July 25, 2003


As the balmy days of summer bring us another Washington scandal, it might be a good time to pause and assess where the nation stands and look to where we might be going. Less than two years have passed since terrorists turned American streets into potential battlefields, but those same terrorists have been robbed of two of their deepest dens. Their bases in Afghanistan lay in ruins, the government there that supported them is but a bad memory. Their ally in Baghdad has been deposed but remains at large, his fedayeen harassing and killing American GIs daily, his sons now dead. Most of their other potential allies are too scared to breathe, afraid that the US 4th Infantry might roll across their border at any moment, or a stealth bomber might drop explosives on them in the night.

To date there has been exactly one major terrorist incident against a Western target—a night club bombing in Bali that killed scores of Australians. Al Qaeda is by no means a spent force, but what strength it still has seems to be tied up waging low-level campaigns in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Its Philippine ally Abu Sayyaf still battles on against the local government, which with American training is gaining steadily and may yet eradicate the bin Laden outpost that was directly tied to the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

But as President Bush understood and told us on September 11 and for months thereafter, this war is a new kind of war. There will be battlefields of the old sort, with troops and tanks and planes, but there will also be battlefields of a new sort, with accountants and drones and whispers. There will be distinct phases of battle, and there will be a simmering, round the clock war fought in courtrooms and on ledgers and in cyberspace. We are two battle phases into that war. Afghanistan was the first and most obvious phase, as it was the known home of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Iraq was phase two, and was in many ways a test case for conducting the war from here on out.

Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had stood in the international docket for a dozen years, charged with brazenly defying the very agreements that left him in power after the first Gulf War. His ouster was necessary to win the war, as he was one of the world’s chief sponsors of terrorism in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere. The Bush administration took the case against Saddam to the UN, hopeful that the international community would see the legal case against him, understand the peril of leaving his weapons programs uninspected for four years, and act decisively to rein him in. Overthrowing his regime would not only remove a known terrorist warlord from the scene, but would serve as a demonstration of international resolve against the remaining axis of evil—Iran, North Korea and other states that both sponsor international terrorism and seek or possess weapons of mass destruction. The case against Saddam was both powerful and persuasive, and in November 2002 the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441, which found Iraq in material breach of its prior obligations to disarm and to prove it had done so. And therein lay the test, both for the international community and here at home, for Bush’s political opposition.

The international community had voted for civilization and against terrorism when it sent in yet another weapons inspection team to verify Saddam’s compliance. Saddam’s subsequent behavior would test that commitment and serve as a guide for future phases in the war. The domestic political opposition also faced a test: Would it stand with the administration and prosecute the war to a victorious end, or would it descend to petty partisan bickering?

Also key to winning is the idea of pre-empting threats before they strike. The Iraq battle was the first road-test of the notion that the civilized world should strike terror states before they become too great a threat to deal with. Not realizing that failure to pre-empt threatening states could end in terrorist holocaust on American, Israeli or European soil, both the international community and the domestic political opposition have clearly failed the tests. The UN Security Council refused to ratify the serious consequences promised in 1441, forcing the United States to form a coalition of the willing to do it. And now this summer, we see the domestic political opposition manufacturing a scandal over 16 words amid the thousands that made up the case for war.

The aftermath in Iraq has been messy, but what is to come may be messier still. Phase three of the battlefield component of the war will probably take place in Asia. North Korea, a charter member of the infamous axis of evil, claims that it already has nuclear weapons, is miniaturizing them and improving its missile technology to strike America, Australia or any other state that imposes any sanction on it. A nervous Japan has already launched its own spy satellites to keep an eye on Pyongyang’s operations, and begun the slow process of elevating its self-defense forces to cabinet level. A terrified South Korea, recently corrupt and arrogant enough to triangulate its staunch defender off to arm’s reach, now pleads with us to stay and has exchanged live fire with its northern cousin. At the same time, North Korea is promising that it will set up shop for any state or terrorist that wants a nuclear weapon or two of its own, once all the bugs are worked out. But we don’t even know whether it is bluffing or truthful when it says it has functioning nuclear weapons. The situation is not tenable in the long term, and requires a unity both internationally and domestically that seems impossible. The UN couldn’t agree that its most flagrant scofflaw merited punishment; Russia and China have quietly thwarted any UN moves against North Korea’s behavior; Democrats such as former Defense Secretary William Perry are already on record blaming the entire situation on the Bush administration.

