Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Election.... Success!!

I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants.

I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said "brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn."

Yes brothers, proceed and fill the box!".

-Mohammed and Omar

I can barely hold my tears of joy myself. I'm so happy right now, despite threats on their lives the Iraqi people showed courage and defiance. They came out and let their voices be heard and by doing so honored the sacrifices made both by coalition soldiers and Iraqi police forces. The dancing the celebration, the resolve in the face of demons who have declared war on democracy that the people of Iraq showed should warm the heart of ANY freedom loving person.

More substantive thoughts forthcoming... but now lets just enjoy this remarkable day in history.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Iraqi Election Coverage

This seems like a good source for information on the elections.

From Spirit of America's latest email:

Spirit of America has been supporting Friends of Democracy in Iraq to provide a ground-level view of the election from the people and bloggers of Iraq. It seems that major media often focuses on the violence and terrorism. Given the historic nature of this election we think people deserve better. The goal is to offer a full picture of the elections from the perspective of Iraqis. There are lots of good
reports already on the Friends of Democracy site at Friends of Democracy. It is not "candy coated" - it includes good news and bad. Take a look now and make sure to check it on Sunday.

Friends of Democracy is using Spirit of America's Arabic blogging tool (aka Arabic Internet publishing tool) to publish election information for people in Iraq. background on the Iraq election news project is

We are hosting a small conference in Washington, DC on Sunday (Jan. 30)
from 1.30pm to 4pm that will provide a consolidated picture of Iraq's
elections featuring prominent Iraqis, special guests (e.g.,Cliff May
from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Christopher
Hitchens), live call ins from the Friends of Democracy correspondents
and bloggers, photos, video and stories. It will provide a picture of
Iraq's elections people will not get anywhere else.

The event will be webcast (check the
site on Sunday) and we hope it will be picked up by C-SPAN. This is
described in more detail here:

UPDATE: Mudville Gazette has a round-up of American and Military bloggers in Iraq.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Book Review: Emergency Sex and other Desperate Measures

When the U.N. wants to suppress a book, that is usually enough, by itself, to make it worth the read. But, the best thing about Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures (other than the title) is the fresh insight it offers. For the most part, the world's hotspots have been covered by mainstream media from 40,000 feet in the air, rather than from a more personal level. That is one of the reasons why, when we hear about 1 million massacred in a genocide, it is easy for the average westerner to dismiss it from the conscious. Numbers like that are simply too high for a civilized brain to comprehend as anything more than a mind-numbing statistic, especially pre-9/11.

The authors of this book, Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait, and Andrew Thomson offer something fresh. All three decided on UN peace keeping missions for different, often idealistic reasons at various points in their lives. A Harvard law school grad (Ken) who didn't want to spend his time in corporate law, a recently divorced woman (Heidi) looking for meaning, and a New Zealand doctor (Andrew) who felt he could be of better use helping the desperate in war ravaged countries.

Emergency Sex is written in a very accessible, almost conversational tone that makes it a compelling page turner. I immediately felt connected to these people - all looking for a higher cause in life, and despite their coming of age and their likely realization that they are very small players in a maddening world they still put the efforts forth to make the world better place, even if it's one small victory at a time. Pick a cliché - innocence lost, a betrayal of ideals, coming of age, etc. The book is all of those, but in a context that is far from hackneyed.

The authors are just self-indulgent enough (without being obnoxious) to honestly tell us about themselves and share very intimate moments, not all of which make them look like heroes. This leads to very raw, eyewitness testimonials to some horrific events on the ground from those that experienced it, rather than from those who would first like to assert the moral high ground of the UN, and then tell you all about it... from their hotel bar.

It's not overtly political - there is no agenda, the authors state up front that it is not meant to be a foreign policy critique. But the UN and some of the Clinton administrations foreign policy decisions can't help but look disasterous at times. (I certainly don't put all the blame on Clinton, but that's another column.) At any sign of resistance the U.S. or UN peacekeepers were ordered to tuck tail and run. Perhaps the most telling proof of this was when we (UN/U.S.) nearly simultaneously pulled out of Somalia and Haiti because of a few thug militias. As the UN began its withdrawal the Haitian militia men (The Macoutes) were chanting the name of the Somali militia leader - Muhammed Farah Aidid - understanding the significance of UN/US withdrawal even though they were worlds apart. Perhaps more than anything, this solidified the United States reputation as a paper tiger - Inflict a few casualties, America will run. This became the strategy for anti-US forces everywhere (see bin-Laden's calculations when considering the 9/11 attacks). "HAITI, SOMALIA, HAITI, SOMALIA, AIDID, AIDID!!" were the chants in the Haitian streets. As Andrew lamented at one point: "The Macoutes torture, we write reports and nothing changes."

It is not so much UN corruption that causes it to fail (though there is certainly enough of that to go around) but rather UN toothlesness. They absolutely do everything possible to avoid using force, and the warlords of the various countries know and exploit this to their great advantage.

You'll get a close up of the, at times, horrifying work of a peacekeeper juxtaposed with said peacekeepers returning to their UN houses for all night parties of drugs and alcohol. And they do it all again the next day.

You'll get an insight into events on the ground and the result of some of our foreign policy decisions. A Rwandan housemate of the authors, Mr. Innocente, tells stories of how he survived the genocide by burying himself in the garbage dump for days as he heard his name called to come out for his execution. He tells of hearing some of the villagers actually paying their slaughterers for the price of a bullet so they could be shot in the head rather than hacked to pieces. Then he turns towards our authors and through his tears, hauntingly questions, "How could you, the world stand by and let this happen?!?"

One of the more memorable scenes took place in Rwanda. The genocide is over and now Ken is charged with making sure that the prison holding those that perpetrated the genocide is in sufficient humanitarian condition. He finds the jail is hopelessly overcrowded, (it takes a lot of people to murder a million with machetes) and brings this to the attention of a Rwandan official, and gets an understandable stare of bewilderment and reflects, 'We let this happen and now that it's over, we've come back to ensure that the genociders are receiving proper care.... I get it!'

You'll read about "peacekeepers" from Ghana that trade handfuls of rice to starving young (10 years old) Liberian girls for sexual favors. Except when those girls begin to "visit" Nigerian "peacekeeping" soldiers for two handfuls of rice, they end up lining the road... dead... with their heads placed in their genitals. A warning from the peacekeepers to other little girls you see.

Ever wonder what it's like to dig through thousands of skeletons day after day after day?

Want to know what its like to treat a man whose thighs were beaten to the bone with a car door because some rebel soldiers got drunk?

You'll see how painfully most of the rest of the world lives... you'll see that our (Western) way of life, of wealth civility and stability is the exception rather than the rule.

Several times this book made me say to myself, "I'm 27 and I know nothing," that's one of many reasons I would recommend this book to anyone. Including you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Election Spin

No one knows for sure what will happen when the Iraqis, for the first time, choose their own political leaders this weekend, but I'm quite certain that the media will do its best to cast the elections as "illegitimate" for one reason or another. Given that, it's worth pondering, what would give the elections legitimacy in the eyes of the Mainstream Media? Fortunately for us, we have a perfect example, for not only did an election the media treated as legitimate take place in Iraq once before, it happened only two years ago. So, behold, the mighty MSM and their litmus test of legitimacy:
While the network news gurus have spent weeks questioning whether Sunday's elections in Iraq would (A) occur on time or (B) be accepted as legitimate, it's important to remember that when Saddam Hussein called a vote in October 2002 as coalition troops moved into place, ABC, CNN, and NBC accepted the dictator's "100 percent" vote as a credible plebiscite, not a joke. To his credit CBS's Tom Fenton explained why everyone voted aye: "You would be foolish not to - a U.N. human rights report said 500 people were jailed in the last referendum after casting a negative ballot." But other networks, desperate for access into Saddam's Iraq, played dumb and parroted the dictator's script:

"Iraqi citizens are preparing to go to the polls to decide whether Hussein stays in office." - Preview of an October 14, 2002 segment on CNN's American Morning with Paula Zahn posted on CNN's Web site.

"Seven years ago, when the last referendum took place, Saddam Hussein won 99.96 percent of the vote. Of course, it is impossible to say whether that's a true measure of the Iraqi people's feelings." -ABC reporter David Wright, World News Tonight, October 15, 2002.

"All 11,440,638 eligible voters went to the polls with one thought: Yes to Saddam Hussein! The government proclaimed it a victory of light over darkness, good over evil. It seemed more like a political miracle." -NBC reporter Keith Miller on Today, October 16, 2002.

Diane Sawyer: "I read this morning that he's [Saddam Hussein] also said the love that the Iraqis have for him is so much greater than anything Americans feel for their President because he's been loved for 35 years, he says, the whole 35 years." Dan Harris in Baghdad: "He is one to point out quite frequently that he is part of a historical trend in this country of restoring Iraq to its greatness, its historical greatness. He points out frequently that he was elected with a 100 percent margin recently." -ABC's Good Morning America, March 7, 2003.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Bowling for Hypocrisy
(via InstaPundit) Fox news reports:
Police took Patrick Burke, who says Moore employs him, into custody after he declared he was carrying a firearm at a ticket counter. Burke is licensed to carry a firearm in Florida and California, but not in New York. Burke was taken to Queens central booking and could potentially be charged with a felony for the incident.

Moore's 2003 Oscar-winning film "Bowling for Columbine" criticizes what Moore calls America's "culture of fear" and its obsession with guns.

This is the hallmark of the elitist left. Michael Moore wants no guns in America... except for those that protect him. Our Congress writes laws that curb gun rights... from the safety of a building surrounded by armed guards. Their own safety is paramount, they own guns, or hire ex servicemen to do it for them. While the common man that they claim to stand up for, should simply rely on law enforcement being everywhere all the time.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Poll Numbers

Iraq The Model links to a poll that has been making the rounds in the blogosphere as of late. Keep in mind this is a poll of Iraqis that live in by far the most dangerous part of the country. These are quite heartening numbers (not withstanding the flaws of the terrorist question, how is "terrorist" defined in this? No doubt some Iraqis look at the US as a "terrorists".)

-The poll was of 4974 Iraqis living in and around Baghdad.

2-Will the security problems cause you to?
Not come out and vote the day of elections = 18.3%
Come out and vote the day of elections = 78.3%
No opinion = 3.4%

3-Do you support military action against the terrorists?
Yes = 87.7 %
No = 11.1%
Don't Know = 1.2%

If these numbers hold up, Iraq will have a voter turnout much higher than we've had in the states for as long as I can remember. We'll see in about 2 weeks.

Side note: By my calculation this will be only the third election in the Arab world in recent time. One thing they have in common is they all will have taken place only in occupied lands - Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tsunami Aid and Stinginess

I'm still in the midst of moving and the busiest work month of the year, so I don't have much time to comment, but here's a round-up of some other thoughts on the UN, US and Tsunami aid that I found compelling.

One of the problems with simply giving aid is that it often only gets to whichever two-bit dictator runs the recipient country. Instead of alleviating the wretched conditions the citizenry live under, said two-bit dictator buys another Mercedes so he can continue to drive circles around his palace. Why circles? Because it's the only goddamned road in the country because no money is ever spent on any infrastructure.

With that, from the trade not aid department comes this from The Australian

First, in 2002, official development assistance, according to the OECD, totalled $US58 billion, an increase in real terms of 7 per cent over 2001 and the highest real level achieved since 1992. Under the Monterrey Consensus, Western donor nations have pledged to increase ODA by 32 per cent by 2006.

Second, these claims assume that the more aid the better. Setting aside the emergency relief being rushed to tsunami survivors, which is vital and absolutely necessary, foreign aid has, in general, not been very effective. Indeed, if the aid industry's effectiveness was judged by its success in poverty alleviation, it would have been shut down years ago.

For example, according to World Bank figures, despite spending $US100 billion in aid in sub-Saharan Africa between 1970 and 1999, about 17 countries experienced a decline in real per capita gross national product.

It's not surprising that Oxfam's Ensor would speak glowingly of how "aid works". As Alex de Waal observes in his book Famine Crimes, non-government organisations and aid agencies are alike in that they do not commission public evaluations or publicise their internal assessments because the demands of fundraising and institutional survival make it imperative not to admit failures.

There is a disconnect between how effective the public thinks its aid contributions are and the reality of aid. Western governments, which to a degree evaluate their own aid funding, are aware of its frequent failures. This explains, in large measure, the donor fatigue felt by Western governments. They are not just aware of aid's ineffectiveness; they are also aware of how aid, even emergency relief, when channelled into conflict zones, serves to feed armed conflict and undermine the ability of local economies to recover.

Read the rest. Looking for some proof that free trade is an effective antidote to poverty? From the San Francisco Chronicle comes this.

It should come as heartening news that 2004 was one of the most prosperous years in history. Not because the U.S. economy grew by a solid 4.3 percent, but because developing countries experienced an explosive 6.1 percent economic growth.

According to a recent study by the World Bank, 2004's growth reflected "an expansion without precedent over the past 30 years." Equally encouraging, the report notes that "the rapid growth of developing economies ... has produced a spectacular, if not historic, fall in poverty."

Amazingly, the World Bank report did not get much coverage in our mainstream media. It seems the press was more interested in covering the evils of globalization than in taking notice of how world trade -- which grew by an astounding 10.2 percent this year -- is driving economic growth.

When Americans do hear about the World Bank, it's usually because an unruly mob is protesting against it. The protesters are long on rhetoric but short on facts.
But it's not just protesters who are misguided. Many of our nation's teachers also don't realize why poverty in developing countries is declining at such a rapid rate. Far too often, teachers are uneasy when they realize that free markets are the best way to help those in poverty.

For example, most Americans would be surprised to learn that millions of poor people who live on less than $1 per day would be better off if they could go into debt. The reason they can't is that the institutions required to sustain capitalism are not present.

...One big reason people in more advanced societies are able to enjoy a more comfortable existence is that they are able to purchase items by going into debt. Americans take that for granted. Any person living in absolute poverty would love to trade positions with any one of us and walk in our shoes -- to have a job and be able to borrow money for a car or a home.

It's a shame that America's youth do not understand these basic economic concepts. If they did, they'd be less inclined to join globalization protests because they would understand why the economies of China and India grew by 8.8 percent and 6 percent, respectively, last year.

In fact, the recent success of developing countries at fighting poverty could be an Economics 101 lesson for today's American classroom. In East Asia and the Pacific region alone, the number of poor dropped from 472 million in 1990 to 271 million in 2001. By 2015, that number should shrink to 19 million, according to the World Bank.
Think where you and/or your family might be if there were no mortgage lenders, no car loans, and no credit cards, if you everything you purchased had to be paid for in full up front. What would you have? It's worth remembering that the only true cure for poverty is wealth. Free trade and open markets are the mechanisms that foster this growth.

While the above offer some longer term solutions for third world advancement, the devastation brought by the tsunami obviously requires more immediate aid and action. Something tailor made for the U.N. right? In rhetoric only it seems.

Once again as the UN talks of it's "unique moral authority", others, more capable, act.
The helicopters are taking off and landing now in the tsunami-shattered villages and towns. The sick are being taken for treatment. Clean water is being delivered. Food is arriving. Soon the work of reconstruction will begin.

The countries doing this good work have politely agreed to acknowledge the "coordinating" role of the United Nations. But it is hard to see how precisely the rescue work would be affected if the UN's officials all stayed in New York - or indeed if the UN did not exist at all.

The UN describes its role in South Asia as one of "assessment" and "coordination." Even this, however, seems to many to be a role unnecessary to the plot. The Daily Telegraph last week described the frustration of in-country UN officials who found they had nothing to do as the Americans, Australians, Indonesians, and Malaysians flew missions.

...Whence exactly does this moral authority emanate? How did the UN get it? Did it earn it by championing liberty, justice, and other high ideals? That seems a strange thing to say about a body that voted in 2003 to award the chair of its commission on human rights to Mummar Gaddafi's Libya.

Did it earn it by the efficacy of its aid work? On the contrary, the UN's efforts in Iraq have led to the largest financial scandal in the organisation's history: as much as $20 billion unaccounted for in oil-for-food funds. UN aid efforts in the Congo have been besmirched by allegations of sexual abuse of children; in the Balkans, by charges of sex trafficking.

Is the UN a defender of the weak against aggression by the powerful? Not exactly. Two of this planet's most intractable conflicts pit small democracies against vastly more populous neighbouring states. In both cases, the UN treats the democracies – Israel, Taiwan – like pariahs.

This record may explain why the UN is regarded by so many Americans as neither moral nor authoritative – and why American leaders of both political parties reject UN attempts to control American actions.

Mark Steyn takes a pass on political correctness to carve out some truth.

The path of the tsunamis tracked the arc of the Muslim world, from Sumatra to Somalia; the most devastated country is the world's most populous Muslim nation, and the most devastated part of that country is the one province living under the strictures of sharia.

But, as usual, when disaster strikes it's the Great Satan and his various Little Satans who leap to respond. In the decade before September 11, the US military functioned, more or less exclusively, as a Muslim rapid reaction force – coming to the aid of Kuwaiti Muslims, Bosnian Muslims, Somali Muslims and Albanian Muslims. Since then, with the help of its Anglo-Australian allies, it's liberated 50 million Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq.

That's not how the West's anti-war movements see it. I found myself behind a car the other day bearing the bumper sticker, "War Is Costly. Peace Is Priceless" – which is standard progressive generic autopilot boilerplate, that somehow waging war and doing good are mutually exclusive. But you can't help noticing that when disaster strikes, it's the warmongers who are also the compassion-mongers. Of the top six donor nations to tsunami relief, four are members of George W. Bush's reviled "coalition of the willing".

What was it the Romans said? "If you seek peace, prepare for war." It's truer than they know. It's because Australia's prepared for war that it can do all the feelgood humanitarian stuff – such as landing 10 army engineers in Banda Aceh to attach a mobile filtration system to the decrepit mains pipes and thereby not merely restore the water supply but improve it.
And finally, in a column where I could easily excerpt the whole thing, the incomparable Victor Davis Hanson, reflects on a changing American mood.
There is a new strange mood of acceptance among Americans about the world beyond our shores. Of course, we are not becoming naïve isolationists of 1930s vintage, who believe that we are safe by ourselves inside fortress America — not after September 11. Nor do citizens deny that America has military and moral obligations to stay engaged abroad — at least for a while yet. Certainly the United States is not mired in a Vietnam-era depression and stagflation and thus ready to wallow in Carteresque malaise. Indeed, if anything Americans remain muscular and are more defiant than ever.

Instead, there is a new sort of resignation rising in the country, as the United States sheds its naiveté that grew up in the aftermath of the Cold War. Clintonism may have assumed that terrorism was but a police matter, that the military could be slashed and used for domestic social reform by fiat, that our de facto neutrals were truly our friends, and that the end of the old smash-mouth history was at hand. The chaotic events following the demise of the Soviet Union, the mass murder on September 11, and the new strain of deductive anti-Americanism abroad cured most of all that.

Imagine a world in which there was no United States during the last 15 years. Iraq, Iran, and Libya would now have nukes. Afghanistan would remain a seventh-century Islamic terrorist haven sending out the minions of Zarqawi and Bin Laden worldwide. The lieutenants of Noriega, Milosevic, Mullah Omar, Saddam, and Moammar Khaddafi would no doubt be adjudicating human rights at the United Nations. The Ortega Brothers and Fidel Castro, not democracy, would be the exemplars of Latin America. Bosnia and Kosovo would be national graveyards like Pol Pot's Cambodia. Add in Kurdistan as well — the periodic laboratory for Saddam's latest varieties of gas. Saddam himself, of course, would have statues throughout the Gulf attesting to his control of half the world's oil reservoirs. Europeans would be in two-day mourning that their arms sales to Arab monstrocracies ensured a second holocaust. North Korea would be shooting missiles over Tokyo from its new bases around Seoul and Pusan. For their own survival, Germany, Taiwan, and Japan would all now be nuclear. Americans know all that — and yet they grasp that their own vigilance and military sacrifices have earned them spite rather than gratitude. And they are ever so slowly learning not much to care anymore.

...So an entire mythology has grown up to accommodate this false world of ours — sadly never more evident than during the recent tsunami disaster, a tragedy that has juxtaposed rhetoric with reality in a way that becomes each day more surreal. The wealthy Gulf States pledge very little of their vast petrol-dollar reserves — swollen from last year's jacked-up gasoline prices — to aid the ravaged homelands of their Islamic nannies, drivers, and janitors. Indeed, Muslim charities advertise to their donors that their aid goes to fellow Muslims — as if a dying Buddhist or Christian is less deserving of the Muslim Street's aid. In defense, officials argue that the ostracism of "charities" that funded suicide killers to the tune of $150 million has hampered their humanitarian efforts at scraping up a fifth of that sum. But then blowing apart Americans or Jews is always a higher priority than saving innocent Muslim children.

So even in death and misery, the world's pathologies remain — as Israel is disinvited to help the dying as the most benevolent United States, which freed Afghanistan and toppled Saddam, is supposedly under scrutiny to "regain" its stature for its "crimes" of jailing a mass murderer and sponsoring elections in his place. Last year alone the United States gave more direct money to Egypt and Jordan than what the entire billion-person Muslim world has given for the dead in Indonesia.

China, flush with billions in trade surplus, first offers a few million to its immediate Asian neighbors before increasing its contributions in the wake of massive gifts from Japan and the United States. Peking's gesture was what the usually harsh New York Times magnanimously called "slightly belated." In this weird sort of global high-stakes charity poker, no one asks why tiny Taiwan out-gives one billion mainlanders or why Japan proves about the most generous of all — worried the answer might suggest that postwar democratic republics, resurrected and nourished by the United States and now deeply entrenched in the Western liberal tradition of democracy, capitalism, and humanitarianism, are more civil societies than the Islamic theocracies, socialist republics, and authoritarian autocracies of the once-romanticized third world.
Read the rest, especially if you are a fan of American Western cinema.

While it is heartening to see the outpouring of generosity from our nation, I couldn't help but wonder why the tsunami victims are so much more deserving of the left's compassion than the victims of Saddam Hussein. After all, Hussein's regime slaughtered at least 5 times as many humans as the tsunami did. Perhaps someone can explain to me what I am overlooking?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I Really Really Like an Unprofessional Frank Martin

And you will too, I promise.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Happy New Year

It's the new year and I'm moving shortly so things will be quiet around here for a few weeks, probably.

So here's some year end reading you might find interesting:

Ed Driscoll, offers up his Top 10 blog moments of the year.

It looks like the invaluable Steven Den Beste is really retired from the blogosphere for good, you can find his best of here, it's all worth reading. In particular, this essay regarding the assertion that Iraq was a distraction from shutting down Al-Qaeda I found particularly compelling.

Okay this wasn't that recent, but it was one of the most powerful posts I read this year. I read it several times, I'd be interested to know what others thought of this essay from Wretchard at the Belmont Club.

Not much I can say about this next one, probably my favorite post-election essay out there. A beautiful mix of humor and truth frames the oft-mentioned Red State/Blue State divide, "Red State Blue State Me State You State"

Rumsfeld has come under a lot of scrutiny lately, Victor Davis Hanson has a nice article where he says to give Rumsfeld a break:

The blame with this war falls not with Donald Rumsfeld. We are more often the problem — our mercurial mood swings and demands for instant perfection devoid of historical perspective about the tragic nature of god-awful war. Our military has waged two brilliant campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. There has been an even more inspired postwar success in Afghanistan where elections were held in a country deemed a hopeless Dark-Age relic. A thousand brave Americans gave their lives in combat to ensure that the most wicked nation in the Middle East might soon be the best, and the odds are that those remarkable dead, not the columnists in New York, will be proven right — no thanks to post-facto harping from thousands of American academics and insiders in chorus with that continent of appeasement Europe.

Out of the ashes of September 11, a workable war exegesis emerged because of students of war like Don Rumsfeld: Terrorists do not operate alone, but only through the aid of rogue states; Islamicists hate us for who we are, not the alleged grievances outlined in successive and always-metamorphosing loony fatwas; the temper of bin Laden's infomercials hinges only on how bad he is doing; and multilateralism is not necessarily moral, but often an amoral excuse either to do nothing or to do bad — ask the U.N. that watched Rwanda and the Balkans die or the dozens of profiteering nations who in concert robbed Iraq and enriched Saddam.
It's hard to argue with that.

Other good stuff:
Varifrank's election-eve photo essay on Saddam's Iraq.

Donald Sensing's Thanksgiving photo essay is worth a gander as well.

Also see Jonah Goldberg's "Shame, Shame, Shame" column.

And finally, a reminder of the very necessarily empty throne.

Enjoy, and thanks to all of the readers out there, you keep me going. Best wishes for 2005. See you in a few weeks.


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