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Saturday, April 10, 2004

Thomas Barnett has an interesting column in the Washington Post arguing that we should be focused on "new" allies in the War on Terrorism. Instead of Western Europe, Barnette urges that we look to countries like India, China, and Russia.
The United States would find far more realistic partners in China, India and Russia, because none of those states is foolish enough to believe that its future strategic security can be bought by distancing itself from the Middle East's chronic conflicts. Until Washington effectively enlists globalization's new core powers in the war on terrorism, our historic reliance on Old Europe will remain our Achilles' heel, easily exploited by an al Qaeda whose strategic vision currently exceeds our own.
The New York Times focuses on the help that Kennedy is giving Kerry and how Kennedy's prominence pleases the GOP. As someone I heard somewhere said, the Democrats already have the Kennedy vote. They should be focusing on winning over the middle. And those are exactly the people to whom Kennedy does not appeal. I would guess that the majority of people found his "Iraq is Bush's Vietnam" speech distasteful, wrong, and inappropriate at a time when the fighting is getting worse in Iraq. Kennedy says that he knows there are parts of the country where he doesn't play well so he'll target his speeches to places where he's popular. Hasn't he ever heard of cable TV or the Internet? There is no such thing as only appearing in one part of the country, anymore.
Debra Saunders also makes the point that should be obvious to everyone. The climate before 9/11 wouldn't have tolerated a military response of sufficient strength before 9/11.
But in the context of the times, it is not realistic to have expected more from either administration. No one with a memory would suggest that President Clinton could have been considerably tougher on al Qaeda. While the losses at the embassies in Africa were deplorable, al Qaeda had not inflicted enough damage to outrage the American public to the point where voters would accept boots on the ground.

Ditto after the Cole. If Bush had called for war within months of taking office, after a bitter election finale, critics would have called him a warmonger and warned darkly that he was only fueling the fires of Muslim martyrdom. The outrage wasn't there. He would have failed.

Simply put, the death toll hadn't hit the tipping point.

Commissioner Bob Kerrey, the former Democratic senator from Nebraska, has been the man to watch during the commission hearings. Kerrey has been tough on both administrations. And unlike almost everyone else in Washington, Kerrey was pushing for a military response to the Cole attack -- against Iraq, no less -- when it wasn't a popular move. You have to respect the man and his convictions.

That said, Kerrey's not being realistic if he thinks Bush could have won support for a military response -- other than ineffective aerial bombings -- to the Cole. It was hard enough for Bush to win support after al Qaeda thugs attacked Washington and New York, killing 3,000 people and leaving a smoking hole in the American landscape.

That's what makes the whole exercise of the commission hearings so revolting.

Critics who fault Bush for being pre-emptive on Iraq do not hesitate to fault Bush for not being pre-emptive when it came to attacks that were unexpected and unimagined. Some behave as if they believe the president is supposed to be a superhero who can smell threats, including risks that intelligence staffers haven't been able to pinpoint.

Kerrey faulted the Bushies for having a phobia about their "m-word" -- mistake. Granted, Bush League has been too slow to release information, too defensive and not very savvy in its refusal to simply say that the administration wishes it had known more and acted on it.

The Bushies also can't come out and say what everyone knows -- that America was too busy, too happy and too peace-loving to pounce on al Qaeda.

It's an old story that a country's strengths are its weaknesses. It is a national strength that Americans are reluctant to go to war. It is right that America has been slow to use its unmatched clout as a club to bend others to our will. It is just and admirable that the world's most powerful nation has to be provoked before it counterattacks.

It was an approach that worked. Until it didn't.
Why is Bush going out of his way to campaign for Arlen Specter? Read Robert Novak's column for news on this as well as some other political news such as how some in the Democratic party wish that Kennedy would shut up, but that the Kerry people like having Kennedy out there saying things that Kerry can't say such as how Iraq is Bush's Vietnam.
Great minds think alike. Here is Kathleen Parker's contrafactual fantasy.
At Rice's and Clarke's urging, Bush called a meeting of principals and, after "connecting the dots," decided to wage war against Afghanistan. What did the dots say? Not much, in retrospect. Apparently, the president decided to bomb a benign country on the basis of "chatter" that hinted at "something big."

With no other details on the "big," and weaving together random bits of information from a variety of questionable sources, Bush and company decided that 19 fundamentalist Muslim fanatics would fly airplanes into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon on 9-11.

Under questioning by the "9-10 Commission," Clarke denied that his memo was anything more than a historical overview with a "set of ideas and a paper, mostly." The bipartisan commission concluded, therefore, that Bush's "dot-connecting" had destroyed American credibility and subjected the United States to increasing hostility in the Arab-Muslim world.

Last week, Saddam Hussein and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat joined French and German leaders in condemning Bush and urging the American voters to cast their ballots for regime change in America. President Kerry was the clear response to that call.

In a flourish of irony and the spirit of bon vivant for which the new president is widely known, Kerry gave his acceptance speech from Windows on the World, the elegant restaurant atop the World Trade Center's Tower One.
John Hawkins links to an excellent post by Gregg Easterbrook. Easterbrook does a counterfactual story or what might have happened if Bush had acted preemptively based on the vague intelligence we had before 9/11.
AN ALTERNATIVE HISTORY: washington, april 9, 2004. A hush fell over the city as George W. Bush today became the first president of the United States ever to be removed from office by impeachment. Meeting late into the night, the Senate unanimously voted to convict Bush following a trial on his bill of impeachment from the House.

Moments after being sworn in as the 44th president, Dick Cheney said that disgraced former national security adviser Condoleezza Rice would be turned over to the Hague for trial in the International Court of Justice as a war criminal. Cheney said Washington would "firmly resist" international demands that Bush be extradited for prosecution as well.

On August 7, 2001, Bush had ordered the United States military to stage an all-out attack on alleged terrorist camps in Afghanistan. Thousands of U.S. special forces units parachuted into this neutral country, while air strikes targeted the Afghan government and its supporting military. Pentagon units seized abandoned Soviet air bases throughout Afghanistan, while establishing support bases in nearby nations such as Uzbekistan. Simultaneously, FBI agents throughout the United States staged raids in which dozens of men accused of terrorism were taken prisoner.

....Bush justified his attack on Afghanistan, and the detention of 19 men of Arab descent who had entered the country legally, on grounds of intelligence reports suggesting an imminent, devastating attack on the United States. But no such attack ever occurred, leading to widespread ridicule of Bush's claims. Speaking before a special commission created by Congress to investigate Bush's anti-terrorism actions, former national security adviser Rice shocked and horrified listeners when she admitted, "We had no actionable warnings of any specific threat, just good reason to believe something really bad was about to happen."

The president fired Rice immediately after her admission, but this did little to quell public anger regarding the war in Afghanistan. When it was revealed that U.S. special forces were also carrying out attacks against suspected terrorist bases in Indonesia and Pakistan, fury against the United States became universal, with even Israel condemning American action as "totally unjustified."

Speaking briefly to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before a helicopter carried him out of Washington as the first-ever president removed by impeachment, Bush seemed bitter. "I was given bad advice," he insisted. "My advisers told me that unless we took decisive action, thousands of innocent Americans might die. Obviously I should not have listened."

Announcing his candidacy for the 2004 Republican presidential nomination, Senator John McCain said today that "George W. Bush was very foolish and na?ve; he didn't realize he was being pushed into this needless conflict by oil interests that wanted to seize Afghanistan to run a pipeline across it." McCain spoke at a campaign rally at the World Trade Center in New York City.
Read the whole thing and ponder how absolutely right Easterbrook is about the reaction there would have been if Bush had taken the actions necessary to fight Al Qaeda before 9/11.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Lileks now wishes that Al Gore were president.
Listened to Dr. Rice’s testimony today while cleaning, doing puzzles, coloring – the usual morning routine. I thought she did okay. But the 9/11 commission has changed my view of the administration. I now believe that if Al Gore had been president, he would have invaded Afghanistan right away, fortified the cockpit doors, issued an executive order that made the CIA and FBI share intel, grounded all planes the moment “chatter” started mentioning “a winged victory, like the bird of righteousness,” and subjected all young Arab males to full-body searches in airports. Pakistan would have come around to our point of view right away.

Yep.
Lileks is also sick of all the Vietnam analogies. Aren't we all?
am struck once again by the incomparable hold VIETNAM has over some people. They don’t seem to realize how the use of this inapt example demonstrates their inability to grasp the nature of new and different conflicts. When I was in college, El Salvador was Vietnam. When I was in Washington, Kuwait was Vietnam. Afghanistan was briefly Vietnam when we hadn’t won the war after a week. It’s Warholian: in the future, all conflicts will be Vietnam for 15 minutes.

Vietnam was an anomaly. Vietnam was perhaps the least typical war we’ve ever fought, but somehow it’s become the Gold Standard for wars – because, one suspects, it became inextricably bound up with Nixon, that black hole of human perfidy, and it coincided with the golden glory years of so many old boomers who now clog the arteries of the media and academe. A gross overgeneralization, I know. But it’s a fatal conceit. If you’re always fighting the last war you’ll lose the next one. Even worse: Vietnam was several wars ago.
James Bennett in the New York Times says that the appropriate parallel is really Israel's occupation of Lebanon.
Robert Alt looks at the real similarities between what is going on today in Iraq to the Tet Offensive. Seeing that I'm going to be teaching the Vietnam War in a week, this is very apropos for me and my students. Be sure that my students will see the connections between Tet and today's events.
In the Tet offensive, the North Vietnamese forces abandoned guerilla tactics to launch a massive coordinated assault across South Vietnam. (This is admittedly a cursory review of North Vietnamese strategy. Those interested seeking a more detailed analysis of this subject should see Mac Owens.) They engaged hard targets, including the United States embassy, which they stormed but never actually entered. While U.S. casualties were high, the military scored a major victory, putting down the offensive in a matter of days, and inflicting astronomical casualties on the opposing North Vietnamese forces. However, the images of the fighting at the embassy and the media's emphasis on U.S. casualties led Americans to believe that the U.S. had suffered a major setback.

In Iraq, anti-Coalition elements likewise abandoned guerilla warfare this past Sunday for a series of coordinated attacks on hard targets designed to be spectacular — or, more precisely, media spectacles. In one attack on a Coalition base outside Al Najaf, the insurgent numbers were large enough to justify calling in air support, although the aircraft quelled the crowds without firing a shot. And in the Al Sadr region of Baghdad, members of the Al Sadr's so-called Mehdi Army temporarily seized three police stations and claimed control of the city. These incidents preceded Operation Vigilant Resolve, an intense crackdown by Marine forces in the Sunni Triangle cities of Ar Ramadi and Fallujah which began on Monday, but which notably had been planned for several weeks.

The U.S. sustained eight casualties and more than two dozen wounded in Sunday's attacks, as well as twelve casualties in a seven-hour firefight in Ramadi on Tuesday. The sacrifice of these fallen heroes should not be forgotten, but neither should we forget that which their sacrifice purchased. By Sunday night, the U.S. regained control of all seized police stations and checkpoints in Sadr City. The challenge to Al Najaf was put down without the loss of a single U.S. soldier. After months of operating as "the wild west," the outlaw cities of Ramadi and Fallujah are now finally subject to U.S. scrutiny, including checkpoints and curfews. The number of Iraqi insurgents killed, injured, or captured is staggering — with conservative counts numbering in the hundreds. And Muqtada Al Sadr is in hiding, running like a common criminal from an arrest warrant issued for his role in the murder of a rival cleric. All this was done by a military which has scrupulously avoided collateral injuries while fighting a foe whose policy seems to be to maximize the collateral harm to its own people.
Victor Davis Hanson looks at the political cannibalism that we're enduring now while we're still at war.
Now, in the middle of this terrible conflict, unlike the postbellum inquiry after Pearl Harbor, we are holding acrimonious hearings about culpability for September 11. And here the story gets even more depressing than just political opportunism and election-year timing. After eight years of appeasement that saw repeated attacks on Americans, Pakistani acquisition of nuclear weapons under Dr. Khan, and Osama's 1998 declaration of war against every American, we are suddenly grilling, of all people, Condoleezza Rice — one of the few key advisers most to be credited for insisting on using our military, rather than the local DA, to defeat these fanatics.

Over the last two years, each time a U.S. senator in panicked and wild-eyed passion screamed that we could not win in Afghanistan, she proved resolute and confident. On every occasion that an ex-general, a dissatisfied bureaucrat, or a wannabe journalist-strategist pontificated about what the United States could not do, she was unwavering in her determination to take the war to rogue regimes in the Middle East with a history of hostility against Americans and a record of providing easy sanctuary for terrorists. This present charade would be like holding public hearings on the eve of the 1944 election about the breakdown of intelligence and missed opportunities before Pearl Harbor — and then blaming Harry Hopkins and Secretary Stimson for laxity even while the country was in the very midst of a two-front war.

Then we have the creepy outbursts from commentators and screams from Democratic senators. We are told by Senator Graham that we smashed al Qaeda only to discover that we had hit a mercury-like substance that now has hopelessly scattered. Well, yes, that is what happens when you strike back in war. The alternative? Allow this elemental terrorism to remain cohesive and united? War is not a decision between good and bad choices, but almost always between something bad and something worse — and so it really is preferable to have toxic mercury scattered than to have it concentrated and pure.

Another pundit assures us that terrorists after American action in Iraq are more active now than before. Well, again yes — in the sense that Germany was messier in 1944 than in 1933, or that Japan was more dangerous for Americans in 1943 than in 1935. Danger, chaos, and death are what transpire for a time when you finally decide to strike back at confident and smug enemies.
George Neumayr thinks what I thought, that John Lehman was the only one in yesterday's hearings who asked questions that got to the real reason why more wasn't done to catch terrorists before 9/11.
THE ONLY PANELIST WHO seemed aware that political correctness had made America a sitting duck for Al Qaeda was John Lehman. While most of the other panelists attitudinized, he got down to brass tacks. "Were you told that there were numerous young Arab males in flight training, had taken flight training, were in flight training?" he asked Rice. She wasn't.

The questions continued: "Were you told that the U.S. Marshal program had been changed to drop any U.S. marshals on domestic flights?" "Were you aware that INS had been lobbying for years to get the airlines to drop the transit without visa loophole that enabled terrorists and illegals to simply buy a ticket through the transit-without-visa-waiver and pay the airlines extra money and come in?"

"Were you aware that the INS had quietly, internally, halved its internal security enforcement budget?" "Were you aware that it was the U.S. government established policy not to question or oppose the sanctuary policies of New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, San Diego for political reasons, which policy in those cities prohibited the local police from cooperating at all with federal immigration authorities?" "Were you aware that it was the policy and I believe remains the policy today to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that's discriminatory?" "Were you aware of the extensive activities of the Saudi government in supporting over 300 radical teaching schools and mosques around the country, including right here in the United States?"
Of course, you can imagine the outcry if Bush and (gasp!) John Ashcroft had recommended changes in this situation before 9/11. People still don't get it. I saw one of the relatives of 9/11 victims criticizing Condi after the hearing as being ignorant and incompetent because she didn't know any of these policies and facts when Lehman asked her about them. Even if Rice had known all about this, there was nothing that could have been done in the PC atmosphere we live in now. They're still not allowed to profile on airline passaenger lists. No one is proposing stopping immigration from Middle East countries as might have been proposed in the 19th or the first half of the 20th century.
Libertaria at Social Justice Friends links to this funny, yet depressing story about what the British citizens know and do not know. In honor of the 300 year anniversary of the Battle of Blenheim, they were surveyed on what they thought had happened and what they though was fictional. Apparently, the British can't differentiate between fact and fiction.

Real people that some believe never existed
Ethelred the Unready King of England 978 to 1016 - 63 per cent
William Wallace 13th-century Scottish hero - 42 per cent
Benjamin Disraeli Prime minister and founder of the modern Tory party - 40 per cent
Genghis Khan, Mongol conqueror - 38 per cent
Benito Mussolini, Fascist dictator, 33 per cent
Adolf Hitler - 11 per cent
Winston Churchill - 9 per cent

Real events some people believe never took place
Battle of the Bulge 52 per cent
Battle of Little Big Horn Scene of Custer's last stand - 48 per cent
Hundred Years' War 44 per cent
Cold War - 32 per cent
Battle of Hastings, 15 per cent

Fictional characters who we believe were real
King Arthur , mythical monarch of the Round Table - 57 per cent
Robin Hood - 27 per cent
Conan the Barbarian - 5 per cent
Richard Sharpe , fictional cad and warrior - 3 per cent
Edmund Blackadder - 1 per cent
Xena Warrior Princess - 1 per cent

Fictional events that we believe did take place
War of the Worlds , Martian invasion - 6 per cent
Battle of Helms Deep , Rings Trilogy - The Two Towers - 3 per cent
Battle of Endor , The Return of the Jedi - 2 per cent
Planet of the Apes , the apes rule Earth - 1 per cent
Battlestar Galactica , the defeat of humanity by cyborgs - 1 per cent

