Monday, May 2, 2005

Monologues and Dialogues

Christina Hoff Sommers has a report at NRO on the recent spin-off from V-Day at universities all across the country. Political correctness being what it is, of course, the spin-off, called P-Day, has been banned at the campus which has pioneered this great social celebration. Amazingly, it has been dubbed "offensive" even though this campus, Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, has insouciantly observed the far more offensive V-Day for years. But then P-Day is the brain-child, as it were, of college conservatives.

If you have no idea what this is about or would otherwise like to read more, by all means check out Ms. Sommers' account, but understand, it's not for the easily shocked. As you're reading it bear in mind that the sort of goings on it describes are being subsidized by the activity fees you pay to send your children to these citadels of learning.

What They're Afraid of

Steven Calabrisi at the Weekly Standard answers the question why the Democrats are so afraid of George Bush's judicial nominees:

Why are Senate Democrats so afraid of conservative judicial nominees who are African Americans, Hispanics, Catholics, and women? Because these Clarence Thomas nominees threaten to split the Democratic base by aligning conservative Republicans with conservative voices in the minority community and appealing to suburban women. The Democrats need Bush to nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court whom they can caricature and vilify, and it is much harder for them to do that if Bush nominates the judicial equivalent of a Condi Rice rather than a John Ashcroft.

Conservative African-American, Hispanic, Catholic, and female judicial candidates also drive the left-wing legal groups crazy because they expose those groups as not really speaking for minorities or women. They thus undermine the moral legitimacy of those groups and drive a wedge between the left-wing leadership of those groups and the members they falsely claim to represent.

Take Janice Rogers Brown, who won reelection to her state supreme court seat with a stunning 76 percent of the vote in one of the bluest of the blue states, California. Or take Priscilla Owen, who won reelection to the Texas Supreme Court with a staggering 84 percent of the vote in Texas. It is Brown and Owen who represent mainstream opinion in this country--not the Senate Democrats who have been using the filibuster to block their confirmation to the federal bench. If Brown or Owen were nominated to the Supreme Court, the record suggests she would win the ensuing national contest for hearts and minds. Best of all for conservatives, Senate Democrats would be forced by their left-wing interest groups to go down fighting these popular minority and female nominees. At a bare minimum, Republican Senate candidates would acquire a great issue for 2006.

Thus the driving force behind the Democrats' filibuster of conservative minorities and women is political--driven by a desire to protect the party's advantage with minority and women voters and cater to left-wing interest groups. Democrats are also driven in part by their odd belief that "real" African Americans and Hispanics and women cannot be conservative.

Makes sense to us. The rest of his essay does, too.

It's All About Her

Perhaps we're being too harsh, too judgmental. Perhaps we're leaping to conclusions about matters we know too little about. Perhaps we're being uncharitable. Perhaps. If so, we will apologize. Nevertheless, on the face of it, Jessica Wilbank seems to us to be a narcissistic whacko.

How could anyone with the least bit of consideration for her parents, her fiance, her friends and her community put them through the awful ordeal they endured for the reasons she has disclosed? This was not a young girl, frightened by an impending wedding about which she was having second thoughts, who panicked and lost her head. An adolescent might be forgiven her bizarre behavior, but this woman's 32 years old. She apparently thought little about the effect her decisions would have on others and indulged only her own desire to escape.

One feels sorry for the friends and family of Ms Wilbank, who are doubtless deeply embarrassed by her self-centeredness. Our sympathy for her fiance is mitigated somewhat, however, by the fact that he was very fortunate to have discovered this aspect of his betrothed's character before he tied the knot with her.

Zarqawi's Laptop

It may be that capturing Zarqawi's computer was even more important than capturing him. It could turn out that we get more information out of it than we would have gotten out of him, even if he allowed himself to be taken alive.

Dan Darling at Winds of Change discusses some of what we know about the laptop:

We've actually had it for a little while now and I'm awaiting more information, but this was a major coup. Here are a few things about Zarqawi that you probably didn't know:

He's a Windows man. He also uses something called PGP for e-mails, which I was told is some kind of e-mail encryption method.

The info on the computer was very helpful towards us capturing a number of his lieutenants.

I've heard there's a fair amount of porn. Now that could be disinformation, but given all the drugs, beer bottles, and the like that were found among the Pious Mujahideen(tm) in Fallujah I'm certainly not going to dismiss it off-hand.

There's information on his medical condition, so we may finally get an answer on the issue of how many legs he has and what not.

There is at least some record of the correspondence between him and bin Laden. Basically, bin Laden gives him a broad outline as far as strategy is concerned and Zarqawi is in charge of implementing the tactical aspects of his plan together with his lieutenants and allies, such as the Baathists.

There's some record of Zarqawi's interaction with Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi, a senior al-Qaeda leader who I gather replaced Hassan Ghul as Zarqawi's al-Qaeda liaison after the latter individual's capture in January 2004.

There are recent pictures of Zarqawi and it seems...that he is indeed a master of disguise.

Bill Roggio at the Fourth Rail adds this:

According to Mr. Darling, Zarqawi is using PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption, which apparently can be cracked (with much effort) by the super-secretive National Security Agency and may provide detailed information on Zarqawi's communications with al Qaeda. Pornographic images also have been recovered on the laptop. Zarqawi may be using this images for steganography, the method of encoding messages within images, but the choice of photographs is telling none the less. It seems Zarqawi isn't the devout Muslim he makes himself out to be. Dan also reports that the laptop contains photos of Zarqawi, financial information, details of his arrangements with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, both inside and outside of Iraq, and details on his health conditions. All of this information will be useful in tracing al Qaeda's network in Iraq and elsewhere, and Zarqawi's extensive network within Europe.

The Christian Science Monitor has an excellent report on the captured laptop, and confirms several of Dan's findings. The status of Zarqawi's health is of particular interest; "Among other things, it may indicate that Zarqawi is in worse physical condition than previously believed and taking painkillers as he recovers from a wound to his stomach."

If there is information on the computer about al Qaida operations elsewhere around the globe, it may be that terrorists and their sympathizers have been quietly rolled up or eliminated over the last few months and major terror threats diminished. If so, those operations will yield even more intelligence on the global terror network. Al Qaida can still do us great harm, but the way things are going, a lot of Muslims must be thinking that it's better to be on our side than on theirs.