As the lazy summer of 16 words marches on, the Bush administration faces its own test. A madman known for kidnapping the children of neighboring countries and starving his own people rattles a nuclear saber pointed at several of our long-time allies and eventually our own West Coast. The international community lacks the stomach to deal with him, and to the opposition at home the whole thing is just another political football. Will Mr. Bush pass the test? What will passing the test mean, exactly—a war averted or delayed, or a war successfully fought though it may include colossal casualties, or merely deploying forces to interdict Kim Jong-Il’s promised weapons trade but leaving him with a growing stockpile of nuclear weapons? In this test, for all practical purposes the Bush administration stands alone. There are hopeful signs as the situation progresses; China finally seems to take it seriously, and Japanese and Australian moves have been supportive. But will there be a second Korean war? It becomes more likely with each passing day that Kim Jong-Il lives to threaten his neighbors and the world.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Jayson Blair, late of single-handedly destroying the NY Times, has found himself a couple of new gigs. First, Esquire has hired him to review the work of...Stephen Glass. One fabricator reviews the movie version of another fabricator's book about a career in fabricating. Think he'll actually see the movie, or just make up the review out of whole cloth?

The New York Post also reports that Jane magazine has hired Blair to write about workplace pressures (the mag's publisher has yet to comment). I can't imagine that guy will give good advice:

Dear Jayson,

I'm having trouble at work. Two weeks ago the company hired a new manager for our section. The new boss requested that I write up a report on our department's activities for the past year, just so he could get up to speed. Our section probably has three or four more people than it really needs, so I'm concerned that if I create a truthful report it may lead to a few layoffs or reassignments. What should I do?

Skittish in San Francisco

Dear Skittish,

You need to ask yourself WWJD--What Would Jayson Do? And then do it. Just make something up. It worked for me, for a while.



Posted by B. Preston at 11:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


The NY Times, the BBC, Reuters...and now UPI. Alex Knapp has caught them (and Max Cleland) distorting the 9-11 report's Iraq/al Qaeda findings.

(thanks to Hanks)

Posted by B. Preston at 08:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 24, 2003


Imagine if the NY Times crafted a caustic article about Pfc Jessica Lynch, the US government and the media -- then stuck your byline on the story, making you look like an America-bashing Jayson Blair and filling your inbox with irate email. That's essentially what happened to Deanna Wrenn at the hands of Reuters editors:

I'm not sure what reporter or editor actually wrote the story that has my byline attached.

Reuters did use one quote from the story I wrote last week in the final paragraphs of one of their earliest Lynch stories, which was sent out for publication early Tuesday morning.

By Tuesday afternoon, the quote was reduced to one sentence. Still, my byline appeared.

By Tuesday night, the quote was gone and Reuters was siphoning information from television reports. The beginning of the story was toned down. The part about "media fiction" was removed. But even then, my byline remained.

I understand that news wire services often edit, add, remove or write new leads for stories. What amazed me was that a story could have my byline on it when I contributed only a few sentences at the end -- and in later versions I didn't contribute anything at all.

The stories contained apparently fresh material attributed to sources I did not interview.

Maybe that's the way that wire service works.

I would like to make it abundantly clear that somebody at Reuters wrote the story, not me.

I may not be a member of the world's largest multi-media news agency, but I learned at West Virginia University how to report fairly, which is what I thought I was doing for Reuters last week.

Apparently, when Reuters asked me last week if they could use my byline, they weren't talking about the story I wrote for them last week. They were talking about a story I never wrote.

That was the misunderstanding.

By the way, I asked Reuters to remove my byline. They didn't.

The latest revision of the Reuters story is still available here. It's amazing that Reuters had the nerve to use quotes like this in a scam story about media irresponsibility written under a false byline:

"The failure here was that the news media got to thinking the government could be trusted to reflect reality," said Carolyn Marvin, professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication.

"It no longer matters in America whether something is true or false. The population has been conditioned to accept anything: sentimental stories, lies, atomic bomb threats," said John MacArthur, the publisher of Harper's magazine.

