Saturday, October 19, 2002

Apart from a wisecrack or two, Joe makes sense on N. Korea here.
David Corn has a point.
Plastic:-> Salon's Michelle Goldberg offers a fascinating report on the extreme leftists who are threatening to hijack the anti-war movement. The most prominent organizers of the protests are the International Action Center and the Revolutionary Communist Party, which, as Goldberg points out, are "cheerleaders for some of the most sinister regimes and insurgencies on the planet". And as Mother Jones's Todd Gitlin explains, this threatens to discredit the anti-war movement precisely at the moment when it's most needed. Some readers who've read Goldberg's expose don't see any problem, however."
Atrios again: That's, by the way, part of the job. That's what I did when I worked for presidents. They -- the message of my book and of the Pentagon Papers, unfortunately, is that officials, like me and my bosses, lie and conceal far more than any outsider can even imagine.

WORLD SERIES TONIGHT ! To honor the day, here's the best baseball blog.

My friend John says Angels in 5.

I'm rooting for the Angels (the ixnay Barry Bonds factor) even though they're located in Orange County. BUT: I think the Giants, despite poorer pitching than Anaheim, have some sort of weird karmic mojo going on, and I pick SanFran in 6. Maybe 7. Nah, 6.

Oh, and my Texas Longhorns will LOSE at Kansas State tonight. After the shock of the OU 4th quarter, these guys have no clue. And no offensive line, either.
Atrios found this tidbit of modern American surrealism: U.S. senators were warned earlier this week that those who play golf may be targets of al Qaeda snipers on golf courses and were given tips on how to protect themselves, a U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman said.
There are now five warships blockading Iraq and the waters are more heavily policed that at any time since the Gulf War.
OK I feel a wee bit better about nukes: The administration's decision to commit ground forces to destroy what military analysts say is a relatively small number of mobile Scuds in Baghdad's arsenal underscores the strong U.S. desire to keep Israel out of any war, as the first Bush administration succeeded in doing during the Gulf War 11 years ago.

Al Qaeda has adapted to operating on the run after losing sanctuary in Afghanistan and recent attacks show the dispersed network is still capable of conducting strikes and is seeking more targets, U.S. intelligence officials said on Friday.
Indonesian police have ordered the arrest of radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir.
Police in the Philippines are searching for clues as to who was behind a bus bombing which killed at least two people and injured more than 20 others in the capital, Manila, on Friday.
Unlike the U.S. infantry units that have been in Kuwait on regular six-month rotations, the dispatch of the helicopters represents an exceptional deployment and has no set timetable.
Related items? Hmmmm, could be ...

Today's Washington Post: President Bush has authorized U.S. combat training for Iraqi opponents of Saddam Hussein, and the Pentagon has identified as many as 5,000 recruits for an initial training phase to begin next month, according to administration and military officials.

Bush authorized the training in a National Security Presidential Directive on Oct. 3 that also approved the expenditure of $92 million in Defense Department funds, officials said. Defense and State Department officials intend to brief Congress next week on plans to instruct the Iraqis in basic combat as well as specialized skills to serve as battlefield advisers, scouts and interpreters with U.S. ground troops in an invasion force.

... and from Salon, 9/5/02: A key element of Perle's regime-changing plan is that it will be a tidy little war, since Hussein's empire is "a house of cards," as Perle recently told a PBS interviewer. He contends that an Iraq invasion could replicate the Afghanistan war; U.S. special operations units would assist rebels inside Iraq much the way the U.S. helped the Northern Alliance topple the Taliban.

"The Iraqi opposition is kind of like an MRE [meal ready to eat, or U.S. Army field ration]," Perle once told U.S. News & World Report. "The ingredients are there and you just have to add water, in this case U.S. support." (Eagleburger recently quipped about Perle's band of much-touted anti-Saddam rebels, "I think there are at least six of them.")

Friday, October 18, 2002

The Smoke Nazis
Less than three months ago, President Bush signed with great fanfare sweeping corporate antifraud legislation that called for a huge increase in the budget of the Securities and Exchange Commission to police corporate America and clean up Wall Street.
Now the White House is backing off the budget provision and urging Congress to provide the agency with 27 percent less money than the new law authorized.

Bush has not let the world turmoil deter him from his campaign schedule leading up to the Nov. 5 elections, which has fueled Democratic suspicions about his motives for trying to keep international attention on Iraq and its alleged ties to al Qaeda. He made stops in four states over the past two days and is scheduled to barnstorm five more next week. Bush also plans to go to McLean on Monday to meet with people who have donated at least $250,000 to the Republican Party.


Bush's decision to address the North Korean crisis through diplomatic means, in consultation with regional allies and friends, has drawn criticism from conservative quarters that believe Pyongyang should be dealt with in the same way as Iraq. In a "Memorandum to Opinion Leaders" distributed Thursday, the Project for the New American Century praised Bush's initial distrust of North Korea and his "instinctive" rejection of President Bill Clinton's engagement policy.
One in 10 men have admitted they don't know how to boil an egg, and three times more men would rather change a nappy than cook a meal according to a nationwide NOP poll.
However, the report on the collaboration between North Korea and Pakistan merely confirmed what scientists, anti-nuclear campaigners and intelligence officers had suspected for years: that there was a natural partnership between North Korea's missile technology and Pakistan's expertise in the use of gas centrifuges to produce weapons-grade uranium.
Britain and the US yesterday signalled their readiness to attack Iraq without a UN mandate if the security council fails to agree on a common course of action.


The remarks appeared to be aimed primarily at France, which has led opposition in the security council to a new resolution on weapons inspections that would pave the way for military action if Iraq fails to cooperate.

To prepare for the massive aerial campaign, the Pentagon is speeding up smart-bomb production. At Raytheon Co., Paveway laser-guided missiles are rolling off the line at three times the pace planned before September 11, while a partial third shift was added to make Tomahawk cruise missiles. Boeing Co.'s production of JDAMs is set to rise from 700 a month to 2,300.
A Ms. M.O. of St. Paul, MIN inquires as to why I "seemingly" have no opinion on the D.C. area sniper.

Dear Ms. O.:

'Twould be idle speculation and I tend not to speculate unless given points.


While some reports about Pyongyang's new nuclear program, which is technologically very different from that at Yongbyon, have said it dates back to the mid-1990s, Cumings said he has seen other reports that indicate it began only last July. That would have been shortly after administration hawks had quashed Powell's proposal to send the assistant secretary of state for East Asia, James Kelly, to Pyongyang to end formally the 18-month-old hiatus in high-level talks.
Was spinning the AM radio dial (ok, not really; it's digital and buttons now) awhile ago and heard wacko "conservative" Michael Savage ask college students to tape their "anti-American" professors and send him the tape. Hey, I know the guy is just trying to be outrageous and get ratings, but doesn't this sound a bit Stalinist? I won't link to Savage, but I found this anti-Savage site.

He just loooooves to say "Savage Nation". Sorta funny, actually ...
WASHINGTON Prime Minister Ariel Sharon returned home from Washington Thursday, upbeat after receiving assurances the US would take adequate steps to minimize the threat to Israel in any Iraq war, and having faced less pressure than expected to ease the humanitarian plight of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"It was an excellent visit, perhaps the best so far," a senior official said.

Well, whoopee ... Can't you practically hear Pat Buchanon's "amen corner" singing?

While the US would prefer no response to an Iraqi attack, US officials did not dispute Israel's right to self-defense during the meetings.

Lord God

Daschle said that when it comes to Israel, there are no Democrats or Republicans, "only Americans." Sharon wished both parties good luck in the November 5 elections.

Speaks for itself.

Changed the template so all previous posts are now in italics. Hated all that damn color. Hey, I'm a black/white/grey kind of guy ...
Kirby, Kirby, Kirby ... One of my all-time faves.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Some 2003 Headlines from Rack Jite, via Eschaton. Just 5 here; go check the rest out, they're great.

Car Bomb Kills Interim President Kaffer of Iraq
CIA Says Hussein May be in Pakistan
Kurds Attack Shites Across Tigris
Powell Resigns
US Gas Prices Tops $4 a Gallon

In the meantime, South Korea says it will continue its "sunshine" policy towards the North. Yim Sung-joon, national security adviser to President Kim Dae-jung, also expressed the view that the North's admission was a signal that it wanted to talk.
Whitehead did not say how Noelle Bush had violated her drug treatment program.

In July, she was sent to jail for two days after rehabilitation center workers found her with prescription pills. She ended up back in court Thursday after police were called to the center last month because of reports she had crack cocaine.

and ...

Her father, the governor, was not in the courtroom.

Look, I hope the kid makes it. I'm an old alkie myself. It's Jeb's hypocrisy and secrecy that I object to. Despite 10 days in the pokey, Noelle is and has been getting special treatment. And Jeb is a politician who has a zero tolerance policy on drugs.

And the SOB should have been there to support his kid, close race or no.

Pakistan today announced it would withdraw hundreds of thousands of troops deployed along its border with India to their "peacetime locations," matching a similar pledge by India.

Israeli soldiers dragged die-hard Jewish settlers off a West Bank hilltop today and dismantled mobile homes at the illegal outpost.

In meetings with Bush and other U.S. officials, Sharon got assurances that the United States would give Israel advance warning in the event it attacks Iraq, and he heard U.S. plans to stop Iraq launching rockets at Israel, said a senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Something is in the wind. We seem to be leaning on a lot of folks to be on good behavior. Something is up.

The idea of a North Korean nuclear arsenal immediately alters the delicate nuclear balance in Asia and confronts the Bush administration with two simultaneous crises involving nations developing weapons of mass destruction: one in Iraq, the other on the Korean Peninsula.

Holy Shit, Batman! The word "overextension" comes to mind, but ... let's not panic yet.

Couple of other things that jump out at you ... Well, actually the entire article is disturbing. It could be fisked if I weren't so sleepy, but:

One senior official characterized the North Korean attitude at the Pyongyang meeting as belligerent, rather than apologetic, even while it admitted violating the 1994 accord to freeze its nuclear weapons development.

But one official who was in the room on Oct. 4 when the North Korean deputy foreign minister, Kang Sok Joo, described the existence of the nuclear program, said, "I would not describe them as apologetic."

The next day the North Koreans acknowledged the nuclear program and according to one American official said they, "have more powerful things as well." American officials have interpreted that comment as an acknowledgment that North Korea possesses other weapons of mass destruction.

God help us.

WP: "It is worth stating clearly and unambiguously what official U.S. government spokespersons have not," the report notes. "For years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for al Qaeda, and for years the Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem."

Well, duuuhhhh ...

A site well worth viewing.

It's difficult for me to understand how working class people, especially the so-called Reagan Democrats (well, they used to be) ... You know, mostly white male rednecks (and I come from a long line of them here in Texas) have allowed themselves to be so snookered by the GOP. Like, Shrub gives you a piddling tax cut while the corporations who put him in office raise your energy bills, hell, all your utilities, your drug bills, your insurance rates (if you can get insurance), ad nauseum ... lets these thieves have the run of the house and pick your pocket right and left and you end up broker than you were before and can't figure out why. But they'll protect your gun rights, though. Sorry, doesn't make any sense to me.

The Republican party is the party of the rich; has been for the past century. They are NOT the party of the little man, no way, no how. The Democrats aren't much better, but at least they're not Republicans.
I never liked Woody Harrelson, never liked his work. Harry said that he was hitting on married women at the "EdTV" premiere a few years ago in Austin and was basically a total ass. (I'll bet he and McConaughey together were quite the party dudes to stay away from.) I DO agree with him on his "hemp" thing, but ... I think like many people who live in a sheltered environment, he's a bit naive. He's right on this, though:

The fact is that Saddam Hussein was our boy. The CIA helped him to power, as they did the Shah of Iran and Noriega and Marcos and the Taliban and countless other brutal tyrants. The fact is that George Bush Sr continued to supply nerve gas and technology to Saddam even after he used it on Iran and then the Kurds in Iraq. While the Amnesty International report listing countless Saddam atrocities, including gassing and torturing Kurds, was sitting on his desk, Bush Sr pushed through a $2bn "agricultural" loan and Thatcher gave hundreds of millions in export credit to Saddam. The elder Bush then had the audacity to quote the Amnesty reports to garner support for his oil war.

A decade later, Shrub follows the same line: "We have no quarrel with the Iraqi people." I'm sure half a million Iraqi parents are scratching their heads over that. I'm an American tired of lies. And with our government, it's mostly lies.

It sure would be nice if it were simple, but it isn't.

It seems unlikely, however, that North Korea will become a target country for the United States much as Iraq is nowadays. With war plans for Iraq already on the drawing board and a broader war on terrorism still under way, threats against North Korea could leave the United States overextended.

So the chess game is on.

Not that this is anything of a surprise, but it is damn dangerous. Almost makes one yearn for the Cold War (only half-kidding). Why is North Korea suddenly coming clean with all their dirty little secrets? First the Japanese hostages, now this. Hmmmm ...
Someone brought this to my attention, saying it was written by "the other side". It's basically a pissed-off American manifesto and I don't disagree with a word of it. Maybe this is why I'm a centrist/liberal leaning way left, but not so far as to fall out. Why did you think I'd disagree, Bob?

Now, the Rush Limbaugh quote AFTER this is another story ... :-)

From the Ville, via Spleenville, via Bob.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

LOLOL @ "KristolVision"

Would be side-splitting if it weren't so sad. And probably true.

At BusyBusyBusy via Eschaton.


White House officials tried to clarify Bush's remarks, saying he was not giving Israel a green light to retaliate if Iraq attacks in response to U.S. action.

In a war situation, the United States would consult Israel, spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "That is a separate issue from if Iraq tomorrow launched an attack unprovoked, whether they would have a right to defend themselves," he said.

Get it right, get it right, GW, this is SERIOUS.

(great discussion of Bush press conference today at Eschaton)

** The first boob is, of course, war problem # 1

WAR PROBLEM # 91: Ariel Sharon's lapdog

"We never had such close relations with any president of the United States as we have with you," Mr Sharon said after today's meeting.

"We never had such a cooperation, in everything, as we have with the current administration."


Obscurejude (a Thomas Hardy fan, perhaps?) writes:

“You claim to be a pro-war liberal yet most of your posts are anti-war.”


Dear Jude (Hey Jude?):

I am a pro-war (Iraq) liberal/centrist who is trying to talk myself out of being pro-war as I am uncomfortable with the position for many reasons. This blog may well be intrinsically an argument with myself, at least on the subject of Iraq. In many instances I am my target audience.

“What in hadies (sic) is a Christopher Hitchens liberal?”

