October 24, 2003

GOOD BLOGS

How many blogs are there out there now, five, six trillion? One for every man, woman, child and goat who have ever lived?

Maybe not that many, but there are an awful lot of them. There are so many that it's impossible to read them all, and to be honest, not all of them are worth reading. And, it's hard finding new ones that are worth reading, simply because it's hard to sift through the noise to get a good signal. I use all kinds of tools--InstaPundit, Blogdex, Popdex, etc--to find new stuff, but they're imperfect instruments. Using the Technorati Link Cosmos I accidentally stumbled into one the other night that I might charitably describe as the highly uninteresting tale of a swinger trying to get some chick in the sack, while he was out on a date or something with some other person. Believe me, it's less interesting than I've made it sound.

But there are lots of quality blogs out there that never seem to get the Instalink but are great nevertheless. They're characterized by good writing, some wit, clearly articulated thought based on a set of actual facts and solid first principles, and I don't know, they just make you want to keep reading. They're just good.

This blog, which will remain the JunkYardBlog for the forseeable future, isn't the biggest blog in the world but it isn't the smallest either. We do get traffic from all over the world (shouts out to you Italian and Dutch readers!). To the extent that it's possible, I'd like to draw attention to other blogs that deserve some, so I'm starting a haphazard and poorly thought through little promotional item called "Good Blogs." If you have a blog or know of one that by all appearances isn't getting the attention it deserves, send me a link. Tell me what you like about it, or if it's yours, what's good about it. Don't be shy. It doesn't have to be one that aligns with my religious or political philosophy--it just has to be good. If I like what I read, I'll make it a Good Blog. It'll get a post here, and a link over on the right. I'd like to do a couple of these a month.

As an example, the first Good Blog is one I've highlighted and linked to before, and in fact it already has a link on the right, but is always worth a read. A. M. Siriano is simply a killer writer. His site includes a blog as well as poetry and very well-written commentary. Unlike some bloggers (ahem), he always thinks before he writes and posts. If you haven't been there before, go now and spend a little time there. You won't regret it--it's a Good Blog.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:05 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

YOU DON'T STILL THINK IRAQ HAD PRE-911 TIES TO AL QAEDA, DO YOU?

If you do, then this story will probably bolster that belief:

"An Iraqi officer (L) [only identified by initial] tells us that one day a Land Cruiser belonging to the Personal Security Force (Al-Amn Al-Khass, responsible for the protection of Saddam Hussein) arrived and a senior officer from the Presidential Palace stepped out of it. He was one of those officers who used to stand behind Saddam, which means that he was one of [his] personal bodyguards. After a two-hour meeting with a select group of officers at the Special Forces School, we were informed that we would have dear guests, and that we should train them very well in a high level of secrecy - not to allow anyone to approach them or to talk to them in any way, shape, or form.

"A few days later, about 100 trainees arrived. They were a mixture of Arabs, Arabs from the Peninsula [Saudi Arabia], Muslim Afghans, and other Muslims from various parts of the world. They were divided into two groups, the first one went to Al-Nahrawan and the second to Salman Pak, and this was the group that was trained to hijack airplanes. The training was under the direct supervision of major general (M. DH. L) [only identified by initials] who now serves as a police commander in one of the provinces. Upon the completion of the training most of them left Iraq, while the others stayed in the country through the last battle in Baghdad against the coalition forces."

Salman Pak was that Iraqi training camp near Baghdad that had an airplane fuselage set up for...something. I wonder what?

This was circa July, 2001. Interesting.

(link via Low Earth Orbit)

Posted by B. Preston at 01:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

AN EXPLANATION FOR THE BIG BLACKOUT?

Hmmm...

SPOKANE - The Federal Bureau of Investigation began searching Thursday for a Spokane Valley man allegedly seen removing bolts from transmission towers in northern California and in southern Oregon.

The FBI's Sacramento, Calif. office issued a federal arrest warrant for 62-year-old Michael Devlyn Poulin of Spokane for the attempted sabotage of power lines at four separate locations in Oregon and California.

That's from a story on KREM-TV's website (requires free but onerous registration).

"It's my opinion this is a domestic terrorism act by the very nature of what this individual was trying to do," said Anderson Police Chief Neil Purcell. "If all four legs were unhooked from their base and we had any sizable velocity wind, that tower would go over."

On Monday, three electricians driving by a high-voltage tower near Interstate 5 in Anderson called 911 after a man they saw near the tower ran from them when they approached. Eighteen bolts had been removed from legs of the tower.

There's a picture of him on the site--he looks like a younger POed Grizzly Adams without the charming bear sidekick. His acts (a man matching his description was seen doing similar things at another tower) could cause blackouts if he isn't stopped:

The tower in Anderson is part of a 17,000-mile network of wires in 15 states, said Western Area Power Administration spokeswoman LaVerne Kyriss. Downing a tower wouldn't cripple the system, Kyriss said, but the company is still ramping up patrols.

And the plot thickens: He apparently has a long history of terroristic activities:

[A]ccording to California officials, Poulin was convicted in San Mateo in 1971-- during the height of the anti-war protests -- for "explosion of a destructive device which causes death, mayhem or great bodily injury." He served eight years in the California prison system before being released on parole in 1979.

