Friday, May 28, 2004

HE'S BAAAACK

A year or so ago, I enjoyed reading the posts of Bill Whittle every morning on his blog called EJECT!EJECT!EJECT!.

Aside from well-written daily rants, he would periodically post an essay, which were also well-written themes.

Bill has been busy (I guess) because he hasn't written much in the past year, but he has posted a new two-part essay called Strength (part 1, part 2). One of Bill's strengths is his ability to craft a really snappy put down. In Strength, part 2, he says the following of the illustrious senior Senator from Massachusetts:

Senator Kennedy claims Abu Ghraib is simply Saddam Hussein’s torture chambers "under new management – U.S. management." Taking him at his word – a somewhat iffy proposition right out of the gate – he apparently cannot see the difference between the humiliation and bullying of enemy combatants, which is shameful, disgusting and reprehensible, and the gleeful, mocking murder, torture and gang rape of over 300,000 innocent men, women and children -- which is something worse. So Senator, here is a helpful analogy which you may find useful: The difference is about the same as pulling over and leaving a young female secretary on the curb in the rain, which is shameful, disgusting and reprehensible, vs. leaving her trapped in the car at the bottom of a river while you look at the bubbles and ponder the political repercussions.

Ouch.


WHICH TWO WARS ARE BEING FOUGHT?

The GWOT? Right.

What's the other one? Hint: it's been going on for forty years.

My guess is the first one will be over before the second.


Thursday, May 27, 2004

DON'T GET ME STARTED . . .

This is why people have taken their kids out of the public schools.

It just isn't quality of education, it's quality of life. In public schools, the administration can't demand that students show respect for one another -- in private schools they can.

It's sad . . .


KERRY TO ACCEPT NOMINATION

Oh well, it looks like Kerry has decided to accept the nomination.

Politically, it was the right thing to do since it made him look like a guy constantly looking for loopholes. Hey, wasn't that Bill Clinton?


FROM THENATIONALDEBATE.COM

I couldn't resist including all of this, rather than just a link.


After too much Abu Ghraib, I turned off the cable news and switched over to The History Channel the other day which got me to wondering how some of the major events of World War II would have been reported by the cable news networks if Bush had been in charge. Here are some headlines from THEN and what they might look like IF NOW WERE THEN.

1939 March 15
THEN: German Troops Enter Prague; Czechoslovakia Dismembered
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Abandons Eastern Europeans to Nazis

1939 September 1
THEN: Germany Invades Poland
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Fails to Defend Poles

1939 September 3
THEN: Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand Declare War on Germany
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Idle As World Acts

1940 May 27-28
THEN: Allies Evacuate Dunkirk
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Unfamiliar with History of the Normans

1940 July 10
THEN: Battle of Britain begins
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Pilot's License Expires

1941 December 7
THEN: Japan Attacks Pearl Harbour
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Missed Signs of Pending Jap Attack

1941 December 8
THEN: Allies Declare War on Japan
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Welcomes Allied Support

1941 December 11
THEN: Germany and Italy Declare War on United States
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Fails to Negotiate Solution with Axis Powers

1942 January 1
THEN: U.N. Declaration Signed by 26 Countries
IF NOW WERE THEN: Pearl Harbor Families Fault Bush for Hawaiin Attack

1942 June 3-4
THEN: Battle of Midway
IF NOW WERE THEN: U.S. Suffers Massive Casualties

1942 August 12
THEN: Stalin and Churchill Meet in Moscow
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Heads to Texas for Summer Vacation

1942 November 11
THEN: Germans Occupy Southern France
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Loses Wine Region Nazis

1943 March
THEN: Germans Repulsed in Russia, Caucasuses
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Unable to Pronounce Caucasuses

1943 June 9
THEN: Allies Invade Sicily
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Take Long Way Through Italy

1943 July 25
THEN: Mussolini Captured, Imprisoned
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush May Have Condoned Rought Treatment of Mussolini

1943 September 8
THEN: Italians Surrender to Germans
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Refuses to Reveal U.S. War Plans

1943 September 12
THEN: Mussolini is Rescued
IF NOW WERE THEN: Mussolini Eludes Bush's Grasp

1944 June 4
THEN: Rome Falls to Allies
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Fails to Open Second Front in France

1944 June 6
THEN: D-Day Invasion of Normandy Begins
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Approved Risky Invasion "Scheme"

1944 June 27
THEN: Americans Take Cherbourg
IF NOW WERE THEN: Americans Bogged Down in France

1944 July 30
THEN: Hitler Assassination Attempt Fails
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Bungles Hitler Hit

1944 December 16
THEN: Battle of Bulge Begins
IF NOW WERE THEN: Germans Route Allies, 101st Airborne Lost

1945 January 17
THEN: Russians Liberate Warsaw
IF NOW WERE THEN: Halliburton Lands Lurcrative Military Contracts in France

