October 03, 2003


The Kay report contains a reference to botulinum toxin, and the fact that investigators found a live vial of it in the home of an Iraqi scientist. Botulinum is in fact a weapon of mass destruction--it's the most poisonous known substance. According to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civilan Biodefense Studies:

Botulinum toxin poses a major bioweapons threat because of its extreme potency and lethality; its ease of production, transport and misuse; and the potential need for prolonged intensive care in affected persons. Botulinum toxin is the single most poisonous substance known.

For years prior to the Gulf War Iraq was known to be working with botulinum. It was illegal for Iraq to possess any capability to produce NBC (nuclear, biological or chemical) weapons, and botulinum could very easily be turned into a bioweapons.

This find is a smoking gun--Iraq possessed the capability to produce a weapon of mass destruction. Secretary of State Colin Powell agrees:

Asked [after the presentation of the Kay report] whether he believed weapons of mass destruction would ultimately be found in Iraq, Powell replied with a rhetorical question: "Do you think vials of botulinum should constitute a weapon of mass destruction?"

I happen to like this response, as it indicates the the Bush team believed all along that the war was justified and now has the proof to back it up. It also indicates a certain impatience on Powell's part to play word games with the press on such grave matters, which is heartening. Maybe they'll finally get back to playing offense in the domestic political war and the real war too.

So we have found a WMD in Iraq. We will probably find more. It remains for the world to realize what this means.

Posted by B. Preston at 06:41 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack


Someone needs to tell Andrew Stuttaford to provide a link when he cites a hot story.

Anyway, he posted this exerpt from a Reuters (!) story:

WARSAW, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Polish troops in Iraq have found four French-built advanced anti-aircraft missiles which according to the military were built this year, a Polish Defence Ministry spokesman told Reuters on Friday. "Polish troops discovered an ammunition depot on September 29 near the region of Hilla and there were four French-made Roland-type missiles," Eugeniusz Mleczak said. "It is not the first time Polish troops found ammunition in Iraq but to our surprise these missiles were produced in 2003," Mleczak said. The Roland anti-aircraft system is a short-range air defence missile in service with at least ten countries, including France and Germany. It is mobile, usually mounted on a vehicle, and defence experts say the missiles are highly effective against aircraft attacking at low and medium altitude. Under a strict trade embargo imposed by the United Nations, Iraq was barred form importing arms since the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Mleczak said Polish troops were notified about the missiles by a local Iraqi, who received a reward for the information...

Yeah, we should listen to the French when they lecture us about embargoes and multalaterlism. They'd never do anything wrong, would they...

UPDATE: The Polish troops made a mistake.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Remember waaay back when most of us remembered we were at war, and Bill Maher popped off about the alleged bravery of terrorists? That we were the cowards, not them?

He was right about one thing--enemies don't take you seriously if you refuse to fight below 15,000 feet. And that's not an indictment of the military which wanted to fight harder in Kosovo, but the leadership that orders them to fight that way. Most people missed that.

But Maher also said that terrorists shouldn't be called cowards. On that, he was wrong then and wrong now.

You see, for terrorist leaders it fine to blow people up as long as someone else is toting the bombs and others are the victims. But as soon as the victims get angry enough to target the terrorist leadership, that leadership wets its robes and cries foul.

Babies. Murderers. Cowards.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:58 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


Is here. Don't trust the Washington Post, NY Times, LA Times (especially the LA Times) on this--read it for yourself, then draw conclusions.

I'm skimming it in between other stuff, but so far Andrew Sullivan seems to be right about it. It's stronger than the press is making it out to be.

One important point that should also get some attention is that this report is an interim work--not a final, nail it down piece. The investigation is ongoing.

For a teaser, here's a major quote near the top of the report:

We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002. The discovery of these deliberate concealment efforts have come about both through the admissions of Iraqi scientists and officials concerning information they deliberately withheld and through physical evidence of equipment and activities that ISG has discovered that should have been declared to the UN.

In other words, the war was justified according to the UN sanctions against Saddam. He didn't even comply with the last-ditch inspections regime that the French intended to bollix up the war and save his hide. Saddam betrayed his European allies, and thwarted Hans Blix, right up to the end. He had to go.

MORE: The report also indicates an active working alliance between Saddam and North Korea for technology trade. Couple that with reports that the Iranians have a cadre of North Korean scientists working on their nuclear program, and you have the Axis of Evil working together in fact, with North Korea acting as a kind of tech hub. And the Axis states were working on missiles that had been banned for Saddam's use, and nuclear weapons banned for all three countries.

MORE: The role of student visas:

"The IIS also played a prominent role in sponsoring students for overseas graduate studies in the biological sciences, according to Iraqi scientists and IIS sources, providing an important avenue for further BW-applicable research."

Student visas represent a massive hole in the West's collective armor. I don't know the answer to patching that hole--blacklisting students from certain countries may be an option, though doing that would probably also keep us from finding potential allies within rogue states, not to mention the PC outcry that doing so would generate. But something needs to be done.

On the evil of the Saddam regime:

A prison laboratory complex, possibly used in human testing of BW agents, that Iraqi officials working to prepare for UN inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the UN.

Shades of Auschwitz. And a violation of the UN disarmament sanctions.

Does any of this sound like an "imminent threat?" No. But the President never argued that Iraq was an imminent threat. He argued that we should strike before the threat became imminent, because once the threat is imminent--Saddam is fully re-armed--it's too late to deal with him without massive loss of life. That's a debatable point, but it is where the debate should center because it is the point he offered. He never cited an imminent threat, contrary to what the political opposition will insist in the coming days and weeks.

On biological warfare:

With regard to biological warfare activities, which has been one of our two initial areas of focus, ISG teams are uncovering significant information - including research and development of BW-applicable organisms, the involvement of Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) in possible BW activities, and deliberate concealment activities. All of this suggests Iraq after 1996 further compartmentalized its program and focused on maintaining smaller, covert capabilities that could be activated quickly to surge the production of BW agents.

