May 31, 2004


I jut talked with Charlene, who is in Salt Lake City, traveling Eastwith our oldest son Rob, who's off to college at UND. (The other kids and I will fly to Grand Forks when their schools are out, and we will drive back with various sightseeings and diversions.) anyway, Charlene says in Nevada you see big initials painted in white on various mountains. They are the initials of local towns. There's one town called "Battle Mountain," with a giant BM painted on the mountain.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:05 PM


good news on the free-trade front

....The United States has signed a trade agreement with five Central American countries. The five are Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Trade ministers from the six countries signed the agreement in a ceremony Friday at the Washington headquarters of the Organization of American States. The new treaty is known as the Central America Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA....

...The Central America Free Trade Agreement is similar to NAFTA. It would bring the Bush administration one step closer to its goal of creating a free trade area. The area would include every country in the western half of the world, except Cuba. The Bush administration is hoping to reach an agreement on the Free Trade Area of the Americas by January two-thousand-five. CAFTA would end taxes on more than eighty-percent of industrial and other goods exported from the United States to Central America. It also would cut taxes on more than fifty-percent of American farm products to Central America. Taxes on most other goods also would be ended over time...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:56 PM

A request...

Tim at CPT Patti has a request. About a documentary film...

...Of his film he says it shows soldiers as who they are. Human beings. See, Mike seems to trust us to be able to handle the fact that human beings are imperfect. So his film isn't one that portrays the US Soldier a la John Wayne. But, more importantly in my mind, it shows soldiers being imperfectly GOOD as well as being imperfectly bad...something that CNN can't seem to do.

So far no one will buy Mike's film for showing on TV or other outlet. It isn't that it isn't good. They've told him it is very good! But they think we the public want more of the same crap they show on CNN day in and day out. (I'm guessing prison scandal movie producers are probably in bidding wars for their films).

So here is my special request. I volunteered to pray that a buyer would come forward to buy Mike's film. Really, honestly say a prayer to that effect.

And I'm asking if you will do the same...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:45 AM

Accurate as death upon the stone...


I walked where in their talking graves
And shirts of earth five thousand lay,
When history with ten feasts of fire
Had eaten the red air away.

I am Christ's boy, I cried, I bear
In iron hands the bread, the fishes,
I hang with honey and the rose
This tidy wreck of all your wishes.

On your geometry of sleep
The chestnut and the fir-tree fly,
And lavender and marguerite
Forge with their flowers an English sky.

Turn now towards the belling town
Your jigsaws of impossible bone,
And rising read your rank of snow
Accurate as death upon the stone.

About your easy heads my prayers
I said with syllables of clay,
What gift I asked, shall I bring now
Before I weep and walk away?

Take, they replied, the oak and laurel.
Take our fortune of tears and live
Like a spendthrift lover. All we ask
Is the one gift you cannot give.

-- Charles Causley

Posted by John Weidner at 6:44 AM

Some oddities found by clicking around...

Click here for instructions on making an ORIGAMI GODZILLA .
And here for a BARCODE CLOCK you could add to your web page. And other barcode art.
(via Zannah)

And if you are going to build a model airplane, don't furf around. A 23" wingspan will give you some real lift. Eight turbine may never use all that power, but good to know it's there. Bomb capacity...still classified. And yes, it flies.

Giant model B-52

(Via Boing Boing)

Posted by John Weidner at 6:22 AM

May 30, 2004

Good news in bad packages...

Cori writes:


I'm starting to believe that the New York Times will wait to mention projects or programs in Iraq that reflect real progress, certainly real change in people's lives since Saddam's time, until they can figure out a way to put a negtive spin on their admission.

The wind-up here is a bit long, but bear with me: the pitch is pretty good.

Thus although the CPA has been mentioning for some time that there are literally hundreds of local councils, freely elected, all over Iraq, the real beginnings of democracy not just in Iraq but in the Arab world, (and that in all these elections the Islamists keep losing) only now do they get front page coverage in the Times -- tempered by as much bad news as possible...

One thing that's been worrying me about Iraq is that we didn't appear to be doing much to promote local small-scale democracy. It seemed like a glaring omission.

But we have! It's been happening, just not getting much attention. The NYT article Cori references spins things to look as horrid as possible, but it is happening. And the article casts a sort of shadow or reverse...I mean, it doesn't quote anybody who is happy or excited about this stuff. Righhht. That may seem credible in Manhattan, but not to me. It conjures up in my mind a whole bunch of other people whose quotes never made it out of the reporter's notebook, or were stripped out by some editor in New York. I hardly know whether to thank the Times for the info, or revile them for coloring it to look as bad as possible.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:43 PM

Negative death-numbers won't melt those hearts of stone...

Katie at Resplendent Mango writes:

Win Without War -- If there was one thing I could drill into the heads of the loony leftists (pointy things not withstanding) it would be the fact that we are not necessarily at peace just because we're not at war. Nor is that faux-peace necessarily better than war. By some estimates, 11,000 Iraqis have died from unnatural causes in the past 14 months. As opposed to approximately 36,000 a year under Saddam. Now, I understand that the Left believes that the US is evil as a matter of faith, but I fail to understand how 25,000 people not dying in the past year, people that would have either starved, or been raped and killed, or dismembered, or buried in mass graves, or some combination thereof, is a bad thing. And that doesn't even count the people who's hands or ears or heads weren't cut off by Saddams thugs. The women who weren't raped by Uday and Qusay. The Olympic soccer players who will not be tortured if they fail at Athens. And now soldiers and government workers are being paid adequately. We spent 12 years trying to Win Without War, and if you're keeping score at home, 12 years times 36,000 people a year is 423,000 people. Give war a chance.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. Ed over at Captain's Quarters calculates the number of children dying yearly in Iraq was 50,000. 12 years times 50,000 kids a year is 600,000. Children. And then there were the adults, like the 300,000 Shia who were killed after Gulf War I. Or the conscripts who were forced to fight and die in Saddam's wars against Iran and Kuwait. Or the people that he killed for their beliefs, race, or no reason at all. And that was WINNING?

Of course saying things like this assumes the Ultras opposed the Battle of Iraq out of conscience. In fact the opposition was purely a matter of politics. If Bush is for it they are opposed. Plus they knew that once battle was joined, they would constantly be forced into verbal contortions, having to pretend to be American, and pretend to "support the troops."

Having to pretend that sullen silence in the face of allied success was merely "not being jingoistic." And pretend that the spring in their steps and the rosy glow on their cheeks once the Abu Ghraib photos hit, was merely because they loved their country and wanted to correct her hideous faults.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:10 AM

May 29, 2004

not interested in showing the truth...

The next time you hear about brutal Israeli forces terrorizing poor hapless Palestinians, keep this item in mind. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) wants the press to see what they are doing! Begged for it! But the truth would interfere with the Party Line, so "no dice."

Jerusalem Post:...In an attempt to get the foreign media to report what is actually happening on the ground in Gaza, the IDF's spokesman's unit pleaded with foreign news agencies to join IDF forces in their operations and see for themselves. By mid-week, the IDF had to admit that the attempt was an abject failure. Almost no one took them up on the offer. The foreign media is not interested in showing the truth. They simply want to criminalize Israel...
And despite lies to the contrary, the US embed program is still open for business. But guess what? Surprise, surprise! Hardly any reporters are willing to join. They would rather sit in the hotel bar and compose stories about how the secretive Bush administration is probably covering up crimes.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:57 PM

We support the troops...if they arrive on rubber rafts...

Just your ordinary everyday LeftLunacy. Olympia does not welcome a visit from the USS Olympia!

South Sound -The Olympian:
OLYMPIA -- Concerns about the possible arrival of a nuclear-powered submarine in about 10 days has prompted officials to take action.

The City Council on Tuesday voted 4-3 -- with Mayor Mark Foutch and members Jeanette Hawkins and Doug Mah dissenting -- to draft a resolution opposing the arrival of the USS Olympia and send the message that the vessel is not welcome here. A public hearing to consider the item is set for May 25.

Councilman TJ Johnson, who made the motion, said he is concerned about the community's safety and the secrecy surrounding the submarine's arrival. The council did not learn of the submarine until last week, he said.

"It is a publicly financed killing machine; there is no other way to look at this," he said...(thanks to orbital)

The visit was cancelled.(I think the name of that ship should be changed forthwith. Perhaps there is some patriotic coastal town that would like to put out the welcome mat, and offer their name.)

New slogan: Vote For Kerry. He Supports our Troops. (nudge nudge wink wink.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:24 PM

He makes the ankle-biters look puny...

After being exposed to so much of the infantile carping and sneering of Paul Krugman, it's a keen pleasure to encounter an economist one can admire! Australian Tony McDonald just jumped in and did a great job of work.

The Daily Telegraph | Economist who became a hero:...Before he returned after 10 months service in January, Mr McDonald rose through the ranks of the provisional authority to be senior adviser to Iraqi finance minister Kamal al-Gailani. He helped get payments out to a million pensioners and 1.3 million civil servants through a chaotic banking system.

In a letter to Treasurer Peter Costello, Iraq administrator Paul Bremmer said he "often acted solely upon Tony's macro- economic advice".

Under Saddam, the tax system consisted mostly of imposts on business and very high tariffs, designed to maintain the regime's monopoly on smuggling. Banks were not linked and money was safer "under the bed". Pensioners were paid $US4 a month and public servants' pay depended on how much they contributed to the regime's coffers.

"We were essentially dealing with a gangster economy. No one was happy with it but people had to live within it," he said."It is in the process of being rearranged to be very much more simple, with much more objective measures of overall income."...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:46 PM

Some things change less than you imagine...

Peter Burnet writes:

We tend to imagine that appeasement in the 1930's was an expression of collective fear whereby people cowered in their homes and, somewhat guiltily, refused to concern themselves with Hitler’s threats or his victims. In fact, it was an aggressivly idealistic force that was marked by a gradual demonizing of those victims, a preoccupation with the “underlying causes” of totalitarianism, a scorning of moral distinctions, utopian dreams and a constant blaming of all things Western and democratic for– well, just about everything. For many, it was an inspiring, cutting edge cause that filled young and not-so-young hearts with a sense of noble purpose and the conviction they were fighting for a just and peaceful world.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:57 PM

"two and a half million refugees have returned..."

Tom Bowler pointed me to this interesting piece on Tony Blair and Afghanistan:

...Mr Blair denied that Afghanistan was a "forgotten country". He said: "It is neither forgotten nor is it a country that is going backwards." Conceding that there was "more to do", he said: "The actual prognosis for Afghanistan is good. Sure there are big problems. These nations are failed states of total and absolute degradation. You don't turn them around in two or three years so they become first world countries en route to joining the European Union. It's not like that for a country like Afghanistan."

He said it was "absolutely wrong and unfortunate" if people thought no progress had been made in Afghanistan over the past two or three years.

"There are five and a half million kids in school including over two million girls who were banned from school. The economy has grown by 30 per cent this year and is expected to grow by 20 per cent. The most telling statistic is that two and a half million refugees have returned to Afghanistan," he said.

Donald Anderson, chairman of the select committee, issued a statement challenging his own committee members. "The Independent report is more newspaper spin than any considered view of the committee as a whole," he said...

It's called "voting with your feet." People are also streaming into Iraq. It's the Left's worst nightmare. (Since at least 1917.)

Pray tell, how many people are pressing into the areas that the UN is "protecting?" How many of the many many French incursions into Africa have resulted in places people want to get into?

Posted by John Weidner at 9:54 AM

May 28, 2004

Unsound advice...

Joe Carter has a thoughtful critique of General Zinni, A General Misunderstanding.
From his conclusion:

...I have the utmost respect for General Zinni, a man who served his country with honor and distinction. In fact, if this were a different era, I’d even support his nomination as Secretary of Defense. His ideas -- containment, forming international coalitions, preferring stability over democracy -- could form the foundation for a Cold War-era defense policy.

But we are not locked in a standoff with the Soviet Union. The UN doesn’t possess the legitimacy it once had. And we are fighting radical Islam rather than communism. Gen. Zinni’s ideas once had relevance. But that day has long passed and we cannot afford to listen to such unsound advice. Even when it comes from one of the good guys.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:36 PM

May 27, 2004

More on the Abu Ghraib seven...

Remember the seven Iraqis...hands chopped off? And American doctors and hospitals donated time and effort to help them? Gave them amazing prosthetic hands? That seemed to me like a fascinating, heartwarming story. One that would sell newspapers.

President Bush greeted them at the White House yesterday. Good for him. But our vile despicable America-hating press doesn't consider that "News Fit to Print." Us morons of the public need to be shielded from news that doesn't make America look bad, and doesn't help Kerry.

...But the New York Times, which has offered perhaps the most hysterical coverage of the prison scandal, mentioned not a word in Wednesday editions of the seven torture victims.

That other elite media cheerleader for the U.S. prison scandal, the Washington Post, was nearly as bored as the Times by the Abu Ghraib seven, offering only a few scant references to the Oval Office event in its Wednesday editions.

After introducing the Iraqi torture victims, Bush went on to thank the Texas businessman and surgeon who made their rehabilitation possible and offered to take questions from the reporters on hand.

But the only "torture" journalists wanted to discuss was that allegedly perpetrated by U.S. troops.

"Mr. President, can you say why General Sanchez is being replaced as the top commander in Iraq? Is that in any way related to the prisoner abuse scandal?" asked the first questioner.

Likewise, the second reporter's question had nothing to do with the genuine torture victims sitting in front of him.

After two more off-topic questions, the president thanked the reporters and ended the session. [link]

Utterly disgusting. And also a form of theft--the editors who suppress interesting stories for political reasons, or from a general loathing of the things ordinary Americans find heartwarming, don't own the paper. The stockholders do. Their profits are being sacrificed to please the lefty whims of the employees.

Infuriating, but it's one more reason to savor the crushing of the Democrats next November...

* Update: Take a look at this, in Volokh.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:44 PM

Things you might have missed while reading about prisoner abuse, Chalabi, prisoner abuse, Chalabi, al Sadr, prisoner abuse, bombed out wedding, Chalabi and prisoner abuse...

Chrenkof is back, with Good news from Iraq, part II 

You've seen the first installment - now prepare for the sequel. Because guess what? There's more good news from Iraq that every day slips under the radar or gets lost among all the bad publicity. So, after the phenomenal response to the first "Good news from Iraq", and back by popular demand, here's more good news from Iraq that you might have missed while reading about prisoner abuse, Chalabi, prisoner abuse, Chalabi, al Sadr, prisoner abuse, bombed out wedding, Chalabi and prisoner abuse...
The one I liked most:
In fact, the economy is going so well, that hundreds of thousands of Iranians... are believed to have crossed into Iraq since the fall of Saddam, looking for work, setting up businesses and buying property...
It's called 'voting with your feet." Some of the estimates claim millions of Iranians. Of course all those Iranians may cause problems. But they are also both coming for and causing economic development.

Keep 'em in mind when the ditzy crowd says we aren't accomplishing anything in Iraq. Iranians are "voting" the opposite. SO, lefty Democrats, how many people are moving to Cuba to enjoy your much-touted "worker's paradise?"

Posted by John Weidner at 12:14 PM

"Why stand we here idle?"

It is in vain, sir, to extentuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle?

What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.

--Patrick Henry

Posted by John Weidner at 11:20 AM

"are we going to be OK if the coalition forces left the country..."

Is there hope for Iraq? My friend Andrew thinks the Iraqis will tear themselves apart once we leave. But oddly, none of the Iraqi bloggers I read seem worried about the question...

Firas writes:

For a Monday it shouldn’t be so traffic jam in Baghdad, but it is today, with a very hot weather and imagine how it is to drive long distances…….. Any way what I noticed for the few passed days that we have many many check points by IPs [Iraqi Police] in all over Baghdad and they are started new procedures that we even forgot about for about a year now. They are stopping cars without license plates and stopping imported cars with license plates from UAE or Jordan if its being drove not during ministries working hours. I even saw an IP car modified for arresting criminals or any street disturbance which wasn’t seen before because what was left of the IPs and what we started with after April 2003 wasn’t ready to arrest anyone actually they were ready to be killed or beaten by the armed gangs in all over Baghdad who are starting to disappear or being arrested and send to Abo Ghraib jail……….I even was invited to a friend wedding last Friday with my family and we went out the party at 10.00 PM and they weren’t finished yet and the streets were secured all our way home………And there is a very important thing to tell here, all that is with out the coalition forces help anymore, I mean the IPs started to depend on their own resources and doing there job by them selves.

Few weeks ago I was thinking about a very important matter which is, are we going to be OK if the coalition forces left the country or we will face the kayos again……..Until a month ago I used to feel that we need the coalition forces to stay in streets, but now I can say and for sure that if the coalition forces left or stayed inside bases then we can depend on the IPs and the ICDCs and later on the Iraqi army to secure those who are working hard to rebuild the country. But we will need the coalition forces or what ever it’s turning to after the beginning of next July to help rebuilding new methods of working and procedures for our new establishments and ministries. That’s something is really needed after the corruption we had before April 2003 when the ext regime used to pay its employees less than two US Dollars a month and expect them to keep going to work spending about five US Dollars a month for transportation only. You can imagine how was it difficult to live those days....

I think the "Iraqis (or Afghans, or former Soviet Republics) will slaughter each other if the strong leader is removed" line has always been mostly a comfort to those who hate risk and love stability. And who have lost the belief in Liberty as something worth taking risks for. You always hear it from comfortable Western outsiders. Never from the people actually affected.

No Iraqis (except the Ba'athist elite) ever said, "Please leave Saddam in power. We are terrified of the possibility of civil unrest."

Posted by John Weidner at 10:07 AM

May 26, 2004

#158: Job-o-Meter

P. Krugman

You've all heard of the one-trick pony of circus fame. Well Paul Krugman in Delusions of Triumph (05/25/04) has now become a one-trick economist. Once again it’s jobs, jobs, jobs. The reason is simple. Every other measure of U.S. economic performance is stellar. So if you want to grind a partisan ax you find the weakest statistic and pretend it reflects the entire economy. This must be the 5th or 6th recycling of the same "jobs" column.

But even here, Krugman is running out of gas. We are setting up a “Krugman Job-o-Meter” based on the chart he used in his April 9, 2004 column (see Squad Report #149). The hatched extension in the chart below shows the pattern of job creation since that column was written. We will update it monthly (the next report is June 4th). Krugman will certainly never show this chart again!

“Krugman Job-o-Meter”


[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. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 9:14 PM

Wow. I never heard of this guy...

The guided-missile destroyer Chung-Hoon

The guided-missile destroyer Chung-Hoon, named for World War II hero Rear Adm. Chung-Hoon, sits in a dock at Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., after it was turned over from Northrop Grumman Ship Systems to the Navy during ceremonies Monday. The destroyer will be commissioned Sept. 18 in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and will be home-ported at Naval Station Pearl Harbor as a member of the Pacific Fleet. Chung-Hoon, who died in 1979, received the Navy Cross for his leadership after a kamikaze attack in 1945 left several of his crew dead and his ship, the USS Sigsbee, severely crippled.
William Colgin, The (Pascagoula) Mississippi Press / AP photo

Posted by John Weidner at 7:31 PM

More on the 70-Year Cycle...

In one of my posts on the subject of party realignment, and the theory of 70-year cycles of realignments in American politics, Lance Jonn Romanoff posted a comment and suggested the book Nemesis of Reform by Clyde Weed. I'm reading it with great interest. Thanks! (and thanks to Zev for suggesting Grand Old Party. Also very good.)

The book is about how the Republicans reacted to the realignment that made the Democrats the majority party in the 1930's, after Republican dominance since the Civil War. I probably won't find time to write about the book in any way that does it justice. But I've encountered a number of interesting items that seem to parallel things that are happening now.

One is that the Republicans reacted to the move leftward of the country and the Dems by moving further right! The polarization of politics increased. This was disastrous for the Republicans electorally. It seems to have happened because the most energetic Republican interest groups were those who felt most threatened by the New Deal. The energy of the party was in the "antis." And because many centrist or Progressive Republicans were supporting Roosevelt.

There was also an enormous failure of perception. Republican leaders couldn't really see or grasp what was happening. They failed to see that the sectional politics they knew were being replaced by class-based politics. And after their heavy defeat in 1932 they began to imagine things were getting better. Contributions were up, as bankers and industrialists reacted to Roosevelt's policies. Republicans felt energized, (and polling hardly existed then, so their data was poor.) They were utterly wrong.

I don't think the 1930's Republicans had any good short-term options. And I don't think the Democrats have any today. We are in a WAR, and Kerry and company can't fake being strong on defense. It's like Kerry trying to be a regular guy but blowing the details of eating cheesesteaks or pizza. No dice. You can't fake it. And even if there were no war, the long Democrat dominance means there is a huge and pressing backlog of reforms that haven't been done because they conflict with Democrat interest groups. Clinton tried to fudge this by being a "New Democrat." But his heart really wasn't in it, and if it had been he would have lacked the necessary support in his party.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:18 PM

The latest lying spin...

The Paper Formerly Known As The Paper Of Record (To borrow Rand Simberg's phrase) is forced to report that lab reports confirm the Sarin found in Iraq. But they are downplaying it like mad, mentioning the minor symptoms of those who handled the shell, but not mentioning the thousands it could have killed if the Sarin had been properly mixed and dispersed.

And pushing the new "stockpile" spin.

...Saddam's alleged stockpile of weapons of mass destruction was the Bush administration's chief stated reason for invading Iraq, but U.S. weapons hunters have been unable to validate the prewar intelligence that described those stockpiles...
This is just as much a lie as the "imminent threat" lie. (but of course any lie is justifiable if it shows "Bush lied.")

Go here to see what was actually said. State of the Union, January 2003. Scroll down to near the bottom. Notice something? Every single thing Bush said about Iraqi WMD's is still valid! Still TRUE! Still cause for concern.

Thanks to Powerline for the links.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:36 AM

May 25, 2004

The Internet routes around obstacles...

Says a pompous idiot:

..The press isn't reporting bad news from Iraq because they hate America, they're reporting bad news from Iraq because there's lots of bad news in Iraq...
Says someone who actually knows:
...The enemy has returned to the tactics of the weak….primarily coming after us with IEDs. And not with very much success. The Marines are very competent at finding the things now and, more importantly, local Iraqis, Iraqi Police, and Iraqi militia are telling us where they are or destroying them on their own. That is a significant step towards our ultimate goal. Much of our effort has turned to training Iraqi Security Forces (ISF); both on joint patrols and in training centers we have built over the last months. Result is a quantum improvement in ISF confidence and capabilities and the development of trust and camaraderie between ISF and the Marines conducting the training.. This training combines with our efforts to improve the quality of the average Iraqi life…hard to shoot at someone who is building you a school. The RCT has put almost $5M against schools, clinics, water projects, sewage projects, and ISF infrastructure. We are starting to see the fruits of our efforts This is a mission requiring patient persistence and it is working. Please keep that in the back of your mind when the nay-sayers start screaming...
C.A. Tucker
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps [link. RTWT]
CO, RCT-7.
There is both good and bad news from Iraq. They should both be reported, but the Media Wing of the Democrat Party only reports the bad. Then Pompous gets to say, there's lots of bad news in Iraq.

If you are reading this you are part of "routing around obstacles." The campaign of suppressio veri suggestio falsi won't last forever. In fact, I'm expecting it to unravel just around October.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:15 PM

Nineteen hours in the air. No smiling flight attendants. No reclining chairs. No in-flight movie...

You should take a look at this, just so that, when next you are suffering the misery of air travel, you can put it all in perspective.

They do seem to have lots of leg room...

Thanks to Donald Sensing

Posted by John Weidner at 6:37 PM

Kerry lies about American traditions...

So, will he be called on it? Only by bloggers...

Mr Kerry said, concerning his peculiar plan to not be nominated at the convention:

"Once again, the Republicans don't know history, and they don't know facts," he said. "The truth is that it used to be that the convention, after nomination, traveled to the home or the state of the nominee to inform them they've been nominated. Woodrow Wilson was at his house in Princeton, N.J.; Harry Truman was in Independence," Mo., he said. "They're trying to make an issue out of something that they're surprised by, because . . . they're very upset someone might have a way of neutralizing their advantage."
Betsy Newmark disposes of the rubbish about Truman just by pulling a biography off the shelf...
"So it was nearly two o'clock in the morning when Truman and Barkley at last made their entrance, striding onto the platform as the band played "Hail to the Chief." (Truman by David McCullough, p. 640-641)
A little bit of Googling failed to tell me if Wilson was at his convention, but he certainly was nominated at the 1912 convention in Baltimore. And re-nominated at the 1916 convention.

Why do I bother with these details? Because if BUSH said such a thing, certain people would cherish it as evidence that the President is a deep-dyed liar and ignorant...The quote would be passed from hand to hand for decades...smirked over.

Plus I'm annoyed by that "Republicans don't know history" crack. don't bet on it. We've got lonnng memories, you turkey. We haven't forgotten a great many Democrat dirty tricks...If you want to talk Wilson, we are aware that Republicans didn't stand aside and sneer that WWI was "Wilson's war," and pretend we were too fastidious and "moral" to help out. Nor did we stand aloof from Mr Roosevelt's war. Or Truman's, or Kennedy's, or Johnson's wars. WE REMEMBER, you treacherous phonies!

You want to talk TRADITIONS? It's our tradition in time of war for Americans to pull together!

Posted by John Weidner at 7:01 AM

May 24, 2004

Update...story worth reading.

Remember this story about seven guys who had their hands chopped off by Saddam? There's a heartwarming update in the WaPo:

... Last week, the men had recovered enough for the final fitting of their bionic hands, microprocessor-assisted marvels that receive instructions from the brain via electrodes attached to muscles in the arm. The Iraqis are training themselves to fire the right muscles to control hand functions, a process that will take months. Already, they can throw balls, shake hands, raise a glass.

Agris and North will go back to Baghdad with the seven in early June to make sure they have the proper medical support. Agris has arranged to visit other amputees, and he will help Baghdad hospitals upgrade their knowledge about amputations and prosthetics.

"The thing that'll win hearts and minds is the humanitarian effort, not guns," Agris said. "You take care of someone's child, not only do you help the child but you win over the family. And the family talks to the neighbors and you win over the neighbors. It just escalates."

He thinks Al Fadhly, Joudi, Kadhim, Salah and the other three men -- Laith Aggar, Hassan Al Gereawy and Al'aa Hassan -- will change some minds, too.

"I think we're going to see a ripple effect, especially with a guy like Al Fadhly who's got a job working for the coalition's new TV station. They're bringing back a different attitude, a different look." ...

Seven Iraqi amputees

Outside Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison are, from left, Qasim Kadhim, Salah Zinad, Nazaar Joudi, Laith Aggar, Al'aa Hassan and Basim Al Fadhly. They and three others were ordered by Saddam Hussein to have their hands amputated in 1995.
Photo Credit: Don North

Posted by John Weidner at 8:54 PM

Steps on the road...

Rob's high school graduation

The thoughts of parents when the oldest kid graduates from High School are many and varied, and beyond my poor powers as a writer to do justice to. For me, proud and sad and wondering if one is about to be "kicked upstairs" as a new generation emerges and elbows its way to the center of the stage. Astonishing how we sent our young boy to a boy's high school and now suddenly there are all these men. Big competent confident brutes.

Now our guy is headed off to college in the heartlands. North Dakota. To a school where his blond hair and Northern European extraction won't put him in an odd minority. Where Bondoc and Lacayanga and Huypungco are not ordinary last names. A place where I bet high school graduates are not draped with leis! You can see some in the background of the picture...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:39 PM

The oldest struggle of human kind...

...In 2002, the 'New Guidelines for Teaching History' in New Jersey's public schools failed to even mention America's Founding Fathers, the Pilgrims, or the Mayflower. In the Prentice Hall history textbook, used by students in Palm Beach County high schools, titled 'A World Conflict,' the first five pages of the World War II chapter focus entirely on topics such as gender roles in the Armed Forces, racial segregation and the war, internment camps, and women and the war effort. This is the way we introduce World War II to the students. It is all about this stuff, and not about trying to save civilization from a dark age; not about trying to stop a psychopathic killer who would have in fact destroyed the world. No, no, World War II was what do we think about the gender roles in the Armed Forces... --Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado)
When leftists focus exclusively on Abu Ghraib, they pretend that they are doing so out of "deep moral outrage." They are lying. There may be a few duped fools who just speak for moral reasons, but most of them are lying. We see the same attacks, the same faux outrage heaped on every aspect of American life that might engender pride, and might support our traditions and institutions and freedom.

They are denigrating the liberation of Iraq for exactly the same reasons those textbooks make a mockery out of what we achieved in WWII.

...And now today we find ourselves involved in another struggle... It is the oldest struggle of human kind, as old as man himself. This is a simple struggle between those of us who believe that man has the dignity and sacred right and the ability to choose and shape his own destiny and those who do not so believe. This irreconcilable conflict is between those who believe in the sanctity of individual freedom and those who believe in the supremacy of the state...
--Ronald Reagan
Here or abroad, anywhere you go in the world, every single organization that can be described as "leftist" is anti-American. Because the biggest obstacle to putting the people under the control of the state (and the leftist elites who dominate government) is the United States of America.

We give the lie to all their claims. Every claim that things like "Euro-socialism" make people happy and prosperous is given the lie by the way their brightest and most ambitious people flee to the US. Every claim that people are happy under (fill in the blank) local tyranny is given the lie by the hunger of those people for Green Cards.

Every leftish group on the globe is playing up Abu Ghraib, and ignoring all the good deeds our people do. Every one of them attacks the good and noble things of our history, unless, like the Civil Rights Movement, they can be used to justify intrusive big government. The relentless emphasis on Abu Ghraib is done for exactly the same reason as the relentless emphasis on the slave-owning of some of our country's founders.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:34 AM

New blog on block...

Tom Bowler, who leaves comments around here from time to time, has his own blog now, Trilateral Protocols of the NeoCon Brotherhood, Oooops, just kidding. Pretend you didn't see that, or I'm a dead duck.

The one you want is Libertarian Leanings. Check it out...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:27 AM

May 22, 2004

300 sets of bedding gear...100 sets of pre-packaged clothing...

You may have heard from our darling newsmedia about how we slaughtered women and children at a wedding in Iraq. Here are some of the wedding trinkets found...

...[Brig. Gen. Mark] Kimmitt said troops did not find anything -- such as a wedding tent, gifts, musical instruments, decorations or leftover food -- that would indicate a wedding had been held.

Most of the men there were of military age, and there were no elders present to indicate a family event, he said.

What was found, he said, indicated the building was used as a way station for foreign fighters crossing into Iraq from Syria to battle the coalition.

"The building seemed to be somewhat of a dormitory," Kimmitt said. "You had over 300 sets of bedding gear in it. You had a tremendous number of pre-packaged clothing -- apparently about a hundred sets of pre-packaged clothing.

"[It is] expected that when foreign fighters come in from other countries, they come to this location, they change their clothes into typical Iraqi clothing sets."

At Saturday's briefing for reporters in Baghdad, Kimmitt showed photos of what he said were binoculars designed for adjusting artillery fire, battery packs suitable for makeshift bombs, several terrorist training manuals, medical gear, fake ID cards and ID card-making machines, passports and telephone numbers to other countries, including Afghanistan and Sudan...

Thanks to HD Miller

Posted by John Weidner at 7:53 PM

The Anti-Change Alliance

Mohammed says:

...Finally, I have a question to the anti-change [alliance] and to our friends in the biased media wherever they might be; if all your stories were true and if we were wrong about everything we did, what suggestions would you offer to make things better? what are your plans?

What?! What did you say? I'm listening.

The Anti-Change Alliance. That's it in a nutshell, Mohammed.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:24 PM

Intemperate rant...just skip over it...

When you hear of the so-called consciences of Democrats oozing remorse for the sin of being American, think of this story...

These are the people Democrats are FOR. [Yeah, yeah, I know. Not all Dems.] These are the ones they DON'T criticize, since they are busy with the much-more-important-work of criticizing Americans. These are the slimebags they want to help put into power in Iraq. These are the "victims" they want to protect from the brutality of the Americans. These are the "allies" they are tacitly working with to get Kerry elected:

...I looked off to the left at a frontage road and I saw nine cars in rows of three. There was a line of women in front of all the cars, and some of them had children with them. I thought they were just watching us get attacked, and then men started popping up behind them firing at us - they were using the women as shields!! It took me a second to realize that. They were standing on the hoods of the cars behind the women and children; it shocked the hell out of me. Then we started getting hit with small arms fire, which sounded like golf balls hitting metal. I started firing back at them but I couldn’t get passed the women; they were all I could hit, and they started falling down. The men turned around and ran back behind the cars to fire...(via Zhang Fei)
Keep this stuff in mind when you hear lefty-commentators saying "Abu Ghraib is all of us," and that we are tainted forever and should just slink away in shame and turn everything over to the saintly protectors of Rawanda. Those animals using women and children as shields are OK by them. No leftizoid will express the least morsel of outrage over this. Nor will you read about it in the mainstream press.

They don't care! They. Do. Not. Care! They are cold-hearted bastards, and would gladly turn Iraq over to whatever murderous thugs happen to seize power.

Read the whole story. It's an account of a fuel convoy getting shot-up in Baghdad. It's WAR. It's hair-raising. It's what Democrats are trying to pretend doesn't exist. Because WE are the good guys and WE are locked in desperate global combat with a lot of real bad guys. And any American who reads this kind of thing is going to say, "Why the hell aren't we supporting these men? They are heroes! Why are we putting 90% of our energy into attacking and hampering them?"

"And why, exactly, are our Democrat leaders not bursting with pride just to be part of the same country as these soldiers? WHY?

...We pulled up behind Mathew Maupin's truck, a fellow soldier who was riding with a civilian also, but no sooner did we get behind his truck then his tanker exploded, the truck swerving off the highway, down through a ditch into a bunch of buildings. It was one big ball of flames. Later on, Matt was seen on the Al-Jazeera network as a hostage, and is believed to be still in their custody. After his truck exploded in front of us, we came upon another truck that was laying on its side in the ditch on our left - it was one of ours. There were Iraqi civilian tankers on both sides of us, which the Iraqis use as roadside bombs - when you drive past them they blow them up.

Behind the military tanker on the right, I saw a man lying on his stomach, popping his head up and down to look at us. He just kept popping his head up, I propped my weapon up on the side mirror of our truck and started aiming for his head; I was either going to shoot him in the head or the back, all I could think at the time was, "he is one of the attackers and he is going to blow up both of the trucks as we pass." I saw that he was holding something up in his left hand. It was white. I didn’t know exactly what it was, my heart was pounding so hard, and I was sure it was a remote detonator, but I kept looking and I didn’t fire at him. As we got closer and closer, I saw that he was an American civilian, and he was holding his ID up trying to let us know he was one of ours. When I was in the hospital later on, I saw the same guy on the news, it was Thomas Hamill, who later escaped his Iraqi captors when he heard American soldiers outside the house he was being held prisoner in...

I'm grateful to those men, they are fighting for freedom. For Civilization! They are fighting in one battle of the World War that started 9/11. Fighting for us.

And when I think of all those lefties sitting like buttery buddhas oozing conscience-juice from every pore, steaming and bubbling with loathing of America, enveloped in a sickly perfume of moral posturing, and utterly oblivious to anything that won't help them get back into political power. Forget it, you clowns. You've forfeited the right to lead America. Come November, you're gone...

Posted by John Weidner at 3:16 PM

Just for your info...

If you were wondering whether the President's daughters were really the bimbos portrayed by comedians, this might be of interest:

Bush twins graduate, join re-election campaign
BATON ROUGE, La. -- For years, they have been as elusive as unicorns, shunning the spotlight and taking no part in their father's high-flying political life.

But today, a new corner is turned in the lives of the Bush twins. President Bush's daughters, Barbara and Jenna, 22, are graduating from their respective universities and plan to join their father's re-election effort, at least for a while...

...Whether Bush wins or loses, Jenna plans to move to New York City to share an apartment with friends and do volunteer work with children, according to People.

Barbara will become a paid staffer, probably this summer, with a pediatric AIDS program based at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, officials said. The job will take her to clinics in Africa...

And if you don't think the newsmedia has two standards, there's this:
"While the Bush girls' predecessor, the similarly protected Chelsea Clinton, projected the reserved image of a shy ballerina, the Bush girls are something different....
Chelsea? A "shy ballerina?" glerrrk! What can I say? Barbara and Jenna, Enjoy life! DRINK UP!

Posted by John Weidner at 12:16 PM

Rising prices tend to self-correct...

Steve Chapman in The Washington Times:

...The market economy's beauty is rising prices tend to self-correct. They stimulate investment, which in time raises output. But if the government threatens to step in every time prices jump, oil companies will see no point trying to expand reserves or boost production.
    The paradox is this: The surest way to get lower prices tomorrow is to put up with higher prices today, The surest way to get higher prices tomorrow is to insist on lower prices today.
    This is a matter not of theory but experience. When Ronald Reagan scrapped oil and gasoline price controls in 1981, critics said prices would soar. They did, but not for long. Supplies rose, consumption fell and prices began a long decline, which left us all swimming in cheap gas and spoiled beyond belief.
    In reality, today's prices aren't so high. Two dollars a gallon may sound onerous, but after adjustment for inflation, it's less than we paid from 1979 through 1985....(via Betsy Newmark)
Not long ago I quoted the Washington Times and some troll commented that, since Sun Myong Moon was one of the founders of the paper, it was tainted, and it should be presumed to be a sinkhole of lies and absurdity, (and also that I was tainted for quoting it.) That was just a bit of the lunacy certain people exhibit at the thought of losing their monopoly on public discourse.

Thinking about it, I would tend to turn the "tainting" around. The frequent good-sense one sees in the Washington Times makes the Moonys, by association, seem a bit less flaky.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:37 AM


...As a conservative who reads a lot and takes an interest in history, I tend to accord some weight to the opinions of past generations. I do not subscribe to the fashionable belief that human beings suddenly got much smarter and more moral around 1965, and that everyone who lived prior to that date was a benighted ignoramus. There are plenty of people long dead who seem to me to have been very smart indeed — much smarter than I, in many cases. It is even possible that one or two of them may have been smarter than the editorialists at the New York Times. I don't know, I don't say this necessarily was so, only that I wouldn't altogether rule it out... [link]
--John Derbyshire
Posted by John Weidner at 10:21 AM

Job Market...

by Jayson at Polipundit:

I say we take our own job market survey.

First rule, be honest. And no spinning. Leave that to the Paul Krugmans of the world.

I'll start.

Up until May 7th, I worked for a national law firm. I then started my own business. I'm single and unattached. [Hint, hint, ladies ;-)] I've gone from being an unhappy lawyer who literally banged his head against a wall each day, to being a happy business owner.

So, on a household survey basis, I'm a wash. On a payroll basis, I'm a minus-1. On a job satisfaction basis, well, let's just say that you'd need a hack saw to get the smile off my face.

R.S.V.P., folks.

My suspicion is that the Household Survey is in fact closer to the truth than the Payroll Survey. And the fact that the press pushes the bad news and ignores the good is good for Bush. They are trying to help Kerry, but they are doing just the opposite. Why? 'Cause the truth will emerge eventually. And if the situation is as good as I think it is, they won't be able to keep the lid on through the election.

In fact, they are engineering an "October Surprise" for Bush. Same for Iraq. The press/Democrat/jihadi alliance (The Axis Of Entropy: Putting sand in the gears wherever reform is attempted!) timed their move wrong. They threw what I suspect is their worst at us in May! Is that stupid or what?

Posted by John Weidner at 9:13 AM

Kinda impressive

From OxBlog

KINDA COOL: India is over 80% Hindu. Last week, they kicked a Hindu nationalist party out of power. A plurality was won by the party led by an Italian-born Catholic. She then stepped aside in favor of a Sikh (who happens to be largely responsible for instigating the economic reforms that have made the Indian economy take off the last few years). The new Prime Minister was officially appointed by India's President, who is Muslim.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:46 AM

May 21, 2004

Bush lied......Not.

The Washington Times: Editorials:

In September 2000, George W. Bush was surely right to criticize Bill Clinton for playing politics with America's long-term national security. (Mr. Clinton released tens of millions of barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in an effort to force energy prices down in order to increase the presidential prospects of Al Gore.) Today, President Bush is right to reject demands from Sen. John Kerry and other Democrats to divert oil from the SPR to the market in order to force gasoline prices down.

Mr. Bush's rationale today is the same as it was nearly four years ago. "The strategic reserve is an insurance policy meant for sudden disruption of our energy supply," Mr. Bush asserted in September 2000. The SPR, he rightly argued, "should not be used as an attempt to drive down oil prices right before an election. It should not be used for short-term political gain at the cost of long-term national security."...

I suppose I shouldn't harp on the point, but the "Bush Lied" ninnies are so aggravating. Of course after a while the fact that their talking points are all negative, all "anti-Bush," just makes it more clear that they are spiritually and politically bankrupt. They are not "for" anything.

Bush criticized Clinton on a point of principle; the SPR is not a political slush-fund. So what principle guides Kerry here? Of course any successful politician needs to fudge and compromise now and then. I'll give Mr Kerry a pass on some unprincipled tactical maneuvers. But still, one would like to know what he's really for....

Also, here's a snippet from TIME Magazine. The article (this is a teaser) looks like it's going to savor Abu Ghraib like a rare bottle of Chateau Watergate. But the piece in fact shows that Bush is a real leader. Just think back to Clinton and Somalia:

Just down the hall from Donald Rumsfeld's third-floor office at the Pentagon is a high-tech conference room where U.S. generals arrayed around the globe can talk to the Pentagon boss—and with his boss, if he happens to stop by. That is exactly what happened last week when Central Command chief General John Abizaid, appearing via videophone from Qatar, admitted that he was worried about the political fallout back home from the Abu Ghraib prison-abuse scandal. Hearing this, George W. Bush peered back at Abizaid, who oversees two continuing wars in Asia, and told him to ignore the static. "You worry about getting the job done," Bush said. "You let me worry about the politics and the things back here."
(via Brothers Judd Blog)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:58 AM

May 20, 2004

Hang your clothes on a Hickory limb...

I'll pull the troops out: Kerry
United States Democrat John Kerry promised that, if elected president of the United States, he would pull virtually all American combat troops out of Iraq - away from the "death zone" - by the end of his first term.

Pre-emptive surrender. We can expect the same "campaign contributions" Zapatero got. At least I won't feel bad for him when he loses all 50 states. The "death zone." What BS. Typical liberal, only Americans are real. It's the "life zone" for 25 million Iraqis, and hope for the whole Middle East. But Democrats would gladly sacrifice them for votes. Just as they happily sacrificed millions of Vietnamese to death and "re-education camps" and escape in leaky boats.
In an interview yesterday with AP reporters and editors, he also criticized President George W Bush for damaging relations with allies. There is so much strain in those relationships now, he said, that only a new president can repair them.
They'll love him. And leap to aid him in a program of passivity and appeasement and self-loathing...
"Every president of the last century, Republican and Democrat alike, worked differently from this administration, reached out to other countries and worked with greater respect through international structures," Kerry said.
So Democrats asked the UN and "allies" for permission to fight in Vietnam? I've really got to get a better grasp of history.
"This has been a terrible period of loss of American influence, respect and prestige, and it costs us all across the globe."
Terrorism and regional conflicts have declined across the globe. And many rogue nations are getting nervous and more cooperative. We are winning the War on Terror, though the struggle will be long and hard. The oppressed are with us. But elites everywhere are unhappy with all the nasty talk about freedom and democracy. You can vote for Kerry, so we will be popular at international cocktail parties. Or you can vote for victory, and for liberating the downtrodden...
Saying his goal would be achieved in his first term, Kerry explained: "Look, you may have some deployments of people for a long period of time in the Middle East depending on what the overall approach to the Middle East is. I'm not going to tell you we won't shift deployments from one place to another, but we're not going to be engaged in an active kind of death zone the way we are today."
"Hang your clothes on a Hickory limb. but don't go near the water.." It's a WAR, you dimwit. We are supposed to be in an "active kind of death zone." Dealing death.
Kerry also said he is confident that if he becomes president, he could persuade countries that sat out the Iraq war to contribute peacekeepers. But he said he would not place US soldiers in Iraq under UN command, or under the command of another country."
Oh boy. We've been hearing tons of news about "peacekeepers" recently. Usually something like "Peacekeepers fail to prevent massacre." Or "Peacekeepers hide in barracks while riot rages."

Did you know there were "peacekeepers" in Mogadishu when our guys were being attacked? And who were too peaceful to help fight? Who stood by peacefully while Americans were slaughtered? Hmmm? Mr Kerry? Mr Kerry? I'm talking to you, you useless lump! Is that your plan? Is them the guys whose "respect" we are desperate for? The "allies" we are desperate for? Or did you mean the peacekeepers of Rawanda? Or the "sex-trade" peacekeepers?

Posted by John Weidner at 9:42 AM

One war, two armies...

Lance Jonn Romanoff has an amazing story about a GI who parachuted at Normany, escaped from a German POW camp, headed east, encountered a Russian unit, and fought with them until wounded.

MOSCOW - Of the million World War II veterans who celebrated Victory Day on Sunday, few, if any, can say that they fought for both the U.S. and Soviet armies.

Joseph Beyrle is an exception.

Beyrle, the 80-year-old father of John Beyrle, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy, was on hand Sunday for the Victory Day parade on Red Square, a stone’s throw from the monument to a man who helped bring him back to life - legendary World War II Marshal Georgy Zhukov...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:14 AM

May 19, 2004

"This idiot is taking advantage of his father’s name"

I feel a bit silly mentioning the blog IRAQ THE MODEL every other day, but really, it's just too cool. I'd love to go to Iraq, but this is the next-best thing. Today Ali is in a cab, stuck in a traffic jam. The driver is from Sadr City, and we learn a lot about what the people are really thinking...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:06 PM


I was in a long comment-discussion here. I thought it was over, but then got one more comment. I should let it drop, but hate having my words twisted into something I didn't mean. (Of course I wandered a lot—my meaning was probably fuzzy.) And it seems very significant to me that my points are repeatedly missed. My theme is that there are duties and restraints that fall to an opposition party in wartime. And I think people are either missing the point because they don't want to confront the issue, or because they are psychologically incapable of seeing it. So, responses to some points:

And I really have to laugh at Weidner's claim that the Democrats should have wanted the matter fixed in private. The fact is that the Pentagon had months to fix this in private, and wilfully ignored the problem

You are blurring two things--what we want and what's necessary. Any loyal American should WANT the problem to be fixed quietly if possible, because the publicity has surely encouraged our enemies. If that wasn't feasable then publicity might be necessary and helpful. Democrats, especially in the Senate, have a LOT of potential leverage, but never even tried to use it to put quiet pressure on the Pentagon for reform. There's a difference between being forced to use publicity and leaping on it as a political opportunity. Come to think of it., the Democrats in Congress also had months to try to fix the problem; it went public in January. They didn't try. They didn't care. When the pictures were leaked they grabbed a political opportunity and ran with it.

Weidner's claim that openly criticizing the government only assists the enemy is a shameful, un-American thing to say. Is he claiming we should shut up and let the government carry on without any criticism?

Total distortion of what I said. I've never said the government shouldn't be criticized, and I didn't say criticizing "only assists the enemy." Assisting the enemy is ONE of the things it does. I would be glad to learn that Dems had embraced publicity reluctantly, as a lesser evil. But I don't think they did. The duty of the opposition party in wartime is to support the war, and within that context to make constructive criticisms. And to avoid destructive criticism even if it hurts you politically [And if you don't agree with that statement, make a case. Don't hide behind Abu Ghraib. Confront the issue. Tell me why I'm wrong.]

Weidner says these prisoners weren't innocent, they were "prisoners believed to have attacked Americans." That's an appalling excuse...

I knew that strawman was coming. I'm not making excuses, OK? I'm NOT arguing in favor of prisoner abuse. That's not even the subject here. The subject was how the Democrats reacted, compared with how I feel a Loyal Opposition should react in wartime. The subject is how this is being presented. If Dems wanted to minimize the harm to our cause, they would have been quick to mention that many of these prisoners were probably thugs. If they wanted to maximize harm they would spin things as if they were a bunch of innocents. (Blurring in the process the difference between innocent-because-nothing's-proven and innocent because they did nothing wrong.)

You mention My Lai. That's a very good illustration. We hear about it endlessly. And always presented in a distorted form to make America look as bad as possible. (No, I am not excusing the My Lai Massacre.) No mention is made of the tens-of-thousands of American officers who didn't order civilians fired upon, despite extreme provocation. No mention is made that the communists were deliberately committing war crimes to try to provoke massacres. If the endless repetition of My Lai were really intended to fix problems and make the world better, then all the facts would be presented. Instead the purpose is moral preening and weakening America.

If Weidner thinks campus leftists aren't concerned about Sudan, he hasn't been hanging around very many campus leftists lately. But it's not a top priority with them, because our own government isn't the one that's doing that stuff. Our own government is doing enough bad things to keep the leftists occupied...

Proves my point very nicely, thank you. They are NOT concerned. You argue for the power of publicity to pressure government to fix problems. So where are the lefties mobilizing publicity to pressure the government to take action in Sudan? Where are the lefties who think a million dead Sudanese might be a teensy bit more important than our humiliating prisoners? Or at least come in a distant second? (And NO, I am not trying to say that dead Sudanese EXCUSE prisoner abuse.) But the actions of campus lefties speak volumes.

Weidner is upset that the news doesn't report on the good our forces do. I rarely see such a blatant whine about the media only reporting bad news, and I'll save this one. But the point is, of course, that as Weidner himself says no number of good deeds are an excuse for bad ones... Even more to the point is that what matters in Iraq is what the Iraqis think of our actions, and it's pretty clear they're a lot more steamed up than any liberal Americans are. No number of schools, or closing Saddam's torture chambers (in order to open our own) will make up for this in their eyes.

I'm pretty sure this is just a falsehood, I follow a lot of Iraqi and military blogs, and I think the reaction of ordinary Iraqis is that Abu Ghraib is bad, but minor compared to the overall situation (see here). (Just being a private in Saddam's army often involved worse abuse than those prisoners endured, as millions of ordinary Iraqis know.) And we have Polls.

Lastly, Weidner disagrees with the notion that we should ask ourselves why our enemy hate us. Why shouldn't we? Understanding one's enemy's motives and behavior is one of the best available tools for fighting them. But Weidner isn't interested in knowing why liberals behave as they do, so I guess he can't be expected to be interested in why our enemy behave as they do...

Actually, we conservatives discuss "why they hate us" frequently. Our grand-strategy for the GWOT flows out of those thoughts, and is not just ad hoc. My problem with the left is that they start with the premise that they hate us because we are doing something wrong. And their conclusions flow from the premise. (and that ties in with the thought of this post, that the world is real for them only when Americans come onstage.) It's that attitude I was referring to, the "we must have done something wrong because they hate us" attitude.

And I am very interested in why liberals behave as they do. I prod the subject all the time. Of necessity I judge from appearances, but I am interested in evidence that I am wrong. I'm pleased to hear that Sudan is an issue on campus. I've filed that as a data point. I suspect that if the US Army were to invade Sudan to end the genocide they would suddenly decide that genocide isn't so bad. But hopefully my suspicions are wrong.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:27 PM

May 18, 2004

"We know our enemies"

...Are we sad? Yes of course, but we’re absolutely not discouraged because we know our enemies and we know their ways and we decided to go in this battle to the end. They think they can force us to give up but they’re totally mistaken. I’ve tasted freedom, my friends and I’d rather die fighting to preserve my freedom before I find myself trapped in another nightmare of blood and oppression.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:35 PM

It would seem like cheerleading...

Mr Lileks writes:

...The story of the prison abuse might have had a different impact if the media had chosen a different tack. The only news that hits the front page is bad news; the innumerable small fragments of good news don’t make A1 because papers have their standards, you see. We are expected to repair Iraq’s dilapidated electrical grid, so replacing an old generator and turning on the power to a neighborhood that’s had brown-outs for ten years is not news. Two Marines dead in an ambush is news because A) death leads, and B) that “mission accomplished” aircraft carrier photo op needs to be debunked, however subtly, as often as possible. The media has come to believe that reporting more good than bad somehow makes them suspect; it goes contrary to The Mission, which is to find out what’s wrong. I had the idea before Jarvis, but he was first to float it: a rebuilding beat. Every day, a story about what’s being accomplished large and small. I’d also pump for the occasional story of heroism, but I suspect that this would make editors uncomfortable. It might be true but it’s not . . . helpful. It would seem like cheerleading.

And we can’t have that.

This smothering gloom, this suppurating corrosion – this isn’t us. This isn’t who we are. If it is, well, we’re lost, because it contains such potent self-hatred that we’ll shrink from defending ourselves, because what we have built isn’t worth defending. Thanks for the push, al Qaeda! We’ll take it from here...

Cheer up, James. The self-hatred doesn't run as deep as it looks. If a Democrat were by some miracle wafted into the White House, the clouds of gloom would lift like magic. The positive side of things would suddenly be acceptable in the news.

The press is like those mafia guys in The Godfather: "Nothing personal, it's just business." They're Democrats, so it's their business to sabotage our country in time of (Republican) war. It's their business to heap abuse on our troops, to seek and cherish the bad and ignore the good. It's nothing personal that they make America look as bad as possible, and any country that opposes us look as good as possible. Just business.

What really gripes me is that, as a conservative, I don't forget the past. I don't dump it down the memory hole, or re-write it. So I am intensely aware that most of America's wars in the 20th Century were Democrat wars. And I am very aware that in each of those wars, Republicans put aside most of their partisan rancor and loyally supported their country. And we were glad when our soldiers were successful, even though it would help Dems politically. And sad when they were not successful. No Republicans glowed when our forces were defeated at Kasserine or LZ Bitch. No one called for resignations when 749 lives were thrown away at Slapton Sands.

In time of war we were Americans first and Republicans second. And not once in the 20th, (and now 21st) Century was the favor returned.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:50 AM

May 17, 2004

Tacit alliances

Belmont Club has an important post, News Coverage as a Weapon. It's the simple truth. Most of the terrorist acts that characterize 4th generational warfare are aimed at the press. Or at strengthening anti-war opposition parties.

Terrorists are in symbiosis with the press. And they are in symbiosis with those political parties that advocate appeasement. They are all three in tacit alliance, they feed off each other.

There is no doubt Saddam had chemical weapons in the not-too-distant past. And there is no evidence that the difficult measures needed to destroy them were undertaken. No evidence that they evaporated like the dew. So, he hid them. (In fact the old Soviet programs to help guys like Saddam and Assad create WMD's included advice on hiding them, and on using the Western press to create a fog of obfuscation.)

Why did Saddam hide his poison gas? Because he knew that our press and some of our politicians would use the situation to viciously attack the administration. He knew that the NYT, and many Democrats, were tacitly allied with him, and would leap at a chance to say "Bush lied." Would grab hungrily for any flimsy excuse to undercut their own country's war efforts and to advance their agenda. And, if the administration was weakened enough, he knew they would gladly let him back into power. And shed not a tear for the millions who would be slaughtered.

So now the real battlefields of the war have become domestic politics, and the press. In this country at least, the political problems will probably be fixed next November. The Democrats are by no means all anti-American, or appeasers. But the ones who are not have not stood up for principle. Have not said that it's wrong for their party to revel in American defeats. So we will probably be rid of many of them in November. As for the press, we've started, reluctantly, to fight back. To get into the news business. It's not a good thing, but it's necessary, and there will be more of it.

As for those non-existant WMD's? Well. bodies tend to float to the surface after a while... - Top Stories - Sarin, Mustard Gas Discovered Separately in Iraq:...Gazi George, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist under Saddam's regime, told Fox News that he believes many similar weapons stockpiled by the former regime were either buried underground or transported to Syria. He noted that the airport where the device was detonated is on the way to Baghdad from the Syrian border.

George said the finding likely will just be the first in a series of discoveries of such weapons.

"Saddam is the type who will not store those materials in a military warehouse. He's gonna store them either underground, or, as I said, lots of them have gone west to Syria and are being brought back with the insurgencies," George told Fox News. "It is difficult to look in areas that are not obvious to the military's eyes.

"I'm sure they're going to find more once time passes," he continued, saying one year is not enough for the survey group or the military to find the weapons...

* I see Glenn R is saying that the left is starting to change the spin. Saddam wasn't actively producing WMD's, so Bush lied.

* Update: I missed an opportunity for a great title. I could have paraphrased Wm. Randolf Hearst and written,"You provide the pictures and I'll provide the Quagmire."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:47 PM

He's laughing at my spoons!

Johnathan Pearce, at Samizdata, passes on to us this amazing (but also very witty) piece of pomposity by Libertarian writer Sean Gabb:

It is, I admit, inappropriate to ascribe one state of mind to a nation of more than 250 million people. But Americans remind me increasingly of someone from the lower classes who has come into money, and now is sat in the Ritz Hotel, terrified the other diners are laughing at him every time he looks down at his knives and forks. I suppose it is because so many of them are drawn from second and even third rate nationalities. The Americans of English and Scotch extraction took their values and their laws across the Atlantic and spread out over half an immense continent, creating a great nation as they went. They were then joined by millions of paupers from elsewhere who learnt a version of the English language and a few facts about their new country, but who never withheld from their offspring any sense of their own inferiority. The result is a combination of overwhelming power and the moral insight of a tree frog.
Charlene and I are descended from various people of those "second and even third rate nationalities," and we can assure the author that not only did their inferiority not weigh heavily on them, they had hardly gotten off the boat before they assumed a feeling of smug superiority because they were Americans!

And not only are we not gnawing our knuckles worrying if the "first-rate nationalities" (apparently England and Scotland) are laughing at our spoons, we are seriously debating whether there is any hope for Britain, or whether we should just cut our losses and place our bets on more promising countries...(How's that for pompous condescension in response?)

* Also: What I speak is English. Right here in California is where it's happening, baby! (Or possibly Texas.) What you speak is a charming regional dialect, a sort of oxbow lake left behind as the mighty Mississippi of English-speaking civilization shifted course.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:24 PM

"Unusable ordnance were buried and forgotten..."

On the subject of WMD's not being found, I heard someone on the radio talking about the seven giant cannon that were used in WWI to bombard paris. Guns with 130-foot long barrels. After the war no trace of them was found! No one knows what happened to them.

On the same subject, there's this:

The Henry L. Stimson Center - DC---CBW Chronicle, Volume III, Issue 3 (December 2001):Washington DC’s congressional representative Eleanor Holmes Norton(D) and Representative Constance Morella (D-Maryland) have requested a General Accounting Office investigation into the Army’s cleanup of buried chemical munitions in the nation’s capital. Buried weapons dating back to World War I, some of which contain chemical agent, were discovered nine years ago in the upscale Spring Valley neighborhood near the campus of American University. The lawmakers announced their plans at a House Government Reform Committee hearing in July 2001 on chemical weapons-related arsenic contamination in Washington, DC. The requested inquiry would include not only the Spring Valley neighborhood (shown in figure 2), but also parts of Catholic University, the University of the District of Columbia, and the Washington Naval Yard. Covering less than 70 square miles, Washington, DC ranks tenth on a list of sites nationwide with potentially buried munitions.

Three years after American University had officially opened its doors, the US government leased some 660 acres of land from the university in 1917 for weapons research and testing. The 1,200 chemists and engineers on staff at the American University Experiment Station would eventually work with nearly fifty different poisonous gases, including mustard gas and lewisite. At the conclusion of the war, most of the weapons were shipped to Edgewood Arsenal in Aberdeen, Maryland. However, as was customary at the time, unusable ordnance were buried and forgotten..

Posted by John Weidner at 9:48 AM

Word Note

I've probably mentioned this before, but I hate it when people use the phrase "grew like Topsy" to mean "grew very fast." It doesn't.

Topsy was the little girl in Uncle Tom's Cabin, who, when asked when she was born, said, "I wasn't born. I just growed." (So the phrase might be applicable to "emergent phenomena.")

Equally annoying are facile explanations for the decline of the Roman Empire. I wrote this because I just heard some guy on the radio saying that "the welfare rolls of Rome grew like Topsy after the time of Julius Caesar."

Posted by John Weidner at 9:14 AM

May 16, 2004

Fumes of the underworld...

This picture is dedicated to those wonderful folks who think we ought to just forget...

One month later--October 11--still smoking

One month after...October 11, 2001. The rubble of the World Trade Center is still smoking.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:09 PM


So here's the story.

Saddam Hussein orders 7 guys to have their hands amputated.

TV news producer arranges to have them flown to the US for treatment.

Makes documentary.

And...he can't find any broadcast or network station willing to air his film!

If some GI punched one of those guys in the nose, it would be huge news all over the world. No shortage of air-time would there be. But a story that makes Saddam look bad? No way. A story that makes the US look good? Not interested.

And what really gripes me is that those TV guys probably sit around preening themselves on their moral superiority, compared to the proto-fascist insects of the Bush administration.

And a lot of people get to take what they see on TV as evidence....

(found from a link by Scott Chaffin)

Posted by John Weidner at 5:18 PM

The great sorting-out...

The only good thing about the past month-and-a-half has been the effect it will have on American politics --the great sorting-out of the people with clear vision from the partisan hacks. November's choice cannot now be understood as other than a referendum on how America is going to conduct itself over the next two decades.  The Bush path is clear, and means aggressive confrontation of the enemy up to and including invasion if necessary, versus the Kerry approach of talk to the Security Council and get some subpoenas issued.  The Bush approach is hard and costly, both in lives lost among the military and huge appropriations.  The Kerry approach is suicidal. --Hugh Hewitt, May 16
Posted by John Weidner at 4:27 PM


From IraqNow:

...Not ones to let the facts get in the way of a good story, the editors of the Boston Globe chose to run with the pics even over the objections of the reporter on the piece.

The unimpeachable provenance of the photographs? Well, the Boston Globe traces them back as far as a Nation of Islam member.


Not to beat on a dead horse, here, but had they actually had a veteran somewhere in the newsroom, he could have taken a look at the photos and instantly said they were fakes:

People hardly ever wear camoflage paint in Iraq. When they do, they don't wear it like that. The face camoflage in the photos on the Sex in War site is not done to military standard, or even close. No one who's ever been in the military would wear it like that.

There are patches missing. Ok, some people in Iraq have patches missing. But only on DCUs--not on obviously worn and faded green camoflage uniforms.

And those T-shirts aren't even issue. Nobody's running around in sleeveless T-shirts, although some guys cut the sleeves off in hot weather. But they aren't those kind of T-shirts, or even that color. Army T-shirts are brown. The Marines wear a sort of aqua green T-shirt.

And any Army or Marine Corps veteran in the newsroom could have spotted that instantly and said 'hey--these pics are bogus.' And thereby saved the newspaper from a major gaffe...

Nation of Islam member? errff. I bet I could have noticed someting off about those pix, just from having seen lots of pictures of our guys in Iraq, at Army Times and DefendAmerica.

And they ran the pictures over the objections of the reporter on the piece? Hungry, weren't they. Hungry for some delicious moral preening. No doubt they had to communicate their intuition, that our entire military, under the malign influence of Donald Rumsfeld, had turned into trailer-trash torturers...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:25 PM

The sunny utopian image endures...

Another good one from Mark Steyn, The last thing Iraq needs is the cheats of the UN:

'War without the UN is unthinkable," huffed The Guardian's Polly Toynbee a year ago, just before it happened. For a certain type of person, any action on the international scene without the UN is unthinkable. And, conversely, anything that happens under the UN imprimatur is mostly for the unthinking.

No matter how corrupt and depraved it is in practice, the organization's sunny utopian image endures. Say the initials "UN" to your average member of Ms Toynbee's legions of the unthinking and they conjure up not UN participation in the sex-slave trade in Bosnia, nor the UN refugee extortion racket in Kenya, nor the UN cover-up of the sex-for-food scandal in West Africa, nor UN complicity in massacres, but some misty Unesco cultural event compered by the late Sir Peter Ustinov featuring photogenic children.

So the question now is whether the UN Oil-for-Food programme is just another of those things that slip down the memory hole, and we all go back to parroting the lullaby that "only the UN can bring legitimacy to Iraq/Afghanistan/Your Basket Case Here"...

Read the whole ticket. The extent of the scandal is stupefying. And that's just the stuff Kofi admits to, there's no imagining what might turn up if they really had a thorough audit.

Yet Democrats keep repeating that we need the UN. It's robotic and delusional. Seriously delusional! Marching-off-the-cliff delusional. The UN is not just corrupt, it's evil. It's a club for despots.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:09 AM

May 15, 2004

Kind of sums it up...

...On issue after issue, the American people have a clear choice. My opponent is against personal retirement accounts; against giving patients more control over their medical decisions through health savings accounts; against providing parents more choices over education for their children; against tax relief for all Americans. He seems to be against every idea that gives Americans more authority and more choices and more control over our own lives...[link]
--President Bush
Posted by John Weidner at 9:09 PM

Lunch with the Prime Minister...

Peter Robinson, at The Corner writes:

A couple of dozen fellows here at the Hoover Institution had lunch today with Josemaria Aznar, until just two months ago the prime minister of Spain. The event was off the record, but I can pass along one observation: Aznar conveys a seriousness about terrorism that I’ve seen matched only by that of George W. Bush and Tony Blair.

In one of Osama bin Laden’s tape recorded messages, Aznar noted, bin Laden spoke of the need to recapture “Al Andalus,” calling on radical Islam, in effect, to reconquer Spain. Aznar felt certain that it will prove only a matter of time before Europe suffered another terrorist attack as catastrophic as that in Madrid—and that between now and November terrorists would do all they could to disrupt elections here in the United States.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:16 PM

Sirs, we are at war!

Natalie Solent was kind enough to translate the comment in Italian that Sergio posted here. It's interesting to get feedback from afar...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:05 AM

70-year cycle reducks...

I wrote here about the theory that dominance of American political parties moves in a 70-year cycle, and how strong the parallels are between what we see now, and politics in the 1930's (and probably in the 1860's, though I haven't been thinking much about that.)

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. ...
Now this story, about many Democrats wanting McCain for Kerry's veep, reminds me that Wendell Wilkie, the Republican candidate in 1940, was, until just before the campaign, a Democrat! He once caused a flap by referring in a speech to "you Republicans."

Another interesting parallel I've been meaning to blog is the Panic of 1893. That was during the time of Republican dominance, from the 1860's to the 1930's. But the Democrats held the White House, under President Grover Cleveland. However, the Democrats then were the party that was against government action to mitigate such a crisis. They were the party of small government and State's Rights. They had no real ideas or policy to deal with the situation, and the confident Republicans crushed them in the next election. The actual measures being advocated were very different from today's, but the politics were very similar to the demise of Herbert Hoover.

Does anyone know who came up with the 70-year cycle theory? It's been a part of my mental-landscape for decades, but I don't remember whose idea it is.

Also, I've added a new posting category called: 70-Year Cycle.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:25 AM

May 14, 2004

"Those were the peaceful and stable times..."

The blog IRAQ THE MODEL has the most fascinating stuff. Mohammed, Ali and Omar tell tales of everyday life that illuminate what's going on in Iraq. If you are one of those people who wishes we had left the Iraqis to Saddam's tenderness, you better not read it! All those uncles and cousins and their odd stories are just too real and charming.

Ali's recent post Ibrahim and the dark future I've seen quoted several times. But only the first part, the conversation between Ali's oldest uncle and his stuffed-shirt 16 year old son Ibrahim. (which is a don't-miss!)

But the rest of the post also interested me. Ali writes about his simple delight in having a stable currency! A luxury we take for granted. And what that might mean for the country...

...Saddam’s regime used to sell dollars at half the market price, for about one week or so, in small amounts and spread rumors that the sanctions were going to be lifted as part of a secret agreement, and when the price goes below even that of the bank, as many people change their dollars into dinars in the hope that it will rise more, the Mukhabarat, through their men in the market, would buy back more than what the banks had sold, striking two birds in one stone; giving Iraqis a false hope to keep them busy and stimulate the greed of rapid fortune that occurs at such circumstances, and getting extra profit to keep his regime alive (this was not just a guess, I knew this from many Mukhabarat’s men with big mouths). The results were as expected disastrous; few people get rich and thousands get bankrupt, which led in many times to furious disputes between people about unsettled businesses or debts in Iraqi Dinars that mounted to murder in some cases. Those were the peaceful and stable times...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:00 PM

Speaks for itself...

After playing a pivotal role as the first to broadcast photographs of Iraqi prisoner abuse which U.S. military officials feared would lead to death of Americans overseas, CBS News has declined to show the beheading of an American civilian killed in an apparent retaliation for the Iraqi images.

The decision--made first by the staff of the CBS Evening News, including managing editor Dan Rather--now an official news division policy, came on the same night that the network announced it was going to air footage of an American casually talking about killing Iraqi prisoners on tonight's 60 Minutes II program. [link]

(thanks to Henry Hanks)

Posted by John Weidner at 10:25 AM

This is how an American talks...

Rumsfeld Addresses Troops After Surprise Visit to Baghdad:

..."Like each of you I'm sure, and like most Americans, I was stunned," Rumsfeld said. "It was a body blow. And with six or seven investigations under way and a country that has values and a military justice system that has values, we know that those involved, whoever they are, will be brought to justice. And we've spent the day talking to people and seeing the steps that have been taken to see that those types of abuses to people for whom we have responsibility and custody will not happen again."

Rumsfeld stressed that the values of those accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners are not the values of America or the vast majority of America's military personnel.

"And we're proud of you, each of you," Rumsfeld said. "We're proud of your service. We know each of you is here because you volunteered to serve your country. You said that that is important to you, and it's important to our country that we have the freedom that we all enjoy."

Speaking after Rumsfeld, Gen. Myers said that he was proud to "stand up here in this uniform, the same uniform you wear, and be part of this team."

"You have never let us down," Myers said. "Never, ever. I have so much confidence in you. Every time that I have to go in front of the public and talk about our military, sometimes it's about the good things we do; most of the time it's about that. Occasionally it's about the few who stray. But I have never lost confidence in the folks that wear this uniform."...

As opposed to phonies like Senator Kennedy, who sit in lumpish and truculent silence until there's an opportunity to criticize Americans. Then they come ALIVE! (and to try to forestall the inevitable comments, no, I am not excusing prisoner abuse. I'm condemning the style of discourse of those whose core-value is that America is loathsome, and ought to be restrained. Otherwise know as activist Democrats.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:27 AM

Where the jobs are going...

Don't miss this chart, (part of this NYT article.) It shows which sorts of jobs are increasing in number, which decreasing:

...Over the past decade the biggest employment gains came in occupations that rely on people skills and emotional intelligence — like nurse and lawyer — and among jobs that require imagination and creativity: designer, architect and photographer. But not all of the new jobs require advanced degrees or exceptional artistic talent; note the rise of employment for hair stylists and cosmetologists.

Trying to preserve existing jobs will prove futile — trade and technology will transform the economy whether we like it not. Americans will be better off if they strive to move up the hierarchy of human talents. That's where our future lies

.(Thanks to Frank)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:19 AM


Andrea, concerning the selection of the images we should see, by our all-wise elite newsmedia:

...First we had the images of the people jumping from the World Trade Center, which were a no-no, because people might get all upset and sad (or worse, upset and mad). Now there is the butchering of Nick Berg by orcs disguised as humans. Wouldn’t we, Precioussss, prefer instead to watch the Abu Ghraib video nasties over and over again? Watching a fellow citizen have his head sawed (not chopped or cut – sawed) off by some man-shaped piece of sewage might get us all angry at other people, which is a no-no. (Unless those Other People are George Bush and crew. It’s okay to get mad at them. Just don’t get mad at any foreigners. Foreigners, especially ones who hate us, are Our Betters™. They know we don’t deserve to live.) Watching some grinning female diddling a prisoner in a hood is good, because it makes us feel all crawly and disgusting, and people who are paralysed by self-disgust can’t do anything to defend themselves...
You don't need to assume that the newsmedia is conspiring to elect Democrats (though I'm sure some of them are). It's the instinctive reaction of self-appointed elitists everywhere to try to keep the simple folk quiet and docile. But, to continue the Tolkien theme, the simple folk, though they may seem slow-witted, "can see through a brick wall given enough time..." My guess is that from here to November will be quite enough, thank you.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:41 AM

May 13, 2004

The Great Divide...

Andrew Sullivan writes:

In the blogosphere, we are sometimes in tune with national moods. My gut tells me that the Nick Berg video has had much more psychic impact in this country than the Abu Ghraib horrors. I even notice some small evidence for this. Every political blog site has just seen an exponential jump in traffic - far more than anything that occurred during the Abu Ghraib unfolding. My traffic went through the roof yesterday, and, according to Alexa, so did everyone else's. People who have tuned the war out suddenly tuned the war in. They get it. Will the mainstream media?
My traffic too. (Well, it doubled. I think Sullivan is a bit fuzzy on the meaning of exponential.) I suspect this will be, in a smaller way, a divide like that between 9/12 people and 9/10 people.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:46 PM

Question for the teeming masses who read my blog...

Yesterday I posted this, Sunshine patriot, in response to something Andrew Cory wrote. He responded with this. We are obviously not on the same wavelength.

SO, question: Was my post not comprehensible? Not clear? It is admittedly an odd and rambling thing, but I thought my point was simple enough. (And I don't think it was a defense of torture. Does it sound that way to you?)

I'm not asking if I'm right or wrong here. Just if I was clear. And what do you think my point was? Maybe everyone sees something different...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:28 AM

The fewer men, the greater share of honour...

I predict, thinking about the previous post, that stories like this are going to spread, be passed around, and become part of our culture.

When I was young, when you thought of selfless volunteers helping out in foreign lands, you thought of JFK, Democrats and the Peace Corps. The popular image of the Republican was someone in a blue blazer at the country club.

I predict that in the not-too-distant future, the image of the volunteer will be something like a young MBA or CPA going to Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of hitting the career fast-track. Republicans, many of them...And gentlemen in England now-a-bed, Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:35 AM

Quagmiristas, don't read this...

You gotta read this great article on the young volunteers working for the CPA:

..."When you go over there you hear the stories of what happened to the Iraqi people, you just want to do whatever you can to help, in whatever way possible. You can't help it, your heart goes out to them," Ledeen says.

"Contact with Iraqis has been inspiring," Brendan Lund says. "We've established such strong ties. By coming into the Green Zone [to see whether we're alright after there's been an attack], they put themselves at risk, because it's an admission that they are cooperating with or supporting the Coalition forces, which to some of their neighbors is not a popular idea right now.

"The majority of Iraqis support the effort. They don't want the U.S. here forever but they know that they need us now."

Ledeen's group lost one of its translators — she was murdered — but the next day all of her Iraqi colleagues nevertheless showed up for work. Another translator told her, at a time of heavy bombing in the Green Zone, simply: "I would die for you."...
. . . . . . . .

...If no one knows about the good stories, then surely no one knows about all the volunteers working day and night to make those good stories happen. Energetic, passionate young people going abroad to work on traditionally left-wing causes get plenty of accolades from the media. But risk your life to bring democracy to Iraq and in the eyes of many in the liberal elite you don't qualify as a humanitarian: You're a privileged Republican child interested only in advancing your already flourishing career.

Speak to a few of the volunteers, however, and a completely different picture emerges. Ledeen tells the story of an Iraqi colleague in the Ministry of Finance — an older man with a family — who found a grenade in his home. He said he supposed it was an occupational hazard, and added, "I really admire you. You're all so young, you don't have to be here." Ledeen responded, "It's the opposite. We're here because we're young. We're going to have to live in this world for a long time, and we don't really like it right now."...

The article totally shreds that piece in Washington Monthly that claimed that the CPA was full of Republican fluffbrains put there as some sort of political payoff. Which was always absurd on the face of it: "As thanks for your donations, the Republican party would like to send you a signed portrait of George and Laura. And a chance to live in a trailer in the Green Zone, and work 14 hours a day!"

Posted by John Weidner at 8:51 AM


A little bit of "Urban Legend" updating from Hoystory. When you hear, as we often do, that "10,000 women used to die each year from illegal abortions," that figure is someone's estimate made in 1936!

"...By 1972, the year before the Roe vs. Wade decision, the Centers for Disease Control reported that 39 women died from illegal or self-induced abortions..."

Posted by John Weidner at 8:41 AM

May 12, 2004

Sunshine patriot...

I mentioned with disgust in this post Senator Kennedy's statement: "Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management." In the comments my friend Andrew wrote:

How is it loathsome to note that Saddam used to torture people where are (hopefully _were_) torturing people? Or do you deny that we are (were) torturing people?
Posted by Andrew Cory at May 12, 2004 12:09 AM

If you have to ask, you will never understand...
Posted by John Weidner at May 12, 2004 06:41 AM

Try me.
Posted by Andrew Cory at May 12, 2004 08:28 AM

The long answer: I think the statement is logically and morally obtuse, but that's not what makes it creepy.

It's the place from which he's speaking that's the wrongness. I recently read Washington's Crossing. (Don't miss it folks. It's great.) and I'm thinking right now about our soldiers marching through snow and mud, retreating from catastrophe at New York, our army reduced to a few thousand men, then turning, attacking with shocking effectiveness and skill against some of the world's best, winning at Trenton and Princeton...That was us. Not some strangers in a dim past. WE were there. We were passionate debaters both then and now, and many of the questions are exactly the same. (For instance whether problem of whether to aid other peoples who were seeking liberty, or stay home and tend to our knitting, was a hot-button from the earliest days of the Republic)

If you're American, and you know about those people (you probably won't learn much in school) then you love them. You don't excuse their flaws and mistakes, or eschew criticism. But you love them first, like parents love their children. And they did commit crimes, though those tended to be things like treating a Tory to some tar and feathers, or burning his barn. [Tory meaning loyalist, not the British political party] Americans were shocked utterly by the rapes and the looting at gunpoint that came with European troops. Imagine some prissy little Sociology professor telling you the Continentals were just a bunch of racists and war criminals!

This new war was imposed on us at 9/11. And the invasion of Iraq was debated and approved by Congress. Our country is now at war! It is wrong to now assume an attitude of distance. Of remoteness. Of, "this icky war is something the cat dragged in. It has nothing to do with me." Mr Kennedy, as an American citizen, should be with our soldiers in spirit. Sandstorms in Iraq should chafe his skin. On a hot day he should be thinking about our guys wearing body armor at 120 degrees. His first reaction should have been, "If it will save our soldiers we should torture a bunch more of those scumbags!" Then he should have had second thoughts, and said to himself, "No, that's not us. That's not what we are all about. We shouldn't do it even if it saves some of our lives. And the responsibility is mine, as a US citizen, and I think it's what our guys would really want."

That's how an American reacts. Mr Kennedy's words are wrong because they reek of distance. Of lofty disdain for ordinary soldiers and their problems. It was something the Mayor of Paris might be expected to say.

I recently had a long comments-debate about Abu Ghraib here, with Sgt Stryker. We disagreed, but I was never offended. He's one of us, he's criticizing from inside. Not looking down at our people like they were bugs.

(The short answer: He's a Tory. He should be tarred-and-feathered.)

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...--Tom Paine

Posted by John Weidner at 5:54 PM

"The voters are morons"

I have not the slightest doubt that Democrats are buffing up their "The voters are morons" theme for after the elections next november.

They're right. Us voters is morons.

Have you noticed that whenever Dems start in on their usual moral-equivalence-we-are-just-as-bad-as-they-are line, they always start with a little prologue, a sort of weasel-word proem?...something like, "Of course we deplore the horrid crime just committed by [terrorist group de juor]. BUT..........

Well Dems, the voters aren't going to notice the escape-clause. They are too stupid. All they will remember is that when you criticize the other guys, you are cool, bland...dispassionate.

But when it's time to condemn America, your eyes start to sparkle, your cheeks look rosy, you sit up sort of glow.

We've noticed.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:02 AM

A grim but salutary service...

Andrew Sullivan writes:

...In fact, of course, the Berg beheading does a grim but salutary service. In the midst of our own deserved self-criticism, we are suddenly reminded of the larger stakes, the wider war, why we are in Iraq in the first place. Most Americans do not in any way excuse Abu Ghraib, but also see that any sort of moral equivalence between our flawed democracy and Islamism's pathological hatred is obscene. In a purely strategic sense, stiffening American resolve and inflaming American outrage at this juncture is exactly what a smart al Qaeda would avoid. But there is no such thing as a smart al Qaeda. Evil can sometimes be stupid, and often is. Hitler, remember, invaded the Soviet Union...
I bet there are more than a few people right now saying, "What's the matter with those guys? Don't they know there's a War going on? A Global War Against Bush?"

We are also reminded that part of what we are fighting in Iraq is Al Qaeda! Remember all that "Bush Lied" crap? And "Iraq is a sideshow--a distraction from the fight against Al Qaeda?"

And the "Bush Lied" crowd really dodged a bullet when the Al Qaeda chemical weapon plot was stopped in Jordan. 20 tons of poison gas, including VX! Trucked from Syria. It's very that Syria has the advanced technical capacity to produce VX. So guess where it probably came from? Chew on it, you "Bush Lied" ninnies. You are lucky it didn't happen; 80,000 dead would be hard for our newsmedia to suppress, even though they are enlisted in your war, and not the War on Terror.

* Update: I just heard on the radio some clips of Democrats referring to this as a cycle of violence! Get it? It's our sins that killed Mr Berg. Al Qaeda would not do bad things, if we weren't committing atrocities. That's the same thing they say about Israel. Hamas shreds men women and children with bombs full of nails, Israel kills a Hamas leader, and all the blobbo pundits and politicians start up the, "mumble gurble cycle-of-violence mumble mumble must-exercise-restraint grobble grobble ancient grievances mumble mumble..." Now these Democrats are saying the same crap about my country!

I got bad news for you, Senator Porkbottom. Al Qaeda are not enlistees in your Global War against Bush! They are not your allies. They will happily cut your throat when the opportunity occurs. And if they are "retaliating" in a cycle of violence, exactly what American evils were they forced to respond to when they cut Danny Pearl's throat? What sins did we commit, to bring on 9/11?

And bad news for Democrats. The American people are not going to buy your moral-equivalence-we-are-just-as-bad-as-they-are line. You said it about us and the Soviets, you say it about Israel, and now you are saying it about us and the terrorists. And it's always been a filthy lie. And come November, you're OUT. You're history!

Posted by John Weidner at 8:55 AM

May 11, 2004

How I love the Internet!

In this post I wrote about Salvadoran Cpl. Samuel Toloza, who attacked Iraqi scumballs with a knife when he ran out of ammunition. It included this quote:

...Phil Kosnett, who leads the Coalition Provisional Authority office in this holy Shi'ite city, says he owes his life to Salvadorans who repelled a well-executed insurgent attack on his three-car convoy in March. He has nominated six of them for the U.S. Army's Bronze Star medal.
    "You hear this snotty phrase 'coalition of the billing' for some of the smaller contingents," said Mr. Kosnett, referring to the apparent eagerness of some nations to charge their Iraq operations to Washington. "The El Sals? No way. These guys are punching way above their weight. They're probably the bravest and most professional troops I've every worked with."...
Some troll commented that I shouldn't use stories from the Washington Times, since they are not anointed by the holy oil of liberalism.

So who just commented to set things straight? "Forget the Washington Times - I'm Phil's wife and I assure you this was an understated version of the story. It also appeared in several other papers throughout the world." -- Thank you Alison Kosnett!

And thanks to the other guys who commented. This is all tons more fun when I don't have to do it alone...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:05 PM

Give him the bum's Rush...

I caught a little of Rush Limbaugh this morning. He mentioned the infamous remark for which he has been catching so much flack. The context (I'm not meaning this as an excuse, mind, just providing a little info you'll never get from the press) was that he had at that point only seen two of the pictures, and he was bantering with his assistant (part of his schtick), not pronouncing an opinion aimed "at the audience."

But what I found very interesting was that, although the remark has been turning up in hundreds of newspapers, TV shows, columns, etc, not one single journalist has called Rush to ask about it!

And also, though over 10 hours of airtime on America's most popular radio show has been devoted to seriously discussing Abu Ghraib, not one other thing Rush has said has been reported anywhere!

Ahhh, our free press. A bulwark of Liberty. Protecting us from complicated ideas. And from those fascistic conservatives and Republicans...

* Update: There was another loathsome remark just made about Abu Ghraib. Right on the Senate floor. But his one is not getting press attention. Even though it was made by a famous politician, and is something that would sell a lot of papers. In fact it is being suppressed from news reports.

I wonder why.....

Posted by John Weidner at 6:02 PM

20 questions...

Dennis Prager of Right Wing News has a useful piece, Answering 20 Frequently Asked Questions About Conservatism:

Recently, I actually had someone ask me "What do conservatives believe?" After answering his question, it occurred to me that there are probably a lot of people out there, who are new to politics, who are wondering,

"What do conservatives believe? Why do we take the positions we do? Are liberals right in the way that they describe our motivations or is something else at work?"

Therefore, I decided to answer "20 frequently asked questions about conservatism". But, before I get into this, I do have some caveats for you.

First of all, every conservative doesn't have exactly the same beliefs. Moreover, even when we do agree on certain positions, we may have different motives or reasoning behind our answers. So keep in mind that reasonable and intelligent conservatives may disagree with some of the things I've said below.

Furthermore, remember as you read these answers that entire columns, books, and in some cases, whole careers have been spent going into detail on some of the things I touched on. So obviously, what you're about to read is a very short, simplified, and basic explanation of these issues that can be expounded on at length. In other words, think of this as a cheatsheet for "Conservatism 101," not a comprehensive guide.

Ok, that's enough warnings. Shall we begin?(via Betsy Newmark)

I like a line he quotes: "I know there isn't a vast right-wing conspiracy because if it existed, I'd be in it."

Posted by John Weidner at 8:22 AM


Dennis Prager writes:

...During the very same 10 days that every newspaper and television news program in the world featured photo after photo, day after day, of Iraqi prisoners being humiliated, a government not far from Iraq engaged in mass murder, mass rape and ethnic cleansing of approximately 1 million people.

Is that more serious, more evil and more scandalous than a handful of Americans sexually humiliating Iraqi prisoners?

Not to the world's news media...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:03 AM

May 10, 2004

Just getting on with it, with no fanfare...

We had some idea of this, but it's nice to see it expressed clearly, by HD Miller, at Travelling Shoes:

...Something that seems to have slipped by Reuters, AP, et al. these past few weeks is that the U.S. Army has been steadily whittling away at Sadr's troops, to the point that today, an American military spokesman is estimating that Sadr is down below a thousand hard-core supporters in his home town...

...Hey, didn't the Mahdi Army have over 5,000 members just a month ago?

There is no real reason to go headlong, hell-for-leather into Najaf, not when Army snipers, tanks, and helicopters are on the edge of town (and in Baghdad) picking off 30 or 40 Sadr supporters a day, every day. (And given the level of marksmenship and military acumen of the Mahdi Army, it's not a surprise this is happening.)

The Americans are winning without forcing the giant conflagration that almost everyone had predicted.

This same dynamic also explains why a Marine patrol was able to wander through the streets of Fallujah relatively unmolested today...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:40 PM

Entirely different...

If you are, ahem, a little bit tired of certain matters-Iraqi getting 99% of our attention, Mohammad at IRAQ THE MODEL has a great story! Heartwarming. About his relative who fled the hell of the old Iraqi army:

...He remained a fugitive for years, hiding from the eyes of the military police. He couldn’t see his family more than 2 or 3 times in the year. We helped him find a job and a place to hide where they couldn’t find him.

Few days ago I was visiting his family to pay our respect in the 1st annual anniversary of his father’s death.

When I saw my relative, and despite the nature of the occasion, I felt happy. Here’s a free man. I smiled as I said, “you must be very happy to be free again, and not fear the MP”. He said, "you can’t imagine! It’s like being born again. I’ve never felt so free before”. “But what are you doing for a living now? I hope you’ve found a job”. I asked. He smiled as he said, "I volunteered in the new army". “Really! I thought you’d never wear a uniform after that terrible experience” he replied "Oh no, this is entirely different"...

...My relative’s face was glowing as he continued, "you can’t imagine how much valued we are and how much our religion and traditions are respected. When we pass by a mosque, the officer in charge shouts “no talk” until we pass the mosque by a considerable distance, and when one of the officers enters our hall, if he sees that one of us is praying he remains silent and order us to keep quite until our comrade finishes his prayer.

For the first time in my life, I feel I’m somebody. I’m not a trash as Saddam and his gang tried to make me believe” as he finished his last words his voice went faint as if he was chocking...

(Thanks to Donald Sensing)

Posted by John Weidner at 4:56 PM

Like raindrops on a duck's back...

Remember how the Democrats were "shocked and disgusted" that Bush should include a two-second image of 9/11 in a campaign ad? Mr Kerry is now using Abu Ghraib for fund raising!

Got those priorities straight, folks? The deaths of our countrymen is just a nasty oddity we should forget about. The one crime they can find from among the decent actions of hundred-thousand Americans—that's front 'n center.

The Democrats deserve to lose. And I will take comfort from this quote:

...For thirty years we've been told that patriotism was shameful. We were told it was a demonstration of mental retardation or of ignorance about the world. People who were patriotic were heartless racists. For thirty years we've been pelted with the message that there was nothing about America that justified any pride.

And for thirty years the majority of Americans have ignored that message. It bounced off them like raindrops on a duck's back. Americans treasure their freedom of expression, and they treasure even more their freedom to ignore what other people say...
-- Stephen den Beste

Posted by John Weidner at 7:55 AM

May 9, 2004

Honks, cheers and sometimes tears...

The media-wing of the Democrat Party has no intention of showing us any images of 9/11. They don't think we are mature enough to resist those primitive urges to love our country, and defend her. Emotions which they have outgrown.

But suppressed images have a way of showing up anyway, Here's an interesting one...

Big Rig Honors Those Who Perished Sept. 11, 2001:
By K.L. Vantran, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2004 – More often than not, as John Holmgren drives his big rig along the nation's roadways, he is greeted with honks, cheers and sometimes tears.

It is not Holmgren's driving that riles emotion. It's his message. The truck driver from Shafer, Minn., has transformed his 18-wheeler into a rolling memorial for the victims of Sept. 11, 2001.

"It's my way of showing that those who died aren't just a number," said Holmgren. "It's my way to say someone in America cares."...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:35 PM

Small town papers...

Charlene and I are urbanites to the core. We probably wouldn't be happy living in a small town, or in the suburbs. But we share many of the values of Americans inside the Finkelstein Box. And here in the City we are frustrated by our immersion in the trendizoid Left.

But one of the cool things about our lives right now is our frequent trips, via the Internet, to the newspapers of small-town America in search of war news. Who's heard of the Columbia Basin Herald?

...The parents of Othello High graduate Rocky Rocha, currently in Iraq with the 81st Marine Platoon started sending care packages to their son, unknowingly creating a community phenomenon that has gone beyond the boundaries of family support.

Bob Guerrero, president of the Othello Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said that it was Rocky Rocha himself, stationed in the outskirts of Fallujah, who told his parents Lydia and Agustin that he was sharing with his platoon mates the goodies that came from Othello, "and sometimes it was not enough."

The Rochas asked the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce if they could help, which led to the organization's informal adoption of the platoon.

Fernando Moreno, vice president of the chamber and owner of the Othello McDonald's restaurant said the goal is to be able to send the platoon a package per week...(via CPT Patti)

Posted by John Weidner at 6:57 PM

The same then and now...

One nice thing about this war is that younger folk have had a chance to see why we despised the Left so much during Vietnam, as they treat bad news for America as good news for them.
-- Orrin Judd

Posted by John Weidner at 4:49 PM

Not a pretty picture that's going to look...

Richard Cohen in the NYT is declaring defeat:

...It is precisely such a rout of the American idea that now confronts the United States in Iraq. The world is asking what sort of liberation is represented by an American woman holding a prone, naked Iraqi man on a leash in Saddam Hussein's Abu Ghraib prison, of all places...
"The World?" What exactly does that mean? Probably those parts of the world where they never make mistakes. France, Germany, the NYT, the Democrat Party...
...No matter that the offenders represent a tiny minority of the American military or that torture may be common in Arab jails...
It's "no matter" to you. You are totally focused on what's important: America and Bush to be defeated and humiliated so that the march of change will cease, and liberal Timesmen will be restored to their former glory and influence. Too late, it's not going to happen.
...Such images will be held aloft for many years whenever America declares itself determined to right a wrong...
That's your plan in a nutshell. You, and the NYT will be recycling those images for decades. (And suppressing images of 9/11, hoping that we will forget.)
"This is the most serious setback for the American military since Vietnam," said Richard Holbrooke, a former United States ambassador to the United Nations in the Clinton administration. "We now have to admit that the American position is untenable."
In your dreams, Clintonista. We've not yet begun to fight.
...In Europe, some people are saying that if America were a country of 10 million people, its leaders would be hauled before an international criminal court...
We've been hearing some nasty stories about Dutch and German troops in Kosovo recently. So, when are those national leaders going to hauled before a court? What's that you say? The purpose of "International Courts" is to hurt America only? Gee, who'da thunk it. Well, bad news, Jacques. We'll never join your kangaroo court, and even if America were shrunk to 10 million people, we would still be strong enough to thumb our noses at you.
...So, a little more than a year after American tanks swept into Baghdad, the central question has become how to salvage the American credibility on which peace in places from Kosovo to the Korean peninsula depends."...
Credibility flows from being willing to fight, not from pleasing lefty journalists. America's enemies, such as you, may take momentary pleasure in Abu Ghraib. Go ahead, revel in the pleasure while you can, wallow in it. But the war will go on. The terrorists will continue to plot and to attack. You are the one in a quagmire, because you have to pretend that we are not locked in a savage global war. Pretend that there is no real danger. You are forced to pretend, because if we really are at war, then what you are doing is hindering and demoralizing your own country in wartime, Not a pretty picture that's going to look, once your pretense wears thin.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:04 PM

This year's battlefield in the War...

From an interesting post by Iain Murray. I think there's a lot of truth in this:

...Such criticisms miss the point. It is true that there will be no major expansions of the war this year because of the US election, but the reason for that is not some dastardly example of a victory for partisan politics over the national interest, rather it is the complete opposite. For the US Election is this year's battlefield in the War on Terror. Just as in 2001 the focus was on Afghanistan, in 2002 it was the UN and last year it was Iraq.

The truth is that the Bush Administration is tired, and has achieved about all that it can in this term. That is no criticism - it is remarkable, given the circumstances of Bush's victory that so much progress has been made, but winning those battles has taken its toll. Endless bouts of diplomatic wrangling, the complete overhaul of the basis of America's foreign policy, the invasion of two countries, two massive tax-cuts and the maintenance of a national war footing, all achieved in the face of a hostile press, intransigent Generals and a diplomatic corps in open revolt have drawn on President Bush's supply of political capital to the extent that it is now depleted.

The only thing that will refill that store is victory in November. Just as the Republican victories in the 2002 mid-terms led directly to breaking the deadlock in the United Nations, so the re-election of Bush will devastate the hopes of so many of America's foes. The thought of how the Europeans would react to his re-election is almost reason enough to cheer for it...

It's easy for us bloggers to sit comfortably and say, "The Administration should do this. And that. And we mustn't forget X, Y and Z."

But the truth is, the only way for a government to accomplish anything is to focus on a few high-priority items. Trying to do everything, or trying to win a battle every week, is a recipe for paralysis.

I remember the near despair I felt in the Summer of 2002. Bush seemed to be doing nothing, and I was sure that a time of golden opportunity was being squandered. How wrong I was! Plans were quietly maturing, and, as Andy Card said, to the New York Times: "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." Remember how Dems yelped when he said that! vile Capitalism invading the sacred purlieus of government.! Poor Card hasn't done too much talking since. But it's really a perfectly appropriate metaphor. Both parties market their plans and policies, "selling" them to the public.

Bush's moves in September and October of 2002 were dazzling. Congress authorized the Iraq Campaign, Democrats were put behind the 8-ball over the Dept of Homeland Security. We won back the Senate and made gains in the House. (What a blissful moment.) And the UN was persuaded to pass Resolution 1441. Our stores of human energy and political capital were applied at just the right time. And the victories gave the administration new reserves of political capital. Reserves that were not hoarded, but spent to good purpose.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:55 AM

Passing the buck...

Mark Kilmer writes:

When the sign on Truman's desk said "The Buck Stops Here," it meant that the President was the one who had to make the decision; he could not pass it off to someone else.
On more than one occasion President Truman referred to the desk sign in public statements. For example, in an address at the National War College on December 19, 1952 Mr. Truman said, "You know, it's easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done, after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you -- and on my desk I have a motto which says The Buck Stops Here' -- the decision has to be made." In his farewell address to the American people given in January 1953, President Truman referred to this concept very specifically in asserting that, "The President--whoever he is--has to decide. He can't pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That's his job.
Kerry and the Democrats have misused the statement to indicate that the President should accept responsibility for everything which happens on his watch. That is not what Truman meant. They do not do this knowingly; rather, I assume they simply have no idea of that about which they are talking.
(Thanks to Betsy Newmark)
They don't know what it means...well, that's understandable, the phrase "passing the buck" doesn't seem to be used much any more.

More importantly, blame and destruction is all the Democrats have left. They have no positive vision to offer, no positive energy to apply to the war or other national problems. And the idea that a President should be making tough decisions and bold choices seems alien to them. Their unspoken message is Vote for Kerry—So Things Will be Quiet Again.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:37 AM

May 8, 2004

Sympathy for the oppressed...

I don't watch CNN, but i hear they are giving a LOT of time to the prisoner scandal. Before you assume that it's because of that famous leftish empathy with the oppressed...

You might recollect this article, CNN Refuses to Report on Saddam’s Atrocities by Brian Yates:

...Possibly the only people unmoved by the sight of jubilant Iraqis dancing in the streets and tearing down statues of Saddam Hussein last Wednesday were the good people of CNN. In an op-ed written for Friday’s New York Times, CNN chief news executive, Eason Jordan admitted covering up knowledge of the brutality and atrocities committed by Saddam’s government.

Jordan tells of having Baghdad station employees abducted, beaten, tortured, and killed. He speaks of aides of Uday Hussein having their teeth ripped out with pliers for the inexcusable act of upsetting his boss. But never once did Eason Jordan or anyone else at CNN ever report on these atrocities. These people should be ashamed of themselves. They have allowed the brutality of the Iraqi regime to continue on, all the while promoting their own anchors at home who all oppose the war effort. If this isn’t an example of a media bias, I don’t know what is. And not only is it an example of media bias, but it is a bias that allowed countless Iraqi civilians to be killed...

(Thanks to Tim, whose wife, CPT Patti, is serving in Iraq)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:09 PM

a good month...

For like as herbs and trees bringen forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds.


Posted by John Weidner at 3:54 PM

#158: At last, some actual economics from the famous economist!

P. Krugman

The Oil Crunch (05/07/04) by Paul Krugman is a desperate attempt to find a rain cloud in an otherwise increasingly sunny economic sky. The only crunch we can see is "crunch-time" over at PK headquarters. He tries to make a case that currently high oil prices are becoming a serious problem for world economies. The trouble is he can't make that case without acknowledging that a world-wide economic recovery is underway.

After an obligatory swipe at the Bush Iraqi war policy for contributing to the problem he notes:

"Even if things had gone well, however, Iraq couldn't have given us cheap oil for more than a couple of years at most, because the United States and other advanced countries are now competing for oil with the surging economies of Asia."
Say What? Surging economies? Supply shortages? Seems like only yesterday Krugman was pissing and moaning about the specter of world deflation Japanese style (remember Mind the Gap) or a double-dip in the U.S. economy (remember Dubya's Double Dip?) or a "jobless recovery" (remember Jobs, Jobs, Jobs?). He moved from deflation to inflation without acknowledging (much less, celebrating) the long spans of prosperity that occur between. It's like passing GO without collecting 200 bucks.

But Krugman's most grievous error is one for which he would flunk any student in his Principles class at Princeton:

"Oil is a resource in finite supply; no major oil fields have been found since 1976, and experts suspect that there are no more to find."
This is absurd. Natural resources do not have a finite supply in any economically meaningful sense. Their supply curves slope upward and to the right like any others. Higher prices always bring out more quantity, i.e., a movement along the supply curve. There are boundless examples. Drill a little deeper, find fields that were marginal at lower prices, move a little further off-shore, etc. Then there are technological advances aimed at reducing extraction and various delivery costs. These advances shift the supply curve to the right thereby increasing the quantity at all price levels. Examples are development of deep sea drilling rigs and modern pipeline technology that makes delivery possible from remote regions, e.g., Russia and Kazakhstan. Higher prices also work on the demand side by encouraging conservation (turning off lights, carpooling, etc.) and new technology directed toward alternative energy sources. How all of these factors work themselves out over time cannot be predicted with any precision. We never run out of anything, but as scarcity becomes more and more of a problem, old energy technologies price themselves out of the market and new technologies arrive. As long as markets stay free and investments are rewarded a resolution is assured.

There are many historical examples of this process. If we were transported 200 years back in time Krugman probably would be whining about high whale oil prices and how we are running out of whales. In fact, whale oil was still with us as recently as 30 years ago when sales were banned except from existing inventory. However, as a major fuel source, whale oil was bypassed a hundred years ago by superior technology. In time fossil fuel will itself be bypassed by a cheaper energy source. HOWEVER, that time may be a long, long way off.

As shown in the chart below, current oil prices in real terms are not particularly high–certainly not alarmingly high compared with past history. For computational reference, the first observation in the chart, Jan 1974, is 956 cents per barrel divided by a GDP deflator of 33.38 gives a real index value of 28.6. If the chart were updated through April 2004 the index would now be about 32.0. This clearly constitutes an uptrend but real prices have not reached the peak seen in the Gulf War and are nowhere near the levels during the energy crises of the late 70s.

Real prices of imported crude oil, 1974-2004

If fossil fuels are to be displaced by another technology it will take more than beltway sideshows–politicians pandering to greens and promising subsidies for alternative energy boondoggles. A new technology will have to win it in the trenches with consumers and we don’t see that happening any time soon.

[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. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 11:27 AM


It's easy to start thinking that what happens in NY and Washington DC and the major media is what's real. This NYT article, A Giddy Heartland Gives Bush Warmth Missing in the Beltway is a good reminder that the iceberg one sees is just the 10% above the surface...

...It was, rather, for Air Force One's approach, which the news camera followed as if it was that of the space shuttle.

"You can see a smooth landing at the Dubuque Regional Airport," the anchorman, Scott Sanborn, said in a slightly hushed tone. "There is a lot of anticipation in Dubuque for the president's visit today."

That was putting it mildly. On local television and radio and in the main newspaper here, Mr. Bush's stop in this Mississippi River town, part of his three-day bus tour, has scored blanket coverage for days, much of it downright giddy...

What's hilarious is the obvious subtex of the article: it isn't right that the President should be able to go direct to the people! The press has already decided what the story is right now, and the President and these boobys in the heartlands are not following orders! Hee hee...
...Still, news directors and editors said they did what they could to counter Mr. Bush's campaign spin. Mr. Cooper pointed to a front-page article on Tuesday in which a 77-year-old World War II veteran complained he was refused a ticket to Mr. Bush's speech because he admitted to local organizers he would not support Mr. Bush. The newspaper tempered its coverage on Friday with an editorial referring to his claims that said, "It is disappointing that Americans had to pass a political litmus test to see their commander in chief."

On television, correspondents at all the major stations covering Mr. Bush's speech at the Grand River Center, on the banks of the Mississippi River here, took pains to remind viewers, "This is a very staged setting," as Mr. Steele of Channel 7 did. The later editions of the newscasts included reports about protests...

The article just assumes that it is the normal and proper thing for the media to be anti-Bush, and to hate being "forced "to cover his appearances. Assumes that they will do whatever possible to 'counter" his message. Jerks. Remember this when they claim not to be biased...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:57 AM

Stranger than any fiction...

Kate o'Beirne writes, in The Corner:

Senator John Warner is now deeply worried about accountability and the chain of command. There hasn't been a Secretary of the Army for almost a year (Les Brownlee is testifying today in his temporary, acting capacity) because Senator John Warner has refused to allow the Senate to confirm a new one. On March 2nd at a hearing of his Committee, Senator Warner proudly announced that he was blocking all civilian nominees for the Defense Department because he has his knickers in a twist over the Boeing/Air Force controversy. Good thing there's not a war on. . .

Posted by John Weidner at 8:35 AM

May 7, 2004

The long game...

Alan Sullivan writes:

...Whatever his motives or ideology, [Paul] Reynolds is right to observe that the fruits of last year's US victory have begun to rot. I am convinced that the pious president cannot bear to behold the inherently pernicious attributes of Islam. Nor can he bring himself to break with the dictators and sheiks upon whom the US has based its policies for so long. He is caught again on the flypaper of his own indecision, as he was before the war. Recall how he wavered, how he clung to the hope of avoiding conflict via the UN? Only the combat itself afforded a brief time of clear, decisive action. Bush left the conduct of the war to his battlefield commanders, and they handed him a triumph that he seems incapable of grasping.
I'm wondering if Alan isn't making the mistake of expecting the war to run on Internet Time? (Or whatever that term is, for things going seven times as fast as normal life?)

We've gone through a certain kind of Blogosphere Bush-panic several times now, with bloggers tearing their hair because Bush is "wavering," "gone soft," "lost focus," been captured by the State Department, etc. And yet the caravan continued to move on.

"Recall how he wavered, how he clung to the hope of avoiding conflict via the UN?" Frankly Alan, I don't recall anything of the sort. I recall a long battle to get the UN to support us in removing Saddam. It was the UN that was squirming and twisting to avoid conflict. We wanted to fight, and eventually we did. It was a prolonged torment at the time, and Bill Quick rattled my nerves at least weekly by announcing that he had given up hope, that we were doomed, that Bush had wimped out, and nothing would happen. Turns out, not so.

I think it's more accurate to view our war as something like the game of poker, a game which Bush is said to be very good at. A good player wins respect slowly, proving that he doesn't bluff with poor cards. So that when the time comes to really bluff, he's believed, and his force is multiplied...

America has tried way too many weak bluffs in recent decades. We got called in Vietnam, and we've been behind ever since. One of our biggest lacks has been credibility. Osama bin Laden said just exactly that many times. He said we wouldn't stick, that we wouldn't take casualties.

Looked at that way, our difficulties in Iraq are all to the good. By sticking steadily, even ploddingly, to the task despite all, we are earning credibility. Assuredly a lot of the rogue nations and problem dictators of the world are watching carefully. They've figured out that Bush won't repeat Mogadishu, but will the Americans stick through long frustrating bloody months, even years? They are wondering if slow attrition is a tactic to consider using. Will it break us, or is it just another form of suicide?

And those same guys are watching the comparable savage and treacherous attacks Bush is enduring at home. They are wondering if the Democrats are allies to cultivate, or frenzied losers on the way down. So in the same sense our difficulties at home are for the good. The banditti of the world see Bush attacked almost weekly. It's becoming an almost ludicrous series of assaults. Yet he doesn't seem much weakened! And his attackers are looking neither strong nor confident.

I suspect that our poker playing President is planning his game years ahead. Without too many bluffs or fast flashy moves. I could certainly be wrong, but that's my take. Maybe Alan would like to bet on it, though the truth may not be known until various memoirs are published a decade or two from now...

* Also, I think someone who thinks that a "pious President" will likely be weak and unwilling to see evil doesn't know much about Christians.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:20 PM

"Childhood" was NOT a modern invention...

H.D.Miller of Travelling Shoes writes: Cronaca has a great post about recent discoveries of medieval toys along the banks of the Thames River. These discoveries have finally laid to rest one of the sillier theories to emerge from the French Annales school, that childhood as we know it did not exist until the Renaissance.

Cronaca, quoting National Geographic:

Many of the miniature guns and cannons were once working replicas and consist of copper alloy to withstand firing pressures. "The largest of them are equivalent to a pocket pistol. So [they're] perfectly capable of killing somebody," Forsyth said. "It's obvious they are not perfect replicas. But we know they worked, because some of the barrels have exploded. If these were being used by children, then they probably met with an unfortunate accident. Certainly children had access to black powder and could use all sorts of projectiles," she said.

And we worry about BB guns!

The miniatures weren't the only playthings that worked. For instance, tiny copper cauldrons have been found with sooty bases, suggesting children used them to cook food.

Hobbs says other replicas, including a three-legged stool, a birdcage, and tools such as saws, are important because no previous record of these objects is known for the period.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:20 PM


Here's some pictures of Iraq that definitely won't be considered "news."

Posted by John Weidner at 3:26 PM

NPR and Hamas...on the same side.

Remember the murder in Gaza by terrorists of a mother and four daughters? Remember the little girls shot at close range? Here's how our enemies spun that attack. From a column by Jeff Jacoby:

...The official Voice of Palestine radio praised the quintuple murder as a "heroic" operation against "five settlers," not bothering to mention that the victims were an unarmed pregnant woman and four children.
    The savagery of the attack was similarly downplayed by National Public Radio in its broadcast the next morning.  Actually, reporter Julie McCarthy did more than minimize the horror of the massacre. She blamed the victims for "provoking" their own murder -- not by anything they did, but by their mere "presence" in the disputed territory...
Provoking their own murder. I'll bet that vile creature thinks we "provoked" 9/11 by offending Muslim know, by building 100-story skyscrapers, and by not discarding Christianity like the wiser and more sophisticated Europeans.

And I suspect if you could peer into her head you would discover that she thinks we provoked 9/11 by electing George Bush President.

My tax dollars help support this person! It's infuriating. But I take grim comfort in thinking how it's probably sinking in with voters that these people are on the other side! And come November I suspect they are going to be crushed just like they deserve.

Here's the picture again:

Israeli woman and her four daughters murdered by terrorist scum

These are our friends and allies. The animals who murdered them are our enemies. There's only one war. One global war on terror. And the people of Israel are us! Like us they fled a stagnant and brutal Europe to found a new land in the midst of murderous savages. Like us they built a country of religious freedom and economic freedom.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:03 PM

"...we felt the image was disturbing."

Jonah Goldberg writes;

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

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

The number-one priority for Ultras, both here and across the water, is to keep ordinary people asleep. Especially people of the English-speaking countries, who have some mysterious deep-rooted reluctance to being saddled and ridden.

There's no conspiracy; they don't need one because they are all on the same wavelength. Go anywhere in the developed, Western world, and you will find the same sort of people in favor of high taxes, government schools, gun-control, government TV and radio stations, and heavily regulated economies. And against Christianity and George W Bush. And in perfect agreement that ordinary people are a dangerous beast best kept placated and asleep.

And they all instinctively understood that the Global War on Terror was a catastrophe for them. Something to be downplayed, denied, hidden, fudged-over. Derided as nasty and primitive and illegal. And that the United States of America and its allies must be hindered!

Twenty tons of chemical weapons were recently seized in Jordan from Al Qaeda agents with many Iraq connections. That's not news! No "investigative reporters" are asking where that stuff might have come from. Don't arouse the beast. Play up Abu Ghraib for all it's worth, to make people feel humbled and doubtful about the War.

From an interview on the subject:

...But there's no doubt these guys confessed on Jordanian television that they received the training for this mission in Iraq. . . And from the description it appears this is the form of nerve gas known as VX. It's very rare, and very tough to manufacture . . . one of the most destructive chemical mass-production weapons that you can use. . . They wanted to build three clouds, a mile across, of toxic gas. A whole witch's brew of nasty chemicals that were going to go into this poison cloud, and this would have gone over shopping malls, hospitals . . . .
That's not news! Pay no attention. There is no war. I'm going to count to three and snap my fingers. You will awake. Television will be over for the night, and it will be time to go to bed. One...Two...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:19 AM

Oooops, now Peru's getting ahead of us, too..

Interesting article on a successful tax reform in Peru:

...The first phase of the reform focused on simplification, with 50 different taxes reduced to four. Employees were taxed at a flat rate, deducted by their employer, and banks were enlisted to help with collections....
These things spread. Peru is next door to Chile. They can see this kind of stuff working. They can watch lower tax rates and simpler systems leading to economic growth and actually more tax money collected...(Same mix is cooking in Iraq. Call it the Bremer Revolution. It's no wonder Democrats and Ba'athists and Al Qaeda all agree that what's happening there is a catastrophe.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:22 AM

May 6, 2004

The mucky Samaritans...

Andrew Cory (a fine fellow, though we often disagree. He blogs here) put this in a comment to this post I wrote about the prisoner-abuse scandal:

...This isn’t just some PR thing, some sort of media event to spin, these are serious violations of human morality. Why can’t you just see that and say-- without qualifications-- “my country did wrong. I am ashamed”?

Hell, even President Bush said that...

Sorry Andrew, but I reject your argument utterly.

My country did NOT do wrong. Some individuals committed crimes. I'm ashamed of them. They will be punished. Our military would be doing wrong if it didn't seek and punish the guilty. But that still doesn't mean my country did wrong.

Making mistakes is the price of action. War crimes are the inevitable price of war. We've committed them in every one of our wars. That doesn't mean the wars were wrong, or that our country was wrong to fight them. They are the price of using human tools. Just as the price of dropping bombs is sometimes killing the innocent. That doesn't make using bombs wrong.

If you organize a police department to fight crime and make the streets safe for law-abiding people, there will always, no matter how hard you try, be some cops on the take, or some who beat-up suspects. Is it wrong to have police? Should the Mayor apologize for the sins of the city? No way. The city is doing the right thing. It's those critics who sneer and complain but won't ACT, won't get their hands dirty trying to solve problems who have something to apologize for.

Our government is doing its best, but there will inevitably be mistakes and shortcomings and crimes. That's what happens when you ACT, when you take risks and undertake difficult tasks. We are humans, we are flawed. I'll spot you guys one more: There are, I am absolutely sure, nasty war crimes being committed right now by Americans that we will probably never even know about! How's that? And am I going to apologize for them? No way. I deplore them, we should do all we can to minimize them, but the only way to prevent them is to do nothing.

And any course we chose for Iraq would have had painful human-rights consequences. Including the policy of doing nothing. I'd like to see the people who think we should not have acted apologize for certain trifling human-rights glitches that their policy (whether right or wrong) would have entailed. They should be the ones badgered by reporters. "Mr Chomsky, leaving Saddam in power would have meant prisoners still being being eaten alive by dogs, and dropped into acid baths. Don't you think you owe the world an apology?"

But of course those guys never have to apologize. They strut on the sidelines, clothed in spotless moral virtue, and sneer and carp, and undercut those who actually try to fight evil. If you fight evil you will get mucky for sure. The Samaritan who helped the man beaten by thieves got blood on his clothes and spent a lot of money and doubtless had a more awkward messy time of it than the story tells. The pompous prigs who passed on the other side of the road probably thought they were owed an apology for having their mood spoiled. (I bet they were "visualizing world peace.")

I disputed the premise, "Blessed are the peacemakers." On the contrary, it was always those who fought evil whom history remembered as the greatest in their generations.
-- Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
* And by the way, there's something flakey about this sudden fetish for apologies. It's way too goo goo and touchy-feely for my taste. Especially in time of WAR. I don't want leaders who apologize. I want our foes apologizing. Or starting to, in the two-seconds of deep reflection before the oncoming Predator missile hits.

* And if you want to see something that's much better than an apology extorted by hypocrites, go here.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:13 PM


...But these photos are us. Yes, they are the acts of individuals (though the scandal widens, as scandals almost inevitably do, and the military's own internal report calls the abuse "systemic"). But armies are made of individuals. Nations are made up of individuals. Great national crimes begin with the acts of misguided individuals; and no matter how many people are held directly accountable for these crimes, we are, collectively, responsible for what these individuals have done...[link]
Pure steaming lefty hate-America bullshit. For every brutal prison guard, there are hundreds of guys and gals working their tails off, and risking their lives, to make our projects in places like Iraq and Afghanistan succeed. Their stories and letters are passed around the blogosphere, often culled from small-town newspapers. Rarely from the likes of the WaPo, where this piece appeared. Never noticed by trendy Liberals. That's why people like me keep posting them—because our "media elite' dump them right into the circular file.

InstaPundit linked to an ugly story of prisoner abuse in German civilian prisons today. I bet we don't get any WaPo tales about how that's the real Germany. (Not unless they elect a pro-Bush government. Then the story will suddenly be important, as "evidence" that fascism is on the rise.)

Posted by John Weidner at 1:55 PM

Our military's system works...unlike certain others.

OpinionJournal points out that it's our military, not the press, that discovered the prisoner abuse, and has been working to fix it.

...This is a cover-up? Unlike the Catholic bishops, some corporate boards and the editors of the New York Times or USA Today, the military brass did not dismiss early allegations of bad behavior. Instead, it established reviews and procedures that have uncovered the very details that are now used by critics to indict the Pentagon "system." It has done so, moreover, amid a war against a deadly insurgency in which interrogation to gain good intelligence is critical to victory--and to saving American lives...
Democrats are now trying to turn this into a Watergate-like scandal, and use it to attack the President. I think they are making a big mistake!

They are betting on the stupidity of American voters. But I suspect that the simple folk will knit those thick Neanderthal brows, and slowly put 2 and 2 together. "Terrorists attack us. Ugh! Bush attack terrorists. Ummm. Democrats attack Bush...1 - 2 - 3 - many time...Urrghhh. Me not see wisdom here." [For the simple folk of Internet-Land, that's a joke.]

And our press. The Media Wing of the Democrat Party. Where was their concern about prisoners when Saddam was in power? In fact we learned belatedly that the press had been actively covering up Saddam's crimes to preserve "access." But they wouldn't have reported them anyway. It wouldn't have been "news," not unless it could somehow hurt Republicans.

Our press is doing its best to create the quagmire they want to have happen. Doing its best to re-create the Watergate/Vietnam era, the only time the world seemed to work the way it's supposed to. A world where "brave" and "honest" reporters, and activists and "Democrats" stymied and humiliated the US, sold free people into Communist slavery, and strutted and preened forever after on the moral high ground.

I hope and pray this all backfires on them. Surely people will notice that all this concern for Iraqis clicks-on the moment it can hurt Bush? And will click-off if it doesn't seem to be hurting him? If a Democrat were in the White House we would be hearing about how "the system works," and how "our leaders have moved quickly to fix a minor problem"...Remember how tear-jerking stories about the "homeless" disappeared the moment Clinton was elected? And reappeared as soon as Bush became President?

The feeding frenzy over this will hearten our enemies and discourage our friends. It will therefore result in more deaths of American soldiers. And moderate Iraqis. The Dems are murdering our people for political gain. They care nothing about those Iraqi prisoners, the issue will disappear the instant it can no longer hurt Bush. A new Iraqi government will almost certainly be less squeamish about prisoners rights than we are. But don't expect any press coverage over their prisons unless the new government is very pro-Bush.

I'll repeat myself. The Democrats and their press-allies are deliberately killing American soldiers. Our failure in Iraq will help Kerry, and that's all they care about. They have no positive program or agenda, no vision of hope or joy to offer voters. Their only chance to get back in power is through American failure. If the economy goes bad or we fail in war, that's good news for them. That's what they want.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:10 AM

May 5, 2004

A long long list...

Everyone and his uncle are wallowing delightedly in the misdeeds of a dozen or so Americans. So I felt like posting some of the stuff that isn't considered newsworthy...

Amy Ridenour posts a letter detailing what just one Engineer battalion has done in Iraq. This post is just a part of the list:

...Constant and exhausting are the IED sweeps, searching for roadside bombs. This combined w/ a route clearance effort of trash removal, vegetation clearance and filling abandoned fighting positions that amounted to $73,000.

This list is huge and too long to recount in detail, but weapons cleared in such efforts included over 10,000 artillery pieces, over 4000 RPGs, around 5000 mortars, over 1200 grenades, even including large missiles, rockets and warheads. Realize that some of these items are now in use in IEDs (roadside bombs). Imagine if we had not cleared all this. As it is, we have located and neutralized 95 IEDs.

Our infrastructure missions included major bridging construction that opened up highways for Iraqi commerce and travel. Along w/ this, 24 kilometers of main roads and many more secondary roads were repaired and cleared.

In what may be the US Army's record accomplishment for any single unit carrying out humanitarian missions, we completed 224 neighborhood projects totaling nearly $5 million. Twenty-eight primary and secondary schools were repaired, built and improved. We also completed 67 projects to construct and improve Baghdad University and Mustansariyah University, which included 7 colleges, 3 dormitories, 250 renovated rooms, and many internet and computer labs, totaling around $1.5 million. This included restoration and improvement to the Museum of Natural History.

General infrastructure projects included 23 major ones that involved everything from major repairs to establishing security at a value of $140,000. Sewage projects covered 31 major items, 19 substations and 15 vehicle trucks totaling $1.97 million. We also completed 4 major water projects at $152,000 and $94,000 of irrigation systems.

All this was accomplished by our single unit in Baghdad's toughest areas while averaging around 285 soldiers...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:58 PM

It's the other guys who are in a quagmire...

I was pleased of course to see the New York Times article, on 150 Shiite leaders urging Moktada al-Sadr to end his rebellion:

...Several Shiite leaders acknowledged that they had delayed issuing their statement until there were clear signs that public opinion among Shiites had moved strongly against Mr. Sadr. Reports in the past two weeks have spoken of a shadowy death squad calling itself the Thulfiqar Army shooting dead at least seven of Mr. Sadr's militiamen in Najaf, and several thousand people attended an anti-Sadr protest meeting outside the Imam Ali shrine in the city on Friday, according to several of the meeting's participants.

Mr. Mahdi, from the Sciri group, which is close to Ayatollah Sistani, was blunt about Mr. Sadr's decline in popularity. "He's 100 percent isolated across most of the southern provinces; he's even isolated in Najaf," he said. "The people there regard him as having taken them hostage." He said Mr. Sadr had also been criticized by his most powerful religious backer, Grand Ayatollah Kazem Hossein Haeri, based in the Iranian city of Qum, who had urged Mr. Sadr to pull his militiamen out of Najaf and Karbala and to stop storing weapons in mosques...

We knew already, from polls and from the elections that have been held in soutern Iraqi towns, that most Iraqis want a multi-party parliamentary democracy, and do not support would-be dictators, religious or otherwise.

But a loud and violent minority can drown-out and cow a moderate majority. Especially one that hasn't developed the institutions and connections that allow moderates to apply influence. It may well still happen, but it doesn't look like this is the time.

And a lot of people here were deliriously happy to have a chance to declare defeat, and began enquiring where one goes to surrender. Hey, it's a tradition! A lot of Americans are proud that we abandoned the South Vietnamese to slaughter and "re-education camps." I suspect Mr Kerry is one of them. They are eager to find an excuse to abandon the Iraqis to any convenient dictator.

Some people were saying that, "the Shiites are rising up against us." That's totally stupid; if they were we would be bundled out of Iraq in a week. Shiites in toto outnumber us 100 to 1! Or "We're trapped in a hopeless quagmire. I said so when we failed to capture Baghdad the first week. And now I've been proved right." Yeah, you hope so. Got that last helicopter ready to take off from the embassy roof?

You know who's really feeling like they are in a quagmire? Those people who are attacking us! Nothing's quite working out as they hoped.

Najaf and Karbala were boomtowns until a month ago. People were making big money just renting out spots on their floors for pilgrims to sleep. Now the pilgrimages are stopped--until Mr Sadr is neutralized. This is an education for Iraqis. The next "Mahdi" will have a harder time of it.

And in Falluja the people who attacked us are apparently penned in in the northwest corner of the city. They can still get a lot of civilians killed (which the world will blame on us) and inflict casualties on us (Which Democrats will say are "unbearable," though they are utterly blasé about 500 murders a year in a Democrat stronghold like Washington DC. In fact the two cities have much in common. Democrats want ordinary people disarmed and passive, while thugs and killers get to run amok.)

BUT they certainly don't look "triumphant" any more. They keep attacking, they keep taking losses, but we're not running away. Think how frustrated they feel right now. And they are trapped. They can't just write-off Iraq as unimportant, as if it were Afghanistan. It's part of the heartland of Arab culture. They have to fight!

Posted by John Weidner at 1:01 PM

May 4, 2004

Punching way above their weight...

Sometimes I get discouraged and think the defeatists and appeasers will win, and the War on Terror will have to be fought all over again a few years down the line, when it will be much worse. But then things like this lift my spirits...From the Washington Times:

NAJAF, Iraq — One of his friends was dead, 12 others lay wounded and the four soldiers still left standing were surrounded and out of ammunition. So Salvadoran Cpl. Samuel Toloza said a prayer, whipped out his knife and charged the Iraqi gunmen.
    In one of the only known instances of hand-to-hand combat in the Iraq conflict, Cpl. Toloza stabbed several attackers swarming around a comrade. The stunned assailants backed away momentarily, just as a relief column came to the unit's rescue...
and there's this
...Phil Kosnett, who leads the Coalition Provisional Authority office in this holy Shi'ite city, says he owes his life to Salvadorans who repelled a well-executed insurgent attack on his three-car convoy in March. He has nominated six of them for the U.S. Army's Bronze Star medal.
    "You hear this snotty phrase 'coalition of the billing' for some of the smaller contingents," said Mr. Kosnett, referring to the apparent eagerness of some nations to charge their Iraq operations to Washington. "The El Sals? No way. These guys are punching way above their weight. They're probably the bravest and most professional troops I've every worked with."...
(Thanx to Andrea)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:09 PM

Some Krugman thoughts...


The Krugman Truth Squad is on hiatus these days—because they're economists, and Paul Krugman hasn't written anything solid on economics for a long long while.

But I'll just take a slice or two of off Krugman's latest column, Battlefield of Dreams:

...Less has been said about how dreams of making Iraq a showpiece for free trade, supply-side tax policy and privatization — dreams that were equally oblivious to the country's realities — undermined the chances for a successful transition to democracy.

A number of people, including Jay Garner, the first U.S. administrator of Iraq, think that the Bush administration shunned early elections, which might have given legitimacy to a transitional government, so it could impose economic policies that no elected Iraqi government would have approved. Indeed, over the past year the Coalition Provisional Authority has slashed tariffs, flattened taxes and thrown Iraqi industry wide open to foreign investors — reinforcing the sense of many Iraqis that we came as occupiers, not liberators...

So where's the evidence? Where are the facts? We don't need no facts, we're the NYT!

From what I've read, low-priced goods are flooding into Iraq, and many people now have money to spend, who didn't before. Cars, sat dishes, cell phones, are selling like hotcakes. Police, teachers, government employees all have greatly increased salaries. Our planned spending on various projects has been horribly delayed by State Department rules of a sort that Krugman doubtless supports. But it's starting to kick in, and unemployment is falling. Exactly who's complaining? How does K know that "no elected Iraqi government would have approved?" Instinct? Actually any smart government would want to have economic reforms made now, because they will be much harder to do once voters have a say.

But then Krug gets to what's really bothering him. PRIVATIZATION! He hates it like poison. (Which is just what it is to his dreams of being a kingpin in a big-spending Democrat administration.) He mentions various private contractors in a way that just assumes that they perform worse than government doing the same job. No evidence needed, of course, Merely mentioning "profits" and insinuating political connections (Republican) is enough.

Of course the prisoner-abuse scandal is handy to taint all:

...We don't yet know for sure that private contractors were at fault. [at Abu Ghraib prison] But why put civilians, who cannot be court-martialed and hence aren't fully accountable, in that role? And why privatize key military functions?...
Why? Well, for one thing you can lay them off when the war is over. When the contract expires the taxpayer's expense ends. And it frees up soldiers for other jobs. Like actually hunting for the bad guys.

And Krugman doesn't mention that the contractors doing things like body-guarding or interrogation are almost all retired US military personnel. Also that those aren't key military functions. (For key functions, think, "killing people and breaking their things.")

Posted by John Weidner at 1:59 PM

The world is like a vast darkened hall...

I think what most bothers me about the prisoner-abuse flap is the way, for many of us, only Americans are real. I think that's what I was really trying to get at in my earlier post.

For a lot of people here the world is like a vast darkened hall with small mechanical puppet-theaters scattered about. And the little puppet stages only turn on when an American comes near. Then the lights come on, the music plays, and the little puppets dance and sing.

I remember when all the campus lefties spoke in portentous tones of "The People of Vietnam." Then the US pulled out, and they never mentioned those people again ("Vietnam" itself they often mention to congratulate themselves on "ending" the war.) "The People" were never real to them, the theater went dark as soon as the Yanks moved away.

And think of the endless academic churn on the subject of slavery, and the delicious fact that many of our founding fathers owned slaves. But slavery is happening in the world right now! Black Africans are being enslaved in Sudan right now. And none of our despicable campus frauds care at all. And if we invaded Sudan to end slavery there, they would be out protesting against us.

And remember when Afghan prisoners were first being sent to Guantanamo? Remember the brouhaha? The heartrending concern for their welfare? But for every guy sent to Gitmo, at least ten were tossed into Afghan prisons. And conditions there were far worse! Overcrowded hell-hole dungeons. Guys were begging to be sent to Cuba. But none of our phonies said a word about them.

The same applies to Israel. The Palestinians only exist when the Israelis are there. Arab countries do far worse to the Palestinians, but nobody notices. (I suspect israel is a sort of proxy US. Sclerotic European countries feel the humiliation of Arabs next to free and vibrant Israel, because they experience the same humiliation next to free and vibrant America.)

THIS is what should be generating outrage. THIS is a thousand times worse than us humiliating prisoners in Baghdad:

Israeli woman and her four daughters murdered by terrorist scum
An Israeli woman in her eighth month of pregnancy and her four daughters were killed this afternoon when two terrorists opened fire at Israeli cars traveling on the Kissufim-Gush Katif road in the Gaza Strip. The attack occurred when the two gunmen, apparently residents of Dir el-Balah, began firing at Israeli cars on the road. Police said the mother was shot, causing the Hatuel's white Citroen to swerve off the road. The attackers approached the vehicle and shot the mother and her children with "killing shots" at close range (Thanks to PowerLine)
"Killing shots at close range." Into little children. We should be doing everything we can to destroy the vile animals who did this. But the sob-sisters don't care at all. At least those killers won't be getting $25,000 checks from Saddam any more! Thank you George Bush! And zero thanks to all the antiwar anti-US crocodiles!

Posted by John Weidner at 10:26 AM

May 3, 2004

The opposite of flip-flop

I was pleased to see that President Bush still stands behind what he said after his carrier landing a year ago. What he said then was right and true:

...We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes…The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq...
What he said was the simple truth, and scoundrels have worked ever since to spin a lie, claiming he said that all fighting was done, and therefore "he lied."

Lorie Byrd writes:

Regardless of the conventional wisdom, I wish Bush would use that footage in a campaign ad, because everything he said on that carrier was true. What we accomplished in April 2003 in Iraq was unprecedented and to say it was wrong to congratulate the troops on a job well done is asinine. Especially when they had, in fact, accomplished the mission, regime change in Iraq, that President Clinton declared U.S. policy in 1998.
One thing I'm bitter about is that our military has not received proper credit for what was not only a stunning feat of arms, but also one of the great humanitarian deeds of our time. A more conventional campaign would have taken months, and the death toll would have been far far higher.

To simply bypass much of Iraq's military and population was extremely daring and risky. And we made it look easy, like the trapeze artist sailing through the air over the circus crowd. And because it looked easy most people never realized what a virtuoso performance they had witnessed. They didn't know what it was they had seen!

Instead, bitter joyless people filled the news with the looting of the Baghdad Museum (which in fact never happened) as if that was the only important thing going on. That our blitzkrieg had saved tens-of-thousands of lives meant nothing to them. That almost all Iraqi soldiers lived to see their families again meant nothing to them. In fact, the damn Museum meant nothing to them! They ceased their crocodile tears the instant it was no longer useful to bash Bush and defame our military. Frauds.

Not one of those pious prevaricators said, "I'm glad I was wrong, and the Museum treasures are safe." They just dropped the subject.

Someday Charlene and I will tour the Baghdad Museum. And remember with pride our President landing on an aircraft carrier. and the splendid "mission accomplished" of our forces. Accomplished so fast and well that many evils and destructions never had a chance to happen. Including perhaps a real looting of the museum, which might well have occurred if Saddam's regime had not been bewildered by the rapidity of their demise.

...Decades of lies and intimidation could not make the Iraqi people love their oppressors or desire their own enslavement. Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear...
President Bush with crewmembers, USS Lincoln, May 2003

* Update: I should add that I am aware that there were losses among Iraq's antiquities. And I regret them exceedingly. But things might have been a million times worse. In the plan, 3ID wasn't to enter Baghdad at all. A messy urban battle was anticipated, with our airborne divisions fighting building by building. But we moved so fast the Iraqi defense never got organized. Our daring entry into Baghdad was an improvisation!

Posted by John Weidner at 8:51 PM

Good news...Halliburton/KFC merger announced...

From The Japan Times Online :

Toshiba Corp. and General Electric Co. have applied for permission with the U.S. Department of Energy to conduct a feasibility study on building a nuclear plant in Alabama, company sources said Sunday.

The two electric giants are hoping to land the contract following a Bush administration decision to once again support the construction of nuclear power plants, according to the sources...(via Judd)

Even if it doesn't get built, it will siphon off energy from the Ultras that otherwise would go to helping the terrorists win. Sort of like the papier maché airplanes widely used in WWII to attract the bombs and bullets of attackers.

President Bush should immediately announce the construction of ten new nuclear plants, and a proposal to merge Halliburton and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Then smash the terrorists while nobody's looking...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:19 AM

Liberals, I'm waiting for the outrage...

Remember the (largely bogus) stories about black churches being burned, a few years ago? Big outrage, remember? (I'm still disgusted at the prayer that was offered in our church then, to preserve churches from the "white racist conspiracy" that was attacking them. Of course no conspiracy was ever found, but the Episcopal Church has faith! Maybe not in God, but definitely in the existance of "white racist conspiracies.")

SO, here's an interesting item, (thanks to Orbital):

Governor Ahmed Sani of Zamfara State [in Nigeria], has ordered the demolition of all churches in the state, as he launched the second phase of his Sharia project yesterday.

Speaking at the launch in Gusau, the state capital, Governor Sani disclosed that time was ripe for full implementation of the programme as enshrined in the Holy Quran.

He added that his government would soon embark on demolition of all places of worship of unbelievers in the state, in line with Islamic injunction to fight them wherever they are found.

I'll just sit down and wait a bit, while the outrage over these black churches grows and grows...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:45 AM

May 2, 2004

Real tortures

While you are busy being outraged over prisoner-abuse in iraq, keep in mind the tens-of-thousands of Iraqis who haven't been tortured and murdered just because Coalition forces have liberated the country.

I remember one story from a year ago, about an Iraqi man who thanked the US forces for liberating his country. But it was too late for him, poor man. The body of his 12-year old daughter had been dumped on his doorstep. With a video-tape, the contents of which I won't describe to you. Just a little warning from the Ba'ath. A little message from Saddam.

That's what we are fighting against, in a thousand ever-shifting forms.

That's what ABC and Ted Koppel don't give a damn about.

That's what the Bush-haters and the America-haters don't give a damn about.

That's what the French and the Germans and the UN don't give a damn about.

That's what the "anti-war" activists don't give a damn about.

Evil cold-hearted phonies.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:39 PM

golf in a lightning storm...

Cori gets it right, concerning Ted Koppel's names of the fallen TV event:

...But I mention that piece to draw attention, again, to Nightline's executive producer, who is still peddling the same line:

"If you agree with the war or disagree with the war, these people here have died in our names. We think it's the least we can do, to list their names."

No, sir. That's the least we can do, as private citizens, in Memorial Day services. You, on the other hand, are the head of a large news organization and have a choice. The least you can do is to report their deaths fully, accurately, and in context. You have not been doing it...

That's for sure. Most news media are trying to leave us with the impression that George Bush is sending soldiers out to play golf in a lightning storm.

And I don't know if it's intentional, but they are also broadcasting loud and clear the message: "Just kill a few more of us, and we'll wimp-out and go home." What ABC is doing is terrible. Right now the message the world hears from us should be:
"Nemo Me Impune Lacesset" (No one wounds me with impunity)

Instead, Ted Koppel is killing American and Coalition soldiers. He's telling terrorists to kill us and help elect Kerry. Our TV and our debates go around the world. And right now terrorist scumbags are watching Nightline and thinking: "Mogadishu. It's happening. Took awhile, but it's just like Osama said. Americans can't take it. We just have to keep it up a little longer, and they'll crack."

My guess: We will keep getting hit hard until the election next November. When the terrorists discover they can't put Zapatero Kerry into the White House they will lose heart.

* Update: I just noticed this:

... "After listening to all the debate, then watching the show, we think the folks at 'Nightline' made a mistake this week, listing all the brave men and women who have died in Iraq, but without providing the context of what they went half way around the world to do.

"So next week, we here at 'Fox News Sunday' are going to put together our own list, a list of what we've accomplished there, with the blood, sweat, and yes, lives of our military....

Thank you FOX.

* NOTE: The image is from Georgia currency of the Revolutionary War. The motto means "No one wounds me with impunity" or perhaps "No one will provoke me with impunity."

Posted by John Weidner at 4:28 PM

"as in itself it really is"

Charlene just told me to read this piece by Joseph Epstein in OpinionJournal, on why conservatives ought to be cheerful. The author talks about a very wealthy man surrounded by splendid possessions. But obviously not happy. "Although the sumptuous trappings of his quotidian life gave no clue to this, he was, lifelong, a man of the Left. As such he had certain expectations of the world; and the world--shocking to report--let him down daily."

...But a conservative brings no such expectations to his life. He takes the world as given, a place always full of sin, silliness, and a rich surplus of stupidity--but also much goodness and mirth. The conservative fancies he views the world, as the philosophers say, as in itself it really is. Utopia is not his idea of a good time; it is not, for him, an idea at all but an illusion. If he is sensible, he understands the need to alter social arrangements that are cruel or grossly unfair. But the installation of perfection in a patently permanently imperfect world is not something he has signed on to deliver. This in itself ought to bring a smile to his face.

The barbarians may well be at the gates, but then they always have been. Besides, the gates are a damn good place for barbarians to be. "And now," writes the poet Cavafy, "what's going to happen to us without barbarians? / They were, those people, a kind of solution." Without barbarians, after all, conservatives themselves, in the realm of ideas, would be out of existence. So let us attack our barbarians with wit, mock them with laughter, greet their pretensions to superior virtue with a knowing smile. The duty of a conservative, try to remember, is to be cheerful.

...a patently permanently imperfect world. I like that.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:51 PM

"the best commodity in politics is to be underestimated"

This NYT article, The Ventriloquist Jokes Don't Bug the White House, is worth reading. The friend who sent the link said: "I think Gergen says it perfectly as to why the left sees Cheney behind every cunning move by the White House. They just keep misunderestimating Bush."

...Yet the perception persists among Mr. Bush's most fervent critics: Mr. Cheney is de facto president, and a clueless Mr. Bush takes his orders from him. An angry left, still stinging over the 2000 election and now furious over the shifting reasons for war in Iraq, sees in Mr. Bush's less-than-articulate news conferences a less-than-sharp mind. Therefore, Mr. Cheney must be running the country from under Mr. Bush's Oval Office desk.

"People on the left hear Bush discuss things in such simple ways, and yet carry off what seem to be diabolical plots so effortlessly, that they can't believe it's really him,'' said David R. Gergen, the communications director to another president, Ronald Reagan, who was perceived by his critics to be manipulated by a powerful White House staff. "It's almost impossible for people on the left to believe that simple-speaking people can be successful at politics, or can successfully govern.''...

To those of us who are interested in what's actually going on, the obsessions with Cheney and Rumsfeld seem kind of goofy. But the foes of the administration seem to inform themselves by only talking to each other.

And they are in the somewhat awkward position of wanting to criticize without actually engaging with or debating President Bush's ideas and plans. Without even admitting that there are any ideas to dispute! Since Bush says flat-out what he's up to, in plain language anyone can understand,(just read the major speeches, you will have it all) they have to pretend he's a cypher, and that a shadowy cabal is really in charge...

Posted by John Weidner at 12:14 PM

Turning over rotten logs...

There's an uproar over a college newspaper article that sneered at Pat Tillman:

A college newspaper columnist who wrote that NFL player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman "got what was coming to him" when he was killed in Afghanistan triggered a furor at the University of Massachusetts yesterday, drawing hundreds of angry responses from across the country and a scathing statement from Jack M. Wilson, new president of the University of Massachusetts...(via Cori)
But what I find really interesting is the scrutiny that these things get now. Campus wackos have been saying these things all along, but now the world notices...

This is from my almost-first blogpost, back in November 2001:

A war begins. It's like rolling over a rotting log, the sun suddenly shines on a miriad of things both beautiful and creepy. We suddenly have a lot to say.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:32 AM

May 1, 2004

'Thar She Grows'

I remember reading years ago about how large parts of the oceans are fairly lifeless because of the lack of Iron—needed as a trace element in plant life. The possibility was raised of adding iron to the water so that CO2 would be trapped in biomass. It was a possible answer to fears of global warming.

I never heard any more about it. But apparently it wasn't forgotten, and experiments have been ongoing. There's an interesting article in TechCentralStation.

...The latest results, just published in Nature, respond  to criticisms skeptics raised at the very idea of reducing atmospheric CO2 by raising the iron level of sterile expanses of cold salt water far offshore. It indeed appears that circumpolar waters that lack only iron run-off from the land might be turned into the equivalent of offshore national forests that sequester carbon in seas instead of trees.

Many greens screamed that the very idea was a snare and a distraction, diverting the world from the canonical solution of curbing energy consumption and taxing or rationing fossil fuels. It was one of the rare instances in which National Review, not The Nation, came to the fore as an early advocate of innovative intervention in curbing climate change -- the first experiments in the Pacific were hailed under the rubric 'Thar She Grows'...

Not only may we be able to reduce greenhouse gas, but there could in the future be lots more fish! Yum. And there are whole constellations of people and groups who hope to use "global warming" to hog-tie capitalism and America. The thought of spoiling their fun is delicious...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:29 PM

Sweet things to look at...

Here's a charming slide-show of photos of Iran. Fun stuff, nothing to do with political turmoil. (via Rantburg)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:48 PM

Here's yet another flag-draped coffin...

I'm posting another one, to express my utter contempt for the despicable worms of our "press," who are complaining about not being able to photograph the coffins of our war dead.

There are LOTS of coffins available to be photographed. What the press wants is to embarrass the Administration and demoralize our country in time of war. (And to avoid going to Steubenville.) They aren't worthy to clean the boots of our Marines...

Marines carry the coffin of Lance Cpl. Michael J. Smith Jr

Marines carry the coffin of Lance Cpl. Michael J. Smith Jr. from Grace Lutheran Church in Steubenville, Ohio, on Wednesday. Smith, who died April 18 during combat in Iraq, was remembered as a man known for pranks, an offbeat sense of humor and a moral compass that helped to guide other men. -- Dale Sparks / AP photo
Found at Army Times, 4/29/04

Posted by John Weidner at 3:49 PM