Friday, April 30, 2004
What the...?: In his soon-to-be-released book, former ambassador Joseph Wilson reveals that Iraq may indeed have attempted to buy uranium from Niger.
It was Saddam Hussein's information minister, Mohammed Saeed Sahhaf, often referred to in the Western press as "Baghdad Bob," who approached an official of the African nation of Niger in 1999 to discuss trade -- an overture the official saw as a possible effort to buy uranium.
That's according to a new book Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador who was sent to Niger by the CIA in 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq had been trying to buy enriched "yellowcake" uranium. Wilson wrote that he did not learn the identity of the Iraqi official until this January, when he talked again with his Niger source.
This raises a couple of questions:
First: Was this really a serious attempt to acquire uranium? The fact that the envoy was Baghdad Bob tends to make someone lean toward the answer being no. Do you send your PR flack to float the idea of sending a little nuclear material your way?
Second: Wilson has repeatedly said there was no evidence that Iraq tried to acquire uranium from Niger. Today's revelation makes that out to be a lie -- a lie Wilson knew he was making. Why lie other than to score political points?
Anti-America/Anti-War/Anti-Bush types will, perhaps correctly, downplay this news because it is Baghdad Bob we're talking about. But Wilson didn't know it was Baghdad Bob that made the inquiry until January, long after he had appeared on most every news talk show in the nation. So when Wilson was going on TV to rail against the Bush administration, the Niger uranium claim had more credibility than it does today.
An honest assessment from Wilson in the months leading up to the war might have been: "Iraq may have made half-hearted inquiries regarding the possibility of acquiring uranium from Niger, but they were in no way serious, nor were they pursued by the Iraqi government. I found one Nigerian official who half-remembered one Iraqi official who made comments suggesting some sort of trade deal that might have involved uranium."
Of course, an honest assessment with so many qualifiers is of little use in bashing Bush -- Wilson's ultimate goal.
Baghdad Bob shot his credibility long ago. Joseph Wilson shot his with this lie.
Disrespect and outrage: Former Sen. Bob Kerrey and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, both Democrats, determined that their time was more valuable than the president's. According to The Washington Post:
Two of the Democratic commissioners left the session about an hour early. Vice Chairman Lee H. Hamilton was scheduled to introduce the Canadian prime minister at a luncheon, and former Nebraska senator Bob Kerrey left to meet with Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) on funding issues related to New School University, where Kerrey serves as president.
The 9/11 commission insisted that it was so important that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice had to testify in public before the commission. Originally, President Bush and Vice President Cheney were going to meet only with the panel's chairman and vice-chairman -- something that was deemed unacceptable.
After all their complaining, Hamilton and Kerrey couldn't reschedule their appointments. Obviously, whatever the president had to say wasn't important enough for them to stay around to hear the entire thing.
The Post's report didn't mention the early exit until the very last paragraph. That's bad, but it's better than the "paper of record." The New York Times doesn't mention it at all.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
More on abortion: This says something about our culture, from today's Peggy Noonan column in the Wall Street Journal:
But I must tell you of the small moment that was actually a big moment. (There's a possible spoiler coming up, so if you don't know the story and mean to see the play [A Raisin in the Sun], stop here.) An important moment in the plot is when a character announces she is pregnant, and considering having an abortion. In fact, she tells her mother-in-law, she's already put $5 down with the local abortionist. It is a dramatic moment. And you know as you watch it that when this play came out in 1960 it was received by the audience as a painful moment--a cry of pain from a woman who's tired of hoping that life will turn out well.
But this is the thing: Our audience didn't know that. They didn't understand it was tragic. They heard the young woman say she was about to end the life of her child, and they applauded. Some of them cheered. It was stunning. The reaction seemed to startle the actors on stage, and shake their concentration. I was startled. I turned to my friend. "We have just witnessed a terrible cultural moment," I said. "Don't I know it," he responded.
And I can't tell you how much that moment hurt. To know that the members of our audience didn't know that the taking of a baby's life is tragic--that the taking of your own baby's life is beyond tragic, is almost operatic in its wailing woe.
But our audience didn't know. They reacted as if abortion were a political question. They thought that the fact that the young woman was considering abortion was a sign of liberation. They thought this cry of pain was in fact a moment of self-actualizing growth.
Afterwards, thinking about it, I said to my friend, "When that play opened that plot point was understood--they knew it was tragic. And that was only what, 40 years ago." He said, "They would have known it was tragic even 25 years ago."
And it gave me a shiver because I knew it was true.
I don't mean this anecdote to be contrary to what I said below regarding national opinion regarding abortion. After all, this play is in New York -- not exactly indicative of average America.
I love it: In a sick, schadenfraude kind of way. You see, Rep. "Baghdad" Jim McDermott led the House of Representatives in the Pledge of Allegiance the other day, and left out the words "under God." The video of the event shows McDermott taking a deep breath while the other representatives recite the words in dispute.
McDermott's excuse is that the words "under God," added in 1954, were not in the pledge when he first learned it in elementary school.
It's a fair claim, however it would be more believeable if it were anyone other than McDermott making the claim.
Of course, I knew of this other individual (who shall remain named Mr. Wonderful) who once was leading the Pledge of Allegiance and inadvertantly left out the word "indivisible."
He claimed, like McDermott, that the word was not in the Pledge when he first learned it in elementary school -- several years before the Civil War.
This is funny: The INDC Journal has a guide to what sorts of things you'll see as part of the seasonal moonbat migration.
Jayson Blair, The New York Times and Me: Jayson Blair was the former New York Times reporter who augmented his reporting by using his imaginary friends as sources. He was fired, as were the Times' two top editors.
Why do I bring this up now? What's the news hook? Well, I've just been informed that it's my fault that Blair got away with his fabrications.
Sulzberger also revealed that the worst thing to come out of the Blair scandal was not the former reporter's ethical crimes, but the fact that sources and readers who knew about the incorrect reporting did not complain because they believed that that was what newspapers did. "That is scary," he said.
What a load of bull. Editor after editor after editor raised red flags regarding Blair's reporting -- and he was promoted.
Besides, the Times isn't much interested about accuracy -- especially if it's editorial pages are any indication, with its stealth corrections and unwillingness to honestly acknowledge errors.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
On abortion and protests:The stereotype of pro-lifers as violent, obnoxious and evil needs some updating. Though there are a very few who have bombed abortion clinics or shot at doctors, those days have largely passed. Nowadays it is the "pro-choice" haters who are getting violent.
A couple of months ago, at a John Kerry rally, a Kerry staffer went into the crowd and ripped up a sign held by a woman that stated simply: "My abortion hurt me."
Last week, at another pro-abortion rally attended by Sen. Kerry, a small number of pro-life counterprotesters were forcibly pushed, shoved and dragged away by those who usually claim that dissent is patriotic.
(Suanne) Edmiston said the students told the abortion advocates they would leave, but wanted a uniformed official to explain why they had to leave a public event and one for which they had obtained tickets from the Kerry campaign.
After seeing the students wouldn't leave, the NARAL women told each other to link arms and began to surround the pro-life students.
At the same time, older rally participants were screaming to leave the students alone. Edmiston told LifeNews.com that the older women told the younger abortion activists they could possibly hurt the students and that the students had a right to attend the rally.
But that didn't stop the young NARAL backers.
They became angry and began to push and shove the pro-life women. One woman told Suanne that her mother should have aborted her.
The NARAL women eventually enveloped three of the students, including Suanne, in a circle and began dragging them away.
Suanne was wearing flip-flops and one of her shoes fell off as she was taken away.
"My foot is dragging on the gravel and they wouldn't let me get it," Edmiston said.
The abortion advocates dragged her barefoot over a rough gravel surface that caused her foot to bleed so much that Edmiston required medical attention afterwards.
Two independent photographers at the event confirmed the account, and one of them, as he tried to take a photo of what was happening, got something for his trouble.
Meanwhile, Martin Leuders, a D.C.-based freelance photographer, also witnessed the incident, and, in an interview with LifeNews.com, confirmed the account of what happened.
At the time the scuffle began and the women found themselves dragged away by abortion supporters, Martin wasn't close to the action. As he moved in to begin taking pictures, rally participants tried to stop him. Before he could grab a shot, one person with a pro-abortion sign hit him on the head and he began bleeding.
"They assumed I was trying to get [pictures] for propaganda purposes," Leuders told LifeNews.com.
On Saturday, pro-abortion zealots marched on Washington. Estimates of the crowd ranged from 500,000 to 1 million, with the best guess being around 800,000.
A small number of pro-life activists stationed themselves along the parade route and discovered the absolute hate in the hearts of many "feminist" zealots. A very moving (and verbose) first-person account of the march can be found here.
After they read my sign, at least 25 separate women throughout the day laughed at me and spat out these exact same words, “Then you shouldn’t have HAD it, that’s all!” Some even shrugged, like it was that easy to make that decision. Like I regretted it THEN, but went ahead with it anyway?
I saw women read my sign and burst out laughing and pointing at me, saying sarcastically, “Pooor baby!” I saw men look me right in the eye after reading the sign as they shouted out the chants that are the 30-year-old standards of the pro-abortion movement, like “Pro-Life? That’s a lie! YOU don’t care if women die!” and “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!” Little did they know, how much we do care and do help women to survive and have a better alternative to abortion.
Others saw the sign and said to me, “Too bad!” The ones holding the signs “Don’t Want An Abortion? DON’T HAVE ONE!” wove their way from the opposite side of the crowd just to wave their sign in my face and taunt me.
One woman, maybe about 30ish, started screaming at me, at the top of her lungs, “I CHOSE!! AND I’M PROUD!” over and over and over again. The others around her took up the chant, some verbatim, some saying instead, “I CHOOSE!! AND I’M PROUD!!” The veins were popping out on her forehead and neck, her face was beet red, and she was hunched over at the waist as she shrieked out the words at high volume, glowering at me, for at least five minutes straight. If there is a definition of “frothing at the mouth,” that was this woman at that time.
Abortion isn't going to be outlawed anytime soon. What needs to happen is a realization by the vast majority of the American people that abortion-on-demand is a very bad thing. What needs to be changed are hearts and minds -- and what groups like Silent No More are doing by simply standing quietly with their signs has a much more positive impact than the yelling and screaming back and forth that was the common image of the debate back in the '80s.
Case in point:
I guess what impresses me the most about what Annie and the other folks at Silent No More did was the way they did it. No screaming, no getting in people’s faces. They just stood there silently holding signs that read “I Regret My Abortion” or “I Regret My Lost Fatherhood.” They absorbed a torrent of verbal abuse and did not return it.
I have to wonder whether among the hundreds of thousands of folks walking by SNM last Sunday, there were a few who looked at some of their comrades in struggle hurling insults, and then looked at the small crowd of peaceful, silent witnesses and asked themselves a question: not “who’s right and who’s wrong,” but rather “what kind of person would I rather be?”
Despite last weekend's show of force, the pro-life movement is slowly gaining ground. The passage of the ban on partial-birth abortions and the law making it a crime against two persons for attacking a pregnant woman. The latter put "pro-choice" advocates in the position of arguing, incredibly, that the murder (of a pregnant woman) is abortion.
Guide to the scandals: The Spoons Experience offers a handy chart outlining the differences and similarities between the Enron scandal, the Martha Stewart scandal and UNSCAM, the U.N.'s oil-for-palaces program.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Marine returns home: Read this.
The media and the fallen heroes: Along the same lines of my post earlier this week regarding the news media and the images of the dead returning in their coffins, is this cartoon by Jeff Danziger.
More reasons not to mess with Marines: It's just not a good idea to walk around toting a rocket-propelled grenade in Fallujah, even if you think no one's watching, because some Marine snipers just might be looking at you.
In the past three weeks, two sniper teams attached to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment have shot down 90 people who have strayed into their sights. The two teams are part of the 100 Marine sharpshooters deployed by three battalions around the city. One sniper secreted away in another corner of Fallujah has "26 confirmed kills," military officers here report.
"Every time we get to kill somebody, he is no longer shooting at the Marines," said Sgt. Dennis Elchlinger, 31, of Encampment, Wyo., who is one of only 500 scout-snipers in the Marine Corps.
Elchlinger admits he doesn't really know whether his team's victims are foreign fighters or local citizens brandishing weapons in a bid to drive out the American occupiers.
"They don't wear a uniform," Elchlinger said. "It's hard to tell the nationality of someone with a towel on his face."
Be afraid, be very afraid.
Religion of Peace: Add Syria to the Axis of Evil.
Good read: The New York Times' David Brooks gets it exactly right. The media isn't paying nearly enough attention to what's going to happen next in Iraq. Instead, they're obsessed with the past at the expense of the future.
Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did at least hear testimony last week on the political transition in Iraq. But they might as well have held hearings on the supplemental reappropriation cloture amendment for the deputy assistant under secretary of the Postal Services Review Board for all the media attention they received. No networks, save C-Span, provided coverage. You peered behind the witnesses and the room was practically empty. It looked like a Michael Moore book reading at the Citadel. Only a few papers wrote stories.
Read the entire thing.
Monday, April 26, 2004
Krugmania: Extensive use of facts is not really necessary if you're a columnist at the New York Times. Case in point: Paul Krugman.
Krugman, a former adviser to disgraced energy giant Enron, starts out with an interesting claim.
[T]here's a deep mystery surrounding Dick Cheney's energy task force, but it's not about what happened back in 2001. Clearly, energy industry executives dictated the content of a report that served their interests.
Interesting, so, companies like Enron just dictated policy and the Bush administration did just what they wanted. (Not exactly.)
That's small potatoes. What is really interesting is this:
What Mr. Cheney is defending, in other words, is a doctrine that makes the United States a sort of elected dictatorship: a system in which the president, once in office, can do whatever he likes, and isn't obliged to consult or inform either Congress or the public.
Not long ago I would have thought it inconceivable that the Supreme Court would endorse that doctrine. But I would also have thought it inconceivable that a president would propound such a vision in the first place.
This is rich. High school civics obviously wasn't Krugman's strong subject.
Rumsfeld has press conferences weekly, and testifies before Congress regularly, as does Colin Powell, George Tenet, Robert Mueller, etc. Is Congress and the public uninformed? Only if they choose to be.
It wasn't President Bush who repeatedly claimed executive privilege and presidential immunity on issues dealing with his personal behavior -- like some American monarch. Instead Bush is claiming executive privilege on policy issues -- something that has a long history of validity.
*UPDATE* Despite his claims that President Bush is acting as some sort of dictator, Krugman's failure to be arrested on charges of being an enemy combatant prove that his hysterics are just that, hysterical.
Images of war: Last week the Web site The Memory Hole posted hundreds of photos of fallen soldiers in their coffins returning to Dover AFB. (Included in the photos were those of the fallen astronauts, mistakenly published by some newspapers.) Many newspapers ran the photos not because it was news that fallen soldiers were coming home, but because it was news that they had the photos.
Media organizations have been clamoring for years for the "right" to be present and take pictures of the returning fallen heroes. Anti-war, anti-Bush and anti-American activists claim the Bush administration is attempting to "hide" the human costs of the war, when the prohibition against the media has been in place since 1991.
The main reason the media has been clamoring for access to Dover AFB is that they don't have access to Dover AFB. The media are like little children, if you tell them they can't do something or they can't go somewhere, that just guarantees they'll want it more.
Photos of flag-draped coffins aren't that compelling visually. Granting the media access to Dover won't mean that you'll see those photos regularly on the front page -- they'll appear on A27, if at all.
The argument against allowing media access is the effect that could have on the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. You haven't heard much about that aspect of the debate, unless you saw Monday's Wall Street Journal. In an op-ed piece entitled "Our Honor, Our Grief" [subscribers only], Ronald R. Griffin, father of Spc. Kyle Griffin who was killed in Iraq, offers a view of that hasn't received much attention.
The arguments put forth to have the ban on media coverage lifted vary from allowing the American people to bear witness to the sacrifice of the soldiers and thus honor them, to the need to deny President Bush the opportunity to hide the real costs in human terms of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Steve Capus, executive producer of "NBC Nightly News," arrogantly and presumptuously spoke for me when he stated, "It would seem that the only reason somebody would come out against the use of these pictures is that they are worried about the political fallout." Well I am that SOMEBODY and as I looked at those pictures the tears were not running because of my worry about political fallout. In all the criticism there has never once been put forth a single argument of how having the media coverage lifted would be of benefit to the loved ones of these heroes. We are never taken into account. We are the collateral damage in this all so obvious ideological struggle.
Had the media ban not been in effect, we, the families of fallen soldiers, would not have had these moments to ourselves. Without the ban, it is conceivable that I could have viewed a procession of flag-draped coffins as they disembarked from the aircraft. But how would the families of those other fallen heroes, who would be unable to come to Dover because they lived in Iowa or North Dakota or Arizona, feel when they viewed on TV their loved ones arriving? Would they feel the honor that was being bestowed upon them from all those other Americans? Or would they suffer further when the pictures were used in the context of criticism?
The war's opponents, and some in the media, want to use these images to weaken American resolve in the war on terror. They don't want to honor the fallen for their valorious service, they want to condemn the cause for which they gave their lives.
Sunday, April 25, 2004
Another great read: Time magazine has another excellent article on NFL player turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman.
If Bush had said it: Slate editor Jacob Weisberg has made a tidy sum from his collections of "Bushisms" -- verbal flubs made by President George W. Bush. For those of you who missed it, Eugene Volokh over at the Volokh Conspiracy demonstrated the how far, and how lame, the Bushisms have sunk -- hoisting Weisberg on his own petard.
Watching "Fox News Sunday," the chairwoman of the John Kerry campaign, New Hampshire Gov. Jean Shaheen made the following statement:
Chairman Racicot, you're just disassembling.
No, he wasn't taking apart a toaster on the air.
She meant dissembling.
If Bush had said it...
The Lies of John F. Kerry: If you go to Amazon.com and type: "Bush Lies" into the search engine, you come up with a plethora of left-wing novels: "Big Lies," "The Lies of George W. Bush," "Bushwacked!," "Big Bush Lies," etc., ad infinitum.
Lying is endemic to politicians, but in recent years Democrats have come to believe that only Republicans -- especially President Bush -- lie.
It's taken awhile, but the media is beginning to discover that John Kerry too has "truth" issues.
Contradicting his statements as a candidate for president, Sen. John Kerry claimed in a 1971 television interview that he threw away as many as nine of his combat medals to protest the war in Vietnam.
"I gave back, I can't remember, 6, 7, 8, 9 medals," Kerry said in an interview on a Washington, D.C. news program on WRC-TV's called Viewpoints on November 6, 1971, according to a tape obtained by ABCNEWS.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Kerry has denied that he threw away any of his 11 medals during an anti-war protest in April, 1971.
His campaign Web site calls it a "right wing fiction" and a smear. And in an interview with ABCNEWS' Peter Jennings last December, he said it was a "myth."
But Kerry told a much different story on Viewpoints. Asked about the anti-war veterans who threw their medals away, Kerry said "they decided to give them back to their country."
Kerry was asked if he gave back the Bronze Star, Silver Star and three Purple Hearts he was awarded for combat duty as a Navy lieutenant in Vietnam. "Well, and above that, [I] gave back the others," he said.
The statement directly contradicts Kerry's most recent claims on the disputed subject to the Los Angeles Times last Friday. "I never ever implied that I did it, " Kerry told the newspaper, responding to the question of whether he threw away his medals in protest.
"I'm proud of my medals. I always was proud of them," he told Jennings in December, adding that he had only thrown away his "ribbons" and the medals of two other veterans who could not attend the protest.
John Kerry's record as a sailor in Vietnam is an honorable one. However, his behavior in turning the American public not only against the war, but also against the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who fought for their country is despicable.
Get a Waaaaaaaaaaahmbulance: The New York Times last week screwed up (yeah, I know this isn't news).
Thursday's New York Times misidentified GOP Senate candidate Pete Coors as a Ku Klux Klan member who murdered a black sharecropper.
The Coors campaign found the error "so outrageous it's kind of funny," said spokeswoman Cinamon Watson.
"It could have been worse," she joked. "Pete could have been identified as John Kerry."
Now, that little dig has some Democrats up in arms.
Chris Gates, chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party, demanded an apology. He said Democrats are "out there campaigning positively on the issues, and the Republicans can't help but resort to the lowest level of insult and name-calling."
Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said the comment was "the kind of thing people hate about politics."
Yeah, I remember how sensitive the Democrats were about name-calling when the NAACP was running ads in 2000 blaming George W. Bush for the dragging death of James Byrd in Texas.
Get a grip.
Friday, April 23, 2004
A true hero: Former Arizona Cardinal football star Pat Tillman, who gave up a multi-million dollar contract to join the Army after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. has been killed in a firefight in Afghanistan.
Once again, this puts a lie to the contention that those who join the military do so only because they're poor and its the best way to get a leg up in our society.
Pat Tillman was a hero. Pray for his family.
*UPDATE* OpinionJournal.com has re-posted a Peggy Noonan column on Tillman. Even if you read it the first time, read it again.
Get a grip: Some reporters and editors at The New York Times have all sorts of psychological problems -- most seriously, delusions of grandeur.
Editor (Peter) Putrimas was angrier than a metrosexual out of hair gel - especially when I called Times editors "largely unseen boobs."
"A Jayson Blair slipped through our net and now we must pay the price, even to the point of putting up with hacks in the hinterlands like you who think they know a lot but who use their journalistic forum to foment half-truths and unfounded opinion," he sneered in an e-mail.
He unloaded rote bravado: that Times editors are a dedicated bunch who take to the ramparts to protect high standards of journalism.
Just because a guy is working for a small town paper and you work for the Times, it doesn't mean you're smarter than he is.
But writer J.D. Mullane is exactly right about one thing.
The New York Times no longer represents the gold standard of journalism.
Tinfoil, maybe, but not gold.
Not on the Web: Well, at least it's not anywhere I can find it, but Tony Snow was playing some comments from yesterday's Earth Day photo op/campaign stop by John Kerry. (Tony Snow is on tape delay in San Diego, so I heard him on my way home.) Kerry's comment was something to the effect: We have the potential of becoming the first generation in the history of American to leave the environment in worse shape, worse than our parents, the greatest generation, gave it to us.
Maybe the reason I can't find the quote anywhere is that it is so demonstrably untrue and stupid that reporters didn't feel it would be appropriate in an Earth Day story. Around the turn of the century with the robber barons were so careful not to disturb vernal pools as they built their vast networks railways. And in Chicago where the sewage treatment was unheard of as they dumped effluent into the rivers. That generation certainly left their kids with a cleaner world.
You can bet if Bush had said it, it'd be all over the news and the left-wing blog sites.
The problem with Kerry's comments, and really with every lefty-environmentalist's comments regarding the state of the environment, is they believe that you can't pro-business and pro-environment at the same time. Kerry gets former EPA administrator Carol Browner to come out and join him on the stump to allege:
"This is simply the worst administration ever when it comes to protecting our air and water and the health of our families and communities."
Remember back when the Democrats accused President Bush of wanting to put more arsenic in drinking water? The Clinton Administration (and its EPA Administrator Carol Browner) waited eight years before lowering the amount of arsenic allowable in drinking water in the last weeks before they left office. Bush delays those rules for a few more months, and the environmentalists scream bloody murder. Bush doesn't get any kudos for toughening the rules on diesel fuel -- something Clinton never even attempted.
When it comes to the environment -- in the eyes of the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, etc. -- Republicans can do no right; Democrats can do no wrong.
*UPDATE* Found a very similar quote here. As reported by the New York Times Kerry's laughable statement reads:
"For the first time in history," he said, "our generation may pass this country on to our children in worse shape than we were in fact handed it by our parents. And I believe that is an unacceptable principle worth fighting about, worth having an election about, worth changing the direction of this country for."
This looks to be a standard, but demonstrably untrue, line in his environment stump speech.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Know thy enemy: Frank J. over at IMAO has an excellent post on the Iraqi insurgents.
* The Iraqis violently fighting against the coalition are a minority, and thus should be given preference in hiring and college admissions.
* Some people are against America because they actually liked rule under Saddam. Hey, if they liked torture and oppression, maybe we should be more accommodating to their tastes.
* The natural predator of the Iraqi insurgent is the U.S. Marine which has no known predator and threatens to cause their complete extinction.
There's more. Go read it all.
Book Review: Just finished reading the inexpensive, paperback edition of Mona Charen's "Useful Idiots." The book is well written and would serve as a balance to much of the revisionism that seems to go on nowadays when it comes to opinions regarding communism. You can still find devoted communists and sympathizers nowadays -- just go to any anti-war rally -- but you'd think that those types were always on the political fringe. Thanks to the numerous quotes that Charen digs up, you'll find that many communist sympathizers weren't just at these anti-war rallies (Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, etc.), you could find them in Congress too. Many of them are still there -- and names you hear often: Kennedy, Dodd, Levin. During the '70s and '80s many liberal Democrats were incredibly wrong when it came to the evil of communism, whether it was the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Cuba or anywhere else. They expressed more fear of Ronald Reagan than they did of Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov.
Liberals' assessments of the communist Vietnamese government and their early efforts to "understand" Pol Pot's plan to free Cambodians from the evils of technology were tragically wrong. Despite the millions murdered and the utter and willful ignorance of many liberals to the evils of communism, many of these liberal pundits, scholars, politicians and journalists still command too much respect.
Maybe the logic is that they've been so wrong, maybe this time they'll be right.
If the '70s and '80s seem like a dim memory, either because you're old and have forgotten them or are young and never really remembered them, this book is an excellent resource. If you're watching the news and see Democrat Senator Carl Levin saying something stupid, you'll realize that some things never change.
More Gorelick: Andrew McCarthy, a former U.S. attorney who has been watchdogging 9/11 commissioner Jamie Gorelick's conflicts of interest, has another piece on the controversy over at National Review Online.
Under the circumstances as they exist, we can have either of two things: (a) nine commissioners, access to all essential witnesses, and no interested witness shaping the commission's findings; or (b) ten commissioners, no access to a pivotal witness, and the commission's hearings and final report tainted by a self-interested participant who even now is making public, unsworn allegations. No matter how we have traveled to this point, that is not a difficult choice.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Democracy for China: Vice President Dick Cheney spoke live and uncensored on Chinese Television -- for those who were lucky enough to be channel-surfing and catch it. There was no notice of the speech on television or the newspapers before the speech actually occurred.
But the broadcast received no advance promotion or even a listing in the Chinese news media and was not repeated. The authorities promptly provided leading Web sites with a "full text" of the vice president's remarks, including his answers to questions after the speech, that struck out references to political freedom, Taiwan, North Korea and other issues that propaganda officials considered sensitive.
This is no surprise, and luckily Chinese wishing to see the uncensored remarks can find them on the U.S. embassy's Web site.
What's hilarious (in a sad way) is the lame Chinese government excuse for the censorship.
An editor at the People's Daily Web site involved with preparing the transcript denied that any censorship had occurred. The editor, who declined to be identified, said missing sentences or sections were attributable solely to the speed with which the transcript had been prepared.
Yeah, "freedom" is so tough to write in Chinese.
Religion of Peace update: Well, there's really no evidence it was followers of Mohammed -- you know, it could be some of those Quakers they've got running around in Spain.
The body of a Spanish police officer who was killed in a raid on suspected Islamic terrorists was removed from its tomb Sunday night, dragged across a cemetery, doused with gasoline and burned, a Spanish police official told CNN.
Police do not know who committed the crime, and an investigation is under way.
Francisco Javier Torronteras, a special operations police officer, died April 3 during a police raid in a Madrid suburb where police believed suspects behind the March 11 Madrid train bombings were hiding.
The suspected terrorists set off a bomb during the raid and seven of them died, of whom four have been identified.
Spain will be seeing more of this -- Islamic terrorists are only encouraged by what they were able to wreak before that country's elections.
Michael Moore is a big, fat idiot: There are honest liberals who truly believe that John Kerry has a sensible, and better, plan for dealing with Iraq than George W. Bush. Frankly, I can't really discern how Kerry's plan is anything more than he will ask "our allies" (read Germany, France) to pretty please send some troops to Iraq. Oh, and it would be nice if the U.N. sent some people in too.
But there are others on the left who are actively rooting for the other side. Markos Zuniga (of the Daily Kostastrophe) was one. Filmmaker Michael Moore is another.
Cox & Forkum, probably the most talented political cartooning duo that is not syndicated, provide their visual take on Moore's latest bit of America-hating insanity. [If I ever manage to get a job where I'm in charge of an editorial page -- I'm buying their cartoons.]
There's a word for people who actively support America's enemies. People who wish for more dead Marines, sailors and soldiers.
Michael Moore is a traitor.
I'm curious if Gen. Wesley Clark, now that he's out of the Democrat presidential nomination race, has the backbone to stand-up and denounce this bit of sedition.
Monday, April 19, 2004
Democracy, theocracy or a dictatorship?: One of the standard complaints from the loony left has been regarding America's practice of realpolitik over the years. The United States has periodically supported dictatorships based on the principle that a stable dictatorship is better than communism or a nation in chaos.
President Bush is determined to create a democracy in Iraq. Others, including the presumptive Democrat Party nominee, don't have such high ideals.
Sen. John. F. Kerry on Wednesday stressed that the chief interest of the U.S. should be to build a stable Iraq, but not necessarily a democratic one — a view at odds with President Bush's vision of the troubled country's political future.
"I have always said from day one that the goal here … is a stable Iraq, not whether or not that's a full democracy," the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee told reporters after conducting a town hall meeting at the City College of New York in Harlem. "I can't tell you what it's going to be, but a stable Iraq. And that stability can take several different forms."
Iraq won't be a true democracy on June 30 -- it will certainly take years, and possibly even decades. However, it's unfortunate that the leader of the Democrat Party is so unconcerned about promoting Democracy around the world.
Gorelick "testifies": Instead of sitting before the 9/11 commission to be grilled on what she knows of how the Justice Department dealt with counterterrorism operations in the wake of the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, commissioner Jamie Gorelick pens an op-ed piece in Sunday's Washington Post.
Gauging the truthfulness of Gorelick's account is reasonably easy -- she tells an unnecessary lie to start off her defense.
At last week's hearing, Attorney General John Ashcroft, facing criticism, asserted that "the single greatest structural cause for September 11 was the wall that segregated criminal investigators and intelligence agents" and that I built that wall through a March 1995 memo. This is simply not true.
Here's the relevant portion of Ashcroft's testimony:
But somebody did make these rules. Somebody built this wall.
The basic architecture for the wall in the 1995 guidelines was contained in a classified memorandum entitled "Instructions for Separation of Certain Foreign Counterintelligence and Criminal Investigations."
The memorandum ordered FBI Director Louis Freeh and others, quote, "We believe that it is prudent to establish a set of instructions that will more clearly separate the counterintelligence investigation from the more limited, but continued criminal investigations.
"These procedures," the memo went on to say, "which go beyond what is legally required, will prevent any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance that FISA is being used to avoid procedural safeguards which would apply in a criminal investigation."[emphasis added]
Ashcroft isn't referring to the underlying law upon which Gorelick's memo was based, he's clearly referring to Gorelick's superlegal rules which made it more difficult for the FBI to do its job.
It's telling that Gorelick claims that Ashcroft's deputy approved of the guidelines in August 2001 -- alarmist ACLUers were so sure that Ashcroft was plotting to undermine civil liberties, and it turns out he was continuing Clinton-era policies.
Third, Mr. Ashcroft's own deputy attorney general, Larry Thompson, formally reaffirmed the 1995 guidelines in an Aug. 6, 2001, memo addressed to the FBI and the Justice Department. Ashcroft has charged that the guidelines hampered the department's ability to pursue terrorists Zacarias Moussaoui, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in August 2001, but his own department had endorsed those guidelines at the pivotal time.
OK, Ashcroft's deputy endorsed the Gorelick guidelines -- or did he?
From the next paragraph:
Had my memo been in place in August 2001 -- when, as Ashcroft said, FBI officials rejected a criminal warrant of Moussaoui because they feared "breaching the wall" -- it would have allowed those agents to obtain a criminal warrant without fear of jeopardizing an intelligence investigation. [emphasis added]
Wait a second, she was just damning Ashcroft's Justice Department for having approved the continuation of her guidelines as set down in the memo -- now she's saying they weren't using them. Which is true?
Unfortunately for everyone interested in preventing another 9/11, Gorelick's "testimony" cannot be cross-examined. I'm sure that, in the coming days, people with far more expertise on this matter will dissect the piece in an attempt to determine where the truth really lies. Gorelick's conflict-of-interest in this matter and her narrow recusal from "any consideration of my actions or of the department while I was there" is insufficient.
If Gorelick were truly concerned about the credibility of the 9/11 commission, she would resign. Instead, we will be left with a tainted report that cannot be trusted to fairly and accurately describe the failures that led to the 9/11 attacks. The American people will suffer from Gorelick's arrogance.
*UPDATE* Former U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy has dissected Gorelick's op-ed. Check it out here.
Saturday, April 17, 2004
Another one bites the dust: Israeli helicopter gunships have killed another Hamas leader/terrorist, Dr. Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi.
Friday, April 16, 2004
Not quite right: Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni is in "I told you so" mode. In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune yesterday, Zinni criticized the United States' performance in post-war Iraq.
Zinni's main criticisms are that the United States disbanded the Iraqi Army and there aren't enough troops on the ground to provide needed security. Both are fair criticisms, but Zinni's analysis of the source of the problems and solutions are troubling for such an experienced and knowledgeable individual.
For years Zinni said he cautioned U.S. officials that an Iraq without Saddam Hussein would likely be more dangerous to U.S. interests than one with him because of the ethnic and religious clashes that would be unleashed.
"I think that some heads should roll over Iraq," Zinni said. "I think the president got some bad advice."
But what we have today in Iraq -- specifically cities like Fallujah and Najaf -- is not sectarian violence. Muqtada al Sadr, a Shiite, is wanted for the murder of another Shiite. Sunnis aren't fighting Shiites. Kurds aren't fighting Sunnis. This isn't the kind of violence Zinni predicted. Sadr is a thug making a power play.
Zinni said the United States must now rely on the U.N. to pull its "chestnuts out of the fire in Iraq."
"We're betting on the U.N., who we blew off and ridiculed during the run-up to the war," Zinni said. "Now we're back with hat in hand. It would be funny if not for the lives lost."
This is news to me. If I recall, the U.N. offices in Iraq declined security from the United States and then got blown up -- causing the U.N. to pull out of Iraq. They still haven't returned. While the United States is asking U.N. to return (they've declined thus far) the U.N. would be helping with humanitarian programs -- the U.N. will not be providing security or troops.
Frankly, during the run-up to the war, we didn't blow off or ridicule the U.N., we challenged them to stand up and stand behind all of those Security Council resolutions condemning the government of Saddam Hussein.
For various reasons (can you say Oil for Palaces, corruption, kickbacks?), the U.N. refused to live up to the reason for its founding. The U.N. is unwilling to do anything other than pass meaningless resolutions. To count on the U.N. nowadays, you're either a dreamer or a fool.
Zinni's politics appear to be overriding his good sense. It's not an uncommon occurrence nowadays.
Thursday, April 15, 2004
Devil Dogs: Why you don't want to mess with the Marines:
American forces killed more than 100 insurgents on Tuesday in close combat in a small village in central Iraq, Marine commanders said Wednesday.
The battle, classic urban combat that raged for 14 hours, was one of the heaviest engagements since the invasion of Iraq last year. It showed not only the intensity of the resistance but an acute willingness among insurgents to die.
"A lot of these guys were souped up on jihad," said Lt. Col. B. P. McCoy, commander of the Fourth Battalion, Third Marines. "They might as well been suicide fighters."
Marines fought house to house, roof to roof, doorway to doorway. They repelled attacks of machine-gun fire, volleys of rockets and repeated charges by masked fighters, Colonel McCoy said. Two marines were shot but their injuries were not life-threatening.
Two Marines with non-life-threatening wounds vs. more than 100 Iraqi jihadists dead. Some Iraqis are obviously slow learners.
Make sure they're really on your side: If you're a presidential candidate and you've got a tax plan that you want to promote, it's a good idea to double-check with your "experts" -- especially if they're on the other side -- to see if they really support it.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Senator Kerry's campaign cites me -- "conservative economist Kevin Hassett" -- as an "expert" in support of its plan to change the U.S. corporate tax code. Had the Democratic presidential candidate immersed himself in my often tedious writings on corporate taxation and seen the light? About time!
Alas, it was not to be. Kerry doesn't get it. In fact, his proposal makes a bad system even worse for most U.S. multinational corporations. But the story does not end there. He also shamelessly included a loophole that is designed to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to the few companies -- including HJ Heinz Co. (as in Teresa Heinz, his wife) -- that are organized in a particular way.
Air America Radio: The new liberal talk radio "network" was booted off the air in Los Angeles and Chicago yesterday. Unlike most radio shows, Air America uses leased time to air its views -- very similar to the infomercials that appear on TV in the middle of the night. According to the owner of the two stations, Arthur Liu, Air America owes him about a million dollars and recently bounced a check.
Air America's response to this development is stupid and juvenile, though it appears they believe that they are clever.
But Arthur Liu --- not funny. He lied to us, he ripped us off and now we’re chasing him down with a pipe wrench. It’s a metaphor.
To quote Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
Metaphor: "A figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison, as in “a sea of troubles” or “All the world's a stage” (Shakespeare).
It's not a metaphor. It's a (lame Jr. High) threat.
In the midst of all of the all-too-clever banter, we kinda get Air America's side of the story.
Here’s what really happened:
This Liu-ser was ripping off our boss Evan Cohen big time (he can’t do that, that’s our job). Evan found out about it and he stopped payment on a check to keep Liu-cifer from ripping him off even more. You can touch Evan for the occasional meal or drinks but a million bucks is crossing the line. And if we ever get low on cash, we can always call Barbra Streisand. Or any of the Baldwins. Except Stephen.
There are a couple of conflicting points here. First, I don't think Air America is out of money. If they need money, George Soros has it. They'll fund Air America at least through election day (after that I'm not sure they have the will to continue).
On the other hand, why exactly do you write a check, give it to someone with whom you have a business relationship and then put a stop payment on it? Say you've overpaid, let it go and make sure the extra money is credited to future bills -- like Air America says, it's not as though they're short of cash.
Gorelick again: Both The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post editorialize against 9/11 commissioner Jamie Gorelick's continued participation in the panel.
Wednesday's most outrageous comment came from the Republican 9/11 chairman Tom Kean. Questioned about Gorelick's obvious conflicts of interest, Kean replied: "People ought to stay out of our business."
Wrong, chairman. This is about the figuring out how to better protect the American people from terrrorism. It's not "your" business that we have no say in.
Madness: A few months ago the story of a few Mexican nationals (read: illegal immigrants) was all over the local news. Apparently there had been a report of some shoplifting at a local J.C. Penney store and, depending on who you believe, either J.C. Penney employees, or a cop on his own, stopped and talked to a Latino family who may have been involved.
It turns out that no one in the group was involved with the shoplifting, but two of them were in the country illegally. The Border Patrol was called and they were deported.
Yesterday, the Flores family filed a claim (the first step toward a lawsuit) for $1.5 million against National City for "emotional distress."
Emotional distress? The next time a cop looks at me funny I'll try the same tactic -- and if he stops me and asks a question or two watch out, that's big money.
The real outrageous part of this story, however, is National City Mayor Nick Inzunza's response.
"As far as us calling the Border Patrol, our police officer at the time was not prohibited from doing so," Inzunza said. "We've taken aggressive steps in changing our ordinances so this doesn't occur in the future.
"We just feel we should do everything we can to keep this from happening again.
"I understand what the Flores family is trying to do," Inzunza added. "I would probably do the same thing."
The Police Department has revised its policy
Tomorrow, if National City police officers, in the normal course of their duties, stop a couple of Arab men who have no identification, no passport, no visa, the National City police will just let them go about their business.
So, in a post-9/11 world, the National City Police Department will not be calling the Border Patrol should they find someone in the country illegally. (Recall that some of the 9/11 hijackers were living in the San Diego area.)
I was under the impression that police were "to serve and protect," yet National City and its politicians are more worried about political correctness than protecting the American people.
FYI for Europe: When you see this, think about Hitler and Stalin's non-agression pact.
You know you've got problems: When you're a newspaper and can't even get your own reporter's name right.
A transcript of President' Bush's news conference in some copies yesterday misspelled the given name of a reporter mentioned by Mr. Bush in an answer to a question about the administration's response to warnings of hijackings. She was Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times, not Elizabeth.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
More Gorelick: Conflicted 9/11 commission member Jamie Gorelick is being called on to resign by GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner.
Commissioner Gorelick is in the unfair position of trying to address the key issue before the Commission when her own actions are central to the events at issue. The public cannot help but ask legitimate questions about her motives.
While it is regrettable that this conflict had not come to light sooner, this Commission's work and forthcoming recommendations are too important to be questioned in this way, and may be devalued by Ms. Gorelick's continued participation as a Commissioner. Given Ms. Gorelick's work as the Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno, Ms. Gorelick can be quite valuable to the Commission's work preparing 'a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.' However, that contribution should come as a witness before the Commission - not as a member.
There used to be some truth to the idea that, when it came to scandal, the media was a nonpartisan, equal-opportunity watchdog.
However, when it comes to Gorelick's blatant conflict of interest, that seems no longer to be true. The conservative Media Research Center noted that ABC, CBS and CNN's evening newscasts all failed to mention the Gorelick memo. NBC mentioned the memo only to illustrate the "blame game."
Even more amazing was today's "Good Morning America" during which Gorelick was prompted to attack Attorney General John Ashcroft's handling of pre-9/11 counterterrorism, but nary a mention was made of Gorelick's conflict of interest.
And they wonder why Fox News' viewership is skyrocketing -- Fox did a story on the memo.
The 9/11 widows: The Wall Street Journal's Dorothy Rabinowitz has an excellent article on the media's favorite anti-Bush 9/11 widow/activists.
Any group of relatives of 3,000 people are going to have a wide diversity of views, maybe the media should try to find more than one.
I'm available: Miss USA, Shandi Finnessey, is a "totally single and looking" Republican, by an odd coincidence, so am I!
A Republican, she told Reuters she would use her position to help explain America's involvement in Iraq. "What needed to be done had to be done," she said.
So, Shandi and I will be hooking up as soon as she is struck blind as begins suffering from just a touch of dementia.
[Yes, the selection of the image at the right for this post is a shameless effort to increase the number of hits here at Hoystory.]
The press conference: I was lucky enough to be able to catch most of President Bush's press conference last night. He did an acceptable job; he'll never be mistaken for Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton when it comes to public speaking. you can find a transcript of the press conference here.
I was disappointed that Bush didn't answer the question of why he would be testifying before the (joke of a) 9/11 commission with Dick Cheney. He ducked the question, and there's all sorts of easy ways to answer it.
Similarly, Bush was genuinely befuddled by a question that was certainly forseeable and that he should have been prepared for.
Q. In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you'd made in your life and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa. You've looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say? And what lessons have you learned from it?
A. Hmmm. I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it. I'm sure historians will look back and say, Gosh, he could have done it better this way or that way. You know, I just — I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet.
I would have gone into Afghanistan the way we went into Afghanistan. Even though what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons, I still would have called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein. See, I happen to believe we'll find out the truth on the weapons. That's why we sent up the independent commission. I look forward to hearing the truth as — exactly where they are. They could still be there. They could be hidden, like, the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm.
One of the things that Charlie Duelfer talked about was that he was surprised at the level of intimidation he found amongst people who should know about weapons and their fear of talking about them, because they don't want to be killed. You know, there's this kind of, there's this terror still in the soul of some of the people in Iraq. They're worried about getting killed. And therefore, they're not going to talk. And it'll all settle out. We'll find out the truth about the weapons at some point in time.
However, the fact that he had the capacity to make them bothers me today just like it would have bothered me then. He's a dangerous man. He's a man who actually not only had weapons of mass destruction — and the reason I can say that with certainty is because he used them. And I have no doubt in my mind that he would like to have inflicted harm or paid people to inflict harm or trained people to inflict harm on America because he hated us.
You know, I hope I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't — you just put me under the spot here and maybe I'm not quick, as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.
Ouch. Karl Rove, your beating will commence in five minutes.
On the whole, however, Bush made his points. We're not going to cut and run from Iraq. As long as Bush is president, terrorist acts will not dissuade the United States from fighting for freedom. This was a plus for Bush. He got out in front of the cameras and spoke to the American people. He answered some tough questions and wasn't really bloodied.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Conflict of interest: Perhaps the biggest problem with the 9/11 commission is the presence of former Clinton administration deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick. Like the others, Gorelick is a political partisan. Unlike the others, Gorelick should be answering questions, not asking them.
For those who watched today's 9/11 commission hearings, you saw Attorney General John Ashcroft refer to this memo, which heightened and reinforced a wall between the FBI's criminal and counterterrorism divisions. That memo was authored by Gorelick.
With Gorelick still a member of the commission, it's unlikely that the commission or the public will ever learn the details of why Gorelick created that memo.
Former U.S. Attorney Andrew C. McCarthy has penned a piece for National Review Online detailing the huge conflict of interest Gorelick presents. The Landmark Legal Foundation has sent a letter to the commission calling for Gorelick to step down.
Gorelick should never have been offered a position on the commission in the first place. The commission's findings, if not already tainted by partisanship, will be colored by Gorelick's presence. Unlike any other commissioner, she has a personal stake in the final report.
AIDS and Africa: For those who have heard criticism about President Bush's effort to combat AIDS in Africa, check out James K. Glassman's column for a truth-check.
Great read: I just finished John Grisham's latest novel, "The Last Juror." The book is one of Grisham's better novels. "The Last Juror" is told from the point of view of a young journalist who buys the small weekly newspaper in Clanton, Miss., and takes place over a period of about a decade from the late '60s through most of the '70s. I hate to give much more away, so suffice it to say that it's well worth purchasing the hardback version.
Broadcast journalists: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has apologized for the confiscation/erasure of two print reporters audiotaping of a speech last week.
Scalia says that he will now allow such audiotaping by print reporters in the interests of promoting "accurate reporting."
At the time this incident occurred, I thought the actions by the U.S. marshal was out of line, because reporters were not specifically notified before his talk that audiotaping was prohibited. Halting the recordings at the point they were discovered (or be ejected) would probably have been the proper course of action.
The press has talked a lot about how Scalia's refusal to be recorded is somehow out of line. What didn't make any national news was a talk by Justice John Paul Stevens last week at the University of San Diego. At Stevens talk, recording by the press (but not the university) was prohibited. Photographers were also prohibited from attending (though the university did provide the Union-Tribune with a single still photo).
Scalia, perhaps the Court's most conservative jurist, sets down much the same rules as Stevens, the court's most liberal jurist.
Anyway, this hasn't stopped the broadcast types from whining foul.
Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, objected to that distinction in a letter to Justice Scalia yesterday. "There is no legal basis for such discrimination," she wrote. "To exclude television cameras and audio recording is the equivalent of taking away pencil and paper from print reporters."
Frank Fisher, Mississippi bureau chief for The Associated Press, said the apparent apology to its reporter, Denise Grones, represented progress. But he, too, noted discomfort at the varying treatment of the broadcast press.
"The First Amendment covers all of us," he said.
I hate to say it, but sometimes reporters need to get off their First Amendment soapbox. I've never much liked broadcast reporters, mainly because their method of reporting all to often tends to be to read the morning newspaper, distill the articles down to 100 words and go out and shoot a few seconds of video. (One thing the broadcast media does much better than print is consumer reporting.)
Anyway, asking not to be videotaped by the media at a private event is not stepping on the First Amendment by any stretch of the imagination. By that logic, anyone who doesn't want to talk to a member of the press could be accused of somehow being in "violation" of the First Amendment.
The press needs to pick its fights. This isn't one that's worth pursuing. It's crying wolf. The public pays little attention to First Amendment issues as it is -- don't waste all of their attention on inconsequential issues like this.
Pinkerton's folly: New York Newsday columnist James Pinkerton's latest column suggests that with last week's release of the Aug. 6 PDB, voids any credibility that the Bush administration has regarding preventing terrorism and the 9/11 attacks.
If you knew that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had received a memo a month before Pearl Harbor entitled, "Japanese Determined to Attack the United States in the Pacific," and that he had done nothing about that information, would that knowledge change your perception of FDR as a wise war leader?
Roosevelt received no such memo, of course, but President George W. Bush got a blunt warning five weeks before 9/11 and he did little or nothing. He even presided over a stand-down in preparations, concentrating on other concerns.
What a load of bull. What Roosevelt did have prior to 12/7/41 was knowledge that the Japanese harbored imperial ambitions in the Pacific (Does the term Greater East-Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere ring any bells?) Both the Roosevelt administration and the the Japanese knew that eventually there would be confrontation in the Pacific -- it was inevitable. Is the Roosevelt administration responsible for Pearl Harbor? No.
Pinkerton, who is not always on the left side of the political spectrum, thinks that the PDB's vague warnings of bin Laden's intentions, but noticiable lack of specifics, somehow disqualify Bush from promoting his leadership against the war on terrorism.
Richard Clarke's infamous background briefing shows that Bush was much more serious about the war on terror than the prior administration ever was.
Monday, April 12, 2004
It's all about appearances: Sen. John Edwards is on CNN's "Inside Politics" and this curious exchange took place with host Judy Woodruff. Woodruff summarized some of the contents of the Aug. 6 PDB that is all the rage nowadays and referred to the FBI investigations taking place and then asked:
Woodruff: Is President Bush off the hook on all of this?
Edwards: Absolutely not. No. When the President of the United States is briefed as he was in August 2001, at his ranch in Texas, while he was on vacation, it's his responsibility to do something. I mean, at a minimum, he should have called a meeting that he presided over or his security advisers engaged in. The President needed to take some serious steps to respond to this warning.
So, Bush would have immunized himself from Democrat criticism if he'd called a meeting? Calling a meeting is a "serious step?" Looking at the contents of the memo, calling a rather meaningless meeting is all he could have done, because there's nothing in that memo that allows Bush to take any other action.
Done something. OK, let's say President Bush, in response to this PDB, ordered the FBI to go out and interview every male between the ages of 18 and 45 in the United States with a passport from an Arab country. That might have turned up a few of the hijackers. After 9/11, the FBI did something similar and the howls of racism, stereotyping, etc., were heard from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other victim groups.
Democrats -- so dismissive of any sort of preventative action when it comes to battling global terrorism now -- are now arguing for it. Consistency must truly be the hobgoblin of intelligent minds.
Sunday, April 11, 2004
Happy Easter!: Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. "Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you." And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me."
Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, "You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.' "And if this should come to the governor's ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble." And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.
But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
-- Matthew 28
Much ado about nothing: Well, the White House released a PDB for the first time in history. After reading it, my first response is: Democrat hack Richard Ben-Veniste thinks this is some sort of smoking gun?
In her testimony last week, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice characterized the Aug. 6 PDB as a historical document, not a threat analysis. That has been proven true. Ben-Veniste's suggestion that somehow the PDB contained information that, had it only been acted upon, would have prevented the 9/11 attacks is a lie.
BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6th PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?
RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."
BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.
RICE: No, Mr. Ben-Veniste...
BEN-VENISTE: I will get into the...
RICE: I would like to finish my point here.
BEN-VENISTE: I didn't know there was a point.
RICE: Given that -- you asked me whether or not it warned of attacks.
BEN-VENISTE: I asked you what the title was.
RICE: You said, did it not warn of attacks. It did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.
Sometimes something significant has to happen to change the way the government works. The New Republic's Gregg Easterbrook posted an excellent alternate history on what could have happened had President Bush took the pre-emptive action some are now suggesting prior to the 9/11 attack.
AN ALTERNATIVE HISTORY: washington, april 9, 2004. A hush fell over the city as George W. Bush today became the first president of the United States ever to be removed from office by impeachment. Meeting late into the night, the Senate unanimously voted to convict Bush following a trial on his bill of impeachment from the House.
Moments after being sworn in as the 44th president, Dick Cheney said that disgraced former national security adviser Condoleezza Rice would be turned over to the Hague for trial in the International Court of Justice as a war criminal. Cheney said Washington would "firmly resist" international demands that Bush be extradited for prosecution as well.
On August 7, 2001, Bush had ordered the United States military to stage an all-out attack on alleged terrorist camps in Afghanistan. Thousands of U.S. special forces units parachuted into this neutral country, while air strikes targeted the Afghan government and its supporting military. Pentagon units seized abandoned Soviet air bases throughout Afghanistan, while establishing support bases in nearby nations such as Uzbekistan. Simultaneously, FBI agents throughout the United States staged raids in which dozens of men accused of terrorism were taken prisoner.
The entire thing is well worth reading.
Could the 9/11 attacks been prevented. Yes. But a lot of things would have had to have gone just right -- and the odds were stacked against that happening.
The 9/11 commission has become politicized. Politicized and useless. We've already learned most of what we can from the 9/11 attacks.
One of the lessons learned is that the FBI and CIA need to be free to share information -- something that was prohibited in the pre-9/11 world. Another is that we must be prepared to attack and destroy those who harbor and support terrorists -- an idea still rejected by many on the left.
Anything else the 9/11 commission has to tell us is mere peanuts.
Friday, April 09, 2004
Condolences: "Weird Al" Yankovic's parents were killed today in a house fire.
Whiskey is for drinking...: and water's for fighting over. When I read this, I found it strangely refreshing.
Local water officials voted yesterday to appeal to the state Supreme Court regarding litigation aimed at protecting the region's water supply during a crisis.
The case filed by the San Diego County Water Authority focuses on the method used by the Metropolitan Water District, the region's main supplier, to determine water rights during a drought. The method uses property values to decide how water is distributed: The more expensive the real estate within an agency's boundary, the more supply it can get.
Because property in Los Angeles costs more, that city has rights to more water than San Diego County. In 2001, the water authority sued, arguing the formula is illegal because it ignores that the authority is Metropolitan's biggest customer. The local agency purchases nearly 90 percent of the water used in San Diego County from Metropolitan.
The initial court case was dismissed, and the water authority voted to appeal. Last month, a San Francisco appellate court upheld the dismissal, saying it was up to the Legislature to change the law.
The way that water would be distributed in a drought is definitely unfair, but the court wants the legislature to change the law -- what a novel idea.
Gaining power in Iraq: No one said this would be easy, but it's better that these thugs, both Shia and Sunni, get this out of their system (i.e. dead) sooner rather than later. For Iraq to become a functioning Democracy, the people need to learn that voting and violence are not the same thing. Those who cannot be dissuaded, will be eliminated.
More U.S. soldiers are going to die. It's tragic, and it's a shame, but it's going to happen. I have friends in the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force who are in Iraq now. As I watch the news each night, I dread the possibility of seeing a familiar name. These men are heroes, and they are doing right. They are making the world a safer place for you, for me and for those ungrateful, anti-American, anti-freedom communists at A.N.S.W.E.R.
Iraq isn't Vietnam, as much as Ted Kennedy would like it to be. We lost Vietnam for two reasons: First, we had politicians micro-mismanaging the war effort. Second, American public opinion turned against the war. We didn't lose because it was an immoral war -- it wasn't. Millions of freedom-loving Vietnamese were killed, shipped off to brutal re-education camps or fled in the wake of the fall of South Vietnam.
What is happening in Iraq right now is being compared to the Tet Offensive -- a military disaster for the Viet Cong, but a public relations bonanza for those in America opposed to the war.
These militias aren't interested in freedom from American "occupation." They want political power for themselves, at the expense of all others.
Creating a democracy where none has ever existed before is difficult, and a strong case can be made that the Bush administration has made mistakes. The United States has done nation-building before, and successfully (Japan), but there's very little practical institutional memory remaining from that experience. We're learning all over again.
What's been troubling has been partisan attacks on the Bush administration's handling of Iraq from the likes of Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. They assail Bush, but offer platitudes, not plans. They identify problems, but offer no real solutions. The say that we must remove the "American face" from the occupation, but ignore the fact that fighting, and dying, alongside us are Poles, Ukrainians, British, Salvadorans and others.
We must not quit and pull our troops out, even as the death toll continues to rise. Until we have a Democracy in Iraq and leave that nation in a peaceful state, any withdrawal will be seen as yet another sign of weakness by radical Islamists whose only desire is to murder Americans because of who we are.
Check out Lt. Smash for more.
Lileks on Kennedy: Best thing said yesterday about Ted Kennedy and his Vietnam comparisons:
Turn on the radio. The host is playing a clip of Ted Kennedy declaring “Iraq is George Bush’s Vietnam.” Well, Ted, we’re a long way from Vietnam, when American irresolution condemned millions to the gulag or to exile. Maybe we’ll get to that point, but as you might say, we’ll drive off that bridge when we come to it.
Thursday, April 08, 2004
He's ignored it for a week: The inestimable Viking Pundit has an idea of what New York Times columnist Paul Krugman will write about in tomorrow's column. I'm going to have to concur with his assessment.
*UPDATE* In a wily attempt to prove us wrong, Krugman has addressed the uptick in new jobs. Krugman's analysis: Not good enough.
Frankly, Krugman's "analysis" is laughable -- for the simple reason that he goes to absurd lengths (lies) to make his case.
America hasn't had an Argentine-level slump, but we have a lot to recover from. After three years of lousy job performance, we should be seeing very big employment gains - and even after last month's report, we're not. It would take about four years of reports as good as the one for March 2004 before jobs would be as easy to find as they were in January 2001.[emphasis added]
If you will recall the Democrat primary campaign, the constant refrain was that the economy had lost 3 million jobs under Bush's watch. In March, 308,000 new jobs were created, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Let's do Krugman's math: 308,000 x 48 months = 14,784,000. According to the BLS, there are only 8.4 million unemployed. Even if Krugman is right about the large numbers of people who have given up looking for work, this is more than universal employment -- a surplus of more than 6.3 million jobs -- and no one to work them.
At the end of 2000, the BLS reported 5,692,000 unemployed. Will it really take four years of gains of 308,000 jobs per month to get the job market back to where it was in Jan. 2001? Hardly.
I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for a correction.
Rice and the 9/11 commission: I didn't get up this morning at a ridiculous hour to watch National Security Adviser Condoleezza get quizzed by the politicized 9/11 commission. You can find a full transcript here. I'll try to get around to reading it later tonight and post some thoughts if anything catches my interest.
Religion of Peace update: The peaceful Muslims in Iraq have kidnapped three Japanese civilians (two aid workers and a journalist) and two Israeli Arabs.
The group that abducted the Japanese has threatened to burn three hostages alive if its demands go unmet, according to a video aired on Arabic-language news channel Al-Jazeera.
Thus far, there's no denunciation attacks like these from from those who like to lecture us on how Islam is a peaceful religion.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
ARGHHHHHH!: Neil Cavuto has John "Flipper" Kerry on right now talking about the economy, etc. But Kerry's response to one question was so weaselly it just had me screaming.
Cavuto: Senator, would you be for raising the Social Security retirement age?
Cavuto: Would you be for means-testing Social Security?
Cavuto: So, Social Security, as it stands now, what would you do to fix it?
Kerry: Strengthen the economy.
THAT WON'T WORK and you KNOW IT. Social Security's problem is one of demographics, when the baby boomers retire there won't be enough workers to support their benefits at the current level. Social Security is structurally unsound. It doesn't matter how "strong" the economy is, it doesn't address the problem.
The dangers of quickie books: Rick Atkinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning "An Army at Dawn" set a pretty high standard for the Washington Post reporter. Those of us who were awaiting the second installment of his trilogy will have to wait a little longer, because the Iraq War broke out and he was sent to cover it. The story of the latest war is "In the Company of Soldiers." There's no question that it is a great and worthwhile read. Atkinson gives you a picture of what it was like to be in Iraq and some of the challenges faced by the troops.
The only unfortunate part of Atkinson's book is the fact that his politics make guest appearances periodically. Yes, that liberal media.
The book also contains at least two factual errors.
First, Atkinson repeats the charge (though, unlike many on the left doesn't definitely call it a lie -- but an overstatement) that Vice President Dick Cheney said that Iraq had "reconstituted nuclear weapons." Now, while Cheney did say that -- the record makes it clear that it was a misstatement. In the same "Meet the Press" interview, Cheney made four statements to the effect that there was evidence that Iraq had a "reconstituted nuclear weapons program." It is clear from reading the entire transcript that Cheney didn't believe that Iraq had nuclear weapons -- yet.
Atkinson's second error is more troubling, mainly because such a big deal was made of the mistake in the days following its publication.
Atkinson quotes Lt. Gen. William Wallace as saying "The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we war-gamed against." Unfortunately, that misquote dropped two words that, amid concerns that the military had become bogged down, proved to be very important. The correct quote painted a different picture: "The enemy we're fighting is a bit different from the one we war-gamed against."
It's unfortunate, but understandable, that a slightly botched quote comes out of a war zone -- especially in some of the conditions Atkinson describes. (Atkinson recounts sitting outside in a sandstorm with a big plastic garbage bag covering his head, dictating a story over a satellite phone because he couldn't get a signal inside the tent.) However, you'd think that such a widely publicized error would be corrected when the book came out.
That being said, Atkinson's book is still a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the history of warfare.
Religion and public life: John "Flipper" Kerry has made the case that, though he is a Catholic, those core beliefs have no impact on his votes as a legislator -- at least as they relate to abortion and the intentional murder (re: The Unborn Victims of Violence Act) of unborn children.
Unlike the previous president who shared his initials, the American public isn't worried about the Pope pulling Kerry's strings -- he's demonstrated over the years that he is a very nominal Catholic.
For a detailed analysis of Kerry's latest statement regarding his faith and his public life, check out this analysis by VMI professor Scott Belliveau.
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Pennsylvania poll update: I criticized CNN earlier for putting up a useless poll in the GOP Senate primary in Pennsylvania. The poll in question had a margin of error of +/- 10 points. For those of you who are interested, a SurveyUSA poll can be found here. It has incumbent Arlen Specter leading challenger Pat Toomey by only 6 points, with a 4.5 point margin of error.
Kos' "mercenaries": Yeah, those bad private contractors are just evil, profiting off of war.
What he said: Steven Den Beste on some of the unsolicited mail that many bloggers receive.
A correction? Well, it doesn't look like a correction. It doesn't really sound like a correction, but it may be something correctionish.
Today's Paul Krugman column has the following note at the bottom.
A Yawngate update: CNN called me to insist that despite what it first said, the administration really, truly wasn't responsible for the network's claim that David Letterman's embarrassing video of a Bush speech was a fake. I still don't understand why the network didn't deny White House involvement until it retracted the charge. But the main point of Friday's column was to highlight the way CNN facilitated crude administration smears of Richard Clarke.
So, Krugman merely buried the lede. He didn't really have enough solid information to write a whole 700 words about CNN and the Bush administration's secret pact to discredit disgruntled former employee and proven liar Richard Clarke, so he wasted nearly half of his column on a false libel.
If you flashback to Krugman's last column, you find that CNN had erroneously stated that the tired, fidgeting kid in question had been edited into the video and later that he was at the rally, but not standing where he appeared in the video. Krugman appears to be confused at why "the network didn't deny White House involvement until it retracted the charge."
This makes no sense. Why is CNN's screw-up any less believable because they retracted the whole thing at once and not the part about the White House involvement first?
If this is a Krugman correction, then who is the one who is really able to smear without fear?
Stupid GOP Senator and Trent Lott redux: First, Kentucky GOP Senator Jim Bunning said something really stupid. Not Kos-level stupid, but dumb all the same. Bunning should be a man and apologize.
Likewise, Democrat Sen. Chris Dodd pulled a little-noticed "Trent Lott" last week. West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd cast his 17,000 vote last week. To mark the occasion, Dodd made the following comments:
It has often been said that the man and the moment come together. I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia that he would have been a great Senator at any moment. Some were right for the time. ROBERT C. BYRD, in my view, would have been right at any time. He would have been right at the founding of this country. He would have been in the leadership crafting this Constitution. He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this Nation. He would have been right at the great moments of international threat we faced in the 20th century. I cannot think of a single moment in this Nation's 220-plus year history where he would not have been a valuable asset to this country. Certainly today that is not any less true.
Byrd was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Would he really have been "right" during the Civil War? Was he really right during the civil rights fights of the 1950s and 60s?
Like Trent Lott, who was overeffusive in his praise for Sen. Strom Thurmond on the occasion of his 100th birthday, Dodd's comments appear to endorse some things I'm sure he doesn't really endorse.
Unlike Lott, Dodd has no leadership role in his party's caucus. But Dodd would also do well to apologize for the offensive nature of his comments.