Okay, those who thought the Planet of the Apes or Battlestar Galactica were real were just goofing on the pollsters, weren't they? What's up with those who think that Hitler was a fictional character? I'm just wondering what type of world we would be living in if all the fictional people were real and all the real people were fictional.
I'd like to give a plug to a blog run by several students at my school and a friend of theirs, Social Justice Friends. At school, there is a club that meets once a week at lunch, Social Justice Club, to discuss current issues. They've now expanded their discussions to this blog. If you have any doubts about the seriousness and erudition of today's teenagers. (full disclosure, my daughter is the superhero, Dynamic Uno. She's been overloaded with homework the past few months so her posting has been light. The other kids have made up for her absence with witty and intersting posts.)
James Robbins has a funny column up mocking the 9/11 Commission and how it would have played if it were a Middle Ages hearing investigating the Saracens.
Many view Lady Condoleezza's testimony as a palace response to Richard the Clerk, who testified before the commission last week. The clerk maintains he warned the king about the nail. He recalled vividly going to His Highness with his hair on fire, lit by a Moor hiding behind a tapestry. Richard has served many kings, and developed a reputation for being able to spot a goblin in every woodpile, as the saying goes. While Richard has asserted he had consistently worked to secure the realm throughout his career, others have pointed out that the Saracens had slowly encroached on the Kingdom on his watch. During the reign of bawdy King William, periodic enemy attacks were met with scattered flights of arrows, to no discernible effect. The response plan Richard submitted shortly after King George's coronation — which called for "bigger arrows" — was dismissed as inadequate. Richard was not in the hearing room during Lady Condoleezza's testimony, but stood outside, hawking pamphlets to the crowd of spectators, performing minor feats of acrobatics, and juggling.
DNA clears Neil Bush.
The USA Today notes the partisanship in the hearings yesterday.
The American Mind has up a new House of Ketchup.
Professor Bainbridge highlights how Chris Matthews mischaracterized Condi Rice's testimony. (Link via Instapundit)
You know Condoleezza Rice must have done well if snarky, anti-Bush Tom Shales gives her a good review.
Amir Taheri calls for the iron fist in Iraq and maintains that, even with suitcases of Iranian cash, Sadr hasn't been able to make headway in Iraq.
As things stand, the Coalition does not need large numbers of fresh troops because the overwhelming majority of Iraqis still support its policy, including the promise to end the occupation by the end of June. If the Coalition lost that support, no amount of troops would be able to control a country of 27 million.

Both the Saddamites and the Sadrites fear elections and will do all they can to prevent them. Their fears are not groundless. In every one of the 17 cities where municipal elections have been held so far, victory has gone to democratic and secularist parties and individuals. And it is no accident that these are precisely the cities where attempts at fomenting insurgency have failed.

Democratic and secularist figures have also won all the elections held by professional associations representing medical doctors, lawyers, teachers, academics and businessmen.

Despite the fact that Sadr and his friends have spent vast sums of Iranian money, often entering Iraq in the form of crisp notes in briefcases, even the theological seminaries of Najaf and Karbala have kept their doors shut to his brand of religious fascism. Numerous opinion polls, including some financed by the opponents of the liberation, show that in any free election the overwhelming majority of the Iraqis will not vote either for the Saddamites or the various brands of Islamist fascism.

The scoundrels trying to prevent the handover of power to the Iraqi people may pose as Arab nationalists and/or defenders of the Islamic faith. But the truth is that they are making a naked bid for despotic power for themselves.
Is it really helpful while we are at war to have former PResident Carter going around criticizing the war in Iraq and blaming our problems in the Middle East on Israel? We are at war, sir, and patriotism should demand that you just keep quiet if you don't like the policy.
"President Bush's war was ill-advised and unnecessary and based on erroneous statements, and has turned out to be a tragedy," Carter said. "And my prayer has been that brave young American men and women, and others who are there, that their lives will be spared and there will be some peaceful resolution of the war."

Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, also blamed what he called Bush's pro-Israel policies for engendering animosity against America.

"The prime source of animosity towards the United States is the lack of progress in dealing with the Palestinian issue," Carter said, adding that past U.S. administrations since Harry Truman's have maintained a "balanced position" in dealing with the rights of the Arab population within the Jewish nation.
He is hideous and an embarrassment.
I'm so tired of looking forward to some big historic epic movie such as Pearl Harbor and Gods and Generals and then being terribly disappointed when they come out. I was looking forward to The Alamo, but now that seems like a turkey. Why can't Hollywood make good historic epics like The Great Escape or Patton anymore?
Mona Charen asks if we are tough enough to do what needs to be done in Iraq.
But the question of the moment is not whether we've done enough good, but whether we've been tough enough. We Americans hate being occupiers. We are liberators. But Iraq cannot be truly liberated until it has been transformed. And it cannot be transformed if the bad elements are not afraid of American soldiers. Those gleeful faces in Fallujah make the point: They think we are patsies.

Are we? Moqtada al-Sadr, the 30-ish cleric who only now has been issued an arrest warrant for a murder committed (supposedly on his order) a year ago, has been handled with kid gloves until now. His newspaper has printed the vilest incitement, accusing the United States for example, of using an Apache helicopter to bomb 50 police recruits on Feb. 10 in front of an Iraqi police station. In truth, the attack was actually the work of terrorists.

Why would the U.S. bomb Iraqis attempting to cooperate with the coalition in building a new police force? It doesn't matter that it defies common sense. The rumor mill churns on. Al-Sadr has used his newspaper, Al Hawza, to urge "terrorism" against American forces. And what has been the result? Several stern warnings. Only when Sadr's "Mahdi Army," a mob of criminals, former Baathists (ironic since Saddam executed Sadr's father) and Islamists, began firing at Americans did the civil administrator shut Al Hawza down.

Perhaps they stayed their hand because they knew closing a newspaper would provoke criticism stateside. And it did. Editorials across the nation, from The New York Times to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, to the Detroit News to The San Francisco Chronicle scolded the administration for hypocrisy.

"Shutting down a newspaper," explained the Hartford Courant's editorial, "even an anti-American publication, doesn't teach democracy."

Well, hold on a minute. Baghdad is not Boston. You can't teach democracy until you first have order. And you cannot have order if people like Al-Sadr think they can bully you.
Paul Greenberg agrees that people shouldn't get their panties all in a knot about closing down al Sadr's newspaper.
But when Al Hawza printed a phony story about an American missile killing innocent Iraqis - just the kind of canard most likely to incite violence - Paul Bremer suspended its publication for 60 days. He finally got serious.

"That paper might have been anti-American," an Iraqi newspaperman said in defense of Al Hawza, "but it should be free to express its opinion."

But Al Hawza wasn't shut down because of its opinions, but because it was passing off fiction as fact. Fiction that was sure to stir the mob. Mistaken opinions may be debated; false information may be impossible to counter.

As the late senator and sage Daniel Patrick Moynihan once put it, everybody's entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts.

The line between fact and opinion isn't always easy to establish, as many an American periodical has discovered in court, but in this case Al Hawza was clearly on the far side of it, printing rumors sure to incite.
My husband guest-posting on Marginal Revolution lists the best econo-blogs, in case you're interested in economists blogging. Since I live with one, I find the topic fascinating. He's modest enough not to list his own econo-blog.
George Will has been watching the hearings.
The processes of the federal government, and especially of the many agencies in its national security apparatus, had before Sept. 11 -- and Rice says they still have -- a thickness, a viscosity that are normal aspects of bureaucracies. But in these abnormal times this coagulating river of fudge unacceptably compromises national security.

So Rice's testimony was invaluable pedagogy for a public that thinks it knows what a blunt and cumbersome instrument government is but that doesn't know the half of it. The commission's public hearings give viewers a glimpse of the texture of institutional life within which presidents struggle to process information and defeat institutional inertia. The hearings frame a -- arguably, the -- great question of this election year: Both presidential candidates want to keep America safe, but which one has the attributes -- the world view and sheer orneriness -- needed to stir the fudge and make it flow?
Charles Krauthammer says that the Democrats have come a long way from where they used to be when they wanted to feed the world.
We now know that the secret to curing hunger and poverty is capitalism and free trade. We have seen that demonstrated irrefutably in East Asia, which has experienced the greatest alleviation of poverty in the history of man. In half a century, places like Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea have gone from subsistence to First World status. And now free markets and free trade are lifting tens of millions of people out of poverty in India and China.

And what has been the Democratic reaction to the prospect of fulfilling Humphrey's (and their party's) great dream? Fear and loathing. Democrats today thunder against the scourge of ``outsourcing'' -- American firms giving (what would otherwise be American) jobs to Indians and Chinese and other menacing foreigners.

The anti-outsourcing vogue is part of a larger assault on free trade, which until recently -- meaning the Clinton administration -- Democrats had supported. Remember Al Gore's televised debate with Ross Perot, in which Gore demolished Perot's anti-free-trade arguments? Which makes the recent Democratic assault on free trade so jarring, never more so than when John Edwards and John Kerry competed with each other before Super Tuesday to see who was against more trade agreements with more Third World countries.

Edwards boasted about his opposition to trade agreements with the Caribbean, Chile and Africa. Who would have thought we would hear a Democrat attacking his opponent for supporting a measure that would help millions of Africans to emerge from poverty?

Unions are a powerful Democratic constituency, and Democrats are genuinely trying to protect workers from foreign competition. But whatever the merits of the argument, the effect is startling: a radical reversal of the older liberal vision of America as helpmate for the poor and suffering of the world.
Dale Franks compares how we were able to act differently during World War II than we're able to act in Iraq because the country was united in World War II and wasn't busy with partisan criticism.
Roosevelt and his successor, Harry Truman, did have one advantage that George W. Bush does not have: a nation united across party lines to prosecute the war with vigor. In today's radically different domestic and international political environment, the president's every action is watched carefully -- and criticized -- by his opponents.

Criticism can, of course, have useful results. It is helpful if it prompts honest reappraisal of the country's goals and methods, and increases the effectiveness of its policy. Unfortunately, criticism -- especially the constant, and, at times, extreme criticism the Bush Administration has faced -- can also prompt timidity, and an unwillingness to take necessary risks. It is the latter effect that appears to have led us into the current situation in Iraq.

The administration has faced unceasing criticism because of its ties to various business interests. The term "Halliburton" has become shorthand for an all-too-cozy arrangement between the administration and big business. The response of the administration, stung by such criticisms, has been to become bogged down in trying to ensure that rebuilding contracts in Iraq are above reproach. Despite the billions of dollars Congress has authorized for reconstruction assistance in Iraq, hardly a penny of it has been spent. We are one year into the occupation of Iraq, and somewhat less than 3 months until the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqis, and major reconstruction funding hasn't reached the country at all.



A similar timidity seems to have characterized the administration's conduct of military operations during the occupation. In order to forestall criticism from both domestic opponents and the international community, the administration has failed to take several necessary steps that would have conceivably prevented the current unrest in Iraq. Pursuing a more hard-line and rigorous approach to the occupation would have opened the administration to general condemnation for insufficient attention to the rights of the Iraqis. Failure to do so, however, has led to a dangerous lack of security and stability in some parts of the country.

Unlike the Germans or Japanese in WWII, the Iraqi army did not stand and fight. For the most part, Iraqi units simply disbanded themselves, and their members returned home. At no time after the conclusion of the war was any serious effort made to cordon off the Sunni Triangle, root out former regime soldiers, or to conduct large-scale, house-to-house searches for weapons or contraband.

In contrast, our first priority in the occupation of Germany was to round up everyone who had served in the Wehrmacht and place them in POW camps. Intense searches were made to root our former regime hardliners like SS and Gestapo members. Our failure to take similar measures in Iraq has allowed the Sunni Triangle to fester as a constant security problem, and has given Ba'ath party loyalists an impression of indecision and weakness. This has, to put it mildly, not been helpful.
You can just imagine the howls if we had tried to treat Iraq like we treated Germany and Japan.
I just saw John Lehman, a Republican on the 9/11 Commission, shrugging his shoulders and saying that the democrats are under tremendous pressure on the commission to develop a plotline that will help John Kerry. Lehman seems sweetly naive by saying that the Democrats are much different when they're not before the cameras and they're all working together well and will come up with a nonpartisan response. Sure. That is how Republicans always get sucked in and then they're so surprised when partisanship trumps everything else.

John Podhoretz explores the partisanship on the committee.
THE liberals and Democrats on the 9/11 commission are using the public hearings to develop a plotline about the months leading up to the attacks - a plotline whose purpose is to harm George W. Bush's chances for reelection, help John Kerry's chances and whitewash the Clinton administration's failures.
The liberal plotline was on display yesterday in the questioning of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, whose refusal to capitulate to the partisan goals of her Democratic cross-examiners resulted in some shockingly inappropriate behavior on their part.

Memo to Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste: The last Democrat who sighed, rolled his eyes and shook his head when he didn't like what he was hearing was Al Gore in his catastrophic debate with George W. Bush. Not a good role model.

Memo to Commissioner Bob Kerrey: Don't complain about Condi Rice "filibustering" when she's trying to answer your questions after you spend minutes of your supposedly precious time yelling at her about the situation in Iraq. Also, Bob, you might consider anger management. And new glasses: You called Condi Rice "Dr. Clarke."

According to the liberal plotline, the Bush administration knew that attacks were coming and failed to act. Had it acted, the 9/11 plot might have been "interrupted," to quote one of the commissioners.

No matter that even Richard Clarke was forced to acknowledge during his testimony that even had his every proposal become law at the beginning of the Bush administration, 9/11 would not have been prevented.

It's an election year, and the Democrats want voters to blame Bush - or at least to muddy the administration's reputation in the eyes of voters.
If you have any doubts about the Democrats' motives, ask yourself is their questions were more prosecutorial and appropriate to a court proceeding or if they were more aimed at getting information that would help the Commission determine how to improve our security against terrorism and avoid the mistakes that led to 9/11? Do you ask yes/no questions when you want information or when you want to trap someone?
I agree with Andrew Sullivan
We have a war on. We used to win them before we engaged in elaborate blame-games as to who was asleep at the wheel when they broke out.
Neil Steinberg has a good column looking at the fallacies of judgying what might have happened in the past and using that to criticize the present Steinberg revisits the Bay of Pigs fiasco for that lesson.
Since Kennedy invaded Cuba, and failed, we ask why he didn't call it off. Yet, had he called off the invasion -- he was tempted to -- it would have then been seen as a lost chance: If only we had acted....

Invading Afghanistan might have wrecked al-Qaida's plans. Or it might not have. And even if it had -- even had the FBI arrested all 19 hijackers, box cutters in hand -- we have no idea what new forces would have been put into play. We assume it would have been better. But we don't know.

Strong, pre-9/11 U.S. action would certainly have been viewed by the world as a sign of Yankee imperialism. I'm certain about this because a lot of the world viewed it that way after 9/11. For all we know, the Afghan invasion would have prompted more terror than it prevented. Some believe that is true for our actions now.

There are many valid reasons to criticize Bush, but to blame him for not avoiding the 9/11 attacks in the nine months his administration had to work with means blaming it for not pursuing every perceived threat with all possible force -- a lesson we certainly don't endorse today. We only want that done in the past, to avoid disasters that we know happened. But we don't want it in the present. In the present, we worry about profiling.

If only Kennedy had lived



Part of the agony that greeted Kennedy's assassination was the belief that all the bad stuff that came in later years -- Vietnam, Nixon, Watergate -- would have been avoided had he lived. We don't know that. For all we know, had Oswald missed, Kennedy would have survived and, distracted by some sex scandal, touched off a nuclear war with the Soviets that would have killed us all. That is as plausible as any other scenario.

Anachronism is a peril when confronting the past -- we take today's knowledge and damn those for not acting in the ways we now believe might have been better.

Castro turned out to be a bigger threat to his own people than to the United States. There was no urgent need, for our sake, to topple him -- we know now -- since he has been there for 45 years. But the Bay of Pigs reminds us that decisive action is not always a good thing. Action also must succeed. Given that, given the myriad unintended consequences in history, to postulate hypothetical courses of action and wring our hands because they weren't taken is a distraction from the far more difficult, far more pressing question: What are we going to do now?

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Captain's Quarters tells the story of a church-inflicted Easter Bunny violence. Geesh. Bunny Abuse is not the best method of teaching little children about the story of Jesus.
Last week, I took my AP Government students to the computer lab to let them play around with a federal budget simulator to see if they could balance the budget. It was fun to see how a bunch of teenagers, most of them 15 or 16 years old, would balance the budget. They were ruthless. The liberal kids happily cut away at military spending, NASA, and foreign aid. They were then dismayed to find that they hadn't cut very much of the deficit. The conservative kids whittled away at social welfare and increased the tax cuts. They too were unable to make substantial headway on the deficit. However, the cut that both the liberals and conservatives agreed on was whacking away at Social Security and Medicare. Cries of "throw Granny off welfare" and "buy your own drugs" were heard. They were ruthless. Some of them reduced Social Security down to zero, cackling cheerfully all the while.

My conclusion is that, if younger voters had more pull in Congress, we could get some serious reform of Social Security and Medicare accomplished. Unfortunately, they'll never equal the strength of AARP.
Clifford May says that the 9/11 Commission is not fulfilling its assignment to recommend ways to prevent another devastating terrorist attack because of partisanship.
President Roosevelt waited until after World War II to put in place a commission to investigate what mistakes led to Pearl Harbor. That was a wise move, but then Roosevelt did not face the kind of hyper-partisanship that plagues America these days. (Washington Post columnist David Broder recently pointed out that when FDR ran for reelection during World War II, he emphasized his record as a war leader. Broder might have added that FDR's Republican opponent, Thomas Dewey, declined to criticize the president in regard to foreign policy during a time of war. It's almost hard to believe that there was a time when Americans knew the difference between their foreign enemies and their political adversaries.)

Increasingly, it seems the 9/11 Commission is losing its way. Its mission is to learn lessons — not to lay blame. Its mission is to come up with recommendations for a more effective antiterrorism strategy.

Its mission is not to stage a reality-TV show, not to hold an inquisition, not to promote books (and, no doubt, movie deals), not to scold Rice as though she were a student who claimed her dog had eaten her homework.
Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton are all over the TV preaching for nonpartisanship and complimenting everyone in sight. I expect to see them interviewed by Sponge Bob Squarepants next.
Andrew Sullivan posts a letter from a Marine ready to go into action in Fallujah. His optimism and faith in the corps is inspiring.
If you missed Condoleezza Rice's testimony, you can check out Powerline. John H. Hinderaker live-blogged her testimony. What strikes me is what a Rashomon experience it was. Conservatives and those sympathetic to the President thought she did a wonderful job and liberals think that she failed to answer the panel's questions.

The meme that I'm noting is the same one that emerged in the fuss over the President's National Guard records. No matter what Rice or Bush say, the Democrats can always say, "Questions remain...." Well, of course "Questions remain...." They keep asking them no matter what. By asking them they create their own reality. And then the media uses that as the CW on whatever Bush's people have said or done. They can go on Hardball or the Lehrer Report or whatever and say, "Rice did well, yadda, yadda, but questions still remain....."

Of course, questions never seem to remain about Kerry's positions. What would he do now in Iraq? How is he going to really pay for his proposed programs? Why did he throw someone else's ribbons over the wall? Why won't he release his medical records? How many properties do he and his wife own abroad? Which foreign leaders have endorsed him? Why didn't he report discussions of assassination plots against senators that were aired at a meeting he attended? Why did he really vote against the $87 billion supplemental bill? Why did he oppose the First Gulf War and vote for the War in Iraq? Questions remain.....
A National Security fellow at Harvard sat in on Richard Clarke's class there and reports about how Clarke misled the class and obfuscated about who ordered that we pull out of Somalia and tried to say the military ordered it rather than the President. (Link via Command Post)
Just as critics of the administration fault the White House for not doing enough to figure out that Al Qaeda was planning to attack us, people, often the same people, are stopping any move to make investigations of terrorists easier. Heather MacDonald has a detailed study of all the attempts to gather more information that have been blocked.
Immediately after 9/11, politicians and pundits slammed the Bush administration for failing to “connect the dots” foreshadowing the attack. What a difference a little amnesia makes. For two years now, left- and right-wing advocates have shot down nearly every proposal to use intelligence more effectively—to connect the dots—as an assault on “privacy.” Though their facts are often wrong and their arguments specious, they have come to dominate the national security debate virtually without challenge. The consequence has been devastating: just when the country should be unleashing its technological ingenuity to defend against future attacks, scientists stand irresolute, cowed into inaction.
Instapundit posts what Senator Byrd has said about the cause of the Civil War in his defense of the Confederate flag. Byrd said that the Civil War was not fought over slavery. Here is what Instapundit's correspondent uncovered that Byrd said in 1993.
Many informed people believe that the 11 states that comprised the Confederacy stood on solid constitutional ground.

Abolitionist sentiment in the North changed the terms on which legal questions had originally been settled in the old Union. John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, in what is now West Virginia, made a peaceful settlement of the slavery question nearly impossible.

Interestingly, only an estimated 5 percent of the population of the South owned slaves. Yet, hundreds of thousands of Southern men - most of them slaveless and poor - answered the call of the Confederate government to defend the sovereignty of their states. In West Virginia, it broke down about 2-to-1, I suppose, with about one-third supporting the Confederacy and the other two-thirds supporting the Union. Those men - brave and patriotic by their rights, almost to a fault - are the ancestors of millions upon millions of loyal, law-abiding American citizens today.

In the classic Ken Burns Civil War series on public television, historian Shelby Foote recounted a discussion between a Confederate prisoner and his Yankee captor, who asked the Confederate soldier, "Why are you fighting us like this?" To which the Confederate soldier replied, "Because y'all are down here."

That was not racism. That was not a defense of slavery. That was a man protecting his home, his family and his people.

We are who we are today largely because of the War Between the States.

Americans of Southern heritage need not defend slavery in order to memorialize the legacy of which they are a part.

Was that what Christopher Dodd was praising. Perhaps that is why Byrd was so happy to portray a Confederate general in the movie, Gods and Generals.
The Corner was simul-blogging Condi's testimony and makes several great points. For example, Jonah Goldberg points this out
I might write about this later when the transcripts are available, but from listening to this constant back-and-forth between the Democrats and Rice on the August 6 PDB it sounds like the Democrats want to assert that it said there was an imminent threat to the American homeland by al Qaeda. Rice, it seems, wants to claim that the PDB only laid out a general, non-specific, but definitely not imminent threat. Of course Bin Laden wanted to attack America, goes Rice's reading of the PDB, but the specific threats were vague and un-"actionable."

Again, I'd need to study this a bit more. But it sounds like the Democrats want a standard for imminence about the threat from pre-9/11 al Qaeda that they were unwilling to grant for post-9/11 Iraq. Do I have this right?
And Tim Graham makes fun of Kerrey's whining that her answers were taking too long.
The really ridiculous part of Kerrey's questioning was when he complained about only having ten minutes to get answers out of Rice after his long digression of his opinions on Iraq.
And Katherine Jean Lopez has this addition to Graham's blogging on Kerrey's questioning.
Kerrey accusing Rice of filbustering for answering his questions, telling her she can elaborate in closed session? Makes one wonder why Rice had to testify on live TV in the first place. More for the commissioners, guaranteeing them a little TV love, than anyone else?
John Hawkins has come up with a ranking of the most influential political blogs.
Steven Malanga looks at the war on Wal-Mart.
Here is a story you’re unlikely to read in the spate of press attacks on Wal-Mart these days:

When Hartford, Connecticut, tore down a blighted housing project, city officials hatched an innovative plan to redevelop the land: lure Wal-Mart there, entice other retailers with the promise of being near the discount giant, and then use the development’s revenues to build new housing. Wal-Mart, after some convincing, agreed, and city officials and neighborhood residents celebrated a big win—better shopping, more jobs, and new housing in one of America’s poorest cities.

But then, out of nowhere, outsiders claiming to represent the local community began protesting. Astonished city leaders and local residents quickly discovered the forces fueling the campaign: a Connecticut chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union; and ACORN, the radical community group. Outraged residents fought back, denouncing outside interference, but opponents persisted, filing three separate lawsuits that have delayed construction, including a ludicrous suit claiming that the development would destroy unique vegetation that has sprouted since the housing project came down. “These people looked for every possible reason to stop a project that the community wants,” says Jackie Fongemie, a frustrated community activist who has fought for the store. “Where were the environmentalists when rats were running wild around this place?”
Andrew Sullivan also links to this report by Debka about the Syrian and Iranian involvement with al Sadr's militia group.
Andrew Sullivan, in his discussion of the violence going on in Iraq links to this free-lance writer's experiences in Baghdad.
The strongest counter-argument, I guess, would be to say that, once the Americans left, Sadr's ability to command respect with his anti-American rhetoric would have disappeared, and more moderate voices would have prevailed. But from what I've seen and interviews I've done there are quite a few people in Sadr City who will follow Moqtadr because of who his father was, or because he's from Sadr City and Sistani's from Najaf, or because he's from Iraq and Sistani's from Iran. To top it off, it's widely known that Sistani and Sadr despise each other.

I won't hold my breath waiting for a "conviction" from an "Iraqi" "jury," but it seems highly likely that Moqtadr and his deputy are guilty of the murder they've been charged with--the murder of a moderate Shi'ite cleric in the war's immediate aftermath. That alone ought to color one's opinion of what Moqtadr would have been willing to do to his co-religionists if his militia and his authority had survived the occupation intact.

All in all, provoking Moqtadr, smashing his militia and aresting or killing him, all while the US Army is still officially in charge of security, doesn't seem like an imprudent thing to have done. We're dealing with bad options here, and the benefits of getting rid of this guy and his militia outweigh the bad reputation we'll get among Shi'ites. We already have a bad reputation among Shi'ites--even Sistani hasn't denounced al Hawza's claims that the US is behind terror attacks against Iraqi civilians. If getting a bad reputation among Shi'ites is a deal-breaker for you, I think it would have been wise to have opposed
the war.
Andrew Sullivan, in his discussion of the violence going on in Iraq links to this free-lance writer's experiences in Baghdad.
The strongest counter-argument, I guess, would be to say that, once the Americans left, Sadr's ability to command respect with his anti-American rhetoric would have disappeared, and more moderate voices would have prevailed. But from what I've seen and interviews I've done there are quite a few people in Sadr City who will follow Moqtadr because of who his father was, or because he's from Sadr City and Sistani's from Najaf, or because he's from Iraq and Sistani's from Iran. To top it off, it's widely known that Sistani and Sadr despise each other.

I won't hold my breath waiting for a "conviction" from an "Iraqi" "jury," but it seems highly likely that Moqtadr and his deputy are guilty of the murder they've been charged with--the murder of a moderate Shi'ite cleric in the war's immediate aftermath. That alone ought to color one's opinion of what Moqtadr would have been willing to do to his co-religionists if his militia and his authority had survived the occupation intact.

All in all, provoking Moqtadr, smashing his militia and aresting or killing him, all while the US Army is still officially in charge of security, doesn't seem like an imprudent thing to have done. We're dealing with bad options here, and the benefits of getting rid of this guy and his militia outweigh the bad reputation we'll get among Shi'ites. We already have a bad reputation among Shi'ites--even Sistani hasn't denounced al Hawza's claims that the US is behind terror attacks against Iraqi civilians. If getting a bad reputation among Shi'ites is a deal-breaker for you, I think it would have been wise to have opposed
the war.
Ralph Peters celebrates what has been going on in Kurdish Iraq.
Thomas Sowell explains the statistic that people have been dropping out of the unemployment numbers because they are discouraged and have stopped searching for jobs.
Although the unemployment rate has been at near record lows, despite the slow growth of employment, this has been because of people who simply dropped out of the labor force, and were therefore not counted as unemployed. But think about it. Can you or I simply drop out of the labor force?

Of course not. We have bills to pay. Who can drop out then? Usually either those who are rich, those who are willing to live on handouts or young people still living with or off their parents.

According to the March 22nd issue of BusinessWeek magazine, "almost all" of the decline in the number of people seeking work "has occurred in the 16- to 24-year-old age group." Labor force participation among people older than that has continued to be what it usually is.

In other words, people who have to support themselves and their families were not the ones dropping out of the labor force. When things get tough for younger people, they can turn to mom and dad. Others turn to the taxpayers.

There is another aspect to this, however. Jobs have long been harder for young people to find. Some might say that this is due to their lesser skills and experience. But there is no inherent reason why low-skill people should be any less employable at low wages than high-skill people are at high wages.

The difference is that the government sets a lower limit to the movement of wages and also mandates working conditions and other benefits that are the same for everyone. All these things cost money and in effect make the minimum wage higher.
Stuart Benjamin proposes a game of Hardball Bingo of the buzzwords that the pundits will use in dissecting her testimony. Or, he proposes that you can have your own Hardball drinking game. (Link via Instapundit)
Lileks has a wonderful entry today. First he compares what Ted Kennedy said in 2002 to what Kennedy is babbling about now. Then, Lileks attempts the difficult task of trying to decipher what John Kerry thinks about events in Iraq and what he'd do if he were president.
If I may coin a new term: diplobabble. We have a stark choice: Bush’s blunt and frequently inarticulate remarks, versus Kerry’s prolix, labrynthic diplobabble. Which legitimate international entity? Not the coalition we have now, obviously. He can only mean the UN, whose dealings with Iraq have not exactly been characterized by high-minded noble intentions. Incidentally: If the US pressured Israel to make peace with the PA and grant massive concessions, would anyone be complaining that the agreement hadn’t been run through “a legitimate international entity”?

Beneath all the diplobabble is a clear tenet of the Kerry Doctrine: Actions are legitimized solely by the quantity of allies. (In the case of Rwanda, Sudan et al, inaction is legitimized by the number of other Great Powers disinclined to act.)
Read the entire column. It's a keeper.
More good news on the jobs front.
The Boston Herald has some tough words for its senior senator.
Imagine the pain that the families of those latest casualties - like the family of Providence native Matthew Serio, a 21-year-old Marine killed in a firefight in Fallujah Monday - are already coping with. And then imagine the pain of knowing that at the moment their son was fighting and dying for his country, Ted Kennedy was in Washington calling Iraq a ``misguidedwar'' that has ``made America more hated in the world and made the war on terrorism harder to win.''

In a more civil era, it was considered political suicide to say the kind of things Ted Kennedy said this week while young Americans were dying on foreign soil. But no such sense of propriety or sympathy for the families of the fallen enters into Kennedy's thinking - not when there are political points to be scored against George W. Bush.

``A year after the war began, Americans are questioning why the administration went to war in Iraq, when Iraq was not an imminent threat,'' Kennedy said, conveniently forgetting that it is not an administration that goes to war, it is a nation - this nation in a move authorized by the Congress. Today some 135,000 U.S. military men and women are still on the ground in Iraq.

Yet in his unrelenting effort to put John Kerry [related, bio] in the White House, Kennedy belittles the efforts of those troops, while giving aid, comfort and his best lines to the likes of a murdering thug like al-Sadr
Peter Roff has an idea for an ad that the GOP of their supporters could run to counteract Moveon.org and the other Soros-funded ads.
Open on a black screen, ominous music playing softly and then building as the ad progresses. From the center spins up a picture of George Soros, the Hungarian-born billionaire who has promised to contribute millions of dollars to the 527 groups working to defeat George W. Bush in the election.

As Soros' picture fills the screen, a grim-voiced announcer intones, "Why is this foreign-born billionaire trying to buy an American presidential election?

"Billionaire George Soros, a Hungarian-born financier and hedge-fund operator who made millions betting that the British pound would crash, throwing thousands of people out of work," the announcer continues over a montage of pictures bringing visual life to his words.

"The same George Soros who was fined $2.2 million by a Paris court after he was found guilty of insider trading and who, through his various charitable efforts, bankrolls pro-assisted-suicide campaigns and pro-marijuana efforts throughout the world, leading one former U.S. cabinet official to label him 'The Daddy Warbucks of drug legalization,'" the ad continues.

"This is the same George Soros whose millions are now being used by left-wing groups like MoveOn.org and the Media Fund to run TV ads attacking George W. Bush, trying to buy the White House for John Kerry and the Democrats," with a picture of Kerry spinning up next to the one of Soros.

"So," the announcer asks at the climax, "when you are thinking about how you are going to vote in November, ask yourself one question: Just what is George Soros buying?"

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

John Hawkins has these comments on quotes from Senator Byrd in 1944. Remember that Christopher Dodd said,
"I cannot think of a single moment in this Nation's 220-plus year history where he would not have been a valuable asset to this country."

Oooooh, ooooh, I can think of a moment! How about the moment Byrd wrote this back in 1946...

"I am a former kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan in Raleigh County and the adjoining counties of the state .... The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia .... It is necessary that the order be promoted immediately and in every state of the Union. Will you please inform me as to the possibilities of rebuilding the Klan in the Realm of W. Va .... I hope that you will find it convenient to answer my letter in regards to future possibilities"

...Or better yet, how about the moment Byrd wrote this back in 1944...

"Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."

Someone should run those quotes by Senator Dodd and see if he'd like to revise his comments...
Of course Dodd would say that Senator Byrd had grown beyond where he was in 1944 and we shouldn't hold that against him. And that's fine. But, Republicans never get cut such slack for anything they ever said or did. That is what is so aggravating.
There's a mild kerfuffle in the conservative blogosphere about Senator Christopher Dodd's praise of Senator Robert Byrd as a man who would have been a great leader for our nation in any period of our country's history including the Civil War. Remember that Byrd is a former Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan and voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Hmmmm. I wonder what side he would have been on in the Civil War. If you have an doubts, check out this picture from Senator Byrd's guest appearance in the movie, "Gods and Generals." And yes, he played a Confederate general. I'm sure that if he had protested playing a Confederate officer, he could just have easily made a cameo as a Union officer. But for some reason, Byrd agreed to portray a member of the rebel army. Is that the kind of leadership Dodd was referring to in his evocation of Byrd as a great leader during the Civil War? Was he just free associating?


A black conservative group even protested his appearance in the movie. Armstrong Williams expresses what a lot of people are thinking about the idea that Dodd beleives that Senator Byrd is a man for all seasons.
And yet, there is Dodd, on the Senate floor, demanding that Sen. Byrd "would have been a great senator at any moment. He would have been right at the founding of this country. He would have been in the leadership crafting this Constitution. He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this Nation. ."

Really? A former Klansman would have been great during the Civil War? Great for whom? I'm not aware of many Klansmen who fought to free the slaves, or to uphold the union or to protect basic rights.

Had a Republican praised a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, the Democrats would have been up in arms. But when one of their own makes racially-insensitive remarks, they avert their eyes. Some things should not be ignored. Some things should not be subject to the whims of partisan politics. When our elected leaders spew racist remarks, they need to be held accountable - regardless of their political affiliation.

Justice Stevens has some nice memories of justices that he's served with. It is pleasant to think that they really do get along.
Al-Sadr agrees with Ted Kennedy that Iraq is becoming Bush's Vietnam.
Steven Den Beste says that there is truly a silver lining to what has been going on in Fallujah.
But they are going to actively resist. They have attempted to turn Falluja into an armed camp and will defend it against the eventual reoccupation by the Marines and by Iraqi troops working with them.

That decision is a blunder of the first order.

The primary goal of guerrilla action is to use control of initiative to select time and place for attacks against an enemy which is much more powerful, and then to fade away and hide. To give the enemy a stand-up fight permits the enemy to use his superior power, and that's the opportunith the insurgents in Falluja are permitting us.

That means there will be a lot of fighting in Falluja, and sadly it means that quite a few Marines will pay with their lives. But it also means that the opposition in Falluja has transformed itself from "political dissident" to "rebel". Now we can kill or capture the lot, root and branch.

Read what John Kerry said on NPR about this punk al-Sadr who has been preaching violence against Americans.
Speaking of al-Sadr's newspaper, which was shut down by coalition forces last week after it urged violence against U.S. troops, Kerry complained to National Public Radio, "They shut a newspaper that belongs to a legitimate voice in Iraq."

In the next breath, however, the White House hopeful caught himself and quickly changed direction. "Well, let me ... change the term 'legitimate.' It belongs to a voice — because he has clearly taken on a far more radical tone in recent days and aligned himself with both Hamas and Hezbollah, which is a sort of terrorist alignment."

But Kerry again seemed to voice sympathy for the Shiite terrorist when asked whether he supported al-Sadr's arrest. "Not if it’s an isolated act without the other kinds of steps necessary to change the dynamics on the ground in Iraq," Kerry told NPR, in quotes first reported by the New York Sun.

"If all we do is make war against the Iraqi people and continue an American occupation, fundamentally, without a clarity as to who and how sovereignty is being turned over, we have a very serious problem for the long run here," Kerry added. "And I think this administration is just walking dead center down into that trap."
This guy is seriously out of the loop. He thinks we're making war against the Iraqi people. I guess that is like he thought that our troops in Vietnam were carrying out atrocities against the Vietnamese civilians. He really does have a warped view of what our military does. And he doesn't seem to take as strong a stance against terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah and al-Sadr as he does against Bush.
The new Pig Book is out.
Zev Chafets has been listening to Air America and isn't that impressed. He'd like the previous black talk radio station back.
After listening to Air America for a week, I now know what liberal radio is. It is Janeane Garofalo bantering with her co-host about swallowing her own saliva, and then dismissing the American victims of the Fallujah lynch mob as a pack of mercenaries. It is a woman named Randi Rhodes talking dirty and cracking on Condoleezza Rice's "plastic hair."
I just can't imagine any conservative getting away with making fun of a black woman's hair texture. And then Gary Trudeau calls her "Brown Sugar" in a Doonesbury strip today. (link via Drudge) That is truly shameful.
Eileen McNamara of the Boston Globe explains why picking McCain as a running mate would accentuate all the worst about Senator Kerry.
Far from elevating Kerry as a bold, bipartisan thinker, the choice of McCain would enshrine forever Kerry's reputation for political equivocation. The question his campaign has spent months sputtering to answer (what does John Kerry stand for?) would only be amplified by such a selection.

McCain, the crowd-pleasing "straight shooter" who lost the Republican nomination to George W. Bush in 2000, has had no such record of vacillation in his 17 years in the Senate and four in the US House of Representatives. He is a social and economic conservative and proud of it. As McCain said himself when asked about speculation that the two Vietnam war heroes might join forces to deny Bush a second term, "It's impossible to imagine the Democratic Party seeking a prolife, free-trading, nonprotectionist, deficit hawk."

The trouble is, it's not that hard to imagine the self-destructive Democratic establishment doing just that. Having convinced themselves that presidential politics is less about ideas than about money and personalities, the Beltway crowd is more than capable of underestimating the intelligence of the people.
She makes a very good point that such a choice would show that Kerry cared only about winning and had no fixed beliefs that mattered to him. Remember when the rap on George H.W. Bush was that he wanted to be president simply because it was the next space to fill in his resume but that he had nothing that he wanted to accomplish as president? Wouldn't that apply in spades to Senator Kerry? And the fact that his staff is musing about a Kerry-McCain ticket shows that none of them have any real ideology other than winning.
William Safire, who has always been able to turn a good alliteration, offers up a new one, Quakering Quagmirists. I like that.
And we should coolly confront the quaking quagmirists here at home.

Does Ted Kennedy speak for his Massachusetts junior senator, John Kerry, when he calls our effort to turn terror-supporting despotism into nascent liberty in Iraq "Bush's Vietnam"?

Do the apostles of retreat realize how their defeatism, magnified by Arab media, bolsters the morale of the insurgents and increases the nervousness of the waverers?

Does our coulda-woulda-shoulda crowd consider how it dismays the majority of Iraqis wondering if they can count on our continued presence as they feel their way toward freedom?
Catherine Siepp wonders what is so bad about cowboys, anyways.
This is what happens when you treat terrorism as a legal, not a military, problem.
California Yankee points to the efforts that the Heinz company is making to separate itself from the Kerry campaign. I wonder if they've been seeing some effect from customers not wanting to purchase their products. I plead guilty.
Thomas Sowell has a great example of how do-good regulation in San Mateo County in California has a whole lot of hidden costs that don't get considered when local officals like to pass regulations that sound good to the economically illiterate. Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution and my husband have posted on the importance of people understanding economics.
Some consumer watchdog nuts have their panties all knotted up about Google offering free e-mail that will involve ads and thus some electroning scanning of content to match ads to content.

What part of FREE do they not understand? If they're creeped out, sign up for one of the many free e-mail services out there. If people are upset about the scanning, they won't sign up. That's how the market works, guys.
Here's an article about political bias, except for a few token award-winners, in the Pulitzer Prizes.
John J. Miller profiles Bob Schaffer, the likely GOP candidate to replace Ben Nighthorse Campbell.
Michele Malkin looks at the spread of Tawana Brawley-type hoaxes on college campuses.
As is typical in these cases, the perpetrator and her loyal supporters are in denial. Dunn, who was involved in past tangles with the law over shoplifting charges, blames the police for being irresponsible and "irreparably damag(ing) her reputation and emotional health." Minority students shrug at the fraud. "I'm not concerned with whether it's a hoax or not," said Pomona College junior Adam Briggs of the Pan-African Student Association.

Of course not. When it comes to smearing America, as Tawana Brawley taught us all so well, the end always justifies the manufactured means.

ABC's The Note, which is an excellent round-up of the day's political stories, has now started its own headline service on political news that it wants to replace the Drudge Report. Drudge obligingly links to their effort.
Michael Ledeen refuses to believe that democracy is doomed to failure in the Middle East.
To those who say that democracy cannot be introduced in the Muslim Middle East, where it has never existed, there is an easy answer: If that were true, then there would be no democracy at all, since tyranny is older than democracy, and oppression has been far more common than freedom for most of human history. We all lived under tyranny before we became free; freedom has had to be wrested from the hands of kings, caliphs and nobles, and imams and priests — and it has invariably been a tough battle. But that is quite different from saying it cannot be done at all.

The history of the Muslim world abounds with example of successful self-government, from the high degree of autonomy granted to some of the lands of the Ottoman Empire to the remarkably modern Iranian Constitution of 1906, and the contemporary Middle East is currently bubbling with calls for greater freedom, often from surprising sources (such as the son of Libyan tyrant Muammar Khaddafi). It is hard to believe that the peoples of the Middle East are bound and determined to remain oppressed, when millions of Iranians have demonstrated for freedom, and, just within the past few months, pro-democracy demonstrations have erupted in Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Yet those in Iraq who are killing us and our allies, along with Arab civilians — and even themselves and their own children — are also part of the culture of the Middle East, and they draw upon it to justify their actions and inspire others to do likewise. Do we not have to change at least those elements of the region's culture? Can we expect to defeat terrorism without also discrediting the ideas and passions that underlie it? And does that not automatically mean a long process, in which political and military weapons are largely irrelevant?

I do not think so. Nothing so discredits an idea as its defeat in the real world. Had we not defeated the fascists in World War II, the heirs of Tojo, Hitler, and Mussolini would most likely still rule Japan, Germany, and Italy, and some version of fascism would most likely remain a potent force in many other societies, just as it was in the Twenties, Thirties and early Forties. But our victory in war defeated both the enemy regimes and their evil doctrines, and fascism is no longer an inspiration. If we defeat the terrorists and remove the regimes that support them, we are likely to find the appeal of bloody jihad dramatically reduced. There is undoubtedly a connection between the pro-democracy demonstrations (and Libya's surrender) and the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq.
I've been working on my lesson plans for the Vietnam War. Thankfully, the fighting in Iraq does not seem to have launched the type of defeatism that turned the Tet offensive into an American defeat. Neil Munro argues that we need to make sure that that doesn't happen.

Lawrence Kaplan writes that elites are much more concerned about military casualties than the American public. They are afraid that the public will lose faith in the operation. But, as long as the nation's leaders continually express their resolve and the rationale for our involvement in Iraq, the public will support it.
What do these numbers tell us about Iraq? For one thing, that the public may be less fearful of casualties than America’s political and military elites assume — and, indeed, less fearful than the elites themselves. In 1999 a massive opinion poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates for the Triangle Institute for Security Studies asked various groups what level of casualties they would be willing to tolerate in the event of war with Iraq. The survey found that military leaders consistently show less tolerance for casualties than civilian leaders, who in turn show less tolerance for casualties than the public at large. (In Iraq, the survey showed the public would tolerate, as a mean figure, 29,853 American fatalities; civilian elites would tolerate 19,045; and their military counterparts would tolerate 6,016.)

The data have obvious implications abroad, where Osama bin Laden boasted that the collapse of American resolve in Somalia “convinced us that the Americans are a paper tiger,” and at home, where 78 percent of officers and a nearly identical percentage of their civilian counterparts agree with this statement: “The American public will rarely tolerate large numbers of U.S. casualties in military operations.”
The American Thinker ponders the Democrats taking the Torricelli option. I don't think it would happen, but it's fun to think about.
Condoleezza Rice is the most extraordinary woman. Read this profile in the New York Post. No wonder Republicans dream of her running for office though she always insists that she is not interested. That's a shame.
Here's a nice fisking of Kerry's huffing and puffing about questions about his Catholic faith.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Ramesh Ponnuru says that the GOP is fielding more conservative candidates this year than ever before in the recent past.
Mark Steyn thinks the media is exaggerating everything about what is going on in Iraq.
Fewer people are being killed in Iraq right now than in Syria, Iran or Saudi Arabia. The only difference is the western media are in Iraq and not in any of those other dumps, and, as I’ve pointed out before, they’re still using their old Baath Party translators. As to Fallujah being “scarcely governed at all”, yes, it’s a fetid dump and I had a lousy lunch there last year, as the only westerner in a restaurant full of surly Arab men who no doubt would have liked to kill me but didn’t quite dare. But 300,000 people live in the city. In all the pictures of the lynchings, can you add up more than a hundred? And half of them are punk kids under 11. Four brave men died in vile circumstances. A few score are depraved enough to cheer on their killers. 299,900 of the town’s population were either disapproving or indifferent. And in the Arab world indifference will do.
Powerline has discovered another Kerry have-it-both-ways flip flop.
Amir Taheri has some detailed background information on Sadr, the Khomeini-wanna-be inciting violence now in Iraq. Apparently, he's upset that he's been closed out of the coalition government and so wants to disrupt it and the US occupation in order to carve out his own power. And he wants John Kerry to win the election.
Sadr lacks the strength to disrupt plans for the handover of power to an interim government, but he may produce headlines that neither President Bush nor Prime Minister Tony Blair wants to see - each is coming up on an election.

As one Hassan Nasrallah, a Sadr relative and leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah, succinctly put it: "We may be unable to drive the Americans out of Iraq. But we can drive George W. Bush out of the White House."
Is it too crass to put him down as one of Kerry's foreign supporters? (Link via James Taranto)
Scrappleface has the rejoinder you wish Scott McClellan could say about Ted Kennedy.
Kennedy: Kerry's Actions Prove Iraq is Bush's Vietnam

(2004-04-05) -- In a major policy address at the Brookings Institution today Senator Edward M. Kennedy said that Democrat presidential candidate John Forbes Kerry's actions prove that "Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam."

"The parallels between Vietnam and Iraq are stunning when seen through the actions of one man who lived through both eras," said Mr. Kennedy. "Thirty-some years ago John Kerry fought in Vietnam, then later protested U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In October 2002, John Kerry voted to support war against Iraq, then later protested U.S. involvement in Iraq. Clearly, Kerry's actions and public statements demonstrate that Iraq has become a quagmire for Bush."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan responded to Mr. Kennedy's remarks by saying, "Ted Kennedy is John Kerry's Chappaquiddick."

James Taranto had a similar follow-up to his comments on the Kennedy tirade.
Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.
Here's Lileks on the whole tiresome Daily Kos controversy.
Cut back down to the bone: Americans strung up and burned. Big-time blogger says “screw them.” Blogger suffers blowback, just as a mainstream columnist would suffer if he wrote that it was time to nuke Mecca or pave Fallujah. And there are consequences? Welcome to the real world.
Some liberals are not pleased about Air America.
Franken now has his own show o­n Air America, which he has mischievously titled The O'Franken Factor. Somehow I doubt black people will be tuning in to hear Al Franken deliver cheesy o­ne-liners about Bill O'Reilly. A brief scan of the reviews of Franken's first show indicate that most found it disappointing and boring. They should not have expected anything better from Franken, who has been telling the same 5 jokes for the past 2 years or so. The show featured a bland interview with war criminal Bob Kerrey about the 9/11 commission followed by an interview with sellout filmmaker Michael Moore. The show reached its climax when former vice president Al Gore called in. Moore used the opportunity to grovel. He issued a pathetic apology for backing Ralph Nader in the 2000 elections and promised to "throw a big party" for Al Gore if Bush loses the next election.
(Link via Instapundit)

Byron York goes into the numbers to explain how miniscule Air America really is in the realm of radio.
As the new liberal talk-radio network finishes its first week in operation, industry insiders say the most impressive thing about the effort is not its performance — that has gotten mixed-to-negative reviews — but the fact that the network, Air America, has received such extensive press coverage relative to the tiny size of its audience.

"It was off the charts in terms of how much ballyhoo and hoopla it generated, considering what it is," says Michael Harrison, the editor and publisher of Talkers magazine, which tracks the talk radio business. "It's a modest startup, and it was treated like some kind of revolution."
You can tell that the GOP are serious in South Dakota. Now, they're trying to chip off a fraction of the Democratic vote.
Do you get the feeling that Colin Powell is getting a little fed up with some of the wacked-out Democratic criticisms of the war in Iraq and the administration's anti-terror efforts? Now, he's slapping down Ted Kennedy.
"I was in Haiti and didn't see the whole speech, but I must say that Senator Kennedy, I think, should be a little more restrained and careful in his comments because we are at war," Powell said in an interview on a nationally syndicated radio broadcast.

"Debate is appropriate, and that's the beauty of our open, democratic system, but I think this is also the time that we rally the nation behind the challenge that we face in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places in the world," he said on the "Tony Snow Program."
It's a great idea to split up the 9th Circuit, but I don't think it's going anywhere.
Poor Ralphie didn't get the needed 1000 people to show up in order to get a fast ticket onto Oregon's ballot. It's going to be a long slog for him to qualify for each state's ballot. I bet that he won't get on most of them.
The American Thinker writes on the clear evidence of media bias.
A perfect recent example of this phenomenon is the press coverage afforded to the launch of the liberal talk radio network Air America, a very modest outfit by any broadcast industry standard. The New York Times gave it the most powerful boost the newsprint media can offer: a cover story in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, along with repeated articles on other days. Other daily newspapers followed suit, as did the television networks. The San Francisco Chronicle went to the absurd length of headlining the “news” that Bay Area listeners would have to wait, because the network had no San Francisco outlet as it hit the nation’s airwaves.

All of this fuss over a network whose outlets numbered five low-powered, low-rated AM stations, whose airtime was purchase in blocks by the network. Not one program director in the entire country decided on his own that the potential listenership was attractive enough to merit carriage of the network as a commercial venture. Even worse, Air America’s radio outlets in the two largest markets, New York and Los Angeles, formerly served black and Hispanic ethnic audiences. There has already been one protest rally in New York, as “community leaders” protest the loss of their ethnic broadcasts.

Not since Howell Raines published dozens of stories about Martha Burke’s efforts to force Augusta National to admit women members, while she was only able to muster a handful of demonstrators at the climax of her campaign, has there been such an obvious case of obsessive-compulsive coverage.
The way the media covers the economy is another example.
The key code word has become “outsourcing.” Jobs are supposedly being shipped to China and India by the boat load. When all the jobs are gone, we will all be flipping hamburgers for each other, or so we are being led to believe.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that it is easily refuted with both numbers and pictures. For every call center, with its low paying jobs, outsourced to India, there is a Mercedes Benz factory, in-sourced to Alabama, or a Nissan factor in-sourced to Mississippi. The workers at these plants are making some of the highest wages in their region, and they are rather happy about the outsourcing trend hitting Germany and Japan. In-sourced jobs actually outnumber outsourced jobs

In-sourced jobs are worked by people who have faces and personal stories. Given that a Presidential campaign is underway, it will be short work for the Republican ticket to arrange visits to the Honda, whose Ohio factories employ 14,000, or the vast Michelin tire factory in South Carolina. President Bush might even want to take the wheel of one the Kentucky-made Toyota Solaras as it is loaded for shipment back to the Japanese market.