Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Archive for April 2006

Meanwhile, the Guardian Tries …

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… to scare us.

And yet, in doing so makes the case for dealing with Iran sooner, not later.

(And I love the conceit that Hillary will be president after running against McCain. You do know that in my view, John McCain has less chance of being the Republican nominee than I do? However, if he is, he wins against Hillary in a rout.)

Written by martinipundit

April 20, 2006 at 9:54 am

Posted in 2008 Election, GWOT, MSM

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Is Iran Run by Pathological Liars?

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The other day I was watching an interview with the Iranian Foreign Minister, and had to shake my head in disbelief. There the man sat, speaking with the female western journalist, and expounded at length on Iran’s ‘right’ to peaceful nuclear power. He accused the United States of employing a “double-standard” in Iran’s case for no good reason. My first thought was that I could think of 444 good reasons right off the bat, but when a war has been going on for a quarter century and only one side knows it, something is wrong. Duplicitous, one might say. After all, this was a Foreign Minister attempting to be eminently reasonable, while presenting the US as eminently unreasonable at the same time his loon of a president is talking about death and annihilation for the US and Israel. Doesn’t sound like a peaceful approach to me. But then, it is clear they’re trying to play a double-game, like always.

This brings me to Iran’s latest wonder weapons. It seems rather funny that a nation that has trouble keeping its air force aloft yet manages to produce “super-weapons” among other things. (Let’s be clear that the technical issues in completing a nuclear weapon are not that high – it is, after all, technology that dates back to the 1940s.) With the thought in mind that much of the Iranian ‘advances’ are actually repackaging old technology, I couldn’t help but be amused at this analysis of Iran’s so-called “super-cavitating torpedo” which is actually a thirty-year old Russian weapon.

[O]bserving the errors of fact and occasional tone nearing hysteria in some media lately, I feel compelled to first address an — enemy” weapon and put it in its proper place. This weapon has been called in print — hellacious.” It’s been described as a — quantum leap” in the nature of naval warfare from this day forth — a disruptive technology for which America is woefully unprepared. It’s even been said that there’s no physically possible friendly defense against it, and the target won’t even realize the weapon is coming until it impacts and the target’s crew are dead. Paints a scary picture, doesn’t it? Yet none of these statements are true. 

The article is well-worth reading, and indirectly shows that what Iran is really up to here is not ‘super’ weapons, but a psychological operation aimed directly at the western media and and Leftists. Duplicity is just the heavy artillery in that fight, and much of the target is soft already.

Written by martinipundit

April 20, 2006 at 9:32 am

Posted in GWOT, Iran

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Mark Helprin on Iran

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It’s Mark week apparently here, and that’s good as there are many things on my plate to do. So, I’ll point you to Mark Helprin this time:

Even were one to believe that, despite its low and stagnant per capita gross national product and having the world’s second-largest reserves of petroleum and natural gas, Iran would invest uneconomically in nuclear power generation, one would also have to disbelieve that it wanted nuclear weapons. But with an intermediate-range strategic nuclear capacity, it could deter American intervention, reign over the Persian Gulf, further separate Europe from American Middle East policy, correct a nuclear imbalance with Pakistan, lead and perhaps unify the Islamic world, and thus create the chance to end Western dominance of the Middle East and/or with a single shot destroy Israel.

Lot’s of people like Helprin are speaking sense on Iran. People like Brent Scowcroft are not. He, apparently is part of the Madeleine Albright school where we reward obnoxious regimes with nuclear candy. I read a phrase like “Tehran has every right” and I wonder if I’m living on the same planet as an ostrich like Scowcroft. Iran is not – as Mark Steyn has pointed out – a nation that we can deal with as a sovereign state. It is a Thugocracy, and it must be challenged, thwarted, and ultimately, overthrown.

Written by martinipundit

April 13, 2006 at 10:40 am

Posted in GWOT, Iran

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Mark Steyn on Iran

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You know it’s good – I sure don’t have to tell you. But I will prod a bit for here is a taste:

So the question is: Will they [Iran] do it?

And the minute you have to ask, you know the answer. If, say, Norway or Ireland acquired nuclear weapons, we might regret the — proliferation,” but we wouldn’t have to contemplate mushroom clouds over neighboring states. In that sense, the civilized world has already lost: to enter into negotiations with a jurisdiction headed by a Holocaust-denying millenarian nut job is, in itself, an act of profound weakness — the first concession, regardless of what weaselly settlement might eventually emerge.

Conversely, a key reason to stop Iran is to demonstrate that we can still muster the will to do so. Instead, the striking characteristic of the long diplomatic dance that brought us to this moment is how September 10th it’s all been. The free world’s delegated negotiators (the European Union) and transnational institutions (the IAEA) have continually given the impression that they’d be content just to boot it down the road to next year or the year after or find some arrangement — this decade’s Oil-for-Food or North Korean deal — that would get them off the hook. If you talk to EU foreign ministers, they’ve already psychologically accepted a nuclear Iran. Indeed, the chief characteristic of the West’s reaction to Iran’s nuclearization has been an enervated fatalism.

Back when nuclear weapons were an elite club of five relatively sane world powers, your average Western progressive was convinced the planet was about to go ka-boom any minute. The mushroom cloud was one of the most familiar images in the culture, a recurring feature of novels and album covers and movie posters. There were bestselling dystopian picture books for children, in which the handful of survivors spent their last days walking in a nuclear winter wonderland. Now a state openly committed to the annihilation of a neighboring nation has nukes, and we shrug: Can’t be helped. Just the way things are. One hears sophisticated arguments that perhaps the best thing is to let everyone get ’em, and then no one will use them. And if Iran’s head of state happens to threaten to wipe Israel off the map, we should understand that this is a rhetorical stylistic device that’s part of the Persian oral narrative tradition, and it would be a grossly Eurocentric misinterpretation to take it literally.

 A must read.

Written by martinipundit

April 11, 2006 at 11:36 am

Posted in GWOT, Iran

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Stoneless Story – The Ellen Goodman Version

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Well, it seems the “Jill Carroll abused by right-wing bloggers” theme is developing into an outright meme. At least that’s the case when a well-known columnist like Ellen Goodman stoops to outright duplicity. (Or sleight of hand, your call.) In this column from the Boston Globe, she moralizes that “Bloggers owe Jill Carroll an apology.”

Do they? This one surely does not, and I’ll stack up my rightwing credentials next to anybody’s. I never wrote a word about Jill Carroll’s release before this week, and nothing that was derogatory. I do find this latest (jealous) attack on the blogosphere to be more than a little farfetched. Let’s take a look:

Remember when a former CBS executive described bloggers as guys in pajamas writing in their living rooms? Well, it seems that many have only one exercise routine: jumping to conclusions.

Starting out by repeating a gratuitous slur is particularly silly when one recalls that the blogosphere was right and the CBS executive wrong. Just like him, Goodman attempts to denigrate that which she can’t refute.

However, unlike the last time we looked at this, Goodman does at least name some names:

The printouts on my desk describe the 28-year-old journalist, a hostage and victim for 82 terrifying days, as something between Patty Hearst and Baghdad Jane, between a traitor and ”Princess Jill.” TBone posted a potshot, calling Carroll ”a liar” and the kidnapping ”a total scam.” PA Pundits said that ”I still just can’t get past her being (for the most part) unharmed.” And Debbie Schlussel called her a ”spoiled brat America-hater.”

At first, the only name I even recognized was Debbie Schlussel, whom I tend to lump in with the fringe, but if she wants to count her, OK. She’s not A-list, but she’s known. And she seems to be examining Carroll’s views and motivations from a reporter’s perspective – I’m not sure what’s wrong with that unless Ellen Goodman somehow believes reporters are above such questions.

But the other two blogs are a stretch (and let’s note they come first). I went looking and found the TBone story and the PAPundits piece. Like I said, I’d never heard of these guys, but wow, what a scoop!

TBone is a blog about fifteen months old that averages around 800 hits a month. No shame there, this blog doesn’t do that much better. He’s skeptical about the story, and that’s all. Hardly a representative of the blogosphere. So I then looked at PAPundits and find they’ve been around less time – since September 2005 – and they’re bigger, averaging better than 8600 hits a month. Goodman doesn’t even bother, however to quote them honestly. Here’s what she quotes:

I still just can’t get past her being (for the most part) unharmed.

(Harsh words indeed.) And here’s what they actually say:

For everyone out there that is whining about how mistreated Jill Carroll has been by the blogs, I say — Fah! — .

The basic fundimental question of why she was released has not been answered. Until we get some answers as to why she was released, pretty much unharmed, after her kidnappers didn’t get what they wanted …

It just doesn’t add up to me, but then I am a distrusting soul.

I really couldn’t care less about the anti-american remarks she made shortly after her release. That really doesn’t phase me and I am willing to let that go. Her remarks in Germany pretty much cancel out her comments anyway.

I still just can’t get past her being (for the most part) unharmed.

Don’t get me wrong, I am HAPPY she’s is fine, I am HAPPY she is alive and free. I just don’t understand why her captors chose to do what they did.

He thinks there’s something fishy about it – maybe there is. I don’t know, and I’m sure Ellen Goodman doesn’t either.

But that’s all she’s got, two bloggers (I don’t count Schlussel), one tiny, one modest. Of course, there’s no story there (not to mention no links; I had to Google them.) So she resorts to this subterfuge:

The political bloggers first flexed their muscle in 2002 when they trumped the MSM — blogspeak for Mainstream Media — by forcing Trent Lott out of the Senate speakership after he toasted the good old segregated days of Strom Thurmond. In 2004, they proved the power of the Internet as a great equalizer when they confronted the house of CBS and Dan Rather over Bush’s military records.

Two years later, we have — ready, fire, aim — the Jill Carroll affair. These attacks raise the question of what bloggery is going to be when it grows up. An Internet op-ed page? Or a polarized, talk-radio food fight?

One must marvel at the chutzpah. It works on at least two levels. First, conflating the injustice of attacking Jill Carroll with the CBS forgeries. I agree that all the evidence suggests that Jill Carroll got lucky and she should be left alone. However, despite Ms. Goodman’s attempt to place Dan Rather and CBS in the same category, it just doesn’t work.

This wasn’t about “Bush’s military records.” This was about Dan Rather and CBS news knowingly using forgeries to attempt to slander a sitting Presidnet of the United States and influence the outcome of an election. This was despicable behavior and Dan Rather, Mary Mapes, and others lost their jobs over it. This simply doesn’t compare to Jill Carroll.

Secondly, the idea that bloggers such as TBone and PAPundits are the ones responsible for the Rather takedown (or Lott’s) is equally ridiculous. It was people like Captain’s Quarters, Hugh Hewitt, Instapundit, INDC Journal, many others I’ve forgotten, but most of all Power Line. These are the big blogs, the influential blogs. These are the blogs that collectively receive hundreds of thousands of hits a month. These are the ones that took down Dan Rather, and these are the ones that matter in the Jill Carroll story. And they aren’t attacking her which Goodman must know, otherwise she’d have cited them instead of small fry. Of course, then she wouldn’t be able to say silly things like this:

The difference between old media and new, MSM and blog, says Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute, is the difference between sitting at a restaurant and having your food delivered nicely plated or standing at a buffet nibbling constantly. It’s the 24/7 news cycle brought down to the 604,800 seconds-per-week cycle.\nIn the wake of the Carroll story, a few — far too few — bloggers stopped stocking the buffet long enough to eat their words. But this case provides a juncture for bloggers who want a respected role in the public debate.

Of course, this straw man is knocked down just by the bloggers Goodman cites.

Ellen Goodman has written a scurrilous attack piece. It’s as bad as anything she ‘accuses’ bloggers of doing, worse given its intellectual dishonesty, and for reasons which she only knows but others can guess at. Might they have something to do with the Globe’s financial and circulation woes?

Written by martinipundit

April 7, 2006 at 12:00 pm

Bobby Byrd

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I’ve heard that Senator Byrd, the senior member of the senate, has lost his wife. My condolences to the senator – I’ve seen how such a loss has affected my own grandmother, and the senator has my sympathy. However, I also understand he plans to run for reeelection, stating that his late wife wanted him to do so.

To this I say – so what? It is long past time for Senator Byrd – the only member of Congress to have enjoyed membership in the Ku Klux Klan – to step down. I cannot help but recall with disgust his attempted filibuster during the first Gulf War by recounting a history of the Battle of Cannae which made those of us actually familiar with Roman history shake our heads. Go home senator. It is long past time. Frankly, if you were a Republican, your racist past would have long since finished your political career. It’s only as a Democrat that you’ve managed to stay in office. If you had recanted, that would be one thing, but you haven’t. Shame on you. Shame on the Democrats.

Written by martinipundit

April 6, 2006 at 11:03 pm

The Goal of Islamofascism

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A fine piece in today’s OpionionJournal by Efraim Karsh outlines the goals of today’s Islamofascist’s by recounting the history of Islamic aspirations for universal empire. It’s a history written in blood.

Islamic history has been anything but reactive. From Muhammad to the Ottomans, the story of Islam has been the story of the rise and fall of an often astonishing imperial aggressiveness and, no less important, of never quiescent imperial dreams. Even as these dreams have repeatedly frustrated any possibility for the peaceful social and political development of the Arab-Muslim world, they have given rise to no less repeated fantasies of revenge and restoration and to murderous efforts to transform fantasy into fact. If, today, America is reviled in the Muslim world, it is not because of its specific policies but because, as the preeminent world power, it blocks the final realization of this same age-old dream of regaining, in Zawahiri’s words, the “lost glory” of the caliphate.

Nor is the vision confined to a tiny extremist fringe. This we saw in the overwhelming support for the 9/11 attacks throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds, in the admiring evocations of bin Laden’s murderous acts during the crisis over the Danish cartoons, and in such recent findings as the poll indicating significant reservoirs of sympathy among Muslims in Britain for the “feelings and motives” of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July. In the historical imagination of many Muslims and Arabs, bin Laden represents nothing short of the new incarnation of Saladin, defeater of the Crusaders and conqueror of Jerusalem. In this sense, the House of Islam’s war for world mastery is a traditional, indeed venerable, quest that is far from over.

To the contrary, now that this war has itself met with a so far determined counterattack by the United States and others, and with a Western intervention in the heart of the House of Islam, it has escalated to a new stage of virulence. In many Middle Eastern countries, Islamist movements, and movements appealing to traditionalist Muslims, are now jockeying fiercely for positions of power, both against the Americans and against secular parties. For the Islamists, the stakes are very high indeed, for if the political elites of the Middle East and elsewhere were ever to reconcile themselves to the reality that there is no Arab or Islamic “nation,” but only modern Muslim states with destinies and domestic responsibilities of their own, the imperialist dream would die. [emphasis mine]

The death of that dream is our goal. It’s that simple.

A must read.

Written by martinipundit

April 4, 2006 at 9:40 am

Posted in GWOT

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Stoneless Story

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The Telegraph appears to be drumming up a story with very little substance. Perhaps they forgot to bring the stone before they tried to make soup.

I’m pleased Jill Carroll has been released, and thought her statements before leaving Iraq seemed odd, I’m more than satisfied with her explanation that she had to make them in order to be released in the first place. But this is ridiculous:

Miss Carroll has been under sustained assault from some on the pro-war Right. Bloggers and hosts on the country’s influential talk radio stations have attacked her for stating that she had not been threatened during her confinement.

Others attacked her for wearing Muslim dress and the news channel CNN carried an interview suggesting that she was suffering from “Stockholm Syndrome”, in which victims begin to sympathise with their captors. One blogger called for Miss Carroll to be arrested for treason.

This is absurd. No bloggers are identified. No bloggers are linked. No bloggers are quoted directly. This isn’t journalism – it’s slander. I can’t help but note that the only entity mentioned by name is CNN, which if the Telegraph thinks is part of the “pro-war Right” they need to update their glossary.

I haven’t seen her attacked by a single blogger on the Right, at least from among the ones I read regularly.

I still get the meme from liberal friends that the media is not biased towards the Left. Articles like this show how ridiculous that view is.

Written by martinipundit

April 3, 2006 at 10:32 am

Posted in GWOT, MSM

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John Paul the Great

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Today is the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, the first pope to be acclaimed “Magnus” by the people in some fourteen centuries (he joins Leo the Great and Gregory the Great as only the third pope so honored by his flock).

It’s still hard to imagine he’s gone. For twenty-seven years, this man was our shepherd, and for many, he was the only pope they had ever known. I myself was born in the pontificate of Paul VI, but he was a distant figure in Rome when I was a child. I didn’t fully appreciate who (or even what) he was. John Paul I went by in a wink of an eye, so even for me, John Paul II was really the only pope. If others have a similar experience, that means a sizeable percentage of the population simply had no idea what the Catholic Church was like without John Paul II at the head.

It’s been a long year in some ways. At first, despite my very positive reaction to the election of Benedict XVI, it seemed as if the house was empty. It was with surprise each Sunday for almost a year that I heard not “John Paul our Pope” but “Benedict” at the consecration. I watched the new Pope with approval, but still it seemed less somehow. And it was. We have lost something we’ll never get back – a truly saintly man, a truly great man, and a truly humble man. Two out of three ain’t bad, as they say, but for a while – a generation – we had all three. That legacy can take the Church far I suspect – beyond any of us now living. I’m still digesting the notion that we witnessed one of those rarest of things – a truly transformative pope. He is missed.

While we’re at it, George Weigel has written an excellent book on the last days of John Paul II, the conclave that elected Benedict XVI, and his take on this present Pontificate. It’s called God’s Choice and it’s a must read for anyone interested in this topic.

My take last year on John Paul II’s death and my own encounter with a living saint.

Written by martinipundit

April 2, 2006 at 12:26 am

Posted in Church, History, Leadership

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