Saturday, February 11, 2006

Happy Darwin Day!

Viewpoint wishes all of our readers a safe and happy Darwin Day as you celebrate the 197th birthday of Charles Darwin today. We hope you enjoy the festivities that you surely have planned for this happy occasion, even though it would have no doubt mortified the self-effacing Mr. Darwin to know that his birthday was being marked by the sorts of raucous merrymaking being planned throughout Europe and the United States.

While we're at it, there's something odd about this particular memorial. Can you think of any other commemoration that is observed on the 197th anniversary? The 100th, 200th, 250th anniversaries, sure, but the 197th?

In any event, party up. Or down. Whatever.

Convincing Proof

Gosh. These photos are certainly damning. You thought the Muslim reaction to the Danish cartoons was violent, wait until circulates among their faithful these pictures of Bush being chummy with Jack Abramoff. Screaming lefties by the zillions will be storming the White House gates like French peasants storming the Bastille.

Well, Bush and Abramoff are in the same room, aren't they? He is shaking hands with Abramoff's Indian clients, isn't he? What more proof do you need that Bush is corrupt?

Media Dhimmis

More examples of media hypocrisy courtesy of Andrew Sullivan:

"Thursday, CNN broadcast a story on how common anti-Semitic caricatures are in the Arab press and illustrated it with - you guessed it - one virulently anti-Semitic cartoon after another. As the segment concluded, Wolf Blitzer looked into the camera and piously explained that while CNN had decided as a matter of policy not to broadcast any image of Muhammad, telling the story of anti-Semitism in the Arab press required showing those caricatures. He didn't even blush," - Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times, today.

Rutten has a challenge to the mainstream media: will they avoid any images of the upcoming anti-Catholic movie, "The Da Vinci Code"? Of course, they won't. And, I might add, I hope they won't. Here's a bleg to readers: please keep your eyes open for media representations of objects or images blasphemous to strict Christians and Jews. Last week, for example, the cartoon series, "Drawn Together," depicted Jesus refusing to extend compassion for one of the characters and eventually puking. Have you heard of it? South Park has Jesus as one its regular characters, and a recent South Park episode portrayed a statue of the Virgin Mary, with blood exploding out of her [rectum] onto the face of the Pope.

So Fox won't portray tame images of Muhammad, but they will broadcast "Passion of the Christ II: Crucify This." Here's the full compendium of Jesus references on Family Guy. You wanna see Jesus turn water into "funk"?

Why is this hypocrisy? Because except for a few outlets and a number of blogs the media adamantly refuses to show the cartoon depictions of Muhammad that have stirred up turmoil around the world. They have no qualms about publishing degrading portrayals of Christ and the Virgin Mary in their news reports, but they're suddenly seized with multicultural sensitivity when it comes to a few banal drawings of the Islamic Prophet.

So much for liberal pieties about being willing to fight to the death for your right to be offensive. Those words are easy to utter as long as the danger is far away, but when it gets a little close the number of people on the left who really mean it shrinks to a close approximation of zero. The media should either refuse to participate in the gratuitous trashing of symbols sacred to all theistic religions, including Christianity, (our recommendation) or grow a spine, refuse to truckle to the threats of the Islamists, and show the cartoons.

Update: Michelle Malkin has more on the incomprehensible absurdity of the Islamic protestors here. You read this stuff and all you can do is shake your head that so many people can be so benighted.

The War on Drugs

Jonathan Last argues persuasively in The Weekly Standard that we are winning the war on drugs:

There's a wonderful scene in the movie Traffic in which a captured drug kingpin, played by Miguel Ferrer, is being interrogated by two federal agents. Ferrer says to them disdainfully: "You people are like those Japanese soldiers left behind on deserted islands who think that World War II is still going on. Let me be the first to tell you, your government surrendered this war a long time ago."

It's a brilliant bit of filmmaking; it's also bunk. Over the last five years, while no one was paying attention, America has been winning its war on drugs.

The cosmopolitan view has long been that the fight against drugs is a losing battle; that the supply of drugs pouring into America is never-ending; that drug lords are unrelenting zombie-supermen--kill one, and five more spring up.

The American drug problem grew to epidemic proportions throughout the 1960s and 1970s. In 1979, agencies of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health performed a national household survey of illicit drug use; substances included marijuana, cocaine, heroin, banned hallucinogens and inhalants, and unauthorized use of sedatives, stimulants and analgesics. As of 1979, the numbers were horrifying: 31.8 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 had used drugs; 16.3 percent of them had used in the last month. Among those ages 18 to 25 it was worse: 69 percent had used at some point; 38 percent in the last month.

But throughout the '80s, those numbers shrank. Sophisticates derided "Just Say No," but by 1993, only 16.4 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds had used, and only 5.7 percent had used in the last month. In the 18-to-25 age bracket, 50.2 percent had tried drugs, but only 15 percent had used in the last 30 days. It was a remarkable success.

From 1993 to 2001, the numbers become less rosy: Among ages 12 to 17, the percentage of youths who had tried drugs increased almost twofold. In the 18-to-25 crowd, the increase was less marked, but still noticeable.

There's a reason we pay so much attention to these two age groups. As Tom Riley, the director of public affairs at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), explains: "If people don't start using drugs as teenagers--the mechanism of addiction clicks much more quickly in the developing brain--then they are unlikely to ever go on to serious drug abuse. If we can reduce the number of teens who use drugs, we change the shape of the problem for generations to come."

After 2001, the tide turned again. Since then, teen drug use is off nearly 19 percent. Which means that 700,000 fewer teens are using drugs today than just a few years ago.

Last goes on to explain why. Check it out at the link. Meanwhile, we're wondering why we're not hearing about this marvelous news in the MSM. Or is the answer so obvious that we sound utterly foolish and disingenuous suggesting that we're puzzled by the MSM not reporting good news?

Aligning With the Strong Horse

There's not been much in the news lately about developments in Iraq, but Bill Roggio is on the job to update us about what is transpiring between the Sunnis and al-Qaeda in Anbar province. Here's his lead:

Further details emerge about the developing rifts between the native elements of the Iraqi insurgency and al-Qaeda and their Islamist allies. Army Major General Rick Lynch, the spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, acknowledged the infighting has occurred in Anbar province; "Many times these citizens are urged by their local tribal leaders to rid the area of the insurgent influence... In Fallujah and Ramadi, citizens have established checkpoints to keep insurgents out and six al Qaeda leaders have been killed in the area since September."

According to Maj. Gen. Lynch, the increase in tips from over a year ago has skyrocketed by 240 times the number reported last year. The Department of Defense reports "Iraqi civilians provided more than 1,300 tips to coalition and Iraqi security forces... That is a huge improvement from the 47 tips received in January 2005... Of all the valid calls received by the Ministry of Interior's national tips hotline, 98 percent provided actionable intelligence... Most calls are about terrorist activity... but calls also come in about kidnapping, murder and other criminal activity."

Knight Ridder Newspapers indicates that neighborhood watches are forming in the Baghdad neighborhood of Hai al-Salam, which consists of "Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims and Christians." The increase in "kidnappings, assassinations and random violence" pushed the residents to band together across sectarian lines and defends their neighborhoods. When the Iraqi Army and police were unable to provide the security needed for the neighborhood, the residents of Hai al-Salam "erected roadblocks and checkpoints and put neighborhood men to work as guards."

The conventional media wisdom is that Iraq is unravelling faster than we can keep it tied up, but, unsurprisingly, the conventional media wisdom is evidently wrong. To be sure, it is taking longer to bring Iraq under control than most in the administration thought that it would, and it's virtually certain that more Americans have died than had to. Yet, despite the awful cost in blood and treasure, something unprecedented in human history is happening in that tragic land.

A diverse, mostly Arab nation of twenty five million people, riven by ethnic and religious animosities, is gradually shaking off the dysfunctional habits formed over decades of oppression and moving slowly but inexorably toward a stable democracy. It really is remarkable, and if it does happen, and if Afghanistan continues to develop along the lines already established, George Bush will ultimately be regarded as the most visionary foreign policy leader in the history of the free world.