Saturday, May 08, 2004

Lawrence F. Kaplan suggests in TNR that Kerry's claim that "if I were president, we'd have a very different set of activities going on in Iraq today," is a repeat from his post-Vietnam anti-war activist phase, in which he accused the whole country of the war crimes committed by troops.

It is precisely because John Kerry famous accused every person who served in the Vietnam War of having committed war crimes, and even claimed that he have done so himself, that his current attacks blaming this on Bush rings of the kind of charges he made in 1971. That did grave harm to our military, by opening a gap between public opinion and the people who protect this country.

I don't agree with Kaplan's claim that "there is no longer room in American political discourse for a voice that says anything remotely critical of 'the troops,'"

Kaplan asserts that his role in the My Lai massacre made William Calley "an overnight hero." That's not how I remember him. He was convicted of murder. The fact that Richard Nixon pardoned him doesn't make Calley a hero. He was seen by many as a victim since he claimed that he had been following orders, but that doesn't add up to hero.

But Kerry defended Calley, " Those of us who have served in Vietnam [not that again!] know that the real guilty party is the United States of America."

Kerry's suggestion that Abu Ghraib was more policy than accident implies that the guards were not so much victimizers as victims who deserve a Nuremberg defense.
In his eagerness to capitalize on bad news for Bush, Kerry has made some pretty incredible claims, suggesting that being president is similar to commanding a swift boat on the Mekong River and that this wouldn't have happened if he were president. Is he really so naive? He said "I will not be the last to know what's going on in my administration!" How does he propose to make that happen?

Friday, May 07, 2004

I think Tom Friedman should resign . . .

for his stupid column yesterday, along with everybody up his chain of command. Having Donald Rumsfeld resign to atone for the sins of some deviates in the military police is not the example we want to give the third world, which is already plagued by government instability and coup d'etats. What we should be doing is exactly what the military was doing when this media storm exploded because someone leaked evidence to the press. Of course, we can't demand accountability from the media, because our courts have decided that they have none. How about requiring Seymore Hersh and everybody at CBS News to give up their jobs for violating the rights of the defendants in the Abu Ghraib scandal and obstructing justice by endangering a successful prosecution? How about all those in Congress who voted to appropriate funds which ended up paying these lowlifes, including those who voted for it before they voted against it?

It's easy for politicians and journalists to call for resignations, but I notice that Howell Raines took his time before dutifully falling on his sword, and he had a much smaller chain of authority between himself and Jayson Blair. Maybe we ought to have a rule that everybody who calls for someone else's resignation should have to take over their job one like it. Of course, not of these people has the ability to manage an organization the size of the Defense Department. Most of them only know how to craft snotty criticisms of the ones who are actually doing things.

The Noble Heritage of Islam

Abu Sadr's office today "offered rewards for the capture of coalition troops and told worshippers that anyone who captures a female British soldier can keep her as a slave � apparently in retaliation for the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison."

But this isn't real news, given the general status of women in his society. At least he's not threatening to give them as brides.

Minnesoda apologizes

Big Trunk at Power Line blog describes Senator Mark Dayton of Minnesota, who made an ass of himself in questioning General Myers and Secretary Rumsfeld by repeatedly accusing them of "suppressing" reports on the Abu Ghraib investigation, in a Senate hearing today:
Over those five years, Senator Dayton used his Christmas cards to discuss the dissolution of his two marriages, his entry into rehabilitation for alcoholism, and related therapy issues. Even when Senator Dayton's medications are properly titrated, he is a fellow who is not dealing from a full deck -- as he showed the whole country today.
Dayton also accused Bush of trying to undermine democracy in this case. Rumsfeld set him straight, but he remained oblivious to reason. What a moron!

And I thought Senator Hatch was an embarrassment.

Update: Fraters Libertas joins the apology. Hugh Hewitt is taking calls from Minnesotans apologizing for have this boob as a senator.


An American Muslim has been linked to the bombing of trains in Madrid. The fingerprints of "Brandon Mayfield , a 37-year-old U.S. citizen, lawyer and former Army officer who converted to Islam," were found on a plastic bag containing detonators of the type used in the bombing. "[T]he bag turned up in a van that had been stolen and abandoned near the station where three of the four trains departed from before they were bombed."

