Sine Qua Non Pundit

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Saturday, October 26, 2002


Another time waster found via A Voyage To Arcturus via South Know Bubba via Instapundit...

According to Googlism:

charles austin is fantastic in the role of mephistopheles (ed. -- my secret is out.)
charles austin is the one getting the big present (ed. -- well, my birthday is only a week away.)
charles austin is gonna do to him? (ed. -- must have something to do with Richard Cohen)
charles austin is spot on with these observations
charles austin is the sine qua non pundit
charles austin is more hopeful
charles austin is doing his best to remedy that (ed. -- out damn hope, out I say.)
charles austin is on the case (ed. -- me and Jules Winnfield)
charles austin is awarded $26
charles austin is the "essential" pundit
charles austin is leading the charge right now

And what does Googlism think of my obsession?

scourge is an excuse for southern hospitality (ed. -- won't Terry be proud!)
scourge is knowing how many are needed to destroy any given target
scourge is the best built
scourge is a great toy
scourge is a pretty freaky looking locust in beast mode (ed. -- so, I got that going for me.)
scourge is a race of insectoid aliens occupying a universe on a higher dimensional plane
scourge is once again the driving force of the fatal shadows
scourge is straightforward but interest in it has waned in recent years (ed. -- damn.)
scourge is safe (ed. -- someone tell Christian Szell)
scourge is a 6'11 male draconian/human assassin with black scales (ed. -- you talking to me?)
scourge is in many ways identical to the basic weapon; a testament to the skills of our technicians
scourge is highly dependent on magic (ed. -- sure Dick, it's called logic.)
scourge is a tool of purification; of refinement and distillation
scourge is a no nonsense field commander
scourge is not listed as a carcinogen
scourge is to disable your opponent and then use a weapon of choice to finish off
scourge is rising not only in numbers
scourge is a very ancient tool
scourge is the most fearsome and implacable hunter
scourge is becoming more serious with each passing day
scourge is much bluer than the rest (ed. -- Almost Blue.)
scourge is laid (ed. -- as if.)
scourge is scourge (ed. -- Ayn Rand, call your office.)
scourge is a simple but difficult one
scourge is considered safe to most animals and plants (ed. -- save one.)
scourge is not a nice guy and this trip into the way he thinks may be unsettling (ed. -- you have been warned.)
scourge is apparently a hormone disruptor
scourge is a well balanced race that has versatile ground and air units
scourge is nigh
scourge is essentially a kamikaze
scourge is shot down from afar and the cry "justice is served" echoes through the air and woods
scourge is better
scourge is respected
scourge is possessed (ed. -- yes, yes, we know.)
scourge is the ultimate (ed. -- well, as long as we have that straight.)


And People Think Blogging is Bad?

Is writing a column for the Washington Post a part-time job? You might think so, given the pathetic efforts Mary McGrory has been putting in lately.

Names were changed to protect the innocent.

And is someone ever decides to make another Batman picture and Jack Nicholson is too expensive, perhaps Mary can fill in as the Joker.



From the two or three minutes I've spent paying attention to it, this World Series may have been one of the best in a very long time.

Too bad I no longer give a damn about Major League Baseball.


Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Whatever happened to Dr. Frank or Jeff Goldstein?


Meanwhile, On Planet Surrender...

"Let us resist this war," Sarandon told the cheering crowd.

Who's stopping her? In other news from this event:

Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters marched peacefully ...

Well, I would certainly hope so! But there were a few folks there with some experience with Saddam:

About 500 Iraqi exiles came to Washington to show support for efforts to remove Saddam from power. Tamir Musa, an Iraqi who has lived in Michigan for 10 years, said, "The war is good if it goes to kill Saddam Hussein. He has a lot of bombs. He's terrorist number one."


Ray Charles Was Right

I'm gonna send you back to Arkansas:

Senator Hillary Clinton was facing the destruction of her New York power base yesterday as her Democratic Party headed for humiliation in the state gubernatorial election on November 5. In an extraordinary upset, a traditionally Democratic state appears poised not only to re-elect a Republican governor, but to force the Democrat challenger into third place behind a pro-business Independence Party candidate with no record of public service. Political analysts predict that such a humiliation could damage the former First Lady's credibility as a New York senator and a much-touted future potential presidential candidate. "The Clintons were supposed to be helping revitalise the New York Democratic Party, not presiding over its destruction," one senior local party member said privately.

McCall must have slipped in the slime dripping off Bill and Hillary's coattails.


Déjà Vu

At first, I was very concerned that a sympathy vote might carry Walter Mondale to victory in a Senate seat that the Democrats were about to lose, just like 2 years ago in Missouri. Then I remembered that Mr. Mondale's primary claim to fame was being Jimmy Carter's Vice President.

Honestly, is there anybody luckier, in a morbid sense, than Tom Daschle? I wonder what cabinet position Norm Coleman can fill?


Also Sprach Mr. Peanut

The NY Times gives Jimmuh a soapbox titled: Engaging North Korea

I'm curious, is "engaging" a verb or an adjective for Jimmuh in this context?

Go ahead and read it if you are in need of a clinical example of self delusion and selective amnesia.