1945 February 9
THEN: British Reach Rhine
IF NOW WERE THEN:U.S. Tanks Damage Wildlife Refuge in Alscace Region

1945 April 13
THEN: Belen Concentration Camp Captured by Americans
IF NOW WERE THEN: Democrats Claim Bush's War A Plot to Secure Jewish Votes

1945 April 28
THEN: Mussolini Dies
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Budget Defecit Grows as War Costs Escalate

1945 April 29
THEN: Germany Surrenders Unconditionally
IF NOW WERE THEN: Losses Mount in Pacific

1945 April 30
THEN: Hitler Commits Suicide
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Fails to Capture Hitler

1945 August 6
THEN: Atomic Bomb Dropped on Hiroshima
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Massacres Japanese Civilians

1945 August 9
THEN: Atomic Bomb Dropped on Nagasaki
IF NOW WERE THEN: Bush Atrocities in Japan Continue

1945 August 14
THEN: Japan Agrees to Unconditional Surrender
IF NOW WERE THEN: Millions Threatened with Job Loss as War Ends


Sad, but true.


THE NEW REAGAN?

I've said it before. The "Governator" has an opportunity to become a strong national leader in the style of Ronald Reagan.

Arnold is proving to Californians that he isn't an empty suit. While many pundits were predicting the state would fall into chaos upon his election, guess what?

It didn't. Better yet, though those and other pundits suggested Schwarzenegger could never get the predominantly Democrat legislature to approve anything he wanted, they've been proven wrong.

Even in California, partisan politics can be put aside. Why not in Washington?

IS THIS A TIPPING POINT?

Anyone else see Gen. Zinni on 60 Minutes last Sunday? I watched part of it and then surfed away. He struck me as a bright guy who lost the biggest argument of his career (whether or not the US should invade Iraq -- he voted "not") and, upon losing, did the noble thing and resigned his commission.

Of course, he didn't come on 60 Minutes because of that. He could have done that the day after he resigned. He came on 60 Minutes to flog his book, Battle Ready.

Oh, and to trash the Bush Administration. He sort of believes they should do as he did -- admit they lost and resign. He sounded a little more rational than Al Gore, which is saying something these days.

What is verrry interrresting is not that Zinni authored this book, but that his co-author is Tom Clancy. Yes, that Tom Clancy.

Not too many folks have picked up on this one. Clancy has always been the unabashed supporter of the American military, but he seems to have drawn a line in the sand that some may find shocking. Why has Clancy decided to throw support to those who believe our invasion of Iraq was unnecessary.

More importantly, will Clancy influence others?


IS THIS THE SIGNAL TO SHORT MICROSOFT?

Microsoft is one company about which everyone has had something unkind to say, whether (big picture) they illegally smothered smaller software vendors who might have otherwise survived and succeeded or (small picture) your PC crashed just before you were able to save that 25 page document that took two hours to create.

Of course, many people just hate them because Bill Gates is a rich guy.

One of Gates' biggest natural enemies is a guy called Larry Ellison. Larry's company, Oracle, is busily trying their best to convince the rest of the world that there is an alternative to Windows. Ellison is putting his money where his mouth is.

So, does this mean Microsoft has nowhere to go but down?

I don't think so. If you look at how Microsoft has been spending their cash horde, it's obvious to me that they believe Windows is (long term) not a monopoly. They are acting like they have to find many other opportunities to make money under the assumption that Windows will no long be the big "cash cow".

Time to short? Doubt it.


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

SPIN CYCLE

I feel like a moron.

After thinking about some of the posts below, I just had a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious).

Those news organizations that most folks view as "left leaning" are (my observation) doing something truly nefarious is their "reporting". It goes like this:

1. Any story emanating from "the enemy" -- al Jazeera, bin Laden tape, a statement from the "Arab street" -- is presented unfiltered and without comment.

2. Any story emanating from the US administration, the US military or any other source aligned (or allied) with the US is both filtered and commented on.

What tends to set sources like Fox News apart from others is they tend to both present and comment on both "sides".

What I think the mainstream media find so offensive about Fox News isn't that they are wild supporters of the administration. It's that they always take stories from the "other" side and subject them to the same scrutiny as stories coming from the administration.

The best recent example was the story treatment of the prison abuse disclosures compared to the covering of the story of the beheading of Nick Berg. Most of the prison abuse stories including a lot of finger pointing and critical comment. Most of the Nick Berg stories were pretty matter-of-fact, sounding a lot like a story describing a car accident on the freeway.


NO VIRGINIA, IT WASN'T A NUCLEAR WINTER THAT KILLED THE DINOSAURS

They weren't frozen, they were broiled, according to this research paper.

According to a geophysicist at the University of Colorado, a giant asteroid impacted the earth 65 million years ago and, within hours, all surface-dwelling animals and plants were cooked to death.

Will you have fries with that?


I MUST ADMIT, I DON'T KNOW

I've enjoyed reading Mickey Kaus for a long time. I don't necessarily agree with his politics, but he's fair and equal in his abuse of all politicians, so he scores high in my book.

His piece today about Kerry's strategy of not accepting the nomination at the DemConvention has me stumped. I'm pretty sure it's total sarcasm, but it might be the opposite. I just don't know which. Maybe I need to down another double espresso and read it again?

Anyway, the zinger for me was So they have crafted a cunning plan designed to get the TV networks to avoid covering the convention entirely (by delaying Kerry's acceptance), while the reporters who might otherwise be exposing Kerry to the world are convinced to stay at home. (Give up 'tons of free publicity'? Nothing's more threatening to Kerry than tons of free publicity.)

I have to agree with Mickey -- the more direct exposure Kerry gets, the worse people think of him. It's the "Dukakis factor" -- sort of like buying a product from an infomercial, but when you see actually receive it, you go "eeewww, what is this crap!"


MEA CULPA?

Lovely.

The NY Times writes drivel for months about the war on terror/in Iraq and they write one blanket correction piece and all is forgiven?

Belmont Club expands on this "confession". He goes on to point out other blatant examples of media spin.


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

WE REPORT . . . YOU DECIDE

OK, I won't even take a position on this question.

Which is worse:

1) US military police humiliating Iraqi prisoners by taking pictures of them naked.

2) Teenage rape victims fleeing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being sexually exploited by the United Nations peace-keeping troops sent to the stop their suffering.


Friday, May 21, 2004

SHINE THE LIGHT

Slowly, the information about Abu Ghraib is being "colored in" with all the details that go beyond the "thousand words" that the pictures tell.


YOU GO, COS

Bill Cosby shook a few people up with his speech in Washington at a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.


KERRY'S CAMPAIGN THEME ANNOUNCED

Remember Reagan's successful campaign theme -- Morning in America? In the wake of Abu Ghraib and the beheading of Nick Berg, the Kerry campaign has responded with the answer to the question "what will be the central theme of your campaign?"

It was announced yesterday (or maybe the day before -- who knows?) that the Kerry campaign theme will be:

Let America Be America Again?*

* The title of a poem by Langston Hughes, an African-American poet whose work was first published in the 20's and 30's. The poem itself is a protest written from the perspective of an African-American who has not participated in the "American Dream". A sampling:

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.
. . .
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!


That'll pump everyone up.


OF COURSE, IT'S THE JEWS' FAULT

Senator Fritz Hollings from SC is, what, 100 years old? So I'll give him about half an inch of slack for senility, but this piece from his website makes me want to break something.

Sen. Hollings sees our invasion of Iraq as, you guessed it, the fault of the Jews. Yup, that's right. At the urging all his Jewish advisors and Jewish commentators, Bush saw Iraq as a way of sewing up the Jewish vote in the US.

Give me strength . . .


Thursday, May 20, 2004

KERRY TO NADER: DON'T BRING ME DOWN

Nader to Kerry: Bite Me

Bush to Nader: The Check's In The Mail


WRETCHARD TO THE WRESCUE (AGAIN)

Yet again, Wretchard writes a post that makes it clear we are witnessing an exercise in self-flagellation in the public media on most news stories coming out of the mid east.

We need to hear things like this from our media themselves, not a guy who lives in Australia and reports/analyzes world events on a part-time basis.


SORRY, BUT THEY'RE IDIOTS

I know I should be more sympathetic and forgiving, but I'm beginning to get a bit pissed at some of the "9/11" families who are now playing off public sympathy to push their political agenda.

Yes, it was the most brutal day in my lifetime. We all died when the twin towers collapsed. When it happened, I told friends of mine "20,000 people just died." It was truly a miracle that it was less than 3,000.

On that day, our President wasn't the first to step forth -- Rudy Giuliani did. He became a national hero that day as he stood in front of the cameras and made everyone feel like at least someone was in charge.

Yesterday, Rudy was heckled by families who are no doubt still feeling the pain of loss of their loved ones, friends and co-workers. Their actions do nothing to bring closure. Their actions are not constructive. I'm sorry if this sounds callous, but they're idiots.


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

AND THIS FROM THE WORLD'S BEST CHESS PLAYER . . .

No, it's not a tip on how to win in six moves.

Garry Kasparov, in writing about the war in Iraq in today's OpinionJournal makes a point so perfectly clear I wish I'd thought of it:

The Bush administration has contributed to the confusion with its ambiguous "war on terror." You cannot fight a word. You need targets, you need to know what you are fighting for and against. Most importantly you must have beliefs that enable you to distinguish friend from foe.

Damn. A powerful, powerful point. This is a must-read piece.


EARTH TO DUMBASS

Have you heard some of the claptrap from Kerry -- blaming Bush for higher gas prices.

Someone needs to get in touch with the Kerry campaign and gently suggest they hire an economist or someone who has at least taken an economics course or two.

The primary reason prices went up (effect) has been a substantial increase in demand for crude oil (cause). No, we aren't driving more. In fact, though I haven't seen the numbers, I suspect US demand is off.

However, crude oil is a global commodity and the increased demand from China has driven prices skyward.

Last time I checked, Bush didn't have much control over either the price of crude or Chinese demand. Oh, but of course, there's that conspiracy thing between Cheney and Halliburton to get all that cheap Iraqi crude.

UPDATE: The press is apparently on to Kerry's nonsense on this one. As this article says, the story wound up being "Kerry Blames Bush" rather than "It's Bush's Fault". Maybe the media is getting wise to the fact that, so far, Kerry hasn't taken too many positions that weren't more than "I'm Not George Bush" or "Bush Is A Bad Guy, Vote For Me". We're all getting tired of the blame game, John.


IF HE HAD A CLUE, KERRY WOULD APPEAL TO THE MEDIA . . .

. . . to stop with the day in-day out stories about prisoner abuse. Why?

Because the story is crowding out everything else.

It's probably done as much damage as it can possibly do to Bush (unless someone comes up with evidence that Cheney took soome of the pictures).

Any more press attention only takes away oxygen from Kerry.

It's already showing up in the polls.


IS THIS THE "FIRST STEP"?

In any "12 step" program, the first step is always admitting you have a problem.

It appears that the Bush administration is there.

Now that we've admitted it, what next??


LET'S HOPE THIS WORKS

Have you heard about the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq? You have?? I'm shocked.

I was shocked when I first heard of it, but pissed off when I heard about it for the 1000th time.

We won't help the Iraqis solve their internal problems by wallowing in self-hatred.

What we have to do is more of this and this.


KERRY . . . CLUELESS

"Sound bite John" -- that's what I think I'm gong to start calling him.

Kerry is obviously a smart guy, but he listens to his advisors (and who knows who else) way too much. Why do I say that? Because his comments about the auto industry and the offshoring of jobs (which he erroneously calls "outsourcing") leads me to believe he is only pandering to the United Auto Workers.

Why? Read this story about a worker at Honda's Marysville, Ohio, plant. He thinks Kerry is a dickhead and tells you why.


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

NEWS COVERAGE AS A WEAPON

Wretchard (Belmont Club) wrote a powerful piece yesterday.

Read it.


CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN . . .

If one of the Bush daughters wore something like this?

You could expect something like this from Courtney Love, J-Lo or Cher, but from the daughter of the guy who wants to be President? Seems her judgment is on par with her dad's.


WHY ISN'T CNN FUNDING THIS?

What's up with this?

The Marines (on their own) have successfully, privately gotten donations of TV and radio equipment to get Iraq stations up and running. They probably got as much as CNN throws away in a month.

Why haven't our media organizations done this????


THE GANG WHO COULDN'T SHOOT STRAIGHT

Last week, just when most Americans were getting really pissed about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, our enemies made Abu Ghraib look like an over-the-top version of "Boys Gone Wild: Fraternity Hazing at State University".

The execution of Nicholas Berg by Zarqawi and his gang more than erased the memory of those photos of men who were sadistically humiliated, scared shitless, but were never maimed or killed.

As Charles Freund says in his LA Time op-ed, Elemental empathy is a primary measure of civilization. The shame that Americans felt at the Abu Ghraib images is rooted in such empathy. Even in the dehumanizing context of warfare, which strains the empathy of all its participants, this is savagery.


IT IS TOO MUCH TO ASK??

Jeff Jarvis asks a simple question. Why can't the media organizations assign just one reporter to the positive side of the news in Iraq -- the rebuilding?

Kerry and others are bitching about all the money we're spending on Halliburton contracts. So let's see where our money is going?

It is really too much to ask?


Monday, May 17, 2004

NOW!!

I agree with Mickey Kaus.

It will be years before Iraq has a democracy that operates like others.

And there is no question that the one thing the Islamists fear most is the establishment of a democratic, non-theocratic government in Iraq.

Do it now. Any delay past June 30 is a victory for our enemies.


CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Looks like some law enforcement agencies are looking to block cell phone use at major events to prevent terrorists from using them to communicate or detontate bombs. I'm sure a whole bunch of groups will get upset if they do this, but it's going to happen. And not a minute too soon.


IT SHOULD BE A CRIME

I must have missed it. Or maybe no one thinks it's news. I didn't hear this from US sources over the weekend.

Remember the photos of the Brits who supposedly abused Iraqis? Remember the British Army saying they had to be fakes because the weapons and uniforms in the photos weren't issued to troops in Iraq?

They were right.

I don't have a problem with TV shows that dramatize crimes. Some of them are pretty good. And there is no doubt that (like the American prison guards) there were probably some Brits who were abusive of their prisoners. But for a news organization to use fake photos should be a crime. At least a misdemeanor.

If these sleazeballs did 30 days in jail, maybe this kind of crap would end. This doesn't qualify as the expression of a free press.


Monday, May 10, 2004

FORMER NAVY SECRETARY JOHN LEHMAN SPEAKS OUT

Lehman delivered a thought-provoking address at the US Naval Institute titled "Our Enemy Is Not Terrorism".

A key quote:

This problem goes back a long way. We have been asleep. Just by chance about six months ago, I picked up a book by V. S. Naipaul, one of the great English prose writers. I love to read his short stories and travelogues. The book was titled Among the Believers (New York: Vintage, 1982) and was an account of his travels in Indonesia, where he found that Saudi-funded schools and mosques were transforming Indonesian society from a very relaxed, syncretist Islam to a jihadist fundamentalist fanatical society, all paid for with Saudi Arabian funding. Nobody paid attention. Presidents in four administrations put their arms around Saudi ambassadors, ignored the Wahhabi jihadism, and said these are our eternal friends.


ABU GHRAIB -- BACK IN THE U.S.A.

You can Google around and begin to find a number of articles and blog posts that are saying Abu Ghraib isn't that big of a deal if you know anything about how prisons are run in the US.

Huh?

Yep -- it seems that some of the stuff we have seen in the "horror" photos is fairly commonplace in US prisons and even in Germany.

In fact, it has been mentioned that many of the military police who ran Abu Ghraib were, in civilian life, prison guards. So they didn't really see what was wrong with what they were doing. They apparently do it all the time

NO, THIS DOESN'T EXCUSE THEIR BEHAVIOR, but it sheds a little light on an important journalistic question: If American prisoners in American prisons are being treated like this, where is American journalism on that issue?


IT'S WORTH REPEATING

I usually just link to a post or article, but this morning I feel compelled to cut and paste Andrew Sullivan's entire post on the War in Iraq. As painful as it is for me to say it, the Bush administration is at a crossroads. They won Baghdad and caught Saddam, but I'm not sure we can yet say we've won the war and I'm not sure we can say we're even winning the war. Andrew does a great job of summing it up:

THE CHASTENING: The question I have asked myself in the wake of Abu Ghraib is simply the following: if I knew before the war what I know now, would I still have supported it? I cannot deny that the terrible mismanagement of the post-war - something that no reasonable person can now ignore - has, perhaps fatally, wrecked the mission. But does it make the case for war in retrospect invalid? My tentative answer - and this is a blog, written day by day and hour by hour, not a carefully collected summary of my views - is yes, I still would have supported the war. But only just. And whether the "just" turns into a "no" depends on how we deal with the huge challenge now in front of us.

THE CASE STANDS - JUST: There were two fundamental reasons for war against Iraq. The first was the threat of weapons of mass destruction possessed by Saddam Hussein, weapons that in the wake of 9/11, posed an intolerable threat to world security. That reason has not been destroyed by subsequent events, but it has been deeply shaken. The United States made its case before the entire world on the basis of actual stockpiles of dangerous weaponry. No such stockpiles existed. Yes, the infrastructure was there, the intent was there, the potential was there - all good cause for concern. Yes, the alternative of maintaining porous sanctions - a regime that both impoverished and punished the Iraqi people while empowering and enriching Saddam and his U.N. allies - was awful. But the case the U.S. actually made has been disproved. There is no getting around that. The second case, and one I stressed more at the time, was the moral one. The removal of Saddam was an unalloyed good. His was a repugnant, evil regime and turning the country into a more open and democratic place was both worthy in itself and a vital strategic goal in turning the region around. It was going to be a demonstration of an alternative to the autocracies of the Arab world, a way to break the dangerous cycle that had led to Islamism and al Qaeda and 9/11 and a future too grim to contemplate. The narrative of liberation was critical to the success of the mission - politically and militarily. This was never going to be easy, but it was worth trying. It was vital to reverse the Islamist narrative that pitted American values against Muslim dignity. The reason Abu Ghraib is such a catastrophe is that it has destroyed this narrative. It has turned the image of this war into the war that the America-hating left always said it was: a brutal, imperialist, racist occupation, designed to humiliate another culture. Abu Ghraib is Noam Chomsky's narrative turned into images more stunning, more damaging, more powerful than a million polemics from Ted Rall or Susan Sontag. It is Osama's dream propaganda coup. It is Chirac's fantasy of vindication. It is Tony Blair's nightmare. And, whether they are directly responsible or not, the people who ran this war are answerable to America, to America's allies, to Iraq, for the astonishing setback we have now encountered on their watch.

THE INEXCUSABLE: The one anti-war argument that, in retrospect, I did not take seriously enough was a simple one. It was that this war was noble and defensible but that this administration was simply too incompetent and arrogant to carry it out effectively. I dismissed this as facile Bush-bashing at the time. I was wrong. I sensed the hubris of this administration after the fall of Baghdad, but I didn't sense how they would grotesquely under-man the post-war occupation, bungle the maintenance of security, short-change an absolutely vital mission, dismiss constructive criticism, ignore even their allies (like the Brits), and fail to shift swiftly enough when events span out of control. This was never going to be an easy venture; and we shouldn't expect perfection. There were bound to be revolts and terrorist infractions. The job is immense; and many of us have rallied to the administration's defense in difficult times, aware of the immense difficulties involved. But to have allowed the situation to slide into where we now are, to have a military so poorly managed and under-staffed that what we have seen out of Abu Ghraib was either the result of a) chaos, b) policy or c) some awful combination of the two, is inexcusable. It is a betrayal of all those soldiers who have done amazing work, who are genuine heroes, of all those Iraqis who have risked their lives for our and their future, of ordinary Americans who trusted their president and defense secretary to get this right. To have humiliated the United States by presenting false and misleading intelligence and then to have allowed something like Abu Ghraib to happen - after a year of other, compounded errors - is unforgivable. By refusing to hold anyone accountable, the president has also shown he is not really in control. We are at war; and our war leaders have given the enemy their biggest propaganda coup imaginable, while refusing to acknowledge their own palpable errors and misjudgments. They have, alas, scant credibility left and must be called to account. Shock has now led - and should lead - to anger. And those of us who support the war should, in many ways, be angrier than those who opposed it.

WINNING THE WAR: But we must still win. This isn't about scoring points. It should not be about circling partisan wagons. And it must not mean withdrawal or despair. Much has also gone right in Iraq. Saddam is gone; the Kurds are free and moving toward democratic rule; in many areas, self-government is emerging. The alternatives to regime change, we should remember, were no alternatives at all. Civil war is neither inevitable nor imminent. Before the Abu Ghraib disaster, there were encouraging signs that Shiites were themselves marginalizing al Sadr's gangs; and that some responsible Sunnis could be integrated into a new Iraq. We have time yet to win over the middle of Iraqi opinion to the side of peaceful democratic change. How to do it? We need to accelerate elections; we need to show the Arab and Muslim world that we will purge our military and intelligence services of those who perpetrated these obscenities and those responsible for them; we must spend the money to secure the borders, police the power-lines, and bring measurable prosperity to a potentially wealthy country; and we have to eat even more crow to get the U.N. to help legitimize a liberation that most Iraqis now view as an intolerable occupation. To my mind, these awful recent revelations - and they may get far worse - make it even more essential that we bring democratic government to Iraq, and don't cut and run. Noam Chomsky is wrong. Abu Ghraib is not the real meaning of America. And we now have to show it - in abundance. That is the opportunity this calamity has opened up. And then, when November comes around, we have to decide whether this president is now a liability in the war on terror or the asset he once was. How he reacts to this crisis - whether he is even in touch enough to recognize it as a crisis - should determine how the country votes this fall. He and his team have failed us profoundly. He has a few months to show he can yet succeed.


Friday, May 07, 2004

RUMSFELD SHOULD STAY

The first major public poll confirms that almost 60% of Democrats say he should not resign. This should be a signal to the hotter heads that they should back off.

Rumsfeld has already documented that this isn't "new" news. The only thing that is "new" the pictures.


LITE BLOGGING ALERT

I will be traveling throughout central Florida next week. Probably won't have much time to post.


CAUTION FROM PROF. HANSON

Victor Davis Hanson makes a point today that I have been thinking about for the past couple of months.

Our enemies in the GWOT are beginning to play us. We have become predictable and that is dangerous, especially dangerous in war. It reminds me of that first tank battle in north Africa when Patton defeats Rommel and exhorts (in the movie) "I read your book!" Rommel had become predictable and Patton used it to defeat him.

We have become predictable. A simple car bomb (what does that cost? $500, plus one stolen or abandoned car?) that can kill a few soldiers earns massive amounts of air time on every US news outlet. An ambush on a Humvee, a few deaths by sniper and a petty warlord becomes an instant celebrity. It's better than buying time on the Super Bowl in terms of "impressions". And the media loves it.

Our enemies now know our weakness and they are hammering on them daily. So how do we fix this mess? Per VDH:

We have to return to an audacious and entirely unpredictable combat mode; put on a happy, aw-shucks face while annihilating utterly the Baathist remnants and Sadr's killers; attribute this success to the new Iraqi government and its veneer of an army for its own 'miraculous' courage; ignore the incoming rounds of moral hypocrisy on Iraq from Europe (past French and German oil deals and arms sales), the Arab League (silence over Iraqi holocausts, cheating on sanctions), and the U.N. (Oil-for-Food debacle); explain to an exasperated American people why other people hate us for who we are rather than what we do; and apologize sincerely and forcefully once — not gratuitously and zillions of times — for the rare transgression.

I wrote more than a year ago that our biggest weapon was unpredictability. Bush had a rep as a cowboy and that was good. "Shock and awe" worked because it was completely unexpected. Our enemies didn't know what to expect next.

Now they do. It's time for Plan B.


Thursday, May 06, 2004

NEW REASON NOT TO EAT CHOCOLATE

The FDA's standard for food defects in chocolate:

Average is 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams when 6 100-gram subsamples are examined OR Any 1 subsample contains 90 or more insect fragments.

Of course, that would be a treat compared to the standard for red fish:

3 % of the fillets examined contain 1 or more copepods (a parasite) accompanied by pus pockets.

Yummy.


THIS GUY IS LUCKY

Do you believe this guy's story? Six nails . . . from six different angles . . . and it was an accident?

Right.


HONESTY ON THE LEFT

A blogger called Jeremy Brown wrote this a few days ago:

It has long been my conviction that the "enemy," from my perspective as someone who considers himself left leaning, has far more to do with a tragic potential within human nature than with a socio-economic structure, or with some Anglo-imperialist menace. Every individual has the capacity to abuse power, to treat others with cruelty, to violate the best interests of humanity. And sometimes this awful potential reifies into a social movement, a behemoth that can't be stopped except through brute force. This is why I'm opposed to what, since Mussolini, we can call fascism, and why I oppose it without regard to the race, religion or history of the people inflicting this sort of organized brutality, and why I support the tragic, morally poisonous necessity of using military force to stop it.

So when it comes to inhuman (read: all too human) brutality like this, we should consider that it comes from the same place within humanity that has spawned the atrocities of the Saddam regime, and all the other horrors of our human history. While I don't think it's my place to lash out at soldiers when I myself have never served, surely the behavior of these abhorrent individuals is an insult to the rest of the American military, and to the bravery of people, both military and civilian, who have ever lost their lives fighting for their country. These criminals should be jailed, as should the figures in authority who, whether through negligence or direct incitement, made this outrage possible.


For a self-described left leaner, an honest assessment. Too bad some of the politicians and media pundits on the left aren't as honest.


YET ANOTHER ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE DISSOLUTION OF THE U.N.

Read about the horrors now occurring in the Sudan in this piece, and especially read the last part:

Meanwhile Sudan was on Tuesday reelected to the UN Human Rights Commission, despite objections mainly by the United States. Sudan was among 14 countries was elected to the UN's highest forum for examining human rights around the world. The nomination, by the African Group, prompted the US delegation to walk out. The other African countries that named onto the commission were Guinea, Kenya and Togo.

You have to invent a new word to describe the utter failure of the UN.


TOO BAD THEIR STOCK IS NOT PUBLICLY TRADED

It would be a great short.

This is rich. Al Gore and his backers have just bought a cable news network I've never heard of. And they want to sell it to cable systems. The same systems Gore tried over and over to regulate. Right. He'll be welcome.


SOUNDS LIKE HERESY, BUT IT'S THE TRUTH

Mother Teresa helped many people, but Michael Milken helped more.
-- John Stossel, "In Defense of Greed," Forbes, Feb. 2, 2004 *

Many vilify Milken. No question he stepped over the line in his business dealings in the '80's, but Mike Milken and his single-handed, single-minded approach to financing the growth of small to medium-sized companies is probably the biggest contribution made to corporate finance in my lifetime. And, in turn, those companies created millions of jobs.

So, as heretical as it may sound, Milken put far more loaves of bread on the table than Mother Teresa and these days is doing far more.


KERRY'S JEWISH PROBLEM

I've said it before. I'll say it again. The Democrats (Kerry in particular) do not deserve votes from any supporter of Israel.


Wednesday, May 05, 2004

NOW MAYBE YOU UNDERSTAND WHY DETROIT HAS AN IMAGE PROBLEM

I've always suspected that the auto manufacturing crowd who mostly live around Detroit are out of touch. They look at the purchase of the automobile in the same way as voting for a candidate for President -- they have their loyalities and screw the truth.

I now have proof. The Detroit News ran an online poll asking a simple question: Do recent rankings and reports on auto quality make you contemplate switching brands next time you buy?

Sixty percent of those responding said no. When it comes to the second most expensive purchase they will make in their life (after their homes), they say quality isn't that important. They will continue to knowingly buy something crappier. And they wonder why the imports have done so well.



IF AL QAEDA WAS DESTROYED TOMORROW, THEN WHAT?

Michael Totten makes the very critical point that Islamist terror will not disappear if we kill every al Qaeda member.

It makes little sense to declare war on Al Qaeda while ignoring Al Qaeda's Islamist allies in terror like Hezbollah and Hamas. And it makes little sense to declare war against Hezbollah and Hamas while ignoring the Baathist states (Syria and Saddam Hussein's Iraq) and the Islamist states (Saudi Arabia and Iran) who provide them financial aid, material aid, military aid, and real estate. Most are networked together, sometimes loosely, other times less so. Hezbollah was created by Iran. The Taliban was a product of Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency and was backed by Saudi Arabian patronage.

THIS IS NOT GOOD, NO MATTER HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY SADDAM

I agree with Christopher Hitchens. The torture and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib is despicable. As Hitch says:

It is as if British or American soldiers had not only executed German prisoners of war, but had force-marched them to Dachau in order to commit the atrocity.

After taking many casualties ourselves to prevent civilian casualties. After spending millions of dollars to design and perfect weapons that inflicted the minimum of collateral damage. After clothing ourselves in the uniform of a liberator, we do this?

The best thing to do now is for the military to make a very public show of prosecuting these sadistic creeps.

They have done nothing but to dishonor themselves and their fallen comrades.

And now the President has to go on Arab television to try to explain why they shouldn't hate us.


FELIZ CINCO DE MAYO

It's funny. When I lived in Mexico (after living many years in California and Texas), I was surprised that Cinco de Mayo wasn't a huge deal to most Mexicans. After all, it commemorated the Battle of Puebla, when the Mexicans put the final nail in the coffin of European designs (and desires) to control Mexico.

My hunch is that Cinco de Mayo is more popular in the US than Mexico because it is more "retail" friendly than other, more popular Mexican holidays, like El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead, when Mexicans pay homage to relatives who have passed on). Hard to conjure up buying a six-pack of Coronas to celebrate a trip to the cemetery, no?

Of course, maybe the real reason is they defeated the French at Puebla. Celebrating defeating the French would be a little like the Green Bay Packers getting excited about defeating the footbal team from a girls boarding school. Hard to be macho about that one.

A RICOCHET?

The doctor who treated Kerry for one of the wounds he received (which allowed him to bail from Vietnam 8 months early) says the wound he treated was consistent with a story told by one of Kerry's crew. It was not an enemy round, but a ricochet from a mortar Kerry fired himself.


Tuesday, May 04, 2004

JOURNALISTIC BIAS

Christopher Hitchens, after spending some time in Iraq, comes to the conclusion that the journalists covering Iraq have already made up their minds.

No surprise, but still disappointing.


JUST IN CASE YOU DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW THAT THEY'RE PROPELLER HEADS

The Google IPO filing reports a Proposed Maximum Aggregate Offering Price of: $2,718,281,828. The value of the natural log e is 2.718281828.

You gotta love these guys.


NEWS FROM THE FRONT

Kevin Sites is a freelance journalist who has posted some of his Iraqi experience on his website.

It's an interesting read, though be aware there are a few very graphic images of what happens when an AK-47 round hits you in the arm.


DID YOU KNOW WE LAUNCHED MISSILES FROM OCEAN PLATFORMS?

I didn't. Very cool.

But it raises a question -- could an apparently normal freighter be used to launch a really big missile?

UPDATE: Today's launch of a DirecTV satellite was a success.


THE BEAT GOES ON

In his recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Kerry (yet again) tried (unsuccessfully) to distance himself from himself. Mickey Kaus is on the case.


WOULD YOU TRUST THEM?

North Korea has promised not to sell nukes to terrorists. Believe them? Me neither, but at least they aren't threatening to sell them to the highest bidder . . . yet.


TAHERI TO U.S. -- DON'T PANIC

Amir Taheri's op-ed provides a really good sum-up of what some people believe versus reality in Iraq today.

The "Readers Digest" version:

What to do in Iraq? The answer is simple: Don't lose your nerve!

Yes, Iraq can become another Vietnam - not because of anything that's happening there, but because America and its allies, for reasons of domestic politics, might panic and transform victory into defeat.



NEWS FLASH: TERRORISM IN SAUDI ARABIA CAUSED BY JEWS (ACCORDING TO CROWN PRINCE ABDULLAH)

Clueless.


Monday, May 03, 2004

IS THE "9/11" COMMISSION DOOMED TO BE ANOTHER "WARREN COMMISSION"?

Since the Warren Commission closed its books after it tried and convicted Lee Harvey Oswald, its methods and conclusions have been doubted by many. Conspiracy theory movies like Oliver Stone's are no more or less credible than the Warren Commission's work. The common wisdom is that they already made up their minds that Oswald had to be the lone gunman since any other conclusion could have had a destabilizing effect on the country.

So here we are forty years later, with another commission -- one formed to be politically neutral -- that is under fire before it publishes its first volume. This time, it's not the commission that's in question, but the commissioners, especially Jamie Gorelick.

They are screwed. It is obvious in retrospect that even a strident Democrat would have insisted Gorelick recuse herself "if we knew then what we knew now." However, since the Commission is so far along in its proceedings, there is no willingness to do anything about it.

This will forever taint the Commission's findings.

DEMS UNHAPPY WITH KERRY -- THE STORY CONTINUES . . .

Is Kerry trying to "rope a dope" his way to the White House? That strategy worked for Ali, but Bush isn't Joe Frazier.

Many Democrats are beginning to ask the hard questions, with this column making the point with a very pessimistic ending:

It is traditional for party activists to grumble about their prospective nominee between the time he wraps up the primaries and when he is actually nominated. But the doubts about Mr. Kerry go beyond campaign kvetching. At times, they seem to verge on quiet panic.

INTERESTING ARTICLE OF THE DAY

I'm not sure whether this is good news or not.

We don't have the luxury of adopting the mid east cliche "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" since very often in that region the enemy of our enemy is our enemy.

It's no different from the Bloods and the Crips. Tribal warfare is rarely a good thing.

Of course, it would be very cool to discover this is the US Spec Ops guys in action.


GO FIGURE . . .

The mess in Fallujah, just when we have the bad guys by the gonads, comes to a screeching halt.

Was this a political solution? I hope not. Some people think so. Others aren't so sure (scroll down to see multiple posts).