Posted by Chris Regan at 12:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 23, 2003


For reasons that aren't at all clear to me, Mickey Kaus continues to insist that there aren't enough US troops in Iraq. The major fighting is over, our guys just bumped off Saddam's spawn, and though we do continue to lose soldiers in very low-level attacks, there is flat out no reason to send more troops into Iraq at this time. At least, there's no reason to send more American troops. The heavy lifting of war is where our troops excel. That's done. Why send more of our own when there is the possibility that other countries will want to chip in?

Kaus seems to think it's shocking that the sinister neocon cabal wants to keep from committing too many US troops to Iraq so that we can keep our options open elsewhere. But if you stop to look at the world and think about what's going on for half second, it makes perfect sense to minimize our forces in Iraq to a level that is both sustainable and reasonable. Saddam has been overthrown, but the world is still a very dangerous place. Iraq's neighbors in Iran are working fast and furious on a nuclear weapons program, and halting it might require an insertion of aircraft or even personnel--even lots of personnel if things get too bad. I suppose you could make the argument that we need more troops in Iraq for the Iran contingency, but that's not Kaus' argument. He's not even factoring Iran into the equation. He's also not factoring in North Korea, which I believe is even more likely to require American intervention at some point. Leaving Kim Jong-Il with a stockpile of nuclear missiles in his hands (which he claims to have, so we're not relying on British or any other intelligence agency for this one) is not a viable option. A quick surgical strike to take out Kim's nuclear facilities might lead to a northern invasion of the south, and the Pentagon has to have forces reserved and ready for that possibility. If they're all in Iraq, they can't very well move suddenly to North Korea without dropping some balls in Baghdad. But, and I suspect this is in the works, if we quietly pre-position some or even all of the troops that Kaus would send to Iraq to the Korean theatre, we can credibly deter Kim's violent response should we strike his nuke plants.

Kaus is a great blogger and a shrewd political thinker, but when he gets off into military strategy...well, he is not schooled in the operational arts, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general. Other than that his military assessment of the troops strength levels in Iraq is spot on.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Propaganda from the Beeb? According to the Baltimore Sun's TV critic David Zurawik, that's what its documentary on the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch is:
Initial news reports based on information from the Department of Defense said that Lynch was injured by weapons fire as she tried to battle her way out of an ambush. Her nighttime rescue from an Iraqi hospital by U.S. Special Forces was filmed by the Pentagon and distributed to the media in an edited five-minute version. In recent weeks, details of the Pentagon's version of the capture and rescue have been questioned in the American press. But no one's gone as far as this BBC report, which revisits the hospital and has doctors and nurses telling Kampfner that: Lynch suffered no bullet or stab wounds. She had the kind of broken bones that one would get in a traffic accident. Last week, an Army report said that Lynch was injured when grenade hit the Humvee she was riding in, causing it to hit another vehicle. Earlier accounts incorrectly said that she had emptied her rifle fighting off Iraqis before being stabbed and shot. She received the best treatment the hospital had to offer, which included blood donated by hospital staffers. She was not abused, as the Pentagon claimed. That the Special Forces team knew they would meet no resistance at the hospital, but nevertheless came in firing blanks in their guns to make the Pentagon film look like a guns-blazing cavalry rescue. "Like a film of Hollywood, they cry, 'Go, go, go,' with gun and blanks without bullets," Dr. Harith Al-Houssona tells the BBC on-air. "They break the door, and we are very scared. They make a show - action movies like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan." The problem - and it is a huge one - with the report is that Kampfner and his producers air the wildest allegations of staging events and deliberately lying with no corroboration or confirmation. Furthermore, they give viewers no way to assess the credibility of alleged witnesses like Dr. Al-Houssona. Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, does appear on camera to acknowledge discrepancies in various accounts of what happened with Lynch, but avoids confirming or denying much of anything by saying the matter is still under review. His presence and mealy-mouthed statement do not absolve the BBC of trying to find hard evidence to support its claims - or not airing them. The result is that War Spin: Jessica Lynch has the distinct feel of tabloid journalism. It seems as guilty of propaganda and spin as it claims the Pentagon was during the war.
War Spin: Jessica Lynch aired on July 18 on BBC America. Unfortunately I missed it, or I'd offer my own take. Suffice it to say that the Sun leans left and is reliably anti-GOP though not necessarily anti-war. I seem to recall similar articles criticizing the production when it first aired in Britain earlier this year, but thought it was worth re-reporting in light of the Beeb's current credibility scandal. Their problem isn't limited to Andrew Gilligan--the BBC apparently made a whole documentary that's a piece of anti-war spin.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:04 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Bush should yank Carter's passport if he tries to interfere in U.S. diplomacy again. There are laws that Bush can invoke to stop Carter from meddling.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter may visit North Korea in September in an attempt to break the stalemate over Pyongyang's nuclear program, a Japanese TV network said.
Private broadcaster Fuji Television reported on its Web site Wednesday that Carter was making arrangements to visit North Korea, perhaps early in September, and would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

He would stop in Japan and meet Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on his way to North Korea, it said.

"I haven't heard anything about such a visit," Yoon Tae-young, chief spokesman for South Korea's presidential Blue House, told reporters when asked about the report.

However, a spokesman for the privately funded Nippon Foundation said Carter was likely to visit Japan on September 4-7 to take part in events sponsored by it and the Sasakawa Africa Association, an Africa-linked non-governmental organization.

He added that he did not know what Carter planned to do after leaving Japan.

Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, visited the North in 1994 during a previous crisis over the communist state's nuclear program and negotiated a deal with then-leader Kim Il-sung in which Pyongyang [falsely] confirmed its willingness to freeze its nuclear program and resume talks with the United States.

Bush needs to use every means at his disposal to stop this madman. By madman, I'm referring of course to Jimmy Carter. In a strange way, Kim Jong-il is behaving much more rationally than Carter. The brinksmanship stemming from Carter's last scam may now get Kim the concessions he wants, but Carter is an American who has hampered U.S. strategic goals and assisted N. Korea in their ultimate nuclear quest.

privately, some administration officials worry that the strategy may not be sustainable if the North conducts a nuclear test to declare itself a nuclear power.

The North has demanded both economic aid and a nonaggression pact, and the Bush administration has said it will not negotiate under conditions of blackmail. However, administration officials have said they will consider formalizing the verbal guarantees Mr. Bush has made that the United States will not attack the North without provocation.

UPDATE: This from USA Today makes more sense.

The White House on Tuesday rejected the idea of formally pledging not to attack North Korea. On Monday, North Korea said unless Washington "legally committed itself to nonaggression," it would not give up its nuclear programs.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Bush administration is considering granting North Korea such formal guarantees.

But White House spokesman Scott McClellan reiterated long-standing American policy that "all options remain on the table."

Posted by Chris Regan at 01:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


I found several interviews giving some context to the situation in Liberia. Here's a great discussion with the former Ambassador to Senegal to start with. This first interview excerpt is from a few weeks ago:

...we turn to a Herman Cohen, veteran of 38 years in the State Department, much of it in Africa. He is also the author of a book on the issue of Superpower Intervention in Africa.

HUME: Wouldn't this be an American intervention in a war on kind of on neither side? I mean we're not going to go in there to side with the rebels really, are we or are we?

COHEN: That's the beauty of it. We're the only country in the world that's considered neutral. We don't side with anyone. All the West Africans, who are going to go in there now, they all have their friends. They've all been backing one faction or another. We are neutral. Every one looks up to us. They're begging us to come in. I think they will all throw down their arms.

HUME: Even the rebel factions that would want power would back away from a U.S. force in there?

COHEN: Completely.

HUME: Really?

COHEN: This is not Somalia. This is not Iraq. This is Liberia, where everybody wants to be an American.

HUME: So the Americans would be accepted in your view?

COHEN: Oh, I predict it, 100 percent, yes.

The second interview with Cohen is from Monday:

COHEN: Taylor can't do anything because he is bottled up in the peninsula.

HUME: Taylor being the principal, the president.

COHEN: The president, yes. And he can't win the war. And the rebels can't win the war until they capture Monrovia (search). So it's sort of a, as you say, it is a standoff.

HUME: Now, Taylor had indicated earlier that he was prepared to leave and he remains there. What is that all about?

COHEN: He can't leave until he is escorted by some peacekeepers. If he tries to leave, his own people will shoot him because...

HUME: You mean the people loyal to him?

COHEN: Yes, because he is abandoning them. So the peacekeepers have to quiet everybody down, say OK, look, everyone can stop being afraid, we're here. Take Taylor to the airport and ship him out.

Cohen is definitely the most illuminating voice I've heard on the Liberian conflict. He's been arguing since 1990 for intervention. Now Bush-43 has replaced Bush-41 and, just as with Iraq, the job will be much tougher for the younger Bush after a decade with Bill Clinton at the helm.

COHEN: It wasn't that poor in 1990 when this all started. But of course, everything's been destroyed. The infrastructure, the water, the electricity, just everything is gone. It has to be rebuilt. I think the World Bank can help out if you have a decent government there. And it will need lots of U.N. civilians to come in and help them rebuilds the institutions, the judiciaries, the military, the government, the treasury, the budget people.

HUME: Sound like Iraq.

COHEN: Exactly. Exactly. Yes, but in a miniature form. Right.

HUME: Well, I know. But is it as dangerous as Iraq? You seem to think not.

COHEN: No. Absolutely no.

HUME: You have this sense, and it is striking to me that somehow if the Americans and peacekeepers come, then everybody will be happy. And I can imagine viewers out there thinking is this man right? Why should we believe that?

COHEN: There are lots of Iraqis, especially the old Saddam Hussein people, who say this is dangerous us to, we want everyone to get out of there. But the Liberians are all saying please come in and help us. We want the Americans here. The Liberians were never a colony of the United States. They're trying to become a colony in a sense.

The larger Bush-43 goal here is to normalize as a much of the wartorn continent as possible -- but we have to choose our battles carefully. Bush wants to stabilize governments that can then help us fight the terrorists and organized criminals looking to establish bases and make millions off corruption in Africa. More great insight into this problem here:

Johan Peleman, one of the world's most prominent arms-trade investigators, has served on several U.N. expert panels and specializes in the financial aspects of war.

...Drawing on his years of experience following the flow of weapons and investigating the money and paper trails of wars across Africa, he explains the dangers that failed African states pose, and the lessons they offer.

The United Nations and the nation-states into which the world is currently organized, he warns, are systemically incapable of stopping the warlord rule and growing chaos in Africa -- a political state of affairs not seen since the 17th century. . . .

What is the significance, not just of Minin in Liberia but of organized crime coming to Africa and getting involved in this [illegal arms trafficking]?

Well, this is, of course, the tragic thing. What you have in West Africa is a number of disintegrated states. The state is just not powerful enough to exert its control over the entire territory. And it's basically challenged by a bunch of ragtag rebels with guns that terrorize the country for more than 10 years. As a consequence, not only does the state collapse almost completely but also the whole society disintegrates.

You have a phenomenon of child soldiers that go and kill their own parents, their own kin. This is really the disintegration of the fabric of society. It will be very difficult to rebuild this. And what you then see is that the investors that take an interest in those economies of collapsed states are themselves also players in the criminal field. So that only worsens the problem.

You have very dramatic situations already, where states are collapsing or completely out of control. Then, they invite, actively or passively, the sort of investors that breed on this lack of oversight, on this lack of control, on this lack of interest in the background of the investor. You have presidents that then attract investors that are just out to make a few quick millions in those countries, mostly at the expense of the local population or the long-term economy of that country. And that, of course, is a very dramatic situation. You have state collapse on the one hand and, at the same time, real mafia organizations and organized crime being attracted to this kind of situation.

The second half of the interview is especially good. As is the second half of this interview:

Tom Ofcansky, an African affairs analyst with the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research, has closely monitored arms sales to Africa. In the 1990s, he developed a detailed classified database that tracked the suppliers and shipments of small arms to Africa. In an interview with FRONTLINE/World producer Rick Young in February 2002, he says that the Clinton administration was aware that small-arms trafficking was greatly contributing to violence and destruction throughout Africa, and that high-level officials were speaking out about the problem. But, he says, in the end, the issue was given a low priority. . . .

What do you mean by "magnet"?

Breeding ground or a magnet for arms traffickers, for criminal elements, for terrorists, for false-documents trafficking, drug trafficking, that sort of thing. Doing business in a failed state is much easier for these secret worlds than it is in a highly developed Western state. Chances of being arrested in a failed state for engaging in arms trafficking or any of these other activities that I mentioned is very minimal. One can buy one's way out of jail, for example, or oftentimes one operates in collusion with local warlords or government officials in these failed states.

So I think what is going on -- and it will intensify as we proceed into the century -- is a struggle between the failed states and the more developed states for control of the planet. And I think that the failed-state phenomenon is going to be the top issue that faces us for the first half of this century. And how the West comes to terms with the problems in these failed states, and a recognition of the commitment needed to resolve the problems in these failed states, is going to be far in excess of anything that we've done so far in the post-World War II era.

So this war on terrorism is actually part of a larger challenge?

Yes. Again, [September 11] was [a] symptom of a problem, more so than the problem. And a significant part of that network is in failed states. We had the situation in Afghanistan, and using failed states elsewhere in the world to either hide out or train people or try to gain a foothold. And from the perspective of those living in Somalia, you have a group there known as al-Itihaad, which supposedly is a terrorist group. But one of the things it has done is provided stability in certain areas, through establishment of Islamic courts; they've run health clinics; they've run schools. They're providing services that no one else has been able to provide. And I think when groups like that start getting the support of local communities, that's when you can enter into a breeding ground for trouble, because then you can tell someone, "Listen, we've provided these services to you. We'd just like you to drive this truck to the Kenyan border. Someone will take it from there." That sort of thing. The West needs to present an alternative to that. It has not done so as yet.

Posted by Chris Regan at 12:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I was struck by the language of Saddam in his latest audio tape.

The tape said U.S. forces, facing increased attacks, would not be safe in Iraq despite their military might and weaponry. It urged Iraqis and armed forces to rise up in a new "liberation army."

..."I've got my own 'Most Wanted' list. The aces in my deck are Paul Bremer, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz."

... The tape said every member of the armed forces, even those retired, should join the resistance to form what he called the "core of the new liberation army."

It's pretty disturbing isn't it? I mean when U.S. troops go beyond whining and sound exactly like troops openly loyal to Saddam Hussein. The middle line was from a mutinous U.S. soldier, not Saddam.

Feel free to compare comments from various Democrat presidential candidates with Saddam's previous audio tape condemning Bush and Blair for using "lies" to justify the war. Saddam Hussein is the honorary tenth candidate in the Democrat's primary race.

It's sort of like trying to tell the difference between the Unabomber and his mentor Al Gore.

Posted by Chris Regan at 11:13 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


The Angry Clam says it all with this photo Gaza photo.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 22, 2003


Here's the story. Score two for the good guys!

Local reaction isn't hard to read:

Widespread and sporadic gunfire crackled across Baghdad after dark Tuesday as word spread that Saddam's feared and hated sons may have been killed.

"It's celebration. People have heard about what happened," a U.S. military spokesman told Reuters.

April 9, 2003 and July 22, 2003--two dates that will be celebrated in Iraq for generations to come.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Unbelievable. The LA Times has the goods--a group of Dem strategists met and discussed ways to deepen California's budget crisis to put pressure on Republicans opposed to raising taxes.

SACRAMENTO — In a meeting they thought was private but was actually broadcast around the Capitol on Monday, 11 Assembly Democrats debated prolonging California's budget crisis to further their political goals.

Members of the Democratic Study Group, a caucus that defines itself as progressive, were unaware that a microphone in Committee Room 127 was on as they discussed slowing progress in an attempt to increase pressure on Republicans to accept tax increases as part of a deal to resolve the state's $38-billion budget gap.

The conversation was transmitted to roughly 500 "squawk boxes" around Sacramento that political staff, lobbyists and reporters use to listen in on legislative proceedings.

According to Republican staff members who captured parts of the meeting on tape, Los Angeles Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg and others discussed holding up the budget to dramatize the consequences and build support for a ballot initiative that would make it easier to raise taxes.

Starve the people in order to raise their taxes. How compassionate. Positively Dickensian.

While a delay might serve the tactical advantage of Democrats, its consequences are already being felt by students, vendors and the poor: Since the new fiscal year began July 1 without a budget, the state has already begun to cut off money to some programs.

Dems to the poor: Drop Dead!

Posted by B. Preston at 12:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Let's hope this report--that coalition troops killed Saddam's sons in a raid today--turns out to be true. All the Democra'ath carping in the world won't change that fact that two monsters are no more.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


If CBS News had learned the identity and/or location of the Beltway snipers before the cops, what would they have done? Would they have:

A) helped the police catch them before they killed again?

B) nailed down an exclusive interview for the teevee news and then let them go out to kill again?

Based on this story, the answer seems to be B.

(thanks to Hanks)

Posted by B. Preston at 12:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Or does Senator Diane Feinstein now support school choice vouchers? Cats and dogs living together indeed.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:52 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Because I'm in such a foul mood I just don't have the patience for it. It's not a mid-summer funk, but more like a blind rage.

Lots of reasons for it. The post-but-really-mid-war politics are starting to grate on my last thin nerve, to the point that I feel like I've been wading in a sewer for the past week or so and need a scalding blast to knock off the muck. How would the Democrats treat an actual conservative president? They treat Bush, who's really a convenient conservative when it comes to domestic policy and who is still really fighting the war at about two-thirds capacity, as though he were Atilla the Hun caught in the act of eating live children. You've got Sen. Bob Graham, who just hired a leading figure in the Clinton Chinese funding raising scandal, calling for Bush's impeachment. Chutzpah to the tenth power! Ugh. So since politics are getting to me, I may just ignore them today. Which is what Bush should do to the Democrats--just ignore them and do his job.

My car broke down on Saturday as I was on my way to a wedding that I'd been asked to video. I don't shoot weddings for a living--wedding vids are probably the dreckiest way for a photog to make a living and I'm an actual TV producer for goodness sake--but when asked by a friend or acquaintance I'll oblige. And when I shoot a wedding, I go all out--three digital cameras, video post-produced digitally, the works. So anyway I was out driving early Saturday afternoon, doing a bit of last-minute puttering around, careening around the Baltimore beltway when in the midst of a curve the power steering shut down on me. I'm suddenly fighting a couple thousand pounds of steel and plastic that wants to keep going straight when that will only carry it and me into a concrete wall. A quick glance told me that several other systems had also gone offline. Then the A/C went kaput, and the cabin suddenly turned into a sauna. It was like one of those scenes in any war film when the pilot gets his plane shot out from under him and all he can do is fight it on the way down. Had the traffic been heavier, I'd have been sent to the great blog in the sky and probably taken one or two unfortunates with me. But as traffic was thankfully light I just had to get my suddenly uncooperative and overheating and electrically-challenged car off the beltway safely. So I did, noticing on the way that I now had less than two hours to get to the wedding. It wasn't far away, and I'd pre-positioned my tripods, so I had a slim chance of making it on time if I could find a way to a) get my cameras to the church and b) get dressed up for the thing. I didn't have my cell phone. I had pulled the car off the beltway and into a completely foreign (to me) neighborhood, a half hour away from my house. But after finding someone who would let me use his phone and after getting my wife to come pick me up, and after dropping the cameras by the church, I had a scant couple dozen minutes to get home, get dressed and get back. Which I did, and managed to pull off the shoot without a hitch. Not without breaking a sweat though--I entered the church at 4:26 to shoot a 4:30 wedding, which much to my surprise actually started on time. I think that was the first wedding I've ever been to that did.

But yesterday came the bill for the car. It broke down because the serpentine belt had gotten shredded, and since that $20 belt drives everything its death had caused the full speed system shutdown. It also managed to take a few other more expensive parts with it, and the car needed a brake job (it really did, the mechanic didn't "see me coming" and decide to gouge me like 90% of Maryland mechs do) so all tolled I'm looking at nearly a grand of stuff I have to pay for to get my car back on the road again. I'm not entirely sure the car is worth a grand, but it does look okay and has a nice sound system and hey, it's only money right? Yeah, money I don't have. So...reason #2 to be in a foul mood.

And those reasons are enough.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:49 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 21, 2003


Tonight, Drudge leads with a headline to a WaPo story about an FBI informant who knew a couple of the 9-11 hijackers. This tidbit of failed follow-up is part of the coming report detailing how our various agencies failed us on 9-11. The story itself isn't new. MSNBC, and therefore the JYB, reported it last September.
Posted by B. Preston at 07:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Will Saletan's Slate column today is a case-in-point in how childish and idiotic the anti-Bush faction has become. Saletan cites Bush's confidence in a British white paper on the subject of Iraq's attempts to purchase uranium from Niger, and how that confidence led to the infamous 16 words. Therefore, thinks Saletan, all British government white papers should hold equal weight with Bush. So Saletan goes on to list a bunch of left-wing advocacy dressed up as UK government white papers (except paper #5), which naturally conflict with Bush's occassionally conservative worldview, and wonders why Bush doesn't just adopt all of them as his own policy.

I know, I know, Saletan is being coy and suggesting that perhaps Bush shouldn't have placed so much confidence in the white paper about Iraq and uranium. But Saletan gives no evidence against that particular paper, choosing instead to weaken it by association to less credible papers written by separate and distinct parts of the British government. His argument is entirely devoid of rigorous logic. He has slapped together a column that could easily have been written by an eighth grader with access to Google and a couple hours to kill. Not than an eighth grader with access to Google and a couple hours to kill is likely to look up British white papers...

Posted by B. Preston at 11:57 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


If he were capable of shame, John Conyers should be ashamed of himself.

On July 17 the Justice Department provided a kind of self-evaluation to members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, of which Conyers is the ranking Democrat on the House side. That report is a look into allegations that department employees abused or violated the civil rights of people arrested in the post 9-11 anti-terror sweep. The report was evidently meant to inform the Congressional committees on the progress of those investigations, and will be released to the public soon. It's the kind of thing a government agency should do in a constitutional republic--hunt down accusations of abuse, discern their merit or lack, and report to the people and their elected representatives. Eventually, abusers will be punished. There are thousands of people working in various agencies within the Justice Department; to find that some have abused their authority on any given day is hardly shocking. To find that some took a little extra anger out on Muslims after 9-11 is regrettable, but hardly surprising. To find that the reponsible agency is looking into such matters is cause for confidence--the JD doesn't seem to be engaged in any coverup here. On the contrary, it seems to be trying to find bad apples and get rid of them.

That's not good enough for Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). Ever the Democrat demagogue, Conyers leaked the report to the NY Times in advance of its date of publication, and used it to bash the Bush administration:

"This report shows that we have only begun to scratch the surface with respect to the Justice Department's disregard of constitutional rights and civil liberties," Mr. Conyers said in a statement. "I commend the inspector general for having the courage and independence to highlight the degree to which the administration's war on terror has misfired and harmed innocent victims with no ties to terror whatsoever."

How many cases does the report specify? To hear Conyers' comments, one would reasonably assume some sort of systemic abuse throughout the entire department, to the tune of hundreds or even thousands of cases. But the report cites just 34 allegations, most of which have yet to be verified. Of those verified, some amount to no more than verbal abuse. So Conyers is worked into lather over less than 3 dozen cases of abuse, when the Justice Department has thousands of people working for it who are in positions where, if they were the abusing sort, they would be able to abuse.

Even worse than that, notice Conyers' characterization of the war. The war didn't begin on 9-11. As we all know now, al Qaeda has been gunning for Americans since the early 90s. Ramzi Yusef, mastermind of the 1993 WTC bombing, was tied to Abu Sayyaf--the Philippine branch of al Qaeda. George W. Bush inherited a war that was only being fought against us, and after 9-11 he had no viable choice but to fight back and win the war in which Bill Clinton had given the enemy an 8 year head start. But to Conyers, the war isn't America's or civilization's war to fight--it's the administration's war on terror. John Conyers isn't a part of the administration, therefore the war isn't his war.

If only our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines could protect the Americans that want protection, while not protecting those who don't.

In characterizing the war as "the administration's war on terror," Conyers has effectively chosen sides. It's not his war, but as an official of the United States government he doesn't have the luxury of claiming neutrality. Since he is openly against "the administration's war on terror," I'd say he has chosen to side with the enemy. That is the logic of his rhetoric.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Henry Hanks is posting here now.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


So Congress is leaking an as yet unreleased report citing a lack of human intelligence sources as the reason our intel agencies missed so many 9-11 signals. No sources means no data, no data means no chance of stopping 9-11.

If memory serves me well, didn't the Clinton administration change the rules governing how our intel agencies collect sources? Didn't the new Clinton rule bar our agents from working with known felons and troublemakers? The almighty Google hasn't led me to a verifying link thus far, but that's the way I remember it. If that's the case, this paragraph from the linked story is telling:

One official who has read the report said counterterrorism officials regularly complained about the absence of human intelligence from the Afghanistan camps, saying that counterterrorism analysts were forced to rely on reports from foreign intelligence services, satellite imagery and intercepted communications, none of which detected any advance sign of the impending attacks.

"We had amazing satellite pictures of them having graduation ceremonies at the camps, but we never had a clue what they planned to do when they left Afghanistan," one official said.

Will anyone in the Clinton administration ever be held to account for this? Don't bet on it. But you can bet on hearing about the 16 words for another week or two.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:30 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

July 20, 2003


Just when you think the media can't get any lower--it does. I'm speechless.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack