Intelligent conservatives

They do exist, though you wouldn’t know it reading some of the comments I got here yesterday. John Cole is one of those exceptions, and it was truly refreshing to read his post today blasting Hugh Hewitt for whining that those who report on the crimes of our military are unpatriotic.

Everyone repeat after me:

Reporting on abuses that have been committed by our troops, in our name, is not anti-military. While I am not arrogant enough to attempt to divine the motives of every journalist who reports on such abuses, Hugh appears to be up to the challenge. I find his attack on the reporting of the outrageous abuses detailed at length in the NY Times to be both disturbing and disingenuous.

Apparently in the myopic worldview of Mr. Hewitt, reading and reporting the just-released documents the Army itself created is both ‘anti-military’ and ‘re-hashing’ an old story. Let’s not focus on the fact that few, if any, have been punished for these transgressions. Let’s not focus on credible reports that these incidents continue to occur. Instead, if Hewitt is to have his way, we should all focus on the ‘anti-military’ stance of the media.

What is particularly disturbing is how he and others have artificially conflated the Newsweek error and the NY Times story. This is no accident, but an act of intentional and outright propaganda. The Newsweek story may have been inaccurate, but the NY Times story was not. To read Hugh, you would think both were inconsequential and simply the result of a media hostile to the military. “Nothing here- just the military-hating mainstream media.”

This is a great post. If only more on the right would have the courage to speak out for true conservative values instead of twisitng themselves into pretzels to show how supportive they are of everything Bush says and does and how evil the librul MSM is, it would be a much saner, kinder America.

Cole was a soldier for 10 years. His perspective is priceless, even though I disagree with so much of what he has to say on so many issues. Please read it all. There’s a lot more there.

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Boiled in Uzbekistan

It’s one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever read. But they’re our ally in the so-called-war-on-terra, so Uzbekistan is A-okay by me.

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China Daily: “China bans meals served on naked women”

No, I’m not making it up.

China’s State Administration of Industry and Commerce issued a notice this weekend banning meals served on naked bodies, officially canceling the service offered by a restaurant in southwestern China that served sushi on unclothed female university students, a Beijing newspaper reported Sunday.

The Saturday pronouncement forbids the service because it “insults people’s moral quality,” according to the Beijing Times. Serving food on women’s bodies also “spreads commercial activity with poor culture,” the paper said, citing the administration’s notice.

In April 2004, Chinese media reported that the Hefeng Village Huaishi Cuisine Restaurant in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, was serving sushi and other Japanese food on two naked university students as they lay on their backs.

Customers would pay 1,000 yuan (about $120) each for the meal after making reservations up to three days in advance, media said.

Flowers, shells and rocks also adorned the women’s bodies, according to a photo in the Beijing paper.

The women lay calmly as people ate, a restaurant manager told Kunming media, which said this style of dining existed in “ancient Japan.”

One more reason for me to consider not moving back. They ban everything that’s fun!

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Frank Rich on Newsweek

This may be the best piece yet on the right wing’s latest, most fiery attack to date on that evil, librul MSM:

IN the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Fareed Zakaria wrote a 6,791-word cover story for Newsweek titled “Why Do They Hate Us?” Think how much effort he could have saved if he’d waited a few years. As we learned last week, the question of why they hate us can now be answered in just one word: Newsweek.

“Our United States military personnel go out of their way to make sure that the Holy Koran is treated with care,” said the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, as he eagerly made the magazine the scapegoat for lethal anti-American riots in Afghanistan. Indeed, Mr. McClellan was so fixated on destroying Newsweek – and on mouthing his own phony P.C. pieties about the Koran – that by omission he whitewashed the rioters themselves, Islamic extremists who routinely misuse that holy book as a pretext for murder.

That’s how absurdly over-the-top the assault on Newsweek has been. The administration has been so successful at bullying the news media in order to cover up its own fictions and failings in Iraq that it now believes it can get away with pinning some 17 deaths on an errant single sentence in a 10-sentence Periscope item that few noticed until days after its publication. Coming just as the latest CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll finds that only 41 percent of Americans think the war in Iraq is “worth fighting” and only 42 percent think it’s going well, this smells like desperation. In its war on the press, this hubristic administration may finally have crossed a bridge too far.

… The only thing more ridiculous is the spectacle of the White House’s various knee-jerk flacks on cable news shoutfests and in the blogosphere characterizing Newsweek as representative of a supposedly anti-American, military-hating “mainstream media.” It wasn’t long ago that the magazine and the co-author of the Periscope item, Michael Isikoff, were being cheered by the same crowd for their pursuit of Monica Lewinsky and Kathleen Willey.

As for the supposed antimilitary agenda of the so-called mainstream media, the right should look first at itself. In its eagerness to parrot the administration line, it’s as ready to sell out the military as any clichéd leftist. For starters, it thought nothing of dismissing the judgment of Gen. Carl Eichenberry, our top commander in Afghanistan, who, according to Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said the riots were “not at all tied to the article in the magazine.”

I hope Rich is right, that this time they’ve gone too far. But Michelle Maglalang and Charles Johnson and Roger Simon are still riding the story hard, as though it were Rathergate 2, and it’s disheartening to see their ability to whip the uninformed into a frenzy. (I can almost see Johnson standing in front of a huge bonfire, burning copies of Newsweek, his ponytail flapping in the night-time breeze.)

I see it as a part of the dumbing down of America, intoxicating people with slogans and memes, giving them a victim to blame everything on so those responsible don’t take the heat. McClellan’s performance was so ludicrous, so cynical, such an example of pandering to people’s base emotions, so devoid of ciritical thought or reason I had to marvel at his sheer audacity.

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Priscilla Owens

So much is being said on this topic there’s little I can add. But I can urge you to read this to gain some valuable perspective. Just a taste:

Searcy became a “ventilator-dependent quadriplegic” in 1993 after a car accident where his Ford Motor Co. seatbelt malfunctioned.

His family desperately needed money to properly care for him, and in 1995 a jury determined Ford must pay them $40M.

But Willie never saw a dime, and in turn, never got the quality of health care he needed to stay alive.

After the initial ruling, Ford went to an appellate court, delaying the payout. A year later the award was reduced to $30M.

Then Ford went to the Texas Supreme Court, and Owen was responsible for the case.

Owen, who received $20K in campaign cash from a law firm that represented Ford, slow-walked the case, leaving Willie hanging.

She waited two years to rule, even though both sides requested a expedited hearing.

And her ruling dragged out the case further, calling for a retrial in a different appellate court, even though, as Dubose noted, “venue was not among the issues … the court said it would consider two years earlier…”

Three years later, the second appellate court finally ruled in the family’s favor. Four days after that, Willie died.

Out of all the noble men and women who could serve as high-ranking judges, is this really the very best Bush can find? I think of Brandeis and Blackmun and Fortas and so many others, and I wonder, how on earth did we allow our standards to drop so low? How could we even consider someone so beholden to corporate interests and so insensitive to the victims of corporate greed and maleasance?

Sadly, the answer is only too obvious: because Bush is president. The people count for nothing, the Corporation is all that matters.

Just like Jesus would have wanted it, right?

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Quagmire

Yes, the “Q” word again. But there’s just no denying it. When you can’t get out no matter how hard you try, you’re in a quagmire.

Facing an intensifying insurgency and a frail government in Baghdad, the Bush administration has reluctantly changed course to deepen its involvement in the process of running Iraq.

U.S. officials are taking a more central and visible role in mediating among political factions, pushing for the government to be more inclusive and helping resuscitate public services. At the same time, Washington is maintaining pressure on Iraqi officials to upgrade the nation’s fledgling security forces.

The change comes at a time when confidence in the leaders elected in January has been falling and U.S. officials have grown more pessimistic about how soon Iraqi security forces will be able to take charge of the counterinsurgency effort.

Both before and after the election, the Bush administration tried to scale back its role and shift decisions to the Iraqi leadership. U.S. officials had feared that a continued high profile might prove counterproductive, giving the impression that Iraqi government leaders were not acting independently.

But in recent weeks, as formation of the new government inched along and the insurgency escalated, some Iraqi officials began telling the Americans that they needed more support and mediation to overcome differences among factions, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

No way out, not for years and years, if ever. We wanted war, we got it. We taunted the insurgents to bring ‘em on, and they did. The never-ending war, sapping our money and our strength, while accomplishing very little. It’s nice that Saddam’s gone and all, but was he so terrible that we would pay any price in terms of dollars and American bodies to oust him? An old man with no weapons and a lot of hot air. What have we done?

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Another Chinese Web site bites the dust….

Do I really want to go back to this place?

Via CDN.

Update: Jeremy chimes in as well.

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They love us everywhere we go!

And why shouldn’t they?

The story of Mr. Dilawar’s brutal death at the Bagram Collection Point – and that of another detainee, Habibullah, who died there six days earlier in December 2002 – emerge from a nearly 2,000-page confidential file of the Army’s criminal investigation into the case, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.
Like a narrative counterpart to the digital images from Abu Ghraib, the Bagram file depicts young, poorly trained soldiers in repeated incidents of abuse. The harsh treatment, which has resulted in criminal charges against seven soldiers, went well beyond the two deaths.

In some instances, testimony shows, it was directed or carried out by interrogators to extract information. In others, it was punishment meted out by military police guards. Sometimes, the torment seems to have been driven by little more than boredom or cruelty, or both.

In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers describe one female interrogator with a taste for humiliation stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals. They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning.

Somehow it’s un-American to report stuff like this. Somehow all of this can be blamed on that darn librul media. Somehow this is all the invention of a lying leftist NY Times reporter. We should all be reading Chrenkoff, who’ll tell us about “good news” – much easier reading than the stuff quoted above.

Read the article and ask yourself if Abu Ghraib was the work of a few bad apples, or symptomatic of a policy that encourages torture of the most despicable kind. And don’t reply by saying the jihadists are even worse and use even more disgusting torture. We are the goddamned United States and we are supposed to be better than that. We are the ones claiming to bring freedom and liberty (except if you’re an ally like Uzbekistan, in which case murder and torture is jim dandy). We are the ones claiming the moral high road.

I am really glad the Newsweek scandalette played out the way it did, because now all of the world’s reporters have been formally challenged to find hard proof of our atrocities. Let the floodgates open. Let the games begin. Scotty, you asked for it and now you’re going to get it. Invading Afghanistan was the right thing to do. Licensing barbarism by US soldiers is insane and has seriously damaged our reputation among whatever allies we may have left.

Update: I see the Red Cross has indeed compiled allegations of Koran desecration at Gitmo. Maybe Scotty owes Newsweek an apology.

Update 2: Charles Johnson, ever predictable, headlines his post on this story (are you ready?) The Media Are the Enemy (no, I won’t link to that site). He of course damns the NYT to eternal hellfire because this is a two-year-old story. But perennial birdbrain and falsifier of fact Johnson fails to remind his readers that the report has just come out. It would be like damning all the stories that came out after the 911 commision’s book was made public because, after all, 911 occurred two years earlier. As Atrios would say, “Wanker.”

Update 3: I really wasn’t kidding when I said the right-wingers would shout out in chorus that the real story here is the badness of libruls and their vile MSM. Too, too much.

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Krugman on American “addiction” to Chinese dollar purchases

I’m not an economist and am too timid to comment on abstruse financial issues that I only vaguely under4stand. But Krugman has a unique way of siumplifying things, and those who want to better understand the issues over the yuan and America’s heated rhetoric should read his column today.

Here’s how the U.S.-China economic relationship currently works:

Money is pouring into China, both because of its rapidly rising trade surplus and because of investments by Western and Japanese companies. Normally, this inflow of funds would be self-correcting: both China’s trade surplus and the foreign investment pouring in would push up the value of the yuan, China’s currency, making China’s exports less competitive and shrinking its trade surplus.

But the Chinese government, unwilling to let that happen, has kept the yuan down by shipping the incoming funds right back out again, buying huge quantities of dollar assets – about $200 billion worth in 2004, and possibly as much as $300 billion worth this year. This is economically perverse: China, a poor country where capital is still scarce by Western standards, is lending vast sums at low interest rates to the United States.

Yet the U.S. has become dependent on this perverse behavior. Dollar purchases by China and other foreign governments have temporarily insulated the U.S. economy from the effects of huge budget deficits. This money flowing in from abroad has kept U.S. interest rates low despite the enormous government borrowing required to cover the budget deficit.

Low interest rates, in turn, have been crucial to America’s housing boom. And soaring house prices don’t just create construction jobs; they also support consumer spending because many homeowners have converted rising house values into cash by refinancing their mortgages.

So why is the U.S. government complaining? The Treasury report says nothing at all about how China’s currency policy affects the United States – all it offers on the domestic side is the usual sycophantic praise for administration policy. Instead, it focuses on the disadvantages of Chinese policy for the Chinese themselves. Since when is that a major U.S. concern?

In reality, of course, the administration doesn’t care about the Chinese economy. It’s complaining about the yuan because of political pressure from U.S. manufacturers, which are angry about those Chinese trade surpluses. So it’s all politics. And that’s the problem: when policy decisions are made on purely political grounds, nobody thinks through their real-world consequences.

Here’s what I think will happen if and when China changes its currency policy, and those cheap loans are no longer available. U.S. interest rates will rise; the housing bubble will probably burst; construction employment and consumer spending will both fall; falling home prices may lead to a wave of bankruptcies. And we’ll suddenly wonder why anyone thought financing the budget deficit was easy.

In other words, we’ve developed an addiction to Chinese dollar purchases, and will suffer painful withdrawal symptoms when they come to an end.

When the Chinese stop buying dollars, Krugman says we’re all going to be in for quite a ride. And it’s not China’s fault.

Update: Joseph Bosco has written his own article on the Yuan.

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Fatality

A few minutes ago I witnessed my first fatal car crash. It was only moments ago and I’m afraid I’ll be thinking of it all night, maybe longer.

I was perfectly situated, stuck in traffic on Phoenix’s I-10 freeway, when a car on the other side of the highway came plunging toward us like a rocket. It was moving so fast, I wondered where it would end up, if it would smash into us. The guard rail isn’t a wall, but rather a set of very thick wires. When the front of the car hit the wire, it actually sheared off the top of the car. I watched in amazement as the windshield and the roof of the car and the back windshield simply disintegrated, knowing that whoever was behind the wheel had to have been decapitated or ripped to shreds. I reached for my phone and called 911, and they told me they were already being flooded with calls and an ambulance was on the way.

It set off so many thoughts. As I saw the car lose control, I thought, there is a person who was going home from work who in a fraction of a second would be dead. Being the type of person I am, I instantly (and involuntarily) constructed a scenario around it — the calls to the victims’ family, the ripples that emanate from anything this horrific, the changed lives and altered states of consciousness. I wondered what happened, why they were driving so fast and how they lost control. And I thought about the idiots on the highway who, every day, fight to get one car ahead and tailgate and think if they can pass this one car then their life will be complete. And I drove very slowly, very carefully all the rest of the way home, thinking how death could be waiting at every turn, at every lane change, anywhere at all. And a life is snuffed out forever because someone wanted to go a little faster or change lanes illegally.

Sorry to sound polemical, but this was so close to me I could nearly touch it. I never knew a car could shatter like that, and I never thought I’d see death so close up.

Update: Not really related, but illutrative of the jerks who live in my city and what they do on our highways:

Three 18-year-olds thought it would be funny to drag a cat from a rope while speeding down Arizona 51 early Saturday morning, authorities said.

They thought it would be a prank like the ones acted out on the MTV show Jackass, and they wanted to see other drivers’ reactions. One of them figured if they got caught they would just get a ticket for littering.

But they got the wrong audience: an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer.

The officer booked Phoenix residents Jason Cavalera, the driver, Randall Olney, and Rhys Saxton Saturday morning into the Madison Street Jail on a suspicion of animal cruelty charge, a Class 6 felony.

I try to get into the minds of someone who would do this, but I absolutely cannot. The kitten’s owner, a six-year-old girl, ws shown on the news a couple nights ago sobbing over the torture and murder of her pet. Fucktards.

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