Friday, November 28, 2003
Baghdad visit fallout: It didn't take long for those on the left end of the political spectrum to come completely unhinged after President Bush's surprise visit to the troops in Baghdad yesterday. Some of it is the predictable whining that this was a political stunt. [While it may benefit Bush politically, the real reason Bush did this was to pay tribute to the troops -- an idea that the left finds uncredible.] But over at the Daily Kos, at least one of their bloggers is living evidence of "intelligence" failure.
Why is it so inherently unsafe for Bush that he has to fly in under darkness without anyone except a handful of top aides and Secret Service and military personnel in the know, then hide out at the airport for a couple of hours with 600 troops, but Hillary Clinton and Jack Reed can drive around the city and meet with American troops, international officials and Iraqi leaders?
Lemmee think for a nanosecond. Could it be because one of them is Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America aka "leader of the free world" and the other is the junior senator from New York? When was the last time someone attempted to assassinate a senator from New York (or a former First Lady for that matter)?
Just a warning for those that follow the link, as is common on most left-wing blog sites, the natives often appear unable to post or comment without punctuating their arguments with obscenities. Venture into the muck at your own risk.
Saving Peewee: If you haven't read this, then you need to.
Today's must-reads: For those of you who have to work or aren't to thrilled at the prospect of battling the crowds at your local mall, here's some things to peruse on the Web.
The Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer has an excellent column on the latest so-called "peace plan" between Israel and the Palestinians. The fact that the U.S. State Department is lauding this garbage is troubling.
Mark Steyn writes about the next targets in the worldwide war on terror.
The San Diego Union-Tribune's Joseph Perkins writes about the rape of an American woman by Tijuana police officers and the lack of outrage the event has generated from the usual suspects if the races of the individuals had been reversed.
Raising morale: President Bush snuck off to Iraq yesterday to eat Thanksgiving dinner with the troops at the Baghdad International Airport. Read his speech here.
Thursday, November 27, 2003
The perfidious French: The embed program in Iraq is still going on, even though major combat operations have ended. French weekly Paris Match recently had a photographer and a reporter embedded with Baathist insurgents as they attacked a DHL cargo plane.
He said Sessini and a special correspondent sent to Iraq, Claudine Verniez-Palliez, had been with the group for several days beforehand and were unaware they were about to witness the attack.
"They had been asked to come see caches of arms very close to Baghdad and didn't discover the real reason for the operation until the last minute," Genestar said.
Yes, they'd been with the Saddam-loving Baathists for "several" days and they had no idea what was going on -- right.
The report also reveals that the reporter and photographer have returned to France because of fears for their safety. Funny, they didn't appear to be concerned about the safety of freedom-loving Iraqis, American troops or even commercial pilots.
Why would we want French troops in Iraq? There's no guarantee they would be on our side.
Palestinians and friends: Those peace-loving "oppressed" Palestinians had Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein collector dolls confiscated at the port in Haifa, Israel.
These are being imported because there's a market for them -- simple as that. These evil, murderous, vile monsters are heroes to the Palestinian people because they hate America and they hate Jews.
One thing that not many have noted, however, is where these perfect gifts for little jihadis were made.
They were discovered in a container consignment ordered by an Israeli Arab, a resident of Kafr Kara in the Triangle region. He was questioned and maintained that the toys, made in China, were intended to be a gimmick to be sold in Israel. [emphasis added]
Unbelievable! The Palestinians would never buy something like this from godless communists. The claim that the items would be sold in Israel is laughable. The reception they would get in Israel would be similar to that they would receive in Manhattan -- the vendor wouldn't be in business for long.
Happy Thanksgiving: Hope you're having a wonderful holiday. The Hoy-non-free-range turkey was delicious.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Kyoto Krazy: National Review's Dave Kopel and Carlo Stagnaro take a look at the economic suicide some European countries would be making if they implemented Kyoto-style emission controls.
Dr. Margo Thorning performed a study about four European countries [link requires Acrobat Reader req.] and estimated that the Kyoto Protocol would have a strong negative impact on the GNP of various nations: a decrease of 5.2 percent for Germany, 5 percent for Spain, 4.5 percent for the U.K., and 3.8 percent for the Netherlands.
The liberal elite says that the United States' rejection of Kyoto shows our unilateral and anti-global tendencies.
Europe's embrace of Kyoto shows its economic stupidity. If some EU governments do go ahead with these curbs, expect recession in Europe and (hopefully) the gradual dismantlement of those socialist states.
Support your local blogger: I've already done my monthly obligatory banging of the tip jar, but this isn't exactly that.
If you scroll down, you'll notice that Hoystory is now displaying google ads in the left column. I get a few cents each time you click on one of those -- even if you don't buy anything. So, if you're a poor college student or a senior on a fixed income, consider just clicking on one of those ads every once in awhile.
Also, if you're doing any of your holiday shopping at Amazon.com, consider clicking on one of the books periodically displayed there -- and then buy whatever you want. Amazon is apparently is able to keep track of where you came from, and I can get referral fees from them for whatever you buy. So, if you're going to spend a few thousand bucks on that new Segway, click here first.
Commies: Some in the Chinese leadership are suggesting giving President George W. Bush "The Thatcher Treatment" over Taiwan.
Soon after Sino-British negotiations over Hong Kong's fate began in the early 1980s, late patriarch Deng refused to entertain suggestions by then British Prime Minister Thatcher about alternate ways to prolong Britain's lease over the crown colony.
In a heated exchange in 1982, Deng simply told the Iron Lady that times had changed, China had become much stronger -- and there could be no nonsense over Hong Kong's return to the motherland's embrace at the stroke of midnight, June 30, 1997.
Thatcher was reportedly so taken aback that upon leaving, she slipped while going down the steps of Beijing's Great Hall of the People in front of the Chinese and international press.
If the Chinese think they can succeed at this kind of hardball tactic against President Bush, they're sorely mistaken. If the Chinese attempt to attack or undermine the democratically elected government of Taiwan without an outcry -- and military assistance -- from the Western world (at least the U.S., Britain, Aussies and Poles) they're in for a surprise.
The Chinese also forget the anger directed their way by the United States after their hot-shot pilot forced down our surveillance plane (operating in international waters). The terrorist attacks on 9/11 is the only thing that diverted American ire away from the Chinese.
America won't stand by if the Chinese commies attempt to subjugate their democratic brothers.
Monday, November 24, 2003
Mark Steyn's latest: Islamic interest group(s) play the victim card -- and it doesn't fly.
Meanwhile, while Islamic lobby groups and the most distinguished semiotics professors in America are analysing Johnny Hart's outhouse joke, the European Union's Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia has decided to shelve its report on the rise of anti-Semitism on the Continent. The problem, as reported in The Telegraph, is that the survey had found that "many anti-Semitic incidents were carried out by Muslim and pro-Palestinian groups", and so a "political decision" was taken not to publish it because of "fears that it would increase hostility towards Muslims".
Let's go back over that slowly and try not to get a headache: the EU's main concern about an actual epidemic of hate crimes against Jews is that it could provoke a hypothetical epidemic of hate crimes against Muslims. You couldn't ask for a better illustration of the uselessness of these thought-police bodies: they're fine for chastising insufficiently guilt-ridden whites in an ongoing reverse-minstrel show of cultural self-abasement, but they don't have the stomach for confronting real racism. A tolerant society is so reluctant to appear intolerant, it would rather tolerate intolerance.
Religion of Peace -- right.
Read Goldberg: National Review's Jonah Goldberg has an excellent article on the culture wars.
If conservatives have such a lock on the culture these days, as Al Gore, Al Franken, and others keep insisting, why don't we just switch sides? The Left can have Fox News, the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, the lavish offices of National Review and The Weekly Standard, as well as Sean Hannity's and Rush Limbaugh's airtime. The gangs at the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation will clear out their desks, give John Podesta the code to the Xerox machine, and tell Eric Alterman where in the neighborhood to buy the best gyros.
In return, we'd like the keys to the executive bathrooms at ABC, CBS and NBC, please. We'd like the cast of Fox and Friends to take over The Today Show's studios ("and tell Couric to take her Cabbage Patch dolls with her!"). We want Ramesh Ponnuru as the editor of the New York Times and Rich Lowry can have his choice between Time and Newsweek. Matt Labash will get Esquire and let's set up Rick Brookhiser at Rolling Stone (that way they won't have to change their drug coverage). Andrew Sullivan can have The New York Times Magazine. Robert Bork will be the dean of the Yale Law School and the faculty of Hillsdale and Harvard will simply switch places. Cornell West will be airbrushed out of The Matrix and Harvey Mansfield will take his place (though convincing him say anything other than "you call that a haircut?" will be hard). NRO will get the bazillions of dollars spent by the editors of Salon and Slate, and those guys can start paying their authors with chickens and irregular tube socks made in Albania.
In other words, talk to me about how we've won the culture war when Dinesh D'Souza wins a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" and Maya Angelou has to blog about it because no one at the New York Times will run her pieces.
I'll take the editor's job at The Washington Post.
Where to get advice: President Bush won't be looking to the New York Times editorial page anytime soon for advice on running a successful campaign. After all, the Times endorsed that
tree guy, Al Gore, last time -- and we know how that worked out.
Anyway, in the interest of being a good corporate citizen, the Times on Sunday came out with some guidelines on how it believes the president should behave as he campaigns for a second term over the next 11+ months.
My advice: Do exactly the opposite.
[I]f there was ever any doubt that President Bush would run for re-election as the commander in chief of the war on terror, it will end when the Republican Party begins broadcasting its first campaign commercial on Mr. Bush's behalf. "Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists," says the ad, as it shows film of Mr. Bush warning of the potential dangers ahead.
It was inevitable that Sept. 11 was going to wind up in the messy center of presidential politics. The war against terror is by its very nature a war with no conclusion, and Democrats who lined up behind the president after the World Trade Center was destroyed cannot be expected to give him a free pass into a second term. The Republicans, meanwhile, are bound to base their campaign on the public's natural reluctance to change chief executives in dangerous times.
Republicans are not so much going to campaign on a "reluctance" to change the commander in chief, but on the larger issue that Democrats cannot be trusted to defend the nation from terrorism.
The Democrats need to find ways to attack Mr. Bush's stewardship without attacking his character; most Americans remember the president's firm resolve after 9/11 with admiration and do not want those memories challenged.
This is actually good advice for Democrats -- accomplishing that task, however, will be difficult.
Mr. Bush has what may be the trickier task. He undoubtedly regards maintaining control of the White House for a second term as critical to winning the war on terror. Yet in order to maintain credibility while he runs for re-election, he must convince people that the decisions he makes are not just based on political self-preservation. On that front, so far, he has come up short.
Bush's decisions when it comes to the war on terrorism are undoubtedly based on what the president believes to be right, because, despite what some on the left would like to believe, Bush would not sacrifice American troops' lives for political gain. On the domestic side, the president is supposed to reflect the interests of the electorate -- to the Times this is "political self-preservation."
The sight of the president in London last week, standing next to Prime Minister Tony Blair, was a study in contrasts. Mr. Blair has taken enormous political hits to support Mr. Bush, and he has done so because he believed the Iraqi invasion was in the best interests of both his own country and the rest of the world. Mr. Bush has undoubtedly been grateful in private. But in public he has failed to lend the prime minister any of his own political capital. The president, for instance, could have provided support on an issue of great concern to Europe by pressing to end Israel's suicidal expansion of its West Bank settlements. That would be good for Israel, aid the cause of Middle Eastern peace and greatly strengthen Mr. Blair's position. The fact that Mr. Bush has not made the effort suggests he is setting a higher priority on conservative Christian and Jewish lobbying groups in his own political base - groups whose support he is unlikely to lose under any circumstances, but whose enthusiasm could be helpful in both turning out the vote and collecting campaign contributions.
The Times editorial writers, like their friends on the elite college campuses and the Manhattan dinner party set, have bought into the myth that somehow peace will come in the Middle East once the Palestinians have their own state. (It's also ironic that the Times would characterize the West Bank settlements as "suicidal" considering which side in the conflict uses that tactic.) An Associated Press photo published last week shows, if there was any doubt, what the Palestinians really want and how useless pressuring the Israelis on the settlements will be in the near term (i.e. my lifetime).
Ignore the fact that the "moderate" Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia (on left) is meeting with the "spiritual" leader of Hamas Sheik Ahmed Yassin (second from left). Take a look at the shape of the Palestinian flags on either side of Yassin. Does it look like there's any room for Israel there?
The Times also ignores Bush's "Three Pillars" speech last week in Britain where Bush said:
(Israel) should freeze settlement construction, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people and not prejudice final negotiations with the placements of walls and fences.
Do the Times editorial writers even read their own paper?
One area in which the president has certainly damaged his image of a commander in chief above the fray is on the very delicate question of the treatment of the war dead. The White House, as is well known, has done everything in its power to keep the image of coffins and grieving families as far away from the TV screen as possible, and neither the president nor his representatives have attended the funerals of any of the fallen soldiers. One of the explanations given for this is the desire to leave the families to their private grief, but that could certainly be a decision left to the families themselves. Another is that the president and his chief lieutenants are too busy to attend so many memorials.
If this weren't so stupid, it'd be ridiculous. Bush hasn't let the press shoot images of the coffins being taken off transports at military bases. Big deal. There's nothing, except perhaps uncharacteristic good taste, stopping the Times from going to the funerals of fallen soldiers and getting their "coffin photos" there. As far as grieving families go, the Times knows there's nothing stopping them getting those images except the families themselves.
It's also technically inaccurate that "neither the president nor his representatives have attended the funerals of any of the fallen soldiers." The president is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, I've heard no word of a color guard and bugler being unavailable for the funerals of fallen soldiers. I'm sure if they'd been unavailable, the Times would have reported it.
The explanations are valid, no matter what the Times would like you to believe. Imagine what a funeral would be like with the president attending, with the Secret Service security measures required. Not to mention that it is unlikely that you could count on anti-war/anti-Bush protestors from taking a pass when Bush came to town for the service. I can picture it now, the insulting ANSWER crowd picketing and chanting their inane slogans as the funeral procession makes its way down the road.
According to Public Citizen, which keeps exhaustive statistics on the topic, George Bush has attended 35 campaign fund-raisers since June 17 and is expected to attend at least 7 more by the end of the year. Vice President Dick Cheney has attended 31. That averages about three a week for the two men, most of them much farther away from the White House than Dover Air Force Base, where the bodies of the dead soldiers arrive back home.
No surprise here. The Times falsely juxtaposes necessary political fundraising with an alleged lack of concern regarding fallen U.S. soldiers. The Times does not call on the Democratic presidential hopefuls to make similar sacrifice. Besides, at least Bush is still doing his job. The Democrat presidential hopefuls in the House and Congress are AWOL while on the public payroll -- missing large percentages of the votes in Congress (Rep. Dennis Kucinich is the only one in single digits as of about two weeks ago.)
We respectfully suggest that Mr. Bush change his priorities. If he wants to run for re-election as the leader in a time of war, he needs to behave like a president, not a politician. The public needs some reassurance that he is willing to sacrifice something himself to win the struggle to which he has committed us.
The Times would like him to "sacrifice" a second term. That would be bad for America and bad for the world -- but not bad for the Democratic Party.
The Times' dishonesty ensures that its editorial page becomes increasingly irrelevant.
ARGH! I'm watching a recording of Sunday's "Meet the Press." Host Tim Russert, who usually is a pretty solid interviewer has just asked Sen. Tom Daschle (D-N.D.) that if we are unable to covince the French on the U.N. Security Council and the French and Germans in NATO to lend more support in the form of troops, should "we continue to go it alone."
Maybe Tim wasn't watching the news when more than a dozen Italians were killed by insurgents a couple weeks ago. Maybe he was napping when the Poles sent troops to help in the South.
We're not in Iraq alone. Unfortunately many Democrats -- and the "not-liberal" media -- continue to insist that without France and/or Germany, we're being unilateralist.
Actually, now that I think of it, this problem with the definition "alone" is something that seemed to hit the major media when a former president had a similar problem with that word when considering his proximity to a certain intern.
Maybe President Clinton really was "alone." After all, there were no French or Germans in the room.
Sunday, November 23, 2003
Who reviews?: When it came over the wires on Thursday, my jaw dropped. I'd been reading Bernie Goldberg's "Arrogance," and he recounted The New York Times' treatment of books by Christina Hoff Sommers, specifically "Who Stole Feminism?: How Women have Betrayed Women" and "The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men."
What was Goldberg's criticism of theTimes' book review? Well, in both instances, the Times' chosen reviewer was someone who had a vested interest in what Sommers had written. The reviewer for "Who Stole Feminism?" was a feminist professor who was the unnamed target of several of Sommers criticisms. The reviewer for "The War Against Boys" was one of that aforementioned professor's acolytes. (It turns out that the editor of the "Review of Books" was also a former student of that same professor.)
Goldberg's point was that the Times selection of those individuals to review Sommers work was hardly fair or ethical by what was once considered journalistic standards.
So, what's exactly came over the wire Thursday to cause my mandible to succumb to gravity? Well, the New York Review of Books has committed a similar outrage, selecting New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to review Molly Ivins' "Bushwacked" and Joe Conason's "Big Lies" in the latest edition.
Krugman's "review" is little more than the repetition of selected screeds in both books with a little of Krugman's own "amens" at appropriate points. In other words, a mildly talented, but specially trained monkey could have produced it.
I would suggest the Times would have been better served by having someone fair, such as Bryan Keefer, review such books.
However, since they appear to have no inclination to abide by journalistic standards of fairness at America's the New York Review of Books, I look forward to seeing Rich Lowry's "Legacy" reviewed by David Brooks.
Friday, November 21, 2003
Tainted Pulitzer: The Pulitzer committee has decided not to revoke the Pulitzer Prize awarded in 1932 to The New York Times' Walter Duranty for his "reporting" on Stalin.
This should come as no surprise -- it seems more and more often the journalistic profession requires much higher standards of everyone but themselves.
Freedom of what?: The numbers regarding student ignorance are scary, but the ignorance level on the part of administrators is downright frightening.
Gray Davis' last act: It appears as though Gray Davis, as is his standard practice, sold out the interests of California for a few million dollars in (insufficient) political support from the state's Indian tribes.
Whatever Davis' ulterior motive for waiving the environmental mandate on the tribes, he has deprived the new governor of what little leverage he had to renegotiate compacts with all 65 of them.
Schwarzenegger wants the tribes to pay their fair share of the estimated $5 billion in gaming revenue they are raking in each year on slot machines alone. Factor in the hefty profits from tribal-owned hotels, resorts, restaurants and table games, and their take is even greater.
The environmental mandate was the prime means of achieving that eminently equitable end. It required tribes to mitigate problems caused by their gaming facilities. These include traffic congestion, adverse effects on air and water quality, noise, sewage treatment and wildlife habitat.
Thus far there's been little outrage from the environmental lobby, of course, they've always been more forgiving of Democrats than of Republicans.
Interest group politics: Let me first give credit where it is due, Tuesday's column by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is the type he should spend most of his time on.
Today's column, however, is notable for a couple of things: First, there's no mention of President Bush. (I'm sure that will be remedied at a later date.) Second, Krugman appears to be shocked by the possibility that a supposedly nonpartisan interest group would make decisions based on *horror* money.
Krugman's column is really little more than a recitation of DemocraticParty talking points.
I'm really not interested in the details of the proposed drug benefit for Medicare. Why? Because whether it becomes law or not, it's unlikely to last for very long in its original state. It certainly won't be whatever it will be when I reach retirement age. The basic problem with Medicare, like Social Security, is that the program is not structured to be self-sustaining. Medicare was projected to be move into an operating deficit without the new entitlement. This will only accelerate that decline.
The program needs structural changes -- something that both parties are loath to attempt.
Getting back to Krugman's column, he suggests that the AARP has decided to support the drug entitlement bill out of greed -- it allegedly stands to gain a windfall in commissions for selling insurance to seniors -- and not because it is a "good" first step for seniors.
Of course, it's odd that Krugman's outrage at the AARP has never surfaced before -- after all, it's been doing this for years. But it's not that uncommon. The pro-abortion lobby fights restrictions on abortion not only on "moral" grounds, but also because providing them is a multi-million dollar a year industry. Krugman isn't outraged at that sort of thing, because it's his side of the aisle that does it.
The AARP has gone off the Democrat Party reservation -- and it's being punished. Nothing more, nothing less.
Thursday, November 20, 2003
My only post on the subject: Michael Jackson's booking photo is freaky. The unfortunate thing is that every time they do a piece on the subject (which will be much too often), they're going to use that photo. There ought to be some rule about not showing that photo during the "family hour."
And no, I'm not linking to it. You can find it yourself. I'm not polluting my Web site with that kind of disgusting imagery.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Pro-Palestinian bias: I was reading today's CNN.com report on President Bush's visit to Great Britain when I came across the following paragraph:
Bush also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying Israel "should freeze settlement construction, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people and not prejudice final negotiations with the placements of walls and fences."
My first thought at reading this was that it was further evidence that a certain New York Times columnist was wrong when he wrote:
Moderate Muslims would have more faith in America's good intentions if there were at least the appearance of a distinction between the U.S. and the Sharon government — but the administration seeks votes from those who think that supporting Israel means supporting whatever Mr. Sharon does.
After reading the actual text of Bush's speech, it became apparent that Bush wasn't being one-sided when it came to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- but CNN.
From Bush's speech:
Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers who intimidate opposition, who tolerate and profit from corruption and maintain their ties to terrorist groups. These are the methods of the old elites, who time and again have put their own self-interest above the interests of the people they claim to serve.
The long-suffering Palestinian people deserve better. They deserve true leaders, capable of creating and governing a Palestinian state.
Even after the setbacks and frustrations of recent months, goodwill and hard effort can bring about a Palestinian state and a secure Israel.
Those who would lead a new Palestine should adopt peaceful means to achieve the rights of their people and create the reformed institutions of a stable democracy.
Who is Bush talking about? Yasser Arafat, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and who routinely makes statements about a "million martyrs marching" to Jerusalem.
Yet CNN makes no mention of this? Instead highlighting an illegitimate Palestinian grievance. (I say illegitimate because there would be no fence if Arafat hadn't decided on terrorism instead of peace back in 2000.)
On the whole, Bush's speech was excellent, but dishonest reporting can paint a completely different picture.
Patriot, hero: The U.S. Army is prosecuting Lt. Col. Allen B. West for threatening to shoot an Iraqi policeman who was conspiring with insurgents to ambush U.S. troops.
The smart thing for the Army to do in this case, is to put a letter in his file, let him ride a desk for a couple of weeks until he qualifies for his pension and then honorably discharge him.
The Army isn't doing the smart thing.
At a hearing today, West testified: "To protect my soldiers, I'll go to hell with a gasoline can in my hand."
So, not only is the Army doing the wrong thing, the military prosecutor has been getting talking points from the anti-American "human rights" groups.
Prosecutor Capt. Magdalena Przytulska said West should be tried, saying his actions implied that "we're no better than the enemy we're fighting."
Actually, his actions show that we are better than the enemy we're fighting.
Despite the excruciating torture he describes, Acree never yielded to the Iraqis' demands. Acree said his silence only made his captors angrier. They beat him and knocked him unconscious repeatedly as he was tied to a chair blindfolded, he said.
On his third day of captivity, Acree said, the Iraqis hit him with something that felt like a 4-by-4 or a metal pipe. "When it hit me, instead of going left or right or back, it lifted me up and back. Out of my seat."
That was the beating that fractured Acree's skull.
From Germany's Deustche Welle:
Dale Store, a pilot shot down in 1991 by Iraqi anti-aircraft fire, spent 33 days as an Iraqi prisoner. It was one of the worst experiences in his life, Store said.
"I was on the ground and they kicked me in the face and kidneys," he said. "Earlier, they had tortured me with electric shocks. ... When they finally stopped asking me questions, I was hoping they would kill me."
We're trying a soldier for firing a gun near a Baathist thug's head and for allegedly punching him. Did Saddam punish his men for violating the Geneva Conventions in Gulf War I? No, in fact, the ABCNews report indicates that the now-rotting, maggot-infested Odai Hussein was in charge of our POWs during Gulf War I.
We're in no danger of becoming what we're fighting. Our goal is to create a democracy and free the Iraqi people. The thugs and terrorists that we're fighting seek power for themselves at the expense of the Iraqi people.
Iraq and Al Qaeda III: Stephen Hayes defends his piece and wonders if the writer of the Defense Department's press release ever read his piece of the memo it is based upon.
*UPDATE* Citizen Smash also thinks that the case is strong.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Al Qaeda and Iraq II: In response to The Weekly Standard's piece by Stephen F. Hayes regarding the connections between the Al Qaeda terrorist organization and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
Shortly after Hayes' piece was published on the Web, the Department of Defense came out with a press release which, to appropriate a statement from The Washington Post's Ben Bradlee, amounts to a "non-denial denial." A few media outlets have characterized the press release as a "debunking" of Hayes' piece -- it is not.
The press release, which never identifies Hayes report specifically, states in full:
News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate.
A letter was sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Oct. 27, 2003, from Douglas J. Feith, under secretary of defense for policy, in response to follow-up questions from his July 10 testimony. One of the questions posed by the committee asked the department to provide the reports from the intelligence community to which he referred in his testimony before the committee. These reports dealt with the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.
The letter to the committee included a classified annex containing a list and description of the requested reports, so that the committee could obtain the reports from the relevant members of the intelligence community.
The items listed in the classified annex were either raw reports or products of the CIA, the National Security Agency or, in one case, the Defense Intelligence Agency. The provision of the classified annex to the Intelligence Committee was cleared by other agencies and done with the permission of the intelligence community. The selection of the documents was made by DoD to respond to the committee’s question. The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, and it drew no conclusions.
Individuals who leak or purport to leak classified information are doing serious harm to national security; such activity is deplorable and may be illegal.
Note first that the memo's authenticity is not questioned.
Second, observe the weasel word "new" in the first paragraph. That's accurate, this is nothing new -- except to the American public. This information was presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee back in July verbally.
The DoD's main contention appears to be that Hayes used the information in the memo in a way that the government didn't intend for it to be used.
The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, and it drew no conclusions.
Just because the government didn't want to draw any conclusions from the document doesn't mean that we cannot. We can read the document. We can think for ourselves, thanks.
This "argument," if it can be called that, by the government about how this document was supposed to be used reminded me of an encounter I had a few years back at the local DMV office.
I had just moved back to California from Washington State and was waiting in line to get my license. The cheerless bureaucrat behind the counter asked to see my Washington State license -- and then confiscated it. I asked to keep it so I would have a photo ID. She then lectured me that a "drivers license entitles you to drive a car. It is not valid identification." My jaw dropped. "What do you mean?" I asked. And she repeated her obviously well-rehearsed and oft-repeated lecture. I saw it was pointless to argue. She was undoubtedly right -- except for the fact that in the real world, a drivers license is used as identification daily.
So, the DoD doesn't think their memo should be used in the way Hayes used it. Fine. That doesn't make his story inaccurate or wrong.
*UPDATE* For a similar take on this issue, check out Slate's Jack Shafer.
Monday, November 17, 2003
Arrogance: I'm reading Bernard Goldberg's new book, "Arrogance" and it's a good read. Goldberg spends the first few chapters outlining how the mainstream media responded to his first book "Bias" and to him personally.
Goldberg refers to a piece attacking him in USA Today by the newspaper's founder Al Neuharth. Neuharth's short, 300 word column took numerous shots at Goldberg, so USA Today's editors offered Goldberg an opportunity to respond in "2-3 sentences."
Through an intermediary I told the editors what they could do with their offer, which was translated into something like "Mr. Goldberg graciously declines your invitation to respond."
My publisher, Al Regnery, however, did write a letter to the editor that read, "USA Today gave Mr. Goldberg the opportunity to respond in 2-3 sentences, but Al Neuharth gets 300 words? And there's no liberal bias?...
As I'm reading this, I think that Goldberg missed an opportunity. One of the most memorable assignments from my English class my senior year at Helix High School was to write a gramatically correct sentence of more than 100 words -- a la William Faulkner.
The proper use of dashes, semicolons and parentheticals can easily result in a more than 300 words in two to three sentences. (For the record, I think my sentence contained about 130 words.)
Yes, the resulting sentences are unwieldy, but a point can be made.
Sunday, November 16, 2003
Must read: The Weekly Standard's Stephen F. Hayes has gotten his hands on an intelligence memo that details, point by point, Saddam Hussein's connections to al Qaeda and Usama bin Laden.
According to the memo--which lays out the intelligence in 50 numbered points--Iraq-al Qaeda contacts began in 1990 and continued through mid-March 2003, days before the Iraq War began. Most of the numbered passages contain straight, fact-based intelligence reporting, which in
some cases includes an evaluation of the credibility of the source. This reporting is often followed by commentary and analysis.
The relationship began shortly before the first Gulf War. According to reporting in the memo, bin Laden sent "emissaries to Jordan in 1990 to meet with Iraqi government officials." At some unspecified point in 1991, according to a CIA analysis, "Iraq sought Sudan's assistance to establish links to al Qaeda." The outreach went in both directions. According to 1993 CIA reporting cited in the memo, "bin Laden wanted to expand his organization's capabilities through ties with Iraq."
Many people in the United States believe Hussein was somehow connected to the Sept. 11 attacks. Though the memo doesn't contain any evidence of such a specific connection, those enlightened pundits who suggested that the fundamentalist bin Laden would never ally himself or his terrorist organization with the secular Hussein have been proven wrong.
Saturday, November 15, 2003
Bought and paid for: It appears as though the characterization of Democrat senators on the Judiciary Committee acting as little more than agents for various liberal interest groups was chillingly accurate.
April 17, 2002/To: SENATOR [Kennedy]
"Elaine Jones of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund tried to call you today. . . . Elaine would like the Committee to hold off on any 6th Circuit nominees until the University of Michigan case regarding the constitutionality of affirmative action in higher education is decided by the en banc 6th Circuit. . . . The thinking is that the current 6th Circuit will sustain the affirmative action program, but if a new judge with conservative views is confirmed before the case is decided, that new judge will be able, under 6th Circuit rules, to review the case and vote on it."
This is a little disturbing -- delaying hearings and votes on judicial nominees not to get information on their views or qualifications, but in an effort to rig court decisions.
And it gets worse.
"...Ultimately, if [Chairman Pat] Leahy insists on having an August hearing, it appears that the groups are willing to let [Timothy] Tymkovich [10th Circuit] go through (the core of the coalition made that decision last night, but they are checking with the gay rights groups)."
Mr. Tymkovich apparently got the gay OK.
So, there apparently is a cabal of liberal groups controlling Democrat senators -- at least that's the impression given by this memo. Now, this may not be accurate, but the staffer who wrote it should be shot, because it does give that impression.
Friday, November 14, 2003
This is sad: Citizen Smash links to this article [free registration required] in the Chicago Tribune about a woman whose son was killed in Iraq.
In the eyes of his anti-war mother, Brian Slavenas was a man of peace who died while reluctantly serving in a conflict he disagreed with.
To his father and brother, both veterans, the 30-year-old helicopter pilot was an officer who loved the military life and deserved full honors.
The body of the Illinois National Guard helicopter pilot--shot down Nov. 2 in an Iraqi attack that killed 16 U.S. soldiers--was returned Wednesday to his hometown, where a visitation was held in Faith United Methodist Church.
But in a rift that mirrored their divergent views of the war, his family has wrestled over how best to remember a son and brother who will be buried Thursday in a church cemetery, not a military one.
War's painful toll was made evident not only by the family's shared grief, but also by their disagreement over the meaning of his death.
Deeply angry at a war that claimed her son, Rosemarie Dietz Slavenas refused to use a casket provided by the military and asked that the coffin not be draped with a U.S. flag. But Brian Slavenas' father, Ronald, and his older brother, Eric, say the pilot loved the uniform and would have wanted honors such as a helicopter flyover and a uniformed bugler playing taps.
As executor of her son's will, Dietz Slavenas, who is divorced from Ronald Slavenas, has the final say over arrangements.
"What I am trying to do is celebrate Brian's life," said Dietz Slavenas, who lives in Rockford. "That's what he would want us to do."
His father and his older brother, however, perceived an anti-military agenda in the arrangements.
"She doesn't want taps . . . and she doesn't want a flag draped on the coffin," Eric Slavenas, Brian's half-brother, said last week, before final arrangements had been set. "And these are just things that are spikes in my dad's and my heart."
The thought that came to my mind was a paraphrase of former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. This woman hates the war more than she loves her own son.
Get the transcript: Yep, it's the middle of the night here on the West Coast, and Sen. Rick Santorum is on the Senate floor and boy is he good. Santorum is warning the Democrats that the day will come where the tables will be turned and they aren't going to like it.
We have let the Richard Paez's (liberal 9th Circuit judge who declared California's Three Strikes law unconstitutional -- later overturned -- and attempted to halt the recall election -- also overturned) of the world to come and undermine our Constitution. We have allowed the left to seed-in to the court system those who would destroy this Constitution. Are there not members of our side, I would ask the senator from South Carolina (Lindsey Graham), who would say: "Thank you. We never had the courage. We never had the courage to change the way the rules are here in the Senate. To make sure that we could protect, as the senator from New Jersey said, to protect our courts. We never had the courage as the senator from New Jersey said to stop judicial extremists." And so maybe what we should be doing, I ask the senator from South Carolina, is thanking the senator from Illinois Dick Durbin), the senator from North Dakota (Tim Johnson) who is here, senator from South Dakota, Sen. Daschle. Maybe what we should be, instead of protesting this, is thanking them. For giving us a tool. For giving us a tool to protect this document [holds up copy of the Constitution]. Because I assure them. Or maybe I shouldn't assure them. Maybe I should ask the senator from South Carolina. What do you think will happen now?
I'll try to dig up a transcript later today.
I still think the so-called "nuclear option" is the way to go.
Journalists and math: Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter illustrates why most journalists shouldn't be allowed anywhere near numbers.
We'll start with an absolute oh-my-God-what-was-I-thinking howler. Surely by now someone has told Carter of this utterly astounding error he (and his fact checker, if he even has one) has made here: not knowing the difference between a trillion and a quadrillion. He'll never live this one down.
- $6.84 quadrillion (yes, quadrillion) -- Current national debt.
- $9.3 quadrillion -- Estimated national debt by 2008.
This puts Carter off by a factor of 1000. The Office of Management and Budget's Midterm Update for 2004 confirms that it's actually trillion (yes, trillion), which is 1000 times smaller than quadrillion (yes, quadrillion). Quadrillion (yes, quadrillion) means one followed by 15 zeros, while trillion (yes, trillion) means one followed by only 12 zeros.
What I'm curious to see is what next month's correction looks like.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Where Howard Dean meets "High Fidelity": This is funny, comparing presidential hopeful Howard Dean to the record store clerks in "High Fidelity."
The man setting the tone of the campaign so far is Howard Dean, who is reported to be quite popular with Generation X and Y voters. When asked "What is your favorite song?" at a Sept. 9 debate, he responded: "One you've never heard of, Wyclef Jean, 'Jaspora.'"
Note the pose of superiority, the floating insult that Mr. Dean's audience isn't sufficiently courant to know about Jean, this funky, Creole-singing rap artist. Mr. Dean sounds like one of the record-store clerks in the movie "High Fidelity," a hipster geek with too many songs in his mental catalog. Strange but true, the leading Democratic candidate for president is a music snob.
Of course, the truth goes a little deeper than that. Dean, along with many of his Democrat colleagues, is a snob about everything. They know better than the hoi polloi. Don't think. Just vote Democrat.
From the "Damned if you do...: damned if you don't" news category, it appears that officials in Germany are in a quandry. A bird that was near extinction just two decades ago is doing fine now, thank you, with more than 6,000 cormorants in the wild. The problem? Well, the cormorants are eating endangered fish.
"About 90 percent of river fish are now under massive threat from the birds," said Oliver Born, an official from the Bavarian state fisheries union. "There are some rivers where we have shown that when Cormorants come, 95 percent of the fish disappear by the end of the winter."
But some say the government action is misguided.
"Their plan will not get us anywhere," said Andreas von Lindeiner of the Bavarian bird protection group. "We cannot destroy the bird colonies," he said.
Fishermen at Bavaria's Chiemsee lake, one of Germany's largest, say the birds are eating into their business.
The fish are reared in commercial fisheries that may look like all-you-can-eat buffets to cormorants because large numbers of fish are gathered in small areas of shallow water.
"My fishery loses some 40 tons of fish a year to the cormorants," said Holmer Lex, 75, who owns a fishery on the Chiemsee. "We only produce 90 tons a year."
Solution: Eat some of the birds. Mmmmm...tastes like chicken.
More on Walter Duranty's Pulitzer: For some unexplainable reason, The New York Times waited over two weeks to publish this letter from historian Mark Von Hagen, whom the Times hired to look into Duranty's work.
To the Editor:
Regarding Arthur Sulzberger Jr.'s suggestion to the Pulitzer Prize Board that revoking Walter Duranty's 1932 prize recalled the "Stalinist practice to airbrush purged figures out of official records and histories" ("Times Should Lose Pulitzer From 30's, Consultant Says," news article, Oct. 29):
Those targeted for "airbrushing" were already murdered, languishing in the gulag or forced into exile after having been falsely accused of espionage, treason, sabotage and other "crimes."
The N.K.V.D., the predecessor of the K.G.B., then ordered libraries to expunge all mention and to relegate them to the status of non-persons, a fate that persisted for most until the Gorbachev era.
Revoking Mr. Duranty's prize is another matter altogether. He was never prosecuted for any crimes. His articles remain available in the archives of The New York Times, and his books on the shelves of major libraries.
Airbrushing was intended to suppress the truth about what was happening under Stalin. The aim of revoking Walter Duranty's prize is the opposite: to bring greater awareness of the potential long-term damage that his reporting did for our understanding of the Soviet Union.
MARK VON HAGEN
New York, Oct. 29, 2003
The writer, a professor of history at Columbia University, was hired by The New York Times to make an independent assessment of Walter Duranty's reporting.
The Times has a history of sitting on letters it doesn't necessarily like. The Times also sat on a letter from Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark for nearly a month because it made favorite columnist Paul Krugman look bad.
Great Moments in the Senate: So, to set this up. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) is bloviating, and he uses as an example of the unfairness of the GOP to former President Clinton's judicial nominee Elena Kagan (sp?). According to Reed, Kagan was nominated for a federal judgeship, but never got a hearing. She is now dean of the Harvard Law School. Point being illustrated: She was very qualified and the GOP are big meanies.
Sen. Jon Corzine, playing the game both Dems and Republicans do on the floor, asks "questions" which are not really questions but are basically instant-replays. Hit the highlights again.
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) then points out that Kagan was nominated in August 2000 -- two months before the election. (According to reports I found, it appears Santorum was wrong on this point. She was nominated in 1999, but that doesn't excuse what follows.)
Which prompts this howler from Corzine:
If the senator from Pennsylvania would allow, I don't know what elections have to do with confirming nominees that have gone before the Judiciary Committee and they're qualified...
Sen. Corzine is not an idiot, but he plays one on TV.
Vocabulary term for the good senator: "Lame Duck."
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
30-hour ordeal begins: I was going to begin watching the debate on judges on CSPAN-2, but Sen. Barbara Boxer was speaking. I'm sorry, but I can't afford her -- after about a minute of watching her spout off, I'd smash the TV with a baseball bat. I'll tune in later.
Yakety yak: Tonight's the all-night talkathon in the Senate about the Democrats' illegal filibusters of Bush judicial nominees.
I'll likely watch some of it when I get home from work, but the exercise is really meaningless. The show may get a little additional press coverage of the Democrats' illegal tactics, but it is not a serious effort to get the nominees approved.
Last night on Fox News' "Special Report with Brit Hume," National Public Radio's Mara Liasson said that Republicans wouldn't use the so-called nuclear option (making a move to change Senate rules to bar filibusters on judicial nominees) because the GOP might want to use the illegal tool themselves.
Despite the fact that they had never used the tactic when they were in the minority.
The Senate Republicans, on this issue, are both chicken and unprincipled for not standing up to the Democrats. I'll say it again: The Democrats' filibuster of judicial nominees is unconstitutional and illegal. The refusal of the GOP to stand up to them is cowardly. All of the Senators swore a vow to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States -- and all of them have broken that vow by political pandering or a fear of political fallout on other issues.
The GOP should use the so-called "nuclear option," get the judges through and then let the Democrats follow through on their "threat" to obstruct, whine and seethe -- that won't help them come election time to be seen as bigger obstructionists than they already are.
Two years later: Today marks two years since I started this blog. I had wanted to create a Web site for some time, but the prospect of spending more time on HTML coding than real writing prevented that.
I eventually came across Blogger one day and the rest, as they say, is history.
When this first began, about the only readers of this site were my family and some of my friends. On an average day I'd get seven or eight hits -- and four of them were me checking to make sure that I hadn't messed up the coding.
Of course, the key to getting anywhere in the blogosphere is getting Glenn Reynolds to notice you. After a few links, my readership started growing.
I've gotten the opportunity to talk to and e-mail and even meet some of the people whose work I'd only read before. I've received e-mails from people across the nation and all over the world who've found my site one way or another.
I've learned to handle criticism -- and critics. I've been called some nasty names.
I haven't made much in the way of money doing this. Some readers have been nice enough to toss a few dollars my way from time to time. One even bought me a book from my Amazon wish list.
Every time my hit counter takes a big jump due to a link from Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan or another of the big names in the blogosphere, my father always encourages me to ask for money. I've always thought that was the worst time to do it. Yes, there are a lot more eyes to see the request, but it's the regular, everyday readers who are more likely tip me because they're getting something on an almost daily basis.
I do this because I enjoy it. When it starts to feel like a chore, I'll stop -- but that day is a long way off.
To all of my readers, I thank you for visiting. Though I don't always respond to e-mails, I do appreciate them.
Once again, thanks.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Exposing the lie: The Democrats' primary accusation against Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor's nomination to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has been that he would be unable to fairly apply the law because of his "deeply held (religious) beliefs." Pryor, a devout Catholic, has been assailed by liberal interest groups for his opposition to abortion, among many other issues.
So, news like this just goes to show you how
right wrong they were.
This is cheating: Yes, with the economy continuing to soar, Democrats are resorting to ever-more desperate tactics to actually put a damper on the recovery and get those unemployment numbers up.
Mark Steyn on EUnuchs: Mark Steyn's latest column once again presents us with the question of why we should ever care what the impotent Europeans have to say.
The EU has done a grand job of trumpeting its weakness as strength, but the fact remains that there's something hollow at the heart of European identity. You can't be a great power without great power: Slobodan Milosevic called the EU's bluff on that a decade ago.
Why the Democratic presidential hopefuls continue to trumpet the U.N. and NATO, when it's obvious that former is beholden to despots and thugocracies and the latter to pacifist moralizing (Britain and "New Europe" excepted), defies belief.
A couple of good reads: I wanted to point these out, but it slipped my mind earlier. Check out this column by Holman Jenkins on "Krugmanomics," and this one by Brian Anderson on the Democrats' illegal use of the filibuster.
Pattern of deception: I hate to say it, but it's clear that The New York Times isn't the paper it used to be. The Jayson Blair fraud and Augusta Country Club Crusade aside, the paper's Op-Ed writers also have some series credibility problems.
If the Bush administration, and Republicans everywhere, were as bad as people like Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman believe them to be, then there'd be no need to perform cosmetic surgery on the things they say that make them look bad.
Maureen Dowd's done it -- by chopping the middle out of a Bush quote to completely change the meaning of the quote. Dowd never made a formal correction, instead using the complete, unedited quote a few columns later -- with no acknowledgement of the earlier, dishonest use.
Her colleague, Paul Krugman seems to follow the same method of correction. A week ago he did a similar snipping (though he wasn't the first to make this particular cut) with comments by Washington Rep. George Nethercutt a week ago.
After getting some flak, Krugman does the same thing -- and adds insult to injury.
Some say that Representative George Nethercutt's remark that progress in Iraq is a more important story than deaths of American soldiers was redeemed by his postscript, "which, heaven forbid, is awful." Your call.
My call? Thank you, oh Professor Krugman. Thank you for letting me, the reader, make the call. Thank you for giving me the whole story and allowing me to judge for myself. Thank you for finally telling me the truth.
Krugman's arrogance is galling, but it is to be expected. However, the Times' editorial pages correction policy is in need of a serious overhaul. These sorts of "mistakes" need to be remedied in a manner similar to those that take place elsewhere in the paper, not snuck into a subsequent column with no mention of the error in the first one.
Of course, an even better solution would be to make sure your columnists don't lie in the first place.
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Al Hunt's lies: I've got CNN's "Capitol Gang" on right now and Wall Street Journal columnist Al Hunt is running down some of the "lies" that we've allegedly been told about Iraq.
Dick Cheney said, on the eve of war, said that Iraq has reconstituted nuclear weapons. That is untrue.
Well, kinda. Al, why don't you go and read this. Cheney misspeaks once and it's a big conspiracy.
President Bush said they're trying to get nuclear materials from Niger. That was untrue.
For this one, Al doesn't even have an excuse. This has been beaten to death, but Al still doesn't get it. These are the infamous 16 words in the State of the Union speech. Bush said that British Intelligence had evidence that Iraq was trying to get nuclear materials from Africa. Now, Niger is in Africa, but Niger and Africa are not synonymous. Second, former ambassador Joseph "mint tea" Wilson "reported" that Iraq had not purchased uranium from Africa -- not that they didn't attempt it -- but that they were unsuccessful.
Paul Wolfowitz said Iraqi oil would pay for reconstruction. That was untrue.
So, Al, that $20 billion that's going to reconstruction is the entire bill? Seriously. That will cover decades of neglect under Saddam Hussein?
What Wolfowitz actually said (from a member of Congress who is no friend):
There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.
See anywhere in there where he says that the U.S. won't pay a thing?
Donald Rumsfeld savaged Gen. Shinseki. That was untrue.
That was what? Sorry Al, you lost me there.
Oh, and you need to work on what exactly "truth" is, because you appear to be out of it.
Friday, November 07, 2003
Your only source: Sometimes people find Hoystory through interesting searches. Sometimes people find Hoystory through, well, disgusting searches. But if you're interested in :air-brushing children cranial helmets -- then Hoystory is the only site on the Web for you!
San Diego Fire Fallout: The San Diego City Fire Chief Jeff Bowman met Wednesday with the San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board.
The story included a variety of information detailing a lack of adequate funding for the fire department, including:
Bowman, named yesterday to a state commission charged with reviewing responses to last week's wildfires and how to be better prepared, cited the following deficiencies:
During the fire, San Diego firefighters ran out of batteries for their portable radios because budget cuts had diminished their supplies. That left some unable to talk to their commanders or one another.
The city's reserve fire engines, thrust into front-line service during major emergencies such as last week's fires, lack up-to-date radios and other equipment.
The department's fleet of engines and trucks, regular or reserve, is among the most antiquated in the nation. One rig is 45 years old.
Water pumps and ladders were not being tested annually until this year.
The department has no money to send commanders out of state for free training by the federal government.
San Diego, the seventh largest city in the country, ranks 40th in firefighters per capita, behind Mesa, Ariz.; Omaha, Neb.; and Memphis, Tenn.
To meet the nationally accepted standard for fire staffing levels, San Diego would need an additional 800 firefighters.
The document some of the information came from, provided by Bowman to the Union-Tribune, wasn't published on the paper's Web site. That's unfortunate, because, while the document does support Bowman's claim about being 40th in the nation in firefighters per capita.
Look, we need more firefighters, but what exactly are we getting for our money? Take a closer look at some of those figures.
Baltimore County, Md. has approximately the same annual budget (I believe the figures are in the millions of dollars, the document provided by Bowman didn't specify that) as San Diego, yet is able to employ 785 more firefighters. Why? Bowman notes that we aren't spending enough money on equipment (one of those vehicles is 45 years old?!), where is that money going to?
Compare San Diego to Denver, Colo. Denver has one fewer firefighter than San Diego, yet its budget 61 percent of San Diego's. Why the difference? A cost-of-living calculator shows that San Diego's housing market can't explain all of the difference.
Those are some questions that need to be answered. If the money isn't going to firefighters and it's not going to equipment, then where is it going?
[If you're interested in taking a look at the actual document, you can find it here. Warning, the file is large.]
Thursday, November 06, 2003
Friendly Iraqi soldiers: Want more evidence that the United States is the only country that even tries to follow the Geneva Convention? Former New York Times reporter Rick Bragg writes in Pvt. Jessica Lynch's book "I Am a Soldier, too" what medical records reveal Lynch went through after the Humvee she was riding in crashed following an Iraqi attack:
"Jessi lost three hours," Bragg wrote. "She lost them in the snapping bones, in the crash of the Humvee, in the torment her enemies inflicted on her after she was pulled from it."
The scars on Lynch's battered body and the medical records indicate she was anally raped, and "fill in the blanks of what Jessi lived through on the morning of March 23, 2003," Bragg wrote.
"The records do not tell whether her captors assaulted her almost lifeless, broken body after she was lifted from the wreckage, or if they assaulted her and then broke her bones into splinters until she was almost dead."
And the Islamic society that accepts and condones this sort of behavior is just as valid as Western civilization which considers this a war crime?
The Reagans: The CBS miniseries "The Reagans" has been nixed apparently after an outcry from Republicans, the right end of the blogosphere and talk radio. CBS denies outside pressure resulted in the decision to move the series to the premium cable channel Showtime -- where it will find far fewer potential viewers, and doesn't depend on ad revenue.
CBS chief Leslie Moonves said that the show was pulled because it wasn't "fair."
"We had promised the public that we would do a fair version of the Reagans’ life," he said. "We would show the warts, but we would show the good stuff, too. Upon seeing the finished product, I felt the movie was quite biased against the Reagans. And it wasn’t the movie I promised the public."
Moonves said he sent the film to sister company Showtime, a pay cable network, because "as a broadcast network, we feel it’s a public trust. We have a news division. We do have to be fair in what we show, and a pay-cable network can be a little bit more biased in what they show. It can be an opinion piece. We can’t do that."
Both Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly are crediting the American public (or in O'Reillyspeak "the folks") with getting the miniseries -- which had all the appearances of a left-wing hatchet job -- exiled to pay television.
I'm going to have to disagree with the majority on the right who think that their outrage and organization somehow created this result.
This decision was made for one very simple reason: Money.
If Moonves had had his brain in gear back when he first approved this movie -- and had monitored it as it went into production -- he would have scrapped it long before it got to this point.
Think about it. CBS's demographic is:
- red state
What have CBS's most popular shows been over the past decade? "Touched by an Angel" and "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." Both programs with heavy religious themes.
CBS's viewers are people who like Ronald Reagan. If you want to keep your job, you don't purposely go out of your way to offend them, which is what this miniseries would have done.
Playing politics with national security: The best analysis I've seen thus far of the leaked memo that outlined Democrat plans to use the intelligence committee -- historically a nonpartisan zone -- comes from Steven Den Beste.
Dewey decided that it was more important to defeat the Germans and Japanese than to defeat Roosevelt. He decided that it was more important that the US be victorious than that the Republicans be. He made sure that the issue of intelligence failure would not be raised during the campaign. If he had used that issue, he might have won; as it was, he lost badly.
Or rather, he lost very well. I have an enormous amount of respect for Dewey because of the decision he made.
Marshall was deeply grateful, and later on a couple of occasions let Dewey see top secret information derived from codebreaking which was affecting the course of the war, so he could see just how vital it had actually been. If Dewey had acted other than as he did, the war might well have gone on another year, with thousands of additional American casualties.
Dewey was an American first, a Republican second. I wish that Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa) was an American first, but I am by no means certain. Rockefeller is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Democratic committee staffers appear to have written a document for him describing how to use an investigation into American intelligence regarding Iraqi WMDs to best affect the 2004 election campaign. It's not clear exactly who wrote it, but Rockefeller acknowledges that it came from his staff, saying that it had not been intended for public release. (I should think not.)
I'd say I was surprised by Rockefeller's action, but his history of denying the obvious and lying is circumstantial evidence that his explanation is likely not honest.
Democrat Senator Zell Miller, who votes Republican more often than some Republicans (read Arlen Spector), also comes out swinging at Rockefeller.
“Of all the committees, this is the one single committee that should unquestionably be above partisan politics. The information it deals with should never, never be distorted, compromised or politicized in any shape, form or fashion. For it involves the lives of our soldiers and our citizens. Its actions should always be above reproach; its words never politicized.
“If what has happened here is not treason, it is its first cousin. The ones responsible - be they staff or elected or both should be dealt with quickly and severely sending a lesson to all that this kind of action will not be tolerated, ignored or excused.
“Heads should roll!”
Don't hold your breath, Senator -- we still need your vote.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Christmas shopping?: It's very likely that my father will get something like this for Christmas.
Everybody jumped on this: So I chose to spend my time doing other -- somewhat more productive things. In short, Krugman trimmed and misrepresented a quote in order to make Republicans look bad.
Good move: The Luskin/Atrios brouhaha is over.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
America Rocks the Vote: First off, the name. I'm sick of it. "Rock the vote." I thought it was stupid when MTV came out with it decades ago, and I think it's stupid today. They should've canned that slogan the same time they got rid of "Just Say No."
The soundbite montage was funny -- I suspect it will be the best part of tonight's debate.
Third, I'm not sure I can go through with watching this, seriously. The first question from an undergrad at Harvard (and you thought they were supposed to be bright):
I live in Southeastern Michigan, an area with over 500,000 Arab-Americans. Since Sept. 11, many Arab-Americans have seen infringements on their civil liberties, like lack of due process and forced interrogations by the FBI. Sen. Lieberman, you voted in favor the Patriot Act. If you become president, how do you plan to protect the civil liberties of Arab-Americans?
Lies! Lies! Lies!
There were no "forced interrogations" of Arab-Americans by the FBI.
Lack of due process? Name one. Many of the Arabs in America (note I don't say Arab-Americans, because the ones in question are not citizens) who were arrested after 9/11 were held on immigration violations. A few others who were arrested were held as material witnesses. Both categories had lawyers and saw judges.
Does the once thoughtful and honest Sen Joe Lieberman correct the young man? Nope, he's running in the Democratic primary -- which means he's running left.
Very important question and I thank you for it. The best thing we did with the Patriot Act was to sunset it. To say that it needs to be reauthorized or it will go out of existence. And we're gonna look back and see what went wrong with the Patriot Act. In fact, the Bush Administration has been typically secretive about what it did with the Patriot Act, so we don't really know yet how much it protected us or compromised our liberties.
But I'll backpedal from my vote and attack Attorney General John Ashcroft after admitting ignorance, Lieberman told the assembled crowd. OK, I lied, he didn't really say that. He said this:
But I know something bad that happened under immigration law under John Ashcroft as the attorney general. Almost 800 foreign nationals, immigrants, mostly Arab-Americans or people who look like Arab-Americans were arrested, put in jail, held without charges, no notification for their family and no right to counsel. That's un-American and I will fight to end that as president of the United States. We can have security and liberty. If we fight the terrorists who attacked us because of our liberties by compromising our liberties, shame on us.
Read that again. "Foreign nationals...immigrants...mostly Arab-Americans...."
Under Sen. Lieberman's interpretation of the Constitution and relevant law, the second you set foot in the United States, you're an "American." You're a citizen.
The Democrats want to be trusted with the national security of this country? It's a poor start if you can't discern a difference between citizens and illegal aliens.
The next question to Sen. John Kerry asks him what he would have done as manager of the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS when his pitcher, Pedro Martinez, began to falter.
And young voters want to be taken seriously? It wasn't too many years ago that I was part of the "Rock the Vote's" targeted age group -- I never thought to ask a question like that one. Why? Because it's stupid.
Debate over. It's no longer worth my time, 6 minutes 52 seconds in.
Average Joe: I confess. I watched that ABC "news" special and recorded NBC's "Average Joe." I'm sorry, but I just couldn't stop myself from taking some perverse interest/joy in watching a drop-jaw-gorgeous beautiful woman dream of 16 prince charmings and instead get stuck with 16 "average" guys.
The truth is, most of these guys aren't really "average" as that is perhaps determined by the fairer sex, they're below average. Yes, it takes one to know one, and these guys are definitely twos, threes and fours.
The funny thing is, that Melana, the beauty among the beasts, brought this upon herself. The phrase is cliched -- but beautiful women continue to say it: "Looks don't matter. I want a man with a good sense of humor and a good personality."
*cough* bull$@ *cough*
When the guys got off the fancy limo-bus, you could see that Malena was shocked. Shocked, I tell you!
Though she was obviously distressed, she acknowledged, in a small side room with a "hidden camera" to host Kathy Griffin that she had told producers "looks weren't important."
Malena, resigned to her fate, interacts with the "average joes" and seems to take a liking to a few of them.
The entire time I was watching the show, I couldn't help thinking back to an episode of the cancelled ABC show "Cupid." The episode featured an attractive woman (Christine Taylor from "Zoolander") who wanted guys to like her for her personality -- and she was looking for the same in a man. By episode's end she'd met and was dating this great "average" guy. But, in the last scene, when her model-type ex-boyfriend re-enters the picture, wanna take a bet who she ends up with?
Well, the cynics would be right on this one.
These "reality" shows aren't indicative of "reality" anyway, so maybe these guys actually have a chance...
Yeah, you're right, they don't have a prayer.
The next Primetime Live special: Following up on Monday's special entitled "Jesus, Mary and DaVinci" ABCNews will do a piece entitled "Mohammed, Ahmed and Rushdie."
Though there is no evidence the Prophet Mohammed had a gay lover and the vast majority of Islamic scholars scoff at the idea, ABCNews will spend an hour of prime time on the subject next week.
desperate determined effort to boost ratings, ABCNews will feature fanciful theories first presented in a novel which claimed that the founder of the Islamic religion kept a boy-toy. The book claims that the "Sword of the Prophet" referred not to a real, metal sword, but a certain body part of his homosexual lover, Ahmed.
The secret has been kept through the centuries by a group known as the Sheik Yerboutis, of which author Salman Rushdie is rumored to be a member.
Throughout the piece, reporter Elizabeth Vargas will ask hypothetical questions, instead of referencing the facts as they are detailed in the Koran and other historical documents.
Monday, November 03, 2003
This is scary: America's most-advanced tank, the M1A1 Abrams was disabled by some sort of RPG. I say "some sort of RPG" because officials aren't sure exactly what it was that hit the tank on patrol in Iraq.
One armor expert at Fort Knox, Ky., suggested the tank may have been hit by an updated RPG. About 15 years ago, Russian scientists created tandem-warhead anti-tank-grenades designed to defeat reactive armor. The new round, a PG-7VR, can be fired from an RPG-7V launcher and might have left the unusual signature on the tank.
In addition, the Russians have developed an improved weapon, the RPG-22. These and perhaps even newer variants have been used against American forces in Afghanistan. It is believed U.S. troops seized some that have been returned to the United States for testing, but scant details about their effects and “fingerprints” are available.
Still another possibility is a retrofitted warhead for the RPG system being developed by a Swiss manufacturer.
At this time, it appears most likely that an RPG-22 or some other improved variant of the Russian-designed weapon damaged the M1 tank, sources concluded. The damage certainly was caused by some sort of shaped-charge or hollow-charge warhead, and the cohesive nature of the destructive jet suggests a more effective weapon than a fragmented-jet RPG-7.
The issue then becomes this: Was Russia selling these things to Iraq, in violation of U.N. sanctions? Or do the Russians have such poor controls on their advanced weapons that they allowed some to make it onto the black market and into the hands of terrorists?
Bernard Goldberg interviewed: Right Wing News' John Hawkins talks with former CBS newsman Bernard Goldberg about his new book, "Arrogance."
The fire's real destruction: Union-Tribune reporter Kristen Green has an excellent piece in today's paper on one family's tragedy.
A light-hearted look at the flat tax: Sunday's Washington Post features an article announcing the creation of a flat tax in Iraq.
The article features a colorful history of the flat tax idea and plenty of quotes from U.S.-based flat-tax supporters.
The idea also gets a couple of bricks thrown at it, one by an unnamed "Middle East expert," and the other by former Clinton economic adviser Gene Sperling:
Looking back at the failed attempt by presidential candidate Forbes to rally U.S. public support behind the flat tax, Gene Sperling, a senior Clinton economic adviser who is with the Council on Foreign Relations, said wryly, "If Steve Forbes does a bus tour [of Iraq] to promote it, I hope they have adequate security."
However, it's curious that the Post failed to find anyone who's really opposed to a flat tax.
Why did they fail to find someone who advocated a more progressive taxation system, like we have here in here in the U.S.?
Well, it should be obvious, even to Sperling, the kind of progressive tax system we have requires an enormous infrastructure and bureaucracy to administer. Iraq doesn't have it. If the new government is going to get tax revenue, then a flat tax is the best, quickest and easiest way.
But, the Post would rather take a light-hearted look at the issue than a serious one that would look at the difficulties and challenges of getting a government up and running in Iraq.
Saturday, November 01, 2003
Basketball season already?: When I first saw this come over the wire, that's what I thought. Arkansas 71, Kentucky 63.
"The Last Ridge": I recently finished reading McKay Jenkins' "The Last Ridge," a history of the Army's famed 10th Mountain Division. Anyone interested in military history or WWII will enjoy this book and earn a new appreciation of some of the men who fought in the mountains of Italy.
While historians such as Stephen E. Ambrose have written extensively about the D-Day invasion of France and the push towards Germany, much less has been written about the war in Italy -- especially during the waning months of the war as it became obvious that the crushing blow Hitler's war machine would come through France and Belgium. In spite of the ever-increasing certainty of the allied victory, the troops of the 10th Mountain Division routed German soldiers, driving them out of Italy's Po River Valley.
Jenkins, with substantial help from 10th Mountain Division veterans and the Division archives at the Denver Public Library, offers both tragic and heartwarming anecdotes about the men of the 10th. One of the latter recounts how the men of the 10th captured Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's villa, and how one soldier, who'd grown up in Montana in a home without electricity or indoor plumbing spent a night in Mussolini's bed.
The legacy of the 10th Mountain Division is threefold:
First, it reinforces the value of soldiers who are both highly-trained and very physically fit. The 10th included former and future world-class skiers and mountaineers.
Second, the value of having the best equipment. Though the 10th didn't actually fight with much of the equipment that they tested high in the Colorado Rockies (due to logistics problems which are often inherent in war), their work testing sleeping bags, boots, gloves and other gear impacted mountaineering and cold-weather combat techniques for decades to come.
Third, the 10th demonstrated that combat troops are most effective when they are only on the front lines for a few months at a time, rather than years. In all, the 10th only spent about four months in the Italian campaign, but they were far more effective than troops who'd been on the front for a year or more.
Jenkins' book is well worth a read.
Journalism vs. fiction: The Weekly Standard's Jonathan V. Last has an excellent article on the film "Shattered Glass" and its whitewash of the newsroom atmosphere that allowed fiction-writer Stephen Glass' lies to continually make their way into print.
Good editors look at the case of Stephen Glass and think, "There but by the grace of God." A smart writer who is unconcerned about his future could pass fiction off on the best editor once or twice or perhaps even five times. Who knows where the bright line is? But surely it is less than 27, the number of faked stories Glass published. Surely seven charges of fabrication by story subjects should be enough. Surely the need to respond to letters 6 times in 19 months should have woken someone up.
"SHATTERED GLASS" wants you to believe that Stephen Glass was a neurotic mastermind, against whose wiles editors were powerless. But his editors--all smart, talented, honorable people--shared a failing which the movie refuses to acknowledge. There is a particular type of journalist who spurns the input of outsiders and believes that there is no truth beyond his magazine's horizon. The impulse to dismiss those who argue with our words as acting out of political disagreement or bad faith is a failing many of us share. It is an impulse which must be fought.
I must admit the sort of arrogance and elitism that causes one to dismiss all criticism out of hand is foreign to me. I suspect that it's a product of working at small newspapers like The Lompoc Record and The (Aberdeen) Daily World, where the editors and reporters are truly part of the community and this sort of betrayal of the readers' trust is unthinkable.
"But" heads: Former General Electric CEO writes that the media, pundits and Bush-haters are convinced, for a variety of reasons, that the economy can't be getting better.
Now, I'm not suggesting "irrational exuberance" again. First of all, it's not warranted (yet), and giddiness about the economy didn't really help last time. And I'm also not asking that people forget what happened during the boom. Some companies and executives absolutely earned the right to get nothing but disrespect and doubt.
If we are ever to get competitive again, though, we can't indiscriminately put a negative spin on what is legitimately good news. We live in a global economy; India and China get stronger and better every single day. To have a fighting chance, companies need to get every employee, with every idea in their heads and every morsel of energy in their bodies, into the game.
Welch's critique should cause people to actually think, but that can be difficult when there is so much intellectually and politically invested in economic misery.