Friday, October 08, 2004

H.D.S. Greenway: The Islamic Iron Curtain

October 8, 2004
The Boston Globe

A most chilling glimpse into the future recently came from Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, who recently warned that "action must be taken before an iron curtain finally descends between the West and the Islamic world." "Iron curtain," those two iconic words of Winston Churchill's, came toward the end of Churchill's famous Fulton, Mo., speech in the spring of 1946. "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent. Behind it lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe."

It was a time when some still thought that the Soviet Union could be accommodated instead of confronted and contained. But as he had against the Nazis, Churchill issued his dire warning against the forces of international communism, which before the decade was out would consolidate and expand its control of Eastern and Central Europe as well as China in the Far East. The next 46 years of the 20th century would be consumed in this epic struggle.

Today we are engaged in another struggle between the same ideals that the West maintained against communism and the forces of a militant and radical Islam that seeks to lower an iron curtain so that they can gain control of that vast band of countries that have Muslim majorities, from Rabat on the Atlantic to Surabaya in the Java Sea.

Musharraf, who is in a life-and-death struggle between his own more-tolerant version of the faith and the forces of militant Islam, chose to echo Winston Churchill in order to underscore his warning. "We may be scoring victories against terrorists, but we are in danger of losing the ultimate war if the world does not rally to resolve the injustices in the Muslim World," he said before the United Nations.

"The tragedy of Palestine is an open wound on the psyche of every Muslim," Musharraf said. "The US can and must play the role of a just broker of peace."
The warriors of Al Qaeda may not give a hoot about Palestine, but they can use an obvious injustice to grow their maggots in traumatized flesh. In an era of instant communications, Muslims around the world are aware of another open wound in Kashmir, which both Pakistan and India are working to heal. And, of course, Iraq -- which may yet prove to be the most grievous open wound of all, alienating Muslims in their hundred of thousands, rallying militants to the terrorist cause.

Muslims around the world had to take note of the expressions of joy on the streets of Kabul beamed around the world in 2001. There was, perhaps, a moment when Iraq and the Muslim world might have seen the United States as a liberator in Iraq, but that was lost when an incompetent administration lost control of security all over the country after Saddam Hussein fell. The image of Saddam's statue coming down has been superseded in the Muslim mind by images of Abu Ghraib prison, which is seldom even mentioned in the United States anymore. And when the United States sends planes to bomb the heart of the Iraqi capital, the message of brute force against helpless Muslim civilians is reinforced.

President Bush sees himself as a Churchillian figure, standing up to Saddam the way Churchill did to Hitler, but what the Bush administration failed to fully realize from the beginning was that the threat came from militant Islam -- an idea, not a nation state. Saddam may have been a potential threat down the road, but the lesson of 9/11 was that the clear and present danger lay with Al Qaeda, not Iraq.

Bush today speaks of only a "handful" of Iraqis who oppose America's plans, but the truth is that there is a deep and growing insurgency sucking up Iraqis who hated Saddam worse then we did.
It is resurgent and militant extremism that the West and the more-tolerant Muslim societies of the East must face today. And like the Cold War, it could take half a century of effort.

Afghanistan, which should have been a model for the moderates, has been marginalized by America's misadventure in Iraq. And in Iraq, Islamic extremism has found fresh and unplowed soil to set down its roots. Iraq is on its way to becoming a national tragedy for the United States, degrading the security of East and West together.

H.D.S. Greenway's column appears regularly in the Globe.
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

Detroit Free Press: Magelssen Out As Northern's Volleyball Coach

[This is a truly distubing story...the fact that Jack Magelssen retains his teaching job leads me to believe that no inappropriate acts took place and the coach is a victim of a flaccid administration failing to stand up to and educate a few shortsighted and petty parents and their children.]

VOLLEYBALL: Magelssen out as Northern's coach,
School removes 10-time state champ
October 8, 2004

For 28 years, Jack Magelssen's Portage Northern teams have dominated high school volleyball.
He has the most coaching victories in state history with more than 1,400, owns a record 10 state championships and will be an inaugural inductee in the Michigan volleyball coaches hall of fame, which opens next month.

But none of that mattered after school on Tuesday, when Magelssen was told his yearly contract was not being renewed.

Magelssen, who will remain as a physical education and special needs teacher at Northern, said there was no single incident that led to his dismissal and that the administration offered a few reported problems by parents when they asked him to resign.

Magelssen said a few parents were dissatisfied with their children's status in the program and went to the administration. Magelssen said some parents also thought he worked the players too hard. The coach said he does not play favorites and puts his players through intense preparations, but thought nothing was out of the ordinary or inappropriate.
Magelssen felt he had done nothing wrong and refused to resign. He offered to have a few of his athletes talk to the administration about the incidents in question. Though the students backed Magelssen, the administration held firm on his removal.

"All they said was they were going to turn it into a positive situation," said Magelssen, 56, who hopes to coach at another high school. Northern will post the job and begin looking for a replacement. The first day of practice is Nov. 18.
Athletic director Carl Latora wouldn't comment Thursday on the dismissal, saying only that it was difficult because the two have been friends for years.

District spokesman Tom Vance said no overriding negative incident led to Magelssen's removal, and cited his remaining on the teaching staff as evidence.
"We're hoping that the fact that there is nothing impacting his status as a faculty member answers part of people's concerns," Vance said.

Vance offered nothing specific on the dismissal, saying only, "There was an administrative decision made not to renew the coaching position."
Magelssen said he has been battling these parents' dissatisfaction since the spring and was repeatedly assured he would remain coach.
That was until Tuesday.

By the time word spread at school Wednesday morning, the main office at Northern was filled with complaining students but, according to Magelssen, the administration would not discuss it.
"They're hoping it goes away," Magelssen said. "I'm happy making it 28 years and have nothing but positive experiences."

Here is a link to a related story from the Kalamazoo Gazette:

Douglas Johnson: Blood Brothers

From the October 11, 2004 issue:

Why the leading practitioners of late abortion wrote checks to Kerry.

by Douglas Johnson 10/11/2004, Volume 010, Issue 05

MARTIN HASKELL, George Tiller, and Warren Hern have several things in common. All three are abortionists who specialize in late abortions. Haskell's name is closely linked with the partial-birth abortion method. Tiller and Hern may be the only two abortionists in the United States who openly advertise their willingness to perform third-trimester abortions.

Finally, all three men have opened their checkbooks to support Senator John Kerry's bid to be president of the United States. Their contributions to Kerry's campaign total $7,000.

That is not a vast sum compared with the millions being spent by liberal groups to attack President Bush. (Federal law limits a contributor to maximum total donations of $4,000 to a single presidential candidate, split between two types of campaign accounts.) Nevertheless, these contributions are worth scrutinizing because of what they reveal about John Kerry.

Although Haskell, Tiller, and Hern have been controversial figures for many years in national debates about late abortions (as anybody can ascertain by entering their names into Google), the Kerry campaign apparently readily accepted the contributions--money that might very well have originated in fees charged to perform partial-birth abortions or other late abortions.

But why would such men send their hard-earned dollars to Kerry? After all, Kerry told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, on January 25, 2004, "I'm against partial-birth abortion, as are many people." And Kerry told the Dubuque Telegraph Herald in July, 2004, "I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception."

My bet is that the abortionists know that during his 20 years in the Senate, Kerry has been an absolutely consistent defender of abortion. So why should they be bothered by statements intended only to mislead voters who are strongly opposed to the grisly business that these men are in--voters who are still unfamiliar with Kerry's actual record?

Most likely, these abortionists are quite aware that Kerry has promised to nominate only Supreme Court justices who share his real position on abortion policy--which would guarantee that partial-birth abortions and other late abortions, and of course earlier abortions, would remain almost entirely shielded from scrutiny or restriction by elected lawmakers for the foreseeable future.

DR. MARTIN HASKELL wrote the Kerry for President campaign a check for $2,000, recorded June 30, 2004. Haskell, based in Ohio, owns three abortion clinics, all called Women's Med Center ( In 1992 Haskell published a paper describing how to perform what he called "dilation and extraction." Circulation of this paper led to introduction of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act by congressman Charles Canady, a Florida Republican, in 1995.

Brenda Pratt Shafer, a nurse who worked briefly at one of Haskell's clinics, witnessed close up the partial-birth abortion of a baby boy who she said was at 26 and a half weeks.
"I stood at the doctor's side and watched him perform a partial-birth abortion on a woman who was six months pregnant," Shafer related. "The baby's heartbeat was clearly visible on the ultrasound screen. The doctor delivered the baby's body and arms, everything but his little head. The baby's body was moving. His little fingers were clasping together. He was kicking his feet.

"The doctor took a pair of scissors and inserted them into the back of the baby's head, and the baby's arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks that he might fall. Then the doctor opened the scissors up. Then he stuck the high-powered suction tube into the hole and sucked the baby's brains out. Now the baby was completely limp. I never went back to the clinic. But I am still haunted by the face of that little boy. It was the most perfect, angelic face I have ever seen."

Haskell wrote that he used this method on all of his clients from 20 through 24 weeks, unless they had certain health problems, and on "selected" clients through 26 weeks. He told American Medical News that 80 percent of his late abortions were "purely elective." The head of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers admitted to the New York Times in 1997 that the method is used thousands of times annually, and that "in the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along."

It seems that none of that really bothers John Kerry, who has voted for unsuccessful amendments to allow partial-birth abortions without any restriction whatever during the entire period of pregnancy that Haskell acknowledges performing them, and to allow abortions for "health" reasons (the term includes emotional "health") even later than that. After those killer amendments were rejected, Kerry voted every time (six times) against passage of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

Haskell and Kerry both have a knack for compartmentalization. In 1993, Cincinnati Medicine asked Haskell, "Does it bother you that a second trimester fetus so closely resembles a baby?" Haskell replied, "I really don't think about it. . . . Many of our patients have ethical dilemmas about abortion. I don't feel it's my role as a physician to tell her she should not have an abortion because of her ethical feelings. . . . I'm not to tell them what's right or wrong."

Kerry explained in 1972: "On abortion, I myself, by belief and upbringing, am opposed to abortion, but as a legislator, as one who is called on to pass a law, I would find it very difficult to legislate on something God himself has not seen fit to make clear to all the people on this earth."

DR. GEORGE TILLER runs an abortion facility in Wichita, Kansas. He sent the Kerry campaign a contribution of $1,000, recorded March 17, 2004.

A full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks (counted from the end of the last menstrual period). Tiller performs abortions on request through 26 weeks, or near the end of the sixth month. He uses various methods, but often favors killing the fetus by injecting digoxin into his or her chest to stop the heart, followed by induction of labor and/or manual removal of the dead baby.
Tiller's clinic website ( explains, "We are able to perform elective abortions to the time in the pregnancy when the fetus is viable. Viability is not a set point in time."

When most doctors use the term "viability," they mean the point at which a premature infant can survive outside the mother with modern neonatal medical support, which is generally about 23 or 24 weeks, or about 5 and a half months.
But Tiller operates on a different definition, which he calls "survivalhood."

A spokeswoman for Tiller explained, "Our philosophy basically is that, prior to 26 weeks, without massive neonatal intensive care, you do not have survivalhood." Tiller himself has said, "Through the end of the second trimester, when natural survival-hood does not exist, women have the right to continue a pregnancy or end that pregnancy" (italics added).
So, although with proper neonatal care over two-thirds of babies born prematurely at 26 weeks now survive long-term, they are still eligible for purely elective abortion under Tiller's "survivalhood" doctrine.

What about abortions after 26 weeks? In a 1995 speech, Tiller spoke of performing abortions as late as 36weeks.

It is not entirely clear what Tiller's criteria are for abortions after the 26th week. In 1992, the New York Times ran an article about Tiller, Hern, and the late James McMahon. (McMahon, who died in 1995, developed the partial-birth abortion method.) The paper reported: "All three say they are uncomfortable doing late abortions unless the fetus is abnormal or the woman's physical or mental health is endangered. But they make their decisions case by case and come down firmly on the side of the woman's right to decide whether she wants to continue her pregnancy. They say they do not have specific guidelines on what circumstances justify an abortion or when it is too late to perform one. The woman, not the fetus, is their patient, they say."

Tiller's website is less explicit. It says, "Kansas law allows for post-viability abortion procedures when continuing the pregnancy is detrimental to the pregnant woman's health. Each person's circumstances are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Please call so that we can discuss admission criteria with you."

A lot of callers apparently meet the criteria, as the website asserts that Tiller's clinic has "more experience in late abortion services over 24 weeks than anyone else currently practicing in the Western Hemisphere, Europe and Australia." Tiller himself wrote in 2003, "I am the outpatient abortion provider of the last resort in the United States, the Western Hemisphere and Australia."

Does Kerry wish to protect what Tiller does? Not if you believe what he told Peter Jennings of ABC in an interview broadcast July 22: "What the Supreme Court has established is a test of viability as to whether or not you're permitted to terminate a pregnancy, and I support that. That is my test."

In reality, however, Kerry has voted for unsuccessful measures to require that abortion be available even in the final three months of pregnancy for "health" reasons, which include emotional "health." Beyond that, it seems that Kerry would leave the definition of viability entirely in the hands of each abortionist. He cosponsored the Freedom of Choice Act in the early 1990s. This bill would have forbidden states to place restrictions on abortion until after "viability," with "viability" defined by the abortionist.

In short, Kerry has consistently supported enactment of federal statutes that would protect everything that Tiller does. But Tiller won't need the shield of such statutes if Kerry gets to pick Supreme Court justices.

WARREN HERN, between September 15, 2003, and June 25, 2004, made three contributions totaling $4,000 to two Kerry accounts, the maximum permitted by law.

Hern is the owner and director of the Boulder Abortion Clinic. Hern has developed refinements of various abortion methods, including the dismemberment procedures called "dilation and evacuation." In an early paper on such D&Es, he wrote, "There is no possibility of denial of an act of destruction by the operator. It is before one's eyes. The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current."

According to the clinic's website (, it offers "outpatient elective abortion through 26 weeks." (Again, more than two-thirds of infants born at 26 weeks now survive long-term.)

Hern also offers abortions "up to 36 weeks"--that is, the end of the eighth month--when "medically indicated." Such very late abortions are often performed because of "fetal anomalies," but in a 1992 letter, Hern listed rape, incest, and "extreme youth" of the mother as examples of reasons for performing abortions "up to 34 menstrual weeks' gestation."

How compatible are John Kerry's views with those of Warren Hern? Kerry told ABC in July, "Let me tell you very clearly that being pro-choice is not pro-abortion . . . and I think we need to adhere to the standard that Bill Clinton, in fact, so adeptly framed, that abortion should be rare, but legal and safe."

Well, the term "pro-abortion" can surely be aptly applied to Hern, who wrote that pregnancy should be regarded not as a normal state but as an illness which "may be treated by evacuation of the uterus." Elsewhere he wrote that pregnancy is most appropriately compared to infestation by a parasite. He is a strong proponent of population control, who has written that population growth has made the human race itself an "ecotumor" or "planetary malignancy."
It wouldn't make much sense to say that an effective anti-parasite or anti-cancer treatment should be used only "rarely," so it might seem that Kerry and Hern have divergent views on this point.

But here too, Kerry's record says otherwise. Despite Kerry's adoption of Clinton's "adeptly framed" verbal formula that abortion should be "rare," Kerry has consistently voted in favor of making abortion an integral part of U.S.-funded population control programs. Indeed, Kerry has pledged that if elected president, he would use his very first executive order to overturn President Bush's policy of not funding private organizations that promote abortion in foreign nations.

"Abortions need to be moved out of the fringes of medicine and into the mainstream of medical practice," Kerry explained in 1994.
Early this year, Kate Michelman, the longtime president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, told the New York Times, "Even on the most difficult issues, we've never had to worry about John Kerry's position."

Like Kate Michelman, Doctors Haskell, Tiller, and Hern know their man.

Douglas Johnson is legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee ( Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, contributed essential research and documentation regarding Dr. George Tiller.

Correction appended, 10/5/04: "Blood Brothers" quoted Sen. John Kerry as telling Peter Jennings of ABC News in July, "I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception." Kerry actually made that statement weeks earlier to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. Jennings asked Kerry to explain the statement.

© Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Glenn Reynolds: Kerry's Case Collapses

October 7, 2004 11:47 AM ET

Although everybody's talking about weapons of mass destruction, the story that's not being reported --you'd almost think the press "wants Kerry to win"-- is the complete collapse of John Kerry's foreign policy case, and the reason for that collapse.

The weapons of mass destruction case is a bit more, um, nuanced than a lot of the press treatment makes it sound, of course. No weapons have been found, but the Iraq Survey Group's report makes clear that Saddam wanted to outwait sanctions and then start making the weapons again:

The ISG, who confirmed last autumn that they had found no WMD, last night presented detailed findings from interviews with Iraqi officials and documents laying out his plans to bribe foreign businessmen and politicians.

Although they found no evidence that Saddam had made any WMD since 1992, they found documents which showed the "guiding theme" of his regime was to be able to start making them again with as short a lead time as possible."

But hey, Kerry voted for the war, so his arguments on that topic boil down to either (1) Bush lied, and I'm gullible: or (2) Bush and I both got fooled, but I'll do better next time. Neither is very compelling.

The real centerpiece of Kerry's foreign policy stance, though, has been that he would be better than Bush at getting allies together, and at passing the "Global Test" before taking military action. And that case is in total collapse this week.

Forget missteps like his dissing of our allies in Iraq, Australia, and Poland -- which drew a stinging response from the Polish President ("It's sad that a Senator with twenty years of experience does not appreciate Polish sacrifice.") Now even Kerry is admitting that he's not going to be able to deliver on his promises:

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry conceded yesterday that he probably will not be able to convince France and Germany to contribute troops to Iraq if he is elected president.
The Massachusetts senator has made broadening the coalition trying to stabilize Iraq a centerpiece of his campaign, but at a town hall meeting yesterday, he said he knows other countries won't trade their soldiers' lives for those of U.S. troops.

"Does that mean allies are going to trade their young for our young in body bags? I know they are not. I know that," he said.

Body bags. This sounds like the John Kerry of 1971. I can't help but think that, for Kerry, every war is Vietnam. And if he's President, I'm afraid that might turn out to be the case.

The "Global Test" bit looks kind of bad, in this light. But it looks even worse when you consider the other revelations of the Iraq Survey Group -- namely, that most of the opposition to the war came from people who were being bribed by Saddam:

Saddam Hussein believed he could avoid the Iraq war with a bribery strategy targeting Jacques Chirac, the President of France, according to devastating documents released last night.

Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France - having been granted oil contracts - would veto any American plans for war. ...To keep America at bay, he focusing [sic] on Russia, France and China - three of the five UN Security Council m bers with the power to veto war. Politicians, journalists and diplomats were all given lavish gifts and oil-for-food vouchers.

Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, told the ISG that the "primary motive for French co-operation" was to secure lucrative oil deals when UN sanctions were lifted. Total, the French oil giant, had been promised exploration rights.

Iraqi intelligence officials then "targeted a number of French individuals that Iraq thought had a close relationship to French President Chirac," it said, including two of his "counsellors" [sic] and spokesman for his re-election campaign.

It's hard to pass the "Global Test" when the people grading it are being bribed to administer a failing grade. Perhaps Kerry should change his stance, and promise that a Kerry Administration would "outbid the bad guys." That approach is more likely to succeed than the one he's been touting, which even he has admitted is doomed.

George Vescey: Clemens, Astros Win Game 1

With Brains and Gall, the Old Man Just Might Carry the Astros This Time

By GEORGE VECSEY, Published: October 7, 2004
The New York Times

ATLANTA- After two World Series rings, after six Cy Young awards, after one splintered Mike Piazza bat, there was still something Roger Clemens had never done on a ball field. In his first 20 seasons in the major leagues, Clemens had never won an opening game in a postseason series, losing three times and having no decisions in three other starts.
"Meaningless," Clemens said, after he finally won one yesterday.

Still recovering from a virus, the accidental Astro willed himself to pitch seven innings in a 9-3 victory over the Braves in the opener of the best-of-five-game division series.
It was a masterly "Perils of Pauline" performance, with Clemens battling his rustiness, the residual effects of the virus, a foxhole in front of the pitching mound and his own onrushing 42 years. The burly old master showed how to eke out a victory on patience and brains and gall.
"That is part of his leadership skill," said his manager, Phil Garner.

As powerful and dominant as Clemens has been, it could be argued that he has never taken a team where it had been unable to go. His new team is surely in need of historic transformation.
Think about it. The Red Sox, the team of his blazing superlative youth, reached only one World Series. Surely you remember 1986? Clemens pitched only 11 1/3 innings in two games, including the sixth game - now known as either the Buckner Game or the Mookie Game, depending on your view of the world.

The fading Blue Jays did not make the postseason in his two seasons there. And when he joined the Yankees in 1999, he punched his ticket, earning two World Series rings, but the championship pattern had already been established by Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and Mariano Rivera.

This year just might be different. Since their creation in the expansion of 1962, the Astros have lost all seven of their postseason series. By contrast, their early foils, the Amazing Mets, created in the same rigged draft, have won two World Series and lost two.
The Astros have had their chances. The 1986 Mets will never forget being dominated by Mike Scott in the first and fourth games, scoring only one run in 18 innings and knowing, absolutely knowing, that Scott would do it all over again in a seventh game.

Scott never got the chance because the Astros lost that epic 16-inning Game 6, which still haunts Houston fans. (And think about this: three separate franchises reeled for years because of the disasters of the 1986 playoffs - the Astros, the Angels and the Red Sox. That kind of trauma does not happen every year.)

Now the old warrior has come back from a few short months of off-season retirement to give his hometown team some new hope. Clemens came down with a brutal virus Saturday night and was trudging around without the chesty swagger of old.
"The way I felt in the first inning, I felt I might retire on the spot," Clemens said afterward.

Clemens started in creaky fashion, giving up an unearned run in the first inning. He frequently had runners on base, but he shifted to Plan B, otherwise known as avoidance.
"He really manages the other team's lineup well," Garner said on Tuesday.
"The interesting thing is when he doesn't want to pitch to a guy, he usually closes the door when he gets to the next guy. So it's a beautiful thing to watch," Garner added. "A lot of time, guys try to do that and then they end up losing the guy that they didn't want to pitch to. But Rog doesn't do that."

There was a textbook case in the third inning. With a runner on first and two outs, Clemens carefully pitched around left-handed Adam LaRoche and dangerous Andruw Jones to get at Charles Thomas, a lefty hitter with half a season in the majors.
"You just can't give up a hittable ball," Clemens said.
He launched an outside strike that had Thomas leaning. Then an inside ball that straightened Thomas up. Then another outside strike that had Thomas leaning again. Then an inside called strike ended the inning.

For all that, the old man was muttering when he came off the mound. Was it the umpiring? Was it the crater that Jaret Wright of the Braves had dug in front of the rubber? Was it his own sloppiness?
"Everything," Clemens said.

The old man plodded through seven innings. He now has a 9-6 record in 27 postseason games, not bad at such a high level of competition.
"Things happen,'' said Bobby Cox, the Braves' manager. "You're always going up against the other club's ace in Game 1."
It's a fair explanation. Still, some great pitchers have found a way to immediately shape a postseason series. Yesterday, Clemens put his mark on this series.
At their own peril, Houston fans can overlook the saga of Mike Scott, and they can regard Roger Clemens's game as some kind of an omen.

Thomas Sowell: Responsible Voting

Thomas Sowell (archive)
October 7, 2004

Every election year there are great alarms in the media that not enough Americans vote. Supposedly this shows that there is something wrong at the core of our society. In reality, societies where different groups are at each other's throats often have high voter turnout, as each fears the worst if some other group gains political power.

Polarization is a high price to pay for high voter turnout. But efforts are already underway to scare old people that their Social Security is threatened, in order to get out their vote, when in fact nobody in his right mind is going to touch their Social Security.

It is young people who are more likely to find that their promised pensions are not there when they get old -- unless they get some private pension in the meantime, with or without privatization of Social Security.

Since 90 percent of the black vote goes to Democrats, it is especially important for Democrats to scare blacks, in order to get a large turnout. Charges of "racism" have been used for this purpose in the past but it is hard to make that stick against an administration with the first black Secretary of State and the first black National Security Adviser in the White House.

The ploy this time is to claim that Republicans are trying to "suppress" the black vote "again." Senator Kerry has stooped to this, despite the fact that many of the voting booth problems in Florida in 2000 occurred in precincts controlled by election officials who were Democrats.
Other uses of polarization to increase voter turnout include Senator John Edwards' claim that there are "two Americas" and the old familiar line about "tax cuts for the rich."

Whatever the effectiveness of polarization in boosting turnout for Democrats, the larger question is: What is its effect on the country as a whole -- and not just during election years? A country whose people see each other as enemies is in big trouble, often in bigger trouble than its worst enemies can make.

People who have no partisan axes to grind may see a big voter turnout as a healthy form of self-expression. They want to see registration and voting made easier -- and are often reluctant to see that this makes voter fraud easier as well.

Voter fraud is not a small thing, especially when elections are very close, as in 2000 and as apparently this one may be as well, judging by the polls. A more fundamental problem, however, is that voting is not just a matter of individual self-expression. It is choosing the people in whose hands the destiny of this nation will be placed.

That is an enormous responsibility at a time when Americans are in greater peril than even during the nuclear stand-off of the Cold War. After all, the Soviet Union could be deterred by our nuclear weapons but suicide bombers cannot be deterred by anything. And it may be only a matter of a few years before they have nuclear weapons.

Choosing leaders in a time like this as a matter of self-expression may be the biggest, and perhaps last, self-indulgence in a self-indulgent age. We are not choosing politicians for style or rhetoric. We are deciding who has what it takes to confront our enemies and deter nations who would give aid and sanctuary to those enemies.

In this context, the emphasis on a duty to vote is a very misplaced emphasis. When the right choice is so critical, the emphasis needs to be on making an informed decision, not a knee-jerk response to images and talk.

A citizen who cannot be bothered to find out the facts about the issues, not just media spin or party propaganda, is doing a disservice to this country by voting -- especially when electing leaders making life-and-death decisions whose consequences will affect this generation and generations to come.

Those who vote on the basis of what the government can do for them are especially short-sighted during a war against worldwide terror networks. What good would it do to get free prescription drugs forever if your forever is likely to be cut short by more attacks like those on September 11, 2001?

©2004 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Captain's Quarters Blog: Edwards Fails Constitutional Test

6 October 2004

Although many MSM pundits have declared John Edwards the winner of the domestic portion of last night's debate, both observers and VP Cheney missed a major blunder, especially considering that Edwards is an attorney. During his discussion of the gay marriage question, Edwards repeatedly stated, "No state for the last 200 years has ever had to recognize another state's marriage." Edwards went on to criticize for "using the Constitution as a political tool."

I'd like to direct the trial attorney's attention to Article IV of the US Constitution, Section 1, also known as the Full Faith and Credit Clause. States are compelled by law to recognize marriages performed in other states. If any state performs a marriage between homosexuals, then all other states in the union will be bound to recognize it, regardless of that state's law.

Apparently Edwards didn't just miss Senate sessions, he missed a lot of law school classes as well.

Stephen F. Hayes on al-Qaeda/Iraq Ties Pre & Post VP Debate

The Kerry-Edwards "Front" Did President Bush create "a new front" in the war on terrorism? Tonight, Dick Cheney can put the issue of Saddam's connection to al Qaeda to rest.

[Mr. Hayes is the author of "The Connection" which thoroughly details the connection between al-Qaeda and the regime of Saddam Hussein.]

by Stephen F. Hayes 10/05/2004 8:38:00 AM

THE KERRY CAMPAIGN continued its attempt to dissociate the Iraq war from the broader war on terror on Monday. In a conference call with reporters, senior Kerry advisers Joe Lockhart and Susan Rice previewed the questions John Edwards will ask Dick Cheney during the debate this evening. Expect the Iraq-al Qaeda connection to come up several times. It was the first issue that Rice, a former Clinton administration official who advises Kerry on foreign policy, raised during the conference call.

Rice claimed that the "reality" in Iraq was that there were "no links to al Qaeda." The Bush administration, she charged, has "now successfully tried to create a new front in the war on terror in Iraq where it wasn't before." Rice wasn't done. "Given that the 9/11 Commission and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have said repeatedly that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 or Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, and that even Condoleezza Rice has confirmed that there was no such link, is [Cheney] going to be the last person to contend that there is such a connection?"

Not likely. Thomas Kean, co-chairman of the September 11 Commission, went far beyond mere "links" between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda.

"There was no question in our minds that there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," he said at a press conference on July 22, 2004. "Relationship" is also the word used to describe Iraq-al Qaeda contacts in an internal Iraqi Intelligence document, authenticated by U.S. intelligence and first disclosed on June 25, 2004, in the New York Times. When bin Laden left the Sudan in 1996, according to the document, his Iraqi Intelligence contacts began "seeking other channels through which to handle the relationship, in light of his current location." The document makes no mention of any formal arrangement between Iraq and al Qaeda, but instructs that ''cooperation between the two organizations should be allowed to develop freely through discussion and agreement."

Rice is simply wrong when she claims that the 9/11 Commission "repeatedly" dismissed a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. In fact, the commission's final report details numerous "friendly contacts" between Iraq and al Qaeda before concluding that the evidence it had seen did not suggest a "collaborative operational relationship."

"With the Sudanese regime acting as an intermediary, bin Laden himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995. Bin Laden is said to have asked for space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but there is no evidence that Iraq responded to this request."

In March 1998, according to the 9/11 report, two al Qaeda members reportedly went to Iraq to meet with Iraqi intelligence." Iraqi officials traveled to Afghanistan in July 1998 to meet with representatives from the Taliban and later directly with Osama bin Laden. According to the 9/11 report, "sources reported that one, or perhaps both, of these meetings was apparently arranged through bin Laden's Egyptian deputy, [Ayman al] Zawahiri, who had ties of his own to the Iraqis."

LET'S REVIEW: Kerry adviser Susan Rice claims the 9/11 Commission dismissed "links" between Iraq and al Qaeda. In fact, the 9/11 Commission co-chairman says there is "no question" of an Iraq-al Qaeda relationship. The final commission report notes numerous "friendly contacts" between Iraq and al Qaeda and declares that bin Laden's top deputy "had ties of his own to the Iraqis."

And what of Rice's claim that the Senate Intelligence Committee also dismissed the Iraq-al Qaeda connection? Or that Iraq was not involved with terrorism before the Iraq War?
The report contains 66 pages on "Iraq's Links to Terrorism." The CIA's counterterrorism center undertook an aggressive study of the Iraq-al Qaeda connection because "any indication of a relationship between these two hostile elements could carry great dangers to the United States." Note that phrase: Any indication of a relationship. The Senate report also quoted a CIA analysis called "Iraqi Support for Terrorism."

Iraq continues to be a safehaven, transit point, or operational node for groups and individuals who direct violence against the United States, Israel and allies. Iraq has a long history of supporting terrorism. During the last four decades, it has altered its targets to reflect changing priorities and goals. It continues to harbor and sustain a number of smaller anti-Israel terrorist groups and to actively encourage violence against Israel. Regarding the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship, reporting from sources of varying reliability points to a number of contacts, incidents of training, and discussions of Iraqi safehaven for Usama bin Laden and his organization dating from the early 1990s.

Did the Bush administration really "create a new front in the war on terror in Iraq where it wasn't before?" Not according to the Senate Intelligence Committee report.

From 1996 to 2003, the IIS [Iraqi Intelligence Service] focused its terrorist activities on western interest, particularly against the U.S. and Israel. The CIA summarized nearly 50 intelligence reports as examples, using language directly from the intelligence reports. Ten intelligence reports [redacted] from multiple sources indicate IIS "casing" operations against Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in Prague began in 1998 and continued into early 2003. The CIA assessed, based on the Prague casings and a variety of other reporting that throughout 2002, the IIS was becoming increasingly aggressive in planning terrorist attacks against U.S. interests.

And is Cheney really alone in his belief that the Iraq-al Qaeda connection was a threat? Hardly. Along with most Republicans in Congress, so do Democratic Senators Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh. So do several 9/11 commissioners. So does Ayad Allawi, the new Iraqi Prime Minister. He said as much during a July 29, 2004, interview with NBC's Tom Brokaw: "I believe very strongly that Saddam had relations with al Qaeda. And these relations started in Sudan. We know Saddam had relationships with a lot of terrorists and international terrorism. Now, whether he is directly connected to the September atrocities or not, I can't vouch for this. But definitely I know that he has connections with extremism and terrorists." (Joe Lockhart, who last week suggested that Allawi was little more than an American puppet, will not likely find this persuasive.)

Barham Salih, current deputy prime minister of Iraq, agrees with Allawi. "Saddam Hussein, a 'secular infidel' to many jihadists, had no problem giving money to Hamas. This debate [about whether Saddam worked with al Qaeda] is stupid. The proof is there."

William Cohen, Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, testified about the Iraq-al Qaeda connection in front of the September 11 Commission on March 23, 2004. Executives from a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant that the U.S. bombed in response to al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa "traveled to Baghdad to meet with the father of the VX program."
The list goes on.

Unasked and Unanswered John Edwards didn't always belive the things he said during the vice presidential debate.
by Stephen F. Hayes 10/06/2004 12:43:00 AM

"MR. VICE PRESIDENT, we were attacked but we weren't attacked by Saddam Hussein."
John Edwards used those words--and others like them--several times throughout his debate with Dick Cheney. "They diverted resources from the people who attacked us," Edwards said. The Bush Administration took its "eye off the ball."

Edwards didn't always feel this way. On October 10, 2002, John Edwards explained his vote to authorize the war in Iraq this way: "Others argue that if even our allies support us, we should not support this resolution because confronting Iraq now would undermine the long-term fight against terrorist groups like al Qaeda. Yet, I believe that this is not an either-or choice. Our national security requires us to do both, and we can."

Was John Edwards wrong? He didn't say. And he wasn't asked.
Senator Edwards spent much of the evening expressing his belief that there was no connection between Iraq and al Qaeda. He downplayed Iraq's role in terrorism generally and the threat posed by the potential that Saddam Hussein could pass his deadly weapons to terrorists. He didn't always feel this way.

On September 12, 2002, Edwards said this: "The terrorist threat against America is all too clear. Thousands of terrorist operatives around the world would pay anything to get their hands on Saddam's arsenal, and there is every reason to believe that Saddam would turn his weapons over to these terrorists. No one can doubt that if the terrorists of September 11 had had weapons of mass destruction, they would have used them.

On September 12, 2002, we can hardly ignore the terrorist threat and the serious danger that Saddam would allow his arsenal to be used in aid of terror."
Was John Edwards wrong? He didn't say. And he wasn't asked.

Most important, Senator Edwards is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Although he missed many Intelligence Committee meetings to campaign for president, he signed the report that the Intelligence Committee issued on July 7, 2004. That report confirmed numerous high-level contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. And it included this passage:
From 1996 to 2003, the IIS [Iraqi Intelligence Service] focused its terrorist activities on western interest, particularly against the U.S. and Israel. The CIA summarized nearly 50 intelligence reports as examples, using language directly from the intelligence reports. Ten intelligence reports [redacted] from multiple sources indicate IIS "casing" operations against Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in Prague began in 1998 and continued into early 2003. The CIA assessed, based on the Prague casings and a variety of other reporting that throughout 2002, the IIS was becoming increasingly aggressive in planning terrorist attacks against U.S. interests.

From p. 331 of the Senate report that Edwards approved: "Twelve reports received [redacted] from sources that the CIA described as having varying reliability, cited Iraq or Iraqi national involvement in al Qaeda's CBW [chemical and biological weapons] efforts." What's more the Senate Intelligence report concluded that the CIA's assessments on Iraq-al Qaeda contacts were "reasonable." Was John Edwards wrong? He didn't say. And he wasn't asked.
Stephen F. Hayes is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard.

LA Times: Rodney Dangerfield Dead At 82

October 6, 2004

OBITUARIES: Rodney Dangerfield, 82; Comedic Icon Built a Career on Getting 'No Respect'

By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Rodney Dangerfield, who tapped an enduringly rich vein of comedy gold when he created his stage persona as a middle-aged everyman who got no respect, died Tuesday. He was 82.Dangerfield died at UCLA Medical Center of complications following heart valve replacement surgery Aug. 25, said his publicist, Kevin Sasaki.After the surgery, he slipped into what his family described as a "light coma," from which he emerged briefly before his death. The comedian had undergone arterial brain surgery in April 2003 to improve his body's blood flow in preparation for the heart valve replacement.Ever the joker, Dangerfield had cracked: "If things go right, I'll be there about a week, and if things don't go right, I'll be there about an hour and a half."
Dangerfield, whose successful comeback as a stand-up comic in the 1960s when he was in his 40s made him a familiar figure on television, in movies, and on Vegas and comedy-club stages for more than three decades, had been active in comedy until his recent surgery.Standing on stage in his trademark black suit, the bug-eyed Dangerfield was always the picture of sweaty unease, nervously tugging at his red tie as he delivered his sharply timed, self-deprecating lines."My wife's a water sign, I'm an earth sign; together we make mud."I mean, she's attached to a machine that keeps her alive — the refrigerator."It takes her an hour and a half to watch '60 Minutes.' OK, she's dumb."The other night, she met me at the front door wearing a see-through negligee. The only trouble is she was coming home."No respect — I don't get no respect at all.
Are you kidding?"
In an hourlong performance, Dangerfield would do about 325 jokes, his stream-of-consciousness delivery and lovable loser persona combining to create one of comedy's most recognizable icons whose appeal spanned the generation gap.An admiring Jack Benny once came backstage after watching Dangerfield perform. Benny had his vain and cheap image, he told Dangerfield, "but your 'no respect,' everybody can identify with that."Like Benny, Dangerfield would become a comedy institution, whose trademark white dress shirt and red necktie (sans the black suit) are housed at the Smithsonian Institution. But even then, as Dangerfield told it, he got no respect."They got my shirt and tie next to Lindbergh's plane."I tell myself they're using it to wipe off the plane."
Like many comedians, Dangerfield drew on a lifetime of hurt and angst to make people laugh. Despite the fame, fortune and adulation that came his way, he was not a happy man."I have never been happy," he told a reporter in 1997, when he was 75. "My whole life has been a downer.""I was an ugly kid. My mother had morning sickness after I was born."He was born Jacob Cohen in Babylon, Long Island, on Nov. 22, 1921. His father, a vaudeville comic whose stage name was Phil Roy, abandoned the family when Dangerfield was a young child. He and his sister were raised by their mother, who moved them to a neighborhood in Queens that was, he once recalled, "too rich for us. When I was young, I had to deliver groceries to the homes of the kids I went to school with. I had to go to the back doors to make the deliveries. It was embarrassing."So constantly, I felt like they were better than I am, and my self-esteem was very low … things like that in life I guess can stay with you, where you never think you're as good as anybody else."
Dangerfield also remembered teachers making anti-Jewish remarks about him in front of the class. At 15, he began writing jokes — "not out of happiness, but to go to a different place, because reality wasn't good to me.""I'm so ugly, when I was a kid, my father bought a new billfold, and, instead of my picture, he carried the picture of the kid who came with the wallet."He was soon trying out his jokes at amateur nights under the stage name Jack Roy.At 18, he landed his first paying job as a comic, earning $2 for a performance at a theater in Newark, N.J.At 19, he got a gig in the Catskills, the mountain resort area north of New York City — 10 weeks at $12 a week, plus room and board — and he legally changed his name to Jack Roy. He also was hired as a singing waiter at the Polish Falcon nightclub in Brooklyn, where Lenny Bruce's mother, Sally Marr, was the emcee. Earning $20 to $30 a week for three nights' work, he considered it his first break in show business.
After two years as a comic, Dangerfield was earning about $150 a week. But it was a constant struggle, and after working a series of what he termed "dumps," he gave up show business at 28 to marry Joyce Indig, a 23-year-old singer, "and lead a normal life.""To give you an idea how well I was doing at the time I quit, I was the only one who knew I quit," he'd joke.The couple had two children, Brian and Melanie, and Dangerfield made a decent living running an aluminum siding sales office in Englewood, N.J. But there were domestic problems. The couple divorced in 1962 and remarried a year later. They divorced again in 1970.It was while going through his divorce in 1962, a time when he was $20,000 in debt and living in a seedy New York hotel, that the 40-year-old Dangerfield decided to give stand-up comedy another shot."Everyone thought I was absolutely insane," he once recalled. "But show business was like a fix, and I had to have it to escape reality."
Telling an old club owner friend that he wanted to get back into comedy, Dangerfield said he was too embarrassed to have his name advertised in case he failed. So the club owner gave him a new name: Rodney Dangerfield. It was slow going at first. The turning point came in 1967, when Dangerfield's agent arranged an audition for him with Ed Sullivan, whose Sunday night variety show was the premier television showcase for performers. Sullivan liked what he saw. Dangerfield had been talking about how nothing goes right for him — a topic that perfectly suited his hang-dog, been-through-the-wringer demeanor. But before making the fourth of his 16 appearances on the Sullivan show, he recalled that the gangsters he saw in the clubs he worked at always talked about getting or not getting respect. The phrase, "I don't get no respect," would become the unifying theme of his act. When he next appeared on the Sullivan show, he tried out a joke that defined his new comedy image: "When I played hide-and-seek, they didn't even look for me."
The first of dozens of appearances on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," as well as repeated spots on the Dean Martin and Merv Griffin shows, followed. In 1969, wanting to get off the road and be home for his children, he opened his own Manhattan nightclub, Dangerfield's."Life on the road was murder. I played one date, it was so far out in the sticks, I was reviewed by Field and Stream." In 1971, Dangerfield made his movie debut as a tyrannical theater owner in the low-budget "The Projectionist," starring comedian Chuck McCann.

Dangerfield didn't make another movie until 1980, when he appeared as a wealthy boor in the hit comedy "Caddyshack" with Chevy Chase and Bill Murray.By then, his career was really cooking, especially with the younger generation. He had been invited to speak at Harvard and had come out first in a 1978 survey of college students' favorite comics. Although he was in his mid-50s, young audiences considered him one of their own. Like their elders, they could relate to the dark, sometimes absurdist tales of victimization of a man who goes into a store to buy rat poison only to have the clerk behind the counter ask, "Should I wrap it, or do you want to eat it here?"Dangerfield's career flourished even more in the '80s. In 1981, he won a Grammy for his "I Don't Get No Respect" comedy album."I tell you, I don't get no respect. When I step into an elevator, the attendant looks at me and says, 'Basement?' "
In 1983, he followed up "Caddyshack" with his first starring vehicle, "Easy Money," in which he played an obnoxious heir who is required to give up his numerous vices before he can claim a multimillion-dollar fortune. The film was a box-office failure, but Dangerfield redeemed himself in 1986 with "Back to School," in which he played an uneducated self-made millionaire who enrolls in college to keep his freshman son from dropping out. The film grossed more than $100 million at the box office.There were also ABC and HBO comedy specials, a series of Miller Lite commercials, his Broadway debut ("Rodney Dangerfield on Broadway!") and even a hit rap parody, "Rappin' Rodney."Through his HBO specials, Dangerfield also introduced many new comics to television, including Roseanne Barr, Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Saget, Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay, Tim Allen, Jeff Foxworthy and Jim Carrey.
In 1994, Dangerfield played his first dramatic film role, as the loathsome father who molests his daughter in Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers." Although there was some talk that his performance was worthy of a supporting actor Oscar nomination, Dangerfield's application for membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was rejected. With major parts in at least three theatrical releases, he met the minimum criteria for consideration. But, according to a letter signed by Roddy McDowall, chairman of the Actors Branch Executive Committee, Dangerfield lacked "enough of the kind of roles that allow a performer to demonstrate the mastery of the craft.""This is ridiculous — especially since thousands of Academy members haven't done any movies to speak of," Dangerfield said when informed of the Academy's decision. "Maybe the character [in 'Natural Born Killers'], which I wrote myself, was so distasteful that it turned the Academy off."Yet the Academy's rejection of Dangerfield somehow seemed fitting for a man who spent nearly four decades portraying a loser."I'm very lucky to have an image," he said in a 1995 interview. "Most comedians do not have an image. They do, 'Did this ever happen to you?' or they do satire. But there's practically none around today with an image. [Jack] Benny had an image. [W.C.] Fields had an image. An image is tough to come by. It doesn't just happen. And people try to create it and think, 'What's an image for me?' But it has to happen from your soul, I guess. You have to feel it."
Even as he aged, Dangerfield remained true to his image."I told my doctor that when I woke up in the morning I couldn't stand looking at myself in the mirror. He said, 'At least we know your vision is perfect.' "The title of his 2004 autobiography is "It's Not Easy Bein' Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs."He is survived by his wife, Joan, whom he married in 1993; two children; and two grandchildren. Memorial services are pending.

[Memorable Lines]:

I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio."
"I remember the time I was kidnapped, and they sent a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof."

"I never got any respect from my old man. I said, 'Nobody likes me.' He said, 'Don't feel that way. Everybody hasn't met you yet.' "
"And my wife. As soon as I got married I knew I was in trouble. My in-laws sent me a thank-you note."
"My wife, let me tell you about my wife. She wants to have sex in the back seat of the car, but she wants me to drive."
"My wife made me join a bridge club. I jump off next Tuesday."
"The other night I had a fight with my dog. My wife said the dog was right."
"I got no respect again last week. I went to buy a new suit and told the salesman I'd like to see something cheap. He told me to look in the mirror."*

Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Captain's Quarters Blog: Iranians Announce Improved Missile Strike Capability

[I cannot believe that Iran continues to get away with escalating their nuclear capablities...these people have stated for more than a decade that they intend to become a nuclear power so as to be able to compete on even footing with Israel and the United States. Any plan of ours that includes allowing them to continue in this regard is utterly foolish. I highly recommend Yossef Bodansky's last three books: bin Laden: The Man Who Targeted America, The High Cost of Peace, and The Secret History of the Iraq War. Mr. Bodansky heads up the Congressional Task Force on Counterterrorism and Unconventional Warfare and he has studied the Middle East for more than 30 years. He has countless sources and contacts all over the Middle East...many are in such precarious situations that their identities or any clues regarding their identities cannot be divulged. In The High Cost of Peace, Bodansky throughly details the nuclear intentions of Iran. In The Secret History of the Iraq War, Bodansky gives the exact location of Saddam Hussein's WMDs as well as the whereabouts of the bulk of his conventional arsenal. Bodansky had a file on bin Laden for almost 30 years before the terrorist strikes of 9/11/2001.]

Plus A Bit Of Extra Room For That Free Nuclear "Fuel" At The Top

The Iranians announced that they could hit targets all over Southwest Asia and even southern Europe with their new Shahab-3 rocket, the AP reports:

Iran can launch a missile as far as 2,000 km (1,250 miles), a senior official was quoted as saying Tuesday, substantially increasing the announced range of the Islamic state's military capabilities.
Such a missile would be capable of hitting Israel or parts of southeastern Europe. Iran says its missiles are for purely defensive purposes and would be used to counter a possible Israeli strike against its nuclear facilities.

"Now we have the power to launch a missile with a 2,000 km range," IRNA quoted influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as saying. "Iran is determined to improve its military capabilities."

The only way Iran could consider the Shahab-3 a defensive weapon is if they think the combat front exists at the borders of the old Ottoman Empire, or in Tel Aviv. Both are the intended targets of the Shahab-3 and the Iranian mullahcracy. Despite their insistence that they have no desire for nuclear weapons or other WMD, the truth is that they now have a payload system for delivering them that far exceeds the capacity of the Hussein regime at its peak, with its creaky Soviet-era Scud missiles.

What does the US plan to do about this? The Bush administration keeps pressing the EU-3 to force the IAEA to the UN Security Council so that deadlines for compliance on nuclear proliferation can be set. John Kerry wants to give the mullahs nuclear material in exchange for a promise not to stick it in the Shahab-3s -- or to give it to Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad -- and then sit back and see how they handle it.

Which option makes you feel safer at night?

Posted by Captain Ed at 06:02 AM Comments (5) TrackBack (1)

Jamie Glazov Interviews Daniel J. Flynn

Intellectual Morons
By Jamie October 5, 2004

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Daniel J. Flynn, the author of Why the Left Hates America and of the new book Intellectual Morons : How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas.

FP: Mr. Flynn, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Flynn: I'm a reader of Frontpage, so I particularly appreciate you having me.

FP: What motivated you to write this book? What, in general, has led to your interest in the Left and in its mindset?

Flynn: My purpose in writing Intellectual Morons is to get more people to think with their brain rather than their ideology.

The endless stream of recent scandals involving intellectuals rationalizing dishonesty in the service of a cause—Rigoberta Menchu, Betty Friedan, Michael Bellesiles, etc.—motivated me to write the book. It’s one thing for used car salesmen or politicians to lie. It’s sort of a staple of those trades. But the mission of the scholar is to find the truth. Unfortunately, truth has taken a back seat to political agendas among intellectuals.

My specific interest in the Left stems from the Right’s general disinterest in the Left. Outside of conservatives who once were on the Left—like the publisher of this site—there aren’t a lot of people on the Right who really know a whole lot about the Left. Intellectual Morons vaccinates readers against getting sucked into ideologies and gives them a better understanding of Marcuse, Foucault, Derrida, Chomsky, and other figures of great influence.

FP: If it is possible to say so briefly, why do supposedly smart people fall for stupid ideas?

Flynn: The main idea behind Intellectual Morons is that ideology acts as a mental straitjacket. It blinds adherents to reality, breeds fanaticism, and rationalizes dishonesty. It makes smart people stupid.

It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are if you don’t use your brain. Intelligent people aren’t necessarily rigorous thinkers. In fact, many of them are mentally lazy. Ideology provides a way for lazy people to respond to issues, ideas, people, and events without thinking. For the ideologue, ideology is the Rosetta Stone of everything. Why think when the system provides all the answers? Ideology is attractive to smart people because it flatters them by suggesting that a single idea from the mind of an intellectual has the power of explaining all of history or ordering the affairs of whole nations. No person is that smart; no idea that good.

FP: How do you think the Rathergate scandal meshes with the thesis of your book?

Flynn: My book is about how ideology overrides common sense among intellectuals. The Rathergate scandal is about how ideology overrides common sense among newsmen. The pattern is the same. The players are different.

How did a massive news organization with enormous resources and all that manpower miss something that lone bloggers exposed almost immediately? The answer is that the CBS eye was blinded by ideology. CBS’s documents purporting to show Texas Air National Guard officers feeling pressured to sanitize George W. Bush’s service record are as real as Harry Potter. Rather and company believed the documents were real because they wanted to believe the documents were real. Had they come across information damaging to John Kerry, they would have acted in a more careful manner. If Dan Rather’s reaction—stonewalling, belittling opponents, avoiding the charges—seems more appropriate for a partisan than of an objective newsman, maybe it’s because Dan Rather is more of a partisan than an objective newsman.

FP: Tell us what you found about Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger.

Flynn: I guess you could say Margaret Sanger was the original “feminazi.” Within a day of researching Margaret Sanger’s papers in the Library of Congress, I found a speech from 1932 in which she called for a massive system of concentration camps housing between 15 and 20 million Americans. Her eugenic dream would have been a nightmare for the poor and uneducated, both of whom would have been sent to the camps along with drug addicts, criminals, and others she saw as unfit for reproduction. Her plan is blunt and unambiguous: it would have imprisoned about one out of every six or seven Americans. The significant thing is not that I stumbled upon this information, but that not one of the dozen or so biographies of Sanger that I’ve examined even makes a fleeting reference to Sanger’s plan. This cover up is a scandal. Margaret Sanger is a towering figure in American history who is depicted as a champion of reproductive freedom and choice. This portrayal doesn’t hold up when you know that she advanced an American gulag and forced sterilization to prevent reproduction by massive portions of society.

FP: The Left continues its pathology in the War on Terror. Now we have leftist feminists showing up at demonstrations nude, wearing Saudi head-gear, and protesting Bush. Yet if they lived under the cultures and societies they are siding with, they would be exterminated within 30 seconds just for showing an ankle. We have groups like “Queers for Palestine” that show up at anti-Israel rallies and get beaten up and shouted down by Islamists at the demonstration. Homosexuals in Palestinian culture are persecuted and flee for safety in Israel.
Overall, the Left has sided with a fascist enemy that extinguishes all supposed leftist values themselves: women’s rights, gays’ rights, separation between religion and state, etc. etc.
Is there some kind of death wish or self-loathing here or what?

Flynn: When imposing a rational explanation upon the actions of irrational people you run the risk of appearing irrational yourself. Having said that, I'll try to provide a partial explanation that I think makes sense.

The Left's reflexive hatred for America and its allies overrides its genuflections to human rights. That's why they don't cheer human rights advances in Afghanistan, or Israel's tolerance of Arab homosexuals who would be severely punished for their behavior in their homelands.

The Left used to get their marching orders from the Soviet Union. They're gone now. But their enemy remains, and some leftists simply define their positions by what opposes the United States. If there has been a cohesive idea uniting the Left since the fall of the Iron Curtain, it is anti-Americanism.

FP: In other words, then, even if Adolf Hitler came back and led the Nazis all over again in our modern world today, the Left would take his side just to be anti-American?

Flynn: I don't know what the Left would do in that situation today. I do know what the Left did when this situation was real rather than hypothetical.
In the late 1930s, Leftists who vehemently opposed Nazism suddenly became vehement opponents of a war against Nazism once Hitler and Stalin became allies. The Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, for instance, becomes the Hollywood League for Democratic Action in 1939 to catch-up with the Soviet line. League When the no-honor-among-thieves alliance broke apart, the Left then reverted to its vocally anti-Nazi stance.
Past performance doesn't guarantee future results, but it's usually a fairly accurate indicator.

FP: In your book you go into Chomsky's five dumb ideas. Could you share them with our readers?

Flynn: Noam Chomsky has had many dumb ideas, but I picked just five to examine in Intellectual Morons. Let me give you the abridged version of three that I discuss.

First, prior to the war in Afghanistan Chomsky warned of millions of civilian deaths in that war-torn country. The numbers are in and the highest estimates put the figure at a few thousand, while other sources put it in the high hundreds. Second, Chomsky claimed that Clinton's bombing of a medicine factory in Sudan resulted in more than 10,000 deaths. In fact, there were no more than a handful of casualties. Third, Chomsky famously denied the Cambodian genocide in an infamous book review he co-authored in The Nation in 1977. He clearly accepted the notion that "executions have numbered at most in the thousands," and were generally out of the Khmer Rouge's control. He puts "slaughter" in the obligatory scare quotes, speaks of "tales of Communist atrocities," and regards a death count of a million or more as a joke.

FP: What are your views on Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11?

Flynn: Fahrenheit 9/11 is a crude, anti-Bush campaign commercial. What's worse for Moore, it's boring, contains little original footage, and the film often appears grainy. It had a good soundtrack, though.

It's propaganda. Two types of falsehood stand out.

First, there are the specific falsehoods. One example would be Moore's claim that Bush waged the war in Afghanistan to help the Union Oil Company of California install an oil pipeline. But Unocal dropped plans for a pipeline when Bill Clinton was president. It's almost two years since we ejected the Taliban, and not only is there no pipeline but there are no plans for one either. This pipeline exists in Michael Moore's delusions, but not in Afghanistan.

Second, there are general falsehoods--dishonest portrayals. Fahrenheit 9/11 depicts smiling children riding ferris wheels, flying kites, and riding bicycles in Hussein's Iraq. Then Moore cuts to the war and images of burned, wounded, and dead children. On different grounds than Moore, I opposed the Iraq war but honesty compels me to ask: Couldn't proponents of the war just as easily have juxtaposed Saddam's pre-war brutalities with post-war happiness?

FP: What would be your definition of “intellectual moron”?

Flynn: An intellectual moron is someone who squanders his superlative cognitive abilities by relying on ideology rather than his mind to do his thinking. Next to this definition is a picture of Noam Chomsky.

FP: So Mr. Flynn, what hope is there that conservatives can win the Culture War? The Left clearly moulds our language and our society's parameters of debate.

Tell us where there is hope that this leftist control over our culture will one day, perhaps, be shattered.

Flynn: Very few people agreed with Ronald Reagan when he said that the West would transcend Communism. But it happened, and it didn't happen by accident.

In academia, Hollywood, the judiciary, and other strongholds of the Left, the prospects for conservative progress may appear bleak. But we've seen freedom triumph over totalitarianism, and conservative ideas gain at least a beachhead in the media. Progress has been made when concerted action has been taken. If conservatives focus on the campuses, for instance, in the way that they focused for many years on media bias, I think great things will happen. I'm an optimist.

FP: I hope you are right. But overall, as long as humans remain who they are -- fallen and flawed -- I think the socialist impulse will never go away, and will remain the easiest thing for people to cling to. Indeed, as long as inequality exists, so will the impulse toward equality, and so millions more humans will be tortured, starved and exterminated.

We can’t make things “right” and “perfect” in this world, because only God is perfect. And because of original sin and free will, imperfection and tragedy must be constant realities of human life. For many humans, however, the easiest thing intellectually is to believe that this can be fixed and that heaven can be built on earth – an experiment that always leads to hell on earth. And so the Left will remain powerful and continue to build more human hells in its utopian experiments, which now involves the glorification of the suicide bomber.

What do you think?

Flynn: The idea that man can be perfected is the most dangerous delusion. Whether it's an Islamic terrorist attempting to establish Allah's earthly kingdom, a Nazi believing that a perfect race of men can be created, or a Communist looking to make Heaven on Earth, the motivation of these fanatics is the same. They are all utopians.

The road to heaven on earth always seems to detour to hell on earth. If you really believe that your ideology will bring salvation to humanity, what would you be willing to do to impose this world-saving idea? Would you be willing to lie? To kill? Looking back on the last hundred years, the answer too often is yes. When you're building utopia, all is permitted. No end is greater, so no means can be too base to get there.

FP: And this is why I am saying that I don't think the Left can ever really be defeated, because the desire in many humans to believe in utopia on earth is stronger than acknowledging the limits of human hope. But you appear optimistic?

Flynn: If you're asking if I'm optimistic that the Left will disappear, the answer is no. If you're asking if I'm optimistic that the Left will diminish in strength in academia, the judiciary, Hollywood, and other strongholds, I'm saying there are reasons for optimism. In America in the early '70s, liberals had a near monopoly on DC-based policy organizations. They don't anymore. In the '80s and '90s, liberals had a near monopoly on major media outlets. They don't anymore. These changes came about because large groups of people acted in concert to change matters. Higher education and other institutions can change for the better, but only if large numbers of people make an effort.

FP: Ok, fair enough. Thank you Mr. Flynn. It was a pleasure.

Flynn: Thanks Jamie.


Get your copy of Dan Flynn's new book, Intellectual Morons : How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas, for only $25.95 from the FrontPage Magazine Bookstore.

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's managing editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Soviet Studies. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s new book Left Illusions. He is also the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of the new book The Hate America Left and the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union (McGill-Queens University Press, 2002) and 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at

Daniel Pipes: Profiling?

What Kind of Airport Profiling?

By Daniel Pipes
October 5, 2004

Time magazine recently reported that the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. agency charged with protecting airplanes, has concluded that the “most dangerous threat to commercial aviation is not so much the things bad people may be carrying, but the bad people themselves.”

Accordingly, Time goes on, the TSA is launching a passenger profiling system known as Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT. Under SPOT, the TSA staff learns to recognize suspicious personal behavior. “Passengers who flag concerns by exhibiting unusual or anxious behavior will be pointed out to local police, who will then conduct face-to-face interviews to determine whether any threat exists.”

However belatedly, the Bush administration has recognized that terrorists, more than the tools of their trade, must be watched and stopped. This amounts to a gigantic step forward in the protection of American travelers. The administration deserves congratulations for the courage to accept the need for profiling.

But SPOT is just a first step. Skilled terrorists learn how not to be nervous or give off other tell-tale signs. To be fully effective, profiling must focus on something more inherent to terrorism than anxiety. What might that be? Here is where the debate gets both productive and interesting.

Michael A. Smerconish, a radio talk-show host and columnist in the Philadelphia Daily News, argues in his new and brave book Flying Blind: How Political Correctness Continues to Compromise Airline Safety Post 9/11 (Running Press), that the key factor is race and ethnicity. In contrast, I hold that the key is not external attributes but what is in a person’s head, namely Islamist beliefs.

Smerconish writes “We’re fighting a war against young Arab male extremists, and yet our government continues to enforce politically correct ‘random screening’ of airline passengers instead of targeting those who look like terrorists.”

He calls for a change in policy: “Logic dictates that airport security take a longer, harder look at individuals who have ethnic, religious, nationality, and appearance factors in common with the Islamic extremist Middle Eastern men who have initiated war against us.”

This is a step in the right direction, but like SPOT, it is just a start. Yes, young Arab male extremists have carried out most terrorist attacks in the West. Yes, focusing on observable traits like Arabic names or a Middle Eastern appearance is easily done. But, like nervousness, these are crude criteria that do not get to the heart of the problem, which is the Islamist ideology.

A significant number of Islamist terrorists in the West are not Arab or immigrants at all. Their ranks include converts who began life with names like Ryan Anderson, David Belfield, Willie Brigitte, Jerome & David Courtailler, Michael Christian Ganczarski, Clement Rodney Hampton-el, Mark Fidel Kools, Jose Padilla, Adam Pearlman, Richard Reid, Pierre Robert, Jack Roche, and Steven Smyrek. These converts grew up in the West, speak Western languages with no accent, and know the local sports heroes. Some of them are even blond.

Terrorists are not stupid; focusing on Arabs, as Smerconish urges, will prompt them to turn to non-Arab operatives. This is already a concern. Jean-Louis Bruguière, the leading French anti-terrorist investigating judge, warned along these lines in May 2003, recounts Robert Leiken, that “al-Qaida had stepped up its European recruiting efforts and was on the lookout for women and light-skinned converts in particular.” The deputy director of a French intelligence agency, the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire, even told Leiken that “converts are our most critical work now.”

Smerconish responds to my argument by acknowledging that his book may at some point become obsolete, “but that day is not today.” He sees physical appearance remaining a key predictor of intentions.

True, young Arab males still play a disproportionate role, but his approach nearly guarantees that will change. Law enforcement should now begin worrying about motives. Islamism, a radical reading of the Islamic religion, prompts Islamist terrorism, not speaking Arabic.

Airport security personnel has found it a challenge merely to catch weapons; finding Arab would-be terrorists will prove more difficult and stopping malign Islamists will be hardest of all, for it requires TSA knowing in some depth who’s who among passengers. But this is the gold standard of counterterrorism and it should, starting immediately, be its goal.

Daniel Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

Monday, October 04, 2004

Johann Hari Interviews Christopher Hitchens

An Interview with Christopher Hitchens: Adieu to the Left

By Johann Hari
October 4, 2004

To many of Christopher Hitchens' old friends, he died on September 11th 2001. Tariq Ali considered himself a comrade of Christopher Hitchens for over thirty years. Now he speaks about him with bewilderment. "On 11th September 2001, a small group of terrorists crashed the planes they had hijacked into the Twin Towers of New York. Among the casualties, although unreported that week, was a middle-aged Nation columnist called Christopher Hitchens. He was never seen again," Ali writes. "The vile replica currently on offer is a double."

This encapsulates how many of Hitchens' old allies - a roll-call of the Left's most distinguished intellectuals, from Noam Chomsky to Alexander Cockburn to (until his premature death last year) Edward Said - view his transformation. On September 10th, he was campaigning for Henry Kissinger to be arraigned before a war crimes tribunal in the Hague for his massive and systematic crimes against humanity in the 1960s and 1970s. He was preparing to testify in the Vatican - as a literal Devil's Advocate - against the canonisation of Mother Theresa, who he had exposed as a sadistic Christian fundamentalist, an apologist for some of the world's ugliest dictatorships, and a knowing beneficiary of corporate fraud. Hitchens was sailing along the slow, certain route from being the Left's belligerent bad boy to being one of its most revered old men.
And then a hijacked plane flew into the Pentagon - a building which stands just ten minutes' from Hitchens' home. The island of Manhattan became engulfed in smoke. Within a year, Hitchens was damning his former comrades as "soft on Islamic fascism," giving speeches at the Bush White House, and describing himself publicly as "a recovering ex-Trotskyite." What happened?

When I arrive, he is reclining in his usual cloud of Rothmans' smoke and sipping a whisky. "You're late," he says sternly. I begin to flap, and he laughs. "It's fine," he says and I give him a big hug. On the morning of September 11th, once I had checked everybody I knew in New York was safe, I thought of Hitch who had become a friend since he encouraged my early journalistic efforts. He had been campaigning against Islamic fundamentalism for decades. I knew this assault would blast him into new political waters - and I buckled a mental seatbelt for the bumpy ride ahead.
I decide to open with the most basic of questions. Where would he place himself on the political spectrum today? "I don't have a political allegiance now, and I doubt I ever will have again. I can no longer describe myself as a socialist. I miss it like a lost limb." He takes a sip from his drink. "But I don't regret anything. I'm still fighting for Kissinger to be brought to justice. The socialist movement enabled universal suffrage, the imposition of limits upon exploitation, and the independence of colonial and subject populations. Its achievements were real, and I'm glad I was part of it. Where it succeeded, one can be proud of it. Where it failed - as in the attempt to stop the First World War and later to arrest the growth of fascism - one can honourably regret its failure."
He realised he was not a socialist any longer around three years ago. "Often young people ask me for political advice, and when you are talking to the young, you mustn't bullshit. It's one thing when you are sitting with old comrades to talk about reviving the left, but you can't say that to somebody who is just starting out. And what could I say to these people? I had to ask myself - is there an international socialist movement worth the name? No. No, there is not. Okay - will it revive? No, it won't. Okay then - but is there at least a critique of capitalism that has a potential for replacing it? Not that I can identify." "If the answer to all these questions is no, then I have no right to go around calling myself a socialist. It's more like an affectation."
But Hitch - there are still hundreds of causes on the left, even if the 'socialist' tag is outdated. You used to write about acid rain, the crimes of the IMF and World Bank, the death penalty... It's hard to imagine you writing about them now. He explains that he is still vehemently against the death penalty and "I haven't forgotten the 152 people George Bush executed in Texas." But the other issues? He seems to wave them aside as "anti-globalisation" causes - a movement he views with contempt. He explains that he believes the moment the Left's bankruptcy became clear was on 9/11.
"The United States was attacked by theocratic fascists who represents all the most reactionary elements on earth. They stand for liquidating everything the left has fought for: women's rights, democracy. And how did much of the left respond? By affecting a kind of neutrality between America and the theocratic fascists." He cites the cover of one of Tariq Ali's books as the perfect example. It shows Bush and Bin Laden morphed into one on its cover. "It's explicitly saying they are equally bad. However bad the American Empire has been, it is not as bad as this. It is not the Taliban, and anybody - any movement - that cannot see the difference has lost all moral bearings."
Hitchens - who has just returned from Afghanistan - says, "The world these [al-Quadea and Taliban] fascists want to create is one of constant submission and servility. The individual only has value to them if they enter into a life of constant reaffirmation and prayer. It is pure totalitarianism, and one of the ugliest totalitarianisms we've seen. It's the irrational combined with the idea of a completely closed society. To stand equidistant between that and a war to remove it is?" He shakes his head. I have never seen Hitch grasping for words before.
Some people on the left tried to understand the origins of al-Quadea as really being about inequalities in wealth, or Israel's brutality towards the Palestinians, or other legitimate grievances. "Look: inequalities in wealth had nothing to do with Beslan or Bali or Madrid," Hitchens says. "The case for redistributing wealth is either good or it isn't - I think it is - but it's a different argument. If you care about wealth distribution, please understand, the Taliban and the al-Qaeda murderers have less to say on this than even the most cold-hearted person on Wall Street. These jihadists actually prefer people to live in utter, dire poverty because they say it is purifying. Nor is it anti-imperialist: they explictly want to recreate the lost Caliphate, which was an Empire itself." He continues, "I just reject the whole mentality that says, we need to consider this phenomenon in light of current grievances. It's an insult to the people who care about the real grievances of the Palestinians and the Chechens and all the others. It's not just the wrong interpretation of those causes; it's their negation." And this goes for the grievances of the Palestinians, who he has dedicated a great deal of energy to documenting and supporting. "Does anybody really think that if every Jew was driven from Palestine, these guys would go back to their caves? Nobody is blowing themselves up for a two-state solution. They openly say, 'We want a Jew-free Palestine, and a Christian-free Palestine.' And that would very quickly become, 'Don't be a Shia Muslim around here, baby.'" He supports a two-state solution - but he doesn't think it will solve the jihadist problem at all.
Can he ever see a defeat for this kind of Islamofascism? "This kind of theocratic fascism will never die because we belong to a very poorly-evolved mammarian species. I'm a complete materialist in that sense. We're stuck with being the product of a very sluggish evolution. Our pre-frontal lobes are too small and our adrenaline glands are too big. Our fear of the dark and of death is very intense, and people will always be able to profit from that. But nor can I see this kind of fascism winning. They couldn't even run Afghanistan. Our victory is assured - so we can afford to be very scrupulous in our methods."
But can he see a time when this kind of jihadist fever will be as marginalised as, say, Nazism is now, confined to a few reactionary eccentrics? "Not without what that took - which is an absolutely convincing defeat and discrediting. Something unarguable. I wouldn't exclude any measure either. There's nothing I wouldn't do to stop this form of fascism." He is appalled that some people on the left are prepared to do almost nothing to defeat Islamofascism. "When I see some people who claim to be on the left abusing that tradition, making excuses for the most reactionary force in the world, I do feel pain that a great tradition is being defamed. So in that sense I still consider myself to be on the Left."
A few months ago, when Bush went to Ireland for the G8 meeting, Hitchens was on a TV debate with the leader of a small socialist party in the Irish dail. "He said these Islamic fascists are doing this because they have deep-seated grievances. And I said, 'Ah yes, they have many grievances. They are aggrieved when they see unveiled woman. And they are aggrieved that we tolerate homosexuals and Jews and free speech and the reading of literature.'" "And this man - who had presumably never met a jihadist in his life - said, 'No, it's about their economic grievances.' Well, of course, because the Taliban provided great healthcare and redistribution of wealth, didn't they? After the debate was over, I said, 'If James Connolly [the Irish socialist leader of the Easter Risings] could hear you defending these theocratic fascist barbarians, you would know you had been in a fight. Do you know what you are saying? Do you know who you are pissing on?"
Many of us can agree passionately with all that - but it is a huge leap to actually supporting Bush. George Orwell - one of Hitchens' intellectual icons - managed to oppose fascism and Stalinism from the Left without ever offering a word of support for Winston Churchill. Can't Hitch agitate for a fight against Islamofascism without backing this awful President? He explains by talking about the origins of his relationship with the neconservatives in Washington. "I first became interested in the neocons during the war in Bosnia-Herzgovinia. That war in the early 1990s changed a lot for me. I never thought I would see, in Europe, a full-dress reprise of internment camps, the mass murder of civilians, the reinstiutution of torture and rape as acts of policy. And I didn't expect so many of my comrades to be indifferent - or even take the side of the fascists." "It was a time when many people on the left were saying 'Don't intervene, we'll only make things worse' or, 'Don't intervene, it might destabilise the region,'" he continues. "And I thought - destabilization of fascist regimes is a good thing. Why should the left care about the stability of undemocratic regimes? Wasn't it a good thing to destabilize the regime of General Franco?" "It was a time when the left was mostly taking the conservative, status quo position - leave the Balkans alone, leave Milosevic alone, do nothing. And that kind of conservatism can easily mutate into actual support for the aggressors. Weimar-style conservatism can easily mutate into National Socialism," he elaborates. "So you had people like Noam Chomsky's co-author Ed Herman go from saying 'Do nothing in the Balkans,' to actually supporting Milosevic, the most reactionary force in the region."
"That's when I began to first find myself on the same side as the neocons. I was signing petitions in favour of action in Bosnia, and I would look down the list of names and I kept finding, there's Richard Perle. There's Paul Wolfowitz. That seemed interesting to me. These people were saying that we had to act." He continues, "Before, I had avoided them like the plague, especially because of what they said about General Sharon and about Nicaragua. But nobody could say they were interested in oil in the Balkans, or in strategic needs, and the people who tried to say that - like Chomsky - looked ridiculous. So now I was interested."
There are two strands of conservatism on the U.S. Right that Hitch has always opposed. The first was the Barry Goldwater-Pat Buchanan isolationist Right. They argued for "America First" - disengagement from the world, and the abandonment of Europe to fascism. The second was the Henry Kissinger Right, which argued for the installation of pro-American, pro-business regimes, even if it meant liquidating democracies (as in Chile or Iran) and supporting and equipping practitioners of genocide. He believes neoconservatism is a distinctively new strain of thought, preached by ex-leftists, who believed in using US power to spread democracy. "It's explicitly anti-Kissingerian. Kissinger hates this stuff. He opposed intervening in the Balkans. Kissinger Associates were dead against [the war in] Iraq. He can't understand the idea of backing democracy - it's totally alien to him."
"So that interest in the neocons re-emerged after September 11th. They were saying - we can't carry on with the approach to the Middle East we have had for the past fifty years. We cannot go on with this proxy rule racket, where we back tyranny in the region for the sake of stability. So we have to take the risk of uncorking it and hoping the more progressive side wins." He has replaced a belief in Marxist revolution with a belief in spreading the American revolution. Thomas Jefferson has displaced Karl Marx. But can we trust the Bush administration - filled with people like Dick Cheney, who didn't even support the release of Nelson Mandela - to support democracy and the spread of American values now?
He offers an anecdote in response. There is a new liberal-left heroine in the States called Azar Nafisi. Her book Reading Lolita in Tehran documents an underground feminist resistance movement to the Iranian Mullahs that concentrated on reading great - and banned - works of Western literature. "And who is this book by an icon of the Iranian resistance dedicated to? [Deputy Secretary of Defence] Paul Wolfowitz, the bogeyman of the left, and the intellectual force behind [the recent war in] Iraq."
With the fine eye for ideological division that comes from a life on the Trotskyite Left, Hitch diagnoses the intellectual divisions within the Bush administration. He does not ally himself with the likes of Cheney; he backs the small sliver of pure neocon thought he associates with Wolfowitz. "The thing that would most surprise people about Wolfowitz if they met him is that he's a real bleeding heart. He's from a Polish-Jewish immigrant family. You know the drill - Kennedy Democrats, some of the family got out of Poland in time and some didn't make it, civil rights marchers? He impressed me when he was speaking at a pro-Israel rally in Washington a few years ago and he made a point of talking about Palestinian suffering. He didn't have to do it - at all - and he was booed. He knew he would be booed, and he got it. I've taken time to find out what he thinks about these issues, and it's always interesting."
He gives an account of how the neocon philosophy affected the course of the Iraq war. "The CIA - which is certainly not neoconservative - wanted to keep the Iraqi army together because you never know when you might need a large local army. That's how the U.S. used to govern. It's a Kissinger way of thinking. But Wolfowitz and others wanted to disband the Iraqi army, because they didn't want anybody to even suspect that they wanted to restore military rule." He thinks that if this philosophy can become dominant within the Republican Party, it can turn U.S. power into a revolutionary force.
I feel simultaneously roused by Hitch's arguments and strangely disconcerted. Why did Hitch so enthusiastically back the administration's bogus WMD arguments - arguments he still stands by? I think of the Bush administration's denial of global warming, the hideous 'structural adjustment' programmes it rams down the throats of the world's poor (including Iraq's), its description of Ariel Sharon as "a man of peace"? Why intellectually compromise on all these issues and back Bush?
Bosnia was not the only precedent for Hitch's reaction to 9/11. He was disgusted by the West's slothful, grudging reaction to the fatwa against his friend Salman Rushdie. Back in 1989, he was writing about the "absurdity" of "seeing Islamic fundamentalism as an anti-imperial movement." He was similarly appalled by the American Left's indulgence of Bill Clinton's crimes, including the execution of a mentally disabled black man and the bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan that led to the deaths of more than 10,000 innocent Sudanese people. This brought him into close contact with the Clinton-hating Right - and made him view their opponents with disgust.
And so the separation of Hitch and the organized Left occurred. Is it permanent? Nobody was a better fighter for left-wing causes than Hitch. Nobody makes the left-wing case against Islamofascism and Ba'athism better than him today. Yet he undermines these vital arguments by backing Bush and indulging in wishful thinking about the Republicans. As I luxuriate in the warm bath of his charisma, I want to almost physically drag him all the way back to us. He might be dead to the likes of Tariq Ali but there is still a large constituency of people on the left who understand how abhorrent Islamic fundamentalism is. Why leave us behind? I stammer that I can't imagine him ever settling down on the American Right. He pauses, and I desperately hope that he will agree with me. "Not the Buchanan-Reagan Right, no," he says. There is a pause. I expect him to continue, but he doesn't. Back in the mid-1980s, Hitch lambasted a small U.S. magazine called the Partsian Review for its "decline into neoconservatism". I don't think Hitch is lost to the Left quite yet. He will never stop campaigning for the serial murderer Henry Kissinger to be brought to justice, and his hatred of Islamic fundamentalism is based on good left-wing principles. But it does feel at the end of our three-hour lunch like I have been watching him slump into neoconservatism. Come home, Hitch - we need you.