Saturday, May 01, 2004

Fox News is interviewing parents of the soldiers accused in the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners.

Their defense is that they were following orders. Where have I heard that before? As Col. Bill Cowan says, it doesn't take special training to have basic human decency. It is going to cost lives, and give extra fodder to Al Jazeera.

Update: The Brigadier General in charge of these troops, Janis Karpinski, is passing the buck, blaming military intelligence officers.

The Democrats seem to have a thing for lieutenants

Their radio message today, in answer to President Bush's, was given by a Second Lieutenant criticizing his leadership. Is this guy going to be Secretary of Defense in the Kerry administration, or just National Security advisor. I hope the guy doesn't get fragged.

How can they aim their AK-47s through those?

Power Line blog questions the withdrawal from Fallujah. I think that it's a good idea to push the Iraqis out and see whether they can handle the job. Democracy takes more than just transferring power. It requires people who assume responsibility for their own government and will stand up for public peace and the rule of law.

Watched Kenneth Timmerman on C-Span2

He can't pronounce "nuclear" consistently, but he seems quite knowledgable. He was speaking at the Middle East Forum about his last two books, Preachers of Hate and The French Betrayal of America. He also wrote Shakedown, about Jesse Jackson's career of squeezing large businesses for "contributions."

Two stories he told impressed me. First Chirac called Bush and not only said the French would support a Security Council Resolution authorizing removal of Saddam, but offered to meet and make plans for coalition actions, apparently for the purpose of embarrassing us. Timmerman states that France had contracts for $100 billion in Iraqi oil that depended on keeping Saddam in power.

The second story was about Ghadafi watching the clips of Saddam being examined by the medic after he was captured. He says that, according to a person who was in the room, Ghadafi "turned white" and he shortly thereafter offered to give up his nuclear program.

Chirac, he says, is a creature of Saddam and other Arab connections who have funded his political career. De Villepin is an admirer of Napoleon and longs for the return of the France to its glory days of authoritarian government. He quotes Villepin as telling a U. S. Senator, "The problem with you Americans is that you don't read Machiavelli. Of course, we lied to you at the U.N.! Of course we lied to you about Iraq! That's what big boys do when they play politics."

What I don't understand is why this book hasn't gotten more attention, since it corroborates so much of what we suspected about France and raises extremely troubling issues about the usefulness of working through the U.N. as John Kerry proposes. None of his reporting hasn't been challenged that I've been able to find, just ignored. I can see why the major media would ignore him, because he is politically incorrect and his books are published by Crown Forum, a conservative publisher. There is a review by Joseph S. Nye, Jr. in the Washington Post reproduced on the Amazon page, but it dismisses Timmerman's case with a reference to an article in The Nation which claims that France's offers of support were conditioned on "evidence of Saddam's terminal unwillingness to get rid of weapons of mass destruction." Timmerman isn't interpreting events, however, he's reporting, and he doesn't include any strings attached to Chirac's offer. Nor does Nye's explanation explain De Villepin's frank admission that his government had lied to us.

The review is dismissive, but doesn't really offer any reason why the reader should suspect Timmerman's honesty. The implied criticism is "This guy's a conservative. Don't trust him." Nye notes that Timmerman doesn't reveal his sources, but admits that he probably shouldn't. The readers who reviewed it are split between five stars and one. The pans have phrases like "Yet another neocon jew tomb (sic)" and "Too Provocative." I wonder how many really read the book. I can't imagine most liberals shelling out the money for a book with a title that challenges one of their most cherished beliefs, that we should have listened to France about Iraq. Timmerman doesn't have Newsweek flacking for him, like Bob Woodward, but I think his book sounds a lot more important.

The new Michael Moore

It might be Micah Wright, if this, this and this are any indication. With his combination of chutzpah, dishonesty and artistic ability he seems to have all it takes to be the next Ted Rall, too, or even eclipse him, since Wright can actually draw.

Update: Jim Treacher sums this up best, noting that the term hoax is being used inappropriately for Wright's deception:
This wasn't some sort of performance-art piece to point out the credulity of the media, or whatever b***s*** spin will be put on it. The guy lied and lied and lied to shut up people who disagreed with him, and to get his foot in the door as a writer/pundit/whatever. He only told the truth when it became clear that his arrogant deflections weren't working anymore and he had no choice. Do you really think he came clean, the day before it became national news, out of the goodness of his heart? (Well, you don't believe that, obviously; I think more highly of you than that. But some people will fall for it.) If Leiby hadn't pursued it, I'm guessing Wright would be spending his weekend typing up some more "You don't know what it's like in the s***, man!" e-mails, instead of sweating through his shirt and trying to cover his tracks. Anyway, let's reserve the term "hoax" for Captain Janks and the like, huh?

The Koppel special

I posted the following at Jeff Goldstein's blog:
You know, this show has been done before, on the Vietnam Memorial which is essentially a vast gravestone. Koppel seems to think he is being dramatic and noble, but it rings as phony and manipulative as Richard Clarke's apology. It's based on the assumption that if we look at the photos and listen to the names, we'll realize that each of these people was a person, each had a life and loved ones. The problem is that most of us knew that already. Anybody who lived through the Vietnam period and its aftermath has heard that meme. It's no longer powerful because it's a cliche.

That doesn't mean the point isn't true, it's just that it assumes that those who support this war haven't considered it. It's an old, truly bankrupt argument. It's been made and answered.

The fault with it is that it focuses only on the troops who died, not on what they accomplished, and what they and others like them have done for the ordinary people of Afghanistan and Iraq, and what they are still doing. By dramatizing the costs and ignoring the goals, it seeks to convince us that the policy is wrong. It's dishonest and as old as the arguments against military preparedness have always been. That's why it offends me so much. Koppel seems to think he's being insightful and powerful, but he just doesn't have anything new to say. So he waves the bloody shirt, manipulates his audience in the most pompous and cynical way and congratulates himself and basks in the adulation of the idiot left.

Friday, April 30, 2004

Another good reason

for getting rid of the UN, or at least change the name. Maybe it is the name that leads people to think this is the future of world government. If it were called the People's Democratic Republic of Earth, we'd probably know better how much to trust it. The name now is a deliberate parallel to the United States, but there isn't much united about it. Maybe it should be called the Turtle Bay Debating Society to make it clear that it shouldn't take itself so seriously. As it is, it encourages the illusion that diplomacy has completely replaced military power as the sole governing principle of international relations. What gives us the nutty idea that our national interests should defer to a committee that includes outright enemies and representatives of over-the-hill powers that will sell us out for enough oil? I'm not against having a place to air differences, but we should really disabuse ourselves that it requires as much money as we're flushing down it or that it can really accomplish anything without unanimity.

The Ingrown Intellect

Mickey Kaus has a good review of Paul Krugman's latest, which starts with a quote from George Orwell in service of an argument the exact opposite of what Orwell was saying. Krugman is either breathtakingly ignorant or breathtakingly dishonest, since the quote was written against Orwell's fellow socialists who opposed the Second World War.

I think this may be the danger implied in the phrase, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Or, as the Book of Mormon puts it, "O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise."

How did I miss this?

James Lileks describes "my days at a college paper." Since I went to Brigham Young University I wasn't in "a warm capacious womb, dogpaddling in the amniotic fluid of our unexamined assumptions, writing sentences as bad as this one and thinking ourselves quite clever." Well, I probably was, but not the same lefty, anti-war assumption he describes. The people who thought as he describes were generally from California and brought the infection with them only to find that it didn't spread very well. They were like pod people, but apparently the pods only functioned and grew in California. Provo's altitude and climate, and BYU's honor code and admissions policies weren't conducive to counterculture, which on most campuses then and since was the prevailing culture at least among the Humanities Faculties.

Now, I've acquired a little more cynicism about capitalism and politics, but not enough to make me think that more government is a solution to anything. I've examined my assumptions and tweaked them. Today, I wish that I had put in some time in the military. I doubt they would have trusted me to do much, since I weighed less than 120 lbs back then, but I got to know some people in law school who had spent time in the Army, Air Force and Marines who had shared something I hadn't. Maybe it was just being in on a big joke like those comedies we've seen about how FUBAR the armed services are, although some of them had definitely been through stuff like Band of Brothers. Most of them had just been through a lot of macho training in stuff like parachuting and frogman stuff, but it definitely had something to do with knowing what testosterone was really for. I was never keyed into that male horseplay, jock stuff which usually involves smoking cigars and drinking scotch. I'm still not, but everytime I see these young men who go out to serve this country and test their manhood, I wish I were 18 and single and could go enlist.

I guess that makes me a chickenhawk in the eyes of bleeps like Ted Kennedy and Frank Lautenberg, but guys like that only make me think about all the people who fought, bled and died so that they could shoot their mouths off.

As I think about it, I was never one of those inspired by JFK, like John Kerry, Bill Clinton or Chris Matthews. I wanted wanted to be like my Uncle Frank, or Uncle Stewart who died in WWII or his brother Warren who was in the Bataan Death March and survived the Japanese prison camps. They probably would have said that I didn't miss anything. Maybe so, but I don't think that this country will endure without the families who pass on the tradition of service to their sons and daughters, who readily answer the call to fight. I hope we never have another Korea or Vietnam, not because it was a bad war, but because our leaders tried to fight it with a false understanding of our history or the nature of democratic war. America should always fight to win, not to establish a demilitarized zone.

As Victor Davis Hanson points out, the Western and democratic way of war is all out until we win. He calls this the western dilemma, which means, I think, that we have to pick our fights and be sure we're agreed at the outset, but then do whatever it takes. If 9/11 wasn't a case for using our military, we should pack it all up and close it down, because we don't have the guts for the fight anymore.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

What's really sad . . .

is that, for political reasons, our media ignores stories like this one about the amount of corruption in the U.N. and among leftist politicians. They're busy worrying whether Kerry threw his medals or his ribbons over the White House fence thirty-odd years ago.

There seems to be little or no attention paid to this report that we have found a lot of evidence of Saddam's WMD, in the form of huge stores of pesticides, far beyond the needs of the Iraqi agricultural economy. Of course, the story has two things going against it: First, it didn't come from the NYTimes and second, it's in a sister publication of the Washington Times. Sure, it's a rightwing magazine, but it can't be any more biased than the Times is.

Nightline gets roasted

Not just by Glenn Reynolds but by a number of his readers. Since when is using a news program show for political activism considered "journalism"? Why isn't this a violation of journalistic "ethics," if you believe in such a thing.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004


Mickey Kaus reports that the Robopoll outperforms human pollsters asking questions.

Frank Lautenberg plays the chickenhawk card

Via Hugh Hewitt played Frank Lautenberg's little rant calling Dick Cheney a "chickenhawk," meaning that since he was not drafted during the Vietnam War because he was given deferments, Cheney has no moral status to advocate war in Iraq. It doesn't take much thought to realize that the argument doesn't make any sense. If it did, it would be just as valid to say that people who have no military experience have no moral authority for opposing war.

Uh-oh! Kofi's mad.

The Associated Press reports in its story on the battle of Fallujah:
"Violent military action by an occupying power against inhabitants of an occupied country will only make matters worse," Annan said. "It's definitely time � time now for those who prefer restraint and dialogue to make their voices heard."
Who does he think has been killing our soldiers? Why isn't he lecturing the Arabs? NOW can we get out of this CS outfit?

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Via Instapundit

This from James Morrow:
But the naive belief among journalists with little or no international law background that no military action is legitimate without the UN's seal of approval is one thing. The continued fetishistic belief of politicians and opinion-makers in the supposed good intentions of the UN is another -- and it is something that needs to end immediately.
Especially when we now know that two of the permanent seats on the Security Council could be bought by a creep like Saddam Hussein. There is no reason any longer to trust the good faith of the U.N. We have two scandals, the Oil for Food corruption of U.N. bureaucrats and the Oil for Security Council Vetoes scandal. To that, add the Brahimi scandal now developing.

Also, via Power Line, there's this report that Saddam did have WMDs. I've always wondered why everybody just accepted David Kay's report that they weren't there, despite the fact that he reported Saddam was in violation of 17 U.N. Security Council resolutions.

There's also this report from Kenneth Timmerman:
New evidence out of Iraq suggests that the U.S. effort to track down Saddam Hussein's missing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is having better success than is being reported. Key assertions by the intelligence community that were widely judged in the media and by critics of President George W. Bush as having been false are turning out to have been true after all. But this stunning news has received little attention from the major media, and the president's critics continue to insist that "no weapons" have been found.

In virtually every case - chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missiles - the United States has found the weapons and the programs that the Iraqi dictator successfully concealed for 12 years from U.N. weapons inspectors.. . .

[A] senior administration official tells Insight. "There is a long list of charges made by the U.S. that have been confirmed, but none of this seems to mean anything because the weapons that were unaccounted for by the United Nations remain unaccounted for."
So we've found evidence of WMD but not the specific WMD that the UN said were unaccounted for.

Are we in a quagmire?

I'd have said no last week, but as Deacon at Power Line blog notes:
Those who use the term never seem to provide a test for determining whether a quagmire exists but, for my money, a good test is whether "ceasefires" are occurring. Now that they are in Iraq, it may be time to officially acknowledge that we are in a quagmire.
I hope somebody wakes up and takes Jed Babbin's advice.

It seems to be an Arab trait to try to mediate every fight, but you shouldn't agree to a ceasefire, because they won't stop the fighting for it. Let the mediators work while the violence goes on. If the mediation succeeds, fine, but if we win before that so much the better. It's just a lot less trouble to make the other side surrender.

Is Kerry collapsing?

I've heard this suggestion that the Dems may do a Toricelli and switch candidates, but what kind of message does that send to the electorate? "Well, all you who voted for this man in the primaries backed a loser, and so we delegates will have to disregard your instructions at the convention and pick someone else!"

I would love to see this primary system abandoned, because it has given us Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole and now John F. Kerry, none of whom were good choices for president. However, such a move now would be disastrous, not only for this election but for many more to come. Let's hope they do it!

Islam and Women

I've read five books about Islam, Arabs and the Middle East and they all cite the mistreatment of women and the relegating them to the status of chattel as one of the prime failures of Muslim societies in the region. This piece by Pamela Bone illustrates how truly horrific the plight of women in these countries can be.

The Saudis, as the source of proliferation for Wahhabism throughout the world are no better than the Taliban. That by itself should be enough to distrust them. It's bad enough to be racist and bigoted toward religion, even toward other Muslims, but to deny half their population of even the slightest equality in this day and age just illustrates how backward and primitive they are:
[I]f there is ever going to be a peaceful world there are few things more important than lifting the status of women. The hatreds of bin Laden and his kind will not be assuaged; but in general, fundamentalism wanes as prosperity increases. And as a United Nations report notes, a large part of the reason so many countries in the Middle East are overpopulated, economic basket cases is the repression of women.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Roger Simon rocks!

He responds to a Jay Rosen piece on the recent presidential news "conference." The title of Rosen's piece is:
Bush to Press: "You're Assuming That You Represent the Public. I Don't Accept That."
My favorite line from Roger:
I didn't need Bush to dismiss them. I was perfectly capable of doing it by myself.
My favorite line from a commentor:
One big reason, perhaps the single biggest reason, people are so unsatisifed with the product marketed as "news" is that so little of it is actually the result of the behavior known as reporting.
I wish I could analyze all this quickly, but it takes me longer than most to read and digest Roger's post, Rosen's piece and all the comments to both. My initial reaction to Bush's dissing of the press is "How eloquent! Uhrah!" But I guess I'd better read it all.

I've thought for a long time that reporters would be better if they had to learn the rules of evidence that lawyers study. They don't need to follow them, but it would help them to vet their questions better before asking them and maybe avoid pitfalls like asking the President why has hasn't apologized for 9/11. Lawyers get to ask leading questions in appropriate situations, but they don't get to ask irrelevant and argumentative questions. It might be nice if journalists knew what those terms meant and why they're objectionable.