June 08, 2002


behind bars, former LAPD Detective Mark Furhman is set to investigate another strange, famous death: that of Vince Foster.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


behavior from our President. He's out campainging. I'm as horrified as Terry McAuliffe. Next thing you know, ol' W might actually say something political. The nerve.
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over the stupidity of gun controllers? Then have a look at this site. Here's a choice cut:

...there is the old canard about slavery; that only people with guns can avoid being slaves, and that only slaves lack the right to basic self defense. The response here is quite simple-when as many people die of gun related incidents as do every year, you are already a slave. You are a slave to a system in which you feel you need to carry a gun for self-protection. You are a slave to the chaos that mankind has worked for millennia to civilize. Perhaps we are all violent beasts at heart, and that will never change. But evidence of peaceful, relatively violent-crime-free societies such as Japan indicate that perhaps we can "all just get along."

Problem with that ending is that even gun-free Japan is going through a massive crime wave these days--and the crimes are mostly of the ax and knife murderer variety. What effect do you suppose a few guns floating around might have on that crime bubble? The problems with the first few sentences are self-evident.

Anyhow, now that you're up in arms (or so to speak), check out this site. Talk about "bellicose women."
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: I asked the Bush Administration to throw us hard righties a bone a few days ago--a veto, a conservative court nomination that would actually get backed up, diss Pat Leahy, something--and now he's whipped out the tax-cutting knife, calling for the death of the Death Tax. Thank you, Mr. President. I'll go chew on my new soup bone now...
Posted by B. Preston at 01:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


pleases another one. Lileks loves it. I really think expectation has a lot to do with whether people like it or not. I went in with the same attitude that Lileks had--just that it not suck--and to us, there was no suckage to be found. People who went in expecting greatness have generally found it disappointing. And I have to say, people that think it has no story just weren't paying attention. It has a story, and a good one.

Incidentally, when the great ten sex debate was at its zenith, I had come up with the novel and timely headline ATTACK OF THE 'MONES (as in hormones) and wanted to use it to jump into the debate. Problem was, that was the first and last real thought I had on the subject. I just couldn't conjure up anything more to say. So if anyone wants to re-ignite the teen sex wars, feel free to co-opt my headline that never had a home.
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I'd be flattered if she did, as she's one of my favorite writers. Check out this paragraph in her latest column:

At the same time the institutions that keep us up and humming, or at least help keep us mutually invested in and respectful of each other and our way of life, continue to wobble and groan from the weight of their misconduct. The American Catholic Church is a victim of self-inflicted wounds, its corruptions as towering as its cathedrals. Big business--Enronned. Wall Street--stock tipped, finagled and fooled by a bubble. Big accounting, by which we judge how our business investments are doing, is a joke. The FBI and the CIA are more joke fodder. Our serious journalists are focused on today's testimony, tonight's game and the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries. The others do shark attacks and entertainment awards. Our intellectuals are off on various toots, most of them either irrelevant--the latest edition of the New York Review of Books leads with stories on David Brock, Clarence Thomas, Sexy Puritans, Peggy Guggenheim and Noel Coward--or all too relevant and wrong.

And now read this post of mine, from May 7. She says it much better than I did, but the idea--that our entire way of life and all the time-tested institutions we take for granted are tottering--is the same. I would call it a "great minds think alike" moment, but I can't claim possession of a great mind to hold up my side of that equation. I guess it's just the spirit of the times--it's obvious to anyone who cares to notice that we're on track for a series of paradigm shifts in the way we see the world in the next few years.
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like Daniel Pearl, but Martin Burnham and Deborah Yap should not be forgotten by us bloggers. They were missionaries to some of the poorest areas of the Phillipines who, along with Martin's wife Gracia, dedicated their lives to serving God and helping their fellow man. The trio eventually ran afoul of Abu Sayaff, the Phillipine branch of al-Qaida, who took them as hostages and demanded a ransom. It was that action and the request of the Phillipine government for assistance that led to US involvement, and to yesterday's firefight in which Mr. Burnham and Deborah Yap were killed, and Mrs. Burnham was wounded. No American troops are reported to have been directly involved in the fighting.

They are the latest American casualties in the war on terror, and their blood is on the hands of the terrorists. Though they are in a better place now, we should never forget them as we press on. We should also remember that Israel is dealing with similar killings, at the hands of similar evil, on a more frequent basis.
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June 07, 2002


: Kevin H. and HokiePundit are blogging about the tension between God's will and the American dream, and the central idea seems to be the apparent conflict between the two. Hokie asks whether he'll have to give up his dream life--the nice car, the big house, the trophy wife (spiritually speaking, natch), etc--to follow God's will.

The answer is an unequivocal "Yes." But....

