|Best of the Web Today - September 22, 2004|
By JAMES TARANTO
Terror Advocate Stopped at Airport
A man who goes by the name Yusuf Islam, though he was born Stephen Georgiou and for a time went by the alias Cat Stevens, was prevented from entering the U.S. yesterday, the Associated Press reports. When Islam's name turned up on a government "watch list," his London-to-Washington flight was diverted to Bangor, Maine, where he was interviewed and given the boot on "national security grounds," according to the Homeland Security Department. The AP adds:
Officials had no details about why the peace activist might be considered a risk to the United States. Islam had visited New York in May to promote a DVD of his 1976 MajiKat tour.
Now it may be that barring Yusuf Islam from the U.S. is an overreaction. But consider these facts about the man the AP dubs a "peace activist":
As the AP's own report notes, "Islam drew some negative attention in the 1980s when he supported the Ayatollah Khomeini's death sentence against Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses."
Rolling Stone reported last year that Islam was denied entry into Israel because, according to the Jerusalem government, he donated tens of thousands of dollars to the terror group Hamas. In 2000, when Israel similarly denied him entry, he issued a statement: "At present I am supporting orphans in Hebron and all my donations in the past were given to humanitarian causes. I want to make sure that people are aware that I've never knowingly supported any terrorist groups--past, present or future." He did not specifically deny having funded Hamas, which according to Reuters among others is not a terrorist group. (Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.)
An AP update from today reports that "U.S. authorities think donations from Islam may have ended up helping to fund blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing," as well as Hamas.
That second AP dispatch continues referring to Islam as a "peace activist" in this risible line: "The government official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said Islam was placed on a watch list after multiple intelligence sources in recent weeks indicated the peace activist may have associations with potential terrorists." (The Council on American Islamic Relations, for its part, calls Islam a "moderate and mainstream" Muslim.)
Along similar lines, consider this Dan Rather quote from last week's New York Observer: "Part of what reporters are supposed to do is ask questions, dig for facts and, when truths are found, share them with the public and, when called upon to do so, speak truth to power. This we did."
Sounds a lot like John Kerry preening Monday about his antiwar activities: "After serving in war, I returned home to offer my own personal voice of dissent. I did so because I believed strongly that we owed it those risking their lives to speak truth to power."
Terror advocates are "peace activists," and telling secondhand lies is "speaking truth to power." It's just another day in the fake but accurate world of American liberalism.
LL Cool W
American politics' "gender gap" appears to be narrowing, notes London's Daily Telegraph:
George W Bush is poised to re-write American political history with the help of tens of thousands of women such as Dina Murphy, a young mother from the swing state of New Hampshire.
By her own admission, Mrs Murphy is "not very political". In the last three presidential elections, she voted Democrat, most recently for Al Gore in 2000, and she was far from alone. . . .
This time, Mrs Murphy thinks she will be voting Republican. In a world made far more frightening by the September 11 attacks and the war on terror, she is looking for a president she can trust to keep her family safe. . . .
"I don't feel comfortable voting for Kerry," she said. "It's just a feeling, a comfort level. I trust Bush more to lead our country."
The New York Times takes note of the shift as well, reporting that its own poll last week found Bush leading Kerry 48% to 43% among female registered voters. "I don't define it as a problem,'' Kerry pollster Mark Mellman tells the paper. "I define it as an opportunity.'' Fake but accurate!
The Times says women are more fearful of terrorism than men and hints that the Beslan massacre may be hurting Kerry:
On Tuesday Mr. Bush, who has presented himself as the nation's defender in chief, spoke directly of the attack this month in Russia, where extremists killed more than 300 people, half of them children, at a school. In a speech at the United Nations, he mentioned a grieving mother whose son was safe but who had lost her nephew in the shooting.
"The Russian children did nothing to deserve such awful suffering and fright and death,'' Mr. Bush said.
Reader Tom Linehan offers this personal observation on Kerry's female troubles:
I am a "veteran" grass-roots Republican "activist." In other words I am no spring chicken. In this presidential election I have been taken aback by the animosity many woman express towards Kerry. I think it is a "woman's intuition thing." When I ask, I do not get a reasoned answer. There is something about Kerry that many women find repulsive.
And these are not the political junkies. Many in fact are apolitical. I have to remind many of them to vote. Some would miss the election if I do not stay on them.
We've noticed the same reaction to Kerry among some women of our acquaintance. And the truth is, we find Kerry viscerally off-putting too (though we could explain why if we had time). We guess this just goes to show what a sensitive guy we are.
He Must've Given Two Different Speeches
"As expected in a speech to fellow heads of state and diplomats, President Bush on Tuesday dispensed with the red-meat phrases beloved by his supporters on the campaign trail. . . . Instead, the president was conciliatory, intent to show that he can play with others. He didn't quite break out in Esperanto, but he spoke admiringly of the principles and values embodied by the United Nations."--editorial, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 22
"Mr. Bush delivered an inexplicably defiant campaign speech. . . . Even when he talked about issues of common agreement, like the global fight against AIDS and easing the crushing third-world debt, Mr. Bush seemed more interested in praising his own policies than in assuming the leadership of an international effort. The speech would have drawn cheers at an adoring Republican National Convention, but it seemed to fall flat in a room full of stony-faced world leaders. Mr. Bush has never exhibited much respect for the United Nations."--editorial, New York Times, Sept. 22
The World's Smallest Constituency
"Black Gay Republicans Break With Log Cabin Republicans, Endorse Bush"--headline, press release, Sept. 22
Kerry: How to Fight? Run Away!
"You all have been through an unbelievable month. Florida has showed America how to fight."--John Kerry, Sept. 21
"Millions of Floridians Told to Evacuate"--headline, CNN.com, Sept. 3
The First Day of Fall
CBS appears to be setting Mary Mapes, producer of the discredited "60 Minutes" segment on President Bush's National Guard service, up to serve as the fall guy. Today's New York Times reports:
CBS News said yesterday that the producer of its flawed report about President Bush's National Guard service violated network policy by putting a source in touch with a top aide to Senator John Kerry.
"It is obviously against CBS News standards and those of every other reputable news organization to be associated with any political agenda," the network said in a statement.
"Dear Mary Mapes, The red dot is now on your head," writes blogger John Ellis in the latest of his open letters to the beleaguered producer. (Click through and scroll down for more.) "Today is 'tone shift day,' the day when the tone of voice of your CBS colleagues (especially your 'superiors') changes dramatically. There's a distinct chill in the air, so to speak. Because today is the day that they begin in earnest to try to ruin the rest of your life."
A CBS press release, meanwhile, announces that the network has appointed Dick Thornburgh, who served as attorney general in the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations (and who, as blogger Stephen Bainbridge notes, was the defendant in a 1994 lawsuit filed by Karl Rove), and Louis D. Boccardi, a former Associated Press CEO, to conduct its internal investigation of the scandal.
Dan Rather, meanwhile, is getting some highly dubious support--from Helen Thomas. "To me, the real issue is why doesn't the president tell us the truth?" American journalism's crazy old aunt in the attic said at a local college appearance, according to the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press. "Why doesn't he put out all the documents? Because he can't, because there are too many gaps."
The Associated Press reports that "former Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign heard but did not pursue allegations about George W. Bush's Air National Guard service, similar to the information in discredited documents aired by CBS News this month, a former campaign official said Tuesday."
So it seems Al Gore had higher standards of truth than do CBS, Helen Thomas and the Kerry campaign. Or maybe he just had better political judgment.
What Liberal Media?
The other day David Langworthy, op-ed editor of the Houston Chronicle, penned a candid op-ed piece in which he acknowledged that the "mainstream" media have a liberal bias:
For my money Fox news coverage is as down the middle as CNN's--or CBS's. . . . I would encourage more of my colleagues in the mainstream media to take a look at Fox regularly, as a matter of professional duty. It is an eye opener. It raises some honest questions about where the real political "mainstream" lives.
Well, it doesn't seem to live in the Chronicle newsroom. Last week the paper published a Reuters dispatch about a Bush campaign visit to Rochester, Minn. It was accompanied by a Reuters photo of 6-year-old Madison Long, who "showed her support for President Bush by braiding her hair in the shape of a 'W.' "
Oddly enough, this doesn't seem to be Reuters' fault--but on the Chronicle server the filename of the photo is brainwashedchild.jpg.
"Germany to Step Up Campaign for Permanent UN Seat, Voigt Says"--headline, Bloomberg.com, Sept. 17
We Still Blame Snoopy
"Injury May Have Led to Red Baron's Death"--headline, Associated Press, Sept. 22
It's a Miracle He Made It Through Law School
"Lee's Lawyer Says He's Retarded"--headline, KPLC-TV Web site (Lake Charles, La.), Sept. 21
Not Too Brite--CLXV
"A Malaysian man shot and killed his wife after he mistook her for a monkey picking fruit in a tree behind their house," Reuters reports from Kuala Lumpur.
(For an explanation of the "Not Too Brite" series, click here.)
We Feel Much Safer Now
"Liechtenstein Ratifies Nuclear Test Ban"--headline, Associated Press, Sept. 22
They Make Such a Cute Couple
"Liechtenstein Eyes Long Term Relationship With Qatar"--headline, the Peninsula (Qatar), Sept. 22
'No One Understands Me Like You Do, Qatar'
"Misunderstood Liechtenstein Explains Itself With New Image Campaign"--headline, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 20
Submitted With Relish
The H.J. Heinz Co. has announced its "Say Something Ketchuppy II" contest:
Sometimes our label gets tired of saying "Tomato Ketchup" all of the time. We received a huge response from our first talking label contest, and now our ketchup is begging for more of your ideas. So make a joke about french fries or have some fun at the expense of mustard. Once again it is time to send your funny phrase (8 words or less, please) and the best ones will be featured on our front label in stores across the country.
Earlier winners include "Easier to spell than Worcestershire" and "Seeking employment in your kitchen." But we got to thinking: Why not a slogan that pays homage to Teresa Heinz Kerry, the outspoken ketchup heiress and philanthropist?
"Shove it onto your plate" has possibilities, and "Don't let your food go naked" is promising. But the one we like best is "The perfect match for a weenie."