Fêting Aussie Tim Mate

The dinner, drinks and conversation with Tim Blair were first rate last Thursday, though it made Friday morning a bit grim. Juan Gato, J. Bowen, Chris Johnson and I had a great time hosting Tim as he passed through flyover country. No Watermelons has an excellent, brief summary of the evening (if only we had more paper napkins!) and Juan has his take up as well. In Juan's comment section there's a note by Mr. Lileks who tried to have us paged. Unfortunately, the staff refused to interrupt the, perhaps, 25 patrons that evening, thus depriving us of the cherry to top off our metaphorical ice cream sundae, which was 27% larger than usual. I like the Tap Room, but it's not that nice a place. Bastards. Anyway, Tim had some fine observations about flyover country and Australia, but I think I'll wait and let him write about them first.

There was one thing that came up that we'd like to add to the blogosphere's lexicon. Everyone knows what a red herring is, don't they? Well is there any better example of a red herring than the proverbial WHITE VAN? Henceforth, any reference to some "key fact" that is not only incidental to the story, but potentially misleading, will be known as a white van. And, of course, any particularly egregious example will be an angry white van.

If you are driving in parts west of here and see some fellow driving a small car with a bumper sticker that says, “Proud Parents of a Vegan Honor Student,” struggling to go 70 mph as the land rises from the heartland to the continental divide, odds are that it is Tim Blair. Honk, wave, and try to let him draft off your vehicle.


Well Done

As tragic as the loss of life in the rescue in Moscow has been, I prefer to think of the 600+ hostages who are alive today only because of a first rate preemptive strike against the terrorists who are responsible for all the deaths. Their ability to take out the terrorists wearing the explosive belts before they could detonate them is truly exceptional.

Kudos also go to Mr. Putin who had the cujones to order the preemptive strike rather than wait for all the hostages to die a horrible death. Would our leadership at the state or national level have the guts to give the order?

DOWNDATE: Mr. Putin in his own words:

Dear compatriots!

We all of us have gone through a terrible trial in the course of these days. All our thoughts were about people who found themselves in the hands of armed scum. We were hoping for the release of those in trouble, but each of us was aware of the fact that we needed to be prepared for the worst.

An operation to release the hostages was carried out today. We managed to achieve the almost-impossible, which was to save the lives of hundreds, hundreds of people. We have proved that Russia cannot be brought down to its knees. But now first of all I want to appeal to the relatives and close ones of those who died.

We failed to save everyone.

Forgive us.

The memory of those who died must unite us.

I thank all citizens of Russia for their self-restraint and unity. Special thanks to those who took part in the liberation of the people, first of all to special units servicemen who, without hesitation, putting their lives on the line, were fighting to save people.

We are also appreciative of our friends across the world for their moral and practical support in the struggle with our common foe. This foe is strong and dangerous, inhuman and cruel. This is international terrorism. Until it is defeated, people cannot feel safe anywhere in the world. But it must be defeated. And it will be defeated.

Today I spoke with one of the victims in a hospital. He said, "It was not frightening - there was confidence that the terrorists did not have any future anyway."

This is the truth. They do not have any future. But we do.


Thursday, October 24, 2002

You May Now Return To Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Climb every MT.


The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LX

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Has anyone else tired of the mantra that we must exhaust every opportunity for peace, and then try eight more times just to be sure, before we succumb to our last resort of war to eliminate a mortal threat to our people and all we hold dear? If there has been rhetorical excess on the part of the Bush administration, perhaps it is in response to this problem. Or maybe since even Richard Cohen has decided that the President is correct in going to war with Iraq, he has decided that President George W. Bush must be going overboard in his push for the war, since we all know that Richard would find it anathema to be in complete agreement with the President on anything. How else to explain this sad exposition that Good Reasons Aren't Enough for Bush:

Appearing on the old "Dick Cavett Show" back in 1980, the writer Mary McCarthy said of her fellow writer Lillian Hellman: "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.' " The same cannot yet be said about George W. Bush and his administration -- but it has not been around as long as Hellman was and is not nearly as creative.

I would write something here comparing Cavett to Cohen, but it’s a little early yet to start matching Dicks, or to speculate on how they would perform as adults on a trapeze as big swinging Dicks. Hey, if John Derbyshire can write about that on NRO, well then, so can I on SQNP. But, I digress.

This smells like fear to me. After all, for the GOP to hold the White House as long as Lillian Hellman hung around -- well, I’m ready to give it a shot. But the not so subtle insinuation that the Bush administration are all liars and it is just a matter of time until everything they say is a lie is so petty as to make its author look foolish. Ah, but this is Richard Cohen after all.

The evidence is accumulating, though, that neither Bush nor his colleagues are particularly punctilious about the truth.

Interestingly enough, Richard may be somewhat correct here, although it requires a subtlety of understanding and exposition that is probably beyond his grasp. Truth depends on a philosophical filter, or how you see the world and what assumptions one makes about the metaphysical world. Facts are sacred, but how facts are interpreted determines truth. My “truth” is different than Richard’s “truth,” and as Abraham Lincoln noted in his observation concerning the Union and the Confederacy each claiming God was on their side, ”Both may be, but one must be wrong.” Nonetheless, Richard’s intent is to claim that the President George W. Bush and his colleagues are liars, and I don’t subscribe to that. Richard on the other hand lives for just such an interpretation.

For good reason, they sorely want a war with Iraq -- but good reasons are not, it seems, good enough for this administration.

Is this what passes for clever at the Washington Post?

Instead, both the president and his aides have exaggerated the Iraqi threat, creating links and evidence where they do not exist. Even before this war starts, its first victim has been truth.

Stop me before I shrill again.

Take Bush's oft-proclaimed assertion that there is a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. If there is, it is tenuous and coincidental.

In his last column the connections were flat out non-existent. So, I guess this represents progress.

The senior al Qaeda official Bush said was in Baghdad seems not to be there anymore -- and it's not clear whether Hussein and his guys knew he was there in the first place. As for any link between the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and Hussein -- maybe none exists.

When facts are in short supply, just make shit up or wish it away.

But in Bush's telling, all qualifications disappear. In speaking about Hussein last week, Bush said, "This is a man who we know has had connections with al Qaeda. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al Qaeda as a forward army."

Maybe, just maybe the President has access to some information that Richard Cohen doesn’t.

Maybe in his judgment -- but not really in anyone else's.

Of course, Richard probably doesn’t bother to read anything by anyone who isn’t drinking his bathwater, so it’s hard to criticize him for being ignorant of others opinions. Aw hell, no it isn’t. If he doesn’t know about consenting opinions, he sure as hell ought to. There goes Richard Cohen, trying to silence consent again.

Similarly, Bush appears to be alone in thinking that Iraq has a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft that could be used "for missions targeting the United States." As my Post colleague Dana Milbank has reported, the CIA indicates Iraq may have such aircraft, but their range is another matter altogether. In all likelihood, Baghdad has nothing -- no plane, no missile, no box kite -- capable of reaching the United States.

As if this is what it was all about. How in the world is the US supposed to be a multilateral world citizen if it is only concerned with its own borders? Does this mean that North Korea is nothing to worry about since they don’t have an ICBM capable of reaching the US? Yet?

There has also been some debunking of Dana Milbank’s latest DNC talking point exposition, but I must admit I haven’t had the chance to read it, and right now I’m trying to hurry and finish before Mr. Blair arrives, so take this as an opportunity to do a little research and Scourge amongst yourselves.

Bush also has said that Iraq was "six months away from developing" a nuclear weapon. This is news to every expert I've talked to or read about.

Yes, once again, if the all-seeing, all-knowing Richard Cohen is unaware of it, then it doesn’t exist. That old philosophical question about a tree falling in the forest -- well, if Richard Cohen didn’t hear it fall, then it didn’t make a sound.

It is just not the case -- or, if it is, the administration has not supplied the intelligence to support its claim. At the moment, Iraq is believed to be as many as five years away from developing a bomb.

I believe they are closer to six months. Happy now, Dick? And what if they get a working nuclear weapon from one of the former Soviet Republics? Or Pakistan? Or North Korea?

At the same time, administration officials and their key allies outside of government have continued to claim that a meeting took place in Prague between Mohamed Atta, the supposed leader of the Sept. 11 terrorists, and an Iraqi intelligence official. But no evidence of that meeting exists -- not that the White House acknowledges that. Maybe it's been too preoccupied with withholding news about the North Korean nuclear program.

This was covered two Scourges back about two hours ago. If I have to pick between believing Vaclav Havel and Richard Cohen, well, that’s really not a very difficult choice, now is it?

What's disturbing about these exaggerations is that they fertilize the growing paranoia of what must now be called the antiwar movement.

No, I think there’s plenty of bullshit to fertilize what has long been called the antiwar movement. As if the antiwar movement is even listening to anything the President might say.

Not since the Vietnam era have we seen the vilification of a president as a scoundrel and a liar -- not to mention a fool.

I guess Richard slept through the Reagan years.

In caricature, Bush is as dumb as Lyndon Johnson was ghoulish.

Good thing Richard Cohen is above all that.

Equally disturbing, we are beginning to realize that Bush's campaign tactics in the Republican primaries against Sen. John McCain were not an aberration. When Bush's allies and minions in New York distorted McCain's position on breast cancer research and earlier attacked him in personal terms in South Carolina, we got a first peek at Bush's willingness to tolerate almost any tactic on his way to a goal.

Politics is at times an ugly distasteful business. I’m certainly not going to defend everything that has been done in the past, but does Richard really want to start a pissing contest about sleazy political campaigning? After all, his heroes are Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

Bush's remarks are sometimes characterized as off the cuff and therefore not to be taken literally. But some of his not-so-precise statements were made in speeches -- and anyway, I don't see why precision is not required in all cases.

Dick’s weakness for smooth talkers over substance is well known. President George W. Bush isn’t that light on his feet when it comes to public speaking, but is Richard arguing here that he wishes President George W. Bush were better at convincing people to take positions contrary to what Richard believes?

All the president is doing is weakening his own arguments. His opponents can say -- as they have been saying -- that if he is sloppy about this or that fact, maybe he's sloppy about them all.

Somehow, I think Richard Cohen and most of the President’s opponents and detractors are going to say this no matter what the President says.

If Americans are going to die in Iraq, then the reasons for war cannot be embellished.