Kevin's also delivered the meaning of that answer, which is vital. Seek first the kingdom of God--look earnestly for God's will, and honestly seek it as the highest priority in your life--and all these things (the things God wants for you, such a life of abundance and so forth) will be added. And abundance isn't neccessarily a financial term, it just means "fullness." A very full life may not require any possessions, if that's God's will. It's in the setting of God's purpose as our priority that we find the good life, which will be different for all of us.

For some of us, the good life will be a life of economic comfort and relative security. For others, the good life will be a rugged existence serving God in the nooks and crannies of the world. For most of us, the good life will be somewhere in between the two extremes, and may feature periods of both. But whatever the good life turns out to be for the Christian, we should learn to live as Paul, content in all things and all circumstances.

It's easy to say, "seek God's will first," but it's extrememly hard to do. I certainly don't seek the kingdom first every day or even most days, though I know intellectually that I should, and that I'll be happier if I do. But it is what we must do, and it will lead to the contentment and peace that God wants for us all.

As for the American dream, I actually think of it as much less a materialistic ideal than a philosophical one. It's in our founding statement, the Declaration of Independence, in which we are described as having inalienable rights, endowed by our Creator, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There is no conflict between that dream and the truth of scripture, when the dream is properly understood as being the philosophical framework within which a nation should operate. In fact I'd say that any government that doesn't have at least those three rights in its foundation is in danger of being in conflict with God's will.
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: Why do I refer to Jimmy's hypotheticals as "games?" Because that's what they are. Sure, introducing a hypothetical "what if" is a common debating tactic, but it's rarely successful because it nearly always involves removing some critical aspect from the topic under consideration, thereby altering the equation. Removing the Bomb from its historical context, or changing the Bomb to the 101st airborne, dramatically alters the event, and that's ground I just won't cede. The context of the event is key to understanding it. That's why we study history.

And other than that, I really have nothing else to say. I've presented the facts, and they've been ignored. I've explained the thought process that led to my take on the issue, and I get platitudes and nitpicking in return. I'm done. I can't imagine convincing Jimmy that he's wrong, because the facts will never be allowed to get in the way of his opinion, and he'll never convince me that I am wrong because he isn't just armed with enough facts to build a worthwhile case. We've both spoken, and history hasn't changed one iota.

So unless there's some new relevation, or unless Veritas or someone else can at least build a case worth looking at, I'm done with this topic. I do want to thank everyone who commented here on these posts--you folks added greatly to the debate and put in a layer of fact and thought that I never would have built up on my own. It's scary (and humbling, and great) to have so many interested readers who are so much smarter than I am.
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June 06, 2002


of the nuking Japan debate, so I'll offer this nugget. A couple of anti-Bombers have pointed to Vatican II as though it should be the gold standard for determining the morality of an action. I hate to break it to you Catholics, but Vatican II has absolutely no weight with non-Catholics, both Protestant and Other. And from the looks of the doctrine itself, Vatican II's "just war" passage represents a naive view of the world and how it works. I realize this quote isn't exhaustive, but here's the line Veritas uses to back his argument:

Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.

War is simply too complicated to be dealt with in such a rigid manner. Further, the Bible, from which the Catholic Church claims its authority, makes no such claim. In fact, the Old Testament is full of commands by God to destroy whole cities. Remember Jericho--how many of its residents survived Joshua's conquest? Just a single family, that of Rahab the prostitute, and only because she helped Israel win by supplying inside information. Read just about any chapter in the Book of Joshua. The Canaanites find themselves in the crosshairs (if ancient Israeli warriors had crosshairs) as a matter of routine. None of what I'm saying is new, nor does it justify any and all actions taken during the course of war. But it does point to a rather more nuanced moral view of the world than Vatican II seems to allow, and that morality has an indispensible contextual dimension.

By its very nature, war is a terrible, evil thing, and the best thing a good nation can do is fight it as honorably as possible to a swift, victorious conclusion. Along the way, war leaders will have to subject rigid morality to the cause of victory. That doesn't mean that anything goes, but it does mean that for the most part rules and theories of "just war" are made to be guides, but also to be bent and broken if the overall cause is just and the situation on the ground demands it.

In World War II, the cause was just, and action taken--dropping the Bomb--saved more lives than it ended, on both sides. There's no way around that fact.

It sounds terrible, but that's the real, sinful and fallen world we live in.

One more thing. If dropping the Bomb was an evil act, which was the greater evil--it or the attack on Pearl Harbor? Or are they equally evil? Why does it matter?
Posted by B. Preston at 11:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I didn't hear all of the Presiden't speech tonight. But what I heard, I liked. And I suspect that for a lot of Washington bureaucrats, this speech was a real Maalox moment. Bush didn't directly threaten to fire anyone, but massive reorganizations have a way of consolidating lines of communication and chains of command when they're done right. Often, as managers draw lines and boxes and try to put people in them, they'll notice that they have too many people--Employee A and C do exactly the same thing, and in the interests of streamlining things, the organization no longer needs one of them. So Employee C gets a generous amount of time to look for something else, and A gets to stay on with increased responsibility. It's not a question of going on a witch hunt or causing heads to roll directly (though in this situation it probably should be), but by the mere fact of bringing a few boxes into the same line on an org chart. So I like the idea of taking a whole bunch of bureaucracies and bringing them under one command. And I suspect Washington is abuzz with resume-polishing tonight, and that's a good thing. But I still don't like the name "Homeland Defense" much. It sound too much like something they'd come up with on Little House on the Prairie.

So here's my modest proposal: Drop "Homeland," and name it the Department of Defense. Take the current department by that name and give it a name more suitable to its current role. At West Point, the President said preemption would become the hallmark of the war--that we will take the battle to the terrorists and try and get to them before they get to us. So let's let the department currently called Defense flip, and go on offense. And at any rate, the likelihood of the continental US being invaded by an actual army is nil, so the current DoD will almost never have to "defend" us at all in the usual sense.

Department of Defense to secure the home front. Department of Offense to pound terrorists on their home front.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: They're apparently working on a bill to extend the heavy hand of regulation to the internet.
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: Once a microbe, now a slithering reptile. Of course, my evolutionary progress is by design, intelligent or otherwise.
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: Another blogger has opined on the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He's wrong too, about a whole lot of things. For one, both cities were valid military targets. Nagasaki, in particular, served a rather prominent place in the Pearl Harbor attack. It was from a communications array near Nagasaki that "Tora! Tora! Tora!" sounded, launching the attack that started the war. Nagasaki was also one of the imperial navy's major ports, and destroying it made it nearly impossible for Japan to launch any serious counterattacks, since they were primarily a naval power.

Hiroshima was a hub for Japan's heavy industry, and destroying it effectively wiped out a good chunk of Japan's ability to wage war. Taking out both cities together halted Japan's military machine. Had Japan not surrendered, she was sufficiently weakend by the loss of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to make the invasion that would have taken place a little less murderous for both sides.

Both cities, by the way, have of course been rebuilt, and are among Japan's most beautiful cities today. Nagasaki reminds me a little of San Franciso, complete with hills and cable cars. Not that I've actually been to San Francisco...
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: Josh Marshall picks at one my favorite intellectual lightweights, Larry King.
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: Andy Rooney admits Dan Rather is a liberal. Ya don't say...
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: In my never-ending quest to rise from the sludge of anonymity and become merely obscure, and to raise my profile in the Blogosphere Ecosystem as well as the slut linkage thing, I've added about a zillion new links to the handy menu on the left. Of special note is The Weigh In. And yes, I've read all those sites at least once, and also yes, I borrowed the link code from somewhere else. Can you guess where? (Hint: the site I lifted it from doesn't link to me.)
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: That's what this story reminds me of....
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: The last refuge of a bad argument is the hypothetical. The "Oh yeah, well what if we did this?" argument. Jimmy uses it in his response to my last post, asking:

Here, just to keep things interesting: what if we had dropped the 101st Airborne into Hiroshima and bayoneted all the civilians? I have used this scenario before, and it always gets a pause from supporters of the bombing, if not a conversion.

Sorry, Jimmy. No converts here, and no pause. To engage your hypothetical scenario, would dropping the 101st into Hiroshima have stopped the war? No--they probably would have been slaughtered by the locals, and the troops, in the area. Don't believe me? Do your homework--several American air crews crashed in Japan, either because they were shot down, collided with other aircraft or had mechanical trouble. Nearly all of those that survived such crashes were summarily executed, in many cases by the local civilians. One exception occurred in Shizuoka, where a grocery store owner rescued the lone survivor from a B-29 crash and tended his wounds until he died a few days later. That Japanese rescuer was nearly lynched by his neighbors when they found out, btw. Most of the time, though, it was like an incident that occurred in Hachioji, where a pilot was dragged from his plane and torn to pieces by local townfolk, men, women and children. To use hypothetical arguments, you at least have to come up with something that might actually happen and have the same effect as the course taken. The only action that could possibly have precipitated the end of the war short of invasion or a protracted blockade was dropping the bomb. That was the goal of dropping the bomb, and it was also the effect, and it saved the lives of millions. Dropping the 101st in Hiroshima would just have been a waste of lives, as would have been an invasion. A blockade probably would have given us a situation similar to Iraq, and an enemy nursing an old grudge to be avenged later.

War nearly always forces leaders to choose between two nasty alternatives. Do we attack the village where the enemy is hiding, knowing that some civilians will get caught in the crossfire, or do we leave the village in the hand of the enemy, knowing that he and his troops are oppressive brutes and will steal, rape and kill during occupation? Dropping the bomb in 1945 was such a choice, and to call it "evil," as Jimmy did, implies that Truman, and the aircrews under his command, acted in an evil manner to end the war. That's unacceptable because it's wrong, and because it sullies the heroism of those who fought and died. It also turns us into the bad guys at the end, which re-writes the history of the post-war era.

Jimmy also said in his previous post that, were he to stand before an audience of WWII vets and their families, he would have to tell them that it would have been better they had died (and their children and grandchildren never been born?) invading Japan than American dropped the bomb. This wisdom coming from a life he enjoys because so many of them did live on, have families and rebuild the world, and from a resulting world order that's kept him from having to put on the uniform of war himself. That's why I use the word "arrogant" to describe his arguments, and I stick by it.

My arguments here aren't based on an "America, love it or leave it" attitude. They're based on the facts of the situation, an attempt to study the events that led up to the decision, its aftermath, and the possible alternatives as the historical figures saw them. Jimmy's arguments are based on.....? It may be, as he says, boring to be told that you don't have the facts, but that doesn't make it any less true.

UPDATE: The eloquence of those who read this blog and post comments astounds me. Please read Desiree's comment. And I should note, again, that none of my opinion is based in any way on anti-Japanese sentiment. I'm anything but anti-Japan--I love the place, my wife's from the place, and to put it simply, Japan is America's best friend in Asia, and America is Japan's best friend in the world.

UPDATE AGAIN: I know, I know...the title of this post means I shouldn't say anything more. But Jimmy has responded, and he's still wrong and is missing the logic of my argument: Either way, Truman's decision would lead to the deaths of many innocent people. He had no choice that wouldn't kill an awful lot of people. Given that, Truman made the right call and minimized the loss of life. Had there been some other way out that wouldn't have mandated killing an awful lot of people, Truman's decision to drop the bomb would have been wrong. No such choice existed. Following Jimmy's "ideals" would have been foolish, wasteful of human life, and created more problems than it solved. We live in a world where happy endings are in very short supply, and sometimes the best choice available is still awful. You just have to make the best choice you can and be prepared to live with the consequences. That's the real world, not a pointless hypothetical morality parlor game.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 05, 2002


: One of the saddest aspects of American culture is our tendency to destroy the heroes and deeds of the past. It's the spirit that condemns George Washington and Thomas Jefferson for owning slaves, though they laid the groundwork that eventually begat emancipation. It's the same spirit that condems Abraham Lincoln for an unfortunate comment while missing the larger good work that he did. And it's the same spirit that condemns American use of The Bomb to force Japan's surrender in 1945.

It's a spirit that says "Though I wasn't in the position to have made the call, and though I have little understanding of the context in which it was made, I will nevertheless condemn it." It's arrogance--the arrogance of looking at the past as though all the rules and knowledge of today apply to it.

Dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed a lot of people. We all know that. It killed indiscriminately; we all know that too. And it killed people not connected at all to Japan's war machine. Again, no surprise there. So on the face of, if that's all you know, it looks like Harry Truman did a terrible, evil thing.

But of course, that's not all we know. Collectively, the bombs killed about 100,000 people. Prior to that act, America and Japan had fought a bloody, savage war across a string of largely useless Pacific islands. Casualties on both sides had been appauling--during the battle for perhaps the most useless island in the Pacific, Iwo Jima, America lost 7,000 sons while Japan lost over 20,000. For a piece of volcanic dirt about 7 miles long and 2 miles wide that stinks of sulphur, two powerful nations poured out the blood of their children. The casualty tolls were similar if not worse on Guam, and Saipan, and elsewhere. But Okinawa offered a new form of hell.

Okinawa was a heavily populated island whose residents had been fed a steady diet of propaganda before and during the war. They were told Americans were cannibals, that our soldiers particularly liked to eat children, and would rape the mothers after having thus feasted. So as American troops advanced across the island, the people did what they thought they had to to keep their children from being devoured--they threw them off cliffs, and the women often jumped after them. Thousands died in this way, never knowing that their government had fed them a lie.

So once the conquest of Okinawa was complete, the American leadership faced a dilemma: what to do about Japan's home islands? The home islands--Shikoku, Kyushu, Honshu and Hokkaido--are far larger than Okinawa, mountainous, and difficult to assault by conventional means. And the people on those islands had been fed the same ghastly propaganda. The fates of 1 million American men, and as many millionsJapanese citizens, were in the hands of Harry Truman. And Japan was facing a famine--the war had brought on food shortages that threatened starvation whether America attacked or not.

Truman already knew that bombing Japan into submission via conventional means wouldn't work. He'd been bombing Japan since 1942, and Japan had kept fighting on. Our troops had destroyed Japan's formiddable navy, and taken away its imperial possessions, and Japan had just kept fighting on. In fact, Japan had only gotten more aggressive, dropping experimental balloon bombs on random spots on the continental US, killing very few but trying to kill and terrorize as many as possible. One such bomb killed a family on a picnic. Killing American civilians was the ballon bombs' intended goal.

Truman knew what an invasion would look like. He'd ordered several invasions of small islands already, and while America had won all those battles, the price had been steep for both sides. Invading the comparatively larger home islands would be far costlier. The Japanese government was prepared, it said, to sacrifice 20 million civilians to keep the Americans out.

This was intolerable. Germany had surrendered; Italy had been out of the war for a while already. Japan was the lone Axis power left, and it was the most stubborn. Japan was guided by its nativistic Shinto religion, which considered any form of surrender unacceptable, and suicide preferrable to defeat. Truman knew that, short of some incredible event, Japan simply wouldn't surrender until American troops had fought their way up and down the length of the home islands. Such a campaign could take two years or more. America and the world were weary of war. Truman needed a way to prevent an invasion, and he had one--the atomic bomb.

So Truman made a calculation--hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the most fearsome weapon ever made, destroying a major industrial hub and a major port, and also hopefully demonstrating to Japan the futility of protracted conflict. So he atom bombed both cities, killing thousands but saving millions, and ended the war.

It wasn't an act of evil--it was an act of humanity.

Morality always exists with a context. That's not moral relativism; it's just common sense. Killing is never condemned as always and in all situations evil, even in the Bible. Killing in self-defense is allowed, as is killing in war. Ecclestiases 3 makes a point of this, arguing that there are seasons in which a given act is moral and seasons in which its opposite is moral, killing and healing being among the opposites specifically addressed. In the case of the atom bomb, swiftly ending the war saved millions of Japanese civilians as well as a quarter million or more Americans. It was the moral thing to do.

So why am I going on at length about this? Because of ill-informed screeds like this. It's important that we examine the past, not just from our own vantage of decades gone by and from today's circumstances, but from the circumstances and times in which living, breathing humans acted and reacted. To do otherwise is to fail to understand reality, and it is to treat our forebears with unbecoming arrogance.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: From now on, any fanfare or anguish-inducing piece I read in the NYTimes will be taken with a boulder-sized grain of salt. Not because Mickey Kaus has exposed this latest one, the global warming report, but because the Times is so blatantly ideologically-driven that it routinely stoops to such things. Why get worked up over this stuff? Nine times out of ten it turns out to be a big ol' cowflop anyway.

So I'm back on board with the administration, for now anyway. But can't you guys and gals in the White House throw us hard righties a bone, pretty please? Veto a bad bill, get a real conservative nomination through the Senate, diss the buffoon Pat Leahy and steal his lollipop or something? We could at least stop holding our noses, and we might actually get out and defend you again. How 'bout it?
Posted by B. Preston at 11:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 04, 2002


: Beliefnet has a quiz thingy that queries you about morality and rates your level agreement with various faiths. Not surprisingly, I came out 100% Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant.

While I'm on the subject of belief and Beliefnet, that site has been in financial trouble for some time. It's even reportedly gone from 69 employees to just 12, and those 12 are running the site, posting content and cleaning out the johns while trying to keep their enterprise going. Question is, why is Beliefnet in trouble? Billions are believers in something, and Beliefnet tries to give all those billions some reason to check out their site. You can find horoscopes right alongside Biblical teaching, transcendental meditation next to Muslim musing. You can even subscribe to a newsletter billing itself as Best of Beliefnet, which I suppose amalgamates the top teachings from all the world's great religions into one convenient package.

And that's Beliefnet's problem. It starts to look like a sports page after a while--wanna check in on the Taoists? They're there. How about Judaism? Yup--they seem to be in a real barnburner over in the West Bank these days. It's like reading a spiritual box score, and that turns most real believers, regardless of faith, off. Beliefnet tries to be all things to all believers, never getting beyond the surface and realizing that not all faiths are compatible, and that earnest belief in any one faith demands excluding other faiths to some extent. That being the case, the true believers who should be Beliefnet's core audience don't trust Beliefnet as a kindred arena, or a place to find true religious insight.

Beliefnet is the place to point and click and stay on the surface. And that's why it won't succeed.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


between Mohammed Atta, lead 9-11 hijacker, and an Iraqi "diplomat" is once again confirmed, this time by the Czech government agent who later threw the Iraqi "diplomat" out of the Czech Republic. So...the Czech government people actually involved say it happened, and they're on record by name. Some anonymous leakers in the Czech government say it didn't, and they're saying it under cover to US and other media outlets.

This is, obviously, a disinformation effort aimed at steering us away from Baghdad, and away from toppling Saddam. Because if Saddam is linked to 9-11 in any way, there's our causus belli, an undeniable right and duty to go to war and finish him. We don't need the UN or the Gulf War sanctions, and we don't need anyone's permission. We were attacked by agents of a hostile state. That state took upon itself the consequences of its actions.

So we need the proof, and we need it immediately. According to the linked story, such evidence exists. Let's have it.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Fareed Zakaria says nukes have probably prevented war, for the time being anyway, between India and Pakistan. Hmmmm, that sounds familiar. Oh yeah, I said that a couple of weeks ago.

Advantage: JunkYardBlog!

Zakaria says that nukes are one reason India won't go to full-scall war with Pakistan. There are two others:

...India knows it wouldn’t be easy to fight now because many of Pakistan’s prime targets—its air bases, for example—are swarming with American troops. For its part, Washington has a huge incentive to put out the flames. If there is a war, its operation against Al Qaeda will collapse as Pakistan’s troops abandon the Afghan border to fight Indian forces.

There’s a final reason why India won’t go to war. Its current strategy is working. What you have been watching for the last three weeks might look like a frenzied move toward war. In fact it is a well-thought-out attempt by India to end Pakistan’s support for terrorism in Kashmir. New Delhi has decided that in order to get Pakistan’s—and Washington’s—attention, it has to make threats that are utterly believable. As one of India’s best columnists, Shekhar Gupta, wrote last week, “To be convincing to others [the strategy] had to be so real that even we believe that we are heading for war.”

Rope-a-dope, in other words. Whodathunkit? Long term, though Zakaria worries that bi-monthly Asian Missile Russian Roulette matches will eventually find a nuke in the chamber. He's right, the more the brinksmanship game gets played, the more chances you have for it to get out of hand. Zakaria has a solution that sounds reasonable:

Enter Washington. The United States should keep pressing Musharraf relentlessly but also make clear that if he does abandon terrorism permanently, Pakistan will reap rewards. Politically that means helping to restart talks between India and Pakistan on Kashmir. (It is even conceivable that New Delhi would agree to some quiet American mediation, one of Pakistan’s long-standing hopes.) Economically it would mean aid, trade and a permanent push from Washington to help Pakistan emerge as a modern, moderate Muslim nation.

In other words, the best outcome for South Asia would be if India’s threats against Pakistan succeed—and so do Washington’s promises.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: An Air Force Lt. Col. (why is it nearly always an Air Force person?) who was just a few weeks from retirement submitted a Cynthia McKinney-esque letter to a newspaper. The letter, in which Lt. Col. Steve Butler accused President Bush of allowing 9-11 to happen to give him something to do with his time in office, was published May 26. Because such derogatory remarks against the civilian leadership violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the lite colonel may face a court martial.

Scariest part is the guy works for the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA. If memory serves, that's the school that teaches military linguists, and it has a very international flavor to it. It also teaches English to foreign officers. You don't suppose this guy has been spreading his idiotarianism to some of those foreign soldiers? That would be bad.

I hope they throw the book at him. He broke the law, and the law he broke is an important one for maintaining good order and morale within the services. Further, he is a Lt. Col, and knew better. He deserves a stiff punishment.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: I'm an insignificant microbe. I always knew this blogging thing would take me somewhere...
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: My last comment provider, uigui.net, apparently got hacked by a pimply-faced 15 year old with an attitude, leaving myself and lots of others without comment systems. That's also why this page took hours to load about a week back--the faltering uigiu was holding up the process. As uigiu, which was free, seemed down for the count I cast about for another system, and YACCS seems to be the best one around. So...feel free to comment on anything and everything on the page. I do check in on them often, since they're actually one of the more entertaining aspects of blogging.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Regurgagblog, who I think I met once during my Air Force days, and the Blogger Formerly Known as Sgt. Stryker get permalinks, or permanent links, or whatever. Turns out I didn't know Sarge, but he knew me during those same AF days. It's a teenie little rock we live on, isn't it...
Posted by B. Preston at 04:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Have we all been had by the NYTimes, again? Andrew Sullivan thinks so, and now there's Croooow Blog's take on a WaPo story on the same subject (he's got the link to the story).

Somewhere in his penthouse office suite, Howell Raines must be cackling the cackle of a triumphant madman.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


to Jim Glassman. Too many sellouts can cause problems with your base down the road, even if you have 70% approval ratings today:

What's going on? It is hard to say. These steps aren't effective even as cynical political maneuvers. Look at the reactions….

Conservatives: Bush's base is becoming demoralized. No, hard-core Republicans won't vote for a Democrat for president, but if Bush gives up on principles, they won't campaign hard for his re-election either.

Liberals: Will environmentalists be won over by the president's about-face on Kyoto? Hardly. In fact, after effectively silencing them with his strong stand, he has now energized them. They have a strong logical argument to make: If warming is as bad as Bush says it is, then strong remedies are necessary, not the soft stuff he proposes. (Said a headline today on Lycos.com, Bush to Earth: Drop Dead.") Protectionists won't want to stop with steel. They now have ammunition for other fights. The same with campaign reformers, farmers and big spenders.

Independents: Will voters on the fence be drawn to Bush now that he has flip-flopped on Kyoto and signed a farm bill? I doubt it. Bush's greatest asset was his self-confidence, his strong advocacy of principle, his almost ingenuous belief (like Reagan) in doing the right thing. By going wobbly, he impresses no one -- least of all the soccer moms and blue-collar dads who, most of all, want to see a president who knows where he stands and defends what he believes.

That's it exactly. Bush was the anti-Clinton, and we supported him largely because of that alone. If he becomes Clinton II, what's left to support?

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan doesn't see the UN report as a U-turn, and finds some common sense buried in the administration's report. I hope he's right, I really do, because the impression we have so far is of an administration selling out to its weak opposition. Sulli also sees the whole NYTime take on the story as another Howell Raines hatchet job. I do think he's on to something there...
Posted by B. Preston at 09:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: The Bush Administration blames US industry for global warming, and Rep. Dick Gephardt is backing the idea of toppling Saddam, and commending President Bush for developing warm relations with Russia.

There's too much political cross-dressing going on for my tastes.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


to all you folks coming in from Townhall's C-Log. And, I've added the C-Log to the permalinks.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: I've spent a lot of time in Japan over the years, mostly courtesy the US Air Force. I joined in 1993, and first chance it got it sent me packing to Tokyo, and there I noticed a peculiar fact: Japan loves the US. When I say that, I mean that the Japanese people love Americans, black, white, red, brown, whatever. Not only that, the Japanese love our culture, such that it is with its fast food and loud music and over-the-top movies. Spend any time at all in most Japanese cities, not just Tokyo, and you'll see what I mean.

During my Air Force time, I had the opportunity to deploy on the USS Blue Ridge for a cruise from Yokosuka Naval Base near Tokyo to Nagasaki. Blue Ridge was the flagship of the Seventh Fleet, the battle group charged with protecting Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the rest of Asia from various threats, and its visit to Nagasaki would be its first. That's why I, an Air Force reporter, was there--to chronicle the trip for the teevee audience back in Tokyo and, by extension, Blue Ridge's home port.

Now, Nagasaki has a certain history to it. At the end of World War II, President Truman ordered an atomic bomb dropped on it to hasten the end of that dreadful conflict. Few signs of the war remain in Nagasaki today. Apart from its atomic bomb museum, which is curiously devoid of context as though we Americans just decided to nuke our good buddies one day, there was little hostility to us. Sure, a few protesters showed up at the pier when Blue Ridge, her decks festooned with sailors in dress whites saluting the horizon, pulled in, but most of the cities' inhabitants welcomed the ship and her crew with open arms.

For instance, our first night there I remember wandering into a little sushi bar. My wife, Japanese born and raised, assured me that the freshest sushi in all Japan could be found in Nagasaki, so I had to find a good place to eat some. And I did--two of my new Navy buddies and I found this little place, took some seats and I commenced explaining what everything was. Well, an older gentleman from across the way had noticed our arrival, and I saw him start talking to the proprietor, who was serving up the fish that night. None of us was in uniform--we weren't allowed to walk the streets in military garb in Nagasaki--but it was obvious that we were connected with the grand ship that had pulled into the harbor. The proprietor came to us, and between his broken English and my awful Japanese, told us that the older gentlman wanted to buy us a round of drinks. At first, I refused on behalf of the group--it was the Japanese thing to do. But when the teevee hung on the wall near the kitchen door showed our arrival as part of the evening news, the older gentleman insisted. He wanted to show the young sailors and myself a good time in Nagasaki, and insisted on buying us the house's best bottle of sake. I don't drink, and sake is strong stuff, and by the time it was all over a couple other folks had sprung for more of the stuff for my Navy buds. At the end of the night, I had to drag a couple of drunken sailors back to their ship, else they get into mischief and ruin the goodwill the citizens of Nagasaki had shown us.

Why did these strangers buy us drinks? For the same reason that General Douglas MacArthur is one of Japan's most revered figures. That's right, the man that conquered Japan, who helped orchestrate the island-hopping campaign that drove them out of their imperial holdings in the Pacific, is today one of Japan's greatest heroes, a real legend. After he left, the people of Japan made his office in Tokyo a shrine, which it remained until a few years ago when (I think) the building it was in was torn down to make way for something new. I'm a little hazy on that part, but I remember the issue coming up while I lieved there.

So what's with all this Yankee love in a country we destroyed? I think it's due to two things. We won fair and square, and were gracious in our victory. When we won the war, we won clearly, in a way that left no doubt and didn't linger on as a guerilla war or a civil conflict of any kind. We dropped weapons on them that sealed their fate, and forced the surrender of a country for which the very concept was unthinkable. But in winning, we broke the tyranny of the emperor and gave them democracy, a free system and the rule of law. We didn't tell them "You must now be our friends," we just acted like friends, rebuilding and reorganizing a devastated country. At the same time, we made sure the Soviets and later the Chinese couldn't have their way with Japan while she struggled to stand on her own. And our military presence there, though it has at times been controversial, has kept the peace in that part of Asia for more than a half century.

So I have little patience for revisionists who say that Truman's decision to drop the bomb was evil. It wasn't--it was one of the few options available to him to end a terrible war, and likely the only one that prevented the loss of still further life on both sides. Most of the Japanese I know understand this--my father-in-law, who is old enough to remember the war, visited the Hiroshima bomb museum with me a few years ago, and he understands how and why the war ended the way it did. It's a shame that many Americans don't.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 03, 2002


as we know it has been sold out. Surely the Bush Administration realizes that it has pulled the rug out from under its staunchest allies on two fronts--doubts about the science of global warming, and opposition to international accords based on that science such as the Kyoto pact.

The administration has given the gold seal of approval to dubious science.

It has also made its own case against Kyoto more difficult. Now that the EU has ratified that treaty, the other peg we opponents had--that it was a cynical treaty, aimed at our economy and not at environmental trouble, the proof of which was that no other major signatories had ratified it--has now been snapped. Upon what then will the administration hang its opposition to Kyoto, and to son of Kyoto, and so forth down the line of treaties that will follow? And why should its supporters help in the defense, if we'll just be sold out later on?

This decision is perilously close to Bush 41's breaking of the "no new taxes" pledge in 1990. Perilously close.

I can't figure this administration out at all. In terms of national defense, it says the right things, does the right things, and really seems to get the big picture. On domestic issues, though, it gives up without a fight, caves at the first sing of trouble, and where there isn't any trouble this adminstration will create it. And the trouble it creates is nearly always trouble for its conservative wing, without which this administration cannot survive.

I don't get it. This move--accepting global warming as a fact--doesn't placate the environmentalists, and alienates both the administration's conservative and industrial bases. If President Bush loses in 2004, mark this day, June 3, 2002. It may prove to have been the beginning of the end of his administration.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, President Bush will bring about the end of Saddam Hussein's regime. From his commencement speech at West Point:

The gravest danger to freedom lies at the perilous crossroads of radicalism and technology. When the spread of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons, along with ballistic missile technology -- when that occurs, even weak states and small groups could attain a catastrophic power to strike great nations. Our enemies have declared this very intention, and have been caught seeking these terrible weapons. They want the capability to blackmail us, or to harm us, or to harm our friends -- and we will oppose them with all our power. (Applause.)

For much of the last century, America's defense relied on the Cold War doctrines of deterrence and containment. In some cases, those strategies still apply. But new threats also require new thinking. Deterrence -- the promise of massive retaliation against nations -- means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend. Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies.

We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants, who solemnly sign non-proliferation treaties, and then systemically break them. If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long. (Applause.)

Homeland defense and missile defense are part of stronger security, and they're essential priorities for America. Yet the war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge. (Applause.) In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act. (Applause.)
Posted by B. Preston at 01:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Germany 8-Saudi Arabia 0. That's 8-nil, and the score's a lot closer than the game was. You're not supposed to score 8 goals in soccer until you've played ten games or so, but Germany managed to do it to Saudi Arabia in one round. Then, defending champion France (and how many times in world history has that phrase made any sense?) gets whooped by Senegal, 1-0. It's a heart-warming story:

Senegal, a tiny west African nation making its World Cup debut, defeated world and European champion France, 1-0, tonight on a first-half goal by 24-year-old midfielder Papa Bouba Diop before 62,561 at Seoul World Cup Stadium. No reigning champion had lost its opener since 1990, when another unheralded African team, Cameroon, stunned Argentina, 1-0, in Milan.

A first-timer beat the champ, hehehe.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 02, 2002


recently told Arafat to "reform" his Palestinian Authority government. I don't think this is what our folks had in mind.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: This story, detailing how the FBI demoted and restricted the movements of a Chicago-based agent because he's gone public about the agency's mishandling of 9-11, is disturbing. Very disturbing.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack