Friday, March 28, 2003


Well, if you're gonna use me, please append something on the Olaf Palme vs. his Fortuyn hypothetical.


The hypothetical in question: Sully posits that if there had been an assassination "by a neo-Nazi against a liberal politician, the papers would be full of dire warnings about a new wave of political extremism. But this time, the extremism is from the far left, allied with Islamism."

This, T.A.H. points out, "is easily refuted with two words: Olaf Palme."

The socialist Swedish prime minister was gunned down in 1986 a few days after delivering a fiery anti-apartheid speech (conspiracy theorists: he also attempted to broker a peace treaty between Iraq and Iran). One suspect was arrested and then acquitted, but the murder remains unsolved.

Swedish cops are alleged to have been implicated somehow, as have--depending on who testifies--South Africa secret policeman Eugene de Kock, the Kurds [!], the Swedish right opposition party. But no papers have been awash with speculations or dire warnings of any kind, in Europe or elsewhere.

GUEST BLOGGER The Antic Husband is having a slow day, and directs me (who is always having a slow day) to Andrew Sullivan's site once again. What's provoking T.A.H.'s vituperations this time?

One lesson of the ferocity of the Saddamite resistance is surely this: who now could possibly, conceivably believe that this brutal police state would ever, ever have voluntarily disarmed? Would a regime that is forcing conscripts to fight at gun-point have caved to the terrifying figure of Hans Blix, supported by the even more itimidating vision of Dominique de Villepin? I'd say that one clear lesson of the first week is that war was and is the only mechanism that could have effectively disarmed Saddam. If true disarmament was your goal, it seems to me that the inspections regime has been revealed, however well-intentioned, as hopelessly unsuited to staring down a vicious totalitarian system.

You can understand his frustration. Iraqis resisting invasion as proof of a "vicious totalitarian system"? T.A.H. responds:

There's no way you can induce from the effort to repel an invasion that the invaded country is itself vicious and totalitarian. The U.S. repelled the Brits in 1812, and technically repelled Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in '92. Not that Saddam's regime is neither vicious nor totalitarian (though, you'd have a hard time perusading me that Baathism equals either Stalinism or Nazism) but Sullivan is apparently too lazy to provide anything but half-comprehended W. rhetoric.

Moreover, how do we arrive at the logic that war is the most effective means to disarm a country? "In this case," messages T.A.H., "it seems to be achieving the opposite effect."

But wait, there's more:

The trial of Volkert van der Graaf is revealing that the assassination was motivated by an attempt to stop Fortuyn's criticism of Islamist intolerance. . . This was a leftist extremist hit-job, by someone who had absorbed the anti-Fortuyn propaganda of Europe's liberal elites.

T.A.H. pokes a paperback-sized hole in the argument:

So let's see: Mark Chapman proves that J.D. Salinger wanted John Lennon dead, and Hinckley proves that Jodi Foster and Marty Scorcese had concocted the plot to shoot Reagan. I mean a "leftist extremist hit job"? Who ordered it? What money changed hands? Oh, I forgot: "Europe's liberal elites" It all is so clear now!

Back to regularly scheduled programming.
INVITATION TO DUNCE The Daily Swish dares his readers, a propos of Clinton predicting on March 16 that the would be over in "a flash":

Here's an open invitation to any reader who can find any quote from anyone in the Bush cabinet or military who said the equivalent of Bill Clinton's remark.

Oo, oo, can I play?

Donald Rumsfeld, addressing the troops at Aviano Air Base, Feb. 7, 2003
And it is not knowable if force will be used, but if it is to be used, it is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.

Colin Powell, press conference, Dec. 19, 2002
But if war comes, the only thing I would say about the nature of that conflict is that it will be done in a way that would minimize the loss of life, and it will be done to be accomplished in as swift a manner as possible.

And, from a CNN transcript, Mar. 18, 2003
KING: The Treasury and Commerce secretaries are telling the president the economic impact of war should not be all that severe. And the White House hopes a short conflict will boost not only financial markets but also Mr. Bush's clout on Capitol Hill.

What do I win?

JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE PARANOID. . . The Post reports that at least one media consultant is advising radio stations and television news to avoid covering anti-war demonstrations:

The influential television-news consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates recently put it in even starker terms: Covering war protests may be harmful to a station's bottom line.

In a survey released last week on the eve of war, the firm found that war protests were the topic that tested lowest among 6,400 viewers across the nation. Magid said only 14 percent of respondents said TV news wasn't paying enough attention to "anti-war demonstrations and peace activities"; just 13 percent thought that in the event of war, the news should pay more attention to dissent.

Magid, whose representatives did not return phone calls, offers no direct advice about what stations should do. However, the research's implied message reinforces antiwar activists' assertion that media outlets have marginalized opposing voices.

"Reinforces" is probably an understatement.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Monday, March 24, 2003

It took two authors to come up with this?