Saturday, April 17, 2004

Well, this article sounds like an essay answer to an AP Government essay question about how the president has the power to set the political agenda. AP Government kids, I hope you're paying attention!
I'm tired of Democrats who complain that Republicans are attacking their patriotism whenever Republicans dare to criticize positions that Democrats take on foreign policy. Republicans never mention Kerry's patriotism, but he's always complaining that they're impugning his patriotism. Yesterday, he said,
"I'm tired of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney and a bunch of people who went out of their way to avoid their chance to serve when they had the chance," the Massachusetts senator said. "I'm not going to listen to them talk to me about patriotism."
I doubt that this preemptive whining will do much good. What I suspect that it will all lead to is Teresa Heinz Kerry saying that "Well, I wasn't going to use my money for John's campaign, but the nasty Republicans kept criticizing his patriotism and honor, so I just gotta spend millions now on my own 527 to defend his honor." Watch for it. They're preparing the way.
John Leo asks what a lot of people are asking. Why do reporters, when they get their long awaited turn to question the President in prime time insist on repeating the same question over and over.
Mona Charen has a lot of good things to say about apologies and concludes,
A modest proposal: No more non-apology apologies and no more demands for others to apologize. We are all guilty. But the only way to judge whether someone has learned the lessons of his mistakes is how he conducts himself thereafter. If we were truly to learn the lessons of 9-11, we would jettison political correctness, house clean the intelligence agencies, get serious about immigration and send more troops to Iraq. Let's keep our eye on the ball.
The Senate is playing hardball over judicial nominations.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, facing Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle's ultimatum that could block all of President Bush's judicial nominations, is considering a tough counter-strategy.

Daschle has threatened to prevent any vote on 45 proposed federal judges unless the president "gives assurance" that he will not make any more recess appointments. That process, used when the Senate is in recess, puts a judicial nominee temporarily on the bench without being confirmed.

Frist is being urged to file cloture petitions, which will cut off debate and force a vote on each of the 45 stalled judges. If Democratic discipline holds as it has in the past, none of the judges will get the 60 votes needed to impose cloture. However, Democrats may get the blame for preventing the Senate from doing business.
David Brooks goes over what he was wrong about for the war in Iraq but why he still supports it.
The Houston Chronicle says that there is more sympathy for Halliburton employees now that it's dawned on people how dangerous it is in Iraq.
For months Halliburton Co. was a staple for comedians' punch lines and Democrats' speeches attacking the Bush administration's corporate connections.

However, since the capture of seven employees of the Houston-based company in the recent uprising in Iraq, the airwaves have gone all but silent on the topic.

The reason is simple: Those contracts to do billions of dollars worth of work to rebuild Iraq's energy sector and support the troops there no longer look like cozy arrangements, as the death toll stands at about 30 employees of Halliburton and its subcontractors, according to the company.

"The emphasis now is on the human tragedy, not any corporate tragedy," said Garth Jowett, a University of Houston communications professor. "People are just thinking that you can't make fun of Halliburton."
Well, they should get the word to the Kerry campaign.
Real Clear Politics analyzes a new poll that shows Bush is ahead of Kerry in New Jersey of all places.
Lileks is having some interesting discussions with Gnat trying to teach her when she can say "poopie" words. Charming.
This AP story lets you know what it is like for our troops outside of Fallujah. They're trying all sorts of psychological weapons such as playing AC/DC and broadcasting insults in Arabic.
At night, the psychological operations unit attached to the Marine battalion here sends out messages from a loudspeaker mounted on an armored Humvee. On Thursday night, the crew and its Arabic-language interpreter taunted fighters, saying, "May all the ambulances in Fallujah have enough fuel to pick up the bodies of the mujahadeen."

The message was specially timed for an attack moments later by an AC-130 gunship that pounded targets in the city.

Later, the team blasted Jimi Hendrix and other rock music, and afterward some sound effects like babies crying, men screaming, a symphony of cats and barking dogs and piercing screeches. They were unable to draw any gunmen to fight, and seemed disappointed.
Is there ever an example of these sorts of psychological games having had an effect on their targets? I'd be interested in knowing that. (Link via Right Thinking)
The leaks are starting to come from Woodward's book. Today's leak is that George Tenet told Bush that it was a "slam-dunk case" that Saddam had WMD. Is this a leak to help the President and shift the onus to the CIA.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Kerry needs a better accountant.
Howard Kurtz says that Bush's press conference played differently outside the Beltway than among the media elites.
But it would be a mistake to conclude that the president's third prime-time news conference was a flop.

Lots of people watching probably thought the reporters were overbearing showoffs.

Here inside the Beltway bubble, Bush was seen as hesitant, even fumbling (why on earth couldn't he come up with an example of a mistake?). Worse, he seemed to run out of rhetorical gas early on, repeating the same bromides about fighting terror and defending freedom while offering few specifics about resolving the mess in Iraq or even why he and Cheney need to testify together before the 9/11 commission.

But imagine that you're a casual viewer in Kansas City or Orlando or Phoenix. You hear the president talk about Sept. 11, how Saddam was a threat, how battling terrorism is a tough task, how he will do whatever it takes for America to prevail, how he doesn't like seeing dead bodies on television either but his responsibility is to remain resolute. You haven't heard him say this 20 times, like the journalists have. You see a plain-talking president sticking to his guns. You don't think it's reasonable to blame a guy who'd been in office for eight months for 9/11.

And you wonder whether the press is unfairly trying to trap him.
Fox pays tribute to Hernando de Soto.
Would you date outside your ideology?
Richard Baehr looks at what could happen in some key states if the Jewish vote for Bush increases just a bit.
The trend does seem generally positive, if not astoundingly terrific, in the tracking polls after the President's press conference.
This sounds like a dreadful attack was narrowly avoided. The Jordanian police broke up and arrested a ring connected to al-Zarqawi that was planning a dirty bomb explosion in Jordan to kill thousands of Jordanians and the people in the American Embassy. Think of how many of these attacks have been on Muslim nations: Turkey, Indonesia, Morocco, and Jordan, not to mention all the civilians killed in Iraq. That should say something to all of Al Qaeda's supporters throughout the Middle East.
Powerline links to this graphic that the Kerry campaign is running as an ad blasting the Bush campaign invading Iraq to help Halliburton. This is absolutely vile. Especially now when Halliburton employees have been kidnapped and killed in Iraq. And what a message to send to our soldiers fighting for their lives now - telling them that all their fighting for is Dick Cheney's old company. I think the Republicans should go on the offensive and attack the Democrats for their advertising. It's about time that they spoke up to expose the lies about Halliburton instead of just lying back and taking it.
Jonah Goldberg proves why he's one of the funniest political writers around. He's coined a new word:
Frankenfreude, a subset of schadenfreude, is a state of restrained glee at the failures or setbacks of Al Franken.
I love it.
Arnaud de Bourghave has an excellent brief history of the Tet Offensive and how domestic portrayals of the South Vietnamese and American victories in the Tet Offensive turned a military victory into a defeat and heartened the enemy. This is a must read if you are not familiar with the history of the Tet Offensive. Here's the conclusion.
And the chances of the South Vietnamese army being able to hack it on its own were reasonably good. With one proviso: Continued U.S. military assistance with weapons and hardware, including helicopters.

But Congress balked, first by cutting off military assistance to Cambodia, which enabled Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge communists to take over, which, in turn, was followed by a similar congressional rug pulling from under the South Vietnamese, that led to rapid collapse of morale in Saigon.

The unraveling, with Congress pulling the string, was so rapid even Giap was caught by surprise. As he recounts in his memoirs, Hanoi had to improvise a general offensive — and then rolled into Saigon two years before they had reckoned it might become possible.

That is the real lesson for the U.S. commitment to Iraq. Whatever one thought about the advisability of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the United States is there with 100,000 troops and a solid commitment to endow Iraq with a democratic system of government. While failure is not an option for Mr. Bush, it clearly is for Sen. Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, who called Iraq the president's Vietnam. It is, of course, no such animal. But it could become so if congressional resolve dissolves.

Bui Tin, who served on the general staff of the North Vietnamese army, received South Vietnam's unconditional surrender on April 30, 1975. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal after his retirement, he made clear the antiwar movement in the United States, which led to the collapse of political will in Washington, was "essential to our strategy."
Visits to Hanoi by Jane Fonda and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and various church ministers "gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses."

America lost the war, concluded Bui Tin, "because of its democracy. Through dissent and protest, it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win." Kennedy should remember that Vietnam was the war of his brother who saw the conflict in the larger framework of the Cold War and Nikita Khrushchev's threats against West Berlin. It would behoove Kennedy to see Iraq in the larger context of the struggle to bring democracy, not only to Iraq, but the entire Middle East.
Charles Krauthammer explains for those not paying attention why this is not Vietnam.
The first George Bush once said he thought the Persian Gulf War would cure America of the Vietnam syndrome. He was wrong. There is no cure for the Vietnam syndrome. It will go away only when the baby boom generation does, dying off like the Israelites in the desert, allowing a new generation, cleansed of the memories and the guilt, to look at the world clearly once again.

It was inevitable that Iraq would be compared to Vietnam. Indeed, the current comparisons are hardly new. During our astonishingly fast dash to Baghdad, taking the capital in 21 days, the chorus of naysayers was calling Iraq a quagmire on Day Eight! It was not Vietnam then. It is not Vietnam now.

Read the rest.
Fred Thompson has an excellent column in the Washington Post how the critics of the President are heartening our enemies.
But instead of trying to chart a path of progress, many of the president's critics have devoted themselves to fomenting public despair over a war that, they keep repeating, should never have been fought. They lament the money "wasted" on the Iraqi people and the damage done to America's reputation in its struggle against Islamist insurgents. They even suggest that Iraq is worse off today for having been freed from the grip of a tyrant -- never mind what the majority of Iraqis themselves might think.

While some cynics may dismiss the hand-wringing from the halls of Congress and elsewhere as little more than electioneering, its effects are far more profound.

This is not just a question of political honesty. The global war on terrorism is not a game from which we can simply walk away when it seems it isn't going our way. At the same time critics of the Bush administration insist it should have done more to combat al Qaeda in Afghanistan before Sept. 11 (on the basis of intelligence far weaker than that pointing to Hussein's weapons of mass destruction), they miss the more profound lesson that national tragedy should have instilled: that the only deterrent to terrorism is strength and that weakness -- real and perceived -- is an incitement to further attacks.

What is weakness? Weakness is when America's leaders compare Iraq to Vietnam, announcing to the world a faltering resolve to see our mission through. To our allies in the Middle East and beyond, these predictions of defeat send a clear and chilling message to hedge their bets, because the United States cannot be counted on. And to our enemies, they send an equally clear message: You can win.

Let there be no doubt: Every time there is a call to abandon Iraq to the United Nations or unnamed "international allies," our enemies know this is a call to cut and run. And they are heartened.

The president's critics cannot have it both ways. They cannot claim to be in favor of winning the war and also oppose fighting it, funding it and offering any coherent strategy for succeeding at it. They cannot credibly claim to be in favor of winning the war while decrying it as a "mistake" that cannot be won.
Cal Thomas unloads on all those reporters who want the President to apologize.
Can anyone imagine reporters during World War II asking President Franklin Roosevelt if he would like to apologize for the number of American dead and wounded, or Harry Truman if he would like to repent for dropping bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which forced Japan to surrender?

Those were different times — when "psycho" meant you were crazy and "babble" meant you didn't make any sense.

Both psycho and babble were on display at President Bush's news conference Tuesday night. Four times, by my count, reporters tried to get the president to admit he had done something wrong. What they really wanted was a huge headline: "Bush admits fault for 9/11" or, even better (from their perspective), "Bush admits mistakes in Iraq war."

Frustrated by their inability to pry such words from Mr. Bush, Don Gonyea from National Public Radio tried another tactic. Rather than ask a question, Mr. Gonyea made an accusation. He charged Mr. Bush with failing as a communicator because he uses the "same phrases" a lot and his speeches "don't vary from one to the next" and maybe that's a major reason "for your falling support." Reporters' questions don't vary a lot, either. If you didn't know the guy was from NPR, you might have guessed from the tone and ideology behind his question that he works for Al-Jazeera or the John Kerry campaign.

The question may have produced the best and most persuasive response of the evening. The president said he doesn't make decisions based on polls and that he hopes "I have communicated my convictions." He added that people should know by now that "when I say something, I mean it."

Why should this president apologize for toppling a murderous dictator responsible for the deaths of perhaps more than 1 million people and the rape and torture of unknown thousands of others? Why should Mr. Bush admit mistakes when he didn't start the war? That dubious honor goes to the likes of Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat, Osama bin Laden and terror-spawning groups named Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Andrew Sullivan finds an interesting contrast between two quotes by John Kerry over 30 years apart.
"Senator, I will say this. I think that politically, historically, the one thing that people try to do, that society is structured on as a whole, is an attempt to satisfy their felt needs, and you can satisfy those needs with almost any kind of political structure, giving it one name or the other. In this name it is democratic; in others it is communism; in others it is benevolent dictatorship. As long as those needs are satisfied, that structure will exist." - John F. Kerry, Congressional Testimony, April 22, 1971.

"I have always said from day one that the goal here . . . is a stable Iraq, not whether or not that's a full democracy. I can't tell you what it's going to be, but a stable Iraq. And that stability can take several different forms." - John F. Kerry, April 14, 2004.
Democrats are rallying to protect Jamie Gorelick while new information surfaces that she was more deeply involved in counterterrorism efforts when she was in the Justice Department than she has previously admitted.

One interesting footnote. When Ashcroft originally revealed on Wednesday that Gorelick had done more to erect the wall preventing the FBI and CIA working together, the major networks didn't talk about that and instead focused on Ashcrofts defensiveness. It took a prominent Republican in Congress, James Sensenbrenner to make this into a story by calling for her resignation.

The Commission is starting to realize that they're losing their veneer of nonpartisanship and so Thomas Kean has told them to cool it. He should also tell them to stay off the TV. I expect to see them cropping up to sing on American Idol next.

The Republicans on the Commission swear up and down that the Commission is working together in a nonpartisan manner. Why do Republicans get a Stockholm Syndrome in these situations?
Tod Lindberg reviews "The Hideous Career of Richard Ben Veniste." If you're like me who remembered that Ben Veniste was a sleaze but couldn't remember the exact details, read Lindberg. Then, ponder this. Why did the Democrats choose Ben Veniste to be on the 9/11 Commission. Why did they pick such a partisan hack for a supposedly nonpartisan investigation? Hmmmm.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Oliver Stone is a slimeball and has no self-awareness to realize that he has just been the mouthpiece for a vicious dictator. Here is an interview about his new movie on Castro.
ALB: Let me ask you about the part [in the film] where Castro's in front of eight prisoners charged with attempting to hijack a plane [to Miami]. He says to them, "I want you all to speak frankly and freely." What do you make of that whole scene, where you have these prisoners who happened to be wearing perfectly starched, nice blue shirts?

OS: Let me give you the background. He obviously set it up overnight. It was in that spirit that he said, "Ask whatever you want. I'm sitting here. I want to hear it too. I want to hear what they're thinking." He let me run the tribunal, so to speak.

ALB: But Cuba's leader for life is sitting in front of these guys who are facing life in prison, and you're asking them, "Are you well treated in prison?" Did you think they could honestly answer that question?

OS: If they were being horribly mistreated, then I don't know that they could be worse mistreated [afterward].

ALB: So in other words, you think they thought this was their best shot to air grievances? Rather than that if they did speak candidly, there'd be hell to pay when they got back to prison?

OS: I must say, you're really picturing a Stalinist state. It doesn't feel that way. You can always find horrible prisons if you go to any country in Central America.

ALB: Did you go to the prisons in Cuba?

OS: No, I didn't.

ALB: So you don't know if they're any different than, say, the prisons in Honduras then?

OS: I think that those prisoners are being honest.

Apparently, Oliver Stone can decide what a Stalinist state feels like and absolve Castro of all guilt. Amazing. Disgusting.
You might not have noticed that he was running, but wacky Bob Smith of New Hampshire who was defeated in the primary in 2002 as he ran for reelection, has bowed out of the race for Florida senator in 2004.
Mark Levin points to another interesting revelation from Ashcroft's testimony.
Now Kerry is saying that Bush is exploiting terror and implying that Bush went into Iraq for some sort of preset motive that didn't have to do with the war on terror. He's in Dean country now. He's been absorbed by the Left.
A correspondent with Rich Lowry at The Corner has a list of Vietnam analogies.
During the Vietnam War:

-The anti-war crowd portrayed the administration as evil and un-caring.
-John Kerry used the anti-war movement for his personal, political aspirations.
-Ignorant comparisons were made between the President and Hitler.
-No thought was given to the consequences the South Vietnamese people would suffer if we immediately pulled out our troops.
-The morale of our troops overseas suffered because of the anti-war movement's actions at home while the enemy's resolve was bolstered.
-The left proclaimed that the South Vietnamese people would be better off under the North's rule instead of being subjected to U.S. intervention.
-All enemies of freedom called the U.S. efforts imperialistic.
-Industry greed was claimed to be the main reason for the war.
-The administration was accused of manufacturing its reasons for the war.
-Hollywood celebrities received much free publicity by speaking out against the war, and most of Hollywood was adamantly against it.
-A major network's anchorman lost his objectivity and proclaimed the war to be a losing enterprise.
-Grieving families of killed servicemen lashed out angrily at the government.
-American Colleges and Universities were a festering cesspool of leftist, anti-war propaganda.
-"Make Love, Not War" was a simplistic sound-bite thought to be very, very clever.
-American troops were claimed to come, unfairly, only from lower-income families.
-The leftists treated the U.N. as a legitimate, intelligent, governing body that would act in our country's best interests.
-Atrocities committed by the North Vietnamese were downplayed and under-reported by the three major networks.
-Servicemen's efforts at humanitarian aid were ignored in favor of body counts and negative war images.
-Congress busied itself with finger pointing and witch-hunting."

So, the Vietnam analogy works both ways.
Here is a story about John Kerry reading to little children a story with a magic wand. He told the kids,
Mr. Kerry obliged, but still seemed to have politics on the brain as he narrated the story of the magic wand ? "Zoop!" ? making things disappear.

"I could go zoop! and Republicans would disappear," he said.
I wonder if the little kids know what Republicans are. Maybe, their parents are Republicans. That would be a scary thing. Mommy, this big man came to class and said he wanted to make you disappear."

And, am I missing something? Doesn't Kerry want to be the president of all the people, even theoretically win the votes of some of those evil Republicans? If he were president, would he still be president for Republicans or does he regard them as some evil entity poisoning the country?(Link via Viking Pundit)
Byron York is beavering away on Kerry's tax return and finds something suspicious about the royalty figures that Kerry reported.
The Bush Campaign has a space invaders-type game called Kerry Tax Invaders. Play it.
Drudge has been trying to find out about Teresa Heinz's tax returns. She doesn't want to release them, claiming that that is her private business. However, John Kerry excoriated his opponent in 1990 who didn't release his forms.
In December '03, Kerry announced that he loaned his campaign $6.4 Million by mortgaging a share of a Boston home he jointly owns with his wife.

Teresa Heinz Kerry paid cash for the Beacon Hill mansion in January 1995.

But according To Kerry's own 1994 senate personal financial disclosure [signed May, 15, 1995], Kerry's own personal net worth was somewhere between a negative $130,000 to positive $34,995.

The current loan on the house carries an annual interest payment of $200,000, records show, more than Kerry's $158,000 Senate salary.

Kerry's campaign insists he intends to pay off the 30-year mortgage himself.

"Sen. Kerry is a man who has considerable assets," spokesman Michael Meehan explains.

But Kerry's own financial disclosures show no assets sufficient to pay the loan -- or even a way to keep up with the interest payments!

.....Besides a blurring of Heinz-Kerry assets, the campaign is also wresting with past quotes made by Kerry himself.

In his 1990 Senate race, Kerry asked his challenger to "clear the air" by releasing tax returns.

"I think people want to know whether someone they possibly might send to Washington to represent them in the Senate is someone who pays their fair share of taxes,'" Kerry said. "Why is James Rappaport hiding his tax returns?" Kerry asked. "Why is it some people can live up to that standard and he can't? It seems to me that he ought to be able to release those returns and clear the air...

....And at the height of last year's primary race, Kerry vowed that "openness" would be the "hallmark" of his administration.

I wonder if this story will get any traction.
Kevin Hassett has discovered how a loophole in his plan about taxes on multinational corporations would save lots of money for....Heinz.
Recent scholarly research on international taxation has explored the impact of the tax code on the competitiveness of U.S. firms. Two factors that significantly undermine our competitiveness have been identified. The first is that we tax corporate income on a "worldwide" basis. If a company makes a profit in France, it will have to pay U.S. tax on that profit when it mails the money home, after receiving a credit for foreign taxes paid. Most other countries do not tax foreign profits at all. Any multinational firm that earns money in France, after all, pays French tax immediately. Why should we add a second tax on top of that?

The other factor that harms U.S. competitiveness is the very high rate of U.S. corporate tax. Most other countries have reduced their corporate tax rates sharply in recent years. The U.S. has not, and the result is that we are now one of the highest tax countries on earth. In a recent paper I coauthored with my colleague Eric Engen, for example, we found that the U.S. corporate tax rate was 18 percent higher than the non-U.S. average in 2001.

So how do U.S. multinational firms stay competitive despite these disadvantages? Under current law, they can locate production and profits abroad and avoid paying the very high U.S. taxes by letting profits sit in bank accounts overseas. This strategy does not avoid foreign taxes, but since those are much lower than ours, the playing field is leveled somewhat. A U.S. manufacturer can produce a good in Ireland for sale in Europe and be competitive despite our high tax rates.

Senator Kerry plans to end this. If a multinational makes money abroad, it must pay U.S. taxes immediately. This will make the negative impact of high U.S. taxes impossible to avoid and force U.S. firms to significantly increase prices. That should lead to sharp reductions in market share and employment both at home and abroad, and a likely wave of foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies. The plan's second measure, a 1.75 percent reduction in the corporate tax rate on all worldwide profits, would not begin to offset the lost benefit of tax deferral.

The Kerry team clearly recognized the possibility that they were causing significant harm, because they added a loophole. If a U.S. multinational produces a product in a foreign country for consumption in that country, then they will continue to allow the firm to avoid U.S. tax until the money is mailed back home.

Think of all of the needless and duplicative activity this will generate. Multinationals will be forced, in pursuit of tax savings, to introduce newer and smaller production facilities in every country they serve. Transportation costs are low enough, and scale economies large enough, that most multinationals operate a few production facilities located in attractive hubs around the world.


So why would anyone propose such a thing? Some industries, like food production, already operate that way. Because of local food regulations, and concerns about spoilage, it is often the case that food companies locate a separate plant in each country that they serve. Chief among these is Heinz, which owns 57 plants outside of North America that, as the company states, "provide products to consumers in those markets."

Heinz is so successful at capturing local markets that, according to form 10-K, almost 84 percent of its income from continuing operations came from foreign markets in 2003. Accordingly, the impact of the Kerry plan on that company's value would be tremendous. If we assume that deferring U.S. tax on their foreign income saves them the difference between the U.S. tax and the average foreign tax, then that adds up to annual savings of about $43 million.
I wonder if one of these days, Heinz will regret their connection to national politics as much as Halliburton does.
Now, I understand what John Lehman was getting at when he was asking questions of Condi Rice last week.
Richard Ben-Veniste and Bob Kerrey received the lion's share of media attention paid to last week's 9/11 Commission hearing with Condoleezza Rice, thanks to their generally intemperate questioning style. But while Ben-Veniste and Kerrey played to the cameras, it was their colleague, John Lehman, who was breaking new ground with the national-security adviser, but few noticed.

Lehman's focus was the transition between the Clinton and Bush administrations. He told Rice that he was "struck by the continuity of the policies rather than the differences," and then he proceeded to ask Rice a series of blunt questions as to what she was told during the transition.

Among Lehman's questions was this: "Were you aware that it was the policy...to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that's discriminatory?"

Rice replied: "No, I have to say that the kind of inside arrangements for the FAA are not really in my...." (Lehman quickly followed up: "Well, these are not so inside.")

Watching the hearings on television with the rest of the nation, I wondered what in the world Secretary Lehman was talking about. This, I'd never heard before. Was he saying that the security of our airlines had been sacrificed by political correctness? A few days after the klieg lights had faded, I had the chance to ask him.

"We had testimony a couple of months ago from the past president of United, and current president of American Airlines that kind of shocked us all," Lehman told me. "They said under oath that indeed the Department of Transportation continued to fine any airline that was caught having more than two people of the same ethnic persuasion in a secondary line for line for questioning, including and especially, two Arabs."

Wait a minute. So if airline security had three suspicious Arab guys they had had to let one go because they'd reached a quota?

That was it, Lehman said, "because of this political correctness that became so entrenched in the 1990s, and continues in current administration. No one approves of racial profiling, that is not the issue. The fact is that Norwegian women are not, and 85-year-old women with aluminum walkers are not, the source of the terrorist threat. The fact is that our enemy is the violent Islamic extremism and the overwhelming number of people that one need to worry about are young Arab males, and to ask them a couple of extra questions seems to me to be common sense, yet if an airline does that in numbers that are more than proportionate to their number in particular line, then they get fined and that is why you see so many blue haired old ladies and people that are clearly not of Middle Eastern extraction being hauled out in such numbers because otherwise they get fined."
I had wondered about this when I heard it. His entire line of rapid-fire questions seemed to be aimed at something important. And Michael Smerconish is exactly right that this bit of news should be getting more play. Also, I had heard that airlines were not allowed to profile passengers and pull aside the ones who fit the profile: young male, one-way ticket, etc for questioning. Of course, that still wouldn't have turned up much if they couldn't access lists of terror suspects. The box cutters are thought to have been planted on the plane already and, if not, there was no regulation against taking box cutters on board an airplane before 9/11. So, I fail to see what all the hyperventilating about the August 6 briefing would have wanted the President to do. If he'd issued a warning for Middle-Eastern men to be searched before they got on airplanes, people would have pitched a fit.

I wonder if this politically correct rule is still in effect. I sure hope not.
Hugh Hewitt takes on the partisan, low-foreheaded Ben Veniste.
ON TUESDAY Attorney General John Ashcroft arrived at the 9/11 Commission hearings carrying a 1995 Department of Justice memo, initialed by then Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, which cemented in place the mythical "wall" between counterintelligence and criminal investigations, a wall that at least constricted, and often
cut off, the intra- and interdepartmental flow of information about terrorists. Yesterday House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner called on Gorelick to resign, stating that "[s]crutiny of this [wall] policy lies at the heart of the commission's work. Ms. Gorelick has an inherent conflict of interest as the author of this memo and as a government official at the center of the events in question."

An observer might be tempted to dismiss Sensenbrenner's demand as partisan, except for ben Veniste's argument from the Ashcroft questioning. Just before he raised the paranoid theory that John Ashcroft had stopped flying commercial airplanes prior to September 11--and just before John Ashcroft blew away the slander with a detailed account of how often he and his wife did in fact fly commercial aircraft before September 11--ben Veniste offered up an excuse for raising such desperate conspiracy theories.

Ben Veniste cited the Warren Commission, and its failure to publicly raise and discredit every possible theory about the assassination of President Kennedy, leading, ben Veniste implied, to decades of conspiracy theories about the tragedy and to suspicion of the Warren Commission's work product. "[W]e are mindful," ben Veniste lectured, "that part of the problem with the Warren Commission's work on the Kennedy assassination was the failure to address certain theories that were extant and much of the work was done behind closed doors." And then he launched the nutty "why didn't you fly" question at Ashcroft. One of two things must thus be true: Either ben Veniste was trying to bleed Ashcroft and didn't really believe this Caesar's-wife theory requiring commissions to be transparent and thorough in order to be free of conspiracy mongers down the road. Or Gorelick has got to go. After all, what greater conspiracy can there be than for one of the potentially responsible parties to September 11 to be sitting in judgment on the root causes of the attack? Ben Veniste has not yet called for Gorelick to resign, but given the frequency with which he turns up on television talk shows, the opportunity should arise soon enough to ask him for his views on the matter.

OF COURSE ben Veniste will probably not enforce his own code on Gorelick, a fellow Democrat. From the moment that ben Veniste launched into an unscripted fit over the release of the Predator drone's video of bin Laden from the fall of 2000, his mission has been clear--to protect the Clinton administration from accountability. The video was proof that the United States had bin Laden in our sites well before September 11, 2001 and had refused to pull the trigger, so ben Veniste attacked the evidence, not its inescapable implication. And so he has also attacked every Bush administration figure with a partisan fury that stuns the people of goodwill on the left.
Vote for your favorite new name for the UN Oil for Food Program.
James Taranto points out this line from Kerry's speech touting his tuition for service plan.
"So many young people don't believe in politics anymore," he said at a forum of college students on Tuesday morning in Providence, R.I. "They don't believe in political leaders; they don't believe in the system."

"There are so many young people now who take time out of college to actually go give back to their community locally, but they don't want to be involved in national politics," he added, "because they don't think they're going to get the same reward that they will get just working quietly, locally, and doing something you can measure, and actually get something done.

"I think that's a tragedy for our country."
Why is it a tragedy that young people have chosen to contribute to their communities locally and not go into national politics. That really seems a skewed perspective and one quite different from what our Founding Fathers envisaged or even more recent presidents. We can't all be ambitious politicians who strive to be president from their youth. I would prefer a politician who had a history of giving back to his or her community and building support at home rather than one who set out to be a national politician as a college student. I teach teenagers and I can tell you that the great majority of them are altruistic people who are actively involved in work in their community, church, or temple. Some of that is the desire to chalk up community service bippy chips for their college application, but I've also seen from my college-age daughter and her friends that they continue their community work while in college. This is no tragedy.
Debra Saunders derides Kerry's silly new Misery Index and then resurrects these quotes criticizing Bush in 2000 and early 2001 for talking down the economy.
Martin Anderson, a former Reagan economic adviser now with the Hoover Institution, is shocked that Kerry's team produced this amateur-hour index.

"This is not something professional politicians do," Anderson said. "It's too easy to say what's wrong with it."

Add to the pseudo-economics Kerry's classic Chicken Little hyperbole. Everything Bush does, in Kerry-speak, is the "worst" whatever in American history. So Kerry said Monday, "This president has presided over the worst jobs economy in the history of our nation." Despite his Yale degree and Swiss boarding school, Kerry apparently never learned about the Great Depression. Unemployment hit 25 percent.

Now that's misery.

Segue to recent history. As Bush was about to take office, Team Clinton was outraged when George W. Bush talked of a "possible slowdown" in the economy. On CNBC, Gene Sperling -- then a Clinton aide, now proud author of Kerry's misery index -- accused the Bushies of "talking up a recession" to the detriment of the nation's well-being. "You have to understand that what you say does actually have an impact on confidence," said Sperling.

Kerry too said in March 2001, "I think the administration has been guilty of talking down the economy." I always figured -- and still do -- that an economy is too strong an animal to falter just because of politicians' sticks and stones. But Sperling apparently believes otherwise, and he's ready to rewrite the misery standards, despite the likely "impact on confidence."
Of course now, Kerry actually wishes he could talk down the economy so then he could spew some more about the "worst economy in American History." He apparently missed out on history lessons about the Great Depression, Panics of 1893, 1857, and 1837. My AP History students could set him straight.
R. Emmett Tyrrell wonders if people would have wanted FDR to apologize for Pearl Harbor. Of course not.
That inspired me. As soon as the press conference ended, I decided that I would ask these know-it-alls if they remembered President Franklin Roosevelt's touching apology to the American people after our Navy and Air Corps were caught utterly unprepared at Pearl Harbor. Surely they were admirers of FDR.

Pearl Harbor is the only comparable historical antecedent to 9-11, and it is surprising that in the controversy now being created over 9-11, the Dec. 7, 1941, destruction of our battleships and aircraft has been hardly mentioned. After all, there was abundant evidence in the 1930s that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor. In fact, from 1932 on the Navy was apprehensive about the possibility of a Japanese sneak attack on Pearl.

In that year, the navy's Admiral Harry Yarnell secretly launched a mock attack on Hawaii with a carrier group from the north. Its 152 planes theoretically sank every ship in the harbor and destroyed all our planes on the ground. Can you imagine the indignation of the Democrats on the 9-11 Commission if they got wind of a precedent to 9-11 comparable to the Yarnell attack?

Of course, despite the apparent negligence preceding Pearl Harbor, no one in America thought that President Roosevelt owed anyone an apology. That would only signify weakness, and Americans in 1941 wanted their president to stand tall, unbowed by this setback and resolute that America would, as FDR vowed, "gain the ultimate triumph so help us God."
Peggy Noonan critiques the President's press conference.
Right Wing News has been musing about which bloggers he'd like to spend time with on a desert island.
Fred Barnes explains why the reporters hated Bush's press conference.
WATCHING PRESIDENT BUSH'S PRESS CONFERENCE Tuesday night, you could see why he drives the press crazy. No matter what they asked, his answer was invariably the same: We're staying the course in Iraq. It's important to gaining freedom for Iraqis and winning the war on terror.

Not only that, he began the session with reporters by gobbling up 17 minutes of time they consider theirs. He devoted it to an opening statement--it was actually a speech--in which he said basically one thing: We're not flinching in Iraq. He was heroically on message, relentlessly repetitive, but effective in his own way.

Washington hates this type of public performance, which is characteristic of Bush. The press, the political community, the inside-the-Beltway lifers--they prefer a rich display of details, a bit of nuance, and some wit. Reporters, particularly, are soft on presidents who seem to like them or at least pretend to--or who pander to them.

Bush, of course, gives them none of that. He's not aiming to please the Washington crowd--the political elite. His audience is outside the Beltway--the mass--and he does surprisingly well in appealing to it. How does he do it? By being plain spoken and amiable and down to earth. By sounding more like Midland, Texas, than like Georgetown or Chevy Chase. By honing in on a single message and not giving reporters much else to write about. Bush tried Tuesday night to dictate the lead of stories.
Read a description of a focus group on Bush and kerry. Guess what, people are worried about the situation in Iraq, think that, by in large, Bush has shown strong leadership since 9/11 and don't know much about Kerry except what Bush has been saying about Kerry in ads.
It's not only bloggers who are criticizing Kerry for not laying out his own plan for Iraq. Maybe he has a secret plan for Iraqization.
There is a tantalizing story about scrap metal from Iraq's nuclear program and traces of yellow cake that have shown up in Europe.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The media should be happy. Someone has apologized.
Dodd, D-Conn., has been criticized by some conservative commentators for saying April 1 that Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., would have been a great senator and leader at any time in history, including the Civil War.

Byrd, who at one time was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He has repeatedly apologized for his brief KKK membership and said his vote against the civil rights vote was one of only two votes that he regrets having made during his 45 years in the Senate.

"Words can sting and hurt," Dodd told The Associated Press Wednesday. "If in any way, in my referencing the Civil War, I offended anyone, I apologize."

He said he was trying to make the point that Byrd would have been a good senator at any point, and "I was not thinking of the KKK or his vote against the Civil Rights Act."
It's funny. Everytime I see Byrd, I think about the KKK. In the context of looking at Byrd's entire record as a Senator which is what Dodd was doing, wouldn't some of his more infamous votes have come to mind? But these guys don't think about the bad spots on the their own side. They only think of what they want to criticize about the other side.
The New York Times has a story about what it's like as the Marines battle away in an urban battle in Fallujah. Why are there still so many civilians in the city? Let's say women and children out and go on from there.
Premiere Magazine has issued its list of the top 100 movie characters of all time. As all of these lists do, it's sure to start some fights. Here are the top 10.
1. Vito Corleone of The Godfather
2. Fred C. Dobbs of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
3. Scarlett O'Hara of Gone With the Wind
4. Norman Bates of Psycho
5. James Bond of Dr. No
6. Annie Hall of Annie Hall
7. Indiana Jones of Raiders of the Lost Ark
8. Ellen Ripley of Alien
9. Jeff Spicoli of Fast Times at Ridgemont High
10. Gollum of Lord of the Rings
(link via A Small Mind)
Here are some surprising poll results about whom the Palestinians blame for the anarchy they are forced to live in.
An overwhelming majority of Palestinians believe that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are witnessing a state of lawlessness and anarchy, according to a public opinion poll published Wednesday.

The poll, conducted by the Gaza-based General Institute for Information, showed that 94.1 percent of Palestinians believe there is a state of lawlessness and chaos in Palestinian Authority-controlled territories. Only 29.2% of the respondents blamed the Israeli occupation for the failure of the PA to enforce law and order.
The poll of 860 Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has a margin error of 3.5%. It was conducted between March 29 and April 1, 2004.

According to the poll, 25.5% believe the PA leadership is responsible for the anarchy because it has lost control over the situation. Another 19.1% blamed the absence of a proper judicial system, while 16% said the problem is the existence of centers of power inside the PA leadership. Twenty-five percent of those polled said the PA security forces are responsible for the deterioration.
In other words, the majority are blaming the PA leadership in some way. Not Israel.
The Wisconsin woman who faked her own abduction was apparently trying to get her boyfriend's attention. I'm sure he is really attracted to her now!
The Bali bomber is bragging about the 72 women he's going to get in Paradise after he was sentenced to death. Do people oppose the death penalty for him. Good for Indonesia.
John Kerry made $175,000 in capital gains from selling a painting that was apparently worth $1,350,000. He had a half ownership in the painting, but it is unknown who owned the other half, probably his wife. He also donated a whole lot to charity in contrast to his previous practice in the 90's. But, he wants to avoid the Al Gore story when it was revealed that in 1997 Al and Tipper Gore had donated only $353 total to charity. They made sure to give lots the following year.
Kerry reported giving $43,735, or about 11 percent of his total income, to charity. That significant level of giving stands in contrast to his record in the 1990s, in which the issue of the senator's charitable contributions was a source of controversy. In 1995, Kerry reportedly had a taxable income of $126,179, and made charitable contributions of $0. In 1994, he gave $2,039 to charity. In 1993, the figure was $175. In 1992, it was $820, and in 1991, it was $0.
My husband pointed out that it would be an easy way for a rich pal of Kerry's to funnel money to him by buying the painting at an overvalued price.

Update: Instapundit links to Tom Maguire who has done some more analysis of Kerry's tax return.
Scrappleface knows what the President should apologize for.
Sean Hackbarth explains why the President wouldn't say he's sorry.
At last night's press conference, a few reporters tried hard to get President Bush apologize for the Sep. 11th attacks. Bush didn't fall into their trap. The reporters were seeking a "gotcha" moment to paste across headlines and put at the beginning of all their new updates. Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report were just drooling for a cover showing Bush with his head down, looking somber and the words "I'm Sorry" in bold down the side. The dirty little secret (that isn't) about the news media is they're a form of entertainment. The all-news channels and the newspapers are fighting for the same attention as American Idol and Hellboy. A Presidential apology would have been big news and drawn lots of eyeballs. That's how the game works, and the reporters were just fulfilling their roles. Bush didn't give in because he knew that for the next seven months Kerry's campaign and the Democrats' 527s would pump out ads declaring "Bush Failed!" and use the President's own words.
Of course, all those in the media whining about how he won't acknowledge mistakes or apologize like David Gregory, Chris Matthews, or Howard Fineman know that that is what would happen and they'd be contributing to the pile-on. But now they can get all sanctimonious and criticize the President for the obduracy they pretend to perceive in him.

Michele at A Small Victory also has the right idea about the questions that the press asked last night. (Link via The American Mind)

And just following the daisy chain of blog links, head over to Ed Moltzen's page where he has all the whining "Please admit that you're a miserable failure and bet for our forgiveness so we can kick you in the face" questions from last night.
Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, April is turning into the deadliest month in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad, and some people are comparing Iraq to Vietnam and talking about a quagmire. Polls show that support for your policy is declining and that fewer than half Americans now support it. What does that say to you and how do you answer the Vietnam comparison?

Q Mr. President, before the war, you and members of your administration made several claims about Iraq that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators with sweets and flowers, that Iraqi oil revenue would pay for most of the reconstruction; and that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction, but as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, we know where they are. How do you explain to Americans how you got that so wrong? And how do you answer your
opponents, who say that you took this nation to war on the basis of what have
turned out to be a series a false premises?

Q Thank you, Mr. President. To move to the 9/11 Commission. You, yourself, have acknowledged that Osama bin Laden was not a central focus of
the administration in the months before September 11th. "I was not on point,"
you told the journalist, Bob Woodward, "I didn't feel that sense of urgency."
Two-and-a-half years later, do you feel any sense of personal responsibility
for September 11th?

Q Do you feel a sense of personal responsibility for September 11th?

Q Mr. President, I'd like to follow up on a couple of these questions that have been asked. One of the biggest criticisms of you is that whether it's WMD in Iraq, postwar planning in Iraq, or even the question of whether this administration did enough to ward off 9/11, you never admit a mistake. Is that a fair criticism? And do you believe there were any errors in judgment that you made related to any of those topics I brought up?

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Two weeks ago, a former counterterrorism official at the NSC, Richard Clarke, offered an unequivocal apology to the American people for failing them prior to 9/11. Do you believe the American people deserve a similar apology from you, and would you be prepared to give
them one?

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Sir, you've made it very clear tonight that you're committed to continuing the mission in Iraq. Yet, as Terry pointed out, increasing numbers of Americans have qualms about it. And this is an election year. Will it have been worth it, even if you lose your job because of it?

Q Thank you, Mr. President. In the last campaign, you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you'd made in your life, and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa. You've looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9/11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?

Q Following on both Judy's and John's questions, and it comes out of what you just said in some ways, with public support for your policies in Iraq falling off the way they have -- quite significantly over the past couple of months -- I guess I'd like to know if you feel in any way that you've failed as a communicator on this topic? Because --

Q I guess I just wonder if you feel that you have failed in any way? You don't have many of these press conferences, where you engage in this kind of exchange. Have you failed in any way to really make the case to the American public?
It really is amazing when you look at them all together. Thanks, Ed for doing that. There were a total of 15 questions last night. That was 10 of them. As Jeff Birnbaum was saying on Brit Hume tonight, this was unprofessional. Reporters should have a list of four or five questions so that if their question gets asked they can go to the next one. They should be trying to find out information from the President not trying to have a "Gotcha" moment. People criticized him for being repetitive last night, but the questions were repetitive. They just can't believe he won't acknowledge mistakes and apologize.
Forty relatives of 9/11 victims issue a letter supporting Bush and Condi Rice. Do you think they'll get a fraction of the publicity that the four women who have been all over the media bashing the president?
Here's a new victim group: students with surnames beginning with 'Z."
The Battleground poll, taken from March 28 - 31, of 1000 likely voters shows that 43% prefer Bush to 9% for Kerry and 1% for Nader. This was before Condi Rice testified and the new violence in Iraq. It was in the middle of Richard Clarke boomlet. However, more people think that the nation is on the wrong track (38% to 57%) which is not a good sign for Bush but perhaps explicable since the media has been stressing bad economic news for a while instead of the good economic news. For the most important problem facing the next president, 19% chose the economy vs. 17% who chose terrorism.

What is interesting is when they identify the candidates by their party and as would you vote for Bush, the Republican or Kerry, the Democrat, it is a virtual tie with Kerry ahead by 1%. Perhaps the first result is based on name recognition.

And when asked how they voted in the past election, 50% said they voted for Bush and 41% said they voted for Gore. I guess Gore really did lose the popular vote.

Here's the AP summary of the poll.
Drudge is reporting that Air America has been pulled off the air in Chicago and Los Angeles for bouncing a check and owing the station owner $1 million.
The Onion says that the Bush and Kerry campaigns have decided to stop attacking each other and to attack the voters instead.
In the latest round of political mudslinging, both John Kerry's and George W. Bush's election committees have replaced ads that focus on their opponents' shortcomings with ads that personally insult the voting public.

"The Bush people initiated this volley of negative ads, but we won't be lured into a reactive campaign against the Republicans," Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said Monday. "It's time to redirect the cheap name-calling away from Bush and toward those Americans who might be idiotic enough to vote for him."

A controversial 30-second TV spot for Kerry that aired throughout the Midwest Monday blamed the country's ills not on Bush's policies, but on the "sheer stupidity" of America's voters.

"In the past four years, America's national debt has reached an all-time high," the ad's narrator said. "And who's responsible? You are. You're sitting there eating a big bowl of Fritos, watching TV, and getting fatter as the country goes to hell. You ought to be ashamed of yourself."

Over a series of images of America's senior citizens, the narrator of another 30-second spot says, "The Medicare drug bill is a triumph of right-wing ideology masquerading as moderate reform. The pharmaceutical-drug and insurance industries are tickled pink. Guess who's paying for it? You. Congratulations, moron. I'm John Kerry and I approved this message."

The Bush-Cheney 2004 camp recently began airing an anti-voter ad in 20 major urban areas nationwide.

"Are you going to vote for a candidate whose campaign promises would cost America $1.9 trillion over the next decade?" the ad asks. "Of course you aren't. You aren't going to vote at all. In the last election, half of you didn't even show up. So, on Nov. 2, just spend the day right there at your dead-end office job, talking to your coworkers about your new sweater and e-mailing your friends photos of your stupid 2-year-old daughter you shouldn't have had."

The ad concludes: "You make me sick."

Both ad campaigns met with cries of outrage from viewers in all demographic groups, and were therefore deemed successful.
Mickey Kaus notes a new trend in reporters who want to editorialize within their so-called objective reporting: they can "Clymerize." Groan.
Dorothy Rabinowitz has a must-read column on the 9/11 widows.
Here's keeping it in the family.
Vodka Pundit fisks John Kerry's editorial on Iraq. (Link via Viking Pundit)
A former book reviewer for Amazon reveals what happened when Amazon mistakenly released the names of the people doing anonymous review. Gasp! Some authors were giving themselves good reviews.
Jonah Goldberg, like a lot of conservatives, has quite had it with the 9/11 Commission.
The New York Times editorialized this week, "No reasonable American blames Mr. Bush for the terrorist attacks, but that's a long way from thinking there was no other conceivable action he could have taken to prevent them."

"Conceivable"? Yes, there were all sorts of conceivable actions the president could have taken. He could have interned Muslim Americans like FDR did with the Japanese. He could have grounded the airlines. He could have declared war on Afghanistan. All of these thing were "conceivable." But since when is "conceivable" the standard for governmental conduct, even in hindsight? The fair ? or at least fairer ? question is, did Bush take every reasonable action to prevent the 9/11 attacks?

The Times went on to offer some "conceivable" actions the president might have taken after receiving that notorious Aug. 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Briefing, namely he should have flown back to D.C. and demanded that airlines start "screening passengers" to fit their "threat profiles."

Considering that it'd been reported in Time magazine in 1998 that government officials believed Osama bin Laden was determined to attack inside the United States, I'm not sure the president should have raced back to Washington from his ranch in August 2001.

But I am 100-percent sure that the folks at the New York Times editorial board would have snapped their pencils in rage if the president had suggested increased "profiling" of passengers in August 2001, let alone proposed the Patriot Act ? which the Times detests ? and never mind doing everything "conceivable."
Michael Ledeen covers the slanted reporting in today's Washington Post.
The New York Post spells out how the 9/11 Commission has been politicized. It is impossible to have a nonpartisan commission on anything of importance, particularly in an election year. So, they shouldn't pretend to this veneer of objectivity.
Thomas Galvin has a good round up on the UN culpability in the Oil for Food Program.
A poll of people's perceptions of the media doesn't spell good news for the media. People think they're biased and out only to make a buck rather than being moral people interested in the greater good. Duh.
The New York Times looks at all the conflicts in interest among the members of the 9/11 Commission.
Walter Williams looks at the brainwashing on political correctness is going on in college campuses.
In case you weren't convinced before, The Washington Times explains again how silly Kerry's new Misery Index is.
Thomas Sowell revisits the Tet Offensive to prove that our weakest link is our political will at home.
For much of the American media, their role in turning public opinion against the Vietnam war was among their proudest achievements. For our enemies, Vietnam provided a formula for defeating Americans politically at home when they could not be defeated militarily on the battlefield. Iraqi terrorists are already saying that they will create another Vietnam.

Fortunately, not all of the media today is in Vietnam nostalgia mode. Nor have our leaders repeated all the mistakes of Vietnam.

First and foremost, the Bush administration has never tried to tell us that the war on terrorism would be either quick or easy. On the contrary, the President announced back in 2001 that the war on terrorism was going to be a long and hard war.

Most of us at the time would probably not have believed that we could have gone this long without another and perhaps more catastrophic terrorist attack on the United States. Do you remember how every symbolic occasion -- the World Series, Christmas, New Year's Eve, the Super Bowl -- brought widespread fears that this could be when the terrorists would strike us again?

Yet our respite from terrorist attack has seldom brought even a grudging acknowledgement that perhaps the government's anti-terrorism policies and activities might deserve some credit, instead of the constant barrage of media and political criticism and carping.

Make no mistake, a new and more terrible terrorist attack could happen here at any time -- especially now that Spain has shown how easy it is to panic politicians. But the fact that our enemies see our politics as the weakest link in the chain of American national security means that we need to recognize that as well.

John F. Kennedy said it all: "We dare not tempt them with weakness." He went to the brink of nuclear war with that philosophy during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 -- and the public supported him.

That is why the Soviets backed down. Had we been bickering among ourselves, the outcome could have been very different.

Today as well, weakness is our greatest danger -- whether that weakness takes the form of wishful thinking about the United Nations or other soft options. Politicians who are too irresponsible to recognize that our deadly enemies -- whether in Iraq or North Korea -- are listening to their every word cannot be trusted with the power to shape the future of this nation.
Gee, whom do you think Thomas Sowell is talking about in that last paragraph? Hmmm.
Tyler Cowen links to this column about the the Ten Dirtiest Secrets of Classical Music.
The Manchester Union Leader is not impressed with Kerry's plan to somehow give more money to kids for going to college in exchange for some sort of service plan.
George Will compares Fallujah to the Battle of Shiloh.
Now the Boston Globe is examining the doubts around the Purple Hearts that John Kerry got in Vietnam for three minor injuries, one described like a scratch from a fingernail, that earned him a six month early exit from Vietnam. It does sound like he exaggerated his injuries and got the medals which qualified him for the Get Out of Vietnam Early Card. However, wouldn't you have done the same?
The Wall Street Journal explains why Kerry's idea of turning things over to the UN is such a very bad idea.
The latest old advice, including from John Kerry, is to turn it all over to the United Nations. It's hard to know what specifically proponents mean by this, since the current U.N. presence in Baghdad consists only of political envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. If Mr. Brahimi can serve as an honest broker among Iraqi factions, then he might do some good. Then again, Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post reports that he began a meeting with the Iraqi Governing Council by declaring that he came "as a brother Arab"--in the presence of two Kurds and a Turkoman member.

A broader U.N. mission fled Iraq the first time it was attacked last year, and only yesterday Kofi Annan ruled out sending "a large U.N. team" for the "foreseeable future" for security reasons. That means U.S. soldiers would still do the fighting, albeit under U.N. command. Pakistani U.N. troops sat in their barracks while Army Rangers took casualties in Mogadishu, and Dutch U.N. soldiers let the Serbs drag Bosnian men off to their deaths in the "safe" zone they controlled in former Yugoslavia. The last thing U.S. military officers need is to have their plans for controlling Fallujah overruled by some U.N. political actor answerable to the French and Russians.

It's also far from clear that Iraqis would welcome control by the same U.N. that administered the corrupt Oil for Food program that enriched Saddam Hussein. If the price of U.N. involvement is to sweep the Oil for Food scandal under the carpet, then Iraqis would be justifiably furious.
AP looks at the fine line Kerry has to walk in criticizing Bush but not undermining the troops. That is probably why he flops around so much. Or, maybe that is his natural inclination.
Andrew Sullivan is back to feeling optimistic and supportive of Bush again. I think we need a new measurement of how Bush is doing: a Sullivanometer. Today's Sullivanometer seems like a seven on a scale of 10 being absolute, unqualified support of President Bush.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Well, we wanted to watch Rich Lowry on Hannity and Colmes, but they paired him with the obnoxious Bob Beckel. It's amazing how these guys who have sex scandals can be rehabilitated and a few years later still be all over TV. I think he should be paired with Dick Morris and they can compare notes on their experiences with call girls.
Even CNN is on to the story of the Democratic gun that had an ad saying that they'd like to pull the trigger on Don Rumsfeld.
Overall, I thought the President did rather well in his press conference. He comes off as sincere and determined. However, he should have had an answer for the question about what his biggest mistake was. Jonah Goldberg has some ideas of what he could have said.
am sure there is a brilliant, well-formulated and principled rationale on offer at the White House to justify Bush's refusal to admit any pre-9/11 mistakes. But I haven't heard it and I think Bush is making a mistake by not offering some token answer that changes the subject. But what I find amazing is that Bush didn't even prep an answer -- even a glib one -- to the question. He was asked it in one form or another a bunch of times and he even said he was "put on the spot" by the question. I thought he was sincere in his flummoxed-ness. You'd think someone would tell Bush that he could just say "Oh I wish I'd realized just how deep the structural problems at the FBI were," or "I wish we'd passed the Patriot Act before hand." The answer doesn't even have to be a good one, it just has to show that he's reflected on his pre-9/11 tenure in office enough to come up with something substantive.
He sometimes fumbled around but eventually came up with a good answer, for example on the apology question. I wish he's started off with saying that the fault was Osama Bin Laden's not any American's fault. I don't get this obsession with apologies. It seems very new age to me. I guess people think that if you apologize then all is forgiven. But, if he really messed up and allowed 9/11 to happen as the question implies, would a simple statement of apology do it for you? It wouldn't do it for me. I'd want a resignation. But it's become the sacred mantra that you hear from all these 9/11 family members you see interviewed on TV. They just want an apology. If you thought Bush had so messed up that 9/11 was his fault, could you let it go if he said, "I'm sorry."

Think of the moments of tragedy in our nation's history. I can't think of an example of a president apologizing, even when they had more culpability such as Madison allowing the British to take an unprepared Washington. Or Jackson's war on the National Bank and issuing of the specie circular sending the economy into a deep panic.
ESPN has its own Misery Index for fans of losing teams. (Link via The Corner)
Gregg Easterbrook, who understands more about economics than John Kerry is not impressed with the new Kerry Misery Index.
But otherwise, the indicators in Kerry's middle-class misery index have been chosen because they are negative. Homeownership rates are positive; this category seems to have been added to allow for one favorable trend. But many other major positive categories have been ignored, and when what purports to be a weighing of evidence only takes into account negative evidence, the result is foam. Suppose I announced an Easterblogg Happiness Index with these indicators: mortgage interest rates, crime rates, rates of heart disease, life expectancy at birth, rates of car ownership, median home size, air quality, water quality, highest educational degree earned, rates of accidental death, percentage of workforce employed in white-collar professions. Needless to say, I've chosen these because all trends in these categories are favorable. My happiness index would not be a fair assessment of society, because I've excluded the negatives. (Maybe I should throw in "accuracy of NBA jump shots" just to have one negative.) My all-positive index wouldn't tell you the larger trend just as Kerry's all-negative index does not.

Even for what it measures the Kerry middle-class misery index is open to question, as much of the index measures only costs, not benefits. Democrats, of all people, should not ignore benefits --if we only counted costs, there would never be pollution control. Health care costs are rising, but so are benefits. Rates of almost all major diseases are in decline while people are living ever-longer; this means society keeps getting more for its health-care investment. Also, with an aging population, health care spending would be expected to increase. It would be easy to reduce health care costs--just stop paying for heart surgery over the age of 70, stop paying for most dialysis, stop paying for nonessential procedures that only relieve pain, stop trying to save very premature infants, and so on. (I cite these because they are the real-world ways that some European health care systems restrain costs.)

And college costs are rising but so are benefits, with university enrollment setting records and an ever-higher percentage of high-school graduates having at least some college experience. College costs seem to be up right now mainly for standard supply-and-demand reasons--demand (number of students wishing to enter) is rising faster than supply (freshman slots). You could certainly restrain college costs by reducing demand (number of students wishing to enter). But it's good that ever-higher numbers of students wish to enter college! This tells us many favorable things about trends in American middle-class life, as sending the children to college, once a rarity, has become the national norm.

As Easterbrook notes, any index which indicates that the economy was in better shape in 1978 under Carter than now has some serious problems.
My older daughter and her friends at Duke are urging their peers to contribute to a worthy charter school in Durham rather than to contribute money for a Senior gift. It sounds like a very well-reasoned and worthy decision.
Kerry has found some more foreign support. This is from a young gentleman in Fallujah.
God willing Bush will fall down by the hands of Fallujah," he says, combining military and political rhetoric. "If John Kerry wins the election and withdraws the Americans troops from Iraq, and maybe just leaves a few in bases, then we will not fight. But Bush we will always fight."
Bill Frist is going right into South Dakota to campaign against Tom Daschle. Take it to the heart of the beast. Frist must really believe that the GOP has a good chance there or he might not risk somehow ticking off Daschle, as if Daschle would be all sweetness and light. I'm sure Daschle would be welcome to campaign against Frist in Tennessee if Frist were up this year. Of course, Daschle wouldn't play that well in Tennessee, would he? Heh.
Kofi Annan says that things are too dangerous now for the United Nations to go back into Iraq. So what does that do with Kerry's proposal to turn Iraq over to the UN? Or NATO? They don't want it. So, what is his next idea?
Here are some interesting focus group results from a group of swing Union voters. They find Kerry aloof and like Bush's personality. So he needs to somehow come across as more personable. The recommendation is for better pictures. Yeah, that should do it.
The focus groups found that Bush mostly escapes blame for the economic downturn and subsequent unemployment. But participants wondered if he had plans to deal with such issues. They also had "creeping doubts" about Bush's trustworthiness, such as the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and whether he really cares about working people, the findings said.

Meanwhile, most knew about Kerry's Vietnam record. It shows strength and inoculates on values, but Democrats "shouldn't obsess about it," the findings cautioned. Some participants found his role in protesting the war upon his return as negative.

"Seeing Kerry talk is important and reassuring - but he doesn't warm anybody up," the memo said. "Any mail pieces need to fill in facts and help build an emotional bond."

Kerry still must be introduced to many general election voters, said Kerry campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "At the end of the day, voters are going to care about who is going to put the economy back on track. By in large, across the country, voters believe John Kerry is the only person to do that."

Democrats need to quickly "fill in a lot of information on Kerry" to protect against Bush attacks, according to focus group findings. The Bush campaign's portrayal of Kerry as a flip-flopper has started to stick.

"If possible, find more pictures of Kerry with working people and/or families to warm him up," findings said. "'Strength' pictures are also good to use."
The Corner links to this picture of Gerhard Schroeder standing on something so as to appear taller in an interview.
Mackubin Thomas Owens argues that the U.S. could easily have won in Vietnam and, in fact, were winning in 1972.
Republicans are so pitiful when it comes to attracting support from Hollywood stars that it comes as a surprise whenever a star admits that he or she is a Republican. The latest to come out of the closet supporting Bush is Dennis Hopper. Who'd have thought it? Easy Rider voting for the Bushes?
Two universities involved in affirmative action decisions last year now are achieving the same numbers of minority admissions this year, but spending a whole lot more money do get the same results that they used to do with point systems and explicit pluses given to minority applicants.
Opponents of affirmative action questioned how the universities could have adhered to the ruling and still experienced such consistency from one year to the next.

"If you're really putting race on the same footing as other factors, letting the numbers fall where they may, you're going to see more variation," said Curt Levey, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Michigan. "If it's one school, I could say it's a coincidence. But if it's all three schools, it's really suggestive that it's deliberate engineering."

In particular, opponents of affirmative action accused the universities of manipulating the vagaries of admissions policies that did not use points to achieve the same racial composition as those that did.

"It is suspicious but highly predictable," said Edward Blum, senior fellow at the Center for Equal Opportunity, which filed briefs in support of the plaintiffs. "The holistic, individualized review that the Supreme Court has demanded will be gerrymandered until racial proportionality is achieved."

The universities dismissed those accusations, contending that the only target they set was assembling the best class possible. They said this year's admitted students typically had better SAT scores, grades and other qualifications than many of the previous classes.
I just heard Evan Thomas on Imus say that the fact that Clinton did do anything against Al Qaeda was really the fault of the media (and of course the evil Republicans) for focusing on Monica Lewinsky instead of fighting terror. Thomas maintains that the military lost all respect for Clinton so they pooh-poohed his ideas for fighting Al Qaeda. I knew it would be the Republicans' fault somehow that Clinton did so little.
Slate explores the reasons for Victoria's Secret to use Bob Dylan in an ad. How about the fact that it gets people talking and wondering about Victoria's Secret. (link via Powerline)
Jennifer Harper looks at the plans by liberals to release lots of documentaries bashing Bush and praising Kerry right before the election. The only bright side is how few people actually go to see documentaries and they're probably concentrated in New York and California, two states Bush has no hope of gaining.
Frank Gaffney writes that the law that has broken down the wall of separation between the FBI and CIA is the Patriot Act which the same people criticizing Bush for not stopping 9/11 now wish to keep from being renewed.
Unfortunately, at the time, the relevant intelligence and law enforcement agencies were afflicted with legal, procedural and cultural obstacles to the fullest possible sharing of information that might have made more of it actionable. Today and tomorrow, commission members are expected to explore at some length with Clinton and Bush attorneys general and FBI directors the so-called "Wall" that artificially precluded possibly relevant data from being sifted, analyzed and put into the right hands in a sufficiently timely way to detect and, with luck, to prevent terrorist attacks before they occur.

It will be interesting to see if Janet Reno — a tireless champion of the Wall during her years as attorney general — will recant. In any event, she and the September 11 Commission's other leading witnesses (her successor, John Ashcroft, former FBI Director Louis Freeh and the current director, Robert Mueller) will almost certainly contend that, absent the sort of terrifying trauma now under investigation, the legislation required to dismantle the Wall and the noncooperation it demanded could never have been enacted.

Incredible as it may seem, the statute that accomplished this singularly important feat — known as the USA Patriot Act — is currently the object of an intensive wrecking operation on Capitol Hill. Regrettably, the push to undo the Patriot Act is being mounted by more than hard left-wing civil liberties and pro-Islamist organizations and their standard-bearers in the Democratic party. Even though President Bush stands squarely behind the Act, the legislation may not be renewed when by it expires in 2005, thanks to the help being provided by a smattering of libertarian and right-of-center groups.

Even now, some of the activities that offer the greatest hope of being able to turn the vast amounts of seemingly unactionable information into "connected dots" are being savaged and, in some cases, prohibited piecemeal.
Mark Levin reminds us of information that we knew before Bush took office about Al Qaeda intentions.
Rich Lowry has a great column about the "retroactive valor" of the Democrats.
Americans hungry for a mistake-proof party uncompromisingly resolute on national security now have found one -- the pre-9/11 Democrats. Created in hindsight and forged in recrimination, the pre-9/11 Democrats are unwilling to let any obstacle stand in the way of their defense of the American homeland. Who knew contemporary Democrats could so readily combine the toughest aspects of J. Edgar Hoover and Douglas MacArthur?

The pre-9/11 Democrats, as portrayed by their reaction to the work of the 9/11 Commission, are not plagued by niggling civil-liberty concerns. They were willing prior to 9/11 -- or so they imply now -- to brush aside the restrictions on cooperation between the CIA and FBI that had been imposed by liberals throughout the course of three decades. Constitutional worries about infringing on the rights of criminal suspects in the United States? Don't be silly. And give the CIA more money and authority to carry out assassinations and other covert actions while you're at it.

The pre-9/11 Democrats don't care about planning or diplomacy. They were willing to leap into a war in Central Asia on a moment's notice -- as soon as President Bush took office -- without bothering to set a careful strategy or consult seriously with allies. That might take time. They were willing to pre-empt a threat while it was still gathering strength and before its murderous potential had become clear.

The pre-9/11 Democrats are ethnically insensitive. They were willing to institute a security lockdown at U.S. airports, with presumably a particular emphasis on scrutiny of young Arab men. They were willing to engage in sweeping ethnic profiling at U.S. flight schools and crack down on lax immigration policies. Ethnic pressure groups be damned.

Finally, the pre-9/11 Democrats are perfectly willing to act on sketchy intelligence. The vaguest and most unconfirmed intelligence reports were enough, prior to 9/11, to prompt sweeping security measures and military strikes overseas.

If this seems out of character, there is a reason. The image of the pre-9/11 Democrats created during the past several weeks is a fantasy, the opportunistic canard of a party only willing to be hardheaded in retrospect and when it serves the cause of damaging Bush. The actual pre-9/11 Democrats have a strong resemblance to the post-9/11 Democrats --hostile to necessary law-enforcement powers, allergic to military force, politically correct on any question touching ethnicity and obsessed with not alienating any international actor who can remotely be considered an ally.
Read the rest.
Thomas Sowell has a great column about the political grandstanding that is going on in the 9/11 Commission.
The so-called "9/11 Commission" is supposedly trying to find out what happened, or failed to happen, that allowed the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 to succeed. But there is a big difference between trying to unearth facts about September 11, 2001 and trying to collect political ammunition for November 2, 2004 -- election day.

It has become painfully obvious from some Commission members' grandstanding, especially during their questioning of national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, that they are more interested in scoring political points during an election year than in finding out what happened before the terrorist attacks in 2001.

Many of what was presented to Dr. Rice as questions were really political speeches -- and the fact that the questioners tried to keep her from replying to their insinuations showed how little interest they had in finding out facts.

After all, Condoleezza Rice had already testified for hours before this same commission in private, so calling her back to testify again before television cameras was pure politics.

The underlying assumption that an unprecedented surprise attack could succeed only if there was an intelligence failure is one of the signs of the lack of realism in our times. During World War II, the American government knew that the Japanese were likely to attack us somewhere, somehow, during the last months of 1941 -- but that was wholly different from knowing that they were going to bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7th.

.... The same people who have been criticizing our Homeland Security's generalized warnings and alerts seem to think that generalized information before September 11th should have let the administration know what specifically the terrorists were going to do and when and how they were going to do it.

Commission member and former Senator Bob Kerrey argued that President Bush had enough information on the terrorist networks before September 11th to ask Congress for a declaration of war on them.

Put aside the fact that this commission is supposed to be finding out what actually happened, not drawing up plays like Monday morning quarterbacks. Can you imagine what would have happened if President Bush had done what Bob Kerrey suggested?

Suppose the president had somehow managed to get the closely divided Congress to issue a declaration of war against terrorist networks prior to 9/11 and then 9/11 happened. You know and I know that the president's declaration of war would have been blamed for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Loud cries would be ringing out across the land that this would never have happened except for President Bush's declaration of war. You can just hear the words and the music.
Dick Morris, who has for weeks been saying that Bush is beating Kerry like an old rug, now thinks that Iraq could doom Bush. I could do this sort of punditry for free.