I always find it interesting that Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt is always given substantial credit for dragging the US into a necessary war that many Americans didn’t want any part of, yet when faced with an equally dangerous foe and an American populace that may once again be slow to realize the mortal dangers, a Republican President George W. Bush doing roughly the same thing is accused of being slow to learn, mendacious, evil, out for oil, a racist, or even a bad public speaker!

The majority of Americans who now believe that there is a hard link, virtually a working alliance, between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, between Sept 11 and Baghdad, are going to feel betrayed when they find out afterward that no such relationship existed.

Not I. And how will Richard Cohen feel if it turns out to be correct?

A case for war exists. A case for exaggerating it does not.

Let me make sure I understand the point Richard is trying to make. We have been given sufficient rationale to go to war with Iraq. Stop trying to give us more reasons. Is that it?

P.S. Orrin Judd has a more tightly reasoned criticism of this Richard Cohen column with some good comments, link courtesy of the Professor. You want to know what's funny? I think Professor Reynolds has blogrolled me as many times for not Scourging as he has for Scourging. Like Oscar Wilde wrote, "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."


The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LIX

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Don’t stop me now; I’m on a roll. Richard’s Big Lie is Their Little Secret:

The smug spirit of Enron pervades the Bush administration.

Dick’s pulling out all the stops as the general election gets closer. He’s been on about Enron and the NRA in the last two columns in his Guilt by Association World Tour leading up to the general election. Can ANWR and the budget deficit be far behind?

When it learned that North Korea had a secret nuclear arms program, it moved the disclosure off the books lest it complicate the confrontation with Iraq.


The information that Congress needed as it held another one of its self-proclaimed "historic" debates was withheld -- a footnote known to only a few key members who, as with Enron's board, passively kept their mouths shut.

So information about North Korea was an essential element of a non-essential debate on a potential war with Iraq. Glad we got that cleared up. And as to keeping their mouth shuts, it’s also known as fulfilling an obligation to not leak classified information. So, is Dick claiming that those who honored their oaths are crooks just like the crooks at Enron?

But Japan knew. President Bush told Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Sept. 12. It was the same day that Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly, providing the clearest rationale yet for going to war with Iraq. He said nothing in that speech about North Korea. Unlike Iraq, it is not plodding toward producing nuclear weapons. It may already have at least two.

Is there a point here somewhere?

Undoubtedly, other governments also knew that North Korea was cheating on the agreement it had reached in 1994 with the Clinton administration.

Somehow “cheating” and “Clinton administration” show up in the same sentence more often than chance would allow. But, what did Bill Clinton know and when did he know it?

It was supposed to abandon its nuclear weapons program -- which, in a way, it did.

Excuse me? Does this depend on the definition of “nuclear weapons program?”

But it started up another one -- and this is the one that Washington started to substantiate last summer.

Sort of like the smoker that quits every time he puts out a cigarette.

Washington and Pyongyang had at least one thing in common: They were both keeping a secret from the American people.

So the Bush administration is morally equivalent to the Stalinist leftovers of North Korea. Brilliant!

In too many respects, the Bush administration operates as if it -- and not Congress or, for that matter, the American people -- owns this entity called "the government."

Not owns, but operates. The Executive Branch does in fact operate the lion’s share of the Government. Does Richard prefer an EU model for our government?

It has told Congress to buzz off when it asked for documents telling whom Vice President Cheney met with in formulating the administration's energy policy. Enron, perhaps?

And what exactly does this have to do with North Korea or Iraq? Or is this just another load of crap thrown against the wall in the hope that it will stick?

It has been downright uncooperative in granting Freedom of Information Act requests from the news media and other interested parties.

People who have their best interests at heart, no doubt.

It fought a proposal to create an independent commission to investigate what went wrong before Sept. 11, 2001, then reluctantly agreed to one -- and now has reneged on that agreement. The intelligence community, it seems, did just a swell job -- the hole in Lower Manhattan notwithstanding.

Just like the board at Enron.

The news that North Korea was developing nuclear weapons -- that it just might already have them -- might not have changed the course of the Iraq debate in Congress one bit.

But that won’t inhibit Richard’s insinuation of the Big Lie.

It does not change my mind. In fact, it confronts us with what might happen when a desperate, despotic power gets its hands on such weapons.

Wow. I wonder if this troubled Dick when Bill Clinton was President?

The South Korean capital of Seoul is just 40 miles from the North Korean border. If North Korea really has a nuclear arsenal, not to mention the means to deliver it, war might well be unthinkable. This, too, could happen with Iraq.

Wow. I wonder if this troubled Dick when Bill Clinton was President?

But the North Korean program certainly complicates matters -- maybe in ways that I cannot envision.

Whoa! Matters complicated beyond the comprehension of all-seeing, all-knowing Richard Cohen?

This is the virtue of debate -- the teasing out of facts, arguments, positions that might never have occurred to you.

Debate can be a good thing. So can reading, listening, and taking you intellectual opponents arguments at face value instead of impugning them with vicious, evil, venal motives.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, for instance, I did not much consider whether toppling the Iraqi regime might also topple some others. I did not dwell on what would happen when Saddam Hussein was gone -- who would govern the country and whether in fact it would be governable. I was enraged. It was enough.

Well, it might surprise Dick, but some people thought about all of these things. And you know what? Their general response to having thought about it and war on Iraq was …, wait for it …, faster please.

The debate -- the one in Congress, to some extent, but really the one conducted on the op-ed pages of newspapers -- was extremely instructive. My bottom line did not change, but it wavered from time to time. I wanted all the facts, and in the end I thought I had them.

Richard has yet to learn that you have to work with what you know. Rarely does one ever have the complete picture. If you did, the decision would be easy. As someone once said, “Doing the right thing is easy, the hard point is knowing what the right thing to do is.”

Not so, it turns out. An important piece of information was withheld -- from me, from you and from our representatives in Congress.

Richard just wrote that this “important” piece of information was in fact irrelevant to the topic at hand.

I am reminded of the so-called secret bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

Aiiieeeeee! Vietnam! Run Away! What doesn’t remind Richard of his glory days when he was sticking it to the establishment? Shouldn’t there be a variant of Godwin’s Law stating that anyone who resorts to a Vietnam analogy when discussing a war thirty years on automatically loses the argument and the debate is over? We can call it Austin's Law.

Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice deny that news about the North Korean program was withheld for political reasons.

And they are sticking to their story no matter what Harry Belafonte says.

Bush needed time to study the matter, they insist. But he had plenty of time -- and some of that time Congress was engaged in the Iraq debate, playing the role of the oblivious board of directors.

With fat pensions and expense accounts. Say, maybe Richard is on to something here after all.

Bush is not that slow a learner.

But he is a slow learner, right Dick? God, what an asshole.

In fact, it was he -- remember? -- who included North Korea in his "axis of evil." What did he know then?

Uh, is this a trick question? Does Richard think Bush just randomly picked a third country to have one that wasn’t Muslim – as some speculated at the time? Maybe there’s oil in North Korea and nobody knows but Dick Cheney!

It would be one thing if this were an isolated example of the Bush administration either exaggerating threats -- the imminence of an Iraqi bomb, for instance -- or forgetting to mention one that already exists, such as the North Korean program.

In other words, when it comes to Axis of Evil regimes having the bomb, the President is damned if he says they have them and damned if he says they don’t.

But this administration keeps one set of books for itself and another for the public and Congress.

Yea, they really should just tell everybody everything they know about everything as soon as they get it. No wait, they tried that with the Terrorist Threat Warning System and Richard trashed the administration for that too. President George W. Bush is slow to learn that he is damned no matter what he does. When he finally learns this and resigns in disgrace then everything will be so much better in Dick’s world.

It's Enron on the Potomac.

Uh, that would be Congress I think.


The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LVIII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

With this column, we get to add a new term to our lexicon. Since I am a “gun nut” according to Mr. Cohen, henceforth he and his ilk will be known as “gun confiscation nuts” when they aren't otherwise already known as illiberal utopian statists.

Once again, Richard can’t handle the truth in A Few Good Fingerprints:

Ever since the sniper first struck in the Washington area, the police -- not to mention every quasi-expert on early-morning television -- have been trying to come up with a profile of him.

I think they’ve all seen too many TV shows.

A more productive exercise might be to come up with a profile of a nation that is awash in guns and refuses to keep track of who has them.

Perhaps, we as a nation forgot to take the guns out of our pants pockets and they fell out in the awasher or the adryer. And this is just the first shot (no pun intended) across the bow of the Second Amendment by the U.S.S. (Utopian Slippery Slope) Gun Confiscation.

That's the profile of an idiot.

Well, to be fair, this is consistent with Richard’s illiberal utopian statism that regards the public as a bunch of foolish children who must be protected from themselves.

Lest you think that my own profile is of a gun-control zealot, you are wrong.

Why would anyone think that? Perhaps, because they haven’t yet read any of Richard’s gun confiscation rhetoric in the past?

I am not talking of outlawing guns, even pistols, or taking them away from people who use them for hunting or self-protection.


I am talking instead of taking reasonable measures to track those guns and the ammunition used in them so that the authorities have a fighting chance to stop killers before, as has been happening over and over, they kill again.

Well, as long as I get to define reasonable, I don’t see any problem here. But since Richard highlights the word “reasonable,” I’m guessing we are going to have a problem on this point. While an argument could conceivably be made in some alternate universe that this kind of tracking might help catch criminals after the fact, I have yet to see any scenario presented where it could actually PREVENT a crime. And for the record, the methods offered to do this tracking are ineffective and are really just stalking horses for the gun confiscation nuts to get their agendas enacted.

If the Constitution forbids such measures, then I ought to have the right to own an unregistered car and drive it without a license.

Nonsense and non sequitur. Jeez, I don’t have time for this.

Trying to address the argument I think Mr. Cohen is trying to make, Dick can own all the unregistered cars he wants. But he cannot drive them down the public roads and more than I can walk into a public park and start discharging my firearms. And for all intents and purposes, Dick, the state does, in fact, know what guns I have. Doesn’t that qualify as “licensing” them?

But the Bush administration, fearful of the National Rifle Association, …

Do you think we’ll ever see Richard write something like, “Senator Daschle, fearful of AFSCME…”

…opposes what is known as "fingerprinting."

Works for me. But Richard is, as usual, wrong again. The administration is willing to study it, despite the fact that it is junk science at its worst.

Don't get me wrong.

No need to. Dick does this quite well without my help.

In the name of anti-terrorism, George Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft would fingerprint everyone in sight.

Huh? I guess I missed the mandatory fingerprinting of everyone. Should I expect the jackbooted thugs to break down my door any minute now?

But guns? Not a chance.

This is a good thing.

This, though, is a scientific reality: Because every weapon leaves unique markings on the fired bullet, it is possible to store these markings in a national database so the cops would know what specific gun was used and -- maybe someday -- who owned it.

Well, when you start with a false premise you can deduce anything. I learned that as a freshman in college. So, when do I get a column?

There is a huge difference between the fact that the markings are unique in some sense and being able to then take a deformed or fragmented bullet and trace it back to the gun that fired it based upon a “fingerprinting” that may be any years and thousands of rounds out of date. I don’t think it’s worth the trouble to explain why, because the true believers stopped listening a long time ago anyway. Suffice it to write that this is probably the easiest thing in the world to get around.

Science is one thing, politics another.

Well, duh.

At the moment, it's possible to buy a weapon in, say, the currently terrified state of Virginia -- the site of four of the shootings -- almost at will.

And strangely enough, you cannot buy a weapon in the currently terrified state of Maryland –the site of nine of the shootings – almost at will. Doesn’t this imply that your odds are greater of being shot in a state where you cannot by a weapon almost at will?

A background check is required to weed out mass murderers and psychopaths, but there is no regulation of the secondary market -- private sales. As for ballistic fingerprinting, only two states -- Maryland and New York -- require it. That's not much help when the other 48 don't.

Not to mention the abject failure of the Maryland and New York ballistic fingerprinting systems to help solve a single crime yet.

The NRA stands athwart such common-sense measures.

Yelling STOP!

It opposes almost all regulation, of course, and fingerprinting is no exception.

Works for me.

As for George Bush, it's not quite clear where he stands.

Despite his vaunted fear of the NRA, according to Dick.

His spokesman, Ari Fleischer, was asked whether fingerprinting would have aided the police in the search for the serial killer, and he had this to say: "These are the acts of a depraved killer who has broken and will continue to break laws. And so the question is not new laws; the question is the actions here represent the values in our society."

A simple “No” would have sufficed.

Huh? The remark seems to put Fleischer in the company of the Revs. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who blamed gays, liberals, the ACLU, etc., for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Puhleeze. If Richard cannot understand what Mr. Fleischer said (and I admit, I have no idea what he is trying to get at with his last phrase) then how can Richard claim it’s the same thing as the Revs. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blaming 9/11 on their traditional whipping posts?

For the life of me, I cannot see what societal value the serial killer represents.

Ok, I think Mr. Fleischer meant the “values in our society” thing as it pertains to gun ownership in the country. I am certain Mr. Fleischer wasn’t trying to claim that serial killers represent some societal value. That remark seems to put Cohen in the company of the Revs. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who blamed gays, liberals, the ACLU, etc., for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Maybe he's a liberal.

More likely he’s an illiberal.

On the other hand, I also cannot see the societal value of ammunition such as the .223 bullet the killer has been using.

Well, according to Richard’s last column, Saddam’s chemical weapons, while horrible, aren’t really such a big deal since they are restricted in practicality. So what’s the big deal about individual bullets? And doesn’t anybody else get a shiver up his or her spine when Dick starts speaking of banning specific caliber ammunition because he cannot see that it has a “societal value?” Hmm, I wonder what all those marchers in London in support of their country ways of life thought about this kind of thinking.

It shatters within the body, causing catastrophic trauma -- and leaves a gaping exit wound.

Well, with all due respect, that is what it is meant to do if you are firing it at something that you mean to kill. But let me paraphrase Richard’s sentence another way. If you or your family is under immediate threat by an armed thug, your use of a .223 bullet can incapacitate the potential murderer with a single shot -- or you can wait for the police to eventually arrive and hope that everything turns out ok. Not quite the same, is it?

I also cannot fathom the value to society of assault rifles, such as the Galil, which, again, is the weapon he may be using.

That freedom thing is a constant bugaboo for illiberals. If they can’t see the point of it, you shouldn’t have a choice in the matter.

I can understand the value, though, of restricting the sale of such ammo and weapons to those, like the police, who have a need for them.

While I have a great respect for the police and think they have done a fantastic job in catching the alleged sniper, the fact that the murdering bastard was able to shoot thirteen people over two weeks should be some indication – even for a gun confiscation nut -- that the police can’t ever prevent this kind of thing from happening.

Actually, this is kind of funny in that laugh to keep from crying sense. If Richard knew anything at all about guns, he would know that a .223 is far from the most lethal round available out there – especially for sniping.

I can understand the value also of fingerprinting the guns so that when -- as is bound to happen -- some nut uses them to kill people at random, we can "dust" the bullet.

I suppose having the bullet “dusted” is better than having people “dusted.” But, alas, it still won’t work.

Yet the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is only now getting some attention for its efforts to push this common-sense measure.

Puhleeze With Cheese! Quoting Gun Confiscation Central as the font of “common-sense?” Ack!

Fleischer aside, the Bush administration is supposedly reviewing the matter of ballistic fingerprinting.

But, I thought Richard started this column saying that the administration was opposed to ballistic fingerprinting out of their fear of the NRA?

This is undoubtedly a ploy, as the serial killer has presented the staunchly pro-gun president with an exquisitely awkward moment.

Not at all. But I’m sure Richard sleeps better at night thinking the President is in a lose-lose situation.

But when Fleischer's "deranged killer" is caught, ...

Fleischer’s deranged killer?

…the White House will forget about the matter -- until, of course, the next deranged killer gets his hands on a weapon, locks and loads it with ammo meant for warfare, and goes on a killing spree.

Unless someone else armed for personal defense happens to be in a position to prevent it. Or we can wait for the police to eventually catch them.

Look, gun nuts, …

You talkin’ to me -- gun confiscation nut?

… this is not about taking away your weapons.


Increasingly, I have become less and less convinced of the efficacy of strict gun control -- the English experience has been just awful -- and at times, such as the night a burglar broke into my house, I hanker for a gun myself. All that I and others like me want right now is to make it harder to kill and harder to escape apprehension.

So, how does turning us all into unarmed sheep accomplish this again? I missed it the first time through.

That's our profile, Mr. Fleischer, Mr. Bush and the NRA.

Dick’s got that whole guilt by association thing down pat, don’t you think? Too bad there’s that awful US Constitution that keeps getting in the way of his illiberal utopian statist dreams of eliminating bad things from ever happening to anyone, anywhere, at any time -- not that Richard cares what it says anyway.

If we had our way, we might not need one for the killer.

Or perhaps, we could all line up for the next mass slaughter of an unarmed population. That’s what “your way” usually leads to, Dick.

(If someone can point me to the recent essay on how disarming populations is a precursor to massacres, I would be most appreciative and i will update the post. I think the Professor wrote it, but I cannot find it.)


The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LVII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

I’m baaaack.

Well sort of. The clamor from the Scourge junkies has reached a fevered pitch that I cannot in good conscience ignore. As Donald Fagen once sang:

I got one and you want four
It's so hard to help you
I can't keep up with you no more
And you treat me like it's a sin
But you can't lock me in
You want me here with you right to the end
No thank you my friend

I fear the monkey in your soul

I’m taking a break from my break to gin up four Scourges in the next 5 hours to tide y’all over until I can get medieval on my own ass vis-à-vis the MT upgrade.

Since the last Scourge on 1 October 2002, Richard Cohen has published seven columns. Two of them, Anti-Semitism, Not Poetry, and Nobel Winners and Losers, were, in fact, quite reasonable, thus exceeding Richard’s usual quota of one reasonable column every six weeks. One of his columns, The Clinton Standard, seems to be unavailable right now on the Washington Post Archives, but somehow, I don’t regard this as a great loss. Or maybe the fact that there is nothing there is in fact the best statement that can be made about the “Clinton Standard.” After all, we’ve always been told that if we can’t say anything good about someone, we shouldn’t say anything at all. But, as I do with most good advice, I tend to ignore this helpful direction as well.

The remaining four columns live down to the standards to which we have become accustomed. Since I’ve got a lot to Scourge in a short period of time, let’s get it on with Ready for War:

In listing his reasons for (probably) going to war against Iraq soon -- the threat of weapons of mass destruction, the nature of Saddam Hussein's regime and its flouting of international law -- President Bush the other night failed to mention the most important one: Now's the time.

Tick, tick, tick, tick, …

As Neil Young once sang, Tonight’s the night. If we are lucky.

Just as the attack on Pearl Harbor enabled President Roosevelt to go to war against Germany as well as Japan, so did the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 give Bush the opportunity to do what three administrations -- his, his father's and Bill Clinton's -- had wanted to do for some time. The attacks galvanized the nation and altered the political climate. Hussein hadn't changed any. America had.

Bill Clinton wanted to go to wear with Iraq? As Meatloaf once sang, Two outta three ain’t bad.

That -- and only that -- makes up the link between Hussein and Osama bin Laden. There is not now, nor has there ever been, any evidence of cooperation between the two.

Not according to Vaclav Havel and the NY Times! But since Richard doesn't usually read the Washington Post, why should I expect him to read the NY Times?

There is, however, a recognition that what happens "there" has an effect "here." The old reluctance to take casualties evaporated.

You better check with Senator Kennedy about this one, Dick.

America was ready to go to war.

Is. Not was. Is.

The removal of Hussein is a worthy and sensible goal. He's a beast -- a hands-on murderer who rules by fear. He has twice invaded neighboring countries, Iran and Kuwait, and used poison gas against both Iranian troops and rebellious Kurds. The latter, pure and simple, amounted to the massacre of civilians. Hussein's intention is to be the Middle East's dominant power. That cannot be allowed to happen.

So Dick’s back on board with the program? His last flip-flop was only two weeks earlier as he gave Al his props for dissin’ W.

Hussein's most potent weapon is time.

Time and nerve gas. His TWO most important weapons are time, nerve gas, and anthrax. Three! His THREE most important weapons are time, nerve gas, anthrax, and a fanatical devotion by the DNC to hurt the President. Four! Oh, start again.

As he knows by now, the world has a very short attention span. The restrictions placed on his regime after the Persian Gulf War are largely no longer enforced.


United Nations delegates passed resolution after resolution -- most of them involving stripping Iraq of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs -- and then repaired to the lounge for drinks. If international law is to mean something, then the international community has to back it up.

But, Dick just said they backed up to the bar after passing their resolutions. What more does he expect from them?

Two things are a given.

Two things (plural) are a (singular) given.

The first is the nature of the Iraqi regime. It will persist in developing weapons of mass destruction the way junkies seek a fix.

Or a Scourge. Snort.

The other given is that the world, preoccupied with making money and averse to taking a stand, will sooner or later look the other way. This has been true in the past -- and the past is our only predictor of the future.

Insufficient time to rip this to shreds, but I would note that Richard has willingly miscast the reasons for the “world’s” inability to take a stand, preferring to lay it at the feet of something as base as wanting to make money. Richard prefers the UN delegates’ approach of having someone else make money and give it to them. This is so much more preferable to having to take risks and responsibilities on yourself.

I, for one, recoil from some of Bush's exaggerations.

Damn. Did I miss something? What exaggerations?

At the moment, and for the foreseeable future, Iraq poses no threat to the United States itself. Furthermore, Hussein is not likely to align himself with Muslim fundamentalists, because he is a secular fellow by nature.

Puhleeze. I wonder what the bathwater tastes like in that circular reasoning tub Richard lounges in?

He knows he has as much to fear from religious fanatics in his region as he does from conservative Republicans in Washington.

Well, we certainly know that Saddam has little to fear from illiberal utopian statist Democrats.

Finally, the term "weapons of mass destruction," while frightening, is an obfuscation.

No, the term isn’t frightening, the WMDs are. No wonder the gun confiscation nuts are so confused.

Chemical weapons are weapons of limited destruction -- horrible but restricted in practicality.

Kind of like individual .223 bullets, right Dick?

Biological weapons are scary beyond imagination, but much more potent in the movies than in real life.

Like Alex, Richard apparently believes that things are really real only in the movies.

They are difficult to deliver -- the explosion immolates the germs -- and not all that effective.

And if we put up a missile shield, they could smuggle them in on a ship or on a plane, right Dick?

Nuclear weapons are a different matter. They truly are weapons of mass destruction -- certainly weapons of mass intimidation.

But Iraq is no threat to the US, so big whoop. Right, Dick?

Iraq is probably five years or so away from developing an atomic weapon, but why wait for that to happen? Recent history tells us that when this crisis passes, the world will lose its interest and Hussein's weaponeers will return to the labs. Sooner or later, this vampire is going to rise out of his coffin.

Like North Korea under the Clinton administration, with little Jimmuh running around beaming proudly saying, “And I helped!”

So, now -- or soon -- is the moment. But this administration has to be carefully watched.

Sigh. Of course, all administrations should be carefully watched – not just Republican ones.

It is fundamentally contradictory, enunciating a doctrine of unilateralism while reluctantly seeking a multilateral coalition against Iraq.

I prefer to think that the President is enunciating a doctrine of protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States and its people, which incidentally is largely a unilateral responsibility -- thank God.

It kissed off Congress and then embraced it.

Didn’t Bill Clinton get praised for doing this sort of thing?

Let the U.N. inspectors inspect. Permit nothing to be off limits. But if past is prologue, Saddam Hussein will stall, pretend cooperation and probe for weak spots in the alliance. In the end, he will cling to his weapons programs. Without them, his dream of being a latter-day Saladin evaporates.

So, would Richard like to pony up a length of time we should let inspections run? No, I guess not since that would mean take a risk and some responsibility if he’s wrong.

In the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, I felt, why wait? Since then, I have questioned and probed, wondered and worried, but my bottom line has not changed.

Aren’t we lucky.

For the sake of international law, …


…for the sake of preventing nuclear blackmail, for the sake of ridding the world of a leader with Hitler's megalomania and the weapons to fuel it, …

Not yet, we hope.

... war may be the only course. Saddam Hussein is the target. But time is the enemy.

Perhaps this explains one of the worst campaign decisions in a long time. Mick and the boys must have said no to Saddam’s first choice of, Time Is On My Side, forcing him to go with the Whitney Houston’s lame, I Will Always Love You.

Maybe Saddam should have just borrowed a line from James Carville instead. You know: It's the ECONOMY stupid! After all, it has worked so well for the US -- up until now.



Isn't it wonderful that the alleged "sniper" was caught in Maryland where there is no death penalty?

Personally, I think Marsellus had the right idea.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Very Important Update

Tim Blair will be here in St. Louis tomorrow. I don't know what time he will arrive, but let's give him a rousing Midwestern welcome. I suggest meeting at the Tap Room about 7:00 PM and we'll go from there.

Oh, and to be honest, I haven't really even started on the move to MT yet, but as some of you have noticed I am making my presence felt a little more frequently in several venues.

Leave me a comment if you plan on making it over. The more the merrier! We need a good showing to let him know that there is something here between the coasts!

UPDATE: Tim says bring your books and we'll have a signing party! And we may be looking for some designated drivers...

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