February 14, 2004


Meanwhile, there's still a war on.

In Iraq, non-Iraqi guerrillas attacked a police station and freed inmates. None of the prisoners were suspected insurgents--they were garden-variety murderers, thieves and thugs. The attack is apparently a successful attempt to sow chaos and to break the back of the newly trained Iraqi police force.

In the good news department, the US and Liberia have reached a deal that will allow US Navy personnel to board and search any ship flying the Liberian flag that they suspect of trafficking in WMDs or components. That may not sound like a big deal, but Liberia is one of a hanful of states that offers lax rules and low fees for flagged vessels, thus around 2,000 foreign ships actually sail under the Liberian flag.

This board-and-search deal looks to be part of an overall plan to curb terrorist and weapons traffic on the high seas. Look for a similar deal with Panama in the next few weeks, as Panama is the only country that exceeds Liberia in the number of foreign ships flying its flag.

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

February 13, 2004


Isn't it ironic that the party of draft dodging, never-release-his-medical-records Bill Clinton will not even be satisfied by tonight's full Bush doc dump? It is ironic, and sad.

Credibility means nothing anymore. Nothing. Fairness? It's a meaningless word. Privacy? It's privacy for me, but not for thee.

Now, to be fair, Bush is no longer a private citizen. He's the president. He chose to let us all scrutinize his life when he decided to run for the job. But he also told us that when he was young and irresponsible, he was in fact both young and irresponsible. If anything, his military and medical records seem to prove that he was a bit less irresponsible than we all thought. Sure, he drank too much sometimes. He got into fender-benders when he was a teen, and earned a few speeding tickets. But did we really need to know that he had symptoms of hemorrhoids thirty years ago?

The speeding young man became a fighter pilot. I guess he just likes to go fast. But not everyone can become a fighter pilot, even if his dad is a Congressman. High performance aircraft are difficult to master.

He became a pretty good pilot of a pretty difficult aircraft, the F-102. He once asked about going to Vietnam, but was turned down. The 102 was primarily a defensive system, its purpose being to intercept Soviet nuclear bombers en route to US targets. It wasn't very useful in Vietnam, so any F-102 pilot was unlikely to go to Vietnam. But still, some in Bush's unit did go to Vietnam before he joined. Based on that, he may have had reason to believe he could end up there too. But he didn't, so now he's being accused of cowardice and desertion. It's non sequitur, but that's par for the course for today's left.

Today's left sees a US president defending the homeland from actual Nazi-like enemies and calls that president "Hitler." They call his administration "Bushreich" even while it is liberating millions and offering them a chance, their first chance, at the kind of freedom we take for granted. They pause once in a while to try and compare the Bush administration to Communism. Consistency was the left's first casualty, and truth and honesty and proportion and fairness followed soon after. Now they're just on a grand fishing expedition to see what sort of monsters they can catch.

Those on the left who didn't follow the Hitler line have still found ways to slur the president. He's a "deserter," "his" war is all about oil or Halliburton or some such. Not about the 3,000 who died that September day, and not about turning back the menace that killed them. Oil. Halliburton. "Bush KNEW!" they say, and they sell books and videos to "prove" it.

The left sees the world as a better place without America. I think it is as simple as that. Or to be more accurate, the left sees the world as a better place without America if it happens to be led by a man and a party with whom they disagree. When the left is in power, America can do no wrong, or if it does wrong it still meant well. But when the right is in power, America must be restrained by the UN. America cannot be trusted even to defend herself. America is backward, ignorant, brutal and evil. Every outside critic of America is automatically right, no matter who they are or how brutally they treat their own citizens. America's leader must be brought down by any means necessary. The left sees the world in shades from white to black with lots of grays, but it seems that it sees only one true source for evil--its own countrymen, who happen to hail from the other party and see things a little differently. How truly stupid the left is on this point.

We agree, left and right, on the big issues. We're all little r republicans and little d democrats. We believe to some extent in federalism, in checks and balances, in the rule of law. Around the rest of the world in the vast majority of countries, such basic agreements are impossible to reach. But we settled them long ago here, only to find ourselves torn apart by mutual distrust. That is going to be our undoing.

Sometimes I believe that we have no stomach to defend ourselves anymore. Internicine conflict has already displaced, for a number now approaching a majority, the terrorist threat that left unchecked will kill again. We will pay the price for all this, someday. We will be too busy strangling one another to notice the man with a nuclear weapon aimed at both of us. And then it will be too late to put our differences aside.

So anyway, the president has released his records. Coming late on a Friday, even if there's no "there" there, even if the other shoe can't drop because the first one never did, it won't be enough to satisfy the left or mollify conspiracy theories. The goalposts are already uprooted and on the move again.

What will satisfy the people who looked the other way when their guy lied about everything under the Sun? Nothing. Nothing will satisfy them. Some little niggling detail in Bush's records will get trumped up to make a whole new scandal, and we'll be into the hall of mirrors again. They will mock some minor infraction, or chuckle at some small embarassing detail, and try and find another scandal to create. The same people that thought nothing of subpoenaed records turning up in the private quarters of the White House two years past due are howling that this White House took five days to gather up and release Bush's entire military record.

They're liars. And they don't care. When you don't believe in objective truth, how can you lie?

They will not be satisfied until they have George W. Bush's political head in their trophy case, even if it means letting al Qaeda rebuild its training camps, revamp its WMD programs, and recalibrate for future attacks on us. They don't care about the war, and thus don't care if we win or lose it.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:30 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


While the left is alllllll over the Bush non-story, maybe they can take some time out to prove another negative--that John Kerry didn't award himself all those medals.

No, I'm not making that up. It's a legit issue:

"Three caveats to remember before examining JFK's war record:

"(1) Medal inflation. The Viet Nam War (VNW) was unpopular; in unpopular wars medals are generously awarded to try (usually unsuccessfully) to boost the morale of personnel and/or alter public opinion [the Wehrmacht on the Russian Front comes to mind]. The Navy was especially troublesome in this area because the majority of Naval personnel (aviators being the most prominent exception) in the VN theater were almost never exposed to enemy fire -- there were virtually no naval battles in the VNW (probably not even Ton-kin Gulf as it turns out). River patrol craft personnel were thus the Navy's entree into the medal arena -- they got lots of them.


"(2) Three and out. It was a naval tradition -- NOT AN OFFICIAL POLICY OR REGULATION -- that allowed personnel with three Purple Hearts to transfer to non-combat duty. JFK was well aware of this tradition.

True about the tradition part, probably true about Kerry's knowledge, too.

"(3) JFK's Rank. Although JFK was not a high ranking officer he was always the highest ranking officer ON THE SCENE -- these were small craft and small operations. Enlisted men would be unlikely to risk contradicting JFK's account of what happened -- and 'boot lickers' would be encouraged to corroborate him. As ranking officer he was the one writing the eye-witness reports. In a sense his medals -- though approved by higher-ups -- were 'self awarded.' (my emphasis)

True, as regards who writes up the report. Therefore, probably true that in a sense Kerry's medals were self-awarded.

"With these three caveats firmly in mind let's look at JFK's record:

"JFK experienced his first intense combat action on 2 December 1968. He was slightly wounded on his arm, he was awarded his first Purple Heart.

"JFK was awarded his second Purple Heart after sustaining a minor shrapnel wound in his left thigh on 20 February 1969.

"JFK was given a Silver Star for an action on 28 February 1969: JFK's Patrol Craft received a B-40 rocket shot from shore, he beached his craft in the center of the enemy positions and an enemy soldier sprang up from a nearby (10-15 ft.) hole and fled. The boat's forward machine gunner hit and wounded the fleeing VC as he darted behind a hooch. The twin .50s gunner also fired at the VC. The gunner said he 'laid 50 rounds' into the hooch before JFK leaped from the boat and dashed in to administer a 'coup de grace' to the soldier. JFK returned with a B-40 rocket and launcher. [In contrast, Army and Marine personnel were -- and are still -- routinely trained to engage and close with the enemy. Had JFK been commanding a platoon or rifle company this action -- going towards and not running away from enemy fire -- would have been routine.]

"On March 13, 1969, a mine [this is dubious; marine mines were hardly used by NV forces; it was probably a propelled grenade of some type] detonated near JFK's boat, slighting wounding Kerry in the right arm. He was awarded his third Purple Heart. On the basis of these awards JFK then petitioned to be removed from combat operations. Interestingly JFK also made sure to have the men who served in his craft transferred to safer positions (easy to due in the VNW Navy) -- perhaps to ensure their endorsement of his actions."

Actually, I do have one quibble with the above. Some accounts have Kerry administering that "coup de grace" on the wounded Vietnamese soldier in a way that would make it a war crime.

I only bring this up since "everything's on the table."

Posted by B. Preston at 05:23 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


William Hawkins is looking into Kerry's post-Vietnam anti-war activities with Vietnam Veterans Against the War:

The VVAW showed more sympathy for those who refused to serve than those who did. According to the group's own history, "VVAW fought for amnesty for war resisters, including vets with bad discharges."This is an interesting fact to set beside Kerry's attempt today to denigrate President Bush's honorable service as a fighter pilot with the Air National Guard.

The Vietnam War was part of the larger Cold War struggle. Mr. Kerry acknowledged this in his testimony, but attributed it to "paranoia about the Russians." The Soviets provided North Vietnam with the heavy weapons that allowed it to invade South Vietnam -- and to kill 50,000 Americans.

In return for this military aid, the victorious Hanoi regime allowed the Soviets to base bombers and warships at the former U.S. base at Da Nang. This deployment was of strategic importance as it outflanked the U.S.-Japanese alliance which hemmed in Russia's northern naval bases.

VVAW is still active in left-wing circles, protesting American imperialism. Two weeks after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, VVAW issued a statement declaring "The use of massive military power will only escalate the cycle of violence, spreading more death and destruction to more innocent people with no end in sight. ... We see many parallels between Vietnam and Afghanistan."

It went on to blame America for provoking the attacks, saying "our country has to address the reasons behind the violence that has now come to our shores. The seeds of this anger and hatred were sown over many years. For over a century, Western corporations have dominated the Middle East to profit from its oil. For the last 50 years, the United States has supported Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands and has helped prop up corrupt regimes in some Arab countries."

Forget the intern thing. Kerry's VVAW activities deserve scrutiny somewhere besides the blogosphere.

And in connection with the larger Cold War struggle, it's probably worth noting how the Vietcong saw anti-war protestors such as Kerry--allies.

So should we hold Kerry responsible for views he held when he was a much younger man? Only if he still holds them, which it appears he does:

Mr. Kerry cannot be held directly responsible for what VVAW has done since he left the group, but neither has he denounced its activities. His campaign Website proudly mentions his VVAW membership, and the VVAW prominently displays its ties to Mr. Kerry.

And many of their public positions continue to match. VVAW thinks "Iraq, along with its oil and humanitarian problems should be turned over to the U.N. and international humanitarian organizations," which is also candidate John Kerry's position. And Mr. Kerry's long Senate career has been marked by opposition to military programs and defense spending.

John Kerry should answer for this.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


To whoever just dropped a few bucks on the JYB, domo arigato!

And just a reminder to anyone thinking of following our anonymous donor's kind gesture--we have a PayPal button, BlogAds and an Amazon Associates account, links on the right.

Just sayin'.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Bush was AWOL had reached version 2.3 as of yesterday. 1.0 was the initial allegation raised during Bush's run for governor of Texas and repeated in 2000. 2.0 popped up briefly last summer and then again when obnoxious fake documentarian Michael Moore dubbed Dub "the deserter" a few weeks back. So then the press and Dems (forgive the redundancy) demanded Bush's records, which he supplied. The pressDems weren't satisfied, and v2.1 was released--subtitled We Need Witnesses. So a couple come forward, and the pressDems still weren't satisfied. Thus we moved to v2.2, Your Witnesses Don't Convince Us That You're Innocent Even Though We Have No Evidence That You're Guilty, in which the pressDems found a couple of Alabama National Guard vets who claim to have never seen Bush on their base even though they were looking for him. But they gave their game away when then mentioned that, among other places, they looked for him on the flightline (for the uninitiated, that's the big long strip of pavement that airplanes use to take off, "runway" in civilian lingo). If these guys knew as much as they claimed to know about Bush, they would have known that he wasn't in flight status when he was in Alabama. The flightline was probably the last place you'd look to find him, since he was a desk jocket at that point and was busy with his real job, i.e. the political gig that brought him to 'Bammy in the first place. The National Guard was at that point a part-time job for Bush, and as such he had some flexibility to move drill dates around to suit his schedule. And since his "drill" couldn't include flying, it probably amounted to holing up in an office for a few hours at a time and moving paperwork around. Not the sort of duty that makes an impression on complete strangers.


So we had v2.3--Our Witnesses Trump Your Witnesses, even though the pressDems' witnesses tell a story that's pretty easy to dismiss on the facts.

Well, the whole basis for the AWOL story itself, the original charge that Bush's military records were purged back in 1997, has just collapsed. The man that made the original record-purge charge has been exposed: He made the whole thing up:

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Bill Burkett, who has been pressing his charges in the national news media this week, says he even heard one high-ranking officer issue a 1997 order to sanitize the Bush file, and later saw another officer poring over the records and discovered that some had been discarded.

But a key witness to some of the events described by Burkett has told the Globe that the central elements of his story are false. George O. Conn, a former chief warrant officer with the Guard and a friend of Burkett's, is the person whom Burkett says led him to the room where the Bush records were being vetted. But Conn says he never saw anyone combing through the Bush file or discarding records.

"I have no recall of that," Conn said. "I have no recall of that whatsoever. None. Zip. Nada."

Conn's recollection also undercuts another of Burkett's central allegations: that he overheard Bush's onetime chief of staff, Joe M. Allbaugh, telling a Texas Guard general to make sure there were no embarrassments in the Bush record. Burkett says he told Conn, over dinner that same night, what he had overheard. But Conn says that, although Burkett told him he worried that the Bush record would be sanitized, he never mentioned overhearing the conversation between Allbaugh and General Daniel James III.

Now if someone went to you and said "Hey, let's go purge the governor's military record," you'd remember it, right? Conn says it didn't happen. And there's no evidence that it did.

Not satisfied? There's more:

Conn contradicts most of Burkett's rendition. He said that he remembers introducing Burkett to Scribner at the museum but that Scribner never said he was going over the Bush file. "If he had said he was going through George W. Bush's records I would have dropped my teeth. Wow," Conn said. "I would definitely have remembered that. I don't recall that at all."

Burkett also says that, before the encounter with Scribner, he was standing with a group of Guard officers, and heard a ranking officer order Scribner to review the Bush file and remove any documents that might be embarrassing to the then-governor.

But Scribner told the Globe yesterday that no such thing occurred. "It didn't happen. I wasn't even there," Scribner said.

Next I suppose the pressDems will demand that Scribner prove that he wasn't there. If so, that will probably constitute v2.4.

As for Burkett, the man who made the original accusation:

Burkett has, in the past, raised his allegations about the Bush records as part of his personal struggle with the Guard over medical benefits. For instance, in a 1998 letter to Texas state Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, Burkett complained that he had not received adequate medical care when he became seriously ill after returning from a mission to Panama.

Original plaintiff impeached, motive cited, no evidence corroborating his story. That should just about end the Bush was AWOL run. The pressDems will have to scare up another scandal.

UPDATE: Get those post-hole diggers ready, Democrats. You have some goalposts to move.

A retired Alabama Air National Guard officer said Friday that he remembers George W. Bush showing up for duty in Alabama in 1972, reading safety magazines and flight manuals in an office as he performed his weekend obligations.

"I saw him each drill period," retired Lt. Col. John "Bill" Calhoun said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Daytona Beach, Fla., where he is preparing to watch this weekend's big NASCAR race.

"He was very aggressive about doing his duty there. He never complained about it. ... He was very dedicated to what he was doing in the Guard. He showed up on time and he left at the end of the day."


Calhoun is named in 187th unit rosters obtained by the AP as serving under the deputy commander of operations plans. Bush was in Alabama on non-flying status.

"He sat in my office most of the time - he would read," Calhoun said. "He had your training manuals from your aircraft he was flying. He'd study those some. He'd read safety magazines, which is a common thing for pilots."

Original plaintiff impeached, credible eye witness for the defense found.

When you Dems pick a new spot for your goalposts, try to make sure the topsoil isn't so shallow next time. I'd hate to see them fall over and bop you on the head.

(thanks to Hanks)

UPDATE: That didn't take long. I see the Goalpost Advance Team captain already has a new hole dug: Now it's not about whether Bush served (because is has been proven that he did), but the quality of his service, and since everyone isn't in perfect lockstep agreement we must default to any explanation that will put Bush in the worst possible light. And this from a man who never spent a millisecond of his pampered life in uniform. Sheesh. On the other hand, I'm more than happy to watch Democrats chase Michael Moore's red herrings. I love the smell of scorched Democrat credibility, any time of day or night.

UPDATE: Calpundit is still chasing this non-story, even suggesting that he will help the media understand military records.


How many years did you spend in the military, Kevin? None. Ok, then. By what experience do you claim to know a #$%$ thing about the military? None. Ok, then.

The goalposts just keep moving and moving. Now it's not about AWOL, but about...well, it's hard to say. Until they lock onto something to justify themselves, I'll hold off releasing v2.4. But I suspect it's coming. They just won't give this thing up until it blows up in their faces.

Steve Verdon has officially declared the whole thing a fishing trip--not a serious story, but a quest to find one by pestering Bush until something spinnable falls out.

He's right. That's exactly what this whole thing is.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:50 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


See that dog up in the masthead? He's got a nasty bite.

Any Mobyists who try and stir up trouble in this blog will be summarily banned. No questions, no discussion--you're toast. And I'm a little quicker on the uptake than Andrew Sullivan--you won't get your fake letters published and discussed here. From the looks of things, he has two fakes posted today. Sheesh.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:17 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 12, 2004


I'm not going to spend much time on the Kerry intern thing, except to note that it most likely came from Democrat sources. Watchblog floated the story first, on February 6. Watchblog is run by a guy named Cameron Barrett who worked for the Clark campaign.

The Clark campaign employed Chris Lehane, evil spinmeister for the Dems who also worked for Al Gore in 2000. He also briefly worked for Kerry last year, before moving to the Clark campaign. Lehane was in a position to know about the intern thing. Interestingly, wherever Lehane shows up, disaster seems to strike. When he was an Al Gore partisan, Gore lost. When he was with Kerry, Kerry was a bottom-feeder. Gen. Clark entered the race as a knight on a white horse, only to exit midway into the primary season--Lehane was one of Clark's major hires.

But this trick--the Kerry intern thing--may be Lehane's most diabolical trick to date. The GOP is already taking the heat for this one, in spite of the obvious trail of crumbs leading from the Clark campaign via Barrett to Watchblog and finally to wider distribution. It seems, well maybe not clear but less murky than appearances might suggest, that since Clark dropped the "Kerry will implode over an intern" statement as long as a week ago, and that since a blog run by one of Clark's web consultants was the first to float the story, and since Chris Lehane is known for this sort of thing, that the Clark people are behind this. Their reasons are obscure at this point, unless you buy the Hillary-as-savior meme--where she comes in after all the other candidates self-destruct to "save the party." Sometimes I buy that, sometimes I don't. It has a lot of moving parts.

In any case, Lehane or whoever seems to have created the perfect storm scandal--it will probably innoculate Kerry from virtually any future scandal if it doesn't sink him in the next few days, and all the negative blowback will hit the GOP. That's just the way it works. The media, if it decides to chase the story, will do the obligatory rounds with Kerry, and that's when he may sink but I'm not at all sure that he will. If it does sink him, why, look over there--it's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's just Lenin in drag, and she's here to save us all!

What I am sure will happen is that the media focus will quickly turn to Karl Rove, whether he had anything to do with this or not (and to date there's no evidence that he did). He'll become the lightning rod. Remember, much of the early Valerie Plame stories suggested either Rove or someone in Cheney's office, maybe Cheney himself, leaked it. Rove remained the shadow behind all those stories though, even the ones that accused Cheney.

The story will morph into an assault on those mean Republicans and their dirty, smutty smear machine. Like Willie Horton, Kerry's intern fling (supposing that it's real, and supposing the story has legs) will be another Democrat internecine smear that the GOP will never live down.

That's how politics works. Bill Clinton dodged the draft and "loathed the military"=non-story. George W. Bush served his time and got out=He was AWOL! It does no good to ignore reality, folks. We might as well hunker down and deal with events as they come for the next few months. It is going to get very ugly.

The shame is, we're fighting a war. Well, some of us are. About half the country wants to pretend that it's a war of choice they can opt out of, even when the opening salvo was fired on our soil. This election needs to be about that war. How should we fight it? What will winning it mean, and what will victory look like? Big questions. It has been clear that the Dems have wanted to run away from the reality of war since around September 15, 2001. These scandal stories may give them their chance to compete in an election in the midst of war, and the election not hinge in any way on that war. The country deserves better than this. Or at least I used to think so.

(links via Jonah Goldberg)

Posted by B. Preston at 11:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Maybe. Caught him allegedly passing info to the bad guys:

SEATTLE - A member of the Washington National Guard’s 81st Armored Brigade has been taken into custody and charged with attempting to pass intelligence information to the Al-Qaida terrorist network.

According to an NBC news report, SPC. Ryan G. Anderson was arrested Thursday at Fort Lewis, Wash. The report, citing U.S. Military and Justice Department officials, said Anderson, a 26-year-old tank crew member, was caught during a joint sting operation and has been charged with “aiding the enemy by wrongfully attempting to communicate and give intelligence to the Al-Quida terrorist network."

Interesting tidbit:

According to published reports, Anderson converted to the Muslim faith 5 years ago.

Hmm. John Muhammad. Hasan Ackhbar. Arabic linguists at the FBI. I sense a pattern here.

An al Qaeda operative sought to recruit U.S. veterans as paramilitary trainers and combat volunteers in 1992 and 1993, at the explicit direction of a cleric who converted thousands of Gulf War soldiers to Islam on behalf of the Saudi government.

Clement Rodney Hampton-El was convicted of conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks in a 1993 terror plot linked to the World Trade Center bombing in February of that year. (courtesy IntelWire)

It looks like Osama bin Laden has studied Vietcong strategy quite well, and done it one better.

UPDATE: It looks like Ryan Anderson/Amir Talhah is just a loser looking for attention. A turncoat, yes, but probably not an actual Qaeda recruit.

Posted by B. Preston at 06:05 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack


You know what I'm talking about--Flygate II.

It's hard to see how this helps Republicans. We'll get accused of "smearing" Kerry, even though he's still off the hook for actually smearing the National Guard and every single soldier, sailor airman and Marine who ever fought in Vietnam. That this apparently came from the Clark campaign won't make a difference--the lefties are already blaming all of this on the GOP, trying to attach it to Bush was AWOL v2.0. Go read Oliver Willis if you don't believe me. Willie Horton was an Al Gore dirty trick that the Republican are still trying to live down. That's just the way life is.

So who benefits? I mean, Clark is already out of the race, right? What's the point for him to get this story out there? He can't win anyway.

If you buy a certain stalking-horse theory, though, there is a kind of sense here. Never mind the hypocrisy of dropping an intern-related story against a political rival when your own husband was nearly destroyed by one. It's all about ambition, and the junior senator from New York by way of Illinois and Arkansas has loads of it.

As to the substance--did Hanoi John Kerry diddle out of wedlock?--I don't know. Wouldn't surprise me. It does fit speculation about the dissolution of his first marriage to a rich heiress:

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said Thursday that reports indicating that John Kerry's first marriage to heiress Julia Thorne had collapsed amidst allegations of infidelity should not become an issue in this year's presidential campaign.

When Brinkley said that, he was probably right. But now? The whole thing has gone nuclear.

But ultimately, the Republicans will pay the price even if our hands are as clean as Ivory soap, as they seem to be. Kerry's minions will turn this into another disgraceful smear from the GOP attack machine. Oh, it may still sink his campaign. But no other Democrat will pay any price. Even if his name is Chris Lehane, he has long-standing ties to the Clintons and to Clark, and his fingerprints are all over this.

MORE: It's interesting how, during a fast-non-moving story like this, any web site that hasn't already been updated seems so...old. Kaus, who's been having a field day whacking away on the Anybody But Kerry meme lately is, to use the Dems' current favorite word, AWOL. The Unified Kerry Theory he's pushing seems somehow dated, even though my own research into the Vietnam era anti-war movement tells me that it's probably right--Kerry is ultimately a user, first using the war and then the anti-war movement to further his own political ambitions, which were more about the prestige than the utility of high office. And even my own pet theory--that Clark is somehow behind Flygate II as a Clintonite gambit--now seems deflated by news that Clark is planning to endorse Kerry.

Somebody stop this ride--I want to get off.

UPDATE: On the other hand...

Oh no! Keith Olbermann will have to quit again!
Posted by B. Preston at 02:01 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 11, 2004


What effect does pacifism have on war? What effect does it have on our enemies? What effect do anti-war demonstrations, be they in the guise of pacifism or "peace" or simply an end to a given conflict, have on that conflict?

Since 9-11 all of these questions have been asked, but not really answered, because it is difficult to answer them. If one side in a conflict involving more or less equal opponents refuses to fight, even if attacked, the result would be obvious--the pacific side would lose as soon as the aggressor side decided to attack. But what about an imbalanced conflict, such as the war against al Qaeda and Islamicism?

There is an obvious imbalance of power in the present war; the United States is an unchallenged military power, possesses the world's largest and most robust economy by far, owns vast stores of natural resources and has no strong enemies, in fact no enemies at all, on its immediate borders. Al Qaeda is a well-financed but in terms of scale a rinky-dink rag-tag force; its despotic state sponsors are similarly weak, though through terror sponsorship and development of weapons of mass destruction seek to close the yawning gap between themselves and the US. What effect does the anti-war movement have in this war? What if America eventually decides not to fight?

It's difficult to say with any certainty. We don't even know if Osama bin Laden is still alive, much less whether he follows news accounts of protests or the general war footing and mood of the American public. But we can look back at other wars to see if any parallels exist.

In 1969, American involvement in the Vietnam war was at its height. The American anti-war movement was also reaching its crest, and in October of that year staged the massive Moratorium protests on the Washington Mall. Many at the time saw it as a turning point in the war--North Vietnamese dictator Ho Chi Minh had just died in September. The US and North Vietnamese met for continuing peace talks in Paris. Peace was still years in the future, but seemed possible at that moment.

In the midst of the Moratorium protest, North Vietnamese Premiere Pham Van Dong influenced the national mood by penning an open letter to the anti-war protestors. Keep in mind that Pham led the enemy. His words hailed the "peace" marchers' "struggle" as a

"...noble reflection of the legitimate and urgent demand of the American people...the Vietnamese people and the American progressive people against United States aggression [which] will certainly be crowned with total victory."

Basically, it was a call for the peace marchers to keep agitating, because it was helping the Communist North achieve "total victory."

The North's leadership started paying attention to the anti-war marches in 1967 or '68. According to A Vietcong Memoir, by Truong Nhu Tang, a Communist activist, urban organizer and cabinet member during the war, the Tet and related offensives in 1968 had been a military disaster for the Communist forces. Casualties had been unexpectedly high, and corresponding casualties on the US side had been lower than predicted. The Communist forces had been soundly defeated, yet US public opinion, shocked that the North could mount such an offensive, began to turn against the war. On March 31, 1968, LBJ announced that he would not seek another term as president. Truong says that LBJ's announcement made it clear to the North Vietnamese leadership that battlefield success against American troops was secondary to winning the war. It would be won or lost primarily on the streets of the US itself.

The primary new strategy was not long in announcing itself. By early spring of 1969, Nixon began public discussion of the criteria for a withdrawal of American troops. This was clearly a subject the newly inaugurated administration had been considering for some time. During March and the months that followed, the outlines of the American plans slowly revealed themselves. Washington was going to make a gesture--perhaps more than a gesture--toward reducing its forces in Vietnam.

The move, we knew, would be presented as a signal of American willingness to compromise at the negotiating table. In reality, however, its purpose was to placate public opinion in the United States. Our analysis that antiwar sentiment was having an increased impact on American staying power was thus confirmed at the source.

In other words, the antiwar movement here did the job that Communist troops could no do on the battlefield--defeat America. The anti-war movement soon became a critical part of North Vietnamese strategic thinking:

"Against the American military objectives of bracing the Saigon army, inflicting maximum tactical and strategic damage (on the North's forces), and demonstrating determination, we were pursuing a mix of political and military objectives. Militarily, the ability of the Saigon army to withstand a major, protracted assault would be tested. At best, the offensive would cause the disintegration of enemy forces. More conservatively, we could hope to take and hold territory where adequate logistical support was available....Far more important, though were the political goals. The overriding aim was to get the United States out of Vietnam on the best basis possible, and keep her out--thus isolating the Thieu regime (in the South). To do this it was necessary to weaken still further Nixon's and Kissinger's ability to make war, by bringing domestic opposition to their policies to a head. We now judged that the conclusive isolation of the American government from its internal support was within reach, and this goal was one we were willing to make large sacrifices for."


"[I]n strictly military terms it was increasingly evident that American arms were again scoring victories, just as they had during Tet, in Cambodia, and in so many of the pitched battles in which they confronted Vietcong and North Vietnamese main forces. As the summer wore on, our losses had become prodigious, and we began to see that many of the territorial advances could not be sustained...The paradox was that despite this, the spring offensive was for us a decisive triumph. "You know," said an American negotiator to his North Vietnamese counterpart three years later in Hanoi, "you never defeated us on the battlefield." "That may be so," came the answer, "but it is also irrelevant."


"There were, as all political cadre learned by heart, three currents of revolution in every people's war. The first two currents are the ever-growing international socialist camp and the armed liberation movement within the country in question. The third is the progressive movement within the colonial or neocolonial power. Until the balance of military power decisively favored the revolution, it was this third current that had to draw the most energy. In this case it was American public opinion--the minds and hearts of the American people--that had to be motivated and exploited."

The term "progressive" indicates the liberal-left, which the Communists saw as their natural ally in America. It is the left wing of the Democrat party primarily, and its attendant interest groups, protest organizations and supporters. And that's essentially how we lost the Vietnam war--the North Vietnamese manipulated the anti-war forces in the US into forcing us to just give up by radicalizing and mobilizing the liberal-left while neutralizing the center and right. The result was an eventual overrun of the South by Communist forces, after which as many as 100,000 South Vietnamese were slaughtered by their Northern "brothers." "Re-education" camps filled with political prisoners dotted Vietnam. Within a year or two of the fall of Saigon, over 2 million Vietnamese would try to escape Communist oppression as "boat people," many of them winding up refugees in Australia, across Asia and in the US.

The price for defeat in Vietnam for the US itself was high as well, but not as high as a loss in the current war would be. Losing Vietnam never amounted to an increased threat to the United States' home territories. Losing the war on terrorism would likely mean a continual series of bombings large and small right here, and eventually attacks would involve some sort of weapons of mass destruction. We might lose a major city, or two, or more, if we choose not to fight back and win this war. Along with the death and destruction, our economy would falter, taking with it most of the world's economic health.

Today's anti-war movement says it is about peace, and it is likely that most of the people who make up that movement are sincere in their beliefs. But the beliefs about which they are sincere are questionable. They apparently either believe that we brought this war entirely on ourselves and therefore should not defend ourselves, or they believe that our unilateral choice not to fight would end the war without another casualty. Some of them are ignorant of history. Others, such as Ramsey Clark and those like him who sided with Hanoi a generation ago, are all too aware of history but march as anti-war agitators anyway, with the apparent aim of helping defeat the US from within.

Regardless of their intentions, if al Qaeda is anything like the Vietcong in terms of its strategic thinking, its leadership can only smile that President Bush's approval ratings are dipping, and they must be giddy that a former anti-war protest organizer and leader is at the moment a strong contender to defeat him. They must see Kerry's conciliatory tone toward Iran as a sign that, should he win, he will seek an accomodationist policy and rollback President Bush's war footing. They probably correctly see our current political posture as their best chance for victory.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Bush AWOL v2.0 has been debunked on the merits with yesterday's document dump, and now on substance. We have an eye-witness with a must-read take on Lt. George W. Bush of the Texas Air National Guard.

