- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2004

Belated Google

“The last time a group showed this kind of efficiency, Moe was teaching Larry and Shemp to be plumbers,” Voices for Choices spokesman Peter Arnold tells Inside the Beltway after the U.S. Telecom Association fired its general counsel after only one day on the job.

Only then did the powerful association, the trade group for giants such as Verizon and Bell, discover that its new attorney, Russell Merbeth — who previously lobbied on behalf of rival telephone companies — recently questioned the legality of a Bell meeting with equipment suppliers by signing a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary committees requesting an investigation.

“USTA, of course, has the right to hire people for its most senior positions at will — and then dismiss them because the organization apparently didn’t even bother with a Google search,” notes Mr. Arnold.

Eventually, USTA officials did conduct an actual Google search, revealing Mr. Merbeth’s signature atop the Oct. 31 letter. No word on Mr. Merbeth’s plans, but he is being paid for a single day of employment.

Backing a hawk

Not impressed by Howard Dean’s rhetoric on Iraq and antiterrorism, the influential left-leaning magazine New Republic has endorsed Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, for president.

“The deep irony of Lieberman’s campaign is that many Democrats view him as timid. But how much courage does it take for Dean to throw red meat to the party faithful?” ask the magazine’s editors, warning that the former Vermont governor is out of touch with an American public that is rightfully concerned about terrorism striking home.

“Dean has helped create this mood of self-righteous delusion,” says New Republic. “Only Lieberman — the supposed candidate of appeasement — is challenging his party, enduring boos at event after event, to articulate a different, better vision of what it means to be a Democrat.”

And what it means to be a liberal hawk.

Mr. Lieberman’s “steadfast” opposition of Saddam Hussein, says the magazine, “falls within a hawkish liberal tradition that stretches through the Balkan wars, the [Persian] Gulf war, and, indeed, the cold war itself.”

It was Mr. Lieberman, as co-sponsor of the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, who helped commit the United States to a regime change in Baghdad.

Deadly metaphor

Has an antiwar screed by a Beverly Hills sex therapist inflamed anti-American sentiment in the Islamic world — even inspiring terrorism?

Yes, according to the Boston Globe.

Susan Block, a California sex therapist who hosts a syndicated radio show and HBO’s “Radio Sex TV,” wrote an April 15 column titled “The Rape of Iraq” for the antiwar Web site Counterpunch (www.counterpunch.org).

The column used rather elaborate metaphorical language to compare the conquest of Baghdad to rape.

Televised expressions of gratitude by the Iraqi people were being used to justify “the Anglo-American rape of Iraq,” Miss Block wrote: “As the rapist would say, ‘I gave her what she really wanted.’ She needed to be raped. She wanted to be violated.”

Such metaphors apparently don’t translate well.

On Oct. 22, Yeni Safak, an Islamic journal in Turkey, published an article that said “thousands of Iraqi women are being raped by American soldiers. There are more than 4,000 rape events on the record.”

The journal cited “Dr. Susan Block” as its source.

The U.S. Embassy in Turkey responded by condemning the Turkish journal for publishing “outrageous allegations based on a U.S. ‘source’ best known for her pornographic Web sites and erotic television program,” according to the Globe.

Whatever the source, Ilyas Kuncak of Istanbul was enraged by the reports, according to his son, Nurullah Kuncak.

“Didn’t you see? The American soldiers raped Iraqi women,” the son told the Globe’s correspondent in Istanbul. “My father talked to me about it. Thousands of rapes are in the records. Can you imagine how many are still secret?”

On Nov. 19, Ilyas Kuncak drove a car bomb into the Istanbul headquarters of the British bank HSBC, his suicide attack part of four separate al Qaeda-planned car bombings that also destroyed the British Consulate and two synagogues in Istanbul, killing 27 and wounding more than 400.

For her part, Miss Block says she is horrified and tells the Globe she never meant her charge of an American “rape” of Iraq to be taken literally: “I am appalled to be misquoted and even more appalled that the story inspired someone to such violence.”

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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