The Magazine

Journalists Go Green—But Not With Envy!

From the Scrapbook.

Feb 8, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 20
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So why shouldn’t Americans believe the stimulus failed? “The administration backed the stimulus with the explicit promise that unemployment would be held to 8 percent if the bill passed,” writes Continetti. “Didn’t happen. It is no doubt true that unemployment would have been worse without the stimulus—state and local governments would have had to lay off many people without federal aid to the states, for example—but parties do not win elections with the slogan, ‘Hey, it could’ve been worse!’ The stimulus was sold to the public under the banner of economic recovery. And while stimulus measures help boost short-term economic growth by bringing demand forward, the recovery is neither strong nor durable. A jobs plan that does not produce jobs growth is not a success.”

As for Klein, “He harks back to the tradition of liberals blaming others for their own failures. What was significant about President Carter’s malaise speech was its implication that there was something wrong with America which prevented him from having a successful presidency. Obama knows better. But, if he follows Klein’s lead, it will be only a few years before he gives a malaise speech of his own. And if that happens, the clock will begin to count down the remaining seconds of his one—and only—term.”


 

Hang ’em High

We pause to note the passing last week of General Ali Hassan al-Majid, 68, hanged in Baghdad pursuant to his eight death sentences for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Better known as Chemical Ali for his zealous killing of Kurdish Iraqis by means of mustard gas, sarin, tabun, and VX, Majid was buried near his cousin Saddam Hussein and Saddam’s sons, Uday and Qusay, in Tikrit, their shared hometown.

Uneducated and personally ruthless, Majid served Saddam wherever an iron fist was needed—as head of the secret police, as military governor of Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, as interior minister charged with crushing the Shiite uprising after the Gulf war in 1991. Arguably his most revolting accomplishment was the Anfal campaign in the late 1980s to suppress Kurdish demands for autonomy. His men looted, then razed, more than 4,000 Kurdish villages, displacing a million people. Males of an age to bear arms they rounded up and massacred. The prosecutors put the number of dead at 180,000.

At Majid’s first trial, some tape--recorded conversations were played for the court. In one, from 1988, the general was heard telling senior Baath party officials his plans for the Kurds: “I will kill them all with chemical weapons! Who is going to say anything? The international community? F— them!”

The general was right, but only in the short term. Fifteen years later, the international community roused itself in the form the American-led coalition of the willing that toppled the tyrant. Now at last, Chemical Ali has had his comeuppance at the hands of a democratic Iraq.

 

Something’s Rotten in Denmark

The attempted axe-murder of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has been widely reported. On January 1, a 28-year-old Somali Muslim hacked his way through the door of Westergaard’s house near Aarhus and when police arrived was attempting to do the same to the reinforced “safe room” where Westergaard had retreated.

Less widely reported is the shameful aftermath, in which Danes have cravenly ostracized the artist.

Westergaard is one of a dozen Danish cartoonists who depicted Mohammed for the newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005, for a feature on self-censorship that later touched off deadly riots around the world and the torching of three Danish embassies in the Middle East. There have been numerous death threats against all the artists. Two Pakistani immigrants, one American and one Canadian, were arrested in Chicago in October and charged with planning an attack on the newspaper.

After his narrow escape, Westergaard donated a watercolor painting to a charity auction hosted by a Danish TV program, with the proceeds to be devoted to earthquake relief in Haiti. But the Lauritz auction house got cold feet and refused to auction his art. “The drawing was in no way controversial, but it seems my name is. I’m sorry for the fear it causes people. When even my hairdresser, who is Muslim, told me with sadness that she didn’t dare keep me on as a customer for fear of reprisals, then there’s reason to be sad about this development,” the 72-year-old artist told reporters in Copenhagen.

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