January 03, 2003


I'm working on the NK situation at a bit more depth than this simple post, but having just stopped by Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo I want to impart a couple of impressions and clear up a thing or two. First, Marshall says that we conservatives are howling at his writings on the subject because he's drawing blood--that he's genuinely on to something. I can't speak for all the others who are criticizing him (and there are many now), but my own reasons for taking him on are very straightforward: I no longer believe he's operating in good faith, that he's exercising in a massive spin operation that completely ignores the 1994 Agreed Framework and the previous administration's role in that agreement, and I cannot let his slanted assertions go unchallenged. This is a new era, one in which spinmeisters of all stripes have to deal with criticism, often in real time, of the half-truths they peddle. Marshall also says some are criticizing him as a foreign policy dove of some kind. Again, that doesn't apply to me. I'm aware that he has relunctantly seen that force may be necessary in Iraq, and his past writings do indicate a willingness to use force. He and I might disagree on when and where to use force, but that's only to be expected given our relative political outlooks.

My impressions of Marshall's latest posts overall are "Nice try, but no sale." He employs lots of blind quoting, endorses DNC talking points and accuses the Bush team of moving the goal posts in acknowledging that NK may in fact have a nuke or two by now. I think that's a mischaracterization of what the administration is intending. The fact is, the NK situation is extremely dangerous as everyone surely knows by now. Acknowledging that Pyongyang may already possess one or more nuclear weapons drives home the seriousness of the situation to China, Japan and South Korea as well as the rest of the international community. Importantly though, North Korea has yet to actually test any nuclear weapon, so apart from some type of supercomputer capability that it's not at all clear is present in NK, they have no way of ascertaining whether or not those weapons will actually work. The administration hasn't admitted NK into the nuclear club, but has made clear to its neighbors that it's a bang away from knocking down the door and becoming a member anyway. In demonstrating publicly to what a head things have risen, I believe the administration is setting up its negotiations with all the neighbors but most importantly China, which is NK's nuclear enabler in many important respects. Will this lead to Chinese cooperation? Not on its own, but as a part of a larger strategy perhaps. Marshall says the Bush team has no strategy; I say wait and see. It's too early to declare failure, especially when those doing so have yet to acknowledge the colossal failure that was the Agreed Framework.

Marshall also thinks conservatives have grown lazy on foreign policy in the absence of serious Democrat competition. He thinks we're all about talking tough, too little about backing it up. My counter to that is to examine the previous administration, which Marshall refuses to do. The Clinton administration once declared war on terrorism, but left every terror supporting regime including the Taliban intact. The Clinton administration once talked tough on Iraq, but allowed Saddam to kick out the weapons inspectors. The Clinton administration once talked tough on North Korea, but ultimately tried to buy its cooperation. Marshall is throwing stones from a glass house. The Bush administration talks tough, but backs it up: the Taliban is dead, al Qaeda is on the run, Iraq is the focus of world attention and North Korea has endangered itself it ways it probably hasn't imagined yet. Marshall is far too impatient when it comes to the Bush team backing up its tough rhetoric, yet strangely forgiving when leaders from his side of the aisle talk tougher but act weaker.

North Korea is a nasty, dangerous nation and there are no easy answers in dealing with it. We had more options in 1994 before its nuclear weapons had progressed very far, and it's now crystal clear that the Agreed Framework simply bought Kim time to work on his weapons in secret. In asserting that the entirety of fault lies with the Bush administration, Marshall ignores the previous years of cheating and ignoring of the same by the Clinton administration. That's why I say he's no longer acting in good faith--he is choosing to ignore the deal that got us where we are today for purely partisan reasons. And that's why I am here to counter what he says--to straighten the record he distorts.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:43 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


I'm a day or two late, but Happy Blog Birthday, Vincent. Your thoughts have been anything but insignificant during the past year.
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Maryland, the ironically nick-named "Free State," will use all those thousands of tips phoned in during the sniper siege to go after gun owners. Ostensibly, they'll be going after "violators" of the state's draconian gun laws, but in reality they'll mostly just harrass law-abiding citizens. As usual, the "Free State" moves closer to becoming a police state.

Hopefully the new gov can quash this.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Charles Krauthammer says the US should openly endorse and support Japan's entry into the nuclear club. Somewhat relunctantly, I agree. As Krauthammer says, Japan cannot and will not long tolerate so belligerent a nuclear-armed neighbor without needing such weapons for itself. Japan, in fact, will probably have to build up its conventional forces as well, which is something I'm less relunctant to endorse. The ultimate aim here isn't just to make Japan safer, itself a worthy goal, but to frighten China into cooperating in North Korean disarment. China fears a militarily strong Japan.

One angle I haven't seen discussed at all is what this would do to Japan's economy. Japan has existed in a state of economic limbo for over a decade now, and none of the mild reforms it has chosen have done much to improve its economic prospects. In order to create a credible military, Japan will have to purchase much hardware from overseas (mostly the US, to remain compatible with our own forces stationed there), but will also have to pour trillions of yen into its own research, development and fabrication capabilities. Short term this will mean heavy dependence on US manufacturers and spending that goes overseas, but if Japan does build up its own capabilities a military buildup might have the effect of an economic stimulus. Military spending, unlike spending on most social programs, has a vast ripple effect throughout the economy. Corporations rise and fall based on landing or losing contracts, knowledge pools ebb and flow around such contracts, and that translates into economic activity not only within the military sphere but outside it as well. New consumer products arise as spinoffs, and consumers that can afford to buy those new gizmos, and others invent newer gizmos to compete with the military spinoffs. In essence, Japan's military buildup could lead it into a wartime economy without the war--combine it with some smart tax cutting and budget trimming in other areas and Japan's economy could be on the rise before long.

Now that would truly be a nightmare for China: A re-armed Japan with a thriving economy.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Unfortunately, I don't have time or I'd tear into this Helen Thomas screed.
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January 02, 2003


2002 ended with an InstaPundit link, and 2003 has kicked off with another one, and a link from Andrea Harris' new journal. Cool. I thank you, and my site traffic stats thank you.
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When Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys all those years ago and as his first act fired the legendary Tom Landry, it was a shock to the system for true blue Cowboy fans like me. Having grown up in the Tex Schramm/Landry/Roger Staubach era, the Cowboys were like no other team around. They had some class, some dignity and they had been winners year in and year out for nearly two decades. They had only had one coach, and he had built them into a perennial powerhouse, America's Team. They were a good team and a class act, the gold standard of pro sports.

Years passed. The Cowboys won a string of Super Bowls, and put the glint back on that star on their helmets. Landry got inducted into the Hall of Fame, and the Texas Stadium Ring of Honor, and class acts like Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith led the team on the field. That team kicked tail like no other Cowboy team ever had. All that winning made us accept Jimmy Johnson, but to be honest we never have warmed up to the snake oil salesman who owns the team. Jones was at best tolerated, and at worst openly loathed, by the team's most ardent fans.

Then things fell apart, and Johnson left, or rather Johnson left and then things fell apart. Jones put his spin on things, and Johnson his, and then Jones had to go out and hire the one coach universally despised across the entire state of Texas--Barry Switzer. Switzer had been the coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, and it's hard to put that into perspective for non-Texans. I'll put it like this--when the University of Texas Longhorns and the Sooners meet in their annual Texas-OU shootout, you can't play the games in either team's home stadium because of the riots that are virtually guaranteed to ensue afterward. It's the bitterest of bitter rivalries. You have to find a neutral location, so they always play in the Cotton Bowl. In Dallas. Where an entire state, led by the host city, gathers to boo and jeer the team from north of the Red River. It ain't pretty. To bring down the coach of that team to coach our favorite team was an abomination. And Switzer had been a particularly loathesome Sooner coach for some reason, so that made things even worse.

