|View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
I finally found out what all the buzz was about in the Pacers-Celtics series. It took 4 minutes for anyone to score in overtime. Nothing until then. No baskets, no foul shots, nothin'. Indiana finally got a free throw at that point, and it's a shame that they went on to get 4 more points, since 5-0 in overtime doesn't do the story justice. I was kind of hoping for a scoreless overtime, maybe two of them, and then the teams could agree to go to sudden-death, maybe a free-throw shooting contest. The winner of this game should just get a pass as the Eastern Conference representative, just on the basis of being the most representative.
As part of our Management Information Systems course, we had to take a look at a "webinar," basically a narrated Powerpoint presentation, on data mining and its uses. The case study was Harrah's hotels and casinos. While it was essentially 5 minutes of content packed into 30 minutes of talk, what really stood out is the galloping corporate debasement of the English language.
The Colorado Campaign for Israeli Surrender, er, Middle East Peace (they'd re-make a desert and call it peace) is planning to picket a synagogue(!) over an Israeli Independence Day choral concert May 7th.
Look again at that sentence.
They've gone to picketing a Jewish house of worship - protesting against Jews for being Jewish, in effect. So much for being anti-Israel without being anti-Semitic.
Did I mention this is happening two blocks from my house?
We are planning a counter-demo, mostly to give the police a reason for moving them across the street to the school parking lot, and allowing concert-goers to enter the shul without being harassed and called Nazis.
But this is ridiculous. How long is it before they find out that some rabbis - gasp! - give sermons supporting Israel, and decide to picket, or disrupt, Shabbat services? My feeling is that they've crossed a red line here, significantly ratcheting up the temperature, and that this represents a further mainstreaming of anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Well, I'm back, after a long detour for Passover. It's actually an 8-day holiday, with two non-work days both at the begining and the end. This year, because of the calendar, it meant a Thursday-Saturday off, and then Wednesday-Thursday, and then Saturday again. Makes it difficult to get a rhythm. At the Passover program I was at, I gave a speech about anti-Semitism from the Left, its connection to the Cold War and the radical left, and radical Islam as a replacement for Communism. It went well, covered academia and politics, and got both good questions and a friendly reception.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
E.J. Dionne's column (here in the Houston Chronicle, but sadly given wide distribution) is a straw man arguing past his opponent. Dionne's basic assertion is that government taxes us in order to preserve our basic rights, and that people who argue we're overtaxed forget this - just look at the looting in Baghdad.
Nicholas Kristof is at it again. Today's column cuts the US a little slack about handing out ricebags, and then goes on to get the rebuilding process exactly wrong. Kristof raises four points:
Only on the last question - arguing for staying long enough to make sure democratic changes have real roots - does Kristof come even remotely close. On the other three he whiffs so badly you can feel the breeze from Baghdad.
Over at Powerline, the Big Trunk has been chronicling the debate between his daughter and a professor there, James Sleeper. It seems Mr. Sleeper has taken exception to an article by the young Miss Johnson, published in FrontPageMag, critical of the hateful anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism on display at a recent Yale "teach-in" on the war. As nearly as I can make out, Mr. Sleeper objects to Miss Johnson naming names in an off-campus publication, at least that's about all I can get out his somewhat incoherent complaints. So, some questions for Mr. Sleeper:
It looks as though Abu Abbas, wanted for the Achille Lauro hijacking,has been arrested.
1 - Don't look for him in the Hague any time soon
2 - Terrorism? What terrorism? We have no terrorism here!
I wonder whether the anti-Semitism of the Left really may have something to do with the neoconservative movement. While that movement was never solely Jewish, many of the early neocons were Jewish refugees from the anti-Communist left, driven out of respectable liberalism by the Stalinists. The Stalinists ended up on the wrong side of history, but have never really been called to account for it. Still, in their hearts, they know they're wrong. The neocons, without compromising their integrity, placed themselves on the right side of history. So the radicals, still in power, are feeling the twin stings of being very publicly very wrong, and having had this fact pointed out by former friends who they feel betrayed them. Since many of these early neocons were Jewish...
Monday, April 14, 2003
Fox News notes that one Iraqi scientist who surrendered is named Jafar Jafar, apparently not only unable to afford a second name, but needing to borrow even his first from Disney.
I've been reading Hilton Kramer's Twilight of the Intellectuals, about the liberal intellectual set during the Cold War. While he starts with a discussion of the Hiss case, he rapidly moves on to the more general problem of Stalinism, and the difficulty the left had in confronting it. There were two blacklists, one by people who didn't like Communists, and one by Communists, who didn't like liberals pointing out they were communists. The whole history of Stalinism among the left, and those who were willing defenders and obfuscators of it, is a seamy and revolting one, the white-washing of which has allowed the Left, by and large, to escape the intellectual cleansing it needs.
I just came from an appearance at Metro State College of Denver by Jonah Goldberg, Editor-at-Large of the National Review Online. And I have to admit I was simulatenously pleased and disappointed. Since it's easier to damn than to praise, I'll get the praise out of the way early. Apparently, he arrived expecting to speak about the Iraq War, and ended up being greeted by a title "Liberal Media Bias." Given that, he did a nice job of ad-libbing about that topic, although I suspect he's addressed it a number of times in the past.
Thursday, April 10, 2003
Looks like the Colorado Campaign for Israeli Surrender, er, Middle East Peace, is willing to fight longer that Saddam himself. They're planning a rally here in Denver on Saturday, and Americans Against Terrorism is planning a counter-demo just to remind them who's right and in the majority. (Funny how they're willing to quote poll numbers when it's a matter of City Council resolutions, but make their minority status a mark of martyrdom when their support drops below 20%.) They've set up a new organization for the event, called, Patriots for Peace, which is neither peaceful nor patriotic. Their main spokemen are, respectively, and Arab PR professional and a self-proclaimed Marxist professor. CCMEP has organized disruptive and violent rallies at the local Air Force Base and down in Colorado Springs.
Next Week: protests against the invasion of Panama.
One of the Marines talking to Rick Leventhal on Fox News just confirmed that public support is tremendously important to the guys in the field. Now, most of us knew this already. Someone should get the word to Tim Robbins, who gave one of the least gracious performances possible on ESPN's Dan Patrick Show earlier today. Given the chance to admit that, gee, maybe the mission hadn't been a complete disaster, after all, launched another broadside into the Bush Administration.
Another Marine, this one a reservist, just turned down a chance to say that he'd rather be home, saying that "the bullets flying is a lot more exciting." Gotta love these guys. Hope he comes home safely.
Evidently, the ICRC is worried about the looting, as it now seems to be affecting hospitals. Given that, according to the Jerusalem Post, the Iraqi National Congress wants close relations with Israel, I'm sure the Magen David Adom would be happy to help the ICRC restock...oh, wait, never mind.
For those of you who don't know, the Magen David Adom is Israel's Red Cross, only using a Jewish Star as its symbol. The ICRC refuses to admit it to its membership, on the grounds that the Jewish star is a religious symbol. What they think a cross is, I don't know.
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
Jack Kelly incorrectly states in today's Washington Times that the last time an Arab army defeated a Western one was when Saladin "liberated" (to use the current French Prime Minister's word) Jerusalem. Well, if you don't count the Ottomans, who were Turks, but whose army contained a fair number of Arabs. They were at the gates of Vienna as recentlyas 1683. By the way, when Idid the Google search to refresh my memory about the date, the only sponsored websites to pop up on the right were for furniture coverings and footstools. Really.
Tuesday, April 08, 2003
Where are the MPs? This is what MPs are for. For the British soldiers to say that they're not responsible for law and order may be technically true - those soldiers aren't. But divisions carry with them MPs, whose job it is exactly to establish law and order in captured areas. I don't agree with the ICRC on much, especially their disdain for 6-pointed stars as uniquely religious symbols, but they're right on this. When we go into an area, we're responsible for keeping this sort of chaos from erupting.
The guys at NRO will love this one. A Denver jury has convicted three nuns after they waltzed into a restricted military area housing nuclear missiles, and made a somewhat, um, brash display of disapproval.
One of the reasons that Wellington Webb has been such a popular mayor - elected for three terms despite a pledge not to run again in 1999 - is that he knows how to get things done, and has supported business without selling out to them. He's certainly had his share of problems; getting a hotel for the new convention center comes to mind. By putting the city in charge of running the thing, he's opened up virtually unlimited opportunities for graft.
But right now, with United sinking under its own weight, he's smartly opened negotiations with other airlines to step into an void that might open up. The city has already given United a bunch of breaks, like Concourse B, and if United can't deliver, it's time to start looking for others who may be able to. Call it regime change at DIA.
The Denver Post reports today about last year's compensation for a local company, First Data. In a city that has seen Qwest implode under misconduct by over-compensated executives, and United failing to make takeoff speed because of overcompensated everyone else, the context is bad. But First Data is prospering, everyone I know who works there likes the place and is happy with compensation and the work environment. So why the focus on the Chairman, rather than the company as a whole? There's no company context given, no sense that his package, which certainly doesn't seem opulent compared to what Nacchio walked off with, is out of proportion to the company's success.
Monday, April 07, 2003
A couple of more Up Front quotes, warnings about our prisoners and even some of the civilians we're liberating. The mission is noble, but remember that people are people...
Look, as I said people are people, and I'm not being racist, since these are stories about Europeans. But there's euphoria, and then there's waiting in line for the military governor of your district to get around to issuing you a pass to go see family in another district, or get you water for a hot shower, or serve meals to replace the crops the tanks ran over on the way to liberate you. I think the military is probably better-equipped than just about any other organization to get this stuff done on a temporary basis, and yes, we train for this, too. Just remember that life has to go on, and we've promised them that it'll go on better than before.
Jed Babbin over on NRO quoted a conversation he had with Ollie North about the front-line medical crews. As a reminder that some things never change, here's a quote from Bill Mauldin's 1944 classic, Up Front:
Friday, April 04, 2003
Michael Kelly's death is tragic. NRO and Powerline call him a conservative, but he was truly a rarity, a principled liberal. He despised Clinton & Gore for their betrayal of liberalism, and was contemptuous of the hollowing-out of the morals and ethics of the Democratic Party. He admired Bush for his principles. Read his pre-9/11 stuff to see this. On a political level, a man like Michael Kelly showed how radical the Democratic party had become. Journalistically, we've lost someone we can point to as the embodiment of loyal opposition.
This wasn't the first time Powell let himself get blindsided by our "allies."
Wishing for a responsible Left.
Kelly's outstanding characteristic was his integrity. It allowed him to see phonies like the Clintons and Gore for what they are, to wish the best for a President (Bush) whom he might not have seen eye-to-eye on, and to write what he thought even though it cost him his job, and not to complain about faux "censorship," when it happened. The courage to criticize your own is hard to come by, especially when the country keeps electing presidents with less than 50% of the vote. But it was the kind of courage that wins and keeps readers, and keeps administrations honest.
The Denver Post reports this morning on Iraqi immigrants to the US who are now back in Iraq, serving with the Armed Forces as translators, and gathering intelligence on the ground. Try not to cry.
Peter Singer from the Brookings Institution just said on Fox News that we should wait until military victory to put the new government into place in Iraq. Evidently, we're talking about putting a provisional civilian government into place within the next week. As long as we get the right kind of government - one that doesn't draw on the Ba'ath party for anything - this seems to me to be a good idea. It gives the Iraqi populace something to rally to, and can only hasten the fall of the government. His example was that we didn't declare victory in WWII until Hitler was dead and the German high command had surrendered. True enough. But there was a Free French government-in-waiting, ready to take over as soon as we had Paris, even without the rest of France.
Thursday, April 03, 2003
The St. Petersburg Times has a column today describing the differences between war coverage on Western and Arab TV. While the differences are striking, moreso is this paragraph tucked down in the middle:
"At the start of the war, I used to watch Fox News every day and I'd get frustrated and angry," said Iyad Kayyali, a Jordanian factory owner who attended college in Texas. "They give just one side of the story and are very prejudiced. It's like they are supporting the Jewish people and all Arabs are terrorists."
Here, in a nutshell, is everything that's wrong with the liberal way of looking at the Middle East. This is a middle-to-upper-class Jordanian (not prey to despair or hopelessness), educated in the United States (where he had ample opportunity to learn about us and from us) who still thinks this war is about Jews. I watched Fox News for the first 48 hours or so nonstop, and while they had a corspondent in Tel Aviv, they went to her a couple of times a day, mostly to see if any Scud-enhanced gassings had taken place. That's it. I don't even think the word "Jews" crossed the lips of any anchor or reporter that I can remember.
Since it's not too soon to begin worrying about post-war Iraq, let's do that. This administration is tremendous when it comes to planning. If anything, they sometimes rely too heavily on their plans, and not enough on their wits. This is all right when, as in this war, you hold all the cards that count. As one Marine put it just before they pushed off, Saddam has a lot that could make their lives miserable, but nothing that could stop them. But the administration has a tendency to get sidetracked and surprised when it comes to politics and diplomacy. They had policy plans ready to roll out during the transition after the 2000 elections, only to almost lose the election by losing focus, and costing themselves large parts of that transition. They similarly let themselves get caught up in the Security Council Tango, shortening our own timelines, the diplomatic results of which are still undetermined.