I’ve always been a great admirer of Hitchens work, his obsession with Bill Clinton’s penis being an exception. After 9/11, Hitchens was shocked and aghast at the reaction of those idiots on the far left, as was I. His debate over at The Nation with that idiot Chomsky was a public service. Hitchens is a liberal, but was pro-Afghan war and is, as you know, pro-Iraq war. He makes no bones about the fact that he also opposes George W. Bush (Shrub) politically, as do I.

Short version: I agree with Hitch, ummmm, 85% of the time. Josh Marshall (hey, he changed the photo!) is another guy I agree with a lot, as is Todd Gitlin (though Gitlin opposes the Iraq adventure as I might well so do down the line).

While the Bush administration focused quickly and effectively on the outside terrorist threat to America, it has shown far less vigor or interest in stamping out corporate evildoing. Homeland security begins - as the term does - at home. So, by stripping workers of their jobs, savings and in some cases their very homes, corporate evildoers have eroded "homeland security" for far more Americans than Osama and his band of nutcases could have ever dreamed of reaching.

Hell, read this entire site.

WAR PROBLEM # 90: The Lies

From White House press briefing, 10/9/02:

Q But if his neighbors didn't have so much oil -- there are countries in Africa which invade each other and we don't get involved -- most security analysts take a look at it and say oil is a central aspect to the nation's security. And Saddam Hussein getting control of the world's oil supplies -- are you saying oil is not at all a factor in the President's thinking?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think when you take a look at what the United Nations voted for, what the Congress voted for, what President Clinton signed, and what President Bush supports, that is not a factor.

Q So oil is not a factor?

MR. FLEISCHER: That is not a factor. This is about preserving the peace and saving the lives of Americans. And it's also -- a factor that is new is what took place on September 11th, and the awakening here that we are vulnerable to attacks on our own soil, now, and that Saddam Hussein, if he links up with terrorists, has an interest in harming us.

Q So the stability of oil prices is not a national security or an economic matter -- how can you say that it's not a factor? I just don't understand that.
MR. FLEISCHER: The question is about any potential use of military force. And this is about saving the lives of American people.

Q Saddam Hussein's oil reserves are not at all a factor in any of the geopolitical calculations?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, the question as I took it was about whether or not this is a factor in what makes us --

Q -- on a broader question.

MR. FLEISCHER: I think the reasons are exactly as the President stated. Now, there are implications as a result of any action that will have effects on the economy. And no one can predict what those will or will not be. The past history, at least in 1991, shows that the projections and the predictions were dire and were wrong, but I think it's impossible to state what the impact will be if this comes to pass.

Q But the White House doesn't have anybody looking at what those implications would be?

MR. FLEISCHER: Again, I think it's impossible to state with any precision what that effect might be. But the question as I took it -- get back to cause and motive for why we are considering military action.

WAR PROBLEM # 89: The Military/Industrial Complex
About the oil.
Hey, what about the Atlantic Records anniversary show back in the '80's? When was that? The same lineup played that gig.
Those little scamps.
The final death toll from the bombs in Bali last Saturday could soar by at least 50% and might end up being more than double the current official figure of 183, a volunteer at the island's mortuary told the Guardian yesterday.

Hollywood's dirty little secret.

Some of this stuff is near legendary and will NEVER be released. Probably the best example is Jerry Lewis' holocaust "film" about a Jewish CLOWN (I'm serious; like a circus clown) who leads -- like the Pied Piper -- little Jewish children to their doom in the camps of WWII. It is supposed to be, possibly, the worst film ever made.

Here, I found a link. (I love Google.)
Life sucks and then you die. In between, the prettiest girl in the world is a fucking whore. C'est la vie.
What was that about a poll indicating support for an Iraq war was down? Not the Brits. The Guardian has one taken after the Bali bloodbath.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Good article on the effects of war on the Iraqi people. Yet it should be noted about the sanctions: Saddam Hussein is responsible for the negative effects of the sanctions. He didn't have to spend his oil money on palaces, elaborate tributes to his vanity or implements of war. But he did. And continues to do so. Blaming the U.N. or the U.S.A. for the human disasters within Iraq is soooo easy for some people, and incorrect. SADDAM is responsible. Period.
WAR PROBLEM #88: The Afghanis
WAR PROBLEM # 87: The Turks
Kos says support for war ebbs: here.
Why the hell have we not made any such request?

Israel, acting at U.S. request, did not use its formidable arsenal to retaliate against Iraq in 1991. U.S. officials said the Bush administration has made no such request this time but would like Sharon to, in the words of one official, "just stop talking" about the issue for now.

Just who is calling the shots here? Shrub or Sharon? This is one of the myriad of things that bother me about this upcoming war. IF it comes about, and I'm not so sure it isn't a monumental -- with troop movements -- bluff. Every day I see it differently, am less clear on just what is going on.

Again, why would the U.S. not make such a "request" of Israel?

Oh shit ... Certainly hope this freak is a lily white redneck when caught. Hopefully very soon. Nasty reprisals if this is accurate

.A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said another witness gave a description of a dark-skinned, possibly Hispanic or Middle Eastern, man in a white van.

Goddard has a nice collection of links on Shrub's continued efforts to master THE BIG LIE. How's ol' Ken Lay gettin' along down there in Houston, G.W.?
This from the Times:

Within the Federal Bureau of Investigation, some senior officials no longer use the name Al Qaeda. Instead, in recognition of the threat's broader dimensions, they refer privately to a radical international movement pursuing the United States and its allies.

"There is a radical international jihad, with some influences of midlevel Al Qaeda operations, that will remain a very difficult force for us for many years," a senior government official in Washington said.

Personally, I prefer Hitchens' term "Islamo-fascists", or, if that's too severe for polite company, Daniel Pipes' (much as I'm leery of him) term "Islamists". But that's just me ...

It's sometimes difficult to tell who is granting whom an audience, hmmmm?
Jeb must really be in trouble in Florida if he's talking about this.

A lawyer for Noelle Bush has asked the judge to close her hearings to the public, citing federal confidentiality laws. On Monday, two Florida newspapers, the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel, filed a motion opposing the request.

Still though, one rule for the Bush family and another for the rest of us.

Andrew Northrup nails that prick Noam Chomsky.
Democracy in Iraq. I wonder what happens to the 'no' voters.
OK so I'm not completely sold on the coming Gulf War II. I like to refer to myself as a "Christopher Hitchens liberal", but I still have serious reservations. The propensity for outright LIES from this administration doesn't help.
This is what the CIA had to say last week.
Gee, I wonder what the C.I.A. has to say about this.

"We need to think about Saddam Hussein using al-Qaida to do his dirty work, to not leave fingerprints behind," Bush said Monday at a rally for Michigan's GOP candidates.

"This is a man who we know has had connections with al-Qaida. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al-Qaida as a forward army," Bush said later at a Dearborn, Mich. fund-raiser.

Layin' it on a little thick, aren't we, Shrub? Please ...

Monday, October 14, 2002

OK, so Saddam (or SAD-um if you're G.H.W. Bush) needs to go. No argument. But where did he get all those nasty germs? Hmmmm? Here. (Can't believe I've linked to Novack twice in 1 day.)

Whoops! Link to Rosenbaum's column.
Goodbye, All That: How Left Idiocies Drove Me to Flee
by Ron Rosenbaum

So I went up to the antiwar demonstration in Central Park this weekend, hoping to hear some persuasive arguments. After a couple of hours there, listening to speeches, reading the hate-America literature, I still don’t know what to think about Iraq—will an attack open a Pandora’s box, or close one?—but I think I know what I feel about this antiwar movement, or at least many of the flock who showed up in the Sheep Meadow.

A movement of Marxist fringe groups and people who are unable to make moral distinctions. An inability summed up by a man holding a big poster that proudly identified him as "NYC TEACHER." The lesson "NYC TEACHER" had for the day was that "BUSH IS A DEVIL … HANDS OFF NORTH KOREA, IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN …. "

Yes, Bush is "a devil" compared to those enlightened regimes that torture and murder dissidents (like "NYC TEACHER"). Bush is certainly "a devil" compared to enlightened leaders like Kim Jong Il, who has reduced the North Korean people in his repulsive police state to eating moss on rocks; or to Saddam Hussein, who tortures and gasses opponents, and starves his people to fund his germ-war labs; or to the Taliban in Afghanistan, who beat women into burqas. Yes, surely compared to them, Bush is "a devil." Thank God New York’s schoolchildren are in such good hands.

Back in 1929, Robert Graves published a memoir with the endlessly evocative title Good-Bye to All That. He was leaving England, saying goodbye to a society he felt was deeply implicated, however triumphant, in the horrors he’d witnessed firsthand in the trenches of the First World War.

Goodbye to all that. The phrase occurred to me when I heard the sad news that Christopher Hitchens was leaving The Nation. Sad more for The Nation, a magazine I’ve read on and off since high school, now deprived of an important dissenting voice amidst lockstep Left opinion. Mr. Hitchens was valuable to The Nation, to the Left as a whole, I argued back on Jan. 14 in these pages, because he challenged "the Left to recognize the terrorists not as somewhat misguided spokesmen for the wretched of the earth, but as ‘Islamo-fascists’—theocratic oppressors of the wretched of the earth." He was leaving in part, he said, because he’d grown tired of trying to make this case in a venue that had become what he called "an echo chamber of those who believe that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden."

The Nation still has assets of course: the incomparable polymath literary critic, John Leonard; the fierce polemical intelligence of Katha Pollit, which I admire however much I might disagree with her; some serious investigative reporters. And recently Jack Newfield, who long ago co-authored an important book on the populist tradition—still a faint hope for a non-Marxist Left in America.

But Mr. Hitchens’ loss is a loss not just for the magazine, but for the entire Left; it’s important that America have an intelligent opposition, with a critique not dependent on knee-jerk, neo-Marxist idiocy. And it’s important that potential constituents of that opposition, like Nation readers, be exposed to a brilliant dissenter like Christopher Hitchens.

And the level of idiocy one finds in knee-jerk Left oppositionalism is sometimes astonishing. I’d like to focus on two particular examples that have led me to want to say my own goodbye-to-all-that as well.

Before I get into the two idiocies that tipped the scale for me, I want to make clear that saying goodbye to idiocies on the Left doesn’t mean becoming a conservative, neo- or otherwise. I think I made that clear in a column published here on Jan. 28 of this year, "Where Was the Values Crowd When Dr. King Needed Them?" In that column, I argued that just as the Left had failed to come to terms with its history of indifference to (at best) and support for (at worst) genocidal Marxist regimes abroad, the Right has failed to come to terms with its history of indifference to (at best) and support for (at worst) racism and racist political allies here at home.

It’s ironic, considering what I’m about to write, that I got a nice note from that hard-core Old Red folkie, Pete Seeger, thanking me for my Dr. King column. But you know, I still can understand people like Pete Seeger joining the Party back in the 30’s during the Depression, when it looked like unregulated capitalism had cruelly immiserated America, when racism and lynchings reigned down South and it looked (looked, I said) as if the Soviet Union was the only force willing to stand up to Hitler. But to cling to Marxism now, after all we’ve learned in the past 50 years—not just about the Soviet Union, but China and Cambodia … ?

I must confess that my own learning curve was on the slow side, having grown up reading The Nation and The New Republic and believing that the evils of Soviet Communism were a figment of J. Edgar Hoover’s imagination. My slow learning curve had a lot to do as well with coming of age during the Vietnam War and covering antiwar demonstrations, where I found myself seduced by the brilliant Groucho Marxism of Abbie Hoffman (I still miss his anarchic spirit). And (more culpably) I was fascinated by the Dostoevskian moral absolutism of the Weather Underground, although never, thank God, by the pretensions of Marxism to be a "science of history."

I still identify myself as a contrarian, libertarian, pessimist, secular-humanist, anti-materialist liberal Democrat who distrusts the worship of "the wisdom of the market." Someone who was outraged (and outspoken in these pages) about the Bush-Baker election tactics in Florida, for instance. But not stupid enough to think we’d be better off with Al Gore as President now; not stupid enough to think Al Gore is smart. (See my Nov. 6, 2000, column, "Al’s Screwy Scrawlings Can’t Pass for Intelligence"). Anyway, all this is a preface to the Tale of Two Idiocies that has led to my own goodbye-to-all-that moment.

Let’s begin with the little idiocy, the later one, because I think it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. In fact, I think I came across it shortly before I had heard of Mr. Hitchens’ farewell. One irony of it is that this little bit of idiocy was penned by a former Hitchens acolyte, a sometime Nation writer now living in London who appended a cruel little addendum to what ostensibly was a review, in London’s Times Literary Supplement, of Tom Hanks’ Road to Perdition.

At the close of an uninspired review of an uninspired film (How many times must wannabe intellectuals quote Robert Warshow when speaking of gangster films? Shouldn’t there be some kind of statute of limitations?), the writer graces us with this final reflection:

"Still, if Road to Perdition ultimately fails as entertainment, it offers rich material for allegory. Maybe it was because I attended a screening on Sept. 11, but I couldn’t help seeing Hanks as an American everyman, a pure-hearted killer who will commit no end of mayhem to ensure a better life for his children. Imagine Willie Loman with a tommy gun, and you’ll see what I mean. ‘You dirty rats! Attention must be paid.’"

But of course! What a brilliant point he’s making in the course of preening his anti-Americanism before his audience of U.K. intellectuals. What does Sept. 11 remind him of? The way Americans are killers. Sept. 11 becomes, in his lovely leap of logic, really about Americans being pure-hearted killers capable of "no end of mayhem," infinite evil deeds. Doesn’t everybody think that way? (Everybody in his little circle, I imagine). Sept. 11 reminds them that Americans are first and foremost murderers, so let’s not spend a moment acknowledging that little matter of Sept. 11 being a day on which 3,000 Americans were murdered by the "pure-hearted killers" of Al Qaeda. Who, when not committing mass murder, stone women as punishment, torture gays, crush free thought by executing dissidents. No, they get a pass (and the 3,000 become non-persons). Because they hate America, they must be for liberation, and so we can’t blame them; we must accuse ourselves of being killers. In fact, we should thank them for providing our witty writer with an occasion for reminding the world that the "American everyman" is a killer.

That one paragraph is a useful compression of the entire post-9/11 idiocy of one wing of the Left. That’s what Sept. 11 has come to mean to much of the Left: a wake-up call for American self-hatred. Mr. Hitchens was one of the few who challenged that consensus.

But when I say goodbye-to-all-that, it’s a goodbye that’s been brewing ever since the Really Big Idiocy, the one I encountered barely a month after Sept. 11, from a more illustrious figure on the Left, an academic Left paragon.

It was a mixed gathering with a heavy representation of Left academics, and people were going around the room and speaking about the attacks and the response. Over and over, one heard variations on the theme of, "Gee, it’s terrible about all those people who died in the towers and all"—that had already become the pro forma disclaimer/preface for America-bashing—"but maybe it’s a wake-up call for us to recognize how bad we are, Why They Hate Us." The implication was evident: We deserved it. It would be a salutary lesson. It was the Pat Robertson wing of the Left in full flower: Sinful America deserved this Judgment from the sky. Crocodile tears could be shed for those people who died in the towers, but those buildings were so ugly, they were such eyesores, they were a symbol of globalist hubris—it was as if the terrorists who flew the planes into the towers were really architectural critics, flying Herbert Muschamps, not mass murderers.

No, we must search for the "root causes," the reasons to blame the victims for their unfortunate but symbolically appropriate deaths. And on and on, until I felt myself already beginning to say goodbye to the culture that produced this kind of cruel, lockstep thinking. Until finally, the coup de grâce—the Big Idiocy, the idiocy di tutti idiocies. It came from the very well-respected and influential academic, who said that there was at least one thing that was to be welcomed about 9/11: It might give Americans the impetus to do "what the Germans had done in the 60’s"—make an honest reassessment of their past and its origins, as a way to renewal.

Reassessment of our past: Clearly he was speaking admiringly of the 60’s generation in Germany coming to terms with its Nazi past, with Germany’s embrace of Hitler.

At that point, having sat silently through an accumulation of self-hating anti-Americanism, I couldn’t take it any more. I’m not a demonstrative patriot; I don’t believe in putting God in the Pledge of Allegiance, for instance. I don’t believe in making people pledge at all—there’s something collectivist about it. But this last was too much: We should be grateful for 9/11 because it would allow us to reassess our shameful, even Nazi-like, past?

"Isn’t there an implicit analogy you’re making between America and Nazi Germany?" I asked. "It’s just an analogy," he said. Well, goodbye to all that, goodbye to the entire mind-set behind it: the inability to distinguish America’s sporadic blundering depradations (dissent from which was sometimes successful) from "Germany’s past," Hitlerism. It was "just an analogy." O.K., then, let me make an analogy here, one that I believe goes to the "root cause" of Left idiocy of this sort.

The analogy that occurred to me grew out of a conversation I had several years ago with the philosopher Berel Lang, author of Act and Idea in the Nazi Genocide, a talk that took place in the course of researching my book, Explaining Hitler. Mr. Lang is an extremely thoughtful and meticulous thinker on the question of degrees of evil, and the role of intentionality in determining them. He was speaking about the question of whether one could say there was "a history of evil"—whether Hitler represented a new fact, a new landmark in that history, and if so, what the next step might be.

I suggested the "next step" might be Holocaust denial, because the deniers had found a diabolical way to twist the knife, compounding the pain of the survivors by negating and slandering the memory of the murdered.

Mr. Lang demurred, because he had his own notion of what the next step in the history of evil might be. The paradigm for it, he told me, was the postwar career of Martin Heidegger, the Nazi-friendly philosopher beloved to distraction by postmodernists (and Hannah Arendt).

All of whom apologized for him, despite an increasingly damning series of revelations that disclosed his toadying to Hitler’s thugs in order to attain professional advancement, hailing Hitler’s Reich as the ultimate synthesis of politics and his philosophy.

But that wasn’t what made Heidegger a new chapter, Mr. Lang said; it was his astonishing postwar behavior. After everything came out, after it was no longer possible to deny at least post facto knowledge of the Holocaust, nothing changed for Heidegger. He felt no need to incorporate what happened into his philosophy. "His silence," Mr. Lang said, "it wasn’t even denial. For him, it wasn’t important! It wasn’t important …. Now if you ask which of them is worse … the Revisionists [Holocaust deniers] deny it occurred, but their official position, at least, is that if it occurred, it would have been wrong. But Heidegger knows it occurred, but it’s just not important—it’s not something to distort history to deny. For Heidegger, this is not history to concern oneself with."

Not history to concern oneself with ….

Here’s the analogy: Heidegger’s peculiar neutrality-slash-denial about Nazism and the Holocaust after the facts had come out, and the contemporary Left’s curious neutrality-slash-denial after the facts had come out about Marxist genocides—in Russia, in China, in Cambodia, after 20 million, 50 million, who knows how many millions had been slaughtered. Not all of the Left; many were honorable opponents. But for many others, it just hasn’t registered, it just hasn’t been incorporated into their "analysis" of history and human nature; it just hasn’t been factored in. America is still the one and only evil empire. The silence of the Left, or the exclusive focus of the Left, on America’s alleged crimes over the past half-century, the disdainful sneering at America’s deplorable "Cold War mentality"—none of this has to be reassessed in light of the evidence of genocides that surpassed Hitler’s, all in the name of a Marxist ideology. An ideology that doesn’t need to be reassessed. As if it was maybe just an accident that Marxist-Leninist regimes turned totalitarian and genocidal. No connection there. The judgment that McCarthyism was the chief crime of the Cold War era doesn’t need a bit of a rethink, even when put up against the mass murder of dissidents by Marxist states.

The point is, all empires commit crimes; in the past century, ours were by far the lesser of evils. But this sedulous denial of even the possibility of misjudgment in the hierarchy of evils protects and insulates this wing of the Left from an inconvenient reconsideration of whether America actually is the worst force on the planet. This blind spot, this stunning lack of historical perspective, robs much of the American Left of intellectual credibility. And makes it easy for idiocies large and small to be uttered reflexively. (Perhaps the suggestion I recently saw on the Web site calling for an "Anti-Idiotarian" party might be appropriate.)

Recently I saw the strangest documentary, a film with a title that sounds like a Woody Allen joke: Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary. It’s a New York Film Festival pick and well worth seeing, just for the example of willed, obtuse blindness on the part of the secretary when she claims that she was insulated from all the terrible things happening during the war. But even Hitler’s secretary—unlike Heidegger, unlike the knee-jerk anti-American Left—feels the need to make some gesture of dismay at her "blind spot" in retrospect. But not the know-it-alls of the Left, who have never been wrong about anything since they adopted Marxism as their cult in college. What would the harm be in admitting that one didn’t know as much at in college as history has taught us now?

But noooo … (as John Belushi liked to say). Instead, we get evasions and tortuous rationalizations like the Slavoj Ziz^ek zigzag: This extremely fashionable postmodern Marxist academic will concede the tens of millions murdered by Stalin, etc., but it’s "different" from the millions murdered by Hitler, because the Soviet project was built on good intentions, on utopian aspirations; the tens of millions dead were an unfortunate side effect, a kind of unfortunate, accidental departure from the noble Leninist path that still must be pursued.

It’s sad, though, because one senses that Mr. Hitchens forced a lot of people on the Left to confront their blind spot, their on-bended-knee obeisance to anyone in the Third World who posed as a "liberator," from Mao to Castro to Arafat and the Taliban. This was why Mr. Hitchens was so valuable and hopeful in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, hammering away at the point that the Islamo-fascists weren’t friends of the oppressed, they were oppressors—of women, gays, poets and all dissenters.

But now, a year later, it seems that despite Mr. Hitchens and a few other voices, such as Todd Gitlin’s, the blind-spot types have won out on the Left—the blind spot to Marxist genocide obscuring any evil but America’s. You could see it at the Sheeps Meadow. You can see it in the hysterical seizure on Enron and other corporate scandals: See, we were right all along—corporations and businessmen are (surprise!) greedheads. This excuses averting their eyes from anti-American terrorism—from people and regimes preparing to kill Americans rather than merely diminish their 401(k)’s. Enron was the fig leaf many on the American Left needed to return to their customary hatred of America. Because America isn’t perfect, it must be evil. Because Marxist regimes make claims of perfection, they must be good.

So, for my part, goodbye to all that. Goodbye to a culture of blindness that tolerates, as part of "peace marches," women wearing suicide-bomber belts as bikinis. (See the accompanying photo of the "peace" march in Madrid. "Peace" somehow doesn’t exclude blowing up Jewish children.)

Goodbye to the brilliant thinkers of the Left who believe it’s the very height of wit to make fun of George W. Bush’s intelligence—thereby establishing, of course, how very, very smart they are. Mr. Bush may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer (I think he’s more ill-informed and lazy than dumb). But they are guilty of a historical stupidity on a far greater scale, in their blind spot about Marxist genocides. It’s a failure of self-knowledge and intellectual responsibility that far outweighs Bush’s, because they’re supposed to be so very smart.

Goodbye to paralysis by moral equivalence: Remind me again, was it John Ashcroft or Fidel Castro who put H.I.V. sufferers in concentration camps?

Goodbye to the deluded and pathetic sophistry of postmodernists of the Left, who believe their unreadable, jargon-clotted theory-sophistry somehow helps liberate the wretched of the earth. If they really believe in serving the cause of liberation, why don’t they quit their evil-capitalist-subsidized jobs and go teach literacy in a Third World starved for the insights of Foucault?

Goodbye to people who have demonstrated that what terror means to them is the terror of ever having to admit they were wrong, the terror of allowing the hideous facts of history to impinge upon their insulated ideology.

Goodbye to all those who have evidently adopted as their own, a version of the simpering motto of the movie Love Story. Remember "Love means never having to say you’re sorry"?

I guess today, Left means never having to say you’re sorry.
One of these days I might get around to adding some permanent links to this blog; and when I do, one of the firse will be a link to the Phil Hendrie Show site. Phil is one of the few joys in life. Seriously.
Robert Novack, certainly no liberal, has some interesting things to say about peculiar goings-on around the Pentagon these days. Could Rumsfeld actually be consulting with (gulp) Newt Gingrich, amateur war buff, more than his generals? God help us.
Todd Gitlin makes sense.