Well, his tenure was thankfully brief, and there followed after him a couple of coaches who'll be quickly forgotten though nicer and better men than Switzer they were. The team has suffered its worst string of seasons since the early 60s, and the fan base that remains has begun to curse the day that Jones bought the team. Three Super Bowl rings or not, his insistence on running the team personally, or letting his snot-nosed kid run it, has driven the team into the dirt and scared away any coach with serious credentials from even thinking about taking the reins.

Until now. History records things too literally, and according to it the Cowboys have had five head coaches. That's wrong, though. They have had two real coaches, in Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson. Bill Parcells will now be the team's third true head coach. Jerry Jones has finally seen the light apparently, as Parcells would not accept the job without guarantees that he would get a great deal of control over the team's personnel matters. Jones blundered in talking with Parcells with two games to go in the season, but has made good on the mistake by landing his quarry. The Tuna is coming to Big D.

Parcells likely won't last long with Jones--the two are control freaks with gigantic egos and gigantic mouths, and they'll annoy each before long. But both want to win, and Jones' deep pockets combined with Parcells' big brain will make that happen. Parcells will probably last long enough to make the Cowboys a winner again, and that will be good enough.

Now if we could just get Jones to sell the team, we'd really be in business.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:06 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


In West Virgina's Northern Panhandle, general and heart surgeons are walking off the job to draw attention to the spiralling costs of malpractice insurance. While I resolutely deplore just about all labor strikes, the pairing of this one with a trial lawyer's announced intention to run for president strikes me as appropriate.
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You make the call. They look like twins to me.
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Stryker has it exactly right.
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U.S. Missionaries' Killer Met Qaeda Members

Abed Abdel Razzak Kamel, who killed three American Southern Baptist missionaries and wounded another in Yemen on Dec 30, has admitted his connections to al Qaeda, including one of the suicide bombers responsible for striking the USS Cole in 2000. Ya gotta love Reuters' take on the story:

On Monday, Kamel allegedly shot dead an American doctor and two American administrators at a Baptist clinic in the southern town of Jibla. An American pharmacist was also wounded in the attack. Yemen described Kamel as an "Islamic extremist."

Anti-American sentiment has been running high in Arab countries in recent months over Washington's support for Israel, the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan (news - web sites) and a possible attack on Iraq.

Yemen, trying to shed its image as a haven for al Qaeda and other radical groups, has cooperated with the United States in its "war on terror" and rounded up dozens of Qaeda members.

It also made widescale arrests after Monday's shooting.

Washington blames the Cole attack on Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (news - web sites), also its key suspect in the September 2001 attacks on the United States. It has also sent an investigative team to Jibla.

War on Afghanistan? How about "war on the Taliban, which had ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist until the US liberated the ravaged nation?"
Posted by B. Preston at 10:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Yes, honest liberals do exist. The Baltimore Sun's Gregory Kane is one, as demonstrated in his annual Chutzpah Awards. Kane's CAs honor the past year's most boneheaded moments, and this year he chose to single out a couple of his usual political allies:

5th runners-up: NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and Rep. Elijah Cummings. Dare I do this to two men who have my respect, are my friends and, in Cummings' case, is a dear classmate of City College's Class of 1969? Gotta call 'em like I see 'em. Mfume and Cummings rightly chided Lott for his remarks at Sen. Strom Thurmond's birthday celebration. We heard from neither when Del. Howard "Pete" Rawlings did some race-baiting of his own in the 41st District Senate race, in which incumbent Barbara Hoffman lost to newly elected Lisa Gladden.

4th runner-up: Rawlings, for subjecting Hoffman to the smell test with his not-so-subtle message to "vote black," hinting that folks should cast their ballots for those who "look like them, think like them and smell like them." For my money, the remark is worse than Lott's and insulting to Gladden, who had the qualifications and juice to win on her own without such nonsense.

Hoffman is Jewish, and Rawlings was basically saying that that fact made her less qualified to represent her predominantly black district than her opponent. You can read up on the situation here. Suffice it to say that the Dems seem to have internal racial problems of their own. Kane is right, and honest, to point them out.

UPDATE: I may have flubbed a bit when classifying Kane as a liberal. Fact is, his stances are all over the place--conservative in some places, liberal in others, and independent to libertarian in others, which makes him an interesting read. I guess he might be a liberal in the classical sense, but probably not in today's left-right spectrum. Kane is Kane, a maverick if there ever was one. So I guess the upshot is that I'm still looking for an honest liberal to talk about race and the Dems.

UPDATE AGAIN: I've been wondering lately why Josh Marshall hasn't adressed me publicly since I started taking him on. We've emailed back and forth, so I know he's aware that I've been fact-checking him. Well, I think I've figured out why (well, other than my relative obscurity). Mickey Kaus has been all over him, and I think Kaus has gotten the better of him. Playing referee, Slate's Will Saletan hands it to Kaus in a TKO. So no wonder Marshall hasn't taken me on publicly--he's got bigger heavyweights on his case, and they've landed some body-blows. He probably figures if he ignores me I'll just get tired and go away.

North Korea may prove a little different, though. Kaus isn't all that strong on foreign policy and while Marshall is promising a hard-hitting series of posts purporting to prove it's a Bush screw-up, so far I have to say that he's playing out of his depth. Today's installment takes on a rather weak comparison of North Korea to Germany circa 1938. Like I said, it's a weak comparison, but for Marshall taking it on makes sense--dispatch the weakest of your critics and you may appear to have beaten them all. Sorry, not buying it, just like I don't buy the "North Korea is Germany" routine that Hugh Hewitt makes (though Hewitt is right to chide Marshall's childish arguments). It's only slightly better than comparing North Korea to Ruby Ridge, which is silly too and Marshall seems to be backing away from. Fact is, I've cast about in vain for a historical event to compare NK to. Nothing seems to fit very well. It's an ugly, dangerous situation all the way around with no easy answers. What we face is essentially a personality cult a la the Heaven's Gate suicide sneaker people that happens to have a heavily armed nation attached to it. Not a good combination.

I think Marshall's Clinton-defense-by-offense strategy is rooted in more than party hackery. "It's the economy, stupid" did more than merely insult the nation's intelligence--it seems to have caused an entire generation of Dems to forget how to approach foreign policy as anything other than a domestic political wedge issue.
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January 01, 2003


Courtesy Instapundit comes this story detailing how SML Sen. Bill Frist helped some victims of an auto accident in Florida today:

Incoming Senate majority leader Bill Frist, a surgeon, helped tend to six victims of a rollover accident on a Florida highway New Year's Day, earning praise from paramedics for stabilizing some of the four survivors.


An Isuzu Rodeo with six people aboard was heading west on Alligator Alley when it rolled over 3 to 4 miles west of the toll plaza in Broward County at 3:51 p.m., Broward Fire-Rescue Assistant Chief Todd Leduc said.

All six, including three children, were thrown out as the vehicle rolled. A 10-year-old boy died on the scene; another passenger died later at a hospital.

Frist, 50, was driving east on the highway, the Everglades portion of Interstate 75, heading to a family vacation home in Fort Lauderdale with his two sons when he came across the accident minutes after it happened.

He stopped and went to work checking the victims. When paramedics arrived, he pointed them to the ones in the most severe condition. Frist helped paramedics and several off-duty firefighters stabilize the victims until they were transported to area hospital after about 30 minutes.

"Senator Frist greatly assisted Broward County Fire Rescue. The Senate majority leader was really instrumental in helping us treat the victims," Leduc said. "We'd like to get in contact with him and recognize him for his efforts."

Let's put that story together with this one, detailing Frist's charity work with AIDS patients in Africa over the past few years. Seems like a great guy, doesn't he?

That won't stop the likes of Josh Marshall from trying to demonize him. But keep these stories in mind next time you hear some Democrat call him a racist.

Speaking of Marshall, he's posted more about North Korea. It's another fact-free post, using a Newsweek foreign affairs correspondent to justify his own anti-Bush spin on the situation. That reporter is Roy Guttman, who in an interview with CNN's Miles O'Brien mind-reads his way through assessing what went wrong with Pyongyang:

O'BRIEN: All right, some softening statements from the administration over the weekend. Secretary of State Powell saying, we don't want to call these negotiations, but talks. There's a lot of deciphering of the language here and maybe you can help us walk down that road. Why are they so circumspect?
GUTMAN: Well, the administration has had a very hard line approach to North Korea almost from the moment it took office. It decided not to pursue the Clinton administration's approach, which was essentially to buy off North Korea off of its nuclear ambitions, off of its missile export ambitions, and for months and months, until the middle of last year, they could not decide really how to deal with them, but they're preparing to take a hardline, then they decided late last year or the middle of last year to go back to some kind of negotiations, but it never really got started until this summer.

And I think the North Koreans realized or decided at a certain point that after they were included in the "axis of evil" and after the administration did drag its feet for a rather long time, that they were going to up the stakes and raise the ante, and now the administration finds itself in something of a crisis. (italics mine)

What is Guttman basing his assessment on? His own intuition, nothing more. North Korea has upped the stakes only after being forced to admit that it was cheating on the 1994 Agreed Framework, and had begun doing so before the ink on that agreement had even dried. The situation the Korean Peninsula finds itself in today is very much a product of Clinton-era foreign policy naivete in trying to buy off a mad dictator. Marshall promises more posts on this topic soon. Let's hope these future posts include more than just regurgitating other reporters' opinions.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Rather than sift through all of this past year's stuff to see if I wrote anything worthwhile, I thought I'd survey where we stand as we enter 2003.

Good news for the GOP--the Democrats are still clueless. They really think Rush Limbaugh cost them the 2002 midterms, and have set out as a party to find a counter to him. They also want to counter Fox News, the Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal, unaware that they already have counters to all of those in CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Big Three network news operations. Their problem isn't a lack of voices, but a lack of ideas and the implosion of their own credibility. Read the linked article about the Donks' efforts to find a bizarro Limbaugh--it's hilarious. They seem to think that just being whinier and more anti-American in their issues approach will get them back in the political driver's seat. Good luck to 'em, but this effort is destined to fail. If they were the type to self-criticize (which their silence on Sen Murray proves they aren't), they might ponder why Phil Donahue is such a stinker, and why so few liberal radio talk shows go anywhere. Hint: it's not because their hosts are "too civilized." James Carville is hardly civilized, yet if you put him up against Rush or Sean Hannity he'd get his Neilsen clocked cleaned pretty fast. Liberals would do well to ponder why that is. But they won't.

In more important issues, we're still headed for war with Iraq in spite of what Kofi Annan says. The fact is Iraq's weapons dossier already constitutes material breach, as the US and UK have stated with France and even Annan himself concurring. Blix will report on January 27th whatever he and his team have or haven't found, and the gloves come off after that. I don't say this joyfully--war is a terrible business. But I say it resolutely--Iraq must be disarmed. It is the "low hanging fruit" in the war on terror, an obvious terror state with obvious intentions that we have conquered before. Taking its nasty regime out makes our case loudly to other similar states--mess with us and you get crushed.

The North Korea situtation is still deteriorating. The Kim cult may finally have its hands on a few nukes, and its tacit alliance with Iraq has it brandishing those weapons to blackmail us out of some food and oil and possibly to deflect us from taking Baghdad. What Kim is doing is confirming the wisdom of the bellicose approach to Saddam, though--playing nice like we did in 1994 has produced exactly what we realists expected, which is a nuclear-armed rogue state with a diabloically mad leader. Let Saddam off the hook now, and we'll have two nuclear-armed rogue states with diabolically mad leaders in a year or two. Even then the doves will somehow blame Bush, and it may take the loss of a US city to get their heads right. The world is a dangerous, brutal place folks, and sometimes the peace-loving nations have to rattle and even use their sabres to make and keep peace.

The NK situation is particularly dangerous given the progress it has made in its missile program over the past few years. It's not at the point yet where it can threaten us directly, as whatever nukes it has aren't likely launchable yet, but it can threaten our considerable assets in the region and can cow South Korea by waving its nukes around. I think that't the reason the South has lately been so relunctant to threaten force against Pyongyang lately. The South lacks nukes and is ultimately unsure of our resolve and ability to defend them should all-out war break out. Iraqi tensions do nothing to help here, but serve to give the South the impression that if he had to choose wars, we'd probably choose Iraq and leave the North to fester. It's probably a valid assessment on the whole, so with that in mind the South proposes "dialogue" and "engagement" for now. In a post-Saddam world, though, I believe the South will see things more in line with our own view. I also think this situation is creating a sea change in Japanese thinking concerning the nature of its neighborhood. Look for a slow move toward re-arming the Land of the Rising Sun, which given its post-Shinto political structure won't be a bad thing.

The struggling economy will come back this year, modestly. I don't see it setting growth records with so much uncertainty in the world, but it'll come back providing we don't take another large-scale terror attack this year. You won't hear them admit it, but a rebounding economy is bad news for liberals, so privately they'll be cheering for it to keep hurting. Think about that, and then read the part up top about why liberals don't fare well as talk show hosts. It's difficult to attract big audiences when you don't really want things to go well for the average American apart from some government handout.

In 2003, Hollywood will continue to churn out schlock for entertainment and idiots for political pundits. It'll continue to oversex our children but accept no blame for any of the consequences, and will continue to dumb down its product in ways that haven't shocked anyone for decades. Once in a while it'll surprise us with something worth a darn, but for the most part it'll still turn out meaningless crap that we'll all pay too much to see while a director from New Zealand will make the best movie of the year. For the third year in a row. The music business will continue to suffer, and deservedly so.

I sports, I like the Raiders and the Packers for the Super Bowl. Last year I was spectacularly wrong in nearly all my playoff picks, so don't wager based on my picks now. I like the Dallas Mavericks to win the NBA, though I haven't followed pro basketball since the early 90s and don't much care about it now. In baseball, the Yankees will be good, the Orioles will be bad, some other team will win it all, and the sport's fan base will continue to erode. Football and hockey are where it's at in 2003.

This site will continue to operate throughout the year, or until it's no longer fun. Since it gets more fun everyday, I expect to still be here churning out pixels long after the last reader has clicked over to something else.

Have a great 2003. Being an optimist, I know I will.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 31, 2002


I'd been meaning to get around to this since I caught his show the day or so after Christmas, but David Letterman deserves a serious word of praise. While boneheads like Sean Penn, David Bonior and Jim McDermott have been busy visiting Baghdad so Saddam can use them for stooges, David Letterman chose to spend Christmas with the troops in Afghanistan. I guess I must have seen him talk about it on the 26th or so, and for a normally flippant talk show it was kind of moving. At one point he joked that the troops kept muttering "Man, Bob Hope looks like crap" whenever he'd pass, but followed that by recounting an exhange he'd had with a troop who thanked him for the frontline visit. Letterman replied "No, thank you for coming," and praised the troops for being in Afghanistan "for all the right reasons." At one point during the show, Letterman held up photos he'd taken of the US base camps, and curiously Letterman himself didn't appear in any of them. Paul Schafer explained that that was because Letterman had snapped the shots himself, and didn't want to be in them. He just wanted photos of the troops who were putting their lives on the line for all of us back home. Unexpectedly humble for a guy who's had his own talk show for 20 years.

We have an awful lot of idiots who've gotten rich and famous in America and then publicly scorned it for all it tries to do in the world, and I won't go into a long list of them or their offences. Suffice it to say that Dave Letterman isn't one of them. He's one of the good guys.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:54 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Our erstwhile, somewhat convenient ally in the war on terrorists is an unfriendly home to Christians. Which is no surprise, given all the church bombings and shootings that have taken place across Pakistan in the past year, as well as Pak court actions to release dangerous Islamic militants. But it is worth remembering, and evaluating: Muslims in the US can use public funds on university campuses to preach jihad, and can preach the same on the Mall in Washington and still get to meet the President who's leading our war effort. Christians in Muslim-dominated countries tend to fear for their lives if their neighbors even discover that they're Christian.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Until recently, I regarded Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall as something unique--an intellectually honest liberal. Since the reign of Bill Clinton there haven't been many truly honest men or women of the left, most having sold their credibility out in defense of the man from Hope. But Marshall was different, or so it seemed.

Then came his gratuituous attacks earlier this month on all Republicans as racists, on Sen Bill Frist as a racist, and his gratuitous praise of all things Democrat, especially Bill Clinton's assessment of GOP anger at Trent Lott. It seemed to me that Marshall was selling out, sacrificing his credibility on the altar of political expediency. Today's entry on the TPM seals the deal--Marshall has chosen the life of hacktivism, eschewing the intellectual pursuit of truth.

Marshall quotes a reader comparing the North Korean situation with the FBI's idiotic assault on Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge a few years back, and approves of the equation. Keep in mind, Marshall refused to accept the obvious when I asserted that Bill Clinton's remarks to CNN regarding Lott--that Republicans were mad at him because he'd made our dark racist electoral strategies public, and not because we simply disapproved what he'd said--amounted to Clinton's calling all Republicans racists. Yet because connecting Ruby Ridge to North Korea casts the Bush administration in an unfavorable light, Marshall not only accepts the connection but builds on it, to a crescendo in which he blames the entire situation on Bush. It's as though the previous eight years of dealing with NK amounted for nothing, while the past two years are the whole ball of wax.

What's missing in Marshall's assessment is an ounce of fact. Yeah, facts--those things about which Democrat hacktivists like Marshall are increasingly loathe to discuss. The facts of the North Korea situation are plain--the Clinton administration sent former President Jimmy Carter to Pyongyang in 1994 to get the Kim regime to play nice regarding its nuke program. The NK government had been caught red-handed cheating on its agreement not to pursue nuclear weapons, and rather than deal with the rogue state in the manner the US had used for four decades--isolation, containment, and the credible threat of military force from south of the DMZ and from Japan should it be necessary--the Carter strategy was to buy NK off with South Korean and Japanese help. If NK would promise to stop its nuclear weapons program, we would help them build a few light water nuclear reactors, the South would lend food and monetary aid and Japan would supply oil and other tech. The US had never before entered into any similar agreement with NK, and for good reason--the Kim government is irrational and entirely untrustworthy. Four decades had proven that beyond any doubt.

By 1999, Congress reported that the likelihood of NK cheating on the Agreed Framework of 1994 was very high, and predicted dire consequences.

Although the 1994 Agreed Framework was essentially aimed at eliminating North Korea's ability to make nuclear weapons, there is significant evidence that nuclear weapons development is continuing, including its efforts to acquire uranium enrichment technologies and its nuclear-related high explosive tests.

In the last five years, North Korea's missile capabilities have improved dramatically. North Korea has produced, deployed and exported missiles to Iran and Pakistan, launched a three-stage missile [Taepo Dong 1], and continues to develop a larger and more powerful missile [Taepo Dong 2].

Unlike five years ago, North Korea can now strike the United States with a missile that could deliver high explosive, chemical, biological, or possibly nuclear weapons. Currently, the United States is unable to defend against this threat.

So October's revelation that NK has been cheating on its agreement should come as no surprise. It was predicted in 1999, and NK's track record suggested it was likely: It had cheated on its original non-proliferation pact, and given its continued military tech development in the face of chronic economic problems, it was reasonable to assume that it would use the US/South Korean/Japanese aid to continue and even accelerate those programs. Which is exactly what has occurred, and was revealed this past fall.

So how is this President Bush's fault? Marshall and many other Dems have developed the spin that Clinton and Carter's engagement and negotiation kept a lid on the situation, and kept NK from becoming openly belligerent. Never mind that it continued to develop long range missiles in plain sight, even launching one over mainland Japan a few years back, and never mind that it has all along sponsored terrorism, kidnapped foreign citizens and helped spread other WMDs to fellow rogue states, the Dems now insist that the Clinton policy worked. But this flies in the face of the facts as well as reason: The October admission that it was cheating on the Agreed Framework exposed the Clinton strategy for the appeasement that it truly was, and the admission goes back to the 1994 agreement. For those of you doing the math, that's about 7 years before Bush even took office, and another year yet before he included it in the axis of evil. The current NK bellicosity should be seen in the light of its near decade of cheating, and five decades of near continuous threatening behavior toward South Korea, Japan and the American forces stationed in both. It's not new, didn't begin with the Bush administration, and has had little to do with anything the Bush team has done. In fact, what the Bush team has done is call a spade a spade in lumping NK in with its partners in crime Iraq and Iran, and has sought to rectify the situation left unsolved, indeed aggravated, by its predecessors.

As for comparing it to Ruby Ridge, I suppose the logic goes something like this: Randy Weaver was a somewhat unsavory character and had been accused of illegal weapons trafficking--black marketing guns. Rather than arrest him at an opportune time, the Feds bungled the job and ended up cornering him in his mountain cabin on Ruby Ridge, where they proceeded to kill most of his family in attempts to get him to surrender. That the Feds bungled the case is beyond dispute, but under less discussion has been whether they should have bothered to molest him in the first place. Weaver hadn't killed anyone, and hadn't even threatened to. He had no hostages, and compared to the Feds encircling him was poorly armed. He'd mouthed some racist ideology and had violated some gun laws--hardly a criminal king pin. North Korea, on the other hand, started up a civil war with the aim of enslaving the entire Korean Peninsula under Communist rule, has threatened its neighbors with annihilation for half a century, has cheated on just about every agreement it has ever been party to, has trafficked in weapons far more deadly than hunting rifles, has kidnapped citizens of other countries to use them as infiltrators in the event of war, and has now leveraged for itself the apparent power to blackmail the United States. It is neither poorly armed nor a lone rogue, and possesses the ability to strike cities in the region and perhaps even the US West Coast with weapons of mass destruction.

Yeah, these situations are similar--if you're more interested in formulating talking points than pursuing the truth, they're like peas in a pod.

It's a shame that Marshall has chosen to become a true Clintonite toady. In the blogosphere, indeed in life, credibility is one of the few things that we can carry with us from start to finish, and one of the few things we can in some measure control. Our health is often at the whims of nature, our economics often at the whims of technology, trends and the nation's economy as a whole, and our popularity is at the mercy of fickle public opinion, but credibility is something the individual can control to some extent just by choosing to do so. Marshall has chosen poorly, and surrendered his precious credibility just to smear a president he personally dislikes.

UPDATE: Mark Byron isn't sure Marshall deserved the leg-chewing I gave him over the Ruby Ridge bit. Did I come on too strong? Nah, he deserved it. It's a lame, silly comparison, and one that's utterly wrong on the facts of both cases. But it's good of Mark to keep me honest.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:14 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


John Ellis juxtaposes the wanton murder of three unarmed Southern Baptist missionary medical workers in Yemen with Sen. Patty Murray's Osama-praise, and gets it exactly right. More than the Peace Corp, more in fact than just about all government-sponsored Third World relief work combined, Christian missionaries from the United States have been in the trenches helping educate, medicate and feed the poor for a couple of centuries. They don't spread jihad, they don't even proselytize half the time--they just lend help where it's needed.

Sen. Murray's offensive remarks that Americans haven't helped the world's poor fly in the face of the facts.

UPDATE: Yemeni officials are linking the killings to al Qaeda, which makes Murray's remarks just look that much worse. Clueless, immoral, wrong on the facts and now contradicted to the fullest extent--yet nary a Dem has risen to voice outrage.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack