep, the tensions too strained. And with the war on terror itself a point of contention among conservatives, geo-politics will not be able to keep the coalition in one piece.

SPONSORED BY NATIONAL REVIEW: The latest monument to Ronald Reagan is unveiled.

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FROM HAMILTON FISH

“Small point, because I think Serra’s drawing is important and was happy he bought the back page of The Nation, but the pleasevote.com site is registered to Richard’s operation and the contact information referring to me is erroneously attributed. Acting on my own, I helped one of his assistants find the site name months ago, and only discovered yesterday when I started getting angry e-mails about the drawing that he had experienced difficulty with the registration process and had left my e-mail in the contact sections.
The Bush Administration is openly stonewalling the torture investigation, the press as usual is asleep, all the while American values abroad are facing their biggest test since My Lai. When a great American artist and patriot expresses his rage via his medium and tries to shake people into realizing what is at stake, I am grateful.” All I have to say is that outrage at Abu Ghraib is something I share. I just don’t think portraying the president as eating the heads of live babies is a decent way of expressing it.

THE LIES OF FAHRENHEIT I: Just one Dowdified quote from Condi Rice.

THE LIES OF FAHRENHEIT II: This one on the Unocal “conspiracy.”

THE LIES OF FAHRENHEIT III: On the Carlyle Group and how the Saudis allegedly bought the Bushes.

SPLENDID ISOLATION

If you want proof that Jacques Chirac would never, ever have acquiesced in the removal of his old buddy, Saddam Hussein, you only have to look at his decision to prevent any NATO cooperation in Iraq, now that sovereignty has been transferred. He has one central plank in his foreign policy: the obstruction of American power. If that means hoping for the failure of Iraqi democracy, so be it. If it means turning a blind eye to terror, so be it. But even Le Monde is beginning to see through his cynicism. Here’s an extract from their editorial today, translated by my France-watcher:

“For the 15 months since the beginning of the American-British [notice avoidance of the Vichy expression “Anglo-American” — translator] intervention in Iraq, Jacques Chirac has been working on the solution to a difficult diplomatic equation: how to maintain his opposition to the war without seeming to be shamefully nostalgic for Saddam Hussein — something the Americans have hinted at on several occasions — and while also fulfilling his obligations as an ally of the US. . . . In Iraq, the United States has two goals: to give international legitimacy to its intervention and to replace a portion of its troops with NATO forces. France has conceded the first point in voting in favor of the recent UN resolutions. France still resists the second, but without having been able to block an involvement susceptible of leading, sooner or later, to the presence of the trans-Atlantic organization in Iraq. This is a rear-guard battle that illustrates Chirac’s dilemma: he must not oppose the reconstruction of a “sovereign” Iraq while at the same time not appearing to give the lie to his own [anti-war] policies. This is also a position of watchful waiting, permitting cooperation with John Kerry, if he wins the Presidential election, and also permitting living with George Bush, if reelected.”

But it’s so nakedly self-interested it’s self-defeating. Chirac is already being isolated within Europe, and is striking out at potential rivals in his own party. He’s a tired, pompous, corrupt hack. Always has been.

WHAT THE MEDIA WON’T BROADCAST: Oh, they’ll find out details of people’s sex lives and sue to publish and broadcast them, and they’ll show endless footage of Abu Ghraib abuses. But terrorist beheadings? Nah. Here’s a classic statement of the journalist elite, from the Los Angeles Times:

“Any news outlet x97 or any private individual, for that matter x97 who makes available footage of the actual beheadings is, to my mind, an accessory to the crime itself,” says Kunkel, dean of journalism at the University of Maryland. “Those are the individuals who are essentially finishing the work of the terrorists, by delivering their grisly ‘message.'”

And why isn’t the broadcasting of the Abu Ghraib abuses also adding to the humiliation of the victims? Remember that the acts occasioned shame (which was, in part, the point) and the shame is immeasurably amplified by repeated broadcasts. I think the answer is that the media will broadcast anything that will embarrass Americans or America. But they will give terrorists a pass. No surprises there, I guess.

A HENDRA ACCUSATION

I don’t know what to make of this. But it’s a painful addendum to a wonderful book.

EMAIL OF THE DAY II

“I could not resist bringing to your attention this delicious little typo-slash-Freudian-slip, from a reader review of “Fahrenheit 9/11” at the NY Times website (to which I was referred by your blog):

‘I was expecting a sloppy, fuzzy, highly manipulated treatment. Instead, Bush Administration damns itself through its own actions, its own words, its own lies…all documented for prosperity.’

Yes, pseudo-proletarian Michael Moore’s prosperity — indeed.”

THE NYT ON MOORE

Check out the reader reviews. I think they’re all five star raves.

PRETTIFYING DERBYSHIRE

Weird event on National Review’s website. John Derbyshire wrote one of his usual posts, celebrating a Scottish bed and breakfast for refusing to give a gay couple a double-bed. He delighted in the fact that someone somewhere was taking a stand against the evils of “oppressive tolerance,” and quoted the piece at some length, especially the owners’ abhorrence of “perversion”. A short time later, his post was truncated to a small blurb; and the quotes from the linked piece removed entirely. Does this mean that NRO actually thinks that celebrations of anti-gay intolerance are not something they want to endorse? But why start now? Derbyshire is on record supporting prejudice – pure prejudice – against gay people, proudly describing himself as a mild homophobe; he supported the abuses at Abu Ghraib with the immortal words “Kick one [a prisoner] for me;” he has proclaimed his refusal to live anywhere where there are large numbers of African-Americans; and on and on. NRO think they can prettify this by the occasional retroactive edit? Here’s the story that warmed Derbyshire’s heart:

Tom Forrest, owner of the bed-and-breakfast accommodation in the Scottish Highlands, where a sometimes stern Presbyterian spirit remains strong, had other ideas.
He would be happy to rent the couple a room with twin beds at the guest house in the village of Kinlochewe, “but we will not condone your perversion” with a double bed, he wrote in an e-mail, the Times newspaper said Wednesday.
Angry at the response, Nock replied by suggesting that Forrest was bigoted.
“Bigot? No. Respect for other guests,” came the reply.
“Homophobic? No, I have no hatred or fear of poofs, etc — I just do not approve of unnatural acts being performed in my home.”
Nock in return asked the Scottish tourism board to remove the guesthouse from a list of recommended accommodation on its website, saying that the prejudice had “depressed” him, the report said.
The tourism board asked the guest house owner to act differently, but he has refused to back down, saying he ran a “respectable” establishment.
“I have had bent people coming to stay, but they have had a twin room and respect our wishes,” Forrest was quoted as saying.

Notice that it is not homophobic to call gay people “poofs,” or “bent”. Maybe NRO merely didn’t want those words on its website, which is commendable. What is less commendable is their desire to endorse the sentiment that makes sense of them.