Be sure to tune into the Northern Alliance Radio Network this afternoon from noon to 3 pm CT. We’ll talk about the Terry Schiavo case, the faked talking-points memo, Kyrgyzstan, and plenty of other topics. If you can’t catch us on AM 1280 The Patriot in the Twin Cities, you can listen to our Internet stream here. Call in and join the discussion at 651-289-4488.
Ian MacWilliam files a personal look at the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan with the BBC this morning which should caution us to the extent by which the Kyrgyz people demand democratization. Mostly, MacWilliam writes, the Kyrgyz people want to be left alone to return to their traditional nomadic culture:
A couple of hundred demonstrators had occupied the governor’s office [in Jalal-Abad] for more than a week, but they chatted quite happily to militiamen who were also in the grounds keeping an eye on them.
One middle-aged woman told me what in essence what the whole protest was about.
“I’m a teacher, but I haven’t worked for close to 10 years. The government pays teachers next to nothing, only the rich live well here in Kyrgyzstan,” she said.
“Once, when we lived as nomads in the mountains, our life was clean, we lived in our yurts and kept our horses and sheep, and there was no corruption then. We want to have a clean life again.”
The people of Kyrgyzstan don’t actually have a tremendous drive towards any form of government, except that Jeffersonian model of the one that governs least, governs best. The Kyrgyz uprising appears to be a corrective towards decades of statism that has seriously undermined their nomadic culture and forced the Kyrgyz into an industrialization they don’t particularly want. In fact, those of us who grew up in the western US will recognize a glimmer of our brand of political conservatism in how MacWilliam describes the political impulse in this Central Asian country:
It is the nomadic sprit perhaps which sets Kyrgyzstan apart from its more authoritarian neighbours.
When you live in a tent in your own mountain valley and can up sticks at will, you develop a sense of personal freedom that even 70 years of communism cannot eradicate.
Of course, it is precisely this freedom that communism hoped to stamp out with agricultural collectives and industrialization. Apparently, Akayev continued this process with only a moderate amount of liberalism thrown in, but the Kyrgyz still don’t like the results: widespread corruption, disruption of their traditional culture and freedom, and nagging unemployment. It also explains why the Kyrgyz haven’t thronged to Bishkek and remained to occupy the capitol as we have seen in Ukraine and Georgia.
MacWilliam also notes that the security forces which the would-be counterrevolutionary, Keneshbek Dushebayev, ran briefly before Akayev’s ouster don’t have much loyalty to the outgoing government. That spells failure for his efforts to lead loyalists to Bishkek and retake control of Kyrgyzstan:
A police spokesman told me politely that the protesters had every right to express their views. I could not help feeling that he was on their side really, along with most of the helmeted police men too.
Late last week, when the protest suddenly grew to a crowd of thousands who then decided to occupy the government’s office, the policemen simply stood aside and let them in.
Dushebayev apparently inspires little support in the security apparatus he briefly ran. The Kyrgyz have spoken, in the terse manner that befits their national character. How does one say, “Don’t Tread On Me” in Kyrgyz, anyway?
Reuters reports some mildly ominous developments in Kyrgyzstan this morning. The ousted interior minister that had just been appointed by ousted president Askar Akayev will lead thousands in demonstration against the so-called Tulip Revolution in Bishkek today, threatening “civil war” if Akayez is not returned to power. I say “mildly ominous”, because the people rounded up for this march on Bishkek apparently don’t all agree on their opposition to the new interim Kyrgyz government:
Kyrgyzstan’s ousted interior minister led thousands of demonstrators toward the capital on Saturday to protest against the coup that overthrew President Askar Akayev, warning there was a risk of civil war. …
“They may get there today. They may get there tomorrow, but the important thing is they will go there,” Keneshbek Dushebayev, appointed interior minister by Akayev just before he was ousted, told Reuters.
Dushebayev, who is leading the protesters whom he predicted could eventually number 10,000, said: “The country is virtually split and everything is in place for a civil war.”
But there was confusion over the aims of the protesters, some of whom expressed support for the new leadership.
Some carried posters saying “No to the coup!” and “The people of Kyrgyzstan are one nation!.” Other placards read: “We support general Kulov,” referring to opposition leader Felix Kulov.
Some of Dushebayev’s marchers told Reuters that they don’t support Akayev at all, but are demonstrating against the manner of his ouster. It sounds like Dushebayev has a very odd and only mildly motivated coalition on which to build his civil war, and his tenuous (at best) connection to the security forces in Kyrgyzstan probably means he will not inspire much more confidence along the way to Bishkek.
Perhaps Dushebayev should return home and take a roll call among his so-called supporters. If Bakiev holds June elections as promised, it sounds like Dushebayev would lose most of his constituents. That makes him a agitator, not a rebel, and his association with the previous unpopular autocracy won’t give him much comfort when Bakiev and especially Felix Kulov come after him.
The Financial Times of London reports that native insurgent leaders in Iraq — as opposed to the smaller band of foreigners led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — have lost heart and want a face-saving way out of the battle against American and Iraqi forces. They want Iraq to offer some security guarantees in return for their surrender and an ability to join in the political process:
Many of Iraq’s predominantly Sunni Arab insurgents would lay down their arms and join the political process in exchange for guarantees of their safety and that of their co-religionists, according to a prominent Sunni politician.
Sharif Ali Bin al-Hussein, who heads Iraq’s main monarchist movement and is in contact with guerrilla leaders, said many insurgents including former officials of the ruling Ba’ath party, army officers, and Islamists have been searching for a way to end their campaign against US troops and Iraqi government forces since the January 30 election. …
Sharif Ali said the success of Iraq’s elections dealt the insurgents a demoralising blow, prompting them to consider the need to enter the political process.
What they want is a similar deal that the Afghan government has offered to lower-level Taliban fighters with some significant success. In exchange for turning themselves in to Iraqi authority and surrendering their arms, they want a general amnesty and the ability to access the new democratic processes. If the Iraqis can confirm their seriousness, and the dramatic drop in terrorist activity seems to substantiate it, the Iraqis should go for it. It would allow the sectarian divisions to subside and further reduce antidemocratic forces to the margins of Iraqi society. It would also allow Iraqi and American security forces to focus on Zarqawi and his gang of thugs.
This development has been brought to you by George Bush’s insistence on holding the elections on time. Not only did the Iraqis and the Americans succeed in securing the vote, but the Iraqis themselves delivered a spirited endorsement of democracy and freedom that has obviously shattered the will of the native insurgency. The transformative power of democracy shows once again its singular ability to marginalize and neutralize the impetus for terror.
How many American newspapers do you think will carry this story tomorrow?
The Hill reports that US forces in Iraq caught onto an elaborate escape attempt by thousands of terrorists held in a prison camp in southern Iraq, just ahead of an inspection tour by top military leadership:
U.S. military police Friday thwarted a massive escape attempt by suspected insurgents and terrorists from this southern Iraq Army base that houses more than 6,000 detainees when they uncovered a 600-foot tunnel the detainees had dug under their compound. …
Within hours of the discovery on the first tunnel, a second tunnel of about 300 feet was detected under an adjoining compound in the camp, which holds 6,049 detainees. The elaborate escape is reminiscent of the 1994 movie, “The Shawshank Redemption,” where a prisoner burrows his way out of prison.
The key difference, however, is that not one Iraq prisoner got out.
I think the better reference is to Stalag 17 or maybe Hogan’s Heroes, but the Confederate Yankee likes the movie reference in The Hill. (He thinks it also explains why we haven’t heard from Tim Robbins lately.)
However much we joke around about this, it’s really no laughing matter. The terrorists came within an ace of making a massive break from the camp, which could have created a firestorm of havoc throughout Iraq. I wonder if more sophisticated technology should be used at these bases — perhaps seismographs or other sensors which could tip off the security forces of tunneling efforts like this. The people we detain in these camps aren’t typical POWs, after all. They infiltrate civilian areas and murder Iraqis and Americans alike, without regard to civilian casualties and often desiring civilian casualties.
We have some awfully smart people in our defense services. Let’s come up with better protection for our men and women who stand guard over these killers.
The new president of the MPAA met with Christian Toto of the Washington Times to discuss the challenges of replacing the only other man to hold that position, Jack Valenti, in the changed political climate in which Hollywood finds itself. Dan Glickman, former Agriculture Secretary under Bill Clinton, acknowledged that working with two Republican-controlled branches of government would present some difficulties, but it seems the first hurdle for Glickman might be reality instead:
The president of the Motion Picture Association of America says Hollywood must build a bridge to the Republican-controlled Congress in order to deflate perceptions of a liberal bias. …
“There’s no question in the general world there’s the perception that the entertainment community is to the left of the country as a whole,” Mr. Glickman told editors and reporters at The Washington Times yesterday. “I’ve got to build bridges with the people who run the show.”
The former congressman dismissed the notion that the movie industry acts as one entity, but admitted that’s precisely how the public reacts whenever a handful of liberal actors back Democratic candidates.
No sir, that is how the public reacts when it is given a steady diet of films and television entertainment which relentless portrays Republicans as Snidely Whiplash characters and Democrats as the heroes. Watch such highly-regarded fare as West Wing, The American President, and The Contender — all well-financed and A-list productions — and tell me that Glickman can’t see a trend. Michael Douglas provides the stirring climax at the end of TAP by loudly proclaiming every leftist talking point known to mankind in response to Richard Dreyfuss’ one-dimensional portrait of a comic-book Republican attack dog. Gary Oldman — who later complained that his attempts to moderate his portrayal were edited out of The Contender — gets to play a creepy, loutish, and hyopcritical GOP leader while Joan Allen portrays a martyred VP nominee and Jeff Bridges plays a courageous, cigar-chomping Democratic president in one of the most politically biased A-list dramas I’ve ever seen. And those are just the political dramas. Let’s not forget last year’s The Day After Tomorrow, with its ridiculous disaster-flick treatment of global warming, complete with its own eeeeeevil Dick Cheney clone.
And Glickman ignores completely where the power brokers in Hollywood put their money. We’re not talking about a “handful of liberal actors” supporting Democratic candidates. People like Steven Spielberg, David Geffen, and others who have the money and power to get films made put big money into Democratic coffers while Hollywood Republicans have to hide in the shadows to get work. Michael Moore strings together a series of lies and dishonestly edited clips to make his paean to Leni Riefenstahl, Fahrenheit 9/11, and the Hollywood community hails him as a hero, while conservative Mel Gibson makes an apolitical movie about Jesus Christ — and gets figuratively crucified for it.
Mr. Glickman may also want to review the last few Aacademy Awards presentations to understand the “perception” of liberal bias in Hollywood. Listen to Chris Rock talk about the Gap declaring war on the Banana Republic for two full minutes at the start of this year’s show. Also listen to the huge reception he gets for Bush-bashing, and the almost dead silence given to his feeble and brief attempt at balancing the humor with a shot at John Kerry.
Glickman worries about perceptions. He should instead challenge his community to see their biases for what they are, and for how their audience sees straight through it. He gets one cheer for speaking to the more conservative Washington Times, but loses two for trying to spread the propaganda instead of addressing the truth.
UPDATE: Perhaps Dan Glickman can start addressing the “perception” of Hollywood bias by checking out the way money gets spent in Tinseltown for political purposes. Political donations split between the two parties between 2-1 and 3-1 for Democrats the last eight election cycles, with 2004 exactly hitting the average, 69%-31%. In 2002, Hollywood split 78%-22% for Democrats. Over the last 15 years, Hollywood has raised almost $120 million for Democrats, compared to $53 million for Republicans.
The only surprise is how much money actually went to the GOP, as far as I see.
Based on the feedback I received earlier from readers, I have finally taken down the Day by Day cartoon which specifically referenced me and the Ted Rall smackdown. Comments and e-mails kindly suggested that I had played that out way past its expiration date — and while I write what I please, in this case I figured that enough people were telling me that I was drunk and I should sit down, so to speak.
After e-mailing DBD creator Chris Muir, I got permission to have his latest cartoon posted at the top of the context column so that it automatically updates each day (other bloggers have already done so). I think Chris does top-flight work and always find his commentary amusing and fresh, and having it appear here will give everyone an opportunity to keep up with it. I hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget to check out Chris’ great site, where you can catch up with all the archives and keep abreast of his latest projects.
Now that the federal court has ruled against the Schindlers again this morning in their fight to save their daughter from death, Terri’s supporters have renewed their calls for Governor Jeb Bush to step in and do something — some say even if he has to break the law to do it:
The Rev. Patrick Mahoney — a Christian Defense Coalition representative who is frequently on hand across the country for controversial matters of concern to religious conservatives — called for Gov. Bush to send Florida law enforcement officers to “come in and take Terri.”
“A citizen of your state is being brutally murdered,” he said. “You need to intervene.”
Mahoney was organizing the prayer vigil Friday. “We are here on Good Friday to ask Gov. Jeb Bush to intervene to save the life of Terri Schiavo,” he said in a statement. “The governor has it within his power to rescue Terri. Her life is in the governor’s hand.”
I have argued repeatedly for Congress, the Florida legislature, and the two Bush brothers to do all they can do to save Terri’s life. As I have expressed here before, I find the forced death by dehydration of a disabled, non-terminal patient at the insistence of an estranged spouse with no support except for the hearsay of a couple of offhand comments heard by the husband and his relatives abhorrent. It smacks of euthanasia and sets a terrible precedent, apart from the inhumanity of forcing Terri’s family to watch her die when they’ve repeatedly requested to be allowed to care for her. It’s sadistic, if not to Terri, then to those who love her.
But we have to draw a line here, and that line is the law.
The governor and the President have done all that they can do within the law. They cannot execute any action not authorized by current law or by action of the legislative branch. Neither can they use the law-enforcement resources at their command to simply overrule a judge’s decision. Governor Bush swore an oath to uphold and enforce the law, even those with which he disagrees, and he has done his best to create law to allow him to act in this circumstance. He was not successful.
In our haste to save an innocent life, we cannot demand that our executives turn into dictators for just a few moments. Dictatorships don’t work that way, and neither do democracies. Imagine what would happen if Jeb Bush took Reverend Mahoney’s advice. Terri’s life might be saved — for a week or two. Snatching Terri illegally from the hospice and holding her somewhere in violation of a court order would result in Bush’s impeachment, and likely federal intervention in Florida. The state police probably would refuse the illegal order anyway. If Bush did take Terri, she would be right back to where she was last Friday as soon as the rule of law returned to Florida — which would mean she would once again start the process of dehydration as soon as that happened.
We cannot allow our passions for Terri and the Schindlers to overload our respect for the law which protects us from an overpowerful executive branch. Reverend Mahoney calls for little less than an armed coup d’etat in Florida, one in which Bush would make both the legislature and the judiciary completely irrelevant by the use of force. I cannot imagine a more dangerous and terrible outcome from this tragedy than that, especially since in the end it will have only the effect of momentarily delaying Terri’s torturous death.
It’s time to cool the passions and start praying for mercy.
Michelle Malkin is all over what appears to be another Exempt Media blackout. Despite every news outlet covering the supposed “GOP Talking Points” on the Schiavo litigation when the story first broke, now that the memo appears to have been fraudulent, suddenly no one wants to talk about it. Howard Kurtz, Michelle notes, has not written a word on it since Power Line first challenged the memo’s authenticity in a series of posts. The only newspaper that covered Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg’s call for an investigation into the memo’s creation was, oddly, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — which gave it two lines.
Regardless what one thinks of the Schiavo case, this suspicious memo should be getting some attention, especially since it broke as headline news last weekend in an attempt to discredit the GOP by questioning their motivations. If a GOP staffer wrote it, he or she should be fired for sheer incompetence alone, but it would be good for us to know that. However, it looks more like an amateurish attempt to smear the Republicans — and the silence of the Exempt Media suggests that they know it, too.
It looks like Eason’s Fables all over again, doesn’t it?
A few ominous notes have sounded in the triumphal procession of Kyrgyzstan’s Tulip Revolution, discordant tones which should prick the ears of those cheering democracy’s spread. As Reuters reports this morning, Vladimir Putin has rushed to endorse the interim government of Kurmanbek Bakiev, which sounds a bit out of character for the Russian president who has spent more time consolidating power than encouraging democracy during his term in office:
Kyrgyzstan’s opposition, a day after snatching power in a lightning coup in the ex-Soviet state, on Friday named a new acting president and won almost immediate — and vital — support from Russia. …
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was ready to work with the Kyrgyz opposition and offered refuge in Russia to Akayev, who is thought to have fled abroad, possibly to neighboring Kazakhstan.
“We know these people (the opposition) pretty well and they have done quite a lot to establish good relations between Russia and Kyrgyzstan,” Putin told reporters on a visit to Armenia.
One of the leaders that Putin undoubtedly looks forward to engaging is Felix Kulov, the former parliamentarian who has been chosen as interior minister in the new government. Kulov got sprung from prison by opposition protestors yesterday as the capitol of Kyrgyzstan descended into chaos, with widespread looting and low-level violence flaring up. As interior minister, Kulov has the authority and the responsibility to restore order.
And Kulov has some experience with that, as Putin well knows. Kulov ran the National Security Ministry, the Kyrgyz version of the KGB and likely a successor agency with the same personnel in place. He also served as chief of the General Staff for Kyrgyzstan’s armed forces, which coordinated closely with the Russian military. Kulov and Putin have likely worked closely in the past, and since Kulov has become a popular figure of the opposition — some say more popular than Bakiev — Putin may be working to push Kulov to the top of the heap. That would bring Kyrgyzstan more in line with Russian politics and reduce the Western outreach of the outgoing autocrat Akayev.
Perhaps Putin will allow Kyrgyzstan to develop into a full democracy with free elections and an open foreign policy. After watching Ukraine and Georgia slip through his fingers, though, I’d bet on Kulov eventually ascending to power and simply replacing a Russo-centered autocracy for the previous nonaligned authoritarian rule.
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! And for some first-class blogging on Kyrgyzstan, check out Registan.