November 07, 2003


Over the last few years, I've become convinced that Sen. Orrin Hatch is a first-class boob. He's a genial and nice fellow, but basically a couple of cards shy of a full deck. A boob.

Take the Democrats' Senate Intel Committee memo flap. You know the story by now--someone on or around the Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which functions on a bi-partisan plateau even down to sharing committee staffers, drafted a memo laying out a grand design for turning that committee's important work into a channel designed to attack and politically damage the President. Once leaked, the Democrats acknowledged that it was legit and then swiftly changed the subject from its contents to how it got out, as though it, not the intel they were planning to use for politics, was classified material.

Well, the Dems put up Sen. Jay Rockefeller as their point-man. It seems apparent now that he also had quite a bit to do with drafting that memo. He denies that, but he is a sharp-tongued partisan much of the time and is the committee's vice chairman. He is in a leadership position, and would be expected to formulate Democrat talking points and strategy. I get a feeling he probably dictated that memo to a staffer, who in a moment of pained conscience leaked it to Sean Hannity. If I'm right, Rockefeller's mistake was in dictating that memo to the one person on his staff who has any sense of the committee's true importance and duties.

Well, from stage right enters Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Today he agreed with Sen. Zell Miller's assessment, that the memo was a first cousin to treason. His explanation:

Asked about Sen. Miller's comment on Wednesday that the memo was "treason's first cousin" and that "heads should roll" over the episode, Sen. Hatch told radio host Sean Hannity, "I happen to love Zell Miller and I do agree with that because bad intelligence results in the deaths of Democrats and Republicans - in other words, our people."

But Hatch refuses to call for any sort of disciplinary action against Rockefeller--even though his actions could result in the deaths of American troops or civilians.

What planet is he on? What in Hatch's mind would constitute an offense worthy of discipline?

Committee chairman Sen. Pat Roberts, named in the memo as the Dems' useful rube of choice, did hint that should Rockefeller's fingerprints turn up on the memo, he could run into problems:

Asked what would happen if it turned out that Rockefeller was implicated in the memo scandal, Hatch replied: "Well, it's a serious issue. I mean, it would be, you know ... he would be seriously criticized if that were the case."

Oooooh...Rockefeller must be quaking in his boots. He may, underline may, have committed treason's "first cousin," and for it he may face "serious criticism." The West Virginia Senator must surely be losing sleep over that one.

The Republicans on that committee need to wake up: The Dems were preparing to commandeer it for purely political purposes. If any senator, on or off that committee, is found to have any responsibility for the production of that memo or for supplying the basic ideas, they should face censure at the very least. I think they should be expelled. Jail time wouldn't be too much to ask either. If a Republican had done this, they would already have been ejected from the Senate by now, probably by a unanimous vote.

This whole thing makes me very suspicious. The Republicans, normally referred to as the nation's daddy party because we're generally tougher on things like crime and war, are coddling and excusing some very bad behavior. They're acting more like the nanny party. With senators like these, we'll never get to the bottom of this scandal. And I suspect that, for some reason, that may be their intention.

UPDATE: Or the memo may have passed through GOP hands on its way to Sean Hannity. Anybody out there subscribe to Roll Call?

UPDATE: Well, maybe the Senate Republicans are taking this thing seriously after all. Majority Leader Bill Frist has disbanded the committee until the Dems fess up who wrote the memo. But it's too early to think they'll get to the bottom ot it--I'm sure they'll surrender in a week or so, once the Dems get their press allies on the offensive.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:43 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


This doesn't look good:

Officials at a Jewish girls middle school in Mount Washington (Maryland--just north of Baltimore) told parents last week that the FBI is investigating a Middle Eastern couple who were spotted videotaping the Smith Avenue campus and pupils. Shlomo Spetner, president of Bais Yaakov School for Girls, wrote to parents on Oct. 31 that a parent had spotted a car with a man and woman who appeared to be Middle Eastern.

The parent reported to the school's principal and police that the pair videotaped the entrance to the school and the girls as they were leaving the building.

When the parent approached them, according to the letter and a police report, they fled.

Before 9-11, this would have been no big deal. After 9-11, its a serious cause for concern.

The parent reported the license plate number of the car, and Baltimore County Police, and members of the FBI's terrorism task force have questioned the driver and are in contact with him, Spetner said.

The man is a Saudi national who is a student at a local college, Spetner said. According to a police report, he lives in the Fallstaff neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore.

FBI spokesman Larry Foust confirmed that the matter is being investigated but would not comment on the details.

And it has a Saudi connection. How shocking.

This may or may not be connected, but it came out at sniper suspect John Muhammad's trial not long ago that police found a list in his car when they arrested him and his little sidekick. It was a list of schools in the area, mostly in Baltimore County. Police believe it was a target list: The two planned to start visiting those schools and picking off students if they didn't get the $10 million they demanded in letters to Montogomery County Police Chief Charles Moose.

(thanks to JG)

Posted by B. Preston at 05:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Just go read this post now. And a pox on both political parties for promoting this nonsense.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:45 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack


when Islamists use Ramadan to start up an anti-US campaign of violence? Some obscure Islamofascist outfit is warning Muslims living in New York, DC, and LA to leave town immediately, as terror strikes are imminent:

"Our Muslim brothers in America, we ask you to immediately leave the following cities: Washington, DC, New York, and Los Angeles. We are serious in our warning. The next few days will prove to you the truth of this warning. To the oppressive rulers of America we say: expect our terms following the first strike of Allah's believing soldiers"

It's probably emtpy bluster, but the bit about "our terms" is new. Sounds like blackmail.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


This should make a dent in the fedayeen:

A FORMER Iraqi intelligence officer was killed and two others, along with a US soldier, were wounded overnight when US troops raided his home in the northern city of Mosul, said Iraqi police.

The US soldiers went to the home to arrest Salem Saleh Obeid, a former intelligence officer under Saddam Hussein's ousted regime, but encountered resistance.

Obeid was killed in the ensuing exchange of fire, said a police officer who requested anonymity.

Our guys also rounded up several of Obeid's kin.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Clever idea, but for some reason it told me to vote for Bill 'n' Opus.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


We're in deep trouble. I mean, deep trouble. The VOA--Voice of America--is referring to the terrorists killing American soldiers in Iraq as "resistance fighters."

Iraq may soon be forming a paramilitary unit that would join coalition forces in the search for resistance fighters.

Resistance fighters. The Voice of America.

Even the LA Times has stopped doing that. The LA Times--the paper that adopted covering for Donks while sliming Pachs as official editorial policy during the California recall--won't call terrorists "resistance fighters" anymore, aware that the phrase conjures up images of heroic citizens resisting a totalitarian onslaught.

But the taxpayer funded Voice of America will.

It's in the article's title. It's in the first paragraph. You have to go down to the seventh paragraph to see terrorists called terrorists. Sheesh.

Words mean things. Reuters knows that--their editorial policy is to put all references to terrorists in quotes, thereby giving room for some readers to wink at the murderers as some kind of freedom fighters. In fact, Reuters claimed that very link, infamously opining that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

Except that Islamist terrorists aren't fighting for anyone's freedom. Not theirs. Not their countrymen's. Not their children's, not yours nor mine nor anyone else's. They're fighting to impose their will on others. Calling them freedom fighters is like calling Castro a well-groomed open-minded gentleman of few words--you have to pretty much ignore reality to pull it off.

When I say, as I do often in this free space in which no one pays me to write, that we as a nation are not serious about this war just two short years into it, episodes like this--the VOA and "resistance fighters"--is a data point in my favor. We should speak as one to the world. We should present a consistent picture of a nation committed to eradicating terrorism wherever it threatens us or our allies. We should have a government that speaks clearly, consistently and frequently about the true threat that civilization faces at the hands of nihilist terrorists and their ability to obtain terrifying weapons.

Calling them "resistance fighters" in our official government-funded news organs--called the Voice of America, no less--is no way to do that. It is in fact a small way to embolden our enemies and convice them that we're not serious. Which we aren't.

At the VOA, heads should roll. Yesterday.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:23 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack


to debate whether it's 2003 or 1943 or 1953 in terms of historic parallels. And it's all fine and nice to deliver a stunning, even breathtaking, and bold speech announcing that the US has as its goal the democratization of the Middle East. It's something we have to do unless we want to suffer a series of attacks that will make 9-11 seem like a peaceful prelude.

It's all fine. It's all nice. We should be having these historical discussions; they help us try and make sense of the crazy swirl of events we're now caught up in. And Mr. Bush's speech was a true breath of fresh air, and hopefully the first of a series of strong gusts that the tyrants of the desert kingdoms will feel hitting them from our direction. May those gusts blow them down.

All fine, all nice. But I won't believe we're actually serious about this war until one party stops playing games with our vital intelligence, and until the President of the United States actually does something to make our military large enough to handle the tasks before us.

Because the fact is, we're unprepared, even now, to truly fight this war. Most of our military strength is tied up in Iraq. It should be there in my opinion; Iraq was a gathering menace, and the demonstration effect of toppling Saddam has already got the Kims and Assads and mullahs of the world worried to death that we might just get the itch and Tomahawk them next. Good. Let them think that. Better they worry and fret themselves mad than have plenty of leisure time to plan cratering an American city.

Outside Iraq and Afghanistan, much of the rest of our military is tied up in Germany, where it is set to face a Red Army that no longer exists, or in South Korea, a nation that seems to think its chief defender is also its chief problem. We rely too heavily on our reserves, who will probably soon exit the military in droves only to return home and find themselves fired because they were in the desert so long. The drawdown of the 90s will soon leave us with a hollow force if we do not act quickly. Smart bombs will not win the war on their own--they need smart, well trained people to type in the coordinates and push the buttons. And we need more boots to put on the ground, just in case.

We need a bigger military; the one we have is wearing down from the strains of a decade of pointless, endless deployments and now two years of actual war. We need a bigger military, and until President Bush calls for one, I will have a hard time taking him seriously when he calls for us to bring democracy to one of the world's most backward, violent and desperate regions. It was a fine speech; it should be followed by action.

Returning to the intelligence debacle, we learned today that the Democrats' Senate Intel Committee strategy memo was real, as is their plan to politicize any investigation into the chain of events that cascaded into 9-11. We learned that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa), vice-chairman of the Committee, will be the Dems' point man, and that he's a gifted spinmeister. Rather than explain or defend the memo's actual and terrible contents, Rockefeller, scion of one of America's richest families yet representative of one of our poorest states, tried a two-pronged attack. First, he passed it off as the work of an anonymous staffer--shades of Anthony Marceca and the FBI files of yore--and insisted that it had never been approved or distributed. Odd, though, that the staffer's suggestions, which Rockefeller insists were never circulated as a memo, describe pretty much what the Dems have actually been doing. Coincidence, surely. Accompanying that weasely denial, he issued a veiled threat to Sean Hannity, the initial recipient of the leaked memo. That threat came in the form of a statement that the Committe must investigate how the memo got into his hands, implying that Hannity might find himself hauled before Congress to testify, and implying that the Senate Republicans had acted outside the rules.

Hannity now has the Landmark Legal Foundation representing him. I doubt he's worried.

But the Democrats should be. They are already seen as soft on defense and the war--this memo will only feed that impression. Whether the Bush administration hyped pre-war intelligence or not (a topic the Committee is supposed to be investigating in a fair and bi-partisan fashion), there is not now and never will be an excuse to politicize the Select Committe on Intelligence, its offices, its staff or the sensitive data it handles on a daily basis. We are at war with a shadowy, agile enemy. Good intelligence, handled in a fair and bi-partisan manner, is vital to winning the war. The memo undercuts everything that Committee could hope to accomplish, and taints it to the core. How can anyone who pays attention take Rockefeller or his fellow Democrats on the Committee at face value again, on anything? I don't see how we can, unless they disavow that memo, fire or censure everyone responsible for it, and pledge never to taint the nation's intelligence aparatus again.

And if, as I suspect, a Senator suggested or ordered that strategy be implemented, that Senator should resign or be expelled from the Senate. Yesterday.

We're at war. It's time we remembered that, and act accordingly. Our civilization depends on it.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:10 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 06, 2003


Everyone who's ever heard of "comedian" Al Franken knows where he stands politically. He's a lib--no big deal. But he's a special kind of lib and a special kind of "comedian" in that he gets to sub-host on Crossfire and gets lots of calls to go on those other annoying shout shows on cable. He writes lousy books, tells less than funny jokes and generally makes a jerk of himself on a regular basis.

Ok, most of that is just my opinion. It's my blog--you did come here for my opinion, right?

Well anyway, Franken's Lying Liars and the Lying Lying Pants A-Flying Chickens A-Frying Liars Who Lying Lying Tell Them (I may not have that title exactly right, but I'm close) book is now not only available at your local brick and mortar or cyber bookstore--no siree, you also can get it by donating a princely sum to the Democratic National Committee. That's right--fork over some cash to the people who want even more of your cash in the form of taxes, and they'll send you a book by a "comedian."

That "comedian" is one weird guy though. Henry Hanks has compiled a handy list of Franken's more, um, interesting moments. Like when he challenged NRO's Rich Lowry to a fist fight (interesting that he didn't challenge Jonah Goldberg, who's about 6'2"). Or when he went on an obscenity-laced rant against Republicans at a Chucklehead Dean fundraiser. And how about the time he wouldn't let CNN cut away to a break because what he, the "comedian," had to say was just soooo important it couldn't wait for the other side of another Flobee commercial. Or when he sent a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft under false pretenses. The list of this maniac's odd, eccentric and downright bizarre behavior goes on...and Hanks has it. Check it out.

Then ask yourself: Should the DNC really associate itself with such a sociopathic moron?

Posted by B. Preston at 11:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Unemployment claims dropped by a staggering 43,000 last week. For those of you keeping score at home, that's about 7 times the usual drop.

Let's see...7.2% GDP growth...stock market up...unemployment down. Yeah, that Bush economy just gets worse all the time, doesn't it.

UPDATE: Another sign of robust economic performance--Bush-bashing books at bargain rates!

(nod to Hanks)

UPDATE: More terrible news from the Bush economy--employment is up by 441,000. Buy stock in KoolAid, kids, because Boston will be awash in it next summer.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:38 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


A small passage in this Dana Milbank article illustrates why the press just doesn't report on religion very well. The setting: President Bush is delivering a speech before a youth group in Dallas. It's taking place at a Christian youth center. Toward the end of the article and after describing one section of the speech dealing with Bush's former alcohol problem, Milbank offers some visual details:

Bush received a boisterous and enthusiastic welcome from hundreds of students, most of whom were black. Introduced by his friend Tony Evans, the senior pastor, Bush spoke with banners of the cross over each shoulder, one saying "King of Kings" and the other "Lord of Lords."

Those banners were there long before Bush showed up--it is a Christian youth center, after all--but by highlighting their presence over Bush's shoulders, Milbank leaves the undiscerning or not terribly religious reader with the subtle message that Bush is trying to become some kind of messianic figure. Which is absurd. To put it another way, any Christian walking into that youth center probably didn't notice the banners at all, as they're quite common in Christian settings--we do think of Christ as both the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, after all. It's kind of the whole point of Christianity. Should Bush have ordered them taken down before his speech?

I don't chalk this episode up to press bias so much as press ignorance (though I haven't seen any reporters refer to messianic banners over Clinton's shoulders when he speaks in a church or religious setting). It's clear to me that Dana Milbank doesn't often set foot inside a Christian church or Christian activity building based on this article, and his ignorance of how the faithful decorate our buildings colors the way he sees events inside those buildings unfold. It distorts his impression, a distortion he passes on to his readers.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 05, 2003


How stupid is Howard Dean? Or, perhaps to be a little closer to the truth, how stupid does Howard Dean think Southerners are? I'd say he thinks we're a highly unintelligent lot.

First, there was the well-known flap over Dean's stated desire to be the candidate of white Southern men who have Confederate flags on their pickups. The reaction among the other 8 Dem presidential candidates was as horrifying as it was predictable--they all, to a man and woman, took shots at him, suggested he was playing some kind of code bigot card, etc. Confronted, Dean refused to apologize and let loose a real bombshell: The Democrats have trouble winning in the South and he wants to change that. Why, who'd a-thunk it? No one before the genius Howard Dean had ever realized that the Dems have a problem on the southern side of the Mason-Dixon (never mind neither McGovern nor Mondale carried a single Southern state, and Gore even lost his home state of Tennessee last time around) or at least that's the impression you're likely to get from the other candidates. Look out Michael Barone--Dr. Dean is a statistician too!

To try and shame Dean into a corner, Al Sharpton blathered on with the race card, invoking Dr. Martin Luther King as though a race-baiter and riot-starter, not to mention character assassin and false accuser such as himself, had anything in common with King beneath the epidermis. Kerry and Edwards kept pestering Dean for an apology, and today he relented and gave one. Political correctness once again conquered common sense.

Do Dean and the rest of the Democrats think we Southerners are not paying attention to any of this? Do they really think we do not see their obvious anti-Southern bigotry? Zell Miller was right—Dean and the Democrats see one-third of a country, and tell it to go to hell.

Evidently Dean knows the apology will not suffice, and has taken to the offensive--in both meanings of the word. He now says, to an audience in northern Florida, and I quote, Southerners should quit voting based on the following issues:

race, guns, God and gays

So let's see--race. Affirmative action is off limits. Anyone opposed to it should just surrender now. Guns--there goes the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. God--that's a big one, from core beliefs to values to the role of law in society to, well, just about anything, depending on a given voter's religious persuasion or lack of. And gays--well, there isn't much about gays to actually vote on since the courts seem to be doing all the heavy lifting. But should the Federal Marriage Amendment ever see the light of day, Howard says not to vote on it. Or something. Basically, he is telling the South to vote for him and the Democrats just because, and forget where his stances actually differ from our own.

Yeah, that'll win us over. When pigs fly.

In one day Howard Dean has gone from being the lone Democrat to show any desire to attract Southern support to being a hall monitor and class tattle-tale with this line. If we aren't supposed to vote on race, guns, God and gays, what praytell should our main issues be?

How about the war? Well Howard the Chucklehead probably doesn't want Southerners voting based on that--the South supports the war more strongly than any other region. How about fiscal policy or the economy? Sure, we'll vote on that, and the current GPD growth of an astounding 7.2% will have us punching chads or touching screens for Bush. Taxes? Bush cut 'em, Howard will raise 'em. Nuff said.

So what do you want us voting on, Howard? We're all ears, wise one.

In the mean time, a lesson on reality is probably in order for Howard and the rest of the Democrats. The South is not composed primarily of hicks with pickups sporting the Confederate flag. Sure, the South has its share of them, but they don't dominate the culture or anything. They mostly hang out at seedy bars playing Merle Haggard, nursing beers while they relive their high school football glory days. Their wives, once captains of the cheerleaders, tend the bar till closing time and then drive them home in that pickup to their trailer. Her girlish figure is long gone, a casualty of several beers a day and four or five hours a day on or near the couch. Dr. Phil, the fat psychiatrist with the diet book and TV show, is a staple. After arriving at their domicile and blasting away at tin cans for a half hour with their sawed-off (which may take place indoors as well as out), they spend the remainder of the evening watching Fear Factor on the TV, the one appliance they have that actually works. Most of the time. They are neither attractive nor handsome, and their children are most definitely not above average.

The rest of the South, roughly the other 99 percent of it, is as varied as the North. We have smart people like Phil Gramm, and idiots like Molly Ivins. We have very funny people like Jeff Foxworthy, and very unfunny people like Michael Schiavo. We have tractor pulls and the Kennedy Space Center; we have hog calling contests and the Dallas Cowboys. And the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. And we know a condescending motormouth when we see one, and Mr. Dean, with all due respect, you are one.

Get to know us, Howard. Get to know us, Democrats. Live among us, go to church (that’s the big building with the pointy thing on top) with us. We are a third of the greatest nation on earth, after all. You'll be a better party for it--and you might actually have a prayer at winning the White House within the next hundred years.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:50 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack


Interesting, if it turns out to be true:

WASHINGTON -- A year after North Korea provoked a crisis with the United States by admitting a secret effort to make weapons-grade uranium, U.S. officials say the program appears to be far less advanced than diplomats had feared.

Intensive international monitoring and North Korean ineptitude have significantly slowed efforts to build a plant to produce highly enriched uranium, says a State Department official involved in U.S. attempts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

Monitoring has likely had little to no effect--Kim Jong-Il doesn't care if we monitor; in fact, he probably wants his nuke program monitored to the extent that it may worry us as long as his scientists appear to be moving fuel rods around and so forth. But monitoring and ineptitude probably aren't sufficient explanations for the apparent lack of progress. North Korea suffered a brain drain last year, in a US-led enticement program dubbed Operation Weasel (no known connection to the Axis of Weasel):

A SWATH of North Korea's military and scientific elite, among them key nuclear specialists, has defected to the US and its allies through a highly secret smuggling operation involving the tiny Pacific island of Nauru.

The defections have taken place since last October and have been made possible through the help of 11 countries that agreed to provide consular protection to smuggle the targets from neighbouring China, according to sources close to the operation, which has now been wound up.

Some countries also agreed to act as transit points for up to 30 days once the defectors left China, the sources claim.

Among those now believed to be in a safe house in the West is the father of North Korea's nuclear program, Kyong Won-ha, who left his homeland late last year with the help of Spanish officials. Debriefings of Mr Kyong are said to have given intelligence officials an unprecedented insight into North Korea's nuclear capabilities, particularly at the feared reactor number one in the southern city of Yongbyon.

Imagine if we lost Edward Teller during the Manhattan Project--that's what may have happened to Kim's Yongbyon project. Those 11 countries mentioned are probably members of the Proliferation Security Initiative. Neither Weasel nor the PSI have attracted much press attention, but their benefits seem clear enough: North Korean smuggling operations are bollixed up, and we seem to have been able to stymie Kim's nuclear plans by stealing his top scientists. On the issue of smuggling:

Last April, Germany blocked North Korea's purchase of 200 tons of aluminum tubing suitable for vacuum casings for centrifuges. Twenty-two tons made it on board a French ship in Hamburg but was seized in the Suez Canal.

''Our attempts to heighten awareness have had an impact,'' the State Department official says.

Indeed. Let's hope progress continues. It does seem clear that by smoking out the NoKo's secret nuclear program and then convincing the allies and China that the threat is all too real, the Bush adminstration has made some real progress. We're by no means out of the nuclear woods, but at least we're no longer pretending that Kim gave up his weapons for a few trinkets.

Additionally, it's not hard to imagine what kind of impact the Saddam example has had on Kim Jong-Il's state of mind.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:28 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


The US, Israel, Germany and Turkey have launched Anatolia Eagle, a massive combined military exercise. The fact that Turkey and Israel can not only be allies, but cooperate in joint military exercises in the midst of all the ongoing MidEast violence, should give us some hope: It is possible for a majority Islamic state to behave itself responsibly. Most of the time.

For Turkey, the situation is simple: The US and Israel are not threats. It's clear who Turkey's real threats are:

As Anatolia Eagle was launched, Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul deemed Iran as a threat to Turkey. In an address to parliament's Budget Committee, Gonul said Iran seeks to acquire nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and export Islamic violence throughout the region.

Kind of a no-brainer outside the Islamic MidEast, but heartening that the Turks recognize it too.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The GOP picked up two Southern governorships overnight, while today Howard Dean retreats from his perfectly defensible point about reaching out to white Southern men. The Dems are carping to their doom, and have once again looked a a third of the nation and told it to go to hell. Good luck picking up a single Southern state next year, Dems.

CBS killed its agitprop anti-Reagan movie, moving it to Showtime because, in CBS' own words, the movie was inaccurate. I'd be less charitable, and characterize it as a character assault on a man no longer able to defend himself. In an age where, thanks to our collapsing educational system the average American gets their understanding of history from mass media, CBS' decision to bankroll and run that movie was an obvious attempt at re-writing history. They've been called on it, and they caved on it. Good.

But saving the best for last, President Bush has signed the Partial Birth Abortion ban. I worried in the back of my mind that he'd find a way to betray social cons on this, but I was wrong to worry about that.

A good day, indeed.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:54 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Has a couple of important posts up today.

Check out the one on Arab conspiracy theories, and scroll up to read the post about what the average Iraqi thinks about Saddam, the war to remove him, the violent aftermath and Iraq's place in Arabia.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


He recently penned an op-ed for the NY Times, in which he argues against forgiving pre-war Iraqi debt.

He's also a partner in the Akin, Gump law firm, and has held several goverment positions over the years. Oh, and by the way, he's a lobbyist representing several of Iraq's international creditors.

D'ya think that last bit is relevant in evaluating Mr. Medish's opinions on the matter? Does it matter that he's paid to have and express those opinions?

I think so. The Washington Post thinks so, too, and disclosed this fact at the end of a column of his that it published. But not the Times--either the Times doesn't look into the background of its op-ed writers, or its editorial position is that said background isn't relevant.

The Times uses one sentence to identify him:

Mark Medish, a lawyer, was deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury from 1997 to 2000.

Which is more relevant--that he was a high Treasury official once upon a time, or that he represents Iraq's creditors today? It also seems relevant that, when opining on matters that do not reflect the direct interests of his clients, he holds a contrary opinion on debt forgiveness.

Simply put, the Times has one more reason to be ashamed of itself and its practices. It is unethical to run Medish's editorial without disclosing his personal interest in the outcome of the debate on which he is opining. Jayson Blair may be gone, but the Times' bad judgment remains firmly in place.

(kudos to Hippercritical for digging this up)

Posted by B. Preston at 12:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 04, 2003


Apparently the serious about national security Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence are planning to use their positions in a coordinated political attack on the President. Not kidding. Sean Hannity read the following internal Democrat memo on the air this afternoon:

"We have carefully reviewed our options under the rules and believe we have identified the best approach. Our plan is as follows:

"1) Pull the majority along as far as we can on issues that may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials. We are having some success in that regard.

"For example, in addition to the President's State of the Union speech, the chairman [Sen. Pat Roberts] has agreed to look at the activities of the office of the Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, as well as Secretary Bolton's office at the State Department.

"The fact that the chairman supports our investigations into these offices and cosigns our requests for information is helpful and potentially crucial. We don't know what we will find but our prospects for getting the access we seek is far greater when we have the backing of the majority. [We can verbally mention some of the intriguing leads we are pursuing.]

So they're identifying Roberts as their dupe. They may have just lost the chairman's support with this memo.

"2) Assiduously prepare Democratic 'additional views' to attach to any interim or final reports the committee may release. Committee rules provide this opportunity and we intend to take full advantage of it.

"In that regard we may have already compiled all the public statements on Iraq made by senior administration officials. We will identify the most exaggerated claims. We will contrast them with the intelligence estimates that have since been declassified. Our additional views will also, among other things, castigate the majority for seeking to limit the scope of the inquiry.

I wonder if they'll then cross-ref Bush admin statements with Clinton admin statements, just to see how well they align. Nah--what am I thinking? That would be reasonable and fair. They'll airbrush any Clinton statements about Iraq's WMDs.

"The Democrats will then be in a strong position to reopen the question of establishing an Independent Commission [i.e., the Corzine Amendment.]

"3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority. We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation of the administration's use of intelligence at any time. But we can only do so once.

"Once we have exhausted..." In other words, we'll fuss and fight and moan until the Repubs finally just say "Enough already!" at which point we'll demand in indignant tones that the American people must have an independent investigation, for the good of all naturally. What a crock.

"The best time to do so will probably be next year, either:

"A) After we have already released our additional views on an interim report, thereby providing as many as three opportunities to make our case to the public. Additional views on the interim report (1). The announcement of our independent investigation (2). And (3) additional views on the final investigation. Or:

"B) Once we identify solid leads the majority does not want to pursue, we would attract more coverage and have greater credibility in that context than one in which we simply launch an independent investigation based on principled but vague notions regarding the use of intelligence.

Look for them to try and drag this thing all the way through summer, springing the indignant calls for an independent investigation in mid-October. It's just a coincidence, of course, that there's an election around that time.

"In the meantime, even without a specifically authorized independent investigation, we continue to act independently when we encounter footdragging on the part of the majority. For example, the FBI Niger investigation was done solely at the request of the vice chairman. We have independently submitted written requests to the DOD and we are preparing further independent requests for information.

"SUMMARY: Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public's concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq. Yet we have an important role to play in revealing the misleading, if not flagrantly dishonest, methods and motives of senior administration officials who made the case for unilateral preemptive war.

I'm calling BS on their summary--intelligence issues are not secondary to legitimate concern about the violence in Iraq. Protecting our intelligence is vital to winning the war and maintaining national security generally--bad or badly handled intelligence gets people killed. As members of the Intelligence Committee they should know that, and it shouldn't take a blogger to point it out. If the Dems play politics with intelligence, they will demonstrate that they in fact lack intelligence--and it will cost them dearly at the polls.

This also reminds me of what a group of California Dems plotted in the months before the recall:

SACRAMENTO — In a meeting they thought was private but was actually broadcast around the Capitol on Monday, 11 Assembly Democrats debated prolonging California's budget crisis to further their political goals. Members of the Democratic Study Group, a caucus that defines itself as progressive, were unaware that a microphone in Committee Room 127 was on as they discussed slowing progress in an attempt to increase pressure on Republicans to accept tax increases as part of a deal to resolve the state's $38-billion budget gap.

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

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

We all know how that turned out.

Democrat party hacks to the poor and anyone who's serious about winning the war: Drop dead!

UPDATE: Sen. Roberts calls the memo a "slap in the face."

Roberts said the memo stunned him: "It's like a personal slap in the face. I'm very frustrated by it."

"We cannot politicize the committee," he said. "No member of the intelligence community wants to come up and testify before a committee that is whipsawed by politics. In addition, once this becomes public, or more public, every intelligence agency in the world will take note of it.

"And quite frankly, I think this will give some comfort to terrorists," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday evening. "We have to put back together some semblance of a bipartisan committee."

(thanks to Hanks on the update)

UPDATE: Steven Den Beste comments--wherever you stand on the memo, read his post. It illuminates the real problem with some of these investigations--they do bring about a heightened possibility that in the process of vetting our pre-war intel problems, we end up giving the terrorists a goldmine of data about us.

UPDATE: Sen. Zell Miller says heads should roll.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:50 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack


Best of the Web notes:

"I didn't believe last year we should have given George Bush a blank check in Iraq. He said he was going to go to the U.N., instead he started a war. Now we're trying to give him another blank check. There's no telling what's going to happen." --Gen. Wesley Clark, during a Democrat presidential debate (emphasis mine)

That "blank check" has lots of zeroes on it--it's the $87 billion approved to help rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. Does one of his campaign handlers need to sit him down and explain the meaning of "blank."

Maybe they should also warm the suit with stars up on a little history: Bush did go to the UN. Remember, the big speech, Syria voting with us, all that? He even got it to pass a resolution, numbered 1441, which called for Saddam Hussein to allow inspectors to return and for serious consequences if he didn't fully comply.

He didn't fully comply. He got his serious consequences, as per 1441. Clark needs to get a clue.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Former Soviet dissident and political prisoner Natan Sharansky examines the roots of anti-Semitism over the past 2,000 years, and connects it to the recent rise of global anti-Americanism--but not in the way you probably expect. It's too good to capture in a couple of quotes, but here's a try:

Decades before "occupation" became a household word, the mood in European chancelleries and on the Left turned decidedly hostile. There were, to be sure, venal interests at stake, from the perceived need to curry favor with the oil-producing nations of the Arab world to, in later years, the perceived need to pander to the growing Muslim populations in Western Europe itself. But other currents were also at work, as anti-Western, anti-"imperialist," pacifist, and pro-liberationist sentiments, fanned and often subsidized by the USSR, took over the advanced political culture both of Europe and of international diplomacy. Behind the new hostility to Israel lay the new ideological orthodoxy, according to whose categories the Jewish state had emerged on the world scene as a certified "colonial" and "imperialist" power, a "hegemon," and an "oppressor."


TO AMERICANS, the process I have been describing may sound eerily familiar. It should: Americans, too, have had numerous opportunities to see their nation in the dock of world opinion over recent years for the crime of rejecting the values of the so-called international community, and never more so than during the widespread hysteria that greeted President Bush’s announced plan to dismantle the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein. In dozens of countries, protesters streamed into the streets to voice their fury at this refusal of the United States to conform to what "everybody" knew to be required of it. To judge from the placards on display at these rallies, President Bush, the leader of the free world, was a worse enemy of mankind than the butcher of Baghdad.

At first glance, this too must have seemed incomprehensible. Saddam Hussein was one of the world’s most brutal dictators, a man who had gassed his own citizens, invaded his neighbors, defied Security Council resolutions, and was widely believed to possess weapons of mass destruction. But no matter: the protests were less about Iraqi virtue than about American vice, and the grievances aired by the assorted anti-capitalists, anti-globalists, radical environmentalists, self-styled anti-imperialists, and many others who assembled to decry the war had little to do with the possible drawbacks of a military operation in Iraq. They had to do, rather, with a genuine clash of values.

Indeed. Read the whole thing.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Well, here we go again. The Seattle-Intelligencer mangled a quote from Rep. George Nethercutt (full context here, including Maureen Dowd's repetition of the butchery). Caught, they didn't retract, but rather sneered that he deserved it. And now the illustrious Paul Krugman, a week now past the original quote-trick, gets into the act too.

If anyone out there can find one example of Fox doing this--altering a quote to change its original meaning, let alone refusing to retract--send it in. Krugman apologists, there is no excuse for this kind of work. It's beyond sloppy, to actively deceptive, and the Times should bust both Krugman and Dowd for this kind of work. Right? It's unethical to treat quotes this way. Right?

MORE: Krugman also Dowdified Grover Norquist on June 6, 2003.

Any takers on the Fox challenge yet? Didn't think so.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


InstaPundit's debating with himself and others, and mostly as an exercise in understanding the current Iraq situation, how Americans and especially the press viewed the European occupation after World War II. If you read the contemporary press accounts, it all sounds familiar--botched anti-Nazification, starving and restive masses (replace starving with lack of utilities for Iraq if you want to), hand-wringing about WHAT WENT WRONG, etc. But Instadude writes in one post that the Marshall Plan came along later, and that by implication prior to its onset we had a hard time grappling with the occupation's full scope.

Not true, or at least not necessarily. The idea that we would first win the war and then rebuild Europe was around as early as 1942. Reader Occam sent me a couple of mp3's from Fibber McGee, and writes:

In case you're wondering how much positive attention a Howard Dean would have received from the mass media in 1942..........

These are typical of most network
shows during the war, but Fibber did a better job of
incorporating the required propaganda into the plot line.

The first cut, Nursing, is a brief speech by the character
of Mayor LaTrivia, showing that the idea of the Marshall
Plan was already well-known, and part of our internal
propaganda, at that early date.

The second, Chucklehead, is a song warning
listeners not to behave like Howard Dean.

Here are the files:



Listen for yourself--we were more serious back then, both about the war and about how to deal with its aftermath. Now, everything is just another political football.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 03, 2003


Comparable to the Stasi files retrieved after the fall of East Germany, files seized in post-Saddam Iraq have become a bonanza for US investigators:

According to The Wall Street Journal, some information gleaned from the files had already permitted the FBI to open new criminal and espionage investigations in the United States.

The documents also show Saddam's intention to acquire North Korean missiles with a greater range than the 150 kilometers (93 miles) allowed by the United Nations.

Those North Korean missiles are apparently the No Dong type (bad name for a missile, btw), with a range of 1300 km. That's a causus belli, for those of you playing along at home. And then there's this:

Names of nearly all of Saddam's intelligence agents inside and outside Iraq were found in the files, the two dailies said, along with their written reports, evaluations of their work and payments made to influence officials of other countries.

The recipients of the payments included many high-ranking officials, businessmen and politicians who had agreed to defend Saddam and the regime in public, the newspapers said.

Dominique de Villepin, call your lawyer. Yevgeniy Primakov, you might want to do the same.

***No, I don't have a shred of evidence that these two were on Saddam's payroll. But they sure acted like it, both before and after the war.***

Posted by B. Preston at 08:49 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Dan Drezner's Slate article takes on the idea that cronyism has been the Bush administration's method of awarding reconstruction contracts in Iraq--and finds that it has no basis.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


I heard the news--the shootdown of a US Chinook helicopter, resulting in the deaths of over two-dozen US soldiers--while getting ready for church yesterday morning. I was saddened, of course, and immediately thought of the son of a friend of mine.

That son was in the Army Reserves prior to the Iraq war, but got called up to serve in a rear echelon position in Kuwait back in February. Last week, his father mentioned to me that his citizen soldier son would soon head north for a month-long stint near the former Saddam Hussein International Airport outside Baghdad. When I heard of the downed Chinook, I wondered.

The Chinooks have had me wondering for a while, actually. They are large and slow, and make easy targets for anyone with a little training and a heat-seeking missile to fire at them. Restricting them to night flights around Fallujah, hotbed of pro-Saddam and Islamist activity in Iraq, makes sense. Darkness makes them harder to see and thus harder to hit; the flash of a missile firing can help pinpoint the attacker for a quick takedown.

It turns out my friend's son is alright. He'd already arrived at the airport several days before, and has even had time to explore one of Saddam's former palaces. From the sound of his voice on the satellite phone, his dad says he sounds like he's living some grand adventure. Asked about the safety of flying in and out of the airport, he replied that all the aircraft are firing countermeasures as they take off, which should distract any anti-air missiles long enough for the planes to get away. And the airport is surrounded by the US 4th ID, so it's unlikely that any of the Saddamites or their terrorist allies will get close enough to hit anything. But it is a war; one never knows how close the bad guys can get until they strike.

The press reporting on US casualties is of course necessary, but curiously devoid of context. In the first ten minutes of D-Day, we lost more troops than we have lost in this entire war, including both the Afghan and Iraq campaigns. We lost many thousands on useless rocks with names like Iwo Jima, and in deserts far from any useful harbor or base, and out at sea hundreds of miles from land. The deaths of our soldiers are always horrible, but thus far in this war our military has yet to receive a significant scratch, let alone lose an actual battle. In World War II, we lost the Philippines for a while--an entire protectorate taken from us by force, our defeated soldiers marched to their deaths afterward. Iraq has given us no such pain, and is unlikely to. Our present casualty rate is almost miraculous by comparison.

And that's true even if you count all the military deaths that have taken place in Iraq, not just combat deaths. As Susanna Cornett notes, total US deaths in Iraq may be twice the reported number of combat deaths--soldiers killed in everything from traffic accidents to drownings. Yet our journalist class whispers, as though hoping that each combat death of a US soldier conjures up demons of Mogadishu and forces an eventual withdrawal.

Looking down the road, we will probably reach a kind of magic number in another year or two. On 9-11, we lost roughly 2,800 souls to the hands of terrorists. Thus far our response has been measured and precise, and our combat deaths limited to fewer than 1,000 total, in the conquest of two countries. When our post-May 1 casualty total equalled our pre-May 1 totals in Iraq, May 1 being the date when President Bush declared an end to major hostilities, the press reminded us in sombre tones that we now had actually lost more troops in the "peace" than in the war, slyly rebuking the President for announcing the combat phase ended. The word "major" apparently escaped their notice. What will the press and critics say when, not if, our total casualties surpass that magic 2,800 dead on 9-11?

We will reach that number. At the rate we're going it will take a while, possibly two or three more years, but we will reach it if we continue to prosecute the war. Will the press, ever quick to Vietnamize Iraq, actually Vietnamize its verbiage to inform the public that at that war's height we lost 500 soldiers per week, compared to less than a thousand per year in this war? Don't bet on it. The press will likely write that we have now lost more soldiers in trying to kill the terrorists than the terrorists actually killed, as though the deaths on 9-11 are the only ones for which Osama et al should be held accountable. The magic tally will form a kind of moral equivalence for the press and the anti-war left, who with a collective finger wag will tell us all how foolish and misguided we were to think we could win the war by resorting to the tactics of the enemy.

Of course, we have done no such thing. The terrorists kill indescriminately, stock brokers in their offices, sergeants delivering documents, two-year-old girls on their first trip to Disneyland, firemen and cops who tried to rescue the dying, while we go out of our way to avoid any civilian casualties. We have conquered Afghanistan and Iraq not to destroy or despoil them, but to lift them out of tyranny and oppression, not because doing so makes us feel good but because we have to. And that is point; no matter how bad it may seem once in a while, we have to do this. It is not a war of choice as some describe it. We cannot allow the festering cauldrons of radical Islamism to continue spewing out killers. We cannot allow regimes that foster and sponsor terrorism to exist, and we cannot allow the nexus of rogue states and terror groups to produce a radical Islamic bomb. We cannot.

We can't lose heart every time we lose a soldier or a platoon of soldiers. If we do lose heart and pull back, the next grim headline we read could be the epitaph for several thousand more Americans, killed while they were innocently going about their day.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


From Mark Steyn's take on the "metrosexual" Democrats:

The really ''fraudulent'' coalition is the one Kerry wants: one that gives the Belgians and Syrians a veto over U.S. action for nothing in return. The ''fraudulent'' coalition is Clark's from the Kosovo war, where all ''allies'' were entitled to advance operational information regardless of whether they were actually contributing to any of the operations, and where, as Clark himself noted in his memoir, ''one of the French officers working at NATO headquarters had given key portions of the operations plans to the Serbs.''

Sheesh, you'd think the French want us to fail at every turn or something.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


John Hawkins lands another big fish--this time, the long-time CBS newsman and author of Bias and the upcoming Arrogance, Bernard Goldberg.

In reading through the piece, which is very well done, John asks Goldberg a very interesting question:

John Hawkins: How is Fox News perceived by most of the media insiders you talk too? Are they looked at as a hot commodity they need to take lessons from or as conservative Philistines...

That question got my attention, because I've seen it answered with my own eyes. I'm not going to name names, but I've spent a little time around a very well-known news anchor in the past two or three years on a couple of occassions. It has all been in an entirely professional setting, and I have to say that this anchor is in every way a decent, hardworking, even humble person. He is a genuinely nice guy, friendly and affable until the subject of Fox News comes up. I'll let Goldberg's answer tell the story:

Bernard Goldberg: They're looked at several ways. In a commercial sense, they're looked at as doing something right because people like to watch them and their ratings are going up each month basically, while the networks ratings are going down. There are people at the networks who think that Bill O'Reilly does a good job.

But the standard liberal reaction when you say "Fox News," is to roll their eyes. It's like a reflexive action. You know, it's like you hit someone in the knee and their leg goes up? You say "Fox News" and a liberal's eyes start rolling. They don't think they're balanced, they think they're a conservative network.

Well, a couple of things. Do they have a conservative sensibility? Yes. But, they have a lot of liberal guest on Fox. If you watch Fox for a week solid, count up all the guests and then break it down to basically liberals and conservatives, it'll come pretty close to 50/50. Now does O'Reilly seem to the right-of-center, is Hannity definitely to the right of center? Yes. But Alan Colmes is to the left-of-center and I don't know what Greta Van Susteren is...

Keep in mind that Goldberg is a liberal; read the top of John's interview for the details on that. But he's right--I've seen it myself. The eye rolling, the dismissive tone, the "Sheesh, those people are destroying journalism," is all real. And they're symptoms of what's wrong with network TV news.

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


Read Jay Nordlinger today. An exerpt:

A lot of us have said, since 9/11, that if the Democrats had had power — executive power — they would have treated that day, primarily, as a "legal incident" (much like the World Trade Center bombing of 1993). This allegation might seem unduly harsh, unfair. But I give you a couple of quotes collected by Morton Kondracke, and then disseminated by Bushies.

From Wesley Clark: "[After September 11, America] should have immediately gone to the United Nations, developed a legal definition of terrorism — and indicted Osama bin Laden." And from John Kerry: "This war on terror is far less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering, law-enforcement operation."

That squares extremely well with my own experiences with rank and file Dems in the aftermath of 9-11--to treat it as primarily a law enforcement issue, as opposed to the war it actually is.

Here's another exerpt:

Joe Lieberman has cut an ad claiming courage for supporting the $87 billion for Iraq. He says, "That's the price we're paying because George Bush antagonized our allies and had no plan to win the peace."

"Our allies," huh? That must mean Germany and France — only. (You could throw lovely Belgium in there, too.) To hell with such negligible nations as Great Britain, Australia, Italy, Spain, and Poland. And to hell with the scores of others countries that make up a 90-state coalition.

That coalition is about the same size and composition as the one we stormed Normandy with in 1944, for those of you keeping score at home. But with one big difference: Japan is no longer an empire, and is on our side this time.

MORE: Read Safire too.

UPDATE: And read this piece too--it's about one of the nations that didn't follow us into Iraq, and what it was doing while we built up to war. It makes the case I've made before--that whatever you want to say about the French, they're not our allies and haven't been for decades. The sooner we learn that, the better.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 02, 2003


Alex over at The 12th_Man has put together a pretty nice blog. He writes about everything, has a pic of the day and even links to tools that can translate his site into any of several languages. He gets this week's Good Blog link--it's in a new section over on the right.

I plan, or hope, or at least intend, to put up a new Good Blog link a couple of times a month. The idea is to give blogs that may not have gotten much exposure a little bit. If you have or know of a blog that's a)good, b)not yet very well-known, drop me a line in email--junkyardblog-at-hotmail-dot-com--and I'll check it out. Good blogs don't have to agree with my take on things, they just have to be good, which means they should try and base their arguments on facts and principles, or if they're not arguing for or against anything, they just have to read well. As you might have guessed, there aren't any established criteria here. It could even be a photoblog or artblog, as long it's interesting.

Oh, and those of you who were kind enough to drop me a note last time around, those blogs are still in the running for the next Good Blog link.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:37 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack