Friday, October 24, 2003


Should Terri Schiavo's feeding tube be removed? Reasonable minds may disagree. Her husband believes his wife would have wanted the tube removed and a Florida Court has ruled it should be removed based on Florida law and the evidence presented by her husband. The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature passed a law allowing Governor Jeb Bush to stay that court's order. Mr. Thomas approves of the Governor's action. As some evidence indicates Ms. Schiavo retains a degree of consciousness and the only extraordinary measure being taken to keep her alive is a feeding tube, Mr. Thomas and Governor Bush may have a point. However, Decal notes that passing laws to allow a governor to interfere on an individual basis with difficult, painful, and private family decisions such as these belie the claims of conservatives to be the party of smaller, less-intrusive government.

10-21-2003 Column 

At least he's honest. Cal Thomas defends General Boykin's comments about Islam. Mr. Thomas agrees with Boykin though Boykin's words directly contradict those of his Commander-in-Chief who has told the American people and the rest of the world that we are not at war with Islam. Mr. Thomas is prbably correct when he says most Muslims, not just a radical minority, are anti-Semites and anti-American. As proof we need look no further than the sickening and ludicrous remarks of the Malaysian prime minister followed by the other Islamic leaders who then publicly agreed with him. But is the "War on Terror" simply a war of religions? No, it's never that simple. Why would Mahathir Mohamad say what he did just prior to a visit from President Bush? Obviously most Muslims disapprove of the war in Iraq and of Ariel Sharon's policies (and U.S. support for them) against the Palestinians. Comments such as Boykin's further fan the flames of the Muslim world's hatred and reinforce their worst fears about our intentions over there. Telling billions of people they worship a false idol may not be the best way to win friends or trust among them. The Muslim world's hostility is focused on the United States and Israel, not the rest of the non-Muslim world.

If Mr. Thomas is correct that "throughout the Muslim world, America is condemned not mainly because of its ideas but because Islamists believe we are infidels opposed to God", then perhaps he can explain his support for our current policy in Iraq. Why do we continue to sacrifice so much in lives and wealth in order to bring democracy to Iraq? If the people there hate us for being infidels, then our policy has no hope of success. If we are at war with the Muslim world, then why are we rebuilding a part of it? If Mr. Thomas and General Boykin are right, Iraqis will never stop trying to kill our soldiers, and a constitutional government is a pipe dream. Of course, it is very possible most of the Muslim world does not share Bin-Laden's vision of an Islamic theocracy in the Middle East free from American and Israeli interference. Mr. Thomas knows the Islamic world's beliefs about us are wrong. People like Boykin make it impossible for us to ever prove them wrong.

10-16-2003 Column 

Part Two of Mr. Thomas' interview with Ariel Sharon. More a reiteration of the previous column than the rest of an interview. Sharon reiterates his five conditions necessary to "move forward" with the peace process. The fence is staying and Syria's probably going to get bombed again. There's no sense of how the larger end game might be played out here. The current situation isn't going to last forever. Soon the Palestininan population in the West Bank and inside of Israel will outnumber the Jewish population of Israel. Does Israel cease to be a Jewish state and become one multi-ethnic, multi-religious country with Jews and Palestinians existing as equals? Does Israel retain control over territory containing a larger and ever-growing Palestinian population that hates its rulers? How will the two populations exist together in the same place? One gets no sense Mr. Thomas has thought through these questions, although Sharon probably has. This interview sheds only a little (unintentional) light onto what his answers might be.

10-14-2003 Column 

An uncritical interview with the "relaxed" tea-sipping Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Sharon says there's no chance for peace with the Palestinians unless the Palestinian side can prevent more terrorist attacks against Israelis (i.e. there's no chance for peace). Sharon will continue building the security fence and doing whatever he believes is necessary including further attacks on Syria. Missing from this interview are any questions about why Sharon's policies to date have not resulted in fewer terrorist attacks. And Sharon's comments about the essential powerlessness of any Palestinian Prime Minister seem at odds with his desire for the Palestinians' leaders to take action to combat terrorism. At the end, Sharon provides some laughs when he praises President Bush as a determined leader who could have prevented the Holocaust had he been in power in the pre-World War II era. Well, he didn't do so well in preventing 9/11, so I'm not sure why a vastly larger crime would have been right up his ally. (Plus, his grandad didn't seem to have a problem with Nazis.)

Saturday, October 18, 2003

10-9-2003 Column 

I bet you didn't know David Kay's interim report actually supports Bush's war in Iraq! Did Kay and the Iraq Survey Group find the stockpiles of biological and chemical wepaons the Bush people claimed were there? Uh, no. The group admitted they found no WMD's. Did they find evidence of an active nuclear program? Again, no. So how does the report support Bush? Well, it turns out the team "discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment". Oh I see. They found "activities" that were "related" to "programs". No actual weapons but yeah that is kind of close. If you're playing Six Degrees of Separation anyway. Of course Kay did find one vial of a reference strain of botulinum toxin Kay found that an Iraqi scientist had stored in his refrigerator in 1993. A war over a ten-year old vial of botox left in the fridge sounds about right from the Bush Team. And what about the nukes Saddam was so close to having? Well, he really wasn't close at all but Kay did find Saddam "remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons." So no active nuclear program and no real possibility of that "mushroom cloud" Bush warned us of, but Saddam wanted a nuke and isn't that the important thing, the wanting? I think my neighbor's kid has also expressed a desire for a nuke. Hey, it's just war. It's not like anybody gets hurt.

