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Saturday, May 08, 2004

Ryan Lizza at The New Republic looks at Kerry's campaign staff and the disarray it is in. Heh.
Krispy Kreme is suffering due to the popularity of the Atkins diet. My school is located a few blocks from Krispy Kreme. Our students are regular customers. The profits of that one outlet probably went up in the past few weeks as I held regular review sessions for my AP history kids and they all brought in donuts for each session. We're doing our part to help the company.
I'm sorry, but guarding a prison full of former Baathists and insurgents and other bad apples who want to kill both Americans and Iraqi civilians in the middle of what is often a battlefield with almost daily attacks on Americans is not a tea party at the Ritz. I am not impressed by the list of possible "homicides" or "suspicious deaths" of prisoners in American custody. Remember, these are the same guys who were trying to kill us before they were captured.

Note the snide tone of this New York Times story about Bush's visit to Dubuque, Iowa.
On local television and radio and in the main newspaper here, Mr. Bush's stop in this Mississippi River town, part of his three-day bus tour, has scored blanket coverage for days, much of it downright giddy.

It was a happy welcome for Mr. Bush's campaign team, particularly at a time when his administration was under siege over abuses of American-held prisoners in Iraq. True, he had to address Iraq, but it was hardly the center of attention. And that was, of course, largely what the president's "Yes, America Can" bus tour was meant to do.

The bus tour, which began in Michigan on Monday, is Mr. Bush's latest effort to do an end-run around the Washington press corps that covers him daily, and which he derisively calls "the filter," to find potentially warmer coverage in parts of the country that rarely glimpse celebrities, let alone sitting presidents, while galvanizing the faithful in person.

It is a strategy that has won him very localized and fairly favorable coverage across the nation for weeks, out of the general eye of the national news media based in Washington and New York that has been acutely focused on, in the words of one Bush campaign aide, Scott Stanzel, "the back and forth that we see in Washington."

When the president visits towns like Naples, Fla., and Niles, Mich., readers and viewers are treated to a reality different from the news out of Washington.

While the national network newscasts and newspapers were overwhelmingly focused on Mr. Rumsfeld's appearances on Capitol Hill on Friday, the news media here were far more consumed by Mr. Bush's scheduled local appearance.

"Historic Visit" was the large-type headline in the Telegraph Herald of Dubuque on Friday morning; "A pretty spectacular day," proclaimed Ron Steele, the KWWL-TV anchor. Almost all of the major local stations showed Mr. Bush's nearly hourlong campaign speech at the Grand River Center, in which he lampooned Senator John Kerry and promoted his own record, live. Even on Thursday, news of Mr. Bush's visit overwhelmed news about the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal.
Is it me or does the entire tone from the journalist reek of contempt for these bozos in the heartland who get so "giddy" about a president coming to visit them that they would ignore the much more important story about congressmen getting on their high horses and pontificating to Donald Rumsfeld? Perhaps that's why 70% of the people surveyed in a Washington Post poll don't think Rumsfeld should have to resign. And the ones who said yes are probably ones who were against the war or hate Bush and so would answer yes to that question even without the Abu Ghraib scanda.
Sorry for the light posting. My AP Government kids have their AP test on Wednesday and we had a review session today. Then I have to get ready for final exams. I keep thinking I'm ahead of things, but then more stuff fills in the time. It's very Sisyphean. On the bright side, my AP History kids took their test yesterday and feel quite nicely about how they did. Everything seemed to come together for them in a very satisfying way. That's when I just get a glow about how much I love my job. However, sometimes my job does interfere with blogging. Alas.
James Taranto had a great Best of the Web yesterday. He details how 49 Congressional representatives voted against a resolution condemning the Abu Ghraib treatment of prisons because it also praised the work of our troops and their honorable service.
So do the 49 Democrats object to honoring the "courageous and honorable members of the Armed Forces"? Some may, but from browsing the debate transcript in the Congressional Record (link in PDF), it appears those who object do so mainly on two grounds: that the resolution does not call for a congressional investigation of the abuses, and that it does not cast blame widely enough--that is, it does not condemn military leaders, contractors and others who may or may not have been involved, as well as the known perpetrators of the abuse.

Both these points are arguable, but the resolution takes no position on either of them. Out of frustration that their colleagues aren't prepared to take as hard a line as they would, then, 49 Democrats have effectively gone on record supporting the abuse of prisoners and announcing their lack of appreciation for the troops. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Taranto also links to this amazingly stupid comment by Joe Biden.
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., a key Democratic supporter of President Bush's decision to wage war on Iraq, said the president must demonstrate that he understands the "nature of the damage" caused by the abuse incident by "determining who is responsible, no matter how far up the chain of command this goes."

Once those people are identified, Biden said, Bush must "demand the resignations for whoever is involved in this policy, and that includes Lord God Almighty himself. It includes anybody involved."
Scrappleface couldn't make this stuff up. Or perhaps he could. Here is his satire of Kerry's response to Bush's apologies for the prison abuse.
Kerry: Bush 'Not Qualified' to be Disgusted

(2004-05-07) -- Democrat presidential hopeful, and Vietnam veteran, John Forbes Kerry today said President George Bush is "not fit to be disgusted" at photos of U.S. military prison guards hazing Iraqi prisoners.

The president recently granted two interviews with Arab-language TV networks, telling reporters that he found the actions of the prison guards to be "abhorrent."

But Mr. Kerry immediately held a news conference to challenge the president's credibility on the issue.

"While I was commanding a swift boat in the Mekong Delta, George Bush stayed stateside with the National Guard," said Mr. Kerry. "He never had an opportunity to commit atrocities against the enemy, like I did, so he's not fit to judge the abuses in Abu Ghraib prison. America needs a commander in chief who knows the harsh reality of war and man's inhumanity to man…the darkness that lurks in the soul of even the most cultured, erudite and refined among us."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "Senator Kerry is entitled to his opinion. I think the president was simply reacting to the photos the same way most Americans did."

A spokesman for the Kerry campaign said Mr. McClellan's remarks represent another example of "Bush's right-wing attack dogs questioning Senator Kerry's patriotism."

The punditry class is hung up on apologies. What a soft country we've become where that is the most important thing whenever something goes wrong. Remember how Janet Reno apologized for Waco and became a hero. No one then seemed to focus on what Clinton should have said or done. No one cared about what actually happened because she had taken responsibility.

However, I will predict that the President's radio address will be another apology. Of course, that will not be enough.
The Washington Times looks at how widespread actual torture is in Middle East prisons. And the people of the Middle East know about these things. So, all this outrage over the Americans humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib is just a way for them to displace their resentment at their own governments. That seems to be the way that Arabs can deal with their own governments.
Lucianne links to Mudville Gazette who does a nice fisking of Seymour Hersh on The O'Reilly Factor.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Clever Israel is putting the ball in the Arabs' court by proposing a land swap idea to have Egypt and Jordan pony up some land to help the Palestinians. Of course, they won't do it. They prefer for the Palestinians to either have all of Israel or remain as wretched refugees for another 50 years. They'd rather have Israel as a scapegoat than do anything to resolve the problem.
Kate O'Beirne has a great post about Senator Foghorn Leghorn, John Warner of Virginia.
The one place where the buck never stops, not within five blocks, is with Congress. Senator John Warner is now deeply worried about accountability and the chain of command. There hasn't been a Secretary of the Army for almost a year (Les Brownlee is testifying today in his temporary, acting capacity) because Senator John Warner has refused to allow the Senate to confirm a new one. On March 2nd at a hearing of his Committee, Senator Warner proudly announced that he was blocking all civilian nominees for the Defense Department because he has his knickers in a twist over the Boeing/Air Force controversy. Good thing there's not a war on. . .
How fast can the rats leave the sinking ship that is Air America?
Captain Ed apologizes on behalf of Minnesota. It's okay sir, just don't acknowledge Dayton as your senator. I come from North Carolina and I just pretend that Edwards is not my senator. Of course, that's easy since he hasn't done anything in the Senate for over a year. And that is for the best. If only he'd stay out of sight, but I'm afraid he'll return again and again.
Here's a semi-humorous story about a Nazi plot to kidnap Eisenhower.
They were the decisive days of the Second World War and the Nazis faced defeat. Allied troops were on French soil and Hitler, desperate to prevent an invasion of Germany, hatched a final extraordinary plan: infiltrate the U.S. Army and take Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander, dead or alive.

The German leader entrusted Operation Greif to the Austrian SS commander Otto Skorzeny, who had rescued Italian fascist former dictator Benito Mussolini in 1943.

Skorzeny assembled a "crack unit" that would pose as GIs to launch their attack on Eisenhower at Fontainebleau, the Allied headquarters near Paris. Yet, as one of the mission's survivors has now revealed, Operation Greif rapidly descended into farce. Of the 600 men who were to masquerade as Americans, only 10 could speak fluent English. Scores were caught by the Americans and shot.

Fritz Christ, then a 21-year-old German air force lance corporal, said many of his comrades were hopelessly ill-equipped. "Those with no English were instructed to exclaim, 'Sorry,' if they were approached by Americans, and then to open their trousers and hurry off feigning an attack of diarrhea,'' he told the Sunday Telegraph.

Christ was transformed into "Lt. Charles Smith" from Detroit. The troops were trained to salute, shoot and even smoke like GIs, but there were fatal gaps in their coaching. Many turned up at U.S. Army supply depots and asked for "petrol" instead of "gas." They mistakenly rode four to a Jeep instead of two, as was standard U.S. Army practice.
Yup, it's the old diarrhea ploy for not knowing the answers on a test.
It's so funny that the French don't want Chris Patten, the former British governor of Hong Kong, to be the new head of the EU because they don't think his French is good enough. Apparently, they believe that everyone should speak French. How many languages are represented in the EU? Why should a facility with French be the sine qua non for leadership? How typical of les Francais.
I guess they decided that it looked bad to have John Kerry call Cheney unpatriotic so they had his wife do it.
Although they have questioned Kerry's Senate votes on defense and foreign policy, neither Bush nor Cheney has commented personally on his service in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Bush served stateside in the Texas Air National Guard during the war while Cheney received five deferments from military service.

In an interview with Telemundo, NBC's Spanish-language network, Teresa Heinz Kerry said, "To have a couple of people, who escaped four, five, six times and deferred and deferred and deferred calling him anything regarding his service is in and of itself unpatriotic. Unpatriotic." NBC's "Nightly News" aired part of the interview Thursday.

Said Racicot: "Every time the discussion focuses on John Kerry's Senate record of voting against weapons systems, voting against support for troops in the field or his positions on both sides of critical questions of national security, his campaign falsely claims that his patriotism is being attacked."
Racicot is exactly right. This is the Big Lie. The Republicans have never challenged Kerry's service in Vietnam. Some private individuals have. But, to directly go after Cheney's patriotism naming him specifically is indeed odious.
AP looks at the electoral map and finds the count tied 205 to 205 with 128 votes up for grabs. So, guess what, we're still in for a close election.
Kaus links to this Boston Magazine article about how Kerry came back to win in the primaries and how little he actually had to do with it.
But the real story of the Kerry campaign's escape from death row is more complex -- and less flattering to the candidate -- then the instant-analysis hagiography would have it. From an exhaustive review of primary-season postmortems and exclusive interviews with experienced Kerry observers, including key allies who were on the ground with him in Iowa, comes the portrait of a candidate forced by desperation to grudgingly abandon a legacy of indecisiveness and self-delusion, and a campaign that relied for its resurrection more on unglamorous grunt work, traditional political trench warfare, and sheer luck than on any profound transformation by the candidate himself. A saga, in short, of a man who, rather than carving out his own path to salvation, had to be led down it.

On one point, the professionals who know John Kerry best are in agreement: His political career is like the movie Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray's character keeps reliving the same day over and over again. "He always starts as a favorite, falters, has a near-death experience, then puts on the blinders, focuses, and comes out swinging," explains a veteran of past Kerry campaigns. "The difference is, few people thought it could be done in a presidential primary." This phenomenon, spun by Kerry apologists as a sign of when-the-going-gets-tough-the-tough-get-going machismo, is also subject to a less-flattering interpretation. "He's a guy who doesn't really start to pay attention until he thinks he may be in danger of dying," says Payne, who identifies classic early Kerry campaign symptoms: "Delays, inattention to details, sloppy staff work, not having a tight message. He'll allow this to just go on and on until someone hands him a poll and says, 'You'd better get it together.'"


Gee, "Delays, inattention to details, sloppy staff work..." It sounds like just the qualities we're looking for in a president when the country is at war.
Jonah Goldberg has figured out whta Rumsfeld should do at the hearing.
I think Rummy should walk up to the table, take the oath, offer his prepared apologies and explanations and then, at the end of his remarks, he should take out a long Japanese knife. He should then cut off his pinky. If this Yakuza style contrition doesn't work he should look to the ranking Democrat on the committee and continue removing fingers until he gets a Shogun-like nod that his offering is acceptable. He should then wrap-up up his hand, curtly bow, and then say "I am now pleased to take your questions."

Don't you think the Democrats would just want him to keep cutting and cutting and cutting.
Richard MOrin argues that the so-called "battleground states" are really just a myth.
One big problem with using the past to predict the future is that the real battlegrounds differ dramatically from election to election. States where the vote was close one year might produce landslides four years later. States that were not competitive in the previous election might subsequently produce cliffhangers.

Of the 18 states decided by a margin of 6 percentage points or fewer in 2000, only six were close in 1996. Only eight were similarly competitive in 1992. And exactly none of this year's battleground states were consistently close in each of the past four presidential elections.

On the flip side, 11 states that featured tight races in 1996 vanished from the list in 2000. Similarly, there were 22 close states in 1992, but eight slid off four years later and three were added.

It's also simply wrong to call all these states "swing" states, which suggests they swing between Democratic and Republican majorities in presidential races. Some do: From 1976 to 2000, Ohio and Michigan each had four Republican winners and three Democrats, and Pennsylvania favored four Democrats and three Republicans.

But others don't: They wobble more than swing, with the same party winning election after election, albeit by varying margins. Minnesota has had seven straight Democratic winners, yet it's on virtually everybody's list of battleground states. So are Arizona, which has voted for a Democrat for president just twice since 1948; New Hampshire (just three times); and Nevada, which, before Bill Clinton, hadn't backed a Democrat for 24 years.

If battleground states are presumed to have some mystical predictive power to side with winners, guess again. These 17 states (leaving off Tennessee, with Al Gore on the sidelines) have backed the winner 77 percent of the time since 1948. But the other 33 states have been on the winning side about as often, 70 percent of the time.The bottom line is that there are many ways to reach 270 electoral votes and no reliable way to predict how it will occur. After a season of monotonous renditions by the press and pundits that such-and-such state is a "must-win," it simply may not be so.

I like thinking that runs contrary to whatever the current CW is. What would political pundits talk about if they couldn't discuss battleground states?
Larry Elder discusses the lack of curiosity about the chemical weapons that just happened to show up in Jordan to be used in an attack. The chemicals came from Syria, but where did Syria get them? Could it be that these were the chemicals that Saddam shipped out of the country before the war began? It doesn't sound implausible, does it? So, why isn't this a bigger story? I know, I know why. But it still should interest some media bigfoots. King Abdullah of Jordan was just here yesterday, but the whole focus was on Bush apologizing or not apologizing for the prison photos. I didn't watch much news yesterday, but did anyone in the media ask about these chemicals? Don't we care if a bunch of poisonous chemicals have made their way into Al Qaeda's hands?
Jonah Goldberg argues that CBS shouldn't have shown those photos. Of course that wouldn't have stopped the photos from circulating. Whoever took them wanted them to be shown and would have kept sending them to news outlets until they weren't If American media had taken a pass, the European or Arab media would have stepped up to the plate.

However, Goldberg makes a good point about the selectivity which the media uses to decide which images should be shown and which are "too disturbing" to show.
Now before you get all pious with table-thumping sermons about the glories of the First Amendment and the need to publish news without fear and all that, consider a few facts.

In 1994, 10 Belgian peacekeepers were horribly mutilated alive (castrated, their Achilles tendons slashed, etc.) in Rwanda. The full extent of the barbarity wasn't disclosed for a long time for fear of reprisals.

Just a month ago, television news networks agonized about how much they should show of the butchery of Americans in Fallujah. They opted for very, very little.

Within 48 hours of the 9/11 attacks, the major news networks and leading newspapers were settling on a policy to stop showing images of victims leaping to their death from the World Trade Center. NBC ran one clip of a man plunging to his death, and then admitted it was a mistake. An NBC News V.P. told The New York Times, "Once it was on, we decided not to use it again. It's stunning photography, I understand that, but we felt the image was disturbing."

In fact, post-9/11 coverage illuminates an interesting cultural cleavage in the media. When shocking images might stir Americans to favor war, the Serious Journalists show great restraint. When those images have the opposite effect, the Ted Koppels let it fly.

Jeff Jarvis fisks Thomas Friedman's plea to make other nations like us, really like us.
You know the Democrats are worried about Kerry's campaign when you read stuff like this in The Nation.
John Kerry is going to have to decide who he wants to be when he grows up politically. His post-primary campaign has been so dramatically unfocused and ineffectual that -- even as George Bush has taken more serious blows to his credibility than any sitting president since Richard Nixon in the first years of his second term -- Kerry has not been able to open up a lead nationally or in the essential battleground states.

Kerry is making moves to muscle up his Democratic presidential candidacy, with a $25-million let's-make-some-introductions advertising campaign, an effort to sharpen his message and a sped-up vice presidential search. The next month will be critical. If he can open a five- to eight-point lead nationally and establish leads that mirror those of Al Gore's 2000 wins in Democratic-leaning battleground states, his campaign will be sufficiently renewed to make the race. If, on the other hand, he continues to hold even nationally and trail behind Gore's showings in the states that will tip the balance in the Electoral College, there will come a round of questioning -- prior to the Democratic National Convention in July -- about whether the party is making the right choice.

Kerry will still be the nominee. Modern political parties lack the flexibility to clean up messes, no matter how obvious the need. The was proven in 1996, when the Republican National Convention dutifully nominated Bob Dole, despite the fact that no honest observer thought he had a chance of winning.

Will Kerry be the Dole of 2004? That's the question that the Massachusetts senator needs to sort out this month.

Basically, the advice boils down to: Please be Howard Dean without all the craziness.
This is the outrage we should be talking about, not those photos from Abu Ghraib.
Meirav, the 2-year-old, had been strapped into a car seat for safety. But car seats are no protection against bullets, and by the time rescue workers reached the Citroen station wagon, Meirav was dead of multiple gunshot wounds to the head. So was her 7-year-old sister, Roni. And Hadar, the 9-year-old. And Hila, 11. One by one, each had been shot at point-blank range.

In the driver's seat, their mother was dead too. Tali Hatuel, 34, was a social worker who was often called upon to comfort and assist victims of terrorism. Eight months pregnant with her first boy, she had been driving to Ashkelon on Sunday for an ultrasound exam. Then she and the girls had planned to join her husband David at an election precinct to urge voters to oppose the controversial Israeli referendum on unilaterally "disengaging" from the Gaza Strip.

But David never saw his wife and daughters alive again. He buried them Sunday evening, sobbing with grief and surrounded by thousands of mourners in Ashkelon's new cemetery. "You were my flowers," he wept. "I am all alone and there is no one left."

Not long after the slaughter of the Hatuel family, two terror groups -- Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committee -- proudly claimed responsibility in a call to the Associated Press. The official Voice of Palestine radio praised the quintuple murder as a "heroic" operation against "five settlers," not bothering to mention that the victims were an unarmed pregnant woman and four children.

The savagery of the attack was similarly downplayed by National Public Radio in its broadcast the next morning. Actually, reporter Julie McCarthy did more than minimize the horror of the massacre. She blamed the victims for "provoking" their own murder -- not by anything they did, but by their mere "presence" in the disputed territory.

"The settlers rallied support [against the referendum], saying Israel was withdrawing under fire," McCarthy reported, "but there was ample evidence yesterday to show that their continued presence in Gaza is provoking bloodshed. Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian gunmen after the men ambushed a mother and her four small daughters outside the Gaza settlement of Gush Katif. The family was shot and killed on their way to the Israeli city of Ashkelon."

In NPR's warped moral calculus, Tali Hatuel and her children are in early graves not because Palestinian culture celebrates the mass-murder of Jews, but because Jews have no business living among Arabs. If McCarthy had been reporting from Birmingham in September 1963, would she have blamed the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on the provocative "presence" of the four black girls who died in the explosion?
John Berlau looks at the people behind some of the anti-Bush 527's.
John Podhoretz wonders if the Abu Ghraib scandal will actually hurt KErry because it might push some leftist voters to vote for Nader rather than Kerry.
Ralph Nader is the one candidate in the race who is calling for total American withdrawal from Iraq - and he does so on the grounds that what we are doing there is wrong and bad.

Abu Ghraib ensures that the anti-American passions will remain stoked throughout the year. Every vote Nader gets in November is a vote Kerry needs. This has been a good week for Nader, and that makes it a bad week for Kerry.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Just in case you had any doubt about what a sleaze Michael Moore is.
It's a night for must read columns. Real Clear Politics looks at the big question: Why did John Kerry throw away his ribbons and not his medals? We all know the answer. Like Clinton, he wanted to preserve his political viability.
Kerry's answer to this question - at least since 1984 - is that he didn't have time to go home and get them. That answer strikes me as two things: impossible to disprove and less than convincing.

We know that from 1971 to 1984 Kerry clearly wanted people to believe he'd thrown his own medals. We also know that Kerry agrees with the widely held belief that there is no distinction between ribbons (which are representations of the medals) and the medals themselves.

So back to the $64,000 question: why ribbons and not medals? One clue comes from an email I received last week:

I'm a retired Navy Captain with several medals and ribbons awarded to me as well as experience on a 4 star Admiral's Awards Board, etc., so I know a thing or two about military medals and ribbons...

If you are an authorized patron or with an authorized patron (active or retired service member, their dependents, and certain others), you can walk into any Uniform Shop on any base and buy all the ribbons of any pattern (representing any award) that you care to.

But, the only way to get the actual medal is to have it awarded by the appropriate senior commander (usually a Flag Officer).

If you lose it, you must request a replacement from the appropriate military service headquarters giving ample and convincing justification for a replacement. This usually is hard to do successfully.


In other words, it turns out there is a striking difference between ribbons and medals: Ribbons are easily replaceable, medals are not.

It's probably fair to assume the military would not find throwing your medals away in protest as "ample and convincing justification for a replacement."

Clue number two comes in the form of Kerry's own behavior.

It is well documented that by the time John Kerry left Yale and shipped off to Vietnam, he was carrying with him not only the initials of John F. Kennedy but the political aspirations as well.

By that time Kerry had also expressed grave doubts about the war in Vietnam, most notably on June 12, 1966 when he said in an oration to his fellow students, "We have not really lost the desire to serve. We question the very roots of what we are serving."

Yet even though Kerry didn't believe in the political reasons for the war and was an outspoken critic of the tactics used to fight it, during his 4 1/2 month tour of duty Kerry was known for being an extremely aggressive commander - even to the point of being reckless.

More telling was Kerry's desire to document his exploits. Kerry was so interested in doing this he bought a movie camera that he even used during battle. In a profile of Kerry in The Boston Globe, October 6, 1996, reporter Charles M. Sennott wrote:

That Kerry took the trouble to film his war experience strikes many veterans, including some of his closest friends, as extraordinary -- even strange.

Kerry says he shot his war footage on a Super 8 camera he bought at the PX in Cam Ranh Bay. Asked how he filmed in the heat of battle, he demonstrated, gripping an imaginary ship's helm and thrusting his camera hand out to the side. "I'd steer, or direct, or fire my gun, and hold onto it when I could," Kerry says.


Indeed, after Kerry's swift boat was attacked on February 28, 1969 - an event in which Kerry's action led to his being awarded the Silver Star - Kerry returned to the scene of the incident the next day with his movie camera to re-enact exactly what had transpired - for the record.

....I don't necessarily begrudge Kerry any of this, by the way. Vainglory doesn't disqualify a person from being President of the United States. But all of this does provide some additional background that makes the ribbons/medals controversy that much more troubling.

Because when Kerry returned home from Vietnam, first accused huge numbers of his fellow soldiers of committing war crimes in Vietnam on a daily basis and then used his ribbons as a public display against the war, he specifically told America - but especially his fellow soldiers - that the "perversion" of Vietnam "denied us the integrity those symbols [military medals and ribbons] supposedly gave our lives."

By keeping his medals after making such a statement John Kerry created a contradiction that remains irreconcilable to this very day. He publicly denounced the value and integrity of the ribbons, medals and service of all Vietnam veterans in 1971, but he continued to hold onto his medals and to use his service in Vietnam in future years as a reference point for his own personal integrity and a central tool for advancing his political career.

In the end, Kerry didn't throw his medals in 1971 for two reasons. The first is because he was proud of them - not because they symbolized the pride he had in his country at that time but for the pride he had in himself for winning them. The second reason is because Kerry knew there would come a day when he would not only want his medals but need them to fulfill his dream of becoming "the next JFK from Massachusetts."
Read the whole thing.

Isn't Kerry's behavior very peculiar? How many guys in Vietnam do you think were filming their future campaign ads to be used thirty years hence?
Rasmussen, which had been trumpeting a big move for Kerry in its daily tracking polls, now says, "never mind."
Michael Barone has an absolute must-read column on the true historical parallels we should be making about the war in Iraq.
Too many Americans and, so far as I can judge, Britons insist on seeing what is going on in Iraq through the prism of Vietnam. Eight days after military action began in Iraq last March, a front-page story in the New York Times used the dreaded word "quagmire". And when fighters began shooting at Americans in Fallujah and Moqtada al-Sadr led his "Mahdi army" into Najaf, American reporters and editorialists almost instantly compared the situation to the Tet offensive of January and February 1968. The abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison are routinely compared to My Lai.



Never mind that these comparisons to Vietnam are wildly disproportionate. The Abu Ghraib incidents did not constitute a massacre; My Lai did. Americans were fighting in large numbers in Vietnam from early 1965 until Tet, before analysts started opining that America was in a quagmire. Eight days versus 35 months: some quagmire. And the several thousand not very well organised fighters versus the more than 100,000 Viet Cong: some Tet. Plus, as we know now, the media's analysis of Tet was wrong: Tet was a huge defeat for the Viet Cong and largely cleared South Vietnam, for a time, of Communist fighters.

But never mind. For liberal Americans of a certain age, the American involvement in Vietnam is the paradigmatic event in human history. It demonstrated - or their warped view of it demonstrated - that America could be on the wrong side of a war, that American military action was dangerous (as the peacenik slogan had it) to children and other living things and could accomplish nothing positive. And to American journalists of that age and younger generations, Vietnam and the soon-to-follow disaster for the American presidency, Watergate, were proof that disbelieving American leaders and providing the most jaundiced coverage of their actions was the road to enormous success and wealth.
Read the rest.
Chris Wallace rocks.
Wallace, a former ABC employee, son of legendary CBS newsman Mike Wallace and host of "Fox News Sunday" said on Thursday he will do a special segment this weekend highlighting U.S. accomplishments in Iraq to counter Koppel's "Nightline" program on Iraq.

Koppel last Friday devoted an extended version of his show to reading the names of 721 American soldiers killed in Iraq, which sparked outrage from conservative groups who considered it anti-war propaganda.

One chain of TV stations refused to air the broadcast, which Koppel defended as a way to honor the dead soldiers that he has said lacked any ulterior motive.

Wallace, a frequent substitute anchor on "Nightline" before joining Fox News late last year, told Reuters he thought Koppel's broadcast was lacking in what he considered the appropriate context.

"When I saw what Ted was doing -- and it wasn't just the fact of what he was doing but the coverage it got, kind of the publicity campaign he and his producer ... went on -- I became increasingly bothered and eventually offended by what I saw they were doing," Wallace said.

"It just seemed to me that their way of paying tribute was wrong-headed," he said. "I take Ted at his word that he did not intend this to be a ratings stunt or to make a political statement, but I think it ended up that way."

Instead of worrying about humiliation in the Baghdad prison, how about worrying about this.
Sudan is waging a bloody campaign of "ethnic cleansing" in the western Darfur region, killing thousands of people and driving more than 1 million more from their homes by bombing villages, shooting men and raping women, a prominent human rights group said Friday.
Mickey Kaus has found another example of a Kerry flip-flop, lie, and blame shifting. He's back to blaming those Svengali speechwriters who forced him to name Jimmy Carter and Jim Baker as possible envoys to the Middle East. Kerry days he didn't want to mention Carter, but those nasty writers inserted Carter's name in the speech, so he was obligated to praise Carter and actually meet with him to discuss the idea. He's a robot, apparently, masterminded by his speechwriters. I've never heard that excuse before. At least he's finding new ways to shift blame to others. As Kaus says,
Er ... is that how the Kerry presidency will work? I always thought speechwriters had power!**... But wait a minute: If Kerry instructed his aides to remove Carter's name as a possible envoy from the speech, then why did he go ahead and meet with Carter just because the to-be-corrected draft of the speech said he'd met with him? ... That's where his story falls completely to the ground!

**--What's the reductio ad absurdum of this? Kerry reveals he went to Vietnam after reading a draft of his autobiography that said he went to Vietnam? ... Hmmm.
Here is the New Republic story that Kaus links to which discusses the problems Bush has had with the Israeli question.
ast December, even as John Kerry was beginning his remarkable ascent in the Democratic primaries, his standing with America's mainstream Jewish organizations sank to an all-time low. The nadir came in a December 3 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, where Kerry recommended dispatching Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, or former Secretary of State James Baker to Israel as special envoys--a tone-deaf proposal, given Carter's and Baker's reputations as vituperative critics of Israel. "I don't know whether to laugh or to cry," Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Director Abe Foxman complained. "Two are biased on the side of the Arabs--Carter and Baker--and Clinton tried and failed, so why would we use him again?"

Kerry's troubles with the pro-Israel community began in 2002, when he assailed Ariel Sharon for his approach to the peace process. Before long, Kerry was assailing the Bush team, too--for having failed to act as an "honest broker" and for having "restrained the State Department" from intervening in the Israeli-Palestinian maelstrom, especially when the "Arab leaders, I think, are prepared to move." In June 2002, Kerry even proposed inserting American troops into the mix, an idea Israel has long rejected, and, last year, he condemned Israel's security fence as "another barrier to peace," adding that he witnessed how "Palestinian women, traveling on foot, were forced to stand in long lines at checkpoints with their children tugging at their sleeves and their arms loaded with groceries."

Read the rest.
Sean Hackbarth has posted his latest roundup of the Kerry's House of Ketchup.
The Wall Street Journal spreads some light on how the Pentagon has actually been on the ball on the Iraqi prison story.
Yet it seems to us that an overlooked story here, and ultimately the most telling, is the degree to which the U.S. military is investigating itself and holding people accountable.

This isn't a popular thought just now, with the media and politicians in one of their bonfire phases. Every accusation against U.S. troops is now getting front-page treatment. Like reporters at a free buffet, Members of Congress are swarming to the TV cameras to declare their outrage and demand someone's head, usually Donald Rumsfeld's. "System of abuse" and "cover-up" are being tossed about without any evidence of either. The goal seems to be less to punish the offenders than to grab one more reason to discredit the Iraq war.

For a sense of proportion, let's rehearse the timeline here. While some accusations of abuse go back to 2002 in Afghanistan, the incidents at Abu Ghraib that triggered this week's news occurred last autumn. They came to light through the chain of command in Iraq on January 13. An Army criminal probe began a day later. Two days after that, the U.S. Central Command disclosed in a press release that "an investigation has been initiated into reported incidents of detainee abuse at a Coalition Forces detention facility." By March 20, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt was able to announce in Baghdad that criminal charges had been brought against six soldiers in the probe.
By the end of January, meanwhile, Major General Antonio Taguba was appointed to conduct his separate "administrative" probe of procedures at Abu Ghraib. It is his report, complete with its incriminating photos, that is the basis for the past week's news reports. The press didn't break this story based on months of sleuthing but was served up the results of the Army's own investigation.

By February, the Secretary of the Army had ordered the service's inspector general to assess the doctrine and training for detention operations within all of CentCom. A month after that, another probe began into Army Reserve training, especially military police and intelligence. Those reports will presumably also be leaked and reported on, or at least they will be if they reach negative conclusions.

This is a cover-up? Unlike the Catholic bishops, some corporate boards and the editors of the New York Times or USA Today, the military brass did not dismiss early allegations of bad behavior. Instead, it established reviews and procedures that have uncovered the very details that are now used by critics to indict the Pentagon "system." It has done so, moreover, amid a war against a deadly insurgency in which interrogation to gain good intelligence is critical to victory--and to saving American lives.
I hope Rumsfeld can make these points tomorrow when he goes in for his obligatory human sacrifice before Congress.

As Brit Hume was observing last night on his show. This story was out there since January. It is only because there are those photos that it is such a brouhaha now. And as Brit said, what does it say about this story that people didn't care until they saw the pictures?
Here's a sweet story about Bush comforting a girl who lost her mother at the World Trade Center. But because the picture wasn't taken by a wire service,you probably won't see it in wide distribution. Drudge, however, had the link.
David Broder explains increased polarization in Congress. He says that most voters don't understand how this has happend. Well, my AP Government kids understand. Or, at least, I hope they do.
Robert Novak looks at a proposal to reform the budget process in the House. It sounds good.
Lileks also provides a link to this helpful timeline of the prison story.
Lileks says it all about the calls for Rumsfeld to resign.
The minute I heard Biden refer to Rumsfeld with the magic words - “what did he know, and when did he know it?” - I knew that the Iraqi POW story had jumped the shark. Or rather jumped a pyramid of blindfolded, homoerotic sharks. It’s not the question, it’s the words: use of the Vietnam and Watergate era terms are like an incarnation that will topple the current administration. I almost expect someone to ask whether there is a cancer on the presidency, a chancre, or a weeping mole. Stop it! STOP LIVING IN THE PAST!

What really bastes my brisket (did I just write that? I need a beer.) is the constant desire to return us to the nadir of the post-war era. They want us to think: quagmire. They want us to think: Nixonian scandal. How inspirational. How Churchillian. I have nothing to offer the American people but blood, sweat and Billy Beer.

But worst of all is the suggestion that Rumsfeld should resign. Stupid for two reasons: 1. He doesn’t have a bogeyman rep with the general electorate. In fact I’d guess that your average swing voter likes the guy – he doesn’t deal in Beltway blatherations, for starters. Some people liked to make fun of his foray into epistemology – “There are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know
we don't know.”

Makes perfect sense to me. I’m serious. I like a guy who’s smart enough to entertain the concept of unknown unknowns, because it means he’s thinking (all together now!) out of the box. Or out of the Pentagon.

He also handles the press well, which irritates the inner party of the Beltway media but amuses the red states. And he grins. He has that flinty-dad vibe. He’s the guy flipping burgers at the grill who overhears something you say and makes an interesting remark that might be a compliment, and might be an insult – might be both. That grin doesn’t tell you much. It’s the sort of persona that would make you gulp hard if you were picking up his daughter for a date, but if you passed the test you’d feel as though you’d earned some rare respect.

But more importantly, 2. He’s the guy who’s attempting to reform the Pentagon, and make it limber enough to meet the challenges of The War. Does Joe Biden have a better plan for the Pentagon? Would Joe Biden be a better SecDef in the Kerry Administration? If so: evidence, please. If not, then his calls for Rumsfeld to consider stepping down might be - gasp – partisan positioning. That Biden would float the idea of axing Rumsfeld in the middle of this confliict over this tells you how seriously he takes the war. He knows what he says won’t bring victory next year. But it will get him on TV tonight, and perhaps in the Times tomorrow.

Priorities, don’t you know. Priorities.
I wish I could belive that the prison photo story is going away. All I can hope is that there will be a backlash in America among people who know that we are not an evil people and we are better than Saddam. We know that this story did not suddenly make Arabs hate us. They hated us already. Remember the rejoicing in the Arab world on 9/11? And the America people have noted the lack of international outrage about murder after murder in Israel or under Saddam or today in North Korea. A few young Americans sent across the world the live under constant threat of attack in terrible conditions guarding Iraqi prisoners whose associates are killing other Americans acted deplorably. They will be punished. And we all know that that never happens in the Middle East. We know that we are better than this and we are happy to move on. Now, if only the media qould catch on. Can't they return to the Friends and Frasier finales?
The Washington Times has an intriguing story about a new technique that both the RNC and DNC are contemplating to get around the campaign finance reforms. They are thinking of setting up independent groups that could air ads with no coordination with the candidates' campaigns. Remember how everyone predicted that no reform law would stop the things that people object to in campaign spending? Well, put this together with 527's and we're finding that there is even less control now.
Here's an interesting story of DNA being used to clear up a 90 year old mystery. I'm still not sure how parents couldn't recognize their own four year old son. Do you think they knew the boy wasn't theirs but kept him anyway out of their grief.
Joel Mowbray, who is a great investigative journalist, looks at that silly letter that former State Department officials wrote recently to Bush complaining about our support of Sharon.
Ann Coulter can go over the top in her ad hominem attacks. However, there is usually a sharp, but true, point in her writing. Here she looks at the standard that Richard Ben Veniste seems to be advocating that the government use in detaining terrorists.
Over in the alternative universe of the 9/11 commission hearings watched only by me, Richard Ben-Veniste recently proposed an amazing new standard for investigating Arabs in this country. In the middle of haranguing Condoleezza Rice, Ben-Veniste demanded to know why the suspected 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, had not been more aggressively investigated, despite the fact that -- I quote -- he had "no explanation for the funds in his bank account, and no explanation for why he was in the United States."

So let me get this straight: Airport security can't acknowledge that a person is an Arab, but they should be allowed to audit his bank records?
However, as Coulter points out, liberals aren't even consistent in the advice that they are offering with the benefit of hindsight.
Recently -- i.e., about the time Ben-Veniste was shocked that the FBI hadn't uncovered the 9/11 plot based on the fact that Moussaoui had overstayed his visa -- Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Chuck Schumer were clamoring for the release of Ansar Mahmood, a 26-year-old Pakistani immigrant detained in October 2001 after he was observed taking photographs at a water treatment plant in upstate New York. Mahmood later pleaded guilty to committing a felony by giving financial aid to illegal immigrants from Pakistan. Schumer says Mahmood should be permitted to stay in the U.S. because he "was cleared of terrorist links," and he has already served his time for "a non-violent felony." Hillary simply calls Mahmood's detention "disturbing."

Where is Ben-Veniste when we need him? What happened to the "We Don't Know Why He's Here or His Sources of Money" standard for harassing Muslim immigrants? In contrast to Mahmood, Zacarias Moussaoui had committed no felonies; his only apparent offense was to have overstayed his visa. But Ben-Veniste is appalled that the FBI didn't beat Moussaoui for information. The French had linked Moussaoui to al-Qaida -- based largely on the information that he took frequent trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mahmood's home country. When FBI agents in Minneapolis requested a warrant to search Moussaoui's computer, FBI headquarters wrote back, "We don't know he's a terrorist" -- i.e., the argument Schumer is making for Mahmood's release right now.
She also reminds us that Al Gore chaired a commission on airline safety in 1997 and recommended against profiling passengers. I wonder if that is where we got the silly rule that airlines couldn't search more than two people of the same ethnic background. So two Arabs could be searched, but not three.
Glenn Reynolds lays out what we are doing in Iraq and why the war was worthwhile.
You can tell how serious the White House is taking the prison photos story. They are already leaking that the President is upset with Rumsfeld and how the Pentagon has handled the investigation and that Bush wasn't informed. I can't remember another instance of their leaking criticism of one of their cabinet officials, except when there were leaks last summer blaming the CIA for the Niger uranium story. They made Tenet fall on his sword, but kept him on. I predict that the same thing will happen here.
Well, the Sullivan-o-meter is slipping down. Sullivan now thinks that people are underestimating Kerry and then Kerry will close well. What is also informative, albeit very depressing, is the long e-mail Andrew Sullivan posts from someone who served in the military unit guarding Abu Ghraib prison.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Matthew Dowd, the President's pollster, says that he thinks that there are only a few swing voters left, maybe about eight per cent vs. the 20 percent of Reagan's day. And he predicts that the President will basically get the same percentage of the vote as his approval rating. And, guess what? That prediction puts us back at about 50:50.
Lorie Byrd, an insightful guest blogger on Polipundit's site, has a good question.
The more stories I read and hear about this, the more I wonder what John Kerry would be doing if he were President. Would he act as he did 30+ years ago and claim that these abuses were systemic, widespread and ordered up and down the chain of command throughout the military? Would he demand that we withdraw from Iraq, rather than order additional soldiers to commit war crimes? We are supposed to be basing Kerry's fitness as commander-in-chief on his heroic military experience 34 years ago in Vietnam, right?
Exactly. And why should Kerry say he's shocked and disappointed in this news. Isn't this what he accused the American military of in Vietnam?
Drudge flaks for a new book by Bill Sammon on Bush, Misunderestimated, that is coming out next week. It sounds very interesting and that Sammon got even more access than Bob Woodward did. Of course, Sammon won't get the publicity that Woodward did, but if you're interested in an inside look at Bush's presidency, this sounds very interesting.
Colin Powell says he's tired of answering questions about whether or not he's unhappy serving in the Bush administration. Hey, Colin! All you have to do is tell your friends, aides, and everyone you know that you're happy and that they should stop talking to the press. Also, genius, when you get interviewed by Bob Woodward, as you apparently do every 15 minutes, stop whining about your situation. Then this will all stop. You can't preserve your reputation of the shining kinight who is above the extremists you work with if you blab your thoughts to people all the time. I'm a little tired of his "have-it-both-ways attitude to his stature in the world and Washington.
Mickey Kaus ridicules the faux outrage of all the senators who are so upset about the Abu Ghraib story. Not outraged because of the pictures and what was going on there, but because no one told them and they had to find out from Seymour Hersh.
Senator Daschle's Outrage: Leave it to a U.S. Senator to confront shameful acts of inhumanity that endanger the nation and get all outraged over ... a disregard of Congressional prerogatives! "Why were we not told in a classified briefing why this happened, and that it happened at all?" asked Senator Daschle, in a complaint echoed by Senators McCain and Warner. "That is inexcusable; it's an outrage." (Why, they had to hear it on CBS! They were unprepared!) Leave it to our get-a-new-angle media culture to play up these self-serving institutional complaints as if they were in the same universe as the abuse itself. No wonder politicians succeed by running against Washington. ....

How, exactly, would briefing senators have helped the situation? It wouldn't have stopped the abuse, which had already transpired. Mainly, it would have multiplied the number of potentially talkative people who knew, increasing the chance that the news would get out and do the damage to America's reputation that it has done, no? Daschle's complaint is a traditional means by which Senators and Congresspersons protect their careers by distancing themselves from a scandal. ('We didn't know!') It's also part of the routinization of horror, in which a jarring and morally charged event gets sucked into a more familiar and arid Washington dispute, losing its valence. Too bad that while America starts to yawn at Daschle's "outrage," the rest of the world is still sputtering with rage at the original offense.
Andy Borowitz has Saddam's reaction to the Abu Ghraib story.
Speaking from his prison cell, the former Iraqi strongman said that although he generally applauds the mistreatment of detainees, “From what I’ve seen, what was done at Abu Ghraib appears to be the work of amateurs.”

Saddam added that the fact that the humiliation of prisoners appears to have been isolated and not widespread demonstrates that there was insufficient postwar planning on the part of the U.S. military.

“If they had planned this phase properly, there would have been systematic torture in every prison in Iraq, period,” an outraged Saddam said. “Clearly, when the U.S. invaded Iraq they didn’t give a moment’s thought to a comprehensive postwar torture program.”

Saddam also blasted the soldiers’ use of the Abu Ghraib prison, his favorite venue for torturing prisoners, calling their decision to torture prisoners there “a clear infringement of my trademark.”

Saddam’s French lawyer, Jacques Verges, said that he was seriously considering pursuing a trademark infringement case against the soldiers involved, arguing that “the concept of torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison is unquestionably the intellectual property of Monsieur Saddam Hussein.”

At a press conference in Paris, Mr. Verges told reporters: “These acts of humiliation were not just unforgivable, but unoriginal.”

Elsewhere, the Kerry for President campaign aired a new ad today showcasing the life of the candidate, including home-movie footage of a three-year-old John Kerry flip-flopping for the very first time.
This is a satire, BTW.
Kate O'Beirne looks at this alternate Band of Brothers who spoke yesterday against Kerry. They're valiant, but I doubt that this story will get much traction except among those who already dislike Kerry.
Fred Barnes points how how it is a total lie to say that there is a Bushattackmachine that has questioned Kerry's patriotism. The Kerry campaign can't come up with a single example when asked for evidence of the Bushattackmachine.
Even when Bush campaign leaders insist they have never questioned Kerry's military service, they get attacked for doing just that. On Fox News Sunday, Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot said neither he nor other campaign officials had ever criticized Kerry for his Vietnam service, nor would they. The response of Jean Shaheen, a chair for the Kerry campaign, was that Republicans have questioned Kerry's "courage" and that this was unconscionable. She cited no examples.
Read the rest.
Terence Jeffrey looks at the link between Iraq, Al Qaeda, and the recently-exposed terror plot in Jordan. This should be a much bigger story than it seems to be in the media.
John Hawkins has compiled a list of the most popular political websites according to Alexa.
Instapundit has links to an Iraqi blogger who notes that most Iraqis aren't as upset about the prison photos story as ther rest of the Arab world.
I was surprised when I saw that the reaction of Iraqis to the subject of prisoners abuse by some American soldiers was not huge as we all expected to see, even it was milder than the one in other Arab countries and especially than that in the Arab media.
I mean about a month ago, we had considerable reactions and somewhat large demonstrations in response to the killing of Hamas leader, and in the mid of maniac reactions from Arab media and people, the absence of large demonstrations and outrage on the streets of Iraq becomes really strange and give rise to questions. Why the Iraqi people are not really upset with this issue?

Is it because of the firm and rapid response from the American officials to these terrible actions?

Or is it because the Iraqi people lack compassion with the majority of these prisoners?

Could it be that the Iraqi people and as a result of decades of torture, humiliation and executions, took these crimes less seriously than the rest of the world?

Or have the majority of Iraqis finally developed some trust in the coalition authorities and in the American army, to sense that these actions must be isolated and will be punished?

I can’t say I have the full answer but I guess it’s a combination of a little bit of all the above.
The Iraqi people know what used to go on in that same prison under Saddam and the people performing the real torture weren't criticized by Saddam's administration or put on trial and punished. Saddam didn't go on Arab TV as Bush is going to go today to apologize. Maybe Iraqis are remembering how the Arab world was silent for decades about Iraqis being tortured and massacred by Saddam.
The Washington Post calls for Teresa Heinz Kerry to release her tax returns.
Check out Thomas Sowell's column of random thoughts. These columns of his are always thought-provoking.
Australian economist Wolfgang Kasper has figured out the day on which the average citizen has earned money enough to pay his taxes, so that he can then begin earning money for himself instead of for the government. For Singapore, that date is March 31st, for the United States April 21st, for Germany July 1st and for Sweden August 5th.

Jay Leno says that, if John Kerry is elected, he will become the first President who can deliver both the State of the Union address and the rebuttal.

The next time you hear an alarming speech about "global warming" on Earth Day, just remember that the first Earth Day featured alarms about the danger of a new ice age.

Too often what are called "educated" people are simply people who have been sheltered from reality for years in ivy-covered buildings. Those whose whole careers have been spent in ivy-covered buildings, insulated by tenure, can remain adolescents on into their golden retirement years.

Sowell's Random thoughts are the intellectual equivalent of comedian Steven Wright's humor.
Cross country skiing is great if you live in a small country

Everywhere is walking distance, if you have the time.

I can levitate birds. No one cares.

I try to daydream, but my mind keeps wandering.

There aren't enough days in the weekend.

When George Washington was asked for ID, did he whip out a quarter ?

I have a microwave fireplace. I laid in front of it for the evening in 7 minutes.

If my foot falls asleep during the day; that means it's gonna be up all nite.

I'm writing an unauthorized autobiography.
Andrew Sullivan reminds us that cartoonist Ted Rall, who recently had a terrible cartoon about Pat Tillman saying that he was fighting for an evil cause, also opposed the war in Afghanistan.
Rall is a member of the Black Helicopter crowd on the far left. He does not represent most liberals, let alone most Democrats. But that offers them an opportunity to condemn him. Why has, say, Salon not weighed in? Why has Slate not barred his work permanently from their site? If National Review could can Coulter, the mainstream left can certainly can Rall. My bet is: they won't. Nothing should be allowed to detract from the war against Bush. Not even elemental decency and taste.
Arnold Ahlert says it all.
THREE days ago, a pregnant Israeli woman and her four young daughters were shot to death at point-blank range by two Palestinian murderers. Each child - ages 11, 9, 7 and 2 - received another bullet to the head, and the mother was shot again directly in the abdomen.

It is useful to remember this incident and compare the dead silence it has elicited from those same human-rights organizations, media outlets and America-bashers involved in the feeding frenzy accompanying the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. The disparity of outrage is quite revealing.

The feeding frenzy demonstrates that even those who hate America - and never miss a chance to express that hatred - expect us to adhere to a certain standard of decency. The dead silence demonstrates that no similar expectations apply to societies that produce baby killers and homicide bombers, or use women and children as "human shields" in combat.

Why? Because behind the "high-mindedness" of "universal" human rights is a hypocritical prejudice which allows certain cultures more "leeway" when it come to murder and mayhem.

The United States has expressed regret over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal - even as several Palestinian militant groups wanted credit for murdering a pregnant women and her four young daughters.
Until I hear the Arab world condemning this brutality, I don't care one bit for their criticisms of the Abu Ghraib prison story. We're going to investigate and punish those guards and clean up the system. What are they doing about the murderers in their midst? Celebrating them. Therein lies the difference.
Linda Chavez raises an issue that I haven't heard anyone else mention regarding the Iraqi prison photos: whether the presence of women among the prison guards had a role in the activities there. It's an intriguing point.
Ed Driscoll has a good look at liberal bias in the media and the role of the blogosphere in counteracting that bias.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Dick Morris is not impressed with the start to Kerry's campaign.
Apparently, Kerry's press corps doesn't like him all that much.
Polipundit highlights another error in religious knowledge that Kerry made to add to the one he made a few weeks ago on his knowledge of the popes. I guess he needs remedial Sunday School. While there, he could get a refresher course on Catholic doctrine regarding abortion and divorce, oops that was an anullment he got after almost 20 years of marriage and two kids.
Instapundit links to this informative graph of gas prices as adjusted for inflation. it's about where it was during the halcyon 90's except for 1998.
Rich Lowry says that gerrymandering is ruining democracy. You hear that, AP Government students?
Brendan Miniter has a depressing story about how bureaucratic snafus are preventing the military from getting all the armor plating they need on their vehicles. This is just inexcusable.
Mickey Kaus notes a flipflop by Kerry on Benedict Arnold companies. Apparently his speechwriters forcedhim to say something he didn't mean. What an awesome power they must hold over him.
John Podhoretz points out how a few people are excited by every bit of evidence they can dig up to show that Iraq is another Vietnam.
Byron York has the report from the doctor who treated Kerry's wound that got him the first Purple Heart.
The story he told was different from what his crewmen had to say about that night. According to Kerry, they had been engaged in a fire fight, receiving small arms fire from on shore. He said that his injury resulted from this enemy action.

Some of his crew confided that they did not receive any fire from shore, but that Kerry had fired a mortar round at close range to some rocks on shore. The crewman thought that the injury was caused by a fragment ricocheting from that mortar round when it struck the rocks.

That seemed to fit the injury which I treated.

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

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

The wound was covered with a bandaid.
No one is casting doubt on his other two Purple Hearts and he undoubtedly fought bravely for the short time that he was there. I doubt that the media will make a big deal of these accusations. I also doubt that the estimable efforts by this new group of swift boat veterans who served with Kerry, mostly as senior officers to Kerry, and now say that Kerry is unfit to be commander-in-chief. Note the tone of this LA Times story about the group. It tries to tie them to Republicans.
Tod Lindberg takes a Sherlockian look at what is going on in Iraq.
There are a couple of dogs that aren't barking here: For one, there are no reports of Iraqis fleeing from here to there. If people were desperately afraid for their personal security, there would be exactly such movements. For another, if the vast bulk of the reconstruction effort had crawled to a standstill over a lack of security, we would be hearing about that, too, which suggests that a lot of work is proceeding (not, to be sure, as fast as one would like, but proceeding). For a third, for all the bad-news reporting, we haven't been hearing about deterioration in Iraqi quality of life. I don't mean complaints about being occupied, but rather want and deprivation. If those were the order of the day, we'd know about it.
Isn't this just typical of the Arab-loving State Department? 60 former US diplomats have sent a letter to President Bush saying he favors Israel and Sharon too much. Just what we need.
CBS has taken it upon itself to bring up Bush's National Guard service again. They are questioning the missed physical that Bush missed while he was in Alabama. I'll wait for them to show the same intensity in their discussions of Kerry's activities against the war.
Gosh, I love reading Lileks' stories of his day spent with his three-year old daughter. It really brings back my days with my children when they were younger. And now my oldest is graduating college on Sunday. Time's winged chariot indeed.
Ralph Nader is having trouble getting on the ballot in several states. That's why I predict that he will have a negligible impact on this year's election.

But, on the other hand, he will be a permanent example for my AP Government students when they list the difficulties facing third parties in our system. That's a good thing since their AP exam is a week from tomorrow.
The Supreme Court declined to hear a case about whether swearing at a police officer is constitutional free speech. We've come a long way from John Peter Zenger and Eugene V. Debs if this is the sort of junk that people think is free speech these days.
Thomas Sowell has a basic economics lesson about the difference in costs and price concerning health care.
If you ask most people about the cost of medical care, they may tell you how much they have to pay per visit to their doctor's office or the monthly bill for their prescription drugs. But these are not the costs of medical care. These are the prices paid.

The difference between prices and costs is not just a fine distinction made by economists. Prices are what pay for costs -- and if they do not pay enough to cover the costs, then centuries of history in countries around the world show that the supply is going to decline in quantity or quality, or both. In the case of medical care, the supply is a matter of life and death.

The average medical student graduates with a debt of more than $100,000. The cost per doctor of running an office is more than $100 an hour. The average cost of developing a new pharmaceutical drug is $800 million. These are among the costs of medical care.

When politicians talk about "bringing down the cost of medical care," they are not talking about reducing any of these costs by one cent. They are talking about forcing prices down through one scheme or another.

All the existing efforts to control the rising expenses of medical care -- whether by government, insurance companies, or health maintenance organizations -- are about holding down the amount of money they have to pay out, not about reducing any of the real costs.

We were covering the Cold War in my non-AP history class today and trying to get them to understand the mindset that committed us to fighting the Cold War and why we wanted to contain the spread of communism. When I started detailing the crimes of Stalin and how many deaths he was responsible for, one of my students asked why they always hear how evil Hitler was, but they hadn't ever heard anything before about how evil Stalin was.

Out of the mouth of babes.....
George Will has a serious comment to make about a careless pronoun that Bush used.
More good news on the economy in this headline.
Federal Deficit Likely to Narrow By $100 Billion
(Thanks to Eric B. for the link)
Andrew Sullivan has links to an Iraqi prisoner who feels that being humiliated by having to strip naked and get searched is worse than being tortured by Saddam. While the phots that everyone is buzzing about are horrific for us and our image in the world, it is totally convoluted to compare the humiliation inflicted on these prisoners with physical torutre.

I am already quite tired of the horror being expressed in the Arab world and in Europe about these photos and this story. Where is the comparable horror being expressed for the killing of the four Americans in Fallujah and the desecration of their bodies? What about the pregnant mother and her four children just shot in Israel? What about the news of the torture rooms in Saddam's Iraq? What about the uncovering of the mass graves in Iraq? These same people were silent for decades about what is going on in Iraq, but they are all shocked, shocked that some jerks took some embarrassing photos of prisoners. And while they have their mad on they can start being shocked by what is going on in North Korea, China, Cuba, etc.
My husband links to Slate's Powerpoint presentation on Kerry's medals story.
Thank you very much to Instapundit for the kind words and my insta-lanche. I really appreciate the link. And welcome to all of you coming from his page.
Here are some hilarious tidbits from Clinton's memoir-writing experiences.
The publisher of Bill Clinton's forthcoming memoir is "despairing" that the ex-president hasn't churned out enough pages - and that the book is too full of self-justification and blaming of others, a new report claims.

Clinton has procrastinated writing "My Life" - for which Random House's Alfred A. Knopf imprint paid a reported $12 million - to such an extent that only within recent weeks did he begin jotting down memories of 1998, when he faced impeachment over of his affair with Monica Lewinsky, Vanity Fair says in its new issue.

Clinton also apparently is loath to take any responsibility for having failed to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, saying, "How did this happen, I don't remember," according to a former top aide quoted by the magazine.

Other details of Clinton's post-presidential life also are revealed, including his befuddlement with everyday technology such as Palm Pilots, portable phones and ATMs.

"I know there's a million dollars in there," Clinton is reported as having said one day when trying to get cash from a Chappaqua ATM, unaware that he needed to punch in his PIN number.

The former president is described as desperate for companionship: hitting a local bar to drink near-beer with a blue-collar crowd, dropping by an elementary school to watch a play, and inviting two middle-school students to his home, where he talked "about the impact of technology on everyday life."

Although he speaks to his wife six times per day on the telephone when he is traveling, Clinton reportedly only occasionally sees Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"Distance does not make the heart grow fonder," Clinton has told friends, according to the article.
Gee, do you remember how the press distorted a story to make it seem that George H.W. Bush didn't have a clue about a supermarket scanner. It was actually a false story; Bush was touring a display about scanners of the future that coule read torn zebra stripes and the guy who wrote the spin that Bush was clueless wasn't even there. Well, here we have Clinton not knowing how to work an ATM and type in his PIN number. I don't know about his ATM, but every one I've been at has instructions telling you to enter the PIN. So, Clinton is so out of touch with the real world that he can't even read instructions at an ATM. I'm ready to read the "Clinton is clueless about how ordinary people live" stories now.
John O'Neill, who debated Kerry in 1971 has an op ed in the Wall Street Journal today arguing that Kerry is unfit to be commander in chief.
Vietnam was a long time ago. Why does it matter today? Since the days of the Roman Empire, the concept of military loyalty up and down the chain of command has been indispensable. The commander's loyalty to the troops is the price a commander pays for the loyalty of the troops in return. How can a man be commander in chief who for over 30 years has accused his "Band of Brothers," as well as himself, of being war criminals? On a practical basis, John Kerry's breach of loyalty is a prescription of disaster for our armed forces.

John Kerry's recent admissions caused me to realize that I was most likely in Vietnam dodging enemy rockets on the very day he met in Paris with Madame Binh, the representative of the Viet Cong to the Paris Peace Conference. John Kerry returned to the U.S. to become a national spokesperson for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, a radical fringe of the antiwar movement, an organization set upon propagating the myth of war crimes through demonstrably false assertions. Who was the last American POW to die languishing in a North Vietnamese prison forced to listen to the recorded voice of John Kerry disgracing their service by his dishonest testimony before the Senate?

Since 1971, I have refused many offers from John Kerry's political opponents to speak out against him. My reluctance to become involved once again in politics is outweighed now by my profound conviction that John Kerry is simply not fit to be America's commander in chief. Nobody has recruited me to come forward. My decision is the inevitable result of my own personal beliefs and life experience.
Today, America is engaged in a new war, against the militant Islamist terrorists who attacked us on our own soil. Reasonable people may differ about how best to proceed, but I'm sure of one thing--John Kerry is the wrong man to put in charge.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Here's a major "oops" correction from the AP. They hyped a story and it was just wrong.
Byron York has the rundown on the pathetic experience that Bob Kerrey had after he left the President's meeting with the 9/11 Commission an hour early to see Senater Domenici. Domenici was on the floor voting so Kerrey didn't really get to meet with him. Kerrey says if he had known how much flack he'd get, he wouldn't have gone. Great. He doesn't realize that he did something cheesy, just that he got criticized for it.
The FEC finally took some action on something. They shut down federal funds for Sharpton's campaign.
The Iowa Democratic Party has an eager new recruit.
An errant young deer left a gaping hole in the front window of the Iowa Democratic Party downtown headquarters on Monday afternoon after jumping through the glass.
Quick! Register the deer and tell him how John Kerry served in Vietnam.
Charles Krauthammer explodes the myth that presidents have any control over the economy.
The last challenger to unseat an incumbent President, Bill Clinton, ran on the axiom that it's "the economy, stupid." He won, but that does not make the assumption — that Presidents control the economy — any less fictitious. They do not. The idea that they do, the central motif of most every presidential election, is crazy.

"Bill Clinton and Al Gore created 22 million new jobs." So says Democratic National Committee chief Terry McAuliffe and just about every Democrat alive. How can anyone believe this? Clinton did not create any jobs. Bill Gates did. Andy Grove did. Jeff Bezos did. In fact, they created an industry. The '90s were a decade when the silicon chip met the "peace dividend"--billions saved by the ending of the cold war — and gave us an economic boom. Clinton deserves credit for not getting in the way. He fulfilled the economic Hippocratic oath: first do no harm. Not screwing up a boom going on around you, however, is not the same as job creation.

The fact is that Presidents have very little effect on the state of the economy. Sure, they can affect trade policy, regulation, the environment and, of course, foreign policy. But the economy? With globalization, trillions of dollars flow daily in and out of financial markets. One dollar in 10 is now involved in foreign trade. All advanced economies are subject to huge outside forces beyond a President's control. Moreover, U.S. Presidents have even less economic control than most other democratic leaders. The President does not control the money supply; the Federal Reserve does. Presidents cannot dictate their own budgets (as Prime Ministers can in parliamentary systems like Britain's); here, Congress has the ultimate say. Even worse, more than half the federal budget goes to entitlements and "transfer payments" like Social Security, where government is merely a conveyor belt transferring money from younger workers to older folks. What is left, "discretionary" spending, is a mere 8% of the $11 trillion economy Presidents are reputed to control.

All of which makes American presidential elections a competition in mythmaking. What exactly did the first George Bush do that made him responsible for the mild recession of 1991 that cost him the election of 1992? Today the Democratic mantra is that the second George Bush has cost the economy nearly 3 million jobs. (The numbers keep changing. It is now down to 1.8 million jobs lost.) However, 94% of net job losses to date occurred during the first year of the Bush Administration. Can anyone seriously argue that an Administration that had barely come into office and whose economic plan had barely been enacted caused those job losses? If they are to be attributed to anyone it should be to Clinton, who had "run" the economy for the previous eight years. But that too would be unfair and irrational. The losses were a result of autonomous economic forces — the Inter-net bust and the subsequent recession — followed by autonomous political events like 9/11 and the war on terrorism.

John Fund revisits some of the stories about how Democrats are worried about Kerry.
Liberals know they are stuck with Mr. Kerry, but that's not preventing them from worrying about his tendency to appear to take both sides of an issue. The irony is that Mr. Kerry has wanted the White House so badly, and for so long, that he has become almost a caricature of an opportunistic, programmed candidate. The resulting image turns off many voters who sense that not much is motivating him beyond blind ambition. For example, many voters may not feel comfortable with Mr. Bush's religious impulses and motivations, but they highlight the image he conveys of a sincere, committed leader.
It is traditional for party activists to grumble about their prospective nominee between the time he wraps up the primaries and when he is actually nominated. But the doubts about Mr. Kerry go beyond campaign kvetching. At times, they seem to verge on quiet panic.
I suspect that Kerry's new ad campaign will help him and get people who didn't know that he was a veteran (could there be such people? Instapundit notes a focus group that contained people who had no idea that he'd served in Vietnam. Go figure) So, Kerry will get that vaunted opportunity to "introduce himself to the American people" as he's always saying he wants to do. Perhaps that will move his numbers. Ads might work better for him than actual public appearances. Then the Dems can stop worrying.
Picture John Kerry. Then ponder this statement by Teresa Heinz Kerry.
"John is the face of someone who's hopeful, who's generous of spirit and of heart."
Is that the first thing that occurs to you for Kerry? Is his face the face of someone who is hopeful and generous? He looks like a depressed basset hound.
I'm a newbie at having Blogads on my site and eagerly go to the sites that advertise to see what they have. I hadn't known anything about Whit Whitfield, a candidate for Congress from North Carolina, who would have to run against David Price, a liberal Democrat who used to be a Political Science professor at UNC. Check out his site at the link at the top left of my page. At first, I didn't think that Whitfield had a chance against Price, but the Whitfield people are confident that he will have support from the thousands of clients he has helped. My students might find it interesting that he has the support of Ron Paul, the libertarian Congressman from Texas. Many of my students find libertarianism a very attractive ideology.

Students and others might be interested in a conference that Whitfield is sponsoring on Saturday, May 8 at UNC Chapel Hill (10am - 3 pm at the Century 21 Conference Center in Durham) on free speech for high school and college students. They'll be looking at liberal bias on campuses. Go to his site and under coalition groups, click on students. Sounds very interesting.
Mike S. Adams has a plan for college students and how they can afflict their college administrators.
Without any further ado, I am proud to announce that Monday May 10, 2004, will be the first annual National Day of Comfort on college campuses everywhere. Between now and May 10, I am asking students, faculty, and staff all around the country to set aside several hours (or days) to make a complete list of every form of speech they have ever encountered that made them feel even slightly uncomfortable while on campus.

Readers of this article should first look to their campus speech code for guidance in the construction of that list. For example, the UNC-Wilmington speech code creates a constitutional right to comfort by banning all “offensive speech or behavior of a biased or prejudiced nature related to one’s personal characteristics, such as race, color, national origin, sex, religion, handicap, age or sexual orientation.”

Once you have found it, you too can use your speech code to help you recall all of those jokes, opinions, posters, signs, gestures, and offhand remarks that have ever hurt your feelings in any way. I am proud to say that I have already compiled a list of literally hundreds of instances where I have felt uncomfortable as a college professor. And my list is growing every day! In fact, just this week I added a new entry after I heard the term “Mother F’ing Ho” over the stereo system at the campus recreation center. I believe it was Snoop Doggy Dog who violated my “comfort rights” that day.

When students, faculty, and staff at my university finish with their list, they can send it to:

Human Resources
601 S. College Rd.
Wilmington, NC 28403

The rest of you can find the address of your Human Resource Office on your university’s website.

When faced with potentially thousands of complaints filed simultaneously, maybe some universities will recognize the absurdity of their speech codes and abolish them immediately. Perhaps others will be forced to admit that their speech codes are only designed to protect certain groups (i.e., blacks, gays, and feminists). If they admit it in writing then let the litigation begin!
John Leo has a funny column on the weasly types of apologies that people have been giving lately.
In a deeply therapeutic culture, apologies function like secular sacraments. But more and more people demand them, while fewer and fewer are willing to give them. So instead of “I did it and I’m sorry,” we get fake apologies and conditional ones. Some examples:

The basic conditional apology. Secretary of Education Rod Paige said to the National Education Association, “If you took offense at anything I said, please accept my apology.” If? He had said the NEA is a terrorist organization.

The misdirection conditional. Sen. Christopher Dodd claimed that Sen. Robert Byrd, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, would have been a great senator at any time in history, in­cluding the Civil War. Dodd’s “if” statement said: “If in any way, in my referencing the Civil War, I offended anyone, I apol­ogize.” This made it sound as though someone was hound­ing Dodd for mentioning the Civil War.

The I-gotta-be-me conditional. After turning a press confer­ence into a brawl, boxer Mike Tyson explained: “I respond­ed as I saw fit. In the process, things that I said may have of­fended members of the audience. To these people I offer my apologies.”

The subject-changing, head-scratching conditional. In 1985, after saying that South African bishop Desmond Tutu was “a phony,” Jerry Falwell said he meant that Tutu could not speak for all South Africans. Falwell offered an apology if the bish­op thought he was being impugned as a person or a minister. Oh. So that’s it.

The subject-changing, head-scratching nonapology. When Jane Swift served as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, she used state employees to baby-sit her infant daughter. Asked to explain, she said: “I won’t apologize for trying to be a good mother.”

The I-was-misunderstood non­apology. Sen. Trent Lott blamed “a poor choice of words” for his sug­gestion that the segregationist Strom Thurmond of 1948 should have been elected president.

The incomprehensible conditional. Rep. Corrine Brown recently called U.S. policy on Haiti a racist policy concocted by a “bunch of white men.” When a Mexican-American assistant secretary of state object­ed, Brown issued a conditional apology to Hispanics, saying that she meant to indict whites only, adding, “You all [nonblack people] look the same to me.” Luckily for her, Brown is a Demo­crat so her remarks went nowhere in the media.