Sadly, few of today's partisan pundits know anything about the environment of service in the Reserves in the 1970s. The image of a reservist at that time is of one who joined, went off for six months' basic training, then came back and drilled weekly or monthly at home, with two weeks of "summer camp." With the knowledge that Mr. Johnson and Mr. McNamara were not going to call out the Reserves, it did become a place of refuge for many wanting to avoid Vietnam. There was one big exception to this abusive use of the Guard to avoid the draft, and that was for those who wanted to fly, as pilots or crew members. Because of the training required, signing up for this duty meant up to 2½ years of active duty for training alone, plus a high probability of mobilization. A fighter-pilot candidate selected by the Guard (such as Lt. Bush and me) would be spending the next two years on active duty going through basic training (six weeks), flight training (one year), survival training (two weeks) and combat crew training for his aircraft (six to nine months), followed by local checkout (up to three more months) before he was even deemed combat-ready. Because the draft was just two years, you sure weren't getting out of duty being an Air Guard pilot. If the unit to which you were going back was an F-100, you were mobilized for Vietnam. Avoiding service? Yeah, tell that to those guys.

The author is COL. William Campenni (retired) U.S. Air Force/Air National Guard, Herndon, Va.5. Remember when I wrote that Kerry's take amounted to a smear of the Guard? The Col. concurs:

In the fighter-pilot world, we have a phrase we use when things are starting to get out of hand and it's time to stop and reset before disaster strikes. We say, "Knock it off." So, Mr. Kerry and your friends who want to slander the Guard: Knock it off.

As an aside, the survival training that Col. Campenni mentions is extremely tough training. I never underwent it personally, but did file an AFNews report on it a few years back. My story happened to be about the Arctic version of that training, which places its students out in the wilds of Alaska for overnight stays (in January, with -40 degree ambient temps), equipped only with whatever a pilot or crew would normally have aboard their aircraft. It is very demanding training, and in volunteering for flight duty you are volunteering for, among other things, learning to decide which bugs are edible (in the non-Arctic version) or how to build an igloo with your bare hands and trap, skin and eat small game (the Arctic version), all while evading enemy search and destroy parties. I don't know which version Bush attended (probably the non-Arctic), but neither is exactly a vacation. Survival training does toughen one up, though.

UPDATE: Can I get another witness? Yes, as a matter of fact!

"He called to tell me he was coming back to finish up his National Guard duty," said Mrs. Curtis, who now lives in New Orleans. "I can say categorically he was there, and that's why he came back." She said that he rented an apartment for a two-week stay and that she met him for dinner several times.

Ok Dems, hurry up and decide where to put those goalposts for the next round of Bush was AWOL v2.0.

(second link via Hanks)

Posted by B. Preston at 01:10 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack


Over Cheerios, I caught a few minutes of Fox & Friends this morning. Can you believe E.D. is preggers again? If she keeps it up, the Weather Channel will steal her.

But that's not what this post is about. I happened to catch Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford, one of the few sane Democrats, talking about the Bush AWOL v2.0 brouhaha and John Kerry's record as a senator. Generally, I like Ford. He seems reasonable. He seems honest. He seems like he'd make a good Veep nominee for hard-left cash and Kerry. But this morning, Ford seemed to be sipping from the DNC Kool-Aid. Or maybe he was just signalling how truly weak even Demos think Kerry will turn out to be in November. Or maybe the Dems are working a strategy to cauterize Kerry's most damaging vulnerabilities in time for the general election.

I forget which one, but one of the Fox crew asked Ford about Kerry's voting record, citing chapter and verse about which military weapons programs Kerry voted down (amounting to most of the systems our military is using to win the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq), how many times Kerry had voted to gut US intel agencies (opening up a vulnerability on national security), and so forth.

Ford's response was uncharasterically elliptical. Rather than deal with the substance of the question, Ford tried to argue that senators cast thousands of votes and that Kerry's votes shouldn't be held against him without examining what Bush was doing during the period in which Kerry cast those votes. In other words, Ford tried to put Kerry's record as a senator out of bounds--don't look there, it's not fair to judge Kerry by his performance in the job he has held for nearly 20 years!

My friends, that argument is a sign of tremendous weakness, a weakness of which moderate Dems like Ford are apparently painfully aware. Ford knows that Kerry's record is thin on accomplishment and long on anti-military votes and anti-intel agitation, both big weaknesses in a time of war. Ford knows how that will play in November, and that it will hurt Kerry. That's why he and the Dems will try to fence Kerry's actual voting record out of bounds in the coming weeks.

But to play the Dems' game, if we're not going to use Kerry's record against him, why should we hold Bush's record against him? Well, that's the Catch-22 the Dems may hope to set up. They will want to take all of Bush's accomplishments in the war and on the economy away from him, which are his principal strengths, and remove Kerry's most glaring weaknesses in the same stroke. It's a bold move and fairly intelligent, since the election would then default to a competition between personal histories, ground that the Kerry troops believe are more favorable to them.

That's where the Bush AWOL v2.0 comes in. Pitted against Hero John, Bush's National Guard service looks weak whether he went AWOL or not. By playing up AWOL, Hero John with a chestful o'medals wins the "who do you trust in a time of war" question, if you're only going by personal histories. But there's a fly in the ointment here for Kerry too, which is the morph from Hero John to Hanoi John in 1971. That morph happened, and in the next few weeks it will damage Kerry for the purposes of the general election but will help him with the angry anti-war left, a segment of the Democrats that was actually mad at Kerry for his original vote to support the war. It will probably give him more solid support from the hard left than he would otherwise have gotten, since it makes Kerry look more like one of them. In fact, the hard left will probably come to see Kerry as actually one of them, just a more pragmatic version, which would have the added benefit of being true.

And in introducing all this now, Kerry does two additional things. First, he's putting the critical focus on Bush instead of himself, and stealing the air his rivals might use to hit him. Second, he gets all the Hanoi John stuff out there long before November. He had to know it would come up at some point, and would not help him with independents and moderates--getting out when most peole aren't paying attention is smart politics. When it comes up again after he is formally nominated in Boston, he can just say "Ah, that's all old news. This election is about the future, not the past. I respect Mr. Bush (not "President Bush"--he'll disrespect the office the way Clinton did in 1992 by subtly not referring to the president as such unless he has to) for his service, blah blah blah..." In short, Kerry hopes that today's Hanoi John hits in the primary innoculate him from similar hits in the general election. He'll benefit from it today by shoring up his left flank, and hope to blunt it in the future by casting it as "old news."

There's a remedy for this, on the GOP side: Hold your fire. Let the Dems nominate Kerry, but even when the Dems and the press continue to move the goalposts on the AWOL bit, don't immediately hit back with Hanoi John. Answer the charges and hit back with other stuff as warranted, move the debate back to a pro-Iraq war footing when possible, but on the damaging Kerry record, wait. Wait until after the nomination, when most Americans begin to pay attention to all this, and then fire away. Plaster the world with Hanoi John. Kerry will get mad, hit back with AWOL (which will by then literally be old, and discredited, news), by will be staggered by his own history, for which he will have no good answer. Then connect Hanoi John to Senator John the anti-hawk via his nuclear freeze stance and voting record, and you've got yourselves a win in November.

UPDATE: Ask yourself who is helped/hurt by today's release of a 33 year old story in which Kerry describes his military views as "internationalist" and says the UN should control most US military ops. The way I see it, Bush is helped a few months from now, but Kerry is helped today, for the reasons described above. And if you're Kerry, getting it out today is better than it sneaking out in, say, October.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:03 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 09, 2004


He would be Two-Face.

Behold, Sane Al:

"I also support the President's stated goals in the next phases of the war against terrorism as he laid them out in the State of the Union. What I want to talk about tonight are the fundamental, strategic questions before us as a nation. What are the next steps in the war against terrorism? And beyond immediate next steps, what is the longer-range plan of action? And finally, what should be done to deal with root causes of this threat? "Since the State of the Union, there has been much discussion of whether Iraq, Iran and North Korea truly constitute an "Axis of Evil." As far as I'm concerned, there really is something to be said for occasionally putting diplomacy aside and laying one's cards on the table. There is value in calling evil by its name.

"One should never underestimate the power of bold words coming from a President of the United States. Jimmy Carter's espousal of human rights as an integral part of American foreign policy was in truth the crucial first step towards the democratic transformation of Latin America. And Ronald Reagan's blast against "the evil empire" was a pivotal moment reminding everyone that there was more at issue in the struggle between east and west than a contest for power.


"When all is said and done, I hope that when the people of our country next return the White House for a time to the Democratic Party, our leadership then will be big enough to salute the present administration for what it will have done that is wise and good. And to build upon it forthrightly.” --February 12, 2002

Behold, Insane Al:

"He betrayed this country!" Mr. Gore shouted into the microphone at a rally of Tennessee Democrats here in a stuffy hotel ballroom. "He played on our fears. He took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure dangerous to our troops, an adventure preordained and planned before 9/11 ever took place." --February 8, 2004

And do go listen to the audio, in all its radiant madness. He sounds like a drunken Slim Pickens with a mouthfull of marbles. On Prozac.

It's clear the man needs to get back on his meds, or up the dose. Or crawl back into his Tennessee spider hole.

And by the way, d'ya suppose there's any connection between Al's rising disorder and the fact that he's been a featured speaker at a blatantly anti-Semitic Islamicist-sympathizing hate group?

Nah, can't be. Why would a former Vice President of these United States lend his authority to our sworn enemies in the middle of a war?

Posted by B. Preston at 05:49 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


One or more of our splinter cell operatives has been sighted--but not by the forces of Mordor Massachusetts. The Weekly Standard's David Skinner missed one of them by mere minutes at the LoC, when he was also searching for John Kerry's The New Soldier.

That's a curious title, isn't it? The New Soldier. What does it imply? At the same time it's completely banal and yet somehow a little scary. The photo on the cover--the scruffy faux veterans mocking the Iwo Jima Marines with an inverted flag--suggests...something. What are those "new soldiers" fighting for?

"Hanoi John." Has a nice ring to it.

Hopefully we'll get to the bottom of it. Keep hope alive.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:24 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


This post is kind of a bleg, kind of a probe, and kind of an inquiry.

I opposed the prescription drug Medicare expansion for a number of reasons, all of them conservative. First, it's another government entitlement, and expanding government entitlements is bad for many, many reasons, most notably the fact that such expansions come at the expense of individual freedoms (in this case, through the need to put more of our money into the program against our will or without our direct consent). Second, it's an entitlement that the first wave of beneficiaries never paid for themselves. They paid into Medicare, but not into a Medicare that is as big as it will have to be to accomodate the drug benefit. So it's unfair to the generations now keeping the system going--we're paying for someone else's meds, and those beneficiaries did not elect to pay for the benefit for several decades when they were working and paying into the system. In fact, most of them are retirees and aren't paying into the system at all and haven't been for years. Third, it will lead to more government authority and intrusion in general. Fourth, it feeds the leftist notion that government should take care of us from cradle to grave, instead of the original American idea that government should mostly stay out of our way while it acts to perform the items listed in the Constitution's preamble, etc. And there are other conservative arguments against it as well, but I can't think of them right now.

But on the conservative side, the bill as signed by Bush did introduce some market forces, and that's a good thing from a conservative point of view. It's too big, but probably smaller than anything the left would have done on its own. That's not exactly great from a small-government worldview, but it's less awful than it could have been.

But I've been thinking about this whole thing, and trying to come up with a conservative argument in favor of the prescrip drug benefit in general. There aren't many, but one I keep coming back to is the idea that by providing drugs at one cost, we're preventing the need for more costly treatments (surgeries, extended stays, etc). Spending $ today keeps us from having to spend $$$ tomorrow. We're essentially accepting Medicare as irreversible fact but learning to live with it and shaping it more toward our smaller-government way of thinking, and allowing it to include choice and to respond to market forces, both of which are good things and are contrary to the Euro-style health care system that's delivering such crappy service abroad but which the left still wants to implement here for some reason. But I don't know if the numbers add up to make this case viable.

So if you have any numbers that would help or hurt this argument, I'd love to hear them. Please email me at junkyardblog-at-hotmail.com. There's no urgency to this, it's mostly just an object of curiosity.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:19 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


CNN, creators of "Operation Tailwind," a US-troops-committed-atrocities-in-Vietnam tale that only John Kerry could love, has done it again. InstaPundit is on the case.

Basically, CNN is spinning the Iraqi insurgent memo to suggest that average Iraqi citizens--not just the Baathist bitter-enders--want al Qaeda's help in running the coalition out of Iraq. But it's clear from the memo itself, from the conduct of average Iraqis and all of the opinion polls that have been taken in post-Saddam Iraq, that the writer is a jihadi and not your average Abdul. In fact he's probably a Jordanian named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who has long-standing ties to al Qaeda. He's frustrated that we're not the paper tiger he expected. Poor baby:

With some exasperation, the author writes: "We can pack up and leave and look for another land, just like what has happened in so many lands of jihad. Our enemy is growing stronger day after day, and its intelligence information increases.

"By God, this is suffocation!" the writer says.

The jihadi should change that formulation to "By George" or "By Tony." And CNN seems to be guilty of yet another in its long, long line of journalistic atrocities. They titled their piece "Report: Iraqis Want Al-Qaeda to Drive U.S. Out." Wrong, wrong, and wrong. The jihadi isn't Iraqi. He's an al Qaeda op himself. CNN's headline actually twists the story into such a knot that it is substantively in opposition to the story it is supposed to tease.


Posted by B. Preston at 03:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


China's "Northeast Asia Project"--a study of China's northeastern provinces--seems to be staking a fairly breathtaking claim: The Korean peninsula may historically be Chinese territory.

Two years ago, Beijing's Chinese Academy of Social Sciences launched the Northeast Asia Project to study the history of China's northeastern provinces, which cover much of ancient Koguryo and are home to large ethnic Korean communities.

Chinese scholars say Koguryo tribes were among the many minorities absorbed into greater China, and that since about two-thirds of Koguryo lies within today's China, it is key to China's history. They further enraged scholars from both South and North Korea by releasing papers claiming Koguryo was a vassal kingdom that sought Chinese sanction for its leaders and paid tribute.

As they said in a bad movie somewhere, them's fightin' words. And they are--China made similar "historic" claims before invading Tibet. We all know how that's turning out.

Needless to say, both South and North Korea aren't taking all this too well. In the South there's a 10-million strong petition drive aimed at, I don't know, stopping tanks with signatures or something. The flap has caused a rare rapproachment between North and South, and against a Northern ally for once and not us. The North has accused China of "manipulating history for its own interest."

What might that interest be? Two words: regime change. If my name were Kim Jong-Il, I'd keep a jet fueled up and a disguise and a wad of cash (preferrably US dollars, small denomimations) at the ready. "Koguryo" might just be Beijing's answer to the North Korean nuclear riddle.

If it comes down to that, remember that you heard it here first.

(thanks to Chris R.)

Posted by B. Preston at 12:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Well, that's a pleasant surprise. I bounced over to the American Spectator from an InstaPundit link regarding Bush's MTP interview, only to see myself and John Moore quoted on John Kerry's National Guard smear.

And it is a smear, make no mistake about that.

In general, you can count on the Democrats to do two things when it comes to elections. You can count on them to pester you to no end with dishonest demagoguery, but in the process of doing that they'll stumble onto an issue or two that will offer them favorable ground. At that point, you can count on them to overplay their hand and create a backlash. Kerry stumbled onto the "Bush was AWOL" meme via the noxious fat-man Michael Moore, and if he hewed to some sort of reasonable line about it he could have come across as a statesman and made Bush look bad. But he went too far, overplayed his hand, and smeared the Guard, echoing the way he went too far in 1971 and in protesting the war smeared American troops. That will cost him, eventually.

It already cost him a little bit, in fact. In the Spectator John Tabin notes that the President used--oddly enough--my own logic to counter Kerry's charges. Is Karl Rove checking in on the JYB? Stranger things have happened. Anyway, here's what the president said:

I would be careful to not denigrate the Guard. It's fine to go after me, which I expect the other side will do. I wouldn't denigrate service to the Guard, though, and the reason I wouldn't, is because there are a lot of really fine people who served in the National Guard and who are serving in the National Guard today in Iraq.

That's a little weak, but basically telling it like it is: Guard and Reservists are what's right about America. They're not "weekend warriors," they're citizen soldiers, who drop whatever they're doing and go defend us when we need them. Attacking them politically is unwise, not to mention just plain mean-spirited and wrong.

The president's answer echoes what I said in earlier posts about the whole issue--denigrating Guard service a generation ago comes awfully close to denigrating the Guard today, which denigrates roughtly 28,000 Americans currently serving in Iraq (which, by the way, Kerry voted not to fund after voting in favor of the war itself--would someone please make him explain that). Now, I'm sure the president came up with that answer on his own, but being so close to my own answer, I can't help but swell with pride. He gets it, and when pressed he'll counter Kerry's poisons with a bit of honey. Good. That's a winning strategy, and exactly the right thing to do when your opponent overplays his hand as Kerry did: Make him look bad by making others (who are his victims in this case) look good. Kerry attacks Bush but overpunches and hits Guard; Bush lets attack on himself pass but defends Guard. Excellent! The Bushies will soon need a stronger counter strategy that warns Kerry off this line of attack altogether--see my bit about John McCain in "What the President Didn't Say." Kerry needs to be fenced off the AWOL line permanently because his own Vietnam combat experience gives him an upper hand, and releasing Bush's military records won't be enough to even things out or stop the charge. The White House will need to scare Kerry straight, and McCain is the man to do that if he can be persuaded to help out. I would think he can--McCain strongly believes in the war as a just cause, and Kerry is fairly obviously not trustworthy to lead the war based on his voting record and Vietnam-era protests that dubbed US military "baby killers" and the like. McCain was one of those whom Kerry smeared in 1971, so there's a logical and personal reason, not to mention all the political reasons, to flank Kerry's hero bit with his own.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 08, 2004


The FCC may be looking into revoking Viacom's broadcast license. Viacom owns both CBS and MTV, the two outlets that teamed up to give us all a peep show during the Super Bowl halftime. Revoking the broadcast giant's license would be a very big deal, and would probably become a political issue if it went very far.

I saw the peep show. I had to sort of smack myself on the head to convince myself that I'd just seen what I thought I saw. I was neither shocked nor titillated (yeah, an obvious pun). JJ hasn't done much for me for a while. Never liked her music. Liked her earlier purer personna better than the later popporn one. She was good on Diff'rent Strokes, downhill from there.

Anyway, I'm a parent. I don't particularly like the thought of full frontal nudity on a Sunday in prime time on broadcast TV, which is where things are probably going if the FCC doesn't do something about JJ's flashdance. License revokation may be too much, but the mere threat may be enough to calm things down for a while.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm no prude. But the airwaves are public property. JJ's flash was indecent exposure in that context, and the simulated misogenistic violence, the crotch-grabbing--well, it was more than I'd stay to watch if it was the half-time show at the high school down the street. JJ would have been arrested, or at least have gotten some kind of warning. But it's somehow ok because it was on global TV? I don't buy that, not for a second. What she did was the ultimate act of exhibitionism. There should be consequences. Like I said, if there aren't, we'll have frontal nudity in prime time before long. Tell me you want to see Detective Sipowitz delivering the full monty. Didn't think so.

You may think I'm being a fussbucket, but the fact is that trends in TV have been toward coarsening the language and visual presentation for quite a while now. The modern slide probably began with Moonlighting and the use of "b*tch." There was an FCC blessing at the time on that word--it wasn't one of the seven dirties, so it was fine. Pretty soon, that show had one or two b*tches per episode. Then other words, mostly body parts, followed. Today I watched about three minutes of some show and, because I planned to write this post, counted obscenities. "Ass" made nearly half a dozen appearances.

Is this a good thing? Some will argue "Just turn it off if you don't like it," and I do that--I'm a fan of the On/Off switch--but in JJ's case we're talking about the Super Bowl. I'm a football fan. I'm also a breast fan. But on Super Sunday, let's keep the breasts covered and the football flying.

So I'm in support of the FCC's tough line here. We have to keep some lines in this society, and at least on broadcast TV in prime time, we need to keep our clothes on.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:45 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack


The more I think about Wes Clark's Kosovo accusation, the weirder it gets. Or maybe the weirder I get. Whatever.

Anyway, the relevant story is linked a couple posts down. According to it, Gen. Wesley Clark alleges that the Clinton administration wanted to end the Kosovo war on July 4, 1999 and get out of it altogether because that was the day that then Vice President Al Gore was supposed to kick off his run for president.

Why the one should affect the other is something of a mystery to me--presidents are by law the Commander in Chief of the US military. It would hardly be a shock to the American political system to hold an election in the midst of war. We held one in the middle of the Civil War, and several in the middle of World War II, and a couple during Vietnam. We can handle it. Surely the Clintonistas weren't that chicken, were they?

But let's suppose for a second that Clark is right--the Clinton bunch wanted to get out of Kosovo, regardless of the actual war situation, before July 4, 1999. To a real military commander who has ordered his troops into harm's way, surely that kind of attitude coming from the top was a bit of an insult. Especially when you consider Clark's and Clinton's histories--Clark, wounded in Vietnam, while Clinton protested that war from Oxford. To a real commander, one who actually cares about his troops, the Clinton administration's attitude should be a serious affront, a shock, the kind that can cause a commander to rip off his stars and toss them at his boss, or at least have a few very cross words. You might expect a real commander to publicly rap the president, close in time to the event, for such Machievellian actions.

Yet Clark didn't resign. He claims to have protested, or something, but not much else. Clinton or SecDef Cohen eventually fired him, for "character issues" that have yet to be detailed. And weirder still, when it came time to make his own run for president, Clark chose to run with Clinton's backing as a member of Clinton's party.

So it seems to me that Clark apparently didn't think much of the whole end-the-war-by-sundown mentality, even if it meant abandoning the field of battle to the enemy. That's a head-scratcher to me, unless you buy into the popular notion that Clark was a ticket-puncher who cared only about his own rise to the top and very little about the troops below him.

Or Clark is lying, but if he's lying, why bring it up now? It could be found out to be a lie, and that would pretty much kill his run for the White House (ok, it's pretty much dead anyway--humor me). If it's a lie, it's also a bit of a smear, since it tars Clinton unfairly as a CINC overly concerned about politics at the expense of battlefield success. It's a smear that's easy to believe, but if it's a lie it's a smear nonetheless. And it's a smear of the very man who described Clark last year as one of the two stars in the Democrat party (the other being Clinton's own wife). And if Clark is lying, he can be a ticket-puncher too--they're not mutually exclusive. In fact, they could fit hand in glove.

Something about this story just doesn't add up, though. I'm not going to bother investigating to learn whether Clinton or Clark is lying--in all likelihood, neither is telling the truth. I just think this whole story is odd.

And before another of you snide liberals equates the supposed Kosovo withdrawal with the Iraq timeline, remember the facts--the Bush administration has wanted to take the power handover slowly, but has been pushed to move faster by the Democrats and the international community, most notably France. The plan at this point seems to be a provisional handover in July, with full elections next year and a gradual US troop withdrawal over the next couple of years, calibrated to the security situation on the ground. The alleged Kosovo plan was a full stop before July 4, 1999 and, apparently, complete withdrawal too. So the situations are very different, for those who can comprehend what they read.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:59 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


It's censorship! No doubt about it.

Must be Ashcroft's fault. Um, but it can't be, since Ashcroft doesn't work in the Canadian government.

Eh, must be his fault anyway, right?

Posted by B. Preston at 03:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


President Bush appeared on Meet the Press today, hoping to stop the bleeding and right the ship, to mix metaphors like a blender makes salsa. It was an unimpressive showing, not likely to fix much but in the long term not likely to do lasting damage either. While his statements were important and will be dissected from now till November, it may be the things left unsaid that carry the most weight. Such is the nature of the war we're in, and the times we live in.

Asked about the Iraq war, the president recited time and again the context in which he made the decision to go to war. America had been attacked and thousands killed. The world faced a new kind of threat, which if it ever got its hands on weapons of mass destruction could kill millions. Looking around the world at the most likely sources for terrorists to obtain WMDs, the administration seized on three countries that met two specific criteria--they had historic connections to terrorism and had ongoing WMD programs. Those three countries became the "axis of evil"--Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Other lesser states also met those criteria, such as Syria, Libya and Saudi Arabia, but in the administration's calculation those states didn't merit varsity status in the axis and could be dealt with on a secondary basis, either through direct confrontation or via the demonstration effect of dealing with the big three.

In that context, Iraq was the low-hanging fruit. Over a decade of UN sanctions mandated its complete and transparent disarmament. Those sanctions had been met time and again with defiance and shell games. Further, Iraq was known to function as a paymaster for terrorists in the Palestinian territories, paying families of homicide bombers who kill innocent Israelis. At this point, the president is probably wise not to say that this fact was one justification for war with Iraq. Saddam funded the terrorists that attack Israel and needed to go on that basis alone. Saying so in public would give the Arab world cover to characterize the war on terror, and against Iraq in particular, as an American war on Israel's behalf and against Islam itself. To some extent it is a war on Israel's behalf (but not against Islam itself), but there's a larger goal than just securing Israel from terrorism. The larger goal is putting infamous terrorists out of business, starting with Osama bin Laden and working our way around to Yassir Arafat, Hamas and Hezbollah. The latter two are connected directly to axis of evil kingpin Iran. Arafat probably is too, but he is more openly connected with Saddam (or was). Arafat sided with Saddam in the 1991 Gulf War. He sided with Saddam again in 2003. While he says nice things about us in English, he still calls for the destruction of Israel in his native tongue on the broadcast outlets that he controls in the PA. Taking Saddam down hurts Arafat. It helps isolate him further. It cuts off funding for terrorists that ultimately answer to him. But the president can't say that, or it looks like we're waging war for the Jews. Can you think of a better way to feed the conspiratorial mindset that plagues the vaunted Arab street? I can't.

Given all these facts, whether Saddam actually WMD or not--stockpiles, that is--is strategically unimportant. It's politically vital, and may spell electoral doom for Bush in November. But it's a side issue, strategically speaking. Whether the stockpiles that nearly everyone in the world believed were there or not, Saddam's demise as tyrant has harmed international terrorism, and thus made it easier in the long run to end the Israeli-Palestinian troubles, which have been a long-term source of agitation and propaganda for Osama bin Laden and various other terrorists, as well as state sponsors in Syria, Iran and elsewhere.

By saying that the WMDs are unimportant strategically, I don't mean to suggest that we should throw up our hands and stop looking for them. It's still possible that they're in Iraq but well-hidden. An entire underground hangar, complete with aircraft, was discovered just last year in Germany--it was from the Nazi era. If that's possible in a land that has been free for more than half a century, it's possible in a land that has been free for less than a year. It's also possible that some weapons or components have been moved to elsewhere in the Middle East, with Syria heading the list of suspects. We need to find out, for several moral and strategic reasons. But in terms of the war, it's a side issue. Not unimportant, but not central. The central issue remains the destruction of international terrorist networks and the removal of propaganda opportunities for future recruitment purposes. A second central issue is destroying state sponsors or persuading them through the destruction of other state sponsors to end support for terrorism in any form and to disarm WMD caches and capabilities. Iraq has been disarmed. It will not fund terrorists. Libya, learning from Iraq's example, has foresworn terrorism and divested its WMDs. The overarching strategy of destroyin state sponsors and disarming others through the demonstration effect is working, whether we find WMDs in Iraq or not.

But much of the truth about the larger strategic goals cannot cross the president's lips in public, because it would inflame the situation and possibly cause it to spiral out of control.

Another reason the president can't say certain things is the military principal known as operations security, or opsec. Opsec reared its head early in the Russert interview, when Bush was asked about Sen. Chuck Grassley's comment that he is certain we will capture Osama bin Laden before the November election. That was a comment certain to set off the moonbat brigades with their conspiracy-theory-at-the-ready mentality, and was very unhelpful from the point of view of operations. Grassley's comments may have told Osama (assuming he's still alive) and his minions something they didn't already know about what we know about them. When Russert asked the president whether he believed we would capture bin Laden before November, he refused to answer, and rightly so. Answering in the affirmative might have given al Qaeda information best kept close to the vest, and if for some reason we failed to capture the terrorist mastermind, the line would provide Bush's domestic enemies one more mudball to hurl at him. If he answered in the negative, he would have projected an image of futility in the war. It's a heads the bad guys win, tails the good guys lose situation, and Bush rightly deflected. Sen. Grassley should have kept his mouth shut--perhaps as a secondary answer the president could have said so, but he's not one to publicly call out any American political figure by name and chastise them. He saves his invective for the terrorists and their allies and sycophants, as he should. Too bad none of his political opponents operate using a similar ethic.

Asked about the AWOL during Vietnam question, the president answered forthrightly if a bit defensively that he was not AWOL and was honorably discharged. What he could not say for reasons of political propriety is that it's better to have served in the National Guard and not been a war hero than to have become a war hero, only to use that status to smear his fellow soldiers and contribute, ultimately, to the fall of Saigon and the Communist victory in that war. Kerry's conduct in combat is unarguably more heroic than Bush's--but Bush's conduct after the war was far more patriotic and far less damaging to the causes of freedom than Kerry's. But the president couldn't say that. At least not yet. When the subject does come up, he'll probably need a surrogate to make the charge. I nominate Sen. John McCain, who spent years as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton while John Kerry planned anti-war marches with Hanoi Jane. McCain probably won't take the job, but he should. The media loves him, conservatives would renew their respect for him, and McCain is morally qualified to make the case like no one else. Kerry's stance on this war--flipping around the actual question of its necessity while voting against funding it after the fact--amounts to abandoning the soldiers in the field, which is exactly what he accused the US government of doing to men like himself and McCain during Vietnam. McCain is probably the only elected American qualified to point out that Kerry's Vietnam protests had consequences, one of which was to contribute to the climate that rendered McCain's years in captivity futile. President Bush and Sen. McCain need to reach a strategic understanding on this, and the sooner the better.

Asked about his 2000 promise to be a "uniter, not a divider" the president dodged a bit. That is because to answer it truthfully would have put him in the position of calling out various senators and congressmen--many of whom he will have to work with to move the war toward a victorious conclusion--for terrible behavior during the war. He would have pointed out that, during the 2001 anthrax attacks, Sen. Tom Daschle, then the Senator Majority Leader, insinuated that right-wingers were behind them, and came uncomfortably close to suggesting that the anthrax attacks were directly tied to Republican criticism of him. The president would have then asked "Is it my fault that people in positions of authority ask so irresponsibly? How am I supposed to unite with people like that?" He would have pointed out that various groups tied directly to the Democrats floated 9-11 conspiracy theories within days of the actual attack--and asked again "How am I supposed to unite with people like that?" He might have pointed out that various Democrats said and did some hair-raising things, from praising Osama bin Laden's charitable side to visiting Saddam Hussein in the runup to the war and siding with him over the US, UK, the coalition and, at that time, the UN. He could have asked again, "What must I do to unite with people like that? Is it ultimately even worth it?" But of course he can't say any of that, or he won't. But he needs to find a surrogate who will. I recommend former New York mayor Ed Kock and Sen. Zell Miller, both Democrats who have announced support for Bush's re-election and chided their fellow Democrats for their tepid, and often counterproductive, response to the war. Koch may be reluctant to take the job, but Miller probably will.

Ultimately, much of what the president left unsaid today will have to be said if he expects to be re-elected this fall. Politics ain't bean bag, and his opponents have been lobbing live grenades at him for more than two years now, without much in the way of a response from him. He has tried to triangulate them out of contention, and has not only failed to win them over but has angered his base. The failure to find WMDs in Iraq, not strategically necessary to win the war, has become his political albatross. Soon, the president will have to begin saying the things he left unsaid today, or find someone who will say them. If he doesn't, the anti-war party will defeat him, and the terrorists will eventually defeat us.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:45 AM | Comments (28) | TrackBack