Debriefings of IIS officials and site visits have begun to unravel a clandestine network of laboratories and facilities within the security service apparatus. This network was never declared to the UN and was previously unknown.

We are still working on determining the extent to which this network was tied to large-scale military efforts or BW terror weapons, but this clandestine capability was suitable for preserving BW expertise, BW capable facilities and continuing R&D - all key elements for maintaining a capability for resuming BW production.


Discussions with Iraqi scientists uncovered agent R&D work that paired overt work with non-pathogenic organisms serving as surrogates for prohibited investigation with pathogenic agents.

Examples include: B. Thurengiensis (Bt) with B. anthracis (anthrax), and medicinal plants with ricin. In a similar vein, two key former BW scientists, confirmed that Iraq under the guise of legitimate activity developed refinements of processes and products relevant to BW agents.

All of this activity was illegal, outside the bounds of what Saddam's regime was allowed to do, and constitute causes to remove him. And ricin, mentioned in the graph above, turned up on terrorists in France as well as in al Qaeda-linked camps in northern Iraq. Connected? Very possible.

On the difficulty inherent to the search:

A very large body of information has been developed through debriefings, site visits, and exploitation of captured Iraqi documents that confirms that Iraq concealed equipment and materials from UN inspectors when they returned in 2002.

One noteworthy example is a collection of reference strains that ought to have been declared to the UN. Among them was a vial of live C. botulinum Okra B. from which a biological agent can be produced. This discovery - hidden in the home of a BW scientist - illustrates the point I made earlier about the difficulty of locating small stocks of material that can be used to covertly surge production of deadly weapons.

The scientist who concealed the vials containing this agent has identified a large cache of agents that he was asked, but refused, to conceal. ISG is actively searching for this second cache.

Point one is that this bioweapon activity was illegal, and continued right up to the end. Point two is that concealing stocks of toxins is very easy, as they're quite small. In a country the size of Iraq (roughly the size of Texas), hiding vials of toxins is child's play. Finding them may be nearly impossible. But they are probably still out there somewhere.

It's like the proverbial search for needles in haystacks:

Let me turn now to chemical weapons (CW). In searching for retained stocks of chemical munitions, ISG has had to contend with the almost unbelievable scale of Iraq's conventional weapons armoury, which dwarfs by orders of magnitude the physical size of any conceivable stock of chemical weapons.

For example, there are approximately 130 known Iraqi Ammunition Storage Points (ASP), many of which exceed 50 square miles in size and hold an estimated 600,000 tons of artillery shells, rockets, aviation bombs and other ordinance.

Of these 130 ASPs, approximately 120 still remain unexamined. As Iraqi practice was not to mark much of their chemical ordinance and to store it at the same ASPs that held conventional rounds, the size of the required search effort is enormous.

Ten sites down, 120 to go. It's still very possible that the search team will find stocks of chemical weapons shells.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 02, 2003


On a much less serious not than the previous post, Slate agrees with Rush Limbaugh on the McNabb controversy? Well, probably not, but Slate has published a defense of Rush. And they have evidence!

The news that the Eagles defense has "carried" them over this period [since McNabb became the starter] should be neither surprising nor controversial to anyone with access to simple NFL statistics—or for that matter, with access to a television. Yet, McNabb has received an overwhelming share of media attention and thus the credit. Now why is this?

Let's look at a quarterback with similar numbers who also plays for a team with a great defense. I don't know anyone who would call Brad Johnson one of the best quarterbacks in pro football—which is how McNabb is often referred to. In fact, I don't know anyone who would call Brad Johnson, on the evidence of his 10-year NFL career, much more than mediocre. Yet, Johnson's NFL career passer rating, as of last Sunday, is 7.3 points higher than McNabb's (84.8 to 77.5), he has completed his passes at a higher rate (61.8 percent to 56.4 percent), and has averaged significantly more yards per pass (6.84 to 5.91). McNabb excels in just one area, running, where he has gained 2,040 yards and scored 14 touchdowns to Johnson's 467 and seven. But McNabb has also been sacked more frequently than Johnson—more than once, on average, per game, which negates much of the rushing advantage.

So statistically Brad Johnson is better, and sports a big piece of Super Bowl jewelry to prove it, but no one in their right mind would mistake Johnson for a great, or even terribly good, QB. Johnson can be awful--just ask Redskins fans. As for McNabb's stats, I think they could lead one to agree with one thing I said about McNabb in a comment somewhere--that if he had a decent offensive unit around him he'd be unstoppable. But he hasn't been surrounded with quality receivers, or a solid line, or much better than a second-rate running back since coming into the league. Which is fine with me--I don't like the Eagirls and never will. But put Larry Allen or Randy Moss on McNabb's side and add a capable running back, and you have a juggernaut with McNabb at the helm.

So whatever--the Slate writer agrees with Rush that McNabb is overrated. I don't. That's what was once so great about football. You could argue about stuff like this without getting so personal the way that politics always does. You could take a very strong stand that Joe Montana was the best QB who ever played, and I could counter that no, Roger Staubach or John Elway or Johnny Unitas was better, and we could have a nice long row and remain friends, because in the end sports really don't matter much. They're entertaining diversions from the dangerous real world.

What bugs me about what Rush said is, to an extent, he ruined all that by injecting race into the McNabb story. He may be right about it--given the NFL's recent behavior and the media's constant behavior, I suspect he is--but sheesh, can't we have one refuge from the loony left and political correctness? Not anymore.

The rest of the article, written by Allen Barra, is very good. Barra is a sportswriter, and a fan of McNabb's Eagirls. He thinks McNabb is overrated. He also thinks sports writers like himself hype McNabb because they want to see a black QB succeed. He has confirmed that Rush was on to something.

So now I suppose Barra should resign too.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:20 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


Prior to 9-11, the terrorist mastermind told his troops that Americans were soft, easily distracted, and would run from a fight. Somalia was his guidepost--his allied fighters lost 1,000 fighters to our 18, yet we turned tail and ran. He planned 9-11 with those attitudes in mind, confident that we would not stand and fight him for the long haul.

Thanks to the incessant anti-war drip in the press, and thanks to the feckless strangers to the truth that populate the Democrat party, we're about to prove him right.

According to a new poll, 53% of Americans now think the war in Iraq wasn't worth it. A war won with minimal loss of life, that freed 24 million people from a tyrant, and that offers the chance to break the back of worldwide terrorism, no longer enjoys majority support. And we're just two years removed from the horror of 9-11.

Part of the blame for this drop in support--around 20 points since the beginning of the war--must rest with the White House. It has done an abyssmal job of reminding us why we went to war, and of countering the irresponsible critics in the press and the political opposition. But the lion's share must go to the press, which has for months chosen not to report the facts about what is going on in Iraq. The press leads night after night with the one GI that got killed, not the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who are trying to help us help them rebuild their country. The press has turned victory in a quagmire, and for purely political purposes the Democrats, bitter at being tossed from power, are playing along.

If this attitude continues, our troops will have died for nothing. We will have proven ourselves incapable of self-defense, a gigantic paper tiger on the world stage. We will have proven Osama bin Laden was right about us. And we will have more, and more deadly, terrorism on our streets. We will lose the war.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Hmm. Alert JYB correspondent Chris Regan actually wades through MoDo's dreck on a fairly routine basis, persistence that finally pays off. He caught Dowd entering the Plame affair with this tidbit:

Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson both happened to alight in Washington, their jet-set schedules intersecting, and spotted each other across a cocktail party filled with foreigners.

"I saw this striking blonde," he recalled, still sounding smitten six years later. At first she said she was an energy analyst, but confided sometime around the first kiss that she was in the C.I.A. "I had a security clearance," grinned Mr. Wilson, then a political adviser to the commander of U.S. forces in Europe.

Plame confided sometime around the first kiss that she was in the CIA? Hello--can you say "security risk?" And she can't hide behind Wilson's line about having a clearance. That's one of the oldest (and lamest) pickup lines in circulation. Besides, people like Aldrich Ames had security clearances. And there is this little opsec principle called "need to know." Did Wilson need to know that the chick on the end of his lips was in the CIA?

Either MoDo is just making stuff up (as usual), or she has unintentionally dropped a bomb on the whole story. If the striking blonde Kate Archer wannabee was so forthcoming with Wilson, it's reasonable to assume that she, who probably never had trouble getting a date, blabbed to any number of other suitors about her, ahem, undercover operations. No, in this case I don't need the ahem--I'm actually talking about real undercover operations. Not the other kind...

Maybe that's why her secret job was so less than secret--she's a striking blonde blabbermouth, a spy who can't keep her pretty mouth shut.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:53 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


On the infamous ESPN show that cost Rush his dream job, former Dallas Cowboys playmaker Michael Irvin said "Rush is right" in response to the remarks heard 'round the world.

Huh? Irvin is black. Robert George asks "[W]as he referring to the contention that McNabb was overrated -- or that the media was giving him a pass because he was black?"

The Cowboys and Eagles are NFC East rivals, so bitter that in the early 90s, then Eagles coach Buddy Ryan once offered a bounty to any Eagle player who would injure then Cowboy kicker Max Zendejas and take him out of the game. That game became known as the "Buddy Bowl." Irvin himself was frequently the target of Eagle dirty play--his career ended prematurely with an injury at the Vet in Philadelphia, writhing in pain before fans who booed him.

Pro football players may be pros, but they develop animosities over things like kicker bounties and intentional dirty hits. So when Irvin said that Rush was right, he was agreeing with Rush that McNabb, QB for the hated Eagles, is overrated. It's just a case of one player talking trash against a rival.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Our former friends the French are going through a massive identity crisis, as a slew of bestsellers examine, basically, why their country sucks eggs:

These messages converge with that of "L'Arrogance Française," by Romain Gubert and Emmanuel Saint-Martin, whose chapter and section headings - How France Lost Europe or Narcissistic Blindness - well sum up a book that holds that French foreign and European policy is guided by "obsessive concern with its standing, and terror in the face of its decline."

France's essential arrogance, the authors suggest, is in continuing to act as if the world community and its European partners do not comprehend that for the French leadership, the "EU serves as the means for France to recover its influence and to reconquer its lost power."

In this light, although the writers of "L'Arrogance Française" do not say so specifically, it is possible to see French policy in relationship to Iraq as a temporary instrumentalization of Germany in an effort to recapture European primacy - an attempt understood and foiled by the vast number of its NATO and EU partners.

So go ahead Democrats, keep citing our rough relations with the French to criticize Bush. Even the French themselves know you're full of it.

(via InstaPundit)

Posted by B. Preston at 12:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


The Saudi connection to the Gitmo spy arrests.

The Pentagon is investigating a trip by 100 Muslim members of the U.S. armed forces for a pilgrimage to Mecca that was paid for by a Saudi charity accused of financing al Qaeda, The Post has learned.

The so-called "Hajj Tour" in March 2001 for Muslim servicemen and chaplains was organized by the Muslim World League, a major charity group financed in part by the Saudi royal family and which is dedicated to the spread of Wahhabism, the extreme form of Islam embraced by Osama bin Laden.

One of the chaplains who went on such a Saudi-funded trip is James Yee, arrested at Gitmo for allegedly spying for al Qaeda.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


In Japan.

Crimes committed by foreigners are often lumped together in reports. In actuality, however, the offenses are diverse, ranging from house burglaries and car theft to armed robbery and the illegal trafficking of guns and drugs. Last year foreigners in Japan accounted for about 35,000 criminal cases and about 16,000 arrests. These figures are the highest on record, exceeding last year's statistics by about 4,000 cases and roughly 1,600 arrests.


About half of the foreign criminals in Japan are said to have entered the country illegally. It is also believed that there are many cases in which foreigners enter Japan nominally, for example, to study at a Japanese-language school and then become involved in crime. To staunch the illegal inflow of foreigners at ports of entry, it is essential to strengthen ties between the police and immigration authorities domestically and to bolster cooperation with related countries.

According to the annual white paper, Chinese account for more than one-third of the criminal cases perpetrated by foreigners in Japan, followed by Brazilians, Turks and South Koreans.

How shocking--people who move about illegally and lie to gain entry end up committing crimes. We're not the only country that seems to have this problem.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


In Maryland, DC and Virginia, one year ago today.

Long before John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were accused of teaming up to carry out an insidious killing rampage that left 13 dead, their relationship began with an unusual trade on a small Caribbean island.

Malvo's mother, desperate to leave Antigua and reach the United States but unable to pay for the forged travel documents needed to get there, offered her son to Muhammad as collateral. The money, she promised, would come later.

Muhammad took the deal - and held onto the boy.

"She didn't pay him in full for the documents," said John Fuller, an Antiguan lawyer who investigated Muhammad and Malvo's dealings on the island for the attorney general there. "John Muhammad went to visit her in Florida and said he was holding onto the kid until he was paid."

Lee Malvo was chattel in an immigration scam, turned into a killer while he was held as human collateral.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


This story sounds too good to be true, but I'm hopeful:

Kuwaiti security authorities have foiled an attempt to smuggle $60 million worth of chemical weapons and biological warheads from Iraq to an unnamed European country, a Kuwaiti newspaper said on Wednesday. The pro-Government Al-Siyassah, quoting an unnamed security source, said the suspects had been watched by security since they arrived in Kuwait and were arrested "in due time." It did not say when or how the smugglers entered Kuwait or when they were arrested.

Dow Jones News also had this story earlier today, but behind a subscription firewall so I couldn't read it in full or link it. But it's an interesting story, and if it pans out quite a few Dems and media types will look very foolish. Which they'll undoubtedly shrug off like Ted Kennedy slipping out of a sinking car, never looking back.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Well I think it's fair to say that Rush Limbaugh is having a bad week. The most serious situation for him--the drug allegation--hasn't hit the net as of this writing, so I'm obviously reserving any take on that until I've read the details. But I'm skeptical, so say the least. It's well known that lots of folks around the country would love nothing better than to see Rush ripped apart, so there could be all sorts of things at work to bring this story to light now.

As for the McNabb situation, Rush has already resigned over it. Which is a shame, because he didn't say anything that several others in the media haven't been saying. Not the exact words, but the general thrust. The difference is, he's Rush Limbaugh, one of the most targeted men in America.

An example. This week, the Baltimore Orioles fired Manager Mike Hargrove. Personally I think it was a terrible decision--Grover is a class act and a great manager. He just wasn't given much talent to work with, thanks in large part to the inept Sid Thrift and the Orioles terrible owner, Peter Angelos. But Grover's out, and now the Orioles are shopping around for a new guy. They started talking up three candidates to the media, two white and one black. Angelos indicated in an interview that he's leaning toward one of the candidates, who happens to be white. WBAL radio and others immediately leap to the conclusion that that candidate is a lock, and that the interviews with the others are formalities to placate Major League Baseball. The O's wanted to make sure and get a black candidate in for a sit-down, just to keep up appearances, or so gossiped the local media. Apparently teams have reason to fear that if they don't at least interview a black candidate, the league will criticize or even fine them.

It's not a crazy notion. The Detriot Lions were shopping around for a coach prior to the beginning of this football season. Well, shopping around is inaccurate--they wanted to hire Steve Mariucci, fired after last season by the San Francisco 49ers. They went out and hired him, without interviewing anyone else, because they wanted him and his ideas to turn their hapless team around. But because the Lions didn't interview a minority candidate for the job, the NFL fined them. That's affirmative action run amok, in one of the last meritocracies in the country.

As for what Rush said, he said a) that Donovan McNabb (QB for the Eagles) is overrated, and that b) many in the media and the league want him to succeed because he's a black QB. Now, I would disagree with the first statement. McNabb got off to a lousy start this season but he's a good QB--one of the most dangerous in the league because he can run or pass, and usually makes good decisions with the ball. He always finds a way to make the Dallas defense look like their feet are in cement, which I find personally detestable in an opposing QB but, I must say, admirable as well--Dallas' defense isn't big but it's very speedy. If McNabb had a better recieving corps he would be nearly unstoppable. But Rush's second statement may well be true--I'd say the league at least may want to see McNabb succeed in part because he's black. The reason is that the league has been shaken down by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton over the last couple of years, who demand more black coaches and high-profile people throughout the league or they'll scream "racism" and proceed to extort large sums of cash in exchange for their silence. That's how these guys operate--it's how Jesse Jackson makes his lavish living. When was the last time he actually pastored a church?

The NFL is not racist, and neither is MLB. Black coaches have come and gone in both, and done well. But both leagues fear the two race-hustling black preachers, and with good reason. As for the media, well, sports reporters are notoriously some of the most politically correct writers around. No kidding. So it's hardly a stretch to say that some of them may see some racial advantage to the success of black QBs like McNabb, or Daunte Culpepper or Quincy Carter or any of the other four starting QBs in the NFL. Now, we all should be past all this, and the fans of the sport (fans like Rush Limbaugh) are past this whole black QB thing. It's the NFL that apparently can't be color blind, and many sports reporters may be hung up on it too. Especially in Philly, where McNabb is a messianic figure destined to lead the Eagles to the promised land. It's pretty much impossible to prove, though, and Rush should have known that anything he said on the air along these lines would get him in soooo much trouble. Therefore, saying what he said was unwise. But it wasn't racist.

Nevertheless, the buzzards are circling around him tonight. His brief ESPN career is dead. I'm sure some of you out there are happy about it. You probably won't like it very much when political correctness bites you on the backside, so when it does, remember the glee you felt when it got someone you didn't like. It won't make you feel any better, and that's exactly what you deserve--a small cup of bitterness.

And one last note. When the Dixie Chicks stood on foreign soil and denounced the President, they paid for it--with lost record sales, lost airplay, hurt fans, and so forth. But they're still famous, still selling records, and charting a new course to the rock scene. Meanwhile they continue whining to everyone that their freedom of speech has been violated because many people didn't like what they said and took a very mild action to protest. Many of you on the left agreed with them, that their freedom of speech had been violated.

Rush said something that was misunderstood, and now he's out of a job.

So having that set of facts in our back pockets, would you agree that Rush's free speech rights have been violated? Would you step up to defend him the way you defended the Dixie Chicks? Why or why not?

UPDATE: Here is the New York Newsday story on Rush's alleged drug abuse. I must say that it looks bad for Rush. If the story is correct, he became addicted to a slew of painkillers while under a doctor's care, and continued abusing them long after his prescription ran out. That's not uncommon--NFL QB Brett Favre went through the same thing, as have a number of athletes and scads of Hollywood stars. But thus far, we have only the informant's side of the story--it's possible that she's making the whole thing up, or something else is going on. Curiously, Newsday claims it has verified that Limbaugh is under investigation in Palm Beach County, Florida, but also says that the local authorities will neither confirm nor deny that any investigation is underway. So how did Newsday "confirm" it? Does Wilma Cline, the housekeeper turned informant, have some hard evidence here? The Newsday story suggests that she does, proffering what it says is the text of an email in which Rush demands that she obtain more drugs for him.

Rush will have to address this on his show today. I don't see any way around that. And if he has committed any crimes, he'll have to pay the price for it. Rush's bad week appears to be getting worse.

UPDATE II: NRO has an interesting article on the subject today, fwiw.

UPDATE III: I like Rush. He is a brilliant entertainer who never abuses his power, and who single-handedly saved AM radio from extinction. I hope he weathers this storm. He is by all accounts a decent man, falsely accused on a daily basis of doing things that, were they true, would still pale in comparison to things done by at least one Democrat currently running for President. Has Rush ever ruined a man's life by getting him railroaded on false rape charges? Has Rush ever incited a riot that ended up killing 8 people? No. But an accepted member of the Democrat family has done both, yet is embraced by that increasingly despicable party. That same party boasts a former Klansman and an unrepentant member of MEChA, the Chicano separatist student group, among other assorted nut jobs, and is already planning to thwart democracy should the California recall not break their way. So when they complain about Rush, I ignore them. They have a massive beam in their own eyes compared to the speck that may or not be in Rush's.

So I hope Rush survives this.

And though I like McNabb as a person and player, I simply despise (in a football way) the Philadelphia Eagles. I became a Raider fan for the sole reason that they prevented the Eagles from winning the Super Bowl once. I will continue to cheer for them to lose each and every Sunday, unless by winning they inadvertently help the Cowboys, whether their QB is white, black or purple with pink stripes. I just don't like the Eagles.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:14 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

October 01, 2003


I'm sure they were just sight-seeing:

PLYMOUTH — Three men caught with camera equipment on the grounds surrounding the nuclear power plant were arrested and interrogated by federal and local authorities.

The trio, who police say came to the United States as teenagers from Iran, were spotted at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station Saturday morning walking along a restricted beach near the plant. They were arrested on trespassing charges. The men told authorities they were hiking.

Nothing sinister about this at all:

The men told authorities they were touring Plymouth, he said. "They said they like to hike and they were hiking along the shore," he said.

Fariborz Motamedi, 42, of 23 Panettieri Drive, Lakeville; Amir M. Lashgari, 41, of 2001 Marina Drive, Quincy, and Hamid H. Ahmadi, 49, of 7 Brahman Drive, Norton, were arrested, charged and later released after extensive questioning by authorities.

Attempts to reach the three men this morning were unsuccessful.

A phone number listed to Motamedi in Taunton was disconnected and there was no listing for him in Lakeville. There was no phone listing for Ahmadi in Norton. The number of Lashgari in Quincy was nonpublished.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:05 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Welcome back. I had no idea who he really was.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 30, 2003


Data graphs are becoming something of a hobby/occupation of mine. I have to make them once in a while for work, I frequently have to edit graphs made by others for clarity and content, and I've taken the Edward Tufte class where he trashes PowerPoint (hear! hear!), and is rumored to smash overhead projectors, all in the name of getting graphic artists to think about what they're doing and why they're doing it.

When you make a data graph, you're trying to communicate something--numbers, a trend, a stance or even suggest a course of action. With that in mind, take a look at the following graphs, #1 and #2 (right-click to open them and look at them, but stay here to follow my analysis).

Both graphs are intended to say something about the conduct of the war in Iraq, and whether or not it is succeeding. Neither is, in my opinion, particularly useful scientifically, but pure science isn't really their purpose. They both want to be scientific, but neither actually is: They're both just different ways of counting our war dead, in war that is yet ongoing. And neither takes Afghanistan into account, or includes the dead of 9-11 who are every bit as much casualties of the war as any soldier killed in combat.

But they're very different graphs. Graph #1 starts high, then troughs, then peaks back up before going back down. Graph #2 starts from a zero point, then just goes up in a more or less smooth curve. What are the artists trying to say with these graphs?

Graph #1 is by Dale Amon. Here's his explanation:

The graph is rather striking in its clarity. There are three phases visible. March and April are quite obviously the period of major combat. The second is May; combat deaths plummet to almost nothing while the accident rates skyrocket. The third period is one of minor combat. Accident rates fall drastically but combat deaths climb to a minor peak before tailing off slowly. At present the combat death rate is running an almost insignificant amount over the accident rate.

My interpretation of the graph is:

March and April are clearly the period of major combat.

May is a postcombat month. Remnants of the regime are dispersed and disorganized. There are a lot of dangerous ordinance laying about. Soldiers are tired, ease up slightly and have more accidents because of it.

June through the present is a period of low intensity conflict. One can read the state of the opposing forces in the short-lived secondary peak followed by a long tail off. That tail-off is their journey into oblivion.

It will be interesting to see if the end comes with a bang or a whimper. One could imagine a last desperate and suicidal offensive by the remaining Saddamites. Alternatively, if Saddam is calling the shots and is taken out of the picture the remnants might just quit and go elsewhere. The most likely scenario - in my opinion - is an exponential tail-off in as the remnant forces are killed or captured.

In other words, Dale hopes to "prove" that we're winning the war, by showing that combat deaths are, perhaps temporarily or perhaps permanently, on the decline. It's clear from his language that he wants us to win; his graph intends to lend hope to other who agree with him and change the minds of those who don't.

Graph #2 is by Ed Stephan. Here's his explanation:

Remember how they showed a counter every night while US hostages were being held in Iran? Here's the chart I'd like to see on the nightly news these days. The URLs on the chart and the two events indicated by dots on the line are hyperlinked - just click them.

That's it. He has hyperlinked to the stories depicted on the graph, though to what purpose isn't clear. Linking to the stories merely proves that the events happened, not that they had any actual impact on the war or number of dead. He also links to the names of the dead, which is handy but does not add to the overall appeal or usefulness of the graphic itself. As for the graph, it starts from a zero point and counts the dead. That's all it does--you can't really see anything else in the graph itself. He has to circle the major dates, such as the close of major combat and President Bush's "bring 'em on" challenge, because the graph itself doesn't show them clearly, though they're important to the artist. You could argue that major combat ends when the slope angle changes, but without the "Mission Accomplished" label that he helpfully added, you'd be guessing. Dale's graph, on the other hand, visually shows you where major combat in Iraq ended because there's a significant drop in the casualty rate that corresponds to it. Even without dates applied, Dale's graph is far clearer.

Neither graph is really scientifically valid until the war is over and we have a final count of the dead. Dale's graph may, by then, show lots of zigs and zags as the war enters different phases of combat. Ed's graph, on the other hand, is predictable. The dead will remain dead; more will be added; his graph will go up and up and up until the war ends. But body counts only tell part of the story in any war. US troops killed vastly more Viet Cong soldiers than the VC's killed US GIs, and the US troops never lost a single battle in the field--yet lost the war. Any data graph based on either Dale's or Ed's model would be unlikely to show how this could occur, because the war was lost in the White House and on America's streets.

What is each artist saying in the way he interprets and presents the same data?

Here's my analysis, based on the tone and presentation. Dale wants us to win, and wants the data to show that we are winning by showing that the death rate is slowing. Ed either doesn't want us to win, or doesn't care one way or the other, as his focus is primarily on generating opposition to the war. That's why he's counting the dead in a way that will force the line to always go up. It will look worse than a trend line showing a slowing death trend via peaks and valleys.

Dale's graph is on his site, and is touted at InstaPundit, and elsewhere, largely because likeminded people agree with his premise if not his science. We want to defend the nation and win the war. Ed's graph is touted--you saw it coming--at Democrats.com. It's their masthead graphic as of tonight. What does this say about them?

"We're winning" vs "we're losing." "We want the data to represent victory" vs "we want the data to illustrate a quagmire." Which graph is more honest? Which is more useful? Which is more supportive of the effort to defeat terrorism?

And what would you guess is the agenda of a person who touts one graph as opposed to the other?

Posted by B. Preston at 10:54 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


I see from the tenor of comments discussions and from some of the folks who've recently linked the JYB that my most recent posts have upset more than a few people.


It's all about priorities. Is it more important to you that we win the war or that a certain political either retain or recapture political power? Or does the question make no sense to you, because for one reason or another you reject the premise that either we're at war or that we should be? A patriot will answer one way, some who is less patriotic will answer another way. The answer is telling, and it's not difficult to see how people will answer the question.

One way is to simply ask the question, but you're likely to get a politically correct answer if you just ask in a straightforward way (which is one reason I don't trust polls too much--I was once goaded by a pollster who didn't like the way I answered any of his questions, and he tried to guide me to the "right" answers. I suspect this goes on quite a bit). Another way is just to read what someone writes, either in comments or on their own blogs, since everyone has a blog nowadays. If they spend more time proactively chronicling the war from the point of view of stopping terrorism or examining security or the like, chances are they are objectively interested in keeping the nation secure. That's a patriot. If they spend more time proactively criticizing a majority of the steps the country has taken to win the war, they're either not satisfied that the war is being led in a serious way, or they're interested in scoring political points, or they simply don't believe in either the war or the nation's right to defend itself. Or they're engaged in some sort of conspiracy theory and have set out to prove it. I would say that of the latter groups, the first person is likely a patriot--they want to win the war, but aren't satisfied that it's being waged seriously or in a way that will lead to victory. I find myself in that category quite a bit. The others--I'd say their love of country is open to question. If their politics are more important to them than the overall chance of victory in the war, they're obectively less than a full patriot, and the scale slides downward as the descriptions progress. The last is a loon, a group that seems to be growing both in numbers and influence by the day. One exception would be a full pacifist, who has a cause and wants the rest of us to buy into it. Such a person can be a patriot, or not--it depends on his reasoning and in which direction he casts the majority of his ire and support.

I've been writing these posts to try and get some people to think, as well as simply to lay out what I think are legitimate questions regarding that newly minted third rail of American politics, the question of patriotism. Think hard about whom you criticize, and why you criticize them. What's your motivation? Are you doing the nation good or harm, or neither? American politics once famously ended at the water's edge; foreign policy, matters of war and peace and enemies and friends, were once largely matters of consensus. Vietnam shredded that ideal, permanently it seems. We're now in a war that started, for most of us, when terrorists killed thousands on a cloudless day on our own soil. For most of us, the need to defend ourselves has remained obvious ever since. For some, things are less clear. I hope in making some people mad I've clarified a thing or two, or at least given them someone new to hate.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I've written many times in this space that the radical left political group Democrats.com is not a fringe organization, and taken some heat for that occassionally. They look like a fringe group, promoting movies and books that accuse the President of masterminding 9-11, of shooting down Flight 93, etc, and they infallibly side with America's antagonists when the chips are down.

Well, today, thanks my membership on Dems.com's email list, I got a message from a certain duo by the names of James Carville and Paul Begala. Ever heard of them? They are of course the very definition of Democrat insiders, both veterans of the Clinton White House (as is one of Dems.com's founders). They used Dems.com's mailing list to accuse the President of the usual--wrecking the economy, shredding the Constitution, lying resulting in dying in Iraq, nothing new. The email was a co-release from Carville, Begala and Bob Fertik, one of Dems.com's co-founders. The email's aim is to retake the White House next year, and they need to raise $200,000 by midnight tonight or their party will look bad when it has to disclose that it can't raise anywhere near the cash that the GOP can (thanks mostly to small donations, making the GOP the more grassroots party, btw). They sound like Oral Roberts in his infamous call for cash or God would kill him.

But that's not really the important thrust of this post. It's only reasonable that the Dems want money to unseat GWB. But Dems.com is not far removed from the DemocraticUnderground--it promotes all sorts of vile nonsense. In associating themselves with Dems.com, insiders Carville and Begala have associated themselves with the worst of the left. They have acknowledged irresponsible radicals as fellow travelers.

No surprise there either, but it does back up my charge that Dems.com is not fringe, but mainstream within the party. Radical and hateful, but unfortunately not fringe. The Democrats themselves are radicalized, and will push any kooky angle to damage Bush, and will ally with just about anyone they think will help them. Ever heard of ANSWER? I wouldn't be surprised to find a link between that outfit and Dems.com--in fact, Dems.com has promoted protests that ANSWER has organized.

So why's all this important?

Democrats.com infallibly sides with anyone opposed to President Bush. They sided with Chirac at the UN. They sided with Rep. Cynthia McKinney when she hinted that Bush knew about 9-11 beforehand. They side with any critic no matter how unreasonable, radical, or tinged with hate. They seem to think America had 9-11 coming, too. Even though they also think President Bush planned it. Coherence isn't their strongest attribute. They also think Iraq is a quagmire after a few months, though they're silent on Kosovo four years into that mission.

Recently, Dems.com sided with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Hugo Chavez, a dictator in waiting, has apparently sided with al Qaeda.

Democrat readers, this is why we on the right question your patriotism. You side with people who either are our enemies, or who support our enemies. And you do it without apology, and you don't care as long as your actions damage a certain man named George. But far be it from us to challenge your patriotism. It seems to me your whining amounts to hiding behind the flag.

You elect Congressmen who fawn over Fidel Castro. Castro, to refresh your memory, nearly hosted Soviet nuclear missiles aimed at the US. He has supported Communist insurgents and governments throughout the hemisphere. You elect and support Senators who think Osama bin Laden has a better humanitarian track record than the United States. Your Senators accused President Bush of hatching the Iraq war to boost his poll ratings and enrich his friends (I see some of you nodding in agreement--you still buy that crap). Do I need to spell out how bad this is? And you sling mud at your countrymen instead of firing even an occassional shot at terrorists.

Stop siding with anti-American zealots, and we'll stop questioning your patriotism. Deal?

Posted by B. Preston at 05:18 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack


I agree 100% percent with the conclusion to this InstaPundit post:

Forget Valerie Plame, the big scandal is why anyone in the Bush Administration would ever have tasked a guy with Wilson's views with an important mission.

Wilson is a Clintonista, pretty much. A liberal Dem and thus (in nearly all liberal Dems these days) living with an utter moral blindness, a taste for high spin and the complete inability to distinguish from carefully targeted air campaigns against enemy formations and, say, firebombing entire cities. Oh, and an unfortunate tendency to blame the Jews for everything bad in the Middle East. The kind of people who may have known that Edward Said's ideas animated terrorism, but did't care as long as Said was fashionable and his ideas just resulted in killing Jews somewhere on the other side of the sea. The average Dean supporter, in other words.

As I've written before, winning this war is not only good for us from a safety standpoint, but may actually hasten the end of the concept of total war. You'd think peaceniks would favor that. But you'd be wrong, since the guy leading the charge happens to hail from the wrong political party.

But I digress. Wilson is an outspoken opponent of administration policy, yet the administration hired him for a sensitive job anyway. This administration doesn't know who its friends are, and I'd say the same for the country generally. We don't know who our real friends are, or don't care. We suck up to the inept and corrupt French who stab us in the back to prop up dictators, ignoring the friendlier, stronger and more reasonable Japanese who have been among our most trusted allies over the past couple of decades. Why? France is a declining power that must weild its vestigial UN veto and Euroclout in order to make the world less safe. Japan is an economic powerhouse that sees the war the war we do, and is prepared to fight right alongside us. Why are we still sucking up to one while ignoring the other? It must come down to cultural bias.

Heads should roll in the Bush team, for hiring someone unfit for the delicate task put to him. The administration needs to take stock of its friends, supporters, opponents and enemies--and deal with them all as such. No more movie nights with Ted Kennedy until that bloated, mistress-drowning drunk stops accusing the president of hatching mass murder. No more capitulations on every wedge issue under the sun to buy a nanosecond of domestic peace. And for heaven's sake, veto something, Mr. President. It'll feel good.

And acknowledge countries like Japan that stick their necks out for us in a tough region. They're our friends now; the French haven't been for a generation. It's time we figured this out and moved on.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:03 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

September 29, 2003


The terrorist army seems to be regrouping, putting together a navy and trying to get its hands on weapons capable of levelling a city. North Korea, a terrorist-aligned state guilty of kidnapping citizens of neighboring countries and launching test missiles over them, taunts the world with the possibility that it may have nuclear weapons. Iran is marching toward acquiring nukes--it sought uranium as recently (or as far back) as 1999. Iran, needless to say, has long aligned itself with terrorists and their anti-civilized causes.

Two years ago, the world slept while terrorists plotted the murder of thousands and the beginning of worldwide jihad. They succeeded beyond their foulest dreams, and 3,000 were vaporized.

Today, we're winning the war against the terrorists but throwing away the victory on pettiness. While our armies crush terrorist states and hunt down terror masterminds and footsoldiers alike--existential necessities--we argue over nothing. Did a White House operative leak the name of a well-known CIA agent to a columnist? Did the British government "sex up" its dossier on Iraq? Did the president retreat to Texas to cook up a weapons case against Iraq (which predated his administration by about a decade) to boost his poll numbers?

Have we lost our minds?

If the times were serious, if we were a country unified and dedicated to eliminating an imminent threat, we would not be having these arguments. But we are--we're bickering while the world burns.

Though the sages said that the age of irony died on 9-11, irony still remains supreme. It's ironic that if you were to bring an 18th or 19th or even early 20th Century person to the average American neighborhood in the present day, that person would likely determine that he had landed in Utopia. We have our problems, but consider what else we have. The average American can get information about literally anything without ever leaving his house. He can look for a new house, order up a meal in nearly any cuisine, find a job, download a whole library of classics, without doing much more than twitching his fingers. He can get in a machine that will take him to work or play, and he can get on another machine that will take him just about anywhere in the world. Our poor today--and we have them--own microwave ovens and cars and color TVs. Many of them own computers more powerful than anything the US government had a few decades ago.

Our medical technology is expensive, but prolongs our lives. Most forms of cancer are treatable, a few can be cured outright. AIDS, the scourge of a couple of decades ago, is in retreat in our country. We have drugs to treat it. We can alleviate most types of suffering with a few pills, and can make the unattractive beautiful with a pile of money and a few skillful moves of a plastic surgeon.

Our civilization sends machines out to the far reaches of the solar system, because we've figured out how to do it and because we can collectively afford it. We've been to the moon, and we've landed robots on Venus and Mars. We'll soon send one into Saturn's atmosphere and onto one of its moons. We build machines that stare at the far edges of the cosmos, and we'll soon see the moment when stars first started to shine.

When we fight wars, we fight them with a skill that borders on the miraculous. We could destroy whole countries if we chose to, but we don't. Instead we target enemy armies from space-based cameras that can see through dust storms and can use a soldier's body heat against him if he's hiding in a blizzard. We can destroy an entire column of tanks, yet leave the neighborhood they're using for cover largely untouched. We fight our wars in other countries more often than not, so wars have little impact on the average American's way of life.

We don't like to fight wars, but we do have much to fight for. Freedom, the closest thing to equality under the law the world has yet known, the right to life, liberty and the rest. We have more to lose than any of our forebears ever did, yet we seem to be losing the will to fight.

A 19th Century person transplanted to our time would reasonably conclude that he had been sent to an unimaginably happy place, full of miracles and relatively free of pain.

Yet we're torn apart by petty feuds fueled by big ideas. We grant rights to animals yet slaughter our unborn, having destroyed the concept of man as anything other than the most vicious and wasteful animal to rise from the primordial soup. We erase our borders, leaving them so porous that illegal aliens can come here, stay here, and live off our largesse. Having largely made man's existence a life of leisure, we are no longer capable of taking anything serious seriously. When killers blast our countrymen, we get mad for a short while, hunt down a few of the culprits, then turn on each other again. Some argued that we should do nothing, even then. While a terrorist army regroups and stalks us, we fight over the meanest things. We fight over obvious lies and glaring truths.

We can fight wars half a world away with incredible precision, sparing innocents while targeting regimes led by madmen, yet we carp at our leaders, carp at their plans, carp endlessly that the world doesn't conform to some twisted Polyanna heaven. We can transform two countries from brutal dictatorships to seedling democracies with minimal loss of life to any but our bloodthirsty enemies, yet we as a society take no joy in liberating others, leave no time to savor victories. We just carp.

A quarter? a third? half? of the country has already fogotten what happened two years ago. Of that group, some percentage either thought we had it coming or thought we should in now way respond to the threat that faced us. Some of them thought we faced a law enforcement problem, not an act of war. Their numbers are growing, or seem to be, as the press beats the drums of defeat in the face of our repeated wins.

We're coming unhinged. We may throw away the lives of our soldiers and throw away their wins to satisfy the ravings of a growing lunatic fringe.

In Vietnam, a war which the anti-war left love to compare to our present one, Americans never lost a single battle. Yet our leadership never had the heart to win, and the nation eventually followed. We lost that war. We could still lose this one in the same way.

Losing Vietnam wounded our psyche and left millions of Vietnames in Communist bondage, but did not endanger the average American. We will not be so lucky if we forfeit this war.

Posted by B. Preston at 07:15 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack


Terrorists would never take on a pilot like this.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


According to various intelligence groups, Al Qaeda has a 15-ship navy out there somewhere.

Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network has purchased at least 15 ships in the last two years – creating, perhaps, the first terrorist naval force, reports Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

Lloyds of London has reportedly helped Britain's MI6 and the U.S. CIA trace the sales made through a Greek shipping agent suspected of having direct contacts with bin Laden, the online intelligence newsletter reported.

The ships fly the flags of Yemen and Somalia – where they are registered – and are capable of carrying cargoes of lethal chemicals, a "dirty bomb" or even a nuclear weapon, according to G2 Bulletin's sources. British and U.S. officials worry that one or more of these ships could hit civilian ports on a suicide mission.

We're still at war.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack