April 30, 2004
tossing darts at a map...
Alan Sullivan thinks the recent headline: Terrorism Down: Lowest Number of Attacks Worldwide Since 1969 is a case of cooking the books:
...In the New World Disorder some definitions need changing. If suicide bombers blow up a hundred Iraqi civilians and two on-duty American soldiers, that's a terrorist attack. What matters is not the identity of the victims but the identity and methods of the perpetrators. Perhaps some politically-sensitive functionary wanted to make the Bush Administration look good by clinging to a prediluvial definition that conceals what's really happening...I tend to agree.
But either way you look at it, it puts paid to the notion that Iraq has distracted us from the GWOT. Either terorism is just down, presumably because we are doing something right (which also torpedos the idea that we shouldn't act, because that will stir up terrorism)...
OR, a lot of terrorists have packed up and gone to Iraq. In which case Iraq is not a meaningless quagmire, and not a sideshow. Iraq is where it's happening, baby. And wouldn't you really rather have terrorists attacking where we just happen to have a hundred-thousand superb troops with itchy trigger fingers? And no Gorelick memo?
Or would you prefer Osama & Co tossing darts at a map, and then hopping a plane?
Lance Cpl. Gabriel Shumway, 22, of Sacramento, Calif., a member of Weapons Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, keeps watch on an alley in Fallujah, Iraq.
M. Scott Mahaskey / Military Times staff (pic from Army Times 4-13-04)
There's never enough straight-talk, but...
... there's more than there used to be, and it's usually coming from the Bush Administration...
April 30, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - The State Department's No. 2 official said yesterday that those guilty of corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program "ought to hang."Reason #11 for invading Iraq. When you hear that we shouldn't have gone to Iraq because it might endanger "stability," oil-for-food is part of what they wanted to preserve...
The blunt remarks by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to a House subcommittee were the strongest comments the Bush administration has made since accusations surfaced in January that Saddam Hussein ripped off $10 billion from the program...
...Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, appearing at the same hearing of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, also expressed alarm at the scope of the scandal...
... "And there is every reason to think that some of it was used to buy influence with the Middle Eastern media, with a whole variety of recipients of that money. It was a money-laundering operation that was designed to buy influence, it appears," Wolfowitz added...
...In a world beset right now by terrorist threats--which depend on terrorist financing--it's time to acknowledge that the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food program was worse than simply a case of grand larceny. Given Saddam's proclivities for deceit and violence, Oil-for-Food was also a menace to security. -- Claudia Rosett
#157: It's getting pathetic...
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD
There is little doubt that President Bush's aircraft carrier landing a year ago was a political blunder. So why can't the Democrats capitalize? For the answer see Paul Krugman's column In Front of Your Nose (04/30/04). As with most of the anti-war left, Krugman sees all foreign conflict from the perspective of a Vietnamese war template. He simply can't get beyond the quagmire syndrome. Consider these gems concerning the Iraqi war:
"And all of the proposals one hears for resolving this ugly situation seem to be either impractical or far behind the curve."And,
"I don't have a plan for Iraq. I strongly suspect, however, that all the plans you hear now are irrelevant."Is it any wonder Kerry crowd can't get a coherent message together? How do you deal with a situation you consider hopeless?
Krugman has the temerity to throw in the obligatory "did I mention North Korea is building nuclear weapon" line. This is how the left tries to inoculate itself from being seen as total wimps. But are we to think Krugman would support a ground war on China's border???
It's getting pathetic.
[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]
I'd have to disagree with the Truth Squad on one point. I don't think the carrier landing was a blunder. What was the message conveyed? That Bush can fly a jet, that he can mingle easily with the troops, that he's joyful over our victories, that the war is a top priority? What's to not like? And that a lot of prissy hate-America Democrats were stung into incoherent frenzies of loathing and frustration? That's bad? That he's conned all the sob-sisters into criticizing him for being war-like in a time of war?
When I heard about that carrier landing, my very first reaction was to grin, just thinking about how bozos in Berkeley would be shitting ice-cubes...I bet a gazillion ordinary Americans felt just the same thing. Even if it was a blunder, it was worth it!
To restore the centrality of civil society
Orrin Judd wrote this as part of a comment on a fascinating essay about the possibility of reformation in the Islamic world. It's a good summary of what is happening, or trying to happen, here. [By the way, a good rule-of-thumb: Anyone who uses the term "theocracy" to describe the Religious Right is clueless.]
...Perhaps the most interesting way to approach the argument here is to reverse the entire thing and look at the Renovatio in the West. Well, really it's just in America, but that's the point. Just as the kind of totalitarianism that Islam has tended to require inevitably fails, so too does secularism as excessive as that adopted by most of our allies--and nearly by us until, the reversal came in 1980. What the conservative movement in America has been about for some time now and what has been greatly accelerated by President Bush is the project to diminish the state and restore the centrality of civil society--and with it the domination of daily life by religion.
Critics who perceive some inkling of this grand project will sometimes worry that it is an attempt to move America towards theocracy--nothing could be farther from the truth. It is a far more radical endeavor, seeking not to gain access to state powers but to remove power from the State. Thus creation of a "culture of life" to restore the rights that pre-exist the State; tax cuts to bleed the State of revenue; an Opportunity Society to make men independent of government as regards health and retirement; school vouchers to break the State monopoly on education; the Faith-Based Initiative to return the provision of social services back to churches and charities; etc.; etc.; etc
In effect, conservatism in America is attempting something not too different from what Mr. Vlahos credits New Islamists with attempting. The question as regards Islam is: do the New Islamists understand that it is best for them to eschew governmental power and allow both government and economics to be relatively secular and quite free? Or are they destined to establish totalitarianism? The rapidity with which the Iranian experiment with totalitarianism collapsed would seem to give us some reason to hope that its example can generally be avoided in the future.
The question as regards America is: can the secular State, once created, successfully have its powers devolved back to civil society? Or are we destined to keep sliding into the same kind of suicidal secular decline that we see in Europe? The coming election will go some considerable distance to determining whether the counter-revolution will continue.
What both groups are groping towards is pretty much the republicanism of the Founders, with a fairly minimalist, somewhat liberal, kind of democratic central government but then a tightly knit civil society that depends for its continued health on the virtue of its citizenry...
April 29, 2004
To get up and walk from the table...
...The basic failure of this cohort of diplomats - in the UK, US, UN, and elsewhere - is that for twenty years, they were silent and ineffective while Islamism grew in power and hatred.
They believed that by negotiating the terms of 'stability' - because, after all, when you negotiate for a living, a successful negotiation is the major thing you're looking for - even as one side made it clear that stability wasn't what was being sought - they were accomplishing something...
...In fact, they not only let it grow unchecked, but stood by, supportive and silent, as any real peace process was undermined by oil bribes.
One of the keys of any successful negotiation is the willingness to simply go 'basta!' - no more - and get up and walk from the table.
The problem with a policy of engagement and continuous negotiation supported by this crew is that you preclude that possibility.
Bush and Sharon have done just that in Palestine, and Bush and Blair have done it in Iraq.
That's infinitely preferable to a policy in which diplomats confer in luxury while suicide bombers murder innocents...
The evidence is there, the danger is obvious...
Do read this article in OpinionJournal, on the Jordanian poison gas plot:
...Abu Musab al-Zarqawi--the man cited by the Bush Administration as its strongest evidence of prewar links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and the current ringleader of anti-coalition terrorism in Iraq--may be behind the plot, which would be al Qaeda's first ever attempt to use chemical weapons. The targets included the U.S. Embassy in Amman. Yet as of yesterday, most news organizations hadn't probed the story, if at all, beyond the initial wire-service copy. [my emphasis]
Perhaps the problem here is that covering this story might mean acknowledging that Tony Blair and George W. Bush have been exactly right to warn of the confluence of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Jordan's King Abdullah called it a "major, major operation" that would have "decapitated" his government. "Anyone who doubts the terrorists' desire to obtain and use these weapons only needs to look at this example," said Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer....The evidence is there, the danger is obvious, but they don't cover the story!
How I despise those lackwits of the press. The War on Bush is much more important to them than the War on Terror. They would gladly sacrifice our nation's security to put Democrats back in power.
...The terror cell's ringleader, Jordanian Azmi Jayyousi, said he was acting on the orders of Zarqawi, whom he first met at an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan: "I took courses, poisons high level, then I pledged allegiance to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi." Mr. Jayyousi said this attack had been plotted from Zarqawi's new base of operations in Iraq. A Jordanian court sentenced Zarqawi to death this month for plotting the 2002 murder of U.S diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman...Zarqawi ordered the murder of an American! And if Clinton/Carter/Gore/Kerry had been in charge we would have done nothing. That's disgusting beyond belief. Not to mention suicidal.
But now it's different. We are killing Zarqawi's thugs and murderers on the streets of Falluja. Now! Finally! Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is reason #12 to be in Iraq.
If we had been willing to fight a decade or two ago, the death toll would have been far less, both for us and various brown-skinned people the Democrats care nothing for. And because we are willing to fight at last, we are avoiding a probable war in the future, where millions die...The press and the Democrats are trying to create that war, by undercutting our efforts now. And by lying. Obscuring important facts is a form of lying, and that's exactly what the mainstream press is doing now--refusing to cover an important story because it might hurt their party, and might wake us to the danger they have helped put us in.
Bush lied! But who knows, maybe he didn't...
Here's a bit of Mr Kerry on Hardball doing some fancy footwork at the cliff's edge. D'you think maybe he suspects something?
Matthews: "If there was an exaggeration of WMD, exaggeration of the danger, exaggeration implicitly of the connection to al Qaeda and 9/11, what's the motive for this, what's the 'why?' Why did Bush and Cheney and the ideologues around take us to war? Why do you think they did it?""Ideologues" forsooth. WMD's were pushed forward from among the many reasons just to please those ideologues who continue to believe in the UN despite all evidence.
Kerry: "It appears, as they peel away the weapons of mass destruction issue, and --we may yet find them, Chris. Look, I want to make it clear: Who knows if a month from now, two months from now, you find some weapons. You may. But you certainly didn't find them where they said they were, and you certainly didn't find them in the quantities that they said they were...
Hugh Hewitt writes:
...The major point is that WMDs alarm us not only or even primarily when they are in artillery shells but when they are in the hands of terrorists. Had Chris Matthews been interested in actually asking a question that would have obliged the senator to show some thought, he would have inquired as to how much ricin is too much, or how great a biological threat has to exist in the lab before we take action.
Kerry's answer tells us that he fails to grasp the crucial issue of this campaign: the threat to America has changed, and our response has to change with it...
April 28, 2004
Earth to clueless lady senator...
Others have criticized Senator Clinton for choosing the wrong place, the London-based Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, to say the the US "is in trouble," and is "endangering stability in the Middle East." [link] It's certainly not the action of a "loyal opposition."
But my thought is, can she really be so clueless as to think our goal in the Middle East is stability? President Bush has been very open and frank about our intention to bring change. Our plan is to endanger stability...
I was feeling depressed at the thought of 6 more dreary years of Arlen Spector. Polipundit offers some comfort...
...And "moderate" Republican senators have just had a loud warning shot fired across their bow. The next time they're voting on a bill, they should remember not just the ultra-liberal Washington press corps, but their conservative constituents back home. If a 4-term incumbent in a swing state can almost be defeated by a young challenger who's outspent 3-1, then no Republican senator is safe from a conservative primary challenge...I'm not optimistic.
As for Specter, he's old, he won't be running again. He doesn't have to ever again do anything for conservative Republicans. Or Republicans, period. And I bet he doesn't.
April 27, 2004
#156: Nasty insinuations
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD
A Vision of Power (04/27/04) is another "Cheney bash" by Paul Krugman in which he rants against the administration's attempts to keep the participants in the Vice President's 2001 energy task force confidential. For Krugman the combination of Cheney and the energy industry sets off fulminations that can last for weeks. Remember the ten or so columns on the California electricity crisis a couple of years ago?
At first we were going to pass on this column, but then we spotted one segment so outrageous we changed our minds:
"Could there be a smoking gun in the [task force] records? Well, maybe Mr. Cheney was already divvying up Iraq's oil fields in 2001, but I'd be surprised to find anything that clear-cut."The phrase "already divvying up Iraq's oil fields" gives the clear impression that the fields were in fact divvyed up at some point LATER and the only question is when the divvying began. But there never was any divvying. This is an unsupportable attempt to evoke images of colonial powers dividing the spoils of war. Instead, the overwhelming coalition effort was to get the Iraqi oil fields up and running again ASAP. They may have favored coalition companies with contracts and, at times, they may have sacrificed cost effectiveness for speed, but overall the effort was effective.
If Krugman wants a modern day parallel of a colonial rip-off he has to look no further than the Oil-for-Food program administered by none other than the UN Secretariat. This is a record-setting scandal involving theft from an oppressed people that is just now being fully comprehended. We have yet to find out who stole the Iraqis' money, but we will know soon enough. Companies and politicians with close ties to French and Russian interests in the Middle-East are good bets.
Meanwhile, will Krugman ever write a column on THIS historic scam?
Never! It doesn't fit his anti-Bush agenda.
[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]
April 26, 2004
For some reason histories of the American Revolution always seem dull to me. And George Washington likewise, though I'm well aware that he was a fascinating and great man. Perhaps it's an attitude left over from school days.
But Washington's Crossing, by David Hackett Fischer, is anything but dull. It's thrilling! Charlene and I have been snatching it away from each other to read it. It focuses on several crucial months of the Revolution, from the disastrous American defeats at New York, the retreat through New Jersey into Pennsylvania with Washington's army melting away and a British army settling into winter-quarters in New Jersey. Then the very difficult crossing of the Delaware river in a winter storm and the famous attack on a Hessian brigade at Trenton, NJ. Then Washington fights another battle at Trenton a week later (I'd never heard of it) and then slips away at night from the growing British force at Trenton, to attack Princeton, where the British had marched from. And all the while New Jersey is changing drastically, as the ugliness and looting of the occupation arouse the population into something like guerilla war. (The Hessians had many military virtues, but were horrid plunderers.)
The people and institutions involved come alive. I had no idea General Cornwallis was important in so many other spheres. The famous Hessian soldier-trade is explained, and a number of interesting Hessians appear! The terrain comes to life, you feel the agonies of night-marches in rain and mud and ice. Gullies too steep for teams mean cannon must be lowered on drag-ropes by muscle power, then hauled up the other side.
We listen in on meetings and watch the flow of communications. The German and British junior officers who skirmished with the retreating Americans knew we were still dangerous, but their superiors weren't listening. Warnings that British forces were too widely dispersed went unheeded. The Hessians at Trenton were not drunk, as legend would have them, but they were exhausted with skirmishing and patrolling and night-alerts.
And the Americans were driven by ideas. Tom Paine's pamphlet The American Crisis was published a week before the Battle of Trenton. He marched with the Army across New Jersey, scribbling by campfires. He rode to Philadelphia, found the city in chaos, and struggled for ten days to get his pamphlet published. A day later it was having an electrifying effect on the army, and soon on all the colonies.
THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value...This is the book for your summer vacation. I give it my highest recommendation.
"Karol Wojtyla needs no introduction."
Dr Weevil reminisces on the quandary of a scholarly journal accepting a paper by a not-well-known churchman. But before the paper can be published, the author is promoted to be the Pope.
Quandary: how to write the biographical blurb...
April 25, 2004
Results from NCLB
Some interesting results.. from the No Child Left Behind Act.
Kids who won highly prized transfers out of failing Chicago public schools averaged much better reading and math gains during the first year in their new schools --just as drafters of the federal No Child Left Behind Law envisioned, an exclusive analysis indicates.Very pleasing. But I think in a way the study misses what is most important. What would be really interesting would be to learn how the teachers and administrators are reacting and changing.
And, contrary to some predictions, moving low-scoring kids to better-performing schools didn't seem to slow the progress of students in those higher-achieving schools.
Even kids "left behind'' in struggling schools generally posted better gains in state tests once their peers transferred elsewhere...(Thanks to Judd)
The study covers students transferring to good schools, as if good and bad schools just happen for no reason. But what we really hope is that the poor schools are going to start improving, like businesses which are losing sales to rivals. I suspect it's happening already, but under the radar...
April 24, 2004
Something like an apology
I think I've been a bit too hard on various people.
The political shift that we seem to be in the midst of, with Republicans now holding House, Senate, and the Executive Branch, and many state governments, is something people like me have seen coming for the last 20 years or so. And we view it as embedded in a larger pattern of 70-year cycles in American politics.
But to many, what's happening now is the world turned upside down! It's like going outside one day and discovering that the sky is pink! No more blue sky, get used to it, pal!
We grew up in a world where Dems controlled Congress and most state legislatures as a matter of course. Where Democrats, liberals, were considered to be the "party of reform." The party of progress. The good guys! The "grown-ups" who naturally decided the nation's agenda, set the tone, and spoke with authority as of right. Their gerrymanders and committee-chairmanships were time-honored parts of political life, not shocking innovations.
I've been thinking about these lines from the Jonathan Rauch article I mentioned a couple of days ago:
...In today's era of Saint FDR, people forget that Roosevelt was, in his own day, a bitterly polarizing figure. To his adversaries, he seemed no ordinary opponent but a larger kind of menace, a radical whose determination to aggrandize Washington and himself portended an American dictatorship. Behind the mask of geniality, they saw a ruthless partisan who intended not to govern alongside the Republicans but to obliterate them...Obliterate them! I'll bet that's just how it feels to be a Democrat right now. "Vast right-wing conspiracy" probably seems to fit the facts.
In truth, I think the changes are driven by an inevitable build-up of pressure. The article talks about how the Republicans seem to be choosing to pursue those reforms that will harm the Democrat coalition. But I think that's got things backwards.
Republicans aren't choosing the reforms, the reforms are choosing the Republicans! The reforms that are most pressing, most exciting, are precisely those the Democrats could not effect, because they would harm members of their coalition. Democrats are boxed in. The things they can do, they've already done, or at least tried. The things they can't do are becoming increasingly urgent.
I've criticized the Bush-haters for being totally negative, for being only against, and not for anything. But that's exactly how Republicans were in the 1930's. Stunned and bewildered and bitter. (Dems may be getting a bit of luck. The Republicans of the 30's endured a decade of the New Deal, and then, just then the New Deal was probably running out of steam, they got our nations' biggest war, with FDR as a splendid war-leader! No fair.) The only thing they were for was for life to return to "normal."
By the way, if anyone knows of a good book or article on how Republicans were thinking and reacting around 1932, I'd love to hear about it. All the books seem to be written about the winners.
REMEMBER, when you hear the press complaining about not being allowed to photograph coffins arriving at Dover AFB, that there are lots of pictures of coffins and funerals and grieving loved-ones available...
I see them almost daily at Army Times. I have the Frontline Photos page bookmarked. I recommend it. Many are wire-service photos, available to any newsmedia.
So why don't we see more things like this? And what's the big deal about Dover?
A caisson carries the casket of Lance Cpl. Torrey Stoffel-Gray in a procession through Patoka, Ill., on Monday. The 19-year-old Marine was killed April 11 by hostile fire in Iraq’s Anbar province. He was stationed at Twentynine Palms, Calif
Robert Cohen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch / AP photo
Dover AFB is where large shipments of coffins with our war dead arrive. They are then forwarded to various localities. The press wants to show coffins en mass because they think it will help their party in the next election by causing Americans to lose heart. (A side-effect like undermining their country in time of war is too trifling to worry about.)
And they are not too keen on pictures like the one above, because they suspect that those waving flags might betoken strange atavistic emotions they don't understand. (Sort of like the "I don't know what it is but I'm sure I don't like it" response of so many Hollywood types to The Passion.)
I think the press seriously underestimates the American people, and how we will respond to the price of war. Picture of coffins arriving at Dover would not have the effect they hope for
Gerard Van der Leun thinks Dover is preferred because it's near DC, and the press is lazy. To get the real stories ...would entail a long series of assignments in the small towns and dusty backwaters of America. There would be lots of short hops on small commuter airlines, many nights in Motel 6, many days in cheap rented cars, and a host of meals snatched at Waffle Hut...I lead a sheltered life here...I've never even encountered 'Waffle Hut."
April 23, 2004
The Myths of Iraq
From StrategyPage, The Myths of Iraq (this is my condensed version)
The country is in flames! Actually, most of the country continues to rebuild and is at peace. The fighting is restricted to a few areas, but this is where the reporters and cameras go. Construction and commerce do not make for dramatic news stories and so are rarely covered...
Americans are hated in Iraq! Not according to the polls that have been conducted, nor according to the experience of most Americans working in Iraq...
U.S. troops are fed up with the war and leaving in droves! New recruits, and people wanting to stay in are at record levels in the armed forces. This applies to reservists as well as active duty troops...
The Iraqi Governing Council is despised by most Iraqis! Any 25 Iraqi leaders would be despised by most of the population.... But Iraq has lots of constituencies, including over a hundred tribes and dozens of religious leaders with large followings...
The U.S. Army doesn't have enough troops to handle current combat operations! Although combat commanders feel that "too much ain't enough" when it comes to troops, they learn how to go with what they got. ... Sending more troops won’t help with the basic problem; gathering intelligence. That requires people who speak Arabic and have police experience. More American troops won’t solve that problem, more trained Iraqi police will.
The effort in Iraq detracts from the war on terror! Arab countries are where al Qaeda comes from, they were just using Afghanistan as a base. Invading Iraq forced al Qaeda to come and defend its Arabian heartland. The Iraq operations inflamed al Qaeda members in Saudi Arabia to start attacking Saudis and other Arabs. This cost al Qaeda a lot of support among Arabs, and would not have happened if Iraq were not invaded.
The war on terror is mainly a police and intelligence function. The troops that are needed most for counter-terrorism are special operations (Special Forces and commandoes.) Special operations forces were pulled out of Afghanistan for the Iraq campaign, but most of the action in Afghanistan is best handled by regular coalition troops, Afghans and the Pakistanis. After 2001, the war in Afghanistan was mainly political, not military. Special Forces troops specialize in a particular part of the world, and they are all over the planet chasing down terrorists. The war in Iraq gave the Special Forces an opportunity to work intensively, and without restraint, in an Arab country.
U.S. Army should be expanded! It takes several years to recruit new troops, train them and organize them into new units. By then, the army leadership feels they won’t be needed. But the army will still have to pay for them. This will mean less money for training and new weapons and equipment. To the army leadership, that strategy will get more soldiers killed in combat in the long run....
Iraqi army should not have been disbanded after Saddam fell! The Iraqi army has been, for over half a century, the chief source of tyranny and oppression in the country. Army commanders overthrew the government time after time, and used their soldiers to brutalize the population. By keeping all, or part, of the army intact, and armed, coalition risked a quick return of the warlord attitude that gave the Iraqi people dictators like Saddam (and several others who preceded him.)...
Iraqi security and army troops, and police cannot be relied on! About half the police and security troops have worked well with coalition troops when put under pressure (attacked by al Sadr militia or Sunni gangs). Another 40 percent simply fled and about ten percent went over to the rebels. This was because the screening and training process for Iraqi police and security troops is still a work in progress....
Oh, to be 18 again...
Peggy Noonan's article, Privileged to Serve, on pro football player Pat Tillman who died in combat in Afghanistan yesterday, has been reprinted. It's good.
...Except for this. We are making a lot of Tillmans in America, and one wonders if this has been sufficiently noted. The other day friends, a conservative intellectual and his activist wife, sent a picture of their son Gabe, a proud and newly minted Marine. And there is Abe, son of a former high aide to Al Gore, who is a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy, flying SH-60 Seahawk helicopters. A network journalist and his wife, also friends, speak with anguished pride of their son, in harm's way as a full corporal in the Marines. The son of a noted historian has joined up; the son of a conservative columnist has just finished his hitch in the Marines; and the son of a bureau chief of a famous magazine was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army last month, on the day he graduated from Princeton.What a great time to be alive. It's marvelous, almost unbelievable, but the poisonous residue of the 60's seems to diminish year by year.
As the Vietnam-era song said, "Something's happening here." And what it is may be exactly clear. Some very talented young men, and women, are joining the armed forces in order to help their country because, apparently, they love it. After what our society and culture have been through and become the past 30 years or so, you wouldn't be sure that we would still be making their kind, but we are. As for their spirit, Abe's mother reports, "Last New Year's, Abe and his roommate [another young officer] were home and the topic came up about how little they are paid [compared with] the kids who graduated from college at the same time they did and went into business.
"Without missing a beat the two of them said, 'Yeah--but we get to get shot at!'...
Fun to do...
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
And when the ducks stood on their heads suddenly, as ducks will, he would dive down and tickle just under where their chins would be, if ducks had chins, till they were forced to come up to the surface again in a hurry, spluttering and angry and shaking their feathers at him, for it is impossible to say quite all you feel when your head is under water.(Via Caterina, by way of Judd)
-- Wind in the Willows
April 22, 2004
the miserable trends turned around...
Fascinating article in City Journal, Morning After in America by Kay S. Hymowitz. It's especially amazing about the the way young people have changed:
...Wave away the colored smoke of the Jackson family circus, Paris Hilton, and the antics of San Francisco, and you can see how Americans have been self-correcting from a decades-long experiment with “alternative values.” Slowly, almost imperceptibly during the 1990s, the culture began a lumbering, Titanic turn away from the iceberg, a movement reinforced by the 1990s economic boom and the shock of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. During the last ten years, most of the miserable trends in crime, divorce, illegitimacy, drug use, and the like that we saw in the decades after 1965 either turned around or stalled. Today Americans are consciously, deliberately embracing ideas about sex, marriage, children, and the American dream that are coalescing into a viable—though admittedly much altered—sort of bourgeois normality. What is emerging is a vital, optimistic, family-centered, entrepreneurial, and yes, morally thoughtful, citizenry.
To check a culture’s pulse, first look at the kids, as good a crystal ball as we have...
...Yet marketers who plumb people’s attitudes to predict trends are noticing something interesting about “Millennials,” the term that generation researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss invented for the cohort of kids born between 1981 and 1999: they’re looking more like Jimmy Stewart than James Dean. They adore their parents, they want to succeed, they’re optimistic, trusting, cooperative, dutiful, and civic-minded. “They’re going to ‘rebel’ by being, not worse, but better,” write Howe and Strauss...(via Betsy)
"Mencken's condescension would turn to hatred..."
This article, The Accidental Radical by Jonathan Rauch, is very interesting on what Bush is up to. (Bush haters might like it also; it includes a possible scenario where all Bush's reforms fail, and he retires to obscurity!) You may have already read it, it's from last summer, and I just encountered it again.
Fascinating to me are the parallels between Bush and FDR. I've been writing about the similarities between the rise of the Democrats in the 30's and the rise of the Republicans today. But the personal similarities between the two men surprised me.
"I was a lightweight trading on a famous name, they said." That was George W. Bush, then still governor of Texas, writing in his 1999 book, A Charge to Keep. He might have been pleased to know that "they," the purveyors of conventional wisdom, had said the same of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. "A pleasant man," the pundit Walter Lippmann famously called Roosevelt, "who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be president." H.L. Mencken dismissed him as "Roosevelt Minor."I occasionally heard some of that hatred of FDR in things my dad said. And he was a very thoughtful and reasonable man. Once he said something about Roosevelt treating the employees on his estate very badly. Perhaps he did, but it had the flavor of an urban legend, something cherished and passed on like people now pass about some ugly quote from Rush Limbaugh...
When he sought the presidency, FDR had been governor of New York for all of four years. In that brief time, he had used his natural amiability to good effect, working the state's political machinery to pass some modest but significant reforms, but he had also taken care not to be seen as radical. In the presidential race, his views appeared to be eclectic bordering on confused....
...Quite early in his presidency, as it became clear that Roosevelt would press the powers of his office to the limit and beyond, Mencken's condescension would turn to hatred, an enmity that many Americans shared. In today's era of Saint FDR, people forget that Roosevelt was, in his own day, a bitterly polarizing figure. To his adversaries, he seemed no ordinary opponent but a larger kind of menace, a radical whose determination to aggrandize Washington and himself portended an American dictatorship. Behind the mask of geniality, they saw a ruthless partisan who intended not to govern alongside the Republicans but to obliterate them...
Falluja, Mosul, two cities...
While Iraq is laced with antiquities, Fallujah isn't one of them. Just after World War II, the population of the town was around 10,000. The city, about 40 miles west of Baghdad, is on the edge of the desert, and now has about 300,000 citizens. It is a dry and arid landscape, made productive only because of extensive irrigation from the nearby Euphrates River. It was, however, located on the main routes into Jordan and Syria. And in crime, as in real estate, location is everything. The city was on the main route for smugglers, and sheltered a number of very successful crime lords...And Andrew Sullivan has a a fascinating letter from a chaplain in Falluja:
...Nonetheless, in Faluja, the supposed hotbed of dissent in Iraq, countless Iraqis tell our psyopers they want to cooperate with us but are afraid the thugs will slit their throats or kill their kids. A bad gang can do that to a neighborhood and a town. That's what is happening here...If you believe news reports, anywhere things are going badly is the real Iraq. And where they happen to be going well isn't considered "news."
But in fact, there are signs of things moving in the direction we hope them to go. If people like me think we should not panic yet, and not turn things over to the brave protectors of Rawanda, it's because of stories like this:
...Like the rest of Iraq, residents of Mosul had seen what was happening in Fallujah and had demonstrated. Unlike in the rest of the country, their demonstrations remained peaceful. "That was due to the early involvement of religious and government leaders, members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Iraqi Police," Ham said.I'm proud of them too. I've come to care about these people. Unlike the "anti"-war activists, who would dump them down the sewer if it would hurt Bush.
But when the attack came later that night, it was not Task Force Olympia's Stryker combat vehicles that answered the call. Instead, the men of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Iraqi police responded. "They stood strong," Ham said. "It was those forces that repelled the attack."
The galvanizing force was the governor of the province and the city, Ham said. "He never left the building, and his personal courage made a big difference," the general noted.
"The Iraqi people in Mosul got the message that here is a strong, democratic leader with a competent security force." Ham said.
He pointed out that the Iraqi Security Forces had to call on U.S. forces to help in only one incident that night, but all the heavy lifting was done by the Iraqis.
Ham said it was Iraqi leadership that made the difference with the security forces. He said he is very proud of them for the way they reacted...
Mosul shows what Iraq could be. That's what we are fighting for. Not out of altruism, but because such a transformation in the very heart of the enemy realm, will be a blow more devastating to our enemies than any number of nukes. The "enemy realm" is not a place, but a culture that repeatedly brings forth terrorist groups. And we are planting a counter-culture in the midst of it.
One of these days Charlene and I (if we ever make any money) will vacation in Iraq. And feel smug. We will wear our Bush/Cheney pins, and be popular...(And if you think that sounds optimistic, reflect that we could do it right now in the Kurdish north. Those guys have made tremendous progress in just ten years, both in prosperity and freedom and democracy. I would make much of them, but the prune-faced crew would just sneer that Kurds are different, and that Arabsstill aren't suited for freedom, and would rather be ruled by strongmen. )
April 21, 2004
we would have dozed through the news reports...
CTV News: The Sun newspaper reported Tuesday that the suspects planned to set off bombs during a match between Manchester United and Liverpool this weekend -- one of the biggest games in the English soccer calendar.That a number of plots have been foiled recently is good news, and also evidence that the WOT is not being neglected. (And I'm sure a lot goes on that isn't publicized. I've heard rumors of us fingering Al Qaeda leaders in obscure places and then sending Jordanians in to kill them. I hope it's true, but imagine how the old grandmas would shriek if we publicized it!)
The paper quoted an unnamed police source as saying the suspects had bought tickets for seats in the 67,000-capacity Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium.
The arrests reportedly made after months of surveillance and eavesdropping on cell phone calls, the paper said....
...Britons have been especially wary of a terror attack since last month, when police arrested nine men and seized more than half a ton of potentially explosive fertilizer in raids throughout London...
But what I'm thinking about is the thin ice that guys like Kerry are skating on [Cliché! --I.C. So suggest something better --JW] . Implicit in their endless carping, though they haven't the nerve to say it outright, is the idea that we are not really quite quite at war. Maybe a limited war against Al Quada, And that if Bush hadn't stirred the hornet's nest, things would be almost "normal."
But suppose the recent plot in Jordan had succeeded? 20,000 dead in Amman was the estimate. With poison gas from Syria—presumably originally from Iraq. It would be hard to ignore. Who's going to look wise? Bush, who's offered us a long and difficult struggle, and promised to see it through? Or Kerry, who's offering...well, I'm not sure what he's offering, but it doesn't seem to be blood, sweat, toil and tears....(thanks to Alan for the links.)
And the lack of popular excitement about the attacks that didn't happen was on my mind when I read this:
... But if that had happened, guess what? Even if the government announced, "Major Terrorist Threat Blocked by Quick Action," we would have dozed through the news reports, wouldn't we?
And the civil libertarians would have kept the courts tied up for years, because of course the government had no right to spy on the airline ticketing system and so they "shouldn't" have found any information about ticket purchases by anyone...
It's easy to ask, there's this thing called the Internet...
Francis W. Porretto writes
...In the many assertions from the anti-war camp that the Iraqi occupation is "turning into a quagmire," there's a common thread: the implication or outright statement that the morale of American forces in Iraq is low and sinking. That this claim is contradicted by statements from the troops themselves, who see their job as a necessary one, albeit arduous and dangerous, is seldom discussed. Moreover, the most recent reports on enlistment and retention rates from all the armed services have been better than satisfactory; all of them have met their quotas in all areas, except for a handful of technical specialties...It's interesting how often those who claim to feel deeply the plight of our soldiers show little evidence of having actually asked any of them what they think.
It would be easy to do, The guys in Iraq and Afghanistan have e-mail. And there are many military bloggers, and various web sites for military units, with forums. Heres a sample (and again, this time facing bad news)—This brigade is in the thick of it. Or here's Sgt Hook, who took a little survey...
When you read someone's lament that our hapless troops are stretched to the breaking point, bogged down, beleaguered, battered, bewitched, bothered,...notice whether they asked any of the people most involved.
let's get on with the job
After being drowned in a tidal wave of all who didn't do enough before 9/11, I have come to believe that the Commission should issue a report that says: 'No one did enough in the past. No one did near enough.' Then thank everyone for serving, send them home and let's get on with the job of protecting this country in the future. --Sen. Zell Miller
The draft is purely a political idea...
...Let me tell you something: the draft is purely a political idea. I've been briefed by plenty of generals on recruitment and retention problems. Now, granted, this was several years ago, before the GWOT, but there were plenty of problems in recruitment and retention at the time, and not once did the draft come up. Why? Because from their perspective it makes absolutely no sense. We field a highly technical force. It takes up to 18 months to train a soldier for the most basic of specialties. So by the time you get a draftee in, and train them to a reasonable level of competence, you might get to use them for 6 months before their term of service would end. It's in no way cost effective. In fact it's so utterly and completely expensive to pay for these people, to train, dress, house, feed them, that it just makes absolutely no sense...We are killing the jihadis at a ratio of about 50-to-one precisely because we have the most highly trained and motivated and professional military in the world. If we sent draftees to Iraq, our losses would be much much worse. One wonders...
One wonders if there is more to 60's nostalgia than unbelievably unflattering pants for women?....maybe some unconscious nostalgie de bodybag?
Lord knows the jihadis are doing their part. They are concealing themselves among civilians just like the Viet Cong did. Committing atrocities. And, like Vietnam days, the anti-war types do not criticize them at all, but stand ready and eager to excoriate the evil Americans if another My Lai Massacre occurs. Just like then we hear that Americans are "monsters," but the people who are trying (and failing) to turn them into monsters get a pass.
It must be very frustrating for our Ultras...They've been cranking the Iraq-equals-Vietnam engine for two years now, but it just won't start up. No My Lai, no huge marches, no triumphant Democrats selling out hapless people to tyranny after the war has been won. What's the matter? Something's missing...maybe a few hundred-thousand scared trigger-happy draftees?
It's easy to become angry about the ceaseless America-bashing we get. But put yourself in the other guy's shoes. Feel a little of the frustration of the gray-haired "activist," trying to regain the golden sonnenreise of his youth, when America was bad and communists were good. He may claim to have "ended" the Vietnam War, but he really can't point to any Vietnamese who are grateful for the re-education camp. He probably feels like life hasn't quite given him what he deserves. And now, a second chance! Another American war to sabotage, another hapless people whose hopes for freedom can be betrayed. An excuse to avoid thinking about what it is he believes, if anything.
But it just isn't quite working...
Here, via Mindles, is what four Vietnam vets think about draftees. A small sample, but interesting...
Various people have been wondering why the Administration would even talk to Bob Woodward, when it was inevitable that he would portray them as lackwits who ignored the counsel of Neville Chamberlain the wise.
But think for a moment how stupid Woodward is. From his inside-the-beltway perspective, he thinks he's hurting Bush by letting the us know he's a Christian! And that Americans will recoil in horror and disgust when they learn that the administration was planning war even while diplomatic negotiations were going on!
Horrifying. Actually planning a war ahead of time. Oh, the shame of it.
And guess what:
...Campaign advisers are so convinced that national security issues play to Bush's strength that they have posted a link on the Bush-Cheney reelection website to the new book by Bob Woodward, ''Plan of Attack," despite several disputes they have over facts and a portrayal of Bush as driven to war by an unrelenting Vice President Dick Cheney without input from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell...Woodward has exposed the truth. Those right-wing moonbats seem to think there's a WAR going on. Next you know, they'll start talking like JFK...
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. . . . The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it--and the glow from that fire can truly light the world
Us Republican insects wonder...
...For generations, Democratic candidates and liberal journalists have asserted with impunity that Republicans, by their very nature, hate blacks, gays, children, the poor, the environment, animals and immigrants.
Al Gore ran as a champion of the "people against the powerful," claiming he cared about Americans more than Bush. His campaign manager declared that Republicans "have no love and no joy. They'd rather take pictures with black children than feed them."[For the reality, read this!] Clinton routinely said that the GOP wanted to "punish" children. The organizers of the Million Mom March insisted that "good" moms support gun control.
Again: Why is it fair game to question conservatives' love or loyalty to children or to their fellow man, but beyond the pale to question liberals' love of country?...
April 20, 2004
I like how he puts it...
David Cohen writes:
...The ABC slant on the poll is "Iraq is a quagmire, so why isn't the President tanking?" There are a lot of assumptions built into this, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the American voters may actually be adults. Shocking, I know, but there you are. The downfall of these polls is always the pollsters unspoken assumptions, and here ABC is misled by its assumption that Americans hate military casualties most of all, and that stability in the mideast is a good thing. The idea that we might be willing to take casualties in order to destabilize the current Arab regimes never occurs to them...
More disgusting religious stuff from the President...
And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.
-- John F. Kennedy on Jan. 20, 1961
(Thanks to Henry Hanks )
Ghost of Scoop Jackson seen walking at night...
This sounds good. Via OxBlog, a new Democrat foreign policy group:
...For those of you who feel you are Democrats longing for a party that takes national security more seriously, (or even borderline Republicans discontented with both parties) a new group has formed that would love to have you as members. The Truman National Security Project (www.trumanproject.org) is a group of young foreign policy professionals dedicated to creating a strong foreign policy platform for the Democratic Party, and working to move the national security debate beyond the tired battles between Cold Warriors and Vietnam-era liberals, to create new ways of thinking about foreign policy for an age of transnational threats and terrorism...This sounds good, and I wish them all possible success.
My guess is that the Democrats won't recover electorally until a new generation arises. But the time to start is NOW. And the means is ideas! Thinking and questioning. There's a common cliché that Republicans are slow-thinking and unreflective, (or stupid and backwards, as some would say). Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact the world of American conservatives (similar though not exactly the same as the world of Republicans) is a place of intense intellectual activity and constant debate.
It wasn't always so. The truism once had a lot of truth. The Republican Party that was swept out of power in the 1930's was complacent and hidebound. And had for a long time been coasting on the momentum of the Civil War and the economic triumphs of the latter 19th Century. It was anti-intellectual, anti-New Deal, and not excited about much, except balanced budgets.
Serious thinking about conservative ideas only became common here in the 1960's, and even then it was very much under the radar. (It's pleasantly ironic that "officially" the 60's was the decade when intellectual life moved leftwards.) It had little effect on established politicians like Nixon or Rockefeller or Ford.
Ronald Reagan was the first important Republican politician who drew on the emerging conservative think-tanks and intellectuals. He was also, in the words of Irving Kristol, "...the first Republican president to pay tribute to Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the first Republican president since Theodore Roosevelt whose politics were optimistically future-oriented rather than bitterly nostalgic or passively adaptive." And he was influential in wooing the neo-cons away from Henry Jackson and Hubert Humphrey.
"bitterly nostalgic or passively adaptive." That's today's Democrats. I remember hearing about some other new "Democratic think-tank" last year. But it's purpose was apparently to provide talking points and clever arguments for Democrat congressmen. There was no suggestion that there might be a wee something lacking in the ideas for which talking points were needed. Or that anyone might be receptive to new ideas if they were provided. I didn't find that very impressive...
As to why I would want the Democrats to make a comeback...if you have to ask, you don't know me.
I'll bet this is disinformation...
...However, the source revealed that IDF helicopters also had "human" assistance on the ground. The Israeli claimed that his government has "been successful" in obtaining the "assistance" of Palestinians within Hamas. In short, the official claimed that individuals "sympathetic" to Israel have been key in helping Jerusalem "eliminate" the two former Hamas leaders.Suppose Israel just got lucky in killing two terrorists in a small space of time.
The official hinted that the "sympathetic" Hamas individuals may have actually planted homing devices in the cars of the two leaders, allowing the IDF to attack with stunning success. "Do not be surprised, we know more about their (Hamas) activities than most people know. And now, they (Hamas) have begin to realize it themselves...
When better to "leak" that you have informers inside the organization? With any luck, instead of murdering women and children in Israel, they will start murdering each other...Couldn't happen to a nicer buncha guys.
#155: No and no!
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD
The historically low long-term interest rates as reflected currently by the yield on the 10-year US Treasury bond are an embarrassing problem for Paul Krugman and Democrat economists. At a lethargic 4.3%, the long bond yield continues to be "the dog that won't bark" and greatly complicates his assaults on the Bush administration's fiscal policies. In Questions of Interest (04/20/04) Krugman gives that dog a kick to see if he can't at least get a yelp out of it. We didn't hear anything yet.
Here's Krugman's problem. Under orthodox Rubinomics (named for former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin) an omniscient bond market is the ultimate arbiter of economic well-being. Governments pursuing reckless fiscal policies are quickly brought to heel by higher yields in the bond market which sees right through their chicanery. Hence, a cogent argument for economic gloom and doom based on "irresponsible tax cuts for the rich", "fiscal deficits as far as the eye can see" and looming "banana republic-hood", requires some sort of a red flag coming from the 10-year bond. But the bond market is not cooperating. Instead yields are just lollygagging around near a 40-year low.
So Krugman tries a new tack. WHAT IF, he asks rhetorically, interest rates and inflation go back up to their long-run averages of, say, 7% and 3% respectively? Isn't that terrible? Won't the dog be barking then?
No and no! It's not bad at all. And it might even happen – Krugman has been right before on occasion. However, his larger problem is that to get us to that point he has to assume that the economy either recovers fully or is perceived to be recovering fully. Contrast that with the current perception reflected in polls showing that the economy is under performing. If that perception changes toward more optimism in the next 6 months Bush will be reelected with growing legislative majorities. Rates may rise some, but the dog still won't bark.
[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]
Some corrections to the Woodward book...
...Speaking with Fox News' Sean Hannity, Powell said that he was not semi-despondent at any time.
"The fact of the matter is, my responsibility to the president is to give him the best advice I can," Powell told Hannity. "And the first bit of advice I gave him was, we should take this issue to the U.N. The U.N. is the party that's offended. The whole world is offended by what Saddam Hussein has done, so take it to the U.N."
Powell said that President Bush agreed with this recommendation, as did Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice.
"And when [Bush took the case to the U.N.] I knew that we had two roads ahead, and I'm not sure which one we would follow: Road one was that the U.N. was able to solve this. But I also knew that there was a second road, and if the U.N. didn't act, the president would act. And he would take it to war, if that's what it took, and ask like-minded nations to join us," Powell explained.
Powell said that because the U.N. did not act in a timely manner, President Bush took "that second road."
"I knew that it might happen, and I knew that when he took that second road, I'd be with him for the whole way," Powell said. "I don't quit on long patrols."...
Dave Trowbridge slams Rush Limbaugh's Fort Marcy Park comment. He'd be right to do so, except what doesn't get included with a bare quote is that, according to those who were listening, Rush was laughing throughout, and it was obviously a joke. I'd call it a joke in bad taste. (I actually sent an e-mail to Rush saying he was way out-of-line. I should have guessed it was a joke. Anyone who actually listens to Rush, as I do occasionally, knows he's not into conspiracy theories.)
But now it will circulate endlessly, and give the close-minded an excuse to stay close-minded. (Much as if I used some loony comment from the DU to characterize people on the left, and ignore what they have to say.)
April 19, 2004
“But you killed all those jobs!”
This is fascinating, on governmental reform in New Zealand:
...When we started this process with the Department of Transportation, it had 5,600 employees. When we finished, it had 53. When we started with the Forest Service, it had 17,000 employees. When we finished, it had 17. When we applied it to the Ministry of Works, it had 28,000 employees. I used to be Minister of Works, and ended up being the only employee. In the latter case, most of what the department did was construction and engineering, and there are plenty of people who can do that without government involvement. And if you say to me, “But you killed all those jobs!” – well, that’s just not true. The government stopped employing people in those jobs, but the need for the jobs didn’t disappear. I visited some of the forestry workers some months after they’d lost their government jobs, and they were quite happy. They told me that they were now earning about three times what they used to earn – on top of which, they were surprised to learn that they could do about 60 percent more than they used to! The same lesson applies to the other jobs I mentioned...(via BrothersJudd Blog)You Big Government lovers ought to stop bitching about Bush. Things could be much worse for you...
Actually, the article is so amazing, I'm wondering if it's true! Maybe it's a utopian fantasy...anybody know? I should Google it, but I'm feeling lazy...
More thoughts on the previous post...
In 1944 we investigated the intelligence failures that led to our being surprised at Pearl Harbor. But the whole exercise was futile, because the world where those failures happened vanished utterly on December 7, 1941. The investigation was a little like the reverse of those reenactments of Civil War battles. A glance now is enough to tell us that our plump suburbanite re-enactors are far removed in spirit from the slaughter-lands of Cold Harbor and Petersburg and the Jerusalem Turnpike...
Same with 9/11. The investigation only makes sense if we believe that 9/11 was a one-off, a fluke, and if it hadn't happened we would still be in the world of 9/10. Or that we are in the world of 9/10. The alternative view is that some other attack would have happened if 9/11 hadn't, and that 9/10 was a dream-world we can't return to, and which has precious few lessons for us now. Like soft Sunday mornings on the golf links in Honolulu. Time will tell which view is right. But the plan of the John Kerry types, to slide past the issue, to not take a clear position--unh unh. It's too late for that.
One characteristic of the Isolationists was that they talked of WWII as "Roosevelt's War," not our war. It's interesting to watch now as the same sorts try to make this "Bush's War." One of the less appetizing of the Isolationists was Joe Kennedy. Bad feelings about him were later overlaid by the heroic war service of his sons, and the popularity of JFK. But who is now claiming that the Iraq campaign was concocted in Texas to gain votes? Joe's youngest son Teddy! I suspect the overall view of the Kennedy Family in history is not going to be good.
Speaking of Civil War reenactors, there are some guys who really do it right; living on corn meal and rancid bacon, and huddling together under ragged blankets at night to keep from freezing. If you are interested, read Confederates in the Attic.
Trying to avoid the implications
Thinking about the previous post...I'm hearing various interpretations about Gorelick --but it really doesn't matter.
The commission should be derailed, because it's useless partisan bullshit (Dems will succeed in pinning 9/11 on Bush like they succeeded in pinning Enron on Bush, which is to say not-at-all.) --but it doesn't matter.
What matters is that on 9/11 Bush and his Administration realized that we were at war. Not limited war, not narrow-war, not sort-of-war, not war-unless-we-can-prevent-it. War.
And ever since then many people (notably many Democrats, but not all) have been wriggling and squirming and writhing trying to avoid the implications of that. Trying to avoid taking a position. Or avoid admitting they don't have a position, or do have a position, but one that's not exactly on our side...John Kerry is really the perfect leader of his party.
Mostly trying to avoid the implications.
Such as that squawking and flapping and finger-pointing when things get tough is wrong! Is encouraging the enemy and endangering our forces.And one thing that history teaches is that even those who are pro-war don't get all the implications at first. It takes time to sink in. After a while the McClellans are sidelined, and the Grants and Shermans move to the front. If you are not reading Belmont Club, you should be. Read this post, on how we are really just starting to realize we are at war. "The United States has been dragged unwillingly into war and mentally at least the process has not yet been completed, but it is proceeding apace..."
That it is their duty to support their country and the President. (And part of that duty includes constructive criticism.)
That concepts like duty and honor and patriotism aren't so dead as some people have hoped.
That people can no longer slide by with vague tranzi world-will-be-better-with-more-UN mushy thinking anymore.
That in a war you can't win all the battles.
Another thing we learn from history. Who were the anti-war leaders before Pearl Harbor? The America-Firsters, the Isolationists? Do you remember any of them? And the Republican leadership, which had been pandering to the Isolationists? They are gone, they are forgotten. They were discredited by Pearl Harbor. The coming election is, in some ways, a waste of time. Baring some strange calamity, the Democrats are not going to win. With every week, with every battle, it will sink in deeper that we are at war. And every attempt of Democrats to squirm away from that fact will discredit them further.
[NOTE: I don't mean to say that the anti-war and limited-war people are necessarily wrong in all their criticisms. Nor were the Isolationists all wrong. Much of what they said was painfully true. But both groups avoided the central fact, that we were at war. So they were/are irrelevant.]
...The United States is finally beginning to think like a belligerent, despite it's best efforts not to. The United States Marines are seeking private donations -- not government money -- to set up a number of television stations in Iraq to broadcast our side of the story through a program called Spirit of America...Think about it. History will criticize the Bush Administration for missing the obvious. But it will utterly condemn Hollywood and NBC and ABC and CBS and CNN. They have no excuse. No excuse for not jumping in and helping. (Nor has the NYT, which did nothing while the WSJ helped out.) Not to mention their strange symbiosis with terrorists, who provide stories in exchange for publicity. We hardly notice it now, because we are used to it. But as the reality of war sinks in...
April 18, 2004
Do not connect dots, do not collect $200
Am I the only one who finds it odd how, when people of a leftish sort find themselves being scrutinized for doing something questionable, they seem to immediately receive death threats? Of course those mordacious conservatives are capable of any outrage, but still...it's very convenient, confers instant victimhood, and seems to happen with suspicious regularity...
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Jamie Gorelick, a member of the commission investigating the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, said Saturday that she received death threats this week after a number of conservatives alleged that her former work in the Justice Department may have contributed to failures leading to the attacks...(via Judd)I think the problem with Gorelick is not conflict-of-interest, but that she withheld important information.
If the commission were really a nonpartisan effort to understand why things went wrong, and it was trying to dig out the reasons why we didn't connect the dots...and the person who wrote the policy, the actual you-may-not-connect-dots policy, is just sitting there, fat 'n happy, saying nothing...
A lunatic situation. At the very least she has deliberately sabotaged the investigation.
(And of course there's the usual press bias. Her opponents are "conservatives," but they don't label Gorelick a "liberal.")
an in-depth question...
I recommend this post and discussion at Winds of Change
In the comments section of "Daily Kos - Again", Amy Alkon asks:"...as a sort of common-sense-loving moderate...I keep waiting for somebody to offer me a reasonable explanation of the following:That's an in-depth question, Amy, and it demands an in-depth answer. So let's look at the situation as if you were in charge back in 2002. Then tell me what you want to do instead....
The US is attacked in the most major way ever on our shores, by Osama Bin Ladin and co. We respond, not by decimating Osama and his evil followers, but by waging war on...Iraq! ....Come on -- somebody answer me - not with defending the current administration in mind as you write every word - but by persuading me with the (supposed) common sense behind what we did."
April 17, 2004
Andy Rooney included in an editorial five questions that should be asked of our soldiers in the field. Blackfive dealt with the editorial briskly here, but passed the Q's on to those overseas. Sgt Hook, in Afghanistan, solicited anonymous answers from his troops. Here's one:
... 3. Do the orders you get handed down from one headquarters to another, all far removed from the fighting, seem sensible, or do you think our highest command is out of touch with the reality of your situation?Andy Rooney, who should have retired years ago, probably didn't imagine that the Internet would allow his questions to be promptly answered.
Well, the Commanding General has been here several times, has flown on our aircraft on numerous occasions as has every leader in the chain of command to include the Secretary of the Army, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and the Commander in Chief himself went to Iraq. If anything, I’d say the press was out of touch with the reality of our situation...
The questions are obviously rhetorical. The one above is an example of the logical Fallacy Of Presupposition, where the form of the question presupposes the answer. It's funny how often you get stuff like that from people who claim Bush is dishonest...
April 16, 2004
And yet, and yet...
I wanted to post part of this piece by Bill Quick, partly because it's really fine stuff about life in San Francisco, and partly because some leftish-bloggers I've encountered excoriate him as the very type of the ranting right-wing evil blogger. That bugs me, since I once met Bill, so it's fun to present a little of the real person...
...I heard the series of shots that killed the policeman in the story above. I heard eight shots, in rapid succession (though not the distinctive chatter of full-auto fire) , sharp pops that sounded to me like pistol or light caliber rifle fire. This is my neighborhood. This is the neighborhood I live in. [Bayview] Most San Franciscans, when they learn where I live, recoil in horror. "You live there?" they gasp. "How can you stand it?"I used to live on Mission Street near Holly Park. Also an iffy neighborhood, with whites a minority. But I never met an unpleasant neighbor. And the black church downstairs, a tiny storefront affair, had singing that was out of this world.
I smile inwardly. These are the same "good" San Franciscans who marched for civil rights back in the sixties, who would never, ever use the "N" word, who vote for every nanny-state do-gooder program that funnels taxes to black people collectively, who worship at the altar of affirmative action, and who, on occasion, even try their hand at a bit of ebonics, to show how "down with it" they are.
They are appalled at even the thought of living where I do.
And yet, and yet... My neighborhood is about sixty percent black, twenty percent Hispanic, ten percent Asian, and ten white. Some of the worst, most dangerous public housing projects are within five or six blocks of my house. But my neighbors are good people. We are like most other neighbors. We wave at each other, stop and chat, exchange tips on how to encourage the grass on our tiny lawns, bitch about the condo association, worry about our spouses and our kids and our car payments, gripe about the politicians, and in general are indistinguishable from any other group of suburban town-house owning, mortgage carrying, weed-whacker-wielding, backyard-barbecuing denizens you could find anywhere in the U.S.
The "bad part of town," for us, at least, is "over the top of the hill." We don't go there, not if we can help it, none of us black or white, yellow or brown. It's dangerous up there. That's the land of welfare, subsidized housing, entitlement, ghettoization -- and drug wars and gangs and murder at the drop of a hat. Yet even there, the hard core of the hard core - those who do the actual slanging and banging - number less than a hundred. The rest are hangers-on and wannabes, but they aren't killers. Not yet. And everybody else pays the price for the reluctance of the government - for racist reasons or whatever - to pull those hundred off the street, lock them up, and throw away the key...
...We've got some of the best weather in San Francisco, some of the best views, the sort of quiet you usually only find in suburbs, the sound of wind in the trees, the smell of the Bay, and the occasional red-tailed hawk soaring high overhead. My roses are about to burst into bloom, and I've been harvesting my own kumquats and oranges for weeks now...
What fascinates me is how in the city things can change drastically from one block to another. When I lived there I never walked east. Things got dangerous in that direction, and I doubt I ever went half a block. But I would take long walks at night, in the other direction, with one block to the west taking me into Diamond Heights, another world entirely.
Charlene saw the funeral procession for the policeman today. She said it was at least three miles long, with hundreds of motorcycle cops.
April 15, 2004
That's what a Loyal Opposition would sound like...
Being on the left does not have to mean hating America and being soft on tyranny. The moderate left used to be staunchly anti-totalitarian. Reading this piece by Paul Berman in the NYT is like reading something from better days...
...Instead, it was Senator John Kerry who made a public appeal to Mr. Zapatero to keep troops in Iraq.Now that's what a Loyal Opposition would sound like. If you don't like the way the other party is doing things, look for a chance to roll up your sleeves, get involved, and show how you can do better...
I wish the Democrats would follow Mr. Kerry's example and take it a step further by putting together a small contingent of Democrats with international reputations, a kind of shadow government — not to undermine American policy but to achieve what Mr. Bush seems unable to do. The Democrats ought to explain the dangers of modern totalitarianism and the goals of the war. They ought to make the call for patience and sacrifice that Mr. Bush has steadfastly avoided. And the Democratic contingent ought to go around the world making that case.
The Democrats ought to thank and congratulate the countries that have sent troops, and ought to remind the economically powerful Switzerlands of this world that they, too, have responsibilities. The Democrats ought to assure everyone that support for a successful outcome in Iraq does not have to mean support for George W. Bush. And how should the Democrats make these several arguments? They should speak about something more than the United Nations and stability in Iraq. They should talk about fascism. About death cults. About the experiences of the 20th century. About the need for democratic solidarity.
This is not a project for after the election — this is a project for right now. America needs allies. Today, and not just tomorrow. And America needs leaders. If the Bush administration cannot rally support around the world, let other people give it a try.
I'm guessing that most activist Democrat types will find Mr Berman's ideas less appealing than a proposal for colonizing the moons of Jupiter. But I would love to be proved wrong.
Here's a valid criticism you can make about the Iraq Campaign...
It seems almost unbelievable, but Iraqis are still getting their news from Al Jazeera! Madness. We should have had independent TV stations starting up in the first week. And we haven't done it in the first year! Those of you who grasp hungrily at every US mistake, make the most of it...
But wait! I have another idea. Why not take a break from being negative,and do something positive. Click on this link, and you will find out how our baby killers Marines are doing something about the problem! Just hit the PayPal button, as we have, and make a contribution. (In the privacy of your own home, no one need ever know how un-hip you are...)
Update: After mention in the WSJ, the project has now raised $600,000! Are we gettin' serious, or what?
In this post I mentioned Reagan sleeping during the Gulf of Sidra incursion. There are some comments, with Andrew finding it indecent, and me arguing that it was a gesture of confidence that our guys would appreciate.
Does anybody actually know what the aviators and other sailors involved thought or how they reacted? (It's a question that makes me appreciate the Internet, if it happened today a quick Google would answer the question...)
A cozy club, no Jews allowed...
It's good to keep in mind, when you hear President Bush criticized for being a unilateralist cowboy who wounds the feelings of our "traditional allies," that ONE of the traditional congenial nuanced positions he rejects is Anti-semitism.
It's always disguised, in the proper nuanced fashion, as support for the Palestinians. But it's pretty obvious what a lie that is; no one protests if Arab governments mistreat Palestinians. Or even slaughter them en mass. It's only Israel that's bad. In fact Israel is the worst country in the world. The cause of most 3d-World problems. The only nation that is never allowed to sit on the UN Security Council! Ahhh, that "International Community." A cozy club, no Jews allowed.
Anti-semitism (always disguised as support for the Palestinians) is the norm in sophisticated left-leaning intellectual and European circles. It's the expected thing in international diplomacy. It's the norm in our State Department, —-condemning, for instance, Israel for retaliating against terrorists, even as we were hunting for Bin Laden in Afghanistan!
That's part of what John Kerry is tacitly accepting. That's part of what George Bush was rejecting when he said Tuesday:
...The violence we are seeing in Iraq is familiar. The terrorist who takes hostages, or plants a roadside bomb near Baghdad is serving the same ideology of murder that kills innocent people on trains in Madrid, and murders children on buses in Jerusalem, and blows up a nightclub in Bali, and cuts the throat of a young reporter for being a Jew...Finally! Truth. Straight talk. End of bullshit. Yes yes YES!
The nerve of the man, actually suggesting that it is just as bad to murder Jews in Israel as is is to murder Frenchmen in Paris or Americans in New York. Decades worth of nuanced diplomacy and UN Resolutions just tossed out like rubbish.
And do you know why he's talking like that? (Apart from an obvious personal dislike of lies and hypocrisy?) It's not American Jews he's trying to please, they mostly vote Democrat. It's the Republican base—you know, those racist fascistic neanderthals. This is from a memoir by David Frum, who worked in the Bush White House. (page 259)
"What do you think our folks think of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?" Bush asked Rove one spring day.That's ME he's talking about. I'm one of Bush's people. I beamed my exact thoughts to Karl Rove and it worked!
Rove answered, "They think it's part of your war on terror."...
I'm going to write it again in purple ink.
"What do you think our folks think of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?" Bush asked Rove one spring day.
Rove answered, "They think it's part of your war on terror."...
April 14, 2004
JOHN PODHORETZ in the New York Post :
...Rather than apologize to the 9/11 families for the terror strike that day, the president said the responsibility for the attacks rested squarely on the shoulders of Osama bin Laden. And it's a mark of how demented the debate has gotten in the past few weeks that this simple statement of truth seemed bracing and even daring...Demented. Isn't that the fact.
American's don't want apologies, they want the heads of terrorists on pikes in the Rose Garden. Or hey, I got a better idea—over the gate of the castle at Disneyland! Myself, I think Bin Laden's dead. He was always a blabbermouth, we would be hearing more from him if he were alive.
But there's lots more where he came from...
Al Qaeda chief apears in sideshow...
Herald Sun: Alleged al-Qaeda Iraq chief spotted [14apr04]: THE alleged mastermind of the al-Qaeda operations in Iraq, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, is believed to be in the city of Fallujah, which is under US marine siege, a senior coalition spokesman said today.(via Captain's Quarters)
"Zarqawi is believed to be in Fallujah or nearby," said Dan Senor.
Zarqawi has a $US10 million ($13.07 million) bounty on his head.
Mr President, Do you feel a sense of personal responsibility for mispronouncing "nuclear?"
Ed Moltzen has put together a batch of just the questions from the Press conference. If you read them together the effect is...interesting.
If us Republicans spend gazillions on campaign ads, it will merely serve to offset the blatant bias of the press...
One thing that struck me during the press conference. The media wing of the Democratic Party is pushing the "Bush is to blame for 9/11" thing hard. And it's going to backfire bigtime. As Bush said, it's Osama Bin Laden who's to blame.
The contrast between people who push blame and a President who is pushing the War is going to be glaring.
A Kerry-supporter I know said that Bush allowed ideology to keep him from fighting terrorists. Talk about projection! Wow! And if the Dems want to push the line that Iraq is a sideshow from the WoT, they will be forced more and more to claim that the the fighting in Iraq is just honest Vietnamese Iraqi peasants spontaneously rising up against American tyranny. That'll play well with the voters. In Berkeley.
The position of an opposition party in wartime is tough. I sympathize. We Republicans were there in WWII. It was misery. But wars call for sacrifice. And the path of duty is clear. Constructive criticism is fine. But denigrating and undercutting our war efforts is not. Especially in a case like the invasion of Iraq, where most Democrat senators voted to authorize it. They voted to commit our troops, our credibility, our honor, to that fight.
Even if they think we ought to have done something different, their duty now is to support their country.
Especially now that it is becoming clear that we are fighting against one of the worst terrorist groups in the world, whose tactic is not to defeat us in battle, but to destroy our will to fight with propaganda and a seemingly endless series of terrorist attacks. The Democrats and the press are starting to enter into a symbiosis with Hezbollah, all working together to suggest that our efforts are hopeless.
If Democrat leaders have a better plan for fighting the war, their duty is to present it clearly and forcefully. And then support whatever plan is decided upon, without the endless sniping and carping that we see now. The Constitution gives the Executive Branch a lot of power to act during a crisis. But it has to face the voters afterward. If our war plan really is bad, the Democrats will win big in future elections.
But to undercut and sabotage our efforts while the battle is raging is wrong. It's unpatriotic. (There, I've said it. If you guys don't like it, make a case. With facts and rational arguments. Not by sniveling, "Mommmmy, Johnny called me unpatriotic. Tell him to stop!" )
April 13, 2004
Two good points by Hobbs
This, about the press conf :
Can't anybody ask a substantive question anymore? How about, "Mr. President, what will you do about Iran's reported financing of Muqtada al Sadr's militia?" Nope. They didn't ask. They don't want to go there. Because "there" might be information that would once again remind Americans of the high stakes, and of the importance in continuing the fight. Because "there" might be more War on Terror - and the media is much more interested in the War on Bush.I didn't even notice the lack of substantive questions, until I read this. How depressing, that one has come to expect so little from them...
Any serious War on Terror can not be won - indeed, it can not even be said at such as war is seriously being fought - until we take on the Mad Mullahs of Iran. The good news: that's starting to happen. The bad news: It's Iran that dictated the time and place of events, not us, as the evidence mounts that Iran's Islamofacist regime is backing renegade iraqi Shiite "cleric" Muqtada al-Sadr's terroristic attacks against Coalition forces, civilian aid workers and Iraqis. But I suspect we'll soon regain the inititative. The road to pacifying Iraq and winning the War on Terror runs through the inner sanctum of the Iranian mullacracy - and doing it before the Mad Mullahs of Tehran complete production of a nuclear weapon.I was just reading about a Clinton Administration report on which rogue nations were the most dangerous. Guess which three they picked...
Iran is the worst of the terror-supporting states. Bush probably isn't in a strong enough political position to challenge Iran directly—The Democrats, the Europeans and the "International Community"-types are like a practiced team of Lilliputians, all with the shared goal of tying down America. Bush has to use much of his energy pulling off the strings they throw over him.
Our liberation of Iraq is a deadly threat to the Mullahs. They know it well; they don't think Iraq is a sideshow. So the bad news that they are trying to sabotage Iraq contains the good news that we are fighting them at last. And in a larger sense it is we who have "dictated the time and place of events." They are reacting to our going into Iraq. They are forced to react, and in a real sense are on the defensive.
I'm impressed once again by the brilliance of the Iraq strategy. I think, quite simply, that the appeasers have missed the boat. It's too late, the battle is joined. The Vulcans understood, as I certainly didn't, that a large portion of the Western world is no longer willing to fight, even after so obvious a portent as 9/11. But America, at least, is in too deep in to consider surrender.
Betting on liberty...
Don't miss this Steyn piece in the Telegraph, Liberty and imperialism don't mix. :
...Speaking of Hawaii, why is it a state rather than a colony? It's nowhere near the rest of America. Its flag even has the Union flag in it, just like the ensigns of all those other dots in the Pacific, such as Fiji and the Cook Islands. Yet Hawaii enjoys the same place in the American federation as New Hampshire. The framework that the Founding Fathers devised to unite a baker's dozen of small ethnically homogeneous colonies on the East Coast proved strong enough to expand across a continent and halfway round the globe to Honolulu. Had Britain in the 1880s or 1890s decided to transform its empire into a federation, it might still be in business today. Certainly, it could hardly be in worse shape than the moth-eaten façade of the Commonwealth.America is an idea, not a place. We could all pack up and move to space habitats, and still be America. And it's kind of like a franchise outfit. Newcomers like Hawaii can follow the template, open their own burger stand, and be a success..
The very reason that Hawaii is a state is the same reason that America makes a poor imperialist: it is uncomfortable with colonial subjects; it lacks the benevolent paternalism necessary for empire. In Iraq, they're betting not on imperialism, but on liberty. That's a long shot, given the awful passivity and fatalism of the Arab world. But it's not inherently more preposterous than the fake Hashemite kingdom imposed on Mesopotamia by Britain. America may fail. But it will be an American failure. Imperial nostalgics who wish to live vicariously will have to look elsewhere...
by Tim Graham at the Corner:
May I add that this whole emphasis on apologies and admissions of error is especially lame coming from reporters at the TV networks, which make on-air corrections about as often as we change presidents.
Just a thought on the President's press conference. To answer Jay Rosen's question, I think the press conference was a smart move. He handled himself well before a hostile audience.
And millions of ordinary Americans listening will say, "the press is not on our side." Every question was intended to badger the President into admitting mistakes, or apologizing. Or to highlight anything negative. Those reporters are indistinguishable from Democrat politicians. (Which is not too surprising, 90% of them are Democrats.) Every question was intended to make the President look bad.
They have no flavor of optimism or hope, or of courage in the face of danger. They share no dreams of making the world a better place. And I bet they don't get a lump in the throat when they hear the Star Spangled Banner. (I'd prefer to be wrong in all this, but that's my take.)
That press conference was the campaign in miniature. And I think the Republicans are going to win in a landslide.
And i have no idea whether or not the President feels like he has made mistakes. But he is absolutely correct to refuse the demand to admit mistakes. The people asking have no interest in "forgive and forget." They are probing for weaknesses, and will exploit them relentlessly.
#154: Ivory Tower empty...
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD
After a column full of anti-Bush, anti-war rantings Paul Krugman in Snares and Delusions (04/13/04) finally gets to a "better solution" in this last paragraph.
"The best we can realistically hope for now is to turn power over to relatively moderate Iraqis with a real base of popular support. Yes, that mainly means Islamic clerics. The architects of the war will complain bitterly, and claim that we could have achieved far more. But they've been wrong about everything so far - and if we keep following their advice, Iraq really will turn into another Vietnam."
"Turn power over" and "relatively moderate" are so broad as to include everything from handing Sistani the keys to developing a pluralistic democracy operating under an Islamic umbrella. The devil, as usual, is in the details. Krugman's posturing profundity was never made clearer than in this absurd column. His ivory tower is as empty as his suit.
April 12, 2004
What if we got there 20 minutes earlier?
From an article in the Los Angeles Times: Fundamentally, Bush Works on Faith:
...The president's interpretation of Jesus' parables directly influences his moral vision for foreign policy. Rejecting the notion of realpolitik — that cold, hard self-interest should be the sole guide of policy — Bush embraces the idea that the United States has a moral obligation to help those in trouble.It's the followers of realpolitik who are evading reality. It's dreams and ideas and the spirit that drive the world. Not selfishness and peevish calculation.
His friend Doug Wead, a former aide to George H.W. Bush, recounted for us a discussion he had with the current president a few years ago on the story of the good Samaritan. Wead was reminding Bush of the story about our moral obligation to help strangers in distress when the president, in typically blunt fashion, asked: What if we got there 20 minutes earlier, when the traveler to Jericho was being attacked. Don't we have an obligation to help him then too? Such thinking not only influenced his decision to liberate Iraq but also fueled his commitment to combat AIDS in Africa...(via Judd )
Strange dreamers arose from the Islamic stew and are trying to destroy us. But look, we have sturdy dreamers of our own! Perhaps Tony Blair and George Bush are just a "last hurrah" of Christendom, before the dull spirit of selfishness and calculation and safety submerges all. Or maybe not.
It's no wonder the Ultra's and the ankle-biters are acting rabid. Marx and Lenin are now just names kids cram before the history test, and realism has dwindled into appeasement and fearfulness. While a 2,000 year-old story, just a few sentences, stirs our hearts and helps to set armies in motion.
Line of Death
My earlier post, Remember what General Marshall said, reminds me of another incident. During the Reagan Administration, we sent a carrier into the Gulf of Sidra, to puncture Gaddafi's claim that it was Libyan territorial water. (Remember the "Line of Death?") One Libyan plane was shot down.
The operation went just as planned, no Americans were hurt, and, since it was nighttime here, Reagan's aides had no reason to wake him. That was a good indication that our forces were being trusted to work with competence and efficiency. And an extremely good sign that we had left behind LBJ's disastrous micro-managing of military operations from the White House.
But what a howl of faux outrage the Democrats set up! How could the President sleep when our pilots might be in danger! It was heartless, it was careless, and probably a sign of senility. Art Buchwald even titled his next book: "While Reagan Slept."
It's depressing to think that the same intellectual bankruptcy characterizes them today. And that they are probably not even aware of the bad impression they are giving to our military personnel.
Word Note from the Dog Pack
David Schuler, an interesting blogger with a lot of critters, writes:
Starting a little after 10:00am until around 3:00pm is quiet time in the dog pack. Everyone sleeps.Crepuscular is a word I've encountered many times, but I never knew what it meant. I just inferred a meaning from the context!
Human beings are diurnal. We feel most energetic during the day. Cats are nocturnal. They are most active at night. Dogs along with deer and rabbits are crepuscular (from Latin creper, dark). They are most active at dawn and dusk....
Remember what General Marshall said...
A partisan Democrat mountebank writes:
...Vacation gibes are usually unfair. But with the situation in Iraq so critical, shouldn't the president be at the White House? It's a full-time job, comes with a decent salary.It's not only unfair, it's unbelievably stupid. It's stupid partly because Bush is just as in-touch with Iraq and the world at his ranch as he is in the White House. He's in touch, and busy, wherever he goes.
And also because the Jimmy Carter-type presidency, with the president personally fussing over every detail, and trapped in the White House during any crisis, is a disastrously bad management style. Any leader of a large enterprise needs to build a strong team, and then trust them to take action. Especially in war!
Do you know what General Marshall said, when the shocking news of what came to be called The Battle of the Bulge reached Washington? And people wanted to send anxious messages to Eisenhower? He said, "Let's just leave Ike alone for a while."
Bush being in Texas is a good sign. A sign of confidence in our military, and in Ambassador Bremer. Also, the situation in Iraq is not critical. Militarily, there's nothing going on we can't handle.
The Democrats seem to have the notion (they never spell-out their beliefs clearly, but it shows) that a war is only successful if we don't have to fight. Or take risks.
I wish Kerry or other Democrats had the wit to realize, and say, that even if being in Iraq is a total mistake, it would be disastrous to pull out under fire. To say clearly that we are in a war now because Mogadishu and Beruit and the Iran Hostage Crisis taught our enemies to attack us.
Or even just have the honesty to say whatever it is they believe...
April 11, 2004
"they have faith in our weakness"
Don't miss Tony Blair's splendid piece in the Guardian. This part struck me, because it touches what I'm worried about most right now.
...But our greatest threat, apart from the immediate one of terrorism, is our complacency. When some ascribe, as they do, the upsurge in Islamic extremism to Iraq, do they really forget who killed whom on 11 September 2001? When they call on us to bring the troops home, do they seriously think that this would slake the thirst of these extremists, to say nothing of what it would do to the Iraqis?"they have faith in our weakness." ...Think about that.
Or if we scorned our American allies and told them to go and fight on their own, that somehow we would be spared? If we withdraw from Iraq, they will tell us to withdraw from Afghanistan and, after that, to withdraw from the Middle East completely and, after that, who knows? But one thing is for sure: they have faith in our weakness just as they have faith in their own religious fanaticism. And the weaker we are, the more they will come after us...
There are about eight really good reasons for us to be in Iraq. And one of them is to try to undo the damage from the many times we ran from trouble, the many times we let ourselves be bullied. An enormous debt has accrued, at hideous interest. And we will never be at peace again until we change the perception that we will run from bloodshed. We had to choose our best ground, and fight! (And it's the very fact that the task is difficult, that makes Iraq suitable to the purpose.)
You may scoff at me as bloodthirsty. But I'm exactly the opposite. It's the people who have talked us into running away from trouble who have blood on their hands. We have a big war now exactly because we have run from smaller conflicts before. And if we falter now there will be a much bigger bill to pay later. And my children will inherit it.
Here's one of those whose hands are dripping with invisible blood:
I think John Kerry has the background, the war experience, somebody that's seen war, understands war, and the foreign policy experience to give us a new opportunity to see this resolved, where we can bring Americans home with honor. That's what we're all interested in. And I think he's the man to do it. --Senator Kennedy, on Larry King Live [and similar with Kennedy's speech at the Brookings Institution PDF]Pure essence of Mogadishu. No mention of victory. No mention of doing the right thing however difficult.
No mention of the terrible price that other peoples will pay if we are weak. We saved some American lives (in the short run—and lost thousands in the long run) by running from Mogadishu. But we almost certainly condemned tens of thousands of Somalis to death in the chaos we left behind. That's "invisible blood." And "peace activists" care nothing for those they kill.
No mention, no thought, of the terrible danger to our people in broadcasting a wish to hurry home. It's a lead pipe cinch that terrorists are picking up Kennedy's drift right now, and nodding, and thinking "The Americans are flinching. We've got to keep hitting them." Senator Kennedy is killing Americans and Iraqis with his words. "...bring Americans home with honor." That's what Nixon said of Vietnam. The terrorists are perfectly aware of what it means.
But even worse is the moral vacuum in people like Kerry and Kennedy. I've never heard them suggest that there is anything worth fighting and dying for. They seem to take it for granted that our goal is safety, that life's goal is safety. And they are supposedly Christians! That's just crazy. "Christianity, the Religion of Safety. Join our Church and learn to flinch at the Time of Tribulation."
I mean, I'd love to be totally safe. Danger scares me. But to pursue safety as a goal is choosing to be dead and pickled while you're still alive. Both for individuals and for nations.
Impossible things sometimes happen before breakfast...
A snippet from Roger Simon's blog:
...I noticed below a blogger from the Czech Republic--a place I know well and love--posted that any optimism about the situation in Iraq is delusional. Well, it certainly is if you think it is. Or, as the great Pirandello famously wrote, "It Is So If You Think So." One would hope that Czechs of all people would know the results of giving up...When I was growing up "Czechoslovakia" was just a word. It wasn't part of the real world; I never heard of anyone going there. The Iron Curtain was permanent.
We should remember things like this when the nay-sayers start wallowing in the impossibility of everything...
Of course many of today's doom-sayers are phonies...if a Democrat were put into the White House the clouds of gloom would dissipate miraculously, much like the "homeless" disappeared from the news the moment Bill Clinton became President. Until then, "any optimism is delusional."
the corn that makes the holy bread...
From THE EVERLASTING MERCY
. . . . . . .
O Christ who holds the open gate,
O Christ who drives the furrow straight,
O Christ the plough, O Christ the laughter
Of holy white birds flying after,
Lo all my heart's field red and torn,
And though wilt bring the young green corn
The young green corn divinely springing,
The young green corn for ever singing;
And when the field is fresh and fair,
Thy blessèd feet shall glitter there.
And we will walk the weeded field,
And tell the golden harvest's yield,
The corn that makes the holy bread
By which the soul of man is fed,
The holy bread, the food unpriced,
Thy everlasting mercy, Christ.-- John Masefield
The first candle...
It’s the day that brought me back to life. It’s the 9th of April and I’m free, and they will not steel my joy again and they will not silence me. A year ago at the same date, the thieves and criminals prevented me from celebrating my freedom in the open air, and today thieves, criminals and fanatics are doing the same, but they will not steal my happiness that is making my soul fly and dance with joy and they can’t stop this.A dozen things rush into my head, but Mohammed's words don't need any amplification...
A year ago, words failed me as I met the 1st American soldier, and I still remember his name, “corporal, Adam” and all I could utter was “thank you!” how could I ever put my whole life in few words? How could I have thanked that soldier enough? How could I have told him what it meant to me to see him and his comrades-who brought me back to life- at last? Thank you Adam, Lieutenant Antonio, Captain Brian Curtis and all the coalition soldiers who I can’t remember their names, and those I never met.
It’s the 9th of April and I feel safe! And I don’t care what those ‘political experts’ on the newspapers and TV channels, say about the ‘occupation’, deteriorated security and ‘unemployment’. You can’t understand this, because you never experienced real fear this long. Let me tell you about it, as I’m one of those who passed Saddam’s filthy test of life.
The statue fell and with it, horror fell. You don’t know what it means to be scared to death most of your life, brothers and sisters. I knew that and I faced it during the reign of evil and darkness. I was afraid to talk, I wasn't allowed to think and I wasn't allowed to feel…I wasn't allowed to love...
... Yes, it’s the 9th of April. I lit the 1st candle today to celebrate my 1st year, as a free man and no one will prevent me from celebrating. I, who the earth is no longer enough to contain my feelings, I who have wings now, and I don’t have to carry an ID…I’m Iraqi. I have the right to wander through my country southwards and northwards, without being stopped by someone to ask me who I am and where I’m going. I’m the son of the 9th of April...
April 10, 2004
Old Glory, pt. 2...
This is the companion photo to the one I posted last week.
Army Special Forces reservist Maj. David Menegon, who has just arrived, at the Old Greenwich train station in Greenwich, Conn., is greeted by his sister, Elizabeth Menegon. He had been deployed to Iraq for 14 months.
Mel Greer, Greenwich (Conn.) Time / AP photo From Army Times, 4/2/04
(I have to confess to a bit of an evil grin, remembering how "anti-war" activist types, when challenged in their logic, snivel that their opponents are "wrapping themselves in the flag!" What sour little midgets they are, compared to these guys...)
Suppose I was criticizing you. And I screamed to the world that everything you do is bad. Your clothes, your politics, your smell, your accent, that you talk too much, that you won't contribute to the conversation........(and also that everything about me is wise, noble and superior)
How credible would I be? D'you suppose people might start tuning out? Maybe believing just the opposite of what I say?
Something like that seems to be happening in national politics. These numbers made me smile.
...Seventy-one percent (71%) of Americans said they followed news stories of the Rice testimony somewhat or very closely.Well, that's exactly what Clarke did. His best friend is working for the Kerry campaign, a "media frenzy" is what he needed to sell his book—so suddenly everything Bush did is wrong, and everything Clinton did was right. He changed his story completely, because you don't get a media frenzy by defending Bush. (In fact you don't get any media at all.)
Among those who were following the story closely, Rice was viewed favorably by 56% and unfavorably by 28%.
Rice's numbers are far better than those for Richard Clarke, the former Clinton and Bush official whose testimony two weeks ago kicked off a media frenzy. Following yesterday's testimony, Clarke is viewed favorably by just 27% of voters and unfavorably by 42%.
An earlier survey found that half of all Americans thought Clarke made his accusations against President Bush to help sell books or help the Kerry campaign...(thanks to Rand)
Clarke's a phony, and people aren't fooled!
And so are the other Ultras who keep telling us everything about Bush is bad. He's too unilateral, but he's not acting unilaterally with North Korea. He believes in preemptive war, but he didn't do something-or-other preemptive before 9/11. He's a moron and he's a devious mastermind.
North Korea has hideous death-camps, but that's not news. If a civilian is killed by mistake in Baghdad, that's news, and the Ultras gloat over it. Just because it might "rub off" on Bush. It's really their own dyspeptic monomania that's being revealed; nobody could be as horrid as the George Bush we are hearing about. And the voters will stop listening.
A narrow victory or a lasting peace
... That is why we must address the source of the problem. We must stay on the offensive to find and defeat the terrorists wherever they live, hide and plot around the world. If we learned anything from September 11th, it is that we cannot wait while dangers gather.
After the September 11th attacks, our nation faced hard choices: We could fight a narrow war against Al Qaida and the Taliban, or we could fight a broad war against a global menace. We could seek a narrow victory, or we could work for a lasting peace and a better world.
President Bush has chosen the bolder course.-- Condoleezza Rice
Speaking of alternative histories...
The 9/11 Commission is making political hay by suggesting that Bush should have "acted" to prevent 9/11. Of course none of those Democrats would have supported him if he had done anything decisive. From Gregg Eastebrook's alternative history:
.... When dozens of U.S. soldiers were slain in gun battles with fighters in the Afghan mountains, public opinion polls showed the nation overwhelmingly opposed to Bush's action. Political leaders of both parties called on Bush to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan immediately. "We are supposed to believe that attacking people in caves in some place called Tora Bora is worth the life of even one single U.S. soldier?" former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey asked.
When an off-target U.S. bomb killed scores of Afghan civilians who had taken refuge in a mosque, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Aznar announced a global boycott of American products. The United Nations General Assembly voted to condemn the United States, and Washington was forced into the humiliating position of vetoing a Security Council resolution declaring America guilty of "criminal acts of aggression."
Bush justified his attack on Afghanistan, and the detention of 19 men of Arab descent who had entered the country legally, on grounds of intelligence reports suggesting an imminent, devastating attack on the United States. But no such attack ever occurred...
...Announcing his candidacy for the 2004 Republican presidential nomination, Senator John McCain said today that "George W. Bush was very foolish and naive; he didn't realize he was being pushed into this needless conflict by oil interests that wanted to seize Afghanistan to run a pipeline across it." McCain spoke at a campaign rally at the World Trade Center in New York City.
(via Betsy Newmark)
Until it didn't...
It's an old story that a country's strengths are its weaknesses. It is a national strength that Americans are reluctant to go to war. It is right that America has been slow to use its unmatched clout as a club to bend others to our will. It is just and admirable that the world's most powerful nation has to be provoked before it counterattacks.
It was an approach that worked. Until it didn't.
April 9, 2004
So naive we were
Stephen den Beste writes:
..Eastland contends that those revelations [referring to a report on atrocities and mass executions in Iraq] will end the discussion of whether the US was right to invade and remove Saddam, making clear that questions of WMDs and whether Bush lied are moot. I'm afraid Eastland is hopelessly naive. I once thought that myself...I was naive the same way. I thought people would surely realize that Saddam was waging a war against his own people. One that, in proportion to the size of the population, was one of the most destructive wars of our time. Surely those who are anti-war would be anti that war? At least a teensy bit?
... The last 12 months of political rhetoric has long since opened my eyes: "compassionate" leftists don't in the slightest care about people in the world who are tortured and maimed by their own governments. They only care about whether anyone is injured or killed by American military action. Far better that thousands of Iraqis die at the hands of Saddam's torturers than that a few hundred die because of an Anglo-American invasion to take Saddam out...
And then, I thought that the revelations that followed upon the liberation of Iraq...people clawing up the bones of loved-ones from out of the sand...the heart-rending tales of torture...surely those would touch the hearts of the Ultras? But their hearts are cold, cold, cold.
I thought the reaction to the revelations of the Nazi death camps was, well, the human norm. The normal way people react to these things. But come to think, there have been a lot of mass killings since then, with the world yawning every time.
Actually, the Nazis were vilified mostly as part of a propaganda campaign to identify them with conservatives, and with the right. A particularly nasty lie: They were Socialists, tricked-out in a few rags of nationalist and conservative rhetoric. Yet they've been used ever since to "justify" socialism, as a supposed "antidote" to the evils of the right. And the socialist mass-murders went on and on. Stalin's millions, Mao's millions, Pol Pot...And all of them apologized for and excused because they were "anti-fascist."
And now George W Bush is the new demon. And the Ultras are once again tolerating and protecting mass murder for their 'higher cause."
The martyrs of history were not fools...
You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing is worth dying for, when did this begin...? ...Should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots of Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard 'round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain! --Ronald Reagan(from the Federalist Newsletter)
Of course the thoughts I was provoked to are probably different than what the author intended. I mostly noticed the many things that were just assumed; just taken as givens, as "Conventional Wisdom." (Which is rhetorically legitimate; this is not a polemic, but a vision of how things might be. But it's also legitimate for me to point out some fastballs that are likely to slip past the reader.)
Assumes that liberal Democrat positions are the center. Slides over the fact that most Bush positions are supported by a majority of Americans.
Assumes that bipartisanship means Bush giving up conservative plans. No suggestion that Democrats might give up anything. No hint that they are even partisan or political.
Assumes that the growing Republican majority is merely a phenomenon of 9/11 or the trickery of Karl Rove. Ignores trends of the last several decades.
Assumes that drafting Americans into government "volunter" programs is better than leaving them to their own devices.
Assumes that tax cuts are bad and "sacrifice" by taxpayers good. No suggestion that any domestic programs or Democrat interests might be sacrificed. Assumes that "everyone will love" a speech where Bush foreswears tax cuts.
Assumes that Middle Eastern tyrannies are eager to reform if only enough aid and sweet-talk is provided. Assumes that the example of one of their kind dragged out of a spider-hole has no connection with recent openness to the possibility of reform. Also, trends like the recent Egyptian reforms to strengthen the private sector are ignored--they're just nonsense like the Bush programs. It's assumed that problems will be solved by big-money programs flowing from one government to another.In general, what's interesting in the "assumes" department is that the author assumes the world-view of 1964, when a conservative like Goldwater could be dismissed as a kook that few Americans would agree with. He assumes that conservative Republicans are "ideologues," who voters will reject if given the proper hint.
Slides over just exactly who are the "actual terrorists." Assumes, without stating explicitly, that Al Qaeda is highly centralized and that destroying its leadership will render it ineffective. And that other terrorist groups are minor problems.
Assumes that reforms in Arab countries, such as "easing the harsh treatment of women," will NOT infuriate Islamic fundamentalists, or inflame anything...
Assumes that either: 1. "Rewarding democratic reforms with aid" would melt the heart of Saddam Hussein, or: 2. Or, if it won't the continued existence of genocide, torture, mutilation, rape and hideous police-state brutality in Iraq is no concern of ours, and that the anti-Iraq-war crowd HAS NO RESPONSIBILITY to honestly admit that they think those things SHOULD CONTINUE. No responsibility to honestly list that as a wee trifling downside to their charming vision of a better Middle East.
Reading this piece reminded me of the time my son asked me why people from other regions of the country had accents, but he didn't...
#153: Whistling past the election year graveyard..
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD
Paul Krugman in One Good Month (04/09/04) finally addressed the good news contained in last week's employment report – 308,000 new payroll jobs in March plus upward revisions in the January and February reports. But he punted on the report's implications for the future by taking a wait and see approach as to whether it continues. In other words, he whistled past the election year graveyard.
Three points are worth making:
The improving job outlook is the LAST piece of a strong economic picture to fall into place. Every OTHER indicator from GDP growth to inflation to interest rates has been outstanding for some time.
The reason jobs growth is important is that it becomes self-sustaining. The income generated by new jobs supports consumption spending and takes the pressure of the on-time policy stimuli, e.g., tax cuts. Krugman has made this point many times himself. Interesting he avoids it now.
The recovery underway in the US is not only strong itself, but is synchronized with most other large economies around the world. This is an uncommon occurrence and bodes well for the next several years as growth begets more growth.
Krugman and the Democrats just keep on insisting that the economy is weak in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. And why not? Polls show they have done an amazingly good job of convincing people that economic their lives are precarious and that an Indian out-sourcer is lurking around every corner. It will be very interesting to see how long they can keep it up.
April 8, 2004
Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr, the fiery Iraqi Shi'ite cleric who ordered his fanatical militia to attack coalition troops, is being supported by Iran and its terror surrogate Hezbollah, according to military sources with access to recent intelligence reports...Gee, do you think maybe they didn't get the word, that Iraq is only a sideshow? Do you think Iran could be getting nervous, with American forces in both their eastern and western neighbors?
But wait, how stupid of me! I forgot, only Al Qaeda is important. Any pressure on peace-loving Iran is "neglecting the real war on terrorism."
Focus, we gotta focus. Hezbollah, Abu Abbas, Abu Nidal, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Jemaah Islamiyah...these are distractions. We should let them grow in peace. In the dark, like mushrooms. Then they will like us and we will be safe. Safety is the most important goal of Western Civilization. Just ask a Frenchman.
Or a Democrat. You don't hear any of that foolish idealistic prating from Kerry or Kennedy. They don't talk about liberty being worth fighting for. Or shudder coming from God. Or being something we should squander our meager strength on giving to tiresome foreigners. They never propose taking risks, or boldly changing the world.
They've grown past that stage. They are mature. Cosmopolitan.
They are like the man who loved fresh air so much, he filled his whole house with it. Then sealed the windows so it couldn't escape.
April 7, 2004
Correction to previous post...
Dave Trowbridge points out in a comment that Kennedy's quote, mentioned in this post, did not mean the invasion of Iraq was a Vietnam. "...what Kennedy is saying is not that Iraq is a war that we will lose, but that Iraq is a war that will destroy George Bush as Vietnam destroyed Lyndon Johnson." I think Dave's got Kennedy's intention right; here's the context. (Quote borrowed from Mark Kleiman):
The result is a massive and very dangerous crisis in our foreign policy. We have lost the respect of other nations in the world. Where do we go to get our respect back? How do we re-establish the working relationships we need with other countries to win the war on terrorism and advance the ideals we share? How can we possibly expect President Bush to do that. He's the problem, not the solution. Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam, and this country needs a new President.I think Kennedy's going to be disappointed in his hopes, but it's legitimate political discourse.
By the way that speech diserves a thorough Fisking, but I get tired of whacking the same moles again and again. I'll just touch on one thing. Kennedy says:
By going to war in Iraq on false pretenses and neglecting the real war on terrorism, President Bush gave al-Qaeda two years -- two whole years -- to regroup and recover in the border regions of Afghanistan...SO, A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: It's the year 2004. Bush's has sent our ground forces to Afghanistan, and left Iraq alone. Senator Kennedy speaks:
"...Ladies and Gentlemen, President Bush has chosen the correct strategy for the War on Terror, exactly the one I would have recommended. It's our duty as loyal Americans to give him and our forces our wholehearted support and encouragement. Remember, partisanship ends at the water's edge!"Now, pick yourself up, drink some water for the hiccups, and I'll tell you what would really happen in our thought experiment.
The Honorable Gentleman from Massachusetts speaks:
...President Bush has neglected the real war on terrorism. He has sent our hapless soldiers on a wild goose chase through the Hindu Kush, from which Al Qaeda has of course long since fled. He has ignored the real problem of terror-supporting nations. In particular, may I remind you that President Clinton and Vice President Gore and the UN and a host of experts have warned us about the dangers posed by Saddam Hussein. Iraq is openly bankrolling terrorist groups, including ones that have murdered US citizens. He has documented contacts with Al Qaeda, who may be receiving aid from him right now, while our attention is distracted in that "grave of conquerors," Afghanistan.
By ignoring these looming dangers, President Bush gave al-Qaeda two years -- two whole years -- to regroup and recover in the fetid swamps of Arab despotisms. And by ignoring the UN and its 16 binding resolutions against Iraq, we have strained our ties with long-standing allies around the world -- allies whose help we clearly and urgently need...
Rosemary passed on a suggestion that we fly flags on blogs as a response to what seems to be a bit of PC foolishness, the removal of American flags flown by our forces in Iraq. The idea is to not "offend" Iraqis, but I suspect that people who are offended by the sight of Old Glory are much more likely to be found in San Francisco, or Paris, or at the New York Times, than they are in Iraq...
Here's my contribution...
Elizabeth Menegon, sister of Army Special Forces reservist Maj. David Menegon, rushes toward her brother, who has just arrived, at the Old Greenwich train station in Greenwich, Conn., on Wednesday. He had been deployed to Iraq for 14 months.
Mel Greer, Greenwich (Conn.) Time / AP photo From Army Times, 4/2/04
April 6, 2004
To meet them head on...
A snippet from Wretchard [as always, excerpts don't do him justice, read the post] :
...The greatest mistake America could make would be to take the counsel of the past and either reconstitute a dictatorship in Iraq or withdraw into the illusory safety of a Western homeland. Like the Spaniards, Americans will find the Jihadis already there before them, ready to pelt them at the homecoming parade. It should never forget that the reason America came to the Middle East in the first place was precisely to meet these toxic religious and political forces head on. And if American policy makers are shy about it, the Jihadis are not. They are lining up to fight Western infidels at an immigration office near you...Some people argue that, since Al Qaeda was headquartered in Afghanistan, the tidy and proper way to play the game would be to confine major military operations to that country.
Trouble is, that's the obvious and predictable step. Like in a game of checkers. I'll move to this square, and then you'll probably move to that square, and then I'll move so-and-so...As they say about Israel, "a cycle of violence."
Instead, we seized the initiative in a most shocking fashion, and sent an army into the very heart of the Arab world. With the express goal of starting a transformation that would destroy the very conditions that created bin Ladenism. Not checkers but chess, a bishop shooting all the way across the board to put the king in check. It was the unexpected.
Ever since, the enemy has been reacting to us. Much like when the king is in check, you have to react, you can't move somewhere else. Even such a powerful blow as the Madrid bombings seems to have been an attempt to spilt the Iraq Coalition. Psychologically, we now have the drop on them, and they are surely putting a lot of their psychic energy into wondering what calamity we will visit upon them next.
Of course, our control of the initiative won't last forever. Unless we come up with some new surprise. I have no doubt the Vulcans can think up something stupefying. But could it be implemented? Does the President have the political support? The Ultras* will hinder and block him all they can; there are many who would gladly cripple the War to hurt Bush. Most Americans support the War, but do they get it?
But Bush is the kind of guy who might just do the right thing and damn the political risk. And after November I predict that he will have a decisive mandate to chase Islamism with a stick and make it howl.
*A friend has taxed me with over-using Left and Leftist, etc. "Reifying" them. Perhaps he's right. I'll substitute Ultra for a while. Meaning whoever I'm bellyaching about. (Not just the left, Pat Buchannon is an Ultra.) Only those who have read The Charterhouse of Parma will get my drift; no one else will have cause to take offense.
Guess who's going back to Iraq? Major General David H Petraeus, who was so notably successful as commander of the 101st Airborne, is being sent back to oversee the organization and training of all Iraqi military and security forces...
Sounds like Rumsfeld's got his thinking cap on, as usual.
"The word "quagmire" will once again become fashionable..."
It always amazes me that people can't understand that, if we are fighting a guerilla-type enemy, a battle is almost always good news! Militarily speaking, the Tet Offensive was a splendid opportunity, and our soldiers seized upon it, slaughtering Viet Cong in such great numbers that they never were an effective force again. (Politically it was a catastrophe, giving many Americans an excuse to align with a totalitarian tyranny in the much more important struggle against Republicans.)
Right now all we know of Falluja is that the Marines are there in force, and gunfire and explosions are being heard. That's almost surely good news. Especially since some of those we are fighting are foreigners, members of a shapeless witches-brew of jihadis from a score of countries. They are Islamist wackos who might be past or present or future Al Qaeda, might belong to any number of other groups, might help found tomorrow's Al Qaeda-type organization. But instead of plotting God-knows-what atrocity in the year 2010, the darling fellows are emerging to beg for martyrdom! Rejoice. Don't anybody tell them that Iraq is a "sideshow." [And a year ago we were killing them by the hundreds. You won't convince me that that hasn't made the world safer.]
Stephen den Beste writes:
...However, in the short run it's going to be painful. The rate of casualties will rise.Update: Here's an account of the fighting in Falluja.
And the usual suspects will come out of the woodwork. Opponents of the war will point to these uprisings as proof that the project is a failure and that "Iraqis" (collectively) oppose "the illegal occupation". "Non-aligned" organizations will condemn nearly everything we do as being war crimes, or violations of "international law". The "legitimacy" of the process will be questioned, and second-guessers will say that if we'd only turned it all over to the UN none of this would have happened. Once this new phase of combat opens in earnest, there will be wild predictions of catastrophe. There will be predictions of huge numbers of civilian deaths and hordes of refugees; of destruction, misery, starvation, plague. We will be told that this will cause a broad uprising against us inside Iraq, and that it will anger the "Arab street". We'll be blamed for the next terrorist operation in Spain. News reports will slant everything to make the situation look as bad for us as possible. The word "quagmire" will once again become fashionable...
#152: Silence is Golden Deafening...
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD
Paul Krugman is AWOL. After making "jobs, jobs, jobs…" the center piece (or better yet, the "only" piece) of his economic attacks on the Bush administration, he fell silent today [LINK 1] and did not comment on the spectacular employment report last Friday, April 2, 2004. Neither did any of the other "jobless recovery" publicists. Brad Delong, for example, gave it two sentences on his web site [LINK2]. The silence is deafening.
How's the song go? "Mister, We Could Use a Man Like Herbert Hoover Again..."
They are really aiming at you back in the United States...
Take a look at this letter from a soldier, published in the Houston Chronicle:
...This is the work of the U.S. military. Our progress is amazing. Many people who knew only repression and terror now have hope in their heart and prosperity in their grasp. Every day the Iraqi people stream into the streets to cheer and wave at us as we drive by. When I'm on a foot patrol, walking among a crowd, countless people thank us — repeatedly...Remember the scorn, the sneering contempt expressed about Cheney's saying that we would be greeted by cheering crowds? But if you read what the soldiers write, they show it to be the simple truth, again and again.
...I realize the shocking image of a dead soldier or a burning car is more salable than boring, detailed accounts of our rebuilding efforts. This is why you hear bad news and may be receiving an incorrect picture.It wouldn't take much effort for our newsmedia to convey that success, even IF the nature of the news business demands they focus on bad news. (I doubt that, but I'm an oddball, and anyway get my news on the Internet.) But good news is good for Bush, so it's doled out very sparingly.
Baghdad has more than 5 million inhabitants. If these people were in an uprising against the United States, which you might think is happening, we would be overwhelmed in hours. There are weapons everywhere, and though we are working hard to gather them all, we simply can't.
Our Army is carrying out 1,700 convoys and patrols each day. Only a tiny percentage actually encounter hostile action. My unit covers some of the worst and most intense areas, and I have seen some of the most tragic attacks and hostility, such as the bombing of the United Nations headquarters.
I'm not out of touch with the negative side of things. In fact, I think my unit has it harder than many other Army units in this whole operation. That said, despite some attacks, the overall picture is one of extreme success and much thanks...
...The various terrorist enemies we are facing in Iraq are really aiming at you back in the United States. This is a test of will for our country. We soldiers of yours are doing great and scoring victories in confronting the evil terrorists."Keep moving folks. There's nothing going on here. It's just a sideshow, the terrorists are all in Afghanistan. They don't care about Iraq, no siree..."
The reality is one of an ever-increasing defeat of the enemies we face. Our enemies are therefore more desperate. They are striking out more viciously and indiscriminately. I realize this is causing Americans stress, and I assure you it causes us stress, too.
When I was a civilian, I spent time as a volunteer with the Israeli army. I assure you we are not facing the hostility Israelis face. Here in Iraq, we Americans are welcomed by most Iraqis...
April 5, 2004
Was I the only person who experienced a "suck-in-air" moment of horror when Kennedy announced "Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam?"Our soldiers are about as likely to listen to Kennedy's wishful thinking as they are to vote for him.
What bothers me isn't the political attack on Bush, but how the senator's idea is a slashing blow to the support for the troops. How does he think these soldiers feel being told they are now part of a "Vietnam," a word which translates into "immoral military action doomed to defeat?" I can't think of a statement more likely to undermine American soldiers than that claim.
What makes Kennedy's vicious attack even more outrageous is that it is demonstrably untrue. The progress on the ground in Iraq has been amazing, given the conditions in Iraq one year ago. We aren't losing in Iraq at all. We are in a war that we have the ability to win...
O'Sullivan's First Law
Here's a interesting article on the oft-seen phenomenon of organizations moving leftward...
The Anti-Defamation League is dedicated to opposing hatred, particularly hatred of Jews. Its recent activities include support for abortion and gay rights, backing the effort to remove Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore from the bench in the Ten Commandments case, and opposing school vouchers in Washington, D.C.There's a big difference between the kind of people who start groups like the The League of Women Voters or the Sierra Club, and the sort of people who become the paid professional administrators after the first flush of enthusiasm and volunteerism has worn off. (via Betsy Newmark)
The Southern Poverty Law Center was also created to focus on hate and hate groups. Recently it involved itself in the Sierra Club elections, demanded the elimination of the Chief Illiniwek sports mascot at the University of Illinois, sued to get Judge Moore off the bench and came out against the proposed amendment to prohibit gay marriage. Its subsidiary, Tolerance.org, made news by featuring an essay complaining that the Lord of the Rings movies are too white.
Call this mission creep. A group starts out with a clear mandate that commands respect across most of the political spectrum. Gradually it moves to a broader and vaguer agenda, typically heading left. John O'Sullivan, columnist and former editor of National Review, offers us an explanation, which he calls O'Sullivan's First Law: "All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing." As examples, he cites the American Civil Liberties Union, the Ford Foundation and the Episcopal Church...
I'm not going to blog my feelings about the way certain Democrat loons reacted to Americans being murdered in Falluja. Others have said what needs to be said.
But we sent a little something to the memorial fund.
April 4, 2004
You are voting for the general trend or direction...
There's an interesting article on the difficulties senators face running for president, Breaking Out Is Hard to Do:
..."As a senator, you are used to speaking in legi-speak, and as a presidential candidate, you need to speak with a different level of clarity," said Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "When he had his back to the wall, Kerry managed to get it under control. But, sometimes he gets a little lazy or tired, and it comes back."Personally, I'd tend to give John Kerry (not to be confused with Bob Kerry in the previous paragraph) a pass on a certain number of Senatorial wafflings. Compromise is the essence of the institution. And for any Senator there will be lots of cases where he voted "yes" and then voted "no."
The transition from the Senate floor to the national campaign trail is not an easy one, said former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., who ran for president in 1992. "It wasn't until the end of my brief campaign that I realized that, sometimes, yes or no is the best answer," Kerrey said in an interview. "That is all people want -- they want a yes or a no. They want a brief answer. They don't want a demonstration that you are very smart and capable of talking a long time."...
Of course in the same spirit, I'd also suggest giving Bush a pass on a certain number of mistakes in the War. The nature of war demands moving fast, making decisions without enough information, and pressing your own forces to accomplish more than they think they can. No mistakes would be a bad sign. (Which is probably as incomprehensible to most people as the fact that being an effective senator means making a lot of compromises.)
It's a candidate's underlying philosophy that's important, and always difficult to discern under a million specific details. And in a presidential election you are also voting for a party, for the thousands of party members who will be drawn upon to fill offices and commissions, to be advisors and experts. You are voting for the general trend or direction you want the country to move in, though the specifics are likely to be different that what was promised during the campaign.
I have a slowly-evolving theory that a lot of the rather peculiar anger we are seeing towards both Bush and the war are happening because many people felt that the big questions of where the country, and the world, should GO had already been settled! They didn't have to think about what they believed, but could just be content that their group was "the good guys." (Most conspicuously on the left just now, but I've heard some bewildered rage from the right, too.)
Big changes force us to think about big questions, and I'm suspecting that a lot of people are outraged at being forced towards the point where they might have to look inside and admit they don't believe in anything.
April 3, 2004
Bombs and hot potatoes...
Among the many distortions in Richard Clarke's book and testimony, is the systematic downplaying of Iraqi involvement in the first WTC bombing. I won't try to boil down this fascinating stuff, you should read about it here.
This was the policy of the Clinton Administration; they didn't want to know! And there's something else they didn't want to know. Note a name in the piece I linked to: "Ramzi Yousef."
There's a wealth of circumstantial evidence connecting Ramzi Yousef with another notorious bombing. One that Bill Clinton used to great political advantage by suggesting that it grew out of an evil stewpot of right wing extremists and Rush Limbaugh.
It worked, and the ugly distortions are still circulated. But the American people would probably have reacted rather differently if they had been made aware how many times the paths of "Ramzi Yousef" and Terry Nichols had crossed. Or that the new fertilizer-bomb recipe found in Yousef's cookbook was used in Oklahoma City about a month after the apparent time he wrote it down.
The voters are morons, they must be guided by their betters...
Ed Driscoll notes:
QUITE A DOUBLE STANDARD AT ABC: Here's Nightline Executive Producer Leroy Sievers on Fallujah:Some have suggested that ABC isn't quite on our side. Maybe, but my guess is that this is pure partisan politics. They grasped instantly that our being at war would help Bush, and almost immediately began downplayng the attacks and upplaying everything that went wrong. If Gore had been in the White House, it would have been "Rally round the flag folks."
"War is a horrible thing. It is about killing," ABC News "Nightline" Executive Producer Leroy Sievers said in an unusual message to the program's e-mail subscribers discussing the issues posed by Wednesday's killings. "If we try to avoid showing pictures of bodies, if we make it too clean, then maybe we make it too easy to go to war again."And here's ABC News chief David Westin on 9/11:"The question is, are we informing or titillating and causing unnecessary grief?" ABC News chief David Westin told the New York Times just days after the Sept. 11 attack. Explaining why his network decided not to show any pictures of people leaping to their deaths at the World Trade Center, he said, "Our responsibility is to inform the American public of what's going on, and, in going the next step, is it necessary to show people plunging to their death?"
Excellent news from Egypt
Egypt is making some very big and important reforms.
From an article by Steve Forbes:
...The catalyst is something that's prosaic yet absolutely essential for a sustained, innovation-oriented economic takeoff: property rights...There's a lot of this sort of thing going on in the world right now. (Here's one.)
...Most development experts ignore the elephant in the room--the fact that most people in the world operate outside their country's formal legal systems. In Egypt's case, 88% of all enterprises are extralegal, as is 92% of the country's housing. Egypt and other developing countries do not lack for entrepreneurs; they lack institutions and legal structures that would enable theirentrepreneurs to expand and truly flourish. The Peru-based Institute for Liberty and Democracy, which spurred this project and is headed by economist Hernando de Soto, estimates that Egypt's shadow economy has accumulated $248 billion in assets. But as De Soto notes, "All this activity and all the assets in the extralegal economy are dead capital--assets that cannot be leveraged to obtain credit and investment. To convert all of this dead capital into live capital requires the two cornerstones of a market-based rule of law: legal property rights that cover all of Egypt's assets and good business law for entrepreneurs."...(Thanks to Brothers Judd)
And it's the power of ideas at work. Even a decade ago you would have heard that Egypt needed "investment in infrastructure," or some such.
April 2, 2004
Some good news, and I wasn't too surprised
... The Pentagon has been closely monitoring the re-up rate for five Army divisions that fought in Iraq for about a year. Some officials feared the time away from home and the gritty duty would prompt a large soldier exodus. After all, the war on terrorism is unchartered territory. The 30-year-old volunteer Army has never been this busy in combat.My successful predictions are not so many that can pass up bragging about one. Last July I wrote:
But numbers compiled this week for the first half of fiscal 2004 show that those five combat units met, or nearly met, all retention targets for enlisted soldiers — the privates, corporals and sergeants who total 416,000 of the Army's 490,000 active force. ...(Link to WaPo Article)
In a recent post Donald Sensing wrote that 3d Division was a wasting asset. That because of its over-long deployment, re-enlistments would fall catastrophically and the division would have to be almost re-built with new people. Perhaps it will be so, it will be interesting to see. But perhaps he has overlooked one thing. We are all of us hungry to have meaning in our lives, to feel like we are making a difference. Our guys in Iraq have a difficult duty, but I would guess that every one of them also has the deep satisfaction that comes from doing something that may change the world...Our soldiers know exactly what they are doing, and they believe in it, and accept the risks. That's something I've encountered often, and it never fails to move me and make me feel unworthy.
In fact that same post linked to one of the most moving articles I've ever read, this one, by a 9/11 widow who went to Iraq on a USO tour. Here's a bit I didn't quote before:
...Looking into that sea of khaki gave me chills even in that blistering heat. To me, those troops were there to avenge the murder of my husband and 3,000 others. When I got to the microphone I told them we had not made this journey for condolences but to thank them and to tell them that the families of 9/11 think of them every day. They lift our hearts. The crowd interrupted me with chants of "USA, USA, USA." Many wept.These people are alive, their hearts are warm, They know that "freedom isn't free," and they take terrible risks for us. For me.
What happened next left no doubt that the troops drew inspiration from our tragedies. When I was first asked to speak to thousands of troops in Qatar, after Iraq, I wondered if it would feel like a "grief for sale" spectacle.
But this time I was shaking because I was to present the recovered WTC steel to Gen. Tommy Franks (U.S. Central Command commander). I quivered as I handed him the icy gray block of steel. His great craggy eyes welled up with tears. The sea of khaki fell silent. Then the proud four-star general was unable to hold back the tears which streamed down his face on center stage before 4,000 troops. As this mighty man turned from the spotlight to regain his composure I comforted him with a hug.
When I think of the icy sneering contempt that anti-war whatchamacllits would feel if they read this...what a contrast. What a contrast.
Again and again and again
ABCNEWS.com : Allies Balk at Iraq NATO Peacekeeping Role: "BRUSSELS, Belgium April 2 — NATO allies hedged Friday on assuming a peacekeeping role in Iraq, deferring a decision until after an interim Baghdad government takes over in July. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who urged the 26-nation alliance to intervene, said he thought it was unlikely NATO would take on the role unless the new Iraqi government approves"Once again, Bush has asked our allies to work with us.
Once again, he's been rebuffed.
And once again this will not make the slightest dent in the ceaseless drumbeat of lies; the claims that Bush is an arrogant right-wing unilateralist who scorns our allies and tramples on the "International Community." Mr Kerry will continue to claim that he would do things "differently."
...The deliberate, even cold-blooded approach by the Marines makes this incident the anti-Mogadishu. The tactics employed against the Rangers in the Blackhawk Down incident relied on the belief that Americans could be reflexively trapped into defending unfavorable positions in attempts to recover bodies. The Anti-Coalition Forces probably felt sure that taunting Americans over the media would produce the desired impulsiveness. As the minutes lengthened into hours and the Marines responded with icy professionalism, the enemy may have come the unpleasant realization that this was not the former administration and that other still more unwelcome surprises were in store for them...Good stuff, worth our attention. As ever, the relationship of terrorists and press could be described as symbiosis.
I thought of them as...gone
It's really neat when someone remembers what I wrote long ago. Ethan Hahn writes: Hearing that seven Soviet bloc countries today raised their flags at NATO headquarters reminded me of your wonderful post from when these countries were first invited to join. I dug thru your old blogspot archives to find the link:
Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia ... time was, I thought of them as, well, gone. Names from the past only. But they're still there! Made new. Marvelous. We might visit them someday. While Lenin and Marx and Mao and Stalin and Castro and PolPot are on the big ash-heap...Ethan sent a link to the flag-raising:
It still seems utterly marvelous. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania...
April 1, 2004
Rub tummy, pat head
I usually find Day by Day only mildly amusing, but I appreciated the March 31st effort...
Chairman of 9/11 Commission: CIA Director Tenet, wasn't the President's decision to attack both Iraq and Al Queda a strategic error as regards our intelligence services? And, uh...ummm...
...did you just walk into these chambers chewing gum, sir?
Tenet: It's relevant to the case, Mr Chairman.
Why didn't he say so at the time?
Gregg Easterbrook in The New Republic Online:
Richard Clarke's headline-making volume of self-praise might as well be titled, I've Suddenly Remembered I Knew It All Along. As yours truly noted yesterday (just scroll down), Clarke now claims he knew after September 11 it would be a colossal mistake to pursue Al Qaeda and attack Iraq simultaneously. I asked, Why didn't he say so at the time?...
...But maybe in the month before the Iraq war, Clarke had decided to hold his tongue and say nothing about his former job? Um, not exactly. As New Republic super-intern Anne O'Donnell points out, on resigning from the National Security Council in February 2003, one month prior to the attack on Iraq, Clarke quickly signed as an on-air consultant to ABC News. During the month before the war, Clarke made several appearances on national television. He spoke in great detail regarding Iraq, Saddam, terrorism intelligence, military tactics, even discussing by name individual Republican Guard divisions and U.S. plans for those divisions. So Clarke certainly wasn't holding his tongue, he was yakking nonstop. And yet by the most amazing and astonishing coincidence, Clarke apparently didn't mention any of the strongly-held antiwar views he has now suddenly remembered!...