Why isn't this story being flogged the way the Abu Ghraib scandal is?

The outrage du jour

Howard Kurtz rounds up the media stampede over the Abu Ghraib story, but he's defending the nuttiness of the reactions:
I knew this was coming.

You could smell it, sense it, feel it.

Someone was going to accuse the media of pushing an antiwar agenda by reporting the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

On one level, this is hardly surprising. Every issue these days, and certainly any issue that touches on Iraq, is part of a highly charged partisan maelstrom.. . .

Still, you'd think that the sheer cruelty of the prison photographs, including the latest obtained by The Post, would blow away any doubts that this is an important, as well as deeply depressing, story. That is, even if you were an enthusiastic supporter of the war, you would not want this sort of news suppressed.
Who said that it shouldn't be covered? What annoys me about the coverage is the spin that this is some kind of coverup. The President, Donald Rumsfeld, and the head of the Joint Chiefs have been put in a position of commenting on the evidence in a pending prosecution, possibly prejudicing their rights to a fair trial. Nobody has minimized the seriousness of the charges. The investigation has been going forward as it should, but the evidence being leaked to the media gives the defendants a good argument that their rights have been prejudiced.

That's what's wrong with it. Howard Kurtz should review the defense by John Adams of the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

The secret of the red states

Lileks gives a clue:
the Plumber brought along a young padawan to observe and assist. The plumber listens to the same radio station I do � in fact he noted that he heard me on the Hugh Hewitt show. When he came upstairs to ask me a question and saw me typing away, he said �Hey, are you blogging?� What a strange and wonderful life.

Odd: I�ve never hired anyone who listened to NPR on the job.
He hadn't read the Strib column, but knew him from Hugh Hewitt. I have an associate who still listens to NPR all day, and it surprises me all the time how differently from me he thinks about Iraq without really being able to explain why.

Andrew Sullivan . . .

is offended that Jonah Goldberg is not taking gay rights issues seriously:
Conservative opinion on gays ranges from boredom to outright hostility and animus. There are times when I prefer the animus.
Sorry, Andrew, I don't feel any animus except when people get in my face and call be a bigot about it. It sounds like Virginia has passed a stupid law, but I don't think that refusing to recognize gay marriages is what's wrong with it.

Mostly what I feel is sadness that so many people have been convinced that their emotional impairment is a constitutional right. And I say that as someone with an emotional impairment of my own. To me, it's as though depressed people started demanding that treatment for their condition be outlawed, that they were just born that way and deserve to be recognized legally . . . (Needle across the record)

What am I saying? That's basically what the ADA is all about. I wonder if Andrew would agree that identifying oneself as homosexual is a disability under the ADA, requiring legal recognition of same-sex marriage? Of course, nobody has come up with drugs that reorient homosexuals to heteros, but I'm pretty sure it would be greeted with indignance and outrage.

All the Democrat in Congress . . .

seem to be dutifully lined up to repeat their talking points, "Rumsfeld must go." This could be the death throes of a major political party. I think that liberals have lost it, and don't have anything new to offer. I expect that a new and paradoxical group is rising, not liberal, but a return to the root of that term, more freedom. I can see a libertarian consensus arising from liberals who believe in ever expanding civil liberties, including legalized pornography, gay rights and legalized drugs coming together with those on the right concerned about free markets and trade, gun rights and states' rights.

As odd as this might seem, I see it happening as young people become more and more disillusioned with the society handed to them with all the debts of the New Deal and its progeny and the decay in government services such as education, welfare and public safety. Oddly enough, as I was typing this, I saw Michael Barone on Brit Hume's program discussing his new book, Hard America, Soft America, which sounds as though he's seeing something similar.

I've felt for a long time that it was unfair to saddle our children with our retirement. I hate the idea that they should be taxed because we didn't provide for ourselves because we were paying for the Great Society. Now we're complaining about the high costs of pills and want them to pay that, too. If I can't work, let me die, don't charge it to my kids. But my generation is expecting to to retire with another twenty years of life expectancy, and I think that when we retire, often mandatorily, and the next generations feel the pinch and realize that they can't afford the lifestyle their parents had, there will be hell to pay and the socialistic programs of the past 70 years will catch the flak.

How important is success in Iraq?

Osama is offering bounties on Paul Bremer. Bremer must be doing better than our media are letting on. Osama may be alive or dead, but he's definitely a brand among Ara

It also strikes me that he's not as free with his gold as he was prior to our activities in Afghanistan. His interest in what's happening in Iraq suggests that it is vital that we succeed there. It certainly is a distraction to the terrorists, and that helps us.

Why I believe Bush

I think you'd have to be really jaded or enraged beyond logic to read this article and still think that George Bush is the person the left paints him to be.

Of course, they'll hate this story too, just as they did his visit to the Lincoln and his risky visit with troops in Baghdad at Thanksgiving. Viewing him through their own cynical lens, they'll call this pandering and grandstanding. It's too bad that this story will be missed by a lot of people because of our cynical, slanted media.

Don't ask, Don't tell, Take pictures.

Best of the Web stretchs w-a-a-y out there to connect the sad sacks charged in the Abu Ghraib scandal with the widespread antipathy toward ROTC and miltary recruiting on college campuses, which most recently has been justified by bias against gays. But if anything looks like it would appeal to gays, it's those photos of nude men, simulated gay sex, bondage and sadism. They're gay porn.

In fact, I'm wondering why the loopy left isn't denouncing this investigation as bigoted against those whose sexual orientation is in the minority.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Why should Bush apologize?

Kerry criticizes Bush on Abu Ghraib. It's predictable in a political campaign, I suppose, but he's just throwing meat to his own base. Nobody who thinks about this fairly will believe that the stuff going on at Abu Ghraib was condoned by Bush, Rumsfeld anybody from General Karpinski on up. And Bush wasn't happy that the reports seem to have taken too long to reach him, but that's pretty predictable in human nature, as well, and Fred Barnes said on Fox this evening that there have been reports about this for weeks months in the print press, but nobody paid any attention until the photos came out. Then everybody in the Congress was upset that they hadn't know about it before. Considering the impact this report will have on MP careers, it seems appropriate that the reports be carefully checked out before dropping this bombshell. Note that the last link from January 16 includes this:
At the Pentagon, Lawrence Di Rita, spokesman for U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said the probe was a criminal investigation and that the reports of abuse were deemed "very serious and credible."
What I don't get is what the photos were for. I mean, is this something you want to show your kids when they ask "What did you do in the Army?" Were they posted on the bulletin board? I doubt that they were for publication. Were they being used to "soften up" prisoners for interrogation? They certainly took care to conceal the identities of the prisoners, as well. Everybody in the photos has a sack over his head.

I have another question. Have any of the people in the photos been identified or interviewed? What were they in the prison for? Were they al Qaeda types or the criminals that Saddam released when we invaded? The prisoners looked pretty beefy for people who had been in prison. Maybe they've been letting them lift weights. I guess I'll just have to read more of the reports.

Another good question:
"Why was a mechanic allowed to handle prisoners?" Daniel Sivits asked plaintively in reference to his son, Pvt. Jeremy C. Sivits, 24, who was trained to repair military police vehicles for the 372nd but wound up serving as a prison guard.

Kerry the Brave

Byron York has tracked down the medic who treated Kerry for the wound on which his first Purple Heart was based. The doc's statement includes the following:
Some of his crew confided that they did not receive any fire from shore, but that Kerry had fired a mortar round at close range to some rocks on shore. The crewman thought that the injury was caused by a fragment ricocheting from that mortar round when it struck the rocks.

That seemed to fit the injury which I treated.

What I saw was a small piece of metal sticking very superficially in the skin of Kerry's arm. The metal fragment measured about 1 cm. in length and was about 2 or 3 mm in diameter. It certainly did not look like a round from a rifle.

I simply removed the piece of metal by lifting it out of the skin with forceps. I doubt that it penetrated more than 3 or 4 mm. It did not require probing to find it, did not require any anesthesia to remove it, and did not require any sutures to close the wound.

The wound was covered with a bandaid.
Now if it were me, I'd have removed the piece of metal myself and put on a bandaid, and I wouldn't have even thought about seeing a doctor for it unless it became infected, let alone putting in for a Purple Heart. I guess that's because I'm a chicken hawk, and don't understand the way things are in the service.

If this is the truth, and I have no reason to doubt the doctor's word, it confirms the impression I've had of Kerry from the beginning, that he joined the Navy in emulation of Jack Kennedy with the idea that he could use his service in his political career, that he copped three Purple Hearts as fast as he could and got sent out of harm's way. He did do some things that were heroic in one sense, but they seem quite normal to me, such as going back during a fire fight to rescue one of his crew instead of hightailing it and leaving him there. It shows bravery and decency, but anybody who would do otherwise would probably have been branded a coward and derelict for leaving one of his men behind. So his service was honorable for that 4 months, and he didn't act like a coward. Does that make him a war hero or a phoney? Probably neither.

Of his behavior during this campaign, what impresses me most is the way his mind constantly seeks to straddle both sides of every issue and leave loopholes for later on. That isn't what we need in a leader. "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" (1 Corinthians 14.8) That's what we're getting from John Kerry, an uncertain sound.

This is what makes Christianity strong, its unity

The National Day of Prayer has become a divisive.
Linda Walton, a UVSC chaplain who has chaired National Prayer Day events in Utah County for three years, said the prayer event's state coordinator, Gregory Johnson, told her she needed to be "more selective about who was leading out."

"I didn't understand what he was getting at at first," said Walton, a Seventh-day Adventist. "But then it hit me that he was saying they didn't want anyone who isn't a traditional Christian."
I couldn't really care less about whether this thing has Mormons offering prayers or not. I've always thought that if they don't want me I won't show up, but one has to wonder what these people think gives them the authority to decide who is a Christian and who isn't.

More good news from Iraq

David Ignatius reports that some Iraqi local leaders are figuring out what democracy requires.


The King of Fools has a great comment on the overused comparisons in the media of Iraq to Vietnam.

There is such a creature

Chickenhawk, I mean. I hadn't known that it is the same as a Red Tailed Hawk. I remember bumperstickers from the 60s and 70s with the peacenik symbol with the legend, "The track of the American chicken." I guess that may be the best answer to the likes of Michael Moore and Al Franken who throw this term around, "It's better than being just a chicken." After all, there's a reason that Red Tailed Hawks acquired the name Chicken Hawk. They prey on chickens.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Bush, the liar

I'm sure that Democrats will denounce this photo and the accompanying story as just more PR, like the landing on the Lincoln which drives them into paroxysms of bile. What most people saw in that landing was a guy who likes planes and a gesture of appreciation for the men and women who serve this nation in tough, dangerous situations whenever the CinC calls on them. Those like Robert Byrds and Tom Daschle who are enraged by such things because they know how appealing and genuine they are and they know they can't match them, not with John Kerry anyway.

They and their sycophants in the press have lost touch with the people they claim to represent. Only they could compare Bush and Kerry and think that the latter is a real leader.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Why do these guys all sound alike?

Wretchard has a long quote from Iraqi Resistance. It all reads like 1930s Communism press releases, something you'd get from Cuba or Red China or North Korea. Do they not know English or did they just learn it from Marxist revolutionaries?
Al-Fallujah?s Resistance fighters waged a fierce battle against the US attackers that lasted some 35 minutes (from 7:45pm to 8:20pm, local time) and were able to repulse the US assault, inflicting losses on the Americans, according to Resistance fighters. The fighters were unable to give exact figures of the US losses.
This sounds a little like Arab mubalagha, a little like Saddam era journalism.

Would you like to buy this story?

Check out the bottom of this correction.

How does Ted Rall get away with this con?

It would seem that an artist wouldn't need to use so many captions to explain his drawings, or that an essayist wouldn't have to use crude drawings. All his people look exactly like each other. When he tries to draw one who doesn't, it turns out looking like it was drawn by a 10 year old. I first saw his garbage in a periodical called Funny Times. I dropped the subscription because it wasn't funny. None of its political cartoons were funny and most of the drawings in it were liberal and about as funny as Rall.

Is this a free press?

Nicholas Kristoff writes:
I've been quiet on Iraq lately because it's so tempting � but rather unhelpful � to rant one more time about President Bush's folly in launching this war. It's far harder to figure out what to do now that he's gotten us chest-deep in the mire.

I'm not certain that we can make a success out of Iraq, and the question John Kerry posed in 1971 is still a fair one: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" One senses an impatient rustling as people look for the exits from Iraq.
He could have been quiet a whole lot longer if all he had to say was that. I have to think that the press is not free any longer. It's in thrall to its own ingrown ideology, instilled in Journalism School and enforced by editorial policies and the society of fellow journalists.


After reading about this group in Najaf called the Thufiqar Militia, which is knocking off the apostate Shi'ites using holy places to foment an uprising against America. Thulfiqar is the name of the double-bladed sword used by the Imam Ali when he was martyred trying to resist I googled the word, trying to find out what the sword is supposed to look like. I mean, is it like the dual light saber wielded by Darth Maul? That must take some training to use. Can't find anything, except in pages about Imam Ali, the Mahdi, who seems reminiscent of King Arthur. Thulfiqar is the name of his sword, and when he reveals himself, it will speak and testify of him.

Update: Found more under the spelling "zulfikar" here. It has a picture, which depicts the sword as having two points like a pair of scissors but not pivoted, so the Darth Maul image, which I have learned, is based on what is called a Ronin sword based on Japanese history. Here's the explanation of "zulfikar":
Zulfikar was the double bladed sword given to Imam Ali by his father-in-law, Muhammad. The sword was double bladed and had two points, and was said to be capable of putting out both an enemy's eyes at one time. A popular explanation of the splitting of the sword states that Ali drew it from a scabbard that had been nailed shut; Ali is axiomatically the best of all heroes and so could be expected to perform such a feat.

Muhammad acquired Zulfikar, or Dhu'l-Fakar, as booty at the Battle of Badr in A.D. 624. It is mentioned in the Hadith, which are the traditional sayings of the Prophet. Dhu'l-Fakar is axiomatically the best of all swords. The name literally means: "the possessor of the notch," because of notches or grooves on the blade.

Fine blades produced in Islamic lands have traditionally born the inscription in Arabic, "There is no sword but Dhu'l-Fakar."

I also found this quote on a comment on Little Green Footballs. I must be getting curious in my old age.
The image above is the red sandjak of the Ottoman sultan Selim I which represents "Zulfikar." During the 16th and the 17th centuries the Zulfikar flags were widespread in Ottoman army and numerous red Zulfikar flags left in the battles in Europe are shown in museums and one can even see a red, triangular Zulfikar flag in the Doge Palace in Venice.

It might be noted here that the Zulfikar on flags were commonly misinterpreted by mediaeval European painters and flag authorities as scissors.

At least it's not going to Kerry's campaign

David Brock has been given $2,000,000 to start a liberal version of the conservative Media Research Center. Is that much really necessary to start a web site? They must still be living in the 90s. (via Best of the Web))

Why is that a bad idea?

I hadn't noticed this from an email to Kevin Parrott from faux-ranger Micah Wright, "the real reason we invaded Iraq: because we want a good base to invade Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt from." And all four of these regimes deserve to be preserved why? Not that we're really about to do such a thing, which would overextend our military dangerously, but the world would be a better place if they all were replaced by democracies.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

What the Kurds think of Brahimi. I keep wondering why anybody remains trustful of the U.N.


A type of parasite may be the cure for Irritable Bowell disease. It's turning out that our fastidiousness may be bad for our health.


The Blogosphere seems to be searching for an answer to the term "chickenhawk" to apply to jerks like Micah Wright. Captain's Quarters uses "rubberdove." I don't find it quite symmetrical or sufficiently clear to express the hypocrisy of those who use the first epithet, which is not so much a logical argument as an appeal to fallacy suggesting that the listener should ignore, rather than think about the opposing view. It's a simple ad hominem attack, but one that seems to carry emotional weight. Of course, if it were valid, nobody who had never been in the service could ever advocate war, no matter how just it might be.

Some details of Hamill's escape

"He said he heard a military convoy come by and pried the door open. He said he ran half a mile down the road and got with the convoy," [his wife] Kellie Hamill said.

Hamill identified himself to the troops, then led the patrol to the house where he had been held captive. The unit surrounded the house and captured two Iraqis with an automatic weapon, said the military spokesman, Maj. Neal O'Brien.

"the lazy, ersatz pacifist mawkishness of Nightline"

Mark Steyn shows up Ted Koppel's ratings stunt for the fraud it was, pointing out that the cost is only part of the equation of war. Koppel's treatment shows his own vacuity.
[T]he cost of war is a tragedy for the families of the American, British and other coalition forces who've died in the last year. But we owe it to the dead, always, every day, to measure their sacrifice against the mission, its aims, its successes, its setbacks. And, if the cause is still just, then you honor the fallen by pressing on to victory -- and then reading the roll call of the dead.
When I considered this at the outset of this thing, I thought of all the ways young people may die with no point whatsoever, by drunk drivers, disease, drug abuse, etc. Everyone has to die. The important thing is whether your life meant something and left the world better for it. I think those lives passed that test. Those who spent their duty time humiliating prisoners and kids in Iraq have grieved their families, too, but without the nugget of pride in their sacrifice.

Steyn makes a more important point:
Our enemies have made a bet -- that the West in general and America in particular are soft and decadent and have no attention span; that the ''sleeping giant'' Admiral Yamamoto feared he'd wakened at Pearl Harbor can no longer be roused.
RTWT (Read the whole thing.)

Good reporting in spite of editorial policy

Hitchens linked to this report by Jonathan Steele from southern Iraq on the results of recent voting among the Marsh Arabs, which suggests that they may be "getting it" with regard to secular government. It also supports Bush's idea that democracy is not limited to white people. I can't imagine this story appearing in the NYTimes or the Post, except with a deceptive headline, such as "Shi'ites' Votes Influenced by U. S. Presence" or some such drivel.

The U. S. media is a free press in the same way the French government is democratic. Both are almost entirely formed by an educational establishment that insures homogenous results.

Could it be that higher education is really counterproductive for democracy?

Hitchens on journalistic consensus

Christopher Hitchens gives a glimpse into the groupthink of journalists:
I am not a war correspondent, though I have put in some time at the Europa Hotel in Belfast, the Commodore in Beirut, and other places of journalistic legend such as Meikles in Harare and the Sarajevo Holiday Inn. In any case, the emergence of a consensus among a press corps is something one can witness without having to duck the occasional incoming projectile.
It reminded me of all the questions to President Bush in his last press conference about whether he would apologize, a la Richard Clarke.
One doesn't have to be an "old hand" to detect the signs of a conscience collective or, if one doesn't care for it, a "herd mentality."
I've always wondered why, when this phenomenon is so obvious to readers and viewers, the press continues to deny that it exists.
I continue to be amazed at the way in which so many liberals repeat the discredited mantra of the CIA to the effect that Saddam Hussein's regime was so "secular" that it not only did not collaborate, but axiomatically could not have collaborated with Islamists.
Read the whole thing.

Instapundit is all over the UN corruption story

mostly with links to The Telegraph of London, where they apparently still have courageous journalism. Sadly, I was unable to find anything about this in the NYTimes or WaPo. They seem to prefer stories like this one that present the struggle in Iraq as viewed through a soda straw. That's what gets Pulitsers.

More on the UN

I've been writing letters to the editor about the U.N., but none have been published. A year or two ago the small Southern Utah town of Laverkin gained notoriety by passing a resolution purporting to outlaw the U.N. within its limits. It was treated as a canard at the time, but its judgment is looking better all the time. Instapundit linked to this account today. You probably won't see this in any American papers, except maybe the WSJ and the Weekly Standard. Since I first read about the history of the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, I've realized that the UN was not the benign influence I had been taught in grade school. It's more like the Third World culture brought to a position where it presumes to dictate policy to the first. It's what Americans have done to assuage their guilt for being prosperous instead of seeking to extend freedom and democracy after WWII.

If people think that Iraq is incapable of democracy, what makes them think that the U.N., which is mostly peopled by people with a similar background, is any better?