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October 30, 2004

What would Osama do?

Wretchard, at the Belmont Club has an interesting analysis of Osama's latest message to the American people:

. . . It is important to notice what he has stopped saying in this speech. He has stopped talking about the restoration of the Global Caliphate. There is no more mention of the return of Andalusia. There is no more anticipation that Islam will sweep the world. He is no longer boasting that Americans run at the slightest wounds; that they are more cowardly than the Russians. He is not talking about future operations to swathe the world in fire but dwelling on past glories. He is basically saying if you leave us alone we will leave you alone. Though it is couched in his customary orbicular phraseology he is basically asking for time out.
Captain Ed, at Captain's Quarters, further refines this analysis:
. . . Far from signaling a surrender, I believe that OBL wants to influence the American elections as another demonstration of his power. He wants to depose George Bush, but he's smart enough to understand that a fire-breathing performance only helps Bush by scaring/insulting the voters. His moderate performance was designed to appeal to the reasonable leftists and centrists who tend to believe that America brought Islamist terror onto itself. His "offer" amounts to a lever with which to promote anti-Israel sentiment to undercut support for Bush, as well as give people the impression that the war is Bush's fault, despite the years of Al Qaeda attacks on American assets.

Don't allow yourselves to be fooled into thinking that Osama has retreated in his desire to reconquer Andalusia and spread the ummah across the globe, reducing the infidels to dhimmitude. He just knows when to temper his rhetoric for the best possible political result.

Personally, I am in Captain Ed's camp -- though "camp" is probably too strong a term to convey what is really a difference in emphasis or nuance between the two commentators.

Osama has been hit, and hit hard since 9/11. I believe that he is mortally afraid of what has transpired in Afghanistan and Iraq; that an emerging pro-democratic, pro-tolerance version of Islam will be the end of Al Queda and his Wahabbist thugs. He is also an excellent politician. He desperately wants to stop Bush's aggressive strategy of taking the fight to Al Queda. However, he recognizes that further threats or an outright endorsement of Kerry would only backfire.

Come November 3rd (or December whatever), if we find the John F. Kerry is going to be our next President, I am certain that the walls in Osama's cave or Waziristani safe house will be ringing with cheers of joy. I hope the American people are sensible enough (and strong enough) not to make his day.


For more on this topic, see Donald Sensing's analysis of the evolution of OBL's communications with the West. His conclusion: Al Queda is on the ropes and it's time for us to finish them off.

Thomas P. M. Barnett offers another perspective: should we wash our hands of the entire mideast and let Israel (and its nuclear weapons) sort it out?

October 30, 2004 at 09:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Being a Bush Supporter Living in Manhattan

Yesterday's NY Sun had a front-page feature on the trials and tribulations of a group of Sun reporters festooned with Bush/Cheney re-election gear as they wandered around Manhattan. It was a pretty amusing story, complete with tales of rude stares, occasional hisses, profanity, etc.

My own experience, however, in wearing a Bush/Cheney or "Viva Bush" pin around Manhattan for the past month or so has been entirely different. While I've occasionally encountered the odd look of contempt (though that may because of my grungy appearance), I've rarely seen any rudeness and hostility. On the contrary, every day or two I meet peope who say "great button" or ask where I got it. My response is usually to offer them mine if they'll promise to wear it, since I have more at home.

The only time I did encounter a hostile reponse was, oddly enough, at my daughter's third grade curriculum night at an upper east side, private girls school. While milling around eating cheese and drinking soft drinks, waiting for the Headmistress to make her welcome speech, I was chatting with another lower school parent. Ethan Hawke, the actor best known as the former Mr. Uma Thurmon, walked by to get a drink and noticed my "Viva Bush" button. He walked up to me and said "you've really got some balls to wear that button here." My response was "most Kerry supporters are very nice people and tolerant of dissenting views." Bizarrely, Hawke went on to say that he was "hoping and praying every day between now and the election" that I would change my mind. After some further comments about Bush being a "war criminal" and "a fascist", he left my friend and I to our conversation. Poor guy, I guess he'd never met a Republican before.

October 30, 2004 at 05:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 28, 2004

The real October Surprise: Bush has a higher IQ than Kerry

According to Democratic Senator (and infamous plagiarist) Joe Biden, President Bush is "brain dead". Hmm... I wonder what that implies about John Kerry, based upon this piece by John Tierney in last Sunday's NYT.

If you want to see the details of Steve Sailer's analysis, read his article here.

Also, while you're in the mood, take a look at Jim Treacher's top ten reasons for not voting for Bush. (Hat tip to Megan McArdle, standing in for the AWOL Instapundit.)

October 28, 2004 at 07:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

UNSCAM Update: Passing the global laugh test

Today's WSJ has a strong editorial reporting on the latest developments in the UN oil for food scandal. The piece updates us on Volcker's release last week of the official UN list of companies participating in the program and offers some interesting speculation about the roles played by US citizens Oscar Wyatt (a Texas oilman and big political contributor who fought against the 1991 Gulf War) and Shakir al-Khafaji (a Detroit businessman who gave wacky former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter $400k to finance his documentary advocating ending economic sanctions on Iraq).

It's worth reading in its entirety, but here is the money quote:

There were reasonable arguments against having gone into Iraq. But in light of this latest evidence, the arguments Mr. Kerry and his team have been making--that more inspections might have yielded something, and that the real coalition of the bribed at the Security Council might ever have supported force--don't pass the laugh test, never mind the global one.
For more on last week's (very under-reported) briefing by Paul Volcker, take a peek at Colum Lynch's story in Friday's WaPo, Firms in Iraq's Oil-for-Food Program Revealed: Corruption Probe Names 4,734 Companies That Traded Under U.N. Arrangement. Oddly -- or perhaps not so oddly -- I was unable to find anything at all about this press briefing on the UN's web site (www.un.org).

October 28, 2004 at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Quote of the day

From an editorial in today's WaPo:

. . . It's worth noting, meanwhile, that the sensation over the missing explosives emanates from the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose director, the Egyptian Mohamed ElBaradei, has been an adversary of the Bush administration on Iraq since well before the war. This month Mr. ElBaradei delivered a report to the U.N. Security Council complaining of "widespread and apparently systematic dismantlement" of dual-use equipment at sites once related to Iraq's nuclear program -- at least some of which apparently was done by the U.S. mission itself. News of the missing explosives then leaked to the U.S. media within days of its receipt by his agency. On the same day that it appeared in the New York Times, Mr. ElBaradei took the unusual step of submitting a second letter to the Security Council confirming the report. The fact that he was providing easy fodder for Mr. Kerry's campaign just eight days before the presidential election evidently did not deter this U.N. civil servant.
Oh... and did anybody mention that Mr. ElBareidi is running for reappointment to an unprecedented third term as head of the IAEI? And that the US has gone on record as opposing his reappointment?

Maybe ElBareidi is angling for appointment as Kerry's Secretary of State...

October 28, 2004 at 10:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 27, 2004

Slate votes for Kerry

For the last two presidential elections, MSN's Slate Magazine has posted the results of how its employees (both editorial and business) planned to vote in the coming election. Last time, more than three quarters of Slate staffers voted for Gore. This year, Slatesters voted even more lopsidedly for Kerry, who got nearly 9 out of every 10 votes. (See the table below for more details.)

Other / Neither36%
Nader / Other411%

I was not surprised by the hefty margin of victory for the Democrat candidate; many, many polls and surveys have found that journalists (like most urban intellectuals living on the coasts) tilt heavily towards the Democratic Party. What I find refreshing, however, is that Slate is upfront about disclosing the personal views of its writers, editors and contributors. It also helps that Slate is largely a journal of opinion and makes no pretense of being an objective source of "news."

I would love to see the MSM (main stream media) adopt similar disclosure policies. (I know, dream on...)

October 27, 2004 at 03:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 26, 2004

Is there nuclear fallout in our future?

Anyone interested in nuclear proliferation issues (or is wondering whether or not to buy a bottle of potassium iodide just in case) should read this excellent feature article by Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer that appeared in today's WaPo.

Here is the money quote from Robert L. Gallucci, former arms control official and currently Dean of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and consultant to the CIA and DOE on proliferation issues:

If tomorrow morning we lost a city, who of us could have said we didn't know how this could happen? I haven't felt like this in all the years I've been in government or the nine since I've been [out]. I am -- I don't want to say scared, because that's not what I want to project, but I am deeply concerned for my family and for all Americans.
(In case you're wondering, yes, I've purchased two bottles of potassium iodide (one for home, one for the car). You can get yours here.)

October 26, 2004 at 03:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 25, 2004

NYT comes out swinging in last week of campaign

While there are real horrors going on in Iraq -- like Saturday's execution-style murder of 50 Iraqi military recruits by Al Queda -- the NYT decided to anchor its front page with a 2,500 word story about how a massive stockpile of high explosives disappeared during the chaotic days after the collapse of Saddam's regime in April 2003.

You have to look pretty closely to realize that this all happened a long time ago, and that the only "news hook" to make this item newsworthy is the recent report to the UNSC by Mohammed El Bareidi saying that this stuff is missing an unaccounted for. The implication of the story (though not clearly stated) is that these explosives may have been used by terrorists, etc. to blow up American soldiers, and that it was due to administration incompetence that it was not safeguarded. Of course, there is no mention that there were literally millions of tons of munitions scattered all over Iraq and that most of the IEDs used to kill Americans (and Iraqis) were made from traditional munitions like old artillary shells or rocket warheads.

Politics as usual... Sheesh.


As Drudge is reported yesterday, NBC news is reporting that US troops did search the bunkers at Al-Qaqaa in early April 2003 and found no sign of the 380 tons of high explosives that had been there in January 2002 when the UN had last inspected.

This seems to have been an anti-Bush hit job by the NYT. Amusingly, they managed to preempt CBS, who had been planning to break the story on 60 Minutes this Sunday, two days before the election.

Further Update

Well, it looks like that at least some of those missing explosives really were there when US troops first passed through Al Qaqaa on their way to Baghdad. Here is a link to an April 5, 2003 report from The Scotsman reporting on what (at the time) was suspected to be chemical weapons:

US TROOPS yesterday found thousands of boxes of white powder and unidentified liquid at an industrial site south of Baghdad, just hours before the "non-conventional" threat from Baghdad again raised the spectre of chemical warfare.

Initial tests showed the substance was probably just explosives, although a nerve agent antidote and Arabic documents on how to wage chemical warfare were also recovered from the Latifiyah industrial complex.

Colonel John Peabody of the 3rd Infantry Division said of the find: "It is clearly a suspicious site."

But a senior US official later said: "Initial reports are that the material is probably just explosives, but we’re still going through the place."

(Hat tip to the dkosopedia for the reference, though they didn't manage to track down the actual link.)

I guess the military did screw up in not securing the site. Although given all that had on their plate at the time, I'm sure there were other, more urgent priorities. And while it is unfortunate that perhaps several hundred tons of sophisticated explosives were stolen, we have to remember that hundreds of thousands of tons of munitions and explosives have already been destroyed and/or secured in Iraq.

If John Kerry were blessed with the power of 20/20 hindsight before the fact, hell, even I might vote for him. But, as Max Boot pointed out in a syndicated column today, Kerry's past predictions on Iraq haven't proven to be too accurate.

October 25, 2004 at 09:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 23, 2004

WaPo = liberal but fair, NYT = Partisan distortion

Today's WaPo has a lead editorial discussing the politicization of the flu vaccine shortage. Although they are a liberal paper who is virtually to endorse John Kerry for President, they are also fair and reasoned in their editorial positions. Something that the NYT, regrettably, has not been for many years. Here is the WaPo's take on the vaccine shortage debate:

FOR THE SUDDEN shortage of flu vaccine, there are many villains. Poor policies extend back over several administrations, and Republicans, Democrats, tort lawyers, drug manufacturers and regulators all bear some responsibility. You wouldn't know that, though, from listening to Sen. John F. Kerry and President Bush. Having missed an early opportunity to politicize the flu vaccine shortage in the third presidential debate, both nominees have now taken up the issue with a vengeance. In neither case does the rhetoric tell the whole story.

. . . The exodus of companies from vaccine manufacturing has long been predicted, for many reasons. Heavy regulation of the industry, the gathering threat of lawsuits -- the president is right; this is not a minor factor -- and uncertain, fluctuating markets that led to big annual losses pushed several companies out of the business and led others to look for short cuts.

Contrast this, balanced approach with the NYT's editorial on this subject last Sunday:
Experts are pondering ways to induce more companies to make flu vaccine for the American market. The issue is not that manufacturers are worried about lawsuits over liability, as President Bush has suggested. Litigation is seldom, if ever, cited in authoritative analyses of vaccine shortages. [Emphasis added.]
Sad, really.

October 23, 2004 at 08:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Our friends, the French

Today's UK Guardian describes how a newly discovered novel written by a Russian jewish emigré in France during WWII, shortly before she was arrested by the Vichy police and sent to Auschwitz and her death, has become a literary sensation in France:

Sixty-two years after its author died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, a remarkable and previously unpublished wartime work by an emigré Russian Jew in France has taken the world of publishing by storm.

Suite francaise, the first two parts of what Irène Némirovsky originally intended to be a five-volume epic, has been hailed by ecstatic French critics as "a masterpiece" and "probably the definitive novel of our nation in the second world war".

Rights to the work, published three weeks ago, have already been sold in 18 countries, including Britain and the US, often for sums higher than any previously paid for a French novel, and a vigorous campaign is underway for Némirovsky to be posthumously awarded France's most prestigious literary prize, the Goncourt.

I can't wait to read the english translation.

October 23, 2004 at 02:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack