Opinions in Iraq

Some fascinating poll results from Iraq in the Opinion Journal:

Iraqis are optimistic. Seven out of 10 say they expect their country and their personal lives will be better five years from now. On both fronts, 32% say things will become much better.

The toughest part of reconstructing their nation, Iraqis say by 3 to 1, will be politics, not economics. They are nervous about democracy. Asked which is closer to their own view–“Democracy can work well in Iraq,” or “Democracy is a Western way of doing things”–five out of 10 said democracy is Western and won’t work in Iraq. One in 10 wasn’t sure. And four out of 10 said democracy can work in Iraq. There were interesting divergences. Sunnis were negative on democracy by more than 2 to 1; but, critically, the majority Shiites were as likely to say democracy would work for Iraqis as not. People age 18-29 are much more rosy about democracy than other Iraqis, and women are significantly more positive than men.

Asked to name one country they would most like Iraq to model its new government on from five possibilities–neighboring, Baathist Syria; neighbor and Islamic monarchy Saudi Arabia; neighbor and Islamist republic Iran; Arab lodestar Egypt; or the U.S.–the most popular model by far was the U.S. The U.S. was preferred as a model by 37% of Iraqis selecting from those five–more than Syria, Iran and Egypt put together. Saudi Arabia was in second place at 28%.

Read the whole thing- and if you can find the actual results (not just the interpretation I have linked to), let me know.








Winged Migration

When I got sick of the debate, I watched a documentary on the migration habits of birds named Winged Migration. This may be one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen, and I recommened it if you have two hours to spare.








You Should Be Happy

Apparently, LaRouche supporters interrupted the Democrat debate tonight. I watched about three minutes of the debate, and the pander factor was so high at the historically black college that I could not take anymore (really- when Dean announced his favorite song was by Wyclef Jean and Lieberman vowed to keep fighting for ‘Dr. King’s message,’ I knew it was over the top). At any rate, some Democrats see a consipiracy with the demonstrators:

Members of the Morgan State community worried the hecklers’ exposure on national television would reflect poorly on the university.

“I think they gave Morgan a bad name, even though it wasn’t us being disruptive,” said junior Danielle Cotten, 20.

Deanna V. Ikhinmwin, the university’s director of community services, said the hecklers made her uncomfortable.

“You feel paranoid, with homeland security and terrorists – anything out of place, you get nervous,” she said. “Before the terrorists, you could laugh at this.”

Morgan State, a historically black university, was the site of the debate co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus and the Fox News Channel.

“This is a historic occasion – the first time that the CBC has hosted a debate at an HBCU,” candidate Al Sharpton said after one interruption. “Will you respect our time the way we respected yours?”

“Do they do that to Republicans?” asked former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.

No, Carol- they don’t do that to Republicans. Normally the people interrupting Republicans are DEMOCRATS AND GREENS, with their assorted riff-raff ANSWER friends and other members of the Trotskyite left.

At any rate, from what I saw, the only thing that would make any of those candidates on stage look electable is a favorable comparison to LaRouche supporters, so all of them should be grateful those clowns showed up.








Idiots

This, via Drudge, is just priceless:

The Santa Cruz City Council is considering becoming the first local government in the country to ask Congress to look into impeaching President Bush.

“It seems to us as lay people and elected officials that Bush has committed impeachable offenses,” Vice Mayor Scott Kennedy said Tuesday.

I am going to go urge my local city council to charge Bill Clinton with Crimes against humanity.








Warron Zevon, R.I.P.

Of all of the Zevon obits and remembrances, Brian Linse’s was the most touching. While he was just a great musician to people like me- he was also a friend and a father. Such a loss.








A Real Tragedy

There is simply no excuse for these deaths:

France’s leading undertaker estimated the country’s death toll from the summer heat wave at 15,000 on Tuesday, far exceeding the official tally and putting further pressure on the government to improve its health care system…

The new estimate came after the government on Monday released a harshly worded report blaming the deaths on hospital understaffing during summer holidays, widespread failure among agencies and health services to coordinate efforts, and chronically insufficient care for the elderly.

What a waste.








Dixie Twits

I guess they need some press to prop up record sales again:

The Dixie Chicks have been voicing their political opinions again by criticising Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Last time they were in Europe, lead singer Natalie Maines, said the band were ashamed President Bush was from Texas.

Emily Robison, currently touring Europe with the rest of the band, has now said: “He is a great film star. But I find his idea to run for governor absolutely insane.”

She told German paper Abendzeitung: “America should be governed by people who have a clue. I hope he doesn’t win.”








Just A Question

David Duke stands before a gathering of white people from Louisiana, and states the foillowing:

Bill Clinton is out of touch. Bill Clinton does not share our values.

What would your reaction be?

Tren Lott stands before a gathring of his constituents, and states about his political opponent:

My opponent is not from Mississippi. He does not understand our way of life. He does not share our values.

How long would it be before the ‘southern strategy’ would be mentioned? How long before the ‘all Republicans are racist’ meme would be revived? Why then, is it acceptable for Cruz Bustamante, in front of an Hispanic audience, to state the following:

He (Arnold S.) does not share our values?

Just let me know what the difference is and I won’t make a big deal about it.

*** Update ***

I finally found it:

If Hispanic voters turn out, they could represent about 15 percent of the votes cast.

“Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t have our values,” Bustamante told the crowd. “He doesn’t live lives like we do. He doesn’t have the same worries that we have. He won’t fight for our families, our neighborhoods, our schools. He doesn’t understand our lives.”

Bustamante has played up his Hispanic roots and has applauded Davis’ recent signing of a bill allowing illegal immigrants to get drivers’ licenses, a bill the governor opposed before the recall initiative.

That is playing the race card. Period.








The Loony Left

If you ever wonder why I sometimes refer to some Democrats as the loony left, go check out this website, where Gephardt calls everything Bush has done a Miserable Failure, to include simply the man himsef, and then promises to revive the economy (which is recovering quite nicely, thank you) with (DRUM ROLL, please)- nationalized health insurance:

As president, Dick Gephardt will restore the American economy using principles of growth he helped forge in the early 1990s. Most significantly, he will work to provide the surest stimulus measure we can give our economy: providing guaranteed health insurance for all Americans. This will give direct financial help to families who pay health care premiums, provide assistance to businesses and state and local governments struggling to pay health care costs for employees, and free up money for better wages and job creation.

Insert your own quip in the comments section.








The Democrat Response

Saw Bush’s speech, thought it was ok, glad he explained in no uncertain terms that we will not leave Iraq until the overall mission has been completed. I had worried he might be going wobbly. Then, on cue, as if to reeassure me why I should not take Democrats seriously, the nine dwarves responded and reminded me why I am not a Democrat. Bush has done a lot of things to piss me off, but lord help us if the Democrats win in 2004.








Steelers Football

Once again, we start a new season of Steeler football. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep last night. The hated Ravens will be met at 1 o’clock today, and we better kill ’em, or the world will be a dark, ugly place (as it always is when we lose).








The Solution is a Bullet

Saw this coming:

Mahmoud Abbas submitted his resignation as Palestinian prime minister today, and Israel tried to kill the spiritual leader and founder of Hamas with an airstrike in Gaza City, as the Bush administration’s drive for Middle East peace appeared in danger of disintegrating.

Sometimes I just wish the entire middle east would simply disappear. I am sure there are a few American presidents who have felt the same way from time to time.

President Bush had embraced Mr. Abbas, 68, as an alternative leader to Yasir Arafat, one who was willing and able to champion the new peace plan, called the road map. But in the eyes of most Palestinian politicians and analysts, Mr. Arafat emerged from the struggle strengthened, at least temporarily, with a public that, before Mr. Abbas’s elevation, had shown signs of wearying of him.

For the love of everything holy, will someone pleasse just put a bullet in that despicable terrorist Arafat?

In a closed-door session here today with Palestinian legislators, Mr. Abbas, who was described as worn out and sad, blamed Israel, the Bush administration and Mr. Arafat for undermining his government and his efforts for peace.

In a statement, as before the legislators, he lay the blame primarily with Israel, saying, “The fundamental problem was Israel’s unwillingness to implement its commitments in the road map.” He said Washington had not pressed Israel enough.

But, in a clear swipe at Mr. Arafat and the rest of the Palestinian leadership, he also complained about a “lack of support” for his government and “harsh and dangerous domestic incitement against the government.” On Thursday, when Mr. Abbas presented a summary to legislators of his first months in office, masked men spray-painted the walls outside with slogans denouncing his government, and dozens of protesters chanted against him.

Let’s see- the Americans promoted him and did everything they could to legitimize him, Israel showed remarkable restraint while Abu Mazen did nothing to reing in the extremists, yet he manages to blame them and not himself? It would be funny if it were not so sad.








Corporate Malfeasance

Via Atrios, news that is just infuriating:

JUST A MONTH before the next U.S. Army unit is due to deploy in Iraq to relieve the hard-pressed forces already there, the military is confessing to a potential showstopper. The deploying units new armored vehicles may have faulty armor which would leave them vulnerable to machine-gun fire and to the rocket-propelled grenades that are the Iraq insurgents favorite weapon…

Not even Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was told, NEWSWEEK has learned. Understand that ARSTAF [Army Staff] have been told to treat this issue as if it were classified, says the memo, which is addressed to Lt. Gen. John Riggs, the head of the Stryker program. At a recent Army meeting to discuss the faulty armor, the main topic on the agenda, according to a DOD source, was: How do we tell Secretary Rumsfeld?…

Unlike the massively thick steel that tanks are made from, the 19-ton Stryker has a light steel and aluminum structure. But this is clad in 130 ceramic tiles, supposedly tough enough stop heavy machine-gun fire and deflect the blast of incoming RPGs. More than 600 Strykers have been built by General Dynamics, which has a $4 billion contract to produce 2,100 in all. But the ceramic armor tiles are produced for GD by a German subcontractor. The problem arose when the German firm apparently changed the mix of ingredients in the tiles. (The firm could not be reached for comment.)

What kind of operation just ‘changes’ the ingredients in a key component of their product without telling consumers? Jeebus. Atrios, ever the village idiot, suggest this is Rumsfelds fault.








Hypocrites

Michael Kinsley once was a reputable writer (maybe I am being charitable). After Arthur Silber finishes with him, you will prbably never read Kinsley again.

(via the Instapundit)

Apparently Kinsley is being sarcastic. I can never tell- he is normally so pedantic and petulant that I miss any sarcasm. Go read it for yourself.








Policy Vs. Partisanship

Over and over again we read how the blogosphere is polarized between the far-left and the far-right, and that the discussions online seem to be far more fierce than of those in the reral world. While some may view this, I find that the majority of the people in the blogosphere have rather centrist political ideologies (not to mention the over-representation of libertarians in the blogosphere), but what runs deep is the partisanship. I am as guilty as most, and I find myself defending Republicans far more often than they merit, if only because of the nature of their enemies. At any rate, in the last 24 hours, Kevin Drum has some prime examples of this partisanship, and I note this only because from my interpretation of his less snarky posts, Kevin actually has pretty middle of the road politics.

Yesterday, Kevin posted this doozy:

For all those American conservatives who have decided to give Silvio Berlusconi’s egregious corruption a pass just because he supported the Iraq war, maybe you’d better take a second look at your guy:

In a newspaper interview published this week, the health minister in Italy’s right-of-centre administration, Girolamo Sirchia, announced that he would be doing what he could to reinstate Friday as a day of fasting throughout Italy.

“Apart from being an ancient religious tradition, the weekly fast is a useful health measure,” Mr Sirchia told the daily La Stampa. “It has a scientific basis. It helps to purify the system of the effects of an unhealthy diet.”

….”In school and works canteens and in the hospitals, we shall take the path of reduced portions and a day of abstinence,” Mr Sirchia declared.

A day of fasting in hospitals? Enforced by the government?

For the record, I find the idea of government enforced fasting in hospitals to be reckless and stupid- ‘No anti-nausea medicine today, chemo patients- you won’t be needing your appetites!’ Almost as stupid and reckless as this statement:

….For all those American conservatives who have decided to give Silvio Berlusconi’s egregious corruption a pass just because he supported the Iraq war, maybe you’d better take a second look at your guy.

This is just a partisan swipe, a cheapshot, and it has no basis in reality. Conservatives may have hailed Berlusconi for being supportive of the administrations policies, but one of the main reasons many were praising Berlusconi was that he was also simply standing up for the United States at a time when certain of our ‘allies’ were running domestic political campaigns with the sole platform of America bashing. Remember this statement:

Editor’s note: This article is written by Jose Mara Aznar, Jose-Manuel Duro Barroso, Silvio Berlusconi, Tony Blair, Vaclav Havel, Peter Medgyessy, Leszek Miller and Anders Fogh Rasmussen.)

The real bond between the U.S. and Europe is the values we share: democracy, individual freedom, human rights and the rule of law. These values crossed the Atlantic with those who sailed from Europe to help create the United States of America. Today they are under greater threat than ever.

The attacks of Sept. 11 showed just how far terrorists–the enemies of our common values–are prepared to go to destroy them. Those outrages were an attack on all of us. In standing firm in defense of these principles, the governments and people of the U.S. and Europe have amply demonstrated the strength of their convictions. Today more than ever, the trans-Atlantic bond is a guarantee of our freedom.

This is what conservatives were lauding- that in a time when anti-American sentiments were running high (because of a profound disdain for the current President), there were leaders of European nations willing to stand up and defend the United States and the current President. No one that I am aware of is giving Berlusconi a pass for his corruption (whether it is real or not). Perhaps Kevin thinks conservatives vote in the Italian elections or run the Italian courts, but I doubt it. In other words, this was just a cheap rhetorical game designed to take a jab at the Republican party- unless Kevin really thinks that mainstream domestic conservatives really want to give a pass to corruption charges of foreign leaders. I doubt it.

The other cute aspect of this post was to somehow connect mainstream conservative thought with the bizarre suggestions listed in a white paper by a Health Minister from Italy. Kevin’s logic goes something like this:

1.) Conservatives applauded Sylvio Berlusconi for supporting the United States.

2.) Sylvio Berlusconi is corrupt.

3.) American conservatives tolerate corruption.

4.) The Berlusconi government is center right.

5.) Berlusconi has a health minister with some whacky ideas about fasting in hospitals.

6.) Republicans tolerate corruption and are beholden to the religious right, who may also want to impose fasting in hospitals here in the United States.

7.) Vote Democrat.

Not a bad day’s work with that post. Chris Lehane would be proud. But that is just the beginning- today, he has a post up trying to trumpet Democrat foreign policy, and it seems to be foreign policy by the NY Times:

Just in case my previous post didn’t make this point clearly enough, let me put it in neon lights here:

– Democrats warned all along that we would need the support of the international community and the UN in order to successfully rebuild Iraq. Apparently, the Bush administration now agrees.

– Democrats warned all along that Iraqi reconstruction would cost far more than we’d recover from Iraqi oil revenues. Apparently, the Bush administration now agrees.

– Democrats said all along that we should negotiate with North Korea and demonstrate some flexibility in our approach. Apparently, the Bush administration now agrees.

– Democrats said all along that in order to prevent the re-emergence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in central Asia we needed to pay more attention to Afghanistan and allocate more money to its reconstruction. Apparently, the Bush administration now agrees.

Now, tell me again about how Democrats have no worthwhile foreign policy ideas and can’t be trusted with national security?

The only thing that is crystal clear is that Kevin Drum is a Democrat. Let’s go through the statements and their links.

Democrats warned all along that we would need the support of the international community and the UN in order to successfully rebuild Iraq. Apparently, the Bush administration now agrees.

There is no evidence- none whatsoever- that an international force would make things any better. IN fact, the historical record would, in many cases, state otherwise. Regardless, there already is an international force in place, and the administration has ALWAYS wanted international support- they have just not wanted to cede control.

Democrats said all along that we should negotiate with North Korea and demonstrate some flexibility in our approach. Apparently, the Bush administration now agrees.

This administation was not against negotiation with North Korea in any sense, but rather, it was against BILATERAL negotiations- meaning, we refused to sit down and talk one on one with North Korea, without the other key regional and global powers. They were right, and they have their way. I wonder what exactly Calpundit thinks the point of these talks are if there is to be no negotiation whatsoever? Apparently, the concept of the carrot and the stick are not to be found within the DNC press releases. In a more comprehensive assessment of the negotiations than the one offered up in Kevin’s post, the NY Times illustrates that the situation is not as simple as one might suggest (and note the weasily headline: “US Said to Shift Approaches.” Why insert the word said? To make it appear as if the approach is changing rather than having to rely on the information buried in the article. You see- The ADMINISTRATION FLIP-FLOPPED. Vote DEMOCRAT!):

That approach, officials in the administration said, was partly an effort to show China, Japan, Russia and South Korea that Mr. Bush was serious about coming up with a diplomatic solution, and to gain their support for a more confrontational approach if North Korea should reject the overtures.

But while the administration officials went out of their way to describe the new strategy as a model of flexibility, they made it clear that the first moves are up to the North Koreans. All of the benefits North Korea most wants energy supplies and formal peace treaties would come only after arms inspectors had free run of the country for “challenge inspections” of suspected nuclear sites, and after almost all of nuclear infrastructure is shipped out of the country, officials said. “That’s going to be the hardest part for them to swallow,” one of the officials said.

Another senior administration official a hard-liner on North Korea predicted that “the North Koreans will never do it.”

It looks like things are going as planned- regional agreement on taking a hardline with North Korea combined with negotiations that require TOUGH concessions from them before any reward. I guess we could just go back to paying them off and pretending they are being faithful.

It also important to point out that the current administration has always advocated flexibility in regards to the North Korean situation, while liberals were repeatedly arguing that it made little sense to give North Korea a pass while attacking Iraq (although in fairness, this was merely dishonesty on the left’s part designed to stop an attack on Iraq, rather than to promote an attack on North Korea). Why Iraq and not North Korea? It must be all about the oil.

This next one is just as fun:

Democrats said all along that in order to prevent the re-emergence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in central Asia we needed to pay more attention to Afghanistan and allocate more money to its reconstruction. Apparently, the Bush administration now agrees.

You see- what was really needed was a money dump. Not time to build up local governance, not time to train local military and paramilitary forces, not time to legitimize Karzai. Simply a money dump into the chaos would have fixed everything. Gosh, those Democrats are smart!

Finally, Kevin asks:

Now, tell me again about how Democrats have no worthwhile foreign policy ideas and can’t be trusted with national security?

Democrats have no worthwhile policy ideas and can’t be trusted with national security. The Democrat concept of foreign policy is a mixture of isolationism, diversion from reality, naysaying Republican policy positions, over-reliance on failed or failing international organizations, outright acquiescence to dictators and tyrants, and reliance on dull platitudes and the wisdom of hindsight. The Democrat approach to foreign policy has been to not look TOO stupid to win elections so that they can get on to what they are really all about- taxing people and screwing up domestic policy.