Locally, Poulin was an active and outspoken member of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane. PJALS leader Rusty Nelson said Thursday that Poulin wanted to take more direct action in promoting his causes.

The Peace and Justice Action League (not to be confused with the plain old Justice League)has to be one of the most cynically named outfits on earth--during the Cold War it was a Soviet front. Peace and justice, my arse--they played footsie with Communist goons. Today, they're apparently just garden variety anti-war clowns. Or, given a history of aiding America's enemies...nah. They can't be pro-terrorist fifth column types can they? Nah. Unthinkable.

And guess what? I just know you'll be as shocked as I was to learn that the alleged power terrorist been critical of the war in Iraq:

Poulin was outspoken on a variety of issues relating particularly to the recent war in Iraq as well as US relations to Israel and the formation of a Palestinian state. He wrote numerous articles along with his ex-wife for the "Palestine Papers", an online collection of articles hosted on the Sonoma County Free Press Web site.

Stunning, I know. Say, you don't suppose that big unsolved blackout in the Northeast, and the London blackout, might have similar origins, do you?

Nah. Can't be.

(thanks to a razor-weilding reader named Occam for alerting me to this one)

Posted by B. Preston at 11:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

ONE MORE REASON NOT TO SEND YOUR KID TO DAY CARE

If you're one of the vast majority of Americans who farms your young 'uns out to be raised by strangers at the local day care, watch out: Your little tike might suffer a Hitchcockian mugging:

A one-year-old boy has been bitten 30 times by a group of more than a dozen other babies at a nursery in Croatia.

Frane Simic was covered in a series of deep bite wounds all over his body, including his face.

He was attacked after the class nanny stepped out of the room to change another baby's nappy.

Maybe this is more of a Monty Python-style deal, with babies instead of bunnies. Whatever the heck it is, it's disturbing. Apparently the cops are looking into the whole thing, which seems pointless. What are they going to do--toss a dozen babies into the clink?

(link thanks to reader James G. and the Spoons Experience [which kind of sounds like a late 60s bubblegum act])

Posted by B. Preston at 10:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

THOSE LOVABLE TALIBAN

Next time some leftwingnut compares President Bush or any Republican to the Taliban, toss them this story:

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The ousted hardline Taliban militia has threatened to kill Afghan women working for foreign non-government organizations, a Pakistan-based Afghan news agency said on Friday.

In a pamphlet to authorities and residents of eastern Laghman province, the Taliban said a jihad, or holy war, against American forces in Afghanistan was the duty of every Muslim.

It also warned Afghan drivers against carrying foreigners and their belongings on highways.

"Those women who are working with foreign NGOs will definitely suffer punishment of death," AIP quoted the recently distributed pamphlet as saying.

Nice guys--calling for jihadis to kill women working for charities. Real galant, these fascists.

And then there's these clowns:

Separately, another group calling itself Fedayeen-e-Islam ("those willing to give their lives for Islam") warned that it would target Islamic clerics who supported the U.S.-backed Afghan government, AIP reported.

The group sent a letter to newspapers in Peshawar, capital of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan, urging the clerics to seek forgiveness from the Afghan people or be prepared for attacks.

Maybe we should start calling our Special Forces "Those willing to assist those willing to give their lives for Islam."

(btw, Miss Afghanistan's a cutie)

Posted by B. Preston at 09:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 23, 2003

ROLLING THUNDER

Every once in a while I entertain the idea of changing the name of this here blog. Not because I don't like JunkYardBlog--I do--but because for some it creates the wrong mental impression. The first two words bring to mind old rusty pick-ups piled to the sky and dirty, surly attendants muttering "Yeah we got one of them" while they shiftily glance side to side and shuffle their feet. Not the impression I want to create.

The name JunkYardBlog, of course, is actually a spoof of junk yard dog, the idea being that we're watchdogs. That we attack whatever tries to jump the fence, and bite whatever tries to take something from us. I thought of it one morning in the shower, couldn't shake it, so when I brought the blog online, I christened it JunkYardBlog.

There's another angle to the meaning, though. When you think of a junk yard dog, no particular breed comes to mind. I suppose many are rottweilers and many may be pit bulls or shepherds or dobermans, but a junk yard dog doesn't need any special breeding or training. I don't come from any special background or have any fancy degrees on the wall. Unlike many bloggers who are big time law profs or established writers or well-heeled policy wonks, I'm just an average dude, a mutt. So JunkYardBlog seemed to work there, too.

Well, one of the possible new names that I can't shake is Rolling Thunder. It has a certain panache, a certain feel that seems alright. It doesn't roll off the tongue too badly, and to the extent that I make a lot of noise and the blog just keeps rolling on, it makes a certain sense.

But Rolling Thunder would be a terrible name for this blog. Operation Rolling Thunder was one of those successful military disasters of the Johnson era:

On 5 March, 1965, on orders from President Lyndon Johnson, the United States initiated a sustained campaign of aerial bombardment against North Vietnam under the code name ROLLING THUNDER. Less noticed, but of comparable military importance, U.S. air forces immediately thereafter started an air interdiction campaign, under the code names STEEL TIGER and TIGER HOUND, against the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the communist supply lines running from North to South Vietnam through southern Laos.

Hitting the enemy where he lives and plots against you? So far, so good.

Some of Johnson's advisor (sic) who were the staunchest backers of American commitment to South Vietnam questioned the military efficacy of air attacks on the north and were reluctant to pay the diplomatic price that these would inevitably entail. Others, less willing to pay a heavy price for South Vietnam's independence, saw American air power as a quick and politically inexpensive way out. The military commanders charged with planning and executing the attacks saw the problem from yet another perspective: given the American policy of preserving South Vietnam's independence and presidential willingness to bomb North Vietnam, they looked at the air offensive in classic military terms: How could air power most effectively influence the outcome of the war in the south? Like many of the President's civilian advisors, they started from the assumption that the war in the south would quickly wither away in the absence of reinforcement and replenishment from the North. They thus envisioned the air campaign as an attack on enemy sources of war materiel and on the lines of supply along which materiel and manpower moved south. To them, ROLLING THUNDER STEEL TIGER and TIGER HOUND were part and parcel of the same effort. To many of Johnson's senior civilian advisors, however, they were not. To Secretary of Defense McNamara, in particular, the purpose of ROLLING THUNDER was to deliver a message to North Vietnam.

Bombs as a kind of very loud email? Hey--knock off attacking the South, and we'll quit bombing you! Not good. And he was the SecDef.

By gradually increasing the pressure on the north, the United States would firmly, and in a controlled and precisely graduated manner, make it clear to Ho Chi Minh and his colleagues that a negotiated settlement was preferable to an increase in aerial destruction. At what point that final, decisive increase would come was uncertain, but there could be no doubt that come it would. America's overwhelming might left no doubt on that score.

Well we all know how it turned out. Might alone isn't sufficient; you actually have to do something productive with it. So off we go, into the Communist yonder without a real plan. Rolling Thunder wasn't so much a campaign as an idea for a campaign, a kind of marketing using the military. The North Vietnamese responded by upgrading their air defenses and deploying lots of MiGs, thanks to their masters in Moscow and Beijiing. Rolling Thunder wasn't quite the cakewalk that Johnson and McNamara expected.

So lesson one: Proxy wars are hard to win. We bled to futility in Korea because the Commies backed their Pyongyang proxies. We bled to futility in Vietnam for the same reason (among others). The USSR bled in Afghanistan because we gave them a little of their own medicine. We pounded the Taliban and Saddam's Iraq for lots of reasons, but one of the biggest is that neither had a superpower pulling strings from behind the curtain.

So the North Vietnamese strengthened their air defenses in response to Rolling Thunder. What did LBJ & Co do?

Washington's response to the strengthening North Vietnamese defenses was symptomatic of future responses. The President refused to permit attacks on the MiG airfields and rejected impassioned pleas from military commanders to attack the SAM sites before they could become operational

Stupid.

word went out that they were to be struck only if they fired on U.S. aircraft, apparently in vain hopes of a quid pro quo.

Assuming your enemy gives a fig about some kind of gentlemen's agreement? Stupid. It got some American pilots killed. Lesson two: Don't assume anything good about your wartime enemy. You don't have to create some propaganda campaign to convince Americans that the enemy eats babies, but you shouldn't assume that someone springing from an alien culture will get all the messages you're attaching to your bombers and fighters.

The Air Force and Navy eventually adapted, and started taking out the SAM sites. They also adjusted their tactics, and met with some successes. But Rolling Thunder still failed for several reasons:

The operational results of ROLLING THUNDER reflected the tension that existed between the success of military leaders in persuading President Johnson to permit attacks on targets they considered critical, many of them near Hanoi and Haiphong - power plants, manufacturing and POL (petroleum, oil and lubricants) facilities, railroad lines and key bridges - and the constraining effect of graduated escalation and the periodic bombing halts - there were no less than seven - that Johnson offered the North Vietnamese as an inducement to negotiate. Militarily, the high point of ROLLING THUNDER came in the summer of 1967 when Johnson overrode McNamara's objections and permitted stepped-up attacks in the Hanoi-Haiphong vicinity. On 11 August, F-105s attacked the Paul Doumer bridge crossing the Red River at Hanoi, severing the primary transportation link between Haiphong and the south. When the North Vietnamese returned it to operation in October, it was dropped again. Navy strikes on industrial and transportation targets kept up the pressure. From the vantage point of Washington, the attacks, while tactically successful, served mainly to produce adverse publicity, recalling the previous year's controversy over Harrison Salisbury's New York Times dispatches from North Vietnam which had accused the U.S. of deliberately attacking civilian targets thus fueling the protests of an increasingly robust anti-war movement. In fact, ROLLING THUNDER was having a serious effect on the north and John Colvin, British charge d'affaires in Hanoi, was later to report that the North Vietnamese transportation system and economy was close to systemic collapse.

Bingo! Perhaps Rolling Thunder is why today's press has gone so negative on Iraq. They figure since they stopped Johnson's war with bad and erroneous press, maybe they can do it again this time around. Just keep up a steady stream of relentlessly negative stories and they'll accumulate in the collective public mind into built-up hostility toward the war. And is anyone surprised that it came from the New York Times? Can't say that I am.

Lesson three: Don't trust the press. Just don't. Fact check 'em. Constantly.

So anyway, indecisive political leadership, idiotic hand-wringing decision-making, giving a nasty enemy too much of a benefit of a doubt, and worrying about bad press combined to make Operation Rolling Thunder largely a men-and-materiel success but a political-military failure. So this blog won't adopt Rolling Thunder as its name.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:56 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

PROTESTS AND THE PRESS

President Clinton visited Australia in November of 1996. CNN noted the red-carpet treatment he received; Reuters noted his speech about the threats of AIDS and drug trafficking, helpfully adding that Thailand (which Clinton visited on the same Asian swing) had recently cracked down on the heroin trade. Neither story mentions anything about anyone protesting Clinton's visit. The story titles were "Clinton's Pacific tour begins in Australia" and "Clinton Seeks to 'Work Together' with Asia" respectively. Bland, if slightly positive in the latter.

Was his visit protested by anyone? Of course it was. No US President of any political persuasion can travel abroad without sparking some sort of protest. I lived in Japan when he visited around that same time; his trip was a rousing success in a number of ways, and the Japanese are generally positive about their relationship with us and liked Clinton, yet there were small-scale protests around Tokyo. It's not difficult to find enough anti-US agitators or anti-globos or nationalists or pro-whatevers in any country of any size to protest when the leader of the free world visits. Australia is obviously no exception. Clinton faced small-scale protests there; no big deal. He even got heckled by a member of the Australian parliament when he delivered a speech before it. No big deal. It goes with the job.

Well, flash forward to today. President Bush visited Australia this week. How did the press treat it? Here's the Reuters headline:

Bush Heckled in Australia as He Defends Iraq War

Protesters numbering in the 1 to 2k range protested him here and there, and the same parliamentarian that heckled Clinton back in 1996 heckled Bush. Big whoop. But if all you read is the headline, you're likely to get the impression he faced something unique, that only happened as a result of his Iraq policies. Which is misleading.

Now, I'm not making a big deal out of this. The Reuters piece about Bush's visit does contain the little nugget about Clinton's heckling, and even has Bush batting down the heckler quickly and effectively (no word about how Clinton handled him). It would've been helpful in include the heckler in the Clinton coverage when it occurred, or leave it out altogether, but instead Reuters chose to ignore it in one instance while inserting it into the headline in the other.

Most people just scan headlines on their way to clicking on a story that they actually want to read. If all I read about Bush's visit is the Reuters headline on my way to looking up some NFL stats or something, I will click away with the mistaken impression that the Aussies turned out en masse to pester and perturb the President, or at the very least that he met up with some opponent who flummoxed him in public. And that's probably exactly what the headline writer intended.

The rules seem to work like this: Protest a President that they like, and they'll ignore or downplay it. Protest one that they don't like, and they'll give it prominent play. It's a subtle form of bias that takes a bit of research to tease out.

UPDATE: And if all you do is look at the main headline on Druge, you'd also get the impression that Bush had a tough time in Australia. His current headline (it's subject to change soon) is "Heckled Down Under" under a shot of Bush looking a bit perturbed. Then again, he looks a bit perturbed in many photos. Hey, you lead the civilized world in a war that it still denies is necessary and for which he gets an endless stream of grief and see if you don't start to look a bit perturbed.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 22, 2003

FIVE AND ONE

Long time readers know that the JYB is a Dallas Cowboys haven. Both Chris and myself are avid, maybe occassionally rabid, Cowboy fans.

The past few seasons have been tough. Five-win flops, poor coaching, highly questionable talent and a flamboyantly arrogant owner have made the Boys' recent history a long, hard slog. It never felt like the team was a team, or had any leaders other than Emmitt Smith. The team hasn't had a bona fide coach since the strange exit of Jimmy Johnson.

This season, though, the Boys are off to their best start in nearly a decade. The last time they started off like this, they won the big one. It's tempting, therefore, to start thinking playoffs again.

That would be a mistake. The Cowboys have yet to play a team with a winning record this year (though the Eagles would have a winning record if they'd beaten the Boys a couple of weeks back). The Cowboys have an embarassing loss on their record, to the Vick-less Atlanta Falcons, which should remind them that they're mortal and can lose even to an inferior team. They are just a couple of injuries away from oblivion--they're not deep in most positions, and haven't been for years. And the Cowboys just aren't far enough removed from their recent failures yet.

But with all that, there are still reasons for optimism. The NFL, thanks to the doctrine of parity and the salary cap and the end of the golden age of quarterbacks, is now a league of extraordinary coaches. You can probably number on one hand all of the league's current active and productive superstar players--Brett Favre and Jerry Rice come to mind, but few others--but if you think long and hard you can find a greater number of superstar coaches. At the top of the list is probably Jon Gruden, who built the Oakland Raiders and then used the Tampa Bay Bucs to destroy them in the Super Bowl. Behind him, Dick Vermeil, who built the Rams into the speedy juggernaut that they usually are and now heads the astounding Kansas City Chiefs. Behind him, Mike Holmgren, who built the Green Bay Packers and has turned the Seattle Seahawks into an actual NFL team that wins actual games, and behind him a slew of other terrific coaches, from Indy's Tony Dungee to Denver's Mike Shanahan to Dallas' Bill Parcells.

I only put Parcells at the end of the list because he has yet to actually turn the Cowboys into a winner. He has been a winner everywhere else he has coached, and he has this team believing in him and in themselves. But they aren't true winners yet. Sure, they're 5-1 now, but their next few weeks are brutal--the Bucs, the Redskins (who are terrible, but the rivalry usually produces a good matchup), the Bills (who aren't good but beat the Skins), the Patriots, the Panthers and the Dolphins. They end with a run against division opponents and then should take care of New Orleans to finish the season. That's an ugly gauntlet to run for a young, inexperienced and untested team. If Dallas finishes 9-7 or better, and especially if they make the playoffs, Parcells will be the main reason for it. He acquired WR Terry Glenn, who caught three TDs against Detroit on Sunday, and has formerly erratic QB Quincy Carter looking confident and throwing accurately for the first time in his pro career. And he has kept in place a defense that was already pretty solid.

In a league of superstar coaches and parity in player talent, it pays to have a genius stalking your sideline. The Cowboys have that, for the first time in a long time, in Bill Parcells. Whether they end up winners this year or not, they'll be winners again soon.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:23 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

TWO PERCENT?

We had 3,000 killed on our own soil not much more than 2 years ago, we're fighting a war on two military and a host of non-military fronts, and facing off against an array of rogue states with nuclear/biochem designs on American cities--and just a measely two percent of activist Democrats think terrorism is a big issue?

Two percent?

Democrats, explain yourselves. No spin. It's not just in the few states polled; your entire party has been acting like it doesn't care about terrorism since late 2001. Howard Dean's emergence as a viable presidential candidate is evidence enough.

Why? What's the matter with you people?

Posted by B. Preston at 04:50 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

WASHINGTON LEAKS, AGAIN

Perhaps it's time the Pentagon hang a few of those old World War II posters in the hallways--"Loose Lips Sink Ships." Someone within that august building needs to understand that the Secretary of Defense needs to ask hard questions of his subordinates, and that he should be able to do so beyond the glare of a hostile and not at all supportive media and political opposition. That lack of basic opsec has placed a confidential memo from SecDef Rumsfeld to his immediate subordinates, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, into the hands of people who wish them ill, and into the hands of our enemy. Now, because some anonymous leaker wanted to score a hit on his or her boss, there will probably be another mini-scandal about nothing, another anti-war feeding frenzy, and we'll take another dent in the effort to win the war.

Here's the Rumsfeld memo. The press seems to be spinning it, and the Dems are of course spinning it too, as a direct refutation of all the Bush administration's positive public statements on the progress of the war. It is no such thing. It's a strategic document, written to force its small circle of recipients to think about a finite set of circumstances within the larger context of the war, and to justify their positions on the US progress or lack thereof with respect to those circumstances. It is the kind of memo a leader writes to his subordinates when he wants them to maintain focus and think about broad ways to win the war in the long term.

Frankly, I think this memo shows that Rumsfeld understands the war perhaps better than anyone else in Washington. Mindful of the successes in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere, he also has his eye on the big picture and the difficulties ahead. He wants DoD to become more agile in dealing with a very agile threat. He wants no one under his command to rest on their laurels. Never one to be confused with Sister Mary Sunshine, Rumsfeld wants his troops to think long and hard and come up with solutions to the broad institutional problems that make fighting a small band of terrorists perhaps the most difficult task DoD has faced to date.

The leak of this memo is in my mind far worse than the Valerie Plame leak, because it gives our enemies a little window into the mind of the man leading the military aspects of the war. It lets them into the inner circle in a way that the Plame leak--outing an agent who hadn't been under cover for some time--never could. The leaker should be jailed for treason. The press and the Democrats should be very careful in approaching this breach of trust, lest they make it all too easy for the terrorists to exploit it to their maximum advantage.

CLARIFICATION: The memo asks "does the CIA need a new finding?" This sentence could easily be misunderstood to mean "can we get the CIA to 'find' something useful?" Along the lines of J-J "finding" things on Good Times, I suppose. Or manufacturing something, i.e. evidence of WMDs in Iraq. That's not what this sentence means, though.

In CIA lingo, a finding is a presidential statement of authority. For evidence, read this story about President Bush issuing a finding that the CIA can kill or capture terrorist leaders. A finding isn't usually so much a granting of new authority as it is a clarification of existing authority or a re-interpretation of authority in light of changing or new circumstances. In the memo, Rumsfeld is simply asking whether a new finding is needed to change something about CIA operations within the context of the war. Findings are a way to maintain Presidential authority over the CIA's operations.

UPDATE: Thanks to IP for the link. We can quibble over which damage is worse--the knowledge this leak gives the enemy or the destruction of candor as more internal communications become subject to ignorant political and media glare--but agree on the essentials: This sort of leak is very damaging to the conduct of the war, for both reasons. It should be stopped, and the leaker should become an example to future would-be leakers.

MORE: Though this story doesn't say, it's possible that such a finding led to the creation of the FBI's new WMD unit.

UPDATE: Doug Payton adds:

Rumsfeld's memo shows he is a realist and a visionary. That's the kind of person we need in charge of our post-9/11 military.

Exactly.

UPDATE: If you've been in the comments on this post or followed InstaPundit's updates, you'll notice that some anonymous person (here we are with lefties and anonymity again) has been hounding me and the rest of the blogosphere about whether this memo was leaked or not. As proof, he/she/it says that since it's on the Pentagon's site it cannot have been leaked.

How stupid does this person/place/thing think the rest of us are? Does he/she/it think we're not going to do the blogger thing and fact check their backside?

The memo is indeed on the Pentagon's site, linked off of this transcript of Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita's press conference today. There's also a press release about the memo, dated today. The press release, well, I'll just let it speak for itself:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2003 - Far from being a glum assessment, a memo Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sent to senior leaders poses questions Rumsfeld believes leaders should be asking about the new security environment, Larry Di Rita, Pentagon spokesman, said here today.

A story about the memo appeared in today's issue of USA Today. The story characterizes the questions Rumsfeld raised as an admission that the United States is losing the war on terror. "The secretary's not saying anything like what the memo's been characterized (as saying)," Di Rita said during a press conference.

The spokesman said the secretary is asking the "big questions" that any government agency should be asking itself.

There's more, read it if you want. It's clear to anyone with basic reading comprehension skills that that press release was written after the USA Today story that started this whole thing. The press release is obviously meant to counter the absurdly negative spin that the press put on the memo. The Di Rita transcript links the memo to prove this point.

Contrary to the new lefty canard, the press release--and linked memo from the transcript--on the Pentagon's site are further proof that this memo was not originally intended for public consumption. The press release flatly states that it was addressed to, surprise, the four people that it's actually addressed to--not the writers and editors at USA Today, and not the rest of the world.

Trying to turn the memo's after-the-fact release on the Pentagon's site into "proof" that it a) wasn't really leaked and b) was really meant for a wide audience all along, is pathetic, and a lie. Or just pre-Google level spin, which just won't cut it nowadays.

UPDATE: Ok non-leak lefties, what do you make of an interesting couplet in this story?

But speaking to reporters Wednesday evening, Rumsfeld was clearly annoyed by the leak.

"If I wanted it published, I would have written it as a press release, which I didn't," Rumsfeld said after a closed-door meeting with senators on Capitol Hill. (emphasis mine)

And there goes the non-leak argument. But...we may not be looking at treason--just mind-bending stupidity--on the part of the leaker:

Privately, defense officials said one of the four officials' staff made photocopies for internal distribution in an attempt to prompt some office-wide thinking.

Officials said they believe the memo may have slipped out from someone on that staff, and the assumption for now is that the leak was "not malicious."

It's quite a leap from a Pentagon photocopier to the pages of USA Today, so I still hope they find, and fire, the leaker.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:38 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

THE ADL GETS ONE RIGHT

They're criticizing Paul Krugman's anti-Semitic apologetics. Good for them.

Of course, to not criticize such an obvious case of pro-anti-Semitism (if that's a word) would have exposed them for hypocrites.

(via InstaPundit)

Posted by B. Preston at 07:57 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 21, 2003

DOUBLE STANDARDS?

I've been puzzled about something for the past few days, and I can't quite figure it out. When Rush Limbaugh got smeared for racism when he made a non-racist remark on ESPN, I was angry but didn't go to the mat for him. I thought that he might be wrong about the substance of his remarks, but didn't really get bent out of shape when the press lied about him, when ESPN accepted his resignation, and when the on-air types blasted him on the show the following week. When Newsweek ran a hit piece on him, well, it just didn't move my outrage needle much. All of which is odd, because I'm a fan of Rush and have been for years. I even worked at one of his affiliate stations years ago, and it was my job to flip the switches that put him on the air most days. It was a job I did with pride, as a kind of honor. Hey, I was young okay.

On the other hand, when Gregg Easterbrook got unfairly smeared as an anti-Semite, my outrage meter busted and sent the needle into orbit. Now, I'm a fan of Easterbrook's writing--he's one of the best columnists around, and no one can touch his TMQ work for deep if occassionally misguided football analysis. But I've always found his politics to be if not at direct odds with mine then certainly not to my liking most of the time. So why did I rush to the barricades to defend him, but not Rush?

I don't know. And that's bugging me.

Of the two, Easterbrook's comments are actually closer to actual racism, though I don't think any fair person can argue that either he or Rush are actual racists. Rush's comments about Donovan McNabb (or McBadd, as Eagle fans are now calling him) were nowhere near racist, and he was in fact just doing what ESPN hired him to do--stir things up. They didn't call his bit the Rush Challenge for nothing. So of the two situations, arguably the guy I liked the most got the most unfair treatment, yet I ended up defending the other guy with more gusto.

Maybe it's because I'm just so used to seeing Rush maligned that the ESPN situation just seemed like more of the same. Maybe it's because I was aware that he didn't financially need the job, and thus thought it was ESPN's loss that he was gone. Or maybe the Easterbrook situation just hit me the wrong way at the wrong time. In the end, both were treated with roughly equal unfairness by the same suits that run ESPN, a network I can't imagine watching again in the future (you football fans know how hard that's going to be).

Whatever it is, it feels a bit like a double standard, and I don't like it.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:01 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

COVERING FOR THE REAL ANTI-SEMITES

Ok bloggers, Paul Krugman is defending actual bona-fide anti-Semites--the kind that defend killing Jews, that celebrated 9-11 and lap up Mein Kampf. Where's the outrage? Where's the accountability? Or are we still too hung over from gorging on Gregg Easterbrook to bother with Krugman?

UPDATE: So Krugman gave Mahathir a pass because the old racist once agreed with him? That's pathetic.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:39 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

THE INCOHERENT LEFT

A little sampling of headlines from Democrats.com's daily newsfeed:

Yes, Howie Kurtz, Prescott Bush DID Get Rich From the Nazis

Byrd Warns Senate with Goering Quote

Democratic AG Bill Lockyer Voted for SchwarzeNazi

Bushevik Bickering is 'Distressing Allies, Congress'

Dems Are Unified Against Bush; Dean Leads NH, Tied with Gephardt in IA (at least this one's accurate--too bad they're not unified against terrorism, or North Korea, or any legitimate threat)

The left needs to gets its politics straight--is Bush a Nazi or a Communist? You can't be both at the same time. And, if he's a Communist, why does he get worse treatment from the American left than, say, Fidel Castro?

Posted by B. Preston at 08:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Emasculated Sports Programming Network

Stalin would be proud of this reply to a query about the firing of Gregg Easterbrook.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WRETCHED HEADLINE OF THE DAY

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What, the headline writer expected them to come back to life?

Posted by B. Preston at 08:02 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 20, 2003

THE LA SLIMES

Gregg Easterbrook, as everyone who hasn't been holed up with Osama bin Laden in his Afghan cave knows, said something offensive in a blog post last week, got canned from his swank job at ESPN (Emasculated Sports Programming Network) for it, apologized, and had that apology accepted, but not really, by many around the blogosphere. It's important to note the blogosphere's reaction, because the tempest started right here in the blogosphere. Now many in the blogworld are regretful of their actions, swearing to be a bit more, well, something, in the future in the hopes that this sort of thing doesn't happen again. After all, before you know it we could lose Mark Steyn to some off-hand comment that offends the wrong blogger who in turn gets the right amount of attention, and we cannot have that. And there is exactly zero chance that such a bullet will ever strike a columnist who actually deserves it.

But hey bloggers, celebrate! We have hunted down and killed our first columnist! We've been trying to do that for a couple of years now. But unfortunately our trophy isn't any of game that we regularly get in our sights--the Ted Ralls or the Molly Ivins or Maureen Dowds or Robert Fisks--hacks for whom we coined terms like "fisking" and "idiotarian," and who deserve getting verbally buckshot for any number of crimes against journalism. Call Easterbrook a form of collateral damage in the blog wars: No one expected to kill his TMQ column when they fired at his Easterblogg comment, but kill it they certainly did.

And now enter the LA Times, or more accurately, the LA Slimes. That paper has become the lowest common denominator in journalism, combining the preening and prejudiced liberalism of the Howell Raines-era New York Times with the sewer ethics of the National Enquirer. During the California recall, its reporting was so biased in favor of Gov. Gray Davis and against both the effort to oust him and to the campaign of Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace him, that it packed polls with ethnicities and populations designed to shore up things for the Gov and make things appear difficult for recall and the Terminator. Its polls were lies dressed up as public opinion, spun to change that opinion to one that the Times found more appealing. Failing that, it dumped buckets of dirt on the GOP's answer to Kennedyism and the revenge of the overlooked Shrivers in the form of 30-year-old allegations that he had once behaved as a cad. How shocking--a bodybuilder, hopped to the brink on 'roids, would misbehave in his youth. And his not-so-youth. Tisk tisk. Failing that (since recall ousted Davis and Schwarzenegger won the governorship, both by wide margins), the Slimes promised to dump more on Ahnuld even as he assumes offices. To what end? Another recall to oust him, one supposes, or just to damage him so badly that he cannot fix the mess that prompted Californians to dump dull Davis to begin with. Some public service, that. And all while turning a blind eye, over a much longer period, to similarly unsavory and as badly sourced rumors about the behavior of Gray Davis, the man the Slimes intended to save. And to much more credible allegations of far more serious violations against the former president from Hope.

Add to that the Slimes' recent attack on a US general for being a Christian and having the gall to say so in public. And now to its after-the-fact slam against Easterbrook, penned by Tim Rutten. This is truly a punch long after the bell has sounded.

I was alerted that this piece was coming beforehand, by a blogger whom I respect but with whom I had and continue to disagree when it comes to Easterbrook's alleged anti-Semitism. I think suggesting that, on the basis of one lousy paragraph against a lifetime of stellar work, Easterbrook is an anti-Semite is ludicrous. This other blogger does not. That this other blogger wrote that he accepted Easterbrook's apology, but continued to criticize him anyway, suggested to me something short of sincerity--on the part of Easterbrook's critic. Sufficiently confused now? I'm not naming names because I don't want to start off another round of blogger circular firing squads. And because that blogger is no longer the issue, except insofar as he aimed me at Rutten's LAT column in the hope that it would convince me that I am wrong about Easterbrook. And because that blogger is more popular than me and a better writer than me, and if he chooses to can rhetorically squash me like a bug. Now he can choose to squash me or not, but I haven't forced him out where he may feel obliged to.

But back to the LA Slimes. Rutten is just another LAT slime artist; that much is clear from his Easterbrook column. It's a thing of beauty, actually, if you like hitman journalism. After reciting the crime, the immediate reaction, the professional consequences and the reaction of one of his critics, Rutten steps into the fray to slam one of Easterbrook's central lines of defense--his life.

Easterbrook's case is not helped by other aspects of his apology. In one, he recounts how he joined a particular Presbyterian congregation specifically because it shares facilities and finances with a synagogue. Experienced readers will find it a bit like the old "some of my best friends are " argument.

Well if it's true, what is he supposed to say? That he joined his church in spite of its Jewish congregation, or that their presence had no bearing on his decision to join? To lie, in other words? That's not a "some of my best friends are" defense; it's just a simple set of facts set to counter the accusation, no different from Easterbrook or anyone else citing his work at The New Republic as further proof that he's no anti-Semite. Rutten's characterization is unfair, to say the least.

And not content just to smear a good man and put his self-defense out of bounds, Rutten pushes Easterbrook's head down in the mud one last time:

What we have here to gloss a phrase from the Gospels is old wine of a particularly bitter vintage in glitzy new skins. The wine comes from a vineyard whose roots should have been yanked out and burned long ago. The fact that it hasn't been and that its fruit so readily finds a home in the brave new cyberspatial world ought to sober everyone involved.

The Gospel reference is rich, coming from a paper that never met a Christian it didn't want to destroy. But taken at face value, its meaning is this: You always say exactly what you mean, even if you don't mean it or say it clumsily or in the heat of the moment. Ever get mad enough at someone to say that you hate them or wish they were dead? In Rutten's world, you actually meant every word. Even if you didn't.

According to Rutten's formulation, Easterbrook must be an anti-Semite because he once said something that could possibly be construed to be anti-Semitic, no matter what else he may have ever written or done to prove otherwise. And the converse must be true, too--no good act counts for anything if you have ever done even one bad thing. Instead of being defined by the totality of our lives, choices and words, we are defined only by the worst. If this is a liberal's view of tolerance, I want no part of it. It makes mercy impossible, and grace a mere figment of imagination.

If we apply the essence of that standard to the Times itself, one must inevitably conclude that it is fundamentally anti-democracy. After all, as Armed Liberal discovered, the Times was objectively anti-democracy and against the rule of law in the way it treated both the California recall and the man who ended up winning it as an expression of the majority's will within the state's set of laws. How else should we view a paper whose work was so obviously one-sided? Either it is fundamentally anti-democracy, or merely anti-Republican--either position is indefensible for a paper that pretends objectivity in a democracy. And this finding holds, no matter what the Times may have done or will do to counter it. It could come out tomorrow and take it all back, pledge to never utter another unkind word about Ahnuld or any other Republican, and even declare that it was wrong about the recall. But none of that should matter. If there is no redemption for Easterbrook, there will be none for the LA Slimes.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:53 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

EVAN COYNE MALONEY, ZIONIST AGENT

Ah, tolerance. Watch peace protesters attack a camera-man. Watch peace protesters intimidate a camera-man. Watch peace protesters vow to keep killing Israeli men, women and children, while claiming to be on the side of justice and human rights.

(via InstaPundit)

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

October 19, 2003

JUST WONDERING

Shouldn't TSA be offering this guy a job instead of prosecuting him? Or is our government in the habit of jailing and threatening people just for making it look stupid?

Posted by B. Preston at 10:31 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

MUHAMMAD WAS A TERRORIST

John Muhammad, that is, and his murderous little sidekick (and chattel in an illegal immigration business of his) Lee Malvo were bona fide terrorists. That's what Chris and I said about them just under a year ago, based on a survey of the available information about them.

Now, there is more evidence. Muhammad has connections to an Islamist cult.

Evidence has emerged linking Washington sniper John Allen Muhammad with an Islamic terror group.

Muhammad has been connected to Al Fuqra, a cult devoted to spiritual purification through violence.

The group has been linked to British shoe bomber Richard Reid and the murderers of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan last year.

During the first Gulf War, Muhammad attempted to frag his officers while they slept in a tent--an offense for which he was taken away immediately but for some reason seems not to have been heavily prosecuted. During Gulf War II, another US soldier succeeded in a nearly identical attack, killing two of the officers above him. Connection? Well, none has surfaced yet, but stay tuned. Muhammad allegedly belonged to the same cult connected to the shoe bomber and the murder of Daniel Pearl. It wouldn't shock me in the least to find that Sgt. Akhbar was too.

And let me go out on one more limb. No one has gone into the religious beliefs of Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols in public, at least not that I've seen. They have been called white supremacists, which may have been true, but that doesn't square very well with several aspects of their lives. For one, Nichols married a Fillipina bride, and travelled extensively to the Philippines ostensibly to visit her family (though he went on several of those trips without her). McVeigh and Nichols went to Iraq as soldiers during the first Gulf War, by all accounts dedicated and patriotic soldiers. They returned from that quick conflict radically changed, bitterly opposed to US foreign policy and nearly all aspects of the US government. Why? Did they come into contact with a similar Islamist cult, or at least with some of its philosophies?

We may never know, but it's an interesting question. If it turns out to be true, it makes the Padilla connection look that much stronger.

For now, read Mark Steyn today. He makes several connections that look like more than mere coincidences. And check out J.M. Berger's latest. More about the terrorist and bin Laden brother-in-law that the Clintonoids let get away. He also has a very disturbing report on the Nichols state trial--fed bungling may endanger its prosecution.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:06 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack