July 31, 2004

"we are set up for a clear debate over the next few months..."

Cori Dauber has a good analysis of Kerry's speech, on the issue of waging war:

...I think that's wrong. [that the speech was incoherent and skirted all major issues.] I agree -- you have to go back and read the speech again in "the unforgiving light of day." You have to parse the critical section on the war carefully. But when you do, you'll see that there is a clear position there, and that it lines up in such perfect opposition to that of President Bush's that we are set up for a clear debate over the next few months that will allow us to choose between two very distinct visions of where this country should be in the world over the next four years.

If there was a single question we would ask, or see this speech as answering, it would be: did the events of September 11th change the world, or change the way the United States should relate to the rest of the world?...

The problem of course is, that while it is possible to discern much from Senator Kerry's words, they are never expressed so clearly that anyone could pin him down in debate. Never so clearly that he can't say that they mean something else.

A pity, but war has a way of shining a bright light on things that would prefer to stay under the rock.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:00 PM

Don't mention 9/11, it gives us hives...

NY Post, July 31, 2004 -- BOSTON — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton warned President Bush against evoking too many 9/11 images in his re-election campaign and the GOP convention in New York or Americans would reject him as an "exploiter."...
Warned off! Ha ha. You better believe she don't want him to talk about it. It's the "Clinton Legacy:" the world's biggest smoking pile of rubble. "Warned," forsooth!

And Roosevelt shouldn't talk about Pearl Harbor, and McKinley should just shut up about the Maine.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:47 PM

The roll-out is beginning...

Hugh Hewitt writes:

In his campaign stops today, President Bush ripped into John Kerry's non-record in the Senate, using a new stump speech in both Missouri and Michigan.  Kerry's left almost no footprint on the Senate though he has spent 20 years there --like the kid at the 25th high school reunion who for the life of you you can't remember in even the smallest way.....

...Bush also laid out the framework for his "ownership culture" and "responsibility first" themes for the fall. I watched the speech uninterrupted on a long plane ride, and thought to myself that the roll-out is beginning, and that it is an impressive debut of powerful themes. No happy talk and no minimization of the tasks ahead. Bush closes with a stern reminder of the battles ahead and the overarching issue of the war, but emphasizes that the domestic agenda is one of tailoring new laws to the new econmy, which means individual ownership of health plans, retirement accounts, and small businesses. It is very progressive in the sense that personal liberty and autonomy are the most progressive of all goals. Kerry's appeal to the cliches of the past felt shopworn opposite Bush's sweeping assessment of the many changes that must accompany the new economy.

"Individual ownership." The Dems worst nightmare...

Posted by John Weidner at 3:39 PM

Immoral unless pointless...

Wretchard puts this well

...Even Bill Clinton was prepared to retaliate against Osama Bin Laden for the USS Cole attack by firing hundreds of cruise missiles at his training camps. But George Bush tried to defeat him and for this stood condemned. It is this precise striving for victory, not any single act of retaliation that has made George Bush so illegitimate in the liberal mind. For liberals retaliation is soley used to "send a message"; it always an invitation to negotiation, like the ones Johnson sent Ho Chi Minh without reply; it is never part of the solution itself. In this curious mental universe, force is immoral unless it is also pointless...
We see this often, though, like so many leftish things, it is never explicit. It's expressed in code words, such as talk of "exit strategies." (And the absence, in itself a message in code, of any mention of victory.) And implicit in approval of only those military interventions, such as Bosnia or Liberia, that don't actually protect the US.

And I think it is implicit in the frustration a warblogger like me has in trying to debate with left-leaning types about Iraq. I've got 8 or 10 good reasons for invading Iraq, but they will only debate the small prudentiary ones, such as whether Saddam was chummy with Osama bin Laden.

The bigger points, which involve winning the entire Global War on Terror, they won't argue about. You can't ever pin them down to even admit those as topics of debate.

And that's what was missing from Kerry's speech, and made it seem so slippery that people are writing millions of words debating what it meant. What was missing was not only victory as the only acceptable goal, but also that victory is the most moral and humane outcome.

Pause a moment and remember that General Sherman loved the South. His happiest years were spent in Louisiana. He probably had more friends in the Confederate army than most Confederate generals. The March To The Sea, and his Carolina campaigns, were acts of mercy, explicitly designed to save Southern lives, both by avoiding the bloody battles of the Civil War (those campaigns killed almost no one), and by ending the war decisively, so the South would abandon all dreams of succession and future wars.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:39 AM

July 30, 2004

Results-oriented alliances

Take a look at this article by Bryan Preston in TCS:

It is playing a key role in curbing and caging North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. It played a key role in disarming Libya, discovering and rolling up the Pakistani A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network, and has become a framework for international military and police exercises organized by the United States. Its membership includes most of the world's largest economic powers, most of the world's largest military powers, and most of the most influential states on earth. The United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Russia, the Netherlands, France, Australia and Germany are among its 15 member states, and it is one of the pillars of the Bush administration's strategy to both win the war on terrorism and halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. As an organization set up to perform a mission that the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency have jointly failed, halting the spread of nuclear weapons, it has the potential of becoming an alternative to the UN itself in coming decades. Notably, all of its members to date are democracies.

But thanks to the media and Democrats who insist on portraying the Bush administration as "unilateral," you have probably never heard of it...

I have in fact heard of the PSI. It's one of those things I think of when goofballs say we are "distracted" from the GWOT by Iraq. It's the news media that are distracted. The Bush Administration has it's eye on the ball every minute.

However, I had not heard of Caspian Guard!

...The "unilateralist" Bush administration is also setting up a sister organization to the PSI called Caspian Guard. Caspian Guard is ostensibly a three-way alliance between the United States, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan for the integration of several interlocking program elements, namely airspace and maritime surveillance and control systems, reaction and response forces, and border control.

What might be Caspian Guard's deeper mission? Take a look at a couple of maps, one of Azerbaijan's neighborhood and one of Kazakhstan's. What do they have in common? Caspian Sea, and both either share a border with or are across the water from Iran. Caspian Guard is to Iran what the PSI is to North Korea -- a cage in the making, constructed by the Bush administration's State Department. Look for several other US-leaning states in the area, such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and possibly even Turkey, to either join the Caspian Guard or cooperate with it in significant ways.

Sweet. And of course we already have Iran partly encircled with Iraq and Afghanistan.

What's really amazing is that our government could come up with such a chaming name. One would expect them to call it Central Asia Responsibility Project, or some such. Is Condi hiring poets?


Posted by John Weidner at 6:23 PM

Judge him by his record...

Tom Bowler comments on Kerry's speech...

..."I ask you to judge me by my record", he said, but any mention of the Senator's record brings howls that his patriotism is being questioned. He made almost no mention of his Senate record, but he mentioned his patriotism being questioned.
And tonight, we have an important message for those who question the patriotism of Americans who offer a better direction for our country. Before wrapping themselves in the flag and shutting their eyes and ears to the truth, they should remember what America is really all about. They should remember the great idea of freedom for which so many have given their lives. Our purpose now is to reclaim democracy itself. We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism.
This is a stunning accusation in its dishonesty. I feel he is speaking to me, and accusing me of questioning his patriotism. I don't think he has a direction for our country but for me to say that is to question his patriotism. His purpose he says is to "reclaim democracy itself". Is there anyone but the angry left who feel that democracy has been lost? He is recycling the propaganda of the left and I hope he will be called on it as the campaign progresses...
* Terminology Update: "You're questioning my patriotism" and "You're wrapping yourself in the flag" are the automatic Democrat responses to substantive criticism. (Any criticisms Democrats make are "the heart and soul of patriotism.") These phrases have corollaries in the automatic Dem responses to Republicans saying anything positive:

For instance, if we point to our accomplishments, that's triumphalism, a horrid thing. If we win elections, then "democracy needs to be reclaimed," and "the voters are morons." And if we are so lost to normal decency as to suggest that our country should try to DO anything, that's hubris!

Posted by John Weidner at 11:03 AM

Counter-demonstration...

This was seen recently in Best of the Web:

...The next day, the pantomime Gongsters are gone from Copley Square. In their place are shoes--thousands and thousands of shoes. Multitudes of boots are arranged carefully on the lawn, with a sign explaining, "These 907 pairs of boots represent the U.S. soldiers killed in the Iraq war." Then there's a sloppy pile of shoes with another sign: "These 1,000 pairs of shoes represent a small fraction of the estimated 16,000 Iraqis killed in the war."...
Of course deaths mean nothing to those jerks unless they can be blamed on the US. A million of so people killed by Saddam are but the weight of a feather in comparison.

And the phonies can't even imagine counting up the number of people who have NOT died because we liberated Iraq. The number is surely huge by now, though I've lost the link to that web site that was counting.

Perhaps those of us who love freedom should manufacture some sort of tokens or objects to represent those NOT KILLED. Then set up counter-demonstrations whenever this stupid shoe-demonstration stuff happens again. Maybe little toy chipper-shredders. Or little figurines that say "still ALIVE, thanks to USA." A hundred-thousand or so of them would be a big job to set up, but would make an impressive display.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:58 AM

WHO needs to "restore trust and credibility???"

A good line from Lileks:

... And so on. All the stuff about restoring trust and credibility is nice, but note how no one is questioning the trust and credibility of the Brits, the French, the Russians and the UN, all of whom shared the same opinions about Iraqi capability...
There are a lot of such questions that might be asked. It's funny how selectively the "must restore trust and credibility" stuff is applied. In fact it only seems to apply to the USA...while under Republican leadership.

Shouldn't we be suggesting that the antiwar anti-national-defense Left has some problems with THEIR utterly false predictions about Iraq? The predictions of Middle-East-exploding-in-war, the famine-refugees-epidemics-burning oilfields?

There's been lots of pointing at "alternate plans" that allowed for bigger forces in Iraq. But the other plans included stuff like taking SIX MONTHS of bloody warfare to defeat Saddam's mighty army. Shouldn't those people be shuffling their feet and stammering over their mistakes?

The recent investigative report shows that prisoner abuse by US forces is, in fact, very rare in this war. Shouldn't the people who wrote and spoke as if it were endemic, and directed from the top, have to restore THEIR trust and credibility?? Hmmm?

Posted by John Weidner at 9:54 AM

July 29, 2004

Balderdash

Jason Van Steenwyk gives a good fisking to Editor and Publisher's attempts to obfuscate and explain away the obvious gross bias and imbalance in the news media shown by the Pew Report. here's a snippet:

Indeed, observes executive editor Smith of the Democrat-Gazette, "There are probably more social reformers in journalism than accountants. We tend to attract a certain kind of person."[ie: liberals]
Let’s see…it was conservatives who pushed for welfare reform. It’s conservatives pushing for tort reform, education reforms, social security reforms, and tax reforms. It’s conservatives pushing to reform abortion law and it’s conservatives pushing for the radical reform of the politics of the middle east region. But conservatives aren’t reformers. What balderdash!
Cal Thomas, known to take a conservative viewpoint now and then, backs the "unwelcome" argument, but adds that the profession "doesn't pay all that well unless you get to a certain level," discouraging many conservatives. Larry King, executive editor of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, agrees that conservatives "have more of a background that is perhaps more attuned to the financial aspects of the world."
Change the subject of King’s declaration to from “conservatives” to “Jews” and you get a sense of the speciousness and arrogance of his argument.

Gee. And I thought conservatives—particularly religious ones, were “poor, uneducated, and easy to command.”...

The leftish definition of "social reformers" has come to resemble the joke about the man who loved fresh air so much, he filled his whole house with it...then sealed the windows and doors to preserve it forever...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:17 PM

"If the Left would help this time..."

Orrin Judd mentions this article, The Morality of Intervention, which blames the lack of progress in Darfur on the Iraq invasion. Judd sums it all up nicely:

One reads along futilely in an attempt to find some way in which Sudan differs from Iraq:
* European indifference
* Arab/Muslim complicity
* Opposition from the Realist gang
* The Anglosphere leading the lonely crusade
* A serious response bogging down at the UN
* Complications because of past Western inaction
* The ultimate realization that only America and its military can reorder the situation and save lives
The reasons for intervention are identical. If the Left would help this time, instead of hindering the humanitarian effort, it might restore some of their moral credibility and would certainly hasten vital action.
Bush and Blair are both the sort of "classic liberals' who would love to send a couple of brigades to Sudan to clean things up. But both of them used up their store of political capital fighting the relentless and continuing attacks of the fascistic pro-Saddam Left.

Fighting the same useless crew who now have the gall to castigate Bush and Blair for not doing anything in Sudan...(continuing until the moment Bush/Blair start to do something, when they will switch over to attacking them.)

And of course it is NEVER even suggested that the critics on the Left might themselves take action, say by organizing some of those noisy protests in favor of military intervention in Sudan. No no no... The Left never DOES anything, they just whine about what the grownups do.

[Yes, I know, I'm oversimplifying "the Left." Of course there are some there who are capable of action of a positive sort. But they are so few they can only be considered lonely voices. They have no influence, and staying where they are is a sort of moral abdication. They should move to the side that still believes in promoting the good and fighting evil vigorously. That still believes in the FUTURE. They might form a new flavor in the conservative ice-cream parlor. The name "neocons" has already been taken by a previous group who left the Dark Side, so perhaps we could call them "Gladstonians."]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:42 AM

July 28, 2004

It's the "process" that's important...

AOG noted this line from Carter's speech:

In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a screeching halt for the first time since Israel became a nation.
His comment:
Carter for once has said something about foreign policy that is in fact accurate. However, Carter seems to view this screeching halt as a bad thing. I can see how it might crimp his invitation to soiré rate or cut in to his honorariam cash flow, but in terms of actual peace it’s a big win. On the other hand, it’s been a big loss for the Arafat so I suppose I can see why Carter is for restarting the peace process. What’s a few hundred dead in comparison to the chance to sell out American interests to brutal, dictatorial thug like Arafat?
My thought is: I've never seen such a clear example of how simply and literally INSANE the "peace-process" mania of the Left is. If Carter's words are taken at face-value, this "process" has lasted 56 years. Without producing anything resembling peace.

I guess we just have to be patient and give the "process" some time.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:03 PM

He's a classic liberal...

Melanie Phillips gets this just right

...Where [Andrew] Sullivan is absolutely right is to call Bush a liberal. For in repudiating the corrupted values of both the post-moral left and the reactionary appeasers of the right, Bush has indeed exhibited the classic liberal desire to build a better society, along with the characteristic liberal optimism that such a project can and must succeed.

And this is surely why Bush is so hated by the left. For this hatred wildly exceeds the normal dislike of a political opponent. It is as visceral and obsessive as it is irrational. At root, this is surely because Bush has got under the skin of the post-moral left in a way no true conservative ever would. And this is because he has stolen their own clothes and revealed them to be morally naked. He has exposed the falseness of their own claim to be liberal. He has revealed them instead to be reactionaries, who want both to preserve the despotic and terrorist status quo abroad and to go with the flow of social and moral collapse at home, instead of fighting all these deformities and building a better society....

(Thanks toJonathan Gewirtz at ChicagoBoyz)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:27 PM

It's OK to lie to show Bush lied #....hmmm, I've lost track.

Remember when the otherwise useless ex-ambassador Joe Wilson sabotaged our war efforts by claiming Bush lied about attempted Iraqi uranium purchases? And how he was suddenly the oracle-of-honesty? The advisor-to-presidential-candidates? And remember how the Democrats/news media fawned over him? And perhaps you've noticed how, now that his loathsome falsehoods have been exposed, they've just dropped him down the memory hole?

Well, Howard Kurtz put together some numbers, and Mike at Cold Fury created a very nice chart. Thank you Mike!
comparison of news coverage of Wilson--before and after his lies were exposed

Posted by John Weidner at 4:58 PM

#162: It's time for a dose of reality


P. Krugman
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD

We were away for only ten days and things really got looney at Krugman central. He and the New York Times editorial page are both going bonkers over the prospect of voting machine fraud in the upcoming election. In Fear of Fraud (07/28/04) Krugman wrote his third column and the Times is now up to at least six editorials on this marginal topic, all of them bordering on hysteria.

It's time for a dose of reality.

First the problem with the 2000 election was not simply that it was close. We have had close elections before. Rather, that election was statistical dead heat. Some important states (not just Florida) were decided by a several hundred to a few thousand votes. Even with a closely divided electorate the odds of that happening were in the hundreds of thousands to one. The odds in the 2004 election will be just as miniscule. Obviously we should improve voting process where practical, but to obsess over this subject is ridiculous.

Second, even if by some stretch of the imagination the 2004 election were to be another "dead heat" the contentious issues would most likely concern voter eligibility rather than vote counting technology. Notice that Democrats rarely mention the uncounted chads today, but prefer instead to talk (without a shred of evidence) of the million black voters denied the vote in Florida in 2000. When it comes to particulars, even Krugman himself mostly emphasizes the undercount of eligible felons and the over count of Hispanics as major problems:

"After first denying any systematic problem, state officials declared it an innocent mistake. They told Accenture to match a list of registered voters to a list of felons, flagging anyone whose name, date of birth and race was the same on both lists. They didn't realize, they said, that this would automatically miss felons who identified themselves as Hispanic because that category exists on voter rolls but not in state criminal records."
He may have some arcane point here. Apparently in Florida most felons are Democrats and most Hispanics are Republicans. But what pray tell does this have to do with his presumed topic – voting machine audits, touch screen technology and paper trails? Answer: NOTHING. Early in his column Krugman protests (too much??) that he is not paranoid. Okay. We prefer the technical term anyway. As we said in the opening sentence – he's looney.


[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 1:04 PM

Another great Jonah column from the convention...

From USAToday:

...The problem for them is that not even the now decidedly anti-Bush press can conceal the fact that virtually none of these allegations were true. The Senate Intelligence Committee report, the British Butler Report and the 9/11 Commission report undermine every key allegation of the anti-Bush flat-earthers. The 9/11 Commission, which was being hailed as an oracular council of truth and light when it made Bush look bad, has essentially said the Patriot Act does not go far enough (and Ashcroft, by the way, never even poked his nose in a library); that Bush never lied and that several of Bush's more famous accusers did — including those who, knowing otherwise, insisted that Bush's "16 words" about Saddam Hussein's pursuit of uranium were lies...

...The Boston Democrats are running on the fumes of a Bush-record-that-never-was. They gripe about how he's cut education spending, when he's increased it by more than 35%. They claim he lied about WMDs when he didn't. They say he's violated civil liberties when he's been fighting for the survival of liberty. They're betting everything that they can cross the finish line before the American public realizes that the Democrats are coasting on an empty tank.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:25 AM

Curiouser and curiouser...

From the Tombstone Tumbleweed, Tombstone Arizona [link, maybe temporary] :

Information officer Andy Adame, from the Border Patrol Tucson sector says, “I guarantee it’s not true.”
However, seasoned Border Patrol field agents have shared some disturbing information with the Tumbleweed as well as other civilian sources with the hope the information will make it to the general public.
The Tumbleweed has verified information that a flood of middle-eastern males have been caught entering the country illegally east of Douglas, Arizona...

...or about the early morning hours of June 13, 2004 Border patrol agents from the Willcox station encountered a large group of suspected illegal border crossers, estimated to be around 158, just east of the Sanders Ranch near the foothills of the Chiricauha Mountains. 71 suspected illegal aliens were apprehended; among them were 53 males of middle-eastern descent.
According to a Border Patrol field agent, the men were suspected to be Iranian or possibly Syrian nationals. “One thing’s for sure: these guys didn’t speak Spanish and after we questioned them harder we discovered they spoke poor English with a middle-eastern accent; then we caught them speaking to each other in Arabic…this is ridiculous that we don't take this more seriously, and we’re told not to say a thing to the media, but I have to,” said the agent, who spoke to the Tumbleweed with the promise of anonymity.
Adame confirms the groups of illegals were apprehended on those dates in the same area but stated, “There were no middle easterners in the group. Every single one of them was Mexican.”
The field agent stated the men were wearing the traditional uniform of migrants - baseball caps, tennis shoes, some had work boots, denim jeans and many had t-shirts with patriotic American flags and slogans. The agent added the following description “A curious thing I noticed was that they all had brand new clothing and they looked as if they had just been to the barber shop--you know--new haircuts. They were clean cut and they all had almost the exact same cut of mustaches.”...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:00 AM

July 27, 2004

Real Minutemen...

A certain unspeakably vile flab-worm recently said that the terrorists in Iraq were "patriots" and "Minutemen" who were going to win.

Here are a couple of the real patriots:

...More than 250 Iraqi men had gathered outside the front gates of the compound here during the morning of July 17. Many were interested in joining the newly formed Iraqi National Guard and working to rebuild their country. One terrorist saw this as the best time to strike.

A taxi approached the front gates at 7:45 a.m., according to witnesses. One of the Iraqi soldiers on duty at the gate that morning was Adil Abed, a young man who was planning to be married next week. He would never see his ceremony or his bride-to-be again.

Abed attempted to stop the suspicious taxi. When the driver failed to respond, Abed fired his AK-47 and the driver returned fire with a pistol, hitting Abed.

The soldier's comrade Sadaam Obeeid rushed forward to help his friend when the taxi, packed with explosives, detonated...

SO, are the slimeballs succeding in cowing the Iraqi National Guard? Are they gonna win, as claimed by a certain maggot finding much favor among Democrats these days??

...That flow of eager men hasn't slowed.

Every hour, men approach the gate to join the ING. One recruit said he did not like the deaths of the soldiers but he was not afraid of it.

"The terrorists were trying to discourage people from joining the ING with their attack," Ahamy said. "In the days following it we have had many, many men come to us wanting to join. They see the attack as proof they are needed. Terrorists will not win here."

The soldiers gathered the remains of their fallen and draped them with an Iraqi flag. A ceremony was held on the compound before turning the fallen over to their families. Iraqi officers visited the families of the two men during the funeral ceremonies to offer their condolences.

"Their death makes a vibration that is felt in the town. The people want the violence to stop," Haair said. "We all know we must work hard and be responsible for that to happen. We support the soldiers' sacrifice by continuing their holy duty to make that happen."...

Yet perhaps this is all just an oddity, an unusual occurrence...not indicative of what's happening???
...The Iraqi solders' actions weren't surprising for the Marines dedicated to training them to take a greater role in security and rooting out terrorism. Lt. Col. Rick Jackson is a 46-year-old from Allendale, N.J. Marine serving as the deputy director of Iraqi Security Forces for 1st Marine Division. He said the actions, while tragic, are telling of the dedication of Iraqis sworn to protect their nation.

"These guys are out training with us every day," Jackson explained. "We do joint patrols together. To hear they stood their ground and acted the way they did isn't that surprising at all."...

The link is thanks to Blackfive, who adds:
One final note, I have heard directly from two Marines who believe that these Iraqi soldiers are the begining of a true professional and free Iraqi military. I have heard secondhand from others who have emailed me that they have been impressed with the dedication and abilities of the new Iraqi Soldiers."...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:31 PM

I'll just sit and wait for certain people to apologize for slandering our military....

Powerline has an analysis of the U.S. Army's report on prisoner abuse that was released last week:

...The Army inspector general report found that since the fall of 2001, overall the United States had held more than 50,000 prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq, a number never before made public.

I blinked in surprise at this: out of 50,000 arrests and detentions during a war, a grand total of only ninety-four allegations of abuse were made? That's astonishingly low -- and it's a wonderful testament to the professionalism and calm devotion to duty among our soldiers, led by Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush.

When you actually break the numbers down, it gets even better. Fully 45 of the 94 allegations refer to the moment of arrest or detention...

...Finally, here is the part that truly vindicates Bush and Rumsfeld. The most serious charges -- and the most despicable behavior by the Democrats, as such charges were routinely made without any evidence and without any consideration of how such reckless charges would affect the war effort -- were that we routinely "tortured" prisoners during interrogations in order to gain intelligence. The word "torture" was explicitly used scores of times, as a simple Lexis/Nexus search would show.

Yet the total number of ALLEGATIONS of abuse during or related to interrogations was... eight.

Eight total cases where there was even an allegation of prisoner abuse related to interrogation. And certainly Abu Ghraib would account for all or nearly all of these allegations.

This lays to rest the only serious charge in the entire scandal: clearly, we were NOT using torture or even abuse, either routinely or even commonly, to extract intel from prisoners. All but eight allegations of abuse (out of 50,000 prisoners, 0.016%) were, in fact, soldiers using more force to arrest a prisoner than the prisoner himself thought was necessary, or a prisoner claiming that the thousand-dollar wad of bills that he had in his back pocket was missing when he got to prison (yeah, right)....

Posted by John Weidner at 10:58 AM

Blatnye pesni...

Perry de Havilland at Samizdata linked to a fascinating site of pictures of abandoned buildings and projects in Russia, abandoned.ru. Cool wierd stuff.

I might not have followed the link if Alan had not blogged recently about other things interesting at .ru addresses. I was inspired to go back and actually follow his links, and found this, about the "Russian bard scene."

...It started in the late 50's, after survivors from Northern and Siberian camps started to trickle back to populated parts of the country. Very few of them could write like Solzhenitsyn or Varlaam Shalamov, but many more could sing prison songs. The so-called blatnye pesni were written by career criminals, and songs based on the experience of the camps were written by political prisoners, but in form resembled the former (sometimes even using the same melody).

Society's attitudes towards prisoners changed during the "Thaw" years of the 1960’s. Political "ZK" (inmates), who were previously considered "the enemies of the People," became human again. Suddenly Pushkin's line about "mercy to the fallen" was quoted in Pravda; public debates about "physicists vs. lyricists" filled the arenas with audiences. And the first shy voices of social and political dissent started to appear semi-publicly.

Vysotsky started with songs imitating blatnye pesni, and soon became the best-known Russian bard. (Here's a page about him. See also the excellent Sasha Voloch article here.)...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:11 AM

The result is not re-thinking...

AOG writes:

...However, what I find more interesting is the lack of critical comments about the lack of action in Sudan by the current administration. Normally Bush would be getting beaten up on a regular basis for this. But the problem is that Bush has been doing exactly what the Left claims it should have done with regard to Iraq — working only through the UN and other multi-national organizations. If this becomes a campaign issue, it won’t be pretty for the Democratic Party or Senator John Kerry. The French veto of even sanctions against the government of Sudan for its sponsorship of mass rape, mass murder, ethnic cleansing and slavery might upset even some of the faithful...
"might upset even some of the faithful." My guess is that it won't. I suspect that a lot of the preposterously virulent hatred inspired by Bush is precisely because he poses just such questions to the "faithful." Thereby prodding them to confront an emptiness inside.

Any leftish person who really cares about human rights would have said that they are GLAD that millions were freed from the unspeakable cruelties of the Taliban and the Ba'athists. That it was a GOOD thing. Well, we've seen how many of the "faithful" are honest this way. Maybe one or two percent.

The rest have failed the test. Shoving their faces in it once again will just make them angrier. If Bush tries to do anything in Sudan, we will instantly hear that it's about OIL. (Even though it's the French who are clinging to Sudanese oil contracts.) That will be the excuse for not supporting the President. Or that the Republicans are really "fascists," so those who attack them can still call themselves "anti-fascist," even as they support hideous dictators.

We are in a time of great change. And that means it is a time when people look inside to their own philosophy, especially political philosophy, to give them new answers. Many people are looking inside and finding NOTHING. And the result is not re-thinking, it is ANGER and denial.

* Update: Looks like the Sudan sneers have already begun: It's just domestic politics; Bush don't understand the nuances; there are lots of hell-holes in Africa, so why pick this one; the problem's impossible to solve.....and Bush isn't doing enough.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:04 AM

How many Protons in the universe?

I liked James Taranto's article, No Republican has won the White House without Ohio. So what? He points out that there are a huge number of long-term trends that last until...they end.

... Mr. Bush was the first Republican since James Garfield in 1880 to win the White House without carrying California. That record would not have fallen had Al Gore received a few thousand more votes in Florida--but in that case, Mr. Gore would have become the first Democrat ever elected without carrying Missouri...

... In the process, George W. Bush became the first Republican to win the presidency without carrying Delaware since Benjamin Harrison in 1888. Mr. Bush was also the first president since Harrison to win election without a popular-vote plurality.

Perhaps it augurs well for John Kerry that neither Harrison nor the two earlier "minority" presidents, John Quincy Adams and Rutherford Hayes, won re-election (though Hayes didn't run). But in order to keep that streak going, Mr. Kerry would have to become the first president since Lincoln to win in November after being nominated at a convention in his home state.

He also would need to win the White House as a sitting member of Congress, something only three men have done: Rep. Garfield in 1880, Sen. Warren G. Harding in 1920 and Sen. John F. Kennedy in 1960. And here's a streak that might give Mr. Kerry pause: All three died in office....

I suspect that the number of trends one could construct is mathematically something similar to the the number of possible chess games...more than there are protons in the universe or some such large number.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:40 AM

Interesting comparison.

You may have heard that Ann Coulter's column about the Dem Convention for USAToday was spiked. Now they've replaced it with one by Jonah Goldberg.

In this case I don't think it was liberal bias. Jonah is just as conservative, but wrote a more thoughtful and clever column. Ann's piece was more nasty and sneering than witty. Or so I think, you can compare them:

Coulter's column is now here. Goldberg's is here.

(Thanks to Betsy Newmark)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:21 AM

July 26, 2004

Tying himself in knots...

Hindrocket at PowerLine writes:

For a while, Andrew Sullivan was a powerful and effective pro-national security, and mostly conservative, voice. His web site was one of the inspirations that prompted me to start blogging. But once the possibility of gay marriage opened up, Andrew could think of little else. It has been obvious for the past year that he has been preparing to endorse the Democratic nominee, whoever he may be. Andrew may or may not be fooling himself when he paints a pro-security veneer on his support for John Kerry, but he isn't fooling anyone else.
He's referring to this post by Sullivan, who is going through ludicrous contortions to try to justify dumping most of what he has professed to believe in favor of a single issue. He would do better to just be honest, rather than trying to convince us that Kerry is "the conservative choice."

* Update: I notice that the other Sullivan has taken the trouble to pour some cold water on Andrew S's logic...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:00 AM

July 25, 2004

" its terrifying good"

Back on June 14, Firas Georges wrote

...After I got out of Tahreer Sq. and avoided traffic jam I passed the building of Baghdad Stock Exchange which we (my partners and I) spent a long time in as stock brokers (my basic profession) and I remembered what my partner said last Friday about it “its going to be opened this month and they practiced a test exchange last Saturday, and there was a great job done by the coalition helping the Iraqis old team to reopen as soon as possible”. Laws was changed, a new board of directors without government representatives, a new place, a new techniques of exchange, and of course many more job opportunities for the market staff and for brokers companies and for the investors.
For us as a stock brokers firm, it’s a dream to reopen and establish stock exchange, especially when the American experts who helped to reopen the market are saying “we are trying to develop new, modern exchange facilities”.
Any way I will keep the site visitors informed about what’s new in ISX (and thats Iraq Stock eXchange)reopening and its all on http://www.isx-iq.net/
I wondred what was happening, but he's been too busy to blog until recently, but now he says:
...What may back up my criteria is what is going on in the ISX (Iraq Stock eXchange). Things there are more than good, its terrifying good...(read about it here)
. And here's a photo essay on the Iraqi exchange, at DefendAmerica. (This stuff fascinates me, I love reading about countries coming alive again after socialism.)
Traders update sales boards at Iraq Stock Exchange

Iraqi stock traders update the sales boards with the latest prices on the available stocks at the Iraqi Stock Exchange, Baghdad, Iraq, July 18, 2004. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen


Posted by John Weidner at 6:41 PM

Bring me Zalabia!

Dave T. picqued my curiosity by posting this item:

We All Scream...

...for ice cream, especially if we can eat the dish.

And thanks to Syrian immigrant and entrepreneur Ernest E. Hamwi, we can. One hundred years ago today at the St. Louis World's Fair, in response to a cry for help from a neighboring ice cream vendor who'd run out of dishes, Hamwi rolled up one of his waffles and made history.!

I googled a bit, and found many versions of the tale. Sometimes with the inventor named Ernest A. Hamwi. Here's another one:
During the Fair a Syrian immigrant named Ernest A. Hamwi decided to try something different to help out a teenage ice cream vendor he was next to who was having problems selling his product.  Ernest was a pastry vendor at the Fair and sold "Zalabia" (click on the name for a recipe) which was a crisp, sugar-coated, warm waffle which he made over an open fire using a waffle iron.  Taking a Zalabia while it was still warm and soft, he rolled it into a cone shape and let it cool.  Once cool the cone was handed to his next-door neighbor, Arnold Fomachou, at the Fair who was selling ice cream.  The cone was scooped full of ice cream and given the name World's Fair Cornucopia.  It was an immediate success.  By the time the Fair had ended, ice cream vendors had started to seek out pastry suppliers to collaborate on making the ideal Ice Cream Cornucopia.  The ice cream cone had caught on and the idea traveled home with Fair-goers to all parts of the globe.  After the fair, Hamwi sold his waffle oven to J. P. Heckle and helped him develop and open the Cornucopia Waffle Company. Ernest traveled for Cornucopia introducing the new way of eating ice cream. In 1910, Hamwi opened the Missouri Cone Company.
Here's some more...
It was not long afterward that another Lebanese immigrant, Albert George, along with other family members, bought some second-hand cone-baking machines and started the George & Thomas Cone Company in 1918. In 2004, that company is still owned/operated by the George family, together with the employees. As such, the company is now an ESOP and is known as Joy Cone Company, after its signature brand of ice cream cones. It is today the largest ice cream cone company in the world, baking over 1.5 billion cones/year...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:08 PM

Stryker

Sgt Stryker has an interesting rant, about how he's an "independent" because both Republicans and Democrats are unserious about the War. I think he's way off base...

... Most of the blog responses to the story from the conservative wing or the "single-issue voters" was one of fear. "Could this be a dry run?", "This is why we need to profile all Arab males!", "The security doesn't work, it's up to us!" were all common responses to the story, which is odd because most of them base their support of the current Administration on the very fact that it has done a lot to protect us from future terrorist attacks. If you believe that this Administration is our last, best hope for Victory, then why do you carry-on as if nothing has changed or improved in the past three years? How do you rationalize the paradox? Most of the responses to the panicked woman story were indictments against the current Administration on the very issue that they say represents their over-riding decision to support the Administration. It doesn't add up...(Thanks to Donald Sensing)
No paradox.

First of all, it's Democrats, not Republicans/conservatives, who think big-government programs are likely to solve problems. If Republicans complain that Homeland Security is a mess, we are NOT like a church who has discovered that its Pope or Swami isn't infallible. We've been saying the same stuff from the beginning.

More importantly, I believe that a lot of Republicans are like me in thinking that defensive measures such "Homeland Security", are a sideshow. They amount to waiting around while the bad guys take the initiative and plan nasty surprises, That's the least productive way to fight terrorists. We need to do it, we wish it were done better, but it's a "Maginot Line." Bush has to work on it, but basically it's the Democrat solution to the War.

It would be better to force Islamic terrorists to react to our moves. Give them the nasty surprises. Perhaps by invading some distant country that just happens to be a vital component of their religion and culture? Then they would be forced to go there and attack us and play shoot 'em up games with the best military on earth. And for a really dirty trick we get the people of that foreign country to join our side. Seduce them to the "Dark Side," to Capitalism, Democracy, and Globalization. We could start, say, by liberating them from a brutal tyrant, and then by helping them generously and getting them started with self government. Pretty soon they will start helping us to kill or imprison the "foreign fighters" who are spoiling their new birth of freedom.

And then, if there is no major terrorist attack on US soil for several years after 9/11, many of us will suspect that there is a connection, and that Bush's policies have made us much safer. Doesn't seem like a paradox to me.

Would we like to see our country do more? Fight harder? Of course. Does Bush want to do more? I believe so. But there is one vital bit of war material that is missing, and the lack of which blocks further movement. One that armchair generals usually overlook. And that is political capital. I'm going to repost this quote from Iain Murray, because it's terribly important and apropos, and he put it so well:

...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...

"For the US Election is this year's battlefield in the War on Terror." That's it in a nutshell. All the partisan posturing is actually a covert struggle to decide America's future strategy. When Republicans howl about "docs in socks," or Democrats claim the Republicans are really fascists in disguise, the real issue is the WAR. A vote for Kerry will be a vote for "Homeland Security," for reluctance to attack overseas, for more equipment for "first responders." A vote for Bush is a vote to make Carrier Strike Groups our first responders.

Stryker's posturing as an "independent" is an abdication of responsibility. He's taking an "I get to stand outside and sneer at everybody" attitude. Phooey.

Every government on earth, yea, every human institution on earth, is flawed. Deeply flawed, and prone to make endless mistakes. It's part of human nature, or so we conservatives think. (It's called Original Sin. Leftizoids still tend to believe, despite countless failures, that perfection is attainable if only the 5-Year Plan is drafted with enough care.) So for every human project you can be an "Independent." You can always stand outside and sneer. But you won't do the world much good.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:27 AM

July 24, 2004

They fight back—that's bad. Very bad....

Alex Alexiev writes in FrontPage Magazine Of Afghan Girl Schools and American Allies:

Flying back home on the day the NATO summit opened in Istanbul, I came across an article by a British journalist, Charles Clover, in the venerable Financial Times. In it, the author blasted the American military in astonishingly vitriolic language. He described our troops as “socially maladjusted” and “natural-born killers” that have become "America’s main international liability.”...
Mr Alexiev just returned from visiting American and Allied forces in Afghanistan, so he is able to forcefully refute this Euro-filth. Mr Clover can see the awesome violence we unleash in war, but everything positive we do is invisible to him. Do read.

Of course, from a the perspective of a European lefty, our forces are “socially maladjusted.” For instance, they are actually willing and able to fight! Their enemies fear them! How much more barbaric and primitive can you get? And they are willing to fight for freedom, not just of Americans, but of oppressed people in distant lands. (Not only fight, but work! Ugh.) You can't get much more maladjusted than that. Most of them still believe in honor, patriotism (and, shudder, even God). That's creepy, and a huge liability. If you want to be popular in Berlin.

I guess Mr Clover is right, 'cause our guys really are “natural-born killers." You attack them, they kill you. And it just seems natural to us “socially maladjusted” Americans. In fact, we are proud of it. Screw you, Mr well-adjusted blood-sucking Euro flab-worm.
(Thanks to Blackfive)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:21 PM

"What he did was kill me without pistol"

Robert Alt has a story that took my breath away. Iraqi Army Lt. Col. Ahmed Lutfi Raheem tells his tale:

"I was on my way home to Baghdad after my brigadier boss had told me the war was over and to go home," Ahmed said, describing his last moments as a major in the old Iraqi Army air defense unit he had been with for nine years. "He said it was an order," he added...

[Major Raheem starts walking home, and encounters an American soldier]

...The encounter would prove to be a pivotal one for the military veteran because for the next two anxious minutes, Ahmed went through what must be emotions impossible to describe to someone who has never known he was about to die. It was more the result of the 33-year-old’s lifetime of experience with the ways of Saddam Hussein.

Ahmed, though, was actually two minutes away from a rebirth of sorts. "He looked at me for a while and I thought he was going to kill me," Ahmed said. "But he didn’t kill me," he added. "Instead he came to the position of attention and saluted me as an officer," Ahmed said, "And said, ’Sir you can go.’"

"I took a few steps and began to cry," he said, "Because I think, ’Why do I fight these people for ten years?[’”]

"This moment changed me from the inside," Ahmed said. "What he did was kill me without pistol. He killed the old major in the Iraqi Army who fought America from 1993 to 2003.”

Ahmed was advised by a U.S. Army officer to apply at the recruiting center in Baghdad and was ushered into the army a short time later as an "officer candidate." After training, he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the new army having made the cut for promotion from his former rank in the old army....

There's more, Ahmed Raheem's adventures were just beginning. Read! (And if you are not touched by this, you are a blockhead with a heart of stone.)

I got two things to say. One: THIS is why (or rather, one of many reasons why) we did not just keep the old Iraqi Army intact. The army Raheem came out of was twisted and sick. We didn't go to Iraq to bring stability, we went to catalyze change.

Two: You don't see stories like this in your newspaper. Because the news media want Democrats back in power, and are trying hard to convince us that Iraq is a hopeless mess. But think about it, any of you Dems out there. Think. You are building the Democrat Party on a foundation of lies! Lies that disparage American achievements. You are building an election campaign on lies. How's that gonna work in the long run? Where are you going? And is it worth it?

(thanks to Betsy N)


Posted by John Weidner at 5:58 PM

Don't hold your breath...

Mike writes:

From the 9/11 commission, heard on the radio just now: “There is no question whatsoever that there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.” As if any justification beyond the several others for removing Saddam had ever been needed, there it is as plain as it can be made. And may all the antiwarriors choke on it.

Woebegone contrite retractions from the “Bush liiied!” crowd now gleefully accepted; all hair shirt coupons cheerfully honored. No other discounts, no returns, no rain checks...

Don't hold your breath, Mike. They've "moved on." They have no shame, and they care nothing for facts. American is loathsome, and for us to defend ourselves is by definition wrong. They aren't "anti-war," they are anti-national defense.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:55 PM

The REAL danger...

ABCNEWS, July 23, 2004— Law enforcement officials are playing down an FBI report warning that domestic terrorists might attack media vehicles at the Democratic National Convention in Boston next week.
What's this you say? "Terroriststs?"

That's rich. If an Al Qaeda saws someone's head of on video, he's an "insurgent." Or a "militant." If he shoots an American soldier he merits being called "the resistance." But let the news media be threatened by some group of teenage skinheads, and that's "terrorism." (thanks Bill Quick)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:28 AM

July 23, 2004

La Pflame...

If you are still hoping to "get" those evil Republicans, you will be disappointed to learn...

THE WASHINGTON TIMES: The identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame was compromised twice before her name appeared in a news column that triggered a federal illegal-disclosure investigation, U.S. officials say....
I still haven't heard any explanation of how she came to be a "secret" agent under her own name!

Posted by John Weidner at 8:34 AM

July 22, 2004

Hope....against great odds.

If you want to know what's REALLY GOING ON, read this article from City Journal: Yes, the Education President, by Sol Stern.

In the fall of 1995, Dr. Reid Lyon, who directs research in the neuroscience of reading and learning disorders in children at the National Institutes of Health, got an unexpected call from first-year Texas governor George W. Bush. “Look,” Bush said, getting right to the point. “I have lots of kids who are not reading well. What’s the science on this that can guide us?” After that chat, Bush flew Lyon down to Texas several times to help redesign the state’s early-childhood reading programs so that they incorporated the latest NIH findings. “We’ve had a great relationship ever since,” Bush recently noted.

Lyon now serves as President Bush’s informal advisor on reading pedagogy, and he helped craft parts of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, the ambitious federal education bill that Bush signed into law in January 2002. Thanks largely to his input, Washington for the first time is using its spending power to prod school districts across the nation to rely on scientific standards in selecting reading programs. “There’s no need to throw good money into programs that don’t work,” Bush explains. “We’ve tried that before.”

For NCLB’s reading initiative alone, Bush richly deserves the title “education president.” But in addition, NCLB, though not perfect, is a powerful instrument of reform in other ways. What’s more, a new Bush-promoted school voucher program for Washington, D.C., may point the way toward further education reform in a second Bush term...

There's a ton of good stuff in this article. Lots of things are cooking. The vile child-murderers of the teacher's unions/Democrat Party are still fighting hard to preserve their government education monopoly (no matter how many young lives are destroyed), but they are being outmaneuvered! Outfoxed! What bliss. I think the good guys are going to win.

'Tis a great time to be alive! Here's some more. Chew on this:

...Nothing would be a better classroom exhibit for the president’s lecture to the American people than a successful Washington, D.C., voucher program. As Bush education official Rees notes, it will be “rigorously studied” by supporters and critics of choice alike—which is why, she says, “I am spending 75 percent of my time on the D.C. program, making sure it is implemented well and sold to parents.” The Census Bureau has just released figures showing that the D.C. public school district spends a mind-boggling $13,400 per pupil—higher than any state in the union. Yet as everyone now knows, Washington has the worst schools in the country. When, as is likely, thousands of D.C. voucher recipients manage to find perfectly decent schools for $7,500 or less, even the most mathematically challenged taxpayers will comprehend just how much the public education system that President Bush has valiantly worked to reform has been ripping them off.. [emphasis mine]
Which is why the complaints that NCLB was underfunded are bullshit. We are already spending HUGE sums on education. Lack of money is not the problem. The State Socialist system that squanders it is the problem.

[Note: go back to that first paragraph for a useful corrective to the "Bush Lied" buffoons. When he campaigned for the Texas governorship he promised to focus on education. He did exactly what he promised, and got splendid results. When he campaigned for President, he promised to focus on education, and that's exactly what we are getting. Consistently. Relentlessly. Here, read this:

...The president began putting the first part of his education reform package into place literally hours after he took the oath of office. The morning after the inauguration, he and Mrs. Bush listened carefully as Reid Lyon and other top education researchers presented their findings at a White House forum on reading pedagogy. The president made it clear that he wanted federal reading policy to go “wherever the evidence leads.”...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:57 AM

The GREAT CLEANUP is coming...

I missed, but Tom Bowler points out this great piece by Alaa:

...Well, of course the Arabs are our brothers in so far as we are an Arabic speaking people. And of course we don’t wish them harm. And how many sacrifices have the Iraqis made for their sake? So, we wish them well, generally speaking. However, how we wish they could be less stupid, less cruel and more understanding. Also it would be nice if they could become less selfish, less hypocritical, less addicted to lying, treachery and jealousy. That would be nice. And perhaps they could show a little more concern about the murder of our people, the destruction of our livelihood, the sabotage of our national assets and infrastructure. It would be even nicer if they could actually stop perpetrating these rather unfriendly acts....
A nice rant, I just quoted the warm-up.

And then there's this:

...Oh yes, this new government is achieving amazing success in even such a short period. This is going to drive the enemy to desperation, and this is becoming clear in the increasingly venomous tone of his vituperations on Al Jazeera terrorist station and such similar media. Imagine this, a station run by Wahabis (nicknamed Filthy Beards henceforth), staffed with Baathist Palestinians and financed by a mini state, which is supposed to be an ally of the U.S. and enjoys the full patronage and protection of the West, without which protection it had no chance in hell at survival; a strange situation indeed!

If there are Iraqis amongst these people they had better come to their senses and stop destroying their country. Otherwise they will find the determination of the people getting more and more firm, and with each terrorist act more and more people alienated and determined at confronting and defying them. The GREAT CLEANUP is coming and the HOUSE shall be in ORDER sooner and later, with the vermin TOTALLY EXTERMINATED, God’s willing...

Salaam

Salaam. Or as we say here, amen Brother. How's the song go? "...stone be rolled away, let the guilty pay, it's independence day..."

You know, I would guess that the postmodernist preemptive-surrender crowd can't even imagine that terrorist attacks might make a group stronger. More stubborn, more dangerous. They can't imagine people who still have what they have lost, a belief in the future...


Posted by John Weidner at 8:27 AM

Among the Amish...

Orrin Judd linked to this piece, about an impromptu meeting of President Bush with some Amish people in Lancaster County:

... An Amish woman who lives on a farm across Witmer Road from Lapp Electric that morning had presented a quilt to the president with a card thanking him for his leadership of the country. Bush said he would like to talk to the quilter and her family.

So the Secret Service invited the family to meet the president. Friends wanted to come along, and the entire assembly eventually numbered about 60. They were evenly divided between adults and children of all ages. The group walked together across the road to Lapp Electric.

Stoltzfus reports: “It took a while to get them through the metal detectors as these were farmers and shop men, with vice grips, pocket knives, and nuts and bolts in their pockets. Some ladies had baby gear. All pockets had to be emptied.’’...

The press wasn't there, but a local writer put together a story for the Lancaster New Era. If you follow Bush, like I do, you encounter these oddities frequently. They are never reported in the mainstream press.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:01 AM

July 21, 2004

Wretchard writes:

The Berger story will make it impossible to post until a sense of its extent emerges. The story of the former National Security Adviser stuffing classified material pertaining to the 9/11 terrorist investigation into his pants and socks is like an opening scene into a larger show; the vestibule into a darkened mansion; the trailer to a movie we are half afraid and half compelled to watch. [link]
My guess is that the story will turn out to be a Disney comedy of bumbling and incompetence. Clinton seems to have hired only lightweights who would make him look smart by comparison.

But what mainly occurs to me is that the coddling of Democrats by the media is not helping them. Just the opposite. It's been pointed out how unfair it is; If Condi were caught pilfering secret docs, there would be banner-headlines, she would be forced to resign, and Democrats would be howling for impeachment. But that's precisely why Condaleeza Rice will never be in such a mess. She knows she's in hostile territory, and any misstep will bring a savage attack.

My guess: Life in the Clinton Administration taught Berger that you can break the rules without fear of serious consequences.

* Update: David Frum makes a similar point:

The Democrats are not well served by the media bias in their favor. Irritating as conservatives may find these quadrennial orgies of positive publicity for the Democratic nominees, any Democratic nominees, conservatives at least know not to believe it. Liberals though find themselves being whirled about by their own spin until they are dizzy...
...I sometimes think that Democrats suffer from the same problem as ultimately felled Saddam Hussein: They cannot trust their servants to report the truth.
[Frum actually read the Newsweek piece on Kerry and Edwards. He found it more revealing than the authors probably intended.]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:29 AM

"with my faith in the human spirit reinforced..."

MOZAMBIQUE BEATS ALL, By Ralph Peters. July 19, 2004 -- WHAT do you call an African country that suffered under one of the most vicious colonial regimes, was attacked by a powerful neighbor at independence, fought a brutal civil war for more than a decade and was classified as the poorest land on earth?

If the country is Mozambique, you call it a success story.

I just returned from a stroll through Mozambique with my faith in the human spirit reinforced. Forever starved for tales of woe, our media only tell us of Africa's crises — the last time Mozambique made headlines was during the disastrous flooding in 2000. Yet, along with the continent's undeniable problems, there's more than one success story....

In the project of closing the Gap, Africa is a ways down the road. But it's coming. It's coming. We can look forward to the same sneers from Lefties that we hear now about Iraq. Freedom and capitalism and globalization will make Africans unhappy and confused—obviously they aren't ready for it this century...

sorry Noam, you can't outrun the History Train.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:58 AM

July 20, 2004

Edmund says...

No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. --Edmund Burke
(thanks to Pejman)
Posted by John Weidner at 7:42 AM

July 19, 2004

They're getting ready to fight the last war...

Mindful of the election problems in Florida four years ago, aides to Senator John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, say his campaign is putting together a far more intricate set of legal safeguards than any presidential candidate before him to monitor the election.

Aides to Mr. Kerry say the campaign is taking the unusual step of setting up a nationwide legal network under its own umbrella, rather than relying, as in the past, on lawyers associated with state Democratic parties. The aides said they were recruiting people based on their skills as litigators and election lawyers, rather than rewarding political connections or big donors...[link]

Poor fellows, living in a dreamworld. They've bought a boxcar load of FUD, and they will be watching the TV on election night...waiting for those "hair-thin margins," for hanging chads, waiting for 2000 reducks...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:12 PM

Cheese merchants and cat stranglers...

What exactly IS a Republican? Gotta confess, I've never been sure. I just kind of know them when I see them.

But now, former humorist Garrison Keillor has a precise definition:

...hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, see-through fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, hobby cops, misanthropic frat boys, lizardskin cigar monkeys, jerktown romeos, ninja dittoheads, the shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, cheese merchants, cat stranglers, taxi dancers, grab-ass executives, gun fetishists, genteel pornographers, pill pushers, chronic nappers, nihilists in golf pants, backed-up Baptists, Crips and Bloods of the boardroom...
I think that pretty much wraps it up.

This would be funny if he were writing a spoof, but I suspect the poor old fellow is serious. It looks like another bad case of Democrat meltdown...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:55 PM

Blogger hits the bigtime...

Chrenkoff's latest roundup of good news from Iraq is in OpinionJournal! Colossal!

His pieces are, of course, useful correctives to the distortions of the press. Plus any good news just makes me happy, and there's a lot of it today. And certainly the Iraqis could use some. Of course I imagine that a certain wavelengths of the political spectrum will look at this stuff and become...well...sad. Sorry guys, you have my sympathies. I know it's a hard time for you.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:21 PM

July 18, 2004

At long last...

Note: Arrival of the Random Jottings coffee mug.
I finally got around to creating an RJ mug, which is available here, at CafePress for $11.95. You'll love it, it's very Multicultural.

What next?

Note: These are supposedly dishwasher-safe, but I'm not sure. I bought a couple of instant-press mugs two years ago for Charlene. (They read: "Charter Member, Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.") The one at her office is still bright, but the color has faded in the one at home, which is washed in the dishwasher...

UPDATE: Lance confirms they are NOT dishwasher-safe. See comments.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:18 PM

More unintended consequences...

* Update to previous post: I found this article on the Cheney family snarky but interesting. It's very telling; the NewsWeekies obviously don't care for the Cheney's, but can't find anything solidly bad to say to say about them. (Just as they write puff-pieces about Edwards, but can't find anything solid to praise him for.) They have to admit there is no evidence of any wrongdoing vis a vis the Halliburton Corporation.

More unintended consequences, at least for me. Newsweek calls the Cheney family stuff like: intense, prickly, insular, dangerous to cross.... Hey, I think I like these people! I'd like to get to know them better!

Vice president Cheney and his wife and daughters
'The Family,' left to right: Lynne,
Dick, Mary and Liz
photo: David Hume Kennerly

[Thanks for the link to Betsy Newmark, who notes: One of the authors is Evan Thomas, who said openly last week that the media wanted Kerry to win and would publish glowing reports about Edwards and Kerry. To back that up, Newsweek had a sickening kissup piece about how wonderful John Edwards is last week. I guess this article on Dick Cheney is their effort at balance: praise Edwards, bash Cheney. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:26 PM

The mystical moment when change began...

It's a funny thing, the unintended consequences of things we do. For example, the postmodernist crowd has been harping on how dreadful Vice-President Cheney is. To listen to them, he's the second-coming of Grendel.

But the effect on me (and suspect many others) has been the opposite of what they hoped for. I've been inspired to find out more about him. And the more I find out, the more I like him, and the more impressed I am. (Thanks, guys!) He's been an important conservative figure since the Ford Administration, but I hardly knew it. The things I'm learning are not secrets, but not well-known either. Dick Cheney's the very model of a loyal team player, and so has never pushed himself into the limelight. He's never leaked his views to the press, or sought publicity.

So whaddya think, maybe the Cheney-haters are going to be the ones who save Cheney from undeserved obscurity! Ha ha.

I recommend this article, The Conservative Case for Cheney, by Stephen Moore & Jeffrey Bell:

...In virtually every one of this remarkable succession of roles, Cheney has been on the right flank of his milieu. As Ford's deputy chief of staff, he was listening to obscure supply-siders like USC professor Arthur Laffer and was one of a minority of Ford advisers who fruitlessly pushed tax-rate reduction. (When Laffer drew his famous curve on the dinner napkin, Cheney, along with chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld, was the audience.) In the House leadership of the 1980s, Cheney was the most relentless and best-informed advocate of the Reagan military buildup that helped win the Cold War. Under Bush I, he was the only member of the administration's top policy team who quietly disagreed with the decision to end the ground war after 100 hours and thus leave Saddam Hussein in power...
Leaving Saddam in power was a catastrophe. I'm utterly thrilled to learn that Cheney was opposed.

But it's the mention of Arthur Laffer that really makes my head spin. When great movements begin, it is a very human thing to embody those beginnings in a story, a myth. The dinner at the Washington Hotel restaurant, with Laffer drawing the Laffer Curve on a dinner napkin is one such. Not that it didn't happen, but somehow it has become "mythical," has become an oft-repeated tale (one that's rather variable and Rashomon-like), "the beginning," the mystical moment when change began. The first knights gathering at the Round Table.

I've read the story a number of times, yet Cheney wasn't in my memory as being present. Maybe he wasn't, perhaps he's been "painted in," like a knight who missed the Quest for the Grail, but is portrayed anyway. But probably I just forgot, because Dick Cheney seemed to me to be a minor figure, and Jude Wanniski and Rumsfeld are so colorful. But he wasn't a minor figure. He was there at the beginning, and he's still fighting the good fight.

The collectivists are correct to hate him. Not because their goofy conspiracy theories are true, but because Dick Cheney has worked openly (though not noisily) for decades as a leader in the battle to prevent their socialist kudzu from choking out all other life forms...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:32 PM

That's all you need to know...

Orson Scott Card nails it:

...George W. Bush is the real thing. Despite unbelievable political hostility, at home and abroad, he has determinedly pursued the war that we had to fight, and still have to pursue until we win.

Reagan caved in on Beirut and on paying off hostage-takers. George W. Bush hasn't caved in on anything significant concerning this war.

But W isn't smooth on TV. He has Letterman ridiculing him viciously every night on NBC. He has a lot of liars calling him a liar. The media message is constantly being pounded home: Even though W has successfully governed our country through the first two campaigns of a war that was forced on us; even though he has presided over a recovery from the recession that began during Clinton's presidency, despite the huge economic setback caused by 9/11; even though he has a track record that would be the envy of any wartime or peacetime president ...

In other words, even though he has the job of President and has done it as well as anyone in recent years (and, I believe, better than Reagan by quite some) ...

He still might lose the election, because Americans are so dumb we actually believe it when political dimwits like Letterman call Bush stupid ...

And because we're such slow learners we actually believe the Democratic candidate when he pretends to be a Republican. Despite his voting record. Despite the fact that the left wing of his own party doesn't believe a word of his promises....(thanks to Mike)

"he has determinedly pursued the war that we had to fight." There it is in a nutshell. Even if Bush had made as many mistakes as critics claim (I disagree strongly), and even if Kerry and the Dems are superhuman beings who don't make mistakes, as they would have us to believe (Well, it's true—they have perfect hindsight), that fact remains that the Dems don't want to fight, and Bush does. That's all you need to know.

When Abraham Lincoln was told that he should get rid of General Grant, because Grant had a drinking problem, he simply replied, "I need this man. He fights."

Posted by John Weidner at 12:04 PM

July 17, 2004

What they are doing is robbery...

You might want to bookmark this LAT article. 'Cause sure as you're born, we are going to be hearing from now until November how medical malpractice lawsuits serve some sort of beneficial "regulatory function." You know, protecting the little guy from those bad rich doctors.

Read an inspiring (and infuriating) story about a surgeon from Santa Monica who has rediscovered the joy and inspiration he sought in a medical career—while teaching medics how to perform operations in a tin-shed in Cambodia. And the article has a lot about what's happening here...

... Doctors protect themselves by presenting the worst-case scenario. "A wise surgeon will say, 'Your family member is very sick. We will do everything we can, but . . . ' It's called 'hanging crepe,' " Stock says. "Then [patients] are overjoyed at good results."

The reluctance of specialists to answer ER calls often leaves emergency physicians alone on the front lines of health care, where they spend valuable time making phone calls and keeping patients stabilized while waiting five, six, seven hours for a specialist. And when no specialists are available, doctors such as Stock push the limits. "You can't admit [patients] or transfer them or send them home, so you wait," Stock says. "If you still can't find anyone, my solution is to expand my skill set to the doors of the OR. I'm not going to do fine, delicate surgery, but any problem that becomes life-threatening, I will intervene. These kinds of near-misses happen all the time. It puts me at risk."

As a precaution, Stock keeps a call sheet on each patient, recording how many specialists and hospitals he has contacted, justifying his decisions to provide treatment or to send patients 100 miles away. "Society loses when no one's willing to be on call," Stock says. "This isn't just affecting doctors, it's affecting patients. We're entering a chronic state of crisis."...

Even if you are the best doctor in the country, you will still get sued. (And even if you win, you will still incur much expense and loss of time.) Even if a doctor follows standard medical procedure precisely, he can still be sued and lose.

What the ambulance-chasers are doing is robbery, just as much as if they pulled a gun and demanded the doctor's wallet.

What John Edwards did (I'm speaking of him as a lawyer, not as a politician) was robbery. He is just as much a thief as any hoodlum of the inner city. He is a racketeer, a criminal, a dishonest person.

Charlene's business is defending against lawsuits, and I get an over-the-shoulder view of this sick world. She frequently settles cases even though she thinks her client did nothing wrong. The Plaintiffs' Bar is mostly a bunch of crooks running legalized scams. And we all pay a huge price.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:50 AM

A true hero of Freedom...

The previous post reminds me of a story from the fall of Vietnam. (I wouldn't fuss over ordinary-American stuff like this were it not that the good people of the Bush Administration are being slimed non-stop as fascist neocon crony-capitalists.) Richard Armitage, now Assistant Secretary of State, was among the last Americans in Vietnam.

He personally organized a convoy of 32 mostly unseaworthy ships, and brought 20,000 refugees to the Philippines. Neither the US nor the Philippine governments wanted this to happen, he just did it. The refugees were South Vietnamese military officers and their families. If Armitage had not saved them, they would have been sent to concentration camps (Probably named after Heroes of the Revolution: Camp Kerry, Camp Fonda...)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:19 AM

"You can't just do nothing..."

Here's an interesting little piece in the Washington Post, Iraq's 'True Heroes', by Steve Danyluk, a major in the U.S. Marine Corps:

...For 30 years Iraqis were brutalized by a tyrant. The collective psyche of the Iraqi people is akin to that of a battered wife whose oppressor has finally been removed from the household. They're far better off with the batterer gone, but they're scared, confused and lacking the confidence to go it on their own just yet. It will take continuous mentoring, counseling and a lot of time. Our Marines are doing these things with great skill and patience. The sooner we fix it the sooner we can come home.

I've become friends with a lieutenant colonel in the Iraqi National Guard here. Real bright guy, speaks good English, lived in Europe for five years. He makes $250 a month, doesn't own a car, rides a bus for two hours to get to work and lives in constant fear that his family will be targeted because he is in the guard. "Why do you do it," I asked him, knowing he could make five times that amount as a translator or a contractor here on the base. His response was that doing nothing is not an option. If you ask me, guys like him are the true heroes over here. "Is there hope for this place?" I asked. "No, there is no hope," he responded sardonically. Again, "Why do you do it," and again the answer: You can't just do nothing... (thanks to Athena)

Makes me think of that disgusting crack by a Democrat, that the Ba'athists and terrorists are Iraq's "Minutemen." Guys like this ING officer are the Minutemen. They deserve our respect and support. Ten or twenty years from now they will be helping us in some future scrap. Remember how the South Koreans helped us in Vietnam?

No, of course you don't, because the truth has been buried under a torrent of socialist propaganda. You won't see it in your schoolbooks. But they did; over 300,000 ROK troops served with us. Unfortunately, people like John Kerry had the say-so in the end, and so Vietnam is a brutal totalitarian tyranny...just as Iraq would be if they were in charge.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:48 AM

July 16, 2004

"not all tears mean that you are sad."

If by any chance you have followed Tim at his blog CPT Patti, you will be pleased to know that Patti is finally back from Iraq:

...Then - on the back row of the formation, nearly the other end of the gym, believe it or not, I spied that 50,000 watt smile peeking out from under the brim of her Boonie hat.

It was a very, very brief ceremony. And upon the command of "Dismissed", the formation broke into a mass of excited people swimming through the crowd to get that first hug.

She made it across the gym by the time I stepped down from the bleachers. And there she was...brown faced, cute as ever, and - well - here.

The big exhale came...and with it, the tears...the kind of tears that gush and flow...the kind of tears one never apologizes for. The kind of tears about which mothers explain to their children "not all tears mean that you are sad."...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:43 PM

Measure five times, cut once...

I often build cabinets to fit within a particular opening or into a niche. I measure very carefully, cut and assemble with great care, and should be confident of the result. But every time, I breath a sigh of relief when the piece fits, and think, "Wow. It actually worked!"

Same here. I knew tax cuts would lead to greater strength in our economy, which in turn would increase tax receipts. But it's sure nice to see it in black and white:

... "What we are seeing is the impact of a good economy, the impact of extraordinarily strong corporate profits, and likely the impact of more people being caught in the alternative minimum tax," Drew Matus, financial markets economist at Lehman Brothers in New York, said in response to the report.

"Surprisingly strong receipts are really helping out a great deal here. There is no reason to suspect, given the employment growth we have seen, that this trend will change any time soon," he said.

The June result exceeded Wall Street forecasts of a $16.50 billion surplus, as well as a $16 billion surplus projection from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office... [thanks to Dean]

Thank you President Bush. Our economy is going to keep growing, and its future size will dwarf the current deficits. I know that.

Of course, if the stupid lies were true, and we really had had "massive tax cuts for the rich," the beneficial effect on the economy would probably be far greater, and we'd all end up better off in the long run. There's no way that will happen. The stupid idea that if my income goes up, but my neighbor becomes a billionaire, then I've been "cheated," that I've been "hurt," is too deeply embedded, both in human nature and leftish propaganda. So taxes will continue to be progressive, a faux "solution" to the "problem" of income inequality.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:36 PM

This is one reason why "mainline denominations" are shrinking...

NewsMax.com: Presbyterians Divesting of Israel

The largest Presbyterian denomination has voted to stop investing in Israel. It is believed to be the first Christian organization to do so.

Comparing the Jewish state with South Africa during apartheid, the 216th annual General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church voted 431-62 to join a fledging divestment campaign against Israel."...

Why, what could be more "Christian" than trendy left-wing anti-semitism? Than siding with terrorist murderers against an open and tolerant democracy?

"We're trendo-Christians, we show our tolerance by joining with gay-killers against a country that has Gay-Freedom-Day parades..."

Posted by John Weidner at 5:39 PM

Republicans do outreach already....

Splendid stuff from Baldilocks...

What have Republicans/conservatives done for black Americans? I hear that question constantly when I disclose that I am a conservative Republican....Implied in the question is that a political party must “do something” for blacks. Not merely the usual “something” that a government entity does for all of its constituents, e.g. provide utilities, regulate commerce, etc., but something special....


...This idea of our race-wide ‘handicap’ is so ingrained in the mindsets of some, however, that it has morphed into the very existentiality of black identity: a black person who believes that black Americans need extra help to succeed is “authentically black.” Conversely, one who doesn’t buy it “isn’t really black” and is, therefore, a traitor to black identity.

In short, blacks who believe in their own inferiority are the real deal and those who don’t, aren’t. How's that for twisted dogma?

(This is why Condoleezza Rice comes in for special scorn among the liberals/leftists, especially black ones. Having been born with not merely one, but the proverbial two strikes against her, her very existence gives lie to the entire notion of black inferiority: she has succeeded through innate intelligence, raw talent and hard work. I’m sure that white supremacists hate her just as much. Now there's a marriage made in...somewhere.)

So when some black people find out that Republicans don’t want to “do anything” for them except to encourage them to take part in the American dream of prosperity, stemming from work and ingenuity, they’re like, “WTF? Where’s my money?”...

...Those that have wondered why the vast majority of the Republican party don’t spend time on “minority outreach” miss the point. Republicans do outreach already. They just don’t do handicapped outreach, not unless you're really handicapped.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:24 PM

A tribe of invisible indians...

Seen in Best of the Web today:

... There was this big war in Iraq, and then it turned out there were no weapons of mass destruction, so why exactly did we fight it? Well, cui bono? Halliburton, we keep hearing. But Hallliburton posted net losses in both the fourth quarter of 2003 and the first quarter of 2004...
Of course it's all a clever deception. Everyone knows that companies which are connected in the popular mind with both Oil and Republicans are earning vast sums, which are slipped to sinister "cronies." No evidence is needed to support these conclusions. (Democrats, however, may become millionaires without incurring such opprobrium, because they are the party of the little guy.)

In fact, The whole "Crony Capitalism" story reminds me of an episode of Pogo which thrilled me in my youth. Albert is talking about a tribe of invisible indians. When he is challenged to prove their existence, he responds, "Well, being invisible, they didn't leave no tracks, right? And to this day no trace of 'em has been found!

(for some recollections of Pogo, go here.)

Posted by John Weidner at 12:23 PM

Unseemly pleasure...

Senator Edwards has apparently compared Iraq to the Bay of Pigs invasion. King of Fools has prepared a very nice chart, as a primer for the poor senator, who seems to have little grasp of history. Do take a look.

A few highlights:

Dictators overthrown: 0,1
Population Liberated: 0, 25,374,691
Population Still Oppressed: 11,308,764, 0
I've got bad news for the two senators. This isn't smart politics. Most Americans do not consider the War on Terror to be "Bush's War." We consider it our war. Every bit of it. Rubbing your hands together in unctuous delight when we "fail," (which in fact we haven't, it just looks that way in the NYT) is not going to win you votes. The flakizoids who want us to lose are already in your camp...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:12 AM

July 15, 2004

Some good sense from Brad DeLong...

...The hypothetical he describes--Osama bin Laden himself, a ticking nuclear bomb, a city that cannot be evacuated, et cetera--is not a situation in which torture should be legal. It is, however, a situation in which torture is pardonable. If you find yourself interrogating Osama bin Laden in such a situation, you do what you must do--and then you ask the president for a pardon. And the president has the power to give you one.

That's what the procedure is with respect to torture. And I think that's what the procedure should be. [link]

Thanks to Andrew Case, who has interesting thoughts on the subject also.

Of course the issue probably wouldn't even have come up if our 'Loyal Opposition" were actually loyal. Their wartime criticisms would be constructive ones, seeking the best balance for the good of America. But the slavering glee with which they welcomed Abu Ghraib, and the poisonous hatred they displayed in immediately using it to try to cripple our leadership and war effort, without care for the morale or safety of our troops, shows how little they can be trusted.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:09 PM

Kerry should be encouraged...

I think AOG is correct here:

I normally like Best of the Web but the last couple of days has had the very weak trope of mocking Senator John Kerry for saying that (among other things) he and John Edwards deserved to be elected because they have better hair. I can’t stand Kerry but even I thought it was funny. It’s the kind of self-deprecating humour Reagan was so good at and it would probably do everyone some good to encourage Kerry in this instead of dumping on him. Given how excrutiating this campaign season is likely to be, every little bit helps.
I also thought Kerry's joke was funny.

The humor in Best of the Web tends to remind me of children's humor (which I hear a lot of). If something's funny once, it's funny when repeated 20 times.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:41 PM

"Assemblyman Arrested in Sex Scandal"

Bastardsword points out this article, from CNN, on the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The article is very positive, and says the states are making real progress under the goad of the new law.

And since it's a positive take, they leave out....ha ha, guess what? The name of the person responsible, President George W Bush! (There's also a long quote-collection of negative articles on NCLB--and of course not one of them fails to mention the culprit-in-chief...)

It's kinda like when you see a headline that says: Assemblyman Arrested in Sex Scandal. If they don't mention which party he belongs to, you know he's a Democrat.

This sort of media bias is like a chinese-water-torture of little irritations, each so small one feels embarrassed to fuss over them, though of course cumulatively they amount to a vast campaign of lies and distortions. The one comfort is that it's a sign of weakness, not strength.

The education reforms are, of course, being fought at every step by the satanic (and I use the word advisedly) alliance of the "teachers" unions and the "Democrat" Party. They are evil pair, sacrificing the hopes of the poor and minorities in a Faustian bargain [Perhaps one should say double-Faustian, since each side is selling its soul] to keep power. But the Democrats are now, deservedly, sinking into minority status. Hopefully the Republicans will be able to do some good, before the torrents of union campaign contributions start heading their way, and corrupting them.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:38 PM

July 14, 2004

" the fence is reversible"

Jay Nordlinger writes

...Also, let me quote the heroically sane response of Ehud Olmert, deputy prime minister of Israel: "The fence is unpleasant, but, believe me, being attacked by a homicide bomber is much less pleasant. The fence may not be convenient, but it doesn't kill people."

Moreover, as someone pointed out — I can't remember who, perhaps Olmert himself — the fence is reversible, whereas the dead . . . stay dead.

You would think that Israel's using non-lethal means to stop murderers would garner praise, wouldn't you? No way. It seems to be considered to be worse than when they just kill the terrorists. Bizarre. The only good Jew's a Jew that lets himself be killed, at least according to our "International Institutions."

Meanwhile, I bet not one single "International Institution" will even consider criticising this:

JERUSALEM — Palestinian terror thugs are running a kiddie summer camp touting a chilling new feature — live performances of mock kidnap-slayings of Jews.

As kids as young as 10 don military fatigues and struggle to tote AK-47 assault rifles nearly as big as they are, sicko teachers can be seen in video footage staging the roadside abduction of an "Israeli" wearing glasses and a yarmulke...

How cute, little baby "freedom fighters." Or, as a prominent Democrat calls such people, "Minutemen." Isn't that just darling.

Quick, Progressives, you can go here and buy a "solidarity kaffiya" to demonstrate your solidarity with those brave young resistance fighters working so hard on a final solution to Jewish and American Imperialism... I didn't notice any "solidarity dynamite belts," but I bet they can fix you up with one if you ask nicely..

Posted by John Weidner at 5:43 PM

Dollywood...

Here's a post abut an amusement park that used to offer free admission to the severely handicapped...but no more.

...Effective January 01, 2004, we will not be able to offer free or discounted admission to anyone based on their disability or level of disability. From a legal standpoint, our staff is not qualified to make decisions on who should or should not be given free admission to the park based on their level of disability. For those reasons we regret to inform you that individuals who have been admitted under our previous disability policy will no longer be allowed to enter free of charge.
They don't say why explicitly, but it's easy to guess. The ADA has conjured up yet another army of parasite lawyers who do nothing but file shakedown lawsuits.

Charlene's involved in a case like that. Nice, expensive apartment house, being sued by a guy with no income, who claims he had no wheelchair access to the rental office. Represented, of course, by a firm that files such lawsuits routinely. Who really pays? You do, if you are a renter...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:27 AM

"let’s start with the first thing you see when you get out of your house.."

Mohammed has a great answer to a sneering nay-sayer of an uncle:

I became really angry, however I waited for him to finish then I asked him if I could answer. “Sure I want to see how you’re going to answer” he replied, putting a challenging face.
I said:
-you claimed that Iraq’s fortune was robbed an that you didn’t see a real change or any reconstruction and I will answer you with a picture that you have to see everyday because it’s within a circle of one kilometer around your house and you have to see this picture every morning while you walk out of your house for whatever business you want to do.
He looked at me and said:
-What do you mean!?
-Ok, let’s start with the first thing you see when you get out of your house....
You can follow him this way and that around the neighborhood. ..."I’ll move for another 50 meters and cross the street where lies one of the former evil military institutes that was used to train professional butchers; it wasn’t a target for American missiles but was robbed by some sick people who left it as ruins, and you know uncle how the American unit in charge of this area turned it into a residency for students"...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:31 AM

July 13, 2004

"It is not the Republicans who need worry about voters waking up"

David Cohen writes:

...The President also has an advantage that should be glaringly obvious but is often ignored. He is the conservative candidate of the conservative party in a conservative nation. Too often conservatives act as if they agreed with the far left that the left is the natural home of the poor and middle class and some day voters will wake up to that fact and never vote Republican again. This is nonsense. Americans believe that they can succeed if they work hard and that our liberties must be zealously guarded from government.

The majority of Americans who oppose the estate tax don't do so because they are fools; they do so because of their sense of fairness. The majority of Americans who believe taxes should be low, including on the rich, do not suffer from false consciousness; they believe that people should enjoy the fruits of their labor. The majority of Americans do not want abortion on demand or gay marriage or teachers who cannot be fired from failing schools. It is not the Republicans who need worry about voters waking up, but Democrats...

It's fascinating to watch what's going on through the lens of the 70-year cycle theory. Dems now are doing just what Republicans did in the 1930's. For instance, Republicans then, after losing badly in '32, came to think they were getting stronger because they were puffed-up with a lot of angry energy. Bankers and industrialists, infuriated by the New Deal, supported the party as never before, many switching from the Democrats. The war-chests were full. They felt strong. But they were living in a dreamland. Industrialists? The Democrat strategy of appealing to Northern industrial workers was about to really kick in. 1936 would be even worse...

Right now Republicans are working hard to gain the favor of blacks and Hispanics, the majority of whom are socially conservative. The correct Democrat response would be to move to the right, to become more conservative to shore up support in these core groups. But they can't even imagine doing so, because so much of their energy now is coming from the angry kooks. Their center-of-gravity is somewhere around Whoppi Goldberg...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:56 PM

The world's newest THEME PARK!

I was just thinking a little more about the previous post. I remember keenly, bitterly the humiliation when the rag-heads in Iran held our people hostage, and that despicable slime-worm Jimmy Carter did nothing, thereby hanging a "kick me" sign on America's back for all the world to read.

Well now it's payback time. (No, not Carter. Second-best.) You might not think so, because the mullahs aren't getting the Hellfire Missile grease-spot treatment. Not yet. But they are squirming and sweating. Because the one place they can't close off or wall away is Iraq. Not when their holy pilgrimage cities are there.

And now George W Bush is turning Iraq into the world's newest and most thrilling theme park! Come to Great SatanLand! Eat KFC while strolling through Globalization Village! Cast a vote in ElectionPark. Start a blog in InternetWorld. Watch those wacky IraqiPolice in their colorful costumes haul crooks and Jihadis off to wherever it is they take them. Buy cars, computers and DVD players in FreeTradeLand! Take an entrepreneurial thrill-ride on Capitalism Mountain!

We have rose-candy, we have spikenard,
Mastic and terebinth and oil and spice,
And such sweet jams meticulously jarred
As God’s own Prophet eats in Paradise.
Suffer, you bearded commissars. Your tin-pot paradise is going to be dissolved! Eaten away by the acid-bath of freedom and American ideas. Your daughters will cherish Barbie Dolls, get HelloKitty tattoos, and wear hideous garments designed in Los Angeles. You are toast!

Thank You, Mr President! Thank You, Sinister Neocon Cabal! Perfect knight's-move on the GWOT chessboard. Revenge, as the cliché goes, is a dish best eaten cold...[Actually I prefer hot, or even better, preemptive, but I'm thankful for whatever I can get.]

Posted by John Weidner at 9:26 PM

the liberation of Najaf as "a gift from God."

Here's yet another item for the Lonnng list of reasons why the Iraq Campaign was a move of pure genius, and will be remembered in history as a premier example of "Grand Strategy." Actually this item should be listed as a sub-section of one of the more general reasons: To destabilize Islamo-fascist tyrannies.

A New Voice Is Being Heard in Iran, by Amir Taheri
While the world is justly focusing on the movement of terrorists and weapons from Iran into newly liberated Iraq, a movement of ideas and those who preach them traveling in the opposite direction may prove to have more lasting consequences in the long run.

The ideas are coming from Najaf, a dusty nondescript town in southern Iraq which is re-emerging as the principal center of Shi'ite Islam after a hiatus of more than three decades. The men who are taking those ideas into Iran are Iranian and Iraqi clerics who believe that Khomeinism -- the official religion of the Islamic Republic in Tehran -- represents a betrayal of their faith...

The corrupt and brutal tyrants of Iran are at a disadvantage compared to other dictators. Because of their Shi'ite theology, there is one place in the world where they would like to forbid their people to go, but can't. Iraq. Iraq, where the Shi'ite Holy places are. And now literally millions of Iranians are visiting Iraq. They are meeting Americans (check this out!). When they visit they visit a free country, thanks to George W Bush. Iraq may look messy to us, but to Iranians it looks great. And the leader if Shi'ism is in Iraq.
..."Today, Sistani is probably the most influential Shi'ite [religious] leader in the world," says Sabah Zangeneh, who was Tehran's ambassador to the Organization of Islamic Conference until last year. "Many Iranians see in him a revival of the mainstream Shi'ite theology."

Many clerics agree. "It is now clear to most Shi'ites that Khomeinism is a political ideology and a deviation [from the faith]," says Ayatollah Mahmoud Qomi-Tabatabi. "Those who represent authentic Shi'ism cannot speak out in Iran. This is why the Najaf clergy, especially Sistani, are emerging as a pole of attraction for Iranians."

Another Iranian cleric, Hadi Qabel, says that Khomeinism should be regarded as "a political ideology" while Shi'ism, as a religious faith, is represented by "theologians like Sistani who do not seek power."

Hassan Sanai, a prominent mullah in Qom, sees the liberation of Najaf as "a gift from God." "Shi'ism needs a theological center that is not controlled by a government," Ayatollah Sanai says. "It is natural that Najaf should play that role. With Sistani now able to address the [Shi'ite] community, the faith could resume its natural course."...


Posted by John Weidner at 7:42 PM

Running out of gas...

Here's a pessimistic view of China's economy, to balance the admiring one I blogged here:

...In other words, China's leaders had better create a self-sufficient economy because Beijing will have to find about a half trillion dollars to fix the banks. And he will have to do that while repairing the financial condition of the central government. Official figures say that the annual deficit to GDP ratio is now 2.7 percent, just below the 3.0 percent international alarm level. Others put the number at 3.5 percent, and it is probably higher than that, perhaps 10 percent or more. According to official numbers, the ratio was just 0.75 percent in 1997. China has been running large budget deficits even though the economy is growing at a fast pace according to official statistics. That's unusual, to say the least. And disturbing.

What's more disturbing is that deficits eventually turn into debt. Beijing claims that its debt-to-GDP ratio is in the teens, well below the 60 percent alarm level. Yet once you add debt that is not officially counted and the "hidden obligations" like bad bank debt and unfunded social welfare liabilities, the ratio goes up to perhaps 170 percent.

Experts, ignoring China's debt problems, keep on saying that the country will have another banner year for gross domestic product. True, the People's Republic can continue to create growth for a few more years, but increasing levels of deficits, debt and non-performing loans indicate that the productive capacity of the economy is, in reality, weak. On its own, the Chinese economy is running out of gas...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:12 PM

Bad news for the Quagmiristas..

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi police seized more than 500 criminal suspects in raids in Baghdad on Tuesday, an Interior Ministry source said.

"Till now the police have arrested 527 people in Rusafa," the source said, referring to an area of Baghdad on the east bank of the Tigris river. He said the raids had begun in the early hours and were still under way.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:05 PM

amazing numbers...

I just got an e-mail from Spirit of America, concerning our little donation. It seems they got a wee bit more money than they needed...

... To provide the Marines with the basic equipment they requested for Al Anbar we spent $86,001 (6.9%) of the $1,248,967 that was donated. Including processing fees at 3% we have used 9.9% of the project donations.

This is your chance to reassign the unused portion of your donation or even get a refund, if that's your preference. This level of accountability is the only way to honor your support properly. So here are your options. Please select one and submit your choice before July 31st...

It feels nice to be on the side of the good guys.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:48 PM

Sounds about right to me...

Jay Bryant thinks Dick Cheney may be the best VP in US history. Of course that's not a high bar to leap, traditionally the Veep doesn't do anything...

...Cheney is the only Vice President ever accused of being too influential. The paranoid caricatures paint him as a Svengali, manipulating President and nation in the interests of – what, Halliburton? I have observed Dick Cheney since his days in Congress; he is one of the most responsible and capable leaders I can think of. He was in government decades before he went to work for Halliburton and any suggestion that he would put that or any other private interest ahead of his country is a canard both absurd and malicious.

Dick Cheney has elevated the Vice Presidency to an unprecedented level of importance and influence. Because of this, his enemies have attacked him with unprecedented vituperation, his very competence grist for their mills of hatred....

Posted by John Weidner at 8:12 AM

July 12, 2004

so his soul grows still and attentive....

Charlene saw a poem, The Tongues, by A.D.Hope posted on Alan Sullivan's blog, and liked it so much she sent me an e-mail from work to say "don't miss." Here's a small morsel of it....

...For the man who knows only one speech is an ox in a paradise orchard,
Munching on grass and ignoring the fruits of delectable flavor
That ripen upon its boughs and depend from the vines that adorn it.
The man who has only one tongue lives forever alone on an island
Shut in on himself by conventions he is only dimly aware of,
Like a beast whose mind is fenced by the narrow extent of its instincts.

But the man who thinks in two tongues wins his mind free of a bondage
Which a sole speech imposes on all his thinking and feeling;
Translate as he will, what is said in the one never matches the other
Precisely in ambience and reach, so his soul grows still and attentive,
Aware, beyond any one speech, of a metaphysics of meaning
Which teaches that not mere words but the heart is what must be translated.

For those mighty rivers of language that fashion the landscapes of time
Like the Amazon and the Danube, the Mississippi and Ganges
Though they set frontiers to nations, act as makers and bearers of spirit;
Growing in volume and power, they build the rich soils of tradition.
How could such marvellous gifts be cursed as the folly of Babel?...

The poet is writing about the Hittites, and their King Suppiluliumas, and the Indo-European family of languages. Take a look.

I've never encountered a good book on the relationships of human languages, (a complex and contentious subject, to say the least.) I'd love to find something both scholarly and accessible to the layman. Charlene and I were just yesterday looking at a chart of the language families we happen to have. (It's based on the work of J. Greenberg and M. Ruhlen of Stanford—needless to say other scholars see things differently.) There's a super-family called Dene-Caucasian that includes Mandarin and Cantonese, Chechen and Abkhaz, Tlingit, Navajo, Apache, Burushaski, Ket, and Basque!

And the Indo-European languages are included in the Eurasiatic superfamily, along with Finnish, Turkish, Korean, Japanese, Inuit and Aleut, and Kamchadal.

I can recommend a great book on just who those "Indo-Europeans" were: The Coming of the Greeks: Indo-European Conquests in the Aegean and the Near East, by Robert Drews.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:30 PM

Heck, make it like a blog....

Orrin Judd posted this a while back. It's the best idea I've heard for intelligence gathering. We're never going to fix the CIA; it just ain't gonna happen...

...Forget the spies, end the secrecy, become transparent, and move towards the Poindexter open information market idea. Heck, make it like a blog. Post all the information that we can gather on countries, movements, etc. in central sites and let folks openly add to or criticize what's there. Have CIA analysts be referees--removing garbage and steering discussions of interesting points and so forth. The closed shop, which we've used since WWII, has been a complete failure. Try the opposite.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:50 PM

I will be voting....

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force-- if necessary -- to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002.
You can find lots more hypocrisy like this here.
Posted by John Weidner at 6:26 PM

Gag me with a spoon...

from Media Research Center:

....The media “wants Kerry to win” and so “they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic” and “there’s going to be this glow about” them, Evan Thomas, the Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, admitted on Inside Washington over the weekend. He should know. His magazine this week sports a smiling Kerry and Edwards on its cover with the yearning headline, “The Sunshine Boys?” Inside, an article carrying Thomas’ byline contrasted how “Dick Cheney projects the bleakness of a Wyoming winter, while John Edwards always appears to be strolling in the Carolina sunshine.” The cover story touted how Kerry and Edwards “became a buddy-buddy act, hugging and whispering like Starsky and Hutch after consuming the evidence.”

     Newsweek’s competitor, Time, also gushed about the Democratic ticket, dubbing them, in the headline over their story, “The Gleam Team.”

     Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz also realized the media’s championing of the Democratic ticket and made it a focus of his Sunday Reliable Sources show on CNN. The on screen topic cues: “Edwards Lovefest?” and “Media’s Dream Team.”

     Kurtz’s Washington Post on Sunday well illustrated the media’s infatuation with Kerry and Edwards. “Kerry Vows to Restore 'Truth' to Presidency,” announced a July 11 front page headline. Inside, on page A-8, a headline declared: “Kerry, Edwards Revel in Brotherhood of Campaign.”...[thanks to USS Neverdock]

“The Gleam Team??” "Carolina sunshine?" It is to BARF! If I were not already solidly behind Bush and Cheney, this would put me there. Dear Bleak Midwinter Cheney, you are my man. Even were I unaware of your many virtues and your long years of service, the very fact that the limp-wristed lollipop-liberals of our infantile news-media will never ever "see a glow about you" would do it for me.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:21 PM

"Bush Lied" balunkey #916

(The numbers are just my joke this week...pay them no mind.) John Podhoretz writes:

...Indeed, the [Senate Intelligence Committee] report destroys the entire edifice of the "BUSH LIED" temple. Here's the key sentence: "The committee found no evidence that the [intelligence community's] mischaracterization or exaggeration of weapons of mass destruction capabilities was the result of political pressure."

This sentence, on the second page of the report's conclusions, was agreed to, unanimously, by the members of the Senate committee, including every Democrat. Some of them, disgracefully, are already claiming that they don't think that sentence means what it says.

In other words, THEY LIE.

Something to think about: Right now, anyone "on the inside" who will stick a knife in the President has got it made! Democrats will treat them (unlike our soldiers) as heroes, their picture will be on all the magazines, their book will be pushed onto the best-seller lists. They will command rapt respect on the TV shows, and the NYT and Paul Krugman will construct edifices of political thought upon their foundation.

ANY of the hundreds of CIA people interviewed by the Senate Committee could have had their 15 minutes, and their 30 pieces of silver, just for saying they felt pressured to "sex-up" evidence of WMD's...but not one did.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:38 AM

July 11, 2004

.54-caliber pistol...ouch!

Hamilton, Burr Kin Re-Enact Famous Duel Sun Jul 11, 1:24 PM ET

By STEVE STRUNSKY, Associated Press Writer, WEEHAWKEN, N.J. - The bitter grudge between their ancestors has long faded, but on Sunday descendants of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr marked their paces with pistols in hand. Antonio Burr, a descendant of Burr's cousin, arrived by rowboat in period costume and fired a replica of the .54-caliber pistol that mortally wounded Hamilton 200 years ago in the July 11, 1804 duel.

Douglas Hamilton, a fifth-great-grandson of Hamilton, feigned the historic hip wound, dropping to one knee and then falling to the ground in a sitting position...

(Thanks to Rob)

Posted by John Weidner at 6:26 PM

"Instead of boxes, you get rooms..."

Do take a look at this article on inflatable space habitats, being created by businessman Bob Bigelow, owner of the Budget Suites of America hotel chain...

...To understand just how revolutionary Bigelow's projected cost savings might be, consider the International Space Station. By 2010, this troubled project will have cost a total of $50 billion, will be 10 years behind schedule and will contain about half of the habitable work space that had been planned, around 550 cubic meters. Just two of Bigelow's planned modules will exceed the entire work space of the ISS, but since the modules will cost around $100 million apiece, the savings become obvious. Two hundred million dollars vs. $50 billion is quite a difference, enough of a difference to entice other private companies into the new space race.

"More space at a cheaper price allows companies to do large-scale things," NASA's Miller says. "Instead of boxes, you get rooms, for experiments, for equipment, for manufacturing. The next generation of medicines, the next generation of materials and technology could all come from the zero-gravity environment. This is where people are going to make a lot of money. And that will really accelerate the science and create direct benefits for humans on Earth."...

What's really interesting is how Bigelow's company is now partnering with NASA.

Actually, even more interesting is the cultural change: Guys make their first billion, and nowadays, instead of focusing on the America's Cup or the Kentucky Derby, they head for space! This, if I may use an oft-misused phrase correctly, [see Word-Note here] is a sea-change.

Afterthought: It might become some kind of high-tech macho one-upmanship thing. Paul Allen's a Microsoftie, so imagine Larry Ellison or Scott McNealy deciding they just have to compete?

(Of course I blogged the same inflatable habitat idea here, way back in 2002, but no matter. I won't dispute priority; it's progress that's important!)

(Thanks to Will Collier)

Posted by John Weidner at 12:22 PM

Where to place your bribe...

The Biggest Bang for Your Bribe, By Richard Morin, WaPo It's tough being corrupt. You know you probably need to bribe lots of people to achieve your ignoble goals. But where, exactly, do you put your money? Do you invest more heavily in payoffs to politicians, to the police or to judges? Or would it be more effective to bribe the news media to ignore scandals and produce monotonously favorable coverage?

The answer is to invest in the news media, claim economist John McMillan of the Stanford University's Graduate School of Business and graduate student Pablo Zoido in a paper to be published in the fall by the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

They based their conclusion on a detailed study of an unusual data set: Records of bribes kept by Vladimiro Montesinos, the former head of Peru's secret service. Montesinos's goal was to protect his patron, then-President Alberto Fujimori....

Posted by John Weidner at 9:11 AM

It's OK to Lie to show "Bush Lied," # 914, 915...

A couple of tidbits from PowerLine. First, from the Senate Intelligence Committee Report. Remember Joe Wilson, and how he said he found no evidence of Iraq interest in Uranium from Niger? Said that the CIA report was false? Would you believe me if I said he DID find it, TOLD the CIA so, then LIED and said he didn't?

...So: what Wilson actually told the CIA, contrary to his own oft-repeated claims, is that he was told by the former mining minister of Niger that in 1998, Iraq had tried to buy 400 tons of uranium from that country, and that Iraq's overture was renewed the following year. What Wilson reported to the CIA was exactly the same as what President Bush said in his 2003 State of the Union address: there was evidence that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa... [link]
Stupefying...

And from the corrections section of the NYT:

An Article last Sunday about surprises in politics referred incorrectly to the turkey carried by President Bush during his unannounced visit to American troops in Baghdad over Thanksgiving. It was real, not fake. [Link]
What's not mentioned is that the lie was invented by the press; that, despite immediate debunking by bloggers it was seized upon hungrily and spread around the world by the same lying press, and that the lie is still circulating in the press.

And also that there were plenty of other pictures available, which showed the President dishing-up obviously real chow for our people, and mingling with them happily in a way probably no living Democrat could equal. Photos that are the opposite in their effect of the famous one of Dukakis in a tank. Here's one that appeared in that stodgily respectable weblog Random Jottings:

President Bush serving on chow line

No surprise that that this one was suppressed. If we win the lottery I'll put it up on billboards, just to make the liars squirm...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:19 AM

July 10, 2004

"The historians will have to tell us"

This is a very interesting piece:

Much of world is more peaceful, By Jonathan Power  |  July 9, 2004

THERE IS A tendency these days -- and I share it -- that urges one on to hit George Bush while he is down. But before he goes, permit me a word in his favor -- or, more accurately, his regime. Briefly put, the world is more at peace than when he came to power. The big powers have never been so relaxed with each other since the late part of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th, and the number of small wars -- ethnic disputes, tribal conflicts, and territorial disputes -- has been going down every year...

That's the sort of thing I say all the time, but this guy seems to be a leftish British journalist. Whoa! Scratching his head over these strange goings-on. He ends with:
...If Bush loses the election in November, he will be leaving the world -- Iraq and Israel/Palestine apart -- a better place than he found it. Whom to thank? Colin Powell or the left side of Bush's own brain? The historians will have to tell us, since the press has conspicuously failed to keep us informed.
Left side of his brain? You know, that's very funny. I wonder if it will become a meme—when certain people are forced by facts to acknowledge Bush's successes, we will start to hear more about the little lefty inside him. Sort of like those cartoons where people have those little angels and devils whispering in their ears. There will be a little Powell-Angel, and a little Wolfowitz-Devil, with a kippah and a bagel.

'Course this guy seems to think Bush is "down," thinks he's going to lose. Ha!. He may regret saying these nice things after W takes 50 states without even getting his hair mussed....(Thanks to O Judd)

[Question: Who was the pugilist who was going to beat the champ "without even getting his hair mussed?" My memory says it was Corbett, but I couldn't dredge it out of Google...However Googling lead me to the book John L. Sullivan and His America, which looks intriguing, I've requested it from the library.]

Posted by John Weidner at 2:01 PM

"warm rain" sounds so bizarre...

My son writes about North Dakota weather...

...I had to weather my stage 15 flight today, (I'll take it on Wednesday) because of thunderstorms, as well as a tornado warning, and possible winds gusting to 69 knots until 9 this evening. My flight instructor and I will fly in the evenings to get two lessons done per flight to get me caught up...

....In San Francisco, rain means cold. Unfortunately here in Grand Forks, ND, right now rain means 73 degrees F. and 85% humidity. It was very odd watching people walk down the street holding both an umbrella to keep the rain off, and wearing shorts because of the heat.

Around here, "bad weather" means earthquakes...

Another thing that seemed strange to us San Franciscans when we were in ND, is that it's all white people! The maids cleaning our hotel rooms were blondes. I felt kind of at home when I went into a WalMart, because the clerks were Filipino. Oooops, wrong. Besides white folks, there's Injuns! Plenty. Rob also wrote:

... At dinner this evening, I was surrounded by Native Americans, there were A LOT! It was some kind of summer camp program I think. It took a lot of my energy NOT to look the right, and then to the left, and then to inform the person sitting in front of me "We're in deep trouble, Tonto") I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing...
Another curiosity: Alan Sullivan mentioned that if ND were a separate country, it would be the world's third-largest nuclear power...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:39 AM

It's OK to lie to show "Bush Lied" #913

When Joe Wilson made accusations against the administration, it was Page 1 news in the Washington Post. Of course.

Now it looks like he was lying! It's good the the WaPo has printed this article. Though apparently it's on Page 9 of the print edition...

...The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.

Yesterday's report said that whether Iraq sought to buy lightly enriched "yellowcake" uranium from Niger is one of the few bits of prewar intelligence that remains an open question. Much of the rest of the intelligence suggesting a buildup of weapons of mass destruction was unfounded, the report said...[Emphasis added.]

(Thanks to Betsy Newmark)

PS: Steyn says it better:

...National security shouldn't be a Republican/Democrat thing. But it's become one because, for too many Americans, when it's a choice between Bush and anybody else, they'll take anybody else. So, in ''Fahrenheit 9/11,'' if it's a choice between Bush and Saddam, Michael Moore comes down on the side of the genocidal whacko and shows us lyrical slo-mo shots of kiddies flying kites in a Baathist utopia. In the Afghan war, if it's a choice between Bush and the women-enslaving gay-executing Taliban, Susan Sarandon and Co. side with the Taliban. And in the most exquisite reductio of this now universal rule, if it's a choice between Bush and the CIA, the left sides with the CIA...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:15 AM

July 9, 2004

Summers without running water....

Simone Ledeen has a splendid rebuttal to Paul Krugman's stupid smear of her and her CPA colleagues. Lord, what an ass that man is. Suggesting that working 18 hours a day convoying cash-money around Baghdad is some sort of cushy post given to Republican princelings is just too stupid for words. Quintessential BDS.

...Mr. Krugman appears oblivious to the difficulties associated with rebuilding a formerly totalitarian state. Having worked in a rigid "command" bureaucracy — in which decisions were dictated from above, and deviation from the established ways of doing things was often severely punished — many Iraqis needed to learn to make decisions rather than waiting for orders. And the Baathist state had employed some unique methods: For example, some of my colleagues came across a payroll sheet from the ministry of education that detailed how one teacher was being paid 30 times what any other teacher received. Why? That teacher had been spying on all the others.

One of the greatest challenges we faced was the reluctance of Iraqis to disburse funds. Under the old regime, government employees were rewarded for withholding funds and punished — sometimes even executed — for spending money. This structure allowed regime loyalists to live in giant mansions surrounded by man-made lakes, while the average Iraqi suffered through summers without running water. These attitudes had to be immediately and drastically corrected...

People like Krug would gladly watch them die of thirst, if it would win them back political power. Which is precisely the reason they are losing all political power.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:40 PM

#161: Sane and rational (for a change), also wrong...

P. Krugman
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD

Finally! In Health versus Wealth (07/09/04) Paul Krugman gives us a serious account of his views on health care and, specifically, of the Kerry plan which he enthusiastically supports. The heart of that plan would have the government solve the problem of catastrophic health care expenses by assuming the role of a "re-insurer" and pick up 75 percent of all medical bills over $50,000. By relieving private carriers of this risk, so says Krugman, insurance premiums would decline 10 percent or more. Here's how he summarizes the Kerry proposal:

"This is a truly good idea. Our society tries to protect its members from the consequences of random misfortune; that's why we aid the victims of hurricanes, earthquakes and terrorist attacks. Catastrophic health expenses, which can easily drive a family into bankruptcy, fall into the same category. Yet private insurers try hard, and often successfully, to avoid covering such expenses. (That's not a moral condemnation; they are, after all, in business.)"
As good as it may sound, in our view, this is a truly bad idea. It not only fails to address the central flaw in our current health care system – a lack of incentives for cost control – it actually exacerbates that flaw by pushing us further down the road to politicized control of health care spending decisions and away from a market-based system in which consumers make spending decisions themselves.

Currently, nearly 80 percent of all dollars spent on health care are spent by someone other than the consumers who generate the bills. This situation is a prescription for disaster. Anytime a good or service is touted by politicians as a "right" that someone else should pay for, the result will be the same – over-consumption. Since price rationing can't occur in such a system (because consumers don't have to worry about prices), rationing will occur eventually by non-price means, e.g., shoddy service, treatment refusals and long delays.

The only solution we see is to move toward a market-oriented health care system that allows consumers to break out of the third-party-payer mess and take control of their own health care spending. There are two general approaches underway that are mutually inclusive. One is a defined-contribution plan that is being undertaken by some employers. Briefly, the employer buys a high deductible group plan and combines it with defined cash contributions to individual employee health accounts. The latter puts employees in control of routine health care decisions (bumps, mumps, bruises and skinned knees) and the former allows employers to cap their total contribution exposure. A more general approach is the Medical Savings Account (MSA) plans which work somewhat like an IRA. Contributions are tax deductible and accumulated investment earnings in the accounts are tax exempt. MSAs can be used either for routine medical expenses or the purchase of catastrophic insurance.

Both approaches could use some facilitation by Congress with regard to consistent tax treatment and more flexible rules governing account operations. However, they both achieve the most fundamental health care objective – bringing down costs and improving quality and service by putting the consumer in control.

Even though we totally disagree with Krugman, he should get some credit for initiating the discussion in a sane and rational manner.

He didn't mention Halliburton once!


[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 2:24 PM

"because Alexander had stood for moral and religious principles..."

I've been re-reading Rise of the Vulcans. One thing that I find fascinating is how far back many of our current arguments go. The battles waged now against "Realists," who want to cozy-up to dictators for the sake of stability, were also being fought in the 1970's...often by the same people! The Ford Administration started with Henry Kissinger having absolute control over foreign policy. No one else, not even the SecDef, could talk to the President about foreign affairs. Who fought him over this monopoly, and won? A couple of then-young guys named Rumsfeld and Cheney! That makes me appreciate them more than ever—they were fighting the good fight back when I was pondering whether longish hair was perhaps not really my style...

And here's another fellow we know:

...Wolfowitz was young, and his opinions attracted little attention at the time, but they were representative of the developing intellectual challenge to Kissinger from the political right.

During the summer of 1976, while still working at the arms control agency, Wolfowitz invited two Harvard graduate students to work for him as interns. One of them was Francis Fukuyama. Over dinner in his home one night, Wolfowitz gave the interns a critique of Kissinger's academic work A World Restored, an admiring portrait of how the Austrian statesman Metternich had established a durable balance of power in Europe in the early nineteenth century. It was a good book, Kissinger's best, Wolfowitz told the students, yet Kissinger had missed the point: The hero of this history was not Metternich, the realist. It was Tsar Alexander I of Russia, who had pushed for stronger action against Napoleon, because Alexander I had stood for moral and religious principles...(page 75)

I've heard critics sneer that the neocons were once among those who wanted to support authoritarian dictators as a bulwark against communism. (As if changing ones mind invalidates ones ideas. Silly) In fact, the story is only half-true. Straussians like Wolfowitz never thought that way. And those who did, most notably Jeanne Kirkpatrick, were Democrats. It was Ronald Reagan who wooed them, and put them in positions of power in his administration. Where their ideas then evolved into something very different. and stunningly successful.

It's a mark of the utter intellectual bankruptcy of their opponents, that we still have thrown at us, frequently, that "America supports dictators/death-squads/murder-of-nuns, etc. in Chile...Guatemala...El Salvador...blah blah blah." 30 years out-of-date!!! Dinosaurs! The neocons changed the policy 180° during Reagan's time, but the left still clings pathetically to the fable.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:20 AM

July 8, 2004

speaking as an aloof, indigestion-prone blog-world insider....

I don't have strong opinions about Mr Edwards, as a politician. (As an ambulance-chaser, my position is, "You hold this here wooden stake, while I swing the mallet.") For all I know he'd make a good President, should the burden fall to him. (I suspect that the burdensome fate that awaits him is to be a trivia question.) So I confess that I wasn't able to be the least bit upset by the ludicrous bias in this piece. I just thought it was hilarious:

...On hearing the news that the good-looking, charismatic Senator John Edwards had been named as his Democrat challenger, Vice-President Dick Cheney got on the phone to welcome him to the battle for the White House.

These will probably be the last warm words Mr Cheney has for his Democrat rival until election day in November. With unfavourable comparisons already being drawn between the silver-tongued, vigorous senator and Mr Cheney, the aloof, heart-attack-prone Washington insider, the Republican machine has gone into overdrive...

(thanks, Tim Blair)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:08 PM

dancing without a misstep....

For years I've been waiting for Miss Natalie to come through on her claim to be the world's only sewing blogger. Others might have wavered in their faith, but, if I may be permitted to say so, we conservatives are steadfast. If I'm your friend now, I'll be your friend in 2050. And today, the payoff! It was worth the wait:

....In that instant she regained control and cooly brought the needle to a halt that crucial three stitches on. In a fraction of a second the presser foot had been flicked up and the fabric yanked round by ninety degrees. Once more the pedal moved beneath her foot. Once more the MyLock motor gave voice. "Okay, honey," Solent muttered through clenched lips, "let's see what you can do." This time there was no holding back. Blades and needles seemed less to cut the surplus fabric than to vapourise it. Solent was no novice but it was all she could do to hold the seamline flat as the twin HA-1 SP needles ate up the yards. There was no time to wonder at the marvels of engineering that kept loopers, needles and blades dancing without a misstep even as the speed hit maximum.

Yet the end was in sight. As the pressure on the pedal eased the roar of the machine dropped to a purr. She gently brought it to a halt a precise two centimetres past the end of the seam. Presser foot up - thread on the cutter - snap! Securing the thread-tail could wait. For now the job was done.

"Coffee?" said a voice. Her trusty groundcrew was at her elbow.

"Coffee," she confirmed, flicking closed the power switch and leaning back. "Shaken, not stirred."


Posted by John Weidner at 7:45 PM

Economic sense...

AOG scoffs at the idea that we have (or should have) an American Empire:

...However, I think this analysis is fundamentally flawed. When one looks at previous empires, they existed because it was economically beneficial to the conquerors. Conquest or economic activity in foreign lands (the latter the basis of the British Empire) was a way for the not well off to become wealthy. The homeland was relatively static in its economic and class structure, but the hinterlands were the place of opportunity and self advancement. It was where the action was...

...This difference makes an American empire unsustainable. The talent (imperial and native) required to run the imperial domains will leak away back to the homeland. The only hope of a place like Iraq to be competive with the USA is to become a self-ordered society. But in that case it’s not an imperial possession anymore, but a sovereign nation. Those who support an American empire have not come to grips with the End of History, which spells the end of Empire as well...

I think empires stopped making economic sense with the Industrial Revolution. The wealth that could be extracted from a pre-industrial colony was trivial compared to what started pouring out of Manchester, or Chicago. The British empire seems to have mutated into a welfare scheme for the British middle class, providing cushy jobs without the need to "go into trade." Bad move.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:09 AM

The Chinese Century?

I highly recommend this article, in the NYT Magazine, on the stunning growth of China's economy. (Sent by Frank. Thanks!)

To me, the big question is the extant to which the Chinese, and other developing nations, will adopt the "rule-sets" of the US and the Anglosphere. They will, inevitably, as incomes rise and the middle-class grows, become more democratic. BUT perhaps they will develop more along the lines of France or Germany and the EU? Or some similar elite-run pseudo-democracy. That would be the less-happy outcome for the world. To be blunt, we have the best culture of political freedom. We have what they need.

And the poisonous hatred evoked by the US and its traditions in much of the world, (and much of the US) is evidence of the power of what we have to teach. Elitists everywhere instinctively know who their enemy is. (One good thing about the Iraq campaign is that it has exposed their disguise of being "anti-fascist" for the pathetic sham it has always been. I'll add that to my list of reasons why the liberation of Iraq was a move of pure genius. I'm up to about 13.) One good sign is the growth of Christianity in China.

...Look, China is the most exciting place in the world right now to be a manufacturer,'' says Mark Wall, president of the greater China region for G.E. Plastics. His operation sells the plastic pellets used to make everything from DVD's to building materials. Within two years G.E. will sell $1 billion in advanced materials, including plastics, in China. Wall, who came to China from G.E. Plastics, Brazil, describes a country in love with manufacturing like no other, where engineers come in excited and readily work long days. Where university students clamor to get into engineering and applied sciences. Like many American manufacturing executives in China, Wall talks about working in China with the delight that young computer whizzes felt when they found cool in Silicon Valley. There's no going to a cocktail party and then trying to talk around the fact that you make things in factories. Wall says he feels at home. He loves it. G.E. has every plan to capitalize on the local zeal for manufacturing. It recently opened a giant industrial research center in Shanghai, and by next year will it employ 1,200 people in its Chinese labs. The company has also set up scholarship programs at leading Chinese technical universities. It will have no shortage of good candidates.

The government is pouring resources into creating the world's largest army of industrialists. China has 17 million university and advanced vocational students (up more than threefold in five years), the majority of whom are in science and engineering. China will produce 325,000 engineers this year. That's five times as many as in the U.S., where the number of engineering graduates has been declining since the early 1980's. It is hard to imagine Americans' enthusiasm for engineering sinking lower. Forty percent of all students who enter universities on the engineering track change their minds...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:46 AM

July 7, 2004

The point is to tell the story...

Cori with some good sense on war crimes trials:

...The point is not to live up to some abstract standard of "international law" and keep the human rights groups happy. The point is to tell the story of what happened so definitively, in a way that leaves so little grounds for question, that no one can question, that the old regime is utterly and completely discredited for all time, and the country can finally heal...
The people who yack about the importance of a "fair trial" for Saddam and his gang miss the point. We need the truth to be told with an appearance of fairness and impartiality to aid in discrediting a monstrous regime. Fairness would be to drop him into a plastic shredder, but he is a useful prop in the job of getting the truth out. Especially since much of the world will do their best to avoid the truth...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:46 PM

"It was the response of a sane man..."

PowerLine has a different take on Edwards:

...Yet I still believe that Edwards was a better than average choice among the Democratic contenders in this regard [foreign policy]. Why? Because the Democratic party is so diseased that experience with foreign policy and national security issues is generally a dangerous thing (think Joe Biden). For Democrats, sophistication in these areas usually manifests itself in doubts about the U.S. as a force for good in the world and distrust of the exercise of U.S. power (think John Kerry). Hence, the preference for foreign interventions that seem to have little to do with American interests and, if our interests are at stake, the imperative of approval by international organizations....

...I get the impression that Edwards, precisely because he hadn't paid much attention to these matters until quite recently, missed this indoctrination....

...One of the few revealing moments of the Democratic primary season, I thought, was the debate in which John Kerry said that the danger of terrorism had been exaggerated by the Bush administration. The moderator asked John Edwards what he thought of Kerry's claim, and Edwards, a little nonplussed, answered to the effect that, "I don't see how you can say the threat of terrorism is exaggerated after Sept. 11." It was the response of a sane man, which put him, momentarily at least, at odds with Kerry...

At odds with a lot of people. It's no accident that Democrats shrieked with outrage when Bush put two seconds of the WTC in an ad. They are desperate to deny reality. Me, I'd rub their faces in it. But Karl's a deep old file, and maybe he's saving that for October....

Posted by John Weidner at 12:57 PM

#160: Figures don't lie, BUT....

P. Krugman
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD

With Bye-Bye, Bush Boom (07/06/04) Paul Krugman has finally returned to his field of expertise and wrote about an economic issue. Nothing like a below-expectation Labor Department payroll report to put a spring in the step of all gloom-and-doom Democrats. At least this column gives us a brief respite from Krugman's recent ranting on everything from John Ashcroft's Justice Department to a review of Michael Moore's new movie. However, the column itself was little more than a rehash of the DNC's talking points on the U.S. Economy.

One issue he raised is worth refuting. He notes ominously that the percentage of the adult population with jobs has fallen under Bush.

"If you want a single number that tells the story, it's the percentage of adults who have jobs. When Mr. Bush took office, that number stood at 64.4. By last August it had fallen to 62.2 percent. In June, the number was 62.3. That is, during Mr. Bush's first 30 months, the job situation deteriorated drastically."
He's right on the numbers, but wrong on everything else. Of course the jobs/population ratio is falling when the denominator (as defined by the Bureau of Labor statistic) is all non-institutionalized adults over 16. And it will fall again in the next four years (and in the next four after that) no matter who is elected president. That's because we have an aging population and each year a larger proportion is living in retirement. This trend which began in the late 90s is entirely explained by demographics and is not at all measure of the scarcity of jobs as Krugman claims.

What's really troubling is that Krugman knows all of this. If he wanted to state the issue more correctly he would have cited the jobs/labor force ratio where the denominator includes only those eligible and interested in working. But then, those data would not have "made his case". So what Krugman's jobs as a percentage of population really measures is how far he has sunk into partisan politics and intellectual dishonesty.

[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 11:15 AM

July 6, 2004

Tiger Claw beats Paper...

If you haven't seen this dude Saddam playing Rock-Paper-Sissors, take a look,. It's hysterical. (Thanks to Omar.)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:47 PM

Decreasing Healthcare Costs....

Here's a useful article on Health Saving's Accounts (HSA's). Yet another good reason to vote for Bush and Cheney. Democrats like Kerry and Kennedy have battled for years to prevent you from having these.

(Thanks to O Judd. Amazing how he finds all these things. This one is from "Industrial Distribution.")

Posted by John Weidner at 6:41 PM

July 5, 2004

Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,  And this be our motto--"In God is our trust."...

I recommend this little piece, by Isaac Asimov, on our national anthem. Here's a snippet:

I have a weakness--I am crazy, absolutely nuts, about our national anthem.

The words are difficult and the tune is almost impossible, but frequently when I'm taking a shower I sing it with as much power and emotion as I can. It shakes me up every time.

I was once asked to speak at a luncheon. Taking my life in my hands, I announced I was going to sing our national anthem--all four stanzas.

This was greeted with loud groans. One man closed the door to the kitchen, where the noise of dishes and cutlery was loud and distracting. "Thanks, Herb," I said.

"That's all right," he said. "It was at the request of the kitchen staff."

I explained the background of the anthem and then sang all four stanzas. 

Let me tell you, those people had never heard it before--or had never really listened. I got a standing ovation. But it was not me; it was the anthem....(Thanks to Volokh)


* Update, Charlene adds: An interesting sidelight – during the services on Sunday I checked the national anthem in the Hymnal....Not only do they only have two (not four) verses, they changed the line to “For conquer we must WHEN (not “for”) our cause it is just…” [We are Episcopalian, so I'm not surprised. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 9:27 PM

Did ANY Democrat care when THIS prisoner was tortured???

The next time you hear a Democrat politician ruffle up his feathers and whine and victimate because someone has "questioned his patriotism," remember this tale:

[Sacramento Union.com] by ASSEMBLYMAN JOHN CAMPBELL, Friday, July 2, 2004 In each of the 4 years that I have been a member of the state Assembly, we have had many "celebrations" on the Assembly floor. These "celebrations" are orchestrated by the Democrats who control the House and often involve singing and dancing. Every one of my 4 years have seen substantial celebrations of Cinco de Mayo (Commemorates the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla), St. Patrick's Day (for the patron Saint of Ireland) and Chinese New Year's Day, among others. But never once have we celebrated America's Independence Day, the 4th of July.

So, this year, Republican Assemblyman Jay LaSuer of San Diego arranged for Vietnam war hero Admiral Jeremiah Denton to come to California to be a part of a 4th of July ceremony. As you may know, Admiral Denton was a Navy pilot in Vietnam who was shot down and spent 8 years in a Vietnamese prison. In 1966 while in prison, he was interviewed by North Vietnamese television in Hanoi after torture to get him to "respond properly." During this interview, he blinked his eyes in Morse code to spell out the word "torture."


He was asked about his support for the war in Vietnam to which he replied "I don't know what is happening now in Vietnam, because the only news sources I have are Vietnamese. But whatever the position of my government is, I believe in it, I support it, and I will support it as long as I live." Four of his 8 years in prison were spent in solitary confinement. He later wrote the book When Hell was in Session, chronicling his experience in Vietnam.

When he stepped off the plane after being released from prison in 1973, he said "We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country in difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our Commander-in-Chief for this day. God bless America." He was later elected to the U.S. Senate from his home state of Alabama, becoming the first retired Admiral ever elected to that body. I could go on and on about his accomplishments.

Suffice it to say, Jeremiah Denton is unquestionably an American hero.

The Democratic leadership refused to allow him on the Assembly floor and there will be no 4th of July celebration. A memo from the Democratic speaker's office said "problems have arisen both with regards to the spirit, content and participation of various individuals with regard to the ceremony." Apparently, they said that he did not believe in the "separation of church and state" and they didn't like the policies he supported as a United States Senator and therefore they would not allow him to be on the Assembly floor or to speak.

Upon hearing about this, Governor Schwarzenegger offered his meeting room last Monday for a ceremony with Admiral Denton. The room was overflowing with people. Only one elected Democrat was in attendance. A number of veterans of the last 4 wars were present. Admiral Denton gave a very moving speech about the 4th of July and about the undeniable commitment of our founding fathers' to their faith in God. He talked about how the war on terrorism may be the most difficult war we have yet fought. And he went on to say that he fears that partisan attacks on our mission and our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan sound too familiar to what he experienced in Vietnam. Following his speech, The Governor came out to personally spend time with him.

Then this American hero, whose debt from us all can never be repaid, flew home to Alabama.

The Assembly did meet on that day. And we did have a ceremony that lasted nearly 20 minutes. That ceremony was to celebrate the career of a reporter from the L.A. Times on the occasion of his retirement. Democrats universally praised him as being "balanced." He was allowed to speak for about 10 minutes. Admiral Denton was no longer in the building.

Four years of Cinco De Mayo and not one recognition of the 4th of July. An L.A. Times reporter praised, and the very person whose sacrifice allows him to express his opinion is banned. It is perverse. It is wrong. And it is disrespectful to all the men and women in uniform who have stared death in the face and to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the American people.

Admiral Jeremiah Denton is a hero not because he was politician, but like all the other men and women of the Armed Forces, because he defended the ideals set forth with America's independence.

Thank you, Admiral Denton. And thank you Governor Schwarzenegger.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:19 PM

Weed-patches...

Alan Sullivan writes:

Opinion Journal is worrying about how Republicans are spending like Democrats. Any party in power is the party of big government. The only curb is frequent change in rulership. But this is no time to be switching. The opposition has staked its policy ground: multilateralism abroad and discreet collectivism at home. As usual, the electorate is asked to choose between bad and worse.
Any party in power is the party of big government. I think he's about right. But, from my musings on the 70-Year Cycle, I would tend to say that the party in power is the party of active government. Active in solving problems.

Right now the Democrats are still the party of bigger gov. But they are pretty much stymied when it comes to solving problems. They've "shot their wad," they've solved the problems (or at least fussed with them endlessly) that they were brought into power to solve, and the ones most urgent now are precisely those they can't tackle, because doing so would harm part of their coalition.

And the Republicans are being pulled into majority status because they are free to come to grips with exactly those pressing matters.

And I'm coming to think active government is inevitable, that it's what the people want. That the philosophical position of "small government" will always be a critique coming from a minority. We Americans think of our government as us, and we are no more comfortable with leaving problems alone than we are with letting our front yards turn into weed-patches.

Which is why I think Bush's emphasis on choice is very important. Government isn't going to get out of things like medical care, education, retirement, and a lot of other social-safety-net stuff. It just isn't going to happen. My preference is for smaller government, but it just isn't on the menu. So the next-best thing is to take the decision-making in government programs out of the hands of bureaucrats, and give it to the people.

I hope and pray that, after November, when a mighty victory has replenished his reserves of political capital, the President brings out the really big guns to push his various choice-based proposals.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:36 PM

Ahhh, the French...

Keep this in mind when Democrats tout the superior moral virtues of the French, and lament that the cowboy Bush Administration has driven away our French friends who would otherwise be glad to help liberate Arabs:

...It seems that, as a French Arab (or an Assyrian), you're more likely to get a job in government in Iraq than in France.

Back in February, I blogged the latest spectacular failure in including Arabs in the French political process. Though Maghrebans make up 10% of French society (slightly smaller than the percentage of blacks in the US population), there is not a single Arab mayor in France. In December, PM Raffarin had a list of forty to fifty candidates of Arab extraction drawn up to stand on the UMP list the March parliamentary elections. Three weeks later, the list had been cleansed of almost all the Arab names on it and the handful remaining began withdrawing in protest. There are now only 7 Arabs in the French parliament (there are more Arab MPs in Israel, a country 90% smaller than France!). Until then, there had not been a single Arab member of parliament (and therefore not a single Arab minister). Currently, France has only two Arabs holding executive public office.... [And keep those Israeli-Arab MP's in mind when Leftizoid phonies go on and on and on about the sins of Israel. They don't give a damn that Arabs in KSA or Yemen or Egypt don't get to elect MP's. In fact, they don't give a damn about Arabs, period.]

And read on! Read about a French Arab, a woman, who has reached ministerial rank. Oooops, but not in France. In Iraq.....Great story.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:17 PM

We wuz robbed! It's another Florida!

The groundwork for excuses, litigation, and of course, disloyalty in time of war, is already being laid...

Fox News....Representatives of the League of Women Voters, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People , the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials recently warned about five major areas of concern facing Election Day and the time left to address them.

"We believe the 2004 election is in danger," Kay Maxwell, president of the LWV, told FOXNews.com. "What we are doing is trying to sound an alarm."

The representatives said they believe voters are wrongly and routinely purged from the rolls and a high percentage of provisional ballots, which are issued when a voter cannot be immediately verified at a polling place, are not being counted at all....(via Polipundit)

It's a conspiracy! A White Racist Conspiracy of course, the best kind. Those White Racist Republicans are disenfranchising blacks and latinos (even where the voting officials happen to be Democrats)

The only possible way to achieve fairness is to take the census figures for minorities and homeless, add 20% for presumed racist undercount, and add those as votes for Democrat candidates. Any state still tending Republican will be presumed to suffer from institutionalized racism, and be sent to sensitivity training.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:54 AM

July 4, 2004

Ye country Comets...

THE MOWER TO THE GLOW-WORMS

Ye living lamps, by whose dear light
The Nightingale does sit so late,
And studying all the Summer night,
Her matchless Songs does meditate;

Ye country Comets, that portend
No War, nor Princes funeral,
Shining unto no higher end
Than to presage the Grasses fall;

Ye Glow-worms, whose officious Flame
To wandring Mowers shows the way,
That in the Night have lost their aim,
And after foolish fires do stray;

Your courteous Lights in vain you waste,
Since Juliana here is come
For She my Mind hath so displac'd
That I shall never find my home.

Andrew Marvell

Posted by John Weidner at 10:24 PM

Fortunately...


I just happened to notice this by Orrin Judd:

...The problem is that those on the far Right don't believe all men to be equal--especially not the brown ones--while the Left and the secular Right (most Libertarians, neocons, etc.) don't believe man was Created. We're left then with a situation where it's pretty much only conservative Jews and Christians who still believe in the truths that America represents.

Fortunately, at the present time, their number happens to include the President.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:29 PM

"once the dark night of fascism descended..."

This is a sort of lunacy we're not unfamiliar with here in the Bay Area, but I've never witnessed anything quite this crazy:

IGNAT SOLZHENITSYN understands why so many people have warm thoughts of Ronald Reagan, but one of his earliest memories is on the frigid side.

In 1980, Ignat was an 8-year-old transplanted to Vermont by his father, the famous chronicler of Siberia's gulags. As Ignat tells the story, on the morning after the presidential election he got a taste of American political re-education at the progressive private school he and his brothers attended.

In response to the Reagan victory, the school's flag was lowered to half-staff, and the morning assembly was devoted to what today would be called grief counseling. The headmaster mourned "what America would become once the dark night of fascism descended under the B-movie actor," recalled Mr. Solzhenitsyn, who is now the music director of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. "At one point he interrupted himself to inquire if anyone present did not share his gloomy view of the Reagan victory."

The only students to raise their hands were Ignat and his two brothers, Yermolai and Stephan. After a stony silence, he recalled, they were sent outside, without their coats, to meditate on the error of their ways underneath the lowered flag. Vermont in November was hardly Siberia, but there was frost on the ground, and they spent an hour shivering and exercising to stay warm. Still, Ignat said, their political exile was a relief from sitting in the auditorium listening to the party line...

So, dark night of fascism. Do you think any of those who said Reagan was the "coming of fascism" have apologized? Admitted they were mistaken? Even bothered to define "fascism" with any sort of precision?

And now we hear the same stupid stupid stupid stupid crap again. Fascism. Defined no doubt by Hollywood; you know it when you see it because of the big boots the bad guys wear. The real message is: If Democrats are in power, then Republicans should be a Loyal Opposition. If Republicans are in power, well, they are a bunch of fascists so Democrats are under no obligations of loyalty or cooperation.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:29 PM

frauds

This is a good piece on how the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has become just another left-wing political group. They are for dictators and "insurgents," and against democracies, especially the US and Israel.

Keep it in mind when you hear of the ICRC lashing the US for Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo. They are not on our side, they are not impartial, and they don't care about human rights or "International Law" except as a stick to bash the US and Israel.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:52 PM

Fourth of July, 2004

Our house with flag at dusk


...Not to find new principles. or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825

Posted by John Weidner at 9:10 AM

July 3, 2004

"...U.S. affiliates reported record quarterly earnings in 14 countries."

This is an interesting piece on trade, Forget About the U.S. Trade Deficit?:

...One of the most dangerous deficits today is not one of trade — but rather a deficit in understanding how U.S. firms compete and sell products in the world marketplace.

Simply put, American firms compete more through foreign direct investment — they establish a local presence in international markets by operating on the ground — than through arm’s-length trade.

In 2001, for instance, the last year of available data, U.S. foreign affiliate sales topped nearly $3 trillion — roughly three times larger than U.S. exports of goods and services. Because foreign affiliate sales are not included in U.S. exports, a great deal of global commerce is missing from the reported trade figures...

I'm not enough of an economist to judge this, but it sounds promising... (via Judd)

Posted by John Weidner at 12:29 PM

I'm sure it was just an accident...

speaking of curious distortions by the newsmedia, Jaed notes:

O Times, o mores,...
The New York Times offers an email service, a daily summary with brief quote of top stories. Here's the summary of one of today's op-eds:
OP-ED COLUMNIST
All Hail Moore
By DAVID BROOKS
A beacon in the form of Michael Moore has appeared on the mountaintop, and tens of thousands have joined in the adulation.
And here's the first paragraph of the actual piece:
In years past, American liberals have had to settle for intellectual and moral leadership from the likes of John Dewey, Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Luther King Jr. But now, a grander beacon has appeared on the mountaintop, and from sea to shining sea, tens of thousands have joined in the adulation.
Just a wee change in meaning there, no? Were I Brooks, I'd consider suing for libel.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:29 AM

Unidirectional...

Andrea Harris gives me something to munch with the morning's cuppa joe:

Oh, what a surprise: another journalist tells more lies! This is what I mean: read how the account (by a reporter on the scene who could by no stretch of the imagination be called a shill for the Bushitler Imperalist Hegemon) of the toppling of a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad with the help of some American marines is transformed over a year after the fact into something completely conceived of and orchestrated by those dastardly military men! Go on, I’ll wait.

Notice how clever the reporter on the latter story is: he doesn’t lie brazenly, such as telling us the statue wasn’t toppled or there was no statue or it was all done in Adobe GoLive or something. No, he merely twists events that actually happened to fit his (and his paper’s?) agenda of controlling the way we remember recent history. I don’t think (as Captain Ed does) that journalists and editors at the LA Times or at any other paper are at all ignorant of how to use Google; I think they know very well how to correctly research their claims, but they are banking on the (I think correct) assumption that most of their readers take for granted that what they are publishing is true, and also that most people don’t remember what happened last week in the rest of the world outside of their own personal lives, much less last year. Taking this ignorance into consideration, the people who run the pro-news media have decided that the time is ripe to shape the future as they see fit. After all, it’s for our own good. Jeez, I hate these people more and more every day.

They deserve to be hated. And pitied.

Be of good cheer, Andrea. They are telling lies because they are desperate, because the light of truth shows them to be losers, and their party to be on the way out. They feel they need lies to counter the mind-rays Rumsfeld is beaming into everyone's tooth-fillings. (Ooops, sorry if teeth are a sensitive subject.)

Notice how "fiskings" always seem to go in one direction? If they could use facts to show how us Zombie Legions of Our Master the Vice-President are concocting good-news-from-the-GWOT out of cobwebs, they would study hard, and figure how to use Google in a matter of weeks...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:43 AM

July 2, 2004

Harry Potter & the Pillar of Storg rumor is false...

Ith pointed me to something I was unaware of, JK Rowling's web page. The graphics are exceptionally pleasing. (And book six is to be called Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince)

Posted by John Weidner at 10:47 PM

July 1, 2004

Mac back

Good news. Glenn (Mac) Frazier is blogging again after a long hiatus. Back in 2002 he was the guy gathering all the Iran news. Here's a quote by him from an old post...it brings back memories.

It's things like this that make me question my own sanity.

According to several trusted email correspondents, Michael Ledeen, and a website run by a pro-democracy Iranian student organization, yesterday saw demonstrations across Iran that erupted into violence.

According to Reuters, UPI, AP, CNN, BBC, and everyone else in the whole universe...nothing. One of the biggest stories out of Iran, according to them, is that a male bellydancer has decided to continue living there despite being barred from teaching dance. What's going on?

I haven't heard from any of my sources for quite awhile, now. The SMCCDI site reported a temporary lockdown of international phone calls in Iran, then went silent ...

I'm guessing the people of Iran and their struggles will be back on the front burner before too long. Iraq has absorbed most of the attention lately, but I bet Prime Minister Allawi will think up some nasty surprises for the terrorists. And much of what's been happening in Iraq probably really is a fight with Iran, or its agents. And that's good. It seems bad at the moment, but fighting is much better than letting the problems fester and grow worse.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:44 PM

Two theories

I saw this quote by Brad DeLong at a friend's blog, and just had to stick in a few words.

...can we please please please please please please PLEASE!! stop talking about Bush's "tax cuts." There are no tax cuts. There's a tax shift--current taxpayers pay less, and future taxpayers pay more. Only by pretending that nobody has to service and amortize the growing federal debt can you talk about Bush's "tax cuts." They aren't there, any more than a $5,000 increase in your VISA limit is an increase in your income.
Dave, I think Mr DeLong has let partisan rancor trump his usual knowledge and intelligence. His statement assumes that the economy, and tax revenues, are static. Which is sort of like you assuming that your company's sales will be the same whatever the price you charge.

By his reasoning, you gained nothing by buying your first house, since you burdened your future with both interest and principal payments. But in fact, your income grew, your net worth grew, the value of the house and the whole neighborhood grew, and mortgage payments did not blight your life and turn you into a shriveled old man.

Same thing happens in the big world. Remember what they said about Reagan's tax cuts? That our children and grandchildren will have to slave in poverty to pay off the 1.3 trillion he added to the National Debt? The critics carefully didn't burden our tiny brains with the fact that his term in office added $17 trillion to the national wealth. Sort of like borrowing 1,300 to make an investment that earns 17,000. Not bad.

And our economy has been growing in almost every quarter since. The national wealth is now something like $450 trillion. So the "crushing burden" left by Reagan has now shrunk to a rounding error. Of course I can't prove that Reagan's tax cuts and monetary policies led to our present wealth, but the tax cuts were done according to a theory, and the results fit what the theory predicted.

What's the theory? Suppose when you first bought a house you had also owned stock in a promising young company, maybe something like, oh, Microsoft. And suppose you could have sold the stock and bought your house for cash. Would that have been a good move? Of course not, better to have added some debt. The theory behind the tax cuts is that leaving money in the pockets of the American people is a good investment, much like keeping that Microsoft stock. The theory is that the payoff will be much bigger than the cost of the debt.

Of course that theory won't appeal to Mr De Long, since it assumes that the other theory is wrong. That one says that the money is best put in the hands of "experts" in government and the academy, (which is to say, people like Brad DeLong.) One of the ironies here is that if a Democrat were in the White House, DeLong would almost certainly agree that a wee bit of deficit spending is just what the doctor ordered for a slowed-down economy.


Posted by John Weidner at 7:28 PM

These are the nasty capitalists Democrats want to protect us from...

41 Halliburton Employees Killed in Iraq

[From NewsMax]Forty-one employees of the embattled energy services company Halliburton have been killed in Iraq and Kuwait since the company became the U.S.'s primary contractor in the Iraq rebuilding effort last year.

Halliburton's sacrifice in human terms is higher, for instance, than the entire British army's - which has the second largest military presence in Iraq. Twenty-seven British soldiers have killed since the occupation began on May 1, 2003.

Despite suffering a staggering death toll, Hallburton's contribution to the war effort has been derided by the Democratic-media complex as war profiteering. When a Halliburton employee is killed, kidnapped or injured in Iraq, it seldom generates any news coverage.

On the other hand, when a reporter dies covering the war, the media is awash in reports praising his courage and dedication....

I had no idea the death toll was so high. Well, of course I didn't, it doesn't get any news coverage, because that wouldn't fit the Party Line.

Well, people of Halliburton and our other contractors, Americans thank you. I thank you. You are heroes, and the Michael Moore crowd isn't worthy to clean your boots.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:26 AM