Mr. Thomas lists a number of quotes from prominent Democrats who supported Bush back in 2002. Some have since changed their minds. Mr. Thomas asks: "how can they be right then and wrong now?" Easy. Bush lied. If what he and his administration had told the American people about Iraq back in 2002 was true then war might have been justified. But it wasn't true as Kay's interim report makes perfectly clear. And the sad thing is people like Cal Thomas will spin and twist anything they can to try to hide the obvious: Bush lied, people died.

10-6-03 Column 

Cal Thomas helpfully cautions Democrats not to get too jacked up about Bush's tumbling poll numbers and Rush Limbaugh's drug problems. Contrary to all available evidence, Mr. Thomas informs us Bush's slide is not the result of his failed policies, but rather from liberals' "relentless and over-the-top invective." Paradoxically, Mr. Thomas tells us liberal media dominance has declined thanks to the popularity of FOX News and Rush Limbaugh. Yet somehow those titans of "news" are still too weak to lift the veil of liberal propoganda blinding the public from seeing the triumphs of the Bush administration. Such a mystery.

This column contains so much garbage about Limbaugh that I lack the time and energy to address them all. A few points:

1) ESPN didn't censor Limbaugh when it canned him. At his hiring he agreed to stick to talking about football as the voice of the "average fan". Limbaugh broke that agreement when he made his asinine comments about race which ended up turning his coworkers against him and making him enemies among NFL players and owners. ESPN is not going to jeopardize its relationship with the NFL for a few ratings points. Rush had to go.

2) Spare us the false presentation of Limbaugh's show as some sort of fourm to debate racial issues or any other issues. No liberal guests and no liberal phone callers equal no debate. So Limbaugh has conservative blacks on his show. Big deal. Those guests are not "rarely heard in the mainstream". In fact they are disproportionately represented given that African-Americans are overwhelmingly liberal.

3) The only thing "funny" about Rush "Talent on loan from God" Limbaugh is that Mr. Thomas twice tries to convince us this blowhard is "shy" and "humble". What Limbaugh is of course is a junkie. And why does Limbaugh have to wait until he is "legally able" to come clean about his problems? Spill your guts Rush. You're the one who supports strict and harsh punishments for drug use (and who mocks others addicted to drugs). The "if it feels good do it" era is over isn't it? Face your punishment like a man.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

10-2-03 Column 

Not much to say about this one. Mr. Thomas plugs sociologist Alan Wolfe's new book The Transformation of American Religion: How We Actually Live Our Faith. Wolfe asserts American culture has "triumphed" in the battle between faith and culture. Mr. Thomas agrees and blames churches that have become businesses and evangelicals who have become too reluctant to share their faith. Whether he's right and whether faith should be the winner of the alleged faith/culture battle are matters that can't really be answered by just looking at facts.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

9-30-03 column 

Shorter Cal Thomas:
We should allow the Iraqi people to show their gratitude for the preemptive war we launched against them by taking all of their oil revenue until we have enough money to pay for all of our war expenditures.

Longer analysis:
We now know the Bush administration's stated reasons for going to war in Iraq were lies. No WMD's, no imminent threats from Iraq, no connections to Al Qaeda and September 11th. To justify the war, conservatives are left with nothing but talk of our liberation of Iraqis from Saddam, never mind that going to war for humanitarian reasons alone goes against all conservative (and neo-conservative beliefs). Mr. Thomas may have inadvertantly stumbled upon a larger truth when, in discussing our dependence on oil from Middle-Eastern nations, he states: "Were it not for their oil, we wouldn't care about their repressive societies". Uh, wasn't Iraq an oil-producing Middle-Eastern nation with a repressive society? Now why did we care enough to go to war with them? Oh right, to free them. And as Mr. Thomas notes: " It's their freedom we bought. Let them help pay for it".

Mr. Thomas' latest contains not a word about the Iraqi resistance, fueled by ever-increasing resentment at the U.S. presence. The daily casualties continue, yet confiscating all Iraqi oil-revenue is proposed as a solution to our massive war expenses. As the totals continue to rise to over $200 billion, it seems we'd need to be siphoning off Iraqi oil money for many, many years to come to reach that level. I'm not sure your average Iraqi citizen is going to like that. Especially in light of our earlier promises to place the oil revenues in trust for the Iraqi people. On the other hand, as Cal says, " Why should the Iraqis complain?" Gee, I can't think of a single reason.

UPDATE: On October 5, 2003, the New York Times reported the Bush administration's statements that Iraqi's oil wealth would pay for the cost of the war "were at odds with a bleaker assessment of a government task force secretly established last fall to study Iraq's oil industry". The task force "produced a book-length report that described the Iraqi oil industry as so badly damaged by a decade of trade embargoes that its production capacity had fallen by more than 25 percent." Paul Bremer "now estimates that Iraq's total oil revenues from the last half of 2003 to 2005 will amount to $35 billion, running at a rate of about $14 billion a year." Looks like the war ain't paying for itself and, no surprise, the Bush people already knew that and lied to us yet again.

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